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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 4/12/21

Guests: Jason Johnson, Channa Lloyd, Michael Steele, Irwin Redlener


Tonight, a dusk to dawn curfew is in effect amid a second night of protests. Last night, demonstrations were followed by looting and violent confrontations with police officers. National Guard members called out to patrol the streets. The anger and grief erupted after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon as police tried to arrest him for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. The officer who fired that gun has been identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Minnesota Police Department. A U.S. Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after they pointed guns at him, pepper-sprayed him and pushed him to the ground during a traffic stop last December for what the officers believed was a missing license plate on his new SUV. In the Derek Chauvin`s trial, the judge denied the defense request to fully sequester the jury to shield members from receiving any outside media coverage. This was day 11 of the testimony, which included George Floyd`s brother. There was also more expert testimony today about the cause of Floyd`s death and the actions of Derek Chauvin. Over 100 business leaders hold Zoom call on voting restrictions. The National Republican Senatorial Committee created a new annual Champion for Freedom award and gave the first one to Donald Trump. U.S. health officials urge caution as COVID-19 cases continues to rise.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: NBC`s Ron Allen, thank you. Thank you for that live coverage during this hour, Ron. We really appreciate it. MSNBC`s breaking news coverage continues right now on "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening, once again. While this was indeed day 83 of the Biden administration, if you`ve been watching, then you no doubt know by now this is also a tense night in the Twin Cities. Already on edge, of course, because of the trial of Derek Chauvin happening just about 10 miles away.

Tonight, a dusk to dawn curfew is in effect amid a second night of protests. After police in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn center, it`s just north of the city of Minneapolis shot and killed a black man at point blank range during a traffic stop over the weekend. Last night, demonstrations were followed by looting and violent confrontations with police officers. National Guard members called out to patrol the streets.

The anger and grief erupted after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon as police tried to arrest him for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. Officials released body camera video of the shooting earlier today. Our usual fair warning, it`s disturbing.

The officer who fired that gun has been identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Minnesota Police Department. She`s now on administrative leave.

During a news conference with the mayor, the chief of police described the events just before the shooting, including why Officer Potter repeated the words Taser three times.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet. This appears to me, from what I viewed and the officer`s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.

MAYOR MIKE ELLIOTT, BROOKLYN CENTER, MN: My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would support her being fired?



WILLIAMS: The police chief followed up those comments by saying there would be an examination of the video before final decision was made on Officer Potter`s fate. Tonight, the medical examiner in the region has ruled the shooting of Daunte Wright a homicide.

Earlier, at the White House, the President acknowledged the community`s anguish as he condemned violent protests.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is absolutely no justification, none, for looting, no justification for violence. Peaceful protest understandable. And the fact is that, you know, we do know that the anger, pain, and trauma that exists in the black community in that environment is real. It`s serious and it`s consequential, but it doesn`t -- will not justify violence and or looting.

And so, the question is how we in an orderly way make clear that you get down to a full blown investigation to determine what the facts are and what is likely that happen. In the meantime, we`re calling for peace and calm.


WILLIAMS: As we mentioned this latest shooting took place not far to the north from the Minneapolis courthouse where former Police Officer Derek Chauvin is on trial in the death of George Floyd. Today, the judge denied the defense request to fully sequester the jury to shield members from receiving any outside media coverage. This was day 11 of the testimony which included George Floyd`s brother.


PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD`S BROTHER: He just was like a person that everybody loved around the community. He just knew how to make people feel better. He would always say, hello, let me kiss mama before I come over there. And being around him, he showed us like how to treat our mom and how to respect our mom. He just -- he loved her so dearly.


WILLIAMS: There was also more expert testimony today about the cause of Floyd`s death and the actions of Derek Chauvin.


DR. JONATHAN RICH, HEART PHYSICIAN: I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from a drug overdose.

JERRY BLACKWELL, CHAUVIN TRIAL PROSECUTION: Taking into account all of the evidence that you reviewed, do you have an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty as to whether Mr. Floyd`s death was preventable?

RICH: Yes, I believe that Mr. George Floyd`s death was absolutely preventable..

ERIC NELSON, CHAUVIN TRIAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If Mr. Floyd had simply gotten in the backseat of his squad car, do you think that he would have survived?

RICH: Had he not been restrained in the way in which he was, I think he would have survived.


WILLIAMS: An expert on the use of force then told the court what is apparent to so many of us that no reasonable officer would have acted the way Chauvin did.


STEVE SCHLEICHER, CHAUVIN TRIAL PROSECUTION: You have an opinion to a degree, a reasonable degree of professional certainty as to whether the type of force used by the defendant on George Floyd on May 25, 2020 constitute a deadly force?

SETH STOUGHTON, USE OF FORCE EXPERT: No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force.


WILLIAMS: The judge told the jury that the defense will likely start presenting its case tomorrow, and that closing arguments could begin as soon as next Monday. This all comes as more and more Americans have seen the other video of a police encounter that is receiving so much attention.

This one shows a U.S. Army officer getting pulled over and eventually pepper sprayed and cuffed by two members of the Windsor, Virginia police force. NBC News Correspondent Geoff Bennett shows us what unfolded.


GEOFF BENNETT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Public outrage is mounting over this traffic stop, captured from several angles as police draw their weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many occupants are in your vehicle?

2ND LT. CARON NAZARIO, U.S. ARMY OFFICER: It`s only myself. Why are your weapons drawn? What`s going on?

BENNETT: Two officers stopping U.S. Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario for not having a rear license plate on his new SUV. According to a police report, which also notes they later saw a temporary tag inside taped to the tinted window.

NAZARIO: I`m serving this country and this is how I`m treated?


NAZARIO: I`m honestly afraid to get out. Can I --

BENNETT: About a minute later Officer Joe Gutierrez, whose termination was announced late Sunday, pepper sprays Nazario.

JOE GUTIERREZ, POLICE OFFICER, WINDSOR, VIRGINIA: Get out of the car now. Get out of the car now.

NAZARIO: I`m trying to breath.

BENNETT: Gutierrez and his former partner Daniel Crocker now facing a $1 million lawsuit alleging a violation of constitutional rights. Nazario who was black and Latino says it was due to racial profiling. Take off your seatbelt and get out of the car.

NAZARIO: Look, I`m just going to just please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going to do what you`re told.


WILLIAMS: And with that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Monday night was so much in front of us to discuss, Channa Lloyd ,she is a managing partner with the Cochran Firm in Orlando. Among her areas of legal expertise cases dealing with wrongful deaths and civil rights violations. Also back with us tonight is Carmen Best, former police chief in the great city of Seattle. And Jason Johnson, a campaign veteran journalist, contributor to the Grieux. Most importantly, a professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University.

Well, good evening and welcome to you all.

Chief Best, I`d like to begin with you. Adrenaline is a powerful chemical, not as powerful as a nine millimeter in the wrong hands. Correct me if I`m wrong, but officers are trained to carry their weapon on their -- the hand -- the side of their dominant hand and their Taser on the side opposed to that. Obviously, Tasers are bright yellow and lightweight for a reason. Obviously, a nine millimeter is a nine millimeter.

So, talk about how this might happen. Is it adrenaline, is it training, is it a mixture of those two and the intersection of bias?

CARMEN BEST, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Brian, you bring up some really good points. I mean, the Taser is certainly by design, meant to look and feel different than your weapon, than a handgun would. You know, I`ve heard officers say that they could tell the difference between a Taser and a handout if they were blindfolded. So, they are by design are meant to be different by the grip, by their weight and often by the color of the, of the Taser as compared to the gun.

And then just as you noted, using the Taser is carried on your less dominant side, not on your handgun side. So, that way, there`s less likely the potential to confuse the two. It is very perplexing how that could happen. You know, I don`t want to speculate too far. But certainly that`s one of the reasons as potentially given, it`s a confusion over what was being drawn.

But it`s very difficult to understand how that would happen over these circumstances. We know that there`ll be a further investigation. But this is a very, very rare instance where there`s confusion between the two. And I think both Taser and training has worked really hard to make sure that officers don`t make that mistake.

So, there`s a lot to be determined here about how that happened and how we had this tragic and horrible incident, because what could have been, you know, a mistake of confusion about the two. It`s just very unusual, particularly as when you pull out your Taser, it usually lights up.

WILLIAMS: Jason, my friend, think about what it is we`re talking about here tonight. There`s so much you know what coming down, we should all be wearing a hat, I guess. And I`m going to play for you a bit more of the video from the altercation in Virginia, a young U.S. Army Lieutenant, a guy we would trust our children to, a guy our country trusts our warfighting to, pulled over by these two police officers. Let`s listen, we`ll react on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are done by now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, if you want to stop in the wellness area, because you`re nervous.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole BLM movement, you`re probably nervous and all that. They feel the same way. They`re nervous for their jobs and their lives. I get where you`re coming from, they get where you`re coming from.

Let`s get this pepper spray kind of wear off and stuff and then just have an intelligent conversation with.


WILLIAMS: So, Jason, as you see, after the incident, they decided to have an intelligent conversation. The young lieutenant drove for a minute and 40 seconds after they lit up his vehicle, because as he put it, he was going to a brightly lit area because he feared what might happen. And of course, look at what eventually happened nonetheless. Jason, what do you make of any or all of it?

JASON JOHNSON, MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Brian, the discussing racial gas lighting of, we can shoot you in the face with pepper spray. And now you have to have a common reasonable conversation. The fact that this man serves this country, which means combat, and yet still fears the police is exactly why people talk about abolishing the police.

Every single one of these instances we`re talking about tonight, Brian are armed racist. And I`m sorry, it`s just racist. When you hear the initial -- when you see the initial video, and a guy is like, hey, I`m afraid to get out of the car. And the reaction is, you should be. Why should he be? Why should he be on driving around in a car right now that`s got tags on the back, temporary tags because where I`ve moved to.

This is something that you can`t reform. This is something that you can`t train people out of. Police departments need to be abolished in significant ways and rebuild. I know that seems like a radical idea, but I`m sick and tired of video after video after video of murdered black people and the President of the United States talking about looting before he talks about endemic violence by the state.

There was no reason for an officer to be carrying a gun for a routine traffic stop. There is no reason for an officer to pull out a gun or a Taser because somebody has air fresheners and little pine trees flopping back and forth in their windows. That is why people are angry.

And until we have political leadership in this country, not just investigations, but political leadership that`s willing to say we have to tear these police departments down just like a corrupt school, just like a dysfunctional hospital, just like a bad water treatment plant. Until we have that kind of reaction from politicians, we`re just going to see this violence over and over and over again, and people protesting and nothing changing.

WILLIAMS: I`m coming back to you Jason on several of the points you`ve just raised. But Channa, to you, we thanks for your patience and welcome to the broadcast. Let`s go to the other tragedy, the slow rolling tragedy we`ve been covering after the death of George Floyd. The defense opens tomorrow, how high is the bar to get one juror to instill a reasonable doubt and do courtroom professionals given the nature of voir dire and what you learn about jurors. Do you think they`ll have a juror in mind who the view as maybe turnable?

CHANNA LLOYD, THE COCHRAN FIRM MANAGING PARTNER: Absolutely. I mean, you`re -- when you`re going through these types of trials, you`re paying attention to the body language, how the jurors are receiving information, which ones latch on to points that have been made in the past. That`s absolutely a portion of the trial, because you`re looking for a jury that you can instill or at least give ideas that may start to foster reasonable doubt.

The state has laid a very strong foundation, they`ve brought in experts in every area in which to cover and make sure that their foundation is very strong for their case in chief. I think the defense has a very high bar to meet. But I think what you`re going to see them do is bring in these experts to combat the information that the state has been putting out. So, this is what we`re going to see as the battle of the experts start to come from the defense.

WILLIAMS: Chief Best, when you hear Dr. Jason Johnson say what he just said, when you see the signs in the crowd tonight in Minnesota, I saw more than one sign saying, abolish the police. We`ve already lived through the phraseology, defund the police. This is your life`s work.

The city you served, I would argue has not yet recovered from what happened there this past summer. How does it all make you feel? And what do you want to tell civilians about your line of work?

BEST: Well, Brian, it`s really tragic. And it`s disheartening. Of course, you know, I cannot personally get behind the idea of abolishing the police department. But I also recognize that we -- there`s a lot of work to do, and reimagining and figuring out how we`re going to move forward. And these last few days have certainly brought that to the forefront in many ways.

I do think that there needs to be a lot of work done. But I also, as you noted, spent almost 30 years in policing. And I recognize that there are 1000s and 1000s of hard working men and women who really do want to come to work and do the best every day. Yet, we have to acknowledge that there are way too many people, particularly black and brown people who are dying at the hands of the police. And we really have to dig deep and figure out how we`re going to turn this around in a way that we have a better results.

I mean, absolutely, people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. That said, I think there`s an opportunity if we really just keep reaching deeper to turn this around, to have the good that can happen from public safety happen. But we -- I cannot not acknowledge, right, the problems that we have that we still face. Not only in policing but, you know, across the board in our society. Healthcare, education, all of it, the issues of race and racism and how they permeate in so many different areas.

WILLIAMS: Professor, now we`ve come back to you. You know that in the real world, the phrase defund the police had colossal consequences across the country for the Democratic Party, especially depending on the race. Just as the phrase abolish the police will, you know the counter argument that God forbid you hear a bump in the night in your home or apartment, you call 911. You don`t want a social worker showing up tonight. I am guessing you`d rather have an armed police officer if you have trouble in your house.

JOHNSON: I`m just as likely to get shot by that cop as I am with a potential intruder is. That`s just the reality. That`s the reality of it that I live with every day.

And I also say this, you know, from a political science perspective, no. And actually if you look at the one seat that Democrats actually picked up in the state of Georgia, the congressional seat, you -- the woman, the doctor`s name escapes me right now. She was actually out there protesting with Black Lives Matter. This is a white woman, she got elected in Georgia.

I know that many people tried to argue, I know that Congressman Clapper had tried to save debunk the police and abolish the police for Democrats. There`s no statistical information right now, polling information that shows that that actually kept anybody from winning their seats.

Here`s the larger issue. Policing, the way it has functioned in this country no longer works. If there was a public school where every couple of months you had a kid die in the cafeteria, you would shut down at school, you would fire every teacher, you would rebuild the entire school and say, hey, this isn`t working. Kids shouldn`t be dying in the cafeteria on a regular basis. If you had an emergency room where doctors and patients were dying on a regular basis for routine checkups, you would say, hey, there`s something wrong with this hospital. We got to fire everybody there and start from the beginning.

For some reason in America, when we see consistent failures on the part of police departments, suddenly everybody says that can`t be abolished. We have everybody from the far right to the far left setting. We can get rid of everything from the Environmental Protection Agency to the National Education Board. Why can`t we do the same thing with police?

There are ideas out there. There are policies. There are ways these to be managed. I`m not saying that you should never have somebody with a gun. I`m not saying that there aren`t times that there`s an arm shootout that you shouldn`t have people there who have guns and weaponry. But the armament level of police and the responsibilities that they`re held to do not match. You don`t need to have as many cops armed in the way that they are doing social work and traffic stops. And that`s where this needs to change.

And politicians need to admit that regardless of how wedded we are to the idea of police keeping us safe, when actually they`re actually more dangerous to a lot of black people than they are a place of protection.

WILLIAMS: Counselor, back over to you and you get the last word to reward you for your patience. Back to the Chauvin trial, is there any upside to putting Derek Chauvin on the stand knowing what could happen to him during cross?

LLOYD: The only upside is that the jurors will hear from the person who was there during the act. All of his actions, his training have been discussed around him. The only thing that he can do at this point would be to provide context to the jury.

The only downside to that is going to be that he opens himself up to cross examination, which in light of all the other testimony can be very damaging. So, it`s a very fine balance because the only persons that the jurors have not heard from is Mr. Chauvin. However, opening yourself up to that level of cross examination and whether or not he has anything of value that the jurors will latch on to is a very risky proposition.

WILLIAMS: Along with our welcome for coming on tonight, Channa Lloyd, our thanks, Carmen Best, our thanks, Jason Johnson, our thanks. So much to discuss, emotional stuff these days, greatly appreciate the three of you starting off our hour tonight.

And coming up for us, Mitch McConnell warns corporations to stay out of politics, but a number of them clearly aren`t interested in listening. How some big companies are indeed pushing back against the efforts to suppress our votes.

And later, the worst state in the nation for new coronavirus cases gets a warning from the director of the CDC to shut things down until it blows over. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this back to work Monday night.


WILLIAMS: As Republicans around the country consider legislation to restrict voting, some corporate leaders are mapping out a plan to push back. This past Saturday, over 100 business leaders held a Zoom meeting to talk about voting rights. "New York Times" puts it this way, "Several senior business leaders spoke forcefully about the need for companies to use their clout to oppose new state legislation that would make it harder to vote."

Earlier today, our friend Stephanie Ruhle spoke to Yale Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who organized the call.


JEFFREY SONNENFELD, YALE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT: They`re across the political spectrum, the group was probably 65 percent, 70 percent Republican, and they didn`t all agree on what solutions they should follow. But they all were concerned about these voter restrictions, which most, if not all, as voter repression. But they also -- you`re exactly right, don`t want politicians creating wedge issues. They don`t want angry communities and finger pointing workforces and in the hostile shareholders, that`s the fabric of social society being torn apart is bad for business.


WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about what Professor Sonnenfeld just said with Claire McCaskill, former Democratic senator from the great state of Missouri, and Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, former lieutenant governor of the great state of Maryland, these days, the host of the "Michael Steele" podcast.

Friends, good evening, and thank you very much for coming on.

Senator, how powerful are brand names, the kinds of companies and brands that are part of our lives when say voting rights are at stake.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI, FMR. U.S. SENATOR: I think it remains to be seen how influential they`ll be. But make no mistake about it, Brian, there is some shaking of the foundations in terms of party affiliation of businesses. There has been a normal in this country that said, if it is a big corporation, then it is Mitch McConnell`s friend when it comes to funding campaigns.

And you know, this activism that Mitch McConnell`s complaining about, it was born and bred in his office. He is the one who celebrated with balloons and confetti when the Supreme Court said the corporations are people and can give unlimited political donations under the First Amendment. But now, the First Amendment, the word is turned. And the First Amendment is freeing these corporations up to say what they think about protecting democracy. And Mitch doesn`t like it so much. But I know this, I think we have gotten past the time that Republican leaders in business in America are now just looking to vote for Republicans.

WILLIAMS: Michael Steele, for -- if there is a typical republican left, the kind we used to define when the three of us were young? Does corporate pushback, make the average Republicans sweat?

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: I don`t think it makes the average Republicans sweat. I mean, that`s always been, you know, the purview of, you know, the leadership and the senatorial committees and congressional committees.

You know, the average Republicans, you know, they -- at the end of the day, they pay attention to the things they`re interested in. They pay attention to how they use their dollars to promote their advocacy and candidates they support.

It is, to Claire`s point, a new branch -- a new branding, if you will for corporations to kind of get out here in this space. But here`s the problem for McConnell. What`s he going to do about it? You know?

You know, to Claire`s point, they`re using their First Amendment right that has been expressly given to them by the Supreme Court, right? So, what are you going to say to them now, because guess what, their employees are voters. And there are a hell of a lot more of their voters working for them or voters working for them than are necessarily voting for McConnell in his state or that particular congressman in their district. So, their interest is a lot broader.

The power of their constituents, if you will, voters, consumers, goes a lot farther. It`s not that, you know, we`re just going to boycott the Starbucks in my hometown. No, we`re going to boycott the Starbucks in every hometown in America. And that`s a very different conversation for a corporation that Mitch McConnell being worried about the voters in Kentucky or, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene being worried about the voters in her congressional district. So, it`s a new day for these guys. Still have to wait and see how it shapes out, but corporations have a lot more sway here than I think McConnell really would like to see them express.

WILLIAMS: Claire, if you`ll forgive me a change of subject and gears and if you`ll forgive me tapping into your years as a prosecutor tell me how you think the prosecution has done in the Chauvin trial, which we`ve all been watching.

MCCASKILL: I think that it`s been very strong, I think, the way they have laid out the testimony and the evidence. I mean, that is part of your challenge as a prosecutor is to tell a compelling story that keeps the jury`s attention every step of the way. So you notice they have started out with emotional testimony of his girlfriend and then compelling testimony of bystanders who just witnessed including some experts who witnessed what happened and then expert testimony. And then they came back to really heartfelt testimony today by George Floyd`s brother.

So I think they`ve done a very good job. But I will tell you, I think many in America maybe it`s finally sinking in that the prosecutor`s job is very hard because he has to convince, he or she has to convince every single juror beyond a reasonable doubt. And that is a very tall order. I think they have met that burden. Let`s see how the defense case goes. But so far, I think the defense attorneys have been very ham handed in stretching out the testimony of really powerful witnesses with really ineffective cross- examinations.

WILLIAMS: Both friends of this broadcast with a beautiful mix of fresh flowers and diplomas have kindly agreed to stick around with us while we get a break in. Coming up, when we continue our conversation, Trumpism is alive and well in the GOP and according to some Republicans, it`s tearing our entire country apart.


WILLIAMS: Proving there is nothing like a hometown crowd Trump this weekend delivered some straight up toxic remarks at Mar-a-Lago. He relitigated the big lie, he called Mitch McConnell, quote, a stone cold loser, saying a real leader never would have accepted the electoral results. Referring to Chuck Schumer, Trump is quoted as saying, if that were Schumer instead of this dumb son of a you know what, Mitch McConnell, they would never allow it to happen. They would have fought it.

For good measure he at least one after Mike Pence again as well. Still with us, Claire McCaskill, and Michael Steele. Michael, I`d like to begin with you. People have remarked on how much quieter it`s been with Trump off social media, how he`s starting to feel more irrelevant. And though when you when you make a list of the courageous pushback republicans after Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, you start to run out of names. Have you been surprised that courage hasn`t been in greater supply even a couple of them?

STEELE: No, not really, because this has never been a national narrative for the GOP. It`s always been very local and very personal. This is how, you know, this is playing out at the state level, look at what`s happening within state parties around the country. Look at races that, you know, for city council being impacted by Trump candidates, while Sinhalese erases for chairman of the party and Central Committee are similarly impacted. And that`s not lost on the elected leadership.

So their focus has never been on a more broader national narrative, which a lot of the media and the, you know, the other side the opposition would focus on in terms of Democrats. But for Republicans, it`s not surprising to see, you know, folks still gather down at Mar-a-Lago, the RNC shell, you know, shell out $100,000 for you know, whatever they ate, and Trump to get on act manic and every run into the room to applaud because when they leave there, they got to go back to a place where the audience, meaning the voters like that.

WILLIAMS: Claire for his trouble in savaging the party`s leadership, Donald Trump was awarded a silver ball actually quite a story here. It`s from the National Republican Senatorial Committee. New York Magazine puts it this way, there are several unusual things about this award. One is that there is no evidence the NRSC had any intention of giving it out before Trump attacked the party`s leader. The second is that Trump who adores awards so much he sometimes invents them, we`re looking at you, Michigan Man of the Year, did not even bother to put on a sport code to receive this. The third is that the NRSC apparently plans to give it out every single year from now on.

The photo, Claire, is downright uncomfortable senator Scott, who during happy times, has the kind of smile where he could -- looks like he could name 50 places he could rather be. Trump is now the proud recipient of another silver bowl. What do you make of this and the conundrum of the party is in?

MCCASKILL: Well, it`s something else. I mean, first of all, that`s a measly little ball. I mean, that`s not a big bowl. That`s not a Trump bowl. And secondly, how ironic that the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee is giving him an award, while they`re -- while he`s calling their leader, a moron. And saying that he`s an idiot.

I mean, it is just unbelievable. And how did Nikki Haley today. I mean, here`s Nikki Haley, who came out and did a little bit of what Liz Cheney did. And Kinzinger did and Mitt Romney did. And even Mitch McConnell did right after January 6. And then she comes out today and says, Oh, no, I would never run if Donald Trump`s running for president and no, no, I would talk to him before I would never challenge him. I`d be for him.

What is wrong with these people? Don`t they realize that fewer and fewer people are identifying as Republicans at this point. I mean, this -- their party is shrinking, and it`s not going to grow if they are all still cowering in the corner, trying to please the leier hanging out the golf course.

WILLIAMS: Glad you mentioned Nikki Haley. We might just mention her name prior to going off the air tonight and with that our sincere thanks to former Senator Claire McCaskill, former RNC Chair Michael Steele, thank you so much for staying up with us tonight.

Coming up, the CDC`s warning to one state in particular, now is definitely not the time to rollback restrictions. We`ll ask one of our medical experts about the heightened risk when we come back.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT: We had as high as 80,000 cases in a day over the weekend. We see so many pulling back on some of the public health measures the mask mandates, the restaurant opening the bars we`ve got to wait a bit longer until we get enough vaccine into people that we will clearly blunt any surge.


WILLIAMS: More urgent warnings to stay vigilant as the U.S. average is now 70,000 new cases a day. On Saturday, our country broke the single day record for vaccinations administered but the CDC director says vaccinations alone aren`t enough to stop a surge of infections in one state in particular. Before we talk with our medical expert tonight, NBC News correspondent Miguel Almaguer brings us the latest in the fight to end the pandemic.


MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It`s not just the metrics in Michigan pointing to a fourth surge seems like these doctors desperately trying to save lives inside COVID wards are again unfolding in the nation`s new pandemic epicenter. In Detroit, COVID patients are waiting hours for an open bed, many 55 and younger. The state seen more infections in the first week of April than all of February.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: There is light at the end of this tunnel. But we know that we have seen a recent rise in cases.

ALMAGUER: The governor who`s refusing to issue new mandatory restrictions is instead asking the federal government for a larger vaccine supply. But today, the CDC director warns that alone won`t stop the surge.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We know that the vaccine will have a delayed response. The answer to that is to really close things down.

ALMAGUER: Though the nation just vaccinated a record 4.6 million Americans Saturday. This week, the country is on pace to inoculate 3 million a day after an 86 percent decline in the Johnson & Johnson supply allocated to states following a manufacturing mix up.

It comes as many states are beginning to report a small number of breakthrough cases infections in those who were fully vaccinated.

(on camera): Those cases are rare and expected with nearly half of all adults in this country having received at least one vaccination. Experts warn even in areas where infection rates are dropping, they`re still danger.

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FMR. CDC ACTING DIRECTOR: The states that are seeing the declines, it doesn`t mean they`re not going to see the rise.

ALMAGUER (voice-over): Tonight, a warning and a wake up call as cases across the country climb again. Miguel Almaguer, NBC News.


WILLIAMS: So with all this in mind out of Michigan, we are very happy to be joined to take our questions tonight by Dr. Irwin Redlener, who happens to be the founding director of the Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness. He has advised us on public health since the beginning of this pandemic. And doctor, what`s important about talking to you tonight is the talk you had today with administration officials about the situation in Michigan. What did you learn?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: So Brian, yes, it`s a complicated situation. And yesterday was a briefing that myself and a few others attended with all the major officials that are running President Biden`s COVID efforts. And today I spoke again with them personally.

And here`s the situation, let me start with the same thing that I`m going to finish with is that we are not out of the woods yet. I just want to be clear about that. And that`s where you`re saying that sense of urgency. And, and Dr. Wolensky`s voice because we are dealing with a situation that`s confusing for the following reasons.

One is that there`s a confusion about whether there is enough vaccine supply actually on the ground in Michigan right now. There may well be there probably is and there may be some additional needs for federal assets being brought in to help distribute and administer the vaccine. That`s number one.

But as the CDC director was very clear about Brian, that`s not going to solve this immediate crisis right now. We are going to need to be obsessively continuously focused on this sustaining of the public health masks wearing, distancing and all that. And so third issue to which I talked with officials about today, which has to do with our ability to determine where and how extensive we`re seeing new variants of the virus. And right now, the program is called genomic surveillance. And basically, that just means identifying new and potentially dangerous variants.

The capacity of the U.S. to rapidly identify new mutations or variants is limited. And so we don`t know what`s going on really in Michigan, are they experiencing a new variant? Are things just out of control, because people aren`t paying attention to the public health rules? We don`t know that yet. And we won`t know that until we get a lot better and more efficient at producing the ginormous surveillance we need.

But I will tell you, the administration is full on this case. It`s just been a remarkable change, by the way over the last few months, since the new team took over and we`re making a lot of progress. But let me let me end with what I started with. We`re not out of the woods yet, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Yes, it`s such potentially scary stuff during what should be potentially such a happy time. Otherwise, Doc, please stay with us. We`re going to fit in a break. When we come back, I want to talk about strategies to win over the vaccines skeptics among us, and in our society.



JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We`re looking for a range of creative ways to get directly connected to white conservative communities. We won`t always be the best messengers, but we`re still trying to meet people where they are but also empower local organizations.


WILLIAMS: Important bit there from Jen Psaki at the White House today and still with us is Dr. Irwin Redlener. Doctor, let`s talk about vaccine deniers, vaccine hesitancy. Would it be better if the Biden administration and the health officials you`ve spoken to over the past 48 hours, put out a public health message that is more positive about what opens up to you once vaccinated, the life you can live and the things you can do without fear? Would that help kind of chip away at the vaccine hesitancy community?

REDLENER: It`s a good question, Brian. But I`m afraid not necessarily because of some of the hesitancy has to do with people living in communities that have been marginalized, and simply don`t trust government. And we need to have people who come from those human needs talking to those people. I think that`s what Jen was talking about.

But we have 30 percent of Americans are right now are pretty hesitant. And some of them are free sophisticated absorbers of what can I say BS on the internet, and are convinced that there`s some harm attributable to the vaccines, which is just not true. So we actually need multiple messages to multiple groups are not going to be taking that vaccine with any degree of predictability.

And finally, Brian, we are going to if we`re going to get to the 80 percent magic number for herd immunity, we`re going to need to vaccinate children too. And it`s going to be resistance to that idea as well. So a lot of messages for a lot of different groups. But at the end of the day, it`s really important that we make messages that will stick and make a difference in the minds of the general public right.

WILLIAMS: Still getting over the shock of hearing from you that there`s BS on the internet, but please be advised. We`ll look into that and get back to you. Dr. Irwin Redlener, thanks as always for taking our questions and sharing your expertise.

Coming up for us, a potential Republican presidential candidate who boldly asserts Oh, she`ll run the other way if Trump jumps in the race.



NIKKI HALEY, FMR. SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: Donald Trump is everything I taught my children not to do in kindergarten.

We`re talking about a man who has filed for bankruptcy four times. A man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party. That`s not who we want as President. We will not allow that in our country.


WILLIAMS: Or she told Trump, didn`t she. Last thing before we go tonight. This is where we present the profile in situational Courage Award. And tonight`s recipient, you guessed it. Nikki Haley. Claire McCaskill talked about this story earlier.

The former South Carolina governor badly wants to be president. Let`s start there. She was vehemently against Donald Trump, right before she became, wait for it, Trumper. In fact, he appointed her UN ambassador, and she said all the right things about him in return, until she found her situational courage after 1/6, when she put out this bold statement about Trump quote, we need to acknowledge he led us down. He went down a path he shouldn`t have and we shouldn`t have followed him. And we shouldn`t have listened to him. And we can`t let that ever happen again.

But no worries. She`s still Nikki Haley, after all. So that didn`t last long. Here`s what happened today, when she was asked if she would support Trump, if he runs again in 2024.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He runs again in 2024, will you support him?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he decides that he`s going to run with that preclude any sort of run that you would possibly make yourself?

HALEY: I would not run if President Trump run. And I wouldn`t talk to him about it. You know, I`m not something that we`ll have a conversation about at some point if that decision is something that has to be made.


WILLIAMS: A word from Nikki Haley tonight who will stand down for no man unless of course his name is Donald Trump, in which case all bets are off. And in our closing seconds for this our remembrance of an actual profile in courage.

On this day in 1945, Americans of all ages and our troops overseas, we`re dealing with the shock of news of the death of Franklin Roosevelt, the last American president to die in office of natural causes. The man who led us out of the depression and help to save the world from tyranny, elected to four terms before his mighty heart gave out in Warm Springs, Georgia 143 days before the end of World War Two.

And that is our broadcast for this Monday night. With our thanks to you for being here with us, with my thanks to my friends Ali Velshi and Chris Jansing for filling in so I could sneak away for a while. On behalf of all of our colleagues here at the networks of NBC News, good night.