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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 6/24/21

Guests: Charles Burkett, Joyce Vance, James Carville


Search and rescue is underway after Florida condo collapse. Dozens are still missing after building collapse. Court cites Trump`s election lies in suspending Rudy Giuliani`s New York law license. Biden and senators reach bipartisan infrastructure deal. Senators tout bipartisanship on infrastructure. Nancy Pelosi announces select committee will investigate Jan. 6 attack. Fox News host suggests defunding the U.S. military.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Once again hear on The Last Word by the lead prosecutors in the case, Jerry Blackwell and Steve Schleicher. That is Tonight`s Last Word, the 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 156 of the Biden administration, which today scored a major win indeed, in the effort to get a bipartisan infrastructure deal. We`ll get to the details of this tentative agreement just ahead.

But of course, we begin with the frantic effort underway to find people alive beneath 12 floors of concrete and steel after the collapse of two towers sections of a high-rise oceanfront condo building north of Miami Beach. 55 units and the Champlain Tower South building in Surfside were suddenly destroyed. Tonight, 99 souls are listed as unaccounted for officially. There`s been one fatality.

Crews have been on the scene for almost 24 hours now, using extrication tools, their hands, search dogs` microphones, earlier today, a boy who was trapped in the debris was pulled out alive.

For the very latest we`re joined tonight by telephone by Charles Burkett, the mayor of Surfside, Florida. Joining us by telephone because the weather has turned so suddenly severe, we can`t get a TV signal out of there, which also means think of the underground rescue effort and how that will be slowed down and hampered by rainfall.

Mr. Mayor, I`ve been watching you on television all day. I think we`re pretty close to the same age. When I woke up this morning, saw the pictures in your town, I thought of the Marine barracks bombing Khobar Towers, I thought of Oklahoma City, and then I`ve seen your comment all day long. Buildings don`t fall down like this. In America, obviously, there`s that investigation, but update us tonight on the search for living souls.

CHARLES BURKETT, MAYOR OF SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: You`re right about the rain. It`s heartbreaking now that we`ve -- I think it`s slowing us down and we just don`t have the time to be slowed down. But rain has stopped, thank God. And we will. We will pick it up. And we will continue until we`re finished. We will just keep going.

You know you`re right. These buildings do not fall down like this in first world countries. This is a third world event. And we need to understand why this happened. But now is not the time for that. We need to focus on getting people out alive if we can.

WILLIAMS: Your life`s work if I`m not mistaken, you came from the building and property management industry, so this is not an unfamiliar topic to you. What is the chance this being Florida you had a slow-moving underground sinkhole beneath this building known to no one until now?

BURKETT: Listen, that that`s a very plausible theory. There are other several plausible theories. But again, it`s -- this was a catastrophic failure that happened in an instant, you know, we were not aware of any signs of this in advance. So that`s why it`s so crushing for us to have this happen. I woke up this morning, it was called at 2 a.m. thought I was going to see a balcony that falling off. I never imagined that I would see half the building in a pile. And it`s just something that no one ever expected it. It`s just actually -- it`s left us speechless. But we`re dealing with it.

The County`s been here. You know, the president, the White House has called. We`ve had both our U.S. senators call. We`ve had one of those U.S. senators here. We`ve had the governor here. We`ve walked the property with him. They`ve all committed to helping suicide and they`re following through. They`re not just talking the talk. They`re walking the walk.

We`ve had Governor Sanders, like I said, we`ve had Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who`s been incredible. We`ve had Mayor Cava here from the county who has just flooded us with resources. We`re not -- we have no lack of resources. The only thing we have a little bit of a lack of is luck. And we just need to be able to find some people alive in that debris. And that`s exactly what we`re doing. So we`re just crossing our fingers and working as hard as we can as fast as we can.

WILLIAMS: Last question, I know you`re looking for things to feel fortunate about and I have to say all the disasters we cover. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, their search teams are often the first to arrive anywhere in the country. They`re so good at what they do. So they`re on the job along with a lot of help. I know they stop every few minutes to have silence on the site to try to listen for survivors inside.

And I guess tonight for everybody watching we`re in the business of hoping for air pockets, hoping that concrete and rebar held up and there are people in there just waiting on us to get to them?

BURKETT: Listen, you said it. You said it exactly right, those guys, I mean, we`re going to have our day with those guys. They are heroes, that building that`s still standing was in imminent danger of collapse. Those guys didn`t think twice. They went up in that building. They check every single apartment in that building, knowing that that building down at any minute, they`re still working right underneath that building, knowing that that buildings come down at any minute. It is astounding to me that we`ve got such brave guys on our team and you`re right about that. There`s nobody better than that Miami-Dade First Responder Team, and we`ve got a lot to be proud of there. But anyways, we got a lot of work in front of us.

WILLIAMS: Wherever people are running out in this country, first responders and variably are running in. Mr. Mayor, we can`t thank you enough for pivoting and joining us by telephone tonight, we`re all thinking of you and the souls inside that structure and your city, best of luck. We`ll be watching from afar, Mayor Charles Burkett of Surfside, Florida, our thanks.

We`ll have an update on this still developing disaster, of course, later in this hour. For now, though, we want to turn our focus to Washington. And a rare sight today a smiling president and 10 senators from both parties emerging in the White House driveway to announce their agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure plan.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a deal. And I think it`s really important. We`ve all agreed that none of us got what we all want that we want it. This reminds me of the days we used to get an awful lot done up in the United States Congress. We actually worked with. We got bipartisan deal.


WILLIAMS: The plan would cost just over a trillion dollars to be spent over eight years time. There are still a lot of hurdles to overcome. The President and top Democrats warn the agreement will only move forward if it`s paired with a much larger package of spending and tax increases, which Republicans say they will never agree to.


BIDEN: I expect that in the coming months this summer before the count, the fiscal year is over that we will have voted on this bill as well the infrastructural as well as voted on the budget resolution. If only one comes to me, I`m not -- if this is only going to come to me I`m not signing this in tandem.


WILLIAMS: At the other end of town, Speaker Pelosi also stressed both bills must be passed together.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): There ain`t going to be of infrastructure bill, unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate.


WILLIAMS: Speaker also confirmed today she intends to create a House Select Committee to investigate the 1/6 riot insurrection and desecration of our Capitol. Last month, you recall Senate Republicans blocked the last chance to set up any kind of a bipartisan commission. Justice Department today revealed at least 500 arrests now have been made in connection with one six.

And as of tonight, Rudy Giuliani once one of the most feared federal prosecutors in our country, former mayor of New York City, former Trump attorney can no longer practice law in the state of New York, his law license has been suspended. A court in New York ruled that Giuliani made "demonstrably false and misleading statements while fighting to reverse the 2020 election results on behalf of Trump." Here`s how Giuliani responded.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: They listen to the false allegations that are made by the Democrats. I`m working investigation for anything they can find is an investigation in search of a crime. That`s not American. That`s what they do and dictatorships.


WILLIAMS: Trump came to his defense in a statement defending his friend Rudy with a dated cultural reference as quote the Eliot Ness of his generation. He also ended the statement with the phrase take back America. Tonight, we`re also looking ahead to a couple of major developments expected tomorrow vice president Harris makes her first trip to the southern border. As Vice President she is visiting El Paso, Texas. Republicans have repeatedly criticized her for not visiting the region in office. Former president is traveling to the border next week.

And in Minnesota former police officer Derek Chauvin is sentenced tomorrow for the murder of George Floyd. Prosecutors have asked for 30 years, his lawyers want him to get off with just probation.

With all that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Thursday night, Peter Baker, the veteran journalist and author. He is Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, Moderator of Washington Week on PBS in her spare time, and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor, also one of the co-hosts of our podcast, Sisters In Law with Kimberly Atkins Stohr, Jill Wine-Banks and Barb McQuade.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. And Peter, I have to begin with your beat. Here we are, our lead story tonight happens to be while not federal infrastructure in this country, nonetheless, it will be a harrowing and interesting investigation into what happened in Florida, is the White House confident that on their Uber approach on the federal bill, their approach to it, as agreed to today is going to carry them through is going to work?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, it`s a bit of a high wire act still. I mean, obviously the President was very happy today, you saw that in his demeanor, he probably the happiest day he`s had and he took office, you know, and I want to say that he could deliver a bipartisan agreement, which was so critical to his appeal last year to the country, a country that`s been so divided along party lines, that`s a big deal for him. But by tying it to this reconciliation bill, that is to say, a bill that will almost certainly get only Democratic support for social spending and other programs that the President would like to pass, it creates a little bit of a danger zone ahead.

And we don`t know whether that`s going to be something that can pass or not. It works if the Republicans were to say, fine, go ahead with that I`m going to vote against it and my vote against it will be politically beneficial for me anyway. So it`s OK. But if they hold hostage disagreement that Republicans and Democrats agree with that as the infrastructure bill, because of that, we could still be in for a lot of difficult negotiations in the weeks ahead.

And the reason why the President and Pelosi are emphasizing this, because of the pressure they`re under from the left, which is already upset at the president for sort of compromising in the first place, because compromise is not a good thing, as far as a lot of people are concerned because it means you`re giving up some of the priorities you held out the beginning.

WILLIAMS: And Yamiche, to pick up on Peter`s last point compromise, of course, is something he knows very well and speaks of warmly. What does this framework, this agreement do for Joe Biden in the city you cover so well?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "PBS NEWSHOUR": Well, this infrastructure deal, this bipartisan infrastructure deal is President Biden catching his white whale. So many people, including Democrats, that he was wasting his time, that White House officials were wasting their time negotiating for weeks over infrastructure. And now this is President Biden saying, you can compromise in D.C., you can move something through Congress with giving up a little bit and gaining a little bit from the other side. So this is really President Biden in some ways, really underscoring that the thing that he ran on, which was bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle that it works in talking to White House officials today. They say the thing that they hope progressive Democrats get out of this is that compromise has to happen for things to work and they say, just look at the New York City mayoral race, look at the moderate democrats winning in Louisiana and Virginia. They`re saying yes, the party is divided, but it needs to be rational in order to win elections and in order to get things done. So that`s what this bill, this deal really says. But I tell you the President was very jubilant. We saw a rare White House, driveway appearance and then of course, an impromptu press conference.

WILLIAMS: Joyce Vance, take us to the law, tell the folks watching what it means to get your law license suspended in the city where you were once among the most feared federal prosecutors in the United States?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: This is really an extraordinary fall from grace, Brian. This is the kind of thing that lawyers are cautioned against in law school. And that as a brand-new member of the bar, you know, with your bright, shiny license to practice that you take so much care to avoid even inadvertently, and to follow -- falling into the kind of territory that Rudy Giuliani found himself in.

This is an unrelenting opinion issued by the disciplining authority in New York State. It comes from actually the Appellate Division, not the State Bar Association like it would in many states. And what they found is that there is uncontroverted evidence that Rudy Giuliani made false and misleading statements to courts, to legislative bodies, to the American people that made it difficult for people to have confidence in the outcome of the election. And it`s important that those allegations are uncontroverted. That means that they take them as true that Giuliani has done nothing to disprove them, although he had the opportunity to, because the fact that they are so blatantly true combined with the fact that Giuliani continues to pose a danger to the community, is what warranted the action that they took today suspending his license to practice law while the final outcome of these proceedings is still pending.

That interim suspension is really remarkable. And the one thing that I would say that`s so important in this opinion is that it`s detailed and it`s factual. There`s a footnote, footnote four in this opinion about Giuliani, and it points out that when he was given the opportunity to defend his comments, to defend their truth, he didn`t, he in fact, just referred to all sorts of affidavits that he never provided. He talked about a confidential informant, and they conclude we don`t know why a private citizen like Giuliani would have access to a confidential informant that he couldn`t tell the court about. So it`s just a resounding, resounding opinion, no reason to believe that this will not result in disbarment.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, back to politics, we go to your beats and a fellow member of the White House press corps someone you and I both know, Michael Bender of The Wall Street Journal, CNN has new reporting from his new book about the Trump White House. This particularly is about our summer of protests in the streets. He writes, quoting the president here, that`s how you`re supposed to handle these people. Trump told his top law enforcement and military officials, cracked their skulls. Trump also told his team that he wanted the military to go in and beat the expletive out of the Civil Rights protesters. Bender rights, just shoot them. Trump said on multiple occasions inside the Oval Office, according to the excerpts. Peter, talk about the combination of the sitting president back then. And hey, how chaotic that summer was inside the West Wing?

BAKER: Well, I think this book by Michael Bender pulls the curtain back on what we were seeing in this summer out loud, even I mean, we saw the President say in public, obviously, he only doubled down even more in private that he was not just running on this idea of law and order and dismissing any of the peaceful protesters as violent and taking the violent protesters and suggesting lethal action against them. He was railing at his military, he was railing at his aides.

And that the tension that was there with the military, which does not believe that its role is to, you know, to be in the streets of American cities enforcing the law was a huge friction point between this White House and this past White House and the Pentagon. And so I think you`re seeing in these excerpts, you know, a bit of the back story of what was really going on there. We had a commander in chief who was basically, you know, it was down to crack down as you will on protesters, both violent and peaceful, and military that was resisting it in the form of General Kelly -- I`m General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

WILLIAMS: Yamiche, what do we know about the Pelosi announcement of the select Committee and the question so many people want answered, will they have the power to compel witnesses, compelled testimony?

ALCINDOR: Well, it seems as though the details are still coming together. There was a lot of reporting that this was going to happen, because as we all remember, Republicans are refusing and have refused to investigate what happened on January 6, the question is, who are they going to be able to call into the Congress? How are they going to be able to force people at times to be able to answer questions about all of the different things that we still don`t know, including? How involved was the president? How involved were republicans? Did anybody give these people maps? Did anybody understand exactly how bad these people were going to be? Did they understand that they were going to be trying to hang Mike Pence and try to kill Nancy Pelosi? So I think there`s a lot of questions to be answered here. And every -- almost every single month, we see new video of these people. And of course, these cases are going through the courts, something like 500 arrests have been made. So I think there are real questions there. And Nancy Pelosi seems as though she is ready to get to the bottom of a lot of them.

WILLIAMS: Joyce, another reason we`re happy to have you tonight is a preview of tomorrow, the Chauvin sentencing, as I said, maximum 30 years, his lawyers want just parole. What aggravating circumstances will the judge be looking at to form his sentence recommendation?

VANCE: So the judge found based on pleadings that were filed that there are aggravating circumstances here and that means it`s not, you`ll forgive me for saying this, but it`s not a garden variety second degree or third degree murder, that there are factors other than beyond what you would normally find present in a murder that make this even more heinous, for instance, committing this murder in the presence of young children.

And so the judge will consider those factors as he decides what sentence he should give. He has a lot of discretion here and Judge Cahill is known. He has a reputation for being a moderate sentencer. But this is a case that may call for something more. One of the big issues tomorrow is whether we will see Derek Chauvin tried to defend himself. He has the opportunity to do what`s called allocution at sentencing to make a statement. He has not been a very sympathetic figure so far in these proceedings. And so there`s some, I think, legitimate question about whether he could do more damage than good to himself by speaking tomorrow.

But the country`s eyes will be on this sentence. There`s no possibility of justice. You can`t bring George Floyd back to his family. But this sentence can bring a measure of accountability and help to set the standard going forward. So I think this will be a very important perhaps more so than usual sentence both to the defendant, but also to all of us who are watching to see where it will fall.

WILLIAMS: On a busy night, we`re indebted to our starting line this evening, Peter Baker, Yamiche Alcindor, Joyce Vance our great thanks for starting us off.

Coming up for us, today`s rare display of bipartisanship, was that it? Will there be more? And now what James Carville, Stewart Stevens standing by to talk about the rough road ahead.

And later, defund the Pentagon. A former four star U.S. Army General weighs in with us tonight on the mismatch between Florida Congressman and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and what it`s like to watch as Fox News anchors attack the top leadership of the U.S. military. The 11th Hour is just getting underway on this busy Thursday night.



SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: It`s a tremendous opportunity for us to show the rest of the world that we can still get big things done in a bipartisan way.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: America can function, can get things done. We can use bipartisanship to solve these challenges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America works, the Senate works and we can work together.


WILLIAMS: Well, how about that? With us tonight to talk about where we are politically, James Carville, Veteran Democratic Strategist who rose to national fame with the Clinton Presidential effort. He is co-host of the politics War Room podcast, and Stuart Stevens, Veteran in Mitt Romney and George W. Bush`s presidential campaigns. He is these days with the Lincoln Project.

Gentlemen, to friends of the broadcast, thank you both for coming on, and welcome. James, someone`s singing Lord, play the first verse of Kumbaya with me. I am curious as to your opinion, of how the Democrats are handling infrastructure and how much more money they can possibly get?

JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think your previous guest -- I think with Alcindor, made the point that if you look at the results in Louisiana, Virginia, and then the results in New York, it`s clear that Democrats want -- they want action to. And look, it`s a 5050 Senate. And, you know, who knows this thing, they all fall apart. But for one shining moment, at least we got the hope of something getting done. And we`re going to need Santa Manchin and Santa Sinema on a lot of things. And the fact that they were instrumental in this, I think is -- I think the President has a plan that`s over the horizon here. At least I hope he does. But I think he does it. There`s a lot of football left to play here. But you can`t finish the journey unless you start.

WILLIAMS: I`ll put it this way, James, were you happy to see a smile on his face and a spring in his step? This is closer to the way he envisioned his presidency, isn`t it?

CARVILLE: Yeah, I mean, I think that`s what -- that`s his nature. That`s always been his nature, that that`s kind of who he is. And I do think that, you know, Democrats are starting to read some of the some of the tea leaves here. And in a republic as infrastructures popular, I mean, people like this, this is not this is not some like fake deal we got an agreement on, something or sometimes very popular. And it`s going to be hard for the Republicans to pull out of this now too. So everybody`s got skin in this game. And this let`s see if we can get -- we can finish this thing out, but we`re dealing with something popular and affects people`s lives.

WILLIAMS: Stuart, I brought something for you. This is an excerpt of the writing tonight of our friend Susan Glasser over at the New Yorker, she writes, "This infrastructure deal proves Biden`s theory of the case that the elusive middle in American politics is alive, if often hardly in evidence." For that reason alone, this may go down as the biggest week so far of Biden`s presidency. Stuart, do you concur?

STUART STEVENS, THE LINCOLN PROJECT SENIOR ADVISER: Well, look, you know, the White House has been saying that they have bipartisan support, and Republicans in the Senate have scoffed at that. But what they mean is that the majority of the country, including majority Republicans, support a lot of the initiatives that the by the administration has pushed for. You know, I hope that what`s happening here is the people are getting a sense the government might work, I mean, it was that way when we had this incredible rollout of the vaccine, which is, you know, bringing this country back to normal.

And then today, I mean, if you just think about it, we`re getting and celebrating because, like, government actually maybe work for a day. I mean, we pay a lot of money for government and audit work, and automate people`s lives better. That`s the whole idea.

I mean, you know, I work for George Bush, the first big bill he passed, was No Child Left Behind, you know, with a picture of Ted Kennedy over his right shoulder, which pretty much in the Republican Party now would be submitted, like in a War Crimes Tribunal. So you know, I hope that shows that there`s some sort of sanity left and Republican Party and that they can come together and actually do stuff that makes people`s lives better.

WILLIAMS: What a great point to make that this might spark the thought the hope the promise the government, just my work. Stuart Stevens, James Carville have agreed to stay with us.

Coming up, more on Speaker Pelosi`s decision to go in alone on investigating the riot at our Capitol Building.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: I`m announcing that the House will be establishing Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection. January 6 was one of the darkest days in our nation`s history. It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day and ensure that an attack of that kind cannot happen and that we root out the causes of it all.


WILLIAMS: Speaker of the House by the way repeating appoint General Milley made at that hearing yesterday. Our guests remain with us, James Carville and Stuart Stevens. Stuart, I`d like to begin with you. You wrote an entire book on let`s call the migration of the Republican Party from where it was when you started coming up in politics to where it stands today. Something adjacent to nihilism and scorched earth.

So what will it say forever, about the GOP that they took a pass on a bipartisan investigation into an attempt to overthrow a democratic election?

STEVENS: Well, I think it shows the truth, which is that the Republican Party has become an anti-democratic, pro autocratic force in American politics, which are words I`ve never thought I would utter, but it`s just don`t call true.

You know, when you don`t hold anybody accountable for attempting to overthrow the government of United States, it just goes down as practice. And that`s what happened here. This is really going to go down I think like the Munich accord, except Chamberlain at least was an honorable man trying to prevent war.

But when you try to appease this sort of evil, which is what this was, this is straight up evil. They want to overthrow the American experiment the peaceful transfer of power when the greatest gifts America has given to the world and they won`t hold Trump accountable for this.

And the majority of these Republican senators still won`t say that Joe Biden is the legally elected president. They`ll say they except Biden. Well, I mean accept Putin`s, that doesn`t mean he`s legally elected. And this is just very, very disturbing in a profound way that I think it`s difficult for us to come to grips with.

WILLIAMS: James, in that now famous interview you gave, you said the Democrats need to make the Republicans own the insurrection every day. In your view, have they failed to live up to that advice, per se?

CARVILLE: Well, I think they`re starting to. And understand this is a criminal act. 500 people have been charged with crimes. And the Republican Party, I`ll save right here, is soft on crime. All right. This is just plain and simple. If 500 people been charged this is one of the great criminal acts in the history of the United States. And they got Republican congressmen saying they look like tourists coming here.

I mean, I just -- I agree with Stuart. It`s quite remarkable. The lack of curiosity on the part of seeing members of the Republican Party when we have a massive criminal act, a historical criminal act, that they want to turn the other way and act like it never happened. And I completely agree with Speaker Pelosi. We got to get to the bottom of this. We got to know the truth. We got to support the Justice Department as they bring these criminals that they are criminals to justice.

WILLIAMS: Each new video clip released by the government is just as stunning and troubling as the day we witnessed at all on this network and others on live television. Our thanks to these two friends of ours, James Carville, Stuart Stevens, thanks for staying up with us. We`ll do this again.

Just to have for us a retired four star U.S. Army General responds to this new suggestion to defund the military.



GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: 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 personally find it offensive. That we are accusing the United States military general officers, our commissioned, noncommissioned officers of being quote, woke or something else because we`re studying some theories that are out there.


WILLIAMS: Ivy League educated 40 year veteran. Those on the right didn`t take kindly to the Joint Chiefs rebuke of Republican attacks on critical race theory, General Milley his remarks elicited this attack on Fox News tonight.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Mark Milley is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn`t get that job because he`s brilliant, or because he`s brave, or because the people who know him respect him. He is not and they definitely don`t.

Milley got the job because he is obsequious. He knows who to suck up to and he`s more than happy to do it. Feed him a script and he will read it. Hard to believe that man wears a uniform. He`s that unimpressive. Notice he never defined white rage and we should know what it is. What is white rage? It`s not just a pig. He`s stupid.


WILLIAMS: With us to talk about what we`ve just witnessed is General Barry McCaffrey, decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, former battlefield commander in the Persian Gulf, former cabinet member, former member of the National Security Council. He retired by the way as a four star general in the US Army.

General, for the civilians watching you and me tonight, please let them know what they should know about your friend and your fellow four star General Milley.

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFEY, U.S. AMRY (RET.): You know, I`ve known Mark Milley since he was a one star in Afghanistan. I watch him in combat. I`ve been very closely associated with him over the years. It is my objective view that he`s one of the most effective combat leaders we`ve had since World War II. He actually is brilliant. He`s a Princeton grad, world class athlete at Princeton hockey player. He is an incredibly brave, who`s involved in shootouts in downtown Stoddard city, armed with a pistol. He actually is widely respected in the armed forces. He`s spent a good bit of his army career, military career in combat.

So you know, that Fox TV interview, it`s like a world turned upside down. I was very proud of them. He was very direct. And by the way, he`s one of the bluntest people I`ve seen in uniform. He does not suffer fools lightly. And he and Secretary Austin, I think that a remarkable job just speaking directly to the challenge.

We do have institutional racism baked into America`s DNA. We do have to address it. For God`s sakes, we got eight army POWs named after Confederate generals who fought to preserve slavery. So, we got to get into this subject. We will work it out. In many ways, the Armed Forces is the least racist institution in this country. But we got a long way to go and Mark Milley is the guy to help us get there.

WILLIAMS: General, in my experience, and I defer to yours. Fox News is on the lion`s share of the televisions, in the mess halls, ready rooms and lounges in basis foreign and domestic. What would it do to the ranks to hear a Fox News anchor call the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs a pig and stupid?

MCCAFFREY: Well, it`s a terrible, a terrible gesture to make on the part of anybody about a public servant, nevermind one of Mark Milley`s dedication and talent. Look, I`ve never bought into the notion that the Armed Forces was rife with extremism because they`re watching Fox TV. I don`t believe that at all.

40 percent of the armed forces are minorities of one sort or another. They`re all -- they`re basically it`s an apolitical institution. Certainly the officer corps is. They will not tell you who they voted for. They`re prohibited by law from all sorts of actions.

So I think that the country ought to have a lot of confidence that if you go to an infantry battalion and have a second Airborne Division or marine battalion at Quantico, you`re going to find dedicated people. 60,000 killed and wounded nor on terror fighting to protect this country. So, it`s a terrible insult to attack these people who are out there trying to protect America.

WILLIAMS: There`s also this let me play this clip for you. This was Fox News last evening.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: The idea that we are sending our tax dollars to this military to an attempt to weed out so called extremists, which just means conservative evangelicals, as far as I can tell. We`re paying for that? Why is Congress not saying we`re not going to give you a penny until all of this is eradicated from the military budget? Nothing. This is my offer to you? Nothing. That`s what I would say.


WILLIAMS: So General, how will that message land to the forward deployed who owe everything they have to the home office at the Pentagon? How does that comment strike you?

MCCAFFREY: It`s sheer twaddle. That doesn`t mean anything. I find this hard to believe that -- a lot of this intelligence experience would make that kind of statement. The defense of the American people is the primary responsibility of Congress under Article 1 of the Constitution. The Armed Forces are the most powerful single force on the face of the earth 2.1 million men and women. And they`re prepared to defend America both internally and externally from those who would try the Constitution.

We have to respect them. We`re making our reenlistment quotas. We`re attracting some of the best top 20 percent of American news into our ranks. We do have to guard against extremists from the force. We got to keep them -- keep the military people with badges and guns. And uniforms need to be carefully observed by the authority. So, you know, that whole interview there is just the stuff of twitch (ph).

WILLIAMS: General, in about a minute we have left. For the members of our audience who have seen this debate over getting our interpreters out of a place like Afghanistan, the people, the local folks without whom our men and women could not do their jobs as a fighting force. Explain why this is so vitally important.

MCCAFFREY: Well, I`m still sick to my stomach, the way we handle Vietnam, by the way, and we came out of Vietnam we left behind. I`m a proud member of the Vietnamese Airborne Division Advisory Detachment. We have -- I`m about to go in July to another reunion. We left them and load in the lurch. They came out at boat people over the next 10 years. But we don`t want to do that to those who fought with us in Afghanistan.

I think it`s too late. We`re going to be out of there. You know, the commander in Afghanistan and trying to get us out of there well before September. There may be 100,000 people that deserve to have some kind of a visa. I see no way to vet them, set this thing up, evacuated them what. How are we going to deal with the CIA commando units or the special ops commando unit who fought bravely and still are? We`re going to tell him you can head to Kabul airbase and we`ll find out. I think it`s a goner. This thing starting to implode, it`s a human tragedy.

I`m not sure politically that President Biden had any option. There`s no support for the continued war. We`re about to see a civil war break out all over the Hazaras or fearful of genocide from the Pashtuns. It`s going to be a mess. They`re going to run by the millions for the adjacent states. This is a real blood upon NATO and the United States.

WILLIAMS: I wish we could end on a sunnier note, but this is the world we inhabit these days. General Barry McCaffrey, our guest tonight. Always a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming on.

Coming up for us. The search for survivors ongoing in Florida and the search for what it was that brought down these two sections of a high rise condo.


WILLIAMS: We mentioned earlier the very capable search teams of Miami Dade Fire Rescue well of course work through this night at the scene of that collapse of the high rise oceanfront condo just north of Miami Beach finding people alive priority number one. Also urgent the effort to find out just what it is that brought down not one but two sections of that structure that have stood for decades. Our reports tonight from NBC News correspondent Sam Brock.


SAM BROCK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the wake of destruction and tragedy, a critical question hangs over this oceanfront community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like a bomb went off.

BROCK: How could this have happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve never seen a collapse like this. That didn`t involve some sort of, you know, earthquake or something else.

BROCK: The Champlain Tower South condo building constructed in 1981 is 12 stories high containing 134 units, and it began sinking years ago according to a recent report from Florida International University looking at thousands of buildings.

SHIMON WDOWINSKI, FIU INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENT PROFESSOR: That particular building, identified as a building that moved in the 1990s.

BROCK: Shimon Vidivinsky says in the 90s the building was sinking two millimeters a year though it`s unclear if that continued or contributed to today`s collapse.

Officials say work on the building`s roof has been ongoing and would have likely involved in inspection and a permit. Structural inspections are also required after 40 years.

GLENN BELL, AMERICAN SOCEITY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS: A big question will be why did this structure stand for 40 years and then fall this morning?

BROCK: To answer that, the American Society of Civil Engineers Glenn Bell says investigators will examine samples of slab and concrete from the debris,

(on camera): What`s in the rubble that could be insightful to investigators/

BELL: The way it`s piled up. The way that the pieces are broken can tell you a lot to the train guy about how the failure initiated where it might have initiated.

BROCK: Contractor Gregg Schlesinger has worked on other complexes in the area.

GREGG SCHLESINGER, CONTRACTOR: There are two items here, concrete and steel. If the steel is exposed and loses its structural integrity, the concrete fails instantaneously. That`s how it fails.

BROCK (voice-over): But determining the actual costs experts say could take months or years.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Sam Brock in Surfside, Florida tonight. Coming up for us. No one is suggesting mass executions. Just a Trump worshiping cable network simply raising the possibility.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is OAN. OAN is what you watch on cable. If you`ve come to the determination that Fox and Newsmax have gone soft and don`t love Trump as much as they should. Much of their programming amounts to a kind of gaslight lounge without the lounge singer or overpriced cocktails come to think of it without the lounge at all, mostly just gaslight.

OAN is getting attention now because of a segment they aired about the insurrection. Oh no, not the one on 1/6 that attempted to overthrow the results of a Democratic election. But you may not have heard the election was stolen from Trump you see withheld from the Chinese and Pakistanis, of course, who wanted to install Joe Biden in office.

So you see those nice tourist folks on 1/6 we`re actually trying to overturn an election. It was already overturned back on Election Day, see what they did there. That was the premise of OAN Pearson Sharp, who then took it further.


PEARSON SHARP, OAN NETWORK: How many people were involved in these efforts to undermine the election? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? How many people does it take to carry out a coup against the presidency? What are the consequences for traitors who meddled with our sacred democratic process and try to steal power by taking away the voices of the American people? What happens to them?

Well, in the past, America had a very good solution for dealing with such traitors, execution.


WILLIAMS: Mr. Pearson Sharp there gave a statement to Talking Points Memo late today saying he wasn`t embracing executions. But, if election fraud is proven, then that`s treason punishable by death. So to repeat, no one especially not OAN is calling for executions to begin. They`re merely suggesting that death is the remedy should treason be proven. We are happy to play a role however small in clearing that up. This also means democratic insurrectionist can go ahead with those weekend plans.

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