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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 6/23/21

Guests: Melissa Murray, Paul Butler, Mike Murphy


President Joe Biden closes in on bipartisan infrastructure deal. Biden turns focus to crime and gun violence. Biden and Attorney Garland unveil anti-crime plan. Officials release more video of Capitol insurrection. Nancy Pelosi is reportedly weighing a select committee to investigate capitol insurrection. VP Kamala Harris is set to visit U.S.- Mexico border. Prosecutors seek 30-years in Chauvin murder conviction. Democrats warn defund the police threatens 2022 electoral chances. Roughly a dozen House Republicans will join former President Donald Trump on a visit to the southern border next week. Bipartisan group of senators are to brief Biden on infrastructure "framework" after potential breakthrough in talks. Supreme Court gives cheerleader victory in school free speech case. The 8-1 ruling said public schools have no general power to punish students for what they say off campus.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Natoma Canfield`s letter still hangs now in President Obama`s personal office. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 155 of the Biden administration. And tonight the President may be on the verge of locking in a key part of his bipartisan agenda. There appears to be the framework of a reported $1.2 trillion deal on his sweeping plan to fix infrastructure and create jobs.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R) UTAH: Republicans and Democrats have come together, along with the White House and we`ve agreed on a framework and we`re going to be heading to the White House tomorrow.


WILLIAMS: The White House has indeed confirmed tomorrow`s meeting taking place just before senators leave town for their two week recess. There`s more on this glimmer of bipartisan progress just ahead.

Biden administration also putting its weight behind fighting a troubling surge in violent crimes across our country, according to data from the Council on Criminal Justice homicides up 24%, gun assaults 22%, over the same period last year, late today, the President and Attorney General outlined a new anti-crime strategy focused on getting more money to police departments and to violence intervention programs while cracking down on so called rogue gun dealers.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: Zero tolerance for gun dealers who willfully violate key existing laws and regulations. If you will sell a gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully failed to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with a tracing request or inspections, we`ll find you. And we will seek your license to sell guns. We`ll make sure you can`t sell death and mayhem on our streets.


WILLIAMS: Biden also noted crime traditionally rises during the summer months. He warned things could get worse in just the coming weeks.


BIDEN: As we emerge from this pandemic, of the country opening back up again, traditional summer spike may be more pronounced than it usually would be.


WILLIAMS: As Senator Joe Biden, as you may know, was one of the principal authors of the 1994 crime bill, he`s often presented himself to audiences as a Democrat is tough on crime. But today Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said his current crime fighting strategy doesn`t go far enough.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: They`re going after trying to take guns off the street, which is a fine thing to do. But the reason that the spike in crime is nobody`s getting prosecuted. The liberal left has created this problem in the Joe Biden of the 70s, who was tough on crime no longer exist.


WILLIAMS: In the meantime, the effort to prosecute those responsible for the violence siege and desecration at our Capitol nearly six months ago now is yielding even more dramatic new video showing exactly what police officers were up against for hours that day. This latest footage has just been released by the Justice Department, like everything from that day it is disturbing.


WILLIAMS: The government today also released never before seen footage showing officers in the basement of the Capitol Complex that day gearing up and preparing to take on the rioters.


WILLIAMS: Today a 49-year-old woman from Indiana was the first person sentenced in connection with the January riot. Anna Morgan-Lloyd pleaded guilty to illegally demonstrating, faces three years on probation for $500 restitution payment for damage to the Capitol. She told the court, she was ashamed of the violence that took place.

Nancy Pelosi is said to be still weighing whether to create a special 9/11 style commission to investigate the attack after Republicans, of course, blocked legislation to create a bipartisan panel.

White House also confirmed today the Vice President will travel to El Paso on Friday with the Secretary of Homeland Security. Kamala Harris, a former senator from California, of course, is making her first trip to the border as V.P. after relentless criticism from Republicans who argue she should have gone there much sooner.

The former president who you probably remember wanted to build that wall has weighed in with a statement that reads in part, "Harris and Biden were given the strongest border in American history. And now, it is by far the worst in American history. If Texas Governor Abbott and I weren`t going there next week, she never would have gone."

We`ll have more on the border issue coming up.

There was also a surprise, Supreme Court development today. Decision, some are hailing as a key victory for free speech. The court ruled in favor of a former high school cheerleader who posted a profanity laced reaction on Snapchat after she failed to make the varsity cheerleading squad.

The Pennsylvania teenager had argued she should not be punished both by her public school for speaking out while off school grounds and she won in the highest court in the land, no less.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning Senior Washington Correspondent over at the Washington Post, his highly anticipated new book written with his colleague Carol Leonnig called, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump`s Catastrophic Final Year is due out just days from now, Professor Melissa Murray, NYU Law School who was law clerk for Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the federal bench prior to her nomination to the Supreme Court and Jason Johnson, Campaign Veteran Journalist, Contributor at the Grio, and a professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University.

Phil Rucker, I would like to begin with you and the White House beat. Why did the White House choose today to the best of your knowledge to launch this anti crime initiative?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Brian, it was an important day for President Biden to launch this initiative, in part because there are indications that crime this summer could be going up in cities across the country, Biden warned of that, of course, in his remarks from the White House today, and he wanted to try to take political advantage or at least position his administration better as the summer bears on. You know, he -- this is a politically tricky issue for Democrats that always has been for decades now. But especially in this moment, because Republicans on Capitol Hill have said that they want to try to use crime, if there`s a crime wave this summer as a campaign tool to try to defeat the Democrats and take back the majority in the midterm elections next year. So what we heard from Biden, and from the attorney general, is a suite of policy proposals that they think can get a handle on crime, first and foremost, including some of those new gun restrictions that have been so important to the Democratic Party`s agenda over the years, to try to show to the American people that they`re responsive. They`re predicting what could be happening here, and they`re trying to come up with some ideas at a federal level that can get control of the crime situation in these cities.

WILLIAMS: Jason Johnson, next to you a piece of journalism from the New York Times I want to run by you, the headline is, Want to Get Trump Reelected? Dismantle the Police. The author is Tom Friedman. And he writes in part, this is political dynamite for Democrats. The Trump-cult GOP will pound them on this policing issue. Biden needs to keep rallying his party tightly around his right answer, transformed policing and sufficient policing, not defunding the police." Your response?

JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, first, I don`t know why he is continuing to perpetuate this myth that Democrats as a whole were calling for defund the police. They never were. They never have and if it didn`t kill the Democrats last year during the election, if people like -- if you can win seats in Georgia, Georgia, seventh district, if you can win seats, when you literally had protests and riots in Atlanta, Georgia, this defund the police is a myth that centrists seem to believe in that doesn`t actually affect voters. That`s the first thing.

I can say this as a voter and as somebody who`s very clear that I`ve said we need to abolish modern policing and create something entirely new, the idea that Joe Biden and again, he had police needed stakeholders there, but he`s about to take money from coronavirus relief and put it into police departments after the last year of protests that we`ve seen, after all of the evidence and the information, any empirical data that says that given more money to police departments doesn`t actually solve crime. I think that is a huge mistake and the wrong message to send to the kind of young activists that they will need to be excited next summer to maintain the House and Senate 2022.

WILLIAMS: So Professor Murray, this Biden anti-crime strategy leans on social programs, it also leans on beefing up police departments, your response to that combination?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: I think Jason is exactly right. This doesn`t have to be an either or situation. You can have serious law enforcement, law and order policing. But you can also have policing that sensitive to the communities in which that policing is occurring. And I think the Biden administration is trying to thread that needle, recognizing the difficulties that some communities have had with excessive policing in the past, while also noting that these very same communities wish for safe communities and safety for themselves. So again, it is not an either or black or white situation. It can be both and it needs to be a more nuanced conversation. I think that`s the balance they`re trying to strike.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, as you heard at the top of the broadcast, as you already knew, part of the news out of Washington tonight is this framework on a possible deal on infrastructure and jobs. Here are a couple of democratic senators reacting tonight. We`ll talk on the other side.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D) CONNECTICUT: That deal right now as 20 votes, not 60 votes, we`re going to have to take a deep dive into the agreement that they`ve reached and, you know, square it with the needs of our voters.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: There will be one infrastructure deal, and it will be a big infrastructure deal. A part of this is how we`re going to pay for it. And that means making sure that billionaires and giant corporations are paying a fair share, and that we`re enforcing the tax laws.


WILLIAMS: So Phil, what`s your best read as of airtime tonight on where this thing stands?

RUCKER: Well, Brian, it`s very much of a hot potato here in Washington tonight. But what we know is that this bipartisan group has come up with a framework in negotiation with the White House. It is a far smaller and less ambitious framework than the one that the Biden administration proposed and does not achieve all of the policy goals that many Democrats are hoping for, including these climate change programs, including elder care, and some of those other social programs that have been at the heart of what progressives have been pushing throughout this spring and into the summer.

Now, the meeting tomorrow will reveal some more details at the White House about what this proposal actually does. It`s unclear whether it will have the support of all the Democratic senators, but it may well have the support of enough senators from both parties to pass the Senate. But it`s not the only infrastructure deal that could be on the table, because simultaneously as this bipartisan negotiation has been going on Senate Democrats and House Democrats have been working with the White House on a separate track to pass the bigger package that you heard Senator Warren talking about there, through a measure called reconciliation that would only require the 50 plus one vote majority in the Senate.

And so there is a possibility here, that there could be two infrastructure bills, right that the bipartisan deal that the Republicans have agreed to could pass and then the other elements of the Biden administration proposal could later pass for reconciliation with democratic votes on a party line.

WILLIAMS: Jason, you`re a smart guy, smart enough that a major college trusts you to inform young inquiring minds, you know the math in the Senate. Let me ask you this. What should have happened? What should have happened say today, after that loss by the Democrats on voting rights in the Senate, what is the next step in your view?

JOHNSON: The next step is, and I want to make sure that we credit president for this, look, it`s very clear Joe Biden`s been working behind the scenes. Stacey Abrams, were working behind the scenes, Raphael, Warnock have been working behind the scenes. I don`t think this is a lack of effort on the part of the administration. But what needs to happen now is every single day, every activist, every organization, on the face of the planet needs to be outside Sinema`s office, outside Manchin`s office, and outside Republican offices as well. There is a way to put pressure on people to bring forth some of this information to bring forth the need for this voting rights bill.

And quite frankly, look, I believe in symbolism, good campaign messaging. If I were Joe Biden, I would be asking Democrats around the country, where`s the longest lines of vote this fall? And if I were Joe Biden, I would literally stand in line with some voters who have to wait three, four hours of vote this fall and say this is what we`re fighting against suburbanites. This is what we`re fighting against. They need to go out into the country and show that this bill is to fight against the inconvenience and the voter suppression that everybody`s facing. Full court press, this should be the word of every politician`s mouth for the next eight months.

WILLIAMS: Professor Murray finally to you I`m going to play for you. Donald Trump commenting on two of his justices to the Supreme Court, specifically Kavanaugh and Barrett, who, in his view, went the wrong way on Obamacare.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Disappointed and that`s the way it goes, I`m very disappointed. I fought very hard for them. I was disappointed with a number of rulings that they made.


WILLIAMS: So Professor, what, if anything, does this prove about him, about the court as an institution, about the justices he appointed?

MURRAY: Well, first, it suggests that the framers of the Constitution imagined an independent judiciary that did its own bidding rather than dancing to the tune that the President called. But irrespective of that, I think it`s still quite early days to assume that the recent Trump appointees are not exactly of the character that he intended that they are actually staunch conservatives. It`s early days yet, and while the court has seen a number of, "victories," they`re not full throated or robust victories for progressives. They`re often very narrow decisions that the ACA case was a jurisdictional issue. It didn`t even broach the merits of whether or not the individual mandate was unconstitutional, or whether they the entire ACA had to be struck down. It was a jurisdictional decision. And so although the court has posted a few wins for liberals, this is really early days. And there`s still more to come. And we have a big voting rights case that will be expected next week. And we could see more of that conservative element of the court emerge in some of those really pivotal cases.

WILLIAMS: Well, let me hit you with a quick follow up before I have to get to a break. Do you think Roberts will allow a case to the whole court that challenges Obamacare in all?

MURRAY: I think we`re done with the full frontal assault on Obamacare, but I think just as Roe vs. Wade was, "saved" in 1992 in the Casey case, you can still see some piecemeal challenges. So in the same way that the right to an abortion is allegedly entrenched, we nonetheless have seen the chipping away at it over time, over the last 30 years. So I could imagine a number of challenges to different parts of Obamacare, certainly the contraceptive mandate, rather than some broad full frontal assault on the entire legislative scheme.

WILLIAMS: A journalist and not one but two professors, Phil Rucker, Melissa Murray, Jason Johnson, our thanks for starting us off tonight.

There is a good chance coming up, if you live in a big city that it`s already had -- that`s already bad, and it`s going to be a long hot summer. The President trying to take a bite out of crime as we`ve been talking about. We`ll take a closer look at what`s at stake politically, even what`s possible on the streets of our country.

And later, GOP lawmakers get schooled on wokeness and critical race theory by a man who has faced down foreign adversaries and isn`t about to be scared by a few House Republican members. THE 11TH HOUR, just getting underway on this Wednesday night.



BIDEN: This shouldn`t be a red or blue issue. It`s an American issue. We`re not changing the Constitution. We`re unfortunate. We have an opportunity to come together now as Democrats and Republicans as fellow Americans to fulfill the first responsibility in government our democracy to keep each other safe.


WILLIAMS: Of course this being 2021, no sooner had the president said it, it became a massive political issue with Republicans and Democrats already taking issue with his plan to head off what is projected to be an especially violent summer in our country.

In Portland homicides are up a staggering 530% from last year. Atlanta has seen a 41% increase in murder as to the president strategy. The AP sums it up this way. There are quote tricky politics at play and Biden`s plan shows how few options the Democratic president has on the issue.

Well, back with us tonight is Paul Butler, former federal corruption prosecutor at the Department of Justice, currently a professor at Georgetown Law School who has written and spoken extensively on this topic. Among his books in fact, Choke Hold: Policing Black Men.

Paul Butler, great to see you, as always, thanks for coming on. And what is your take -- your initial take on what the President laid out today?

PAUL BUTLER, GEORGETOWN LAW PROFESSOR: Brian, Biden`s last public safety project was the crime bill of 1994, which brought us mass incarceration and vast race disparities. This time, Biden is focused on crime prevention, rather than harsh penalties. And that`s a more evidence based approach to what really works to make communities safer. So the Attorney General is going to order prosecutors to throw the book, a gun dealers who sell firearms to people who are allowed to route them. But the problem is there can`t be any meaningful gun control without the support of Congress, which Biden does not have on this issue.

WILLIAMS: With the phrase defang the police have been more successful than we know what has become of defund the police. And I`m asking but because $350 billion, and it`s an interesting mix of social programs and enhanced policing is a ton of money?

BUTLER: Biden says that states can use some of their federal stimulus money for policing and I`m sure he sees this as a good political strategy to answer Republicans who claimed he wants to defund the police. But progressives, they want to see federal money shifted from policing to social programs. Biden is doing some of that. He`s expanding summer jobs for young people. He`s supporting violence interruption programs. He wants more resources devoted to help people who are coming home from prison, but activists are going to zero in on this 350 billion dollars that was supposed to be for pandemic relief and now can be used to hire more cops.

WILLIAMS: Of course, Paul, I`m duty bound to point out that voters are usually interested in one thing, and that is, when they call 911 they want to know something`s going to happen and someone`s going to arrive.

BUTLER: And there`s nothing wrong with that. It`s true as Biden`s press secretary said today, there`s no conflict between fighting crime and police reform. Young black men are most likely to be victims of police abuse, and they`re also more likely to die from homicide. So both community safety and racial justice requires focusing on both.

But Brian, at the same time, the protests in the 1960s brought us the Voting Rights Act and important civil rights laws. Last summer`s protests were very effective at creating reform on the state and local level. But so far, there hasn`t been any significant federal law.

WILLIAMS: Let me bring up one of the more searing episodes of our recent history, and that, of course, is the death of George Floyd, Chauvin sentencing is set for Friday, prosecutions recommending three decades behind bars, 30 years, his defense is asking for probation. Given your experience, what`s realistic here, especially how closely and carefully you watched this judge during the proceedings?

BUTLER: The guidelines call for about 12 and a half years for former Officer Chauvin, the prosecution moved and the judge agreed that the sentence can be in hands because of aggravating factors like the fact that Chauvin committed this murder in front of children and that Mr. Floyd was especially vulnerable. So I think that the judge will probably compromise. He`s not likely, I think, to send Officer Chauvin to prison for 30 years. I think somewhere around 15 or 20 is realistic. Although I think many activists as well as Mr. Floyd`s family wouldn`t be satisfied with anything less than the maximum punishment.

WILLIAMS: Professor Paul Butler, Georgetown University, always a pleasure to have you on. Thank you for being our guest tonight.

Another break for us, and coming up, Democrats reportedly consider it their single biggest threat in 2022. We`ll talk about the politics fraught as they are surrounding policing in our country when we come back.


WILLIAMS: As the President makes violent crime prevention a priority, Axios reports it this way, quote, Democrats in private and public are warning that rising crime and the old and new progressive calls to defund the police represent, wait for it, the single biggest threat to their electoral chances in 2022. To which most people answered yes, no kidding.

Axios goes on to report quote, Democrats say it`s no coincidence that Eric Adams, the leader in the New York City, mayoral race ran against defunding the police. In fact, Eric Adams is a former New York City police officer.

For more, we welcome back tonight, Juanita Tolliver, veteran political strategist to progressive candidates and causes. And Mike Murphy, veteran Republican strategist and co-director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California, also the co-host of the Hacks on Tap podcast. Good evening, and welcome to you both.

So, Juanita, what about the points made in the Axios reporting not in a vacuum, but knowing as you do? What will happen to a movement what already has, starting with the first appearance of signs at demonstrations, defund the police? What happens in the Trump friendly media? What happens in campaign ads? Somebody calls 911? The answer is how`s a week from Tuesday?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hello, Brian, I kind of don`t even want to touch that frame. Because I want to recenter his back on the concept that is important that Democrats first and foremost, center the voters, center the needs of the communities they`re looking to serve in anything that they`re doing, right. So whatever attacks are coming from Republicans are going to be there.

And so when it comes to public safety and violent crime, I would urge Democrats to not do this only to thwart potential GOP attacks versus getting to the root causes of crime. And what we see in what Biden in the White House rolled out today was that they`re trying to do that. And it seems like Biden learned some lessons from 1994. And that they`re really trying to be proactive here in prioritizing targeting gun manufacturers and gun dealers, as well as investing in community based solutions.

And so when I think about candidates like Eric Adams in New York, who, you`re right, he`s in the lead right now. But as we all patiently wait for the votes to be counted, I think there`s something to be said that you still have Maya Wiley, as well as Katherine Garcia, who still have viable paths to victory in New York City with their Ranked Choice Voting, and as they get into absentee votes as well.

So I won`t say that Eric Adams is necessarily the explicit path that Democrats should take across the country. But they should take some notes from what we saw roll out from Biden, and use that as a potential playbook paired with other things that were saying that again, focus in response to the needs of their communities.

WILLIAMS: So Mike, let`s go there right now. And it`s an interesting contrast between Eric Adams and Maya Wiley, of course, frequent contributor in the past on this network. Eric Adams, former New York City cop, former Republican has a place in Jersey. Maya Wiley chose to run against the NYPD because the secret to life is timing at a time when crime is spiking in the streets and subway of New York.

What do you take away from the New York City mayor`s race? We -- The point we made last night. This is important nationally because they have more constituents in New York City than 38 of the United States then over 70 US senators.

MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, look, a New York City mayor`s race is a huge bellwether to Democrats is probably the largest progressive the center, you know, left electorate in the country. And it said something.

Now, you know, Juanita`s right, the votes aren`t all in, but the statistical patterns are really, really strong. And if you add up the candidates who did not run on kind of the Maya Wiley platform of, you know, sort of defund reform massively changed the police. They did really well and she did pretty poorly. I think she`s going to wind up in second maybe for another round or two, but I would be stunned if she makes it to Mayor. I think the chances are very high it`ll be Adams. You look at the patterns are very clear.

And it was a clear referendum. You know, it`s so funny, in practical politics is always your own side who can get you in trouble. In the Republican Party, we have January 6 deniers and space laser cooks. But these progressives and the Democratic side are polling the center of the gravity, excuse me, center gravity of the party in a way that`s not going to be helpful. And I think we`re going to see more of these fights on other issues.

But it is a real sign that the strongly endorsed AOC candidate who ran Maya Wiley on a strong progressive, no apologies agenda, got beat bad, significantly in an electorate that should be more friendly to that kind of stuff than any other electorate or other than maybe a Cambridge mass city council race in the country.

WILLIAMS: Juanita, let me put it less artfully than our friend Mike just did. It`s been said on this broadcast a million times, Democrats have a hard earned reputation for eating their own young. And what do you say about the dynamic might just laid out what the progressive wing is doing in terms of pressure and policy to the National Party?

TOLLIVER: Look, I think progressive wing of the party is pushing the party as they should, more and better in terms of systematic reform is always essential to progress nationally. And so the Progressive Party isn`t going to back off. And what we see now in the dynamic nationally, even looking to the dynamic we`re seeing between progressives in Congress and Biden, for instance, is that they`re pushing him to do more, to be able to deliver on not only the agenda items that they promised to the American public, which elected them not only in the House, Democrats in the Senate as well as the White House, but they`re looking to deliver because they know going into midterms.

People want those tangible differences. People want that tangible impact, and wants to know what Democrats are going to deliver for them. And so I disagree wholeheartedly that progressives are pulling the party down versus pushing the party forward.

WILLIAMS: For the folks who want tangible stuff like jobs, bridges, the border wall, we got a conversation coming up after this break. Juanita and Mike have agreed to stay with us. When we do who else is heading to the border with the former president next week when we come back.


WILLIAMS: As the recount pointed out, Republicans quote really stuck to the border talking points today. It comes as POLITICO reports about a dozen House Republicans plan to join Donald Trump at the border wall next Wednesday. As we mentioned, Vice President Harris is set to visit the border this coming Friday.

Still with us Juanita Tolliver, Mike Murphy. Juanita, couple things. Number one, there are a little theatre groups all across the country, tipping their hats to the cast of the border crisis based on how many hours of rehearsal that clearly took up. Give me your honest assessment. How real is the border as an issue for Americans who are not glued to Fox News, Newsmax, OAN and the like?

TOLLIVER: Well, Brian, you just eliminated the audience. Come on now, what am I supposed to do with everybody else who does not stick to the same sources of information that repeat the same lines that we heard from Republicans right there. I tell you, the GOP has truly mastered the concept of message discipline, and the impact of their viewers, their voters, hearing that messaging day in and day out, of course, across the course of months and years is masterful in terms of getting them to the polls and getting them excited about this issue.

And so that`s what we can expect from Trump and Republicans when they go to the border. More of the same lies, more of the same content, more of the same language that will rile up their base. And again, reaffirm the GOP is alignment with Trump. This is not -- this is masterful power posturing from Trump to be visiting the border with these GOP members right now who are fully being dogged about just reaffirming their commitment to Trump and reaffirming their commitment to Trump`s immigration policies, which they know is and will forever remain a hot button issue with their voting base.

WILLIAMS: Mike Murphy, what is an actual issue across this country to people on both sides of the aisle? Is what was announced tonight, this framework on infrastructure, for those joining the English language version of our broadcast, that basically means a tentative deal on jobs and bridges.

And Mike, as you know, this cuts across party lines, because this is stuff for folks who have to drive their kids to school across a bridge they have worried about for 50 years. Did you always think the Republicans would come to the table meaningfully and have they in slow motion realize this stuff matters back home?

MURPHY: Yes, I`ve always thought so in Hacks on Tap, we made a bunch of predictions about this but a week ago. I think it`ll boil down to a pretty good bipartisan bill with, you know, a trillion plus, we`re a record number of dollars spent on this which is good for the country. And it`ll be on hard infrastructure, you know, water bridges, roads and stuff you`re talking about, electric grid, which is a good thing.

I think for our viewers who like to watch political theater the question now we`ll be well some of the progressives who would love -- would like to see a lot of social welfare spending added to this bill that would not get Republican support. Will they put on their Mitch McConnell costumes and blow it off in the end, or will they go along kind of grumpily and that`ll be the lift for, you know, Speaker Pelosi and leader Schumer,

I think this bipartisan deal with a lot of real infrastructure is a good ending place. And I think Biden in there sending this signal is going to be able to live with it. And I think it`s really important for the country to show we can actually give something real done. We`ve got to show the Europeans and some of our allies around the world that we are capable of functioning and having a Congress that can move beyond food fighting on a bill that`s -- that`ll be good for the country.

So yes, I`m, I`m optimistic there`s still going to be roadblocks and there is a chance to progressive could blow it all up. But I think in the end, after a lot of noise, they`re going to reluctantly get on board. That`s my guess.

WILLIAMS: And Mike, one more word about Mitch McConnell, because he is so unique among political figures in American history, certainly in modern American history, for saying no, for wanting to be obstructionist, and saying the quiet part out loud. Correct me if I`m wrong, but he still has the ability to hurt Republican Senate chances back home just -- because he wants to win the game.

MURPHY: Yes, well, look he, I would call him honest. He`s pretty transparent. And, you know, and conservatives like the way he stops things they think are bad, and they`ve gotten half the Senate. But yes, he`s got political calculations to make. The Republicans are holding good cards to win back the House.

In the Senate, it`s a tougher terrain. And we`re really on the razor`s edge there for either party and they`re watching that Pennsylvania race, and other places that are not easy for Republicans to win, but they can. Pat Toomey, a Republican is retiring.

So, McConnell is mixing I think the pressure is under is both -- hold the conservative line on policy, and also be pragmatic enough and Mitch like any good Paul knows, a nice roads and bridges bill where every politician can cut a ribbon and take some credit is good for his caucus, as well as for the Democrats. So I think everybody will find some credit in this. And from his point of view that moves the ball forward politically.

WILLIAMS: Final prediction from Juanita, will we get to 60 on this front? Will some combination of Schumer and McConnell make it happen?

TOLLIVER: I think yes, on this bipartisan deal reached with the White House. I think also stand by for a second package from Democrats that does meet the needs, not only on progressives, but of individuals working in childcare, women and who were impacted by the lack of childcare and the lack of other supports throughout this pandemic, who need these very real pieces of infrastructure that impact the way that we live our lives every single day.

WILLIAMS: Juanita Tolliver, Mike Murphy, two friends of this broadcast for good reason. Thank you folks for joining us tonight and staying up with us tonight.

Coming up. What today`s Supreme Court ruling means for public school students and their rights to free speech.


WILLIAMS: We mentioned this earlier the Supreme Court today issued an important ruling regarding students and free speech. The court ruled eight to one that a school went too far when it punished a cheerleader for what she posted on social media. We get the story tonight from NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams.


PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The ruling is a big boost for the free speech rights of the nation`s public school children and a victory for Brandi Levy of Pennsylvania. When she was a ninth grader she lashed out one weekend after finding out she didn`t make varsity and would remain a junior varsity cheerleader.

On Snapchat she wrote F school, F softball, F cheer, F everything.

BRANDI LEVY, NINTH GRADER AT A PENNSYLVANIA HIGH SCHOOL: I was upset and I just wanted to blow off steam and express my feelings.

WILLIAMS: When her coaches saw the message, they suspended her from cheerleading. But by a vote of eight to one, the Supreme Court said she should not have been punished partly because her expression wasn`t that disruptive. But going further Justice Stephen Breyer`s majority opinion said schools have far less authority over students when they`re not on campus. He called schools nurseries of democracy that should encourage free expression.

TOM GOLDSTEIN, SCOTUSBLOG CO-FOUNDER: This is a huge victory for student free speech because so much of what students do and that schools are concerned about happens off campus and on social media.

WILLIAMS: Clarence Thomas was the only dissenter he said schools have historically had authority over students both in and out of school.

(on camera): This ruling still leaves the door open for schools to punish students for expression amounting to threats, bullying, cheating on tests, or violating the rules on extracurricular activities.


WILLIAMS: And our thanks to Pete Williams, for that report. Coming up for us, something you probably didn`t think you`d live long enough to see Republicans who are anti-U.S. military.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, General Mark Milley, he is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What he didn`t learn while attending Princeton or Columbia or while on overseas battlefields, he`s been forced to learn on the job like his regretted having been roped in on that autocratic stunt that allowed Trump to hold up a Bible after protesters were beaten and gassed and like hearing -- like the hearing where he and Defense Secretary Austin testified today.

Republicans have decided we are in a crisis of some sort where our military is both soft and woke. Our kids are being taught dangerous things like white rage and critical race theory. And when asked about the curriculum at West Point today, Milley made it clear he wasn`t having it.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: First of all, on the issue of critical race theory, etc. A lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is. But I do think it`s important, actually, for those of us in uniform, to be open minded and be widely read, and the United States Military Academy is a university. And it is important that we train, and we understand, and I want to understand white rage, and I`m white, and I want to understand it.

So, what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building, and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here and I do want to analyze it. It`s important that we understand that because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardians, they come from the American people. So it is important that the leaders now end in the future, do understand it. I`ve read Mao Zedong, I`ve read Karl Marx, I`ve read Lenin. That doesn`t make me a communist.

So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend and I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers are commissioned, noncommissioned officers of being quote, woke or something else, because we`re studying some theories that are out there that was started at Harvard Law School years ago, and proposed that there were laws in the United States, antebellum laws prior to the Civil War, that led to a power differential with African Americans that were three quarters of a human being when this country was formed.

And then we had a civil war and emancipation proclamation to change it. And we brought it up to the Civil Rights Act in 1964. It took another 100 years to change that. So look at I do want to know.


WILLAMS: Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, who did not serve in the military, but did smirk while General Milley was testifying also went on to troll the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Twitter saying with Generals like this, it`s no wonder we fought considerably more wars than we`ve won.

Easy enough to love a comment like that from the cheap seats but then retired U.S. Army General and combat veteran Mark Hertling tossed this out there, quote, hey, Matt Gaetz, see those stripes on General Milley`s right sleeve. Each one represents six months in combat. Secretary of Defense Austin has more but they aren`t on his suit. You really want to do this.

To be fair, Gaetz the same Matt Gaetz who faces potential sex trafficking charges, which he denies, did also tweet today, which kind of makes them a freedom fighter.

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