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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 7/26/21

Guests: Chuck Rosenberg, Martha Whyte, David Plouffe, Stuart Stevens


Speaker Nancy Pelosi adds GOP Rep. Kinzinger to January 6 Select Committee. Veterans Affairs is first federal agency to mandate COVID vaccines for health care workers. California and New York City will require vaccines for workers. Tom Barrack, Trump ally, pleads not guilty to illegal lobbying. COVID hospitalizations surge in Louisiana. The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot will hold its first hearing Tuesday. Biden is under pressure on voting rights. Democrats fight for voting rights as GOP pushes restrictive laws. Texas Dems remains in D.C. to fight for voting rights.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Barb McQuade, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

And a programming note we will be joined tomorrow night at this hour by Congressman Jamie Raskin. He is a member of that committee. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, once again, I`m Chris Jansing in for Brian Williams. Day 188 of the Biden administration. We are now just hours away from the first hearing for the bipartisan House Select Committee to investigate the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The hearing will play out in this room on the Hill. Tonight Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi writes in an opinion piece for The Washington Post, "when it comes to the security of the Capitol and our democracy, nothing will be off limits. We will do what is necessary to understand what happened, why and how. And we will make recommendations to help ensure it never happens again."

The first witnesses will be police officers who suffered vicious assaults as they sought to protect the complex and lawmakers on that day. Speaker Pelosi has appointed Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois to join Republican Liz Cheney and seven Democrats to investigate the attack by Trump`s supporters who wanted to stop the democratic process of certifying President Joe Biden`s win. Both Cheney and Kinzinger voted in favor of impeaching Trump following the riot, and were the only Republican members to support the committee`s formation last month. Today House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy mocks the two members of his caucus for agreeing to be part of the panel.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Republicans have been saying that -- the GOP should play ball on this committee -- you could get to three.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA MINORITY LEADER: Really? Who was that, Adam and Liz? Aren`t they kind of like Pelosi Republicans?


JANSING: Well, here`s how Adam Kinzinger responded to that.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R) ILLINOIS: It`s childish. We`re doing big things right now. We`re getting to the answers of the worst attack on the Capitol since the war of 1812. They can call me whatever names you want. And I just believe that, you know, bottom line, I`m an elected member of Congress. I`m a Republican.


JANSING: All this comes in the wake of how Speaker Pelosi rejecting two of McCarthy`s original picks for the committee Republican Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. McCarthy then removed all of his picks from the committee. Tonight, he tried to introduce a resolution demanding Pelosi seat all five of his original choices. Of course, it went nowhere and the democratic controlled house.

Meanwhile, the explosive growth of the Delta variant is driving up COVID cases across the nation. The CDC`s latest data shows the rate of transmission accelerating in most counties. Areas in red on this map indicate the highest levels of infection. Low vaccination rates have also fueled the surge and today we saw the first announcements of vaccine mandates. The Department of Veterans Affairs is the first federal agency to require frontline health care workers to receive the vaccine. California will now require all state employees and onsite public and private health care workers to be vaccinated or face at least weekly testing. And New York City today announced the same rule for all municipal employees. Both New York City`s mayor and California Governor`s say these requirements are the key to protecting hard won gains.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: We don`t want to wait until we`re overwhelmed in ICUs. We don`t wait until 1000s and 1000s of more California to die of a virus where they simply could save their lives by getting a simple vaccine shot.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK: This is about our recovery. This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City.


JANSING: Tonight Politico reports the Justice Department says federal law doesn`t stop private businesses or public agencies for mandating COVID vaccines. Political also reports White House officials are considering whether to recommend that states and communities with low vaccination rates reimpose mass mandates particularly indoors, the administration is keeping in place restrictions on international travel into the U.S.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world, driven by the Delta variant cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.


JANSING: There are also new developments in another story that we`ve been following, Trump ally and former inaugural Chairman Tom Barrack, appeared in federal court today where he pleaded not guilty to charges that he secretly lobbied the United States on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. He was arrested last Tuesday in Los Angeles and was released on bail on Friday on a staggering $250 million bond.


With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Monday night, Peter Baker, the Veteran Journalist and Author, he is Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS Newshour and Moderator of Washington Week also on PBS, and Chuck Rosenberg, a Justice Department Veteran, former U.S. attorney and a former Senior FBI official, he is also host of the MSNBC podcast, The Oath.

Good to have you all here on a Monday night. Peter Baker, as this first hearing of the January 6 committee gets underway tomorrow, what are you going to be watching for, listening for?

PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the dynamics of seeing a committee with of course, seven Democrats and two Republicans not chosen by the Republican leadership will be the dominant, you know, they were in Washington, we watching the body language, we`ll be watching how they conduct themselves. He was watching how the Republicans, you know, work in concert with the Democrats or not as the case may be.

And obviously, this -- by bringing in the police officers to testify at the beginning, they`re establishing the seriousness of the issue, right kind of puncher, the mythology that some Republicans are trying to create that this was really just a protest that got a little out of hand at this, really not that different than, you know, normal tourist occasion at the White House - - at the Capitol, and so forth. I think all eyes are going to be on Liz Cheney, and Adam Kinzinger, to see how they fit into this committee and what that means for the future of consensus view of what happened rather than a partisan show for the cameras.

JANSING: What is, Yamiche, that the image that the White House is looking for to come out of this?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s interesting, because the White House is essentially saying that, that President Biden has the same goal as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and that is to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, to understand who was involved, to understand what could have -- what was probably happening before January 6, who may have given some of these interactions, these people who broke into the U.S. Capitol, some sort of map and plan. And also, of course, what was the president doing and former President Trump and what liabilities are there? So there`s a lot of things that the White House is watching for, but White House officials also say that President Biden, well, of course, he`s going to be looking at news clips, and he`s going to be looking to see what these police officers say tomorrow. They also say that he`s really focused on COVID. And on getting the infrastructure deal done. So in some ways, they`re trying to say that, yes, the President is very interested in of course, seeing justice done and more details about January 6 but they`re also pretty clear that they don`t want this to dominate his agenda. So I think that that`s a really interesting point from the White House, and that they`re not trying to really lean in too hard on what`s happening on the Hill. But of course, it`s going to be riveting testimony, because there`s going to be these officers talking in detail. But how violent that day was, as Republicans have painted, have tried to paint it as a loving crowd in a tourist visit.

JANSING: Yeah. And here`s what we heard earlier today. In fact, it was this evening from January 6 committee member, Adam Schiff.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA JAN. 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Our role is going to be to fully uncover the facts. What is it that people did at that rally to instigate violence, many of them went to that rally fully planning to do violence. We`re at a different place in our country`s history right now than we were on 9/11. It`s a much more polarized country, our information is more vulcanized. So in that respect, the job of our committee is going to be more difficult than it has in the past.


JANSING: But Chuck, the original kind of model for this 911 was the 9/11 commission, right? We do, of course, now have a very different kind of panel. Are you concerned about whether this committee will be able to really come up with a kind of report both in terms of getting to the bottom of what happened, but very importantly, taking a look at how we can make sure this never happens again?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, you`re right, Chris, the 9/11 Commission was a model. It was created by an act of Congress signed by the president in November of 2002. And the really interesting thing about it was that it would consist of 10 people, five chosen by Republican leaders, five chosen by Democratic leaders. And if you read the preface to the 9/11 commission report, what they say is rather remarkable that they came together, though they had different points of view and different opinions, and wrote a single report, no Minority Report, no dissent. 10 people unanimously agreed to a complex set of facts and a complex set of recommendations. They came together at a time and this is a quote from the preface of the 9/11 Commission report at a time of great partisan divide.

And so what I would like to see and believe it or not, I`m going to finally answer your question from the from the January 6 committee is the same thing that we put aside politics because what happen happened on January 6, was too big and too important for us to take a partisan approach. I wish we could do what the 9/11 Commission did. I wish we had 10 people who could come together, Republicans and Democrats, and write a single report. I doubt that will happen.


JANSING: Well, I guess key to that, obviously, Yamiche, is who`s going to testify, obviously, beyond those, what we know will be the riveting testimony of those four officers. And we heard Bennie Thompson from him in writing that op-ed tonight saying, look, nothing is off limits. And I guess that begs the question, what exactly does that mean, Yamiche?

ALCINDOR: Well, it`s a good question, because I was on the White House lawn today in the Rose Garden, talking specifically to house majority leader Steny Hoyer about that. That exact topic. Now, of course, he isn`t on the committee, but he essentially said Democrats want to talk to people who were in the room with President Trump that would of course, would include people like Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows that would include his children, that would include other White House officials. Of course, lawmakers like Jim Jordan Powell, Kevin McCarthy, who House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who my reporting and others reporting shows was on the phone with President Trump as president Trump, former President Trump was watching TV and liking in some part what he was seeing Kevin McCarthy was yelling at him to do more.

All of those players are people that that Democrats might want to call. But I will say I`ve been talking to some Democrats about this, and then getting some interesting reporting, which is that they`re also worried about executive privilege. And that meaning that when there are people that are so close to the President, like his chief of staff, there`s a worry that this could set a precedent so that if, let`s say Republicans are in charge of the House, and they decide that they want to subpoena Ron Klain, the white the current White House Chief of Staff, there`s a feeling there on the on the part of some Democrats that you want to be able to claim executive privilege. That`s what a lot of these White House officials are going to try to do. Former White House officials from the Trump administration, but there are some Democrats cautioning that if you start - - have you started interviewing and forcing executives to testify who were former -- who are working for a White House that could backfire on Democrats coming in the days forward, in the years forward.

JANSING: Complicated stuff that`s going to be happening on the Hill, Peter, but in the meantime, Politico is reporting on the White House considering a masked mandate for some states, "officials are split on the merits of issuing new federal guidelines, with some fearing they will be politicized and embolden new Republican attacks. This camp believes recommending proof of vaccination would raise the specter of vaccine passports and increasingly potent conservative talking point, and alienated stigmatized portions of the country where individuals have chosen not to get the shot. And they fear calls to reimpose mask mandates will be futile."

So, look, we`re already seeing some, beginning to see a few, Peter, of these mandates. But how much is writing seriously for this White House on what steps it decides to take as it tries to reverse this surge?

BAKER: Well, certainly a lot is riding on it, obviously, first of all, the health of the country, we`re seeing these cases rising rather dramatically the Delta variants so much more contagious than the original virus. And that`s obviously as the President said, you know, a pandemic or the unvaccinated, the map you showed earlier shows just what parts of the country are most affected right now and other parts of the country where the vaccine rates are lower. There is some evidence in the last few days that this has begun to scare people who are resistant to the vaccine, that you saw the numbers of people actually turning up to get shots starting to go back up again, in the last few days, as they see the risk rising in their own communities. So it`s possible that that begins to change some of the attitudes among those who have been hesitant or resistant. But I think the problem with mass mandates right now, as we`ve seen is that articles cite is they are seen as very partisan at this point. Whether it should be or not, the idea of mask, the idea vaccines have now become part of our partisan divide. It`s rather extraordinary, because it`s about public health, not about ideology. But in fact, at this point, people see things through the lens of whose side you`re on and you`re part of this tribe or that tribe. And so mask mandates may be reimposed certain parts of country are obviously already beginning to talk about them. But I think that there`s going to be enormous resistance among the people who you most worry about those who are already not vaccinated.

JANSING: So those decisions have to be made. And on the Hill, they`re trying to make decision, Yamiche, even as we speak, about what the heck to do about this bipartisan infrastructure bill. I mean, it was weeks ago, that Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators came out, they announced, look, it looks like we`re going to have a deal here. Now they`re having some problems. And I`ve been reading all the reporting on it, it ranges from -- it could collapse to Jen Psaki saying earlier today. Well, it`s kind of wrangling at the end of the process. So what do we know, Yamiche, about what`s really going on here?

ALCINDOR: Well, it is sort of back and forth. Every week is infrastructure week, right?

JANSING: With number 42 of infrastructure week.


ALCINDOR: Right. When I talked to White House officials, they told me that they`re very confident that this is still on track this bipartisan infrastructure deal will come through. Now, of course, they say caveats. Everything could fall apart. But they say overall, the White House as well as Democrats on the Hill feel pretty confident. They also say that while there are some back and forth on the pay for us, including, of course, transportation, and kind of how they`re actually going to pay for all of this bill, there is this feeling of White House officials tell me that we are starting to hear notes from Republicans public knows, which is what happened. There was an offer made on Sunday was rejected today, but by some Republicans, that is, it means that you`re closer to the end. Now, whether or not I by that reasoning, is I think, a little shaky. But the point is that the White House is signaling, hey, even white as you leak out. And we`re -- and you hear the details of the last minute things that are being now this is all sort of on track. That, of course, they`re still trying to do this two track system where there`s the bipartisan deal. And then there`s the reconciliation deal that`s always supported by Democrats. We`ll just have to watch and see if they can really pull this off.

JANSING: Yeah. And our health team is reporting that there are still some phone calls that were going on late tonight. So we`ll see if we hear anything by the morning.

Meantime, Chuck Rosenberg, we saw Tom Barrack in court today. He`s predicting we`re going to see over time that he is 100% innocent. Where`s this case going? What do you think his defense might look like?

ROSENBERG: Well, I doubt he`s 100% innocent, Chris, because I read the indictment. And it`s pretty compelling. The government seems to have a bunch of emails and text messages to and from Tom Barrack, in which he is working on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, something that he didn`t disclose something for which he failed to register as an agent of a foreign government.

So what happens now, between now and the next court date is in early September, the government will be providing discovery to the defendants, that`s their obligation under the law. There may well be pre-trial discussions about resolving the case. I wouldn`t be shocked, but I wish I had $1 for every defendant who was 100% innocent on the day of their arraignment, because that`s not the way it tends to turn out at the end.

JANSING: You know, a lot has been made, obviously, Chuck, this $250 million. Does that tell us more about how rich he is or about how serious these charges are?

ROSENBERG: It says quite a bit about how rich he is. Remember, judges don`t have complete discretion to set pre-trial release conditions, Chris, they`re guided by statute. And the statute says that you have to set the least restrictive set of conditions that would reasonably assure that the defendant will show up. So with Tom Barrack, it`s not a crime of violence. He doesn`t have a criminal record. He does have a foreign passport. He has some incentive to flee but frankly, by setting a bond to $250 million, that`s greatly diminished. So, you know, it`s a lot of money. It says a lot about how much dough he has. It says less about the strength of the case. But again, read the indictment. It`s pretty darn strong.

JANSING: Chuck Rosenberg, always a pleasure. Peter Baker, Yamiche Alcindor, thanks to all of you.

And coming up, she`s not just battling COVID, a tough public health official in Louisiana is also going up against people who believe the vaccine is part of a government plot. I`ll ask her how that fight is going.

And later, new reporting on the key role Republican Congressman Liz Cheney will play into tomorrow`s bipartisan hearing on January 6. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Monday night.



JANSING: The headline in today`s New Orleans newspaper is pretty self- explanatory. No room at our inn. In this case, inn is a hospital and the numbers tell the devastating story. Only 41% of Louisiana`s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, 37% are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the country. At the same time, cases have surged more than 170% in the past two weeks, a dramatic influx of COVID patients that`s forced one of the state`s largest hospitals to stall non-emergency surgeries.

My next guest is a top public health official in the northwest corner of Louisiana, who says vaccine misinformation has public health workers feeling stuck. The New York Times reports, "Facing deep mistrust that has been stoked by conservative news outlets and lawmakers and by rampant misinformation online, local health officials like Dr. Martha Whyte are fighting for influence when the only sure strategy for beating back the virus is getting more people vaccinated." Dr. Whyte considers herself a target at a time when many public health officials around the country have resigned or been fired during a pandemic.

We are pleased to welcome to the broadcast the aforementioned, Dr. Martha Whyte. She is the Medical Director for Region Seven at the Louisiana Department of Health. We so appreciate you staying up with us. We know this is a very busy time for you. And I know you know that the state recorded and additional 6,225 new cases since Friday. That`s one of the largest case counts since the pandemic began. So Doctor, what`s your view of the situation there tonight?

DR. MARTHA WHYTE, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH REGIONAL MEDICAL DIRECTOR: We do feel stuck. We feel like we`ve been working around the clock to try to get people vaccinated. I don`t believe it`s an idea of access. I believe it`s an issue of the people who have wanted to be vaccinated have been vaccinated. So now we`re having to try to meet people where they are and figure out what their hesitancy is. And that runs a variety of issues.

JANSING: So how much of that hesitancy do you say, OK, I understand this and let`s talk it through. And how much of it is just crazy town? And what are some of the things you`re hearing that are just out there, that it`s kind of hard to talk people back from?

WHYTE: So I think that it`s really both you have some that have historical fears. You have some people who have just general fears of medicine and medical procedures, needles, and then you have people who have heard all kinds of rumors on TikTok, in the internet, social media that have led them to really think that this is a government overreach or an issue that they don`t want to take this into their system, perhaps it`s going to change their DNA, things like that.


JANSING: And when somebody says to you something like that, well, I understand it`s going to change my DNA, can you have success, telling them what the facts are, I know you`ve stood up in meetings and, and people are angry, and they really do feel that somehow the medical profession is instead of trying to keep them safe out to get them?

WHYTE: So it really depends on the person, some people have really dug in their heels. And it`s really hard to reach them. I think you have to keep that approach slow and cautiously. Talk to them when they`re at their limit with you then need to take a step away and come back another day and talk to them again. There are some people who will listen that you can talk through the truth about the vaccine, how it works, that it is a messenger RNA, it doesn`t embed in your DNA, it`s not gene therapy, and you can get them to understand and enable even agreed to get vaccinated.

JANSING: How are you holding up? I mean, I can`t imagine that this is anything but at times incredibly demoralizing. I think it was the head of your state health department who said that the state has lost all the progress that it`s made?

WHYTE: You know, I feel the same way it is -- it`s very disheartening, you work every day, we have a strong team, and they`ve really put in just working every day, multiple hours a day, seven days a week. And we thought we were coming towards the end of those type of hours. And it feels like we`re getting right back into them. You know, I -- my husband was on event for two months. At the same time, I was doing all of that, and so I have a lot of fear of going back to those days, again where no sleeping and a lot of concern about our communities.

JANSING: And your husband`s OK now? He is, he still has some post-COVID syndrome, like a lot of people do. But he`s a miracle. And we`re thankful he`s here.

JANSING: Well, and then -- and you`re still going to work every day, in spite of the fact that you say you feel like you`re a target. And I was thinking about the doctor who wrote about the patients who were dying, and then begged her for a vaccine. And she said, she had to say to them, it`s too late. And she was getting death threats. She felt like she was literally physically a target. What did you mean, when you said you feel like you`re a target?

WHYTE: We know for the first time I stood two feet in front of women who were cursing me and calling me names in the middle of a city council meeting. And I had to turn my back to them. And you feel very at risk. They -- you know, I had a lot of people who were protecting me, but it`s still you can feel that aggression, it`s very palpable right now. And I feel like people have fear, they`re afraid to go back to where we were. But they need to understand that they`re in charge of how we move through this pandemic. We, right now, are in charge of how we move forward. If we do the right things, the things that we know work, we can move through this a lot more smoothly, if we don`t it`s going to be a bumpy ride.

JANSING: I hope people are listening to what you have to say. This is within our control. We know how to fix this. Dr. Whyte, thank you for all you do and thank you for being willing in spite of everything to stand up and speak out. We do appreciate it.

WHYTE: Thank you for having me.

JANSING: And coming up what Republican Congressman Liz Cheney is saying about the January 6 hearing just hours before it gets underway when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It`s really an opportunity to remind everybody about the necessity of accountability for what happened


JANSING: On the decision to name two Republicans to the Select Committee investigating the assault on the U.S. Capitol, The Washington Post puts it this way. The move is intended to present the committee as a bipartisan effort following Republican leadership`s decision not to participate in the panel after Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week rejected to have Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy`s picks for the panel.

Back with us again tonight. David Plouffe, former Obama campaign manager and senior adviser to the President. He`s also on the board of directors for the Obama foundation. And Stuart Stevens, a veteran of Mitt Romney and George W. Bush`s presidential campaigns. He is now with the Lincoln Project. Good to see you, gentlemen.

So David Plouffe, Liz Cheney gets a prime speaking role tomorrow. Adam Kinzinger puts out a statement he says he is a Republican dedicated to conservative values, but he also swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. And then, you know, you`ve got Kevin McCarthy dismissing them as Pelosi Republicans. Does their presence David send a message of real bipartisanship?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I think it does, Chris. I mean, I think for the foreseeable future, the lines in our politics are no longer Republican versus Democrat. It`s pro-democracy versus pro-autocracy.

So, you know, Cheney, Kissinger, these are still Republicans, but they`re putting the fight for democracy first. Stuart and the folks at the Lincoln Project represent that as well. And I think the elections of `22 and `24, maybe even `26. It`s going to take everybody who can disagree about a lot of things foreign policy, tax cuts, health care to say the one thing we agree on, is that democracy is worth fighting for and saving.

And so that`s why I think them being not just on the committee, but given a primetime speaking slot. I think they`ll be I don`t know how many people are going to watch the hearings, you know, in real time, but these clips will be bouncing around social media. And, you know, my hope is they get heavy digestion.

JANSING: And I think to the point, Stuart, that David makes about line shifting. I mean Republicans used to consider themselves the party of law and order.


When you have four police officers in the midst of and targets of violence on January 6, who are going to sit there. They`re going to talk about what happened to them. Does that beg the question? What does it stand for now?

STUART STEVENS, THE LINCOLN PROJECT SENIOR ADVISER: Well, look, was exactly this train of thought that brought me to call the book that I wrote about the Republican Party, it was all a lie. Because I don`t know how you square that. How can you be the party of law and order? I mean, I must have made 1,000 more one or two spots over the last 30 years.

I believed it. I mean, I feel like the guy who`s working for Bernie Madoff actually thought we were beating the market. I thought the party meant this.

JANSING: When did they stop? When did they stop?

STEVENS: It`s a very good question. I think the turning point for the party was December of 2015 when Trump came out for a Muslim ban, which is clearly unconstitutional, and the party didn`t do anything. Once you let that happen, if the party stands for anything, it has to stand for the Constitution. And the party just looked the other way. And then it was just exactly what happened. We said happened with terrorists. We can negotiate with terrorists, you end up completely losing any moral ground. And that`s what`s happened to the Republican Party. It`s a complete moral collapse.

And David`s right, it`s about democracy versus autocracy. And he and I went up against each other over the years and stuff we argued about seems almost quaint now, like, capital gains tax, really, I mean, we`re going to care about that versus like, are we going to have free elections, where people believe that the outcome of the election is truthful. The Republican Party won`t admit that President Biden`s legally elected president, we live in a country.

JANSING: I mean, David, you have these two Republican members who felt it was necessary to point out that they were doing their constitutional duty. I mean, being a Republican, being a member of Congress, who stands by the Constitution was supposed to be a base minimum requirement. David, is it now an act of bravery?

PLOUFFE: Sadly, I think it is. And it is, of course, tragic, that it`s only two. But, you know, the road to recovery has to start somewhere. And the sun will come out for both of these members tomorrow the day after that, the day after that.

JANSING: Will they -- do they survive this, David?

PLOUFFE: Well, here`s the -- they`re putting their country first. I mean, yes, they could both lose primaries. And I think their view is, that would be a price well worth paying. That`s the thing I don`t understand. There`s so many Republicans in Congress, the thing they fear most in their entire life, it seems, is to lose a primary.

And know that, Stuart knows this, these people who run for office from the first place they have high aspirations. There are things believe in, there`s things they want to do, whether it`s on the economy or foreign policy, or health care.

But right now, the single thing that unites them is a fear of the Trump MAGA base. And fear of losing primary. So I think these two members deserve enormous credit that we can say it`s a low bar, but in today`s Republican Party, they have passed it, and the country owes them an enormous debt of gratitude for the service they`re providing in her protection. And I think democracy right now is hanging by as thin as thread it really ever has in our nation`s history.

JANSING: And so Stuart, your group the Lincoln Project is putting out a new ad tomorrow, we want to play a little piece of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who funds the politicians trying to cover up the assault on America`s capital? Who fills the bank accounts of groups fighting to restrict minority voting rights? Some of the leaders of the most respected and successful companies in America, companies will love their own diversity efforts evangelize their devotion to inclusion and extol their purported virtue and integrity, companies led by people like Stephen Schwarzman, he gave over $40 million to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the GOP machine helping finance the very structure that led to the murderous violence on January 6.


JANSING: So Stuart, what are you hoping to accomplish with this latest spot?

STEVENS: Well, look, you know, you hear a lot about the propagandists of this autocracy movement, which is Fox, and that whole ecosphere of sort of a palace of lies. This doesn`t work without money. And what`s critical here is that people who are business leaders understand what is at stake here.

These are people who have flourished and benefited tremendously from the system we have, and they have to wake up and realize that it doesn`t have to be this way. It was called the American experiment because it was an experiment and ask themselves, but they rather be a CEO in America today are CEO in Russia today.


How`s that going to work out and that`s what you have to fight for. And they have to quit funding these people who are fundamentally against the vision of a pluralistic democracy in America.

JANSING: Both gentlemen are staying with us. So we have a lot more to talk about tonight. Coming up. The reports of growing alarm among Democrats over GOP led efforts to prevent certain people from going to the polls when THE 11TH HOUR continues.





JASMINE CROCKETT (D), TEXAS STATE HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES: What we have done is we have raised the awareness and hopefully raise the consciousness in this country as it relates to voting. So I`m excited thus far for what we`ve done. But obviously we came here with one goal in mind if I can then stop until we get the oversight that we need. So the win that we`re looking for is federal oversight because Texas has to be told time and time again. You are intentionally discriminating.


JANSING: One of the Texas Democrats still in Washington at the start of a consequential week ahead of next week scheduled congressional recess. There is mounting pressure to get something done on the stalled federal voting rights legislation. And President Biden`s infrastructure agenda appears to be on shaky ground tonight.

As POLITICO put it, bipartisan infrastructure negotiations entered their darkest phase in more than a month today.

Still with us, David Plouffe and Stuart Stevens. So David, Charles Blow writes this in the Washington Post today, it is important to recognize that Biden has consciously chosen not to use the full force of the bully pulpit to explicitly and repeatedly call for the protection of voting rights and therefore our democracy by any and all means necessary, including the elimination of the filibuster, fair criticism.

PLOUFFE: Well, listen, this is largely good in the inside game and it`s about getting 50 Democratic senators and Manchin and Sinema being the two key players here to a degree they`re not going to get rid of the filibuster.


But will they do a carve out around voting rights to protect our democracy? And I think that`s where this is headed. And I think the key thing is --

JANSING: But has the President done enough? Has the President done enough?

PLOUFFE: Well, I think he has. And I think he`ll do more. I think the most important things you do are probably things that none of us are witness to their conversations and their calls with Democrats on Capitol Hill, to make sure because here`s what you have to do, you have to use every lever, some of that`s legislative, some of that will be oversight, some of that will be lawsuits.

But let`s not forget, as insidious as all this is making it harder for people to vote. And I think what`s pretty clear, there`s a lot of Republicans today, not all, but a lot of Republicans who don`t think black votes should count the same as white votes. And this is all about the acquisition and the retention of power by any means necessary. They never want to relinquish it again.

But what`s happening, there was a report in Georgia today, Chris, that state Republican legislators want to take away election authority from Fulton County. So all the like making your harder register, getting rid of early voting hours, is a pourraient. It is so anti-American, anti- democratic. But they want to change the rules.

So at the end of the day, Congress has to act or you`re waving a white flag that says all this stuff`s OK. And we can just out organize our way. But that`s not where we are. This is an existential threat.

JANSING: And POLITICO has been reporting on how Democrats simply store have been doing the math. Take for example, Georgia, where voter ID law could impact 270,000 voters in a state that Biden only one by 12,000. From a purely political point of view, how worried about these new voting laws? Should Democrats be added these midterms?

STEVENS: Well, we ought to be tremendously worried. And I think David`s right there, what the President is doing. The Democratic Party is still a governing party, and a lot of governing stuff that takes place, but we don`t see it. And I hope that this gets passed, because some sort of federal intervention here to standardize these laws, because this is about making it harder for people to vote.

I mean, everything that happened on January 6 was really about taking away African American votes for the most part, all of those votes, and they call it illegal. But funny how they were, right? They were like in these inner cities where all this stuff was supposed to happen. And it really was nothing about trying to disqualify a large number of African American voters, and this post-election flurry of legislation that have been passed. It`s all about that. And people have to realize that they have to fight back.

JANSING: Couple of other things I want to get to David. Today was supposed to be the day that that bipartisan infrastructure deal got done instead appears to be a little bit in limbo, although our Hill team is reporting that Chuck Schumer threatened to keep the senators into the weekend, and that seems to be giving talks a little jolt. But you know how negotiations go. So here`s my question, the longer they drag on is that the more that gets done, or the more time for it all goes south.

PLOUFFE: Yes, it can appear super ugly from the outside, Chris. Yes, I`ve been part of these negotiations both in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Stuart`s been around for a long time.

There`s always this moment at the 11th and a half hour where it looks like all hope is lost. But I think given the fact that you had such a public display of bipartisanship, you had members of both parties saying they`re going to get this done, they`ll find a way I think.

And right, Schumer threatening to keep everybody in Washington. By the way, I`d like to see that not just for infrastructure, but for progress on voting rights. The country is in grave peril right now. So I`m not natural now at the time for any recesses

But that`ll be an effective stick with some of these folks, but I think it`s going to get done. This happens time and time again. You announced that you have the contours of an agreement. It looks like at the very end, it may fall apart. I just think there`s so much momentum here. Everybody`s got a lot riding on this, though, that came out in support of it outside of the White House a few weeks ago. So I think they`ll find a way to get it done.

JANSING: And then our last minute Stuart Stevens tonight the former President gave his endorsement to Ken Paxton in the race for Texas Attorney General. That is an endorsement George P. Bush tried and tried and tried some might say all but sold his soul for. Here we go, right the risks of seeking Trump`s approval.

STEVENS: Yes, this is -- for those of us who work the Bushes, this is just painful beyond expression. I know I believe anyway, that they`ll come a moment when George B. greatly regrets this. You can`t -- you can never give enough. And that`s what we always knew.


And you have to say no and you have to stand for something other than election. And I hope this serves again is a lesson of where you get when you try to appease someone who`s basically a terrorist. Next, Donald Trump.

JANSING: Stuart Stevens, David Plouffe, thank you guys. Appreciate it.

The quiet protests by Olympic athletes in Tokyo hoping to make headlines through their excellence, not their outfits, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


JANSING: Controversy has erupted at the Olympics over uniforms. Many critics slam for exploiting sexuality. Protests for female athletes highlight the ongoing issue of gender equity. Our report from NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk in Tokyo.


STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight female athletes say they want the focus to be on what they do, not what they wear. The Norwegian women`s beach handball team was recently slapped with a $1,500 fine for refusing to play in the regulation bikini bottoms during a tournament, opting instead for elastic shorts.

Now popstar Pink is offering to pay the fine saying she`s very proud of the team for protesting the very sexist rules about their uniform.

At the Olympics, the German women`s gymnastics team sent a similar message wearing full unit hard stretching to their ankles during the qualifiers. Instead of the typical bikini cut leotards.

In recent years there`s been a push to avoid sexualization and gender stereotyping at the Olympics.

YIANNIS EXARCHOS, OLYMPIC BROADCASTING SERVICES CEO: You will not see more coverage from things that we have been seen in the past you know with details and close up in parts of the body or elements that really speak about sexuality.

GOSK: It wasn`t until 1952 that females made up more than 10 percent of the competitors. Now of the 11,000 athletes in Tokyo nearly half are women and they`re able to compete in more sports than ever before.


So while many strides have been made clearly when it comes to gender equity, there`s still a distance to go. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, Tokyo.


JANSING: More of THE 11TH HOUR after a quick break.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Is it your plan to call the former president to testify? Or he even his former chief of staff?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, let me say nothing is off limits. We`ll follow the facts. On the meetings we`ve had with the members of this committee, they have all said wherever the facts and I investigation lead us, that`s where we`ll go. So nothing sacred.


JANSING: And the last thing before we go tonight, tomorrow morning, the investigation into the violence of January sixth gets underway. This evening, California Congressman Adam Schiff talked about what`s at stake.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This was ultimately an attack on the capital motivated by people who could not accept losing an election and made the decision that they would use violence to achieve a political object that they can`t at the ballot box. And that danger to our democracy is one we`re going to have to address and it will be part of the scope of what we look at. But that`s a big important question for the whole country that we`re going to have to wrestle with.



JANSING: Andrea Mitchell and Hallie Jackson will be here as the Select Committee to investigate the attack holds its first hearing. Special conference begins just hours from now at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on MSNBC.

And that is our broadcast for this Monday night with our thanks for being with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the network`s NBC News, good night.