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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 3/16/21

Guests: Malcolm Nance, Irwin Redlener, Walter Isaacson, Ambar Keluskar


At least eight people have been killed in a series of shootings at three Atlanta area massage parlors, with a number of the victims described by authorities as women of Asian descent. Intelligence report underscored allegations that Trump allies played into Moscow`s hands by amplifying claims against Biden. Trump allies falsely claim Venezuela and Cuba tried to fix election by hacking voting machines. Moderna is testing vaccines on babies and children. Miami Beach mayor is worried about spring break crowds. Gene editing tool can help detect and eliminate disease. Brooklyn pharmacist Ambar Keluskar had too many COVID vaccines in his store`s freezer so he brought them to vulnerable seniors in his neighborhood. Biden is facing pressure to address border surge. According to data obtained by NBC News, Border Patrol detained a record 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children. Nearly 3,000 children have been held beyond the legal limit of 72 hours, all in jail-like facilities not designed for kids.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Marq Claxton, thank you for joining us tonight. And Rosa Brooks, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Rosa`s book is, Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City. It is the most important new entry in our literature about police work in America. It is a must read if you`re interested in that subject. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again, you may have been following as we have this breaking news out of the Atlanta suburbs this evening. A 21 year old suspect is in custody after a string of shootings at three separate locations, all of them local strip mall style day spas that the New York Times is referring to as massage parlors. Tonight, eight people are dead. At least half the victims said to be Asian women. This has brought out a huge police response in the Atlanta Metro region as you might imagine. We don`t know anything further about possible motive as of yet as we said, one custody right now, eight are dead. This ongoing story tonight, we will keep an eye on.

Also this evening, the NYPD is confirming to us, they are deploying officers to Asian communities in and around the city of New York out of an abundance of caution following these Atlanta shootings, eight dead tonight in Atlanta.

Now, we turn to what was day 56 of the Biden administration. We have brand new revelations tonight about what Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin were up to when it came to trying to ensure the 2020 election and did with the defeat of Joe Biden and the re-election of Donald Trump. The director of national intelligence has released a report on how Moscow tried to carry out an effective sequel to its 2016 election interference that was less reliant on actual hacking and cyber attacks and focused more on the people close to Trump. The report says Putin and the Kremlin, "Authorized and conducted influence operations against the 2020 US presidential election aimed at denigrating President Biden and the Democratic Party supporting former President Trump undermining public confidence in the electoral process and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S. A key element of Moscow strategy was its use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden, U.S. media organizations, U.S. officials and prominent U.S. individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration.

The report declines to name names but as the Washington Post reports, the mention of individuals close to the former president, "Appears to reference Trump`s one time personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, whose repeated meetings with a suspected Russian agent came under scrutiny by U.S. officials."

The report from the DNI said Iran also sought to influence the election to hurt Trump`s reelection chances, while China didn`t bother to get in the game at all, contradicting the former president`s frequent assertions. The Justice Department and Homeland Security also released their latest report on claims we heard after the election about foreign governments owning or trying to manipulate voting machines or vote counts.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER: We`re using a foreign company that is owned by Venezuelans who were close to - were close to Chavez, are now close to Maduro have a history, they were founded as a company to fix elections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we are really dealing with here and uncovering more about the day is the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba, and likely China in the interference with our elections here in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president`s lawyers alleging a company called dominion, which they say started in Venezuela with Cuban money and with the assistance of Smartmatic software, a backdoor is capable of flipping votes.


WILLIAMS: The Justice Department and Homeland Security found, "Those claims were not credible."

Meanwhile, President Biden was on the road today visiting a flooring company in Chester Pennsylvania taking up the COVID relief plan. He`s coming under increasing pressure to deal with growing migration to the U.S. border with Mexico. Secretary Homeland Security says the U.S. is approaching a two decade high in illegal border crossings.

Tonight, Biden spoke to ABC News and rejected the idea that his policies may be leading to the rise in illegal border crossings.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: We`re sending back people to -- first of all, the idea that Joe Biden said, come because, I heard the other day that they`re coming because they know I`m a nice guy, and I want .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re saying this.

BIDEN: Yeah. Well, here`s the deal. They`re not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: do you have to say quite clearly, don`t come?

BIDEN: Yes, I can say quite clearly don`t come over in the process of getting set up. Don`t leave your town or city or community.


WILLIAMS: There will no doubt, be more questions for Biden on the border situation when he holds his first formal news conference March 25. Tonight, his predecessor who left office with an incomplete wall in place and then some weighed in on the border situation and on his future plans.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: It is a crisis like we`ve rarely had, and certainly we`ve never had on the border, but it`s going to get much worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you considering 2024?

TRUMP: Well, based on every poll, they want me to run again, but we`re going to take a look and we`ll see. We have -- first steps first, we have to see what we can do with the House. I think we have a very, very good chance of taking back the House. I think we have a chance to do better in the Senate. We need leadership in the Senate, which frankly we don`t have.


WILLIAMS: We`re also keeping an eye on developments concerning New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He is facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct. There have been several calls for his resignation, including from both New York senators earlier this evening. President Biden made his strongest comments to date.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I asked you about Governor Cuomo of New York, I know you`ve said you want the investigation to continue. If the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should he resign?

BIDEN: Yes, I think you probably end up being prosecuted to.


WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night, Phil Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning Senior Washington Correspondent for The Washington, Post Claire McCaskill, former Democratic senator from the Great State of Missouri and Malcolm Nance, he`s a veteran author and a veteran of Naval Intelligence, Special Ops Homeland and Cyber Security, 36 years working in counterterrorism and intelligence, earlier this year, he testified before Congress on domestic terrorism.

And Malcolm indeed, given your resume, you are where I`d like to begin tonight. This report today reminds us how close our democracy came. That`s constant wording to, it comes every day. And also reminds us where the talking points came from that we heard out of the mouth of our president and the people around him?

MALCOLM NANCE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TERROR ASYMMETRICS PROJECT: You know, this report is seminal in another way. This is the second time in less than four years, the U.S. intelligence community has warned that we were attacked again, this time with less direct operations using cyber tools, as opposed to what they did in 2016, which is actually create the narrative. They use more traditional human intelligence tools in this one by an ex-KGB officer who actually ran spies when he was in the KGB. And he used an associate of his personally Mr. Dirk Hatch (ph), to send information to Rudy Giuliani and other U.S. entities and literally craft a narrative for them to use against president, now President Biden and his family. And they ran with it. Giuliani was into it with before the Ukraine scandal. All of this we now find out was a component of the Kremlin itself, and Russian military and clandestine intelligence services, and Americans were neck deep in it.

WILLIAMS: Claire McCaskill used to be something like this would upset all 100 members of the U.S. Senate, but that`s not going to be the case tomorrow, is it? And we`ve further learned in this that this was not just out to get Trump reelected. This was out to help the Republican Party writ large?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Yeah, I was thinking about it when I was reading the report today that there was a time not too long ago that this would have been an earthquake. This would have been seismic. It would have been so big. And let`s just say what Rudy Giuliani is, he`s a treasonous traitor. You`ve got to use -- I mean, he`s also a clown. But he`s a treasonous traitor clown. Because this is the guy who was working directly with our adversaries, another country to influence our democracy, and he was a willing participant as was Ron Johnson, as were many others that played into Putin`s hand in this bold and as yet unpunished act of war against the strongest democracy on the world, they are trying to bring democracies to their knees and they are willing to do anything to get it done, including what this report laid out so clearly.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, you famously covered the Trump White House, been there, survived that and wrote about it. What did the Russians understand about the people around this president, the former president, and their ability for garbage in, garbage out to spread their allies?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, a couple things that they understood, Brian, and by the way, they learned this over the course of the four years of this presidency, they understood that there are a lot of inputs to President Trump. You didn`t have to go through any sort of formal policy apparatus or even officials of the U.S. government. You could get people like Rudy Giuliani, you could bend Rudy Giuliani`s ear and all of a sudden have a pipeline directly to the President of the United States, because that`s how Donald Trump operated in office. They also learned the Russians did, how gullible Trump and many of his advisers were, they would believe what these Russian agents would say, if they thought it would help Trump politically. And that`s what happened here with a lot of this misinformation about Joe Biden and about the Biden family.

Trump, remember in 2020, in those months leading up to the election was behind in virtually all of the polls, he was desperate for some sort of a Hail Mary, to reverse his election hoax and to gain an edge over Joe Biden because he had struggled so much with the coronavirus pandemic and managing that in the minds of voters. And so they would grasp on to information. There was a period in the summer and fall where Trump would hang on to any new discovery relating to Hunter Biden, whether it was true or not. And the Russians knew how easy it would be to try to feed information directly to the President for Rudy Giuliani.

WILLIAMS: Malcolm, your suggestion, I follow one or more Twitter so called breaking news sites that we know to be affiliated with the Russian point of view if not full on funding, and it`s fascinating though depressing to watch right now they`re into attacking vaccines, any if someone gets a cough after the AstraZeneca vaccine, they will point it out. As you have pointed out on this broadcast, a sick adversary is easier to have your way with than a well adversaries, Russians also have an interest in getting their vaccine to market in Europe. So tell our viewers how to be better consumers of what they see. This disinformation campaign is not going to go away because our government has mentioned it in a report.

NANCE: No, it`s not going to go away at all. And this is going to take a complete reengineering of American cyber hygiene. And I think that by the changing of the administration`s we`ve taken the first step. One of the things that that is absolutely important to the other channels, which have a more propagandistic leaning in the United States and which are operated by Russia, Russia today, which is adored by many people on the right wing in the United States, is the very fact that they craft a message which is negative to the United States, but positive to Donald Trump and positive to Russia. And it all goes to their strategic goals.

Look, Vladimir Putin was a career KGB officer, not for a reason. He believed in what the Soviet Union belief. Now he believes in money, but he never let go the strategic goals of dismantling liberal democracy. He himself said, liberal democracy is finished and that they need to foster autocracy around the world. The Republican Party agrees with this. So all the messaging that you`re going to see from overseas and the messaging that they amplify in the United States to hurt America will always have this message.

And one last point, Brian, we may actually be able to see a direct arc from this report to the shooting that happened in Atlanta today, because the Chinese setback and we`re looking for stability, but the Russians have been amplifying the message from the Trump administration, that all liberals are members of the Communist Chinese Party and that the Chinese attacked us and that American -- we saw this multi fold attack on Asian citizens in the United States. It is incestuous and it is all connected.

WILLIAMS: Claire McCaskill back we jump into the cesspool of politics in Washington D.C., though you`ve done nothing to deserve this, please join us in watching your buddy Mitch McConnell from today. We`ll talk about it on the other side.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like. Everything that Democrat Senate dead, the presidents Bush and Trump, everything that Republican Senate did to President Obama would be child`s play compared to the disaster that Democrats would create for their own priorities, if, if they break the Senate.


WILLIAMS: So Claire McCaskill, is that a fancy and threatening way of saying to the Democrats on this filibuster argument, be careful what you wish for?

MCCASKILL: Well, that`s what he`s trying to do. But I`ve got news for Mitch McConnell, he kind of broke the Senate. He`s the one that has used the rules in a way they were never intended to be used. And he has done that with gleeful abandon over and over and over again, and the Senate has become broken. Regular order is gone. There`s not debate, there`s not an amendment. It is just a mere shadow of what it used to be.

So the question is, should you have to stand up and own your obstructionism? He`s bragging here that they would be the ultimate obstructionist. If there`s any reform of the filibuster. Well, that`s not going to be a very smart thing to do politically, that`s not going to Garner him the hearts and minds of American voters, that`s not going to win the day for the Republican Party. So a lot of this is an empty threat. But the bottom line is we need to reform a process so that if somebody wants to obstruct they own it, and that the American people can see who`s doing it, and figure out why, and then make their judgment on Election Day. And I don`t think that will turn out well, for Mitch McConnell`s party.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, his phone interview with Fox News Tonight, Trump seemed to have a rare moment of candor talking about the drive for voting rights in the Democratic Party versus all the voter suppression we`re seeing in so many states across the country, he said, in effect, it`s going to be really hard to get Republicans elected if the Democrats are successful. What`s the chance that he is joining forces with Republicans on this issue we know he cares about for all the wrong reasons?

RUCKER: You know, Brian, I assume he`s on board with the Republicans on this issue. And by the way, this is not a new issue. For the Republican Party or for former President Trump, it`s been part of the strategy for Republicans going back at least a generation to try to use it there majorities in certain state legislatures to use the law, to use the courts, to find ways to effectively make it more difficult for working people and people of color to vote in certain states in this country. Trump tried to great effect in 2016, and again in 2020, in his campaign, to do what he could to enact those restrictions.

And what you saw in a state like Georgia, for example, is the power on the other side in blocking a lot of those efforts and driving up registration and getting to the people to the polls, despite what Republican leaders in those states were doing to try to prevent that. And that`s the dynamic we`re going to see playing out here over the next two years heading into the 2022 midterm elections. But certainly, I think we can expect to see former President Trump leading the Republican charge there

WILLIAMS: Our big three guests on this Tuesday night, Philip Rucker, Claire McCaskill, Malcolm Nance, can`t thank the three of you enough for helping us out at the top of the hour tonight. Thank you.

Coming up, could a COVID vaccine for children, keep schools open? We`ll ask a top pediatrician by training, if that`s a good idea.

And later, da Vinci, Einstein, Steve Jobs and now, Jennifer Doudna, the latest biography subject of Walter Isaacson. She may not be a household name yet, but her work could change the future of the human race. No big deal. The celebrated author and friend of this broadcast standing by to talk with us. All of it as "THE 11TH HOUR" is just getting underway on This Tuesday evening.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: Although there is good news in the sense of the vaccine continues to get rolled out, we`ve gone between two and 3 million per day. That`s very good news. Keeping that up, we`re going in the right direction. But if all of a sudden we declare victory, we can risk the surge. They`re seeing that in Europe.


WILLIAMS: Here`s the problem here, Dr. Fauci also warns the cases in our country have plateaued at an unacceptably high level around 50,000 a day. Moderna is now looking to expand protection to kids. It started testing its vaccine in babies and children from age six months to 12 years old.

Back with us again tonight, Dr. Irwin Redlener, pediatrician by training, Founding Director of Colombia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. He advises us on matters of public health. Doctor, when do you think children will be able to be vaccinated in our country? And where do you stand on it?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Good evening, Brian. Well, I think we`re talking about the next few months possibly, and I think certainly before the next school year begins to September. I am a believer, Brian, because I think it`s important that children get vaccinated. Children are still vulnerable, maybe not for the level of illness and fatalities, fortunately, that adults are, but they certainly are capable of carrying and if they`re capable of carrying that means they`re a potential vector to potentially cause grandma grandpa and other older people or people with risk to get ill. So I`m in favor and I think it`ll facilitate getting kids back to school.

WILLIAMS: I note that neither you nor I is enjoying spring break but a whole lot of others are. I want to play for you a portion of an interview tonight with the mayor of Miami Beach. We`ll discuss on the other side.


DAN GELBER, MAYOR, MIAMI BEACH: We have a huge problem right now. We seem to be one of the only places that`s opened, even if we don`t want to be as open as we are. Governors made it that way. So everybody`s coming here. They`re a discount fares -

SHEPARD SMITH, NBC NEWS HOST: Have you talk to him?

GELBER: No, I haven`t talked to him in months.


GELBER: He`s not really talking to the local mayors. Most of us --

SMITH: Had you tried?

GELBER: I`ve sent him letters. I`ve talked -- I`ve sent his Chief of Staff information, I`ve asked them for help.

SMITH: And what did you hear?

GELBER: I hear crickets.


WILLIAMS: That was mayor Gelber was Shepard Smith tonight, Doctor. And look, the Governor DeSantis is out there bragging on how open they are and how crowded and teeming South Florida is right now. What would you rather have the Governor of Florida talking about?

REDLENER: You know, the governor of Florida should be talking about trying to protect the people in his state, and the people from the states, from which all these party goers are coming. It`s really disappointing, Brian. The thing that`s so concerning here is that we`re really in a good place. We`re looking at a potentially bright future, as Dr. Fauci keeps saying, however, there are things waiting in the wings to sabotage, to undermine the progress we`re making. One of them is governors who are opening too soon. This includes Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. Another one is to allow 1000s and 1000s of young people to come down without mass and participate in spring break, like it was 1999. This is not OK.

And you know, and then there`s the variance there. So we`re at a very kind of momentary, plateauing, but at a very high level. And if we don`t do things, right, which means to continue, another year of no spring break, would not kill us, the vaccine will protect us. But the partying, the premature opening, the failure to identify the variants that can hurt us can actually kill us. That`s why it`s really disappointing to watch what`s going on in Florida. And I think really quite irresponsible of the governor down there, unfortunately.

WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about another area of your expertise and that is behavior during a disaster. And it sure looks like our southern border is some form of disaster. We have these unaccompanied children coming in and the government scrambling to House them. What are your worries?

REDLENER: You know, Brian, this is something I`ve been very concerned about since 2018 when Donald Trump bolstered by Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General and Stephen Miller, the Immigration Adviser, decided to initiate a group of incredibly cruel policies to disincentivize people coming across the border. And we got very, very jammed up and a lot of children living under indescribably cruel and difficult conditions. You remember the so called cages, I saw them and they were cages.

Now we have numbers reaching what Trump had to deal with under the Biden administration. And he very much wants to solve this and make sure that conditions for children are humane and appropriate and caring for them. But the problem is, there are not enough places to put the children who are in detention now safely and to watch them. And COVID has made this much worse because the facilities that were being used are now being -- having their capacity reduced in order to prevent COVID spread. So we have COVID complicating an already massive crisis there on the southwest border.

And I`ve been writing lately about the things that the Biden administration can do to help alleviate some of the pressures here but this is a really tough problem. Come in a tough time, Brian, because of COVID.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, Dr. Redlener has four bits of advice for the Biden administration and a piece he has written and published. The Daily Beast wanted to direct our viewers` attentions to that. Dr. Irwin Redlener, our guest tonight thank you as always for taking our questions.

Coming up for us, as millions of Americans express their gratitude for these vaccines they`re receiving, a remarkable story you may not know about the making of the shot. Best selling author, Walter Isaacson, standing by to talk with us next.



JENNIFER DOUDNA, 2020 NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY RECIPIENT: In 100 years, boy, hard to say what will be going on but I think, you know, just understanding that human beings now have the ability to rewrite the code of life.


WILLIAMS: Back in October 2020, biochemist U.C. Berkeley Professor Jennifer Doudna was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her role in discovering a revolutionary DNA editing tool. The technology has the potential to control future pandemics and fight cancer. In fact, COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were both built on top of her groundbreaking research. So it`s no surprise Jennifer Doudna is the central character for the latest work of the noted journalist and author Walter Isaacson whose past biographies include the lives of Franklin Einstein, Kissinger, Jobs and da Vinci.

Walter is back with us tonight. He`s a professor of history at the Jewel of New Orleans Tulane University. He is the former CEO of CNN and of the Aspen Institute, former editor of Time. The new book is "The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and The Future of the Human Race". Great to see you my friend. And here`s where I`d like to begin. Tell us about this achievement, where it ranks in all the tech you`ve covered, including but not limited to being Steve Jobs biographer.

WALTER ISAACSON, AUTHOR, "THE CODE BREAKER": Oh man, I sit here with my iPhone, it`s changed our lives. This will be 10 times, 20 times greater. Because the ability to code molecules, the way we code microchips means we can make these vaccines, means we can improve them for the next variants or the next viruses that come along, but also it means we can edit our own genes. And that has enormous potential for getting rid of genetic diseases, for fighting cancer, and an enormous potential, but also a bit of a parallel for saying, oh, we can design our babies to have some of the traits we want them to have.

WILLIAMS: Well, let`s talk about that peril. This gift of science is as no one needs to remind you having literally written the book, it is not without its moral complications. It`s not without its geopolitical complications, wasn`t Putin famously quoted as saying that with tools like gene editing, he could create a super soldier of some sort?

ISAACSON: Absolutely. Putin talked about CRISPR, the technology that Jennifer Doudna and her partner Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize for inventing and he said, yes, we can build super soldiers. In China, a couple of years ago, a doctor decided to edit the embryos of what became twin girls. So they had inheritable edits. The edits he made was to knock out a receptor for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. We were all kind of shocked it was premature that he did it.

But after this pandemic, I think, you know, we have to open our minds a bit and say, well, maybe if we can reduce the receptivity of the human species to viruses, and we can do it safely, sometime, that would be a good thing. So we have to balance the peril, but also this enormous potential.

WILLIAMS: Talk about the process of writing, it occurs to me the pandemic was in effect, your co-author, was with you, every second of the way sitting next to you as you were at your keyboard, talk about the effect it had on you and this work?

ISAACSON: Well, you know, where I live pretty well. I`m right behind me, there`s a balcony overlooking Royal Street. And when I began this book, I was really more worried about the perils of genetic editing on the diversity of our species. I was watching from the balcony, a second line parade in honor of the late Leah Chase, the Creole of color, great chef of New Orleans. There was a naked bicycle race to do traffic safety, there was, you know, the gay pride parade was that weekend with block party.

And so I looked out and saw people short and tall and gay and straight and trans, and people have different colors and hair colors and, you know, sizes. And I`m thinking how wonderful the diversity of human species is. And I`m thinking, we got to be careful that we don`t do things 20 years, 30 years from now, that reduces that diversity. However, as the pandemic had, and it suddenly became quiet on that balcony behind me, I started thinking, well, every creature large and small on this planet, uses all the tricks in their playbook to say, I`ve got to keep myself healthy. And if bacteria for a billion years have been using this CRISPR system to fight viruses, it`s thought, well, we have to figure out that maybe we can do it safely, not only fight viruses but cancer and genetic diseases.

WILLIAMS: If it`s humanity you`re looking for, you`ll see all of that eventually on Wall Street, if you have enough time. Final quick question and that is, if we could airdrop copies of this book across the country, would it be your dream that kids would open it and find their way to the STEM concentration of education that this, we need the bright young minds in Health and Science?

ISAACSON: Yes, that`s where the new geeks are going and the new cool kids are going. When Jennifer was in sixth grade, her dad left on her bed, "The Double Helix" by James Watson. And she thought it was a detective story and put it aside but then she was, yes, it is a detective story, but the secrets of life and she noticed that Rosalind Franklin, in that book, a woman could become a scientist. I hope that people are living -- I mean, it used to be we wanted our kids to learn digital coding. Now they`re also going to have to learn the code of life. I hope also some grownups read it, because our kids aren`t going to be interested unless we are and we`re going to have to wrestle with the moral problems.

WILLIAMS: This grown up and a ton of his friends will read it. Walter Isaacson has been our guest tonight from the great city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The new book is called "Code Breakers". Great to see you, my friend. Thank you for coming on. Good luck with it.

ISAACSON: Always good to be with you, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, he had plenty of vaccine doses, quote, just sitting in the freezer. But getting it into arms, man (ph) taking matters into his own hands. He is standing by to tell us his story when we come back.


WILLIAMS: With millions of Americans clamoring to get their vaccine, one pharmacist in Brooklyn, New York found himself in a unique position as reported by the New York Times. Ambar Keluskar faced a problem this month that seemed to defy logic. He struggled to find people to take the 200 doses he had on hand. Instead of waiting for them to come to the pharmacy, he would take his doses to them.

For more, we are so happy to welcome to the broadcast, Ambar Keluskar, the pharmacist at the center of this story. He`s based, by the way, at Rossi Pharmacy in the Bronzesville neighborhood of Brooklyn. How is it you ended up with 200 doses in your freezer, and what did you end up doing? How did you get them into arms?

AMBAR KELUSKAR, PHARMACIST, ROSSI PHARMACY: Absolutely. So, we were pinched between two well intentioned rules. But that ended up having kind of having a bad effect on us in one or two weeks in particular. There`s the rule that retail pharmacies at the time were restricted to patients aged 65 and older. It was meant to create a place where seniors wouldn`t have to compete with everyone else for vaccines and the New York`s user are (inaudible) to -- that providers need to use all vaccines in their inventory within seven days or risk of getting removed from the program.

And between new mass vaccination site at the Medgar Evers College that does absolutely excellent work and more pharmacies getting their hands on the vaccine. We were finding less and less patients to fill our appointment slots.

WILLIAMS: So did you go down your list of customers? Did you go down the names on the waiting list? Did you actually go out and door to door house calls with syringes in hand?

KELUSKAR: Did a couple of house calls and went through our normal channels called our patient list, work with community aid organizations who are just doing such amazing things throughout the pandemic. They`re, you know, working to sign up seniors at sites, and even arranging things like transportation and all these other amazing things. But even with all of that and even with trying to advertise, I was still short, so many doses to hit my 207 days target.

WILLIAMS: What was the reaction to the actions you took, and would you do it again?

KELUSKAR: Overwhelmingly positive. And, you know, nothing was -- nothing`s as dramatic as it seems. This is all well within the bounds of what we`re permitted to do. We send messages out to our local legislators, and one that`s been incredibly responsive has been Senator Jabari Brisport who gave us a -- whose staffer gave us a connection to person who lives in a senior housing complex and who wanted to get his neighbors vaccinated. He saw that they were struggling with the appointment systems and with mobility issues, and a couple other things that were preventing them from getting the vaccines.

WILLIAMS: The last thing I want to indicate is that you`re guilty of bending or breaking any rules, you in fact went above and beyond. Are you ready for it if there`s a run on your pharmacy after everyone reads its name and location in the New York Times?

KELUSKAR: I believe so, yes. We said -- it took months of just absolutely - - it was a stressful couple of months, but we built up a pretty good, pretty resilient system that makes sure that we can get our vaccines out efficiently or responsibly and within the limits of our staffing.

WILLIAMS: Well, you sir, are the reason we have always, during this pandemic, referred to pharmacists as essential employees in this society. It`s never been more true with the role you`re now playing in getting our fellow citizens vaccinated.

Ambar Keluskar, thank you on top of the long work day you had for staying up with us and taking our questions tonight. And thank you for the work you do. Ambar Keluskar, our guests from Brooklyn tonight.

Coming up for us, a report on what may be Joe Biden`s next big challenge when we come back



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you have any plans to travel to the southern border, sir? Not at the moment.



WILLIAMS: Pressures mounting on the Biden administration was southern border crossings on pace to reach their highest level in two decades. Authorities are overwhelmed by thousands of unaccompanied migrant children. The surge does not appear to be slowing. NBC News Correspondent Garrett Haake has our report tonight from El Paso.


GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the migrant surge at the border is growing. According to data obtained by NBC News, the Border Patrol is detaining a record 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children as of Sunday, a drastic jump of more than 1,000 in just a week. Of those, nearly 3,000 children have been held beyond the legal limit of 72 hours, all in jail-like facilities not designed for kids. This plea to migrants from the Homeland Security Secretary.

SECY. ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We are also in critically sending an important message that now is not the time to come to the border.

HAAKE (voice-over): Officials would not grant NBC News access to see the conditions in the Border Patrol facilities for ourselves. Attorneys for some of the children told us kids as young as one sometimes go days without bathing, rarely see the sun and the sound of crying is constant. This Guatemalan mother was recently reunited with her four year old daughter in the U.S. She says the child crossed the border with her aunt. That official separated the family expelling the aunt and leaving the four-year-old for days at a border patrol facility in Texas. The mother, whose identity we are concealing because she is seeking asylum, speaking to NBC`s Dasha Burns.

DASHA BURNS, NBC REPORTER: Can you tell me about your daughter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (though translation): She cries and is scared. But before she wasn`t like that, she was very happy.

HAAKE (voice-over): The Border Patrol says it can`t comment on specific cases, but that any child without a parent is considered unaccompanied and must be transferred to HHS without the adult relative. Meanwhile, Republicans say President Biden encouraged the migrant surge by reversing former President Trump`s restrictive border policies.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA, HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: It`s getting worse because of President Biden`s policies. What President Trump was doing was working.


HAAKE: Tonight, President Biden says he has no immediate plans to visit the border. His DHS secretary will appear before Congress tomorrow, where he`s expected to face tough questions about the situation here.

WILLIAMS: Correspondent Garrett Haake reporting for us tonight from El Paso in his home state of Texas, our thanks.

Coming up, because it matter, a look at where we were a year ago today.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We did a great job, we get very little credit for it. I closed the country far earlier. Dr. Fauci and Birx and all of these people that frankly made nothing but mistakes, they didn`t want to do it, they didn`t want to keep closer to China.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, that was the former president calling into the friendly confines of Fox News this evening. If you take the death toll, the cratered economy, and the destroyed livelihoods out of the equation, he did do a great job. Turning serious now, because we have lost over 536,000 souls because of our vowed and never forget how we got here, how about a look at where we were a year ago today.

This was the day last year when it seemed briefly like somebody had gotten to Trump and all but shamed him into acting, appearing in the briefing room because it meant airtime often despite the experts available to him, often in place of the experts available to him. This was the day he reluctantly read a list of restrictions on public activities and gatherings. And once that nastiness was out of the way, he couldn`t resist a victory lap.


TRUMP: My administration is recommending that all Americans including the young and healthy work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and public food courts.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you have any kind of estimate that Americans really were to band together .

TRUMP: Right.

ROBERTS: . and do what the White House is suggesting? How quickly you can turn this corner?

TRUMP: My people are talking about July, August, something like that. So it could be right in that period of time where it -- I say wash, it washes through. Other people don`t like that term, but where it washes through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your response to this crisis?

TRUMP: I`d rated at 10. I think we`ve done a great job.


WILLIAMS: That was a year ago today. Our death toll stands at 539,411 as of tonight. Cases are up over last week in 15 of our states. Just tonight, when he called in to Fox News right after he recommended getting the vaccine, he then finished it by saying, quote, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also.

So that`s where we are. And that happens to be our broadcast for this Tuesday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all of the men and women at the networks of NBC News, good night.