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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 6/30/21

Guests: Paul Butler, Chuck Rosenberg, Eugene Robinson, Matthew Dowd


The Trump Organization and its chief financial officer are expected to be charged on Thursday with tax-related crimes. Bill Cosby returned home after being released from prison after Pennsylvania`s Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction. Only two House Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, joined Democrats to vote in favor of a Select Committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection. House approves January 6 commission despite GOP opposition. Republican lawmakers traveled to Texas to cheer former President Donald Trump as he paid a visit to the southern border. Governor Noem sending 50 South Dakota National Guard to the southern border. Eighteen people are dead and 145 remain missing nearly one week into a search-and-rescue operation amid the rubble of a collapsed 12- story condominium complex in Surfside, Florida.


REP KYRSTEN SINEMA, (D) ARIZONA: They never had 60 votes and they managed a lot of really bad things during that time. So the reconciliation process is still quite available and we will use it for good rather than for evil, so.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema gets Tonight`s Last Word. Perhaps Senator Kyrsten Sinema might listen to her. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again day, 162 of the Biden administration. And indeed NBC News reporting tonight the Manhattan DA`s office and the New York Attorney General`s Office together have obtained indictments against the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg.

As expected, the charges said to be tax related and are expected to be unsealed in court tomorrow and Manhattan. Washington Post was first to report the news tonight the paper adds this, Weisselberg is expected to surrender Thursday morning at the office of Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance. He is expected to be arraigned later in the day in front of a state court judge.

The Trump Organization will also be arraigned represented in court by one of its attorneys. Weisselberg has reportedly been under pressure to cooperate with prosecutors and flip on one Donald Trump. The investigations of course continue.

But today Trump was mainly preoccupied with his trip to the southern border, which we`ll touch on later.

Also today in an extraordinary development, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out Bill Cosby`s conviction. Bill Cosby is home tonight for the first time in three years. He was convicted on three counts aggravated indecent assault back in 2018 of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand.

Today the court said, Cosby should not have been charged and barred a retrial. Late today Cosby spoke about the ruling.


BILL COSBY: You can see how powerless many of us feel this is for all the people who have been imprisoned wrongfully regardless of race, color, or creed.


WILLIAMS: Cosby continued to deny any wrongdoing. Andrea Constand for her part issued a statement calling the ruling, "of concern in that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post also on the board tonight with a report of over a dozen new arrests and the January 6 attack and riots in our Capitol. It`s the most in a single day. The Feds also revealed new charges against several supporters of extremist right wing groups. This on the same day, the House voted along largely party lines 222 to 192 to indeed create a select committee to investigate the riot and insurrection.

Just two Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats in favor of the committee. It comes as the New York Times released the results of a six month investigation into what happened on that day. The Times reviewed 1000s of video from January 6, and compiled a chilling documentary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rioters have been battling a handful of officers at these doors for almost half an hour. The tide turns when rioters who came through the crypt reached these doors and pulled them open. Then an active- duty Marine Corps Officer Christopher Warnagiris keeps that door open for the mob to flood in.

Just as elsewhere this crowd is a mix of diehard Trump supporters, but also more organized groups like the Oath Keepers who move information here toward that east side entrance.


WILLIAMS: We are also tonight following the controversy over New York City`s mayoral primary to use a technical term it`s a mess. It only has to do with who`s going to lead the nation`s largest city.

The city`s Board of Elections mistakenly counted 135,000 test ballots and was forced to rescind its preliminary results sent out late yesterday.

NBC News reports that the election officials refused all offers of support from the company that created the voting tabulation software.

Earlier today, mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia expressed her concerns about these botched results.


KATHRYN GARCIA, (D) NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I am concerned that it undermines people`s confidence. We need to make sure that the vote is protected and that we get the result that New Yorkers went to the polls or mailed in at the end of the day.


WILLIAMS: Updated results show a closer race with Eric Adams in the lead with Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley running second and third, we think.

Donald Rumsfeld died today. In some of the hazy and glowing early obituaries that are out tonight he`s being remembered as a man of the highest integrity, great intellect, bureaucratic talent. History will also remember him as a man who never suffered an hour or a day of self doubt, a man who walked us into a disastrous war and elective war in Iraq under false pretenses and sent Americans off to fight without the support or armor that they needed. Some of them indeed paid the ultimate price. Donald Rumsfeld was 88 years old.

We`re also keeping an eye on the latest out of Surfside, Florida tonight on the ongoing search for survivors of that condo building collapse. 18 lives have been lost and 145 souls are still on accounted for.

Tomorrow as you know the President and First Lady will travel to Surfside, Florida.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests. On this Wednesday night, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning Senior Washington Correspondent for The Washington Post, his highly anticipated new book written with his colleague Carol Leonnig, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump`s Catastrophic Final Year is due out on the 20th of July, A.B. Stoddard, Veteran Washington Journalist, Associate Editor and Columnist for Real Clear Politics, And Paul Butler, a former Federal Corruption Prosecutor at the Department of Justice, these days a Professor at Georgetown Law School.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Phil, I`d like to start with you and your beat currently and former, you covered Trump through all manner of controversy. And to repeat, for those who don`t know, something, you know well, his company is a small family outfit at the end of the day. What are they saying about what`s coming tomorrow? And what must they be thinking?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Brian, there as you can imagine, is a great deal of concern within the Trump orbit and within the Trump family about the indictments that are expected tomorrow. This could be bruising for the company itself. Clearly, it will also be bruising for Mr. Weisselberg, the financial officer there.

But keep in mind how much of Donald Trump`s personal brand, his politics, his personal family wealth is tied up in this company. And if this company were to be charged, there could be financial repercussions in terms of the loans that become due that could eventually lead to bankruptcy by the company. But importantly, and this is the real danger for Donald Trump, Weisselberg could begin cooperating with federal -- I`m sorry, with the state prosecutors, and potentially that could lead to more trouble for the former president.

And so while Trump`s allies say this week that they`re pleased to see that the former President is not himself going to be charged, as far as we know, tomorrow. They know this investigation is not over and that there could be another chapter to it. And it`s one of the reasons I think we`ve seen Donald Trump react so strongly in his public statements, including tonight, calling this witch hunt and sort of the latest in a series of investigations to try to take him down.

WILLIAMS: Paul, Counselor, I have one for you. Here`s how the New York Times puts it tonight. Interviews with 18 current and former associates of Weisselberg as well as a review of legal findings financial records, other documents paint a portrait of a man whose unflinching devotion to Mr. Trump will now be put to the test. Weisselberg had become so woven into the fabric of the Trump Organization that when Mr. Trump moved to the White House in 17, he entrusted Weisselberg along with the former president`s adult sons with running his company.

So, tomorrow, Paul, starting with the unsealing of the indictments, what happens next?

PAUL BUTLER, GEORGETOWN LAW PROFESSOR: I`ll be looking at the actual charges, especially the money that`s involved and the story that the indictment tells about the evidence. The defense`s portraying this as a petty and political investigation about taxing fringe benefits. The prosecutors could respond with us speaking indictment that describes the crime, not just as tax evasion, but as the Trump Organization, and its CFO intentionally stealing hundreds of 1000s of dollars from the government.

The prosecutor`s narrative will be that the Trump Organization was essentially a criminal enterprise with a consistent pattern of fraud. And, Brian, the money is important because that determines what the exponential -- what the potential exposure is for Weisselberg. If it`s a very small or relatively small dollar amount, even if Weisselberg is convicted, he`s not going to jail. If it`s a lot of money, though, he could potentially face years in prison. And that would be a powerful incentive for him to flip to cooperate with the prosecutors and deliver Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS: A.B. Stoddard, nation turns its lonely eyes to you, at least the folks watching tonight for this question, how is this all sitting? How is it likely to sit with members of the Republican Party that you cover?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Well, I mean, I think it was very clear today from a tweet from Jason Miller, who has stepped down from the position of spokesman for Donald Trump right now, but is one of his most loyal insiders, basically saying, you know, boy, the politics of this are such a problem for the Democrats. They thought this is about Trump. And instead, these people are going after an eight year old man about free parking something to that effect. This is a political opportunity for Donald Trump. He always sees things this way. And he has believed for months, that if he continues to maintain that he`s a future candidate, that any kind of prosecution of him looks politically motivated, and will continue to help him raise more hundreds of millions of dollars as he has done since the day he lost the election.

And I think that, you know, he has taught his base that everyone who is against him, anyone who brings any facts that are unfavorable, whether that`s the law, or the media, or anyone is a part of the deep state. And that now includes, as of this week, Bill Barr, the former Attorney General and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, who basically Trump called to oust tonight in an interview with Sean Hannity.

So you can expect that kind of a public relations front from them going forward. And I think that he will expect all the rank and file Republicans to follow and from the likes of their vote today on a 1/6 commission and all of their, you know, loyalty to the big lie. I just can`t imagine that they won`t continue to defend him and say that these judges are going after him. And all of it is fake news.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, sounds like a strategy. Phil Rucker, help us shift our focus to tomorrow. We`re probably going to hear and read the phrase consoler in chief a lot as the Biden`s had to Surfside, Florida. Joe Biden, famously, an Irishman long on empathy goes deep on these occasions, as I expect him to tomorrow, remind us the stakes of tomorrow`s visit. And if you would remind us what he comes home to?

RUCKER: Well, Brian, the President is going to be heading down to visit the scene of that condo collapse, a real travesty a human travesty, in Florida. Keep in mind, by the way, not only are those the victims families shake in there, but the people who live in similar buildings are scared for what may happen to their building. And what you will probably see, as you noted from the President is somebody`s trying to console not only those in that community, but around the country. He`s a president with real empathy, and with compassion, and those attributes are not things that we saw on display from his predecessor, President Donald Trump, who often struggled in moments like this, notably in that hurricane after the hurricane in Puerto Rico, when he went down and tossed paper towels into the audience. I think we`ll see a very different approach from Biden. And it will be for Biden, a chance to really show his emotional connection to the citizens of the country.

But he he`s coming back to Washington to a very difficult place, his infrastructure bill hangs in the balance. Those negotiations have been in fits and starts over the last several weeks now. And it`s not on necessarily a great trajectory at this hour. And then other concerns as well, even with the COVID situation in this country. They`re planning a big Fourth of July celebration at the White House this weekend. But keeping in mind that the vaccination rates around the country are not quite as high as he would have hoped or as he even expected they would be by July 1.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, a good reminder, this was the target day weekend after all.

Hey, Paul, a huge Change of subject but a story especially busy folks are coming home to and trying to understand and that is the fact that Bill Cosby is home tonight for the first time in three years. As I read the coverage as a civilian non-lawyer, it appears the Pennsylvania Supreme Court may have been right on the law. However, unfortunate people view the prospect of Bill Cosby getting out of prison and enjoying his freedom. Tell our viewers what this ruling does or does not say on the merits about Bill Cosby`s alleged actions.

BUTLER: So the state Supreme Court found that Cosby and the former district attorney made a deal that Cosby would not be prosecuted, and that way he could be required to testify in a civil lawsuit brought by the victim. Without this deal, Cosby would have taken the fifth.

The former DA says he made a deal because he didn`t think there was enough evidence to charge Cosby in a criminal case. And this was the best way for the victim to get some measure of justice. This isn`t a legal technicality. The court found that Cosby`s constitutional rights were violated when immunized testimony was used against them. And it wasn`t a close case, six of the seven judges agreed on the merits, although a couple of the judges would have allowed or retrial.

Brian, I can`t imagine what the survivors are going through. But it`s also important to understand that the court is not finding that Mr. Cosby was innocent. Just that his trial was not fair.

WILLIAMS: A.B. back to the Hill for you to this new House Select Committee, other than pretending Benghazi never happened. Of course, the difference is this undertaking this investigation is real and will bring about real results. How can the Republicans continue to ignore this going on in their midst?

STODDARD: Well, Brian, I mean, we`ve talked about this since January, many of them are very concerned about what will be revealed in terms of even complicity from their own membership in the House Republican conference, let alone what President Trump was doing in the weeks leading up what he did during those terrible hours. And so they really want to avoid it as much as possible. And the only reason that you saw two members voted to support the committee today versus the 10, who voted to impeach President - - then President Trump for inciting the insurrection is because in those ensuing months, leadership has made it clear that the best thing you can do is back away. Even if you are as clear on what happened on January 6, as Anthony Gonzalez was over the weekend, when Trump went to Ohio, to support Max Miller to challenge him in his primary because of his impeachment vote, you can back away from this committee by saying it`s a process that I don`t think it`s going to work well. And it has really nothing to do with the insight and or the insurrection, or Trump`s complicity. It`s just that it`s just not a good process. It just sounds too partisan and it sounds like it`s not fair.

And so it was a vote that it was easy to oppose. And I`m -- it`s disappointing to see two people on the Republican side support it but it`s going to be from start to finish a pick on Pelosi, PR front from Republicans every single step of the way. Because they really have -- it`s not just President Trump, they really don`t want to learn more about what might have been happening within their own membership in terms of the connections to the perpetrators that day and what went down. So I wasn`t at all surprised. And you can continue to expect all of that as a narrative, as the committee undertakes its work.

WILLIAMS: Thanks to our starting frontline to our viewers, you have just heard a little bit of tomorrow`s news and analysis tonight. Phil Rucker, A.B. Stoddard, Paul Butler, great thanks for starting us off tonight.

Coming up for us, the former U.S. Attorney we have standing by we`ll talk about what these reported indictments could mean for the Trump organization`s future.

Then later, our friends Eugene Robinson and Matthew Dowd are with us. They`ll talk about the few the proud and the brave. We`re talking of course, about the two House Republicans willing to vote for that Select Committee to investigate the attempt to overturn a presidential election by force. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Wednesday night.


WILLIAMS: As we mentioned NBC News confirming a Manhattan grand jury today filed criminal indictments against the Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer. For more on what may lie ahead, we welcome back to the broadcast, Chuck Rosenberg, a DOJ, veteran, former U.S. Attorney, former Senior FBI Official as well, also happens to be the host of our MSNBC podcast, The Oath.

So Chuck, what are you looking for tomorrow? And after say 2 p.m. when the indictments are unsealed? What chain of events does that then kick off?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yeah, let me take the second question first, Brian. After folks are indicted, or perhaps an organization, they appear in court, they are arraigned. They are presented with the charges. They plead guilty or not guilty. In this case, it`ll be not guilty. And the judge will set a status hearing or schedule the next appearance. They might set a trial date. But nothing much will happen tomorrow in court if in fact they do appear. It`s rather perfunctory.

What will I be looking for the first question you asked, Paul Butler referred to it earlier. I want to see the detail of the indictment. I want to see the story. There are two ways to indict a case. One is to just recite the statute a bare bones recitation of the elements of the crime. But another way to do it is what we call a speaking indictment, in which we lay out the entire story of the scheme, right, who was involved? How long were they involved? What did they do? The elements of the crime have to be there as a matter of law. But speaking indictments tell a story, and I`ll be looking for the story.

WILLIAMS: No offense, Chuck, while we`re all around here, glad you`re in our lives. You never want the Feds in your life as a general rule and a practical matter. So, let`s talk about Allen Weisselberg. What`s it like when you are the focus of the Feds? What`s going to happen in his life?

ROSENBERG: Yeah, no offense taken, I get it. Nobody wants to wake up with the FBI at their door. Allen Weisselberg`s life, if he is charged tomorrow will change dramatically.

Now, it`s really important to look at what he is charged with, and what the possible penalties are. And often on television, we talk about the maximum statutory penalty. That`s not really the way cases are sentenced, assuming a conviction. We`d also have to look at the sentencing guidelines under New York State law, and the amount of money involved. And so it`s very possible that while Allen Weisselberg could be charged, and it could be tried, and it could be convicted, and he could be sentenced, he might not in the end be looking at a very long time in prison.

And how much time he`s looking at might determine whether or not he decides to cooperate. That will give us some indication of the leverage that the New York state authorities have over him, and how persuadable he might be to turn or flip on others.

WILLIAMS: If the company ends up getting nicked in this case, it`s been theorized that of course, all bank loans go away. How damaging, how detrimental could this be to what is and I repeat, at the end of the day, a fairly small family run enterprise?

ROSENBERG: Right, really good question. And it goes to the heart of something that prosecutors call collateral consequences, something that we have to think about before we charge an organization or a company or a corporation, Brian, are the collateral consequences. And I know you`ll remember back in 2001, when the accounting giant Arthur Andersen was charged. The organization, the company was charged in connection with the Enron scandal, and almost 30,000 people lost their job when it was convicted. An ironic side note, his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court based on faulty jury instructions.

But, for a small privately held company, there are still collateral consequences. There are employees money, fewer than Arthur Andersen but nevertheless employees. There are creditors. There are banks that have loaned money to the Trump Organization. And to your point may call those loans are highly leveraged company it could be at risk. I don`t know that it will go out of business. I don`t know that it will declare bankruptcy. I don`t know what the banks and creditors will do. But prosecutors have to think about those collateral consequences when deciding whether or not to charge an organization. I am sure they thought about it here.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, this same wisdom is available by downloading our friend Chuck`s podcast. To chuck Rosenberg couldn`t ask for more detailed answers to our questions. Thank you, as always for being our guest tonight.

Another break in our coverage. Coming up today`s House vote proves it yet again, the party of law and order is now simply Donald Trump`s political party.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the top, they scuffle again with a small group of officers to give enough to barely a minute. Come up now has direct access to capital entrances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t believe this is reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We accomplished this.


WILLIAMS: Stop following orders. They`ve said to the police officers part of the thousands of harrowing videos from that in depth documentary analysis by the New York Times, that offers new insight into how January 6 happened and why.

With us again tonight, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post. And Matthew Dowd, the founder of Country Over Party. In the past, he has been the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign back in 04 among other roles.

And Matthew, I want to begin with you because of these two Republican votes in the House that`s as good as it gets these days. Question is how long can that caucus continue to insist the work -- the earth is flat, and I note the point you made to Nicolle Wallace today that I`ll call truth and labeling. You`re asking for everyone to stop blaming Trump, and start blaming the Republican Party start blaming the modern GOP?

MATTHEW DOWD, FMR. CHIEF STRATEGIST TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: Yes, and I think that`s a fundamental part that we have to end up with. To me, there were so many people that thought Donald Trump if he loses, and it once inauguration comes for Joe Biden, it`ll all be better. And it`ll be better. Well, it actually is worse today. In my view, it`s worse today than it was before election day.

And I think as we keep going forward, even if Donald Trump was to leave the planet, we never heard from him again. This is who the Republican Party is today. They wouldn`t be only doing this because of what Donald Trump`s doing this. They`re doing it because the vast majority of their voters have been told this they`ve been lied to. And I`ve also acquiesced to it. But then it participated in this.

And I think that`s what, where all of us, whoever were voters, whether we`re active in politics, or whether we`re in the media have to really fundamentally call this out. There`s only one actual Democratic Party today, a party that believes in democracy today. And that`s the Democrats.

I want to be political parties that believe in democracy. We don`t have them today. We have one, that`s autocracy. And one that`s democracy, one that doesn`t care about holding an insurrection accountable, one that wants to hold it accountable. And those two things at that point, have nothing to do with Donald Trump in 2022 and 2024.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, I want to sample a bit of some very powerful remarks today in the well of the House of Representatives. By let`s put it this way, the only sitting member of Congress with five bullet wounds.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): My heart`s racing right now. And I`m trembling, in part because I`m recalling what happened to me on January 6. And I thought at that moment, my God, I survived Guyana, but I`m not going to survive this in the House of democracy in the country in which I was born


WILLIAMS: Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California who famously was left for dead on the tarmac at what later became the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. Eugene, not only did the Republicans who voted the other way, hear those remarks, perhaps look her in the eye, surrounding them in the gallery, the same gallery that was evacuated on 1/6, were members of Metropolitan PD, and Capitol Police, who were there that day to protect the lives in that chamber. That`s, that`s a lot to ask for to vote against all of that.

EUGENE ROBINSON. THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: And yet, Republicans did. Republicans have heard the stories told by those police officers. They`ve heard how they were beaten within inches of their lives, many of them seriously injured. Suffering PTSD from what was really an unprecedented, awful, world changing event. January 6 was a very, very big deal. And Republicans want to pretend that either it didn`t happen, or it was just some sort of minor blip. And it all can be put behind us without even bothering to find out what exactly it was, how it was organized, how it was financed. And exactly what happened.

That`s appalling. As that said, that is the fault of the Republican Party that Donald Trump was not in office now. And Democrats have to deal with that. And so they have to proceed with a select committee that will investigate to the best of its powers. And that`s what we`re left with. It shouldn`t be this way. But, you know, this is where we are.

WILLIAMS: So Matt, I have an impossible task for you in all of 60 seconds, what concerns you most about these immediate months ahead of us?

DOWD: What concerns me most is that this is, it`s going to get worse than what happened on January 6, because we have appeal -- people that have been pushed and instigated and lied to and believe some crazy stuff. And there`s 300 million guns in America that we have spread across the country. And that really concerns me.

I think we can get through this. But I think it`s going to take a series of devastating losses on the Republicans part but in the immediate I`m concerned that January 6 was just a preliminary event, for worst things that could happen and more loss of life in the course of this and it`s a very, very scary thing.

WILLIAMS: We`ve asked both of these gentlemen to stay with us as we get in a break. Coming up today, it was Texas. He will head to Florida this weekend. It`s a lot, but that`s the life of the former president these days.


WILLIAMS: Lady says the voices in your head and the lyrics, Gloria was the song that walked Donald Trump out to the wall in South Texas today marking the first visit in history to the southern border by a twice impeached, former president.

More than that the event wrapped up with WMCA blaring over the loudspeakers because no matter how serious the topic in Trump world, everything is a rally at the end of the day.

Still with us, Eugene Robinson and Matthew Dowd Eugene, all kidding aside, what does it say about this Republican Party that more Republican members of Congress made that trip down there to see the former president today then voted for the 1/6 select committee?

ROBINSON: It`s everything you need to know about the party. I mean, first, Brian, I don`t think it`s a coincidence that these appearances by the twice impeached former president coincide with this ominous legal activity and the indictments that were told are coming tomorrow against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg I think. And I think this is going to be his defense, effectively, against all sorts of legal actions that I`m conducting a political campaign, and I`m being persecuted for political reasons. And so he`s out there doing politics.

But what does it say about the Republican Party? It says that they are -- that the party is basically a cult of personality, and that it is putting what it sees as short-term gain, potential short-term gain in `22 and `24. Ahead of any principles, if it remembers, indeed, what principles are.

WILLIAMS: Matthew, Kristi Noem up in North Dakota staying on brand, sending 15 members of that state`s guard and ready reserve to the southern border, paid for by one wealthy donor. Is this what we`re doing now? As someone asked on Twitter tonight, and I`m paraphrasing, can Bezos up it to a billion, borrow the California National Guard and put together a suppression force on the other side down at the border? Since when?

DOWD: Well, that`s I mean, to me, that`s one of the most scary things that actually, I mean, there`s so many scary things happen. That`s one of the most scary things happen that a sitting governor would use a National Guard, one for political purposes, but then have it paid for by, you know, Russia`s version of an oligarch, which as I said earlier today. This sounds so much like Russia is autocracy mixed with wealthy people using the parts of power to do what you want to do in this.

But this to me is another example. Kristi Noem is not doing this because she`s trying to have allegiance to Donald Trump. Kristi Noem is doing this because it`s not that the party Republican Party is a cult of Trump it is. But what it really is a white grievance party and the Republicans who want to be president in 2024, who want to get reelected in their primaries understand that, and that`s why they`re doing this stuff on the border.

And I`m in Texas. I mean, give me an example of Greg Abbott, the governor here. Greg Abbott took money out of the Texas budget to which states aren`t normally doing, put it on the border. And you know what he didn`t do, he didn`t fix the electric grid that went down here for a week and a half, and everybody was out in the cold and lost their water.

So he pays for -- he`s paying for a border wall, but not fixing the electric grid in Texas. It is just so out of whack. But it has to do with the changing diversity of the country and a legal layer of white populations that is aggrieved by that. And that is what fundamentally, the Republican Party is today.

WILLIAMS: Matt, tiny question, is it fair to ask where is the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and perhaps a federal judge or two, before a state National Guard is hired for a gender reveal party in somebody`s backyard to put an end to this traveling across state lines to an international border?

DOWD: That`s a great question, Brian. You know, I have, I mean I think, the Biden administration has been great, but I think they`ve actually been slow to understand and slow to respond to what we`re facing today. This is a five alarm fire that needs to be dealt with immediately.

And so when this occurred, or even if the rumor of this occurred, I am surprised that somebody in the administration official, whether it`s defense or the Attorney General, didn`t immediately come out and try to stop it from happening, even if it had gone to a court and, you know, six months from now. I think they still there`s people that still think, Oh, this is all OK, it`s not OK. And the only way to deal with it is to deal with it quickly, fast and firmly.

WILLIAMS: Can talk to these two gentlemen all evening long, many nights of the week. Eugene Robinson, Matthew Dowd, it`s up to our viewers to guess which painting behind which gentleman is an actual original. Coming up. It has never been far from the thoughts of Americans this week. We`re going to update you on this nightmare that is still unfolding in Surfside Florida, because it`s been a week today.


WILLIAMS: In about an hour, it`ll be exactly one week since that tragic building collapse in Surfside, Florida. Tomorrow as we said the President, First Lady will be there to thank the First Responders for their tireless efforts at rescue and to comfort the living.

At least six more bodies have been pulled from the wreckage as the families of dozens of other victims continue of course the excruciating Wait, our reports tonight from NBC News correspondent Morgan Chesky.


MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight rescue workers tired but determined, teams not slowing down to bring the missing gun seven days back home.

MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: We`re not leaving anybody behind. This is going to go until we pull everybody out of there.

CHESKY: The collapse of Champlain Tower South leaving 145 people still missing, claiming 18 lives, including Luis Bermuda`s and his mother Ana, whose family now has closure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There with God now so that gave me a relief and a sense of peace.

CHESKY: Calls for accountability. Only growing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did this happen?

CHESKY: Today a new lawsuit filed on behalf of a man is still missing. Attorneys pushing to visit the site and preserve evidence.

At the scene, crews making progress but still unable to search a 40-foot area more to dangerous.

JIMMY PATRONIS, FLORIDA STATE CFO AND STATE FIRE MARSHALL: The debris that is there you can`t really search it. Because of the overhead what`s called Widowmakers. There the items that weigh 600 pounds, 500 pounds, air conditions that could drop on top of them.

CHESKY: Helping crews dig deeper, 21 rescue dogs working in shifts. One of them a two and a half year old lab named Feisty.

DEBBIE MCPHEE, FLORIDA US&R TASK FORCE CANINE HANDLER: What we`re doing right snow on the pile is as they peel back the layers, we`re sending a dog up to check things out.

CHESKY: And someone could be buried feet beneath rubble.


CHESKY: And she could still tell.

MCPHEE: Yes. Yes.

CHESKY: A team effort in the midst of tragedy, giving the families of those still missing hope. Morgan Chesky, NBC News, Surfside Florida.


WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, a moment you might have missed from today, amid all the news from today.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, he did it again today in Texas. He`s still talking about his cognitive test.


DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: He did a test. Did I ace it?


TRUMP: I aced it. And I`d like to see Biden ace it. He won`t ace it. He`ll get the first two there`s 35 questions and the first two or three are pretty easy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re the animals.

TRUMP: The animals. Is this a lion, a giraffe? When he gets around 20 is going to have a little hard time. I think he`s going to have a hard time with the first few actually.


WILLIAMS: It`s been painfully obvious from the start that someone in a white lab coat once told Donald Trump he did very well on his cognitive test. That seemed today in Texas seem to be about challenging Biden to a kind of cognitive duel.

Fred Wellman of the Lincoln project summed up the scene nicely as he so often does, quote, imagine having the empty soul of Greg Abbott to be able to sit there and smile like an idiot while this lunatic talks about his cognitive test like it was a freaking Mensa IQ test, and not a means to see if he is losing his mind. Because everyone thought he was, end of quote.

And then again tonight on Fox News on live television. It happened again, this time with a big assist from his buddy Sean Hannity.


TRUMP: We aced it. I think I can say that I aced it.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: He didn`t get one question wrong, didn`t he?


HANNITY: 30 out of 30. Wow.


WILLIAMS: 30 for 30. And we figured there`s no way at this point we can`t air the original. And by the original, we of course mean the essential Sarah Cooper from back in the day.


SARAH COOPER, LIP-SYNCHING DONALD TRUMP: Cutie test. And he said there actually is and he named it whatever it might be. And it was 30 or 35 questions. The first questions are very easy. The last questions are much more difficult. Like a memory question. It`s like you`ll go person, woman, man, camera, TV.

So let`s say could you repeat that? So I said, yes. So it`s person, woman, man, camera, TV. OK, that`s very good.

If you get it in order, you get extra points, if you OK, that he`s asking you other questions. Other questions. And then 10 minutes, 15, 20 minutes later, say remember the first question, not the first but the 10th question. Give us that again. Can you do that again? And you go person, woman, man, camera, TV. If you get it in order, you get extra points. They said nobody gets it in order. It`s actually not that easy. But for me, it was easy.

And that`s not an easy question. In other words, they ask you to you, they give you five names, and you have to repeat them. And that`s OK. If you repeat them out of order. It`s OK. But, you know, it`s not as good. But then when you go back about 20, 25 minutes later, and they say go back to that, they don`t tell you this. Go back to that question. And repeat them. Can you do it? And you go, person, woman, man, camera, TV. They say that`s amazing. How did you do that? I do it because I have like, a good memory because. I`m cognitively there.


WILLIAMS: The essential Sarah Cooper to play us off the air and that is our broadcast for this Wednesday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all of our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.