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

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

Guests: CK Hoffler, David Plouffe

Summary

Senate will start voting rights bill debate tomorrow. Voting rights bill will unlikely get any GOP support. President Joe Biden and Senator Joe Manchin meet at the White House. Biden meets with Kyrsten Sinema on infrastructure. Biden hopes to reach bipartisan police reform deal. DOJ releases more Capitol insurrection video. Ron DeSantis beat out former President Donald Trump in an approval straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit. The highly transmissible Delta COVID variant, first discovered in India, could present challenges to U.S. schools this fall given lower vaccination rates among children. The Supreme Court Monday ruled by a 9-0 margin to affirm a decision that allows a pathway for NCAA student-athletes to be compensated by schools.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And so we look forward to Matthew`s travel pictures this summer without any masks on. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, once again, I`m Chris Jansing in for Brian Williams. Day 153 of the Biden administration. It`s the opening to what looks to be a crucial week for the President`s domestic agenda. Tomorrow, the Senate is expected to begin debating a bill that would enact some of the broadest voting rights reforms in a generation. Democrats plan to call a test vote to try to advance the S1 or the For the People Act, which they say is the party`s best chance to undo Republican efforts to pass restrictive new voting laws in the states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It`s a vote on whether the Senate should simply debate the issue of vote voting rights, the crucial issue of voting rights in this country. We shouldn`t have to debate the voting rights -- we shouldn`t have to debate voting rights on the floor of the United States Senate. These rights should be sacrosanct. But the events of the last few months compel us to have this debate now. I challenge you, Republican senators come to the floor, defend these policies. Tell us how they secure the vote. Tell us how they prevent nearly non-existent voter fraud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Well, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has all but promised no Republicans will vote to advance the bill. That means it will likely fail short, fall short of the three-fifths of senators needed to overcome a filibuster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): For Senate Democrats to enter June with an agenda that was designed to fail, the Democratic Leader plan votes on a host of the left`s most radical priorities. And then one particular radical proposal took priority, S1 is the same bad bill. It`s been since the House introduced its version back in 2019, with the same nakedly partisan motives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: So tomorrow`s vote is now basically a show of unity for Senate Democrats. This afternoon, West Virginia`s Democratic Senator Manchin, who`s pushing for his own version of the voting rights bill sat down with Joe Biden at the White House. More on that in just a moment.

The President is also trying to move the ball forward on his ambitious infrastructure and jobs proposal. Today Biden also met with Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema, one of the members of the bipartisan group of 21 senators who have been working on their own version of a bill.

The White House says Biden plans to meet this week with other members of the group.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He`s ready to roll up his sleeves ready, the door to the Oval Office is always open. And he`ll be deeply involved and engaged in this negotiations over the coming days.

He does not feel the time is unlimited. And he would like -- it is not weeks in his view in terms of moving forward and seeing if there`s an a bipartisan path forward. So that is why he`s eager to have these meetings and discussions and see what it looks like, see if he can address some of the questions he has about these this proposal. And certainly he`d like to move forward sooner rather than later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: The administration is also looking for a deal on police reform bill. It`s being negotiated in the Senate by Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina and Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TIM SCOTT, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: There`s no reason not to be optimistic but certainly will be helpful to see some progress between now and tomorrow, Wednesday so. We are in the process of allowing our law enforcement groups to engage and to communicate back. We`re making progress actually now, we`re pretty close to being able to get all these things on same page.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Just tonight, the Justice Department has released new video of rioters breaching a barricade outside the Capitol on January 6. The government says the video is evidence in a case against members of the Proud Boys.

We`re also learning more about the FBI`s handling of intelligence leading up to the riot. NBC News reports, "The FBI director and other senior officials have consistently downplayed the intelligence value of social media posts by Trump supporters prior to the January 6 Capital riot, suggesting the bureau had no actionable warning the Capitol would be targeted by a mob. But according to a document entered into court records last week, an FBI agent acknowledged in February investigative report that angry Trump`s supporters were talking openly in the days before the riot about bringing guns to the Capitol to start a revolution.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Trump and his company CFO Allen Weisselberg, are staying close. The Manhattan DA`s office has been focusing on Weisselberg as it tries to build a case against the Trump Organization. Here`s what we heard from Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: He`s been with Trump for 30, 40 something years and he doesn`t seem to be breaking away from him now. If Trump is charged, certainly he`s going to fall back on that defense. I was just doing what my accountants and lawyers told me to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: The Wall Street Journal reports, the Manhattan DA is investigating another Trump Organization Executive Matthew Calamari for allegedly receiving tax free company benefits. Matthew Calamari was once Trump`s bodyguard. The Wall Street Journal reports prosecutors have told him and his son that they should hire their own lawyers. They had been represented by a lawyer who also represented other Trump Organization employees.

Meanwhile, the former president`s company is now taking New York City to court, accusing the city of canceling a lucrative golf course contract for political reasons after the capital riot.

We`re also learning more details tonight about Donald Trump during those early days of the pandemic. This new portrait of the Trump administration`s response comes in a book from two Washington Post reporters titled, Nightmare Scenario. The book details some initial conversations about COVID impact as told by staffers and government leaders, including one conversation in February 2020 when White House officials debated whether to bring infected Americans home, and Trump suggested they could be quarantined at Guantanamo Bay. You may recall that in February 2020, Trump also admitted this to veteran journalist Bob Woodward

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: It`s also more deadly than your, you know, even your strenuous flus.

This is more deadly, this is five per -- you know, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent. You know, this is deadly stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Monday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, Julie Pace, Washington Bureau Chief and Assistant Managing Editor for The Associated Press, and Veteran Attorney CK Hoffler, she`s CEO of the CK Hoffler firm in Atlanta, which deals with civil rights litigation. She`s counseled to Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and president of the National Bar Association, the country`s oldest network of predominantly black judges and attorneys.

Good to see you all on this Monday night. Julie Pace, it seems to me not insignificant that the President met with senators Manchin and Sinema, should we read something into it? What does it tell us?

JULIE PACE, AP ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Oh, I think it`s very significant that those are two of the senators that he met with today, because they are so crucial to his ability to get all of these legislative priorities through infrastructure, voting rights, this really hinges on his ability, not just to forge a bipartisan coalition, which is certainly what he`s aiming for in some of these instances, but to keep his Democratic Party together, and Manchin, Sinema have been very clear that both on the details of the legislation, but also the mechanisms by which some of that legislation could get through Congress, mainly the filibuster, but they`re going to hold a pretty hard line here that they`re not willing to go as far as a lot of progressives are pushing. And so Biden needs to find a way to get them on board. And I think it`s really still an open question, particularly on infrastructure, and some of the processes here on where they`re going to fall.

JANSING: Yeah. And Ashley, is the president stepped up involvement, a kind of acknowledgment that whatever political capital any new president has, it has a time limit. How critical are the days and weeks ahead for Biden`s presidency?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: They`re incredibly important, right? He just got back from his first foreign trip. He`s going to be in the country for a while, as we all know, 2022 the midterms ramp up stunning, the early and this is not just important for policy, but it`s important for this presidency writ large and his ability to do some of those campaign promises, and to try to keep a pretty restive democratic office together to these the progressive and also as Julie was just mentioning, both some of the far more moderate Democrats like senators Manchin, Sinema. So on all of these police reform, certainly voting rights, first and foremost among (inaudible) how involved he is and also what results are kind of important.

JANSING: Well, let me ask you, CK, about voting rights, because if For The People Act doesn`t pass, are we just back to a series of state by state court battles, dragging out and potentially dragging under voting rights?

CK HOFFLER, VETERAN ATTORNEY: Absolutely. I mean, if the Voting Rights Act does not pass, if they`re not able to pass some significant verse, and then it`ll be up to the states to really implement the mechanisms to -- for voters. And that`s very, very dangerous. We have in so many states, these voter suppression laws like where I am right now, and Georgia, and it`s detrimental to the voters, these voter suppression laws are detrimental. They really, really impede people`s right to vote. They`re draconian. And if there is no federal law that`s comprehensive, it will definitely set democracy behind and people`s right to vote. And that would be a travesty. So many people have died for the right to vote, so it would be awful.

JANSING: And all the questions revolving around how does Joe Biden get there, Julie, Senator Kyrsten Sinema wrote for The Washington Post tonight, "My support for retaining the 60 vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles." I wonder if there are more Democrats who believe that but don`t say it out loud. Tell me what your take on that is?

PACE: I think there definitely are Democrats who are very happy to let Sinema and Manchin essentially be the face of the opposition to changing the filibuster. But they`re also uncomfortable with this. And it`s not so much just the idea of the Senate as an institution and the importance of protecting that. It`s they think through what would happen if Republicans were in control, had the majority and didn`t have a filibuster. And Sinema even cite some of those examples, moments where she thinks the filibuster would need to be in place in order to protect abortion rights in order to be able to, you know, protect rollbacks on climate change and environmental policy.

And so Democrats -- some of these Democrats, like Sinema and Manchin are just urging some members of their party to think about this, not just as what is important to them in this moment, but what could be important to them down the road if the majority looks far different than it does today.

JANSING: And then Ashley Parker, there`s another big piece of legislation. I want to play what Senator Ed Markey had to say about infrastructure today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ED MARKEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: As I hear it thus far, I have not heard language that talks about environmental justice, dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, creating millions of new union jobs. I cannot support a deal that does not have a climate at its center. No climate no deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Well, that`s clear, actually. So bring it up today about the bill in general, but also how big a role progressives now have?

PARKER: Well, therein lies the challenge, the White House and Jen Psaki today even said that they personally have never believed the infrastructure was necessarily a one-step thing, right, which seems to hold up the hope for maybe this deal of Democrats or Republicans, that is hard infrastructure, bridges and roads, maybe getting through and then a broader build a progressive to include in all of their priorities for a much higher price tag on a second shot. But that does not stick into a (inaudible) like Ed Markey and other progressive and sort of will not necessarily vote for that first package, unless they feel confident that the second package with their real priorities are in there. And that includes climate change, as he mentioned, that includes, you know, sort of the what they call infrastructure, eldercare and healthcare, the things that allow people to go to work, because they`re not worried about an elderly parent, for what they`re going to do with their toddler, and also how to pay for it. There`s a practical debate on how to pay for it, then you also have progressives who want to use this opportunity to raise taxes on the wealthy and believe that is also a moral imperative. And they use this opportunity to do so. So this one two step is much more complicated, because they`re really getting into yang and in some ways I can support for one without the other.

JANSING: So by any stretch of the imagination, a very full agenda in Washington, but I want to move it to New York now. And CK, I wonder where you make this reporting that the former guy, Donald Trump and the CFO are staying close, and that another executive is under scrutiny?

HOFFLER: Well, I think the former president needs to be very, very concerned, because you`ve got the Manhattan district attorney as well as the Attorney General of New York, who are pretty much joining forces from their different vantage points, and are looking into possibly significant financial crimes by the former president and his support team including body guards. So when you now extended from the CFO and people in his immediate circle, high ranking people to his bodyguards and I`m not saying that they`re low ranking but people who are in a different roles, certainly getting tax free advantages, getting housing, getting apartments getting benefits, I think that he really, really has much to be concerned with, as are the people around him. And in fact, they`ve all been advised to seek their own counsel.

JANSING: But do they CK -- do those prosecutors need Weisselberg to flip? And what about what David Fahrenthold said that you`ve got somebody who has been extremely loyal to Donald Trump for 30, 40 years in addition to which Donald Trump is widely known for not using email, that`s not going to be a source of information for them. And he does seem to always sort of operate in a plausible deniability arena. Oh, I turn that over to him.

HOFFLER: Absolutely, I think it would be critical for him to flip for this reason. I mean, he has -- he`s worked with him for many years, he knows where all the bodies are buried. And that`s going to be critical for the case that`s being made out against the former president. But I do think the lower -- there`s low hanging fruit, too, there are a lot of people who are receiving a lot of pressure, feel a lot of pressure to do the right thing and to just be truth until and say what happened. And so I think the President has a big problem on his hands, because you`ve got the district attorney and the New York Attorney General, that are pursuing cases against them, one from a criminal standpoint, and one from a civil.

JANSING: And to that point, Julie, I wonder if you`re hearing anything out of Trump world about them, are they feeling nervous about this? The direction the Manhattan DA is taking now extended to the bodyguard. What are you hearing?

PACE: There`s certainly some anxiety in Trump world, certainly just because of the fact that the DA is being so aggressive and that you are seeing people who are just close to Donald Trump, people who have been around him for years, who know a lot about his business operations a lot about his personal life, who are now having to get lawyers, who are now actively have been under the microscope and these investigations and we just don`t know in those situations where these things ultimately leave. And so yes, does the President`s eyes his potential political future, as he eyes his financial future. He is definitely keeping an eye on the investigations in New York as well.

JANSING: Are we looking at some things, CK, here that is going to be a ways off? Do you see either they`re going to find something or they`re not? Is this something that you`re looking to see some activity this summer? Tell me how you view the status of the case right now.

HOFFLER: I`ve tested the case that it`s obviously -- it`s evolving everyday but I think something immediate is going to happen. Both the district attorney and the Attorney General are very aggressive, very thorough, very tenacious, and they believe that there`s been financial wrongdoing and perhaps corruption. So they are not going to stop until they get to the bottom of it. So I think again, the President has a lot to be concerned about.

JANSING: CK Hoffler, Julie Pace, Ashley Parker, stellar group to get started on this Monday. Thank you.

And coming up, strong words from former President Barack Obama on Republican efforts to think voting rights legislation.

And later, there are important signs of progress in the fight against COVID-19. But officials are still concerned about new variants and low vaccination rates in some areas. The 11th Hour just getting underway on a Monday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) U.S. FORMER PRESIDENT: In the aftermath of an insurrection with our democracy on the line, and many of the same Republican senators going along with the notion that somehow there were irregularities and problems with legitimacy in our most recent election. They`re suddenly afraid to even talk about these issues and figure out solutions on the floor of the Senate. They don`t even want to talk about voting. And that`s not acceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Former President Obama among the Democrats rallying around Senator Joe Manchin`s voting rights bill compromise, yet despite concessions to the GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised zero Republican support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCONNELL: We`re starting to see that our colleague`s latest rationale for S1 can be flexible when needed. Prominent Democrats have railed against voter ID requirements for years. But now that voter ID is among the sticking points, keeping the Democratic caucus from uniting behind S1, some Democrats have started indicating, well, they`ve had a change of heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Republicans are expected to go as far as to block any debate on voting rights once the issue comes to the Senate floor tomorrow afternoon.

Back with us tonight is David Plouffe, former Obama Campaign Manager and Senior Advisor to the President. He`s also on the board of directors for the Obama Foundation. Tim Miller, a Contributor to the Bulwark and former Communications Director for Jeb Bush.

Great to see you, gentlemen. So David, a vote on the For The People Act is expected to fail tomorrow. You know what it`s like to go up against Mitch McConnell, you went into the White House after he said he wanted to make Barack Obama a one term president. So what should Democrats do next?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, Chris, we need to protect our democracy and the Constitution. So the Manchin proposal is getting support. You know, I think President Obama today said there was a lot of battle he liked. He didn`t think it went far enough. But that`s probably helpful to Manchin, and say, listen, I`m getting some criticism from the left and the right. So this is a good compromise. But Sinema and Manchin and others who have concerns have to find a way forward. Because our democracy is on the clock right now. The notion that somehow the Republicans won`t try and steal an election in `22, or `24, is preposterous.

Even I saw Senator Sinema`s comments today about the filibuster, concern that if Democrats got rid of the filibuster in entire or in part, the Republicans would make them pay a price. Listen, I may be wrong about this, but I think Mitch McConnell will get rid of the filibuster when he`s next in control of the Senate. So that`s going to happen. So the Democrats at the very least ought to, you know, save our democracy, tried creating jobs --

JANSING: But how, the question is how, Charles Blow had this message for Democrats today, Democrats, Republicans don`t want you to win. It`s that simple. They want no successes on your watch and they certainly don`t want to participate in said victories. So, where does that leave the Democrats, David?

PLOUFFE: Well, listen Joe Manchin himself has talked about maybe we could bring the threshold down for filibuster, down to 55 that`s worth pursuing. But I tend to agree with that column, which is I don`t think you`ll get five Republicans. So we have carve outs now for the filibuster around judicial nominations. I think we might have to get creative people that to protect our democracy, the right to vote, we`re willing to do that. I think we ought to get rid of it entirely. But at the very least, we have to do what`s required to save this democracy, which is not just protecting voting rights is important that is, all around the country. Republicans want to seize control of who decides who wins elections, and that`s the most damaging thing. So I think, if this Congress leaves, without passing anything to fight back against the Republicans are doing, you know, it`s disastrous for the country. So you`re going to have to look at things like bringing down the number, but eventually, I think you might have to look at other carve outs, likely done on judicial nominations.

JANSING: Realistically, though, Tim Miller, is that how Republicans see it, that it`s disastrous for the country, and so they can`t do it? I mean, there`s this new Monmouth polling that shows most of what`s in Manchin`s compromise is incredibly popular. But does that carry any weight with Mitch McConnell?

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: No, doesn`t. Look, I think Mitch McConnell sees any sort of voting rights bill that expands access to voting is bad for Republicans. I think he`s wrong about that. By the way, I think that Donald Trump showed that there`s a big pool of potential Republican voters, mostly less than college educated white men, who don`t turn out every election cycle, who serves to turn up for Donald Trump. But the Republicans are so bought in on this notion that the only way they can win is to be a minority party, is to prevent voters of color from voting and make it as hard as possible for young people to vote. And so I don`t think there`s anything you could get into this compromise that would get Mitch McConnell on board. And I think that`s why it`s so important for the Democrats. My advice to them, is to make sure that the essential reforms are in this to prevent things like we saw last year with the Republicans trying to steal the election and to make voting as expansive as possible in ways that are popular. I think that this change on voter ID is really smart pro-Democrats, and this is something that polls 80 plus percent, people like voter ID, if this is really a crisis that we`re in, and I think that`s something that David and I agree with, and most of those viewers agree with, then then the Democrats need to get through the popular democratic reforms that are necessary to safeguard the democracy and not worry as much with all the nice to House. I think that this voter ID is a good sign that they`re doing that.

JANSING: Let me ask you one more thing about sort of strategy and the way that the Democrats might approach this, Tim, and play something that Claire McCaskill said earlier on this network, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI FORMER U.S. SENATOR: The fig leaf they`re going to try it out, is we don`t want the federal government taking over our elections. Meanwhile, Republicans all over the country are removing local control of elections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: So Tim, is that something Democrats should talk more about? How do they get this message out there any more than they already have? Or have they already basically gotten it out there? And the people who are going to agree with them are going to agree with them already?

MILLER: Yeah, look talking about the voter, other two strategies here, right, how do you win over Republican senators? And how do you win over voters, right?

JANSING: Yeah.

MILLER: Winning over voters, talking about -- yeah, talking about Republicans efforts to steal the election, talking about Republicans` efforts at local offices to suppress the vote does work with voters, you know, getting over Republican senators on board, obviously, that`s not going to work.

JANSING: But is the point that you`re getting to, Tim, that convincing voters doesn`t matter anymore, that there is no pressure to be put on these senators?

MILLER: Yeah, I think it doesn`t matter as much as far as getting the senators because I don`t think the votes are there. I agree with David, I think it matters very much as far as 2022 is concerned and whether or not an insurrection is like Kevin McCarthy is the Speaker of the House, the Democrats should do everything possible to focus on the popular stuff, as far as safeguarding democracy and not worry as much about, you know, all the things that maybe some of the interest groups might wish that they could put in the bill.

JANSING: You`re nodding there, David?

PLOUFFE: Absolutely. I mean, I think that 2022 is, you know, we can even say it`s even more important in 2020 because of what`s happened after that election. So if the Republicans win the House, if the Republicans win the Senate, we head into a presidential election year. You`re going to have most of the Republican Party convinced no matter what happens that election, Republicans will win. They`ll find a way to guarantee that. So I don`t think it will influence senators necessarily, but listen, the Senate races next year are in super competitive states, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, North Carolina. And if you have the same suburban flight away from Republicans that Trump witness, Democrats have a very good chance not just to hold on to their Senate Majority, but perhaps gain two to three seats, which is incredibly necessary because the 2024 center map is pretty brutal for the Democratic Party.

JANSING: Both David and Tim are staying through the break and coming up chalk up another loss for the former guy. He was just beaten by Florida`s governor and a conservative straw poll. The GOP presidential primary plot thickens when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID BRODY, THE WATER COOLOR HOST: Did you admit defeat? I just want to understand that.

DONALD TRUMP, (D) FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: No I never admitted defeat. We have a lot of things happening right now where it is concede I have not conceded.

(END VIDOE CLIP)

JANSING: Yes, and probably best not hold our breath waiting for a concession. Still, conventional wisdom may indeed be that if Donald Trump wants the 2024 presidential nomination, it`s all his. Yet there are signs he might have a formidable opponent within his own party.

A straw poll from this weekend`s Western Conservative Summit shows him trailing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Henry Olsen writes it this way in the Washington Post. DeSantis is quickly becoming the first choice among conservatives willing to look beyond Trump.

Still with us David Plouffe and Tim Miller, I guess the question is how many of those conservatives are willing to look beyond Trump?

So Tim, what do you think of this straw poll? How popular is the status within the party right now?

MILLER: Look, I think two things happen at the same time. One is you have your Henry Olsen types who are doing a lot of wish casting because they themselves are ready to move past Trump, but they`re not willing to go out there and say x, I want to stay in good standing with the Republican Party. And so DeSantis is a safe place for them to write that with his analytical hat on.

But here`s the thing, you know, if Trump were not to run, DeSantis is clearly the successor in waiting. I find it hard to believe that he`d actually challenged Trump. You know, you say that he has a challenge or that the party will he hasn`t actually challenged Trump on anything and anything all he`s done is suck up to them and try to imitate him as much as possible.

But I think DeSantis would be very formidable. And if I were the Democrats, I would not look at him lightly at all. He`s done a nice job in Florida politically speaking of balancing the old Bush, Republican Guard with the new MAGA guard and gaining a lot of excitement about that. You saw him, I guess, the Florida State Fair, you know, where they have 70,000 people at a concert he went out there to speak into rail against masks and to rail against the Biden ministration. He had a very, very warm welcome in that Trumpy crowd.

And so I think that he would be formidable if he`s the winner (ph). The problem is that Donald Trump is in his way and he hasn`t shown any interest in challenging.

JANSING: Yes. And to his earlier point, David, Mark Meadows told The Washington Examiner today that DeSantis will not challenge Trump in 2024. Do you think Trump will run? And as he waits, do you see any chance someone like DeSantis actually starts to mount a real challenge?

PLOUFFE: Well, first of all, I don`t know. You know, what the hell does Mark Meadows know about whether Ron DeSantis is going to run? So I`m not sure what he`s talking about. But listen, my personal view is, I`ve always believed that Donald Trump`s going to regret both running and winning the presidency, because I think his after life here, after the White House is going to be just brutal. The dose that he`d run again, maybe sees it as redemption tour. So we`ll see.

No, I think if Trump runs, a bunch of people are going to stay out. But they`ve all got to start making moves. And I think DeSantis is probably, you know, the first behind Trump, who`s probably looking at this. But I think there`s going to be (inaudible) if Trump doesn`t run, the Republican primaries is going to be one of the most fascinating political races in the history of America. Because you`re going to have most people auditioning to be the new Trump, you might have some trying to be a little bit more moderate, but still in the Trump way, maybe a couple people who understand we need to take the party back.

It`s going to be a fascinating, fascinating process. But at the end of the day, right now, the interesting thing to me will be if DeSantis gets more steam here, just Trump again, it takes some shots at him. I wouldn`t be surprised at that at all.

JANSING: Well, that is sort of the status quo if you follow Donald Trump, but it is interesting watching DeSantis now. I mean, Tim, he talked earlier today, this was actually about the return of cruise ships to his states. But let me play that then make my point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We`ve seen throughout this country, government overstep its bounds in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and you can`t have an agency relying on flimsy legal authority to just keep an entire industry close with really no, no path forward. The only reason you even started seeing any of these discussions is because we brought the lawsuit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Yes. When I saw that earlier today, Tim, the first thing I thought was is this exactly the kind of language Republicans are drawn to.

MILLER: Yes, look, absolutely. And I think that the media in the left should be careful about burning Ron DeSantis into a cause celeb among Republican voters. And this is what they want, you know, he even pointing his finger and chastising the media and just adding the liberals like that`s what got Donald Trump popularity.

So, you know, look, I think DeSantis has a lot of really dangerous qualities. I think that the way that he`s stuck up to Trump has been abominable. But, you know, if you look at what he did on COVID, it wasn`t anything special. He was the median Republican governor, they all did the same thing. You know, they all made mistakes. They all, you know, tried to turn the mask into a cultural war. He wasn`t any different than the governor of Oklahoma in that regard.

JANSING: Yes, I mean --

MILLER: He`s been able to use the media very skillfully to make it seem like he was fighting some big fight that that isn`t any different than really the rest of the party.

JANSING: But that`s kind of the question, isn`t it, David? If somebody is looking for an alternative to Trump, where`s the daylight there?

PLOUFFE: Right. Well, don`t forget, you know, in DeSantis gubernatorial race, nobody`s hugged Donald Trump closer in the race than Ron DeSantis did, and it helped him win that primary. So, you know, he`s very close to the trunk of that rotten tree.

But listen, we have no idea what Republican primary voters will be looking for in the beginning of 2024, likely it will be some form of a replica of Trump that he`s not running that sad for the country I think, may make it more likely Democrats retain the White House, but we really don`t know.

But I think that the question will be, do you begin to see people make more moves, you know, giving big policy speeches, you know, go into some of the potential early states for getting the higher talent. My guess is most of that waits till after the 2022 election. But that`ll be interesting because people who see themselves as the next President believe 2024 is their only shot to do it.

Are they going to have the courage to stand up to Trump? I think you`re going to start to see more of them do that. The question is when he throws the first haymaker at them, you know, can they deal with that? And if not, they probably aren`t going to get the first place anyway.

JANSING: You are right, though. It`s going to be fascinating. David Plouffe, Tim Miller, thanks, guys. Appreciate you tonight. And coming up after so long in lockdown, life is looking a lot more normal these days. But we`ll get into why medical experts have big concerns about the little ones when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: For the first time in more than 15 months, thousands of fans packed the iconic Madison Square Garden Arena in New York City for our rock concert at full capacity. But before anyone could get in to see the Foo Fighters, they were asked to show proof of vaccination. Overall an encouraging sign in a city that was once the epicenter of the outbreak.

But as more Americans celebrate reopenings, the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread. The former FDA Commissioner warns COVID variants and stalled vaccinations could fuel a fall surge, particularly among young children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FMR. FDA COMMINISSIONER: I think the reality is that kids are becoming more likely to be vectors of these new variants. So I think the old assumptions about children and children driving community spread were based on the original strain of this virus and with these new, more contagious variants, I think we`re going to see that children`s schools do become more of a focal point of spread.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: With us again tonight, Dr. Kavita Patel, Clinical Physician and former Senior Policy Aide during the Obama administration. She`s also among our public health experts and a non-resident Fellow at Brookings. So good to see you. I mean, it`s scary stuff when you hear them talking about a spread among kids. How do we get younger people vaccinated? And what`s the real threat if we don`t?

DR. KAVITA PATEL: Yes, Chris. So it`s interesting that CDC just conducted several studies showing that about 25 percent of young adults aged 18 to 39 said that they would definitely probably not get vaccinated, just full stop. And so right there, we`re already operating with one in four young adults. And then when we talk about children 12 to 17. And then hopefully, we`ll have a vaccine under 12 available soon, Chris.

We start to hear more concerns. And so this is Dr. Gottlieb mentioned offers an opportunity. The virus doesn`t know any boundaries, as you know, and as more older adults are vaccinated, it`s going to go where it can to replicate. And that means that younger children will be more vulnerable.

By the way, that`s what we`re seeing in Israel, where they just recently were able to vaccinate younger adolescents. But they`ve had several outbreaks, and that has primarily been driven by children in a high vaccinated country.

JANSING: Yes, the way the World Health Organization put it pretty striking. They say the Delta variant is the fastest and fittest COVID strain yet. So I mean, there`s a lot of folks out there, you know, they see MSG full of folks, they`re getting out, people aren`t wearing masks. So, what should be their level of concern? What needs to be all of our level of concern about this?

PATEL: Yes, Chris, if you are not vaccinated, I really do urge you to think about when you will get infected, not if you will get infected. And that`s because as you mentioned, the Delta variant, which is our variant of now. We didn`t have a Delta variant months ago in the United States. Now, it will likely be the dominance, right. 60 percent more infectious than the alpha variant, which Chris, is reminder, it was 40 percent more infectious than what was really whipping us around the country last year.

So that`s what I say to people that this is really a simple mathematical issue, fewer people to infect. Therefore, if you`re unvaccinated, you will be one of them. We need to break these chains of transmission. And Chris, we in parts of the country, you`ve covered it, where we still have 35 to 40 percent only vaccinated leaving the majority of people unvaccinated.

JANSING: Yes, and I`ve been to any number of those places, and you don`t necessarily see a lot of people wearing masks either. And then you have the big picture about the international concern the Biden administration just outlined, which countries are going to receive that 55 million doses of vaccine, you know, they want to fulfill their pledge to share 80 million globally by the end of June. But the press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed on the pace of distribution, and I want to play what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president promise to distribute those 80 million by the end of the month, but he`s obviously falling short of that moment. Why is it taking so long?

PSAKI: Well, first, let me say we`ve -- we`re committed to -- we`ve committed to allocating those doses, we`ve done exactly that. What we found to be the biggest challenge is not actually the supply. We have plenty of doses to share with the world. But this is a herculean logistical challenge. We will continue to announce as they land on the ground and as they are being shipped and we`re looking forward to doing that as quickly as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: In our final 30 seconds, Dr. Patel, can you help us understand how complicated it is to distribute vaccines globally?

PATEL: Yes, everything from having the right supplies on the ground to the right personnel on the ground and a strategy to get people vaccinated. As we know you don`t just dump a plane full of vaccines and then just hope intentionally, it gets into people`s arms, particularly a two dose vaccine.

So it is logistically complicated. Having said that, it`s an incredible priority has to be done. 80 million is just a drop in the bucket fighting a wildfire with literally a drop in the bucket. We`ve got billions more to vaccinate.

JANSING: Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you. It`s always great to have you on the program. And coming up, what an unexpected surge in air travel means for your summer vacation plans when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Don`t blame the messenger folks. But there`s a chance that summer vacation you`ve been waiting a very long time to take might run into a complication. Just as states and pandemic restrictions and demand for air travel spikes, staffing shortages are affecting flights around the country. NBC News correspondent Tom Costello has our report from Washington tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From checkpoints to coach to customs and unexpected crush a flyers eager for post COVID escaped more than 2 million passengers on Sunday. The most since before the pandemic forcing airlines to scramble, throw in bad weather and stranded passengers and American Airlines was forced to cancel 400 flights over the weekend hundreds more today. Thousands of travelers affected and plans to cancel up to 80 per day till mid-July.

SCOTT MAYEROWITZ, THE POINTS GUY EXECUTIVE EDITOR: The thing about airlines is you can`t just turn the light switch and have them restart again.

COSTELLO: After a pandemic furloughs and early retirements, American is now short on ground staff, flight attendants and pilots who must go through retraining before returning. Just as families like Brittany Harrison and her girls take to the skies.

BRITTANY HARRISON, TRAVELER: We`re just going to get the girls out on the beach and just have a great time.

COSTELLO: The airline already notifying July passengers if their flights are changing.

(on camera): It may mean you`re booked on an earlier flight a later flight or you`re routed through a city you weren`t expecting.

(voice-over): American says when they targeted changes with the goal of impacting the fewest number of customers. American is struggling but still find more flights than its competitors as everyone ramps up to handle the passenger surge.

Meanwhile, with an unprecedented increase in unruly, disruptive, even violent behavior on board often over the mask mandate, the nation`s airlines are tonight asking the Justice Department to fully prosecute anyone who behaves violently towards flight crews or passengers pushing for fines and jail time. Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

JANSING: Coming up an important announcement from a defensive lineman marks up first for the NFL when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PSAKI: Let me just first say on the ruling that our view is that of course, NCAA student athletes work very hard, both on the athletic field and in the classroom. I`m a retired one myself. And today`s decision recognizes that as with all Americans, their hard work should not be exploited and the President believes that everyone who works should be compensated fairly for his or her labor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: The last thing before we go tonight, that was White House press secretary Jen Psaki reacting to today`s Supreme Court ruling that said the NCAA has gone too far limiting some education related benefits for student athletes. As Psaki mentioned, she competed on the college level herself, swimming for two years at William and Mary.

And there`s one other sports related story that caught our attention tonight. Las Vegas defensive lineman Carl Nassib has become the NFL first openly gay active player in history. He came out in an Instagram video posted just a few hours ago, saying he`s finally comfortable getting it off his chest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL NASSIB, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS DEFENSIVE END: Actually, hopefully one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary. But until then, you know, I`m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that`s accepting that`s compassionate. And I`m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They`re an incredible organization. They`re the number one suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America. And they`re truly doing incredible things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Truly a generous donation and an act of courage from Carl Nassib to take us off the air tonight. And that is our broadcast for this Monday night with our thanks for being with us. Brian will be back tomorrow night. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.