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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 11/24/21

Guests: Ashley Parker, Jonathan Karl, Neal Katyal, Don Calloway, Susan Del Percio, Andrew Roberts


Guilty verdicts in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery`s killers met with relief and joy in Georgia and beyond. The three convicted men are facing life in prison. They are also facing separate federal hate crime charges. And the White House is grappling with a public that`s increasingly alarmed with the pace of inflation.


BRITTANY PACKNET CUNNINGHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The truth coming out in January the sixth the guilty verdicts that we saw in the Arbery murder trial today, that was literally the very least, that we are owed. And we know just how much it took for us to even get a semblance of that kind of accountability. So this we`re going to continue.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Brittany Packnet Cunningham as always, thank you for joining us. That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts right now.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 309 of the Biden administration. The three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery are going away having all been convicted of murder. Their claim was they were protecting their community and acting in self-defense on the second day of deliberations. This jury in Brunswick, Georgia found them guilty in the shooting death of Arbery as he jogs through their neighborhood.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Count one malice murder. We the jury find the defendant Travis McMichael guilty.


WILLIAMS: Arbery`s killing in February of 2020 would eventually become part of this country`s larger reckoning with race and injustice. The case came under national scrutiny only because a cell phone video of the shooting emerged. Arrests followed but the path to prosecution was marked by delays and allegations of misconduct. For months, Arbery`s family pressed for action in this case. Today that same family welcomed the verdict.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY`S MOTHER: Back in 2020. I never thought this day would come. But God is good. And I just want to tell everybody, thank you. Thank you for those who marched. Those who pray, most of us the ones who prayed.


COOPER-JONES: Thank you, guys. Thank you.

MARCUS ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBERY`S FATHER: Let`s keep fighting. Let`s keep going and making this place a better place for all human beings.


ARBERY: All human beings. Today is a good day.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: The jury system works in this country. And when you present the truth to people and they can see it, they will do the right thing. And that`s what this jury did today in getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery.


WILLIAMS: The three men now convicted murderers are facing up to life in prison. They have also been indicted on separate federal hate crime charges. The president today issued a statement calling Arbery`s killing, quote a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country. He says my administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase, emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court but a reality for all Americans.

Vice President Kamala Harris also released a statement that read, quote, these verdicts send an important message but the fact remains that we still have work to do that offense counsel chose to set a tone that casts the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanize the young black man with racist tropes. The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics.

Also, tonight, there`s a new report about the progress of the Select House committee that`s investigating the Capitol riot and insurrection. In the four months of the inquiry, the committee has issued over 40 subpoenas they`ve held one public hearing, they`ve interviewed about 200 witnesses, and they`ve held one Steve Bannon in contempt.

Washington Post reports quote, Chairman Bennie Thompson has previously said he hopes the investigation wraps up in early spring of next year as the midterm elections approach. It`s a one step forward two steps back dance that may take longer than Democrats want to yield real results.

Meanwhile, the White House grappling with a public that`s increasingly alarmed with the pace of inflation, even amid signs that the economy is continuing to recover and the labor market remains strong. Weekly jobless claims fell to 199,000 last week. That`s the lowest level in over half a century. But that doesn`t help with what people are paying for gas on the highways tonight.

Which brings us on this Thanksgiving Eve to the holiday weekend that is before us. It is clear that we`re still very much in the grip of this pandemic. We`ve now passed 48 million confirmed COVID cases in our country. Over 778,000 souls have been lost to the virus every day, we lose over 1,000 more.

The number of new cases continues to rise. The New York Times puts it this way. New cases have increased by 25 percent nationally, in the past two weeks. In 14 states, cases have climbed by 40 percent or more. Some of the biggest spikes have been in the Midwest.

This is the nation`s first Thanksgiving with vaccines in our midst and tonight Dr. Fauci warned it`s increasingly clear booster shots are critical for our protection


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Although the vaccine is highly, highly effective, that effectiveness wanes over several months, which is the reason why we are strongly encouraging anyone 18 and older who has been vaccinated with the original regimen, that they get a booster shot, because the data that we`re getting is extremely encouraging that the protection that you begin to lose, as the months go by, is dramatically enhanced by boosters.

The definition of fully vaccinated is still two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer and one dose of J and J. That`s the requirement when people talk about what is required for this or for that. But that does snot actually contradict the fact that was saying, as vaccine efficacy wanes, you need to get that booster.


WILLIAMS: By the way, the latest CDC numbers show over 37 million of us have received booster shots already.

With that, let`s bring in our starting line on this Wednesday night Thanksgiving Eve, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize winning White House bureau chief for The Washington Post, Jonathan Karl, Chief Washington correspondent for ABC News, his most recent book "Betrayal, The Final Act of the Trump Show" is out now and making a lot of news, and Neal Katyal, , Department of Justice veteran, former acting Solicitor General for our government during the Obama administration, who has argued dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Good evening, and welcome to you all. And thank you for coming on.

Ashley, I`d like to begin with you. Along with the rest of us the White House was clearly watching this trial, clearly on verdict watch and a good many folks were holding their breath. What did you find notable about the statements from the President and Vice President?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, keep in mind that this was a delayed that when President Biden was the Kennedy he described as a grave injustice and as a lynching, he called it basically a modern day lynching. Of course, the White House had been more circumspect, once he was president not wanting to weigh in from the podium or in any other way from an ongoing trial.

But what I was struck by in both of those statements was an acknowledgement that in this instance, the justice system, they said worked as it should. But, but President Biden said it shows just how far the nation has to go in terms of racial justice. And the Vice President said something very similar.

And it`s striking because this administration came in with four major crises they identified that`s Coronavirus, the economy, climate change and racial justice. And what do you look at all for racial justice is that bucket where advocates in that space, Democrats, outside groups feel that the administration has not made as much progress as they would like to see. So that`s what I was struck by in the statements we saw tonight.

WILLIAMS: So Jonathan, Karl, back to the business of this White House next week begins a marathon the question to you is, what will they and by they, I mean, White House, Congress, all of it, what will they actually be able to achieve in the real world by the end of this calendar year?

JONATHAN KARL, "BETRAYAL" AUTHOR: Well, first, if I can just pick up very briefly on what Ashley just said, I think that there`s a fifth thing that Biden really ran on and that was a return to normalcy and a respect for the rule of law. And when the Rittenhouse verdict came out, he said we stand with the jury, the jury system works, that would have been nearly impossible for him to say if this verdict came back a different way.

But here we saw a jury a nearly all white jury in the deep south come forward and deliver justice in a highly charged case that shocked the nation last year. I think that the biggest motion that I sent from the White House was a sigh of relief that that happened.

In terms of going forward with the domestic agenda, Brian, the headwinds are incredibly tough against Biden right now. I mean, there are signs as you point out, that the economy is recovering, the job market is strong, but with inflation, where it is with gas prices going up this effort to tap the petroleum reserve, which may end up having little or no impact whatsoever on gas prices and certainly not immediate. He goes into this, you know, pushing Congress to pass another big piece of legislation.

I don`t know that he will get it through the Senate. If it does get through the Senate, it`s clearly going to change a lot. And even if he pulls off another inside straight here, and he passes a another landmark domestic piece of legislation, the impacts of that bill, much of it will not be felt until long after the midterm, but I think there`s a sense from Biden I sense it watching him seeing him move on this that this is the chance, this is the chance do it.


And you know, all indications heading into the midterms are this is looking to be a very tough environment for Democrats. If he doesn`t do it now, it may never happen.

WILLIAMS: Neal Katyal, over to your bailiwick and your life`s work. At the top of the broadcast, we laid out what the 1/6 committee has accomplished thus far, and it`s give or take four months of life. Bannon has told them in effect to go pound salt. There`s every indication Meadows is going to find at least a polite form of that. What do you think of their actions so far? What do you think of the teeth behind their actions? And, Neal, if you were general counsel of that committee, what would your advice to them be?

NEAL KATYAL, FMR. ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: OK, so Brian, first, I have to embarrass you for a moment because our show is taking place an hour before Thanksgiving. This is the first time I`ve been on the show, since your own personal news. And I just have to give thanks to you, for teaching America for teaching me all the ropes. And you are a true learner. You`re always trying to figure something out, like when you wanted to learn about Supreme Court, you came and watch me argue and tried to figure it out. And you`ve been a great mentor and friend, and I just can`t thank you enough for the privilege of being able to work with you. And I hope we get to more in the future.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, counselor. That`s all the time we have.

KATYAL: So, look, I think that the January 6 Committee is finally moved, moved with some speed, but it`s taken a long time, we`re 11 months in and yes, there have been 45 subpoenas and, you know, a bunch of interviews and the like, but it`s taken a long, long time to get this far.

This week saw a lot of action. We saw, you know subpoenas to Alex Jones and Roger Stone and other Trump Easter`s, and today to right wing organizations, like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. All of this is really good. But you know, they`re facing this deadline that, you know, the Democrats might lose Congress in November of next year, and this investigation is going to get shut down because it is an existential threat to what the Republican Party has become, which is a party of Trump-Trump, a party of vote suppression. And that`s why the investigation is so important.

So it`s important to both backwards looking to understand what happened on January 6, and get to the bottom of it and who was involved in whether the White House or Trump gave support material or otherwise to these, you know, essentially domestic terrorists, but it`s also about the future, because if we understand what happened, we can understand the playbook for 2024.

So right now, I`m giving these folks you know, maybe a steep loss, you know, that suit Georgetown status quo with great inflation. So, you know, that`s where I think we are right now. The proof will be in the pudding, and we`ll see if these -- if they can move with more speed. But Trump is going to do what Trump always does to lay claim executive privilege. I`d love to see him trying to claim executive privilege over the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in the like, who knows what he`s going to do. But that`s why the committee`s got to move faster.

WILLIAMS: Neal, thank you for that answer. Thank you for your kindness. Any more personal comments, we will start killing microphones around here. Ashley Parker, we move swiftly over to you and to the White House, call it the economy dichotomy, or inflation disambiguation. But here it is. The White House does have a good story to tell about unemployment numbers and about other economic indicators. That is no help to the people whose Christmas presents are on containerized shipping off the Port of Long Beach, or to the people who have the misfortune of stopping at an Exxon on the interstates tonight needing an ATM to pay to fill their SUVs with gas. What is a White House to do?

PARKER: Well, that`s exactly right. And that is a central irony there grappled with that if you look at a lot of these economic indicators, wage growth, those recent job numbers, they`re quite good. In fact, they`re better than the administration expected when they took office, but they are dealing with a real problem with inflation and with supply chain problems. And those are the problems that are pocketbook problems the way you just find out, the way everyday voters and families feel in their daily life.

And, you know, I`m working on a story on this posting tomorrow morning, but I can tell you, as you said, they do have a very good story to tell and the challenges now they need to tell it and one thing we heard in our reporting, is that for leading Democratic pollsters in recent months, went to Chief of Staff Ron Klain, and basically said to him, we know that you are taking substantive steps on the economy, on inflation, on the supply chain, but you need to highlight those steps.

So basically, it`s not enough Just to try to solve the problem.


You have to show Americans that you`re trying to solve the problem that you`re fighting for them, that you empathize and that you feel their pain and so that is what we have been seeing in recent weeks. But so far, we`re seeing the sort of lack of that and the challenges affecting the President`s polio right now with which is not good for him.

WILLIAMS: As we keep saying FDR, probably would have called the infrastructure bill what it is a jobs bill for all Americans. Hey, John, back to the 1/6 Committee and a perhaps relying on the reporting that went into your book, the former president`s lawyers, square off with committee lawyers at the Federal Court level next week. What do you reckon are in those 1/6 White House records that Donald Trump clearly does not want exposed, either to sunlight or members of that committee or both?

KARL: Well, at the very minimum, what`s in there are call logs and visitor logs, we will know exactly who it was that Donald Trump was talking to, while the riot was ensuing, which again, leads to more people for the committee to talk to, more questions to ask. Because one of the central questions here, you know, is what was happening while the riot was going on? Why was it that Donald Trump had spent so many all those hours doing nothing?

We know that some of his allies on Capitol Hill, some of his senior advisors in the White House were practically begging and pleading with him to get out there and to call his supporters off. And he did not do so until releasing that videotape very late when the riot was almost over, where he told them to go home. But he also said that he loved them. And he seemed to defend what they were doing and explain why they were doing what they were doing.

So at the very minimum, we learned that, but also the communications between his aides. And also so, you know, they`ve asked for photographic -- and videography and videography as well. You know, that videos I report in betrayal that he released that night was at the end of multiple tapes, and the earlier tapes were rejected, because he didn`t get around to telling his supporters to stop rioting.

So what were on those outtakes? Those outtakes were taken by government videographers, they belong to the United States government, they should have been turned over to the archives. We don`t know if they were destroyed. But the committee, at least somebody I`ve spoken on the committee believed that those videos still exist. That`s something that will be very important for them to see because it`s about getting to Donald Trump`s state of mind, while American democracy was under attack.

WILLIAMS: And Neal, I guess there`s no chance there`s anything in those records, that`s going to be exculpatory, to one Donald Trump or the people around him.

KATYAL: I don`t think there`s anything exculpatory in any documents anywhere for Donald Trump. But look, if they were, he would let them out. And he`s going and telling everyone to assert executive privilege, which is a real concept. It`s this idea that goes back to the founding, that there needs to be a zone of secrecy around presidential decision making things like treaties and the like.

The problem for Donald Trump is it`s not ever used. It`s never been used. It`s never been contemplated to be used for planning an insurrection or even reacting to an insurrection than in the way that, you know, happened on January 6. And so it`s a ludicrous claim, particularly when the incumbent president says no executive privilege and the Supreme Court has said, it`s really up to the incumbent president, not the past person to really to invoke it.

So this is a delay tactic. That`s all it is. It`s a typical abuse of the law by Donald Trump and done for one reason, which is he`s afraid to have these documents come out. He`s afraid to have his advisors go and testify and tell the truth under oath.

WILLIAMS: Neal Katyal, Ashley Parker, Jonathan Karl, our starting line on this Wednesday night. Our thanks as we wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Coming up for us. Tonight more reaction from Brunswick, Georgia today to the guilty verdicts in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Don Calloway, Susan Del Percio are here to talk about the critical issues that were at play in this case we all watched. And later, what the conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table could mean for President Biden as he tries to tackle this rising inflation we`ve been talking about. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway in view of the White House North Lawn on Thanksgiving Eve.




REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK PRESIDENT: Let the word go for him all over the world that a jury of 11 whites and one black come out in the deep south, stood up in the courtroom and said that black lives do matter. Brunswick, Georgia will go down in history as the place that criminal justice took a different turn.


WILLIAMS: The killing of Ahmaud Arbery help sparked nationwide protests for racial justice in 2020. The New York Times sums up the trial this way. The case touched on some of the most combustible themes in American criminal justice including vigilantism, self-defense laws, the effects of widespread gun ownership and the role of race in jury selection.

So it`s an important night to have these two friends with us, Don Calloway, Democratic strategist and founder of the National Voter Protection Action Fund. And Susan Del Percio, one of our MSNBC political analyst, a veteran political strategist in her own right, good evening, and welcome to you both.

Don, it felt like the country was kind of in the middle of a collective holding of breath, perhaps bracing for the worst. I have a bit of a technical question for you, though. I looked it up tonight. This murder took place about 420 miles from the stunning and extraordinary memorial and museum dedicated to the victims of lynchings in this country. Can`t we go ahead and call this a full on lynching? It was an extra judicial killing by civilians, was it not?

DON CALLOWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, it certainly was in the grand tradition of the EJI Institute founded by the great Bryan Stevenson down in Montgomery that I believe you referring to, which acknowledges that lynchings are things that take care -- take place with the basis of racial animus based and intended to intimidate others that come along before and I think that`s it certainly subtext is not an open pretext of the Arbery killing that the McMichael is committed, which we have been calling a lynching since it happened 18 months ago, unfortunately, so that is not new nomenclature but I applaud you for having the courage to call it what it exactly was.


WILLIAMS: Susan, let`s go ahead and say something else that is obvious to some of us, but perhaps not all. Would there have been a case at all without video? Wouldn`t we be repeating the name that we all know now and we will no forever Ahmaud Arbery?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I do not think we would, Brian. And I also, there`s one other thing that really made this case come together and that`s Arbery`s parents. They were the ones that insisted and kept pushing the police. And it wasn`t -- if it wasn`t for them this story would not have even gotten likes in the local paper. But it was that leaked videotape. And again, we should highlight it was leaked. This was not something that was put out there as evidence or something for the prospect -- for the lawyers to discuss. This was leaked. And the main results of it led to the conviction of these three men. But I do fear that if not for that, this luncheon would have gone unnoticed.

WILLIAMS: Don, we`ve seen a lot of kind of perverse performance art around this case, the defense lawyer who will have to take to her grave of the racist trope she used in that courtroom. And then in the other party, we have some performance art by Republicans, in another case entirely throwing their arms figuratively around and in some cases literally around Kyle Rittenhouse, who got himself a visit to Mar-a-Lago this week. And the quote from Donald Trump was that he`s a good young man. Your reaction to this on the other side and the background.

CALLOWAY: The great James Baldwin is almost universally instructive. On one hand, he asked, he acknowledges that black people in this country every day are asked to step out on faith and act in faith in service of a country whose good faith that we do not see returned in return.

On the other hand, he instructs us to be optimistic. And that`s what we saw today in Brunswick, Georgia, where if laid out with facts of a perfect storm matter in which you have very clear video, and you have a violent history of white supremacists in this McMichael family, then maybe on occasion, we can occasionally reach the right outcome just long enough to keep people believing in this criminal justice system.

One more time, I always find Baldwin to be pretty much instructive here. But the idea of Kyle Rittenhouse his fate, even if he didn`t break any laws, then we need to reform law. But the idea of his fate is a 17-year-old when juxtaposed with the 17-year-old faith of a Trayvon Martin, who eventually ended up in the exact same situation that Ahmaud Arbery did, in a difficulty that he did not create ended up being dead.

The difference needs to dramatic fates is so clear, and for one side of our political party for 50 percent of the people who we have to work with, and know and be in community with every day to support the political party who is embracing these overt maniacal killers is just, it makes one have great frustration for the long term viability of this country as a two party system, it just doesn`t make sense.

And then even for our President to say that the justice system worked in both cases, well, that`s clearly not the case in Wisconsin, it did not work regardless of whether or not the gentleman and I use that term speechlessly was found guilty. There`s clearly a justice system that`s broken. And I think it`s entirely important. I know I`m taking all my time here. But it`s entirely important that we recognize that this was a state sanctioned killing. A prosecutor elected by her peers saw this video and decided to not charge these people, never forget and never dismissed the spirit and the necessity of activism, which along with Ahmaud Arbery`s parents brought attention to this matter and ultimately got the matter prosecuted. Without that, these boys would be whatever they do everyday down in Brunswick, Georgia.

WILLIAMS: And this victory now becomes part of the history in the South. When we come back, both of these guests are going to stay with us through the break. We`re going to talk about a lot of things. We`re going to talk about national politics. We`re going to explain Don sweatshirt. And we`re going to talk about something Susan wrote today that involves this device and its role in American life. And let`s not forget our politics as well.



WILLIAMS: While the White House focuses on reducing concerns over high prices, this reminder from our friends at Punchbowl News they cover the hill quote, there are just nine days until federal agencies run out of money. There has been no real progress on a stopgap measure to prevent a government shutdown.

A friendly reminder, still with us, Don Calloway, Susan Del Percio. Susan, that`s just one issue out there in the road. You reminded us of another on Twitter today as families gather for Thanksgiving. They will not be talking about new roads and bridges. They will be talking about high gas prices and the cost of Thanksgiving dinner. This will only keep President Biden`s approval ratings in the low 40s.

Susan, I would add to that only the point I made to Ashley the guessing game as to which Christmas gifts will be in containerized shipping off the coast of Long Beach, California. Lesser things have killed presidencies than things like inflation.

DEL PERCIO: That is true and what I`m -- when you start looking at Biden`s numbers, not just his low approval numbers, but the numbers when you start looking at right direction, wrong direction. Those wrong direction numbers are in the 60s in one poll even had a hitting 70 percent wrong direction.

Right now in our political system when those kind of numbers start settling in, it is hard to come out of it. And I know a lot of Democrats and a lot of Republicans are at home in their congressional districts and they are polling and they are trying to find out where their constituents are because it is very hard to stay strong when Biden`s numbers are so low.


I do not think the Build Back Better plan has a very good fighting chance right now. I think that the longer it goes on, more problematic it will be. We do have to worry about funding the government and the debt ceiling, those pesky little things that allow us to operate. And this is going to leave a lot of Democrats who still want to have a long career in a whole bunch of trouble. I don`t see them doing it.

WILLIAMS: And Susan, as you know, as no one needs to remind you the label out of touch if Biden isn`t seen as zooming into these issues like a laser beam, we had James Carville on last night I said the last president who had the out of touch label affixed to him was the president you beat.

DEL PERCIO: Yes, I mean, the worst part about Biden, it`s not just out of touch, it`s that he`s always coming in late and after the issue has exploded, whether it be the immigration problem down at the border with the refugees that were going across or hangout under the bridge, not hanging out, but they were -- they had built their tent city under a bridge, or whether it be inflation that all of a sudden, he recognized Oh, I better show that I`m strong on inflation, or whether it`s getting our supply chain in order.

He`s always talking about it about two weeks after everybody else`s and people are starting to feel it. So it`s not just being at a touch. It`s being just disconnected from the public and joining them too late.

WILLIAMS: Now I get to deal with Don. Don, I just texted my buddy Danny Harper from high school to make sure he was watching because this is the first time I have seen my high school and our team name was the last football team that would have me playing on their roster. The proud Mater Dei High School of Middletown, New Jersey, we played under the name Seraphs was a real challenge for cheerleaders to pronounce and find stuff to rhyme with it. Our veteran viewers know that on Don`s chest usually reside the names of the great HBCUs in this country. Don, what have you gone and done and why?

CALLOWAY: This was my personal way. I know I heard your admonition to Neal earlier today, and I`m certainly less Roman (ph) than he. But this is our personal way of saying thank you for all that you`ve done for not only your country and your profession, but your people and given folks like not only myself but so many others who would not have had access to such a platform, a voice to speak truth to power for that is truth is only the ability to let suffering be seen our brother Cornel West reminds us, and I personally thank you for the last eight months of bringing me along on your most venerable ride to allow myself to represent my community and these people in the streets. So thank you sir. Job well done and Godspeed, my brother.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. Bless you. The Class of `77 and all classes after that, thank you. Shout out to Mater Dei High School. Thanks to my two friends for coming on tonight, Don Calloway, Susan Del Percio, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

DEL PERCIO: Happy Thanksgiving.

WILLIAMS: Don, you know what they say about payback? Be watching the mail. Thank you very much. Coming up, we`ll talk to historian Andrew Roberts about his new book on the misunderstood reign of this guy a certain king who had a certain cameo role in a certain Broadway musical.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you`re gone, I`ll go mad. So don`t throw away this thing we had. Because when push comes to shove, I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.


WILLIAMS: Poor King George III, that was a rough portrayal, a signature comedic turn no doubt in Hamilton, in keeping with the portrait of a heartless, mad tyrant that became enshrined in our history. But as our next guest writes in his new book, everything we thought we knew about George turns out to be pretty much exactly wrong. In fact, he writes the irony is this, had King George III been the ruthless despot he was made out to be by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, Britain would have had a much better chance of winning the war.

Thankfully with us for more as our friend, the author and historian Andrew Roberts, his new book is "The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III." His previous book was his massive and well received biography of Sir Winston Churchill.

I brought visual aids, Churchill book, Last King of America, that`s about six and a half inches of journalism right there. These are not for the faint of heart, but they are for people who love history and beautiful writing. Let me ask you, how did he come to be so misunderstood that we thankfully have the record corrected by dint of the trove of documents you had access to?

ANDREW ROBERTS, "THE LAST KING OF AMERICA" AUTHOR: Well, that`s right, Brian, and thank you very much. He was misunderstood partly because of shows by Castleton, which I loved as much as everybody else, but which is entirely historically incorrect. And also, of course, the Declaration of Independence, which was a wartime propaganda documents. Its most beautiful language, Shakespearean and sublime prose.

But two-thirds of it, the latter two-thirds of it comprised a list of 28 charges, only two of which he was guilty of. And you mentioned this new archive. Yes, Her Majesty the Queen has since 2015 put 100,000 pages of Georgia III`s archive his letters and papers and correspondence and so on online, and it shows a completely different person from the one that has been made out, somebody who is charming, intelligent, good natured, and the limited government Monique.

WILLIAMS: More than that, I`m looking at page 399, which for this book is still part of the introduction. Forgive me. He uses the phrase, honorable termination, talking about the conflict with the new settlers across the Atlantic. And it sounds like Nixon passing off our loss in Vietnam and our withdraw as peace with honor. Are you telling me he was a closet pragmatist?

ROBERTS: Yes, oh, very much he was. He would have loved to stop the war much earlier than that. In 1779, of course, they sent out the Carlyle Commission, in which no taxation without representation was the central theme of the peace negotiations that he hoped would happen by that stage of course it was far too late.


The fighting have been going on for four years. But nonetheless, the idea of him being a tyrant in the 18th century, sense of the word despotic ruler is completely wrong.

WILLIAMS: Through your text you deal with the two primary nicknames he had during his reign. In England, they called him Farmer George. I think it was meant to be used with derision. It actually helped him in the early election returns in the hinterlands and countrysides. Here they just called him the Mad King. And both nicknames kind of fall short of their mark, in light of this new piece of scholarship.

ROBERTS: Thank you. Yes, I think that`s right. Farmer Georgia, of course, was used by intellectuals as a way of trying to embarrass and humiliate him. But in a country where 80 percent of people took their livelihoods from agriculture, it actually made him more popular. And Mad King George is a phrase that I don`t think we should use any longer, not least, because we`ve de stigmatize mental illness. And you can`t blame the king any longer for this terrible collapse of his mental capacities, which did not happen, by the way, as it`s made out by Hamilton the musical during the period of the American Revolution, the period of his of his major brain down, doesn`t take place until 1788 to 1789, five years after America`s become independent.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, and I have it on good authority, we have a good number of history buffs in the audience. You`re going to find out along the way, just as much about early American history, as you are about King George III, including things about Thomas Paine that completely rewrote what we American schoolchildren were learn, would learn about him, including but not limited to the fact that he wasn`t, after all, a manufacturer of corsets. So thank God, the record has been set straight.

Andrew Roberts, it is always a pleasure to have you on the broadcast. This is a tremendous book, "The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III," we thank the author Andrew Roberts for being our guest tonight.

Coming up, what would King George have made of the concept of Thanksgiving? After all, it`s all about people feeling fortunate to be living here and not over there. Well, the nation they formed, it`s now full of people, cars and planes. And we`ll update you on all of that after this.



WILLIAMS: Americans are making up for lost time with loved ones this Thanksgiving. If you`re waiting for someone tonight, they`ll probably get there just not on time. Because what we are witnessing is nothing less than the resurgence of the busiest travel week of the year. And we get our reports tonight from NBC News correspondent Tom Costello.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wednesday night and the nation`s highways and airports are starting to wind down the heaviest Thanksgiving travel rush in two years. A far different scene from last year when 18 states required out of staters to test or self-quarantine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to stay safe and that`s why we`re absolutely staying within our inner circles and just going to our cabin.

COSTELLO: Fast forward to 2021. And this Thanksgiving rush looks very different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re just blessed and fortunate to still be able to have all of our family members to get together.

COSTELLO: But this is only the start of the yearly ritual as airlines and airports predict booming passenger levels through Christmas and New Years.

(on camera): Here in Washington Reagan National unveiling new TSA checkpoints to move passengers more quickly through the process. To Detroit to Delta`s third largest home, to here in Tampa where passenger levels have actually exceeded 2019 levels in recent days.

Radio traffic here, air traffic control at O`Hare as they are now very much in the thick of the holiday travel season the busiest holiday season for air travel in two years since before the pandemic. Here in San Francisco, it`s all about the potential for low clouds and ceilings. Here at Denver International Airport, deicing trucks are ready one good Colorado snowstorm could slow air travel to a crawl.

(voice-over): Nationwide clear skies this week but winter weather is the wildcard through the December travel rush.

(on camera): If you have to cancel my flight because of weather are you going to rebook me or do I rebook myself?

MATT MILLER, DENVER HUB VICE PRESIDENT UNITED AIRLINES: So certainly there`s a disruption here flight, we`re going to take care of you and rebook you. But you do have the ability to go on to the United app and check out flight options yourself.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Meanwhile, 48 million Americans are on the roads this week paying $3.40 for unleaded $1.30 more than a year ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the alternative? You know, so everybody has to rework it. Prices go up, it just kind of the way the world.

COSTELLO: Steep pump prices, but well below the all-time high of $4.11 a gallon back in 2008.


WILLIAMS: Tom Costello, our thanks for that report On this Thanksgiving Eve. Coming up, President Carter delivered a nationwide address wearing a sweater back in 1977. And we learned this past week at least one Republican officeholder has never gotten over that.



WILLIAMS: Last thing we get before we go on this Thanksgiving Eve 2021. So much talk and well deserved praise during this pandemic for essential workers. Here`s a quiz to find out if you`re essential. If you`re working tomorrow, you`re essential to someone and especially if you work in the public sector and health care, military, air traffic control, police fire first aid, refuse collection, power generation, any public utility, public transportation, thank you for the work you do.

That, of course means the rest of us are something less than essential and we`re fine with that. And in fact, for those who have worked their last day this week, those for whom this is the equivalent of Friday night. The Lincoln Project is out with their summary of the crazy from these past few days, the public utterances from members of what is foundationally the Trump political party here now is their carefully curated compilation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, America is being crushed under the oppressive weight of the Democrats greed for lust and power.

REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): Madam Speaker, the halls of this hallowed Republican become darkened with a smut and filth of corrupted justice.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Picture America at a swim meet after World War II.

REP MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Kyle Rittenhouse probably make a pretty good congressional interest.

MCCARTHY: Gas prices, Thanksgiving, a border.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: COVID vaccines are not preventing infection. It`s just not.

CAWTHORN: Does anybody tells you the 2020 election was stolen? They are lying to us.


MIKE LINDELL, MYPILLOW CEO: The other alternative would be to a new election without machines. The Supreme Court will have a lot of decisions to make.

MCCARTHY: I was in the sixth grade, I turn on the TV and watch Jimmy Carter have a sweater on and tell me to turn the heater down.

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Joe Biden is the only president out of the last three presidents who`s been dumb enough to really follow through with this sort of populist outrage of bringing the boys home, no more endless wars.

MCCARTHY: One of my top selling sandwiches still sells and some of the delis back home. They literally call it the McCarthy sandwich.

STEVE BANNON, FMR. ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Retire to play defense. We`re going to go on the offense on this and standby.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I don`t know what they call you, professor or comrade?

MCCARTHY: Did you take a bathroom break? And I didn`t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nancy Pelosi is like the Pontius Pilate.

UNIDENTIFIED MEMALE: He may be censured over posting an animated video of himself killing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and attacking President Biden with swords in the video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grew up in a country judge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Towers your voice going after eight and a half hours speaking.

MCCARTHY: You know my voice is still strong because it`s still strong for the American people.

I`ve watched Jimmy Carter have a sweater on and tell me to turn the heater down.


WILLIAMS: And that`s about the way it was. The Lincoln project to take us off the air tonight and that is our broadcast for this Wednesday evening with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all of our colleagues at the networks of NBC News good night and Happy Thanksgiving to all.