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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 11/15/21

Guests: Joyce Vance, Jonathan Karl, Philip Rucker, Chris Christie, Stuart Stevens, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto

Summary

Former White House adviser Stephen Bannon surrendered to federal authorities, days after being indicted for contempt of Congress. Mark Meadows, a White House chief of staff for former President Donald Trump, defied a House committee`s subpoena. President Joe Biden opened his virtual meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Biden signs infrastructure bill into law, taps New Orleanian Mitch Landrieu to lead its implementation. Former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O`Rourke announced his campaign for Texas governor.

Transcript

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again, day 300 of the Biden administration. One time Trump campaign manager White House strategist and later MAGA megaphone Steve Bannon surrendered to the FBI today, days after being indicted on criminal contempt of Congress charges for defying a subpoena from the January 6 committee.

As one does, Bannon live streamed his arrival as he walked into the FBI field office in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FMR. TRUMP WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST: I don`t want anybody take your eye off the ball of what we do every day. We`re taking down the Biden regime. I want you guys to stay focused on message, remember signal not noise. This is all noise that signal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: This has been his first court appearance in this case he did not enter a plea for the two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress. That`s expected Thursday, when he`ll appear before another federal judge.

Bannon was released without bail, but had to surrender his passport and must check-in weekly with court officials.

After today`s hearing he and his lawyer Steve -- David Schoen who represented Trump you`ll recall in the second impeachment trial, went on the attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BANNON: This is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House long at the administrative state wants to take me on bring it, because we`re here to fight this. You stand by you see how we`re going to go after.

DOUGLAS SCHOEN: It is outrageous that a criminal charge was brought in this case to as instructed by his attorney not to show up in Congress. A lay person has to follow as attorneys -- has to follow his attorneys advice, in my view, at least.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Maggie Haberman of The New York Times posted tonight that Trump had asked his former impeachment lawyer to take Bannon`s case. There was a big lie and what Bannon just said there and indeed tonight the White House denied that Biden had directed the Justice Department to prosecute him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON KLAIN, WHITE HOSUE CHIEF OF STAFF: The decision to bring these charges against Mr. Bannon was made exclusively by the Justice Department. The President had nothing to do with it. We have an independent Justice Department that makes decisions about prosecution and specific cases on their own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: There`s more former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows likely watching all of this very closely like Bannon, he has also defied a subpoena from the committee, putting him at risk for contempt charges.

Also, Jonathan Karl reports in his new book called "Betrayal" that Meadows was involved in the effort to undo Biden`s election victory. Jon Karl, by the way, standing by to join us in just a moment. We`re also hearing from someone now trying to position himself as something of a truth teller when it comes to Trump`s false claims of election fraud, even though he wasn`t hardened Trumper for years, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was on TV this morning, urging members of his party to get past the previous election and start setting their sights on 2024.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You made Trump really mad last week.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FMR. NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You called on Republicans to stop wasting time talking about the 2020 election. He`s already punching back with insults about your time as New Jersey governor. You`ve been his friend for years, although I don`t really understand that. Why turn on him now.

CHRISTIE: I`ve always been about the truth and he lost the election in 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The former governor is also standing by and will join us later in the hour. Meantime, the current president has sealed one of his biggest wins so far in this administration. Late today, Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill at a PAC ceremony on the White House south lawn that included Republicans, one of whom Rob Portman found a way to praise Trump anyway, Biden celebrated the bill signing as evidence that bipartisanship is still alive in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results. We can do this. We can deliver real results for real people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: 19 Republican senators and 13 Republican members of the House voted to pass the bill. At today`s signing ceremony, one of those Republicans echoed Biden`s sentiment while issuing a veiled warning about the danger of polarization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-PH): This bipartisan support for this bill comes because it makes sense for our constituents. But the approach from the center out should be the norm, not the exception. Increasing polarization of our country is keeping us from getting things done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Senator Portman leaving the Senate and not be putting himself up for reelection. The White House has put former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in charge of actually making the infrastructure plan a reality.

[23:05:06]

President`s other big priority his big spending bill is next on the Democrats to do list. NBC News reporting the speaker told the House Democratic leadership tonight that lawmakers will not leave for their Thanksgiving break without passing the legislation.

Tonight President Biden was focusing on U.S.-China relations holding a virtual meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jingpin. The two spoken made amid rising tensions over China`s expanding military presence in Asia and global economic competition.

Also tonight we are following developments in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. The jury is to begin deliberations first thing tomorrow. He is accused of fatally shooting two men injuring another during that 2020 protest over police use of force in Kenosha, to which he brought an AR 15.

With that let`s bring in our starting line on a Monday night Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News. His upcoming book is called "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump`s Show." It is out tomorrow. More on that in just a bit. And former U.S. Attorney Joyce fans who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. She importantly hosts the podcast sisters in law along with Kimberly Atkins Stohr, Jill wine banks and Barbara McQuade. Good evening and welcome to you both.

And Joyce indeed, a legal question to begin with Biden doesn`t want to cooperate. He wants something close to televised martyrdom. The committee`s hopes and dreams is riding on this in part, how long could this drag out?

JOYCE VANCE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, Steve Bannon certainly has an agenda of making this twist in the wind for as long as possible that he`s happened in the context of the criminal justice system, Brian, for one thing, there`s the 70 day Speedy Trial Act, which although not all districts observe that that strictly that`s the time that you have to go from indictment to trial, Bannon can file some motions that will run that clock out a little bit longer.

But this is not a complicated case with a lot of discovery. And ultimately, at least getting to a trial court and getting a jury to decide this case, is something that could feasibly happen early next year.

WILLIAMS: Jon Karl, I said Biden, I meant Bannon two men who should not be confused, certainly, what did you make of the scene of Batman`s making outside court today, Jon?

JONATHAN KARL, "BETRAYAL" AUTHOR: Well, he`s enjoying every minute of this. This is his chance to play the monitor for Trump. I think it`s important take a step back. You know, Bannon, of course, on January 5th talked about how all hell was going to break loose and it was game day the next day.

The question that the committee needs to get at is was he simply lobbying for a pardon? Or was he actually part of the planning of what was going on? I mean, it may well be that he was lobbying for a pardon, Brian. He was facing jail time for committing fraud, for committing fraud by fleecing Trump supporters for profiting on Trump supporters in a fraudulent scheme regarding the wall.

And somehow he managed to get a pardon on January 20th. Trump`s final hours in office. Clearly, he was willing to do anything he could possibly do to please that man, because it was the difference between going to jail or not going to jail.

WILLIAMS: And, Jon, in your reporting, do you pick up either hints or whispers or direct comment that fears among Democrats that the Democrats in leadership aren`t up to this, they aren`t up to the kind of menu before them of the consequences that especially their base wants to see.

KARL: I think that there`s a lot of second guessing there. But I have to tell you my sense, Brian, is that the January 6 Committee is very serious, very organized, very determined, and they`re going to be a lot of second guessing, because you`re not going to hear a lot from them in the coming months. They are plotting and planning and deeply researching a case that they will present next summer. And that`s what matters. It doesn`t matter what`s going to happen between now and then. There will be these, you know, you can see witnesses going in, it`s going to be behind closed doors. These are depositions getting ready for the big moment.

What will happen in the summer will be a series of primetime hearings, late summer before we`re into the fall campaign season, that will be the make or break for that coming. But my sense is that they are doing serious work. They`re doing a lot of work that none of us are fully aware of and by design they are waiting to drop all of this when they have it ready and ready literally for primetime.

[23:10:15]

WILLIAMS: Joyce Vance, you said this today on Twitter, Steve Bannon, it`s always a mistake for a defendant under indictment to publicly comment on his case. Anything he says can be used against him and a court of law. Videotape can be played. Joyce, what`s the real danger for him after what he did today, remembering that he stays on brand by seeming to fear no consequence.

VANCE: That`s always been the brand, right? And it`s very likely that part of the brand here will ultimately be portraying himself as a martyr and using that to whip up Trump`s base. And presumably everybody on the political side of the equation is prepared for that eventuality because that`s not what prosecutors going to worry about.

Prosecutors looked at that press conference today. And I feel quite certain that someone on the prosecution team said, Wow, we need to get a screen grab of that video because Bannon is out there confessing to obstructing Congress in the press conference. I`m sure that there was a moment of happiness when they realized they`d be able to play his own words to the jury.

WILLIAMS: Jon Karl, back to the White House as backdrop. Can they enjoy today`s victory knowing what`s ahead of them, knowing they`re in a city that is in effect run these days by Joe Manchin?

KARL: Well, yes, I mean, look, this was a legitimate, serious accomplishment. This is, first of all, not just the substance of what actually happened. The biggest investment in infrastructure in this country since Eisenhower, built the Interstate Highway System, a big deal, a big deal on substance. But also a big deal because you actually had something we haven`t seen in an awful long time. And something that Joe Biden promised that he would deliver on, and that is a bipartisan accomplishment.

I mean, to see Republicans and not a lot of them, but to see Republicans joining with Democrats at the White House on a bill that will actually make a difference in people`s lives. So yes, I mean, there`s -- this may be the last of its kind, before the next presidential election. But this was, this was a moment that was extremely important for Biden and for the Democrats.

WILLIAMS: And Joyce, let`s talk about Mark Meadows. This is a former member of Congress. This is obviously a former White House Chief of Staff. What do you make of the legal advice he apparently is getting?

VANCE: I`m sure that his legal advice is very sound, but it`s also the legal advice that he`s asking for, because it`s clear that Meadows doesn`t want to testify, wants to find a way to avoid testifying. And perhaps Jon`s book provides the key to that, because it may well be that Mark Meadows has testimony he would have to give if he were truthful that he simply cannot afford to give because it portrays him in just too negative of the light and the central figure in putting forward the insurrection or if not the insurrection, the plot to try to avoid certifying the Biden election.

So look, meadows has a choice to make here, he might decide that he`s so well protected by executive privilege, because he was inside of the White House, that he`s willing to run the risk of non-compliance with the congressional subpoena. But the problem that he has is that executive privilege, even if it covers him, right, even if the conduct he`s engaged in is viewed as being on the White House side of events, not on the campaign side of events, which I think is a serious problem he faces.

Ultimately, executive privilege may not cloak him, because of course, Trump is a former president. He`s not the current president. And the current president has shown a decided lean towards releasing information that will allow Congress to better understand the events of January 6.

We`ve done I think in some ways, some of Trumps work for him by being willing to advance this notion that executive privilege might legitimately cloak people from his administration. It`s time to retreat a little bit from that view, recognizing that ultimately Biden has the final say here, not Trump.

And that`s the case, even if we can fairly characterize these folks who were around Trump in the final days, trying to prevent the certification as doing anything other than engaging in campaign activities, which just isn`t part of what executive privilege is meant to protect.

WILLIAMS: We also want to put a question to our friend Phil Rucker tonight, the Pulitzer Prize winning senior Washington correspondent for The Washington Post.

[23:15:05]

And Phil, I just wanted to get your read, your White House reporting on how they`re thinking tonight. Obviously, they`re proud of this accomplishment. Obviously, they can look forward as well.

PHIL RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think that`s right, Brian, they`re very proud of this accomplishment. You could see it in President Biden, Graham throughout the signing ceremony today, and that Vice President Harris, but they know this is only part one. And there`s a lot of unfinished business still with the holidays approaching.

You`re going to see an effort by this White House to marshal all of those Democratic votes in the Senate, and keep together the tight coalition in the House to try to pass the second portion of the President`s domestic agenda, that larger bill on what we could call human infrastructure that is critical, of course, to satisfying the President`s progressive base, and the clock is ticking.

They realize that, you know, come 2022 next year, all focus is going to be on the midterm elections. And so the window of opportunity here seems to be closing even though they`re celebrating a victory tonight. There`s more work to begin tomorrow morning.

WILLIAMS: And indeed, was folks paying what they`re paying for gas uncertainty over holiday gifts and the like, the life Americans are living. Doesn`t matter what happens on the White House lawn if they`re uncomfortable. To our friend Phil Rucker, thanks for calling in, to Joyce Vance, Jonathan Karl, our thanks. Jonathan`s going to stick around talk about the reporting in his new book, behind the scenes on that fateful January Day at the Capitol.

And later in this broadcast, as we mentioned, Chris Christie. He says he tried to call the president four times to call off the madness that day, January 6, we`ll talk about that and what Trump is still doing running that party. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on a Monday night in view of the North Lawn of the White House as we start a new week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:20:35]

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: If McConnell and McCarthy fought harder, OK, you could have a Republican President right now. And now they don`t have anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: More from Jonathan Karl`s interview with the twice impeached former president shortly after January 6. Jonathan writes in his new book called Betrayal, quote, after his brutal loss, Donald Trump was aggrieved blaming everybody but himself for what had happened. And he was loving every minute of it. There was one Republican whom he spoke fondly of during our conversation, wait for it, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene quote, as far as I`m concerned, she is terrific, he told me adding, I don`t think Kevin McCarthy has treated her properly.

Jonathan Karl remains with us to talk about his book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show." So Jonathan, after McCarthy was such a supplicant flying down to Mar-a-Lago and if I`m not mistaken, the background audio in your interview is the lobby of Mar-a-Lago that sounded familiar, at least to me, I could be wrong.

Why such bitterness toward McCarthy, who outwardly has done everything in service to this one guy?

KARL: Well, first of all, you`re exactly right. We were -- I was interviewing him in the middle of the lobby, right before dinner. He wanted to be sure that all of his guests saw that he was being interviewed as they came in for dinner. It was really quite a scene.

But you know, as for McCarthy, I think it`s a real lesson that no matter what you do for Donald Trump, no matter how much you betray your own principles, and your own beliefs, your own credibility, he will turn on you. He`s done this over and over and over again.

And with McCarthy, he was still seething at the fact that McCarthy had that moment, had that moment on January 8thwhen the House came together to have, you know, to talk impeachment, and he said that Donald Trump door responsibility for what happened on January 6. He still held that against them. And I thought it was especially notable that he put McCarthy in the same camp as McConnell, and you know how much he hates McConnell.

So if I were Kevin McCarthy right now, looking at to become the next Speaker of the House, things are looking very good for Republicans in the midterms. I would be very worried about what Donald Trump would do after a Republican victory in the midterms.

WILLIAMS: I was amazed at the depiction of exactly how much of a keystone cops operation was going on inside the White House. Page after page and you as an author probably had to check yourself not to point it out every time. There`s a very benign scene where Rudy Giuliani is at the Northwest gate on Pennsylvania Avenue tried to get into the White House. He wasn`t cleared. He wasn`t allowed in to do debate prep, because on that day, Trump was angry at him. He made his way in later.

Talk about Johnny Mac, Johnny McEntee, who here to four enjoyed brief fame on YouTube doing football tricks when he played college ball at the University of Connecticut. Tell us how this guy rose to the top of power in the White House into and including the dismissal of the Secretary of Defense.

KARL: I mean, he became truly one of the most powerful people in the White House. He is somebody who started out working as carrying the President`s bags. He was just a few years out of college when got elected, and he was the so called body guy. But he got fired early on by John Kelly issues that came up in his background check.

But he was back in the beginning of 2020. And he was put at 29 years old, Brian, he was put in charge of Presidential Personnel. The office that does all of the hiring and firing for all the employees, the political appointees in the executive branch, even though he had never hired or fired anybody in his life. He was put in charge of the top H,R, office and he I think, is really somebody who made January 6 possible because over the course of 2020 he with a group of friends that he brought into that Presidential Personnel Office, all kids in their in their 20s. Several of them didn`t even graduate college yet went out and systematically interviewed people throughout the executive branch, about their loyalty to Donald Trump.

[23:25:20]

And those that were not deemed sufficiently loyal, either fired or denied promotions, (INAUDIBLE) cowed into silence, so that by the time Trump made that dark turn in the transition, there was nobody around him that was willing to push back to question him, you know, to stand in the way. They had all been intimidated into silence or been fired.

And the Pentagon, he orchestrated the decapitation of the entire civilian leadership at the Pentagon. Mark Esper, the Defense Secretary, the undersecretary for intelligence and security, the Chief of Staff at the Pentagon, the undersecretary for policy, all fired on McEntee`s design and replaced by people that were considered pure Trump loyalists.

WILLIAMS: A terrific reporter, a prodigious author, it turns out. This is Jonathan Karl`s latest work it is called "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show." It is out starting tomorrow. Jonathan Karl, we`re so happy to have you as our guest tonight, as this book has certainly controlled the news coverage coming out of the former president`s White House. Great pleasure. Thank you so much.

Another break for our coverage tonight and coming up a former leading Trumper who says he`s just not into him anymore.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:30:17]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: We can no longer talk about the past and the past elections. No matter, no matter where you stand on that issue, no matter where you stand, it is over. People want us to be direct with them. They want someone to fight for them. But they want them to fight in a way that doesn`t hurt their ears.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Those comments by the former governor of New Jersey prompted a predictably angry response from the former president. To that end, Chris Christie has a message for his Republican Party. He writes this in his new book and we quote, we need to face the realities of the 2020 election and learn not hide from them. We need to renounce the conspiracy theorists and truth deniers, the ones who know better and the ones who are just playing nuts. We need to quit wasting our time, our energy and our credibility on claims that won`t ever convince anyone or bring fresh converts aboard.

Joining us now the aforementioned Chris Christie, former Republican governor of New Jersey, one time presidential candidate himself. His new book is out tomorrow it is called "Republican Rescue, Saving the Party From Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden."

Governor, will not surprise you to learn that Twitter has thrown its loving arms around you to wit, Don Winslow, he writes Donald Trump, Chris Christie, the active participation of key media that`s us in trying to whitewash Chris Christie`s five year worship and active support of Donald Trump is disturbing.

Olivia Nuzzi writes, Chris Christie has spent the last five years proving that he is a coward and any member of the press. that`s us, who continues to promote the myth of his Jersey guy straight shooter, tough talker brand is dishonest or an idiot or both. Not to be outdone, The Onions on the board tonight with energized Chris Christie ready for next chapter of humiliation.

So here`s the question, as you are viewed as at least partially responsible for Trump and Trumpism, a guy who was present at the creation, you wrote the victory speech election night, you prepped him for debate with Biden and on and on. How do you ever get away from that?

CHRISTIE: I don`t try to get away from that, Brian. And, you know, that`s what people like Don Winslow, whoever he is. I am living in New Jersey, unfortunately, I know who she is. You know, that`s what they don`t understand. Elections are about choices. And you make choices in those elections. And I don`t shy away from the choices that I made.

But on election night, when Donald Trump stood up and said that the election was stolen, we had no evidence to prove that. And subsequently, it`s been proven that the election was not stolen. That to me was just too much.

And so I spoke out. And let`s face it, Brian, and you know this because he watched me talk on television for a long time after I left office. I had a number of disagreements with Donald Trump over the years of his presidency. And I not only expressed this to him privately, but I expressed it to them publicly. And I quite frankly, don`t care to be morally judged by Don Winslow or Olivia Nuzzi in the sewer, that is Twitter. So it doesn`t bother me one bit. And they can continue to say whatever they want to say.

WILLIAMS: I am presuming that one does not write a book called Republican Rescue if one is not at least toying with the idea of running in 2024. I`m further assuming that anyone thinking of running in `24 probably has polling out. And I want to ask you, what do you see as your path forward in a party that top to bottom has sold out to Donald Trump and there`s every indication that come primary season, it`s going to go to who can be the Trump east.

CHRISTIE: Brian, I`m not making any judgments now about a path to the presidency. What I`m trying to do now is get us the House of Representatives back and the Senate back in 2020, and elect as many Republican governors as we can. And that`s what I`ve spent most of my time on for a political perspective as the co-chair of the Victory Fund for the Republican Governors Association.

But I will tell you this that I disagree with the premise of your question in this respect. There`s a new poll out just today from the Des Moines Register of Iowa Republicans and I can tell you from having been there for a significant period of time, there`s some of the most conservative Republicans in America.

[23:35:00]

They were asked a question by the Des Moines Register. Who do you feel more loyalty to the Republican Party or Donald Trump? 62 percent of Iowa Republican said the Republican Party, 26 percent said Donald Trump.

My point is that, you know, everybody wants instant gratification in our society these days. Donald Trump dominated our political lives for five years. And he`s got been gone from the presidency, only 10 months. And yet we think all of that`s going to disappear overnight. But there is significant movement in a place like Iowa, where they say not that they`re rejecting Donald Trump. But then if they had to make a choice as to where their loyalty was, it`s with the Republican Party.

That`s the party that I write the book about, that I am attempting to give a path forward on, that doesn`t practice grievance politics, doesn`t look in the rearview mirror, but looks forward to provide an effective truthful counter to the policies that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are putting forward for the country.

WILLIAMS: I want to rewind briefly to your choice to use the word Donald Trump dominated the party. What evidence have you beyond the anecdotal polling information in Iowa, the leadership of the Republican Party through McConnell, through McCarthy, and on down are all Trumpers. You would be in a party? Were you to be successful alongside confirmed proud insurrectionists. You`ve seen the portrait of the party that we`ve laid out just tonight, Steve Bannon live streaming his appointment with the FBI. That`s the brand that you`re trying to break or bend.

CHRISTIE: That`s simply not the brand, Brian. And I understand that that`s the way you put together that package tonight. That`s your prerogative and the prerogative of your producers to do that. But Glenn Youngkin was elected governor of Virginia. That`s not anecdotal. That`s real. But he was elected governor of Virginia, on a platform of reforming education. That`s, you know, cutting the grocery tax and eliminating it in Virginia.

And by affirmatively saying that he didn`t want Donald Trump to come into the state. I campaigned for him in our home state of New Jersey. Jackson rally came within two and a half points of beating Phil Murphy. But more importantly, for Republicans for the first time in years, we took back seats in both houses of the state legislature, despite Governor Murphy being narrowly reelected at the top.

The Republican Party is much broader than what you displayed with all due respect tonight, at the top of your show, with Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon is in my view, one little small slice of what this party is in the same way, that in the Democratic side, many of the people on the wild left progressive side are just a small slice of their party, as Joe Manchin proves everyday in the United States Senate.

So this party is much bigger and broader than that, and has very different opinions than just the ones that you represented tonight, and certainly a much different image. And as for Mitch McConnell, let me just say to call Mitch McConnell, a Trumper. I think it`s unfair to the Senate Minority Leader. He has spoken out numerous times since the election, about those things, and it has been attacked by Donald Trump because of it.

WILLIAMS: Would you call him an independent Republican minority leader?

CHRISTIE: I would call him the Republican leader in the Senate. And he leads a very diverse caucus of 49 other people along with him that have lots of different opinions about how things are supposed to work. He has Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins and Mitt Romney that support him. And he`s got Lindsay Graham and John Barrasso, who support him.

And so Mitch McConnell is the Republican leader of the United States Senate has been for a long time, but there are lots of different circumstances. And I think, to try to narrowly define him, as you know, beholden to any one person is just not a fair and accurate portrait of him.

But more importantly, Brian, it`s about the party as a whole. And the book is laying out a prescription and a path forward that doesn`t engage in a Republican and Republican crime and violence, doesn`t engage in making sure that there`s loyalty to just one person. But there`s loyalty to a set of principles and beliefs that can be contrasted against what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are proposing for the country as we speak.

WILLIAMS: I was happy to read how many New Jersey mentions were in the book and it was shocking to read from you just how serious your illness was from COVID more than the world knew in real time. Of course, medical privacy, being what it is. The story is contained here. Chris Christie is the author of this new book "Republican Rescue." He has been our guest tonight. Governor, thank you very much.

[23:40:07]

CHRISTIE: Brian, thanks so much for having me. Good to see you.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, our political experts are here to talk about today`s big announcement of the world of Texas politics, and the growing list of challenges facing the guy on the left hand side of that picture.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: My fellow Americans day, I want you to know, we hear you. And we see you. America is moving again. And your life is going to change for the better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: While the president celebrates his bipartisan infrastructure package, and it is historic. The Washington Post is out with bad news pointing out that Biden`s own party wants him and the people around him to dial in to what life is actually like in this country right now. Quote, a growing number of Democrats worry that the White House has repeatedly underestimated the scale of the challenges facing the country, exacerbating the party`s political problems and making its already perilous path to holding Congress in 2022 even more difficult.

It`s a lot to talk about and with us to do that Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, professor and assistant dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas in Austin and Stuart Stevens, a veteran of the Mitt Romney and George W. Bush Presidential campaigns these days with the Lincoln Project, his latest work is an important book called "It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump." Good evening, and welcome to you both.

And Stuart, I don`t have to tell you, no one has to tell you that this label out of touch destroyed George Bush 41.

[23:45:00]

And it made him vulnerable to attack from the young and vigorous Bill Clinton. Is this White House allowed a day to feel good, knowing what`s coming down the pike and looking across this country from Washington to the Port of Los Angeles at the problems that lay ahead?

STUART STEVENS, THE LINCOLN PROJECT SENIOR ADVISER: Yes, look, I think it`s a day they should feel really good. They just pass this historic bill that is going to fly across the country dropping money on a lot of projects, if people really like.

You know, we spent 6.5 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now we`re going to spend a lot more money here at home. I mean, arguably, we spent more money on infrastructure in Iran and Iraq over the last 20 years we have in the United States.

So I think this is historic. It`s something that Republicans said they were going to do. But if you had been a child born the first week of Republican infrastructure week, you`d be headed to the first grade now. So the Democrats finally got it done. All the stuff that`s in this bill is really popular. Roads, bridges, internet.

So, I think they got to get about the business of selling this stuff and making it clear. And I tell you one thing to watch Brian, watch these Republicans who voted against this package bragging about how much money it`s going to put in their states. It`s going to be sort of ironic, and it`s going to be funny, but it`s going to be very telling.

WILLIAMS: That`s as sure as the sun coming up tomorrow morning. It happened during the rescue act during the pandemic. Hey, Professor of big news in your state today. Beto O`Rourke is running for governor. A cynic would ask you what about the Texas that we`ve seen during COVID? The Texas we`ve seen restrict the rights to voting and abortions. What about that Texas is going to elect this guy?

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. So you know, here we have a Beto O`Rourke, who is taking this extremism that we have seen in Texas abortion, guns, voting restrictions, and he saying, You know what, we have reached a tipping point because the truth of the matter is, Brian, that a majority of Texans don`t want permitless carry, a majority of Texans don`t want restrictions to abortion, like the ones we`ve seen. So he`s harnessing that and saying, let`s put aside these extreme conservative views that divide us, and let`s figure out what unites us. So it`s very much of a Biden F message that we`re seeing out of Beto O`Rourke.

And the other hook is that we saw a massive failure in February of this year when our electrical grid went down. And Beto is also going lofty with let`s come together and unite but at the same time saying I am the candidate who can keep your lights on, while Governor Abbott not.

So I think that`s going to be the fine line that Beto is going to have to walk in terms of saying, I`m the practical person who can solve the problems of the state of Texas and also unify but it is a tall order in 2018. He was writing a blue way that the Texas Tribune stated, but right now he`s going to be swimming against the Red Tide.

WILLIAMS: Everyone watching at home especially those hopeful Democrats, stay tuned. Both of our guests have agreed to stay with us while I fit in a break here and when we come back, why good messaging or at this point, any messaging at all will be critical for these Democrats in the coming months.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:51:37]

WILLIAMS: We`re back. We continue our conversation with Professor Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Stuart Stevens. Professor, this one`s for you what happens if the Democrats don`t find a way to talk to the American people? You could argue that`s how they`ve lost a huge swath of the population to begin with. You can`t express to the American people that they should just assume that you have their best interests in mind. In this era you got to say it and say it a couple dozen times.

SOTO: Many times and the risk here of further losing that base getting disenchanted with the President. And I think here`s a two-step process that is going to be so critical, first of all, to recognize the pain that people are currently facing very (INAUDIBLE). I feel your pain, but at the same time centering the optimism that the cavalry is on its way.

So it`s going to be twofold, because if you don`t do the first part of recognizing the pain, people are going to feel that you are distanced and dismissive. It has to be a strategic and a discipline to step messaging process here, Brian.

WILLIAMS: And Stuart Stevens, what do you make of the fact that the most effective ads on behalf of the Democrats, you`ll forgive the phrase are being made by all of you lapsed Republicans? They`re all coming from the Lincoln project and affiliated groups who seem to have you seem more free with language than the Democrats could ever be?

STEVENS: Well, look, I mean, the Democrats did OK in the last election, they want it by what 8 million or so. I think that we have those of us who worked in Republican Party have an understanding of how to speak to people more emotionally, perhaps, than Republicans do -- Democrats do, and be able to talk about issues that resonate.

And look, we have a certain credibility to go out and talk about Biden because it`s not a choice defaults de facto to us. It`s an active choice. We think it`s about saving the country.

WILLIAMS: And to all those viewers who think that any discussion of messaging is inherently superficial. These days sadly, messaging tends to be ballgame when all is said and done. Our thanks to our friends Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Stuart Stevens, we`ll do this again. Appreciate you both coming on tonight. Another break for our coverage and coming up what actually happened today. And the man who had absolutely nothing to do with it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:57:22]

WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is infrastructure. Terrible word. Its dictionary meaning is quote the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.

FDR would have called it jobs. He would have called it a new deal for America. What the President signed today is about jobs and yes, roads and bridges and broadband and all kinds of things for all 50 states. An estimated 75 percent of the jobs created with the stroke of a pen today are blue collar jobs not requiring a college degree.

As we mentioned, Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman actually showed up and spoke at the White House today. He`s leaving office, he`s not running for reelection, and even still, because all Republicans are fraidy scared of Donald Trump saying mean things about them. Portman couldn`t resist praising Trump for furthering the discussion on infrastructure.

But he was only kidding. Here`s the actual truth as compiled by The Daily Show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today kicks on infrastructure week at the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s infrastructure week for the White House. But that may have gotten lost in the shuffle with President Trump rekindling controversy on the violence in Virginia yesterday.

DAVID WRIGTH, ABC NEWS: This is at least the third time they`ve tried to roll out infrastructure week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s there in Ohio to give a speech about infrastructure. It is indeed infrastructure week this week, folks.

UNIDENTIIFIED MALE: You may not have known this, but this is infrastructure week in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is infrastructure week, yet again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s going to meet with Nancy Pelosi, apparently next week to talk about infrastructure week, which may be coming back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this is supposed to be the Friday of infrastructure week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is also not visiting the CDC headquarters. He is trying to make it infrastructure Week, once again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where`s the infrastructure plan?

TRUMP: Well, it`s happening and it`s going to happen and we`ve done a lot of infrastructure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So that`s how that went. And now the jobs are coming. Lots of them. The Democrats now have to learn how to say that out loud how to point out to each of the 50 states what`s coming their way and when and keep saying it while acknowledging at the same time what life is like an actual America prices up for everything, insane prices for gasoline, Christmas gifts sitting on containerized shipping off shore, some grocery stores, putting names on waitlist for Thanksgiving turkeys, as we say here quite often it would be a good time to start paying attention.

That is our brand broadcast for this Monday night as we start off a new week with our thanks for being here with us on behalf of all our colleagues of the networks of NBC News, good night.