President Joe Biden blasts GOP efforts to restrict voting rights. Biden invokes Jim Crow in criticism of voting limits. Biden calls out Trump over his "big lie." Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Texas Democrats who fled to block voting bill. There is still no decision from Kevin McCarthy on GOP members of January 6 committee. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are growing. Biden decries Republican attacks on voting rights. As a growing number of states legalize marijuana, employers are rethinking their testing policies.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And you can read my essay tomorrow about the last 25 years and the next 25 years @msnbc.com/thenext25. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 175 of the Biden administration, the day the President laid out his most passionate argument to date, in defense of voting rights. In a speech delivered from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the President framed Republican efforts to curtail voting rights as an assault on our democracy and an existential threat to America`s future.
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JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: The 21st Century, Jim Crow assault is real. It`s unrelenting. And we`re going to challenge it vigorously. It`s no longer just about who gets to vote, or making it easier for eligible voters to vote, it`s about who gets to count the vote. Who gets to count whether or not your vote counted at all. We`re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the capital, as insurrection stood on January the sixth. I`m not saying this to alarm you. I`m saying this because you should be alarmed.
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WILLIAMS: President also made his most direct attack yet on the conspiracy theory hatched and promoted by his predecessor that the 2020 election was somehow rife with fraud.
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BIDEN: In 2020, democracy was put to a test, first by the pandemic, then by a desperate attempt to deny the reality, the results of the election. With recount after recount after recount, court case after court case, the 2020 election was the most scrutinized election ever in American history. In every case, neither cause nor evidence was found to undermine the national achievement of administrating the historic election, the big lie is just that, a big lie. In America, if you lose, you accept the results. You follow the constitution. You try again. You don`t call fax fake, and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you`re unhappy. That`s not statesmanship. That`s selfishness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: President`s been under pressure from members of his own party to make a speech like this. But his rhetoric cannot overcome the reality that two democratic bills meant to expand voting rights currently have no past to get to his desk. And today`s address gave no mention of calling for an end of the filibuster the rule requiring 60 Senate votes to pass legislation. Some Democratic lawmakers have floated the idea of exempting just voting rights bills from filibusters.
NPR is reporting Vice President Kamala Harris today suggested that she has talked to senators about exceptions to the filibuster rule. Harris also met today with that group of Democrats from Texas who fled to Washington in order to block a vote on a Republican bill that would restrict voting back in their home state. The group is also pushing the Senate to pass federal laws to protect voting rights.
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(STEVE). REP. CHRIS TURNER, (D) CHAIR, TEXAS HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS: They want to continue working with us and amplify our voices and asked us to amplify theirs. You can even create the pressure and the public demand for the Senate to be able to pass both these laws and get them to the President`s desk.
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WILLIAMS: The Texas Democrats also met this afternoon with Senate Majority Leader Schumer. Tonight Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a staunch defender of the filibuster, says he will meet with the Texas lawmakers on Thursday.
Back in Austin Republican members of the Texas House voted to send law enforcement to track down and arrest their Democratic colleagues now in the nation`s capital. While that may be very Texas of them, it`s also highly unlikely as long as they remain out of the state since Texas law enforcement lacks jurisdiction in D.C.
Meanwhile, members of the Texas Senate today voted to pass that same controversial elections bill the Democrats have been trying to block.
On another front the House Select Committee investigating the one six insurrection is about a week away from its first hearing. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy today said he`s not yet decided who to name to the select committee and that he hasn`t decided whether he would appoint any Republicans at all. Tonight Senate Democrats say they`ve reached an agreement to try to move forward with a go it alone infrastructure package that`s on top of the bipartisan deal. The cost of the proposal comes to $3.5 trillion. Because it would be part of a budget bill, it could become law with only democratic votes.
As all of this unfolds, concern about the rising number of COVID cases is growing in our country. A.P. reporting tonight the number of new cases per day has doubled over these past three weeks, fueled by the Delta variant showing the slowing vaccination rates, and even Fourth of July gatherings. White House has now enlisted singer and songwriter Olivia Rodrigo to urge younger Americans to get vaccinated, shall meet with the President, Dr. Fauci tomorrow. Today, Dr. Fauci spoke to concerns that the special use authorization for these vaccines might suggest somehow that they`re less than safe and effective.
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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: These vaccines are highly, highly effective. 99.5% of people who die of COVID are unvaccinated. Only 0.5% of those who die are vaccinated even though we are still under an emergency use authorization. So when we say it`s still not fully approved, the data are about as good as it gets. I would be astounded if these vaccines namely the mRNA and the J&J didn`t get full approval.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday evening, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS Newshour, moderator of Washington Week also on PBS, Sam Stein, a veteran journalist who`s now White House Editor for Politico, and Michael Bender, White House Reporter with The Wall Street Journal, importantly, the author of the new book out this very day, it is called, Frankly, We Did Win This Election. Wait for the rest of the title, The inside Story of How Trump Lost.
Thrilled to have the three of you, thank you very much, and good evening.
Yamiche, I`d like to begin with you. And I`ll refer to your judgment a lot of folks thought this was perhaps the toughest speech given in his still young presidency. Those still, of course, no mention of that filibuster rule, no challenge to Manchin or to Sinema. So the left was disappointed. How is it generally being received?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have to say, this voting rights speech today was one of the most impassioned speeches that we`ve seen from President Biden, throughout his presidency and possibly throughout his career. You saw the president get angry. You saw the president get loud, you saw the president, say, peddlers of lies are trying to threaten the Foundation of America and say, have you no shame to Republicans who he thinks are really trying to assault democracy in America. That being said, you`re right, Brian, that the reaction to this speech is yes, these are strong words. They`re powerful words, we want to hear that. But when you hear civil rights activists and others who want to see more action, they say we need actual changes here.
Republicans are moving with very quick and efficient ways to introduce hundreds of bills now, hundreds of bills to change the way that Americans vote. I interviewed the president of the NAACP, who an organization right now that is offering to pay the bail of Texas lawmakers if they are arrested. And he told me, yes, it`s good to hear the President. But what he wants to see is a change to the filibuster. He wants to see the Biden administration take more action. He wants to see the president really, along with one with Democrats, and especially Democrats in the Senate figure out a way to pass voting rights legislation because the NAACP in a number of other organizations are going the litigation route suing and trying to stop this in the courts. But as you -- I`m sure have reported and have reported on this show, the Supreme Court has upheld some of these laws already, especially the one in Arizona. So the NAACP and other civil rights organizations, they absolutely want to see more action, though they said this speech was powerful and was important and was needed.
WILLIAMS: Sam Stein, what Yamiche just described sounds like something less than a fair fight. One team is way out ahead. The other seemingly perpetually playing catch up in the real world, what`s the real chance of some sort of carve out of the filibuster rolls for voting rights legislation?
SAM STEIN, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE EDITOR: No, it`s not great. The same calculus that has in front of the White House and Democrats on the filibuster reform in general exists there, which is, not only does Biden oppose it, but there aren`t 50 Senate Democrats who support it either.
Now, I will say this -- there is a bit of momentum that`s coming behind this specific idea that a car ride for voting rights laws or election laws. We saw James Clyburn, prominent House Democrat in leadership, obviously, very important endorse of Joe Biden during the campaign, tell our own colleague Laura Barron-Lopez, you know, calling them Biden to essentially endorse his pathway forward. So I wouldn`t dismiss the influence that Clyburn has on this process but that being said, you got to convince skeptical recalcitrant Democrats in the Senate to embrace and endorse this, if you want to get to 50.
There are now, if you talk to them, they say, well, where does this stop, if we make carve out for voting rights? What to say we don`t make carve for immigration reform, then why not for climate change? And then you basically don`t have a senate rule that is pertains to the filibuster. So the same general hurdles exists, for the carve out as they do overall.
WILLIAMS: And, Mr. Bender, to you today, the President took on the big lie put forward by the former president, you`ve talked to Trump -- your depictions of your discussions with Trump are frankly worth the price of admission, in this book alone, does he truly in his soul, believe he won? And how has the big lie, let`s call it migrated over time?
MICHAEL BENDER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, I think that`s a good question. And one that even people around Trump those closest to him, don`t really know the answer to. I think one of the lines that struck me today from Biden`s speech. Yamiche mentioned it, when Biden kind of wagged his finger at congressional Republicans and asked, have you --
WILLIAMS: All right, we`ve lost Michael Bender. We are left with a copy of the book. We`ll get him back. Yamiche over to you, is anyone in the administration, in the circle of reporting and sources that you have resigned to the fact that except for kind of long lead up lawsuits that you touched on 2020 may be in danger because of voter restrictions that are moving faster than the Democrats?
ALCINDOR: When I talk to White House sources, they tell me that they are going to just try their best to do all of the different avenues. They haven`t given up on the idea that Congress could pass something. But they also are and they`re very careful, the White House does not want to be involved in talking about the DOJ. But when you talk to people who are sort of White House adjacent, civil rights leaders and others who are kind of in the ear of President Biden, they say the other option is to go the DOJ route. And of course, for him to nominate judges so that they can get on the court to try to stop some of this, but again, it goes back to the fact that the Supreme Court has already upheld some of these laws.
So 2022 and 2024, but 2022 in particular, it was interesting to hear President Biden mentioned that year and talk about the fact that there is an election around the corner. And Democrats know, in talking to them that this -- they`re going to have a really hard time winning, not because there`s voter suppression. Of course, that`s been a conversation that we`ve been having for years. But there`s now this conversation about voter nullification. Republicans are essentially giving legislators that the control that say, if you don`t like how Philly votes, or you don`t like how this county votes, then you the state legislature, which is inherently partisan, you can start nullifying people`s votes. That`s what Democrats are up against. And you feel in talking to sources, I feel in talking to sources, there is this real concern, and then really anxiety when it comes to the idea that Republicans have figured out how to use their power.
I mean, you have Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, almost acting like a Senate majority leader in this way. You have Republicans around state legislatures moving so quickly to pass these laws. And Democrats simply are just trying to keep up and they`re having a really, really hard time. And I will just say, Michael Bender, hopefully he`s comes back. But he was talking about this idea of, have you no shame. Democrats are trying to really underscore this idea that Republicans are trying to steal elections. That`s their stance. Of course, Republicans disagree with that. But when you heard the President say that today, he was really trying to get at this idea, are republicans, even Republicans who maybe disagree with him politically, are you going to let the very nature of politics, the very nature of voting in this country, are you going to give that up in pursuit of some political benefit? And is it worth that?
WILLIAMS: Indeed, Yamiche, your colleague from the press corps Mr. Bender has been located. He is fine. Michael, as you were saying the question was about his, the depth of his sincere embrace of the big lie and how if at all, it has migrated?
BENDER: Yeah, that`s right. The -- while Biden is talking about, questioning the shamelessness of congressional Republicans, this book lays out methodically from start to finish about how shamelessness was the President`s political superpower here, and how the people around him, their biggest concern wasn`t was not cast in the White House, but that he was so desperate to hold on to political power, that he`d become violent and reckless and unhinged. The story in here that he wanted to shoot Americans who were protesting police brutality, his own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thought Trump might lean into a war in those final months in order to hold on to political power.
So when Trump is talking about, when he claims that voting rights is just effectively a loaded term, as a way to encourage fraud in the elections, a sizable portion of the base, the Republican base believes him and Republican elected officials, many of them don`t believe him. But they think he`s hit on something here by using election fraud as a motivator for the party.
WILLIAMS: Sam Stein, let`s talk about one of those Republican elected officials. And that would be Leader McCarthy of the Republicans in the House. We all heard him on national television, say that the President was to blame for 1/6. Do you think he`ll take this commission more seriously as it -- as the date approaches?
STEIN: No, I think what we`ve witnessed here is sort of a very tonic shift in the Republican Party, from the day after January 6 to current day. I mean, when you heard former President Trump speak over the weekend, and essentially whitewash what happened on the 6 and call the people who were engaged in an insurrection and attempt to overthrow the election, good people who were in solidarity with the police that they were beating, it shows you where the sort of it is for the Republican Party currently. And that is that January 6, was a demonstration of trumpism that should be celebrated.
So I, you know, to be brutally frank about it, I think that the, you know, the idea that Kevin McCarthy is somehow going to be, you know, suddenly turn around and say, yeah, you know, I was being earnest and honest on the seventh when I blamed Trump for this and we should stack the commission with honest brokers and investigate this sincerely. I can`t possibly see that happening. If anything, I can see him trying to undermine the commission by making appointees to it, who may, you know, throw some dirt and screws. And also, let`s also keep one last thing in mind, which is that Kevin McCarthy had a very interesting and unreported upon conversation with Trump that day that will be the focus of this commission, I like to -- he has some own parochial interests that he needs to protect as well.
WILLIAMS: Michael, the set pieces you write to in the book are fascinating, including but not limited to the fact that you were left alone in the Oval Office for 30 minutes, the trouble you could have gotten into the direction of our nation, you could have single handedly changed had you not been trustworthy. This is about the day in Lafayette Park. This is about the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, tough as nails Bostonian who you point out as both a combat veteran and Ivy League educated you right Milley had thought Trump wanted to speak with the troops as he had done earlier and only realized how wrong he`d been as he watched Ivanka pull that anonymous Bible out of her soft Italian leather handbag. At the same time, Milley noticed that the White House Press Corps was being brought up to the church to document the moment what the blank, Milley muttered as Ivanka step toward her father with the Bible. Milley grabbed his aid, and they backed away from the church.
Michael, fill in the blanks. What else can you add about that truly untethered day in our modern American history?
BENDER: Yeah, it really is. And I spent a lot of time in the book here on that day and recreated, I think with as fulsomely, as we know, to date, what happened on that day. And one of the things that this book lays out for the first time is, is General Millie`s involvement. And that day and the role he played, he was fairly silent at the time about what happened. But going back and interviewing people who were in the room, talking to the president several times about 2020. And what happened on a few of these days. Milley emerges as the person who repeatedly had to push back on Trump to prevent some truly dangerous situations. And it is just remarkable that it`s Mark Milley, who`s the top general in the world`s most powerful military. That is the guardrail for the president who wants to become violent and, and aggressive with protesters in U.S. in major American cities.
You know, one of the -- I think big, impactful scenes of this book is that is before that is when they`re debating on whether to send troops. Americans are trained to kill and take land, whether they should be sent into American cities to confront protesters. And Mark Milley points to the portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the Oval Office hanging over President Trump`s shoulder and says that man Mr. President had an insurrection. What we have is a protest.
WILLIAMS: Another great set piece as described in the book, our great thanks to our starting lines, and Yamiche Alcindor, Michael Bender, whose book again, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The inside Story of How Trump Lost is just out today and tonight, and Sam Stein, our thanks to the three of you for coming on and starting us off tonight.
Coming up for us, is it fair to blame Democrats for not fighting harder to protect voting rights. Two guests who know exactly what`s at stake from both sides of the aisle standing by to join us. But first, why a certain former President feels betrayed by a certain Supreme Court Justice he selected that`s just for starters. Michael Wolf will be here with a look at a White House spiral that makes Nixon`s final days in office seem like a romantic comedy. All of it as the 11th Hour is just now getting underway on this Tuesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We won the election by a landslide. We wanted big. But when you win in a landslide, and they steal it and it`s rigged. It`s not acceptable. We won this election and we wanted by a landslide. This was not a close election. This was a landslide. We won this election in a landslide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: If you keep saying it does it eventually come true. It`s a familiar claim the former president has hammered on before and after January the sixth. Some shocking new details into the final days of the Trump administration reveal the extent that these conspiracies consume Trump and his presidency.
In his latest book called, Landslide. Michael Wolff writes, "All daily briefings were canceled including that National Security briefings, all efforts to return his attention to pandemic issues vaccine rollout or critical intelligence failed. Trump dwelled exclusively shutting out all else on the steal his hard 6 p.m. Oval Office quit schedule now often running late into the night with time for almost anybody who would feed his steal obsession.
With us for more, the aforementioned journalist and author, Michael Wolff happens to be author of Landslide, the final days of the Trump White House.
Michael, it`s great to have you and coming off fire and fury, it`s an interesting, interesting choice of a title and an interesting choice of a time period to report on. Who was running our country which we enjoy calling the greatest on earth during this period?
MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "LANDSLIDE": Well, certainly Donald Trump was not running this country, then all Donald Trump was concerned about was that this election had been stolen from him. And he was singularly obsessed about this. This is an obsession that went beyond I mean, this was the grand obsession. You know, forget the big lie, which I mean, I think I would prefer to call it the big lunacy, and he is the lunatic and chief.
WILLIAMS: If you attached a polygraph to him, would it indicate that he really deep inside his soul and brain thinks he won that he could really perhaps overturn the results?
WOLFF: I am absolutely convinced. And this is from talking to literally everyone in the White House, in his campaign in his family and ultimately talking to Trump himself I am convinced that he believes this. He singularly believes the thing that literally no one else believes, yes, he is delusional.
WILLIAMS: Your account of the West Wing on 1/6 is jaw dropping, what I remember is your depiction of Ivanka kind of walking from office to office through the West Wing, she was most recently psyched to hear that their kids got into private school in Florida where they were about to relocate. She at one point suggests calling in the National Guard, tell the good people watching what else was going on in the West Wing aside from action?
WOLFF: You know, very little was going on in the West Wing. I mean, it`s really important to remember that there were -- well, that there was almost nobody in the West Wing from November 3, Election Day on what you have, a really a key theme is that everybody in the White House in the campaign, even in his family is trying to get away from him, get away from this ludicrous effort to argue that the campaign -- that the election was stolen from him, and to get away from the effort, you know, completely, you know, out of his mind effort that he could actually get this election back. So everybody has gone. Everybody has fled. And so there are only a few people left in the White House. So on January 6, all of this is happening, you know, and you know, as something that certainly looks like an insurrection, and to be honest, the White House, the president, the United States has very little idea of what`s going on.
WILLIAMS: Michael, what should the people watching know about Rudy Giuliani. He of the very dark bombast and even darker dripping goo, the man he`s become present day?
WOLFF: Well, first thing that they should know that he`s drinking all the time. He`s, you know, if not constantly drunk, certainly buzzed throughout this period, actually probably for throughout most of the Trump administration. Beyond that or in addition to that, you know, Rudy is -- he`s a desperate figure, a desperate he will do anything for to be at the center of attention. And if that involves saying anything that Trump wants to hear, he will certainly do that as we`ve seen. And, again, everyone in the White House, in the campaign, in Trump`s family knows that this is incredibly destructive to the Trump White House.
Many of them actually blame Rudy even more than they blame the president, although everybody also blames the president for the catastrophe of the last four years.
WILLIAMS: The book is Landslide. Michael, please stay with us while we fit in a break coming up. Why the former president was very unhappy with his second of three Supreme Court picks, that and more when our conversation continues with the author.
WILLIAMS: We are back. The book is Landslide. Its author Michael Wolff is our guest and I`m going to quote President Trump as quoted in the book. This is about, now Justice Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Supreme Court. There were so many others I could have appointed and everyone wanted me to. Where would he be without me? I saved his life. He wouldn`t be in a law. He wouldn`t even be in a law firm who would have had him? Nobody. Totally disgraced. Only I saved him.
Michael, for our viewers. Please remind them why this ultimate of transactional presidents, this twice impeached former president was angry at one another the three justices he chose for the court and why in this quote, he kind of confirms everyone`s worst fears that Kavanaugh was perhaps temperamentally unsuited for the court and a disaster of a pic.
WOLFF: You know, this is the ultimate quid pro -- Trump quid pro quo. He believed of all -- so throughout the election challenged as the last court case after court case, after court case, after court case. He believed that they would get to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court would hand him the presidency. Why? Because he had put three members of the court onto the court. So therefore they owed him.
And especially Kavanaugh, who had been -- who had that incredibly tough fight, who had been accused of all manner of sexual abuse. And the President has stood by him. Therefore, because he stood by him, the president expected Kavanaugh and the other justices that he had appointed to deliver him the presidency.
Now this was, of course, in any reading of the Supreme Court, and indeed, of American history, ridiculous. But right up until the court decided against him, this is what he believed. And when they decided against them, well, then, of course, they were disloyal, and unworthy of his of his appointment.
WILLIAMS: Michael, final question, and it kind of intersects with inside the journalism beltway where you and I have resided for quite some time. Did you learn anything in real time --
WOLFF: Quite some time.
WILLIAMS: -- that came -- that came close to tempting you to raise your hand and tell the nation or the wider world, because the malfeasance you ran across was outrageous enough, big enough impactful enough to even violate a author confidentiality agreement?
WOLFF: Well, I what I know I is in this book. And I would say I wrote this book in just about three months. So I rushed this book. I rushed through this book first, because I`ve had quite a bit of practice now writing books about Trump, but also because I thought that this was incredibly important for people to know, for people to know that the President of the United States and let me be let me be very specific about this. The President of the United States is deranged.
WILLIAMS: I know a closing quote when I hear one and that was it from the author, Michael Wolff, the author of this book "Landslide, The Final Days of the Trump White House," and I`ll say this if you read fire and fury as I did, you`ll be amazed they chose to sit down again with Michael Wolff as he explained it earlier tonight, President said, that guy Wolff gets ratings Michael, thank you. Good luck with the book. Great having you on the broadcast.
WOLFF: Thanks Brian.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us tonight. The President goes big on voting rights. But is it big enough considering the fight our country is now locked in?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We`ll be asking my Republican friends in Congress in states and cities and counties to stand up for God`s sake and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?
(END VIDE CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As we said genuine passion from the president today. The Associated Press however, pointing out quote despite his ringing words on Tuesday, he avoided any mention of trying to alter the Senate filibuster rule that stands in the path of federal legislation.
For more, we are so happy to welcome back tonight Juanita Tolliver, veteran political strategist to progressive candidates and causes. And one Michael Steele, former chairman of the RNC, former lieutenant governor of the great state of Maryland, the host of the Michael Steele podcast.
So Juanita, it is getting tough out there. My evidence, exhibit one, join me and listening to how our friend Nicolle Wallace started her broadcast today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tragically, and perhaps ironically, based on how he clinched the Democratic nomination. President Joe Biden will now forever hold the distinction of having served as president during one of the greatest rollbacks of access to the polls in recent American history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Juanita tough but fair, it gets worse. Here`s Jeff Greenfield talking about the Democrats. They have a majority coalition, they control the White House, but the Democrats are trapped in delusions of rewriting the rules, while the GOP figures out ways to bend them. And not to be outdone, Steve Schmidt today said Chuck Schumer is not the leader, these times demand.
So how are Democrats going to deal with all these pressures? Juanita?
JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Brian, Democrats absolutely have to get it together. And the clock is ticking for them to do that. And I definitely appreciate all this commentary, especially from Nicolle Wallace, because she hit the nail on the head by having historic turnout, especially from black and brown communities and sealing the 2020 election not only for Biden, but also for Democrats in the Senate.
This is how they return the favor to those very voters who we know are being targeted by these voter suppression bills. And as I mentioned yesterday, it was going to be utterly disappointing if Biden didn`t lay out any commitments to explicit action that he`s going to take in terms of applying pressure to the Democratic Senate caucus to getting the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act across the finish line. And sadly, that is what happened today.
Yes, he showed a lot of energy and enthusiasm and understanding the issues that are at stake with these voter suppression bills, not only for our elections, but also for our democracy writ large. But for all the rhetoric that failure to lay out an action plan shows that he`s not fully committed to doing this in a public way, in a transparent way.
And I want to emphasize publicly because I`m still holding out all hope, Brian, that he and vice president Harris are working behind the scenes just as hard as they worked on infrastructure to make sure that their caucus falls in line so that these two important pieces of legislation that Texas state legislators are calling for, that activists across the country are calling for so that they get to his desk and become law because this barrage of voter suppression attacks from Republican led state houses is not going to stop anytime soon.
WILLIAMS: And Michael, that saying a lot about your Republicans, there`s no denying that this is now part of if not their entire brand. Do they continue to go deep on voter suppression having been called out everyone is watching now?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: Question for you, Brian, who`s going to stop them? There has been the Republican Party has not paid the price for anything. Look even losing the presidency in 2020, Republicans look at that and go, well, that really wasn`t about us. That was more about Trump. After all, we picked up 11, 12 seats in the House, and we drew to a tie in the Senate.
So where are the consequences? There have been no consequences for the rollback of rights and the reordering of constitutional norms and principles of using the White House as a grift palace. And using the RNC as an ATM. There is no there is no consequence for any of that.
So to your question about what happens going forward on voting rights, who`s going to stop them? The Democrats, because the Democrats are pining over nuance and process and policy, as opposed to getting into the nitty- gritty of politics.
The problem the president the vice -- the president has is he`s got no political cover. He can go out and give a hard moving expression of the national frustration around voting rights and the desire to do something. But where`s the stick? Who`s going to help him levy the stick upside some Republican heads in the Senate, in the House or anywhere else in the country they need to?
That`s what we did in 2010. We leveraged against our opponent. We turned their strength into a weakness. And here you don`t have that kind of thinking around the Democratic organizers to give the president the political cover so he can go out give the high minded speech, the country applauds him. Meanwhile, someone`s getting their knuckles cracked in the United States Senate, Manchin, Sinema, to name a few.
WILLIAMS: To our viewers note the passion. This is the stuff of 11:47 a.m. not p.m., and we`re so appreciative of these guests. Juanita, I can give you all of 60 seconds for this follow up. And you touched on this glancing blow on this topic. The voters from black and brown communities that the Democrats are counting on if all else fails, if there`s no federal legislation, if lawsuits are in the federal courts for years to come, they`re still going to count on the core voters to get to the polls, no matter what and try to embarrass the republicans at their own game.
TOLLIVER: But Brian, the reality still remains. You cannot out organize systematic voter suppression. It just doesn`t work that way. And unless Biden fights as hard for these voting communities, these voting blocks, these black Latino, API (ph) indigenous communities, then we`re going to be looking at him come 2022 and saying, what have you done for us? How did you solve this problem for us so that our voices were heard and our votes were counted?
WILLIAMS: We can`t thank our two guests enough tonight for bringing the passion and taking our questions though Michael did ask his share during his answer. Juanita Tolliver, Michael Steele, two good friends of this broadcast. We`ll do this again. Thank you folks.
Coming up for us why some businesses are changing the rules. So getting high no longer stands in the way of getting jobs.
WILLIAMS: Just because they don`t have enough to do, Senate Democrats are sparking up another new topic. They`re adding legalization of marijuana at the federal level to their already packed legislative agenda. It`s still illegal in the eyes of federal law.
And as we just saw it can get you booted from the Olympic team in this day and age. Even though most states in this country have either legalized or decriminalized it to some extent. Now businesses are catching up with the times. Our report on that tonight from NBC News correspondent Jacob ward.
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JACOB WARD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Car manufacturer Aludyne had a problem. The Michigan based plant was suffering from a labor shortage.
JENIFER ZBIEGIEN, ALUDYNE HEAD OF HR: We were working a lot of overtime. People are working seven days a week at some of our plants because we don`t have enough people to run the lines.
WARD: So head of HR Jenifer Zbiegien went to her boss with a radical idea. Quit screening applicants for marijuana use.
ZBIEGIEN: It`s legal. People can use it. There`s medical benefits to it. So why penalize people that could be very, very good workers for their usage outside of work.
WARD: As word got out, the applications rolled in. The facility went from one application a week to six.
CIARA HUTCHINSON, ALUDYNE HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER It`s important to note that the quality of the candidate hasn`t decreased by any means. We`re continuing to receive qualified candidates. So it`s been a really positive change for us.
WARD (on camera): This isn`t someone off experiment. Across the country companies are doing away with marijuana screening to expand the pool of potential applicants.
(voice-over): The nation`s second largest employer Amazon leading the way. They stopped screening employees for weed usage last month.
While 19 states have legalized recreational marijuana each one has different laws regarding employee protections. In Colorado and California weed is legal, but employees can still be fired for using it outside of work.
Back in Michigan, plant manager Dave Wells top priority is safety. But he doesn`t see weekend activity as a risk.
(on camera): Does it make a difference to you? Whether someone enjoys a beer in their off time or enjoy the little marijuana on their off time?
DAVE WELLS, ALUDYNE PLANT MANAGER: No, it doesn`t. What they do on their own time I really don`t care.
WARD (voice-over): It`s an attitude more employers are taking with competition fiercer than ever for good talent. Jacob Ward, NBC News, Howell, Michigan.
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WILLIAMS: And coming up tonight late word from a spokeswoman for Texas Governor Greg Abbott or is she. We will let you be the judge.
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GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Once they step back into the state of Texas that will be arrested and brought to the Texas Capitol and we will be conducting business.
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WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, that was the Trumper governor of Texas Greg Abbott staying on brand by vowing to arrest them renegade Democrats. They left the state, not for Cancun, but for Washington. And they plan to stay away for a month to deprive the State House chamber of a quorum as their attempt to kill that republican voter suppression law.
And just tonight, we heard from a spokeswoman for Governor Abbott, though I`ve got to tell you, we were suspicious about this, because she looks so much like the satirist and comedian Blaire Earthscan. But here is the statement nonetheless.
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BLAIRE EARTHSCAN, LIP-SYNCING COMMS DIRECTOR THE OFFICE OF GOV. ABBOTT: That`s right. And thank you so much for having us. If we could say one thing to the Texas Democrats right now, we would probably say, y`all are being sneaky now. Come on back to Texas now. OK, we got -- we`re going to arrest -- we got work to do. Because, you know, like, Governor Abbott always says, Texan, winners never quit and Texans aren`t -- when -- Texas doesn`t quit.
And so unless their wives or their daughters have, you know, requested a vacation in Washington, DC, like they shouldn`t be there. And so we`re just kind of like, why are y`all there? You know, that`s kind of our view on it.
And, you know, here`s the thing, our bill is pretty straightforward. OK, all we want to do is dropped the voting, and extended hours for early voting and wait in the car while your friend is doing their voting and drinking water while voting and we want to end -- but we want to end it voting. And so it`s not complicated.
Listen, where there`s a will there`s a way. And if your name is Will, you`re probably a lot man. There`s going to be a way for you to vote. So we`re confused about where the concern is coming from. You know, Governor Abbott always says, Why can`t we do it like they do it at medieval times, you know, just cheer the loudest. And we want the ELA (ph) not to win, you know, because they really haven`t figured out over there.
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WILLIAMS: Blaire Earthscan, winning the internet again tonight to take us off the air. That`s our broadcast for this Tuesday evening with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the network`s NBC News, good night.