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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 7/20/21

Guests: Barbara McQuade, Irwin Redlener, Cornell Belcher, Matthew Dowd


Tom Barrack, who chaired former President Donald Trump`s 2017 inaugural committee, was arrested on charges that he unlawfully influenced the foreign policy positions of the campaign and administration to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates, the Department of Justice said. Delta variant is fueling surge in U.S. COVID cases. White House and Pelosi staffers test positive after vaccinations. Tokyo Olympic committee official issues warning about games. Dr. Fauci and GOP Senator Rand Paul clash at hearing. Biden`s bipartisan infrastructure bill hits snag as GOP pushes to delay vote. Senate will vote Wednesday on whether to debate a bipartisan infrastructure package, a test for President Joe Biden`s agenda. Kevin McCarthy names 5 Republicans to Jan. 6 Select Committee, including Jim Jordan. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and team made history in space.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams begins right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again day 182 of the Biden administration and tonight yet another member of the twice impeached former president`s inner circle is in very deep trouble with the Feds and behind bars. In fact, Tom Barrack, the billionaire who chaired the Trump 2017 Inaugural Committee was arrested today on charges of illegally lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

Barrack is also accused of failing to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent, as well as obstruction and of lying to the FBI about his dealings with the UAE. He`s been friends with Donald Trump since the 80s. Barrack helped rescue his business and later became a top fundraiser for his presidential campaign and the inauguration. The indictment note several instances where he used that relationship with Trump to advocate for the UAE without disclosing it apparently. During the 2016 campaign barrack allegedly had language inserted into one of Trump`s speeches at the request of a UAE official.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We`ll work with our Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti- terrorism strategy. We`ll work with them because we have to knock out terrorism.


WILLIAMS: The indictment notes that after the speech and ammirati official emailed Tom Barrack, saying Trump "mentioned the Gulf allies which is great," adding, "congrats on the great job today. Everybody here are happy with the results."

Federal prosecutors say Barrack`s efforts continued after the inauguration as he pushed UAE interest to the Trump White House. It`s also accused of giving the UAE sensitive nonpublic information and accused of meeting and assisting senior leaders from Saudi Arabia. And because he has the means and the potential motive, the U.S. government says Tom barrack is now a flight risk. They want him to remain in custody. He`s being detained at least until the hearing next Monday. In a statement a spokesperson says, "Mr. Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset. He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty."

Tonight`s other big story continues to be this Delta variant, a top concern of the health officials who testified this morning about the state of our still ongoing pandemic.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We now have a variant circulating in this country that is, you know, at the time was less than 3% and is now at 83% and much more transmissible.


WILLIAMS: And there are new questions about the effectiveness of that one and done single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine one study out suggesting it may be less effective against this oncoming Delta variant. We`ve also learned a White House official and aid to Speaker Pelosi have both tested positive for the virus despite being fully vaccinated. It is suspected one case may have developed after contact with those Texas Democrats now in D.C. As you may know at least six members of their delegation have now tested positive.

Today as the President marks six months in office he remained focused on the battle against the virus and vaccine hesitancy in our country making his latest pitch for vaccinations during an all hands on deck cabinet meeting.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: I know folks are watching, the number of cases rising again and wondering quite frankly, what it means to them? We have to stay vigilant especially with the Delta variant virtually all of the COVID deaths and hospitalizations are from unvaccinated people. The safest thing to do is to get vaccinated, get vaccinated.


WILLIAMS: And more bad news the virus is also surging again in Japan. Today the head of the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee, the CEO suggested the games could still be canceled despite the fact that the opening ceremony is just days away. So far over 70 people affiliated in some way with these Olympic Games have tested positive.

On the domestic political front the first hearing for the House Select Committee investigating the 1/6 riot and insurrection exactly one week away, this afternoon the government released more body cam footage of the violent siege and desecration at the Capitol Building. Latest video shows vicious attacks on officers as they tried to protect the stage on which Joe Biden would be inaugurated just weeks later.


Tonight, though, members of Congress are focused on other matters. The Senate is now hours away from a test vote of sorts on whether to move forward with that trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill, which as of now is still being worked out.

Republicans appear to be gearing up to block what they say is a rushed process. But on this 52nd anniversary of the first steps on the moon, there was a moment today that appealed to that American desire for exploration. This morning in Texas, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos and crew successfully lifted off in the Blue Origin new Shepard spacecraft before safely returning back to Earth about 10 minutes later.

We`ll have a full report on that achievement later on in this hour. But for now, and with that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night. Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House bureau chief for The Washington Post, Sam Stein, Veteran Journalist who is now White House Editor over at Politico and Barbara McQuade, a Veteran Federal Prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, worked with DOJ during the Biden transition, a Professor currently at her alma mater, University of Michigan Law School.

Which Barbara is why I would like to begin with you. Let`s talk about Mr. Tom Barrack. He`s an interesting character among various other claims to fame. He bought Michael Jackson`s Neverland Ranch in California, but tonight he`s in trouble. You`ve read the indictment. What stands out to you in the document?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, Brian, it`s -- what I would refer to as a speaking indictment in that the allegations are very detailed. And so this is not some vague allegation that just parrots the language of the statute. It quotes from email messages where it talks about how Tom Barrack was acting under the direction and control of foreign officials in the UAE. As you said he inserted parts of their suggestions into a Trump campaign speech, he took credit for getting UAE excluded from the Trump travel ban in 2017. He wrote an op-ed for a national publication with UAE input. And he agreed to advocate for the appointment of individuals in the Trump administration at their recommendation, including a U.S. Congressman.

I think, Brian, sometimes people dismiss charges under these statutes as mere regulatory offenses, paperwork errors, but that`s not what this allegation is at all. It is alleging that Tom Barrack acted as a secret agent on behalf of the UAE and that he betrayed the United States and he betrayed President Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS: To your point, Barb, we`ve also had cause over these past five years to forget that there are rules governing each and every act by government employees, ideally, Ashley Parker, I want to play for you John Bolton on CNN tonight. We`ll discuss on the other side.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Trump`s propensity and it began during the transition I think that`s been pretty clearly documented to ignore normal chattels to have friends, members of his family engaged with foreign governments.


WILLIAMS: Ashley, you`re among the living experts on Donald Trump and the Trump administration. Does that square with your reporting?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Absolutely. And that was actually one of the first things when I was struck by, when I saw the indictment and read the news, is just how easy it would be for someone like Tom Barrack, or anyone really to get in the President`s orbit and influence him in major ways. You could see in another administration, someone else not disclosing their lobbying ties, trying to do the same things. But there`s an internal NSC structure. There`s a traditional way that meetings are held and policies are debated. And they would be hard for them to get as far as Tom Barrack allegedly did, inserting language in a speech and influencing the president in other ways. But this is a president, where the last person talked to him who called his personal cell phone late at night, somebody who stopped by the White House and announced that I got waved in by a friend ended up in the Oval Office could put a news story or a tweet in front of the president and absolutely change the direction of policy and one person when I was covering the Trump White House remark. Look, President Trump goes around the room and he peppers everyone with questions and Lara Trump, the wife of his son, Eric, could be sitting there this person said with her sorority sisters, and he`s likely to ask them a question of what they think he should do on some issue of foreign policy and just as likely to take their advice as his actual foreign policy advisor. So what you have here and what Bolton was alluding to is kind of a perfect storm for this to happen in the Trump West Wing.

WILLIAMS: Sam Stein, aside from being a living reminder of the grift that everyone just survived, is there a central feature of the Tom Barrack story that stands out to you.


SAM STEIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s what Ashley talked about, which was here was a president without any firm ideology for whom, you know, access money, and political instincts for the overriding principles. You could be someone like Tom Barrack, who really has limited foreign policy experience beyond the business community, and influenced the President`s Middle East Policy, because you were the last person to talk to him.

The other thing, though, is that there was just so many people who were being paid by different varying interests, in some cases, foreign governments who had access to Trump. I mean, it was sort of the wild west of ethics here. But, you know, keep in mind that Michael Flynn was also a foreign agent at the time of the transition paid for by the Turkish Government. So it was almost like a foreign policy for purchase early in the Trump years. And a little bit scary as a proposition. Of course, we have to concede Tom Barrack is pleading not guilty to this as the charges have not been proven. But if they are proven, I mean, the proposition here is pretty scary that you could have for a few billion dollars, which is what it looks like the UAE put into his accounts, an abrupt shift in Middle Eastern policy and ending of alliances with Qatar, and then suddenly, a presidential, administration taking a completely different approach in Middle Eastern Affairs with limited insight into why or what the actual end game will be, and all because of money.

WILLIAMS: Someday, we may get the answer as to why the Trump administration didn`t seem that concerned over the murder of one of Ashley`s colleagues at the Post, Mr. Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudis. But these are questions I guess, for another time.

Barbara, back to your legal expertise, back to the document, does it read to you as indictments go, like there`s more to come?

MCQUADE: Well, it does only in that it names by label and categories, some additional individuals. It talks, for example, about this Congressman, who was recommended by the UAE for an ambassador position. It talks about executives who are working at the company that was run by Tom barrack. And so sometimes when you have references to others who are not yet charged, it could mean that additional charges are coming.

Of course, there`s always the possibility if I were representing Tom Barrack, my first call would be to the prosecutor to say, is there any way we can work out a deal where my client would cooperate? And so being a close advisor to Donald Trump and someone who`s in his close orbit, is a prosecutor. I`d be very interested in exploring anything that Tom Barrett might have to say about that.

WILLIAMS: Actually, change of subject, I have another one for you. I`m going to play for you parts of the clash today now famous between Rand Paul and Dr. Fauci.


SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: Dr. Fauci, knowing that is a crime to lie to Congress. Do you wish to retract your statement of May 11, where you claimed at the NIH never funded gain of function research and move on?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement. And Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially, you do not know what you are talking about. OK.


WILLIAMS: So Ashley, tonight to update the story, Rand Paul, who is often more parts performance artists than he is certainly medical doctor or United States Senator went on Hannity to say he`s going to ask for a criminal referral for Fauci for lying to Congress. Ashley, where do you put this? Is this the culture war on steroids, is this a medical doctor, not just that foremost, public health expert of our times, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom back when that had actual meeting. Is this just a guy who`s being set up as a cultural straw man?

PARKER: In some ways, yes. And in some ways, this is sort of a side the bay and kind of pet project of Senator Paul, who has frequently gone after Dr. Fauci in previous hearings, although it`s sort of not as badly as we saw today, but it does kind of speak to as you said, the broader cultural issue and it`s worth noting that the Washington Post fact checker gave previous claims by Senator Paul against Dr. Fauci to Pinocchio`s, is sort of grossly exaggerated, false and misleading. But this again, on a macro level, sort of that things that are not quite true and to take it a step further and other instances, not the Wuhan lab but coronavirus in general. This disinformation is something that Dr. Fauci, the medical professionals, the Biden administration has been grappling when since they took office not just about his legitimacy as President, which again, he won the election fairly, but about coronavirus, if vaccines are harmful to you, and now as we see the rise of the Delta variant. These sort of cultural issues going after medical professionals pushing the anti-vax conspiracy hoaxes. They`re not just sort of cultural issues for Republicans, they`re becoming even more so incredibly dangerous for the nation.


And you`re seeing in an ironic twist, the populations right now who are not getting vaccinated, who are showing up in emergency rooms who are catching the new variant and having cataclysmic consequences are those who voted for President Trump, who listened to Fox News, who believe this misinformation.

WILLIAMS: Sam Stein, you are out front today on a story that was characterized by a couple people on social media this way. It says, if Fox News received the bat signal and several of their prominent on air, people are suddenly pro-vaccination at least no longer casting doubt at every opportunity about the vaccine. Talk to us about your reporting, do we call it interaction between the Biden White House and Fox News? Do we call him outreach? What wording do you prefer?

STEIN: I would say tiptoeing or arm`s length, you know, the Biden White House made raised a lot of eyebrows last week when after social media companies or spreading disinformation, misinformation around vaccines. What was notable is that they had not done something similar with Fox News, even though I think objectively we can say that some of the evening hosts and guests have been some of the chief purveyors of disinformation and fear mongering around vaccines. So we want to explore why it was that the White House was taking this sort of more muted approach to Fox? And the answer is that they`ve determined that there`s very little upside to going after Fox aggressively like that, you would turn off the very people you need to convince to take the vaccine, but on top of that, that they don`t want to put people on these evening programs, because they don`t think necessarily that they would get a fair shake.

What is notable, Brian, to your point is that yesterday, Sean Hannity came out with an impassioned plea, or maybe not in passion, but a plea to take vaccines. And we`ve seen a few other hosts do the same, perhaps they are getting sick.

There is one of the thing that I would just like to piggyback on to Ashley`s point, which is that the clip of Rand Paul and Dr. Fauci is sort of indicative of the problem that the White House faces in that clip, which does nothing to move the conversation around whether or not vaccines are effective, and whether or not they should be taken. It`s merely argument back and forth about the origins of COVID. That clip is the clip that`s going to be shared most prominently on Fox evening broadcasts, on Fox day time, on conservative media and on online platforms. That is the hurdle that the White House faces that they have information campaign, a disinformation campaign, but they also have information that`s going out into the ether that gets a prominent featured, prominently featured but doesn`t necessarily advance their objectives.

WILLIAMS: Yep, with there`s an earnest team and a knife fight the earnest team often loses and it`s a giant distraction to your point during a pandemic. We are indebted to our starting line tonight, Ashley Parker, Sam Stein, Barbara McQuade, our thanks for starting us off.

Coming up as delta becomes the alpha strain of this virus in our country, what will all those breakthrough cases among the already vaccinated mean for life getting back to normal as we thought it was? I`ll ask one of our leading physicians standing by.

And later, with one GOP member already calling the 1/6 committee impeachment round three, can we ever expect any real accountability? Two of our political experts on both sides of the aisle standing by for that. And here`s the Super Bowl champions visiting the White House today. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on this Tuesday night.




FAUCI: We are now challenged with a very difficult and problematic variant referred to as the Delta variant. It has now been detected in at least 90 plus countries throughout the world. It has the capability of transmitting efficiently from human to human in an extraordinary manner, well beyond any of the other variants that we`ve experienced up to now.


WILLIAMS: Guy sounds like an expert, the Delta variant in fact already sending unvaccinated Americans to the hospital in alarming numbers to make matters worse, Dr. Irwin Redlener warns us, "get ready for a fast moving surge now and as long as we don`t share vaccines and resources with low income countries where the virus is festering and few vaccinated expect surge after surge for the foreseeable future. No way around this.

So back with us tonight the aforementioned Dr. Irwin Redlener, founding director of Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness who advises us on public health. It`s also a Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Doctor, put it very plainly, we have 100 million unvaccinated Americans in this country, that`s a whole lot of potential damage ahead. In your view, what does the next six months look like? And what`s the level of worry once and for all for vaccinated people in the face of this Delta variant?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Hi, Brian. Yeah, well, I`m really very concerned, as are the majority of my colleagues. One of the problems here now is all of us who are so called experts need to be pretty humble about predicting the future. There`s more that we don`t know about this Delta strain than we do know. And a lot of this is going to unfortunately remain to be seen. The facts are though, as you started talking about, Brian, there are 100 million potential American targets, who have not either had the natural disease and not been vaccinated or may not even be eligible for a vaccination. And that`s a big problem when we have a rapidly moving variant like this Delta.


The fact is that the person who has Delta variant as their infection has 1000 times more viral load than somebody who had one of the previous versions. So we have a lot of virus around and a lot of targets. And we`re worried where this will go, how long it`ll last? Well, it ended up being more severe in terms of hospitalizations and deaths remains to be seen. And I think we just have to really follow some new rules now, Brian. That`s why I`m very supportive of wearing masks indoors, whether you`re vaccinated or not vaccinated. We need to avoid large tight crowds. I hope more and more organizations and companies will mandate vaccines for employers, students, event participants and so on. But we do have a lot to worry about. I`m so sorry to say but I think that`s the way it is right now.

WILLIAMS: And then, in light of this comes the study today that the J&J one and done vaccine may be less effective in the face of the Delta variant, what should J&J vaccine recipients be thinking?

REDLENER: Well, this is obviously a new piece of research that is concerning. However, we have to temper this because these results are not peer reviewed, yet. They`re not officially published. And they also are not consistent with earlier studies. What we do know about J&J is it can prevent serious hospitalizations and fatalities even if it`s still allowed to get infected. We don`t quite know what to do yet. And clinically, this is really a challenge for all of our physicians. If I had two patients in my office, a 30 year old healthy person and an older person, both of whom would receive the J&J vaccine, the older person with such a comorbid factors, I would say, yeah, let`s give you a new -- another mRNA shot like Pfizer or Moderna, just to be sure I need to be able to do that as a doctor, the younger, healthier person, we might say, we`re going to wait a while but neither of those agendas is actually approved by the CDC. So a lot of clinical judgments in a very uncertain environment right now. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Doc, I got off the air last night and saw the story about Apple telling its employees not so fast. We`re going to delay at least by a month coming back to work in person. Do you expect to see this kind of thing at companies across our country?

REDLENER: I actually hope so. I think we`re not ready to kind of open the gates right now yet, Brian. And when we do, I hope every company will actually mandate vaccines that can be approved to have been taken by employees want to come back to the workplace. And I understand that tensions that companies are under and universities and other organizations but we`re in a very dangerous, uncertain situation right now. We have to behave like we`re taking this seriously. And I think that Apple`s making the correct decision right now.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Irwin Redlener, as always, Doc, thank you so much for coming on. Thank you for taking our questions and for your forthright answers.

Coming up for us tonight, the last minute desperate efforts to keep that bipartisan infrastructure proposal now on life support from total collapse, how`s that for optimism?



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MAJORITY LEADER: Senators of goodwill on both sides want to finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill before the August recess. But in order to finish the bill, we first need to agree to start. That`s the first step. Let`s all agree to start. That`s what this week`s vote is about. And I hope my Republican colleagues will join us in beginning debate.


WILLIAMS: That is Senate speak for, Lord knows what, a bipartisan group of senators emerged from a late night meeting just tonight, sounding hopeful on infrastructure agreement on the horizon. But Majority Leader Schumer still pushing ahead with a procedural vote tomorrow that is expected, wait for it, to fail.

For their part, Republicans are threatening to filibuster denying Democrats the 10 votes they need to proceed.

With us tonight, Cornell Belcher, democratic pollster and veteran of the Obama campaign among others and Matthew Dowd, former George W. Bush strategist, founder of Country Over Party. Gentlemen, I hope you`re ready for this. We have a lot of work to do.

Cornell, I`m going to start with you and play for you some Mitt Romney from earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you concerned that if the vote will happen this week, and legislation isn`t ready that it will lead to break in negotiations?

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I think the vote should be held next Monday, not to not Wednesday, give us the time to resolve the remaining issues.


WILLIAMS: So Cornell sorted out for our audience, please what is Schumer up to?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, I think she was up to trying to push for legislation. The question Brian is at what Schumer is up to. Question really is what Mitch McConnell is up to. And you know, I`m channeling the great philosopher, Yogi Berra. Brian is deja vu all over again.

You know, I saw this for eight years under Obama, will you remember Brian? He said his number one job is to make Barack Obama failed presidency. And Mitch McConnell has basically said that about Biden as well as saying, you know, he`s 100 percent focused on stopping Joe Biden`s agenda.

But what I would like to see Democrats do and particularly coming from the White House right now, look, McConnell is going to try to stop this because he thinks it`s in his -- his political best interest to stop it because he thinks that work for him under Obama block and stop everything the President can do, try to make them a failed president. Try to so that if you go into the midterm to say they`ve accomplished nothing.

But I think the and you begin to see as from the Biden White House is they should dare Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to kill a bipartisan infrastructure bill that depending on what polling you see has as much as 68 percent approval when Americans know their bridges are crumbling, their roads are crumbling, they know we need from infrastructure to compete with China and on the global marketplace, and they know that this is a bill that will create millions of blue collar jobs.


Quite frankly from a political standpoint and I`m a political hack, I would dare rip Senate Republicans to kill a bipartisan bill that the vast majority of Americans want. And I`d like to see the president go on the road and make them pay for in a way that I think Obama administration did not take it to the streets and make Republicans pay for blocking everything he did. He did tried to do even though a majority favored it.

WILLIAMS: Point of personal privilege. I`ve known political hacks, Cornell, I would never list your name along with there. So let`s not be getting into that area.

Matthew Dowd, you may sense my frustration with the inside game here. And I think a lot of the folks watching tonight are in the same place over on the competition and I Jeff Celanese in Cincinnati did a piece on the Brent Spence bridge, that`s all Cincinnati wants to thing is going to fall down one of these days, billion dollars in trade goes across that spa every day.

Chris Matthews reminds us the Democrats of all back when spines were standard equipment would take this out on the road, go state to state, city to city remind people of the stakes what infrastructure money could buy. So are you as frustrated as I am that we`re losing track of what`s at the heart of this?

MATTHEW DOWN, FMR. CHIEF STRATEGIST TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: I think I`m more frustrated than you are. I think, though, you and I haven`t judged each other`s temperatures in a few days on this. I think the Democrats are still in a reality that no longer exists. I think Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden to a degree and some of the other United States senators are still acting as if the Republican Party is somehow the Republican Party they worked with 20 years ago, or 15 years ago, or even 10 years ago. It`s not.

And that`s a reality I think Democrats have to fundamentally face and come to terms with because if they finally come to terms with that, and get over the denial that they`ve been in about what the Republican Party is today, which is not a party that`s interested in consensus, it`s not a party interested in the common good. It`s not a party interested in a common set of facts. And it`s fundamentally not a party interested in democracy.

And so once you had met meant that, then I think you`re strategically and tactically have to go a completely different route. I don`t understand why we`ve been in this position of like pursuing bipartisanship as if bipartisanship is the goal. Bipartisanship is not the goal. Bipartisanship is a process to a goal. And if bipartisanship no longer works, because you don`t have a partner you can trust, then you have to let go of bipartisanship and pursue what matters and whether that`s infrastructure broadly on bridges and roads, or its infrastructure on our democracy.

That has to be the goal and whether you get 50 votes and the vice president has to vote to push it over the line, Democrats have to do that. They have to fundamentally give up on the idea that the Republican Party is what we all thought the Republican Party was 10 or 15 years ago.

WILLIAMS: You guys are forcing me to dust off my favorite Rick Wilson line. Democrats always bring a soup ladle to a knife fight. Cornell Belcher, Matthew Dowd have agreed to stay with us through this break.

Coming up when we come back one of Kevin McCarthy is January 6 committee fix already trashing the investigation before it started. Which of course is exactly why Trump, I mean, McCarthy chose him in the first place.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us about your new assignment on the January 6th commission, sir?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Well, I mean we know what this is about. This is impeachment round three for the Democrats say they, for five years have been going after President Trump so in some ways you can`t blame him because what, you know, what else I got to talk about?


WILLIAMS: That right there, one of Kevin McCarthy`s picks to investigate the January 6 assault on the Capitol, the attempt to overturn the election result. Of McCarthy`s five appointments, three of them happen to object to the electoral votes and all but one voted against the idea of a bipartisan commission investigating the riot in the first place.

Thankfully, still with us, our Cornell Belcher and Matthew Dowd. So Matthew, Bob Michael was a congressman, Carl Albert was a congressman, Jim Jordan is mostly a performance artist. I think everyone can agree to that. So, McCarthy made some unserious selections for his opening bid, does that necessarily taint the result? Or just a little add on to the workload of the serious members of this committee?

DOWD: Well, I think he made representative selections to the Committee, which happens to be from an unserious caucus. So, I -- the Republican caucus, so I think it`s very representative who he picked up what the Republican caucuses and that`s fundamentally the problem at this.

Putting Jim Jordan and the others on this Commission is like putting Bernie Madoff on the Security Exchange Commission. That`s what this is fundamentally like. I think the Democrats can still do what they need to do, which is basically surface information. So we`re aware of who did what and who said what to whom, and hold up, let the public hold people accountable, which I think is fundamentally important and where we`re going to be in 2022. And that`s ultimately where accountability is going to come from.

So I think even with his invitation of a clown show into the room, you can still surface truth and get at the information you need to, to finally hold people accountable, not just the 400 people that were arrested but elected officials who propagated and push this.

WILLIAMS: Cornell, I got a hell of a quote here from Vanity Fair and it reads like this, any real investigation into the deadly riot and everything that led to it would surely find fault not only in their demagogic leader but in themselves. With his picks, McCarthy is waving a middle finger at calls for accountability.

Cornell, should Pelosi ideally toss those who voted for the big live from this committee?

BELCHER: I think she should because I think, you know, I think that was right. I think Democrats still can get truth out of it. I think it becomes a lot harder. The question is if she did toss them, you know, it still adds fuel to the fire because the Republicans would still, you know, call this a partisan witch hunt once again.

But you know, in and allow them the ability to muddy the waters and that`s what -- that`s what Jim Jordan and others want to do here is, you know, politics one on one if you can`t win the argument, muddy the waters, and that`s clearly what these picks say they`re, you know, these picks say, from a political strategy standpoint is McCarthy`s wants to muddy the waters. They don`t want to get to the truth of this. They want to muddy the waters they want theater.


And by the way, you know, I hate to say this, but their theaters probably going to work. They`re probably going to get some moments out of this, where they please Donald Trump, and they`re going to be able to raise money from the Trump base for their caucus from this, because that`s just the ugly way politics works right now. They`re going to try to muddy the waters and make this as partisan as possible. And I think Democrats are going to struggle to make to sort of get truth and break through some of this mud, but I think they think that`s right, I think they can do it, it just becomes a lot harder now.

WILLIAMS: Cornell, quick question, are you with the Democrats, especially on the left who would like to see Biden and Schumer perhaps get angry and start playing rough?

BELCHER: And out too apparently. Yes. I take the point. I think Democrats do still want to play by the rules, not understanding that Mitch McConnell could care less about the rules. And he`s throwing the rules out and they`re playing by a different set. They`re playing an entirely different game.

I would like to see the president use some of his political capital to take it to the streets. And I think they`re beginning to do this, and they`re prepared to do this. They take it out to American and make the case directly to Americans about his agenda, and what he`s trying to do and again, let the American people decide in the midterms, whether they`re with him and his agenda, or they`re with Mitch McConnell, and trying to make him a failed president.

WILLIAMS: Our thanks to two friends of ours, Cornell Belcher and Matthew Dowd, and Matthew, by the way, put us on your dance card for your book out in September, "Revelations On The River, Being a Prophet for Your Own Path." I know we`ll be talking along the way many times between now and then. But I can`t wait to have a thorough discussion with you about this work you`ve put together. And we`ve been wondering what you`ve been doing out there in Texas. There`s a whole bunch of questions.

Gentlemen, thank you both.

DOWD: And congrats to the Milwaukee Bucks. Congrats to the Milwaukee Bucks.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I learned through social media. I`m not supposed to be glancing during an actual. I`m good, like operating heavy equipment while you`re trying to anchor a broadcast.

DOWD: Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for that. News, weather and sports from our guests tonight. Coming up, he`s just back from space says he wants to go back up again which shouldn`t be a problem because he owns the company.



WILLIAMS: 52 years ago, this very night, there were three government employees in space, one of them orbiting the moon, two of them on the moon. It was the night of man`s first steps on the moon. We don`t know what it says about us or our times that earlier today there was a billionaire in space.

In fact, the richest man on earth was not on earth for about 10 minutes today. Jeff Bezos made history when he invented Amazon as he reminded us again today. And he made history again today onboard his first all civilian sub-orbital spacecraft New Shepherd, named after the first Shepherd of space travel. Alan Shepard, who was the first American in space. We get our reports tonight from the launch site in Texas from NBC News correspondent Tom Costello.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Roaring off the launch pad and remote West Texas, Jeff Bezos, a billionaire space dreams came true today. As he brother Mark, a Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk.

Blue Origin`s first passengers float a waitlist 66 miles off.

JEFF BEZOS, BLUE ORIGIN FOUNDER: It is everything you thought it would be?


COSTELLO: After four minutes a dramatic parachute plunge to Earth, their 10 and a half minute trip coming to a soft landing in the desert sand.


COSTELLO: 21 years after founding Blue Origin as an all-purpose space company, Bezos and his fellow passengers earned their astronaut wings today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a few people I know more deserving of this Jeff.

COSTELLO: For Wally Funk, who NASA never allowed to fly because of her gender, a celebration at 60 years in the making.

FUNK: And I want to thank you for your heart because you made it possible for me. I`ve been waiting a long time to finally get it up there.

COSTELLO: Now the oldest person to ever go to space joined by the youngest 18-year-old Oliver. Among the memorabilia on board, Amelia Earhart`s aviator goggles, looking down at the Earth`s atmosphere says Bezos makes climate change very real.

BEZOS: What you see is it`s actually incredibly thin. It`s this tiny little fragile thing. And as we move about the planet, we`re damaging it.

COSTELLO: Criticized for spending billions on a space tourism business, Bezos is now facing backlash for this comment.

BEZOS: I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all this.

COSTELLO: He earlier used the spotlight to announce a new philanthropic initiative, giving away $200 million for charities. Meanwhile, Bezos announced $100 million in ticket sales for future flights. Each ticket reportedly costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s pretty steep right now. How do you bring the cost down so that this can be more accessible for everybody?

BEZOS: You`ve got to do it the same way we did it with commercial airline travel.

COSTELLO: Starting with biplanes, he says and grow into modern day passenger jets. So will he fly again?

BEZOS: Hell yes. How fast can you refuel that thing? Let`s go.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Tom Costello for that report from Van Horn and West Texas.

Coming up for us, a report card on the crazy emphasis on crazy.



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, something of a modest public service presented in video form by the folks at the Lincoln Project. It`s a reminder of where our politics are during this hot summer of 2021 It`s a collection of crazies, sick offense, deniers, haters, obfuscators in a production the Lincoln Project likes to call Last Week in the Republican Party.


JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: What`s happening with the president?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Well, his golf game is just incredible. He`s busting his driver and knocking the pins down with his iron and putting like a wild man.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: It`s something good about COVID. Why can`t then why can`t we force uppity people to take Thorazine like I don`t like your attitude. You need some tranquilizers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Fauci looks like the laces outside of a football but I`d like to kick. What did we do to Saddam Hussein? What did we do to, you know, people, I mean, these people swung from their neck in front of the world for killing far less people.

CARLSON: We`re not attacking the vaccine never have. We don`t judge anyone who takes it.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): This is a happy and inclusive movement. We even want to free Britney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t care what you think about fraudulent sleepy Joe. He`s a sex trafficking demon possess monger (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you answer the question. Did Donald Trump lose the election in 2020?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I`m answering the questions. I`m not doing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this an uncomfortable question for you.

GRAHAM: This is the party of Donald Trump if you think otherwise you`re in for a rude awakening.


WILLIAMS: Sorry for the saliva noise this close to bedtime. The Lincoln Project to take us off the air tonight with thanks of course to the Republican Party for the raw material. None of that wouldn`t be possible without them.

That is our broadcasts on a Tuesday evening with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.