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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 6/28/21

Guests: Ashley Parker, Jonathan Karl, Tim Miller, Nahid Bhadelia


Lawyers for The Trump Organization made a last ditch attempt today to convince New York prosecutors not to file tax related charges. Trump calls Manhattan DA`s probe a witch hunt. Pelosi moves to create Capitol riot select committee. McConnell calls on Biden to rein in Pelosi and Schumer. Rescue crews search wreckage of Florida condo collapse. Barr and DOJ found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Obama warns voter suppression will delegitimize our democracy. More than two dozen progressive groups have united against renewed efforts by Republicans in Texas to pass a restrictive ballot bill. Toyota donated over $55 million to Republicans who objected to election results. Toyota is defending donations the company made to Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election. Pritzker warns COVID-19 Delta variant could dominate in Illinois by fall.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again day 160 of the Biden administration and the former President may be on the verge of seeing his company and its top executives facing criminal charges.

"The Wall Street Journal" reporting that lawyers for the Trump Organization made a last ditch attempt today to convince New York prosecutors not to file tax related charges, which could now come as soon as this week.

The Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance has been conducting as you know an investigation into the Trump organization`s finances. The investigation includes whether longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg received perks like cars and an apartment and illegally avoided paying taxes on them.

The Journal reports that this way, Weisselberg is expected to be charged this week, putting additional pressure on him to cooperate against his boss, former President Donald Trump. Mr. Trump isn`t expected to be charged at this time, said his lawyer Ronald Fischetti.

Allen Weisselberg`s former daughter in law, who`s been cooperating herself with prosecutors says it may take more than just being charged to get him to flip.


JENNIFER WEISSELBERG, TRUMP ORG CFO`S FORMER DAUGTHER-IN-LAW: I think he`ll hold out until the very, very last minute until he is either shocked by something that they bring to the table and he`s got no choice. But I think that Donald is probably promising him that he`ll be saved. I think that that is something that he is loyally blindly, blindly loyal to.


WILLIAMS: Today, the former president again insisted the investigation was a partisan witch hunt, so his messaging remains the same. Lawyers for his company deny any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, we`re getting extraordinary new details about the abrupt break between Donald Trump and his former Attorney General Bill Barr in the weeks after the 2020 election.

These revelations come from Jonathan Karl of ABC News who`s standing by to join us in a moment in a series of interviews for his upcoming book which he details for the Atlantic.

Jon Karl spoke with Barr about Trump`s insistence that the DOJ investigate so called voter fraud. Barr also launched his own informal inquiries and now tells Jonathan Karl, he was skeptical about Trump`s claims.


BILL BARR, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If I found something, you know, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all day long was that there was nothing there. It was all --


WILLIAMS: That is very different from Barr`s remarks to CNN during this September of 2020 interview when he defended Trump`s falsehoods about a potentially tainted election, after several states expanded male voting because we were in the midst of a pandemic.


BARR: What he`s saying is he`s trying to make the point that the ability to monitor this system is not good. This is playing with fire. We`re very closely divided country here. And if people have to have confidence in the results of the election and the legitimacy of the government, and people trying to change the rules to this methodology, which as a matter of logic is very open to fraud and coercion is reckless and dangerous.


WILLIAMS: DOJ never did find any fraud. And in December, Barr told the AP there was no evidence of anything that could have affected the outcome of the election. Jonathan Karl reports that during a meeting later in December a furious Trump unloaded on Barr over the AP story quote, how the expletive could you do this to me? Why did you say it because it`s true, Barr answered.

The President, livid, responded by referring to himself in the third person as he is fond of doing. You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump.

Tonight there is movement on creating a special committee to investigate the riot that was set off by Trump`s falsehoods. Speaker Pelosi has introduced a bill needed to establish a select committee with subpoena power. It will give her the ability to appoint the chairperson and 13 members, five of them after consultation with Minority Leader McCarthy.

The measure is expected to go to the House floor on Wednesday on the other side of the Capitol. Senate Republicans are warning Democrats not to try to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill with a larger measure that would pay for social programs.

This weekend, the President had to walk back his statement that he would only sign both bills together. Today, Mitch McConnell urged Biden to make sure Schumer and Pelosi follow his lead.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) MINORITY LEADER: I appreciate the president saying that he`s willing to deal with infrastructure separately, but he doesn`t control the Congress and the Speaker and the majority leader of the Senate because none of the Republicans during the negotiations and the Democrats that were in that group talked about it being linked to anything else.


WILLIAMS: Also tonight the search and rescue effort at the site of that condominium collapse near Miami is about to move into day six. Tonight another body was removed from the rubble. The number of people killed now stands at 11. While officially 150 people are listed as unaccounted for.

Over 300 emergency personnel including search teams from Israel and Mexico are now working around the clock. US Army Corps of Engineers has also been called in to help.

With all that let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Monday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize winning White House bureau chief for The Washington Post. Jonathan Karl, Chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News, longtime White House correspondent. His recent book "Front Row at the Trump Show" out now in paperback and for good measure his forthcoming book on the end of the administration, "Betrayal" is out later this year.

Also back with us Barb McQuade, a veteran federal prosecutor and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, worked with the DOJ during the Biden transition. Happens to be a professor at her alma mater, University of Michigan Law School, co-host of the podcast Sisters in Law, along with three other friends of ours, Joyce Vance, Jill Wine Banks, and Kimberly Atkins Stohr.

Good evening, and welcome to you all.

And counselor, indeed, I need to begin with you. What kind of thing would happen inside that meeting between Trump`s lawyers and the New York district attorney? What do we think, what do you think Barbara may be coming?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I think that kind of meeting is what are sometimes referred to as a dog and pony show. The prosecutor shows their cards and put our cases all about these documents and testimony and crimes were committed. What are we missing?

What they want to hear from the defense is poking holes in the evidence. What that Wall Street Journal report says is that`s not what the Trump Organization lawyers did. Instead, they tried to say, this is a witch hunt. He never charged anyone else for these kinds of crimes. They didn`t deny it.

And so I think that prosecutors when they threatened charges, they mean it and it`s not an idle threat. I think is quite likely that we will see charges in the coming days.

WILLIAMS: Jonathan Karl to you and your exclusive Bill Barr, as we all watched, played palace guard and he played supplicant and he weaponized the DOJ. So what should we make of his conversion of this split from Trump?

JONATHAN KARL, "FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW" AUTHOR: Well, I mean, he is somebody who attacks the Mueller report, misrepresented the Mueller report. He overruled career prosecutors to give lenient treatment to Trump`s allies to Roger stone, to Michael Flynn. He seemed like he was what Trump always wanted. What was his own Roy Cohn at the justice department.

But as the election approach, I he did something different. He came out and he said, you know, Trump was talking about how he wanted to see Biden prosecutor. He wanted to see Obama prosecuted. He talked about how he wanted to have, you know, a big Hunter Biden investigation announced. He wanted all the details of the origins of the Mueller report revealed.

And at that point, in the months before the election, Barr said no, he wasn`t going to get involved politically. He did raise concerns about mail- in voting. But the critical moment for Barr came after the election on December 1, when Trump was making all those outrageous claims about the election being stolen from him, about crazy allegations, unfounded allegations of fraud. He wanted his Justice Department to go into those states, Brian, and to see these voting machines into -- and the use, the power of the Department of Justice to try to overturn those election results in those key states.

And what Barr did, and very little this was actually known at the time is he actually did his own informal investigation of the major allegations that Trump was looking into. And when he announced on December 1, that he saw no evidence of widespread fraud that could overturn or affect the results of the election, he did that based on information. It wasn`t just, you know, he wasn`t just responding off the cuff. He actually took Trump`s allegation seriously looked into them. And when he came out and shot it down, it had a tremendous effect.

So what we see now in what I reported on here is the reaction that Trump had. And I tell you that, I described this meeting in the dining room right adjacent to the Oval Office, you know, the room. I describe who was in there. You know, the White House counsel in there. You had another White House attorney, you had the Chief of Staff. You had Bill Barr. You had Bill Barr chief of staff.

And several the people that were in there have described to me as seeing Trump angrier than they had ever seen him and he`s somebody that they`ve all seen angry. One of them said that he had the eyes and the mannerisms of a madman. And it was -- you read part of what I reported of what went back and forth there. When that meeting broke up, Bill Barr was not sure if he`d just been fired. His employment status was, as it was described to me by one participant, uncertain and he left. He got a call from Meadows the next day. He said, I think we can keep him from firing you. But you got to promise me you`re not just going to resign. And he stayed on for another couple of weeks.

But that was it. That was a decisive moment where, you know, I believe things actually could have gotten a lot worse. If Barr had acted like the way a lot of people expected bar would have acted, we could have seen a much different result.

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, I hate to take you back. But I need you to dovetail on the back end of this. The man who appeared to have no limits what he wasn`t willing to do for Donald Trump had in this case, and according to Jon`s reporting, at least had a limit. Give our audience an example of exactly how much poll how much sway Barr and joy during his heyday at Donald Trump`s DOJ.

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it was tremendous. And keep in mind, you know, as Jon said, he came in and originally played the role that Donald Trump wanted him to play sort of personal Attorney General to the President.

The classic example that comes to mind that helped him earn that sway was when he went out before anyone had actually read the Mueller report, right, when it was hotly anticipated. And he basically, in short said, nothing to see here. That was not really an accurate summary of what was contained in the report. It was far more nuanced.

But that really set the tone for the media coverage. And Trump appreciated that loyalty and very much returned it and kind. Barr was someone who was often at the White House had the president here, again, until he did it. And that`s because with present or former President Trump, loyalty is very much a one way street.

We`re seeing now a lot of these people, these loyalists, the supplicants in his administration, they all had some sort of either legitimate breaking point or perceived breaking point where Trump himself thought they weren`t doing enough for someone like Mike Pence, the sort of king of obsequiousness, that was -- that he certified the election result. And once that happened, Donald Trump turned on all of them incredibly quickly.

WILIAMS: Barbara, first of all, to our audience, we realized that we`re having issues with your audio. We`re going to soldier through here. George Conway wrote an op ed in the Washington Post, and I`m going to read, one exerted sentence here, make no mistake, Barr did the right thing by refusing to treat Trump`s fraud claims as anything other than what he believed them to be factual and legal manure.

As I said, at least we know of one limit bar had Do you agree here with Conway, Barbara?

MCQUADE: Well, she did have some limits, but he`s not hero here. I will put a couple of things. One is after the election on November 9, William Barr issued a memo changing policy at the Department of Justice. They previously said prosecutors should not investigate election fraud claims until the election was certified. So he opened the door to these investigations, allowing these Trump theories to run rampant.

Another thing in that great thing that john has been discussing is that William Barr did not come forward and dispute these claims that President Trump had about the election of Mitch McConnell asked him to because it was damaging the Republican Party where he needed to win the Senate both in Georgia to eject President Biden.

So, I think that William Barr is not ready to be in my world cast in stone as a pro.

WILKLIAMS: Jon Karl, of all the time you spent talking to Bill Barr, did any one thing one moment one comments surprised you most?

KARL: Well, what surprised me was the bluntness with which he describes Trump`s allegation using the word that you bleeped out, you know, this was BS. And what surprised me is the way he went through in the weeds. I spent, you know, I spent a long time I interviewed him about five different times.

And by the way, you know, he wasn`t running out trying to come out and find a way to sell -- tell us I had been brown meeting him for about four or five months to try to get this interview. And what surprised me is that he -- was ended the weeds about some of these allegations, the allegations about the voting machines, about the ballot dumps in the middle of the night, all the stuff you`ve seen Donald Trump rant and rave about, he went through and said, Well, here`s why that`s, that`s accurate.

But I think there`s an important point here, which is, this story is not really about Bill Barr, and Bill Barr his reputation that that may not matter all that much. He`s, what is he, like 81 years old, he`s not going to serve again, I don`t know if that matters.

But Bill Barr was the most popular person in the Trump cabinet among the Trump faithful, among all those people who now believe that the election was stolen, who believe all those lies. So what I think is significant is how those words will play with those people. I mean, if even Bill Barr, even the guy that stood behind Trump and called the Russia investigation, effectively, a witch hunt, just like Trump did, even if that guy took the time, looked into all this and says, My God, there is nothing here.

And not just a statement, but into the details and saying, you know, the ballots that you saw it in the suitcase getting pulled out under the table in Georgia? Well, here`s why that`s a ridiculous thing. That`s the way, you know, he knows the answers. He knows how to answer these people.

So, you know, the question is, will it have any impact? I mean, not much has had an impact on that loyal Trump base. But if anything would, you would think that this would at least move the needle a little bit. It`s Bill Barr, and he is not mincing words. He is saying it`s all BS.

WILLIAMS: And Ashley Parker, you get the last word. Is there any way to measure the level of concern in Trump world that a world of hurt is about to come down on them from the Manhattan DA?

PARKER: Well, the way you measure now that his Twitter account has been taken away are his public statements he puts out through his pack on e- mail, and he weighed in and a statement that was very clearly or written by himself. That`s sort of the best indicator. You know, there`s also what people in his world are saying.

But I think the real effect of this depending on what happens and this is what we saw during his presidency too, is even an agitation like this, something that starts maybe not with the Trump Organization at large, but with the CFO. It`s like a little pebble in his shoe that irritates him and irritates him and makes him behave in increasingly erratic ways.

Now, again, the stakes are lower because he`s not president, but he is getting out there. He`s starting to do rallies again. He`s starting to do more media again. And this is the sort of thing that will lodge in him and affect the statements he puts out, the ways in which he rallies his base and the sort of claims he makes and as we know, he is someone who has made a number of not just false and baseless, but a number of dangerous claims.

WILLIAMS: Our great thanks to Ashley Parker to Barbara McQuade. Jonathan Karl has agreed to stay with us take another question or two about the book and his interview, greatly appreciate it guys.

Coming up. Why Mitch McConnell reportedly urged Barr to speak out against Donald Trump`s false voter fraud claims. And later, a new warning from the last democratic president on what voting restrictions could mean for our entire democracy should the Republicans get their way. All of it as the 11th Hour is just now getting underway on this Monday night.



BARR: You can tell me all want to about, you know, this could have been hacked or whatever. But it`s a counting machine. So you just reconcile the two. There`s a pile right there. How many ballots? A thousand. Now, let`s see who they`re for. There`s been no discrepancy reported anywhere.


WILLIAMS: We`re back with more tonight from Jonathan Karl`s exclusive interview with former Attorney General Bill Barr. Jonathan remains with us.

So, you also spoke to Barr about how and this is going to be the favorite part for many in in the sad rearview mirror of history. McConnell urged him to speak out as if McConnell himself forgot that was also an option for him during all four years of our Constitution, getting sidetracked during the Trump administration, what else did you learn on that front?

KARL: Well, particularly in the period after the election, because by all accounts, and you know, I had been told this, I`m sure, Brian, you had been hearing the same thing. You know, McConnell didn`t buy into any of these allegations of fraud that Donald Trump was raising, but publicly he was saying nothing, nothing except to go out and to say that Donald Trump had the right to pursue all legal challenges and let them do it. And, you know, and on and on. He never criticized it when Trump went out, when, you know, Rudy Giuliani had the press conference at the RNC and talked about how voting machines were being hacked by the Venezuelans and some scheme, possibly hatched by Hugo Chavez, who had been dead for years.

So, you know, now, what I was astounded to find out is that while McConnell was saying nothing publicly, he was calling Bill Barr, and he was asking Bill Barr, will you come out? Will you shoot this stuff down? This is dangerous. It`s bad for the country. It`s bad for the Republican Party. And it`s interfering with our plans to run these two Senate runoff elections in Georgia.

I can`t come out and say something McConnell was saying, because I need him. I need Donald Trump in Georgia. In other words, I can`t have Donald Trump upset with me, and teed off and, and messing up with our plans in Georgia, but you can do it. You have the credibility to do it. You have the credibility with the Republicans, you have the credibility with the White House, you come out and do it.

And you know, ultimately, Barr did. I wouldn`t say it`s the only reason by any stretch that Barr came out, but it was definitely one of the factors. He was being repeatedly asked by Mitch McConnell to come out and say something that Mitch McConnell at the time was unwilling to say.

WILLIAMS: You said in the previous segment, this in Barr`s view isn`t about Bill Barr. I would counter that there`s a chance it`s for his grandchildren. There`s a chance that realizing the soil that got splashed on to the family name, what he did to the family name by soiling the DOJ, that maybe this is a construction project to help before he leaves this good earth.

And I say the following affectionately, as someone with drag marks to show it, I`m sure you`re going to get dragged for playing a role in the Bill Barr reconstruction infrastructure project of 2021. What say you on that front?

KARL: Well, you know, in fact, first of all, I should say I said he was 81 before. He`s actually 71. So I aged him by a decade. But I think that this is a -- this was a very important to get him on the record about what was going on during this extraordinary period. Because for whatever you think about what Bill Barr did, during the previous two years of his tenure as Donald Trump`s attorney general, whatever you think of that, when it came down to it at the end, he did come out and in a very public and very forceful way contradict the President of the United States who had appointed him, contradict him at a time when it really mattered.

And whether or not it`s a reconstruction project, like I said, I don`t know how much that ultimately matters, may matter to the bar family, it may matter to those who go and look at the portraits on the wall at the Justice Department headquarters.

But what matters now is that we have a situation where at least a third of the country thinks that the election was stolen. It believes outright lies that have been said, believes the, you know, allegations that have absolutely no evidence. And here`s somebody who has some credibility with those people, who looked into it, who is saying it`s all BS. And I think that`s important. I think that`s an important to be said, and it`s important to document the history of what went down during this excruciatingly difficult and awful period for our country.

WILLIAMS: Jon Karl, who we are fortunate enough to borrow, don`t tell anyone at ABC News from time to time, in his effort to add to the K section of the library. He is the author again, "Front Row at the Trump Show." And not to be outdone, his new book out in November is called "Betrayal." Jon, thank you, as always, for hanging out with us and taking our questions.

Coming up for us, efforts to ensure voters rights are running right into growing revisionist history. Does that sound familiar? Especially about the insurrection to those pictures look familiar? Much more ahead.



BARACK OBAMA, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: If we don`t stop these kinds of efforts now. What we are going to see is more and more contested elections, contested not in the sense of healthy competition but contested in terms of who wins who loses. We are going to see a further delegitimizing of our democracy.


WILLIAMS: I think former president should have better Wi-Fi. The effort to stop more states from enacting voter suppression laws is growing by the day. In Texas, NBC News is reporting quote, more than two dozen progressive groups have united against Texas Republicans renewed efforts to pass a restrictive voting bill. The coalition anticipate spending seven figures on digital ads and other lobbying efforts against proposed election limits. But will that do it?

Back with us again tonight, Juanita Tolliver, veteran political strategist to mostly progressive candidates and causes. And Tim Miller, contributor over at The Bulwark, former comms director for Jeb Bush. Good evening, and welcome to you both.

And Juanita, I`ve been looking forward to asking a very simple question. Is this a delayed reaction we`ve been watching? We`ve been talking about these voter suppression efforts, how many states, who they are, what they are for weeks, if not months? Suddenly, we`re hearing from the former president, suddenly we`re hearing from the attorney general, is this a built-in delay as people looked at, at possible ways to block it?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Brian, I think this is what it takes when you`re coordinating across dozens and dozens of groups and raising seven figures to invest in infrastructure across your state. Look, I think we`re seeing the playbook from Georgia being implemented in Texas. And I think the timing of this announcement aligns with special session in Texas, right?

This is about making sure that there`s constant drumbeat of pressure not only on Texans in the state legislature, but also on Congress because they still need to act to ensure that there`s a national voting standard, as well as protections for voting rights across this country.

I also think that what`s striking about this group is that, yes, highly coordinated dozens of progressive groups, but they all recognize that making sure that the right to vote for all Texans is essential to any of their agendas. And that`s why they`re coming together at this moment, Brian.

WILIAMS: Tim reports have reached us the construction has been halted on the Museum of bad corporate PR, so that a new wing can be designed and named for Toyota. You see, the folks over at Crew discovered that Toyota has given to 37 of the Republicans who voted for the big lie.

Toyota put out what is to my memory the worst statement in the past couple years of corporate PR, quote, we do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification. No democracy, no problem, let`s overturn an election.

So what surprised you more Tim, the fact that Toyota knowing they have to file such things went around and funded 37 members of Congress on the Republican side or the fact that Toyota had on their payroll, someone capable of coming up with that one sentence response.

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I put out some bad statements back in my PR days, Brian, but I don`t know about pro coup and pro right to work, you know, we`ll call it even. I don`t think I ever put out one that was quite that bad.

Look, this -- here`s what`s happening. I think that in this country, companies have a right to support candidates they think support their causes. I think rightly speaking, most of corporate America saw what happened on January 6, and said, this is a step too far, no matter what we think on this whole slate of other issues. If we don`t have a functioning democracy and a functioning Republic, you know, this isn`t going to work for anybody, right. And so we need to safeguard our democratic norms. And I think they acted as such.

So, you know, the other nice thing about America is if one of these companies decides they don`t want to do that, and they want to support the candidates that are pro tooth, and then people can vote with their feet, and they can go buy Chevy`s or Fords or, you know, or whatever.

And I think that a lot of Republicans are getting their backs up about that right now, you know, the people who used to in the good old days when I was a Republican, you know, there was this corporations are people, my friend mindset of Mitt Romney, and people supported the companies they wanted, company support at the candidates they wanted.

And now that the republicans are facing the backlash from voters, all of a sudden, they want to punish corporations, you know, who speak out in the wrong way, like MLB. And they want to protect corporations like Toyota, who speak out in the right way.

And so I think that this change is really stark, and that it`s up to all of us, Americans to hold all these companies accountable because the Republican politicians aren`t going to do it.

WILLIAMS: Yes, Toyota is going to be unhappy they ever met the Lincoln Project because between Reed Galen and Fred Wellman over the past 24 hours, I`m of course, bombed as a NASCAR fan because Martin Truex Jr. from my home stock car racing track in New Jersey drives in NASCAR for Team Toyota.

Another conversation for I guess, another network.

Hey, Juanita, this Select Committee on 1/6, are you confident, knowing as we do, that they`re -- whatever they say, whatever their findings is going to be heard by two separate and distinct audiences in our split country. Are you confident they`ll be able to do the job they need to do?

TOLLIVER: I think Speaker Pelosi has made it clear she`s not shirking in a responsibility here. And she`s not stepping away from this. And so with that intention with that energy, absolutely, the Select Committee is going to be armed and equipped to leverage their subpoena power to get to the truth, to present those facts to the American public in a drumbeat leading up to the 2022 midterms in a way that is going to yield outcomes that are beneficial not only for the American public, but for our structures and institutions in our democracy to prevent something like this from ever happening again, because that is the two-pronged goal here provide the truth to the American public, even if that includes spinning Republican leadership to get a full understanding of what was said on that day.

What was said when they talked to Trump, who gave tours to insurrectionists before the attack, and then making sure it doesn`t happen again. How was our security breach? What protocols do we need to modify? What protections can we put in place so that staff and workers and members of Congress do not have their lives threatened like this ever again?

WILLIAMS: And, Tim, if you have number, a number one question for the 1/6 Commission to answer what it indeed be the point, Juanita just raised about possible collusion to coin a term between sitting members and the people we saw at the ramparts.

MILLER: Lots of good questions. I think a lot of open questions with that. My number one question, though, Brian, would be what was the president of the United States doing between when the Capitol is breached, and his vice president had to be escorted out? And when the military support National Guard support was actually sent many, many hours later? I think that is a big open question.

You know, we knew know a little bit about what he was doing. I think we suspect quite a bit that he was cheering on the domestic terrorists during that time. You know, we know about some of his phone calls to McCarthy and others, but I think that that is the big question. And I think that the reason why one of many reasons why Republicans are blocking this committee is because that`s the question they don`t want to answer.

WILLIAMS: That`s why it`s always a pleasure to have you too on you make us think. We`ll do it again for good reason. Juanita Tolliver, Tim Miller, two friends of our broadcast. Our thanks for coming on tonight.

Coming up for us, and United States Senator held a press conference today to warn about the risks of the vaccine while insisting he`s not an anti- vaxxer. Here`s a hint his name rhymes with Ron Johnson. We`ll discuss with one of our actual doctors after this.



GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): Already the Delta variant that sent Israel back into mitigation is a growing presence in Illinois. We expect it to dominate our cases statewide by the fall. The lessons here at home and across the world are a harbinger of what could happen here, particularly in low vaccinated areas.


WILLIAMS: So that`s the Governor of Illinois, urging Americans to get their COVID shots today as this delta variant continues its rapid spread. It`s already for Sydney, Australia into a two-week lockdown. There are a lot of questions about this.

Back with us again tonight, thankfully, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease physician, medical director of the special pathogens unit up at Boston University School of Medicine.

So doctor, WHO came out today and said, in effect masks back on if you know you`re going to be in a delta variant concentrated environment and yet in this country, masks are coming off coast to coast and we`ve been told by a lot of physicians, you don`t have to worry if you`re fully vaccinated. You don`t have to worry about this delta variant. Please tell us what is the truth?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN: Well, Brian, the way that I think of it as scratching my head all day trying to figure out the best metaphor and this may not be the right one. Right now what`s happening is you`re seeing places that you just talked about Sydney, places that have low vaccination rates are really we`re seeing exponential increases in cases from delta. It`s a lot more transmissible and may cause a bit more severe disease.

But what you`re also seeing is in areas like Israel and UK, which are a highly vaccinated in those areas, you`re seeing, again, huge number of cases among people who are not vaccinated, but then there was a spillover and people who are vaccinated. You`re seeing breakthrough infection. And so why is that happening? People are concerned. By the way, most of those infections are asymptomatic or mild infection. In rare cases, their hospitalizations and people who may have immune conditions or maybe older.

So here`s my metaphor. If it`s drizzling outside, you know, your metaphor - - my -- your vaccine could be your raincoat. You go outside, you`re much less likely to get sick. And think of that as a number of cases, the amount of delta variant that`s in your community. If it`s completely downpouring, outside, there`s tons of delta variant, huge number of cases, even with your raincoat, there is a risk that some people will get wet. And that`s why I think that the guidance, you know, and what we`ve said, and I think the CDC said this as well is that if you have medical conditions, you`re immunocompromised, you have conditions that reduce the efficacy of the vaccine, it may be safer for you to continue to wear those masks indoors. And that`s what I`m recommending as well.

But if you`re healthy, you know, again, the risk here seems to be for mild disease in most cases, you know, or asymptomatic disease, and that`s where you need to use your personal judgment acceptance of risk.

WILLIAMS: Metaphor for the following may prove tougher. The following is U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, unvaccinated, no plans to get vaccinated. Swears he`s not an anti-vaxxer. But he held a news conference to warn of the dangers of the vaccine. Here`s a sampling.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Just because the vaccine is generally safe, doesn`t mean that it`s 100 percent safe.

I think it`s important to recognize that there are people that have been harmed by the vaccine. Again, I`m not a doctor. But it`s a legitimate concern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you today recommend that every American get vaccinated?

JOHNSON: So again, I`m not a medical doctor researcher. I don`t think it`s my role to recommend or encourage or discourage.


WILLIAMS: So translated from the original Russian. So we don`t get numb to this. This is a U.S. Senator holding a news conference to talk about the dangers of the vaccine. He represents a state where upwards of 95 percent of all the deaths in Wisconsin were among the unvaccinated. Doctor, how do we process this site of a U.S. Senator one of 100?

BHADELIA: Well, Brian, I`m going to start by saying it`s important for us to listen to patients, you know, this is why the CDC has a vaccine adverse reporting, adverse effects reporting system and it`s so good that it`s picking up even potentially very rare adverse effects.

And for the most part, right, we know that these vaccines are extremely safe. They`ve been given out to millions of people. And we know the 99 percent of the people who are currently dying of COVID in this country are people who are not vaccinated.

And so in this scenario, Senator Johnson having people on, without having a public health person or a doctor alongside to put context, whether he meant it or not, is will lead to vaccine hesitancy at a time where we can`t let that happen. Because right now, today, this summer, you are safer if your child -- you`re not vaccinated, you`re safer living in a community where everybody else around you is vaccinated.

If your immune compromised or you have medical conditions you`re safer, even if you`re vaccinated in the vaccines are not working as well and you, you`re safer living in a community where everybody else is vaccinated around you and that`s what we need to aim for so that we don`t get those -- we don`t that`s get those new variants, the Delta variant or the new variants taking up the old year.

WILLIAMS: I can`t thank you enough as always for taking our questions tonight and reacting to the news as it is. Our guest this evening once again Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, thank you so much. Another break for us. Coming up. New questions tonight about possible warning signs that emerged before last week sudden building collapse in Surfside, Florida when we come right back.


WILLIAMS: It`s been five days since the tragic collapse of that condo building in Surfside, Florida. The mayor said tonight he`s heartened by stories he`s read of people surviving for upwards of 17 days after being buried alive. But obviously hopes fade as the hours tick by and tonight.

New details about the building are raising questions as to what could have caused this 12 story tower to crumble to the ground and two sections. Our report again tonight from NBC News correspondent Sam Brock.


SAM BROCK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Tonight the gravity of a mass casualty event in Miami.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw her last month. I wish I hugged her harder.

BROCK: Accentuated after a year`s old engineering report found major structural damage underneath the pool deck and science previous garage concrete repairs were failing at Champlain Tower South. Though it`s not clear what caused the collapse.

Now board meeting minutes obtained by NBC News which have been submitted to investigators say Surfside`s building inspector Ross Prieto inform residents a month later after reviewing the engineering report. It appears the building is in very good shape. Mr. Prieto could not be reached for comments but told the Miami Herald he didn`t remember getting the report. One county official says laws will change because of this collapse.

(on camera): Why did you say that?

JOSE DIAZ, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: Because it will what took place here will put my colleagues and I in a position to do whatever it takes, so this will never happen again.

BROCK (voice-over): Possible options include shortening the 40 year timeline for a building`s recertification or changing how inspections are conducted.

KOBE KARP, KOBE KARP ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN CEO: Most of these audio certifications are done by eye that will probably change in the future.

BROCK: It`s not clear how Champlain Tower South was inspected. But Miami architect Kobe Karp says we have new technology at our disposal.

KARP: Having infrared metal fence or taking concrete samples for salinity quantity in there. Those are the kind of things we should potentially be looking at.

BROCK (on camera): Another Commissioner is encouraging the paneling of a grand jury that can subpoena individuals who have issued reports to find out what they do about that building and when.


WILLIAMS: And again tonight our thanks to Sam Brock for that report from that very sad place. Coming up for us, something you might have missed something you need to see from this past weekend. We will indeed show it to you after this.



DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: America is still the nation that conquered the Wild West that vanquished the murderous dictators that ended the evil empires. And that sent a brave young man from Ohio to a plant. Think of it. You know who the man I`m talking about is? Who am I talking about? You know who it is? The stars and stripes on the face of the moon. You know the man is right, you know.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, a great moment from this weekend`s Trump rally there in Ohio. He meant to say our country sent a brave young man from Ohio to plant the stars and stripes on the face of the moon. Instead, of course, he said we sent a brave young man from Ohio to a plant and that really could mean anything a manufacturing plant, a philodendron, a Rhododendron, all the dendrites.

Not unlike an actor who comes to your town say later in their career to do dinner theater, or a boxer whose best days are behind him. Who does an exhibition wrestling match for the money. As events go, the Trump rally has, let`s just sa lost a step since its heyday.

New York Times was there and we quote, Mr. Trump`s speech, low key aggressive and nearly 90 minutes long, fell flat at times with an otherwise adoring audience. Scores of people left early as he bounced from topic to topic. Immigration, Israel, Speaker Nancy Pelosi`s protective mask. "Do you miss me?" Mr. Trump asked and one of his biggest applause lines. They missed me, he declared.

Now you may say sure. What do you expect from the radical left wing liberal mainstream media and you`d be right, except there`s video.


TRUMP: With brace, with brace. So let`s see how that turns out Arizona, it`s a big place. And a lot of things are happening now (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have nothing to do with it.


WILLIAMS: Still hear his voice in the background there as the President relitigated his loss in Arizona. As you saw people`s thoughts turn to where did we park?

That is our broadcast for this Monday night as we start a new week together with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.