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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 4/14/21

Guests: CK Hoffler, Jeremy Bash, Nahid Bhadelia


Former Officer Kim Potter has been charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright killing. President Joe Biden sets withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Biden honors war dead after withdrawal announcement. McConnell and Graham slam Biden for troop pullout. Chauvin defense expert says cardiac arrest, drugs, carbon monoxide linked to Floyd`s death. Hundreds of companies publish full page ad in NYT and WAPO opposing voting restrictions. Congressional Republicans have largely remained silent over the allegations against Gaetz. The U.S. calls for a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after rare clotting cases.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We have just arrived at the curfew hour in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. MSNBC`s breaking news live coverage continues on "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams, which starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening, once again, while this was indeed 85 of the Biden administration, we are in fact keeping an eye on Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, as Lawrence just mentioned, as the curfew is now in effect on night for of unrest there that has followed the point blank police shooting of Daunte Wright, more on that in just a moment.

We want to begin tonight with a history making decision from the White House. That is not without controversy. Today, the President announced the end of our nation`s longest war. He announced that all U.S. troops about 2500 of them remain will leave Afghanistan by September 11, leaving Afghanistan was a goal of both of his two immediate predecessors Obama and Trump, but a goal that was never realized. The two decade old war has taken the lives of over 2000 American servicemembers left some 20,000 of them wounded and cost $2 trillion.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: I`m now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility onto a fifth. It`s time to end America`s longest war. It`s time for American troops to come home. War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi generational undertaking. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieve those objectives. Bin Laden is dead, and al Qaeda is degraded in Iraq -- in Afghanistan. And it`s time to end the forever war.


WILLIAMS: It was no accident that Biden made his announcement from the White House treaty room, looking out over the ellipse where George W. Bush told the nation about those very first airstrikes on Afghanistan back in 2001. We were a different country then. Biden also said he spoke with Bush yesterday to let him know about this plan departure.

Shortly after today`s speech, President traveled to Arlington Cemetery. He visited section 60. That`s the final resting place for those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, the President`s oldest son Beau was an army officer who served in Iraq.

President`s decision was praised by his former boss, Barack Obama, who issued a statement that read in part, "it is time to turn the page to the next chapter of our relationship with Afghanistan, it is time to recognize that we have accomplished all that we can militarily and that it`s time to bring our remaining troops home."

New York Times reports Biden also talked with Obama about his decision, and that he rejected advice from the Pentagon, that withdrawal be based on conditions in Afghanistan and not the calendar. On Capitol Hill where let`s be clear, criticism is easy and decisions are hard. The former seemed to carry the day.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: President Biden, you have not ended the war you have extended it for withdrawing because it`s been too long. Withdrawing because America is tired, I can tell America that you may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are not tired of fighting you.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: This mistake in Afghanistan is one of several essences of this new administration surrendering leverage without making America our allies, or our interests more secure.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, as we mentioned earlier, protests continue over the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. This morning that officer now former officer Kim Potter was arrested, taken into custody on a charge of second degree manslaughter. She was released tonight after posting $100,000 bond. Her first court appearance set for tomorrow. The charge comes a day after she and the Brooklyn Center Police Chief both resigned.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTY. FOR DAUNTE WRIGHT`S FAMILY: In less than a week, the district attorney made the decision that we will charge this officer and the family of Daunte Wright will get to have their day in court.


WILLIAMS: Now if convicted, Potter would face a sentence of up to a decade in prison. At the trial of another former of Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin, the defense argued today that his knee on George Floyd`s neck for nearly nine and a half minutes, that`s not what killed Floyd, but that the actual cause of death had to do with George Floyd`s heart condition, drugs and possibly even carbon monoxide, the exhaust from the police car that he was pinned under.

Here is what an actual former medical examiner for the state of Maryland, who did not examine Floyd`s body, told the court in a national audience.


DR. DAVID FOWLER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrhythmia due to his atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease -- or you can write that down multiple different ways -- during his restraint and subdual by the police or restraint by the police. He would have the toxicology, the fentanyl and methamphetamine. There is exposure to a vehicle exhaust so potentially carbon monoxide poisoning.


WILLIAMS: During cross examination, the prosecution for its part challenged that man`s assertions, including his finding about the car exhaust.


JERRY BLACKWELL, CHAUVIN TRIAL PROSECUTOR: How do you know the car was even on?

FOWLER: It is a question I specifically asked. And then I made an observation of water dripping from what appears to be a tailpipe.

BLACKWELL: And you just simply assumed by saying something dripping from the tailpipe that the car had to been on?

FOWLER: It`s not an assumption. It`s an evaluation, which in my mind indicates that the vehicle was running.

BLACKWELL: You haven`t seen any data or test results that showed Mr. Floyd had a single injury from carbon monoxide, is that true?

FOWLER: That is correct.


WILLIAMS: And real quick here before we bring in our leadoff guests and discuss tonight`s topics because the curfew has just gone into effect on this night four of protests in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Let`s get an update from our Correspondent Cal Perry, who is there on the scene. Cal, what`s it like tonight?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey Brian, few elements like that we didn`t have last night as you can hear police are going to start to clear that crowd behind me. First, there are a number of individuals that are breaking the sidewalks into pieces to them throw those pieces of brick at the police. We`ve seen a number of water bottles thrown and barricades this night. The protesters have brought barricades in all of which has really raised the tension level here.

The reason we are 100 yards down the road from where we were last night is really twofold. The first, the crowd is also starting to really mess with the media and push us out of here. You`re going to start seeing people running now. And the second is as we move this way, Brian. This is what happened last night. The police are flushing all the protesters down this road. And as they run down this road and they`re going to start running past me, we`re okay here, we`re just going to go right here. As they run past me, what`s going to happen is when they get to that intersection, they`re going to be met with the National Guard. And this is what happened last night. This is why we pulled back a little bit but we have now seen that first volley from law enforcement of those flashbang grenades and some of that pepper spray and as you can see, this crowd is now headed down the road. One of the more dangerous things that`s been happening here is the first people to take off are in vehicles. It is dark out here and people are racing away from the scene. It is one more element of why law enforcement and just before I go bark swing all the way around. That`s the trap right there, Brian. At the end of that road, and this is what happened last night is everybody starts taking off running to that end of the road. And as they look up they`re met with a wall of National Guardsmen and local law enforcement 79 people arrested last night, similar scenes now playing out here, Brian.

WILLIAMS: All right, Cal thank you for the update, to you and your crew, stay low and stay safe. Cal Perry, reporting for us from Brooklyn Center, north of Minneapolis.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, starting with Phil Rucker, Pulitzer-Prize winning senior Washington Correspondent for The Washington Post, Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon Former Chief Counsel to the House Intel Committee, and we`re happy to welcome to the broadcast veteran attorney, CK Hoffler, she`s CEO of the CK Hoffler firm in Atlanta dealing with both wrongful death cases and civil rights litigation. She`s counseled Jesse Jackson, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, also happens to be president of the National Bar Association, the nation`s oldest network of predominantly black judges, and attorneys.

And, Counselor, indeed by way of welcoming you, I`d like to begin with you tonight. Let`s talk about this charge against the now former police officer who we saw on video firing the shot that killed Daunte Wright. Second degree manslaughter in the parlance of the law man to, is it the right charge in your view?

CK HOFFLER, VETERAN ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, great to be here tonight, Brian. Is it the right charge? I would have to say that, given what we saw, and we have to trust our eyes, I think there should have been a greater charge. But because of how the events unfolded, I believe that the district attorney felt that man two was probably the best that they could do, given the circumstances. I would have hoped for a stronger charge, a higher charge because I thought that her behavior was quite frankly, I`m acceptable and reckless. It was just completely reckless.

And, you know, the Ben Crump is one of the -- our past presidents and a strong member of the National Bar Association. And I`ve been in constant contact with him just the conduct that we see just watching our eyes, looking at what we`re seeing, not filling in the blanks, but just looking at the footage. Truly, it would have been my hope that there were a stronger charge, but I believe that the district attorney felt that this would stick and it`s only the beginning. This is the first charge. It might evolve as the facts unfold.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, Phil Rucker, the videotape in this case tells the story it was released almost immediately, you can hear the police officer herself reacting to firing that one single fatal shot with her Glock instead of using the taser. Phil, what`s your sense where this intersects with your beat, that there is any pressure on the President, on the presidency to react more forcefully, more aggressively to what is unfolding and Brooklyn Center, Minnesota?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Brian, there`s a great deal of pressure on President Biden, Vice President Harris, their team at the White House and what you have right now and he`s first, after this incident, is that president trying to strike a balance. They`re very careful to not react too far, because they don`t want to increase the tension that`s already fallen in the community. And they`re mindful, of course, that former President Trump with his bellicose rhetoric, with his desire to National Guard soldiers. In fact, his talk about maybe being sending troops that the tweets he was sending about protests. All that did with the tensions around the country. Biden`s trying to cool it. But he`s also being mindful. Biden, Harris, both have been putting out statements the last few days about what happened in this particular shooting. Clearly, they`ve been bothered over the years by the spate of shootings in this country, and they`re going to be coming under pressure. I would imagine, in the days ahead, including from the Congressional Black Caucus, a very important part of this President`s political coalition to try to do something more tangible, more forceful, to prevent this from happening in the future as it continues to (inaudible) this was something that President Biden campaigned on, it was an important political last year and a half (inaudible) into the spring.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, you are unwittingly part of our efforts to toggle between topics as we must tonight, you`re going to take us to Afghanistan after we both listen to the reaction from the new head of the CIA today to the President`s decision.


WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: There is a significant risk once the U.S. military and the coalition militaries withdraw, but we will work very hard at CIA and with all of our partners to try to provide the kind of strategic warning to others in the U.S. government, that enables them and us to address that threat if it starts to materialize.


WILLIAMS: So notable comments there from man few Americans have seen gotten used to in the job as of yet. The newly minted CIA Director, Jeremy and I know as a veteran of the CIA yourself it`s within those confines that I asked what you make of the President`s decision. And for those in the cheap seats, where it`s very easy to say we ought to stay. If we stay, what does victory look like? And how will we know we`re there?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER, CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Yeah, Brian, see, that`s the problem, 20 years into this, the President of the United States was faced with two pretty bad options. Option one was leave and incur some of the risks that CIA director Bill Burns talked about. But option two was worse, which was if we stay and we abrogate the agreement that the United States under President Trump struck with the Taliban, the Taliban would have every incentive to escalate its attacks on the Afghan government and on U.S. forces. We would have been forced to surge more forces into Afghanistan incur potential losses and casualties. And then we`ve escalated the war and nobody wants that. And so of these difficult options, I think the President chose wisely. He basically said, we`ve been there long enough. We`ve been there a whole generation, there are people fighting in Afghanistan today who weren`t even born on 9/11. We`ve eviscerated the al Qaeda safe haven there. We`re able to have a standoff capability for counterterrorism, refuse intelligence with the ability to strike kinetically on any target at anytime, any place inside Afghanistan, and in that way, will protect the homeland, which is of course, the essential mission. So I think the President got it exactly right today.

WILLIAMS: Also, Jeremy on another topic, having to do with this still new presidency, Bloomberg, among others reporting tonight, we may be hours away from a new round of sanctions against the Russians for that massive hack. There is a new sheriff in town. He has now already laid down a marker with the Pentagon. They`re saying as part of the moves, which could be announced as soon as Thursday, the U.S. plans to sanction about a dozen individuals, including government and intelligence officials, and roughly 20 entities. Again, all of this because of the solar wind hack. The U.S. is also expected to expel as many as 10 Russian officials and diplomats from the country. Jeremy, this looks for better or worse, a lot like what U.S. Russian relations used to look like when we had a president who stood up to them?

BASH: And Brian, that`s what I think President Biden told President Putin in their phone call earlier this week, which is, look, if you want to participate in the international community, abide by the international order and behave, then you know, we can work together on some important things. But if you`re going to hack the United States with solar winds, if you`re going to interfere in elections, if you`re going to imprison opposition figures like the Navalny, if you`re going to try to poison and kill former intelligence officials in the streets of London, and if you`re going to threaten Ukraine on the doorstep of NATO, then you`re going to suffer consequences. And I think the sanctions that Bloomberg reported on tonight, are very tough, direct sanction effort directed at the Kremlin. And I think it`s part of the deterrence, part of the brush back pitch that we need towards Moscow to make sure that they stay in the box, and don`t threaten the United States in our interests.

WILLIAMS: And CK, finally back to you a question that calls for your analysis as much as you`re lawyering. And here it is, how might the outcome of the Chauvin trial affect the disposition, the handling and the case in the murder of Daunte Wright?

HOFFLER: I think it`s going to have a tremendous impact for so many reasons. When we look at this case, at the Derek Chauvin trial, we have to realize that all eyes not just in Minnesota, not just throughout this country, but throughout the world, are focused on what happened because of the significance of this case.

You know, for the African American community, just the irony of, and the height of this trial, during the prosecutors case, that another 20 year old young man is killed in the same state with such recklessness is just, it`s just it creates a frenzy, and a sense of desperation and sense of sadness, and intense sadness in our communities. And amongst our, and our civil rights organizations, and our legal community. And really, it`s not just in the African American community, but just throughout the country. So whatever happens, whatever happens in that trial is undoubtedly going to have an impact on another case in the same community. And the reason for that is because they`re linked. Police brutality is a real, is a pandemic, it is a pandemic. And that`s why the national bar is focused on police brutality is one of the major areas. That`s why the Congressional Black Caucus is meeting with President Biden to say this has got to stop. There`s got to be widespread federal reform, in addition to what we do in the States and the localities. So we`ve got to watch this very closely. Because if for some reason, Derek Chauvin is acquitted, it`s going to have such a strong impact in that community. And for those who are teeing up the next case, this tragic case of this young man who`s 20 years old, who just had something dangling from Izmir (ph). Imagine how senseless that killing is and you have a seasoned a 26-year-old police officer who mistakenly takes, she says, mistakenly takes her gun and shoots and kills him versus taser when they`re different apparatus. A gun is a gun and a taser is taser, different colors, one on one side of her body, one on the other. It`s senseless and that`s why I said that I wish there were a stronger charge against her. But she basically created an unreasonable risk. This is what under Minnesota law and consciously takes chances at causing the death of this young, young man and his family, the right family will never be the same. Actually, Minnesota will never be the same. Our community will never be the same. So there`s got to be accountability. So if there`s no accountability and the Derek Chauvin case that people will feel there`s no, not going to be any accountability and the right case, and that`s going to cause massive, massive havoc, more havoc, more protests, and in this country, and so the President has to step up. That`s why the Congressional Black Caucus, I believe, it is meeting with the President about these issues. It`s time for a change. This has got to stop.

WILLIAMS: Counselor, your use of the word pandemic during a pandemic certainly reverberates and we will remember it. We are much obliged to our big three guests for starting us off tonight, to Phil Rucker, to Jeremy Bash, and another welcome to CK Hoffler, thank you, all three of you very much.

Coming up, as we keep an eye on the protests in Minnesota tonight, one of our next guests, our second Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist of this broadcast explains why hope feels dangerous to him as the Chauvin verdict approaches.

And later what`s really behind the pause and the J&J vaccine? One of our most trusted physicians will be here to talk us through it. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway this Wednesday night.



CRUMP: The video tells us from day one, that Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd and should be held criminally liable and everything else that the defense does, is just a distraction attempt to make to make us look away and not focus on that video.


WILLIAMS: Very basic way of looking at the case after all. Floyd family attorney, civil rights lawyer, Ben Crump today as Derek Chauvin`s lawyers present their defense to the jury.

One of our next guests, Eugene Robinson, writes this, "Floyd`s death is fully documented on video, recorded from multiple angles, the onlooker cell phones, the officers` body cameras, a surveillance camera across the street. All the jurors have to do is believe their own eyes and ears. I should be able to expect that they will do so. I should at least be able to hope they will. But hope still feels dangerous."

With that back with us once again, the aforementioned Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist at the Washington Post and Matt K. Lewis is back with us, Conservative Commentator, Senior Columnist over at The Daily Beast.

Gentlemen, good evening, Eugene, explain to members of our audience who may not understand it, your hard earned caution as we approach the verdict watch in Chauvin and as we approach the disposition, in the case of Daunte Wright, who we watched straight up killed on an officer`s body camera?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, how far back do you want to go, Brian? I mean, you go back nearly 30 years. We watched police officers beat Rodney King to a pulp. And those officers when they were tried were acquitted. We watched right across the river from Minneapolis. We watched the cellphone video of Philando Castile being shot to death by a police officer during a routine prefix stop. They`re still committed no crime, made no sudden movements, did nothing wrong, but was killed and that officer was acquitted.

We have seen this movie many times before. And it feels dangerous and vulnerable to hope, even to hope that this time will be different. When clearly it, to me, at least clearly, it should be in nine minutes and 29 seconds of just the most heartbreaking, infuriating video evidence that you could ever produce, in any case. And yet I just speaking for myself, I find it hard to believe, to believe that the system will work this time and that this police officer will be held accountable for what he did, which was to kill George Floyd.

You know, the defense took what I think was probably its best shot today they found a forensic pathologist with credentials to take the stand and muddy the waters and tell the jury, don`t believe your eyes and ears believe. There are all these extraneous factors and it was just, you know, a cardiac arrest and maybe an overdose and maybe carbon monoxide or whatever. And my analysis doesn`t count. It`s the juror`s analysis. That`s the only analysis that counts. And if there is one or more jurors who want to acquit who are looking for something to hang an acquittal on at least on the most serious charge. You know, they may think they got it today. I just don`t know. We won`t know until that jury goes out and comes back. And, you know, I hope they do what I see is clearly the right thing. But we don`t know.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, for folks who haven`t watched a lot of trials, as I keep saying the job of the defense seems like it`s to make the point that George Floyd somehow killed George Floyd.

Hey, Matt, look at the toxic backdrop in our country. And while we talk about this toxic backdrop in our country, in state houses across our country, there`s quite a titanic effort to restrict of voting rights on a false assumption that they were somehow the vote was violated or fraudulent or unfair. Big full page ad today, a lot of household names of corporations, a lot of logos visible around the world. Matt, does any of this surprise you that these companies are putting their good names where their mouths are?

MATT K. LEWIS, THE DAILY BEAST SENIOR COLUMNIST: I`m not surprised, Brian, because we have seen in a pattern and last couple of years of woke capitalism. And I think this is just a continuation of that. I have to be honest, I don`t think that these corporations are suddenly discovered their conscience, care about racial equality or voting rights fact in Georgia.

I was on the show a couple of weeks ago, kind of talking about that. I don`t some of these, I can`t speak for all of the things happening in the state houses. But in Georgia, I think some of the concern about that bill was overwrought. Certainly, I think calling it Jim Crow 2.0 was, but nevertheless, I don`t think that these corporations are finding their conscience or, you know, finally doing the right thing. I think that they have made a calculated decision to go this direction.

I don`t know if it`s a wise decision. I don`t know if they`re alienating their consumer base or if it`s a bet that the future is younger and more progressive. But I think that`s what this is. So it`s just a complicated, nuanced story, right. I mean, the whole voting rights thing is premised on a big lie. Right, the lie was that Joe Biden`s election, that`s totally bogus.

Then at least in the case of the Georgia bill, I think the merits of the bill there were certainly some good things that entered it certainly wasn`t as bad as a lot of people thought. Some of these corporations are finally standing up, I think, and taking kind of a moral stance. I just don`t really trust that it`s a sincere one. So it`s really not a happy ending at this point.

WILLIAMS: Though, I would argue and others would two portions of the Georgia bill, including but not limited to, restrictions on food and water are straight up out the window. Crazy. Anyway, I digress. Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. We`re going to fit in a quick break here. Our guests have agreed to stay with us at least that long. Coming up, we`ll ask Matt to explain what he now calls the freak flag party.



REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA) GOP HOUSE WHIP: You know, we`ve heard a lot of stories. I mean, obviously, I`ve met the read the media reports, but there`s been nothing that we`ve seen yet from the Department of Justice. If something`s going on, obviously, we`ll find out about it. You know, right now, it`s hard to speculate on rumors. But, you know, if something really formal happened from justice, we would of course, react and take action.


WILLIAMS: Steve Scalise from today, who could probably name 100 places he`d rather be at that moment, but if anyone finds a political party that does lockstep any better than the Republicans, especially in the House, let us know, that is to date about the most specific response we`ve heard from the GOP to the Matt Gaetz`s sex trafficking investigation. Republicans have by and large avoided answering any direct questions.

Politico today sums up their silence this way or tries to quote, their response emphasized how few Republicans are racing to defend Gaetz, nor are they apart from representative Adam Kinzinger calling him -- calling for him to resign.

Still with us are Eugene Robinson, and Matt Lewis. Matt, why? Who do we see about what the Republican Party has become? I`m going to remind you of a quote of your own writing. Gaetz found Trump`s depraved anything goes style to be liberating, and some Republicans apparently find their honesty refreshing. But don`t be surprised if the end result is a gaggle of ego maniacal politicians flaunting their conquests on the House floor. If Gaetz survives, the lesson will be that preemptively telegraphing your vice is a sort of get out of jail free card.

Matt, I guess my point is politics and moral behavior have always had a curious relationship. Did Trump personally per se, make this worse make it the coin of the realm and the GOP?

LEWIS: Well, even You`re right. There`s always been scandals and bad behavior. I think the difference is, politicians used to feel compelled to pretend to be decent or ethical. And I think Donald Trump got rid of that. And if you look, there was a Vanity Fair article that Matt Gaetz did or, you know, an interview he gave to Vanity Fair in September, where he talked about how Republicans in the past, Republican standard bearers were, you know, stick in the mud, but how he has a, quote, active social life, and Trump is trumping president while having a congressman with the active social life just makes it easier.

And I think that`s sort of part of the story. It`s not -- it`s a matter of sort of the flavor of it. The flaunting of it, the reveling in it, and I do think it has an impact. We`ve had in the past some pretty weird scandals. But, you know, you`ve got Gaetz, you`ve got Marjorie Taylor Greene. It does seem like Trump, a couple things have happened. One, people who want to be able to fly their freak flag freely. Liked having Trump as the standard bearer, as Gaetz told Vanity Fair. I also think Trump served as a little bit of a magnet to attract a certain type of person into what used to be, at least in the Republican Party you used to have to pretend to be to be a stick in the mud. That`s no longer the case.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, I keep thinking of what Al Franken is making of all of this, why in your view, are so many Republicans silent on Matt Gaetz?

ROBINSON: Well, they`re not going to lock arms with them right now. Because, you know, he could be potentially in serious legal jeopardy. And, and the charges are unsavory, even for the both broke Republican Party. So you`re not hearing a chorus coming out in support of Matt Gaetz. But not even President Trump who issued a tepid message of kind of support for Gaetz, but not real.

So he`s, you know, he`s pretty much left out there. And everybody`s going to wait and see what happens. I do agree with Matt, that, you know, Donald Trump set the bar pretty much at floor level in terms of behavior, and morals and, and everything else. And that`s where we are today. And maybe someday we can, we can raise it again. But that`s certainly where the Republican Party is right now.

WILLIAMS: All right, gentlemen, Eugene Robinson, Matt Lewis, thank you both very much for coming on and spending time with us tonight. Coming up for us, there is still no resolution to the J&J vaccine dilemma. We`ll ask one of our top doctors where the debate and the science stand tonight when we come right back.


WILLIAMS: Tonight the temporary pause on administering the J&J vaccine remains a pause, it remains in place following half a dozen reports of this rare blood clotting amid women in a certain age group. After hours of deliberation today, this CDC of Every panel decided there wasn`t enough data to make a recommendation on the vaccine so for now, these J&J shots can`t yet start back up again.

Committee members say they`ll reconvene in a week or so. But the extended pause has some in their group concerned.


DR. NIRAV SHAH, ACIP COMMITTEE MEMBER: We are in a situation where not making a decision is tantamount to making a decision. Any extension of the pause will invariably result in the fact that the most vulnerable individuals in the United States who are prime candidates for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will remain vulnerable.


WILLIAMS: With us again, tonight is Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease physician, the medical director of the special pathogens unit up at Boston University School of Medicine. And Doctor, thank you, first of all, for taking our questions.

Considering the number of people depending who have come to depend on the J&J, considering its efficacy in all other areas, considering its value as a one and done really secure liquid secure vaccine that travels well. How is it a good thing that this pause is in place?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN: Brian, I think you`ll have to look at this as saying there`s really just were tough decisions either way. Right? I think having this pause, potentially extending this pause, the concern is that is going to create vaccine hesitancy around Johnson & Johnson around, as you said, an adverse effect that could be in the end, quite rare. And it could bleed over as vaccine hesitancy to other vaccines such as the mRNA vaccines, but with such a signal is not actually seen, but just because there might be general confusion.

But on the other hand, right, I think you have the cost of this of not doing the pause, not doing this complete transparent evaluation is that if there is a strong link, if something else is discovered, then you lose the long-term trust and what you saw today, you know, it was a very transparent process where you`ve got the advisory committee members, really in real time discussing the data.

Currently, the data that they`re kind of looking for is truly this -- there were very few incidences right six moving talking about one in a million incidents, but it comes at the heel of AstraZeneca`s findings that a similar technology vaccine was also causing blood clots. And the extension of the pause currently is to try to gather weather different other types of plots aside from the ones discovered in these six women`s can also be seen in Johnson & Johnson similar to what was seen in AstraZeneca to get a better sense of what is the true incidence because, you know, this blood class were really rare and AstraZeneca as well, I think the number of voters is one in 250,000, whereas that`s a different number than one in a million.

And the hope is that now that, you know, physicians have been alerted providers have been alerted. If these reports come in, we`ll get a better understanding on who`s at high risk. And so when we roll out the vaccines again, it will be done with greater confidence and with greater transparency and data.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for that answer and for explaining it. We`ve asked the doctor to hang out with us just a bit more while we fit in a break here. We`ll continue our discussion when we come back when we will talk about the good news. Let`s not forget the good news and this vaccine effort.


WILLIAMS: We are back continuing our conversation with Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, who`s been kind enough to hang out with us for just a minute more.

Doctor, people are hot on this subject. I just got a text from a friend of mine asking if it`s one in a million. Why pause the J&J. Where were the blood clots during the drug trial sequence? These are the questions people have and the J&J News is upsetting, especially for those of us worried about hesitancy.

Let`s for our closing comment, dwell on the miracle that these vaccines represent. This fluid will be our salvation out of this some day. And in fact, there was even better news on the Moderna front today, am I right?

BHADELIA: That`s right, Brian, three pieces of good news. So again, I want to stress that none of the mRNA vaccines have seen a signal of blood clots and Moderna released data today that showed in their six month follow up. They have their vaccines continued to remain efficacious, which means that 95 percent efficacious for severe disease and 90 percent efficacious for all disease six months out.

And this comes at the heels of Pfizer releasing similar data. And most people in my field think that that protection is probably going to last longer than six months, six months is all we have data for. Other piece of good news, they have great preclinical data that says that their booster which they`re planning to give six months after the first two doses of their vaccine has great protection against those variants. We`re concerned about the B1351 and at least that we`re concerned about from South Africa.

And then last bit, they finished enrolling their trial of 12 to 17 year olds and we should be seeing data from the data from Moderna on that population as well, which means we`ll be closer to vaccinating our children in advance of the fall. The boosters, by the way, the boosters that are going to be working on the variance (ph), Moderna says they might be available next fall when we might see disease activity, unfortunately go up again during the winter months.

WILLIAMS: Well, we`re trying to dwell on the positive around here as I know you often do. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, thank you for always coming on and the interest of the public health. We so greatly appreciate the time we get to spend with you.

Quick update for our audience on the situation that we started off covering live at the top of the hour in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. The police have -- this is taped from earlier tonight, the police have more or less successfully clear the area in front of that police station driving protesters from there into the euphemistically waiting arms of the National Guard at the other end of the street. This is from KARER affiliate there, an aerial picture of the scene but it appears they have tamped down some of or if not most of the activity there tonight.

Another break for us and coming up, the former guy was fond of saying Russia, Russia, Russia. That also nicely sums up what we see in our media on days like this, if you know what to look for.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, Vladimir Putin must love what he sees these days from the United States. While he most certainly misses his buddy Donald Trump, he must be so thrilled that the influence the Russians have had on our American life and media and society all for the most minimal investment, not just the ardent committed Trumpers like Ron Johnson or Rudy Giuliani, who are willing to publicly repeat actual Russian talking points but the subtle, inexpensive way the Russians have affected our news, our morale, our national dialogue, with the most modest investment in social media and bots. It`s out there every day on our phones. You just need to know it when you see it.

Hey, speaking of which, this was an especially good day for Putin, thanks to two Americans in particular. First, his name Mike Gibbons, he`s no Ohio business man running for Senate. He just released his first campaign ad. A lot of this three minutes spot is shots of him in a white dress shirt pointing at someone.

There are other Ghazi scenes during his voiceover portions supporting Trump and the American way of life and family and so on. Where the video is from a Russian production company. Two other scenes in his commercial were shot in Ukraine. Yes, it`s odd considering he is running for the United States Senate, which brings us to United States Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of the great state of Mississippi. All you need to know about Senator Smith is she voted with Donald Trump 91 percent of her time and the Senate.

Today she tweeted out this graphic, Happy 75th birthday to the US Air Force Reserve. That seems nice and super patriotic and we`re guessing Putin will grateful because as a journalist and aviation expert Tyler Rogoaway was quick to point out your birthday, your birthday wish celebrates Russian Su- 34 is in service with the Russian Air Force.

Indeed Tyler is right again. That`s the unmistakable profile of a Sukhoi 34 Russian fighter with its forward stabilizing fins. It was also pointed out today that`s not even the logo of the Air Force Reserve. This is at least the Air Force Reserve here in the United States, where Cindy Hyde-Smith who has since taken down the tweet and replaced it serves in the United States Senate.

That`s our broadcast for this Wednesday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.