IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

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

Guests: Richard Stengel, Susan Page, Eugene Daniels, Tim Miller, Stephen Sample


Tonight, the ceasefire that ended 11 days of back and forth fighting between Israel and Hamas militants, has now been in effect for just over 24 hours that appears to be holding. The challenge now, of course, to prevent skirmishes with police like the one that erupted today out in the open in Jerusalem and keep them from escalating and getting any larger.President Biden has credited quiet intense diplomacy for bringing about the truce. President Biden tries to entice GOP support on infrastructure.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: And that is tonight`s last word.

You can catch me tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. Eastern on my show Velshi tomorrow. I`m joined by Democratic delegates Stacy Plaskett of the United States Virgin Islands, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and the CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northrup. Don`t want to miss that. That`s tomorrow at 8 a.m. Eastern.

"The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" begins right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 122 of the Biden administration, which ends this week having survived its first major foreign policy crisis.

Tonight, the cease-fire that ended 11 days of back and forth fighting between Israel and Hamas militants, has now been in effect for just over 24 hours that appears to be holding. The challenge now, of course, to prevent skirmishes with police like the one that erupted today out in the open in Jerusalem and keep them from escalating and getting any larger.

The President has credited quiet intense diplomacy for bringing about the truce. And late today, as he hosted South Korea`s leader at the White House he suggested this would be, indeed, his strategy going forward.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the reasons why we`re able to get cease-fire in 11 days, they didn`t do what other people have done. I don`t talk about what I tell people in private. I don`t talk about what we negotiate in private.


WILLIAMS: President added the U.S. was committed to Israel security, but he noted there was really only one way to guarantee a lasting peace in the region.


BIDEN: We still need a two-state solution. It is the only answer. We renewed the security commitment, as well as economic commitment to the people on the West Bank. I also indicated to the Israelis that I thought it was very important that they stop in Jerusalem, this inner communal fighting, that is by extremes on both sides.

Until the region says unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.


WILLIAMS: NBC News has no reporting tonight on the President`s handling of this crisis with Israel and on his main objective, "His approach was stylistically muted substantively more hard line than some of his allies had expected. It was driven by a singular goal to end the violence as soon as possible so he could train his focus back onto his domestic agenda."

Meanwhile, the 11-day conflict in Israel comes with an ugly after effect, a rise in attacks on Jews in our country and around the globe. Data from the Anti-Defamation League also noted an increase in hate speech on social media. And there are new calls from the administration -- for the administration to address this growing wave of anti-Semitism.

Earlier on this network, the head of the Anti-Defamation League spoke out about the recent attacks.


JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE CEO & NATIONAL DIRECTOR: I do feel scared and I`ve heard from Jewish people all over the country in the past week who are alarmed from college campuses to La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, people are feeling under assault. It`s like a Charlottesville every day.


WILLIAMS: We`ll have more on this issue just ahead in this hour.

Amid all this, the White House is trying to stay focused on the biggest items on their domestic agenda. Today it offered a slimmed down version of that infrastructure proposal that happened during meetings with Republican senators, 1.7 trillion as opposed to the original 2.3 trillion.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In our view, this is the act -- the art, I should say, of seeking common ground. This proposal exhibits a willingness to come down in size, giving on some areas that are important to the President, otherwise they wouldn`t have been in the proposal, while also staying firm in areas that are most vital to rebuilding our infrastructure.


WILLIAMS: Equally importantly, Republicans weren`t buying the counteroffer, they`re still looking for a price tag way lower in the range of 600 billion. Here`s the response from the Office of Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia Republican who continues to be the point person on these talks, "There continue to be vast differences between the White House and Senate Republicans when it comes to the definition of infrastructure, the magnitude of proposed spending, and how to pay for it. Based on today`s meeting, the group seemed further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden."

White House had also hoped that by this time the Senate would be closer to passing the police reform bill named after George Floyd. Tuesday, as you may know, we`ll mark one year since his death. Biden will meet with his family at the White House on that day.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Friday night. Eugene Daniels, White House Correspondent for Politico, co-author of each day`s edition of Politico playbook. Susan Page, veteran journalists, best-selling author, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief, her latest work, "Madam Speaker, Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power." And Rick Stengel is back with us, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, former managing editor of Time Magazine.

Good evening, and welcome to you all.

Rick, given your bailiwick, and the fact that I haven`t talked to you forever, I`d like to begin with you. Your opinion on how the President did this navigating overseas. Is the hard part indeed to come? And things have changed vis-a-vis U.S. and Israel.

RICHARD STENGEL, FMR. UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY &PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Yes, Brian, it`s good to see you again. It`s been a long time.

I think he handled it admirably. I mean, it`s a sign of what the Biden Blinken form of diplomacy is deliberate, cautious, saying what you mean, talking behind the scenes.

One of the things that people haven`t talked about is Biden`s relationship with Bibi. It`s not a state secret that I`m revealing when I say that Barak Obama and Bibi Netanyahu didn`t have a love affair. Biden has purchased with Bibi because he`s supported him for 30 years. And when he says to Bibi, look, you`ve got to cut this out. Bibi knows he has to do that. That really wasn`t the case with President Obama.

And I`m so glad and relieved that President Biden mentioned that the two- state solution. You know, the Trump administration played a kind of three card Monte game with the two-state solution and kind of pretended it didn`t exist. But Biden said, look, it`s -- this is the only answer. You know, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, the two-state solution is the worst solution of all, except for all the others.

There really isn`t any alternative. And it`s getting harder, year by year, it`s harder because the PLO and Hamas don`t get along. And they`re two separate places, so you have to make a deal with the two people. Hamas was probably strengthened by what just happened over the last 10 or 11 days. So, to your last part of your question, yes. But now begins the hard part.

WILLIAMS: And Susan, from your perch coming off the comments, we just heard from Rick, how did they do at balancing agendas, walking and chewing gum, foreign and domestic in the course of the same 11 days?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: You know, I think the White House is finding what previous presidents have also discovered which it is very hard to set your priorities and keep your eye on them because things keep happening that demand your attention. This White House does not want to adopt as its goal a permanent solution to the problems in the Middle East. I think they see that as not realistic.

But it is not an issue they can ignore, which is one thing that was clear with the President`s actions in trying to stem the violence that we saw there. Their preference is to get back to issues that involve the pandemic and the U.S. economy.

And for their foreign policy agenda, they`re much more concerned about China, for instance, than they are about getting a meshed in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. So, I think they`re pleased I saw the President giving himself a little pat on the back about the behind-the-scenes diplomacy that helped achieve this cease-fire. But this is a problem they hope they can tamp down and turn to other problems that they are more concerned about and where they think they have a bigger chance of actually succeeding.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, Susan`s right, the President did allow himself a pat on the back. I`ll be brief, but any kind of victory lap was missing, any kind of chest thumping was missing in announcing the cease-fire after 11 days. Talk about the yawning difference in style?

EUGENE DANIELS, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPODENT: Yes, I mean, we are very used to something that looks a lot more brash, a lot more in your face after the last four years with President Trump. And that`s just not Joe Biden style. He has a different -- he`s quieter.

And this quiet diplomacy that they`ve been talking about is really how he wants to operate, especially on these really, really serious issues, right? That doesn`t want to go on the thump -- the chest thumping, he doesn`t want to, like Susan said, spend a lot of time talking and thinking about the things that are happening in Israel and Palestine. He just doesn`t. This is when, you know, China and Russia is where they are focused on in this White House when it comes to foreign policy.

And one thing that is really interesting about this White House is that they have really learned the lessons of the Obama administration. There are quite a few people that are in this administration that were they are working in 2014. I think it was 50 days of fight between Israel and Hamas at that point, and so they`ve kind of learned that you can`t go out when come out with a full-throated demand for a cease-fire at the beginning because that doesn`t make things better. And they also know, and it made -- it`s made it a lot more difficult that the left, the Democrats have moved on this issue. And so, there`s a lot of different conversations happening in this White House. And that`s what they went with this quiet diplomacy. And that`s why that`s not going anywhere, because they think it clearly worked right?


DANIELS: It`s been -- it was only 11 days, and I think they`re going to continue to do that.

WILLIAMS: I was just going to say, so many Democrats have indeed moved to your last point on this issue.

Hey, Rick, here is the President on another foreign affairs issue, no less important the relationship with North Korea. We`ll discuss on the other side.


BIDEN: Our goal is and remains complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have said in the past that you would not meet with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea without certain preconditions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are those preconditions? And do you believe he would ever be able to meet them?

BIDEN: What I would not do is I would not do what had been done in the recent past. I would not give him all that he is looking for, his national -- international recognition as legitimate.


WILLIAMS: So Rick, I think you`ll agree that`s what presidents have traditionally said in the last several decades, that we`ve had this broken relationship with North Korea. And if you agree that the former president had been straight up, played in large part, by a larger than average stationary, hand delivered, is this kind of right sizing of the relationship that we needed?

STENGEL: I think so. I mean, it Yes. In some ways, he`s reacting to Trump`s kind of love affair with Kim Jung-un. And the fact that he says he won`t meet without preconditions, I think at this point is a good thing.

The larger problem is we use this word denuclearization, everybody uses it. But everybody means something slightly different by it. And the problem is, is that Kim Jung-un doesn`t really mean it at all. And if the precondition is for Kim Jung-un to agree to denuclearization, there may not be talks.

But part of what I get, which is this, Biden foreign policy agenda is to not fix things that aren`t broken. And I`m not saying this isn`t broken, but like why get yourself into a negotiation doesn`t have a good outcome? You can say the same argument about Israel-Palestine. I mean, let`s avoid getting in a morass.

And that`s sort of what they`re doing. They`re kind of tiptoeing around the problem. And as Susan said before, they didn`t want to get distracted by foreign policy problems away from what their main focus is, you know, the domestic COVID agenda.

WILLIAMS: And Susan, this next question for you touches on something Eugene mentioned. This is one of the poll quotes from the interview with the president in the David Brooks column in "The New York Times."

Biden says, "The progressives don`t like me because I`m not prepared to take on what I would say and they would say, is a socialist agenda." I found that "fascinating," a points for candor, b, it kind of de-weaponizes, one of the leading Republican talking points when they talk about the left in the Democratic Party. Does the President Susan have a real or perceived problem with the left flank of his party?

PAGE: You know, I think the remarkable thing for these first 122 days of his presidency is how much the progressives have held with Biden been really very pleased by the size of the big rescue and recovery packages that he`s unveiled. You saw the biggest split, though far on the Middle East issue on the -- with a desire by many in the Democratic left. And some not from the left in the Democratic Party to take a more confrontational approach toward Israel to do more to try to help the Palestinians.

But with that exception, they`ve really pretty much hung together in a way that, number one, they need to do if they`re going to get anything through Congress, but also that has surprised some people because Biden, certainly during the primaries, was not the choice of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, nation turns its lonely eyes to you and the heart of understanding the Senate and Congress that those of us who didn`t pay attention in high school have regretted ever since. The Democrats may try to go out alone on infrastructure because they have asked our friend, the impartial parliamentarian, if they can do it by a simple majority. So, where does the whole mess stand as we put folks to bed on a Friday night after a long week?

DANIELS: Yes. I mean, what was happening at the beginning it has been happening for a few weeks now is that the Biden administration has really, really wanted to get a bipartisan deal done, right? They have talked to Republican lawmakers here in D.C., but also they`ve been reaching out to officials -- local Republican officials trying to pressure them to pressure Republicans, right? Because there`s not one local official one governor, one person who doesn`t know of a pothole or something that hasn`t been called to their office in a very long time. So that happens a lot. So they`ve been hoping to do that, trying to be really creative in the way they do that.

But today, there was -- and you talked about this earlier, Senator Capito, who has been leading for Republicans on this issue, kind of said they are just too far, right? Even though the White House came down from 2.25 trillion to about $1.7 trillion. Still a lot of money. But that was, you know, that was quite coming down for what Democrats wanted at the beginning and cut some of the key things that they`ve been wanting to do.

Right now, that means that we -- there`s been and some -- excuse me, someone like Joe Manchin, has said he wants to make sure that there`s negotiations. And I think we`ve taken that as people who cover this is that attempted negotiations were enough. We don`t know how much of the back and forth someone like him was hoping for in order for them to go alone. But at some point, they may have to do that, because it seems like Republicans in no way seem interested in how much Democrats want to spend. And more importantly, I think, how they want to spend it and what they want to use to pay for it.

And so, there`s just almost no wiggle room. There were a couple of weeks there where we thought maybe this might be a bipartisan deal, but that`s looking bleaker and bleaker as Democrats are getting more antsy on this one.

WILLIAMS: We are much obliged to our big three last night of the week. Eugene Daniels, Susan page, Rick Stengel, thank you so much for starting us off. Have a good weekend.

Coming up for us, we as a nation are coming up on 200 days after the 2020 election.

And another American county is taking up another election audit. We`ll show you where and why.

And later, are we are almost out of the woods on the virus? We check in with one of our favorite E.R. doctors, as vaccinations go up and cases go down.

To our viewers, you are 43 short minutes away from being able to turn in for the night and for the week as The 11th Hour is just getting underway on a Friday night.



REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R) GEORGIA: Who do you think won Arizona on November 3?

You know, that`s how we feel in Georgia too.


WILLIAMS: Weapon up the big lie. The Congresswoman from Georgia. That was about an hour ago at a rally to encourage the Arizona sham recount. We want to show you live pictures from the event on one stage.

Think about it this way, you`ve Gosar, Biggs, Gaetz, and Greene, kind of neat panel discussion there to Arizona Republicans.

Despite increasing pressure from Republicans to end the sham audit in Arizona, Trump allies in Georgia are now making their move. State judge there has ordered Fulton County that includes Atlanta to let a group of local voters inspect the 2020 mail-in-ballots.

"Washington Post" puts it this way, "The decision marks the latest instance of a local government being forced to undergo a third party inspection of its election practices amid baseless accusations promoted by President Donald Trump that fraud flipped the 2020 contest for President Biden."

A reminder, all of Georgia`s ballots have already been counted. There have been three separate recounts. Joe Biden won all three. And no widespread fraud was found.

Back with us again tonight, Juanita Tolliver, a veteran political strategist to progressive candidates and causes. And Tim Miller, a contributor to the Bulwark and the former communications director for Jeb Bush.

Tim, I got to ask him, McCarthy, Graham, when they`re in front of cameras, they keep insisting with this new candor that, oh, no, the 2020 election is over and Joe Biden one. At the state level, however, which is where so many observers and citizens and journalists have reported back that the pro- Trump movement is that it`s frothiest, things are going in a different direction.

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: It look very much so. Well, you saw that room Brian, you know, before insurrectionists on stage, four caballeros, and with Biggs and Gosar who were two that were literally plotting with the stop the steel organizers in order to plan the insurrection on January 6. There`s been no repercussion for any of them, the only repercussion has been for Liz Cheney.

And so, what you hear on the ground, you know, I want to do a campaign trip to South Carolina. This is what we`re hearing from South Carolina, Republican rank and file regulars. And obviously, you heard the cheers in that room.

The voters are demanding of their elected officials that they go along with this big lie. So, for some of these people like Gosar, he probably earnest about this. He`s way off the deep end. But for -- in states like Georgia, you can see the problem with what -- with what`s happening here, Brian. It has to be WWE, you know, it`s all performance.

These state legislators feel like they have to do something because they`re getting shaken down every time they go to a campaign event with their local diner or coffee shop, buy local thing. What are you doing about this? And so as a result, you know, in Arizona, the Secretary of State said, we`re going to have to throw away these voting machines, right? They`re already paying, you know, taxpayer money, six, seven figures to do this audit.

Now they`re going to get rid of these voting machines. They can`t trust him anymore because they`ve lost the chain of custody. So, there`s a lot of downstream effects that are all driven by the fact that Donald Trump is a man child. He convinced his voters that he actually won, and now those voters are making other people put on a show for them.

WILLIAMS: So, Juanita, about the danger of this, I want to play for you the warning that Stacy Abrams delivered earlier on this network. We`ll discuss on the other side.


STACEY ABRAMS, FAIR FIGHT GEORGIA: We cannot afford to be distracted by one or two or three attacks, we`ve got to realize that this is a fuselage and they are attacking every vestige of the system, because they want the entire thing to either be so broken, that we no longer expect success to be there for voters, or that we are so overwhelmed that we can`t focus on the challenges before us.


WILLIAMS: So, Juanita, if correct, that is scary. It`s diminishing the system that brings us our elected officials. Do you agree with Stacey Abrams that that is the goal on the other side?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLICITAL ANALYST: Brian, I think we can even remove the if from that question. It is correct that the GOP has a coordinated attack on our democracy, our election systems at the state and federal levels.

And so, what Stacey Abrams is warning against is absolutely correct. I think in the case for Democrats, it`s going to be a combination of the traditional playbook of register, educate and mobilize as many voters as possible while also fighting these illegitimate voter suppression laws in courts to make sure that they don`t go into effect, to make sure that voters aren`t entering and voting in hostile environments. Because the uphill battle of casting your ballot or accessing the polls should not exist.

And what we see is Republicans at the statehouse, state legislatures across the country using a copy and paste format to move these bills forward, to get them to their governors, to get them signed. And that`s going to create barriers. And so, I think Stacey Abrams is absolutely right to stay focused on the big picture here, stay focused on creating a democracy and creating elections where all of our votes count, where we don`t have to bend over backwards in order to access the polls, and where we feel comfortable and safe doing it not in hostile environments.

And so, what I am truly concerned about is how these voter suppression laws, these lies about the election are not only going to continue to erode voter confidence but erode our democracy writ large.

WILLIAMS: Both of our guests have agreed to stay with us. We`re just going to sneak in a break. Continue our conversation on the other side.

Coming up, how to measure the enduring mojo of the only twice impeached retiree in all of Florida.


WILLIAMS: After 35 House Republicans crossed over voted with the Democrats to approve the January 6th Commission, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post suggests, standing up to Donald Trump may not be as politically straight up fatal as it once was. She writes it this way, "will Trump, who remains banned from his favorite social media platform, still have as much juice in Republican-on-Republican contests in `22? No one will know for sure until primary season kicks into high gear but there are reasons to doubt it. Political analysts, including esteemed handicapper Charlie Cook have noted that while there are a few signs that Trump`s base has or will turn on him, there is some evidence that their fervor for him no longer burns as hot as it once did."

Remaining with us, our guests, Juanita Tolliver and Tim Miller. And, indeed, Juanita, I have more for you from The Post. "Online talk about Trump has plunged to a five-year low". So he`s got that going for him. "He`s banned or ignored on pretty much every major social media venue. And in the last week, Trump`s website, including his new blog, fundraising page and online storefront, attracted fewer estimated visitors than the pet- adoption service Petfinder and the recipe site, Delish."

So, Juanita, a two-part question. Do you buy all of this? And part two, if all of these is more than a clever turn of newspaper phrase by our colleagues, why then are all the elected Republicans that we can see, especially in the Senate, completely enthralled with this guy in Florida?

TOLLIVER: I think the answer, Brian, is yes and no. Yes, I buy that Trump is a bad blogger. No, I don`t buy that he has lost any control of the Republican Party. Because let`s remember, how many days ago was it since Liz Cheney was ousted for calling out his lies, for calling out the lies and the cult of personality that he introduced to the party and that the party is running with in the House and Senate? So, no, I don`t think his grip has gotten any looser around this party that has taken a big bet on him for 2020.

Keep in mind that that is still the plan for the House GOP and it still aligns with McConnell`s plans in the Senate to obstruct in in everything from this administration or from Democrats. So I don`t see Trump losing any type of relevancy here. I just think his supporters may be a little bit dormant as he`s been banned from major platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But yes, he`s a bad blogger.

WILLIAMS: So that`s an artful way of answering that dual question. I got to hand it to you. So Tim, Politico is reporting opposition to the January 6th Commission is actually hardening among Senate Republicans. Your colleague over at the Bulwark, Jonathan Last asking if Democrats aren`t willing to kill the filibuster over the 1/6 Commission, then what would it take. I have to tell you, Tim, Mr. Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, vehemently objected to our characterization of his approach last night aggressively insisting he is undecided. He`s important, obviously, because of foreign relations and Homeland Security.

Indeed, if he votes for the Commission, we will have a straight up Rob Portman night here on the broadcast. But talk about, if not Portman, his ilk in the Senate, the Republicans from the kind of traditional fiscal conservative, socially conservative custodial and protector class.

MILLER: Yes, that`s a shrinking class, Brian. And I don`t think I`ll be invited back for Rob Portman fan girl nights. Unfortunately, I don`t think he`s been very happy with my coverage of him as of late. But, look, here`s the thing, he`s retiring. So this is the frustrating part. You think there`d be an easy way to get to 10 votes here.

And I think that`s why my colleague Jonathan Last is pushing for, you know, this maybe being a filibuster item because they`re seven people voted for impeachment. Then you`ve got four retiring Republicans who are in this custodial class, as you called it. Roy Blunt, Richard Burr, Rob Portman, Richard Shelby out of Alabama. That`s 11 right there. You know, what would be the reason for any of them to go against this.

But, obviously, the lobbying is happening hard behind the scenes. You saw my grounds of South Dakota take it to a complete 180 in two days. John Cornyn of Texas said he agreed with Pelosi, just two months ago that we needed a bipartisan commission, he`s had a change of heart. Rubio, you know, put out a little selfie video on the Lanai this morning saying that he`s worried that the media will distort it if we have a Commission. So he`s out.

You see, these guys are jumping off the ship because they, you know, not expected this will be bad news for Republicans, which is kind of no doubt, right? But it should be, you know, that we get to the bottom of just what kind of bad news and what we can do to, you know, make sure that people are held accountable. And what we can do to get questions answered that many of these very guys had in January and February about what the heck Donald Trump was doing, you know, while that video is going on right there.

So, you know, this is a very much a political game. All these guys have been caught red handed. But it`s hard to see where the 10 votes are coming from right now. And that`s just the big change of momentum between now and next week.

WILLIAMS: Juanita, indeed, hearing the esteemed historians we have on this broadcast all the time talk about how close a call was it for our democracy. Just in the previous segment, you mentioned that our democracy was under attack. A phrase I still have not heard too many times in life that it doesn`t stop me in my tracks. So Juanita, if you were appointed chair of the Democratic Party, and I realize that`s a whole other hour long broadcast, what would you do on this 1/6 Commission?

TOLLIVER: Honestly, I`d let Republicans continue to choose the wrong adventure here and choose to reject this nonpartisan option where they will have equal representation where CatCo (ph) even negotiated, veto power over subpoenas and go straight for Select Committee. And, you know, somebody I put on that Select Committee, I`ll recruit Liz Cheney to be on that Select Committee to help some bring forth the truth and whatever Republican leadership is working so hard to hide by rejecting this nonpartisan commission.

And so, I bring that, I`d make sure that everyone is called for to offer testimony on what they knew what they experienced and conversations they had during this hours long attack. When Trump decided to say nothing while his own V.P.`s life was threatened, while the Capitol Building was under attack, while staffers and workers in this building were hiding and scared for their lives. I`d make sure all of that had a constant drumbeat for the next year and a half so that Americans could see that Republicans were obstructing this process. Republicans have been lying about what they experienced on January 6th, and since January 6th, and this is the truth about these attacks. And so I would have that on constant drumbeat up through midterms so that everyone could go into the polls with that front and center in their minds.

WILLIAMS: I don`t know what the other cable shows are doing for guests because I know we have the two smartest on this topic here with us in our presence tonight. Juanita Tolliver, Tim Miller, can`t thank you enough. We will keep doing this over and over until we get it right.

Coming up, all the great reopening in this country continues. Look around, doctors are noticing some big changes. One of our favorites standing by to take our questions.



ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SR. ADVISER OR COVID RESPONSE: Dating sites like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Match, OKCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish and Badoo are announcing a series of features. To encourage vaccinations, we have finally found the one thing that makes us all more attractive, a vaccination.


WILLIAMS: Could you see Fauci laughing in the upper left-hand corner? That`s one way the White House is hoping to get more shots in arms today. The CDC Director provided more evidence that vaccines are indeed working, presenting a map showing how widespread outbreaks were back in January of this year. Well compare that with today. We see a dramatic drop and concern for outbreaks across the country because the vaccinations are ramping up with some exceptions that you see depicted on that map.

Back with us again tonight, Dr. Stephen Sample, E.R. Doctor at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana, also a volunteer clinical faculty member at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Doc, I am guessing that where you are, the aggressively maskless have remained so, but generally, I want to hear how things are in your neck of the woods.

DR. STEPHEN SAMPLE, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN IN JASPER, INDIANA: Good evening, Brian. Hey, man, they`re doing really well right now. It`s been interesting. I`m kind of back practicing medicine like I was 14 or 15 months ago. The patients are back. They`re all sick with different stuff again. You know, at the end of last year, about half of the patients that I was seeing were COVID. And it was just the same thing over and over and over again. It feels like real emergency medicine.

We see a smattering of COVID. But right now, I remember the grave Indiana, our overall cases are down, a few 100 per week this week. On last week, we were at about 1,000 a day and now we`re in the 700 and I`m hoping that trend will continue as more and more people get vaccinated.

WILLIAMS: The CDC released a study today showing COVID spreads less in schools where teachers and staff wear masks. But I want to play for you what Randi Weingarten, who`s president of the largest teachers union in the country, said in response and then we`ll discuss this aspect on the other side.


RANDI WEINGARTEN, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS PRESIDENT: What we`ve just basically said to the CDC, is we don`t want to be the mask police. Please, give us some guidance that`s finished the school year this year safely, and we`ll figure it out. But don`t make us -- make it up as we go along.


WILLIAMS: So Doc, you have the great privilege of living in actual America. Your life is where the CDC and life in America intersect at the person-to- person level. What has the CDC done wrong in your view? What do they need to do going forward?

SAMPLE: Well, look, I think that this well was poisoned, the minute that it was dug, right? Starting back when COVID came out, there had been so many mixed messages. And we have gotten politicians mixed with scientists. And we know that people in general do not like uncertainty and they do not love change.

And as we have seen, recommendations change over time. People, in general, are seeing that as a sign that we really don`t know what we`re talking about. And so, then they just get to default to their own biases. And I agree with the lady just now, it is hard to make an individual teacher or an individual principal the gatekeeper, and the mask police, because that causes so much friction. Everybody`s seen the video clips on the internet.

I think going forward, when this happens again, not if, but when this happens again, we have got to learn some lessons about not only consistency, but explaining why and how we do things. We know that our recommendations are going to change, we need to let people know that up front. We learn as we go. And these mixed messages have just caused so much of the strife that we`re dealing with right now, I think.

WILLIAMS: Final question, where are you on the idea of vaccine mandates, may be vaccine passports, as they`ve been called, Washington Post, among others, is doing a lot of reporting on the frustration and confusion as employers and companies are struggling with this as everyone`s goal is to get back as the saying goes?

SAMPLE: Right. My take on that is not always the most popular take. When it comes to public health, I`m a fairly hardline, pro-vaccinator. You know, I see people talk about there`s no precedent for this, we don`t know what to do, but in reality there kind of is. You know, we`re operating under it in Emergency Use Authorization right now. But my hospital system, every hospital system that I`ve worked at in my career has required the flu shot under penalty of firing.

I`ve been in the military for 20 years. I get so many vaccines in my arms that I just do what they say, you line up (ph), you get the shot. My kid gets the -- she had to be vaccinated for meningitis for public health when she went to college. So to me, there`s a cost to live in society. I`m a freedom loving human. But I think that freedom means that you are free to go get your plot of land, you`re free to grow your own food, you`re free to kill your own meat. But if you want to interact with society, there is a cost.

And when your decisions can make me or mind sick, I think that there`s a price you pay to interact with the rest of us. And this is it. So, a lot of people will disagree with me and good people can but that`s my stance going forward.

WILLIAMS: Great point. By the way, Doc, I`m thrilled to hear the military has switched to shots in arms, because every World War II movie has them going in another place.

SAMPLE: I`ve had them everywhere, I think at this point.

WILLIAMS: Oh, boy. OK, we`re on the edge. It`s Friday night. Dr. Stephen Sample, thank you very much for joining us. Always a pleasure to have you take our questions. Greatly appreciate it.

SAMPLE: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, as we`ve been talking about tonight, as a truce is reached in the Middle East. The problem now is in some of our cities, and it stems from that same faraway conflict.


WILLIAMS: Welcome back, overseas while the fighting is suspended between Israel and Hamas, the U.S. has seen a disturbing rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Prominent Jewish organizations are calling on the White House to take action. NBC News Correspondent Stephanie Gosk has more on this uptick in violence that we have seen in U.S. cities.


STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last night in Times Square, police say a Jewish man was the victim of an alleged hate crime. This video appears to show the moment 29-year-old Joseph Borgen was attacked.

JOSEPH BORGEN, BRUTALLY BEATEN BY GROUP OF SUSPECTS IN MANHATTAN`S DIAMOND DISTRICT: I was surrounded by like a whole mob, crowd of people. They proceeded to, you know, obviously assault me, beat me, kick me, punch me, hit me with crutches.

GOSK (voice-over): One man is facing multiple charges including assault as a hate crime. The NYPD says it is looking for as many as six others. Borgen says they yelled anti-Semitic slurs while he was being beaten.

BORGEN: You`re dirty Jew, we`re going to kill you.

GOSK (voice-over): The assault took place as pro-Palestinian and pro- Israeli protesters confronted each other. In the days following the start of the reason violence in the Middle East, the Anti-Defamation League found more than 17,000 tweets with variations of the phrase, Hitler was right. In a survey, 63 percent of American Jews have experienced or witnessed anti- Semitism in the last five years, and more than half feel less safe.

On Tuesday, restaurant goers in Los Angeles were pelted with glass bottles, attacked by people waving Palestinian flags and yelling slurs against Jews. A conflict thousands of miles away triggering anti-Semitic violence on U.S. streets.

Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, New York.


WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, a possible new secret weapon in our effort to track down every bit of this virus. You may already have one of these possibly right next to you right now. We`ll tell you what it is when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, they work with our police, they jump out of helicopters with our military, they comfort those who are in prison, comfort those who have suffered a trauma they comfort the elderly in assisted living. They help our wounded veterans, they protect humans from a seizure (ph) before it arrives. Most of all, they love us unconditionally.

And this next story is about how dogs might be called upon to save us all. This is from the Reuters news agency out of Thailand.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These Labrador Retrievers have been officially deployed as Thailand`s newest alternative method to detect coronavirus in patients, even in those who are asymptomatic. Three of the six trained canines go through hundreds of sweat samples per day, including those from bedridden patients who can`t travel to get tested. Researchers at the Chulalongkorn University said COVID-19 patients secrete a volatile organic compound through their perspiration, which is a scent that dogs can detect, even if they don`t show obvious symptoms. Thitiwat Sirprasart is the co- researcher of the project.

THITIWAT SIRPRASART, CO-RESEARCHER (through translation): That very fast and specific with a success rate of over 90 percent which is very high. Secondly, the canines are very fast at screening. They can tell us which samples were infected or which ones are not. But this place, we`re able to isolate those whom we suspect to infected from those who are virus free. This will help to reduce the number of outbreaks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thailand is fighting its most severe outbreak yet, with cases could tripling and reported deaths increasing seven-fold since the start of April. Researchers are hopeful that these train dogs can be deployed to airports or piers (ph) since they will be much faster and more precise in detecting the virus than temperature checks.


WILLIAMS: So, a couple of questions arise from that report. First, no, you don`t often see a lavender blazer quite like that. Also, why aren`t there are sniffer cats? This is always a dicey topic, but someone said today cats are simply too busy sitting on top of the refrigerator and judging the rest of us. They have other stuff to do.

As to the age-old enduring question, who`s a good dog? That would be every dog who serves, every dog who has ever loved a human. We need them now more than ever. We learn that again tonight.

And so that is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week. With our thanks for being here with us, have a good weekend unless you have other plans. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.