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

Guests: Aileen Marty


Pelosi rejects two GOP representatives named to January 6 Select Committee. Newly released audio reveals Trump`s view of January 6 riot. McCarthy slams Pelosi for blocking committee picks. GOP Rep. Liz Cheney calls out McCarthy and backs Pelosi. Republicans voted to block the Senate from beginning debate on an infrastructure proposal, saying they wanted more time to finalize the details of the agreement. A growing number of Republicans urge vaccinations amid Delta surge. The highly contagious Delta variant is fueling a surge in coronavirus cases as many who are unvaccinated refuse to get the vaccine. Florida COVID-19 cases spike in latest state data. More athletes test positive despite safety protocol.


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

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again day 183 of the Biden administration. The House Speaker and the Republican Leader in the House are now at war over the investigation into the January 6 riot and trashing of the Capitol after Nancy Pelosi took an unprecedented step and said no to two of the Republicans that have been named to that committee. Details on that significant development in just a moment.

But there`s new insight tonight into the former president`s take on the violent efforts on January 6, let`s not forget, to overturn the election he lost. Newly released audio that comes to us from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism duo Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker of The Washington Post. They interviewed Trump at Mar-a-Lago back in March for their book, "I Alone Can Fix It."

And here is what Trump told them about the day his supporters laid siege to and desecrated the Capitol. And again in an effort to overturn the election, which of course, led to Trump being impeached for a second time.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: It was a loving crowd too by the way. There was a lot of love. I`ve heard that from everybody. Many, many people told me, that was a loving crowd. And, you know, it was too bad, it was too bad that, you know, that they did that. Capitol Police were very friendly, you know, they were hugging and kissing. You don`t see that. Personally, what I wanted is what they wanted. They showed up just to show support, because I happen to believe the election was rigged at a level like nothing has ever been written before.


WILLIAMS: It`s a loving crowd. And now there`s been a meltdown of sorts over this bipartisan effort to investigate that insurrection. The one where Capitol Police definitely were not being hugged and kissed, the one that left many Capitol Police officers with permanent injuries.

Today the House Speaker vetoed two of the five Republican members that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chose for the house select 1/6 committee, Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio. They are among some of Trump`s most vocal acolytes and loyal supplicants. In fact, they both voted against counting electoral votes for Joe Biden.

Banks released a statement Monday somehow blaming the Biden administration for the response to the riot, even though it took place as you`ll recall, when Trump was president. That was the point of the riot. And Jim Jordan has called the investigation nothing but a third impeachment of the former president.

Pelosi explained her unusual move in a statement that cited, "respect for the integrity of the investigation with an insistence on the truth and with concerned about statements made and actions taken by these members." That triggered this from Republican Leader McCarthy who warned, "Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation."

This afternoon, McCarthy joined his five would be appointees to repeatedly denounced the Speaker.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA MINORITY LEADER: Represents something that has not happened in the House before for a select committee by the historian. It`s an egregious abuse of power. Pelosi has broken this institution. It`s true, it is politics by Pelosi.


WILLIAMS: It kind of went on like that. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming who Pelosi had already appointed to the committee and who will recently -- who until recently was the third most powerful member of the Republican Party in the House. Well, today she called out McCarthy.


REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R) WYOMING JAN. 6 COMMITTEE: The rhetoric that we have heard from the Minority Leader is disingenuous. The American people deserve to know what happened at every opportunity. The Minority Leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened to block this investigation. I agree with what the Speaker has done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McCarthy, of course, wants to become Speaker next year. Do you think that he deserves to be Speaker in the aftermath of his actions here?

CHENEY: I think that any person who would be third in line to the presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the constitution and a commitment to the rule of law and Minority Leader McCarthy has not done that.


WILLIAMS: Pelosi says the Committee will go forward with its investigation. And today democratic Chairman Bennie Thompson told The Guardian the actions of former President Trump, his administration officials and lawmakers will all be part of this inquiry. White House has said it supports the Speaker on all of this.


And this evening during a CNN Town Hall in Cincinnati, the President talked about the Capitol riot and the danger of these conspiracy theories.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: I don`t care if you think I`m Satan reincarnated. The fact is, you can`t look at that television and say, nothing happened on the sixth. You can`t listen to people who say this was a peaceful march, some of the stuff, I mean, QAnon. The idea that the Democrats or the Biden is hiding people and sucking the blood of children and -- non-serious, that`s -- now you may not like me, and that`s your right. But the kinds of things that are being said of late, I think you`re beginning to see some of the -- and both and by Democrats as well, sort of the venom get sort of leak out of a lot of it. We got to get beyond this.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, a big piece of Biden`s agenda has been temporarily blocked in the Senate. It`s a mess like everything in the Senate. Republicans all voted to oppose a test vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is still being worked out. It now looks that like that. Vote will take place next week. We also heard an extraordinary defense of the U.S. military has tradition of steering clear of party politics today. And it came from a key figure cited often by Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig in their new book.

General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today was asked about comments attributed to him in the book expressing fears Trump would attempt some sort of coup to stay in power after the 2020 election.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I`m not going to comment on what`s in any of those books. Let me just say this, though, I always personally provided the best military professional advice to President Trump previously, to President Biden or any other president. I always provide that best military advice to Secretary of Defense, whomever is the Secretary of Defense, and I do that for the National Security Council as well. I want America to know that the United States military isn`t a political institution. Our oath is to the Constitution, not any individual at all. And the military did not and will not and should not ever get involved in domestic politics. We don`t arbitrate elections, that`s the job of the judiciary and the legislature and the American people.


WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, Shannon Pettypiece, Veteran Journalist, our Senior White House reporter for NBC News Digital, Lisa Lerer, National Political Correspondent for The New York Times and back again tonight, Phil Rucker, Pulitzer Prize- winning Senior Washington Correspondent for The Washington Post. As we mentioned, his brand new book written with his colleague and writing partner, Carol Leonnig called, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump`s Catastrophic Final Year is now on the market.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. And Phil Rucker. I would indeed like to begin with you and your work based on your interview, which of course, goes on for two and a half hours in the moment there in Mar-a-Lago. Trump is not living in our current reality, and you could argue that through line is living in Republican members in the House as of yet?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: That`s exactly right, Brian, to listen to former President Trump talk about January 6, talk about the election from last fall, talking about what he expected Vice President Mike Pence to do to try, to overturn a Democratic election. You realize he`s living in a dystopian alternative reality, virtually nothing that he said, in the course of that interview was true. The audio clip you played at the beginning of the show, had the president -- the former president saying there was a lot of love and hugs and kisses among the rioters at the Capitol. But we all saw with our own eyes, the video there was not love. There was a lot of hate and hostility and violence, and in fact, deadly violence. It was a horrific and haunting event.

But Trump`s mindset has become so warped, and it is, as you point out, transferred to so many Republicans in the Congress. They`re fearful of alienating the former president and in turn alienating his tens of millions of supporters. And so that`s why you see so many Republican congressmen including the leader of the House Minority, Kevin McCarthy, latching on to the President`s, the former president`s big lie about the election and trying to resist any sort of thorough and fulsome investigation of what happened on January six.

WILLIAMS: Lisa Lerer, let`s talk about Jim Jordan, who we mentioned last night, I think even his House Republican colleagues would agree is way more performance, then he is legislate or he is already fundraising on being blackballed. He appeared tonight on Fox News. We`ll play it, discuss it on the other side.


JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO CONGRESSMAN: The fundamental question, which is why wasn`t there a proper security posture that day? It wasn`t like we didn`t know there was a rally in town, only the Speaker of the House can answer that question. And maybe she just doesn`t want to answer that fundamental question or any other questions.


WILLIAMS: So Lisa, you hear the point there, it was security at fault, not the violent rioters. Are we missing something or is this anything deeper than just a look over here kind of bait and switch?

LISA LERER, THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it`s an effort to raise money from the Republican base. I`ve spent a lot of time in the past few months listening to Republican voters and focus groups, interviewing Republican voters across the country. And a large number of them believe that this was largely a protest with a few bad apples, that the violence was overplayed by the media. And that this was just not that significant of an event, even though it`s the, you know, first siege on the Capitol in 200 years, of course.

So, you know, I think Representative Jordan has a feel for where his voters are. It`s particularly shocking given that these members of Congress were themselves witnesses. In fact, they were hiding from these rioters on the House floor. So it is somewhat surprising that they`re willing to buy into all this, but I think this is politics. And they have a sense for where the politics are. And suddenly, the outcome of all of this is that we`re likely to end up with two separate investigations, both partisan, which is, of course, a reflection of where the country is right now, politically, but not all that encouraging for those Americans who would like to get to the bottom of what really happened on January 6, and you know, how we sort of ended up where we are.

WILLIAMS: Shannon Pettypiece, to your beat, what do you think the White House wants from this 1/6 committee?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I mean, what the White House wants is to be talking about infrastructure, and President Biden`s build back better agenda and trying to get that through a voting rights, trying to get through some voting rights legislation. There are a lot of priorities that this White House wants to get through. The clock is ticking on how much time they have to get those through. And when you see things like have been happening today, and on other days, in the House of Representatives, these polarized days, where people are still fighting over what should be a common set of agreed upon facts, it points to, of course, just how divided the country still is uneven, something that seems apparent that people should be able to agree on is a problem that should be addressed. And it speaks to the division that the White House is going to have to continue to face as they try to get through these bigger priorities like infrastructure spending, extended child care, tax credit, voting rights, police reform, the maybe potentially some sort of gun reform legislation, the division they`re going to face and could foreshadow what they`re going to have to deal with. If Democrats lose the house in 2022, which I know we can`t -- it`s impossible to predict anything that far out at this point, but is a possibility. And what that is going to mean for President Biden`s agenda going forward when you have a House that will likely be led by Representative McCarthy, who is one of the people who has put up some of the biggest opposition to this January 6 Commission.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, I want to play more of your audio, with former President Trump and to our audience just to picture the scene as you listen to the audio. This is happening in the lobby of Mar-a-Lago, in effect his public office, so he can see and be seen by all the paying members, again, over the course of a two and a half hour interview. This next selection is about his amazement that the Supreme Court refused to help a guy out despite the fact that Donald Trump has appointed fully a third of the justices on the court. Will discuss on the other side.


TRUMP: I needed better judges. The Supreme Court was afraid to take it. Don`t forget, if you take all of the -- everything out to all of the dead people that voted and there were 1000s of them by the way. We have lists of, you know, obituaries that said, if you take the illegal immigrants that voted, if you take this, the Indians that got paid to vote in different places. They said we`re not going to hear the case. I`m very disappointed in the Supreme Court. I guess they thought that it would be violent maybe. And it was violent the other way perhaps.



WILLIAMS: From Indians to obituaries, it`s all baloney. Phil Rucker talk about his unique kind of boiling transactional anger at the highest court in the land?

RUCKER: Yeah, Brian, it`s transactional anger. And it`s also of course, a series of lies there, as you point out with the nice word baloney. But look, the President was upset that his -- what he thought of as his Supreme Court didn`t bail him out after the election. He had installed Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and then shortly before people went to the polls, Amy Coney Barrett and the court shifted decidedly to the right and Trump thought that was his calling card, that if the election results were close, he could somehow basically dial a friend to get some help from the Supreme Court. It obviously didn`t work out that way, in part because of the kind of utter failure of the Trump legal team to find any evidence or to present it in any sort of acceptable fashion in a series of federal courses -- courts rather. Remember it was about 86 federal judges that ruled, that there was no case here that the case of fraud, that the Trump campaign was putting forward had no evidence to support it. But nonetheless, this is a continuing grievance for former President Trump. And you know, in a different part of our interview, he actually singled out Brett Kavanaugh, saying that he thought -- he was especially disappointed in Kavanaugh, because when Kavanaugh needed to be bailed out amid those sexual assault and harassment claims that Trump had his back and decided to keep him as his nominee, despite pressure to drop him as the nominee, and therefore, Kavanaugh should have bailed out Trump after the November 2020 election.

WILLIAMS: All of it unbelievable. Hey, Lisa, I`ve got a question for you. Just as a reporter who`s been around a while, how incredible was it for you to witness Liz Cheney, kind of rock ribbed conservative Republican from one of the more notable conservative Republican families in our country, taking a swing at her Republican leader in the House denouncing him and supporting the actions of the Speaker of the House.

LERER: It was a really remarkable moment, given her family lineage. And you know, what a major force in the Republican Party the Cheney family has been for so many decades. You know, it`s hard to see her motives. I think when you talk to Republicans, they see political motives here that she`s trying to raise her profile. They speculate about some kind of bid for president or something like that. It`s hard to see how this plays particularly well for her within her own party, at the very least. And it`s also hard to see how she could become a Democrat in any way, shape or form. Given that she still is a conservative on most issues, she`s just it seems, at least when you analyze the politics that she is taking a principled stance on behalf of her country and is eager to sort of disown the lies, the baloney as you so nicely put it, of the Trump era and of the siege on the Capitol.

WILLIAMS: Shannon, you get the last word. I have this theory that every time we use phrases like procedural votes, this close to bedtime, we lose 1000 viewers like that. So leaving that aside, how rough a shape is the President`s infrastructure, hopes and dreams as we speak right now tonight in the senate?

PETTYPIECE: Well, this votes certainly wasn`t a deathblow by any means. Everyone`s still talking. Everyone`s still working together. You know, there have been a number of times when I have heard very optimistic people in the White House in Congress saying they`re close to a deal that just need a few more days. Everyone`s invested in it. Everyone has an interest on getting a deal worked out. And then it doesn`t happen. It falls apart. It was about a month ago, we were supposed to get a police reform bill. And now that appears to be stuck in the gridlock of the Senate.

So there was a lot of optimism still, as we ever had in the past that there is going to be a deal that there`s just some details that need to be hammered out. But like I said, you know, I`ve heard that before. So there`s never a deal until there`s actually a deal. And right now there are a lot of questions up in the air about how they are going to get this through. Nothing is certain. And we are bumping up against an August recess that when the Senate gets back from, they`re going to have a lot of other issues on their plate that they`re going to have to deal with regarding budgets and debt limits. And then once we get out of this year, and get into 2022 we are into midterm season. And the, you know, clock really has run out on President Biden trying to get through a domestic agenda.


So it is going to be a crucial two weeks in Congress to see what they`re able to pull through. And, you know, not to be overdramatic, but what happens in the next two weeks could potentially spell out a lot of what the fate of President Biden`s domestic agenda is going to look like for the next three and a half years.

WILLIAMS: Weighty words, and there you have it our fearsome, threesome are starting line for tonight, Shannon Pettypiece, Lisa Lerer, Phil Rucker, our thanks for starting us off.

Coming up for us., McCarthy had his chance for an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the 1/6 committee, he turned it down. Now he`s taking his Republicans and going home. And now the party pushing the big lie says they`ll do their own investigation. Thank you very much.

And later, the COVID come back ravaging mostly red states in this country. I`ll talk to a doctor in the thick of it, who doesn`t care about the politics of it, she wants everybody to get the vaccine in their arms. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR it`s just getting underway on this busy Wednesday night.



MCCARTHY: Why were we ill-prepared? Why did they know on December 14? Why would they jeopardize the lives the Capitol Police. We will run our own investigation. I think it`s very clear to the American public, this is a sham. But we will make sure we get to the real answers.


WILLIAMS: A festival of what about ism and denial from Kevin McCarthy today the Republicans the party that fomented the big lie are going to do their own investigation and not serve on this 1/6 committee after Pelosi said no to two of the members that McCarthy named. The Republican Party remains deeply committed to Donald Trump. And Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig have released this new audio from their two and a half hour interview with Trump.


In the following portion, he reveals his thinking about Vice President Pence on January 6.


TRUMP: Rudy actually did a very good job with legislators, you know, when he wouldn`t before -- because the legislators had Mike Pence had the courage to send it back to the legislators you would have had a different outcome in my opinion.

RUCKER: Is that what you told him to do, the Vice President?

TRUMP: I didn`t tell him to do -- I didn`t tell him to do anything.

RUCKER: What did you want him to do?

TRUMP: I thought that the election was rigged.


WILLIAMS: More of the same, back with us tonight, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for The Washington Post. You got to laugh, Eugene. And Mark McKinnon, former Adviser of George W. Bush and John McCain. He is of course among the co-hosts of the Circus on Showtime.

Gentlemen, welcome back. Eugene. I`m told McCarthy went on Fox News tonight and further pounded this theme that it`s all about Pelosi not providing enough security. You just saw him in an Olympic piece of gaslighting say it was the Democrats who put the Capitol Police at risk. Eugene, am I missing anything deeper here? Or does McCarthy pretty much take orders from Trump? And are the Republicans really at the end of the day worried about what a 1/6 investigation might turn up?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Oh, absolutely. I think you`re right on all counts there. I mean, it is -- it`s just astounding. There was an insurrection at the Capitol that threaten the lives of all members of Congress and the vice president on January 6, that`s to me and to any sensible person what needs to be investigated yet. The Republicans have no interest in investigating that they want to investigate everything else they want to investigate. Black Lives Matter protests the previous summer. They want to investigate.

Congressman Jim Banks from Indiana, one of the two congressmen that Nancy Pelosi kicked off the committee. While he was still on the committee sent out a release saying we`re going to get to the bottom of the responsibility of kind of Capitol leadership and the Biden administration. There was no Biden administration on January 6 because Joe Biden hadn`t taken office yet. But he can bring himself to say the Trump administration`s response. That`s who responded or failed to respond. It`s just -- it`s incredible. I do not blame the Speaker at all. In fact, I think she did the right thing in taking off the select committee members who were obviously there to do nothing but gaslight, obstruct, and do their own sort of performance art like Jim Jordan.

WILLIAMS: Mark McKinnon, for someone who has made your living in and around Republican politics, all your professional life, you have been so forthright about what you see happening and calling out the crazy and what passes for the modern day, Republican Party. And I want to talk about McCarthy`s flock in the House, with the assistance of a piece you wrote, called The 2020 Candidates Slate: Send in The Clowns. Now, we`re all operating, Mark, under this assumption that 2020 could be a big night -- that 2022 could be a big night for the Republicans in the House and a bloodbath for the Democrats. Talk about the clowns you`re seeing out there.

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO JOHN MCCAIN & GEORGE W. BUSH : Well, Donald Trump has just set a new bar for Republican candidates, particularly people running for office is become the Trump party and anybody running for office have to meet the litmus test of Donald Trump. So people are clawing their way to the bottom as fast as they can in the party like Kevin McCarthy did today, in order to appeal to and to appease Donald Trump. So what we`re going to see in 2022 is a lot of Donald Trump`s out there running for office. And, you know, we didn`t realize when we named our show, the Circus, how aptly named that would be. We thought it was sort of denigrating politics at the time. But now we see that the real circus has gone out of business, but the political circus is doing better than ever.

WILLIAMS: And Eugene, do you care to predict how these various Junior Trump`s are going to go over? Do you think there is a fervor and a fever right now propelling them all to run for their local congressional seat. But do you think that has staying power the more time goes by and we learn about what transpired these past four years?


ROBINSON: I`ve seen nothing to make me believe, it doesn`t have staying power at this point as long as Donald Trump remains in charge of the Republican Party and the kingmaker.

And so yes, we`re going to have a whole bunch of sort of, you know, Junior Varsity Trump`s out there running and they`re going to win a lot of primaries. And so then the question becomes, how do they do in the general election? And, you know, I would look at those suburban voters who were certainly turned off by Trump and Trumpism in 2020.

And if that`s the way it all plays out, then maybe I`m not feeling as bad as I otherwise might. If I`m the Democrats, and maybe I`m thinking, you know, I`ve got a pretty good shot of holding the House and I`ve got a pretty good shot of picking up some Senate seats if there are a whole bunch of mini Trumps.

WILLIAMS: All right, these two gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. And coming up after this break. Why some Republicans and yes, Ron DeSantis we`re about to mention your name suddenly seem to be so pro vaccine.



DAVID PLOUFFE, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: My strong suspicion is pulling numbers bouncing on Republican circles, saying with a Delta variant raising concern, they`re paying a price for this. I think you`re going to see real erosion with people over 65 who`ve gotten vaccinated, who know it`s safe. Those who are out there peddling these lies. Those who are out there peddling these lies and trying to suggest that the vaccine is not safe or folks don`t need to take it.



WILLIAMS: So the Washington Post also among those noticing what`s going on here. Republican politicians, Fox News anchors are suddenly OK with vaccines, some of them advocating vaccines, that`s a sudden and dramatic change.

Eugene Robinson and Mark McKinnon remain with us. And Mark, this one goes to you. I want to quote David Frum from Twitter tonight, easily the best Canadian exports since Martin Short, he writes, one in five new COVID cases in the U.S. is occurring in Florida. DeSantis signed executive orders to protect vaccine refusers. His fundraising letters attack public health officials, like Dr. Fauci. He appears on Fox regularly to deny and minimize COVID risks. Republicans must be seeing gates of hell COVID polling numbers among suburban women.

Mark McKinnon, not helping them. They`re terrible liars. If you look at DeSantis and Scalise on camera over the past 24 hours trying to pretend like they`re on the staff of the CDC. So what do you think the answer is? Both options are gross, either they have polling, or they`ve realized it`s mostly people dying in red states?

MCKINNON: Well, I think is both Brian. I mean, it`s hitting them right between the eyes and right in the middle of their states. And states, especially that have highly unvaccinated populations. We know now we see the data, almost 100 percent of the people getting sick are unvaccinated populations and largely in red state.

So I mean, everybody`s got their own COVID story, but they`re starting to see loved ones. Like in my family, I have a brother in law right now who didn`t take the vaccine, he`s in the hospital. So more and more people are seeing people they love getting the virus and that`s turning things around. That`s changing mindset is finally changing some opinions on the Republican side of the fence about what to say publicly, thank God.

WILLIAMS: And Eugene, of course, if you`re the president, the staff members around him, the professional staff at the CDC and FDA, you can`t worry about the turnaround in public opinion. You can`t worry about what`s making Republican politicians and Fox News anchors suddenly get out there and sell the vaccine. You have to hope we got up and over 70 percent. And some of these red states get straightened out.

ROBINSON: Absolutely. I think Mark did a great job of explaining the political impact of all this. But I think the administration should be focused on the human life saving impact of all this. So, if Republicans suddenly get religion on the vaccines, because they`re seeing bad polling numbers, great. You know, let them shout it from the rooftops that they posted, get the vaccine, and let`s hope it has an impact, let`s hope people listen to them, get the vaccines, and we don`t have -- we`re not back where we were months ago.

We don`t have a terrible problem. We don`t have an unnecessary deaths. We don`t have families grieving who don`t need to be grieving because of this misinformation that Fox and others have been peddling.

WILLIAMS: It`s so nice to hear candor and straight answers, at least during our hour. And I so appreciate both of these gentlemen, Eugene Robinson and Mark McKinnon have been our guests again tonight. We`ll do it again. Gentlemen, thank you.

Coming up for us an update from a top infectious disease doctor in Florida, as her state sadly leads our nation in new infections.



WILLIAMS: Alabama is one of many states reporting a significant surge now in these new COVID infections. Today a Facebook post from one Alabama physician is getting a lot of attention after a report on Dr. Brittany Cobia works at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham. She wrote quote, I`m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they`re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I`m sorry, but it`s too late.

Florida of course also facing a surge in new cases, Miami Herald reporting the rapid increase has some Florida hospitals, limiting visitors and preparing again for the very worst.

Here to help us is Dr. Aileen Marty, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Florida International in Miami. In the past, she has worked on global medicine with the World Health Organization, among others.

Doctor, I won`t draw you into Florida politics except to say that I`m guessing I join you in welcoming your governor along with his first class education from Yale and Harvard Law School over to the side of vaccines that having been established. Tell us about the situation as you know it in the state of Florida tonight.

DR. AILEEN MARTY, FLORIDA INTL. UNIVERSITY INFECTIOIUS DISEASE PROFESSOR: So in the state of Florida, even though there`s a substantial percentage of people that have had one dose of vaccine, fully vaccinated people constitute about 51 percent of the population overall. And that`s nowhere near the necessary herd immunity.

And what we`re seeing is a real rise in hospitalizations. Just over the last week, we`ve had another 45 percent increase in cases in hospital and the bulk of those cases are people from age 20 to age 39 with more in their 20s than in their 30s.

So this is very grave. It`s absolutely affecting young people. We`re even seeing it in children at higher rates than we ever did before. And while I have not had the experience of the physician from Alabama, my patients do say that they wish they had taken the vaccine because virtually every single one of these people that were hospitalizing with rare exception is someone who is unvaccinated.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, we`re also -- we`re always so fortunate to spend some time with you. This is your life`s work. You`ve worked all over the world. Did you ever dream that the anti-vaxx movement that politics would make the vaccine effort so difficult in the Contrary for us to get up to herd immunity


MARTY: Absolutely not. It boggles my mind when we all just step back and consider the advances in public health, the advances in medicine in the 20th and now the 21st century, it`s incredible what we`re able to do, thanks to primarily things like vaccines. Vaccines have eliminated so much suffering in the world and eradicated two diseases, smallpox and rinderpest from this earth.

They are -- and the vaccines that we use years ago are nowhere near as effective and as safe as the ones we`re using today, including the COVID-19 vaccines. It is unbelievable that there are people -- especially here in the United States, where it`s so easy now for anyone who wants to get a vaccine dose, that they wouldn`t take something that is absolutely to their benefit, to the benefit of their families, to the benefit of our community and to the benefit of our economy.

WILLIAMS: So glad you answered that question that way. And the final question is this, I asked of every physician on this broadcast for the vaccinated, what should be their level of concern about the Delta variant?

MARTY: Yes, that`s a really serious issue. It really, you have to do it individually, you have to look at whether or not that vaccinated person has any reason, any medication that they may be taking, or an age related reason why they may not have that highest possible level of protection.

For those individuals in particular, they have to absolutely be wearing masks in indoor spaces. And all of us even if we are relatively young and healthy, I kind of think I`m still on the young end, if we -- if we`re fully vaccinated, but we`re going to have to be in an indoor space that`s that unventilated and crowded for a length of time is wise to go ahead and use a mask in that point.

Because really, it`s always best to layer your protections. This new variant is far more infectious, the infectious dose is less, which means you need less time exposed in order to get a high volume that`s going to potentially overwhelm the protection to have no single public health measure is 100 percent. Layer your protections when it`s appropriate.

WILLIAMS: Another great and clear answer and thank you for a doctor, we`re always so appreciative to be able to spend a few minutes with you, especially after knowing something about the workdays you`re spending on the job now. Dr. Eileen Marty joining us from Florida tonight with our thanks.

Another break for us and coming up, opening ceremony two nights away now. But the Olympic Games are actually and already underway, except for the roar of the crowd.



WILLIAMS: Preliminary events finally underway for the Summer Olympic Games that were remember supposed to kick off a year ago this week. But the pandemic that led to their postponement still looms large. There`s nearly any fans in the stands at all, more athletes are testing positive. There`s lingering concern about last minute cancellations still. Our update from Tokyo tonight from NBC News correspondent Tom Llamas.


TOM LLAMAS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For five years the U.S. women`s soccer team has been thinking about this game. Ever since Sweden knocked them out in Rio. It was not the result they wanted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweden are taking Team USA apart here in Tokyo.

LLAMAS: A stunning three nothing loss.

MEGAN RAPINOE, AMERICAN FOOTBALL PLAYER: We know this wasn`t our best. I think we beat ourselves a lot.

LLAMAS: The U.S. softball team starting stronger with games getting underway in Fukushima, topping Italy two nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just pure excitement, excitement to finally be back on the stage and get it going for us.

LLAMAS: With the opening ceremony two days away, Japanese jets practice writing Olympic rings in the sky. And Team USA chose its flag bears. For the first time, there will be two, baseball player Eddie Alvarez who already has a silver medal in speedskating. And WNBA Sue Bird.

(on camera): For you, what does that flag represent during this pandemic?

SUE BIRD, AMERICAN BASKETBALL PLAYER: As an athlete, I`m just always wanting our country to be better. So when I hold that flag, that`s really what it`s going to represent to me.

LLAMAS (voice-over): But it`s heartbreak for another American. Beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb testing positive for COVID. Infections here up 150 percent from last week, more than 1,800 new cases on Wednesday. To stay safe, triathlete Katie Zaferes is training on her balcony in the Athletes Village.

KATIE ZAFERES, U.S. TRIATHLETE TEAM: It`s really nice to just feel united with all the other countries that are here and just seeing everybody come together in a safe way during COVID is just really exciting to see that we can do this we can pull it off.

LLAMAS (on camera): And we`ve learned even though there won`t be any spectators at the opening ceremony, there will be athletes, about 40 percent of Team USA will be there. That`s more than 230 U.S. Olympians.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Tom Llamas over in Tokyo for that. Coming up so, the games won`t look like any other Olympics but we do have a reminder of what they`re supposed to be all about.



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, let`s talk honestly about the Olympics things that you`re probably not going to hear much of during the coverage. Much of the world is shocked at Japan`s pandemic response. They are ready in every other way. They spend billions on seating and venues that will now be expensive vacant caverns because the virus is spiking there and out of control. Watching the games will feel different and perhaps even be tensed with sadness, which is why the Olympic Committee offers us this to remind us what the games are supposed to be all about.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 100 years later --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Agnes Keleti of Hungary for the wonderful display of skills.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- a life an Olympian and in her century, what did Agnes see? Agnes saw a light a light. A light that helped illuminate the entire world. She saw the grandson of slaves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) just made history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Redefine freedom. She saw the mother of two.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prove that anyone can fly. And she saw a man with no shoes. Teach the world how to run. She saw generation after generation stand and watch their differences disappear like shadows in the noonday sun.

And now, she sees a new generation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sky Brown, one of the youngest Olympians of all time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Full of hope running towards their century. A generation who sees the same light Agnes saw. A generation who knows. Together we`re stronger than the darkness can ever be.


WILLIAMS: The International Olympic Committee to take us off the air tonight. And so that is our broadcast for this Wednesday evening with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.