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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 6/7/21

Guests: Matthew Dowd, Don Calloway, Murtaza Akhter


POTUS and VP Kamala Harris make first foreign trips in office this week. Democrat Joe Manchin upends Biden legislative agenda. Manchin is a "no" on voting bill and ending filibuster. New report details Rudy Giuliani pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden in July 2019 phone conversation. Feds get back much of ransom from colonial hackers. V.P. Harris is traveling to Guatemala and Mexico. Former President Donald Trump pushes election fraud lies at NC GOP Convention. Eleven states have inadequate vaccination levels.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 139 of the Biden administration, the opening of a week in which both the President and Vice President are making their global debut with their first respective foreign trips in office. Yeah, Joe Biden is now facing a tough new challenge here at home. A fellow democrat has dealt another blow to a key part of the Biden legislative agenda.

And it`s that man again over the weekend, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who remains critical to his party`s power and a 50/50 Senate wrote this in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette mail, "I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster."

And with that the various signals that Manchin is been sending out all along about both of those issues now have a much more definitive tone, let`s say. One influential House member warns Manchin`s opposition to the voting rights legislation places the future of our democracy at risk.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: You are talking about restoring the democratic principles upon which this country is based. It may disproportionately hurt me and my children and grandchildren today. But let me tell you, they all hurt this entire country going forward.


WILLIAMS: Remember, Republicans in over a dozen states are now actively trying to restore or restrict voting rights and some Senate Democrats have been lobbying Manchin in person with that in mind.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, (D) GEORGIA: We got to make sure that the people have their voice and our own democracy. And unfortunately, we`re living in a moment in which there is one party that has decided that rather than adjust their message, they want to shift and distort the playing field.


WILLIAMS: NBC News among others reporting that NAACP President Derek Johnson is expected to meet with Senator Manchin tomorrow morning to talk about federal voting rights legislation. Just tonight, it was announced that the meeting has been expanded to include a number of civil rights groups, including the Urban League. Manchin`s position creates some urgency for President Biden`s other big agenda item. White House says he`ll meet again with the other West Virginian Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito about the infrastructure bill before leaving Washington for Europe on Wednesday for an eight day trip. The two sides are apparently still far apart on a price tag.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It`s clear the President has come down by about a trillion dollars. What we`ve seen on the other side is they`ve only come up by a small percentage of that. Moving forward, he`s looking forward to having a discussion with Senator Capito and he certainly is eager to see what that end discussion can entail.


WILLIAMS: As we mentioned earlier, this week marks Biden`s first official trip as president oversees. This eight day trip ends next week in Geneva where he`ll meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Tonight there`s new reporting about efforts to pressure a nation currently in conflict with Russia into investigating baseless conspiracies about Joe Biden back when he was running for president.

CNN has obtained audio of former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in July 2019 phone call with U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker and notably a Senior Adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky. On the recording, Giuliani can be heard pushing for a public announcement of an investigation into Biden from Ukraine`s president.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: And all we need -- all we need from President (Zelensky) is to say, I`m going to put an honest prosecutor in charge, he`s going to investigate and dig up the evidence that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election. And then the Biden thing has to be run out. I don`t know if it`s true or not. I mean I see -- I see him bragging about it on television. And to me as a lawyer, to me as a lawyer, it sounds like a tribe. Somebody in Ukraine`s got to take that seriously. If he could make some statement at the right time, that he (Zelensky) supports a fair, honest law enforcement system. And that these investigations go, wherever they have to go. It`s going to be run by honest people. That would clear the air really well. And I think it would make possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the President (Trump).


WILLIAMS: About the audio they independently obtained CNN reports the roughly 40 minute phone call took place before former President Trump`s infamous. I would like you to do us a favor though conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky. And it undermines Trump`s repeated claim that there was no quid pro quo, of course, Ukraine did not do what Rudy asked but along with military assistance to fight off Russia. Zelensky had also been hoping Trump would invite him to the White House and he never did.

Today, Biden extended an invitation for a visit later this summer. During his meeting with Putin next week, Biden`s expected to bring up those recent ransomware attacks here in the U.S. While just today our Justice Department announced it had recovered much of the $4.4 million ransom payments. The Russian hacker group DarkSide extorted from colonial pipeline that was back in April. DOJ says the Bureau was able to disrupt a cryptocurrency payment system to retrieve the ransom.

As mentioned earlier, Vice President Kamala Harris is already on her first foreign visit. She`s in Guatemala on a mission aimed at stopping the ongoing migration to our southern border from Central America. Tomorrow, she heads to Mexico and today, she issued a blunt public warning following a meeting with the Guatemalan president.


KAMALA HARRIS, (D) U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home. At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border. Do not come. Do not come. If you come to our border, you will be turned back.


WILLIAMS: With 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, Anna Palmer, Veteran Journalist, Founder and CEO of Punchbowl News, a news organization covering Congress that she created with her fellow political playbook veteran Jake Sherman. She`s also recently been named an MSNBC Contributor and Michael Crowley, Diplomatic Correspondent at the New York Times.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. And Ashley, I`d like to begin with you and your beat. This is in many ways, a heck of a time to be taking to the air going on the road for president, with so much of his initiative still up in the air, especially with Congress, what`s your sense on whether or not and there usually is a move, they`ve got something in their back pocket they`ve got that they`re not necessarily advertising?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, in some ways, what you`re going to see on this trip abroad is parallel to what you`re seeing back home, at least in what President Biden is promising. You`ll recall, he sort of pitched himself as a master of personal diplomacy and deal making that was his promise that if he just got elected, Republicans would start to work with him. Obviously, that is not happening right now quite starkly back home. And abroad, it was the same pitch it was that he was someone who longtime senator who had been abroad, someone put it me on sort of the European conference circuit, the security conference circuit, had a foreign relations, his vice president and now as president that he again, he had these long standing personal relationships with global leaders. And because it was him, Joe Biden, you will be able to go there and do things that another President might not be able to do. We`ve seen how that is played out. The mixed results in there and an admittedly rough patch right now back home, and we`re about to see how that promise stands up on the world stage.

WILLIAMS: And Anna, indeed, let`s go to your beat. But I`m going to read for you something in Ashley`s paper about Senator Manchin to kick it off. Inside the Senate on Monday, Manchin`s Democratic colleagues reacted with surprise and disappointment largely keeping any personal frustrations in check, given the mutual acknowledgment that Manchin`s vote is essential to success on infrastructure, confirming Biden`s nominees and several other priorities. So Anna, here`s the question, when you call individual Democrats from the herd and talk to them, maybe not for quotation, how do they view this guy that many view as DINO, a Democrat in name only. It has surprised and concerned a lot of people that on any given day, he`s easily the most important or number two most important Democrat in Washington.

ANNA PALMER, PUNCHBOWL NEWS CO-FOUNDER & CEO: I don`t think anybody should be surprised why where Joe Manchin is right now. He`s been saying the same things when it comes to the filibuster, when it comes to voting rights for several weeks now. I think that he actually gives a lot of Democrats cover, he doesn`t mind being the tip of the spear that, you know, as you said in DINO of his pockets, because there are a lot of other Democrats that are very much in line with where Joe Manchin is on the filibuster, they don`t want to have to be out there as locally as he is, and Manchin and maybe do a little bit of a lesser extent, Kyrsten Sinema, they are the two people that are willing to say, hey, we`re going to -- we`re not going to make changes here. But there are at least a handful of other democratic senators who are in line with where Joe Manchin is on the filibuster.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Crowley, to you also from the Washington Post, this is their version of the op-ed, written by the president published this weekend. And he says, "In my phone calls with President Putin, I have been clear and direct, the United States does not see conflict, we want a stable and predictable relationship. President Putin knows that I will not hesitate to respond to future harmful activities." How much of this is a normalized relationship with Russia? And how much of that is attributable to the fact that Putin has now lost the friendliest American president, certainly of his lifetime that he will ever get?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, THE NEW YORK TIMES DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s never going to be at least in the foreseeable future, a normalized relationship. I think that what the Biden administration once and says it once quite openly, is a more stable, predictable relationship, acknowledging that there are major differences that are not going to be reconciled. And that Russia, in many ways, is an adversary. But I think, to some degree, Biden is trying not to play Putin`s game. He doesn`t want to get into an escalation fight in some of these conflicts we have with Russia, Putin actually has the upper hand in a potential escalation when it comes to Ukraine. He`s probably willing to escalate farther than the U.S. wants to go. And on these maddening cyber attacks, we are more vulnerable in a cyber war than Russia is. We are just kind of living in a bigger glass house that`s more vulnerable to the stones if we get into a back and forth computer fight with the Russians.

You know, there is an irony here that, that Biden is talking about trying to have dialogue with Russia, after President Trump spent so many years saying, you know, wouldn`t it be great if we were friends with Russia, and it`s been very interesting to watch Republicans and conservative media outlets attacking Biden and saying he`s the one who`s soft on Russia. But that`s really not what`s going on here. It`s just really, I think, in an effort to kind of cool this off and stabilize it, not to have a friendly or normalized relationship, because that`s not possible.

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, back to Biden, this may require some philosophizing on your part, but let`s give it a go. There is such a difference between romantic Washington and actual Washington, as you know, there`s a difference for this president, between symbolism and substance. A lot of people have pointed out he might have a notion as to how things are going to go. The criticism from within his own party is there`s more at his disposal that he`s not using. There`s more he`s not doing, for instance, there are issues on where he can act unilaterally with that he hasn`t thus far.

PARKER: There are and there aren`t. I mean, you`re right that Biden comes to office with a longstanding abiding belief in the power of words and symbols and rhetoric, and that`s from the way he launched his campaign, evoke in Charlottesville. That`s from some of the speeches he gave standing before historic backdrops whether it`s Gettysburg to talk about unity or more recently going Tulsa to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the race massacre there. And he thinks that is important and historians and other politicians will tell you, that is important. But as you said, there are also incredible limits to that that he is running up to and so he, you know, he took down the Andrew Jackson, the thing that Trump had in the Oval Office, he put up one of FDR, but he is running into those limitations of potentially being an FDR in Congress and there is stuff you can do there are executive actions you can take there is maybe a bit more arm twisting he can do but Joe Biden whether he wants to or not, and so far, he`s been pretty hesitant. He cannot personally blow up the filibuster. He can only apply so much pressure to someone like Senator Joe Manchin because as much as he wants him on voting rights, which is clearly not happening rights, which is clearly not happening right now, he also needs him on infrastructure. So it`s a practical game. It`s a delicate balance. And he`s running up against entrenched partisanship in Washington. He is not the first president and he likely won`t be the last.

WILLIAMS: Anna, let`s expand on this. We could have built a couple of bridges in the time they`ve been talking about infrastructure. Is the White House level of patience, unlimited on this topic? When are they going to kind of call for a vote?

PALMER: It`s definitely not unlimited when it comes to pet the President`s actual patients or a deal getting done here. But I think that there`s a saying that goes back to Trent Lott years ago, when you have the votes, you vote. And clearly, Chuck Schumer doesn`t have the votes to move forward on an infrastructure package with just Democrats, because you`ve heard Joe Manchin say time and time again that he wants us to be bipartisan. He`s not ready to go just down the path of reconciliation, which would be a package that just Democrats would try to pass. And I think it`s important to note though, even though, you know, the Biden administration doesn`t have limitless patients, I would expect the stay some kind of signals in the next week or two, definitely before the end of the month because of the kind of sequencing that needs to happen at the legislative level. But the real question is going to be as we were talking about him earlier, but it was where does Joe Manchin end up on saying, OK, we`ve done this long enough. And, you know, Republicans aren`t acting in good faith anymore. And it`s time to move forward with just a democratic plan. And that is going to be extremely difficult for Democrats to do. I think sometimes people just think, oh, well, once the bipartisan deal falls through with they`re just going to move forward on reconciliation, that`s going to be extremely difficult.

WILLIAMS: Michael, you`re going to get the last word, it comes with a trigger alert. We`re going to talk about Rudy, remind our audience why this new recording is so important.

CROWLEY: Well, I mean, this goes back to the first impeachment of President Trump when Rudy Giuliani spearheaded an effort to -- or was central to an effort by President Trump to leverage America`s substantial military assistance to the Government of Ukraine into an investigation into Joe Biden`s son who was on the board of an energy company in Ukraine and essentially to gin up a scandal that really wasn`t there to suggest that President Biden had improperly used his power as vice president to try to influence an investigation in this energy company, it gives me a headache, Brian, to start recalling this story. And, you know, it seems now like ancient history, we`ve been through a second impeachment since then. But, you know, I think the key thing to remember here is the FBI concluded that Rudy Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation that essentially ran through Ukraine and was connected to much of these activities. So what we`re seeing is reverberations, in part, at least, of Russian influence, designed to undermine President Biden and a reminder again, of Putin`s hidden hand and how pernicious it is. And, by the way, how much of an axe Joe Biden has to grind when he comes to see Vladimir Putin, it`s going to involve a tremendous amount of self restraint for him to try to have something resembling a normal conversation with this man.

WILLIAMS: We greatly appreciate these three threads friends of our broadcast, Ashley Parker, Anna Palmer, Michael Crowley, thank you so much for staying up with us and starting off our conversation.

Coming up for us, Congressman James Clyburn warns this country is on the verge of going the weight of the Roman Empire because of efforts to subvert the will of our people, more on the dilemma within the Democratic Party.

And later what Fox News doesn`t want to show you about the insurrections sixth of January. We however, are under no such restrictions and so you will see it here. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on a Monday night.



REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN, (D) NEW YORK: Joe Manchin while he speaks to being, you know, holier than thou and upholding our democracy and looking to save it. He`s really upholding a system of white supremacy through wealth inequality.


WILLIAMS: Let`s put it this way, to say some of Senator Manchin`s fellow Democrats aren`t pleased with his decision to oppose federal voting rights legislation might be an understatement. For his part Manchin is using unity to defend his decision. Here`s what he told Fox News this weekend.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: I think it`s the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country. And I`m not supporting that because I think it would divide us further.


WILLIAMS: Back with us tonight, Don Calloway, Democratic Strategist, member of the advisory board for the National Voter Protection Action Fund, also CEO, Founder of Pine Street Strategies, a D.C. based Lobbying Firm, and Matthew Dowd is back with us, Founder of Country over Party. In the past he was Chief Strategist for the Bush-Cheney presidential effort back in `04.

I know we try to keep this happy, happy, joy, joy, gentlemen, but Matthew, I have to start with a downer. What happens if nothing gets done on a voting reform?

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: A lot of people are going to be upset the fact that democracy isn`t table stakes for our elected officials. That`s what`s amazing to me that you would think that preserving our democracy is table stakes and it`s doesn`t seem to be in this. To me if it doesn`t happen, and I have doubts now that it will, with what Joe Manchin has said is it`s going to be up to the electorate in 2022 and 2024, to cause the Republicans to suffer devastating losses in such a manner that we can do this and we can preserve the democracy we have. That`s my big fear. So if this doesn`t happen, then all of the people that are going to be restricted and impediments that are going to be put in front of and it`s going to make it harder are going to have to go above and beyond and vote and cause the Republican Party to lose significant amount of offices. And that to me is the only way out of this mess.

WILLIAMS: Don, a tough question to you, are his fellow Democrats being angry enough? And what about Manchin would you say still makes him a Democrat?

DON CALLOWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That`s a great question. And I`m Not exactly the -- I`m not exactly sure why he`s a Democrat. I would hope and pray that in his private deliberations. He`s taking some serious time to think that over himself. I`ve been a professional Democrat for a long time. And I`m well aware that we are the party of the big tent. And many of those within that big tent are single issue voters. For some of us, it`s women`s autonomy and rights. For some of us, it`s gun control. For some of us, it`s criminal justice reform. But for all of us, it`s voting rights, because we understand that that is the gateway to get anything done. That is going to amount to progress in this country. All of his fellow Democrats are clearly not as angry as righteously angry as principal, Congressman, Mr. -- The gentleman from New York, Mr. Bowman, from New York. But, you know, frankly, I don`t know what more anger from fellow members of the party would do at this point, because certainly, Joe Manchin has heard from all of them, and he has decided to place himself on this island. And it`s fundamentally the wrong decision in the preservation of democracy if that is his greatest concern.

WILLIAMS: Don, take a second talk about a picture on the wall behind you that I know you`re justifiably proud to display.

CALLOWAY: Oh, yeah, that`s Norman Rockwell 1964. It`s called, The Problem We All Live With. My mother gave it to me for my 40th birthday not long ago. And it is a picture of Ruby Bridges, integrating the New Orleans public schools as a six year old in 1960. And my mother also integrated her public schools in Lawrence County, Alabama. This is in our lifetimes. This is not long ago, Ruby Bridges nor my mother are old women. And the point here is that by choosing to preserve the filibuster, Joe Manchin has decided to stick with Ruby Bridges not being able to integrate the New Orleans public schools, he`s decided to stick with my mom not being able to integrate her public schools. And that`s the choice in front of us all, not only as Democrats but as Americans, do we choose to stick with a filibuster or do we choose gun reform? Do we choose to stick with the filibuster? Or do we choose climate change? And serious action on that major issues in front of us, and it makes no sense to intentionally choose to not go with voting rights to maintain an archaic relic of the Jim Crow pass, but that`s the decision that Joe Manchin is making. And he has to understand that this is a much bigger posture, he has a much bigger choice in front of him than simply a voting rights act or a Senate Bill. He`s deciding between progress or maintaining the past that we`re all trying to move forward from.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Matthew, two things, number one, please know what Don just did, he threw in the fact that his 40th birthday was very recently that was a shot across our bow, but we`ll take it and we`ll continue, I just want to know that for our audience, because it was kind of the elephant in the room. So Matthew, how do you lobby a guy? James Carville reminded me tonight, Democrats haven`t won a county in West Virginia since `08. So how do you lobby a guy who goes home to a state that went for Trump 40 points?

DOWD: So first of all, I would argue that we`re closer to Social Security, and he is, so we may be further away from 40. But we`re closer to social security. I mean, I think -- first of all, first of all, voting rights is actually popular in West Virginia. And so it`s not as if the general population of Democrats, independents and Republicans, he could make an argument that it`s a popular thing in West Virginia to do this. And so that that`s part of the argument, but I would actually make an historical argument to Joe Manchin, I know Joe Manchin, I`ve known Joe Manchin, off and on for 2020 years back when he was governor of West Virginia. And I would say just a little historical walk down, historical lane. The idea that bipartisanship as he`s defining it, which is what people in Washington doing is a farce. Bipartisanship should be defined by what the American people want. And what the American people want is the preservation of our democracy. If bipartisanship was the way, the path to what was good we would have never had the 15th amendment to the Constitution. The 15th amendment to the Constitution received no votes, no votes from the opposition party, in the 1860s, in the 1870s. No votes were -- it was a very partisan vote in that.

The other thing I would say is, the longer we allow this filibuster, the reason to pick up on something what Don said, though, and I would make his argument to Joe Manchin, the longer we allow this to control us is exactly what happened between the 1870s. It took 90 years, primarily because of the filibuster to get the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, 90 years after the Civil War for us to get those two pieces of legislation to ensure that so many 1000s and 1000s of Americans lost their lives for. And so that the history of the filibuster and what it`s been used for has been basically mostly used for nefarious person`s purposes to keep rights away from certain groups in this country.

So if he wants to unite the country, which I think he does, I believe him. And if he believes in bipartisanship, the quickest path to unite the country and bipartisanship is to get rid of the filibuster and support the voting rights legislation.

WILLIAMS: Great point. I think too many people forget that too many people fought and died for the rights we`re trying to enshrine today. Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. Don of course being young has his whole life ahead of him. Coming up, how the delusions of a Florida retiree, the only retiree in Florida twice impeach so he`s got that going for him are consuming the Republican Party.



REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): When you listen to Donald Trump talk now, when you hear the language he`s using now, it is essentially the same things that the Chinese Communist Party for example says about the United States and our democracy.


WILLIAMS: Well, that`s saying something on Trump`s return to the political spotlight and his continued peddling of conspiracy theories. Max Boot writes this in the Washington Post today this is an interesting quote. Former President Donald Trump`s secret weapon has always been that it is hard for educated people to take him seriously. But while Trump is not a serious person, he is a serious threat to our democracy. And we make a grave mistake if we dismiss him as a punchline. We`ve committed that blunder before still here with us are Don Calloway and Matthew Dowd.

Don, I have another quote for you. This is Charlie Sykes wrote this for this network. Trump`s embrace of the story shows how the right`s doom loop of craziness works and how it`s accelerating narratives that began in the fevered imaginations of his hardcore true believers, it`s impossible to know whether Trump genuinely believes he can move back into the White House this summer. But that`s not the point. The story works for him, as long as other people believe it.

Don, heavily does that notion weigh on you on a daily basis now?

CALLOWAY: You know, the notion of him getting back the White House in this calendar year does not weigh on me whatsoever. However, the notion of him being a viable candidate in 2024 is a very real thing. But I want to contextualize what happened in his big return, if you can call it that this past weekend, it`s important to remember, as we discussed last week, that the man and his organizations are in serious civil and potentially criminal trouble. So we don`t know that. First of all, he gives these speeches on a paid basis. So he has to raise money to feed the grift. Certainly, his properties are not ringing in the dollars like they were at one point, if ever.

And so that`s part of what`s happening here is that he has to make money with these crazy speeches. That said the previous authors are right, we should not dismiss him as a non-factor electorally. But from what I saw in watching that speech, he was certainly a fighter who appears to have lost a step just a little bit. And if you`re a Republican, interested contender, I think you saw that, and I think you might be readying yourself for Iowa and New Hampshire in 2024.

But lastly, I would say he can still get you five and a third. And that`s a pretty dangerous contender. So Democrats would be really, really silly to write him off like we did in the fall of 2015.

WILLIAMS: Could also be that those giant pants have cost him a step along the way. Hey, Matthew, I have yet to have the chance to talk to you since the Memorial Day address by our president, who used that setting at Arlington, and as we`ve been saying, for days, Memorial Day, speeches by our presidents, while always emotional are usually a non-event, he declared that our democracy is in peril. And it got the attention of the audience he was looking for. And I`m wondering if you found it as bracing.

DOWD: I thought Brian, I thought what he said was exceedingly compelling in what he said, I think it`s true. I think we`re in the most dangerous moment we`ve seen as a country. Not since World War II, I think this is more dangerous moment than World War II, because we were actually united in a confrontation against our authoritarian regimes. We`re not united in a confrontation right now against a group, a party, a legacy party that`s pushing autocracy in the midst of this.

And so I think it`s more dangerous as dangerous as page space we`ve been in since the Civil War. And I think that`s the -- how do we honor the legacy of people that fought for our democracy and fought for voters rights, and fought for all the people buried in veteran cemeteries across the country, not only Washington, but across the country? How do we honor them who died, and on behalf of our democracy, not the least of which the people that got beaten up and killed in Selma, and in various places around the country and fighting for voters rights.

And so I think we all have to ask ourselves, and I know the President`s asking himself, how do we honor that legacy at a time our democracy is in peril, and I would remind people, one thing I said early on in September 2015, that Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination. And my fear isn`t Donald Trump and the craziness that comes out of the Mad King in Mar- a-Lago, I`m not worried about that. I`m worried about when the general leaves the field. And there`s this -- there`s a group of troops behind him what lieutenants emerge to continue to lead the troops of people that are opposed to what we all believe in ours, Mr. Democracy, who leads then in the aftermath.

Donald Trump could go to Mars, and we have a huge problem that`s facing America today, because a third of the country buys into this and so and how we -- how we`re organized and how jurisdictions are done, and voting rights are taken away. It`s a serious problem not because of Donald Trump, but because of what he`s unleashed in this country.

WILLIAMS: A lot to think about tonight from two good guys who are both friends of this broadcast Don Calloway, Matthew Dowd. Grumblings in the house. Gentlemen, thank you both so very much, appreciate it.

Coming up for us. Coming up for us that potential danger lurking for states with low vaccination rates amid concern over new variants. We`ll talk about that with one of our doctors.



MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, UNIV. OF MINNESOTA CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH POLICY: Now we`re really doing this person by person by person. We have to find out why you`re not getting vaccinated. We have 11 states that really have inadequate vaccination levels even get close to 70 percent.


WILLIAMS: Interesting point he makes about the almost hand to hand combat this has developed into across our country. This lag in vaccinations in parts of our country is fueling fears, as you may have heard of some sort of summer surge, particularly in the American South.

Back with us again tonight to talk about all of it, Dr. Murtaza Akhter, he is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine in Phoenix.

Doctor, not everyone is worried about a surge. I want to play for you some comments by the former FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. We`ll talk about them on the other side.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FMR. FDA COMMISSIONER: I think what we`re going to see is vaccinations are going to fall off sharply in the summer, probably July and August. And then we`re going to pick back up towards the end of August into September as people contemplate going back to work and back to school. I don`t think that this is going to mean that there`s going to be a resurgence in coronavirus over the summer. I`d like to see 10 percent more of the public vaccinated. I don`t think we`re going to get that. But we`re in a pretty good place right now.


WILLIAMS: So Doc I`ve never tried to Arizona shame but your state was one of the places that had a spike in the summer months last year. How confident do you feel about the summer months this year?

DR. MURTAZA AKHTER, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, Brian, I feel like I probably shouldn`t make predictions because I thought we`d escaped last summer. And then she went ahead. And clearly my hope that people weren`t coming to Arizona was wrong. People came in, and especially the virus came, I think it`s optimistic to say that there won`t be a surge in the south. There will almost definitely be more cases in places where there aren`t high vaccination rates, Alabama and Mississippi, et cetera.

But whether there will be a lot more hospitalizations or deaths, I am fairly optimistic that there won`t be a ton more. I think the most at risk populations probably have had a reasonable opportunity to get vaccinated. There are clearly some people who haven`t had that opportunity, especially in certain states. I do think there`ll be a surge in cases. But I don`t necessarily think we`ll have a ton more deaths.

Again, I could be totally wrong, and I wouldn`t want to gamble my life on it. So again, if you aren`t vaccinated for whatever reason, either try to get a vaccine or distance and wear masks. But I think I think Time will tell what`s going to end up happening.

WILLIAMS: Well, you`ve always been candid with our viewing audience. And your role around here has been to tell people when they should be concerned and what they don`t need to be concerned about. What about this new delta variant we are hearing about from London is, does that spike your level of concern?

AKHTER: Yes, you know, that`s the viruses do they mutate, they create variants. And that`s why for people who are thinking whatever this will pass, the virus will just eventually magically go away. That`s clearly not the case. The longer it`s around, the more variants will form.

I am optimistic that I`m particularly mRNA vaccines have shown a lot of protection against the variants. And I think I think that will be the case for the delta variant as well. But again, it`s not something I want to gamble my life on. So if you haven`t been vaccinated, the answer is to be vaccinated.

And remember, the longer the virus sticks around while they tell you the delta variant, you`re going to run out of Greek letters eventually, if the virus sticks around. And so if the virus stays because people are spreading the disease and aren`t getting vaccinated, there will be more variants. And at some point, you will have to be concerned that people will be infected.

As of now, I think the delta is probably not something somebody who`s been vaccinated in America and necessarily needs to be concerned about. But for people who aren`t vaccinated, and the longer the virus sticks around, there will be variant that I think will be concerning.

WILLIAMS: Finally, Doc, once and for all, what is the answer to the assertion by we have some national politicians making this point they had COVID. They recovered? They don`t feel the need for the vaccine. Can you clear this up?

AKHTER: Yes, that`s wrong. And that`s the two words that can put them as clearly as possible. There is in the immediate post infection period, presumed a level of immunity that suggests maybe getting the vaccine a little bit later is most worthwhile. But definitely people who have gotten COVID get reinfected.

As a matter of fact, just to my last shift, I had a patient who had URI or flu like symptoms, and my question was, did she get vaccinated to my resident? And he said, No, she had COVID, two months ago. I was I OK, maybe that`s why she didn`t get vaccinated. She told me she tested negative just a month ago. So we swab her and said, you know, distance and isolate, and we`ll get these results back. I called her back yesterday saying your COVID positive, and that had to go into this exclamation to her about vaccines, and how vaccines are much more effective at creating immunity than natural immunity is natural immunity is fine for a little bit. But that is not the way to protect yourself. The way to protect yourself from COVID is by being vaccinated and by just not getting it.

WILLIAMS: Well, I hope those aforementioned but unnamed national politicians who know who they are. We`re watching this segment tonight or have an attack of common sense in the meantime. Dr. Murtaza Akhter, thank you very much, Doctor as always, for coming on and taking our questions and speaking directly to our viewers.

Coming up for us, the other medical story making headlines tonight approval of the first new drug in almost two decades in America to help in the fight against Alzheimer`s. We`ll get that story when we come back.


WILLIAMS: I mentioned this before the break doctors are getting a new weapon in the war against Alzheimer`s. The FDA has just approved a new medication designed to slow down deterioration of brain function. But as NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk reports while there are questions over whether the drug actually works, hope is a strong motivator here.


STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC BEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight I hope for the roughly 6 million people suffering from Alzheimer`s. The FDA approving the first medical treatment for the disease in 18 years. The drug aducanumab developed by the company, Biogen, attacks the amyloid protein which builds up in the brains of Alzheimer`s patients.

The Alzheimer`s Association is calling today`s approval of victory. That`s what Phil Gutt (ph) is calling it too. He took part in the clinical trial and has been taking the drug for five years.

PHIL GUTT (ph), ALZHEIMER`S PATIENT: My head feels clear. Definitely. I`m not cured in any way shape or form. But I feel like I have more capacity, more mental capacity than I did four years ago.

GOSK: But the FDA decision is controversial. The drug is going on the market even though the agency says there are uncertainties regarding clinical benefit and is requiring Biogen to do another clinical trial.


Phil Gutt`s (ph) physician worries about possible side effects, including bleeding in the brain.

(on camera): Where does it leave doctors like yourself when it comes to prescribing this for patients? What will you do?

KARLAWISH: Well, first I need to read the drugs label and read it very closely. I also as a researcher really want to learn about the clinical trial that they`re proposing to validate the drugs benefits.

GOSK (voice-over): Today, Biogen announced aducanumab will cost roughly $56,000 a year, a steep price tag for a drug that still has to prove itself. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News.


WILLIAMS: As we said hope is a big motivator. Coming up for us the ad a major network didn`t want you to see.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, a liberal political action committee ardently anti-Trump whose commercials and podcasts we`ve aired occasionally in the past. They`re called the MeidasTouch. And this weekend, they put this out on social media quote, we made a $184,854 TV buy with this ad on Fox News this week. Fox News just denied airing our ad. Retweet and get it out in every corner of the country they say. Well, we have a pretty good reach too. So we`ve chosen to air it tonight. While you watch ask yourself what isn`t factual about it, which people in it aren`t real. It`s about the attempt to overturn our election the insurrection of one six, and the story is told by those in the fight.


CAPT CARNEYSHA MENDOZA, CAPITOL POLICE: I`m proud of the officers I worked with on January 6, they fought extremely hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our worst nightmare really come true an attack on American democracy right here in the nation`s capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I experienced the most brutal savage hand to hand combat of my entire life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I received chemical burns to my face that still have not healed to this day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just remember people still swinging metal poles and they were pushing and shoving, they were spraying us with, you know, bear mace and pepper spray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were all shouting at us calling us traitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s been very difficult seeing the elected officials and other individuals whitewash the events that day or downplay what happened.

MENDOZA: As an American and as an army veteran, it`s sad to see us attacked by our fellow citizens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MeidasTouch was responsible for the content of this advertising.


WILLIAMS: Folks at MeidasTouch for the ad you won`t see on Fox News to take us off the air tonight as we start a new week. That is our broadcast for this Monday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.