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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 5/10/21

Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Phil Rucker, Malcolm Nance, Tim Miller, David Plouffe, Nahid Bhadelia


Meetings taking place just as the House Republicans are about to push Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney out of the leadership for daring to reject the big lie that Trump somehow won the election and for insisting Trump`s rhetoric played a role in the January 6 riot and insurrection. This past weekend, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, publicly backed Cheney`s likely replacement Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of upstate New York. Today, he sent a letter to Republican in the House two days ahead of this vote to remove Cheney from her post. The FBI today set a criminal hacking group known as DarkSide is behind the ransomware attack, targeting a 5,500 mile long network pipeline system that provides the East Coast with nearly half of its gasoline and jet fuel. The FBI today set a criminal hacking group known as DarkSide is behind the ransomware attack, targeting a 5,500 mile long network pipeline system that provides the East Coast with nearly half of its gasoline and jet fuel. NBC News reporting DarkSide hacking operations are run by, "a Russian cybercrime gang that makes money by hacking a victim`s network encrypting their files so they can`t be accessed and threatening to publish them online if they`re not paid a hefty fee." Biden embarks on his bipartisan push for an infrastructure deal. FDA has expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 12 to 15, meaning access for millions more adolescents.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: -- to hear was Marty Walsh`s Boston accent. And yes, for those of us who were born and raised in Dorchester mom is pronounced ma. And oh, did my mother hate being called ma. But we`re from Dorchester.

So, Joe Biden and Marty Walsh get tonight`s last word, and that word is ma. "The 11th hour with Brian Williams" starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening. Once again, day 111 of the Biden administration and now at a major turning point in the drive to vaccinate as many Americans as possible.

The FDA today signed off on emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for young people 12 to 15. This is a move that many in the medical community tonight are calling historic. We`ll have much more on when children might be able to start getting those shots coming up.

As efforts to get back to pre-pandemic normal appear to be gaining speed. There is now a new threat, one with real life implications for millions of Americans and for our broader national security. The FBI today set a criminal hacking group known as DarkSide is behind the ransomware attack, targeting a 5,500 mile long network pipeline system that provides the East Coast with nearly half of its gasoline and jet fuel.

Colonial, the company that operates the pipeline halted operations late Friday after it discovered the hack. They say they hope to restore most service by the end of this week.

This shutdown comes on the verge of the summer driving season, of course, and gas prices are already surging as a result of it. Today, the White House tried to reassure the nation about gas supplies.


ELIZABETH SHERWOOD-RANDALL, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: On the issue of gas prices. As I indicated right now there are no supply disruptions. And we`re working with other agencies to consider how if necessary, we can move supplies to a place where it might be needed if it turns out that there is a shortfall.


WILLIAMS: The White House says Colonial is working with private security consultants to bring the pipeline back online but administration officials would not say if the company had paid any ransom.

NBC News reporting DarkSide hacking operations are run by, "a Russian cybercrime gang that makes money by hacking a victim`s network encrypting their files so they can`t be accessed and threatening to publish them online if they`re not paid a hefty fee."

President Biden today said his administration has efforts underway to disrupt and prosecute ransomware criminals. He was asked whether he suspects the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin perhaps had anything to do with this hack.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m going to be meeting with President Putin. And so far there is no evidence based on from our intelligence people that Russia is involved. Although there is evidence that of actors ransomware is in Russia. They have some responsibility to deal with this.


WILLIAMS: Biden also made the point that his over $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan includes safeguards for critical facilities like our pipelines. That plan has drawn increased skepticism, as you know, from Republicans. Some argue Biden`s COVID relief bill has led to a labor shortage because of enhanced unemployment benefits that continue through September, an incentive for people to stay home as they see it.

Biden insisted the White House will make it clear that anyone on unemployment must take a job if offered a suitable job or lose their benefits as he defended his strategy to bring back the U.S. economy.


BIDEN: Our economic plan is working. I never said and no serious analyst ever suggested that climbing out of the deep, deep hole our economy was in would be simple, easy, immediate, or perfectly study. It`s easy to say the line has been because of the generous unemployment benefits. That is a major factor in labor shortages. But we`re not going to turn our backs on our fellow Americans.


WILLIAMS: This is a critical week for the president in his effort to get and keep support for his plan.

Meetings taking place just as the House Republicans are about to push Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney out of the leadership for daring to reject the big lie that Trump somehow won the election and for insisting Trump`s rhetoric played a role in the January 6 riot and insurrection.

This past weekend, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, publicly backed Cheney`s likely replacement Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of upstate New York. Today he sent this letter to Republicans in the House two days ahead of this vote to remove Cheney from her post.

He wrote part, "These internal conflicts need to be resolve so as not to detract from the efforts of our collective team. Having heard from so many of you in recent days, it`s clear that we need to make a change. As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair this Wednesday. We are a big tent party. And unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate."

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois today offered this assessment of the Republican effort to oust Liz Cheney.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R) ILLINOIS: This is lies versus truth. What she has been removed for is making it uncomfortable and being consistent. And God bless her for having the consistency to tell the truth.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, the White House is now facing a potential new challenge on the foreign policy front, as violence is now escalating as you might have seen in the Middle East.

Politico reports the administration is under increasing pressure to try to bring an end to this latest Israeli Palestinian conflict. Today, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, mostly over access to holy sites and the potential eviction of several Palestinian families from East Jerusalem erupted out into the open. Palestinian officials say, at least 20 people including nine children were killed by Israeli airstrikes after Hamas militants fired a volley of rockets into Israel.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this busy Monday night. Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Senior Washington Correspondent for "The Washington Post." A.B. Stoddard, veteran Washington journalist, Associate Editor and columnist for Real Clear Politics. And Malcolm Nance, he`s a veteran author and a veteran of Naval Intelligence, Special Ops, Homeland and Cybersecurity, 35 years in the trade of counterterrorism and intelligence earlier this year. In fact, he testified to Congress on the topic of domestic terrorism. Good evening, and welcome to you all.

A.B. because of your reporting in the past on this topic, I`m going to start with you. And I have something for you. Here as the Republican leader of the House one week after the riot and insurrection.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA) MINORITY LEADER: The President bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump. Except to share responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President Elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.


WILLIAMS: Well, A.B., forget about all that said McCarthy enjoying Mar-a- Lago. The question to you is what happens to the Republican brand, especially in the House after Wednesday? And what happens to Liz Cheney`s career and trajectory after Wednesday?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Well, what`s so interesting about Kevin McCarthy`s walk back is that he doesn`t care if we have video of the things that he said and his colleague recording about the conversation he had on January 6 with President Trump speaking at the top of his lungs in a shout, desperate for the President to deescalate the situation, which he of course did not. So it`s not just the comments he made on the floor, and then his subsequent journey to Mar-a-Lago and the way he`s tried to twist his words ever since. He is making a choice, obviously, to stick with President Trump. It is a short term calculation.

And Liz Cheney`s calculation began months ago. She decided, and we can see from strategic leaking from Cheney world the last couple of days that she was going to make -- try to make our colleagues realize what a danger the big lie coming from the president was. And that began with actions even as early as January 3, when she convinced 10 living former Secretaries of Defense to write an op-ed warning to the military had no role in the resolution of political disputes and election disputes as she went on to circulate a memo to her colleagues about the danger of President Trump`s big lie 21 pages. That`s all before January 6, and ever since she`s been speaking out because of it.

We now see leaks to "The Washington Post," "The New Yorker" and other places about these things. She`s talking about her alarm at the fact that leadership is keeping negative polling about Donald Trump`s toxicity in swing districts from their own members. So Liz Cheney know -- did this knowing she would likely lose her leadership post and she would likely lose her seat in Wyoming. She is not going to be quiet now.

And members realize that. One of them told me, no matter what we do if we oust her it makes it worse. The conversations going to continue from Liz Cheney. The conversations going to continue about us choosing a liar over someone telling the truth. None of this is going to go away after Wednesday, no matter what they do to her.

WILLIAMS: Wow, that`s a lot.

Phil Rucker, this is all the Republicans own doing. Here`s the gun. Here`s your foot. Have at it. How does Biden play this moment?

PHIL RUCKER, "THE WASHINGTON POST" SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brian, I think President Biden plays this moment, the way he has been playing these tensions the last few weeks, which is to sit back and let the Republicans sort of act out their own play.

You know, there`s been -- there have been opportunities in the press briefings at the White House the last few weeks for the Press Secretary Jen Psaki to weigh in on these internal disputes within the Republican Party. And she`s made any number of comments effectively saying it`s interesting what`s going on, but we don`t claim to understand the Republican Party. And it`s not really our place to, to comment on it.

Look, President Biden is focused on executing his own agenda. He`s got a new crisis regarding the ransomware attack that you just brought up. But he`s also dealing with the vaccine rollout with solving the vaccine hesitancy issue with getting this infrastructure plan through as interested as those in the White House are about what`s going on inside the Republican conference. Biden knows that what matters to voters out in the country is what he`s doing to try to deliver for them and their families. And he`s trying to stay disciplined in focusing on that.

WILLIAMS: Malcolm, that brings us to you and all the dark corners and operators of the world that you have written about and made your life`s work. This is an extraordinary hack. The experts hope it`ll be a loud signal to everybody where power grid and water supply is concerned. Why stop at pipelines?

Having grown up in the state of New Jersey, you know that colonial logo as you drive down our proud New Jersey Turnpike. But let me ask you this, while not a Russian state action, if our reporting is putting this on a Russian cybercrime gang, how high up did knowledge of this go do you reckon?

MALCOLM NANCE, TERRORISM ASYMETRICS PROJECT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Well, nothing happens in Russia that doesn`t happen without the control of Vladimir Putin and his deputies. And we`re talking about a significant operation against the United States.

I want you to take a look at what we call the target tearing. And that is, how did they choose this industry, that company at to be the target of this attack? And it`s not just like, you know, let`s go after hospitals, which are relatively easy.

This required some intelligence collection to know this was a major infrastructure of the United States. For the average hacker that`s out there, they`re not going to go down there and do all of that legwork to figure out what kind of corporate office they`re going to go after, and what impact that could have on every pipeline between New Jersey and Houston, Texas, that probably was given to them by a state actor.

But every non-state actor in Russia that carries out these hackings, they are not vigilantes, they are subcontractors to the Russian intelligence agencies. And so, for them to actually choose this particular organization, knowing how broad the infrastructure was, this is the sort of thing that Russian military intelligence would do pass it off to some of their subcontractors or their subcontractors may have gained this while working for Russian military intelligence. But let me tell you, it`s the Russian nation state that`s going to have to be accountable for these criminals because they are allowed to operate at Vladimir Putin`s pleasure.

WILLIAMS: A.B. Stoddard if that isn`t enough, I have something more for you. Here is Mitt Romney from today. We`ll discuss on the other side.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R) UTAH: Ronald Reagan made it clear that calling our party a big tent was more likely to draw people in, and that`s what we needed to win elections. If you narrow the tent to a pup tent, you make it less likely that we win elections. And I can`t imagine that rejecting Liz Cheney from leadership is going to draw in more voters. It may lose a number of voters who were still sticking with us.


WILLIAMS: So, A.B., I`ve asked you various versions of this question before, how many elected Republicans, if given that medicine that they have in dentists offices, and if tied up to a polygraph at the same time, secretly agree with one Mitt Romney and for that matter, Liz Cheney?

STODDARD: Well, Adam Kinzinger, as you`ve heard, as put it at between five and 10, and more than 200 members. There are members who are very eagerly racing down conspiracy rabbit holes, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar and others that do believe this stuff and they were involved in different ways in the buildup and the organizing for the January 6 save America rally and all of the motion around it.

The rest of them know that this isn`t true. What they`re not saying that what Liz Cheney says is not true. They`re saying it`s inconvenient. And it`s not her job as Conference Chair, as the person who`s supposed to draft a message and amplify a message. That`s -- she should just do this as a rank and file member.

Kevin McCarthy knows she`s right. Everyone is saying she`s right. Watch Elise Stefanik dodge questions about whether the election was stolen. She never says yes. She comes up with answers about distrust among the voters and some constitutional overreach by judges and election officials but she doesn`t say the election was stolen.

So, this is all away to toe Trump`s line. He`s been asking for Liz Cheney since she first survive the vote of no confidence in February to be taken out of her leadership post. Kevin McCarthy believes he has no choice because he wants the president`s support in 2022 so he can be Speaker. So, it doesn`t matter if people know the election wasn`t stolen, they`re going to go with the big lie.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, help me ping pong back to Malcolm`s last answer on this pipeline crisis that you mentioned in your first answer. This perversely does tie in to the nation`s infrastructure. So, how does Biden play this?

RUCKER: Well, it sure does, Brian. We`ve been talking about this infrastructure plan for, you know, a couple of months now. And I don`t think anyone imagined that the nation`s oil pipelines would be under -- it would be as vulnerable as they have exposed themselves to be in the last few days.

Look, the administration has pointed in the last day two elements of this plan, the infrastructure proposal that would help fortify and safeguard pipelines like the one that was attacked by this Russian group. It`s a part of the infrastructure obviously. But I think the attack brings into clear view for the American people how vulnerable different elements of our infrastructure is.

We`re not just talking about potholes, or a bridge that`s really old, or a highway that needs a third or fourth lane, but there are other fundamental, more hidden elements of the infrastructure that make this country work and that make businesses run and people keep their jobs that are vulnerable as well. And what Biden has been struggling to do in the last few weeks has really bring that to the attention of the American people. And I think with this big news story here, he has an opportunity to, because if this pipeline issue continues over the next couple of days, you can see gas prices continue to climb. And that is definitely something that all Americans are going to be paying attention to. And that could have some political consequences.

So we`re seeing from the administration an effort to sort of seize on this, to build some new momentum for the infrastructure plan.

WILLIAMS: Malcolm, last word to you, for the folks watching at home who like their GPS, and like their ATMs, and like when the water comes on, when they turn on the spigot, and the lights come on when they throw the switch, how far are we right now tonight from feeling at all secure about all of those things that make American life go?

NANCE: You know, they should feel secure for now. But we`re operating at the whim of actors who, you know, at any given time, could push an agenda for another nation state or go out and carry out a ransomware attack. I mean, they -- there are companies and countries that do pay these ransoms. They do make 10s of millions of dollars off of these things, you know, in these cyber hacker collectives.

You know, this isn`t the first time this has happened. Certainly not in the United States. There was a big scare when Saudi Arabia`s oil company was hacked by the government of Iran. And they pretended that there was a cyber-vigilante group doing this. They had to replace 30,000 computers.

Every computer from -- that was infected by the Shamoon virus in that country related to that oil company, and all of its subsidiaries was hacked. And the worst part was, they believe that the hacking was designed not just to infect the computers, but to order the pipeline`s themselves to blow up and so that they would actually set fire to the Saudi oil field industry.

This is a possibility. That was not what happened here. We`re lucky it was a ransomware attack. Now we can have a government public private partnership to go out and tackle this head on and put this into the infrastructure bill, because cyber infrastructure is completely vulnerable right now.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, we warned you it was a busy Monday night. To our guests Phil Rucker, A.B. Stoddard, Malcolm Nance, nothing but thanks for starting off the broadcast and the week with us.

Coming up for us, House of mirrors as he pushes Liz Cheney aside, House GOP leader with a straight face says his party embraces free thought and debate, which is kind of why she`s getting pushed aside but I digress.

Later in the broadcast, a shot in the arm for some of our youngest citizens. We`ll ask one of our top doctors about this decision to let children as young as 12 get the vaccine. All of it as The 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Monday night.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: The most popular Republican in America, it`s not Lindsey Graham, it`s not Liz Cheney, it`s Donald Trump. People on our side of the aisle believe that Trump policies worked. They`re disappointed that he lost. And to try to erase Donald Trump from the Republican Party is insane. And the people who try to erase him are going to wind up getting erased.


WILLIAMS: Lindsey Graham on his buddy, the former president tonight.

And Kevin McCarthy`s letter announcing Wednesday`s vote to remove Liz Cheney from leadership. He wrote in part, "Each day spent re litigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future." Of course, what do you do if the past includes an effort to overturn a democratic election?

Aaron Blake of "The Washington Post" points out, "Cheney is, in a lot of ways, more focused on the future than her party. They`re simply trying to salvage the present and pretend the specter of Trump doesn`t loom over the next stage in the party`s evolution. They`re simply ignoring a festering problem and hoping it sorts itself out. Cheney`s biggest sin isn`t focusing on the past, it`s forcing the GOP to account for its future.

Back with us again tonight, David Plouffe, former Obama Campaign Manager, former Senior Adviser to the President. He also happens to be on the board of directors of the Obama foundation. And Tim Miller, contributor to "The Bulwark" and the former Communications Director for Jeb Bush.

Tim, in many ways, oddly, this week, to me feels like a period at the end of the sentence that started January 6. I guess this is happening now. And I guess, is it your impression that GOP going forward is going to be an organization sitting on a foundational lie?

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: They are, Brian. And I do just have to offer one fact check with my friend Lindsey Graham before I answer that question, it is not really true that Donald Trump is the most popular Republican in the country, you might remember that he lost in November. You know, you`ve got Susan Collins in Maine, for example. So, you will have Susan Collins, but Donald Trump got crushed in Maine, Susan Collins, one kind of handily. So this notion that Republicans can only win by sticking to Trump is just not -- is not true, it`s not based on facts.

But, you know, look, to answer your question, in short, the insurrection is forever, right? They`ve made their choice. It didn`t have to be like this. After January 6, Republican politicians could have taken the party a different route. But they`ve decided that they are going to stick with the big line order to protect Donald Trump`s feelings, in order to protect their little slice of this Republican pie in order to execute their plan to win going forward through voter suppression, and possibly trying to steal the election in 2024.

So, that is -- that is the bet that they made. It didn`t have to be this way. But at this point, I think the cake on that is baked.

WILLIAMS: And, Tim, while I have you, it`s been proffered that the greatest uncovered story of these days is the efforts going on in state houses that are quietly perhaps aimed at giving them legislature`s Republican controlled, the ability to overturn state results.

MILLER: My colleague the board wrote about this, Jonathan Last, the Republican Party didn`t do an autopsy really, but they kind of are. And their autopsy is what can we do to fix the problem from this past election? The problem though, wasn`t that they lost, the problem was that they weren`t good enough at stealing it.

You know, the people who are getting punished are Liz Cheney, Raffensperger, Secretary of State in Georgia, local officials in Michigan and other states. And in these red states, they are changing the rules to make it easier next time.

And if Kevin McCarthy is the Speaker of the House in 2022, when the 2024 election comes around, there is no reason to believe that the House of Representatives will certify a Democratic victory. So, these are the changes that are being made at the state level. You`re right, Brian. But also, it is going to be what`s on the ballot in 2022 for at the congressional level.

WILLIAMS: David, thank you for your patience. I got one for you and it`s from our mutual friend, Eugene Robinson in "The Washington Post." He writes, "The greatest threat to our nation`s future is not COVID-19 or the rise of China or even the existential challenge of climate change. It is the Republican Party`s attempt to seize and hold power by offering voters the seductive choice of rejecting inconvenient facts and basic logic for the American experiment and people to survive, much less prosper, this iteration of the GOP must fail."

David, why should Democrats be concerned every day? Why should Democrats be watchful every day over what`s happening in the opposing party?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, Brian, it`s not just Democrats, it`s anybody believes that we should remain a democracy, not an autocracy.

I think Tim`s exactly right. The notion that if the Republicans win back the House in `22, in holding `24, and the Democratic nominee for president, whether it be Joe Biden or somebody else wins maybe narrowly that they`re going to ratify that election, we`re going to have a real constitutional crisis in this country. And everything`s up there.

What the Republicans are trying to, I think, to create here as a situation of heads, I win, tails, you lose. And no matter what the voters say, no matter how elections go, they can try to preserve power. And I think 2022 is going to be about a lot of issues. But our democracy is on the ballot.

It was to some extent in `20, but now we`ve seen all the cards that have been played. And listen, Donald Trump is not the leader of a political party. He is a -- he`s a cult leader. And what`s surprising to me is this is somebody ran for president twice and failed to get more than 47 percent of the vote either time. Black Swan event in `16, he got an Electoral College majority. This is not somebody who did well in presidential elections.

And if you look at 2020, the real erosion for Trump was in blue collar areas, in suburban areas. And I don`t think at the end of the day, those voters are looking to end our democracy. And that`s not hyperbole.

So, at the end of the day, I think that it`s going to cause great problems out there. Hopefully we`re going to win a lot of lawsuits to push back on a lot of these efforts at the state level, but it`s going to make voting and registering much more difficult than the big scene, of course, is they want to put themselves in charge of basically deciding who won elections, not election officials, hack Republican legislators, all to basically coddle Donald Trump`s feelings. It is a remarkable thing like we could lose our country because these republican politicians don`t want to hurt Donald Trump`s feelings.

WILLIAMS: David and Tim are both staying with us. I`m just going to fit in a break. When we come back, is it bordering on quaint to still hear talk of bipartisanship in this kind of political environment?



PETE BUTTITIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: If we can come to an agreement on at least part of what we ought to do, then let`s at least try to do that part together. This negotiation is about seeing how much we can find some kind of common ground. I would like to believe that if there`s any area of domestic policy left that we can find common ground on it is infrastructure.


WILLIAMS: To that point from Secretary Buttigieg, Politico has this reporting today and we quote the White House is cognizant that any bipartisan proposal would likely involve only so called hard infrastructure things like roads, bridges, tunnels, they are also drawing fuel red lines at least openly heading into the latest round of negotiations.

David Plouffe and Tim Miller remain with us. And David, here`s the path I want to go down. Mitch McConnell, this was all of last week, said he was 100 percent focused on stopping the Biden administration, which must have been a warm, sentimental throwback to you. Because he last said that about your boss and Joe Biden`s boss, come to think of it at the time, Barack Obama.

So if we know that going in, what would your advice be to Democrats, to Democrats in the West Wing, about this talk this quest for bipartisanship.

PLOUFFE: What I learned Brian, Mitch McConnell chooses his words carefully, when he says something, even if you really don`t like what he says you should take it to the bank. So I think that is going to be the core strategic thing to keep in mind.

Now, I think they`re doing the right thing. They`re pursuing Republican support for this, list and their ideas, trading paper back and forth, continue to do that. But given the state of the economy and the need to do everything possible, to create jobs and strengthen the economy, they`re going to have to go for the full package, and hopefully, it`s with Republicans. But if not, I think it`s fair to say they put forth a good faith effort, and most Republican voters support this.

So I don`t think this is going to be defined by how many Republican votes it gets made defined by how many jobs it creates, how many infrastructure pieces it puts together. And I do think with the pipeline hack, there`s even more need and more of now background to make this case that yes, roads and bridges are important. It`s a lot more than that. And we need to do everything possible, to protect our infrastructure and to strengthen it.

So pursue the Republican votes. But don`t be held captive by that, because what matters is the jobs that are created by the number of Republican senators to vote for in my view.

WILLIAMS: Tim, where are you on this? And do you view Biden`s talk of bipartisanship as sincere or strategic or some combination of the two?

MILLER: I think it`s both honestly, Brian. And I think this on particularly on infrastructure, this is a win-win for Biden, as David said, it`s a popular issue. I think that he ran on uniting the country and on bipartisanship. So I think putting forth a good faith effort making Republicans vote against it, bringing men to the table. That`s all a win for Biden. If they end up voting for it, I think that then he follows up in his campaign promises bipartisanship, if they say they don`t vote for it, he can say they`re standing in the way of a popular policy. So I think some other issues are murkier. But on this one, I think this is the right play. And it`s pretty clear.

WILLIAMS: So Tim, you are not for breaking up the infrastructure jobs plan, as has been discussed on the sidelines into smaller packages, perhaps.

MILLER: As I`m very fired up, because I am actually. I think that they should try to get a vote on the floor on a smaller package. They`ll still have reconciliation. They can still go back to the bigger package if they want to. I`m not sure they can get 10 Republican votes for anything. I think having Republican votes -- Republicans vote down to smaller packages is maybe even a bigger win than having to vote for it. So that`s what -- that`s -- that would be my recommendation. I think a good faith bipartisan effort is a win for Biden.

WILLIAMS: Two political voices that a whole bunch of people follow have been our guest tonight. David Plouffe, Tim Miller, our great thanks for joining us on this Monday night. We`ll do this again.

Coming up for us the big vaccine news today that really could be a game changer. We have one of our public health experts on standby to talk all about it when we come right back.



DR. MICHAEL ANDERSON, PEDIATRIC CRITIFCAL CARE SPECIALIST: We know that there`s 300 families across this country that have lost children to this. We know that kids are carriers. The fact that we`re now going down to age 12, with Pfizer through the EUA, this is literally a historic moment.


WILLIAMS: That was pediatric care physician Michael Anderson on that major announcement just tonight from the FDA. On Wednesday, the CDC`s advisory committee will review the data could give a final green light for emergency use of this Pfizer vaccine in children 12 to 15. And if that happens, shot could -- shots could start going into children`s arms as early as Thursday of this week.

Lots of talk about here with us again tonight, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease physician, medical director of the special pathogens unit up at Boston University School of Medicine.

Doctor, how big deal is this? And since we have a lot of parents up watching with us tonight, what is the overarching initial advice to parents?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN: Yes, Brian, this is News that we were expecting, given the fact that you know, Pfizer`s completed and released top line data that this was the effectiveness it held out in their study of 2,300 kids, you know, they saw 16 cases in the placebo arm and zero cases and children between 12 to 15. So that`s 100 percent efficacy right there in the trial.

So it`s likely that, you know, if the Advisory Committee for CDC meets on Wednesday, as early as Thursday, you may see these vaccines getting rolled out, it`s important for children because we are seeing these new variants that are more transmissible, you know, there`s a concern about whether it`s affecting a larger group of people because of that, but because children are part of our population. And this is one more step to how we get more of us vaccinated typically, so we can get to a point where we can achieve community level of immunity and bring those cases down.

WILLIAMS: I want to read for you from social media today. This is the great public health expert Dr. Jha of Brown University, he writes this, we were stuck at 70,000 cases a day for a long time. In mid April, cases started falling. It took 10 days to go from 70,000 to 60,008. Days later, we were at 50,000 a day. It`s been six days, we`re about to drop below 40,000. Soon we`ll get to 30,000. This is exponential decay. And it`s a good thing.

So doctor referring back to your first answer is the only thing that can get it that can get in the way of this welcome downturn, variants and hesitancy at this point?

BHADELIA: And I got even some more good news on that brand, Brian, for the most part variants, all the variants of concern that we have so far and the data that we have at least limited data, in some cases in the laboratory, in some cases, real world data and clinical data. It seems like vaccines will still protect against severe disease, at least the ones that we know right now. So it really is hesitancy.

What we want to avoid is a lot of people and in groups together that are all vulnerable. That`s what`s going to allow you know, the transmission of this disease to continue and you`re seeing that trend develop because you`re seeing entire states in our communities have that vulnerability together because they`re all turning down vaccines, right hesitancy seems to be traveling geographically and people who have the same sort of belief structure and blip potential political belief structures, what we`ve seen from surveys.

And so that`s the concern is that if -- even if we achieve high levels of immunity in many states, if you have pockets of people vulnerable, the transmission will continue.

WILLIAMS: Can you even afford to think about the following hypothetical, and that is as we look back on this pandemic, and hopefully, that bright light at the end of the tunnel is real. What would have happened if we had just left it in the hands of science and medicine, if politics had never gone anywhere near it, if it had never been called a hoax, if there wasn`t denialism if mask wearing hadn`t become politicized? How much better off? Would we have made it through?

BHADELIA: I mean, it`s hard to know. But I think there isn`t -- there are a lot of people in my field who would say this hasn`t made a huge impact. I think that moving forward, one of the things that we know since you and I last spoke about politics and pandemic preparedness, the Biden campus declared that they`re going to look into this. The working group of how we keep politics or pandemic preparedness. And I think that`s important.

Moving forward, though, I think, moving ahead, the big item on our thing of getting the world back to normal, it`s going to be vaccine equity. It`s going to be not just vaccine equity within our country, but to keep ourselves safe and to keep those variants from developing elsewhere, the vaccine equity of getting these vaccines to everywhere else, and we can do this.

Brian, there`s a Brookings report that says by the end of this year, the U.S. is going to have almost a billion doses of vaccines in surplus and that`s accounting for one we`ve covered all our population and held reserves for multiple large cities. And so we have to start looking outward as both as a humanitarian imperative, but also to keep ourselves safe.

WILLIAMS: And as you and I discussed on your last appearance, in India, what is happening there is going to end up affecting the globe. Beyond the staggering daily human toll we are seeing out of there. Doctor, thank you as always for taking our questions. Our guest tonight Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, thank you so much.

Coming up for us. Richard Engel is back in one of the war zones he covered for years. They`ll talk about the fear that it`s about to become a war zone all over again.


WILLIAMS: The State Department is urging the Taliban to extend a three day ceasefire in Afghanistan following a series of awful attacks. Violence there, as you may know, is intensifying as the U.S. troop pullout starts to take shape. This past Saturday over 80 people mostly young girls were killed in a targeted attack at a school and Kabul. Our NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is back in Afghanistan with the students there who are refusing to back down.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Boys and girls in Kabul back in class today after Islamic militants bombed a school nearby this weekend and killed more than 60 girls.

The girls here consider learning a privilege that they refuse to give up even as the Taliban advances while U.S. troops leave the country.

(on camera): That attack must have been frightening because they were they were trying to target girls just like you but you`re not stopping you`re still here in school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we are strong. We are strong girls and we will continue like that.

ENGEL (voice-over): Across the hall is Obaid Salar (ph), guts have gotten him here to and love. I first met Obaid seven years ago after his house was hit by a mortar as American forces and the Taliban thought nearby. Obaid lost his legs and his brother and sister.

We followed him as doctors changed his bandages and after healing when he was measured for prosthetics. These were the first steps of a very determined boy.

A nightly viewer Cindy Barrett saw our story and offered to pay for Obaid`s education.

CINDY BARRETT, NIGHTLY NEWS VIEWER: I know that there are countless children who have injuries, like Obaid. And it`s impossible to help all of them. But it`s not impossible to help one of them

OBAID SALAR (ph), AFGHAN RESIDENT: My hero. She`s my hero. Without her support I will be not in this position.

ENGEL: Now, Obaid is the top student in his senior class. So good he fills in for the teacher.

SALAR (ph): One day I was in hospital and I think that I lost everything. And now I want to be the president of Afghanistan. I want to help the people

ENGEL: Cindy`s unable to support obeyed through college. He dreams of studying in the United States. America`s longest war has changed Obaid. It took his legs but made him strong. He`s only afraid of one thing that as U.S. troops leave, lose his chance at a future. Richard Engel, NBC News, Kabul.


WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, the young woman who speaks to the former president right through the television. She wasn`t always like this.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, a closer look at the young woman who is so often described as one of the more craven Republicans in the House and that`s not a label to be tossed around lightly.

Elise Stefanik is 36 years old. She`s a Harvard grad. She`s serving her fourth term in Congress from upstate New York. She is a shoo in to replace the genuine conservative Liz Cheney as number three in House management.

Like a lot of Trumpers, she hasn`t always been this way. These days she just says what her leader Kevin McCarthy and her other leader Donald Trump expect to hear from her. And that is indeed a change as the Lincoln project has taken note.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I`ve committed to being a uniter and a bridge builder.

I bring, I hope, a sunny side of optimism to Congress and a willingness to work with people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the Muslim ban. She stated at the time, this is not who we are as a country.

STEFANIK: I ran for Congress to bring new ideas, fresh energy and a new generation of leadership to Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the border wall, she stated I don`t think that`s realistic.

STEFANIK: I`m proud of the positive issues oriented race we have run it from day one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when Trump was caught on that Access Hollywood tape, she stated at the time, Donald Trump`s inappropriate offensive comments are just wrong. So that was then. This is now.

STEFANIK: I am honored to support President Trump. There was no constitutional basis for impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has sold her soul. I can`t work with people that are that just craven and soulless.

STEFANIK: I plan to object to certain contested electors on January 6.

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I look Elise Stefanik someone who started to have as a reasonable person and now she`s on Steve Bannon show.

STEFANIK: I fully support the audit in Arizona.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: Was she full of crap then? Or she full of crap now? Either way crap is crap. The best reflection of where the GOP is right now is they are about to knock out a principal woman for prep.

Donald Trump brought the gold toilet into the RNC and everyone thinks it`s a pool and they`re just diving in.


WILLIAMS: Our friend Michael Steele and the tale of the gold toilet to take us off the air tonight. That is our broadcast for this Monday evening. As we start a new week together with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all of our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.