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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 3/31/21

Guests: Chuck Rosenberg, Justin Hansford, Baratunde Thurston, Mark McKinnon


Body cam video shows Floyd pleading with officers. President Joe Biden unveils $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan. Mitch McConnell blasts Biden plan as a "Trojan horse." House GOP leader pressed on Matt Gaetz`s future. Minneapolis store clerk testifies he felt "disbelief and guilt" over Floyd`s death. Witnesses gave emotional testimony during day three of Derek Chauvin trial. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp defends new voting law but companies like Delta and Coca-Cola blasted the voting law. Vaccine passports` become next pandemic challenge.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you. Thank you. Dolores Huerta, my hero gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. On a Wednesday night, day 71 of the Biden administration and we have a lot on our radar tonight including another emotional day at the Chauvin murder trial, capped off with police body cam video of George Floyd`s ultimately fatal arrest the footage, revealing the escalation of that deadly encounter, much more on that and this day in court just ahead.

This was also the day the President rolled out what he called a once in a generation opportunity to revamp the economy, starting with infrastructure rebuilding our country by starting with the bones. He traveled to Pittsburgh to unveil his massive proposal to shore up the nation`s aging roads and bridges and rail lines and utilities. A plan he says will transform the United States.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: I`m proposing a plan for the nation that rewards work, not just rewards wealth. It`s not a plan that tinkers around the edges. It`s a once in a generation investment in America, unlike anything we`ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago.

In fact, it`s the largest American jobs investment since World War II. It will create millions of jobs, good paying jobs, will grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interest, and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years. It`s big, yes, it`s bold, yes, and we can get it done.


WILLIAMS: Biden says it`ll cost just over $2 trillion. Among his plans to pay for it, a corporate tax hike from the current 21% to 28%. Keep in mind, he just signed his $1.9 trillion COVID Relief Act into law without any Republican support.

The plan Biden introduced today is part one. He says he`ll announce Part Two aimed at helping the nation`s families, education, health care and the like in a matter of weeks. Today, he invited Republicans to work with him on both.


BIDEN: The divisions of the moment shouldn`t stop us from doing the right thing for the future. I`m going to bring Republicans into the Oval Office; listen to them, what they have to say; and be open to other ideas. We`ll have a good-faith negotiation with any Republican who wants to help get this done. But we have to get it done.


WILLIAMS: Biden says he`s talked with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell about this during an appearance this morning in Kentucky. McConnell confirmed he indeed had a conversation with the President went on to say this, "It`s like a Trojan horse. It`s called infrastructure but inside the Trojan horse, it`s going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases. In other words, they want to reverse the tax reform that we did in just 2017."

While Mitch McConnell stays on brand and says exactly what`s expected of him, the White House remains focused on efforts to head off a possible fourth wave of the virus in our country. Today we learned the mass vaccination effort underway could soon include younger teenagers.

Pfizer said clinical trials show its doses are 100% effective in kids. Indeed, a former FDA Commissioner says he believes they`ll be eligible to get the shot by the time school starts.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, PFIZER AND ILLUMINA BOARD MEMBER: They`re going to go through the same careful process that they`ve gone through with the other data sets for the adult population. But that still puts you in a position of having this available, hopefully if everything goes well and the FDA review holds up puts you in a position of having it available for the fall.


WILLIAMS: Right now nearly 54 million Americans are fully vaccinated and that`s a big deal. Today senator and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly was doing his part to help get shots in arms in Arizona.

We`re also learning that some future shipments of the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being delayed because of a manufacturing error. FDA is now investigating what happened, doesn`t affect anything already on the market.

As for new cases, the CDC says those are up 12% from last week. They`re still over 60,000 a day. Here`s a name you haven`t heard in a while Sarah Palin tells People Magazine, she tested positive for coronavirus. She is now urging people to take steps to protect themselves including wearing masks.

Meanwhile, the CDC today announced the virus ranked as the third leading cause of death in our country last year after heart disease and cancer.

There is also news tonight in two major investigations to bring you up to speed on the New York Times reports the Manhattan District Attorney`s Office subpoenaed the personal bank records of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. He`s been involved in the company`s operations for years going back to the former president`s father. He even appeared on The Apprentice with Donald Trump. The Time says prosecutors are also scrutinizing gifts that he and his family received from Trump.

Also NBC News has now confirmed that Florida Republican Congressman and Arden Trump acolyte Matt Gaetz is indeed under investigation for possible sex trafficking stemming from a case involving an associate. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing.

Here`s where this gets really complicated tonight, the Washington Post now reports, Gaetz` own father, Don, was approached by two men who told him he could give a huge sum of money to fund their effort to locate one Robert Levinson, the longest held American hostage in Iran whose family has said they are told -- they have been told he is dead. The Post writes, Gaetz` father was told, "If the operation was a success, he would win favor with the U.S. government and help alleviate Matt Gaetz`s legal woes. Fearing his family was being extorted, Don Gaetz contacted the FBI."

Politico further reports Don Gaetz has told them he`s working with the bureau and has worn a wire. Matt Gaetz currently serves on the House Judiciary Committee today the House Republican leader was asked about this sex trafficking investigation and about Gaetz future on that committee.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA MINORITY LEADER: Those are serious implications if it comes out to be true, yes we would remove them if that was the case but right now as Matt Gaetz says is not true and we don`t have any information, so let`s get all the information.


WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for the New York Times. A.B. Stoddard, who wears glasses on occasion, Veteran Washington Journalist and Associate Editor and Columnist, I`m right there with you, for Real Clear Politics and, Chuck Rosenberg, a Justice Department Veteran, former U.S. Attorney, former Senior FBI official, notably the host of the popular MSNBC podcast, the Oath.

Good evening and welcome to you all. Peter, I`d like to begin with you on your beats. It took just over four and a half years but we finally got our infrastructure week, how heavy a lift is this for Joe Biden?

PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s as heavy as it can be obviously. Look, you know, you would think that Republicans and Democrats could agree on rebuilding roads and bridges and broadband and other things that the country is so woefully behind on, it`s something President Trump talked about. It`s something both parties have talked about for years, every district, every state presumably has a wish list of things that they think need to get taken care of. And yet despite that I think that we`re seeing already at least a pretty partisan battle shaping up and in part of course it`s because Republicans see an advantage in opposing President Biden on taxes. They may like infrastructure but they don`t like the idea of, you know, a rather large tax bill and some -- by some measures the largest one we`ve had in decades, certainly not going to want to go along with that even if it`s focused on the rich as President Biden says it will be. That`s just a natural dividing point between the parties in this country and particularly in these days. So that you`ve got a president who may talk bipartisan but in fact what he really needs to do is make sure his own democratic party is behind him and then he`s going to probably try to push it through on a party line vote using the what they call the reconciliation process in the Senate to get around the filibuster. That`s a heavy lift by itself.

WILLIAMS: A.B., South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem who has drawn a lot of attention for the way she has either managed or mismanaged coronavirus in that state depending on your perspective went on Hannity tonight and found apparently a unique way to attack the infrastructure initiative. We`ll discuss on the other side.


KRISTI NOEM, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR: Every single family will pay the price for what Joe Biden`s agenda is. He will drive up the cost of the food and their grocery bill. He will drive up the cost of their utilities, their gas prices, the cost of their cars, the clothes, they dress their children in, everything that they do each and every day will be more expensive, their budgets will be tighter because we`ll be earning less and it`ll be directly because of these policies and these tax increases that Joe Biden is embracing.


WILLIAMS: Now A.B., I will bet you dinner that those talking points arrived in her inbox and we will hear the very same thing from other elected Republicans but Biden is going hard on his belief that families who make below 400 grand a year are not going to have to pay more for this. Is this talking point really a weigh in for the GOP or a non starter?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: You know, they`ve been talking about their sort of rhetoric on a coming infrastructure package for months saying it`s a green it`s going to be a Green New Deal wrapped in a tax hike. So no matter what the President proposes, they`re going to say it`s a Green New Deal wrapped in a tax hike.

We should start by saying the reason that Joe Biden is doing this is because Joe Biden has just astonishingly good approval numbers right now, I have no idea that the last, I`m surprised at how high they are not only on his COVID response, but his general job approval. And this, all of these proposals are popular, even taxing corporations and the wealthy to pay for infrastructure. It`s popular among Republican voters and Trump voters. So in a moment of crisis at the beginning of his presidency, Joe Biden is making clear he`s willing to go for broke because he believes this is really popular, and he has a window to do this.

Where it will break down, as Peter alluded to, is among his own party, if he`s trying to use a very narrow process to get through a party line vote. I think that talking point for Republicans later this year. And as we get into an election year, next year that look, Joe Biden never included us in any of these negotiations, he`s just rammed through these incredibly audacious and ambitious agenda items without ever taking in our proposals or seeking our votes. I think that`s more powerful than, you know, this, paying for all of this needed infrastructure with tax hikes is a non- starter, the voters so far think that this is a good trade off.

WILLIAMS: And Chuck, to you, my friend, though you`ve done nothing to deserve it, it falls upon you to explain this, a case about Mr. Gaetz, and these seemingly two investigations. Number one, the sex trafficking. Number two, this alleged extortion, do the investigations continue independent of one another?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, perhaps, Brian. Look, both of those things could be true, both of those things could be false, or one or the other could be true. Sometimes people who commit crimes are also victims of crime. And so while it does complicate it a little bit, at least in terms of our understanding, I`m sure the agents and prosecutors know or/are learning what happened.

I have two things to say. Let me take you on a very short tour of my very small brain. With respect to Mr. Gaetz, if it is true, that he trafficked minor women, children, for sex purposes, he ought to go to jail. It`s a heinous crime. But revealing the investigation at this stage is never a good thing for investigators or prosecutors. They want to keep it quiet as long as they can to secure documents and evidence and so witnesses will come forth. And so evidence doesn`t get tainted.

If it`s not true, if he didn`t do this, and I`m no fan of his, I don`t admire a thing about the man. It`s unfair to him. Another reason we try and keep investigations quiet and confidential is because often we don`t bring charges and there is nothing to it, or at least nothing that we can demonstrably prove. And so either way, I think it`s unfortunate that it leaked. But to your larger question, you can have two crimes and two investigations simultaneously. They`re not mutually exclusive.

WILLIAMS: All right, Peter Baker, back to your beat. Biden has his first fall cabinet meeting tomorrow. Even though there is a room in the West Wing called the Cabinet Room, it`s going to be in the East Room, so they can all be together yet at a safe distance, 72 days into his presidency, in part because he was deprived of a traditional transition. Does it matter that it`s this late to have them all rowing together?

BAKER: Well look at matters to get cabinet appointees confirmed and in place, no question about it. It really matters to get their deputies and assistants, and that all the people who help them out in place, and that`s still we`re obviously Biden is behind and has a lot of work to do with his Democratic Senate Majority. But putting the cabinet together in a room is relatively symbolic, more than anything else. It`s very rarely a meaningful act in terms of governance, I think doing an Eastern which is a sign of course of how much COVID continues to govern, how we operate and why in Washington these days. This is a White House that unlike the last one takes the COVID thing a lot more seriously. So you have people reporting to work every day in the West Wing, who sit in their offices and have meetings with each other via zoom without actually walking next door, because in fact, it`s still pretty tightly controlled environments. So putting on the restroom is a way of obviously keeping them at some safe distance even though presumably they`ve all been vaccinated. And I think that, you know, again, it`s a symbol, it`s a way of Biden showing he`s, you know, you`re doing business, he`s demonstrating his team. I think he`d like to show them off to the public because in fact, there is the diversity of this team that we haven`t seen, I think, in any cabinet before at this level. But in terms of governing, it`s not all that significant.

WILLIAMS: A.B., the counselor as usual protest too much, Chuck and his big brain have very adequately described the dual investigations at heart in this Gaetz case. And now it falls to you to talk about the politics of it. How much trouble is Gaetz in? Does it stop at him? And in the Machiavellian GOP, if they feel there is a contagion? Will they cut him loose?

STODDARD: Well, this he learned from Donald Trump, former Congresswoman from Virginia, Barbara Comstock, came up with this wonderful phrase about whether about Congressional Kardashian than before Donald Trump, there were some who came to Congress, with the intent only just get on cable TV, and make themselves as well known as possible and have as many social media followers as possible.

Matt Gaetz not only became a great, you know, spokesman for Donald Trump, but he learned from Donald Trump also, not only about optics and staying famous, but to stay on offense. This is why he went on Tucker Carlson show last night. It`s why he`s blabbing about this. And while he won`t stop talking about it, because he believes that you get right in everyone`s face, you deny it, and you stay emphatic and angry about it. And you don`t hide from the press. I think that`s not what his colleagues want. But not one of them has come out to say this is really disturbing. And you saw how uncomfortable this made the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in trying to respond to the questions about how he would deal with it.

So in the culture of the party, you have to stay defiant. And your colleagues usually remain silent. I think it takes a lot to cut people loose these days in the Republican Party, as you`ve seen. It`s sort of a contest of who can meet the next outrage. But it`s just -- in the age of Trump you`re not allowed to say anything in the press, to your voters at a town hall or anything about how this might be really upsetting. And it might be illegal. You just pretend you didn`t see the tweet, or you didn`t read the news story.

WILLIAMS: Wow. Well put. Chuck, you get the last word. Why would the Manhattan DA be digging around the personal finances of the longtime Trump CFO and consigliere Mr. Weisselberg? What would they be looking for do you think?

ROSENBERG: Well, probably two things. I mean, first and foremost, they`re probably doing that, Brian, because they think he may have committed a crime. We don`t just investigate people. So we can use them as leverage against others. We investigate people when we believe they`ve committed crimes. If the Manhattan DA simply wanting to use Mr. Weisselberg against Mr. Trump or others, in a criminal case, you don`t have to go through all this trouble. You can -- you can simply immunize him, put them in the grand jury, secure his testimony and move forward with your investigation. So I think the answer to your question is they suspect that he may have engaged in some sort of wrongdoing or fraud as well. And he`s under investigation for it. I think it may be that simple. That would be my best guess. Can I add one other thing, Brian, because tomorrow is a really, really important day. It`s opening day, the best day of the year. I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Opening Day.

WILLIAMS: I can`t thank you enough for that. I was reflecting on the last time you and I saw each other. You stood in my office and held in your hand the baseball signed by the great Henry Aaron, who we`ve lost in the interim, several months since we`ve seen each other in person. So thank you for injecting that bit of humanity to our viewers, this is why you invite really smart people to start your broadcast Peter Baker, A.B. Stoddard, Chuck Rosenberg, much of obliged. Thank you all for starting us off tonight.

Coming up, another highly emotional day inside the Minneapolis courthouse where Derek Chauvin stands trial, prosecutors play new video of George Floyd moments before his death.

And later, will companies do what government can`t? How two have George`s biggest corporations, two of the best known brand names in the world are weighing in on voter suppression? THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Wednesday night.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beside you`re standing there with your hands on your head for a while. Correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going through your mind during that time period?

MARTIN: Disbelief, feeling guilt.


MARTIN: If I would have just not taken the bill. This could have been avoided.


WILLIAMS: Interesting testimony today from another thoughtful guy store clerk Chris Martin. He was the first to realize the $20 bill that George Floyd had given him was likely fake. He was going to let it slide. In the end, his boss decided to call the cops and sadly, the rest is history.

Martin can be seen on the exterior surveillance video with his hands over his head pacing around in anguish as this unfolded.

Another video from inside the store shows George Floyd moments before the police arrived. There was also emotional testimony today from a witness named Charles McMillian. Just a citizen who lives near the store witnessed the death today he broke down on the stand after seeing the new video.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. McMillian, in a minute. I know this is difficult, can you just explain sort of like your feeling from this moment?



WILLIAMS: For more, we`re happy to welcome to the broadcast Justin Hansford, he`s a law Professor at Howard University, executive director of the school`s, Thurgood Marshall, Civil Rights Center and a scholar on human rights and race and the law.

Professor Hansford himself was arrested while working as a legal observer during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri back in 2014.

Professor, thank you very much for coming on and I just want to begin with how overpowering that moment was, how overpowering in ordinary ways so much of the testimony has been so identifiable and relatable. Everyone has a Charles McMillian in their life. He is someone you instantly know because you know someone just like him, just a guy who had to talk today about what he observed. Talk about the effect, this ordinary humanity is going to have on a jury of ordinary citizens.

JUSTIN HANSFORD, HOWARD UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: Well, I think you hit on the point exactly. The ordinary humanity and the trauma and the anguish experienced by Mr. McMillan, Mr. Martin has to be something that jurors take into consideration. And in fact, research has shown that the trauma that people experienced from witnessing police violence is actually worse than the trauma you experienced from witnessing other types of violence. You can avoid the police. They`re all over the place. You have few options for recourse. You heard him say how helpless he felt. We know there`s racial targeting. The victims are often stigmatized. Your general feeling of safety is forever changed. And I fear the long term mental health impacts on Mr. McMillian and many people at the scene and around the country who were traumatized by what happened.

WILLIAMS: It would be almost impossible for that not to be the case. Sadly, you point out something so smart that people who are watching this gavel to gavel as it were may not pause to realize prosecutors aren`t used to prosecuting the police. So how rare is this dynamic we are watching in this courtroom?

HANSFORD: We can`t talk enough about how rare police prosecutions are. Prosecutors are the colleagues of police. They don`t see police as defendants they see them as their co-workers. So, I`m very interested to see how police -- excuse me how prosecutors address this prosecution, which is so different. For most of them, this is the first and likely the last time in their careers that they are going to be actually prosecuting a police officer. We saw in both the Trayvon Martin case and the Rodney King case, regardless of the video evidence. Those prosecutions were not successful, whether it was the prosecutors skill, well, or whether it`s the laws on the books that are difficult to overcome, when it comes time to try to create accountability for police, prosecutions are often unsuccessful when it comes to holding law enforcement officers accountable.

WILLIAMS: Point I made here last night, if you`re born with a beating heart and any kind of measurable empathy, the video of Mr. Floyd`s death is no less powerful, no less painful to watch the 10th time as it is the first, in your view, are we left to simply hope that good comes out of it?

HANSFORD: You know, I think we have to do more than hope. I`m actually working with the Mike Brown Foundation, to seek to find ways to respond to the mental health impact of these types of police violence incidents, whether it`s through providing support for families, and bystanders, for whether it`s through a bill that could have the government provide support. So I think we have to do more than just hope that good can come from these types of incidents. We have to work to make sure that good comes from these incidents. And I think we can do that, because we saw people around the country take to the streets. And I think that the people will have spoken.

WILLIAMS: Final question has nothing to do with this, everything to do with where you work. How does it feel to have a Howard University Bison in the second highest office in the land?

HANSFORD: Well, I`m a third generation Howard University Bison, so you cannot beat it. And I think the United States of America is lucky to have a Howard University Bison in that office. And I think we`re going to be very happy with how things turn out over the next four years.

WILLIAMS: I thought you might say something like that Professor Justin Hansford. Thank you, sir, very much for staying up with us and taking our questions. Appreciate it. Hope to have you back.

Coming up for us this evening, what are the chances, the anguish, we`ve watched play out on our televisions this week might lead as the professor was saying, as the professor was hoping to real change in this country, two of our favorite voices standing by to join us when we come back.



CHRIS MARTIN, CHAUVIN TRIAL WITNESS: I saw Derek with his knee on George`s neck on the ground. George was motionless, limp. And Chauvin seemed very, he was in a resting state. Meaning like he just rested his knee on his neck.


WILLIAMS: Again, humanity thoughtful witnesses who are just people in the community. Jurors in that trial will soon have his fate in their hands this now former police officer. As we`ve been saying, the world is watching.

Back with us tonight, Baratunde Thurston, author, activist, comedian, former producer over at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, host of the podcast How to Citizen, also host of the upcoming PBS series, America Outdoors with, wait for it, Baratunde Thurston. And Mark McKinnon is back with us former adviser to both George W. Bush and John McCain. He is now thankfully one of the cohosts of the Circus on Showtime.

Baratunde, I`d like to begin with you and because we have nothing but awful terrible things to talk about. Let`s just take 20 minutes point of personal privilege. Look at you and your PBS finery. I read the press release like we were blood relatives. We around here like to take credit for everything good that has happened in your career, even though nothing could be further from the truth. Take 20 seconds tell the good folks about the show and about the podcast episode that drops tomorrow

BARATUNDE THURSTON, AUTHOR, ACTIVIST, & COMEDIAN: Thank you Brian that`s so gracious and generous of you. It`s good to be back. Yes, I`m hosting a show in partnership with PBS called America Outdoors. We`re exploring our connection to our environment and to each other in ways that hopefully haven`t been done before but will be done a lot more.

And tomorrow, the new podcast season for How to Citizen with Baratunde season two drops in all your podcast feeds. Folks should check out We`re looking at our nation`s divisions and we`re exploring it not through beer summits and alleged bipartisanship but through our economy which rips so many of us apart and keeps us from each other and we`re always finding better ways to citizen through our relationship with money, that would be very inspiring.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for saying that. We will do that and leave it to you to find the only outdoor T.V. job in the midst of an uncontrolled pandemic. And now I have to steer this conversation back to, I guess you heard my discussion with the professor from Howard University. It is the endless string of humanity, regular people who could be in any of our lives on the stand speaking English and using emotion from a nine-year-old girl to a 69- year-old man. Talk about the humanity of this case which is built around the humanity we saw drain from a man in the street.

THURSTON: For the past year, I`ve had to build up a psychic wall around myself to survive. And I have been avoiding this trial all week because I wasn`t ready to be retraumatized by Memorial Day 2020. The way you just phrase that has brought a lot of that back to the surface. And I think what`s remarkable is when you see the range of that humanity all week on display for -- sorry, an off duty firefighter, a jujitsu expert who just happened to be walking by, a store employee, a would be customer, a passerby noticing something is up.

And all these people trying to intervene, trying to preserve the humanity of a fellow citizen and being thwarted. And they hear them this week not just what they experienced but what they felt after. They all felt guilty for not saving George Floyd`s life. They felt responsible for his death. Everybody seems to have felt responsible for George Floyd`s death except the one person who`s responsible for George Floyd`s death, Derek Chauvin and the police officers who let him do what he did.

So I am in awe of the humanity and I`m in pain over the lack of a display by those who are entrusted with our own safety.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I`m right there with you. Mark, I happen to know you believe this could be one of the most important trials of our adult lifetimes. Tell us why.

MARK MCKINNON, FMR. ADVISER TO JOHN MCCAIN & GEORGE W. BUSH: I think it is Brian. I mean I -- as I watched today, it`s sort of snuck up on me like I think it hasn`t a lot of people just how powerful when you talk about the humanity Baratunde talk about, the collective community experiencing both grief and guilt over what they saw.

It sort of a reverse Rashomon affect where everybody sort of seeing the same thing but they`re having the same feelings rather than having a distorted view or a different view. So I think America is experiencing that as well. And I`m trying to think back over my lifetime to think about a trial that will be more consequential, ultimately I believe. I think this is going to have a profound impact.

I think it already has. And just in everybody`s viewing and sensibility about what they`re seeing about community, about policing, about -- I just think, I think the conventional wisdom about these things is being completely thrown out the window in a good way. I mean I think we`re all seeing this in a way that we`ve never seen it before not in Rodney King, not in O.J., not in -- you know, none, a lot of the trials we`ve seen there`s just -- there`s more perspective, there`s more media, there`s more insight, and there`s more collective community input and observance of what`s going on.

And to me, as I said, it just sort of hit me today. I just feel like whoa this is something really powerful happening. And I think the outcome is going to be -- it`s going to be cataclysmic and I think it`s going to have a like an earthquake impact on our collective psyche and culture in ways that we can`t imagine.

WILLIAMS: I`m right there with you too. Both of these men in their combined humanity have agreed to stick around while we fit in a break.

And coming up, corporate America speaking out against limiting voters` rights, question is, will big logos make a big difference?



GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA), DEFENDS VOTING LAW: When you look at the word, use the word like, suppression and Jim Crow 2.0 in regards to this bill, that`s ridiculous. A lot of this bill is dealing with the mechanics of the election. It has nothing to do with, you know, potential fraud or not.


WILLIAMS: Dozens of the nation`s most prominent black business leaders are calling on companies to speak up against a wave of Republican backed restrictive voting bills. After mounting backlash for their silence, two of Georgia`s biggest employers, Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola objected to the state`s new voting law. And to be fair here for Delta, this was a major cleanup in aisle three after first putting out a tone deaf statement in favor of the new law.

Still with us Baratunde Thurston, Mark McKinnon. Hey Mark, I have it on good authority while that was audio only of Governor Kemp that he spoke with a straight face. Why doesn`t he just go all in and embrace the rich heritage, the hard fought, well deserved tradition in Georgia for voter suppression that would be new and remarkable.

MCKINNON: Well, they if you recall, they signed a bill under a painting of old plantation stuff that could have been sent a more racist signal. Listen, Brian, if it walks like suppression and it talks like suppression, its oppression. At the end of the day, if you`re passing a law that makes it a criminal offence to hand out water and food to people who have to wait in line. That is voter suppression. If you`re taking away drop boxes, that is voter suppression.

For the life of me, the greatest fraud in America today is the notion that there systemic voter fraud, there simply is not. There zero that Donald Trump`s own Attorney General had that finding. The Texas Attorney General spent 22,000 man hours trying to find fraud and came up with 16 bad addresses. That`s 1,300 hours per man hour to find a bad address. So it simply doesn`t exist.

And so it`s a solution in search of a problem that isn`t there. And the man speaking as a Republican or trying to remain Republican, that -- when you`re sending a message over and over again that your ultimate intent is to have fewer people votes. You got a problem Houston.

WILLIAMS: Baratunde, think of all these initials DOJ, NAACP, ACLU. A good hearted people everywhere are watching voter suppression in real time in front of our faces, and being told it`s something else people are outraged by this. And yet, what does it say, let me take the other side, what does it say that it takes coke and delta to get angry, and put out nasty statements about this, to get the attention of some folks?

THURSTON: In the best version of myself, I hope it means that when companies say Black Lives Matter, they also start to act like it. And I hope it means that they recognize we have to be in this together. That to be a thriving corporation and a fascist state is no achievement at all. And so I am grateful for their late arrival on behalf of all of us because they have to live in the same society with us.

And it`s just really sad to reflect on, Mr. McKinnon, good to see, nice hat, your former-ish party so doubling down not on being anti-Democratic party but being anti-democracy. And the more we acknowledge that that`s what`s happening, the more we can do the things that need to be done, like passing the For the People Act, and the John Lewis Voter Rights Restoration Act, and all the things that will strengthen our democracy rather than weaken and undermine it and make us less civic and less American.

WILLIAMS: Mark McKinnon, I hate to end on this, but I need 30 seconds from you that may be borderline prediction. How bad does the Matt Gaetz case get? And how deep does it go?

MCKINNON: Well, I`ll get on that in one second, Brian. I just want to say that I do you think that this -- that what`s going to happen with the Republican suppression strategies, it`s going to backfire and blow up in a big way. I think all this is doing is animating Democrats to say we`re going to make sure I get out. But you tell us we can`t vote we`ll be there.

Matt Gaetz is clawing his way to the bottom fast has anybody I have ever seen. Listen, we`re going to withhold judgment until the rule of law figures this out. But it is telling when the last two weeks he`s been trying to get a job in broadcast news, so look out for him.

WILLIAMS: Oh, boy, I did note that one that came across the transom, though current events may derail those plans. Mark McKinnon looks so good in hats if we all look that way, we`d all be wearing them, thank you. Baratunde Thurston, always a pleasure. Don`t forget your friends who knew you on the way up before you get all PBSE. Please, both of you continue to come on and spend some time with us. Thanks, both gentlemen.

Coming up for us, something you may need to carry with you. As part of what we`re told to call our new normal has something to do with these folks.


WILLIAMS: There are going to be hiccups but these vaccines are rocketing along. All 50 states have announced plans to open up vaccinations to all adults by the first of May. Just as more states are reopening more Americans are flying. Many of them figure this is the safety the vaccine was designed to give us.

And now politics is wound up in the issue of whether or not we should all carry proof of vaccination. Tonight NBC News correspondent Tom Costello has the latest on what vaccine passports might look like.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spring break in the nation`s airlines say leisure travel has come roaring back, passenger volume pushing 1.5 million each day this week, a million more than a year ago.

SCOTT KIRBY, CEO UNITED STATES: It`s nice that at United Airlines we can see that light at the end of the tunnel.

COSTELLO (voice-over): With so many passengers, Delta today said it will stop blocking middle seats on May 1st. But will Americans need so called vaccine passports, proof of vaccinations to get into concerts, sporting events, or even travel? The White House says that`s up to the private sector.

ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SR. ADVISOR FOR COVID RESPONSE: The government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport nor a place to hold the data of citizens.

COSTELLO (voice-over): The Governor of tourist hotspot Florida says he will forbid local governments or businesses from requiring vaccination proof.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You don`t want to create separate classes of citizens based on whether somebody received vaccine.

COSTELLO (voice-over): With no national standard, states companies and health care providers are now coming up with their own options. New York State releasing Excelsior pass for people to upload digital vaccine information and COVID test results.

While overseas many European countries Japan, Israel, and global airlines are pushing their own vaccine passports hoping to jumpstart tourism.

(on camera): In the U.S., there is no vaccination database. This is what you get when you receive your vaccine. The question is whether this is enough for a potential vaccine passport.


WILLIAMS: Important story and our thanks to Tom Costello for reporting on that from Washington.

Coming up, the robust business of spreading misinformation on the virus and yes, it helps if a cable network helps you get your message out.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, the ongoing campaign of coronavirus misinformation and disinformation and its willing enablers at certain cable news networks you can call it, the other big lie. As you watch this next fella talk in a style reminiscent of any local car dealer ad, the kind where they tell you even if you have to tow in your trade in we`re making deals during this Toyotathon.

Try to remember this as you watch this guy. He has an undergraduate degree from Tufts. He has a masters and a PhD from Harvard. Those institutions must be so very proud of Peter Navarro, last seen carrying a White House photo to his car on his last day of work. The noted conspiracy theorist Peter Navarro was the trades are in the Trump White House and was in charge of ramping up production during COVID.

So just like Azar and Birx and Pence, the whole lot of them. He bears whatever his share is of the responsibility for the malpractice, mismanagement, and the death toll. One thing you may not have heard, this is news, is the virus is Dr. Fauci`s fault. At least that`s what Peter Navarro says. And I must be true because he said it on "Fox News" and they seemed fine with it.


PETER NAVARRO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: Fauci is a sociopath and a liar. He had nothing to do with the vaccine. The father of the vaccine is Donald J. Trump. What is Fauci, the father of? Fauci is the father of the actual virus. Fauci is the guy, this virus, according to Rob Redfield, at the Centers for Disease and Control came from the Wuhan lab. And basically we had Fauci not only funding that lab with American taxpayer dollars, he authorized this thing called gain of function research, he allowed the Chinese Communist Party, the People`s Liberation Army, to genetically engineer a virus using gain of function.

I call it the Fauci virus. Now, if he wants to be the father or something, he`s the father of the virus that`s killed over a half a million Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Peter, we`re still trying to get to the bottom of that, and we`re definitely going to bring you back when we get more information on it. But you`re right, there`s a lot of questions out there. Peter, I can`t thank you enough for joining me today.


WILLIAMS: Remember, folks, even if you have to tow it in. Peter Navarro hit all the marks there, didn`t he? Fauci an obvious sociopath, you got the Chinese, you got the communists, you got the People`s Liberation Army. And even as the Fox anchor pointed out, there`s a lot of questions out there. You see in our business, that`s what you say when it`s just too messy to say that your guest just lied on live T.V.

And that`s going to do it for us this Wednesday night. Look at the time with our thanks for being here with us, on behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.