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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 5/13/21

Guests: Jonathan Lemire, Katie Benner, Barry McCaffrey, Vin Gupta, Don Calloway, Stuart Stevens


The CDC today said anyone fully vaccinated can stop wearing masks and maintaining social distance indoors and out in most situations. Basically, if you`ve got your shots, you`re good to go maskless except when using public transportation. A major development in the federal sex trafficking investigation involving Republican Florida Congressman and Trump acolyte Matt Gaetz. We learned that the congressman`s former associate, his so-called wing man, Joel Greenberg, of Florida whose own criminal case led to the investigation into Gaetz in the first place, he intends to flip and plead guilty Monday and will cooperate with the feds.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That is tonight`s last word. "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 114 of the Biden administration. This was a history maker.

This day will indeed be remembered as a watershed moment in this pandemic thus far. The day this country took a major step toward getting back to life, something like before the virus.

The CDC today said anyone fully vaccinated can stop wearing masks and maintaining social distance indoors and out in most situations. Basically, if you`ve got your shots, you`re good to go maskless except when using public transportation.

For over a year now, we`ve lived with various health restrictions, many of them quickly got tied up in our politics while people died. As over 500 people did just today, this mask rollback should help pave the way for a faster reopening, making all this a very big deal for the President who, remember, campaigned chiefly on his promise to beat back the pandemic.

This afternoon, the President, Vice President walked out of the White House unmasked, all smiles to mark this important turning point.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it`s a great milestone, a great day. It`s been made possible by the extraordinary success we`ve had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly.

Today, we`ve given out 250 million shots in 114 days. And we`re seeing the results.

Some people said, we couldn`t do this. That will not be until the fall that we had this many people vaccinated. That 2021 might be a last year for our country as 2020 was. Well, we prove the doubters wrong.


WILLIAMS: Federal health officials cited the role the administration`s vaccine drive had in getting this nation to this point.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: You can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment where we can get back to some sense of normalcy.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: The data that`s accumulated now about the real world effectiveness of a vaccine really makes the risk of getting infected extraordinarily low.


WILLIAMS: As the White House celebrates this domestic milestone, it is facing as you well know a significant foreign policy challenge, what is looking very much like the beginnings of all-out war in the Middle East.

After several deadly days of Palestinian fired rockets, Israeli counter airstrikes, Israel now says, its ground forces have begun attacking Gaza. That would mark a major escalation of this conflict. There are a few hours into it.

There are also reports of rockets launched toward Israel, the other direction from Lebanon. And fighting between Arab and Jewish mobs on the streets of Israeli cities continues as well.

This afternoon the President was asked how the White House intends to respond.


BIDEN: Intelligence Community, the Defense Department, as well as the State Department have been in contact with all of their counterparts. And not only in Israel, but in the region. The question is, how we get to a point where -- they get to a point where there is a significant reduction in the attacks, particularly the rocket attacks.


WILLIAMS: At the same time, the President is also trying to convince Republican senators to get behind his over $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan. Today, meeting with some of the big names he will need in both parties in the Oval Office. White House hoping to make progress on the plan by Memorial Day, but that could be tough.


SEN. SHELLEY CAPITO (R-WV): So, we`ve gotten a little bit along the way and we promised to come back with another offer that he will react to then and counteroffer.


WILLIAMS: Also, tonight, a major development in the federal sex trafficking investigation involving Republican Florida Congressman and Trump acolyte Matt Gaetz. We learned that the congressman`s former associate, his so- called wing man, Joel Greenberg, of Florida whose own criminal case led to the investigation into Gaetz in the first place, he intends to flip and plead guilty Monday and will cooperate with the feds. Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

There`s also curious new reporting tonight about the Trump White House. "The New York Times" out with this story says conservative activists plotted during the prior administration to try to discredit officials on the inside that we`re not seen as sufficiently loyal to that man. The efforts are said to have involved a sting operation targeting former Trump National Security Adviser and Army General H.R. McMaster also focused on FBI personnel who you recall Trump often referred to as members of the Deep State and scam.

The drama surrounding the House Republican leadership continues tomorrow morning despite a last-minute bid from Texas Congressman Chip Roy, who Trump has already attacked for it, GOP members expected to choose upstate New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney as the third most powerful Republican in management.

As for Cheney, she`s still attacking Donald Trump and his iron grip on her party.


REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R) WYOMING: I think it`s a cult of personality. And I think people were betrayed and misled by him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think the president should or could be criminally charged?

CHENEY: I think it`s very important that the investigation, that the Department of Justice has underway, be allowed to go wherever it leads. I think the American people have to know.


WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this busy Thursday night. Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for "The Associated Press", Katie Benner, Justice Department Reporter for "The New York Times," and General Barry McCaffrey, Decorated Combat, Veteran of Vietnam, former Battlefield Commander in the Gulf, former Cabinet member, member of the National Security Council. He retired, of course, as a four-star general in the U.S. Army.

And to our viewers, we have a pile of disparate new stories to get through and get through them all we will.

Jonathan, let`s start with your beat. And the event you witnessed today, notable for its absence of chest thumping, which turns out is not mandatory behavior when one is in the Rose Garden. "New York Times" gave us this about the event today becomes the first bipartisan activity of Biden`s Washington. What was it like to be there at the center of it?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brian certainly the Rose Garden, which was the scene of a super spreader event under the previous administration at the Amy Coney Barrett installation celebration, very different today. It`s a marker of a real milestone in America`s battle against this pandemic.

News broke out a few hours prior, the CDC made its decision, at the time President Biden was in the Oval Office with six Republican senators trying to negotiate and believing they`ve made some progress towards maybe a bipartisan infrastructure deal. When word came down, the President and the six senators in the Oval Office all took off their masks. And it`s the first time the President has been maskless in the Oval Office outside of when he`s been alone in there or with some immediate family. So that in itself was a milestone.

And then a few hours later, he and the Vice President came out to the Rose Garden. And it was such a different scene, White House staff, no masks. Most of the reporters there who had fully been vaccinated, no masks.

And the President you heard from him, indeed, this was not chest thumping. This was not a victory lap for him, the President, it was for the American people. And certainly, the vaccines here deserve a lot of credit. He made sure to single out the scientists who develop them and the doctors and nurses and other health care professionals who administer them.

And no doubt, the administration`s program to get these vaccines into arms deserves a lot of credit. Although, the President said today they`re not done. They have a lot of work ahead of them to reach that goal of 70 percent of adult Americans to have at least one shot by July 1. They`re going to have to pick up the pace in order to do so.

But the level of vaccines or distributions is high enough, the number of cases low enough that this happened today. And he was able to stand up there in the Rose Garden, the sight of so many of President Trump`s times where he belittled the severity of the virus. And President Biden was able to say this is a victory for the American people and a turning point in this year-long battle against the virus.

WILLIAMS: Certainly, feels like one.

Katie Benner, I have two topics for you tonight. Here`s the first one. How are things looking for Congressman Gaetz?

KATIE BENNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES JUSTICE DETP. REPORTER: Things for Congressman Gaetz just got a little bit darker. We saw in a filing to the court that Joel Greenberg, his former close friend and associate, has decided to quote unquote, change his plea. He had earlier pled not guilty, so he will be pleading guilty.

Now, pleading guilty does not guarantee that he`s cooperating with the government, but that is one of the best ways to ensure that you will serve less time. And we know that he -- if he`s pleading guilty to the sex trafficking of a minor, that comes with a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. So, any other charges against him, and there are several, he will want to whittle those down so that he doesn`t have to serve much more than 10 years. And so, we can expect some level of operation and that would be include discussing any role that Congressman Gaetz had in the sex traffic of a minor.

WILLIAMS: General McCaffrey, take us overseas, and let`s start this topic by quoting from Jonathan Lemire`s employer, "The Associated Press," "The four-day burst of violence has pushed Israel into uncharted territory, dealing with the most intense fighting it has ever had with Hamas while simultaneously coping with the worst Jewish-Arab violence inside Israel in decades."

General, ground operations are underway tonight, but the IDF says none of their troops have passed into Gaza. So that means artillery to me. I`m curious about what it means to you.

And for a time there today, as you know, projectiles, worst case scenario were coming in from the northern border and the southern border simultaneously. Are we looking at a tipping point here?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, we may well be. In fact, extraordinarily dangerous. This is possibly the fourth war between the Israelis and Hamas in Gaza, since Hamas took over from the PLO. Very tricky situation.

Obviously, the political background is what`s more important. But right now, the IDF has gone in and struck more than 350 targets in Israel. There are hundreds of Palestinian casualties.

The Hamas have fired a couple of 1000 rockets at Israel. They`ve got a lot more range. Their biggest rocket will go 200 kilometers. So, Tel Aviv is under attack for the first time.

And the violence inside Israel, people -- again, 20 percent of the population of Israel is Arab. And that doesn`t include those without Israeli passport in East Jerusalem or elsewhere who just have residency. So this is a very bad situation. Israelis now have three brigades mobilized if they go into Gaza. A couple of million Palestinians packed in urban areas. They`re right now using tank and artillery fire, then we`ll see casually skyrocket to include with the Israelis.

I don`t think the Israelis have a choice. Their existential life in the Middle East is at stake in these wars.

WILLIAMS: General I think it`s fair to say the Israelis have been surprised at the depth of the arsenal, these rockets and missiles coming at them out of Gaza, their range and their force. But we`ve also been watching these nonstop, almost video game night video images of the Iron Dome protection system over Israel. And I know you`ve watched this mature and develop over the years. It is remarkable science.

MCCAFFREY: Yes, it`s basically a three layer defense. But again, it`s not foolproof, these missiles do get through, the Israelis are taking civilian casualties. It`s been enormously disruptive to the entire economic life of Israel. The main airport in Israel is now closed.

So, we`re going to see the Israelis take any measures required to stop the attack on their population. And these missiles are now hitting as far south as southern Israel. And as you already mentioned, there were three missiles fired out of southern Lebanon, probably by Palestinians.

But it would be unfolding tragedy, if we saw again, Lebanese factions take part in the fighting. So, we`re on the edge now of a real Armageddon, if there isn`t a some kind of a political backing off of the situation.

But look at the heart of it, there was a great op-ed today in "The New York Times" on the right of return. And essentially, that`s what is at stake. Do the Palestinians returned to Israel, reclaim their villages or homes? Or, you know, from the Adriatic perspective, it would be the end of the Jewish population. So this is a fight with zero sum stakes.

WILLIAMS: Jon Lemire, you heard the general. How big does this loan at the Biden White House?

LEMIRE: It looms significantly, Brian, and growing by the day. We`ve heard the President offer sort of reassuring messages in recent days, touting his conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. And those that he and his top advisors, State Department, and elsewhere have had with a number of the leaders in the region with Israel, with the Palestinians, but also key regional allies like Egypt that have relationships with Hamas that may have some influence there.

But despite what the President said about 48 hours ago that he believed the situation was improving, that is clearly not the case. It was just so well described there. The violence has only increased, the stakes only higher, and there are real danger of this tipping into something truly catastrophic, grows by the hour. So there has been increasing pressure on the White House to play a bigger role.

They do have an envoy, who has now arrived in the region. Israel is not a country where the U.S. has a new ambassador just yet, though, there`s certainly career diplomats on the ground. The U.S. also did not support the U.N. security resolution, about the situation there. So, this is something that the President and his team are watching closely because there is a chance, of course, this could erupt into an all-out war, which of course no one wants.

And we should see, I believe, the administration taking more aggressive steps in the coming days trying to pressure more. The President was asked today if Prime Minister Netanyahu had done enough to stop the violence. He certainly said Israel has the right to defend itself, but expect the pressure from the White House to grow to try to de-escalate the situation.

WILLIAMS: Katie Benner, now falls on you to explain. Walk us through this reporting by your colleagues of this kind of internal loyalty test, forces loyal to Trump though attached to some in the Trump White House, if not Trump himself, going after people suspected of being disloyal?

BENNER: Yes. So, what we want -- what we should do is we should understand that what we reported today in "The New York Times" is directly tied to events that we`re seeing unfold in the Republican Party today with Representative Cheney, the move to oust her from the Republican party because of her lack of loyalty to Donald Trump. And it stemmed from the fact that during his presidency, Donald Trump`s obsession with loyalty and obsession with guilty (ph) ran through his administration.

What we saw was Project Veritas, a conservative group best known for gotcha videos in which it tries to expose some sort of wrongdoing amongst progressive groups and amongst the media was working closely with a former British spy in order to entrap people within the Trump administration suspected of not being loyal enough to try to capture them on tape, saying things that could be misconstrued or saying things would be quote unquote, "disloyal" to the former president, that could be used to get them fired. So it was H.R. McMaster, the National Security Adviser he was one target. FBI officials, FBI employees, Trump, keep in mind was convinced the FBI was out to get him. So this was an outside group really working to purge the government of enemies.

Now, keep in mind, in the United States we are not loyal to presidents, we`re loyal to the Constitution. Presidents, they represent a party, they represent a set of policies, they represent a set of ideals and interpretations of the Constitution. And a set of policies that we think could or could not be best for the American people. But at the end of the day, government servants are supposed to be loyal to the Constitution.

Trump up ended that during his presidency. He encouraged fealty to Trump and Trump alone. And that is what the Republican Party continues to grapple with today, as we see things like Liz Cheney being ousted from her position of power. We see somebody like Elise Stefanik, who made her name during the Trump administration for being one of his staunchest supporters being put into her place.

We have about a year and a half to see how long this effect will be lasting when we see the midterm elections, whether we see Trump has influenced there. But we do know is that what we saw happening unfolding in 2018 in "The New York Times" reporting lives on today, this real decision that Republicans need to make. Can they be a party without Donald Trump? And if they`re a party with Donald Trump, does that mean serving Donald Trump or does that mean serving the Constitution?

WILLIAMS: So appreciative for our big three starting us off again on these disparate important stories tonight. We`ll have you all back, of course. Jonathan Lemire, Katie Benner, General Barry McCaffrey, thank you all so much.

Coming up for us, Dr. Vin Gupta with us to break down the great unmasking, what it means, who should celebrate, who it may not apply to.

And later, from a hacker`s keyboard directly to American gas pumps. That`s how quickly it happened. The crisis no one saw coming. The frantic effort to fill the tanks find the techno terrorists who are vowing to strike again somewhere else. All of it as The 11th Hour is getting underway on this Thursday night.



BIDEN: The rule is very simple, get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. It`s a good day for the country. We aren`t done yet. We`re still losing too many Americans, because we still have too many unvaccinated people.


WILLIAMS: What a day this was for science, the day so many Americans have longed for a result of the administration`s effort to get more shots in arms. As of tonight, nearly 60 percent of adults in our country have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Yet today`s new guidance is fueling new controversy.


FAUCI: We are going to be depending on people being honest enough to say whether they were vaccinated or not and responsible enough to be wearing a vaccine -- excuse me, a mask, not only for their own protection, but also for the protection of others.


WILLIAMS: For all these reasons, we`re happy to be back. We have back with us, Dr. Vin Gupta, a Critical Care Pulmonologist in Seattle. He`s also on the faculty at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Doctor, how momentous is today? And as we always like to ask, what could go wrong?

DR. VIN GUPTA, UNIV. OF WASHINGTON HEALTH METRICS SCIENCES DEPT.: Well, good evening, Brian. Great to see you.

Today`s momentous, but it`s signaling to industry and parts of the -- our entire society frankly, Brian, that how do you operationalize the advice that was given by the CDC today? What are the policies and procedures that we can put in place to verify vaccines, or to verify a negative test within the last 24 hours so that small and medium businesses can get to 100 percent capacity?

Brian, you know, I know you`re a baseball fan, I become one and in the course of the pandemic, advising the Mariners among other organizations about how they can fill up the stadiums. And this is a key piece. How do you actually remove distancing requirements and get people safely in the ballpark at 100 percent incapacity. Turns out the CDC just gave an assist to all organizations across the country, whether it`s school districts or professional sports teams.

They said if you`re fully vaccinated, you can actually be not distanced and unmasked next to your fellow American. So now, it`s up to all industry across sectors to say, well, how do we do that? Is it a vaccine certification? Is it a mandate? What is it?

Is the onus was on industry to try to be creative and to actually come up with policies to affect this policy?

WILLIAMS: Well, I`m glad you raised baseball because I`m going to raise the Yankees. Eight people on their payroll have come down testing positive, asymptomatic as far as we know for COVID, including one player who has already been through COVID. Our friend Bill Maher, tonight testing positive, asymptomatic. Everyone I`ve just mentioned, fully vaccinated. Are we going to start reading about a lot more of this type of thing?

GUPTA: I guess, you know, ultimately Brian, we don`t know. And I want to caution to all your viewers here that we just don`t know enough data right now about the Yankees and these eight cases of positive tests after vaccination. Were they actually -- were they fully vaccinated before they got exposed and infected?

You know, we know Brian, that you can test positive for COVID for weeks on end after the initial infection. It`s really great news to know that everybody was asymptomatic, which is indicative of the strength of the vaccine. It`s the reason why you get the vaccine to keep you out of the hospital. We know the vaccines are not perfect to prevent asymptomatic infection.

So none of this is surprising. I don`t want to us to make any more news of this than necessary. But we need more details here to understand exactly what happened in the case of the Yankees, so we can inform the public.

WILLIAMS: As you know, more than others, the governor of Ohio is offering a million dollars and kind of a vaccine sweepstakes in that state. You were on the board on Twitter. And there`s been much discussion over what you said. I`ll quote, "A new definition of inequity is the governor of Ohio having the privilege of offering a million dollar lottery payout to coax vaccine uptake when huge parts of the world are burning from this virus, are desperate for access, and don`t need a million bucks to get the shot."

Yes, we all grieve over what we are reading and seeing and hearing out of countries like India just being ravaged by this, 10 times worse than the worst situation we had here. But let me take the other side, devil`s advocate, what`s wrong with making our priority eradication here before we move our focus overseas?

GUPTA: Oh, Brian, I mean, absolutely, nothing`s wrong with prioritizing that. I mean, I`m an American citizen and I`ve lived this virus here in the United States. That`s the priority.

But there`s a difference between reasonable incentives. What reasonable leaders should be proposing, which is an incentive 40 to $50 after you get each shot, which is what many private organizations are suggesting. Pay time off, for example.

Reasonable incentives, you get free coffee. Go to a ballpark and get a free drink, or you name it, a free concession. Those are reasonable incentives.

What`s unreasonable is to bribe people with a payoff of a million dollars. That is entitlement. That makes the message that sends to the rest of the world as they`re burning, as they`re losing 10s of 1000s of people every week, in the case of India, in the case of Brazil, it sends a terrible message. The optics are not good.

You worry that a butts against our morals, our ethics in terms of what this is actually sending, what type of message this is sending the world. So that`s where I`m saying that there`s a balance here between actual helpful incentives that are reasonable and those that frankly are just -- will cause a lot of mockery that will not send the right message.

And frankly, I worry if I was offered a million dollars to take something I would wonder well, why am I being offered a million dollars to take something? Why am I being offered the chance to get that type of burning? What`s wrong with what`s being offered to me?

I think this has the chance to paradoxically cause people to become more skeptical, Brian, not less so. So, I really caution the governor of Ohio, my home state, to rethink this policy in all humility, and to really focus on reasonable incentives not unreasonable ones.

WILLIAMS: Well point taken. I also know your brothers and sisters in the Air Force Reserve are busy loading up C-17 to take material and medication over to India. We salute them, and you, for their work.

Dr. Vin Gupta, because you played such an important role for us during this pandemic. We wanted to hear you out on this important night in the history of this pandemic. Thank you very much for taking our questions.

Coming up for us tonight, could Liz Cheney be the start of something? We`ll talk about that when we come back.


WILLIAMS: A day after House Republicans ousted Liz Cheney from their leadership, the Wyoming Congresswoman appeared on Fox News where she continued to fight Trump`s lie that the election was somehow stolen. And it got quickly pretty sporty.


CHENEY: When you look at the challenge that the former president is presenting right now still today, claiming that the election was stolen, continuing to use the language that we know inspired .

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Right. And you`ve said that.

CHENEY: -- some in the past. I continue to say it though, but I continue to say it because --

BAIER: You should because you believe in principle. I get it. But for the people for Wyoming who are electing a congress person to fight for them and to fight against the Biden agenda. Why wouldn`t they say, is this the person that`s going to get it done? That`s what your colleagues were asking.

CHENEY: I`m going to answer the question. We all have an obligation and I would say Fox News especially, especially Fox News, has a particular obligation to make sure people know the election wasn`t stolen. Fox News, Bret, I`m going to answer your question. Fox News needs to make sure that the American people they need to make sure that the American people -- Bret, you`re doing the interview. I`m answering the questions.

BAIER: Congresswoman --

CHENEY: We need to make sure the American people recognize and understand that the election wasn`t stolen.


WILLIAMS: As I said it got sporty and went on from there. For more we welcome to the broadcast Don Calloway. He`s a democratic strategist, member of the advisory board for the National Voter Protection Action Fund also happens to be CEO and Founder of Pine Street Strategies, a DC based lobbying firm. Our returning champion back with us, Stuart Stevens, a veteran of Mitt Romney and George W. Bush`s presidential campaigns these days with the Lincoln project.

Hey, Stuart 150, Republicans got together and posted this call for American renewal. And I`ll read you a quote, we believe in pushing for the Republican Party to rededicate itself to founding ideals, or else hasten the creation of an alternative.

Stuart, I think you would appreciate the type of sense of humor that would ask, should we ask former president John Anderson or former president Ross Perot the likelihood of a third party succeeding?

STUART STEVENS, THE LINCOLN PROJECT SENIOR ADVISER: Yes, it listened to a lot of friends over there. I love the fact that they don`t support Trump and they believe the Republican Party should be something else. But it seems to me they`re asking a rhetorical question.

The Republican Party is not unhappy with where it is. Republican Party likes where it is. It`s more smaller party, but it`s very intensely a Trump`s party. And at the Lincoln project, we think this question has been answered. And we believe that really the question is, do you support democracy? Or do you support autocracy? It`s not about ideology anymore, when all these ads are made about like, you know, lowering capital gains tax and health care, and it`s all kind of quaint now, it`s not what this is about.

And you have to take a stand. And we in the Lincoln project we`re just one mission, which is to fight with democracy, and to fight democracy, you`re going to have to beat these Republicans who come on.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Don, my wise friend Michael Beschloss said this in the last 24 hours, history doesn`t suggest that splitting a political party is the best strategy to win elections. What in your view should the Democrats be doing right about now that perhaps they are not?

DON CALLOWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That`s a great question, Brian. I think that Democrats have to use this moment to focus on building infrastructure in the tradition of Stacey Abrams. That work started 15 years ago, long before the world knew her name.

But what she was doing was registering voters staying in touch with them during the off cycles, communicating and testing and working messages, making sure that people had something to go to the polls to vote for recruiting and training candidates, recruiting and training campaign operatives. Us as Democrats, as much as I enjoy the shot in fraud (ph) of this absolute republican implosion, with the exception of my good friends at the Lincoln project, we can`t just take this moment to point and laugh at republicans. We have to build, particularly because this is the time to do so because next year is an election cycle, and one in which the sitting president typically loses from a historical perspective, and we`re not going to have that happen. We`ve got to be building right now. The war is won in peacetime.

WILLIAMS: Don, how worried Are you at the stuff that is going on simultaneously in almost too many places to track and the upshot could be during the next presidential election, a whole bunch of states thanks to what`s being crafted in their legislators right now. Either refused to certify the results, or find a way to cook the books.

CALLOWAY: Yes, I`m extraordinarily worried about it. Listen, while Democrats are trying to work on learning to play zone defense, or perhaps man to man, Republicans are trying to turn off the power to the arenas throughout the country. So it`s a totally two different games we`re playing.

The difference is that the only thing that Democrats have, particularly in states where they Republicans have built super majorities and have Republican governors, so you can`t fight these things legislatively. The only thing we have is Sherrilyn Ifill, the national -- the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, you have the lawyers committee for civil rights, and you have Vanita Gupta and Kristin Clark in the Department of Justice, who will have to contest these things in the federal courthouses.

Unfortunately, there are federal courts that are largely stacked by the Trump administration and Mitch McConnell, but you have to take these fights to the court, because let`s be clear, these Republican voter suppression laws cannot withstand the strict scrutiny standard that applies to voting rights restrictions. And I`m confident that the people who are on the right side of history will be victorious.

But that said, that takes a lot of resources, that takes a lot of mental resources and physical resources and organizing resources out of elements that should be going towards winning democratic elections. But if we can`t beat him in the state legislatures, because of the majorities, we`re going to have to beat him in the courts. And that`s the final backstop. So I`m confident that we have good arguments there.

WILLIAMS: Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us while I slip in a tiny commercial break and coming up in our next segment, our next conversation the dangerous attempts at rewriting what we all saw happening on January 6.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: I don`t know on normal day around here when people are threatening to hang the vice president of the United States or shoot the speaker in the fire or disrupt injure so many police officers. I don`t consider that normal. You have to see it because it was beyond denial. It fell into the range of sick.


WILLIAMS: A day after likening the capital riot to a normal tourist visit with a straight face GOP congressman Andrew Clyde was given a chance to clarify. Here`s what he had to say or not say to our own correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell.


LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you stand by your statement yesterday that yesterday that when you said yesterday it was a capital -- like a capital tour.

Do you stand by those statements?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you regret saying that? Five people died, including police officers in your hearing today honoring police officers.

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): If you`re honest in your statement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s wrong about it? When that`s what you said.

CLYDE: Think about what you just said? You didn`t take what I said in context.

CALDWELL: So can you explain to us?


CALDWELL: Explain to us. Explain to us.

CLYDE: You don`t listen to what I said.


WILLIAMS: So that`s how that went. We can always reracked the tape still with us Don Calloway and Stuart Stevens. I can`t believe it causes laughter that man is a 28-year US Navy veteran, former gun shop owner.

Don, in the recent craven history of the Trump party is the attempt to airbrush out the history we all watched on live television, the most craven of all.

CALLOWAY: It`s really bad. It`s really bad. And that Congressman, I don`t know where he`s from or who he represents. And, you know, as far as we`re concerned, his career as a serious individual is over as of that right there. I just had to say that I know I didn`t answer your question.

But, you know, it`s pretty bad. But if you look at the course of history, from Nazi Germany, to American slavery, to various human rights abuses that have happened over the course of millennia, this is the way that they are erased from history, serious people start minimizing the effects of real pain, real deaths, actual revolt, and this is the way it starts. I mean, this is this is the playbook. Right?

If you read On Tyranny by Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale Law School, he talks about how language is used to diminish and minimize the impact. You know, Capitol Hill is a community there, shoe shiners up there, there are barbers up there, there are cafeteria workers up there, ask them, let`s not ask partisan politicians, let`s ask them about the real impact of what happened on that day, because they didn`t deserve that. And they took the brunt up.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, Don, the professor is a frequent guest on this broadcast, and he kind of laid it all out in that tiny book full of big thoughts. Hey, Stuart, I want to play for you what Adam Kinzinger said, on this network earlier.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): This party is really sick, and this party sneeds some real help. And if we`re not going to stand up and be willing to put it on the line for that, as part is not going to be around in the future.


WILLIAMS: So Stuart, let`s be honest, here, the anti-Trump caucus in all of Congress is pretty much him, Liz Cheney, and Mitt Romney, it could fit in a Prius, come to think of it, I`d pay good money to see that. I need you to name names, who is there who is willing to step forward and be the face of this?

STEVENS: I don`t think it`s a question of the individual there`s not a market for. Republican Party is very comfortable forming an autocratic party. Now, to those of us who worked in the party, it`s a shocking, very sad development. You know, I`ve talked a lot about my responsibility. And this is why I didn`t see it sooner. But that`s where we are. And we have to just face the reality of it.

This is a party that is for democracy when they win, and they`re not for democracy when they lose, which means you`re not for democracy. And what we have to realize is they`re very serious about this. They`re not going to change. They`re dedicated. They got a lot of resources, and they`re very patient. And we need to realize what it is that is at stake here. What we`re engaged, and it`s really a defense of the American experiment. And if we don`t engage and fight this, they`ll win. And that`s really the stakes.

WILLIAMS: Stuart, where are we in the struggle? When will we know if the glass is indeed half full or half empty? If the sun is rising or setting to paraphrase Mr. Franklin.

STEVENS: I think we`re just beginning. I think what happened on January 6, and then subsequently, when Republicans did not hold Donald Trump accountable, I think that will go down as to (INAUDIBLE) time. They`re attempting to a piece something that cannot be appeased, it`s an evil.

So this, I think, is going to be at least a decade in the making. And I`d like to say that the outcome is ceetain but it`s not. We don`t know -- it`s where American exceptionalism really hurts us because we believe that America will always be as it is that that tendency, we`re taught that. There`s no reason to believe that.

But history tells us that democracies in modern era die by the ballot box and in the courtroom, and it`s a slow process. And that is what is at stake here. And Republicans understand that. That`s one thing for us to pass these bills. They want to make it harder and harder for Republicans to lose, and we know what they`re going to do if they win. I`ve already said they take the House to impeach at least the Vice President. So we should listen and we should believe him and we should be deadly serious about the business of beating him.

WILLIAMS: So bring stuff from an old friend of this broadcast on a night one. We also made a new friend to Stuart Stevens and Don Calloway, welcome. Thank you both so much for taking our questions.

Coming up for us. Dry pumps, empty tanks, sore tempers, and relief finally on the way and don`t do what this couples doing.


WILLIAMS: Tonight the Colonial Pipeline is back in business but it`s expected to take several more days before the largest fuel pipeline in the country in the thousands of gas stations directly impacted by all of this returned to normal.

Put it this way. Pipeline flows at about five miles per hour picture driving from Houston to New York at that speed. You can then understand why it`s going to take a while. NBC News correspondent Tom Llamas has more on how bad this gas shortage has gotten from Charlotte, North Carolina.


TOM LLAMAS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight the gas is flowing and the fear is fading.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m like super happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seen the truck over here. And I said thank you God.

LLAMAS: This as NBC News has learned Colonial Pipeline paid nearly 5 million in ransom to hackers who infiltrated their system, which led to the shutdown, that sparking panic buying and massive outages.

In Central Florida, this Hummer went up in flames. The driver had just filled several five gallon containers loaded in the back. Now the Colonial Pipeline is servicing all of its markets. But President Biden warning --

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Will not feel the effects at the pump immediately. This is not like flicking on a light switch.

LLAMAS: We were there as a fuel truck pulled up to fill up a Charlotte gas station that had run dry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had people who follow me from gas stations to follow me on the road to another gas station.

LLAMAS (voice-over): And because of that cyber-attack, President Biden signed an executive order establishing stricter guidelines for any software sold to the US government and also calling for a team to be formed to analyze these type of cyber-attacks. Reporting from Charlotte, Tom Llamas, NBC News.


WILLIAMS: Another break for us and coming up let`s mark the passing of a notable American life forever associated with one of the most successful mistakes in the history of American business.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, let`s take some time here at the end of the evening, the shank of the evening as it were to remember a great American life and one of the most successful mistakes in the history of American business. A mistake so monumental, you probably have evidence of it in your home wherever you`re watching us tonight.

Our story begins in the great state of Minnesota, a company called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. You perhaps know what has 3M. They are the scotch tape people, they make those top of the line N95 masks as well. And one of their all-time great products was invented by mistake by this man, Spencer Silver was a PhD chemist who worked in the research department where his job was to come up with an aircraft grade adhesive and he failed that spectacularly.

His adhesive was tacky, not like Mar-a-Lago tacky but it did stick mostly on paper and to his amazement, it could be reused. And inside the company he would not stop talking about his invention, his mistake while asking around about its potential uses. He gave seminars on it. They nicknamed him Mr. Persistent. He was stuck you might say on his accidental invention, which of course became posted notes.

They debuted in 1979. 3M never looked back. They really sold themselves people who received one on a memo or as a bookmark, wanting to go out and get some for themselves and they did.

Today there are about 3,000 separate post it note products available all over the world. They are in just about every single American home.

Spencer Silver died this past weekend at his home in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was 80 years old. And when they write the book on accidental inventions, there will no doubt be a chapter on him. Young investment inventors would be well advised to mark that chapter with a post it note to be able to turn to it with ease.

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