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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 6/9/21

Guests: Peter Baker, Richard Stengel, Joyce Vance, Eugene Robinson, Bill Kristol, Bill Bratton


President Joe Biden begins his first overseas trip as president. He is in England. In the days ahead, the President will meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Queen and attend the G7 Summit. Next week, he attends the NATO and E.U. summits and closing out his trip with a meeting with Vladimir Putin. We are learning what former President Trump`s White House Counsel told lawmakers about efforts to get rid of Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation. A.G. Merrick Garland defends the DOJ for backing Trump-era decisions. Democrats try to rally support for the voting right bill. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans say Trump will be reinstated. Negotiations continue to police reform bill.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And the Emmy for Best Performance by a witness in response to congressional stupidity goes to Jennifer Eberlien, Associate Deputy Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again. Day 141 of the Biden administration. Joe Biden`s first night overseas as president.

In his previous life, Biden spent years, of course, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before serving as Vice President for eight years under Obama. By his count, he`s visited over 100 foreign countries during those years and he is no stranger to summits either. But this, of course, this is different this time, now he`s playing with House money.

As president, he gets to lay out his vision for U.S. foreign policy, much of it so badly damaged over these past few years.

Tonight, the Biden`s are in England. In the days ahead, the President will meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Queen and attend the G7 Summit. Next week, he attends the NATO and E.U. summits. Closing out his trip, what else, with a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

In a speech to U.S. and U.K. service members this afternoon, Biden said he plans to, "Let Putin know what I want him to know."


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future, that we`re committed to leading with strength, defending our values, and delivering for our people.

We`re not seeking conflict with Russia, we want a stable predictable relationship. But I`ve been clear, the United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way when the Russian government engages in harmful activities. We`ve already demonstrated that. I`m going to communicate that there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracies in the United States and Europe and elsewhere.


WILLIAMS: Of course, what a time for this to happen. The face-to-face meeting with Putin will be taking place as the U.S. is being targeted by active ransomware attacks, including attacks on our gas and food supplies that U.S. authorities are convinced are coming from Russia.

Tonight, there are reports that that giant meat processing company JBS paid an $11 million ransom to the hackers who hit them.

And Putin is apparently putting Biden on notice about any potential discussion of human rights. A Russian judge has just issued a ruling that brands the party of Putin`s main opponent as extremist.

As the President begins his travels abroad, his push to get his agenda through Congress has stalled for now, potentially putting some key parts of his agenda in trouble. And some Democrats are losing patience, as you may know, openly disagreeing with his strategy of trying to get Republican support for his proposals.

A bipartisan group of senators now working on the President`s infrastructure bill, while he`s away. They`re still trying to figure out how to pay for it without raising taxes, which is the Republican red line. Of course, Biden began talking with them after talks with lead Republican Senate negotiator, Shelley Moore Capito collapsed.


SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, (R) WEST VIRGINIA: When other ideas come up that are presented to be, you know, bigger and better. That had an effect, I think, on our negotiations.

The White House changed, they move the goalposts on us more than a few times.

JULIE TSIRKIN, NBC NEWS: Do you think that Democrats are going to end --

CAPITO: They`ve been able to do that from the beginning of this. I think eventually that`s where they`re going to end up.


WILLIAMS: Also, tonight, we are learning what former President Trump`s White House Counsel told lawmakers about efforts to get rid of Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation. Last week, as you may recall, after a two-year battle, former White House Counsel Don McGahn was questioned during a closed door session of the House Judiciary Committee in the better late than never category. Today, the committee released a transcript of that testimony.

McGahn told lawmakers that Trump`s repeated requests to fire Mueller, requests that he ignored, left him feeling, "Frustrated, perturbed, trapped." McGahn explains that he refused to, "cause any sort of chain reaction that would cause this to spiral out of control in a way that wasn`t in the best interest of my client, which was the president."

McGahn also told lawmakers he warned Trump that knocking out Mueller might constitute obstruction of justice.

Also tonight and on another front, a major development in the race to get the world vaccinated. White House has said to be buying 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to donate to the rest of the world. President Biden expected to make that announcement during the upcoming G7 summit. That comes as concern grows over this new Delta variant of the virus, which has already devastated India and is now on the rise here and in other countries.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: What they`re starting to see now is that the new Delta variant, the 617, that originated or was at least first recognized in India is now becoming dominant in the U.K.

We`ve done very, very well with our vaccines with the variants that are currently circulating. But there certainly is a possibility that they will be the emergence of a variant that would elude the protection of a vaccine.


WILLIAMS: With that from Dr. Fauci, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night. Peter Baker, the veteran journalist and author, he is Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times." Rick Stengel, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, former managing editor of Time magazine. And former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a 25-year veteran as a federal prosecutor, also one of the co-hosts of the podcast, "Sisters in Law" with Kimberly Atkins Stohr, Jill Wine- Banks and Barbara McQuade.

Well, good evening to you all, and welcome.

And Peter, we`ll begin with you and the beat you cover. What exactly is the President walking into on this trip?

PETER BAKER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he`s walking into a very fraught environment in which, first of all, of course, he needs to, in his view, reassure the allies. Not only that he is back and that American leadership is back and that Trumpism is on the wane, but that it will stay so.

A lot of Europeans, of course, are very glad that President Biden is in office, he represents something of a return to the more normal conventional bipartisan consensus in terms of the value of the alliances. But they`re worried about whether or not it`s an enduring return. They see what`s happening in the United States and think that Trumpism is not over and even Trump may not be over.

And in fact, that America could swing back and forth again, you know, over the next four years. And so, I think there`s that challenge one.

And then, the other challenge, of course, is meeting with Vladimir Putin. At a time when Russia seems to be basically giving the finger to Biden and giving a finger the United States, provoking and defying in many ways, trying to say, you can`t, you know, determine what we do. We are in charge of our own fate, whether it be domestically with Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader or abroad through these rather brazen cyberattacks from Russian, apparently, you know, ransomware criminal groups. So, I think that it`s a pretty, you know, big challenge for a first foreign trip for a new president.

WILLIAMS: Rick Stengel, let`s pick right up on some of the points Peter just made, assuming Biden doesn`t walk into the gathering of other leaders and push them aside elbowing his way to the front for a photo op. How is that message of America is Back going to be received do you think?

RICHARD STENGEL, FMR. UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY & PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, Brian, by that standard, the bar For President Biden is pretty low. All he has to do is not push someone off stage.

And in some ways, I mean, I always agree with Peter, but the bar isn`t that high. Biden is saying, we`re back. We believe in alliances. I`m a man of alliances. I`m putting the band back together the greatest band in history, that NATO alliance, and I think people will take him at his word.

He`s got a great team with the Secretary of State Blinken and Jake Sullivan there. So, I don`t know how much interest there`s going to be in trying to ascertain, well, are you going to run for reelection? Is this guy Trump going to run again? I mean, you know, Biden`s just trying to put that Humpty Dumpty back together again. And I think he`s going to be able to do that because people trust him.

And I think -- I think that the Putin summit, is a way of Biden trying to keep Putin in a box. Putin is a disrupter. And what Biden wants is Putin not to disrupt what Biden is trying to do in the domestic agenda, what Biden is trying to do with COVID. And I think by recognizing Putin, as a man to be -- to share the world stage, I think that`s going in some direction now.

And the final thing I would say is, I think the importance of the announcement that happened -- will happen tomorrow, that the U.S. is buying 500 million vaccines is just incalculable. It`s a kind of vaccine Marshall Plan. It`s Biden saying, you know, American generosity, American globalism is back on the world stage and that this is a floor not a ceiling. And I think that`s going to go over very, very well.

WILLIAMS: Yes, two years superb point, Rick, that kind of thing America and Americans used to do.

Joyce Vance, let`s get this straight. So, McGahn testifies on Friday, we had to wait till today for the closed door transcript to come out. You may not have known it, reading it, but you were reading it, on behalf of many of our viewers. Tell us what was new in there that we need to know about.

JOYCE VANCE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s less what`s new in this transcript than the fact that McGahn finally sat down with folks on Capitol Hill and confirmed his testimony in the Mueller report. There is a certain importance to establishing the truth for history. And in this case, McGahn testifies very clearly to facts that constitute obstruction of justice, that the president of the United States asked him to reach out to the Justice Department and have Bob Mueller, who was the special counsel at that time fired.

And then, when that story came to light, the president again asked him to obstruct justice, asked him to create documentation that said that the President had never made that ask. So, there is now little doubt left, that there is competent evidence that establishes obstruction of justice by the former president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: What does that do? Who do we see about that? What action could it possibly trigger, Joyce?

VANCE: That`s really the problem here. You know, if this was a drug kingpin who asked his right hand man to make sure that they fired the police officer who is investigating them. And the right hand guy thought about it for a minute and said, I`m not going to do that I don`t want to engage in obstruction of justice, there`s very little doubt that if those facts came to light, prosecutors would be chomping at the bit to prosecute the drug kingpin for obstruction.

And the question is, why isn`t it worse when it`s the president of the United States? And look, Brian, this is not easy. And we shouldn`t pretend it`s easy, because prosecuting former presidents, that`s the stuff of banana republics. And we want to be very careful before we go down the path, that path. But at the same time, DOJ will have to weigh the incalculable damage that would be done to people`s confidence in our criminal justice system, if on these facts, there is no accountability for a former president.

WILLIAMS: More on DOJ a bit later on.

Peter, let`s stay on things domestic, the Biden agenda. How much can he accomplish while overseas for eight days? We`re not diminishing the effect a phone call from Air Force One can still have on elected representatives? And how is his time period shortening when he does come back?

BAKER: Well, of course, he left behind, you know, a number of officials and aides who can negotiate on his behalf while he`s over there. The question is whether they can negotiate to get anywhere, to the point where you need a presidential phone call. Whether a presidential phone call would actually make a difference or not.

And remember, you know, they`re still far apart, not just on numbers, but on the very concept of what infrastructure constitutes and on how you pay for it. The pay for it is going to be, I think, the big deal.

If you -- if you had a negotiation where it`s simply a matter of I`m for X dollars, and you`re for Y dollars, and we can meet in the middle, that would be one thing. But the Republicans, of course, are eager not to support the kind of tax increases that President Biden is talking about.

Now, of course, you`re talking about tax increases focused on the wealthy, but even there Republicans believe that it`s in their political interest as well as their philosophical, you know, point of view not to support that. So, how they can get -- how they can square those differences even when he`s overseas or whether he`s at home, you know, seems like a long shot at this point. So, that`s it, I think -- I`m not sure that being overseas necessarily be the impediment to the larger disagreement they have.

WILLIAMS: Rick Stengel, there are a lot of amateurs and rookies trying their hand at gas lighting lately. I want to go to an old tried and true pro. This is Lindsey Graham tonight on the subject of Biden and Russia. This is how you gaslight.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Now, I think we`re in retreat on all fronts. I think the Russians are just pushing everybody around in the region.


WILLIAMS: Rick, need I remind you, there were Russians at the Republican convention in Cleveland, there were Russians involved in our election. There are apparently Russians involved in our pipelines as we speak. What is this an example of?

STENGEL: You know, it`s funny, Brian, in my reading today about Biden and Putin. I did come across a quote from Lindsey Graham saying, who the heck cares about Russia? It has an economy the size of Italy. And I thought, well, there we go.

I mean, it`s just kind of insane that Republicans are somehow implying that Biden is weak on Putin and weak on Russia following a American president that kowtowed to the leader of Russia. I mean, the thing that I think Putin is fine with, he`s used to American presidents upgrading him and challenging him. He wasn`t used to American presidents praising him and bowing down to him.

And, you know, I think that President Biden is striking the right mixture, which is to be I`m going to be tough, but I`m going to -- we have a lot of issues that we have to solve, and including nuclear disarmament.

I thought Jake Sullivan put it very well today. He said, we`re not meeting with Putin despite our differences, we`re meeting with Putin because of our differences. And Putin understands that too.

WILLIAMS: Joyce Vance, I want to play for you what the Attorney General said today, his remarks concerned criticism of your beloved DOJ. We`ll discuss on the other side.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Our job is to represent the American people. And our job in doing so is to ensure adherence to the rule of law.

It is not always easy to apply that rule. Sometimes it means that we have to make a decision about the law that we would never have made, and that we strongly disagree with as a matter of policy. But in every case, the job of the Justice Department is to make the best judgment it can as to what the law requires.


WILLIAMS: Joyce, we`ll tread gently here because so many Democrats are angry at him, chiefly, for handling of the Trump case, but there`s also more. Is the anger stemming from seeing a Justice Department put back to being a Justice Department, and not the personal legal vehicle of a president?

VANCE: Merrick Garland was always going to be in a tough position here trying to undo the damage that had been done during the Trump administration. What I think is important in his words here is that we can have confidence that the right process has been restored at DOJ. This is a Justice Department that`s independent of the White House`s political whims.

Merrick Garland is not Bill Barr, he`s not even Jeff Sessions. And that`s very good news for us.

And you know, Brian, we`re going to disagree with some of the choices that DOJ makes. I`m sure that there`s internal disagreement, but once the Attorney General makes a decision, everybody inside of the building lines up and follows in step outside of the building. For people like me, we may look at some of these decisions and disagree.

And I do quite frankly, with the decision that they`ve made to continue to represent President Trump, for instance, in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case. But if they do the wrong thing, in my judgment, they are doing it for the right reasons. And that means that the rule of law is being restored in this country.

WILLIAMS: Much obliged to our big three tonight for staying up with us. Peter Baker, Rick Stengel, Joyce Vance, thank you. Always a pleasure.

Coming up for us this evening, this is why we can`t have nice things because our politics are broken. Our crumbling bridges and outdated airports won`t get fixed. Our political guests will join us in the effort looking for a few good men and women in government.

And later, more calls for the GOP to free itself from the insane death grip of the twice impeach Florida retiree and giant pants enthusiast. An elected Republican today actually called Trump dangerous and diminished. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Wednesday night.



SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, (D) GEORGIA: There`ll be some back and forth, some sausage making. But in the end, if the people can have their voice in a democracy is not a democracy. And I`m not about to allow that to happen in our country without a fight.


WILLIAMS: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia appears unmoved on opposing the For the People Act.

And Politico reports President Biden is taking a subtle approach when it comes to Manchin, "In an interview mansion said Biden has not leaned on him to support the sweeping elections bill that the moderate Democrat publicly rejected over the weekend. Nor has Biden covertly asked Manchin to support another Democrat only spending bill focused on jobs and the economy.

Yet, a lot to talk about. We`ve got the guys to do it with us. Again tonight, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for "The Washington Post." And Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker, of Politico, veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, Editor-at-Large over at the Bulwark.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

Eugene, A.B. Stoddard, brilliant as always was on with us last night, she made so many points. Number one, H.R. 1/S1 was a bad bill from the get go. It was already outdated. Number two, she asked of the Biden White House congressional liaison shop, how did they ever let it come down to Joe Manchin. You`re never going to get anything like this out of that guy.

So, in your view, why are the Dems in this position being enjoyed only by Joe Manchin?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Because they only have 50 bucks in the Senate. That`s the -- that`s the reason, basically. I mean, you know, if you -- if you only have 50 votes, plus that of the Vice President breaking the tie.

And if the Republicans are going to stand united in any bill about voting rights, I think that it`s one thing Republicans can agree on. They don`t want them.

So, it comes down to Joe Manchin. It comes down to any one senator, in this case, it`s Manchin who`s not holding out. He`s just saying no. And that`s - - that in terms of where we are now.

You know, it`s a demonstration project, I think the Democrats can perhaps going to vote in the whole bill or parts of the bill perhaps and to show the futility of looking for 10 Republicans who are willing to support anything in H.R. 1, I don`t think you`re going to find them. And then, maybe President Biden would apply more direct enticement or pressure or arm around the shoulder, whatever he could do. But for now, that`s that for this very important legislation. It is going nowhere.

WILLIAMS: So, Bill, if we agree that the Republican plan remains, love Trump, don`t offend him. Do whatever you can to destroy the agenda of the sitting Democratic president. Do the Democrats have a plan?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I actually talk to a fair number of Democrats on the Hill, and I`ll say on the last couple of days. No, I don`t think that they had much of a plan. And they then sort have a mystical belief that Manchin, which is OK with it somehow, and then they bust the filibuster and get 50 votes for this 800 page bill. That patent was originally written what two or three years ago, passed the House in the first few weeks of the year.

But I don`t know. It doesn`t seem to me they`re being terribly imaginative. There`s a ton of things they could bring up one-by-one. Some of those things, Republicans are on record, some awful things are on record for a forced vote after vote after vote, early voting, mail-in-voting, redistricting. You know, there are individual parts of the bill that could be brought up, debated. At least make them debated.

I mean, right now, we`re sitting here talking about H.R. 1, it has not been debated on the floor of the Senate. I mean, there are ways you can build pressure. But it`s pretty hard to build pressure when it`s an 800 page bill and all the focus is on Joe Manchin. And no one even is trying to put pressure on these individual Republicans.

Some of these individual Republicans have supported parts of the vote. And let`s figure out what -- and also this John Lewis bill, which is the Voting Rights Act, H.R. 4, hasn`t been introduced yet.

I asked Democrat about this last week, senior Democrat, intelligent person, she said, well, it`s very complicated, we need to lay a good predicate for the courts and can`t do it too fast. We`re not -- this is not -- I think they`re missing the forest for the trees. There`s stuff in that bill that would be very useful to have. Bring it up, pass it. Make force debates on parts of it, let people combine different parts of it.

Have a real legislative process and take two months and get it done. But get it done by doing things, not by sort of hand wringing about Joe Manchin.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, I think we can agree, Bill brought the spirit tonight. This next quote is about trying. And so, I`m going to -- I`m going to try Eugene with this one.

This is the writing of Politico, "Inside the White House, there is a glimmer of hope that a separate set of infrastructure talks could lead to bipartisan agreement. At a minimum, they still see little downside in trying."

Is there a downside to you, Eugene?

ROBINSON: No, I don`t think there`s a downside in trying because I do agree with Bill that that doing stuff is better than not doing stuff. And so, do stuff. Try to see if this alternative route of getting bipartisan support is going to work.

There should be an agreement that can be made on infrastructure. They`re just -- there should be an agreement there theoretically. And so, they should continue looking for ways to find it. And if there is no way to find it, then at least demonstrate that through votes, through, you know, debate legislation. Bring it up. Vote on it and have senators explain why they don`t want that new airport or the new freeway interchange or the rural broadband or whatever it is that`s in there for their state.

And then, maybe eventually you get it done through reconciliation after demonstrating with no way to do it in a bipartisan manner. But you have to go through all the steps, I think, if you hope to get infrastructure. And I think you have to be prepared maybe not to get an infrastructure bill for months, you know, could be toward the end of the year when you finally get one. But theoretically, they ought to get one eventually.

WILLIAMS: Both of these spirited, hopeful always and learned gentlemen have agreed to stay with us while we fit in a commercial break.

Coming up, one Republican urges her party to stop worrying about a twice impeached retired former president with giant pants, who she calls the patron saint of sore losers, when we come back.



FMR. REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK (R-VA): It would be better for Republicans to engage in this truth telling process be out there in front, rip the band aid off fast and get the information out. Because that`s going to come out. Our democracy was built to last. It`s lasted through tougher things than Donald Trump who`s two times impeached you know, failed guy.


WILLIAMS: Some advice today from former republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock as she writes to her colleagues, quote, my fellow Republicans stop fearing this dangerous and diminished man. Still with us, Eugene Robinson and Bill Kristol.

Bill, there was another tweet today that got our attention. Elise Stefanik, the Harvard educated upstate New York, Trump enthusiast put out this picture "One Team. Save America," it raises so many questions. Does this mean she and McCarthy have agreed to see other people and does this mean Trump is as diminished as some might hope?

KRISTOL: Yes, I mean, Barbara Comstock, whom I know. She`s known for a long time but she`s actually my -- was my Congresswoman to hear from she lost in 2018. You know, she was quite close to and who she voted very much like in the House Elise Stefanik to intelligent moderate Republicans both one from Virginia, one from New York. Forward looking members of the party, uncomfortable with Trump, kept their distance but sort of nominally you know, say part of the team there.

Barbara Comstock lost, Elise Stefanik signs out with Trump, Elise Stefanik is number three in the House and being photoed with Trump, visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago. And Barbara Comstock is writing op eds in the New York Times.

I wish it weren`t so. I like Barbara Comstock. I`m really disgusted with what Elise Stefanik has done. But which one is winning? I mean, that`s the trouble, right? Which one is succeeding in the Republican Party right now? Now we can say, Oh, well down the road that`s not going to work. Right now Elise Stefanik is up. And Barbara Comstock is commenting on things.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, polls are polls, there are snapshot in time. And we all know what to make of them. Here`s another one. This is from Morning Consult. How likely is it that Trump will be reinstated among Republicans. 29 percent very or somewhat likely believe he`s going to move his stuff back in to the White House in 2021.

Eugene, if elected Republicans current office holders with respectable names and resumes so much as set a peep. Would it make any difference at all in that 29 percent number?

ROBINSON: I don`t know, Brian. Frankly, it`s hard for me to know how to read that number. I mean, if you ask in a poll, you know, how likely is it that the sun will rise in the West tomorrow, you would get a percentage of Republican (INAUDIBLE) Americans who said it was somewhat likely.

So I, you know, there is no reinstatement clause in the Constitution. And people should know that, that people don`t know that. It certainly reflects a party that is still largely in crazily in thrall to Donald Trump. I thought for a long time that gradually little by little hits hold on the party would diminish not disappear. I`m not, you know, I`m not going out on that limb, but that it would over time diminish.

And I still think that, but that`s a long runway. And so we`re going to, you know, we`re going to see a crazy Trumpy party for some time. And that`s a horrible, terrible difficult thing for this country to deal with. But here it is.

WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol, I can only give you about 45 seconds for the question, but we hear it all the time. Is there a name? Is there a person who could make a difference and chip away at that 29 percent number with a public utterance?

KRISTOL: Yes, there`s people like -- I believe there was a former Republican president around, George W. Bush, there are others who could speak up. Condi Rice was interviewed last week, it was very cautious about saying too much critical of Trump or Trump supporters or conspiracy theories and stuff.

So I think it makes some difference but mostly elected current -- elected officials can make the difference. Liz Cheney, I think remains the one who really could make a difference if you challenge Trump in `24. Right now, that photo you showed of Trump and Elise Stefanik, that`s the likely Republican ticket in 2024, Donald Trump and Elise Stefanik, it`s not a sure loser ticket either.

WILLIAMS: Look at the time ladies and gentlemen, Gene Robinson and Bill Kristol, we`ll let that roll around let people take that to bed tonight. We`ll discuss the next time we have you both on. Oh boy.

Coming up, powerful words from someone who led three major metropolitan police departments on the murder of George Floyd and on policing in this country.


WILLIAMS: While much of the President`s agenda remains stalled in Congress see previous conversations tonight. NBC News reports progress is being made on police reform according to a congressional source quote, a draft text of a police reform bill in the name of George Floyd is being circulated to lawmakers a positive sign that talks are moving forward.

Well, back with us again tonight. Bill Bratton, former commissioner of the NYPD, a veteran of the Boston Police Department, former chief of police in Los Angeles, his new book released just yesterday is this, it`s called, "The Profession, A Memoir of Community, Race and the Arc of Policing in America."

Commissioner, it`s great to have you back on the broadcast. Let`s start here. What should be in any bill with the label police reform other than three items training, training and training? How about body cams for all? And how about more training while we`re at it?

BILL BRATTON, FMR. NYPD COMMISSIONER: Sounds good to me. I`d love to see that, like to see the funding for it. Devil is always in the details. Those body cams by the way that they might think of bringing the federal agencies into that picture. Right now the pressure, the focus is largely on municipal state police organizations. But we need to also encompass federal agencies into that plan.

WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about police academies. Let`s talk about the American families who have become because a whole bunch of other people don`t want to do the job, a permanent warrior class, the American families who have become kind of a permanent police class, how do you change the dynamic, the look, the feel the background of those who are willing to sit down, take the test and or the academy and try to change an organization a culture from within?

BRATTON: Well, the goal is, as we know, is to regain trust, we`re lost to improve it where we still have it. And to do that it`s going to require leadership, leadership, politically and leadership in American policing. Most importantly, it is going to require refocusing on how we select our personnel, how we train them, how we monitor them, how we supervise them, the idea of transparency, accountability of the training.

I only had eight weeks of training back in 1970. I was out in the street in a uniform with a gun and a badge. The average police officer in America days four to six months. That is nowhere near enough for the complexities of American policing today. We need to strengthen that not just the initial training but throughout their career, pulling them in for three, four weeks a year to basically keep up their skills and to improve their skills. As the business is always changing. It`s always before me.

WILLIAMS: I want to talk to you about the death of George Floyd to do so I`m going to quote from your book, George Floyd`s murder and it was 100 percent a murder, was one of the worst things I have ever seen done to a person by a police officer. I am by nature an optimist. But this threw me. I spent a significant part of the year not knowing how to defend my profession.

I imagine, Commissioner, you have a lot of company in that last sentence. What did it change in you now that we`ve had a conviction? Now that Americans seem to agree what we saw was a stone cold murder a man`s life taken from him in the streets, as we watched, and some people had the presence of mind to record it so the world could see it. What changed in you?

BRATTON: Well, one, I never expected to watch a slow motion murder by a police officer. And that`s what it was, murdered in slow motion by a uniformed police officer. You will see, as I have seen through my 50 years in the business, countless scenes a police action that usually asked it`s like that very, very quick. This one was so slow, deliberate. Nobody in policing and I don`t believe anybody in the general population to believe what they were saying.

And he caused so much damage to the trust that police had. And police usually pull higher than just about any other government agency among the public. But, boy, that action on that day, set us back years and it`s going to take us years to recover that trust, particularly in the country`s minority communities, let alone in the white community.

WILLIAMS: Commissioner, I think most Democrats in the political business now agree that defund the police was political suicide as slogans go, maybe the worst ever injected into the American bloodstream and a lot of congressional races, a lot of Democrats running across the country had a heck of a time defending themselves from a phrase they had no role in inventing.

I remember you preach the theory of broken window policing in New York. And I imagine you have taken a good look around that city lately have. Parts of New York City look like hell, to be quite honest. And parts of New York City are unsafe, millions of New Yorkers spend at least part of their day feeling unsafe, what to do about policing in a city like New York in a year like we`re having in 2021?

BRATTON: Well, one politically, support the police. Unfortunately, many of the mayoral candidates are not supportive of the police. Some of them are still using the term defund the police. So that`s the state of the politics in New York.

And as we`re sitting here, the legislation in Albany is continuing their criminal justice reform actions that basically set the trend for crime increasing dramatically after 25 years of decline. In 2019, they passed reform legislation that really began the downward spiral and is still at it.

In terms of the defund movement, there was a political hashtag that quickly was driving American policy shows how quickly politicians hop on the bandwagon, came back to bite them in the rear and fortunately, most of them are running the other way now, but there was still some of them that are advocating defunding the police. We do see this.

We will not, there`s a mayoral candidates in New York City but the chaos you`re describing, the credible crime rates we`re now experiencing, that want to reduce the size the force by another two or 3,000 officers. We`ve already lost 2000 officers just the last year.

WILLIAMS: Bill Bratton, always a pleasure to have you on the broadcast. Thank you so much for doing so. The new book is called "The Profession, a Memoir of Community, Race," and as the author would pronounce it "The Act of Policing in America." One of the greatest products to come out of Boston mass in our view, Bill Bratton thank you as always. Coming up, the determined wandering her that won`t let anything get in the way.


WILLIAMS: For over a year now there`s been a herd of elephants roaming the countryside of southern China. No one is quite sure where they`re heading or what prompted them to leave the wildlife preserve that was once they`re home. But this might just be one of the more interesting stories you see today. Our report from NBC News foreign correspondent Janis Mackey Frayer.


JANIS MACKEY FRAYER, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a herd of wandering wild elephants on an epic trek in China, 300 miles so far. And for the first time a rest. The images captured by one of a dozen drones now tracking them, where they`re going is still a mystery.

BECKY SHUCHEN, ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON: They need to go home due to the habitat loss for fragmentations. And they need a huge area to roam around.

FRAYER: Their road trip started from a nature reserve in the south through towns and fields causing a million dollars damage along the way. A task force now trying to steer them back using roadblocks and tons of food bait. The elephants loving corn but not pineapples.

All of it being monitored in real time and captivating Chinese social media. One possibility is that the leader of the pack got lost and now they`re all just following the food.

(on camera): A 24-hour command center has been set up to monitor the elephants with reports now another herd may be on the move, Brian?


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to correspondent Janis Mackey Frayer for that report tonight. Coming up for us. If you were away from social media today, perhaps you were busy. We`ll explain all the pictures you`re seeing of spoons and forks and knives and people with stuff stuck to their faces.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, the train to crazy town made an unscheduled whistle stop in Ohio this week. You`re about to hear from a doctor and a nurse, medical professionals who have had contact with patients they happen to be anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. You`ve no doubt heard the conspiracy theory that they are injecting some sort of electronic tracking device in liquid form through a needle into our arms. But this, at a committee hearing in the Ohio legislature. This was next level.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it a combination of the protein which now we`re finding has a metal attached to it. I`m sure you`ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who`ve had these shots. And now they`re magnetized and put a key on their forehead, it sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick, because now we think that there`s a metal piece to that.

There has been people who`ve long suspected that there was some sort of an interface yet to be defined in the interface between what`s being injected in the shots and all of the 5g towers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, vaccines do you harm people, by the way. So I just found out something when I was on lunch and I want to show it to you. We were talking about Dr. Tenpenny`s testimony about magnetic vaccine crystals. So this is what I found out. So I have a key and a bobby pin here.

Explain to me why the key sticks to me. It sticks to my neck too. Yes, so if somebody can explain this, that would be great. Any questions?


WILLIAMS: Yes, so many questions. And while the demonstration didn`t work out as well as she had planned. On the upside, it launched so many memes, some of them downright artistic. And a number of people applauded by the -- applauded the convenience of being magnetized when you`re walking through your house and can`t find your keys.

Now that we`ve had our fun though, this is what anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists sound like. It`s all crap. And in pandemic times, it`s actually a danger to public health. And remember, the Russians give it a boost on social media because weakened adversaries are better for them. And at the end of the day our parents were right. It`s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

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.