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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 6/1/21

Guests: Jon Meacham


President Joe Biden marks 100 years since Tulsa race massacre. Biden warns of assault on voting rights. Biden pushes voting right bills. Texas Dems are fighting GOP`s restrictive voting bill. Feds will offer plea deals to some Capitol riot suspects. Biden and GOP are still negotiating on infrastructure. Trump and allies continue pushing election fraud lie. Democrat Melanie Stansbury has won the special election in New Mexico`s 1st district.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Democrats will now hold 220 seats in the House, Republicans 211 seats. This is the important number. The margin right now is 62 to 33 in this race, that`s a 29 point lead. Joe Biden won this district by 23 points.

Deb Haaland herself in the last election won it by only 16 points. I say only, that`s compared to the 29 point lead that the Democratic candidate has in that district at this point tonight. So that is a big win for the Democrats tonight. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again, day 133 of the Biden administration. And it comes as many across our country from the President on down are sounding the alarm about the future of our democracy, nothing less. This is happening just as we mark 100 years since the darkest moment in the history of an entire region that was covered up successfully for decades, a massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma that decimated a thriving black community.

Today, Biden became the first president to speak at the site of that attack. In his address, he linked it to what he says is a frontal assault on our right to vote.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: This sacred rite is under assault with incredible intensity like I`ve never seen. With an intensity of aggressiveness, we`ve not seen them a long, long time. It`s simply un- American. I urge voting rights groups in this country to begin to redouble their efforts now. Earlier this year, the House of Representative passed For the People Act to protect our democracy, the Senate will take it up later this month, and I`m going to fight like heck, with every tool in my disposable first passage. The House is also working in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which is critical, providing new legal tool to combat the new assault on the right to vote, to signify the importance of our efforts. Today I`m asking Vice President Harris to help these efforts and lead them among her many other responsibilities. With her leadership and your support, we`re going to overcome again.


WILLIAMS: President`s remarks come amid a wave of new voting restrictions and Republican controlled states as you know, and they come two days after Texas Democrats dramatic walkout intended to derail a Republican sponsor bill that would impose some of the toughest limits in our country on voting access. Think Jim Crow era America, Republicans who control the Texas Legislature plan to revive a bill in a special session, a moved back by the Republican governor. Democratic lawmakers say there may not be much more they can do here to resist.


JESSICA GONZALEZ, (D) TEXAS STAFF REPRESENTATIVE: We can only delay the bill for so long. We don`t have the luxury of being the majority in either chamber. And so, you know, really, you know, Democrats have done all that we can do.


WILLIAMS: Even as the President vows to fight to protect voting rights, he`s also trying to get a bipartisan deal to fund that infrastructure and jobs plan. Tomorrow he`ll resume talks with Senate Republicans. Right now they`re only about a trillion dollars apart.

Meanwhile, the administration is dealing with the second ransomware attack in less than a month in our country involving our critical supply chain. The target this time is a company called JBS. They happen to be the world`s largest meat processor. They happen to be the one -- number one beef supplier in our country. Company officials today told the White House the attack was an extortion attempt by a criminal group likely based in Russia. Earlier reports indicated most if not all of the company`s U.S. plants were shuttered. Tonight, the Associated Press reporting the company expects most of its operations to be back online tomorrow. One member of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned we`re still not taking these attacks seriously.


SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) MAINE: I can`t overstate how concerned I am. We keep having wake up calls and we keep not waking up. Now, it`s the food supply. A month ago it was fuels. It could be energy next, it could be transportation, it could be the financial sector. And we`ve really got to scale up our responses.


WILLIAMS: And there are new developments into the Justice Department investigation into the attack at our Capitol. This morning, federal prosecutors announced in court they`re going to start to make plea offers to some members of the oathkeepers, the right wing extremist militia that was among the biggest groups to storm the Capitol on that day. This comes just days after four more members of the oathkeepers were indicted for their roles in that day.

Amid all that, President Trump who urged his supporters to deny Joe Biden the presidency is apparently focused once again on spreading falsehoods about the election outcome. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman today posted this, "Trump has been telling a number of people he`s in contact with what he expects he will get reinstated by August." I botched that, "It isn`t happening in a vacuum. It is happening as he faced the possibility of an indictment from the Manhattan DA."

As you consider that you may recall it was exactly one year ago today that we had this Trump photo-op when he marched across Lafayette Square to St. John`s Church in fall authoritarian mode flanked by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in camo. Trump held up that Bible after police aggressively cleared away people that were protesting the murder of George Floyd.

Well, we`ve learned now one year later, the police through an attorney and a court filing said for the first time that tear gas was indeed used on the demonstrators that day, as they insisted it was.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night, Claire McCaskill, former Democratic Senator from the great State of Missouri, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and Moderator of Washington Week also on PBS, and Sam Stein, Veteran Journalist who is now White House Editor for Politico.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Senator, I`d like to start with you. I`m curious about the urgency, you must feel right now. And I`m curious if you think Joe Biden can ramp up the urgency in his statements and comments?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I think that what is going on at the state level, I mean, one of the dirty little secrets about our democracy is that so many of us don`t pay enough attention to what goes on in state legislative races. There`s a tendency, I think of many voters in this country to focus on maybe the governor, the U.S. Senator, certainly the presidential. But what is happening right now is a Petri dish of awful, of awful laws that are being designed to keep people from voting that are stripping away the power of duly elected officials that are supposed to be running our elections without fear or favor. So it is time, I think, for the President to ring the bell and say, listen, folks, this is now way more serious than whether or not we can get our bridges built. This is about our elections and making sure they still work for everybody in America. And I think what happened in Texas, what`s happening in Georgia, is the beginning of a trend of these Republican held legislatures that see this as their way forward. They don`t think they can win on the merits. They`ve got to figure out a way keep other people from voting that, no, they don`t have any merit.

WILLIAMS: Yamiche, to your beat, the President went there today, not just to Tulsa physically, but to Tulsa, the story from our history, the event in our history, talk about the deeper meaning of the visit, and the spotlight it put on that city and that massacre?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden was the first president in history, in U.S. history to go to Tulsa to mark the anniversary of this Tulsa race massacre. Estimates say that 300 black people were murdered, that so many other families were left homeless. He also made sure to point out that this was the first case where we saw planes used to bomb people in the United States, the domestic aerial attacks on the United States. I think that that`s really important history that we should all be thinking about. And it`s important to also say that this wasn`t just a race massacre in Tulsa. This happened in Florida. It happened in East St. Louis, it happened in Washington, D.C., where I am right now. And there`s real power in looking at the history of the way that black people in this country. Were not just terrorized, but also forcibly moved out of their neighborhoods, and generational wealth taken out of black Wall Street in other places.

I also think it`s important that the President decided to also talk about voting rights while he was doing this, the sacred duty of marking the centennial. He said that he was going to put Vice President Harris in charge of pushing back on these voter restriction laws. And I think there has to be a connection really made between what we saw and the sort of historical violence that black people have faced, and then you move forward with the death of George Floyd. And then you go through to these voting laws.

Now of course, Republicans tell me, including some I`ve interviewed say, of course, this is about voter integrity, but so many others, including the NAACP and civil rights activists, they say that these laws are really about targeting black people and their political power, much like Tulsa was targeting black people and their economic power. So this was a powerful moment today. There are still big questions that the Biden administration is not answering, including should there be reparations today, immediately, for the people who survived the massacre.

We have at least three survivors for my understanding, some of them are 107 years old, whose wealth was taken away from them, whose homes are taken away from them. Viola Fletcher who`s 107 says that she couldn`t go to grade school that she`s struggling financially right now. So there`s a big question about whether or not the President will back that so far, The White House says he backs the study of reparations. But the White House is not being clear about what could happen right now for the people that are suffering.

WILLIAMS: And indeed, to our audience, to underscore two things Yamiche just mentioned, turpentine bombs, homemade explosives were dropped from biplanes on American citizens, on black American citizens. Secondly, kudos to The Washington Post, among others, for a piece they`ve written, reminding people other acts in our history that have been glossed over or sanded down other massacres of black Americans through the years that everyone needs to know about.

Sam Stein, this White House came into power. Job, one, if you`d ask them then and many of us did was to slay a pandemic, as we`ve just seen from this holiday weekend, it appears the worst of it is behind us. What about communication messaging now for them going forward? Here we are talking about this urgent period in our American history for the first time, at a memorial day event, the President of the United States has declared that our very democracy is in peril.

SAM STEIN, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE EDITOR: Yeah, today was a very striking speech. I don`t recall. And I don`t think there has been a case in history where a president has been so blunt in a speech like that, about our country`s racial warts, I could be wrong. I don`t think our president has ever been done that aggressively about the issue of racial equity in a speech like that before, so it was a remarkable speech, I just think that`s worth underscoring.

To your point, with COVID knock on wood on the down slope, Biden does face a real choice here. I mean, obviously, he`s legislative focus right now is on getting an infrastructure bill. But in terms of prioritization, he`s facing a lot of pressures from different constituencies about what he should be leaning into. Of course, there`s the whole issue of the January 6 commission, voting rights legislation that`s happening across the country, in response to these restrictive laws in different states, the notion that democracy itself may be teetering, that we may be teetering towards autocracy and how he handles that what he juggles really may determine not just this year of his presidency, but the legacy he leaves behind. You know, there`s a few pressure points that he`s juggling specifically right now. One is, do you revisit the issue of the filibuster to get these things passed? It doesn`t matter if you put Kamala Harris, Vice President in charge of voting legislation, so long as there`s a 50 (ph) of partial, there`s not going to be legislation that moves through the Senate. So that`s one.

And then two is, do you look backwards or do you look forward? This was a question that Barack Obama confronted continuously through his presidency. He often chose to say, I`m going to look forwards, I`m not going to look, retrospectively and what happened during the Bush years. Biden has been different. Today`s speech was an indication that he`s fine and comfortable saying, look, we need to examine our history and all the baggage that comes with it. Will he do the same that things like the January 6 commission, will he make another aggressive emphasis do that and to tie it into a narrative that this is all about preserving democracy, if that`s his main focus, he might not get much legislative action, but he will please a huge swath of his party. And I think historians too.

WILLIAMS: Claire, I`m going to play for you a targeted bit from the President speech today, we`re playing this part for a reason that our discussion will make plain on the other side.


BIDEN: June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill. I hear all the folks on TV saying why don`t Biden get this done? Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends. But we`re not giving up.


WILLIAMS: So Claire, our friend Sam went to Dartmouth. He`s classy enough to say at this way, the pressures on the president from various constituencies. Put less classily, a lot of people would like to see him start throwing punches kicking ass and taking names. A lot of people would like to see him start to say, to the vote of West Virginia, you want roads and bridges, how about we start with your basic right to vote. Ditto, hey, you folks in Arizona, you want roads and bridges? Let`s talk about your right to vote. Claire, does he need to do more of that?

MCCASKILL: Well, first, in fairness, I would think it`s important to point out that Kyrsten Sinema is a co-sponsor of this legislation, and she supports it. The only outlier here right now is, in fact, my friend Joe Manchin, who has said there parts of the bill he doesn`t like, but you know what, Brian Joe Manchin was Secretary of State of West Virginia. He understands what that job is. And what these state legislatures are doing is they`re trying to strip the secretaries of state in their respective jurisdictions of their power to administer elections, that oath to wake up Joe Manchin, that this is very serious, this is a civil rights issue. And I`m hopeful that the pressure that will be brought to bear naturally, if he is the only one, that will not go along with some kind of adjustment in the filibuster to allow this type of legislation to move forward. I`m hopeful that his experience and administering elections will ultimately and the pressure from his constituents will ultimately prevail.

WILLIAMS: Yamiche, it`s become rather fashionable in our business to say these next three months will determine the ballgame for the Biden presidency. While it may be a bit of an overstatement, does it have the added advantage of being at least partly correct?

ALCINDOR: I think it does. When you look at the legislative calendar, and you look at some of the deadlines that are set, there`s this feeling, at least based on the conversations I`ve had with White House officials, that early June is around the deadline where Democrats are going to have to say, do we go it alone? Or do we try to pass whatever we can with the Republicans, then you of course, have policing reform. Tim Scott has been very open that it`s June or bust when it comes to whether or not there could be some sort of deal on that. There`s a number of other issues, including the -- that are going to come up this summer, including the -- whether or not Democrats kind of go for a select committee to try to investigate the capital insurrection. So this is going to be a very, very busy summer.

Some -- I know a lot of journalists like me are looking at going on vacation, but we`re going to be very busy. Because Democrats know that when 2022 around the corner, they have a very finite amount of time to do things. And they have a base that is looking at the Republican Party that is leaning in on Trump that is going at for almost every single bill that they want that is going after all these different voting laws, and they`re looking at Democrats and saying what are we going to be doing? How are we going to make sure that we use all the power that we have to pass the things that are important to us? So I think this is going to be a very busy summer. I will also say I think something that sticks with me from the President`s speech. He said that nations, great nations, they come to terms with a dark parts of their history, I think this summer is going to be a lot of that, it`s going to be a lot of our nation asking itself, what do we want this democracy to look like? Do we -- are we okay and comfortable with some of the things that happened in our past? And how are we going to reckon with that? And how is that going to influence the legislative decisions, the political decisions, the financial decisions that lawmakers make in the next few months?

WILLIAMS: Let me underscore as much as you do deserve a vacation, you did just take on a second job, just pointing that out on behalf of our viewers.

Hey, Sam, talk about your latest reporting on the Republican Party`s lost generation, what does that mean?

STEIN: Well, you know, with Donald Trump lingering on the political landscape, not willing to show his hand about 2024, but indicating that he will run essentially what`s happened and we talked to over 20 Republicans, top Republicans for this piece is that he`s frozen the party in place. And he`s convinced a good swath of it, not the majority of them by any stretch, but a good swath of it, that there`s not really a future for them in there. That means that they`re either leaving the party like you saw with a number of members of Congress, or they`re dissuaded from running in the first place. And operatives say this is having a profound impact up and down, the party ranks. People who would run for, you know, county commissioner saying, no, thank you. I don`t want to be part of this millennium.

You see Nikki Haley saying things like I`m going to wait to decide whether to run for president based on what Trump does first. Parties go through this stuff before, there was a lot of anguish in the Democrats, among Democrats after Barack Obama`s presidency that he didn`t leave a big enough bench. But this is different. Obama receded from the political scene. New leaders came in rose in this place. Trump`s not doing that, he`s sticking around and he`s changing the direction the party and causing what people are calling a brain drain or a talent drain from its ranks. We`ll see how what the impact is done. The road but for now it`s a much more homogenous party with a lot less youth and perhaps a lot less talent.

WILLIAMS: We can sure see it on a daily basis. It`s a great piece putting it all in perspective. We are much obliged to our big three tonight, all of them friends of this broadcast, Claire McCaskill, Yamiche Alcindor, and Sam Stein our great thanks for starting off our conversation.

Coming up for us this evening, more dangerous conspiracy theories, even a call for a military coup now and then swirling around this twice impeach Florida retiree and his supporters.

And later, what happened on this day seven decades ago in the halls of our Congress. That could be an important lesson for lawmakers today. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author Jon Meacham, standing by to join us to talk about it all, all of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Tuesday evening.



SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: It should be that he can simply be reinstated that a new inauguration data set. And Biden is sold to move out of the White House. And President Trump should be moved back in.


WILLIAMS: First of all that woman`s a lawyer. Second of all, she`s a former Trump Campaign Attorney. Now the twice impeached Florida retiree is reportedly telling people his reinstatement is eminent as he prepares to return to the campaign trail.

On Saturday Trump gives the keynote at the North Carolina State GOP convention which promises to be a wingding. The big lie tour continues in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama.

For more we welcome back tonight, Juanita Tolliver, Veteran Political Strategist to progressive candidates and causes and Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker Politico Veteran of the Reagan, Bush administration`s, editor-at-large at the Bulwark.

So Juanita, first of all, Sidney Powell continues to make the University of North Carolina Law School so proud, I`m guessing. If Trump`s going back on the road, is that worst news for Republicans or Democrats?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I feel like it`s absolutely worse news for Republicans. Because what they`ve benefited from is him being out of the spotlight, as we know, a reasonably questionable blogger at this stage, and also potentially facing indictments. So, him being out on the trail is absolutely something that they`re going to have to respond to and confront, because they`re still trying to attract the same base that we know Trump goes out and rounds up at every single rally or event that he`s ever held. And when I look at the statements from Powell or other people at the QAnon event, which let`s be real, as identified as a domestic terrorist organization, it`s like they`re trying to roll out the carpet for Trump. It`s like they`re trying to lay the landing strip for him to come on in, pick up that same drumbeat, pick up that same message about the big lie and again continue to do damage to our democracy.

WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol, I had this conversation with Michael Beschloss last night, I tried to grow up a patriotic kid who paid attention. So when our president spoke at major events, like Arlington on Memorial Day, I tried as best I could to pay attention. Nowhere in my memory, can I remember an American president warning during those remarks, that our democracy is in peril, your thoughts on the subject?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: And I thought, President Biden`s speech, I actually do watch it myself, was quite eloquent and powerful yesterday, but the more personal parts of the memorial, parts if I can put it that way, but also the warning, and the warning is real. I mean, you can -- one can laugh a little bit at the lunacy that surrounds Trump, Trump`s supporters and the coup and the, you know, the crazy Arizona recount and all but it`s all -- it`s not simply backward looking nostalgic craziness, right? If Trump had retired and was sitting around being kind of a crackpot ex-president with a few hangers on echoing him, that would be one thing. He is the leader of the Republican Party. He`ll be speaking I think at the North Carolina Republican convention, you said this weekend he`s a Republican, which he was deposed in the House number three, as the number three House Republican because she thought we should look into January 6, which Trump, his supporters didn`t want to. So it`s -- the election lies being propagated. Republicans are rolling back voting rights in Texas and Arizona trying to, and Georgia, major states. So this is a -- it`s a live problem. It`s a forward looking problem. It`s not simply something to look at and say, well, gee, it`s kind of unfortunate that we have this ex- president who`s not behaving very well.

WILLIAMS: And do you concur with Juanita that Republicans have way more to worry about with this guy back out on the road?

TOLLIVER: I mean, I think, I personally think so. But I, you know, I worried to 2020 was in close election, the Republicans picked up House seats. They`re getting away so far, but the voting, some of the voting suppression is unclear whether the courts will let it stand, they`re going to do redistricting, unless the Democrats can pass something pretty quickly to enforce, to require neutral, we just think commissions, which looks unlikely that it can get passed in time to affect 2022. So I, you know, in adjust world, the Republicans pay a price for the incredible accommodation and enabling of Donald Trump. And voters would shy away from this. And I think there`s some evidence, some voters are shying away from it. But, you know, if there`s a recession, if things happen to go wrong in the world for reasons beyond Joe Biden`s control, could Republicans went one or both houses in 2022? Could Trump be competitive in 2024? The answer is yes.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, both of these guests are staying with us. And here`s why the urgency just ahead. We`ll talk about the facts that there are 75 weeks to go until Election Day 2020. Ask why people hate the media and stats like that. What the Democrats are doing right, doing wrong, ahead of that critical vote. We`ll get an update on the congressional election tonight as well.


WILLIAMS: As we said, we`re tracking this important special election tonight, New Mexico`s first congressional district. This is the seat that`s been open since March when Deb Haaland was confirmed as our Interior Secretary, it also gives us an excuse to talk to our friend Steve Kornacki. And go back to the big board tonight.

Steve, not only should this have been a layup for the Democrats, it was a layup for the Democrats.

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was Brian and I thank you for having me on here. Great to be back at the big board on an election night. And I have to say, it isn`t a shock that the Democrat Melanie Stansbury has won this election.

But I do think the margin you`re seeing here qualifies as a bit of a surprise. What you`re seeing right now is stands very ahead by 28 points over republican Mark Moore`s obviously, she`s going to be the winner of this race.

This all the votes you`re seeing here account for close to 80 percent of all the votes that are out there. So, the number is going to come down a little bit. The remaining votes that remaining 20 or so percent are the Election Day votes. They were cast today, that`s been a more Republican friendly group. So look for this number to come down.

But the indications we`re getting not going to come down that dramatically. And here are the two benchmarks that to be keeping in mind. Number one is this, Joe Biden`s margin in this district, Joe Biden carried it by 23 points back in November. The other one, the name you just mentioned, Deb Haaland, who was running for reelection last November, she carried it by 16 points.

The name of the game for Republicans, they didn`t think they were probably going to win this election. They thought they could cut into both of these margins. They thought maybe they could get this into a single digit race as a show of strength, as a talking point that they were poised for something big in the midterms.

Right now, again, it`s sitting at 28. I think it`s going to come down. It is plausible, Brian, from this vantage point that this margin could end up being above the 23 points that Joe Biden carried the district by.

So when I say it might be a little bit of a surprise, yes, I think we expected Democrats to win a in there sort of find this to dreams, they would get close to 20. They may end up well over 20 in this race.

WILLIAMS: Steve Kornacki at the big board with the race tonight in New Mexico, man, it`s good to see you whatever the subject, thank you very much for stand up and joining us tonight on the 11th Hour.

Back to our guests Juanita Tolliver and Bill Kristol. OK, Bill, let`s decide that the first district New Mexico is not an indicator or a driver of other numbers. What are your general predictions going into 2022?

KRISTOL: It just really was a good -- it was a good job by the Democrats. And that means something the Republican candidate tried to play the defund the police card, which James Carville said months ago and I`ve seen this myself in some of the private polling really hurt democratic congressional candidates in 2020. The Democrats may have learned to counter the defund the police charge a little bit better than they did a year ago. So that`s one interesting thing going forward.

Melanie Stansbury was the more moderate generally thought to be the more centrist of the two Democrats who competed for the nomination, she narrowly got the nomination. She seems to run a strong race here (inaudible). I think that might help the argument for centrist Democrats that you know what, this going to be as a close election, the natural tendency in the off year goes for the Republicans, that`s not take risks and nominate two progressive candidates, especially in districts that are more purple. And that, you know, could go the other way. This one probably couldn`t.

But the margin shows the Morehead one some of our some voters who didn`t -- apparently didn`t vote for Biden, right, if she ever forced Biden and certainly outperforms Halland, as suggest she won some Republican or independent voters.

Terry McAuliffe probably going to win in a week, the Virginia GOP gubernatorial nomination, he`s among the most moderate of the candidates in the field. Looks like the New York City mayoral race might be one of the Democratic primary may go to one of the two or three more moderate candidates.

So I think there`s a little more -- the progress has got a lot of publicity. But I think there`s a little more appetite among Democrats for centrist candidates who can win, then people sometimes say.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Juanita, let`s back up all of eight or nine hours, as I said earlier, where Tulsa is concerned, Joe Biden went there today, not just geographically, but he went there concerning that event in our American history. How do you view it? Was that a start? Was it a victory?

TOLLIVER: It absolutely just a start, Brian, it`s a start, because it`s still been 100 years. And the survivors, their families, their descendants have not been compensated have not been fully recognized it before this moment, and the fact that you had survivors just testifying on the Hill maybe a week ago. That`s the first time many Americans are hearing that story. That`s the first time people are coming to terms with one of many massacres targeting black communities after, like, during have them across the country, there`s so much more work to be done here.

And I do want to commend Biden for naming that, like he named the eraser. He names what most white Americans in this country have yet to accept in the fact that our history is ugly, our history was violent toward black people. But that is still very much American history.

And when that comes as part of this conversation that`s continuing to consume the country around the 1619 project, accepting ugly history is something that we need to do as a nation, and responding to the impact of that ugly history is something that still needs to be done.

And so I say it`s the start because yes, his plans to address wealth inequality nationally as a systemic issue are important. But even more so is some recognition, some reparations, some type of restitution for the families of the survivors. 100 years later.

WILLIAMS: We`re grateful to have you both on with us tonight. Juanita Tolliver, Bill Kristol, as always our thanks.

Coming up for us, he says the roots of the insurrection we witnessed run deep. The historian and author, Jon Meacham, standing by to talk with us next.


WILLIAMS: While republicans coalesce behind one Donald Trump and the rewriting of January 6. Historian Michael Beschloss reminds us this quote, against the rise of Joseph McCarthy, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, Republican of Maine and the only woman in the U.S. Senate said today in 1950, quote, I do not want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Columny -- fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear.

Back with us again tonight, Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winning author, presidential historian and the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt. He occasionally advises our current president on historical matters and major speeches. He also has a new podcast of note to all of our viewers, Fate of Fact, looking back through history at times when fear conquered truth.

Jon, it`s great to have you it`s fitting that our mutual friend Mr. Beschloss gave us the fodder for this particular conversation. But where in our times is our Margaret Chase Smith, do you see her out there?

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, you have a few candidates. You have an aspiring Mitt Romney to fill that role. And I hope that it`s a catch up hope this is one virus that spreads the notion that, in fact, a devotion to conscience and to the Constitution is what will have us talking about you in 70 years.

We`re not sitting here praising Joe McCarthy. We`re sitting here talking about a very brave woman who stood up in 1950, four years before Joe McCarthy was censured by the United States Senate, two years before Dwight Eisenhower was going to say something against McCarthy and was talked out of it during the 1952 campaign.

And it was Senator Smith, who was right. And she was right early. McCarthy had wrote -- his escalator ride was in Wheeling, West Virginia, and on Lincoln`s birthday, February 12, 1950. He gave a speech to the Republican women of West Virginia, at the Hotel Mclr, I think it was, and he said I, you know, the 205 communists have infiltrated the state have -- infiltrated the State Department and this is a conspiracy laments that it boggles the mind.

In that, he was playing to cold war fears. He was also tapping into a deep American tradition of populist anxiety and conspiracy thinking. The difference between then and now is that the conspiracy thinking used to be something you could isolate and look at as a political phenomena. What has happened today is that 55 to 60 percent of one of the two major parties believes a lie of McCarthyite dimensions, which is about the stolen election, which is about distrust. It`s about discrediting the Constitution, which was an attempt to be the means to the end, ultimately, of the Declaration of Independence.

The entire ethos of a democratic experiment that however flawed in the beginning, however flawed today continues if we have the right dispositions of heart and mind to evolve in the right direction. That experiment is at risk, because there aren`t enough senator Smith`s and there are too many McCarthy`s.

WILLIAMS: You just set us up so well for our next bit of conversation. Right after this quick break. Jon has graciously agreed to stay with us. And when we come back he`ll do what he does best and that is leave us hope for what`s to come at least he better or we`ll never have (INAUDIBLE) again



MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Anything that happened post January 6 is on the hand of those individuals not only named by the folks who just listed, you know, Proud Boys, whomever, but the members of Congress who had perpetuated this. This is an underground thing that`s becoming commonplace.


WILLIAMS: Our friend Jon Meacham is still with us. Jon, let`s count it up over the weekend we had a former flag officer of the U.S. military advocating a military coup, and then telling us he didn`t say what we heard him say. You had Sidney Powell, president`s former campaign lawyer, saying that the President could be reinstated. I hope when you and Beschloss write your books about this period, you give the Russians their due, because in our time of social media, they certainly are right there with an assist all the way through for at least the last five years.

But as much in the firmament of the Republican Party, as the conspiracy theories are now and you drew the comparison to the McCarthy era, how do we then get and I`ll give you the title for your next podcast series, from here to hope.

MEACHAM: Well, it begins with these kinds of conversations and not to be solved cystic about. It just requires the 81 million people who voted for the president, it requires the people who believe that in a democracy, you go to the people, you make a case, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, it`s fine to be a 51-49 nation, as long as the 49 acknowledged that the 51 actually carried the day. And then you go back, and you try to fight it out again.

That presumes, however, that politics is a mediation of differences, and not a perpetual Armageddon, where you have one side, and is this is not a both sides thing. This is a problem with the Republican Party. And this is the party that was ultimately of Lincoln and Reagan and Eisenhower in the Bushes. And they -- there are many people who have many objections to those figures.

But it was a rational actor within the constitutional system. Right now it`s. And your own foreign policy speak, you always try to figure out is there a rational actor in a negotiation? Right now, there`s not a rational actor. The Republican Party is not acting in a rational way.

So what do you do? You make the case, right? And the case I would make is that conservatives say they love history. So let`s talk about history, the history of the United States. The reason this, I believe, continues to be an experiment worth defending is because it has been devoted to an idea that in fact, we are all created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. And we adjudicate our differences. We struggle, we, in the words of theater, Parker, adopted by Dr. King, we try to bend the arc of a moral universe toward justice. Sometimes it bends toward justice, sometimes it doesn`t.

And it only bends toward justice, when we have more people like Margaret Chase Smith, and fewer people like Joe McCarthy, and more people like John Lewis, and fewer people like Bull Connor. And that`s -- the only way a democracy ships is, A, people argue for the truth. And B, everybody accepts the rules, we can control the first we can tell the truth. Getting folks to obey the rules has to be the focus, I think of the next two years, heading into what could be a very chaotic 2024 election.

And if you`re a conservative, and you think that by supporting this Trump fed worldview, where it doesn`t matter, really who wins, I should win and therefore I`m going to rip apart the system. You are acting a historically, you are not acting within the best traditions of the United States. You are in fact, supporting the kind of system that we have projected power again and again, abroad to defeat that is now the enemy here and it`s what we have to fight.

WILLIAMS: Ladies and gentlemen, that`s why we buy the books and tune in and listen to the podcast. That`s my friend Jon Meacham, who`s been our guest again tonight. Friend, thank you very much for sharing that with us and with our viewers.

Coming up for us the trouble with Democrats, according to a Democrat in the trenches.


WILLIAMS: And it`s true that the Democrats modern image of Ernest Prius, driving recycling and whole food enthusiasts wearing sensible shoes is no match for the straight up killers in the other party. A lot of Democrats in fact fear their party and their leaders are getting played getting rolled and they have no clue how to use the power they have.

James Carville has been tough on his party for its purity testing and its preferred language which is not spoken in most of our country. And today on a podcast it was Fred Wellman, 22-year military veteran West Point graduate with a Harvard degree. He`s the executive director of the Lincoln project and don`t talk to him about normal.


FRED WELLMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: So many of us are in a state of knowledge want to go back to normal, right. Like our even look at the media and I love the media. But the political media is challenging. They keep -- they want to go back to the norm. Of course, there`s both sides. Sure Trump did these horrible things. But Joe Biden flies went to Delaware every weekend. So clearly the same, you know, I mean, it`s just the -- that`s return -- they want to go back to normal. They don`t want to say, well, that guy was lying who skipped a little world as farmers.

But gosh, you know, Vice President Harris said, have a good long weekend like same thing. Is this desire to go to a norm that is normal. So we as Americans just simply don`t see it. We don`t see that so much of what we believe in is lying on this fake facade of normalcy.

So let`s get back to normal, like -- let`s get -- and that`s and that`s one of the frustrations we have with our colleagues in the Democrat. I have -- I can`t say we won`t speak but I have with our colleagues in the Democratic Party, the leadership. I`ve been very harsh last week. I`m still a Democrat. I am a registered Democrat. I vote Democrat here in Virginia.

But I`m frustrated because they are still trying to fight the last war, right. We do this. You know, they still think well, we`ll just go back to normal and we`ll do great policies, and we`ll have votes, it`s going to be fine. It`s like, no normal gone, guys. There is no normal. There was normal stopped when that giant jack came down the escalator to announce his candidacy.


WILLIAMS: Fred Wellman on the MeidasTouch podcast to take us off the air tonight with a few beeps along the way. And so that is our broadcast for this Tuesday evening with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.