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

Guests: Kimberly Atkins Stohr, Sam Stein, Barry McCaffrey, Don Calloway, Tim Miller, Gregory Zuckerman


Jan. 6 Committee threatens Meadows with contempt resolution if he doesn`t testify. Court temporarily blocks Trump doc release to 1/6 committee. Biden honors U.S. service members on Veterans Day. Democrats working to pass social spending bill. Surging inflation poses challenge for Biden. New book details the race for a COVID vaccine. Biden faces pressure as energy prices soar.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 296 of the Biden administration. The committee investigating the January 6 riot and insurrection is now on the brink of a new fight. With another of Trump`s top lieutenants, former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. He was originally subpoenaed back in late September. He`s been negotiating with investigators. But tonight, the chairman gave him an ultimatum. In a letter the panel insists he appeared to turn over documents to give a deposition tomorrow 10 a.m. or "the Select Committee will view Mr. Meadows failure to appear at the deposition as willful non-compliance such willful non- compliance would force the Select Committee to consider invoking the contempt of Congress procedures. That means Meadows could share the same fate as Steve Bannon who was referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution three weeks ago, because not all insurrectionists are eager to cooperate, it turns out.

Mark Meadows` attorney has insisted his client didn`t have to appear because he was covered by Trump`s claim of executive privilege. Biden White House has now made it quite clear in no uncertain terms that it rejects that claim. Executive privilege is just not a thing in this case.

Also, today, a federal appeals court in D.C. has taken on the case meaning Trump`s effort to block the committee from seeing any and all records in the National Archives that date back to what was going on the White House on January 6, federal judges have now slowed everything down. They`ve scheduled arguments in the case for November 30, which means it will be weeks now before the committee might see Trump`s records. And they won`t be turned over tomorrow as the committee and so many Democrats had hoped.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R) ILLINOIS: I actually don`t think it`s a huge setback. I think, you know, obviously, Trump`s folks will spin this as a win because there`s a lack of wins, frankly, on any of their legal side. This is not unexpected. I think we expected frankly that there would be a stay issued by the appeals court. We also see a very accelerated timeline to hear this case. It`s not going to slow down our investigation. And I expect that, you know, keeping the Supreme Court potentially aside, we`ll have these documents fairly soon.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, President Biden and his team are now grappling with the challenge of trying to get his sweeping domestic plan passed as inflation strains Americans all across the country, Republicans and some moderate Democrats say President spending bill will lead to further price increases. Now some liberal Democrats are coming forward to defend Biden`s plan as a solution for inflation.


REP. RO KHANNA, (D) CALIFORNIA: I`m back home in California, I understand that prices are going up I mean, gas is almost five bucks here, the price of eggs have gone up, the price of milk has gone up. Other colleagues get that. So, I don`t think we`re out of touch. We`ve got to get people back into the labor market that will help increase the number of goods and the Build Back Better agenda actually helps do that.


WILLIAMS: Much more on that later. Today, the President honored the sacrifices of those who have served in the U.S. armed forces. This is the first Veterans Day in two decades without U.S. troops engaged in active warfare overseas, the first since the end of the nation`s longest war in Afghanistan. Biden took part in the annual ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown on the 100th anniversary of the monument there at Arlington. He then praised our nation`s veterans.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: It`s a badge of courage that unites across all ages regardless of background because to be a veteran is to have endured and survived challenges most Americans will never know. Our veterans represent the best of America. You are the very spine of America, not just the backbone, you`re the spine of this country.


WILLIAMS: Earlier today, the White House announced efforts to provide more support for veterans who have been exposed to the carcinogenic smoke from the burning of latrine waste on overseas military bases, so called burn pits.

Also, tonight there is a new development in the aftermath of last week`s election. New York Times reporting that tomorrow, Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican who tried to unseat Governor Phil Murphy in New Jersey, will concede defeat at long last. Ciattarelli went too far on election night talking about his historic achievement and his transition team going to work that week. Well, the problem for him is Murphy is now ahead in that race by some 74,000 votes.

With that, let`s bring out our starting line on this Thursday night, Sam Stein, Veteran Journalist, White House Editor for Politico, Kimberly Atkins stohr, previously both WBUR and the Boston Herald now a member of The Boston Globe Editorial Board. She`s one of the hosts of the podcast, Sisters in Law along with Joyce Vance, Jill Wine-Banks, and Barbara McQuade, and on this Veterans Day, retired four-star U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, former Battlefield Commander in the Persian Gulf, former cabinet member, former Member of the National Security Council as well. Good evening, and welcome to you all.


Kimberly, I`d like to begin with you. We`ll put it this way. The documents have been slowed down to a crawl, perhaps Mark Meadows cooperation is slowing down to a crawl. Where does this leave Democrats who want to see consequences?

KIMBERLY ATKINS STOHR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, well, that leaves the Democrats as well as the committee, which does include two Republicans in a waiting game. And I think it`s something that was expected. Yes, this means that these documents that were required to be produced by tomorrow will take a couple of weeks before they see the light of day. It actually in the legal world is a pretty quick schedule to schedule arguments and briefings within a number of weeks, particularly if there`s a holiday in the middle. So, for the D.C. Circuit, this is fast tracked. But this is a stalling mechanism by Trump World, which was really expected. They`re going to use every lever at their disposal, including making appeals. They could have appealed directly to the Supreme Court. Instead, they took the intermediary route first, will probably appeal to the Supreme Court after that.

So, it`s going to be a protracted delay, that the claim that they`re making about executive privilege really doesn`t hold any water. It`s absolutely true, as you said that it is the current president who decides what is and is not privileged under that doctrine. And the Biden administration has waived that.

It may be in some circumstances with respect to specific documents, there may be a privileged claim that a previous president can make but not the sort of blanket thing that`s happening. So, we`ll have to see what happens after the court goes through this. But the whole point is to stall this until at least after the midterms, and to push this investigation into January 6 beyond that, so that it cannot be used by Democrats as a tool. It`s something that they have the legal right to do, but it is causing a political problem when it comes for Democrats in that sense.

WILLIAMS: And Sam coming off what Kim just said, I suppose I should ask in a cynical way. Are you surprised there hasn`t been more subpoena defiance? I mean, Bannon who has no stakes, looks around, sees no consequences, and is savvy enough to know he can beat the clock?

SAM STEIN, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE EDITOR: Yeah, I guess in a way I am. Although I suspect that there`s going to be more subpoena defiance, as these things pick up. The incentives for them to defy are much greater than to comply. If you want to have a future within the Trump orbit, so to speak, and we do believe Trump is going to run for office again, then he will judge you by how you respond to a subpoena request from Congress. Mark Meadows is no dummy. The person he can`t offend is Donald Trump. And so, he`s going to fight this.

And like you said, there`s very little consequence here until the Justice Department decides to take action on the contempt of Congress resolution. They don`t have a price to pay, even if they were to get in further legal hot water in those situations, they become martyrs in their political communities. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, there`s a lot of, you know, legal costs that come with it. The standard, your career, of course, in a broader sense, but you can become a martyr and Trump was providing this and the incentive structures are there for them to continue to be defined.

WILLIAMS: General McCaffrey, I`ll ask for your thoughts on this day later in this segment. First, news from overseas compels this question. A military buildup by Russia along the Ukraine border, among other things. Fox News has cast their lot on Russia side, as one does, I guess. What is your level of alarm? We have certainly been here before on the topic of military buildups on that border.

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Yeah, well, it looks like they`re put in a place on offensive capability that Putin who`s a very clever risk taker may decide to employ. I think he will understand it`s highly unlikely, but either the European Union or the United States would fight actively on the ground. So, it`s a risk.

I think Putin who`s got a terrible economy he`s turning into an absolute authoritarian dictator believes he has to do something to move the Russian personal interests off their internal problems. This might be it. We`re facing a similar situation on President Xi, the Chinese armed forces, will they actually have take the risk of going after Taiwan in the coming years. They`ve also put on the ground a capability that`s growing to look like they may be considering it.


WILLIAMS: World is a dangerous place, which is why we train young men and women to be dangerous fighters overseas.

Kim Atkins Stohr, we have to talk about what we should call the groundhog bill. The second Biden bill, the big social spending bill, though trimmed down, still massive, do you see any path for it that doesn`t right in -- run right into a certain conservative Democrat from West Virginia?

ATKINS STOHR: I think that it is difficult. I think that is one reason why you saw some members in the Democratic caucus trying to tie this with the infrastructure bill saying that they`re both important. But leave letting one go forward and leaving the other behind just makes it harder to pass. It`s very difficult for me to understand exactly what a certain senator from West Virginia may want. But I do know that voters in 2020, went out in record numbers in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of an economic crisis, in the middle of a social justice crisis, to demand change from Washington. And the result was that all three, both branches of both houses of Congress and the White House were delivered to Democrats.

Joe Manchin was not on the vote -- on the ballot in 2020. He was not who those people were voting for. But obviously he has a position here that he could stand in the way of delivering that. I think Democrats should be reminded of just how popular and effective the Cares Act once at the beginning of this year, in delivering many of the very kinds of economic relief to Americans when they needed it most in the pandemic. Now, with inflation with the economy`s still staggering, they still need that relief. Businesses trying to get back on their feet. And I think that that`s what voters are expecting, and it would be really a big problem for Democrats if they are unable to deliver it.

WILLIAMS: Sam, indeed, inflation is growling out there. I`m looking at a Fox poll that says inflation is the number one issue people are most concerned about. I`m looking at a CBS poll saying that it`s the issue Biden is handling the worst. I`m looking at our own NBC poll, that Republicans are better suited to tackling inflation on the margin, there is almost two to one. Inflation happens to be Joe Manchin`s issue. And Sam has no one needs to remind you, inflation has bitten more than one capable U.S. President.

STEIN: Yeah, the echoes of Jimmy Carter are ringing fairly loudly right now, I suppose. The thing here, though, that the White House is really grappling with is that they have a case and affirmative case to make the Cares Act that Kimberly referenced, put money in people`s pockets. They extended the Child Tax Credit, it provided financial relief in ways that help people with inflationary concerns right now.

But what`s happened is, is that the whitest has done a fairly poor job selling the good they`ve done in a fairly poor job confronting the bad that presented to them right now. Few people in polls recognize that Joe Biden and Democrats actually provided the extended Child Tax Credit. But they do blame Joe Biden, for something that`s somewhat out of his control, which is rising gas prices. That`s an untenable political position to be and to be blamed for something that you have very little control over and not credited for something that you`ve done.

And so, the White House now is in opposition to trying to grow the deal. The other thing that they have to do, which is very difficult, is they have to talk up the recovery, which is happening. I mean, we`ve had 500,000 plus jobs created last month, they have to talk that up without seeming like the detached from the realities of people struggling to afford basic day to day items, fuel costs, grocery costs. And that`s really hard to do, especially when you`re not in a presidential year because you have to communicate for every Democrat and you`re not always on the same wavelength. So those are the two main hurdles the White House has now in addition to trying to keep Joe Manchin on board this thing.

WILLIAMS: And now do you General McCaffrey, I`ve saved the last word for you. I know you spent part of this day, giving a speech at the 40th anniversary ceremony for the Vietnam Memorial Wall on the Mall in Washington. Yes, it`s hard to believe it`s been over 40 years, as it must be hard to believe for you to walk along that wall. Look to your left and see the names of friends that you served with when they were young, when you were all young. I`m curious where your thoughts are this Veterans Day?

MCCAFFREY: Well, it was actually a glorious day for everyone. The weather was perfect, it was a huge turnout. You know that war was a bitter struggle for those of us who responded to the legal orders and command of our country, you know, it`s 59,000 killed, 303,000 wounded, 75,000 maimed. It was a tragic outcome.


The best thing that came out of it is we got millions of Vietnamese here who have added to the country in a very positive way. Over the years, though the American people have embraced the Vietnam veterans. The armed forces, as you know, in every poll we conduct are the most respected institution in American society. The armed forces have counted on the Vietnam veterans to support the war overseas.

I just had lunch with the Commanding General of 100 and First Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, some of senior officers, he would say, look, this is the first time in 21 years, the 100 and First Airborne has nobody deployed overseas. So, I think that veterans are proud of what they did that to include the Vietnam era veterans. We understand the outcomes of these wars as an Afghanistan can be brutal. Military power is not the primary solution, almost any problem. But it was a good day for America`s Veterans Day, 18 million of us.

WILLIAMS: What would your father, what would your father-in-law, what would my late father who was a World War Two era veteran like those previous two men I mentioned make of what we`ve made of our country right about now?

MCCAFFREY: Well, I personally think it`s shocking. You know, my wife dad, a three parachute assaults in the Pacific the 11th Airborne Division, my dad fought in the Italian theater, and then on to Korean War, the Chosin Reservoir and Vietnam. I think they would be a gaffe. That`s what`s happening. That generation, what they prize the most were leaders of character. And we`ve been through this terrible dilemma with a complete lack of integrity in our government for several years. We`ve got to work our way out of it. We got to somehow dispel the divisiveness, 25% of the country doesn`t believe in this constitution. And don`t believe in a free press. They don`t -- It`s just astonishing turnabout. I`m glad my dad didn`t see this. We got to solve this problem in the coming probably going to take us five to 10 years.

WILLIAMS: To our starting lines tonight on an emotional night, Sam Stein, Kimberly Atkins Stohr, General Barry McCaffrey, can`t thank the three of you enough for starting off our conversation.

Coming up for us out of this break, he`s been out of office for nearly 10 months, still pretending to be president in exile and a large over decorated home with a gift shop. We`ll discuss his latest adventure with our political guests.

And later, if it were a made for TV movie script, he wouldn`t believe it. But it is the true story of the race for a vaccine. Some good news tonight, we`re going to talk to the author of, "A Shot to Save The World." All of it as the 11th hour is just getting underway on this Veterans Day night.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you be there at the signing at the White House on Monday?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: No, I`ve got other things I`ve got to do other than go to the signing ceremony. But this bill was basically written in the Senate, a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats. All the House did last week was to take the Senate bill up and pass it. This bill was crafted in the Senate, 19 Republicans voted for it, I was one of them, I think it was good for the country and I`m glad to it passed.


WILLIAMS: Interview from talk radio in Louisville, some bipartisan backing there for the infrastructure legislation awaiting the President`s signature. Biden is working to sell the bill to the American people. Yet he can`t quite convince the Senate Minority Leader to show up for the bill signing ceremony even though McConnell and 18 other Republican senators actually voted for it. McConnell scared apparently of being criticized by Trump.

Back with us again tonight, Don Calloway, Democratic Strategist, Founder of the National Voter Protection Action Fund, and Tim Miller, contributed to the Bulwark and the former Communications Director for one Jeb Bush. Gentlemen, good evening to you both.

Don, I`d like to begin with you. The White House says Biden is going on the road next week after the bill signed first New Hampshire, then Detroit, Michigan. Does this mean that he is listening to Sean Patrick Maloney and the DCCC or did someone pass them a pocket calendar with 2022 circled?

DON CALLOWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It probably means a little bit of both, Brian. I mean, first of all, let`s just revert back to that clip. Double entendre here, Mitch McConnell is bad man. Dastardly as he may be. He certainly a savvy enough politician to understand that he will not be seen in a photograph at a signing ceremony, giving Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Democrats credit for any type of substantive victory, which his voters and other voters will certainly see in Kentucky. But Mitch McConnell is savvy enough to not smile and take a pin and help Joe Biden sign that bill, even while he takes credit for having written and passed the bill in a bipartisan act in the United States Senate.

Listen, I bet Terry McAuliffe wishes that Democrats had gone out and sold this bill even preemptively. This is a certainly a reaction. It`s somewhat of a victory lap but in political realities, it is a reaction to Democratic losses last week, and trying to stop the bleeding if you will, prospectively but what`s potentially to come in 2020.

WILLIAMS: Tim Miller, if you buy gas, I don`t wish it upon you, what I just paid the last time I filled up inflation is roaring pretty soon, they`re going to have an ATM next to every gas pump, so people have the ready cash to be able to afford it. Despite all the lofty topics that Democrats talk about, is their political precedent. For Biden`s presidency turning on things like Christmas presents that can`t be ordered.

New cars, God love you if you can afford one that can`t be ordered because there`s no chips to put in them. What we`re paying for gas, what we`re paying for a pound of bacon?


TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. Hey Brian, I`m going to get to the outrageous gas prices here in a second. But if you wouldn`t mind, I do just have to say, I`m absolutely devastated by your personal news that you announced this week. And it`s you`ve got some well-earned time with your family, I wish you well, but I`ve been so grateful to spend this time with you. And, you know, don`t tell Nicolle, that this is my favorite program on the network. And I`m going to miss you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you very much. Don`t make me kill your mic, please continue.

MILLER: OK, just on the gas prices, look, I think that hopefully, Virginia, to Don`s point was a wake-up call. And I think that Biden`s change in schedule and change in tone. I think the urgency in the hill, you know, credit, where do, you can see some changes in the Democrats actions. I think is important because there is this disconnect. And we talked about on this program throughout the summer, fighting over these trillions of dollars, big ticket items, by people had real life concerns that they were dealing with. And I think that there was a disconnect between Biden and the Democrats in Washington and what folks were saying, at the gas pump at their schools at the grocery store.

And yeah, I mean, we`re here in Northern California, and you can`t avoid it. You know, when you`re seeing the number five is the first number in some of the stations that I drove by today in San Francisco, I`m just happy I don`t leave my neighborhood all that much. So, you know, look, I think that these are real issues, I think that Biden is actually be able to snap his fingers and fix them overnight. That is a political imperative, that the Democrats at least send the signal that they care about this one, two, and three, they`re going to solve these problems for people one, two, and three. And oh, by the way, we`re going to tell you all the things that we`ve already been doing that`s going to help like those $1,400 checks that you got, like the Child Tax Credit, that has got to be the Democrats entire focus from now, you know, all the way through 2022 or at least once, you know, some of these economic indicators start turning around a bit.

WILLIAMS: Point of personal privilege. The only reason I know you is Nicolle Wallace, so I`ll put the two of you in a steel cage deathmatch but bless you for what you`re said.

So, Don, rescue me from this. What advice do you have for this White House on the care and feeding of one Mr. Manchin of West Virginia?

CALLOWAY: Neutralize them. I would be in Charleston, West Virginia, Huntington, West Virginia, stone slab, I think it`s called, the home of Bill Withers. I will be in every nook, cranny town and Hamlet in that state, talking to them about why they need to get Joe Manchin on board.

Ultimately, Joe Manchin, if he does not respect the Democratic processes, if he does not respect the president and vice president of his own party, he will be forced to respect the hand of the voters of his own state. If I were Kamala Harris, if I were Joe Biden, if I were Cedric Richmond and every secretary, Pete Buttigieg, who was still probably the best communicator in the Democratic Party, I would be all over West Virginia. From West Virginia state, the HBCU in the Commonwealth to the University of West Virginia to basketball games, Friday Night Lights, I will be there selling this plan and telling them why it`s good.

MILLER: I think Bill Withers is from Beckley, we`re going to -- everybody can Google that after this.

CALLOWAY: I don`t think so, it`s either -- oh men, don`t test me on this, I think it`s something Slab, that gets the two words out.

WILLIAMS: And I`m going to screw this up by saying my favorite Bill Withers is who is he and what is he to you.

CALLOWAY: To you, that`s right.

WILLIAMS: Oh, men, just it will send you into orbit. What a great stylist, a veteran of the, I believe, U.S. Navy who we are thinking of on this Veterans Day night. Don and Tim are going to stand by. We`re going to take a break.

Coming up, might be a good time for a certain retiree who insists to his Florida neighbors that he`s still the president to brush up on the felony known as the Logan Act when we come back.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that the elections for Republicans need to be about the future, not the grievances of the past. Donald Trump put on a statement saying you`ve gotten absolutely massacred.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: I`m not going to get into a back and forth with Donald Trump. But what I will say is this, when I ran for re-election in 2013, I got 60% of the vote. When he ran through your election. He lost the Joe Biden.


WILLIAMS: Pretty big break there when you think about it from one of Trumps biggest and longest supporters. It only took an attempted coup on our nation`s capital and a potential opening in a GOP 2024 race to make that happen.

Still with us, Don Calloway and Tim Miller. Tim, before I begin, Slab Fork, West Virginia said everyone on Twitter, my own Google machine and our entire control room proud to just discover I have 31 works by, a fantastic U.S. Navy veteran Bill Withers, we also confirm that.

So, Tim, we`re going to have Chris Christie on here to talk about his new book, Monday night. I understand you wrote some words about Chris Christie and would like to share at least the sentiment with our viewers tonight.

MILLER: Sure, they can get the full sermon at the Bulwark. And, you know, I googled it, I wasn`t so far off. He moved to Beckley in history. I know a little bit about Bill Withers, "Use Me" is my favorite song. But anyway, as far as Chris Christie is concerned, look, I mean, I guess it`s good that he is attacking ish Donald Trump now by just saying the reality that he lost the election. I don`t know if he deserves a standing ovation from Axios and CNN and every other network, you know, patting him on the back for saying the obvious and in this effort for him to regain the spotlight that he lost.

I just think that it`s important to remember that a lot of the reasons why we`re here it`s because of Chris Christie. I welcome converts but part of conversion is penance. And acknowledging your own mistakes. And I haven`t heard that from Chris Christie and back in 2015 when I was working for Jeb and after Chris Christie dropped out of the race, he didn`t lay a single glove on Donald Trump. He was the first establishment mainstream Republican to endorse Donald Trump. He gave the stamp of approval and frankly it was a really influential endorsement. We sat there, we saw the numbers a lot of, you know, Republicans who may be like, Am I really going to support this, you know, kind of racist game show host for President? I don`t know. I like some of the things he says. But it seems pretty weird that it could be the president.


All of a sudden, you get Chris Christie, you get Newt Gingrich, you get people with pedigrees endorsing him. And that created a permission structure for a lot of these voters to vote for Trump. So, you know, I`m -- I guess it`s better that he`s doing this than going along with the coup. So, you know, I give him a half a cheer for that. But before you know, we get on the Chris Christie bandwagon I`d sure like to hear a little contrition, since he is pretty complicit in the little coup attempt that you just mentioned.

WILLIAMS: Don, take us down at least figuratively to Mar-a-Lago, what -- Trump has sent his -- how did he put it, his envoy ambassador, and I`m sure it was for lack of a comma. Because no one down there can spell or write, his envoy Ambassador, Rick Grinnell, that`s not a thing. And a lot of people pointed out today, it could very well be a violation of the Logan Act to the Serbia-Kosovo border. If true, that would be a felony, fun cocktail party conversation. Don, the question is why?

CALLOWAY: Because there are some people who still are tying their futures to this -- to being a member of this Island of Misfit Toys. Unfortunately, Rick Grinnell, who could have been such a symbol as one of the few openly gay members of the Trump cabinet, who could have been such a symbol of progress has continued to just tie his future to this Trump world. It doesn`t make sense why, particularly in a post Glenn Youngkin era in which reasonable Republicans are least reasonable appearing Republicans who are willing to do and say the nice things without, you know, such dusty language. These types of folks couldn`t have really been a part of the solution. It`s unclear why they continue to cater to Donald Trump, other than pure cowardice.

So, Rick Grinnell is one of them. I don`t give Chris Christie much, perhaps for the statement he made because it was not a full break from Donald Trump, although he got a little jab in. You know, it`s just such silliness. And Republicans who refuse to fully condemn Donald Trump are part of the problem and we need to start calling them out. I really can`t take you behind the gates of Mar-a-Lago because of the words of the great William Roberts, aka Rick Ross, never golfing with the Trumps, and I`ll give you my word. I`ve never talked to those people. They`re just (inaudible).

WILLIAMS: Don, take 30 seconds, tell us about the two gentlemen in the picture frames behind you given the significance of this day?

CALLOWAY: Lawrence Young Jr., he`s St. Louis Lincoln High School, 1958, United States Army World War Two veteran, Korea, did all the time and came back and served his country in the post office. Over this shoulder, Donald Calloway Sr. 1104 Pine Street, Anniston, Alabama, United States Air Force, Vietnam Veteran, and I remember those guys because they of course, because they`re my dad and my godfather, but they came back to a country who didn`t exactly welcome them with open arms. And a whole lot of veterans, particularly black veteran part of this country, came back to a country wasn`t entirely welcome, but we marched for them.

WILLIAMS: I`m glad I asked. Thank you very much, Don Callaway, Tim Miller. Tim, real quick Melvin Dunlop played the baseline if memory serves on "Us Me," 1972 Bill Withers commend it to all. What a great conversation two friends of this broadcast.

Coming up for us, in all the noise surrounding vaccines one new book calls their very existence, a story of what went right, the author standing by to talk with us after this.



WILLIAMS: Over the past few weeks, we`ve seen new COVID cases, hospitalizations rising in certain parts of our country yet. Our next guest says there`s still something worth celebrating in this crisis, something huge. In his new book, Greg Zuckerman reveals the heroism behind the greatest scientific achievement of our time, lifesaving COVID vaccines, he writes this, "Ours is an age of outbreaks. Each year humans encroach on nature, increasing the risk that animal-borne diseases will cross over and threaten humanity. Lessons from the vaccine race will inform scientists, politicians and others if, or perhaps when we confront another deadly pathogen. This is the story of what went right."

With us tonight, the aforementioned Greg Zuckerman, special writer and investigative reporter over at The Wall Street Journal, his book is, "A Shot to Save The World: The Inside Story of the Life-or-Death Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine."

Very happy to have you for nonfiction, there are some actually cinematic scenes in here, the scientist who decides to wear the same outfit every day, to go to the lab, to cut down on the time it takes to stand in his closet, get dressed in the morning. That`s how hard he`s working, you chronicle how much he ate at Thanksgiving dinner. The pharmaceutical executive at his summer home in the south of France, having his morning coffee when a call comes in about something in Wuhan, China. Again, cinematic scenes, all real-life nonfiction, you interviewed 300 sources for this book, give us the short version of why this is the outstanding medical miracle of our time?

GREGORY ZUCKERMAN, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL SPECIAL WRITER: Sure, Brian, and I think we`re a little too close to it to appreciate. And there`s a little too much politics involved in it for many to appreciate. But yeah, we have to remember that at the beginning of this pandemic, the thought of producing a vaccine so quickly within a year was something that even the experts wouldn`t -- didn`t hold out hope for.

And what`s really important to remember and to understand is that there was dramatic work done for years. We`re talking decades to develop these approaches. So, I speak often to a lot of vaccine hesitant type audiences, and I enjoy doing so because I want to emphasize the fact that this was not an overnight Eureka kind of success. And it wasn`t anything that was sped up unnecessarily or cut, corners weren`t cut as you suggest those dramatic work done by really interesting, odd almost work, really stubborn scientists who ignored all the expert`s conventional wisdom, we`d said mRNA is not something to work on. They ignored all that and they persisted. So, I think it`s something to embrace and even celebrate.

WILLIAMS: How do you process the fact that on at least three cable news networks if we were having this segment, this discussion huge portions of the audience wouldn`t believe a word of it, how do you square your work and this product with the anti-vax community, which has only grown.


ZUCKERMAN: So, I try to acknowledge the fact that there are some people that are legitimately wary, I think, one could be if one just acknowledge the fact that these are fast vaccines, and they are 330 days from the time the sequence was revealed to the time that these vaccines were authorized, which is remarkable. And yet, you need to learn a little bit about the history. And that`s kind of why I wrote this book to understand the drama behind the scenes, but also the persistence, the innovation that was required. And frankly, it`s an American story. It`s about immigrants, often the scientists, it`s about entrepreneurs about people making a bet, when they were told they couldn`t pull it off. They persisted, and they were resilient over the years. So, it`s something that I think both sides of the spectrum could embrace in some -- in many ways or should embrace.

WILLIAMS: Quote you have here in the book about Albert Bourla, Pfizer, and I`ll read it to our audience. Bourla was so intent on developing and distributing the team`s vaccine quickly that he made a surprising decision, the companies wouldn`t ask for help from Operation Warp Speed. Bourla didn`t want to take money from the government to develop or manufacture, the Pfizer BioNTech shots fearing bureaucratic red tape that might slow his team. What was the upshot of that decision?

ZUCKERMAN: So, it did help Pfizer. And that`s one of the reasons why Pfizer overtook Moderna and some of the other competitors in the race, and they were the first. But I do have to be clear that Operation Warp Speed net was a positive for the vaccine companies. There were a lot of resources, both financial and otherwise, but in some times, it did slow things down as well. I mean, the previous administration can be criticized for downplaying the virus, for the rollout of the virus, I`m sorry, downplaying the virus and rollout of the vaccines. But in terms of Operation Warp Speed, there was benefit, but the Pfizer folks, researchers thought it`s better to work on their own. They did sell the vaccines made a lot of money from the government doing so. But they persisted in their own research.

WILLIAMS: Is there -- I`m compelled to ask because of how I make my living. Is there a television version of this in the works? Is there a documentary that tells the story with moving pictures, as movingly as you tell it between these two covers?

ZUCKERMAN: It`s very kind of nothing`s in the work right now. But my phone number is easy to find. People watching want to reach out, but I just think it`s important that people understand readers and others that this was something that we need to be appreciative of, if this virus had evolved just a couple years earlier, these approaches were not ready, took years of really fascinating to me anyway, work overcoming obstacles, and we were ready to beginning of 2020 most people weren`t aware of, of the people within the science within the labs, all over the country in Germany as well, this company beyond tech, we have to acknowledge too, they thought they were ready. They thought they had an approach that will work. They weren`t sure, but it was something that we have to be appreciated, because a few years earlier, we would not have been ready. So, it`s really modern- day miracle in a lot of ways.

WILLIAMS: Next book should be on companies that give themselves unpronounceable names. Greg Zuckerman, author of, "A Shot to Save The World" has been our guest on the broadcast tonight, with our thanks, great talking to you.

Coming up for us, new reporting on if the President can do anything about skyrocketing prices we`re paying for gas in this country.



WILLIAMS: With inflation now hitting a three-decade high and we all know what we`re paying for gas, pressure is mounting on the President to take action. Our own Tom Costello has report tonight on why energy prices are so high and what the President might be able to do about it.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Americans gas tanks to their winter heating bills, but dollar signs just keep adding up. Pump prices up 60% in a year, natural gas up 130%, heating oil up 59%. It`s all about supply and demand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seems like the price is hacking every day.

COSTELLO: Unleaded now averaging 341 a gallon, a seven year high up from 212 last year. But last year the country was in the grips of a pandemic. Employees worked remotely schools online sporting events canceled with fewer cars on the roads fuel prices sank. What a difference a year makes. Today the economy is surging more vehicles on the roads worldwide paying more for fuel which then drives up prices for what`s inside those trucks and oil companies are struggling to meet demand.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, SECRETARY OF ENERGY: Oil is sold on a global market and that market is controlled by a cartel and that cartel is OPEC.

COSTELLO: OPEC now produces 40% of the world`s oil and it`s not producing more but Republicans blame President Biden.

REP. GARRET GRAVES, (R) LOUISIANA: We`ve watched our own president Madam Chair, shut down Keystone Pipeline, open up Nord Stream 2 pipeline, shut down domestic energy production.

COSTELLO: But the Keystone Pipeline was never open. Both Republicans and Democrats often call on a sitting President to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve holding about 610 million barrels. But that`s only meant for short term disruptions.

PATRICK DE HAAN, GASBUDDY PETROLEUM ANALYSIS HEAD: In fact, the entire strategic petroleum reserve would only cover six days of global consumption. So, when you think about the big picture, there`s not that much crude oil in there.

COSTELLO (on camera): The White House has released billions of dollars in low-income heating assistance for the winter, but experts say the country really is at the mercy of the international oil markets if they stabilize prices could eventually drop at the pump.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Tom Costello for that report. And on the other side of this break, a reminder of the meaning of this day and a separate reminder that service is sacrifice and talk is cheap.



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, think about it, the 11th Hour of the 11th day of the 11th months that`s when the guns fell silent. Originally Armistice Day, after the war to end all wars or so they called World War One and sadly they were mistaken. Old grainy film has surfaced. This was taken 100 years ago today. It shows the 1921 ceremony marking the creation of the Tomb of the Unknowns with the internment of the first unknown GI from the World War One, his identity known but to God, he of course has now been joined by other brothers from the other wars that did not end with World War One.

This day has a purpose every year, it`s about solemnity and respect, and thanks and homage to those who served, those who walk among us and those who have gone before us. And while it`s a tough thing to watch in these waning minutes and seconds of Veterans Day 2021, Our friends over at The Daily Show chose today intentionally to release a video of meant -- it is meant to remind us how veterans were treated by the last president who was fond of praising the military while in reality, not so much.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump skipped a 2018 visit to a World War One memorial in France because he was one concerned about his hair in the rain. And two, consider the cemetery for America`s war dead to be filled with losers.

Trump himself has faced major criticism for not reaching out to the families of four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger. He has played golf at least four times since these young men were killed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President said that he knew what he signed up for. But it hurts anyways. He couldn`t remember my husband`s name. I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband`s name.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I figured there would be a chance that I would catch it. Sometimes I`d be in groups of, for instance, Gold Star families. I met with Gold Star families. They come within an inch of my face sometimes. They want to hug me, and they want to kiss me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a series of tweets, President Trump announced a pair of secret meetings with Taliban negotiators. At Camp David, just days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.


WILLIAMS: That is our broadcast for this Thursday night, the closing seconds of Veterans Day 2021. With our thanks for spending part of it here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.