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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 4/19/21

Guests: Marilyn Mosby, Cynthia Alksne, Yamiche Alcindor, James Carville, Tim Miller, Michael Osterholm


Derek Chauvin is charged with second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder, second degree manslaughter. Today, after 45 witnesses 14 days of testimony, the prosecution and the defense made their closing arguments to the men and women of the jury. Politics has never been far from this closely watched case and most elected officials have not hesitated to weigh in. Well, today after the jurors were escorted out of the courtroom, Chauvin`s defense lawyer referred to comments from Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California and the suggestion is her incendiary words could have an impact on the verdict somehow. Waters made her comments to a reporter at night this weekend at a rally in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Judge Peter Cahill suggests that Maxine Waters` comments could set stage for mistrial. Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at the age of 93. Former president Donald Trump says that if GOP candidates want to win, they should run on his agenda. AP reports that Representatives Gaetz and Greene flaunt new paths to power, testing GOP leaders. Biden tells bipartisan group of lawmakers he is "prepared to compromise`" on infrastructure. Biden says all American adults to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine.


-- We haven`t seen that. And instead, in fact, my own state, you know, individuals who voted to -- who are members of the Republican Party to impeach Donald Trump, you know, there`s calls every day to censor them instead of to applaud them.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We are out of time Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

"The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again. This was day 90 of the Biden administration. And former U.S. Senator Joe Biden is among those in American life and politics, remembering his friend from the Senate that went on to be the 42nd Vice President of the United States, Walter Mondale, who died this evening at the age of 93. We will have much more on his life and legacy later in this hour.

Meanwhile, when you think about it, so much of the nation`s attention is focused squarely on Walter Mondale`s home state of Minnesota where there is great tension tonight now that the fate of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is in the hands of the jury. Almost a year ago, that video George Floyd`s killing ignited worldwide protests and forced our country to confront issues of police use of force and racial justice.

Deliberations got underway late this afternoon as protesters started gathering at the courthouse in Minneapolis, they marched through parts of the city. The 12 jurors spent about four hours deliberating, they`re now sequestered. They`ll resume their deliberations in the morning. Minneapolis has, of course, increased security and advance of the expected verdict.

City and state law enforcement now in place. They`re joined by members of the National Guard, which tonight has also been activated in DC.

Derek Chauvin is charged with second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder, second degree manslaughter. Today, after 45 witnesses 14 days of testimony, the prosecution and the defense made their closing arguments to the men and women of the jury.


STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: This is not a prosecution of the police. It is a prosecution of the defendant. What the defendant did was not policing. What the defendant did was an assault. Use your common sense. Believe your eyes what you saw, you saw.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I submit to you that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt. You have to be convinced that the defendant`s actions caused the death of Mr. Floyd. Actions that happened before Mr. Floyd was arrested. That had nothing to do with Officer Chauvin`s activities, are not the natural consequences of the defendant`s actions.

The drug ingestion, right, the bad heart, the diseased heart, the hypertension, all of these things existed before Mr. Chauvin arrived.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: If you were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. You heard that testimony. And now having seen all the evidence, having heard all the evidence, you know the truth. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin`s heart was too small.


WILLIAMS: Of course, this is America in 2021. Politics has never been far from this closely watched case and most elected officials have not hesitated to weigh in. Well, today after the jurors were escorted out of the courtroom, Chauvin`s defense lawyer referred to comments from Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California and the suggestion is her incendiary words could have an impact on the verdict somehow. Waters made her comments to a reporter at night this weekend at a rally in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.


REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA: -- lawyers for a verdict,

I am very hopeful and I hope that we are going to get verdict that say guilty, guilty, guilty. And if we don`t, we cannot go away. We got to stay on the street. And we`ve got to get more active. We`ve got to get more confrontational. We`ve got to make sure that they know that we need this.


WILLIAMS: So, Chauvin`s lawyer argued that right there was potentially grounds for a mistrial and the judge didn`t exactly disagree.


NELSON: An elected official, United States Congress person was making what I interpreted to be, what I think are reasonably interpreted to be threats against the sanctity of the jury process.

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY DISTRICT COURT: I`ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned. I`m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial, and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction and talk about being confrontational.

This goes back to what I`ve been saying from the beginning, I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function. Their Failure to do so I think is abhorrent. But I don`t think it has prejudices with additional material that would prejudice history, they have been told not to watch the news. I trust they are following those instructions, and that there is not in any way, a prejudice to the venom.

Beyond the articles that we`re talking specifically about the facts of this case, a congresswoman`s opinion really doesn`t matter a whole lot.


WILLIAMS: They usually measure, Judge Cahill, was angry there, as you saw. But on the merits, he went on to deny the defense motion for a mistrial.

As you might imagine, the White House is watching these deliberations. They are preparing for a verdict.


JEN PASKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are in touch with mayors, governors local authorities when the jury makes their deliberations and concludes and the verdict is found, I`m certain the President will speak to that. He met with the Floyd family last year and has been closely following the trial.

As he also always says protests must be peaceful. That`s what he continues to call for.


WILLIAMS: Also, tonight, there is a new development in the death of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick. He battled rioters during the siege of the Capitol on January 6. And then as you`ll recall, he suddenly died the following day.

Well, today the D.C. medical examiner has issued a statement saying Sicknick died of natural causes after suffering two strokes, after of course being attacked by the rioters and looters. Videos obtained by "The New York Times" indeed show him being attacked.

Two men are now accused of assaulting Sicknick by spraying him with a powerful chemical irritant, which is marketed for its ability to stop a bear from charging at you in its tracks. Prosecutors have not linked that chemical exposure to Sicknick`s death.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Monday night, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. And we welcome to the broadcast Marilyn Mosby, State`s Attorney for Baltimore City in the great state of Maryland.

And indeed, Counselor, I would like to start with you by asking you what you made of both sides of closing arguments.

MARILYN MOSBY, STATES ATTORNEY BALTIMORE, M.D.: So, I mean, first and foremost, I think that the prosecution did an outstanding job. I think that what they`ve done, in essence is to establish three parameters in which we could attempt to get a conviction in this case. I think that what we`ve know is that the most vital piece of evidence in this case is that of the video, and they`ve been able to harken back to that video on more than one occasion in which we`ve been able to see.

Just directly how important that video is in establishing not just the emotional testimony of 28 different -- 38 different witnesses. But the fact that they`ve been able to harken and show the emotion that entails, that corroborates the video and corroborate the murder of an individual whose life was lost on video camera for nine minutes and 30 seconds.

WILLIAMS: Cynthia, it`s never good when you`re closing argument, talking about the defense here, goes on for so long. The judge has to interrupt you, because in effect, you`ve lost the jury and he calls a 30 minute lunch break only to let you continue after the break. That being established as a predicate. What did you make of the defense closing argument?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Oh my god, I thought I was listening to the Lincoln Douglas debates. They were so long and it took forever to get to the actual point that he needed to get to. He wasted so much time talking about chocolate chip cookies and talking about the tailpipe defense and the crowd defense and none of that really helps his case.

By the time he got to what helps his case which is the argument about the cause of death. He had -- everybody was half asleep. It was not a good choice and that hurt him.

It also hurt him, I thought, that he misstated the law and the judge had to then tell the jury the law again. And on rebuttal, the prosecution was able to really smack him with it.

And what hurts with that, when a defense attorney does that, or any lawyer in a case, is that you spend the whole trial building up your credibility, so that when it comes time in the jury room, and you need some juror to stand up for you, and that`s what he needs, right, he needs one juror. And he needs one juror to advocate for him. And what he`s done is when he doesn`t tell the truth, or doesn`t say the law correctly, or waste their time on arguments that nobody believes to be true, it makes it impossible for him to have that juror in the jury room really stand up for him.

And that`s, you know, I tried these cases, these are hard cases, because there`s always that unknown juror. And he needs somebody to be his advocate in that courtroom, in that jury room. And he hurt himself today in doing that.

WILLIAMS: Over to Yamiche, I know you as one of the better source reporters inside that West Wing, and this counts on that. What is the thinking in the West Wing and around the President as to what he can or should, say or do, given any different combination of possible verdicts we could get here?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: My sense in talking to White House officials is that people in the White House including the President have been watching this place very closely. And that like many Americans, they`re bracing to see what happens with this verdict. There, of course, are going to be completely different messages, or I think a message that will be different if that case in ends in an acquittal versus a guilty versus possibly a manslaughter.

I think what we know we will hear from the President is someone who leans into his emotion, who leans into his sense of loss, who will centered no matter what happens on the idea that a family is now without a brother and a father and a cousin and an uncle. And this will also be -- he`s going to be talking to a nation whose sole, he said, he wanted to heal and running for president. So, I think, that is some of the things that we`re going to hear.

And it`s also in some ways, in line with what we`ve heard from him throughout his -- when he was running for president throughout his campaign and also during his presidency. This idea that he can really try to connect and be a consoler and chief, because at the end of the day and talking to George Floyd`s family, let`s remember that justice even in this case, even if the officer is convicted is there still going to be a family that has lost George Floyd, a family that has lost this, this man, with the nation watching him take his last breath for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

I will also say just to touch on briefly what we saw today in the courthouse, the prosecutor really leading it and saying the reason why George Boyd is dead is because Derek Chauvin did not have a big heart, that he had a small heart. He also said very clearly that this is a case where you can believe your own eyes, that common sense is really all you need to decide this case.

And what you saw on the defense side was, I think, a laundry list of issues and arguments. In some ways handing to that juror, whoever that jury is, or jurors who may side with the defense, a laundry list of reasons to go with them. And they said maybe officers make mistake. Maybe it`s the crowd that distracted them. Maybe it`s that they`re -- maybe it`s that George Floyd died because of his heart condition or because he had drugs in his system. There was a laundry list of things said, but I think what you saw from the defense was throwing spaghetti at the wall sweat, something will stick in that that will give a juror something to hold on to if there are jurors in there that say we want to equip this officer.

WILLIAMS: Over to Marilyn, this was a dark anniversary in your beloved city. Freddie Gray died six years ago today. Talk about how you have viewed this trial, having learned the painful lesson that you had to learn publicly about the difficulty in convicting police officers.

MOSBY: So, I mean, you touched upon it, Brian. I think it`s a very difficult sort of task. I think that the perceptions of police brutality and race relations have changed drastically. Since the time the AP put out a poll in the height of the uprising following the death of George Floyd last summer that said and they measured from the time that I charged those officers in Freddie Gray.

And I think the difference that I`ve seen that has existed is that vital piece of evidence that actually depicted, visually depicted George Floyd being murdered on camera, right? In Freddie Gray, we didn`t have cameras depicting the trial from start to finish. There was no sort of direct evidence depicting the murder like there is in the Chauvin trial. We had to rely on circumstantial evidence and police witnesses and medical experts that battled about the cause of Freddie Gray`s death.

And then after the first case that we tried in front of a jury were at hang, 11 to one guilty, the police thereafter were allowed to circumvent the community that they represented. And the judge acquitted the officers over and over again.

But the biggest difference that I see in Freddie Gray versus Derek Chauvin, is that this crumbling blue wall of silence has existed in real time. You had police training officers, you had a police chief, you have the unprecedented number of officers that were not only willing to distance themselves from this type of excessive force, but they were willing to testify. In Freddie Gray, we didn`t have that. We had the training officers that actually testified in favor of the defense. And so, again, I think that we are at a very critical monumental point in the Chauvin trial, and the stakes couldn`t be higher.

Yes, the family is hoping for some semblance of justice. But at the same time, the world is literally watching to see if America`s justice system lives up to the ideals and the promise of ensuring one standard of justice for all.

WILLIAMS: Here on the world watching what happens. Cynthia, do you think generally, the judge has done a good and fair job and acquitted himself well in this case? And were you like us, could you really sense the anger when he made those tough comments about Maxine Waters?

ALKSNE: I could, but I mean, the truth matters, it was kind of silly. I mean, there is absolutely no evidence that any juror has violated their oath, and heard the comments. I mean, I certainly have said worse.

It`s only an issue if they violate their oath, and are watching the news. And there`s no evidence of that. So, whatever she said, if they were violating their oath and watching the news, it would be a problem. So, I really don`t see it as much of a case.

But I just like to echo about this case being different than most police cases. And that is because we do not have a blue wall. We do have the video. We -- so, we don`t have a factual dispute in this case. And we do have an officer who didn`t tell the truth right away, and everybody knows that he did not come forward about the use of force. And we don`t have a case that`s a split second case.

You know, so often police cases are your re judging what happened in those split seconds. This went on and on and on. And everybody was able to see the sadism. And his the way he would keep grinding his knee back down every time the crowd said please, you know, stop and he would put more weight on the -- on Mr. Floyd`s neck. So, this is a very different case. And it should -- it should bring us convictions on all counts.

WILLIAMS: Agreed on great point, the similarities between the -- this and the Gray case really begin to fall apart when you start looking at them in any detail.

Yamiche, I think everyone would agree the Floyd family has been dignified throughout. In their grief and frustration they yield to no one. And under the bright light of attention I think they have held up remarkably well. You have spoken to family members, what are their hopes? What could their hopes possibly be for this week?

ALCINDOR: The Floyd family has really held up as you said to the bright lights of the attention of being thrust into this club, unfortunately, of families who have lost a loved one at the hands of police.

I spoke to George Floyd`s brother, Philonise Floyd, he testified at the trial. And he told me that what he wants to see is justice. He wants to see this officer convicted, but he also wants to make sure that no other family has to deal with this again. He doesn`t want to see other people have to come forward and say here`s what my family member meant to me and this is why they shouldn`t have died unjustifiably at the hands of police.

He is sharing a lawyer with Daunte Wright`s mother, the lawyer being Benjamin Crump. That`s the lawyer, of course, and it`s also the lawyer for Eric Garner`s family and for Michael Brown`s family and for so many other families. And what you see there is really this pattern of families in some ways welcoming each other, saying we have each other`s back.

But what Philonise told me is that people want to see justice, his family wants to see justice. They want to make sure that George Floyd`s name, that it is attached to a guilty verdict. In this case, they also want to see legislation pass, the George Ford Justice and Policing Act that`s moving through Congress. They want to see that become law so that there can also be legislative fixes for what happened to his brother. But really, this is also a heartbroken family.

He told me when I asked him what was it like to be on the witness stand. He told me -- I thought he was going to say, it was it was scary. He told me he felt relief because this had been a case and a death that, of course, has been haunting his family for so long. And he felt like it was good that he could go there and give the jury a piece of what George Floyd was to his family, explain the relationship that he had with his mother, the bond that he had dancing with his mother, the loss that he felt when his mother died.

And of course, we heard George Floyd saying mama, mama over and over again. So, his brother was really a window into what George Floyd was thinking about in those last few minutes, in those last few breaths when we saw him die.

WILLIAMS: You`re so right. The last thing Plilonise Floyd wanted was to be a public figure, and yet, he has held up in that glare, in that role. Many thanks to our big three guests on this Monday night as we start a new week. And the wait for a verdict is underway.

Yamiche Alcindor, Cynthia Alksne, Marilyn Mosby, great thanks for being here with us.

Coming up. If there was ever any question where the Republican Party is heading, there shouldn`t be. We`ll look at no advice for the GOP from a man who has bragging rights forever. Think about it as our only twice impeached president.

And later, they may be controversial here, but they do work and we`ll show you where vaccine passports are already working. All of it as The 11th Hour is just getting underway on this back to work Monday night.


WILLIAMS: So, this happened during his first on camera interview since leaving office, Donald Trump shared his thoughts with Sean Hannity on the future of the Republican Party.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Should this now be the Republican Party agenda? Should anybody that wants to run for the House or the Senate, should they take this Make America Great agenda and fight for those things that you fought for the four years you were president?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they want to win, yes. We`ve expanded the Republican Party you`ve seen. I mean, the Texas border. We have the biggest Hispanic vote since -- as the governor said to me, he called me a great governor

He said, since reconstruction, I said you`re talking about civil war, right? He said, since Civil War. If you want to win and win big, you have to do that.


WILLIAMS: So, that reconstruction.

With us tonight to talk about all things political, James Carville, Veteran Democratic Strategist who wrote the national fame with the Clinton presidential campaign and is these days cohost of the "Politics War Room" podcast. And Tim Miller, a contributor to the Bulwark and the former communications director for Jeb Bush.

Gentlemen, I`m so glad to have you both here tonight.

James, before we get into the politics of Mr. Trump, I have to begin with a more urgent matter, the news tonight. What have we lost in our politics with the loss of Walter Mondale?

JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We`ve lost the one thing that we`ve come to lack in modern American power, a lot of American politician`s decency problem and most decent people. But as my cohort have pointed out of the day, it was the first consequential vice president. And he became vice president, vice president have no consequence during the term in office, he back to office was in the West Wing. He was in every meeting, he literally changed the office of vice president.

So, not only its personal attributes as something to be remembered and respected, his political attributes, you know, and policy accomplishments were pretty good. When you change an entire office, you`d made a big impact on American politics. So, among standards, President Clinton talked to him a couple of days ago when, you know, he was just a great man, had a long life, 93 years old were long, and very consequential life. And a lot of friends in Minnesota they`re highly distraught about this. He did well respected man.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, he was the first vice president to live in the Naval Observatory as a separate government home. And as you point out, first vice president to really be treated as part of a partnership by the president in the West Wing, a tradition that for the most part has been handed down is certainly in effect today between Biden and Harris as it was between Obama and Biden.

Hey, Tim, about that comment from Donald Trump, who wants you to know that reconstruction followed the Civil War? Is he right that the ticket to winning a race as a Republican is to embrace the MAGA banner?

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I`m not sure about a former president as a history teacher, Brian. But I think that I`m going to say something I don`t usually say, which is that I kind of agree with his political analysis, as far as where the Republican Party is right now. I think the Bernie (ph) had an opportunity after the January 6 insurrection, to say we have had enough of this, we are going to pivot during the Biden era and try to reach back out, to women reach back out, to suburban voters reach out to those we`ve lost over the last five years, the people that gave Joe Biden a 7 million votes, popular vote victory.

But the party didn`t want to do that. They decided they wanted to stick with the coup, they decided they wanted to be an insurrection as party, they want to keep double down on the crazy. And so, as a result, in order to win elections, they`re going to need to turn out the MAGA base. You know, the suburban voters aren`t coming back.

And so, I think that his analysis is correct. I don`t think it`s good for our politics. I don`t think it`s good for the party. But that`s the bet that the Republican Party is made right now. And that`s what you`re going to see in 2022. We`re already seeing it in Virginia, and in Ohio and in the other places where the midterm races are already getting underway.

WILLIAMS: Hey, James, I`m going to read you something from the AP tonight, two friends -- about two friends of yours. Mr. Gaetz and Congresswoman Greene. "Gaetz and Greene have attracted more public attention lately than most junior members of Congress. Much of it hasn`t been positive. Party leaders must decide what if anything to do about them and what impact any action would have on their supporters," right along, and the same line as Tim`s comment, "who come from the GOP`s staunchly conservative base."

So, James, I`m guessing you`re fine with giving those two all the attention they demand. It`s not like their leader in the House voted against insurrection. What`s your take on this story and those two members of the House specifically?

CARVILLE: There`s one part of the story that just irritates me in a way, and that is well, James, OK, we got Marjorie Taylor Greene, but you got AOC. Stop. AOC is a talented smart person who I think has some impractical, borderline naive ideas like given everybody health insurance, right? She`s a very talented person. Marjorie Taylor Greene is like literally out of the mind.

And so, you know, that kind of false equivalency that will start a lapse into. And by the way, she raised something like $3.7 million in a quarter. It pays, it`s profitable to be crazy in today`s Republican Party. And Matt Gaetz, he looks like a character or something, like that`s the weirdest looking guy I`ve ever seen in my life and the weirdest acting guy but they got some real, you know, we got people that I think are politically not practical all the time. But, you know, pretty nice people who aspire some but a country, I don`t know where these people are coming from. I really don`t. And they got to deal with money --

WILLIAMS: That she is, that she is and I`m not sure she can be primary with that much in her checking account. Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. Coming up on the other side of this break, Biden says out loud, a word as mythical in politics as bipartisanship. We`ll let you hear it. We`ll talk about it when we come back.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am prepared to compromise. Prepare to see we can do when we get together on. I`ve noticed everybody`s for infrastructure. Question is who`s going to pay for it? And that`s what we`re going to try to work out today.


WILLIAMS: He said compromise, we all heard him. The President met for a second time today with Democrats and Republicans in an attempt to broker a deal on this massive infrastructure plans. Still with us, James Carville and Tim Miller.

Tim, is there a chance he can get 10 votes for anything, you name it?

MILLER: No, there`s not a single piece of consequential legislation that there are 10 Republicans who will support. There`s just no way that in the end 10 Republicans will come together and back something that will help Joe Biden politically, you know, maybe some random legislations, but not anything that is a major part of the Biden agenda.

And so I think that this is smarter Biden, it`s basically call their bluff, bring pop -- you`ll bring a popular bill to them, ask them to come to the table. And, you know, inevitably they`re not going to meet them, you know, maybe it gives a Lisa Murkowski or one or two votes. But I think that`s the best you can hope for.

WILLIAMS: James Carville, same question.

CARVILLE: Yes, I agree with Tim. I think it`s smart to talk compromise, and he might get two or three. That`ll come aboard, and it`ll have the bad parts of the chain. But I completely agree that they`re not 10 Republican votes. I think Joe Biden could vote in (INAUDIBLE) the Bible he could get 10 Republican votes.

WILLIAMS: And James, since you opened the door on the false equivalence of AOC, and MTG, let me go one deeper and ask you this. You`ve got Rasheeda Talib, out there saying police and incarceration should be abolished. You`ve got Maxine Waters, with incendiary comments, urging protesters to be more confrontational. I see you nodding your head. Do the Democrats have anything to answer for their members of the House?

CARVILLE: Of course, of course we do. We are a large political party. And people sometimes say things. I think defund the police was unfortunate. I think some of its faculty lounge lingo that that somebody Democrats engaged in is not helpful at all. But I don`t put them on the same level of Marjorie Taylor Greene or Paul Gosar or Matt Gaetz or anything like that.

I have a soft spot for Maxine Waters. She endorsed us at `92. And, you know, she`s sometimes can be a little outspoken but that`s her nature, she defined, she`s like -- I haven`t seen in a while but like Maxine, I don`t know personally, but that`s not very helpful to the Democratic caucus at all that this is not helpful.

WILLIAMS: Tim, I`m guessing that you wouldn`t describe the cloakroom talk on the Republican side of the house as faculty lounge lingo, how would you describe it?

MILLER: Like his locker room talk, Brian, you know, I mean, you got Matt Gaetz showing the naked pictures to everybody on his cell phone. So, you know, that`s happening. So I guess that`s how I describe it.

WILLIAMS: All right. I`ll take it. Who among us has not, well, anyway, James Carville, Tim Miller, two longtime friends of this broadcast. It is such a treat and a pleasure to have you both, thank you very much.

Coming up for us vaccinations are up. So our new cases, we will ask our next guest how both of these can happen and be true at the same time, and how we should live in the interim.



BIDEN: Folks, I have good news. Everybody is eligible as of today, to get the vaccine, you have enough of it. You need to be protected and you need to turn to protect your neighbors and your family. So please get the vaccine.


WILLIAMS: But the pace of life these days that is a colossal achievement and it went by in a flash today. This evening, over half the U.S. adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. And of the roughly 85 million Americans who are fully vaccinated. Now the CDC says fewer than 6,000 have reported so called breakthrough cases of the virus. This is the new term of the realm, it means getting the virus while already fully vaccinated.

Sadly, our country is still averaging over 67,000 new infections every day. So it`s a good time to have back with us tonight, Michael Osterholm. He`s a professor and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, busy place these days. He was also a COVID adviser to the Biden transition team.

Thank you so much for coming on. I have a complex question to start. It is a big day when every American over 16 is now eligible to get the shot. And we continue to urge people to get the shot. In light of that, are we overreacting to the new case numbers? And what inning do you think we`re in now?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, it is a complex question, Brian. But let me just say at the outset, I congratulate the administration on all the efforts that they`ve undertaken to get vaccine out. I think they`ve done a remarkable job of trying to move vaccine into our communities with as much support as possible.

The problem is right now is your right half the population has been vaccinated with at least one dose. But for example, a fifth of the population over age 65 has not had any doses at all, many people in the 20, 30 and 40-year old age group have not had any vaccine at all. And this is where we`re getting to see more and more people infected and including very seriously ill individuals.

So in a sense, we`re in this race right now to get as much vaccine into people as possible with this new variant, this B 117, which is 50 to 100 percent more infectious than the previous strains. And that`s the tension we have right now. And then of course, you know that even if there is vaccine available for every adult in this country, we have a growing number of people who have actually said they won`t take the vaccine. And that`s going to be a big challenge for us in trying to stop this pandemic.

WILLIAMS: So convert this for us into real life does this continue to mean even among the vaccinated masking in public?

OSTERHOLM: Well, at this point, as we`ve seen in Michigan, and even here in Minnesota, where vaccine levels can be quite high compared to the rest of the country, we still are seeing case numbers, particularly in Michigan, equivalent to that they had at the worst time last November, and we see a number of other states right now that could be very well onto that same trajectory. And those kinds of settings. What we want to do is make sure that people don`t have a lot of direct contact. You can`t go back to the old days before COVID existed and expect that these numbers are going to slow down. So in some cases, yes, the masking is there.

On the other hand, I don`t care where you live. If you`ve got six people, three couples, all who have been vaccinated, I hope you just have one river and party together and enjoy life because you`ve deserved it by the fact that you are now vaccinated together.

And so that`s going to be one of the benefits we`re going to see more and more people are vaccinated can easily do things with other vaccinated people and feel incredibly comfortable and confident without a mask that they can do those things.

WILLIAMS: I want to read you a quote, which is unfair to the piece, it`s from by David Leonhard in the New York Times who`s never written a less than thoughtful piece. This one especially so and I commend to people`s attention the full piece, he writes, in part coming to grips with the comforting realities of post-vaccination life is going to take some time for most of us. It`s only natural that so many vaccinated people continue to harbor irrational fears. That`s what the piece is mostly about, yet slowly, recognizing that irrationality will be a vital part of overcoming COVID. Do you concur with that basic thought?

OSTERHOLM: Absolutely. I think he is set up very, very well, you know, look at you and me. I mean, look at ourselves. You know, I haven`t been on a plane since a year ago, March. I used to fly 150,000 air miles a year, you know, what am I going to want to get on a plane again, even though I`m vaccinated. I know that my chances of getting infected are very, very low. But I have that feeling. So I think he`s right on the mark.

I do think however, the concern that he expresses is when we talk about these breakthrough cases, you know, people saying, Well, wait a minute, maybe the vaccine isn`t 100% effective. Well, it`s not going to be but it`s going to be very, very good. It`s going to be in the 90, 95 percent level of protection. And that`s what really we need to count on right now.

WILLIAMS: Start by going to a Twins game. It appears they need you. Michael Osterholm with us from the Twin Cities tonight.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you as always for taking our questions. Coming up for us, red state governors want nothing to do with them. But we have a report from overseas tonight on how these vaccine passports are allowing normal to come back.


WILLIAMS: So we`ve just been talking about this continued fight against the pandemic in our country. But Israel just took another big step toward normalcy. As of yesterday, Israelis are no longer required to wear masks outdoors, most of the population of Israel now fully vaccinated.

In this country, the idea of vaccine passports has gotten wrapped up in our politics. But in Israel, a verification system is already in wide use and working. NBC News correspondent Matt Bradley is there to tell us how it`s all playing out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ve got many on the right fuming.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination, and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This vaccine passport is just another way to control the American people. It`s absolutely wrong. It`s antithetical to freedom. It`s antithetical to the American way.

MATT BRADLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican governors in Texas and Florida have already banned them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it`s got your ID --

BRADLEY: But those vaccine passports that have some Americans worried about government domination is really like Karen (INAUDIBLE) see as liberation.

(on camera): You know, in America, this passport thing, it`s kind of controversial. This kind of seems like Big Brother feel like that you?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say, just because I`m in the side of give my life back, I have nothing to hide. I would like to have the green passport in order to do whatever I want to.

BRADLEY (voice-over): Israel`s green pass lets the nearly 60 percent of Israelis who`ve been fully vaccinated go to restaurants, bars, concerts and sporting events and the gym. It shows when you`ve been vaccinated when you`ve had your most recent negative test and your personal details.

It`s the kind of high tech monitoring that many Israelis have long been used to, it`s a country that`s always on a war footing.

Israeli-American Iris Barr and her son Daniel just got to Tel Aviv from LA three weeks ago.

IRIS BARR, ISRAELI-AMERICAN RESIDENT: Tel Aviv I mean, it`s happening. I think in Israel, there`s a little more acceptance of security. I think that people are not as paranoid about like people tracking, you know what I mean? You always have this kind of security thing hanging over. But you just have to weigh that the pros and cons right?

BRADLEY: And doctors said the vaccine passport can be an enticing carrot to COVID stick.

DR. IDIT MATOT, PROF. OF ANESTHESIA AND INTENSIVE CARE, TEL AVIV SOURASKY MEDICAL CENTER: And this is really very important incentive this green passport, because many of the people in the beginning if you`re a member did not show up for the vaccination.

BRADLEY: But it`s still controversial here. About a million Israelis still refuse to get the vaccine. Some like Moran Michelle said the passports are discriminatory.

MORAN MICHELLE, ISRAEL RESIDENT: People are asked not to show at work. If they are not vaccine, thank you violates fundamental rights of people.

BRADLEY: Israel`s National Theatre went a step further using facial recognition software.

(on camera): So this isn`t just any opening night at Israel`s National Theatre. This place has been closed for a year. Now it`s opening under tight restrictions and I haven`t been vaccinated. So for me, this is where the show stop.

But for those of the vaccine and the passport to prove it, the show must go on. Matt Bradley, NBC News, Tel Aviv.


WILLIAMS: Fascinating story there. Coming up for us remembering one of the most decent people to ever serve in American politics.



WALTER MONDALE, FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: When I hear your new ideas, I`m reminded of that ad. Where`s the beef?


MONDALE: Mr. Reagan will raise taxes and so will I. He won`t tell you. I just did.

RONALD REAGAN, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: Will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes, my opponents youth and inexperience.


WILLIAMS: We mentioned the depth of Walter Mondale at the top of this broadcast and here is what you need to know about Walter Fritz Mondale and what you will hear in the coming hours and days from anyone who`s been around politics. Anyone who was anywhere near Walter Fritz Mondale, he was one of the most decent men ever to serve in the often dirty business of politics.

His departure from American life at the age of 93 means he takes a good deal of the history of the modern Democratic Party along with him. He was born in Minnesota in 1928. The son of a minister in a music teacher. Family name was originally Mun Doll (ph) going back all the way through their roots in Norway.

Unable to afford law school, Mondale entered the army and then later attended on the GI Bill. Then came politics, Minnesota Attorney General. Then he took over the Hubert Humphrey seat in the U.S. Senate, where he became lifelong friends with Joe Biden among others. He was the 42nd Vice President of the United States under President Jimmy Carter.

He was the Democratic presidential nominee and made history when he selected Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate back in `84. They lost in a landslide to the incumbents Reagan and Bush.

Bill Clinton made Walter Mondale our ambassador to Japan and in between and afterward, Mondale practice law. He lost his daughter Eleanor and his wife Joan both to brain diseases. As a leading senate liberal he truly tried to make American life better through fair housing and consumer protections, desegregation and a host of other issues.

As a true Minnesotan, he loved his place up at the lake. He had a lightning fast sense of humor, always self-deprecating, and you can actually tell what kind of guy he was by this statement. He left behind for his staff, everyone who ever worked for him. It was released just tonight upon word of his death, and it reads quote, dear team, well, my time has come. I`m eager to rejoin Joan and Eleanor. Before I go, I want to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side. Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight. Joe in the White House certainly helps. I always knew it would be OK if I arrived someplace and was greeted by one of you. My best to all of you, Fritz.

The man who made Walter Mondale his vice president, former President Jimmy Carter, survives him. Carter statement tonight repeats his long held belief that Mondale was simply the best vice president in our history. As for his service to the nation, as Carter`s Vice President, Mondale said this we told the truth. We obey the law. We kept the peace. A great way to be remembered for a great son of the Great North. Walter Frederick Fritz Mondale gone at the age of 93.

That is our broadcast for this Monday night as we start a new week together with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.