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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 4/16/21

Guests: Cynthia Alksne, Caroline Randall Williams


A gunman opened fire outside and inside a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. Eight people were killed, and several others were wounded. Police said the 19-year-old gunman took his own life. A FedEx spokesperson confirmed he was a former employee at the facility. DOJ flips oath keeper on January 6 capitol riot case.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 87 of the Biden administration and tonight protesters are out for a six the night now in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, following the killing of Daunte Wright by a police officer.

And there were demonstrations tonight in the streets of Chicago, following the killing of Adam Toledo by a police officer.

The final seconds of both young men`s lives caught on body cameras amid the anger and the questions about how these deaths could have happened. The numbingly familiar morning is also underway after the nation`s latest mass shooting just last night. This time it was Indianapolis. Eight people were killed, at least seven injured in a matter of minutes, when a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility there, late last night.


DEPUTY CHIEF CRAIG MCCARTT, INDIANAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Just after 11 o`clock, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department received a call for service at 8951 Mirabel Road, which is the FedEx Ground-Plainfield Operation. Four shots being fired outside of the building. As they were responding, officers received information of a male walking through the parking lot shooting a rifle. FedEx officials have confirmed that Mr. Hole was a former employee at the facility, and he was last employed in 2020.


WILLIAMS: That former employee has been identified as 19-year-old Brandon Hole. He was emotionally disturbed. The FBI says his mother alerted law enforcement because of his potential for violence.

Bureau agents interviewed him in April 2020 and seized a shotgun at his home. Police say he took his own life after killing eight others as they tried to earn a living.

Police releasing their names this evening, they range in ages from 19 to 74 years of age. Again, the President ordered flags at the White House and on federal property lowered to half-staff, the fifth time he has done so since taking office as President.

In the past four weeks alone, there have been 53 mass shootings in our country, a mass shooting defined by law as those with three or more victims.

Today, the latest attack overshadowed somewhat Joe Biden`s first meeting with a foreign leader at the White House. As he hosted the Japanese Prime Minister, Biden rejected the idea that gun reform was not a priority on his agenda.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Immediately upon us becoming in office, having an attorney general, I asked him to put together the things I could do by executive order. The Congress has to step up and act. The Senate has to act. It doesn`t mean that I can`t also be working at the same time on the economy and on COVID.

Every single day -- every single day, there`s a mass shooting in this United -- in the United States if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas. It`s a national embarrassment and must come to an end.


WILLIAMS: Meantime, the family of Daunte Wright, who was killed by a police officer now charged with manslaughter, has intensified demands that she face more serious charges.

The Chicago police officer who shot and killed 1 year-old, Adam Toledo and admittedly different circumstances has so far not been charged. Today the White House was asked about the President`s reaction to that shooting.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Too often in this country, law enforcement uses unnecessary force too often resulting in the death of black and brown Americans. The President again has repeatedly said that he believes we need police reform. That`s what he says he`s calling for Congress to send to his desk.


WILLIAMS: On another matter just across town in Washington, it`s now been 100 days since the insurrection, the looting, the desecration of our Capitol. Today, the Justice Department obtained its first guilty plea from a founding member self-identified of the oath keepers who was arrested in the January 6 riot. Jon Ryan Schaffer, first defendant to publicly flip and the sprawling investigation that has led to charges against more than 410 people now. Schaffer will now tell the Feds all that he knows.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still pushing for a 9/11 style commission to investigate what happened and has sent a proposal to House Republicans who so far have yet to agree on such a move.

Meanwhile, democratic Congressman Dan Kildee says that ever since the riot, the move between the parties has been less than congenial.


REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): I still have to work with and speak to these members who contributed to this big lie, benefited from this big lie and now want to say, well, let bygones be bygones. I can`t trust them. Because I now know in a moment of reason pressure when they have to choose between their country and their own hide, I know how they`re going to choose. And it`s very difficult to work with somebody when you know that about them. When the pressure is on, they did not choose their oath above us. They did not choose our history of democracy. They chose the Narrows small path, that`s hard to forget.


WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this consequential Friday night, Eugene Daniels, White House Correspondent for Politico and co-author of each day`s edition of the Politico Playbook, Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer Prize-winning Investigative Reporter at the Washington Post. She`s also the author of the forthcoming, Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of The Secret Service, which we look forward to coming out May 11. And Cynthia Alksne is back with us, former Federal Prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Eugene, I`d like to begin with you, in your beat specifically. This presidency still young as it is, was already on overload. You heard the President himself mentioned some of the areas he is dealing with in the average day. It was easier for Donald Trump who could dismiss police shootings and dismiss crowds in our streets, sometimes hire other cops to clear them. It`s different for Joe Biden talk about how the burden for the new president is different.

EUGENE DANIELS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yeah, because he takes a completely different tack than Donald Trump did, right? This is a president who has put systemic racism as one of the top four priorities for his administration behind the pandemic, the recession caused by the pandemic and climate change, and that people are going to want to see action. He is someone, you know, we we`ve seen him go in front of people and console the country, is the console chief aspect of the job is he`s much better at than Donald Trump. But people want to see things change, right? When you talk about gun control in this country, there`s only so much that a president can do. And that`s something that I think, you know, we all knew, but it`s something to watch, as you know, he does these executive actions, but it`s not something that he can do through reconciliation, right? And so when we`re asking, where does it fit in his list of priorities, it`s not something that he could get done without Republicans, so trying to put pressure on Republicans to do something there. And when you talk about issues like policing, that is something that not just him, but also his department of justice says that they really want to fix and concentrate on but how do you do that at a time when it is such a front issue. And also you will need Congress to act on it, right? There`s a George Floyd justice and policing act. However, will that -- would that pass the SEC? It`s hard to see.

WILLIAMS: You raise nothing but good questions.

Carol, over to your beat, and in the parlance of law enforcement, they`ve got a live one, DOJ now has a man self identified as among the founders of oath keepers. Tell us about the plea agreement and what is known about this guy?

CAROL LEONNIG, THE WASHINGTON POST INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: So Friday night, forgive me, Friday was the first time we learned that this person Jon Ryan Schaffer, by the way, a guitarist and a heavy metal band as well, was agreeing to cooperate. He filed with the Justice Department of Criminal information, which is a big red signal, I am going to cooperate and I`m going to plead guilty. I`m going to get a better sentence as a result of helping the Feds figure this out.

And remember, Brian, the number one thing the Feds want to figure out is the conspiracy. There were police all over the Capitol grounds who could tell that this was organized, that this was coordinated certain people with backpacks, two way radios in their hands, certain flags that they were signaling with to bring people along behind them. And what the Feds -- what the FBI and the investigators want to do is, who were those people? What was the network? They want to know more than what they`ve captured so far on the radio transmissions, which is what did you plan? Where did you plan it? And those conspiracy steps are really important to putting together this case.

It seems to me that looking at the video, they have Mr. Schaffer sort of dead to rights with bear spray in one place, spraying it on a law enforcement officer and that is going to be a huge lever in getting him to cooperate and obviously has been.

WILLIAMS: Cynthia Alksne, so we have the ongoing Chauvin trial. This could be the week that was this coming week in that. We have people in the streets in Brooklyn Center tonight. We have people in the streets of Chicago tonight. The family of Tamir Rice is asking that that case get reopened. Always been a dicey business, trying to process police officers but something tells me, Cynthia, the young Cynthia Alksne is coming up through the system legally are about to get a lot of experience in it?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, they are. The Attorney General, today said we`re going to have consent decrees with police departments. And while that`s not, you know, the be all and end all and it`s not going to solve all our problems, it`s certainly going to help, these -- it`s going to allow the Justice Department to track police departments that have use of force problems and have racial injustice problems and begin to work with them to force change.

The problem is, as we all know, the problem is not just training and specific policies. The problem is who we`re hiring as police officers, because what we know is, if you take somebody like Derek Chauvin and we`ve all watched this trial, it doesn`t matter how much training Derek Chauvin had, he was never going to be a good police officer, because he`s basically a throwback from a Mississippi plantation overseer. He`s just a racist, awful person. No amount of training is going to fix that. So we have to do is figure out how can we hire police officers, like Chief Arradondo in Minneapolis? And how can we find police officers who are more interested in deescalating situations, rather than getting into fights and proving how big and tough they are? And that is something that can`t really happen with a consent decree that has to happen at the local level. And so while we have that happening, the local level, we`re going to increase prosecution from this department of justice. And if we can then work on the mental health component, we can really make some progress.

WILLIAMS: So Eugene, no one has to remind you, Joe Biden ran on a lot. The job is a big one. And from time to time, he`s going to upset fellow Democrats that happened today. Can you do your very best 62nd version of explaining to our viewers what happened on the refugee camp and why fellow Democrats especially are angry about it?

DANIELS: Yeah, we saw that the President Biden ran on kind of getting rid of that cap that the Trump administration put on refugees. That is not what happened. And that came out of that was very clear today to us in the media, that that was, that cap was going to stay. And what they did do was change, who was allowed to come to the country, but the cap number stayed, but then they backtracked. And they backtracked so quickly, it is one of the quickest backdrops we`ve seen in a long time, because it was violently attacked, violently attacked by Democrats, members of the left, people in Congress and something that we hadn`t seen a long time, which is a members of one party attacking the actions of a president of that exact same party, right? We didn`t see that during the Trump administration. So I think something that the Biden ministration is going to have to get their hands on is that Democrats and members of left are not scared to call them out when something they see as something that`s wrong, especially when they call the cruel and racist when the Trump administration put these caps on refugees.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, good point. Hey, Carol, speaking of two parties that don`t get along, what`s the chance that we`re going to see a 1/6 commission? And where does it stand as of airtime tonight?

LEONNIG: It`s in -- it`s in pretty bad shape, Brian. You know, as an investigative reporter, I wish just for the pure fact finding that this commission would proceed, because and I`m not trying to define it. But, you know, the 911 Commission unspooled, a zillion ways in which there was a failure of imagination, systemic flaws, a lack of communication, and it laid bare what was wrong and how a Osama bin Laden was able to pull off what he did.

The same thing is needed here. But unfortunately, both parties are in huge disagreement about who`s going to score the most points from this commission. So Pelosi has argued for a commission that will include looking at the forces of domestic extremism that caused or led to the insurrection led to the attack on the Capitol. Republicans are really unhappy with that. If they`re going to broaden this investigation, they want the commission to look at Antifa and also protests in Portland and Seattle.

And George Floyd protesters who surrounded the White House in late May and early June, again, arguing that protests are all equal. Of course, we know protests are equals, storming the Capitol to stop the certification of an election of a president is quite different. But that is where we are tonight. Unfortunately, fact finders like me aren`t going to be able to get as many facts as they`d like. I wish it weren`t so but I don`t see agreement so far.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, indeed, you`re right. We may know so much more about 1/6 that it may seem to make its own argument to seek a commission of some sort of. Cynthia, I`m going to ask our control room to put a quote from Eugene`s employer, Politico up on the screen to talk about the saga of Mr. Gaetz. Matt Gaetz`s former girlfriend has told friends she`s worried that the woman who is key to the federal government`s sex-crimes investigation, tried to get her to incriminate the Florida lawmaker on a recorded call. Folks reading that might question why it`s important. The revelation raises the possibility that federal prosecutors have to top cooperating witnesses. It goes on to say the woman who was an alleged sex-trafficking victim when she was a minor, and the Gaetz associate already indicted for that crime, former Seminole County Tax Collector, Joel Greenberg.

Cynthia, what does this tell us about two things, status of the DOJ inquiry? And secondly, the kind of jeopardy Congressman Gaetz may be facing?

ALKSNE: Well, it tells us a lot and it tells us nothing, you know, I mean, she could have been making those calls without the Feds helping her. And, and similarly, Mr. Greenberg, who was pulling over people in his car and flashing his tax collector badge and was carrying a gun and was doing all kinds of things, he could easily also have been calling Gaetz and getting himself some insurance. And they could be doing that outside of the federal investigation or inside the federal investigation. So you just don`t know in these days of everybody wanting to be their own little detective, if the Feds actually pushed her to do that. And we just, we`re just too soon to tell. But it`s certainly possible that now we have two people who have rolled on Congressman Gaetz, and he probably knows the answer to that, because he knows that they have his telephone, they have his iPhone, and he knows what`s in it. And my guess is he`s pretty worried. He`s hired a very good lawyer. But it`s too soon to tell exactly what that that possible taping really means.

WILLIAMS: And Cynthia, just to confirm, never a good thing when the Feds take your phone?

ALKSNE: No, it`s never a good thing when they take your phone. It`s never a good thing than when they take your girlfriend`s phone. And it`s never a good thing when you`re running buddy, who you have been, then mowing money for girls is appears to be prosecuted -- appears to be rolling against you. It`s all bad. All that and it couldn`t frankly happen to a nicer guy.

WILLIAMS: All duly noted, to our top three guests tonight, I know it`s late. I know you`re weary. Thank you so very much for starting off our broadcast. Eugene Daniels, Carol Leonnig, Cynthia Alksne, much obliged.

Coming up for us as we approach our first break in the action, is the new Republican America first caucus, just a fancy name for white supremacy? I`ll talk to Bill Kristol about what they mean when they say they`re promoting Anglo-Saxon traditions.

And later, the slugfest against the virus that`s going on at this very moment in too many places to count. Tonight, the good numbers are good. The bad numbers though, look very bad. We`ll get into it, the 11th Hour just getting underway on a Friday night at the end of another long week.



DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN: I feel like I`m a facts based pariah. We`re radicals in the Republican Party. If you say that stop this deal was ridiculous, right? You know, Trump is the new establishment.


WILLIAMS: That`s what a former Republican member of the House sounds like. Case in point, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Congressman Paul Gosar are planning to form their own America first caucus. According to a seven page policy platform published by Punchbowl News this afternoon, the caucus intends to, "follow in President Trump`s footsteps," that includes an election fraud section that peddles conspiracies about our 2020 election. It also includes the following, "America is a nation with a border and a culture strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions." I wonder what that could mean. I`m sure our next guest is wondering as well.

With us to talk about it, Bill Kristol, the author and writer and thinker in Politico, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administration`s editor at large of the Bulwark.

Bill, a couple of things number one, wait till they find out about the border with Canada. Number two, I have in my hand three items on social media that attracted our interest today and tonight, here they are in order. Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, I believe anyone that joins this caucus should have their committees stripped too like for Marjorie Taylor Greene already done, and the Republican Conference should expel them from conference participation. While we can`t prevent someone from calling themselves Republican, we can loudly say they don`t belong to us.

Kevin McCarthy tweets, the Republican Party, I hope you`re sitting down, is the party of Lincoln and the party of more opportunity for all Americans, not nativist dog whistles.

And finally, gentleman named Bill Kristol, Kevin McCarthy is the piano player in the House Republican brothel. Good choice of words there, Bill. At a gross base level, is this the way to bring in new customers if you`re the Republican Party?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, if you think that nativism is a winning, as a formula for success, I suppose it might be and look, we shouldn`t minimize the appeal of nativism, I suppose after Donald Trump, Donald Trump won in 2016, after attacking an American judge for being a Mexican judge. This is a judge presiding, I think in a civil trial that the Trump Organization involved in. He`s an American judge. He is actually born here and had his parents of Mexican origin and Trump attack being a Mexican judge as part of a general attack on Mexicans. He of course called for a Muslim ban and so forth. He won the presidency. He governed for years, along those lines, Republicans supported him, including Kevin McCarthy, he almost won again and Republicans are only a few votes, a few seats short in the House.

So they may think that nativism works, they may not -- I mean, I they made more right than I would like that you would like, Brian, I think. Now I think Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, it`s easy for -- is an easy one for Kevin McCarthy to seem responsible. Oh, and nativist dog whistle we can`t have that. Of course Donald Trump did more than dog whistles. He was more of like a nativist broadcasting, you might say and Kevin McCarthy said no problem with Donald Trump`s nativism.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, you`re right. It`s kind of a layup where these two are concerned, Gosar`s own family members have argued he ought to be out of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene has already been stripped of her committee assignments, which traditionally is not the way to bring bacon home to your district. But we do know she has raised, what? 3.2 million so far this year. How is anyone going to primary her and raise that kind of money? And what`s the lesson of that, what sells?

KRISTOL: Well, there`s clearly support for that. No, whether the people who voted to impeach Trump had good fundraising quarters too, many of them in the House. So I think we will have a bunch of primaries in 2022, where we`ll have a bit of a test of how far the Republican primary electorate in different states, different congressional districts, is willing to go. There`ll be open seats, obviously, open Senate seats will be very interesting in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina, with Republican candidates of different stripes ranging from Trumpist all the way to, you know, more than Trump to Trump to mild versions of Trump to actually not Trump and never Trump or at least escape beyond Trump.

So anyway, we will see this proposition. But yeah, this is -- the problem is that they are not -- the establishment types has called Kevin McCarthy, the person who`s playing the piano and pretending he doesn`t know what`s going on. We`re just trying to keep everyone happy, you know. They do -- they sometimes see that they have to distance themselves a little bit, and the really crazy stuff, but that`s about it. They want to keep them in the tent. They want the establishment daughters in the tent, and they`re willing to tolerate an awful lot, an awful lot of nativism and bigotry, and no nativism. I mean, if you would send this six, seven years ago that one of our two major parties would just routinely be tolerating the kinds of things that are happening, the kinds of bigotry, which ranges from ethnic and racial to bigotry against, I don`t know young trans women. I mean, it`s really astonishing some of the things that are being proposed in state legislatures, and we won`t even talk about voting rights, I suppose. So it is, you know, I don`t believe, yes, the Republican establishment doesn`t like some of the less seemly parts of this, but they are willing to live with it as part of a formula they think for victory.

WILLIAMS: Bill, Ron DeSantis seems to be the new darling of the Trump wing of the party, I guess based on his deft handling of COVID. As Ted Wesley writes this in the New York Times, going to be amazing when DeSantis mania irks Trump`s insecurity and he dooms him before 2024 just because he can. I guess you`re going to enjoy the view of that.

KRISTOL: You know, I think Trump is going to run out and I think in 2024, I mean, he`s not going to just have fun for a year or two and then step aside, he thinks he almost won once, he almost won the second time. The Trump Liz Cheney, Republican primary in 2024 is going to be something else. Don`t you think, Brian? That`ll be worth staying up until 11 o`clock at night for.

WILLIAMS: Wow, we just got everybody`s attention coast to coast at least those smart enough to join us on a Friday night. Bill, thank you as always, thanks for taking our questions. Great having you, Bill Kristol, our guest tonight.

Coming up, after a heavy week, full of despair, we are left with this. Just who are we right now as a country? Two of our favorite writers and thinkers standing by to try to take on that question.



KATIE WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT`S MOTHER: That was the last time that I`ve seen my son. That`s last time I heard from my son and I have had no explanation since then.

So when people say justice, I just shake my head.

NAISHA WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT`S AUNT: My nephew was a lovable young man. His smile, oh Lord, the most beautiful smile. You all took that.


B. WILLIAMS: On a grim snowy day in Minnesota anguish and outrage after another fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man this week and now the new video of the killing of a 13-year-old in Chicago. The "Chicago Sun- Times Editorial Board" writing this week, quote, as a society, we watched the horrific video of that police officer killing Daunte Wright and tell ourselves, once again, this is not who we are. But those words are a lie. This is exactly who we are, and it is what this country has allowed law enforcement to become, as evidenced by the endless, stomach-turning routine of police harassing, wounding or killing unarmed black and brown people.

It`s a lot. We have the guests for it. Back with us tonight, Caroline Randall Williams, she`s an author, poet, academic observer of all things political writer-in-residence with the Department of Medicine Health Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the celebrated author and presidential historian Michael Beschloss. His latest published work is "Presidents of War". We are eagerly awaiting his next book about race and our American presidents. Good evening, and welcome to you both.

Professor, I`d like to begin with you. As you look out over your country, at the end of the week, we`ve just witnessed. What do you see?

CAROLINE RANDALL WILLIAMS, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE: I see a heartbroken and endangered place, Brian. I think, you know, all of every death is a cause for pause. But Daunte Wright`s death, something about the fact that he called his mother as he knew he was being pulled over, because he knew to be afraid. Something about how his mother knew to be afraid on the phone with him. And something about how terrifically right they both were, really incapacitated me this week, in ways that as somebody who you know, I want to be a witness, I want to be somebody who understands grief and inherited in generational and collective cultural trauma.

I want to be somebody who can take that on and keep on with the work. But something about the sequence of his death really put me back on my heels this week because we are a country that is not able to equitably care for our citizens. And it just couldn`t have been cleaner this week than it`s ever been.

B. WILLIAMS: Michael it is, it`s striking and bracing and heartbreaking to hear the Professor`s words to a question about just what we`ve witnessed these past few days where we are. And to you I put it in the context of this presidency. It could not be a more massive task in front of this President. We have just elected not yet 100 days into his job. I haven`t had the opportunity to ask you if what he`s laid out is Johnsonian or Rooseveltian or if we need a new category. And here you are writing every day, a new book on presidents and race. Talk about the challenge for Joe Biden.

Hey, Michael, I think you`re muted. We don`t have him. OK, I said celebrated author, perhaps not celebrated Zoomer, but it`s a journey. We`re all learning it. We`ll get there. Both of our guests have agreed to stay with us. We`ll fix Michael`s audio problem. We`ll be back right after this.



REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: The good news and I`m going to stress this, if we saw policemen take the stand in this trial of Derek Chauvin. So for the first time we`re seeing the blue wall of silence broken, when I`ve lived long enough and fought in this civil rights movement long enough to see chiefs of police get on the stand against a policeman and Pat Robertson come out for a police reform. I know that there is a possibility that we can turn this country around if we don`t get weary in well doing.


B. WILLIAMS: I wanted to play that because of the point Reverend Sharpton made in Nicolle Wallace on her broadcast this afternoon while we continue to sort out the electronics of our presidential historian. Back to Professor Williams we go. And Professor, you heard that and the Reverend strung together reasons for optimism that we have witnessed this week. Do you share any or all of that?

C. WILLIAMS: I share admiration for the Reverend in his hope after all this time, I think I`m probably a spoiled millennial and I`m used to more immediate outcomes. I am -- I have the fear that it might be too little too late. I also I want to have -- I have hope. I don`t know that I`m optimistic. But I do have hope.

I think that, you know, on the other side, right, that we`ve seen police take the stand in one trial over one man. But then we also have the America First caucus on the rise. And there are people that are sort of frightened and raising an alarm sort of, but I don`t know that we have the tools to combat that before it gets ahead of us. Because the Republican Party and we are a two-party system in this country right now, for better or worse, the Republican Party seems to be following its lowest common denominator, all the way into the ground.

And they seem to be determined to abandon democracy in favor of returning to the, you know, King George model that this country was formed to rebel against. So I have -- I hope with Reverend Sharpton, but I also fear because history, you know, the Declaration of Independence was written by a man who owned his children. So I -- this country was founded on really complicated truths. And I don`t know what to think, is where I am honestly at the end of this tragic and historic week.

B. WILLIAMS: Wow. Michael, I`m told, you can hear us and we can hear you. And the Professor has just done us -- done it again, leaving us in the wake of those comments. And again, my question to you is, is more focused on the challenge that is facing this President with the Professor`s fears in mind, part of what she just said was her fear is that it`s too little too late.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, yes, it sure is too little too late. Here we are, you know, how four centuries into American history. And we`ve still got this problem in the year 2021. It`s just astounding, another case in which America has yet to fulfill its promise.

And one problem, Brian, is that we`ve got a system that gives so much power to presidents, if you look at moments in American history, when we`ve made progress on extending equal rights to everyone. And equal rights is not just ability to use a hotel or a restaurant or voting rights or being able to buy a house in a certain section of a city. It`s the right to have your child grow up without fear that he or she is going to be killed by a police officer.

White people in this country, most of them are told when their child, the police officer is your friend. For black Americans and for brown Americans this late in American history, the experience is a lot more complex. Harry Truman used to say that there are about 14 million Americans who had the resources to be heard in Washington and the rest of the American people depend on the President of the United States. That is also true in equal rights.

And we`re seeing Joe Biden have to come into the breach and say, what can I do as a federal official to make sure that local police authorities and other law enforcement authorities treat everyone decently? This is the anniversary this week, as you know, Brian, of Abraham Lincoln`s assassination. When Lincoln went to Ford`s Theater, he wore a coat. On the lining of the coat was embroidered for words, one country, one destiny. Here we are over 140 years later, and we don`t all share the same destiny we have to.

B. WILLIAMS: And, Michael, while I have you, let me ask you this about something else that happened this week and something that happens every few days, if not every day. The framers had no way of anticipating things from abortions to iPhones to genetic engineering. And they had no way of anticipating the AR-15 or a backwards 19-year-old walking into a FedEx facility during a shift change and killing eight people. Who do we see about that and the kind of society it has branded us the President today called us an embarrassment because of this.

BESCHLOSS: The President is absolutely right. It`s not only an embarrassment, it`s a national tragedy that a country founded on the ideals that we were which were so humane with the idea of equality and public safety for everyone, this late in the American experiment, it`s not happening. I think if the founders came back, what they would say is, we didn`t intend our Constitution of 1787 to take care of every technological and society development that happened, you know, all these years later, 300, 400 years later, at some point in this century.

But what they did say is, we hope that we`ve got a functional democracy where Congress can react to changes in society and fulfill certain needs. The same thing with a court system, both federally and on the local level and in cases where that did not happen, I think the founders would say, we agree with Harry Truman. We were getting a president, an awful lot of power to come in and try to fill the breach when justice is not done by other areas of our system.

B. WILLIAMS: Professor, I can only offer you our closing one minute and no more, but you`re the one in the trenches every day in academia. What are you hearing and seeing on the faces of your students at Vanderbilt?

C. WILLIAMS: My students are heartbroken. I think they`re galvanized, which inspires me. It`s part of why I love to teach. Because, you know, you get these just like year after year, you get layers and layers of energy and right mindedness and will to live and will to worry after these questions.

I hope that they know enough of the hard, wild things of the world because I think, you know, my kids go to Vanderbilt. They`re really privileged in certain ways by virtue of the institution. And I hope that they understand how deep and complicated the adversary is. Because there is this like, will to abandon the truth at all costs that seems to be cropping up across this country right now. And they`re will to misunderstand history.

But my kids are ready, and they`re smart. And I am so happy and grateful to be in the rooms with them, talking to them about these things in this moment, figuring out how to dismantle implicit bias and all of that essential work.

B. WILLIAMS: By the way, it`s always been one of my favorite markers of a true educator, someone who refers to my kids and they mean the faces looking back at them when they`re standing in the front of a classroom or a lecture hall. We so appreciate these two friends of our broadcast Professor Caroline Randall Williams and Michael Beschloss, thank you for spending part of the waning minutes of this Friday night and this week with us.

Coming up, the vaccine effort that has become so successful, supply has started outpacing demand. We`ll explain why that is both good and bad at the same time.


B. WILLIAMS: No matter what you`re about to hear this as a colossal achievement. Tonight, almost half of the U.S. adult population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. But our country is still recording this alarming rise now in cases. NBC News correspondent Miguel Almaguer brings us more on the obstacles we continue to face in this pandemic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A slowdown in the vaccine supply this week was expected. But tonight nationwide, upwards of half a million vaccination appointments are unfilled. Georgia alone with some 300,000 open slots even New York City with availability. And with growing concern over vaccine hesitancy, the CDC Advisory Committee won`t meet until a week from today perhaps further delaying the pause on Johnson & Johnson`s vaccine.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: What I`m most concerned about the numbers which are most on my mind are the rising cases and hospitalizations among those who are not vaccinated.

ALMAGUER (voice-over): And the numbers are troubling, hospitalizations and E.R. visits climbing as much as 8 percent in the last week. The number of new daily cases is now just below 70,000, far exceeding the goal of 10,000 to better manage the pandemic. In Michigan, at least 35 hospitals are at 90 percent capacity.

DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN, MI CHIEF MEDICAL EXECUTIVE: Patients are again lining our hallways like they were last spring. This situation is very serious.

ALMAGUER (on camera): Helping defuel the spread of the virus say doctors variants that are up to 70 percent more transmissible and the easing of restrictions. New Hampshire announcing its eliminating its face mask mandate.

(voice-over): Worried a devastating fourth wave could ripple across the nation. Tonight federal officials say vaccinations are more important than ever. But it comes at a time when fewer Americans may want one.

Miguel Almaguer, NBC News.


B. WILLIAMS: Coming up the effort in Washington today to focus our memories on a great sacrifice in our past, but it ended up triggering memories of another kind. We`ll tell you the story of when we come back.


B. WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is about memory. In Washington today they dedicated the new World War I Memorial to remember the dead. And along the way they managed inadvertently to give many in Washington quite a scare because memories of 9/11 are still so fresh. There were warnings on Twitter this morning to expect to fly over by to F-22 fighter jets. But indeed, when they arrived, the White House briefing was just underway. And that noise of loud low flying jet aircraft over the White House was enough to interrupt the proceedings.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The American jobs plan will help meet -- this our obligation to veterans by creating -- wow, there is a plane right overhead just for anyone, anyone tuning in online.


B. WILLIAMS: The same thing happened just across the way at the old Executive Office Building as the Vice President was greeting the Prime Minister of Japan and was forced to stop.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, I come from California, where we have a very strong and vibrant Japanese American community who has made great contributions, obviously to not only the state but to the country. And it is a community in which I have -- with which I have worked and lived for my entire life. And so I`d welcome you.


B. WILLIAMS: It is a beautiful new Memorial. It`s a new place for all of us to visit when we visit Washington. It`s been over a century since the last shot was fired and the armistice took effect. There are no more World War I veteran`s alive today. The last one died in 2010. So it`s on us to remember them and the extraordinary sacrifice in that awful war, 5 million Americans were part of the war effort over 116,000 never made it home.

Thousands more were wounded, maimed, blinded, never the same. They called it the war to end all wars. They were wrong. Two decades later came World War II and American losses that were exponentially greater.

That is our broadcast on this Friday night and for this week with our thanks for being here with us. Have a good weekend unless you have other plans on behalf of all my colleagues at the Networks of NBC News. Good night.