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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 6/22/21

Guests: Sam Stein, Cynthia Alksne, Michael Steele, A.B. Stoddard, Irwin Redlener


The vote to advance an amended version of the "For The People Act" is split along party lines 50-50, short of the 60 needed. All Democrats voted to begin debate and Republicans unanimously voting to block the bill. New York prosecutors involved in a sweeping probe of the Trump Organization are investigating Matthew Calamari, the former Donald Trump bodyguard who`s now a top executive at the former president`s company, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News. The votes are in, the polls are closed, but some of the 13 Democratic contenders may have a long, anxious wait ahead of them for accurate results in New York City`s mayoral primary. NYC will use Ranked Choice Voting in primary and special elections for local offices.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And that is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 154 of the Biden administration. The Democrats have been blocked in the U.S. Senate. Today they lost a vote that would have allowed just the discussion of voting rights. All 50 Democratic senators voted in favor of advancing the For The People Act, including West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, whose support wasn`t secured until late this afternoon. But it didn`t matter.

The Democrats needed 10 Republicans to cross over and go along to get the 60 votes they need to break a filibuster. But not one Republican voted in favor of even allowing debate on the legislation, put another way all 50 Republican senators voted no.

While states are back home working hard to suppress the vote or certain votes should we say, there`s not a Republican in the Senate who wants to even allow a debate on this topic. An angry Majority Leader spoke moments after the vote was announced.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Senate Republicans have signed their names in the ledger of history along Donald -- alongside Donald Trump, the big lie and voter suppression.

Today, every single Democratic senator stood together in the fight to protect the right to vote in America.

The Republican leader uses the language and the logic of the Southern senators in the `60s who defended states rights this vote.

I`m ashamed to say is further evidence that voter suppression has become part of the official platform of the Republican Party.


WILLIAMS: In an unusual move, Vice President Harris presided over the Senate during tonight`s vote. Afterwards, she vowed Democrats will continue pushing for federal voting rights legislation.


KAMALA HARRIS (D) VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: When we`re talking about the right to vote, it is not a Republican concern or a Democratic concern. It is an American concern. This is about the American people`s right to vote unfettered, it is about their access to the right to vote in a meaningful way. Because nobody is debating. I don`t believe whether all Americans have the right to vote.

The bottom line is that the President and I are very clear, we support as one. We support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the fight is not over.


WILLIAMS: Since January of this year, just since January, at least 14 states have enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to voting. And right now, there are at least 61 bills with restrictive provisions moving through 18 other state legislatures. Yet Senate Republicans maintain as was evident in tonight`s vote that there`s no reason for the federal government to step in here.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There is no effort in any state in America to suppress votes based upon support suppression of minority participation.

What is really about is an effort for the federal government to take over the way we conduct elections in this country. It is a solution in search of a problem.

Regardless of what may be happening in some state, there`s no rationale for federal intervention.


WILLIAMS: The Democrats only real hope of passing any kind of elections overhaul now seems to hang on a longshot bid to eliminate the filibuster. Tonight, the President issued a statement that read in part quote, unfortunately, a Democratic stand to protect our democracy met a solid Republican wall of opposition. It was the suppression of a bill to end voter suppression, another attack on voting rights that is sadly not unprecedented.

Biden added, he`ll have more to say next week about election reform. While there was no sign of bipartisanship, of course, and tonight`s vote that`s the problem. The Biden administration is still hoping for more luck with their infrastructure bill. White House has started meeting with senators from both sides of the aisle who are working on their own version of a bill.

Tomorrow, Schumer and Pelosi sit down with administration officials to talk about it further. Also tomorrow, Biden lays out his plan to try to stop a nationwide wave of violent crimes. Today the Justice Department said it is creating a new strike force to target gun trafficking in five cities.

Also today, the White House acknowledged it won`t meet the President`s original goal of getting 70% of us vaccinated by Independence Day. Tonight Dr. Fauci said the focus is still on reach as many people as possible.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: We`re almost at the 70% vaccination with one dose of adults when we reach the Fourth of July. If we don`t get it by then we`re going to get it within a week or so and, but we don`t want to stop there. That`s an aspirational goal. The goal line is crushing the virus with as many vaccinations as you possibly can.


WILLIAMS: There is also a major political story developing tonight, a local race with national implications. Big suspense tonight in the Big Apple. Today was primary day in New York City. The city`s first ever ranked choice election, apparently because there was something too easy about voting for only that one candidate. If history is an indicator, the Democrat who wins tonight`s primary will go on to be mayor and the heavily Democratic city.

Polls closed few hours ago. We`ve got Steve Kornacki, standing by the big board to explain why there could be a delay in announcing a winner which is not helping the suspense in New York. And already tonight, one big name has conceded.

Then there`s the matter of one former New York City resident and other New York news with national implications, there`s this, NBC News confirming the Manhattan DA is indeed investigating Trump`s former bodyguard Matthew Calamari who is now an executive at the Trump Organization. NBC News confirming Calamari and his son have indeed hired outside counsel to represent them.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night, Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for The Associated Press, Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, and Sam Stein, a veteran journalist who`s now White House editor over at Politico.

Sam, indeed, I`d like to begin with you and I`d like to play this for you and our audience. Will discuss on the other side, this is Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah tonight.


SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): This bill was written and held by the devil himself. This bill wouldn`t make it easier to vote, this would make it easier to vote illegally. This is the corrupt politicians act. If there`s any chance this becomes law, it would be devastating for the country. This would be bad for everyone rather than Democratic political incumbents.


WILLIAMS: So Sam, how`s bipartisanship going? And if that was meant for outreach for the Democratic Party, I think the senator has to work on his communication skills.

SAM STEIN, WHITE HOUSE EDITOR, POLITICO: First and foremost, I don`t think the devil wrote the bill. I think that`s hyperbole. A bill was written by a number of Democratic lawmakers. It was amended, although that was never brought to a vote by Joe Manchin to include at least one very Republican oriented idea, which was a version of voter identification. Manchin`s provision would have said you had to bring something akin to a utility bill in order to vote.

So, I think it`s fair to say that Democrats did try to move a little bit in the Republican direction in order to win the votes. But really, it was never, there was never a chance that they would. This was, I don`t want to call it a messaging exercise that sort of diminishes that this was an exercise in showing where the cards were essentially. This is was, the Democrats saying, look, we have 50 votes in our caucus. We want to move this bill. We notice what`s going on in the state`s -- Statehouses around the country. Let`s see what Republicans have to say in response. And what the Republicans said in response was not just what Mike Lee said on Fox News tonight, but a resounding no to consideration to this debate.

Big Question now, Brian is where do we go from here? What other cards does Biden have to play? What other maneuvers where does have. Our reporters have talked with (INAUDIBLE) about this? They can see there`s not much they can do, though. They`re looking for different avenues, whether it`s consulting with Statehouse Democrats, or leaning on corporate America to do essentially what they did in Georgia, which was apply pressure to lawmakers in the states to not go down this path. Neither of those options are particularly fruitful. So, the witnesses kind of stuck.

WILLIAMS: Jonathan Lemire, Stein just tossed you the ball, pick it up and run with it. Where do we go from here?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Brian, I keep it as a personal policy not to agree with Sam Stein very often, but he is largely right about all of this. The administration does feel like their hands are relatively tight. We should expect more public pressure from the White House and aides signaled to us earlier today, soon after this bills defeat the -- defeat in the Senate, that we`d be hearing more from the President on this and his statement back that up that we should expect him to have -- not just public comments, but perhaps an event that`s still being put together on this next week.

We did hear from the Vice President, sort of speaking with people -- she speak candid, she`s speaking powerfully about the need to protect the right to vote. You know, in her remarks earlier today after she presided in the Senate. But they`re short of a something really significant at the state level. Their only move here would indeed be to embark on some sort of filibuster reform.

But the problem is, there aren`t too many Democrats who are willing to do that, or at least not enough. Joe Manchin, of course, is the leading figure of this, but he`s far from alone. Krysten Sinema another she wrote The Washington Post an op-ed just the other day, saying it`s not something she supported. And we also know that there are some other Democratic senators who privately agree with them, they are happy to let them be the public face of this opposition.

So, short of that this is going to be potentially a real disappointment for Democrats and for Biden himself, who has said repeatedly this is a lifelong mission of his to expand the access to the franchise, that that he would do anything it would require to defend this to expand the voting rights. This is an existential threat against democracy. It`s part of his larger picture to prove that democracies still work against autocracies globally, it`s harder sell if you can`t say that their democracies are protecting the right to vote at home.

So, this is a legislative agenda that is quite full right now. But this is something that though a huge priority for Democrats may not be something that they can actually enact anytime soon without some sort of sweeping 11th hour change.

WILLIAMS: Cynthia, my friend over to you, I don`t say it often, but we need a lawyer, what is your level of fear for our country, and a free and fair election? If we don`t have a federal remedy, something new, where voter suppression is concerned?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FMR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I`m pretty scared about it. You know, I live in Florida, where just about anything goes these days with our governor. So I`m hoping very much that we`ll figure out a way to get some of these bills passed, and particularly anything having to do with protecting this minority vote because it looks like the Republicans will do almost anything to figure out a way to make it impossible for people to vote if they don`t have just the right ID or if they move or if they do anything.

So, I am hoping that we can come to some agreement with Manchin and Sinema. It just doesn`t seem very likely to me.

WILLIAMS: OK. Sam Stein, you are the recipient of tonight`s video Daily Double. I got another one for you. This is say me as Senator Amy Klobuchar Democrat of Minnesota tonight we`ll discuss on the other side.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): What`s next, we`re going to Georgia. When the people of Georgia saw what was happening back in early January when they saw the big lie being perpetrated on them. When they saw their elections being undermined by the Republican Party, they turned out and they voted. They didn`t just vote in one Democratic senator, they voted in two.

So we are not ending this fight. And one of the ways we do that is getting out of this Capitol dome and heading out to the States.


WILLIAMS: Sam, I`m just a guy asking questions here. But why take a victory lap of excitement over a field trip to Georgia already represented in the Senate by two Democrats? It`s an uncontested yes, yes vote to any voter measures in the Senate. Why not? And I`m just putting this out here. Go to a state with one or more Republican senators?

STEIN: It`s a good question. I mean, I think the logic here is that Senator Warnock is up again, this coming cycle, he was a critical, obviously the 15th I guess all of them are 15th votes for Democrats. But, you know, Georgia is the epicenter of the tip of the spear for voting rights legislation right now. And that, you know, there is something to it, Brian, where the intense focus on these suppression laws actually has a sort of boomerang effect, and that it inspires Democrats to defy the legislation and go to the polls. So I don`t think there`s -- there she`s running it.

But the real elections that Democrats need to worry about are not the federal election. I mean, what we`re seeing now is the residual impact of Democrats just getting bludgeoned down ballot losing Statehouse after Statehouse to the point where they can`t have an impact on these voting rights laws in the states. Not only that, but that they`re not going to be able to impact redistricting, which is coming up soon, too.

So, you know, the Democratic Party tends to be way too focused for their own good on the national high profile elections. And they forget that the lower chamber Statehouse elections are the ones that actually are really determinative of how these laws progress. So, if they`re going to Georgia, they should look at, you know, how seats, the Statehouse seats, the State Senate seats to.

WILLIAMS: Yes, it`s been a real colossal drop ball over the past couple of cycles. So, Jonathan Lemire, again, I`m just a guy asking questions. A whole bunch of Democrats out there are angry to the aforementioned national Democrats. They would like to see a level of anger from them. Chuck Schumer gets angry in the course of a 3,000 words statement and the well of the Senate to you and the beat you cover. When are Democrats going to see their president get angry over the kind of thing that happened today more than a release statement on paper?

LEMIRE: Brian, that`s -- you hit on something there that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about today, and that was before the (INAUDIBLE) was -- went down, but it was the writing was on the wall. And basically she was said -- she was questioned, why hasn`t the President done more here? And, you know, if this is indeed a as he has put in a lifelong passion, why hasn`t he used the bully pulpit more. And she rebutted that saying that, well, he, he puts out statements, and he has said this down then and but the question was pointed again, like, well, where was he today? Why wasn`t this more of a priority as this became, as this faced its fate in the Senate? And she didn`t really have a good answer for that.

And I think that the White House now is trying to suggest that a course will be corrected. But look, this is a White House and a president particular who has who knows how to count votes, and he has decades of experience in the Senate. And there just doesn`t seem to be a path for this. Even the compromised to Senator Manchin, he have much interest in recent days. You know, put out last week was immediately shut down by Republicans. There`s no bipartisan buy in on this. The Republicans suggested this would basically end democracy as we know it, which of course, is a gross overstatement, but that`s how they`re selling it to them -- to themselves to their caucus, but also to their voters. They`re not going to be giving an inch it seems even on a compromise bill.

So yes, this would seem to be though for righteous anger from Democrats. We`ve heard a little bit from the Vice President today. We haven`t yet from the President. And maybe that will change. But that doesn`t necessarily mean that legislation is going to change. And I think that we affect that, for a White House that is spent so careful in sequencing, it`s legislation. The voting rights really wasn`t at the top of their list. It was COVID relief first, infrastructure now it`s fatal hanging in the balance. We`re going to hear from on crime and guns tomorrow. Certainly still, there`s other things to tackle as well.

But right now, there doesn`t seem to be a lot of hope. And it will be interesting to see if this president can summon that fury to maybe move people in the coming days, but I wouldn`t bet on it.

WILLIAMS: Cynthia, you get the last word tonight. And while it`s true that Trump and Trumpism has infused our entire conversation, as we start off the broadcast tonight, doesn`t it always come down to Calamari.

Let`s go local to New York and the Manhattan DA investigation. What does it say to you as a veteran former fed that Mr. Calamari formerly hired muscle now in the executive ranks is under such scrutiny -- enough scrutiny that he and his son apparently are loitering up?

ALKSNE: Right. Well, he`s a new focus of the investigation. I will say he doesn`t strike me as the central focus the investigation and if he were it would, it would be a sign that the investigation was in trouble. I mean, I had the unfortunate experience of watching some old reruns of The Apprentice today. And so on Mr. Calamari. And let me just say lovingly, he`s probably not the brains of the organization, that brains of the organizations Mr. Weisselberg. And that is the central focus of the investigation.

And if they can`t flip him, they`re going to have to, they`re going to have to indict him, if they want to get some information. And they`re going to have to call his bluff. And apparently now he`s saying I`m not going to flip. And they`re going to have to do something. Reportedly, they`re going to do something this summer. We`ll see if they really do.

The other person to really watch is the woman from Deutsche Bank. The person who handled many of the Trump finances that somebody to watch. I do not think Calamari is the central focus or the be all and end all in this investigation.

WILLIAMS: We are much obliged to our big three on this Tuesday night to Sam Stein to Jonathan Lemire and Cynthia Alskne, down in Florida, where apparently old reruns of The Apprentice run on the air, 24/7. Thanks, gang. Appreciate you starting us off tonight.

Coming up for us. When is a race for mayor national news? Well, the answer when there are more people in the city than there are people in 38 different states. Steve Kornacki, standing by for us at the big board to explain the returns tonight in the New York City mayor`s race.

Also coming up, Democrats won a battle with Joe Manchin right before they lost the war. For now at least. We`ll talk strategy with two veteran political watchers.

And later a masked free Fourth of July for much of our country but a race against time to get enough Americans vaccinated by fall. One of our doctors explains its importance to all of us.

All of it as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Tuesday night.



ANDREW YANG, FMR NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATE: What do you all know I am a numbers guy. I`m someone who traffics in what`s happening by the numbers. And I am not going to be the next mayor of New York City based upon the numbers that have come in tonight.


WILLIAMS: John Yang dropping out of the race for mayor in New York on election night in the biggest city in our country. We`re going to check in on the mayor`s race. And before we go to Steve Kornacki at the big board, just two points to make. First, today`s election is only a primary but on the Democratic side, the city is so blue. The winner almost automatically goes on to be mayor. And about the job itself, the mayor of New York City has more constituents than 76 of our U.S. senators. Put another way the population of the city is higher than 38 of our 50 states. As you`re about to hear, that was the easy part. New York does nothing simply, tonight`s election, no different.

Let`s go to Steve at the big board. Steve. Good luck.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, Brian. Well, let`s take you through what we know and what we still don`t. What you`re seeing here, these are the votes that have been countered tonight. These are, it says first choice here because that`s the way rank choice voting which they`re doing in New York City for the first time. That`s the way it works, when you went in to vote in this primary day. If you did, you could check off your first choice, your second choice, your third choice all the way through your fifth choice.

What the city said it would release tonight is the first choice for all of the in-person vote, meaning folks who went and voted today and folks who voted early. So, this is most probably just about all of those votes, the first choice preference there. Now, there are still a chunk of mail-in ballots that aren`t even going to be open for another week. And so, when you factor those in these numbers can and perhaps will change a bit.

But I want to emphasize some things are becoming clear. Here you saw Andrew Yang conceding defeat tonight, Yang and everybody sat at him you see here - - see here in this first choice, clearly, mathematically, they are not going to win this. Now, there`s their second of their voters preferences. You know, if you voted for Yang, you know who your second choice was on that ballot is going to matter here. But Yang won`t win, Stringer won`t win, the winner will be one of these three candidates, Eric Adams, Maya Wiley, Kathryn Garcia. And the lead right now that Adams has over both Wiley and Garcia is potentially significant.

Rank choice voting has been done. It`s not that widespread right now. But it`s been around in a number of places for a while. In fact, if you look at every ranked choice election, that`s taken place in this country, really in the history of rank choice voting, the biggest margin with somebody who`s finished in the first choice round outside of first place, the biggest gap that`s been overcome to win one of these things, has been 9.3 points, you know, from the first choice. Wiley right now, if you play it out to the decimal point is 9.2 points behind Eric Adams.

Now, again, there are mail-in ballots that will be counted, maybe this thing will get tighter. When those are counted, there are still a few more votes to come in tonight. But I think it`s clear, Eric Adams is going to lead on the first choice, when the first choice votes are all tabulated. And then in about a week or two, they`ll run through all these multiple rounds of voting. But the history of rank choice voting has been the candidate who finishes first and the first choice has tended to win, not automatically. And when the lead is as big as Adams is right now, very, very high probability of winning.

So, the question is, the male votes the remaining votes, can Wiley or Garcia make this thing a little closer, perhaps. And then when they do those re-tabulations through the complicated rank choice system, could they somehow overtake? It would take a lot for them to pull it out. Not impossible, but it would take a lot Brian.

WILLIAMS: My friend, thank you for gently correcting me, a friend of mine for many years correspondent for many years at our network, John Yang. I`m used to saying his name. I`ve made that mistake with Andrew Yang, now, former candidate many times. We`re flattered, and lucky to have you on the broadcast. And more importantly at the big board tonight, because it`s a lot and it`s confusing. Steve Kornacki, thank you so much.


WILLIAMS: With me now, two more friends of this broadcast. A.B. Stoddard, veteran Washington journalist and associate editor and columnist for Real Clear Politics. And Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, former lieutenant governor of the great state of Maryland, who also happens to be the host of The Michael Steele Podcast.

Michael, I`d like to begin with you on speak on behalf of all the viewers who like me, found that last segment, just too hard mathematically, was it too simple to vote for one candidate and was there a check off on the form that if we`re out of the chicken, the fish is OK.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR RNC CHAIRMAN: That`s essentially it. Yes. And there are people who like fish and chicken. And I think it`s good and appropriate that our voting system seemingly is trying to accommodate that now to give people better options and better choices for people who disengage and step back from politics, because they support someone who everyone else the conventional wisdom says, well, they`re a gadfly, or they`re just they`re not part of the traditional lot of candidates.

Well, with rank choice and other forms of balloting that are taking shape in various states right now, they`re opening up that possibility and what it means particularly on the heels of what happened in the Senate today with the voting rights measure, it is -- it`s giving the voters the incentive to participate. And, you know, to say, look, OK, your first choice may not be everyone else`s first choice, but they could be their second choice. And that`s the point that, you know, Steve was just driving for Maya and Kathryn, is that OK, yes, you`re sitting at this percentage right now, but there are still a lot more votes to come in, and voters had the option to maybe perhaps pick you as their second choice, which changed the dynamics of the voting process, and that`s a good thing for the country.

WILLIAMS: A B, first of all, I`m stunned by our friend Michaels magnanimity on this topic, but we`ll move on and not saying but just saying, if you had to write a column tonight on deadline, the column could be, could it not. While there is a discussion in Washington and out in the States on restricting the vote in New York, where they`ve been open for days, and they have a robust mail in effort and open late at night for hours on the actual primary day has such a luxury of elections. They have filled an eye hop menu with your choice of candidates.

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOC. EDITOR AND COLUMNIST: I do. I`m a big fan of Ranked Choice Voting. I don`t think it`s that complicated. People get to go and pick the chicken or the fish and then, you know, rank the other menu choices below. It`s only five and then leave it to the computers to do the tabulation.

I`m biggest fan of final five voting which gets rid of the primary, the partisan primary and gives you an open primary a pick five choices and those people, those five campaign for the general election. And they campaign nicely because they know that they want to be people`s second choice. So they don`t -- they campaign on a platform and results for voters instead of campaigning against each other.

That`s that if I was writing in columns, and I would also be tempted Brian to focus on the fact that if Maya Wiley doesn`t prevail, and AOC`s endorsement didn`t get her over the edge. NYC is not the progressive stronghold that they think that it was. And that`s a big warning to progressive.

So I think it`s going to be an interesting part of the divide. As you see progressives get louder with the Biden administration in the months to come, and how they all try to pull together their Coalition`s before the midterms where they`re going to take a beating.

WILLIAMS: Yes, indeed, if further the winner tonight, the guy who prevails is a former Republican, former police officer in New York City, who ran on a tough on crime platform in the middle of a post-pandemic crime wave that no one can deny. I`m getting ahead of myself.

Both of our friends are going to stay with us through the break. We`re going to talk about the Democrats. We`re going to talk about what happened in the Senate today when we come right back.



SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): This is not dead. This is not dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today we`re ringing the bell on round one of the fight. We`ll come back for round two and round three.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MAJORITY LEADER: In the fight for voting rights this vote was the starting gun, not the finish line.


WILLIAMS: So if you want to hear how it`s not dead, you`re not alone tonight. Back with us are A. B, Stoddard and Michael Steele. A.B., if you come on one night a week, I quote you on the other four. So I hope you get your residual checks for all five nights. I have been quoting you for so long. You`ve called what happened today a mile away. The Democrats have no game over 50. So what do you do? And do you trash the bill, put it in the trash, rewrite start over and present the full Senate with something fresh.

STODDARD: I do think that Joe Biden as quiet as he`s been as well aware of these negotiations with Joe Manchin. Joe Manchin weeks -- it talks to Schumer almost every day, meet with him at least once a week in a small leadership huddle, and none of this is a secret.

So there are two tracks they`re taking. He`s either going to come up with a new bill that he negotiates with Republicans, which he did not on this quick compromise fully. And that`s something he could get 10 Republicans on or he will back down on some kind of filibuster reform, not the elimination of the legislative filibuster.

So those are the two paths that both majority leader and the president are aware they have to follow. We will find out which one Joe Manchin is going to take them down. He might want to drag Republicans on the record first, but I think those are the two options that they have left.

WILLIAMS: Michael Steele here is our mutual friend Nicolle Wallace on the topic of the filibuster on her broadcast today.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC ANCHOR: The idea that there`s political peril and doing away with it, I think is faulty. The other thing that I hear more and more on TV, and I hear a whole lot off TV is that there`s political peril and leaving it in place. I think there`s real political peril in all this failure to deliver in two years. So, I think they`re choosing between bad and worse. And I think today, the worse is leaving the filibuster in place.


WILLIAMS: Michael Steele, how is she wrong? Do you agree?

STEELE: I mean, I think that`s the you know, really to AB`s point that`s more and more of the reality that the Democrats are confronting right now is how do they get over this obstinate hurdle known as the Republican minority in the Senate. They`ve been -- the Senate Republicans were very clear with their intend to do and that is to give the Democrats nothing.

There is no incentive, regardless of what Joe Manchin thinks, says or puts in front of them. There`s no incentive for Republicans to give Joe Biden and his administration a win on anything. And I think the sooner Democrats realize that truth, the sooner there`ll be able to come up with a strategy to overcome it. But right now they`re just spinning wheels. And I think that`s really the basis of Nicolle`s point.

WILLIAMS: Michael, I`ve got about 20 seconds left. What about a Democratic tour to at least blue dots in red states go right at them, media markets, TV, newspaper TV ads and appeal to people in red states represented by red senators?

STEELE: Five months too late but OK, do it. That`s -- that --

WILLIAMS: You do sound a lot like my friend A. B. Stoddard.

STEELE: A.B. is right.


STEELE: The political juggernaut instincts work it.

WILLIAMS: Thank you both. What a day. We`ve just witnessed but we wanted to have you both on. A. B. Stoddard, Michael Steele, our guests tonight with our thanks.

Coming up for us a new warning from Dr. Fauci on this Delta variant as virus rates increase in some areas of our country, sadly.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: The vaccines we have do protect well against the Delta variant. So if ever there was a reason to get vaccinated, it`s right now, because we`re seeing this delta variant double every two weeks. We`re up to 20.6 percent of the isolates now are Delta variants.


WILLIAMS: CDC numbers show vaccination rates lagging in several states. Today the First Lady was in one of those states in Mississippi, where she tried to comfort a nervous patient kid who did not like needles. She covered his eyes while he got his vaccination at Jackson State University.

In Missouri, where less than half the overall population has received even the first shot new COVID cases are the highest recorded in any state.

We welcome back Dr. Irwin Redlener, the founding director of Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, who advises us on public health. He is also a columnist with the Daily Beast.

Doc, after the pandemic, we have been through when Dr. Fauci uses a phrase about anything that is, you know, doubling every two weeks. It really focuses the mind and I assume you concur with his assessment of this delta vary and the potential danger it poses to us even though we think we`re through it.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Yes, and this is why we`ve been proceeding with sort of cautious optimism. Yes, we`ve made a lot of progress, Brian, as you well know. But I think we have to be careful not to over promise ourselves that we`re done with this because we`re not and in the wings is waiting, this delta variant and maybe more variants later. I don`t want to be Dr. Doom here.

But I do feel it`s important that we not get ahead of ourselves, when we keep pushing people get vaccinated, because like Dr. Fauci has said numerous times, the vaccine will help prevent even the Delta variant. But for those people, which are many, many people throughout the southeast in particular, there is a problem because people are not getting vaccinated at the rate that they should be. They are in danger, Brian, and there`s no two ways about it.

WILLIAMS: We`re going to fall short of that July 4, benchmark of 70 percent of the souls in our country, having been vaccinated. Does the sledding get really tough after July 4?

REDLENER: Well, I think we`ll get there to the 70 percent in the next couple of weeks. But will that be enough? I don`t know. We`ll have to see. And the problem is the patchwork of the picture in the United States. We`re doing great in New York, and many other places in the northern parts of the country.

But in the southern parts of the country, in Missouri, in Alabama, and Mississippi and Arkansas, we have very low rates of vaccination, with very large numbers of people are not just hesitant, Brian. They`re actually resistant. They`re the anti-vaxxers are not going to budge. And we`re potentially going to have a problem in those areas where the vaccination rates are low, and the vaccination is going really quite slowly. And I think we`re all kind of concerned about that.

WILLIAMS: What should the messaging be since by training and trade, you are a pediatrician. First and foremost, what should the messaging be to young people, some of the holdouts in our country?

REDLENER: So there`s this sense of, you know, immortality among a lot of people. And I think, probably you and I experience a bit of that at those ages as well. The problem is, there`s been nothing like this before, for the 20-year olds and 30-year olds, and they really have to pay attention, because a lot of people are getting sick, even children are getting sick.

And I think there`s been a little bit of a lightness by, you know, in the approach of young people getting vaccinated. And I think we need them to step it up really, as an example to other Americans. But we need 20-year olds and 30-year olds to kind of say, I need the vaccine, and I need it now.

And I think if we can get --we can break loose there, I think we can make some big progress. But it`s going to take some messaging, by the way, by people who are peers of those who seem to be resistant or hesitant. It`s not going to be, you know, the older sect that`s going to actually be that influential with people that are younger. And I think we got to find peers. We have been doing that. And government`s been looking to do that. Peers who can speak the language of folks who are still resistant or hesitant about getting a vaccine.

WILLIAMS: I can indeed confirm fleeting feelings of immortality until I blew out my knee in high school football. It was all over then. Dr. Irwin Redlener, our friend of this broadcast has been our guest tonight taking our questions about this pandemic so far without end.

Coming up and staying on topic. How do you welcome the world to the Olympic Games when the virus is still rampant in your country? Well, we`re all about to find out indeed from the comfort of our homes.


WILLIAMS: Tomorrow marks exactly one month till the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and even though the city reported another 430 new COVID cases today alone. Even though a tiny fraction of its citizens have been vaccinated. Fans will be allowed to attend though in limited numbers. There will in fact be strict precautions in place as we learned tonight from NBC News foreign correspondent Keir Simmons.


KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Tonight, with Olympic Trials underway around the world, the president of Tokyo 2020 telling NBC News in an exclusive interview the games will be a blessing, but there may be difficult days.

If an athlete is confirmed COVID positive, Seiko Hashimoto, says hard decisions will have to be made, including possibly canceling individual events.

With just a month to go, the Olympic Village is ready to house more than 12,000 athletes from all over the world. There`ll be shuttled in and out to be tested every day and they will have to dine alone. There`s even a fever room.

Local spectators will be able to attend the games the Organizing Committee announced on Monday, but venues will operate at only 50 percent capacity. No more than 10,000 socially distance fans per competition.

(on camera): You can still decide to have fewer spectators, maybe even no spectators.

Yes, that`s always an option she says.

When the games get underway, four new sports will make their Olympic debut including surfing. Caroline Marks one of four surfers on Team USA.

CAROLINE MARKS, SURFER: I`m excited to hopefully put on a great performance for to show the world.

SIMMONS: Tonight, Hashimoto says every athlete deserves a gold medal just for making it to these long awaited games. Keir Simmons, NBC News, London.


WILLIAMS: And coming up for us the governor of Texas may have outdone himself this time, the story when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, if you`re a Trumper Republican, there`s really no limit to what you can say to fire up the base. You can guess like what the best of them, you can lie with impunity. Generally, the rule is say or do the most shocking thing imaginable. And that`s how you stay on brand.

Which brings us somehow back to the rootin-tootin Trumper governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. His state doesn`t have a dependable power grid and yet, he`s going to build his own wall on the border and he`s being richly rewarded by a visit from his guy Trump next week.

If Abbott wants to say run for president, he must be more further ensconced in a particular area of Trump`s anatomy than even Ron DeSantis of Florida. And that won`t be easy. Sure, the pretend outrage over critical race theory helps Abbott so does the voter suppression bill he`s been working so hard to enact and that guns for everyone legislation he signed. But now he`s out done even himself.

Today, and we quote here from the Texas Tribune, he vetoed a bill known as the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act. The bill would have made it illegal and if you`ve ever loved the dog, this will appear to you to be common sense. It would have made it illegal to chain up dogs and leave them outside without drinkable water, adequate shade or shelter. It also called for a ban on tethering dogs with heavy chains. Quote, Texas is no place for this kind of micromanaging and overcriminalization, said the governor in the veto statement.

That goes right to the base or at least it`s designed to. Now tonight, the hashtag Abbott hates dogs is trending.

Remember the rules when you`re trying to appeal to that Trump base, nothing can be shocking or outrageous enough because Abbott figures apparently dogs can`t vote. And really what have dogs ever done for us?

The latest news from Texas to take us off the air tonight. That is our broadcast for this Tuesday evening with our thanks for being here with us. My thanks to my friend Chris Jansing for filling in for me last night. On behalf of all our colleagues here at the networks of NBC News, good night.