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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 12/6/21

Guests: Robert Costa, Yamiche Alcindor, A.B. Stoddard, David Plouffe, Tim Miller, Nahid Bhadelia


NBC confirmed reports that Mike Pence`s former Chief of Staff, Marc Short, is cooperating with the Jan. 6 Committee investigation. Short was with the former vice president at the Capitol during the riot. Meanwhile, President Biden is preparing for a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow. The administration said there would be consequences should Russia invade Ukraine.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Sends rules and borders. Watch the world television premiere of Paper and Glue, Friday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 321 of the Biden administration, it is exactly 11 months to the day since the January 6 insurrection.

And while some field that we find ourselves in, you`ll forgive the phrase the 11th Hour in terms of consequences for that day. What we can report tonight is a development at least where the investigation is concerned.

We learned today that an NBC News has since confirmed Mark Short, is cooperating with this house committee investigating the riot and the attempt overall to overturn our election.

Mark Short is notable because he was chief of staff to Mike Pence, and was with the then Vice President on that day when you`ll recall the writers were hunting for Mike Pence.

Mark Shore was also reported to be in key meetings just days before the insurrection when Trump team lawyer John Eastman was reportedly trying to convince pants to subvert the process of certifying Joe Biden`s election.

Washington Post reports that two days before the riot, Eastman quote, made the case for pence to act during a meeting in the Oval Office with Trump, Pence and Pence`s Chief of Staff Mark Short. Recently Pence spoke about his decision not to turn over the 2020 election.


MIKE PENCE, FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I don`t know if President Trump and I will ever see eye to eye on that day. Or that many of our most ardent supporters will agree with my decision that day. But I know I did the right thing.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, the committee is still working to get information from other witnesses because not all people react the same way to a subpoena evidently. Mike Flynn and Nicholas Luna were supposed to give a deposition today they`ve been postponed. Alex Jones, Roger Stone were scheduled to submit documents today.

Later this week, the aforementioned John Eastman and former Trump aide Jason Miller are supposed to give their depositions.

As all this unfolds new reporting from Politico says a former DC National Guard official has sent the January 6 committee a memo accusing two army generals of lying to Congress about the military`s response or lack of it to the Capitol riot.

NBC News has obtained that very memo in which Colonel Earl Matthews writes that generals Charles Flynn, who happens to be Michael Flynn`s brother and Lieutenant General Walter Piatt, quote, repeatedly misrepresented, understated or misled the House Oversight Committee and the Defense Department`s Inspector General.

Memo also says these two generals misled Congress about the guard`s ability to respond to the insurrection. NBC News has reached out to both generals for comment they have not responded.

Notably however, a US army spokesman tells NBC News the following quote, the actions on January 6 have been well documented and reported on and General Flynn and General Piatt have been open, honest and thorough in their sworn testimony with Congress and DOD investigators.

It would be interesting to know how an Army spokesman knows that to be true.

We also learned today the Justice Department has sued Texas over Republican drawn voting maps. DOJ suit alleges that new congressional and State House maps disenfranchise Latinos and other minorities in violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act.

Meanwhile, the President hours away from a critical meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They`re going to hold a video conference tomorrow. Think of it as a kind of high stakes FaceTime. And it comes amid growing concern Russia could be preparing to invade Ukraine. Biden is prepared to tell Putin that there would be consequences should Russia take military action.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECREATRY: We have been working in lockstep and in coordination with Congress with countries are NATO partners, with transatlantic partners to prepare a range of steps that could be detrimental to their economy. You can call that a threat. You can call that a fact, you can call that preparation, whatever you want to call it.


WILLIAMS: President also taking a tougher stance against China, notably today announcing a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games to be held in Beijing and February the athletes all still go obviously. But this means no delegation, no senior or junior US officials from the President on down will be there in attendance.


With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Monday night. Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour and moderator of Washington Week also on PBS, Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post, also happens to be author of The New York Times best seller "Peril," along with another up and coming author named Bob Woodward, and A.B. Stoddard, veteran Washington journalist and associate editor and columnist for Real Clear Politics. Thank you for coming on gang. Great to have you.

Robert, I`d like to begin with this from your reporting. Give our audience the significance of a guy like Mark short cooperating with this committee.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Think back to that night, January 5, 2021, the eve of the insurrection, Vice President Pence getting battered verbally by Trump in the Oval Office, you need to do this for me, Mike, you need to push this to the House of Representatives. Listen to John Eastman, read that memo. And who`s right there outside of the Oval Office when Pence comes out? Mark short, who`s there with Pence at the Capitol during the insurrection? Mark Short.

This is someone who could provide the January 6 committee with an inside, inside view of the pressure campaign that they need to decide at the committee and the Department of Justice. Was it a conspiracy to overturn an election and perhaps even commit fraud against the United States? He had a front row seat.

WILLIAMS: I have to follow up Bob with a question about loyalty. And that is we`ve seen so many of these types. How much of a Trump`s supplicant is he?

COSTA: He`s intriguing for the people on Capitol Hill for this reason. He`s not a Trump person in the way you think about Mark Meadows, or Jim Jordan, or even Mike Pence himself. Short comes out of the conservative movement. He`s someone who`s worked for the Koch brothers over the years. He did not make his bones in politics by working for Donald Trump.

And because of that there`s a sliver of possibility, no guarantee that he cooperates in a way that`s a little bit different than the traditional Trump type who`s come out of that white House.

WILLIAMS: Got it. These days, you have to ask. Yamiche, over to you, Liz Cheney said publicly that some of their hearings would be public and televised is short, the kind of witness they would like for that sort of thing.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It will depend very much on what he has to say and how forthcoming he is. I will tell you that based on my reporting at the time, the people in the Vice President`s office were very incensed, and very disturbed by former President Trump`s actions to try to overturn the election, to try to force former Vice President Pence into nullifying the election.

There were people that I talked to at the time who told me that they were very concerned that the President had just gone too far, even for them who had been loyal to the President.

Mark Short is the kind of person as Bob just said, that was really a front row seat person. He was someone who was in the meetings, who understood the thinking, he was someone who would have been very familiar with the communications between the vice president and the president, the sort of also back dealing and pressure campaign that the former president was putting on former Vice President Mike Pence as he was going up and nearing January 6, and nearing his role in certifying the election.

I also think he would be interesting to talk to you because and hear from if he is worth coming about the sort of decision that Vice President Pence makes, which is one to go back after all of that after he had a run for his life, after a crowded been chanting to hang him. He goes back the same day and says we will finish our work today. Not tomorrow, not next week, on January 6 we`re going to do this.

So it will also be interesting, I imagine for lawmakers to ask him, why was that an important decision? What was going through the Vice President`s mind? That said, we have to remind people that Vice President Pence, he`s also said that people should and suddenly stop talking so much about January 6, that it`s being blown out of proportion.

That to me it`s an interesting thing. It`s a balance that possibly Mark Short, could also be leaning towards so I think it really does depend on sort of what information and really how disturbed he is personally about what happened on January 6.

WILLIAMS: Some great points in there, Yamiche. And A.B. over to you. How is this likely to land within the Republican Party that is also to say within Trump world within the semi-circle of genuflectors and supplicants who make up the modern Republican Party?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOC. EDITOR AND COLUMNIST: Well, this as Robert details, I mean, Mark Short knows everything. There is to know and the committee is going to hear a lot of detail about the pressure campaign leading up to that day, and the terrifying details of that day and the thinking of the vice president once he committed to remaining at the Capitol Complex refusing to leave.


And Mark Short himself was dismissed from access to the White House by President Trump, after January 6, seen as, you know, some kind of a disloyal enemy, just like the Vice President, that he served as chief of staff to.

So, the idea of him testifying is has got to be making them incredibly uncomfortable, the kinds of things he can reveal, the kinds of things that he knows. He has cooperated extensively with writers of these tell all books, and he obviously is not a Trump inner circle loyalist. He is on the outside now. He definitely does not want to impair Mike Pence path to the nomination in 2024, that Mike Pence believes he has. But that said, I think he`s going to be a very helpful witness to the committee.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, let`s talk about John Eastman. He has indicated he`ll take the Fifth before the committee but he did go on Fox News tonight. Let me play that exchange for you. We`ll discuss on the other side.


JOHN EASTMAN, SUBPOENAED BY JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE: Bennie Thompson wants to presume people guilty rather than presume innocence. They`re just shredding the entire constitution and then claiming that it`s us that don`t support the Constitution.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: So why comply? What, I mean, honestly, at this point, look, if it`s totally fake, this is just some Soviet show trial, which it is, then why would the rest of us have any kind of obligation to play along with it? Honestly.

EASTMAN: Well, we shouldn`t but Congress has the power to issue criminal contempt. Normally, those don`t go anywhere. And such charades is this, but the Department of Justice is fully in line. And, you know, they`ve already brought one criminal tar indictment against one of the people that refuse to comply.


WILLIAMS: So this is the guy who wrote the memo and engaged however briefly in some aspirational unserious law. And, Robert, it sounds like two things could be true at the same time, it sounds like the committee is getting through to these witnesses. It also sounds to all of us watching, like the committee is really fighting the clock here.

COSTA: What a country, a constitutional lawyer can decide not to testify before Congress, but can go on Fox News and talk about the same issues. And this is where this committee stands. It`s facing challenges in terms of participation. And this is also why Mark Short matters.

When Bob Woodward and I were reporting on our book, we discovered the Eastman memo, and this was two pages, six parts what many people call a blueprint for a coup. Mark Short was in the meeting with John Eastman, in the Oval Office, January 4, 2021, where we detail Trump is telling Pence in front of Eastman, you have to listen to Eastman. This is before the famous one on one meeting, the next day on January 5, all this is to say Mark Shore was in the room with these men as these discussions were taking place.

And if John Eastman won`t participate, and if you`re a reporter, or you`re an investigator, you have to find out information from other people who were there.

WILLIAMS: Yamiche, what`s the advancer, moving our scope a bit overseas, what`s the advancer on this video conference between Biden and Putin tomorrow?

ALCINDOR: Well, the White House and White House officials have been saying that this is really about the President going into a conversation where one on one diplomacy is still top of mind for him and still the best way this administration thinks of handling our relationship with Russia.

One thing of course that`s going to be on that agenda is going to be Russia`s actions toward Ukraine. White House officials as well as Biden administration officials have said over and over again, that the U.S. loyalty and their backing of Ukraine is unshakable, that it is something that that will be sort of locked in.

That being said, the big question is sort of what does that mean for the relationship and the actions that Russia has been taking toward Ukraine that we`ve seen sort of a military buildup there? My sense is that the Biden administration does not want to say that there would be American troops deployed, but there would be possibly a threat of sanctions being done. So I think that`s going to be a top of mind thing there.

Of course, there are all sorts of other issues, including the fact that Russia has been trying to push NATO as well as the United States not to admit other countries to the organization. And that`s something that the President has pushed back on.

So there are going to be a lot of things but this is really in some ways a meeting with no direct deliverables other than the fact that they really want Russia not to, of course, invade Ukraine, but it`ll be interesting to watch. And as you said, it`s a -- it`s really a high stakes, high stakes, face time that we`re all going to be looking to see what comes out of it.

WILLIAMS: A.B., I know your latest work as our viewers should to on the rush for the exits in Congress right about now, last one out, turn out the lights.


The latest name tonight was Devin Nunez who, I don`t know if there`s an opening at the Mensa society branch in his part of California, but the rumor is he`s leaving Congress to run Donald Trump`s media company, which conveniently is already under investigation. A.B., what`s going on in Congress?

STODDARD: Well, the numbers Brian right now are at sort of the historical average in a midterm cycle, but they don`t stand to be much longer. They`re going to see a lot more Democrats leaving. And likely a few Republicans.

I spoke to Republicans and Democrats for this apiece, both people who are either leaving or pondering leaving, many of them didn`t want to be named. But they basically all said the same thing about what a cesspool Congress has become.

They don`t like to say that when they leave in their statement. They like to talk about the honor of serving their constituents and time they need to spend with their family.

But this has been a year for Congress like no other. It has never been this bad. There has never been a more profound divide between the death threats and the sort of celebrity fundraising that that people are doing on coming off of partisan attacks, the divide between the honor and opportunity to serve and just how dangerous and depressing and demoralizing it is.

So these retirements are different and what it bodes for future congresses and the kind of Americans we will attract to service in the years to come who are ready to be hunted and arrested threatened, is quite frightening in terms of who`s going to represent us in the People`s House.

WILLIAMS: It really does for all the wrong reasons nicely sum up where we are as 2021 comes to an end, Yamiche Alcindor, Robert Costa, A.B. Stoddard are starting line on this Monday night --

COSTA: Brian, I just want to say thank you, one final time. Just thank you so much for being a great friend and mentor.

STODDARD: Me too, thanks Brian.

WILLIAMS: Thank you to the three of you. Thanks very much.

ALCINDOR: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thanks for being the stars of our show. Our first break, coming up, David Plouffe, Tim Miller join us. They`re here to talk about the challenges ahead for the President and his party, and they try to pass their social spending program before Christmas, how realistic a goal is that really. And later, Dr. Fauci shares some early but not terrible news about Omicron as other experts warn about the immediate threat from our old friend the Delta variant.

The 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Monday night in view of the Capitol dome.




SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MAJORITY LEADER: Senate Democrats remain committed in taking up in passing President Biden`s Build Back Better Act before Christmas. We are close. And we will keep going until the job is done.


WILLIAMS: It was actually emotional for him the Senate Majority Leader sounding optimistic there about a key piece of the President`s agenda. But as we know its fate hinges more or less on this guy, Democrat on paper from West Virginia. You might be shocked to hear he doesn`t sound that hopeful right now.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I have concerns, you know, we`re talking about made major changes in our tax code. And I think my position hasn`t changed from what July when I gave y`all man. Y`all found out about the letter that Schumer and I had exchanged and discussed and that was back in August. And just kind of followed that went through and it pretty much I`m in the same place I`ve always been.


WILLIAMS: He has concerns, back with us tonight. David Plouffe, former Obama campaign manager and senior advisor to the President, he has concerns. So does Tim Miller, contributor to The bulwark and the former communications director for Jeb Bush, these two distinguished concerned gentlemen, we`re happy to have you both on board tonight.

David, I need a prediction. Does the bill passed as anything like it go to the President`s signature by Christmas?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: First of all, Brian, thank you for the invaluable role you played for all of us in these challenging times. We`ll miss you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

PLOUFFE: Listen, I don`t think it`s going to be easier in January. So I think there`s no reason to wait. Either this is going to pass. And if it`s going to pass, I think it`s better for the people who would get the benefits. I think it`d be better for the Democratic Party. I`m sure it`ll be better for Joe Manchin, you know, to lift the cloud.

So do it over the next couple of weeks. If it slips to January, I don`t think it makes any more like that. I think the areas of disagreement are known. Probably the areas of compromise are known.

So -- And the sooner you can get that done, A, you begin to get benefits out for people which is most important substantively but also politically, but then no one knows what`s in this package.

We`ve talked about big dollar amounts and we`ve talked about social welfare bills, but you really need to get into the nitty-gritty district by district and explain to people A, what`s in it, B, how they`ll benefit and C, who`s paying for it.

WILLIAMS: Tim Miller when I was in local news in New York, I covered it seemingly once a week, labor negotiations. New York City municipal workers strikes that would go down to the wire and watching some of the better labor negotiators, I realized something about deadlines.

Deadlines push you into a corner. When did the Democrats become, Tim, such deadline enthusiasts? They`re always drawing lines in the sand then lines in the sand, move with the sand, it seems to me.

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Sure. I don`t know if it`s just a democratic problem. This might be a DC, you know, brain worms problem that everybody has already decided that we can`t pass anything an election year anymore, Brian. We only have one year to work, right. So we have to put another deadline now though getting this done before Christmas.

The actual deadline for a reconciliation bill isn`t till next September. And so the Democrats have pretty good time. I understand what you want to decide what you`re going to pass and have an agenda and then campaigned on it next year. So practically speaking, it`s probably before September, but there`s plenty of time.

And look, Joe Manchin, I know that this isn`t going to make people happy, but Joe Manchin is the only vote that matters. And the Democrats only got 50 votes in the Senate. And so unless Joe Manchin is going to change the filibuster, which he`s not, the Democrats can either come to terms with the fact that Joe Manchin is the only vote that matters, or they can continue to. you know, sort of hit themselves in the face complaining about Joe Manchin and the ladder doesn`t really seem to be serving any more purpose at this point.


And so, I don`t think that pressure from the left attacking Joe Manchin from the left. This all helps Joe Manchin. I was in West Virginia at a funeral couple weeks ago and talking to a lot of Republicans who are there. And believe it or not, he`s like the one example of a person who can cross party lines these days, they all liked the fact that Joe Manchin was the one holding the line against a AOC (ph) spending bill.

So if the Democrats want to pass something, they need to figure out what Joe Manchin can sell in West Virginia and then they can -- then they need to pass and otherwise I think that there`s a lot of other stuff they can be doing selling the infrastructure bill, dealing with COVID, Kitchen Table issues, and they can move forward and make a case on that defending democracy. Throw that on top as well.

WILLIAMS: David Plouffe, dramatic reading from Axios and the quote is as follows. Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 midterms with emotionally charged issues from critical race theory to Donald Trump`s role in the January 6 insurrection, wait for it, will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden`s Build Back Better agenda.

I would add to that David for as much tisking as there is among Democrats in Washington for things like Josh Hawley`s masculinity initiative, joke if you wish. I`m here to tell you as sure as I`m sitting here, and sure as you`re almost in bed, and we`ll get you there shortly. That`s going to be a thing too.

PLOUFFE: Yes, well, first of all, from a macro standpoint, so you think about 11 months from now as people are voting where the pandemic is, and we all hope it`s endemic and not pandemic, where the economy is not just statistically but in terms of people feeling better in terms of their individual family situation. I think bills getting passed that people can then understand Democrats did some things and just as importantly, Republicans oppose them.

The right track, we`re on track Joe Biden`s approval rating, you`re not going to improve that through tactics or better messaging, it`s reality, that I think people in their individual districts have to run a race to get to 50 percent of the vote.

And I think my big concern there is I think Republican turnout should be high again as we saw in 2020, and Virginia, so you`re really going to have to put a lot of votes in the bank.

But I think Democrats who are running for the House or the Senate, they just need to basically stick to their own knitting, and sell the things they voted for attack their opponent for things they`re opposed to that they think would benefit, but the things that will improve the Democrats national political standing are not a tweet, or an ad or new talking point. It`s the reality. And if the reality gets better, a lot of good things will follow for Democrats and if it doesn`t, it`s going to be a very painful election cycle.

WILLIAMS: Both of our guests are going to stay with us over this break just ahead when we continue this conversation. He`s been saying the quiet part out loud for years, and he doesn`t have to say a word to receive the loyalty of an entire political party.




DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: If I didn`t fire him, and some people said he made a mistake when he fired Comey. And now those same people said it was the most incredible instinctual moves that they`ve ever seen because I wouldn`t -- I might be here with you. Perhaps we`ll be talking about something else. But I don`t think I could have survived if I didn`t fire him.


WILLIAMS: Man rather famous for saying the quiet part out loud. Donald Trump fired of course the FBI director after he refused to promise his loyalty four years later. Trump appears to have the loyalty of nearly every elected Republican in this country.

The Atlantic article just out titled Trump`s Next Coup Has Already Begun, reports GOP state operatives are stripping power from local officials and are quote, fine tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.

Still with us for this important segment are David Plouffe and Tim Miller. Tim, for all the existential reasons, Democrats attentions were toward Republicans trying to monkey with the casting of votes, but the efforts to monkey with the counting of the votes. That is what can turn elections on their ear.

MILLER: No doubt about that, Brian. I do just before I answered, I have to say I was a little hurt. I didn`t get asked about Josh Hawley`s masculinity initiatives. You know, I just look at that bronzer on the former president`s face and think about his calloused hands and that limp fist and, you know, anyway, it`s just -- you sometimes just got to put it in my wheelhouse. Right. And I was just like, why fluff get that one.

Anyway, I can answer this one as well, Electoral Count Act. The Democrats as they move past, you know, there`s a lot on their plate, and the Republicans are standing in the way everything so I have nothing but sympathy. The Democrats can use that and run against the Republicans intransigence.

But, you know, in addition to BBB, in addition to the pandemic, they have to move to the Electoral Count Act next year. And Barton Gellman`s Atlantic article should be just another wake-up call in a long line of them. I think the ball we first wrote about this the board back in June, and it is a extremely out of date law. And the way that we count ballots, count votes, count electoral votes in this country. The wording is literally from another century and, you know, it is not precise, it leaves a lot of room for troublemakers.

And there are a lot of troublemakers on the Republican side right now. They`re going to look for any possible way to succeed where they failed in 2020. The alarm across the Democratic caucus in the Senate and the House should be high and it`s something they really are going to have to deal with next year.

WILLIAMS: David Plouffe, you have called the article as Tim just did essential reading. What do the Democrats do? What can they do and time is of the essence?

PLOUFFE: I think, Brian, every American citizen needs to read it. I wouldn`t read it at night because you`re not going to be able to sleep.

So it is just essential that the Electoral College reform gets passed. I think Democrats can also pass some things to make sure it is, you know, as easy to vote as it should be, but the most important thing here is that state legislators can`t steal the election.


And so BBB whether it passes in December, January or February, that is the remaining big piece of legislation. And Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema and any other Democrat who`s got concerns about the filibuster now has ample opportunity to go to a microphone and say, I didn`t want to do a carve out for the filibuster for anything.

But it`s pretty clear. And I think this is one problem for not just Democrats, Republicans, citizens, they don`t believe the Republicans will go this far. And I think the mistake is not to take them seriously. They`re laying out exactly what they intend to do, which is to gain power and never relinquish it.

And by the way, it`s not worth building roads and bridges and child care tax credits in an autocracy. We -- This has to get done, or four or five years from now, it will be Donald Trump in power, then they hand it off to his son, then they hand it off to a grandson. And we are not going to recognize the country. So this has to get done.

And so permission structure is always important, Brian, when people in politics have said they`re not going to do something. The question is, what is the avenue for them to then say, well, I`ve changed my mind. And I think pieces like this Gellman piece or what you need, which is they have made it very, very clear that without any action in Congress, they`re going to steal the election no matter what happens in `24. And so action has to be taken here and I agree with Tim Democrats are dealing with a lot this is a lot of pressure to put on.

But the notion that somehow we can out organize, or, or we can basically back them off their intended plot. And listen, when somebody tries engages in a coup attempt, if you allow them to have a second one, that`s the one that succeeds. That`s what history shows us.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I hope people are taking notes as you speak. Tim, if you`ll forgive me for not raising with you the Josh Hawley projection act of 2021. This is from something you said on social media today. Growing up every story I was told about politics, treated the Ways and Means chairmanship as if it were the height of power and influence. Nunes is taking a pass on it to run Friendster for bigots. Congress` decline in miniature.

Is the departure of Nunes just further proof of Trump`s sway over all supplicants, Tim?

MILLER: Look, it`s a proof of two things. One, just have the power, single parenting I have a child upstairs, about is the power of the Trump social media that this sort of attack on the big tech outlets. That`s number one.

And the second thing is it just shows the weakness of the fact that the Republican Congress, they don`t have an agenda. They don`t want to do anything. Why would you stay in Congress, if it`s a better job to go run a down market social media company than it is to be the chairman of Ways and Means that tells you something about the fact that they don`t have an agenda. They don`t have any desire to do anything.

And so I think this is a story about the decline both of Congress but also of the Republican Party.

WILLIAMS: I am old enough to remember Wilbur Mills, about whom you would never say he was chairman of Ways and Means without the powerful chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

So Tim, go parent, David go to bed. Gentlemen, go into the night with my great thanks, David Plouffe, Tim Miller have been our guest tonight. Two friends of this broadcast. Coming up for us, with more Omicron detected across the country. Doctor`s offer this reminder. As much as we hate to say it Delta is not done with us yet.




DR. PETER HOTEZ, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT TEXAS CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL: Delta cases are going up. We`re now at over 100,000 new cases a day and we`ve still done a terrible job vaccinating the country. Just over the last six months 150,000 unvaccinated Americans have needlessly lost their lives the COVID-19 were in for a terrible wave yet again.


WILLIAMS: That is our frequent guest here the vaccine scientist Peter Hotez with a grim reminder of Delta`s existing threat. Meanwhile, this new Omicron variant has now been detected in almost 20 states. But Dr. Fauci did mention some more positive news from early data out of South Africa.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: We really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn`t cause any severe illness comparable to Delta, but thus far the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity.


WILLIAMS: So with us for more tonight, thank goodness Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease physician, founding Director of Boston University`s Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research.

Doctor, I am guessing you want to be encouraged by those words. I also know the business you`re in is one where you are constantly cautioning us against jumping to conclusions.

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN: That`s right. And Brian, I think the inherent virulence of a pathogen, right, what part of severity of disease is actually caused by variant is really hard to tease apart because it`s also a function of the human that is infecting, right, their age or medical conditions, as well as a function of the healthcare systems. And even though this is a promising signal, I think that what would be great to see is to see if this continues in South Africa as more people are getting infected, unfortunately, the Omicron, as well as whether we see a similar trend in other countries where Omicron`s taking on.

And I say that partly with caution, because we`re also, as you said, going into a winter surge with Delta. And you know, when you get infected now, you don`t know if it`s Omicron or Delta, but the chances are very high, it`s Delta, and we already know that that`s causing all their destruction. It`s a vaccination, and those measures remain important.

WILLIAMS: So we think the Omicron may be more transmissible. We are still waiting for, as you mentioned, proof or disproof of its virulence. Do we think we have the right formulation for boosters with Omicron knocking on our door?

BHADELIA: Yes, and I would say there`s a stronger signal than even last week when we talked about that transmissibility, because the cases are increasing in South Africa. And you`ve seen, you know, clusters of cases where tons of people have become infected from a primary index person who has Omicron.

I would say for the booster part that, you know, we`re still waiting for that laboratory data, but the reason you see myself and many other infectious diseases docs and immunologist stay with more confidence that we`re probably going to be protected against infectious or severe diseases because no other variant today, Brian, has reduced completely reduced or eradicated the protection against severe disease, and death. And that`s why those vaccines are so important.


And the boosters from what we know now, these boosters are increasing, not just your antibodies. But more and more studies are coming out that they`re giving you a much more mature immune response that might be helpful, particularly to secure, you know, a new threat from a variant, for example, but we won`t know until those laboratory data from vaccination studies come out in the next week or so.

WILLIAMS: There`s a guy you and I discussed just days ago, when you were last on I want to play his most recent comments for you tonight. This is the former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who full disclosure as a member of the Board of Pfizer, but made some very interesting comments along these lines, we`ll discuss on the other side.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FMR. FDA COMMISSIONER: Delta`s immediate risk. And the tragic thing is there`s a lot of people who are going to get infected with Delta even still. And they may find that that immunity that they`ve acquired through that Delta infection isn`t going to be protective against Omicron.

I worry about states that have low vaccination rates, high Delta exposure and are confident right now and perhaps overconfident because their prevalence has declined that describes a lot of states in the South right now, which I think could be vulnerable to Omicron, because they are relying a lot on Delta immunity.


WILLIAMS: So that is an interesting point, doctor, to lay person like me, that kind of Delta immunity in a world, especially without vaccines, is not going to leave you in good stead with Omicron approaching.

BHADELIA: And South Africa has actually already shown data on that, you know, what they`ve shown is that people who had prior infection in this way, they`re seeing three times higher rates of reinfection than people who just had infection, you know, induced immunity.

And what we know is that even though you do get some protection from having an infection before, that you really get that bigger boost and more uniform increase in immunity if you get the vaccine on top as well. And we know that there`s many states where vaccination rates are still low. And there are a lot of people who are sort of going by this rhetoric of if I`ve gotten an infection before I don`t need a vaccination.

And I think what you`re seeing is an even higher need for that group to get their vaccines. And I would say I`m going to make that last push again, which I`m doing all my friends and families to get that booster because I honestly think even you`ve been -- have you had those two doses, that third dose, we think is going to be quite protective. So get your vaccinations. If you haven`t been vaccinated, get your booster if you`ve been vaccinated.

WILLIAMS: That is indeed the case, a public health expert for good reason. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia has been our guest again tonight. Doctor, thank you so very much.

BHADELIA: Brian --


BHADELIA: -- if I may since I may not have the chance to do this. I want to thank you, genuinely thank you for covering issues of public health with such compassion and sense of responsibility not just during this pandemic, but for as long as that bless you. Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you very much. Remember you`re the one who has talked us through a pandemic not the other way around. Thank you, doctor, for being a friend of this broadcast and so good at what you do.

Coming up after our next break, the new hotspot in our often violent world that some Americans have yet to focus in on.



WILLIAMS: You can bet Joe Biden went to the residence portion of the White House tonight with a thick Briefing Book which happens anytime people with nuclear weapons sit down to talk to with each other. As we mentioned, President has this high stakes video conference tomorrow with Putin of Russia, it comes as tens of thousands of Russian troops have massed on the Ukrainian border raising concerns over a potential invasion.

Our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has our report from the Ukraine tonight.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New satellite images tonight show Russian forces at the ready near the Ukrainian border. U.S. intelligence warn Russia`s Vladimir Putin may be planning an attack on the U.S. ally.

U.S. and Ukrainian officials estimate there are already 70,000 to 100,000 Russian troops near the border. An unclassified U.S. Intelligence estimate predicts another 100,000 could be called in for a potential invasion early next year. President Biden is signal to Putin, the U.S. will oppose him.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I have constant contact with our allies in Europe, with Ukrainians.

ENGEL: Analysts expect the U.S. would likely confront Russia with sanctions and not a full war on its border. Though in the past, sanctions have done little to change Putin his actions. Fears of war are growing in Ukraine.

Back in April during another Russian troop buildup, we were with Ukrainian troops who were carefully monitoring Russians on the other side.

What are you looking at through this Periscope/


ENGEL: Tonight, Putin may be bluffing. He does not want Ukraine to join NATO. And he doesn`t want NATO to put advanced weapon systems into the country. Perhaps it`s just sabre rattling. Either way, the swords are drawn.

(on camera): Presidents Biden and Putin will have a video call tomorrow. U.S. officials say Russia has been sending troops to the border but also pulling them back to keep the world guessing what it will do. Richard Engel, NBC News, Kiev.


WILLIAMS: And coming up for us and anniversary tomorrow that for so many reasons, feels like the ending of something as well.



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is actually two things and they are connected. The most consequential day of the last century aside from 9/11, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, 80 years ago tomorrow.

This year only 40 survivors of the attack are physically able to attend. And all too quickly of course that number will drop to zero.

Over 2,400 souls died on that day and that day launched our nation into World War II.

In Russell, Kansas in the depths of the struggle and poverty that the Dust Bowl brought to the American Midwest, a young man named Bob, a strapping three-sport athlete in high school with dreams of becoming a surgeon joined the U.S. Army.

Months later a young lieutenant Bob Dole found himself in the mountains of Italy. His radio man had been hit, wounded, Dole went to rescue him. He was hit by a German shell.

He was given morphine and remained in a bloody clump for nine hours. He was evacuated and spent 39 months in the hospital.

Back in Kansas when they cut open his body cast, cigarette butts fell onto the floor. You see his fellow GI`s had used it as an ashtray on the train ride home.

The people in Russell Kansas raised money for their favorite son`s recovery. But Bob Dole`s recovery was up to him, and he rebuilt himself. His right arm had been reattached, and he never could use it or his right hand for that matter. He kept a pen in his right hand so people wouldn`t reach for it. Many a dinner partner at many an intimate Washington gathering, learned how to discreetly cut his meat for him because he could not.

Until recently Bob Dole used to spend Saturdays at the World War II Memorial that he was instrumental in creating. From his wheelchair, he greeted veterans and their families. He viewed it as service. And indeed, Bob Dole served his country from the day he signed up until the day he died just this weekend.

And so it seems like an era is ending we are nearing the final goodbye to all of them. We run the risk of course of their story getting fuzzy, hazy what they did, what they defeated, what they came home and built. We can never repay the debt. We owe them all.


That is our broadcast for this Monday night with our thanks, of course, for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues of the networks of NBC News, good night.