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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 7/28/21

Guests: Kavita Patel, Luis Medina-Garcia, Matthew Dowd


Seventeen Republicans joined all Senate Democrats in voting to move forward on a procedural motion to debate a bipartisan infrastructure bill announced earlier. GOP Rep. Chip Roy blasts return of House mask mandate. White House is expected to set vaccine mandate for federal workers. GOP criticizes health officials for changing guidance. Nevada COVID cases and hospitalizations surge. Growing number of Republicans urge vaccinations amid Delta surge. A major infrastructure package passed a key test vote in the Senate, just hours after a bipartisan working group announced a deal after more than a month of negotiating. Trump endorses Texas A.G. Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Republican primary.


SERGEANT AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: But for me I wasn`t even thinking about it. I`m there to stop them. Regardless, I`m not thinking what they were yelling in terms of my skin color or my race, and I know on American soil, former soldier and a police officer. I didn`t take that into account when I was defending all of you guys.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Sergeant Aquilino Gonell gets 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 190 of the Biden administration. And there`s been a major breakthrough tonight on a key Biden agenda item. The Senate voted to begin debate on a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package by a vote of 67 to 32 exactly one week after it failed to pass.

It marks a rare example of bipartisanship in Washington, 17 Republicans including their Leader Mitch McConnell, joined all 50 Democrats in advancing the bill. It`s the first step in a series of votes toward final passage of the agreement. And as the country faces a surge of new COVID-19 infections, the White House is expected to announce tomorrow that COVID vaccinations will be required for all federal workers. Those who refuse will have to undergo regular virus testing.

Today, the CDC director posted this on social media. "COVID-19 cases have increased over 300% nationally since June 19th. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates and among unvaccinated people. This afternoon during a visit to Pennsylvania`s Lehigh Valley, the President issued a play to Americans who are holding out on getting their shots.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: We still have a lot of people not vaccinated. The pandemic we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So please, please, please, please if you`re not vaccinated, protect yourself, the children out there.


JANSING: We`re just reports the White House has also mandated masks that federal buildings and COVID hotspots. The CDC says nearly 67% of us counties have substantial or high transmission rates up from 63% just yesterday. And today the agency issued another change in guidance for the fully vaccinated, the CDC now recommending they get tested after exposure to someone with COVID even if they don`t show any symptoms. Previously, the CDC said fully vaccinated people did not need to be tested after exposure unless they did experience symptoms.

The Washington Post is highlighting the potential political toll of this latest COVID surge on the White House writing, "This new landscape and some say the administration`s less than clear messaging is complicating Biden`s efforts to show that he is still leading the United States out of the pandemic, his presidencies central promise."

Some Republicans are speaking out slamming what they say are shifting messages, especially about masks for fully vaccinated.


GOV. KIM REYNOLDS, (R) IOWA: It`s confusing. They`re sending mixed messages constantly. It`s contradictory. I think it sets us back and what we`re trying to do with encouraging people to get vaccinated. They`re not really forthcoming on a lot of data that that they`re using to make this change in the guidance.


JANSING: On Capitol Hill, Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Texas lashed out after a mask mandate was re-imposed for the House of Representatives.


REP. CHIP ROY, (R) TEXAS: Which is it, vaccines or masks? The vaccines work or they don`t work, do the masks work or they don`t work? I`d like to know which it is. Are they just going to go around poking people saying you must take a vaccine? Oh, but sorry, the vaccine doesn`t work. You must wear a mask.


JANSING: Congressman Roy then tried to force a vote on a motion to adjourn the House which was handily defeated. With that let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning Senior Washington Correspondent for The Washington Post, his new book written with his colleague Carol Leonnig, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump`s Catastrophic Final Year has debuted at number one on the New York Times bestsellers list. Lisa Lerer, National Political Correspondent for The New York Times is with us and Dr. Kavita Patel, Clinical Physician and former Senior Policy Aide during the Obama administration. She`s also one of our public health experts and a non-resident Fellow at Brookings.

Great to see all of you, Lisa Lerer, the President is expected to require vaccines or testing for those who won`t get vaccinated for federal workers. Look, more than a few folks have made it clear they`re already angry about the CDC`s new guidance on mask for people who are vaccinated. Is this where the White House thought they would be at this point in the summer? How worried are they about this surge?


LISA LERER, THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s certainly not where they want to be, at least not politically or, you know, from a public health standpoint. Let`s not forget earlier this month, the White House basically all but declared victory on the virus. They had that big of July 4 event at the White House. And they really gave the American public a sense that things were moving forward. And now I think there`s a sense that the country`s backsliding, masks are back. There`s a lot of talk of mandates, although that`s a word we will not hear the White House use. It`s something that`s happening in a lot of private companies and some local jurisdictions like New York. And I think there is some frustration among, you know, the American public. Certainly, that`s a frustration that the Republicans are trying to stoke at the sense that the country, you know, is not continuing this upward trajectory of moving out of the virus now look like, is this the White House`s fault? Not exactly right. This is how pandemics can go particularly when vaccination rates haven`t quite gotten as high as the White House would like them to be. And we know that a large percentage of unvaccinated people do lean Republican. So the white house doesn`t carry the same sort of weight, you know, potentially convincing those voters as they do with other voters. But it`s not the position they want to be in. I think there is some concern among allies of the White House that there could be some backlash or some frustration among voters if Biden can`t deliver on really the central promise of his campaign, which is to move the country out of this pandemic.

JANSING: Yeah, it`s reopening some of these old wounds, Phil Rucker, the House Speaker and the Minority Leader now openly sniping about the mask guidance.

Kevin McCarthy tweeted this last night, make no mistake, the threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state. So then today, Speaker Pelosi and McCarthy had this back and forth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mask mandate, Speaker Pelosi, any response to the backlash?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA HOUSE SPEAKER: That`s the purview of the Capitol physician, the official capacity, a mandate from him. I have nothing to say about that except we honor it. I have my mask.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leader McCarthy says it`s against the science.

PELOSI: He`s such a moron.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA MINORITY LEADER: Let`s talk about the science. We were vaccinated, we`re not a hotspot, but they`re forcing you to wear a mask. Not in the Senate but in the House. This is just about more control.


JANSING: Oh, Phil Rucker having does it seem that we`re even more at risk now than say, a year ago of allowing the politics of all this to keep us from actually doing what needs to get done to stop the spread? How ugly is this going to get?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Chris, it`s already pretty ugly, as the video you just showed, makes clear. And this is a very political issue right now. You know, the COVID response, and especially the issue of whether to require people wear masks has been political from day one, because President Trump last year when he was in office, made it political, and then of course, tried to convince his supporters that they didn`t have to wear a mask. And now you fast forward to the moment we`re in right now. And the data are very clear. The data show that one of the reasons why we`re seeing this surge in COVID infections is because so many people in Republican leaning states have been reluctant and resistant to getting the vaccine. That`s according to the CDC officials into the data that they`re analyzing. And so the Biden administration, as well as state and local jurisdictions all around the country are grappling with how to deal with this outbreak of COVID infections and how to keep people safe if the America if all of the American citizens are not going out and getting vaccinated, which is the reality that we`re in right now. And it`s going to be a political football, I think, for these politicians. And, you know, we should also keep in mind that one of the reasons why Pelosi is so adamant about these restrictions inside the House is because so many of those House members are coming to Washington from their districts. Those districts are hotspots, many of them are and some of those House members have been reluctant and resistant to follow the guidelines in their own communities. And when they`re convening in the Congress with so many people who are at an advanced age, it certainly brings a risk to the lawmakers and elected officials there.

JANSING: Yeah. And Lisa, so tomorrow the President is going to make this coronavirus mandate announcement. But today, as you know, he was pushing infrastructure in Pennsylvania. What is tonight`s vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill mean for Joe Biden in this White House?

LERER: Well, certainly the White House is heralding is a big victory. This was something now President Biden talked a lot about on the campaign trail, his ability to sort of bring people together and Congress and pass some kind of bipartisan legislation and sort of remind people of how things used to be back when he was in the Senate and members of Congress were sometimes, occasionally or at all able to work together and pass things. There`s still a long way to go is going to have to keep his caucus in line and keep Democrats on board. Many of them were hoping this bipartisan bill would be bigger. They want to be sure that the things that they want to see in this bill that are not in there getting that reconciliation package, but the moderates in the party, of course, are concerned that the reconciliation package could be too large. So there`s still this balancing act that he`ll have to do within his own party, particularly in the House where he really can`t lose that many Democrats. And then of course, this is not the final vote at all on this package. So there`s a long road to go with keeping these 10 Republicans on board as well. But I think tonight, at least the White House is feeling pretty good.


JANSING: Yeah. And so Dr. Patel, while they`re moving from the White House perspective, in the right direction, on infrastructure, not so much on this surge, how concerned are you about where we are, and while the vaccinated wait for the unvaccinated to get their shots whenever that might be? Is one part of the answer maybe what Pfizer is now saying there, the third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine can strongly boost protection against the Delta variant?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FORMER AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Yeah, Chris, to that point, Pfizer had some data that they released during their earnings report, not the full data, suggesting that that third dose could really just amplify the immunity that people who have had doses one and two have. That`s very nice for talking point. But to be candid, it`s not the entire country hasn`t had Pfizer who about 13 million people, they got Johnson & Johnson who feel like they`re left in a corner. And you have, as you mentioned, a White House that`s trying to literally kind of put one foot on the dock and the other on the boat and probably another foot somewhere else. So it`s incredibly complex. One thing I`ve seen is that the CDC is messaging has been trying to they`re trying to -- they`re communicate nuance, substantial, high transmission, you know, wearing a mask in certain situations as K through 12. We have seen that time and time again, Chris, we can`t do nuance, because we`re all reacting from this very emotional face. I mean, that`s where we all are now. So those of us were vaccinated. We`re waiting for the unvaccinated.

And, Chris, what I`m seeing, and you`re seeing it too, I`m sure everybody here is getting kind of ugly. I mean, vaccinated people, including myself, at times, were angry at what`s happening. And that`s everything that`s playing out, you know, in our communities, and nationally and internationally. So I hope that we can get this communication simpler. First, I hope we can remind people that wearing masks is not a sign of a lack of confidence in the vaccines. But it`s what we have to do to drive down these cases, points simple until we can get the rest of the country vaccinated and then work on the rest of the world. Don`t lose sight, Chris, this isn`t over until we can get the majority of the globe vaccinate.

JANSING: Yeah, and we could point out, as we always have, this is no longer an access issue. You know, this is no longer us getting on the phone for four hours hoping to get an appointment. So there are these questions that have been raised about what`s happening in Great Britain because that country was a mess. And now the Washington Post reports that maybe Britain has reached an immunity threshold, because more than 70% of adults here are fully vaccinated, but 88% have had a first dose one of the best vaccine uptake in the world. So I`m wondering, as you look at the numbers from the U.K., if there`s something we can be learning from them?

PATEL: Yeah, Chris, we can always learn. Look, and one note -- you know, when the U.K. decided to do that first dose and delaying the second dose, a number of people, including myself were concerned and critical of that approach, because we knew we had enough vaccine to give people two doses at the scheduled times, according to the trials. What you`re pointing out, Chris, is there`s something about that one dose that gave them this opportunity to have a huge amount of uptake. But Chris, honestly, they also went through their struggles with Delta, with Alpha and had it just weeks before us. And what they did do was pretty restrictive. They actually restricted movements and did a lot of things that I think we`re right now not even close to doing, limiting indoor capacities.

So you have to take into consideration that yes, what we can learn from them is that if you can get a first dose and as many people as possible, that creates some wall of immunity. But it`s not the only one. And to your point, you really do need to have two doses. And you have to ask, there`s a difference between having a country that has a national health system and can have a better accurate way of monitoring who`s not getting vaccinated and potentially why not big government, but it`s more of a centralized way of trying to understand where your gaps are. We don`t have that in the United States, and we might be seeing the repercussions of it.

JANSING: So as politics continues to sort of go over everything that`s happening with COVID, Phil Rucker, your colleagues at the Post report that Donald Trump relentlessly pressured his acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, he called him almost daily according to the reporting about investigating those false 2020 election fraud claims. I`m going to quote from the story.


"The personal pressure campaign which has not been previously reported involves repeated phone calls in which Trump raised various allegations he had heard, and asked what the Justice Department was doing about the issue. There are notes of some of the calls that were written by a top aide to Rosen, Richard Donoghue, the notes could be turned over to Congress in a matter of days. The phone calls came in late 2020 and early 2021, when Trump and his supporters were furiously pressing for officials at all levels of government to intercede in the usually routine process of certifying the election results."

So Phil, look, you cover those final weeks in your book. What was going on in the administration? And do you expect that these notes might end up in the hands of the January 6 commission?

RUCKER: Well, Chris, I think it`s really telling that these notes exist and that they could end up in Congress in the coming days. I think that`s important, and we should keep an eye on that. But in terms of the broader context here, ever since the November 3 election, Trump was pressuring Bill Barr, the Attorney General to do just what you described with Rosen, calling him every day and pestering him about whatever conspiracies he heard from Rudy Giuliani, or from Sidney Powell, the lawyer or from Mike Lindell, the pillow guy, or on Fox News, I mean, anything he heard that he thought could lead to some evidence that would overturn the election. He wanted his attorney general investigating it, and it reached a point at the beginning of December, where Barr had had enough and he told Trump and told said to the public, actually, that there was no evidence of enough fraud to overturn the election. Barr ended up resigning from office in mid December, and Jeffrey Rosen succeeded him as the acting Attorney General. And the new information that my colleagues at the Post are reporting tonight is that Trump continued that pressure campaign almost immediately with Rosen, and it was a daily series of pressure tactics, phone calls, and other outreach from Trump and people in the White House up until Joe Biden became inaugurated as the president to try to find the evidence to support these conspiratorial and baseless claims of election fraud. Of course, the evidence did not exist.

JANSING: Stay tuned a lot more to come on that. Phil Rucker, not just best selling author, but number one New York Times, tonight, as of tonight, congratulations. We`re not worthy, but we appreciate you being with us. Lisa Lerer, Dr. Kavita Patel thanks to all of you.

And coming up, it`s going from bad to worse in one Western State. Again, we`ll talk to a doctor who says the infection rate is so high contracting COVID there is inevitable if you haven`t been vaccinated.

And later, Republicans finally urging vaccinations but is anybody listening? The 11th Hour just getting underway on a Wednesday night?




DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: People who experienced breakthrough infections with Delta are actually more able to transmit the infection to others compared to people who had breakthrough infections with other versions of COVID-19 like the Alpha variant. I know, you know, we don`t want to go back to wearing masks again. But these masks are a layer of protection that will help us prevent spread at a time where we are seeing cases rise.


JANSING: Following the CDC`s revised guidance on masks, Nevada will reinstate a statewide indoor mask mandate starting Friday, and counties with substantial or high COVID transmission. The Associated Press reports at least 12 counties will be affected and that includes Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas, new COVID infections in Nevada have surged. The state reported over 1100 cases today. That`s the highest one day increase since January. The number of people hospitalized has also spiked. The Las Vegas review Journal reports, data showed that 1143 people with either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 were hospitalized in the state unchanged from Tuesday`s report. Hospitalizations also have been climbing since reaching a recent low of 209 on June 12.

For more we welcome to the broadcast Dr. Luis Medina Garcia. He`s an Infectious Disease Specialist at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, in Las Vegas. And I note, Doctor, thanking you for being with us tonight that you are wearing your mask. Describe what`s going on in Nevada and what kind of patients you`re seeing?

DR. LUIS MEDINA-GARCIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Correct, though, unfortunately, we`ve seen a significant increase in the cases in our community. We are labeled as one of those communities that have high transmission by the CDC. It`s multi-factorial for us, on one hand, the low amount of vaccinated patients, people that we have in the state and then adding to that the tourism aspect of it, the decrease in mask wearing mandates across the businesses and just overall increase the exposure. That`s what is driving the current surge.

JANSING: And is it going to get worse before it gets better? Do you foresee this spike in hospitalizations continuing? I mean, you said something that I had not heard from anybody before. You said if you aren`t vaccinated, getting COVID is inevitable. It should scare people.

MEDINA-GARCIA: And so I`m not trying to scare people, it`s just a matter of time, right? If statistics, if you are in a vulnerable state, and you have an increased rate of transmission of a highly infectious disease, chances are that you will get infected at some point. So now we have the ability to prevent these infections. Even if you get a breakthrough case of COVID the vaccines prevent you from getting hospitalized, and they prevent you from dying. So it`s a market improvement as it was from last year. And it allows us also to remind people that you have the ability to do something about it. Last year, you know, we were help us. Now we have the tools that we didn`t have before.

JANSING: So you`ve got the tools. So, Doctor, what are unvaccinated patients telling you? Why aren`t they getting the shot?

MEDINA-GARCIA: So it`s a large spectrum of reasons. Some of them come out of fear, some out of distrust, but I think we need to meet people where they are, right? You have to spend the time to talk to them and understand what their hesitancy is from -- is coming from and be able to point them to reputable sources of information. And I have you seen success in having patients then become vaccinated after that?

JANSING: Yeah, I know you don`t want people to get vaccinated out of fear although it can be a powerful tool and I wonder if where you are as far as you can tell, has the Delta variant helped at all to convince more people to get their COVID shots?


MEDINA-GARCIA: Absolutely, this new variant is much more infectious than the previous one. And this is just the result of evolution of a virus, right? The virus` mission is to survive. And it finds way around the roadblocks that we place for it. So, you know, people see the death toll, people see the burden of disease. And then I try to convince them that getting vaccinated is a matter of love, not just for your personal love, but also for those that you care for. And so by taking care of yourself, preventing infection and yourself, you`re protecting your loved ones as well.

JANSING: So Clark County, as we mentioned, is going to fall under the indoor mask mandate re-imposed by the state. Are you worried that folks won`t wear a mask anyway, and you kind of touched on this at the top, but you have a unique situation with Las Vegas, which huge now, is huge numbers of people coming in from elsewhere?

MEDINA-GARCIA: And it is an inconvenience for people. And I understand how backpedaling into the previous guidance can make people distressed. But remember that science doesn`t change. It`s just the new knowledge that you acquire from science, if there`s something that this virus has had that teach us is to be humble. What we think we know, with what we actually know, when you apply science and give it enough time. So it`s a minor burden. There`s been some studies published out of Spain where they did concerts with upwards of 5000 people. All of them were tested, all of them wear masks, and there was minimal transmission of the disease. We want to keep our businesses open. This is the lifeblood of the state economy. We need your help. We need your help to keep that going.

JANSING: It does feel like deja vu all over again, not just where you are but unfortunately, at so many places around the country. How are you doing? How are the doctors and nurses and everybody who works at University Medical Center doing as they continue to see this upswing, this surge going on?

MEDINA-GARCIA: It`s very difficult. You know, people hear about burnout. You know, one of the doctors that I admired (inaudible) he calls it moral injury. And essentially, it`s your inability to be able to do good for your patient. This disease is something that we haven`t been able to conquer. The best fight is the one that you choose not to get into. And so by getting vaccinated, you can help us not have to take care of you in dire situations. Last year, we were called heroes, because we had to and now you can help us put your cape on and prevent the tragedy.

JANSING: And eminently reasonable request and let`s hope that people are listening. Thank you so much as always for what you do with all the folks there do and we appreciate your time, Dr. Luis Medina Garcia, Thank you.

MEDINA-GARCIA: Thank you for having me.

JANSING: Coming up, why one of our guests thinks it`s in everyone`s best interest to say anti-vaxxers from their own stubbornness as COVID case to surge when the 11th Hour continues.




SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Vaccines they work. The benefits of them vastly outweigh the costs. I`m so confident in it that if they told me, Kennedy, you know, with the booster you got to take a shot and you`re out ball. I`d probably do it, because this stuff will kill you.


JANSING: With COVID cases surging and fears growing over the Delta variant, GOP lawmakers are now out there pushing vaccines. It`s a relatively new stance for most after more than a year of downplaying the virus.

Regarding the GOP evolving relationship with the vaccine, one of our next guests writes this, Republican politicians and right wing commentators have shamelessly and disgracefully sought for months to score points against the Biden administration, by portraying vaccination as some kind of threat to individual freedom, rather than what it really is a path toward our collective freedom. Now with cases in hospitalizations rising sharply in red states, these officials and talking heads are temporizing trying to have it both ways.

Back with us tonight, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post, and Matthew Dowd, former George W. Bush strategist and founder of Country Over Party. Good to see you guys.

So Gene, you wrote that. So my question is, is what we`re seeing an active self-preservation a slow learning curve, what?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Probably all of the above. And it`s, I think, in part, it`s for some, it`s an act of preservation. And they saw that there. They were trying to score political points with a kind of, you know, vaccine agnostic or vaccine skeptical stance that they were taking.

But they realized that, you know, putting your constituents in the hospital and killing them, it`s not good politics. It`s not a good idea. And they saw these rising infection rates and realized that that`s going to mean that even at red states, governors are going to have to impose mass mandates and lock downs and things like that, that people really don`t like, if these cases keep rising.

So you know, but I welcome it whatever the motive and I agree with Senator John Kennedy for once.

JANSING: You`re going to get it in the eyeball.

ROBINSON: You know, this stuff will kill you. I`ll take it in the eyeball.


ROBINSON: Preferably not to tell you the truth, but I`m certainly bigger than they are.

JANSING: So Matthew Dowd, to what do you attribute this Republican shift in tone? And if you haven`t already gotten this shot? I mean, at this point, what influenced is some politician have? I was thinking maybe it`s a little bit of chicken little in reverse the sky isn`t falling weight? Yes, it is.

MATTHEW DOWD, FMR. CHIEF STRATEGIST TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: Well, I`ll add a third option to the options of reasons why --


DOWD: -- and I think it`s a multiple option. The third option I think is leaders in this country are supposed to confront their constituents when their constituents are involved in a mistake of facts or conspiracy theories.


But what the Republicans have done now for a couple years is reflect back to the -- instead of leading and telling confronting with truth, they`ve reflected back the same conspiracy theories and facts. And what`s happened now is, it`s led to this massive problem. It`s not only a problem as we`re talking about public health, but it`s a problem in democracy as total in a common set of facts that we need.

But I think that what leaders should do is be telling their constituents the truth, as opposed to accepting the crazy conspiracy theories and lies that the constituents are traveling. And John Kennedy, Senator Kennedy is a perfect example. Senator Kennedy could have led for months. He did not lead for months. He reflected his constituents until they got themselves in a ditch. And now they`re like, let`s call a tow truck as opposed to for the last six months telling everybody we don`t need a tow truck. That`s the situation we`re in.

JANSING: Well, yes. And I guess the question then becomes so, you know, did they listen to them? What do you do? I was in Arkansas. They were giving away big screen TVs. They still couldn`t get the high school kids to come in. And then he real numbers.

You suggested, though, Gene, in that same column. Look, if you want to go to a football game, you want to throw a tailgate party, and I`m quoting you here for the love of Vince Lombardi get a shot. And there actually are more than a few people who have suggested that if it was a requirement that in football, crazy places like Texas, like Arkansas, where you see vaccination rates are low, you got to get vaccinated to go see your kid play. Maybe that would work.

ROBINSON: That absolutely would work with a lot of people, I think, in this times of --

JANSING: Of course it`s not going to happen. The governor is going to do it.

ROBINSON: Yes, but let`s call them what they are, their mandates and a lot of employers are putting in mandates for their employees to get vaccinated. We`re going to have, you know, a mandate for federal workers to either get vaccinated or tested apparently. I have seen reports of mandates for military, branch of the military for everybody to get vaccinated.

And, and I think, yes, if you want to go to an Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa, and you should see that what the tailgating is like there, it`s a huge party and this even has a lot of fun. If you want to do that, you shouldn`t have to be vaccinated, that would probably work and have a big impact on that lowest in the nation vaccination rate in Alabama.

JANSING: Yes, and there`s this, Matthew, from Politico today. Quote, many people are turning down COVID vaccines because they are angry that President Donald Trump lost the election and sick of Democrats thinking they know what`s best.

Is it a fair criticism that people say, look, we were told if you want to get rid of the mass get vaccinated, but now the messages sometimes even if you`re vaccinated, you have to wear a mask.

DOWD: Well, here`s -- when I hear that it`s like the guy that puts points a gun in his own head and says, You better stop doing that or I`m going to shoot, that`s basically what they`re doing in this course it is endangering their own lives and their friends lives in this.

I think this we`re amazing situation where we can adapt policy as facts changes on the ground change. Anybody that`s been involved their study battlefields. If the battlefield changes and the environment change, you got to change your plan and adapt to the environment. That`s what we`re in. We`re in a public health war in the midst of this.

And now the other thing about mandates, I`ll add about mandates in this. I think of it like being on a passenger liner, and you read about the tales of passenger liners, and sometimes people`s on passenger liners when they`re in rough weather, or it might sink they freak out. And what happens a lot is people are told to put on a life preserver and sometimes they`re physically put in a lifeboat not only to protect that individual person to protect the other passengers that may be interfered with in this, and that`s the situation we`re in.

We have to insist people wear life preserver a mask, and we have to insist they get a vaccine, a lifeboat, because otherwise they`re not only dangering themselves, which I want to protect anybody. I don`t care what political party you are, but they`re endangering every single community in our country. And at some point, the common good is more -- the common good is more important than the eye that people seem to only be focused on.

JANSING: To state the obvious if you`ve seen anyone who was really sick with COVID, you would not wish on your worst enemy.

ROBINSON: Yes. Absolutely.

JANSING: Our guests are staying with us through a very short break. Coming up. Maybe it finally is infrastructure week. Progress on the very long awaited infrastructure proposal is a win for Democrats. I look at the tough road though that`s still ahead for the President`s agenda when the 11th Hour continues.




SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): Despite the popularity of it and the need for it, Washington hasn`t been able to get it done. This time we`re going to get it done.


JANSING: The Senate is indeed a step closer to passing that trillion dollar infrastructure Bill, 17 Republicans joining with Democrats tonight in advancing the legislation. Its defeat the former president never did accomplish. But he`s still weighing in saying this in a statement ahead of tonight`s vote, quote, it is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish and dumb. He goes on to say, don`t do it, Republicans, patriots will never forget. If this deal happens, lots of primaries will be coming your way.

Still with me, Eugene Robinson and Matthew Dowd. Matthew Dowd, he`s threatening members of his own party again. His political analysis seems to be if you give Biden this win, it`ll be heavily used by Democratic candidates in 2022. So I don`t know is that threat enough to scare Republicans who know how popular this is with their constituents?

DOWD: I was taken by the serious substantive argument that he made in that text. It`s just so --

JANSING: What in particular Matthew? Was there one part of it that really struck you?

DOWD: The whole thing struck me is completely unserious and non- substantive. But anyway, I mean, I, the president doesn`t like to lose, right, and he`s now -- he`s now suffering a series of losses. He came in and met their losses. The fact that he watched Joe Biden do this was watching Joe Biden get this deal done, including Republican senators, which anybody that`s been on a plane train or automobile in the last six months knows that we absolutely have to do something on infrastructure in this country. It`s a pandemic problem of its own that we have to fix them this.

So he says -- he said he won`t -- he can`t face that. And then he sided with the wrong person this week. Yesterday in the Texas special election in the Dallas area he lost that race.


JANSING: Yes, I`m going to get back to that.

DOWD: So the President I think -- yes. The president just grasping for relevance. But seeing something good happen under somebody else`s watch is never something the President -- the former president enjoys.

JANSING: Yes. And speaking of the current president Eugene Robinson, the eyes to be dotted the T`s cross. But how big a win is this for the Biden administration?

ROBINSON: Well, it looks like a huge for the Biden administration, Chris, and for Joe Biden`s theory of the case. I mean, his theory of the case is that it is possible even today, even in this polarized atmosphere, to do something constructive with bipartisan support, and to put together a bipartisan coalition to get legislation through, even through the U.S. Senate, which is (inaudible) been in a state of paralysis of gridlock.

And so the fact that it looks like it`s happened. Looks like got it through is a huge win for him, which is really what`s driving the former president crazy that, you know, Joe Biden is getting a win that he never got, but yes, it`s a big deal for the for the Biden administration.

JANSING: Wait a minute, you`re suggesting -- I want to make sure I`ve got this right here, Gene. You`re actually suggesting that this was not an act of patriotism this statement, but it was an act of jealousy.

ROBINSON: I don`t know what got what came over me. Where would I get that idea? Yes. Purely so and the peak in it. The primaries are coming your way. I mean, it`s ridiculous. He is grasping around (ph). But enough about it, you know, but for the Biden administration, this is a big deal. Because he can reassure Democrats and say, No, really, we can do this stuff. We don`t have to get rid of the filibuster. We don`t have to do everything with reconciliation, which is the alternative and which is clearly not a place he prefers to go. So he wants to do it this way. And it looks like he`s going to get a win.

JANSING: Couple of things from your state you touched on this, Matthew, that Trump endorsed a candidate in the Texas House special election, who lost yesterday. But then also, there`s another example, this week Trump endorsed George P. Bush`s opponent, Ken Paxton, in the Attorney General`s race. So it`s interesting. Here`s what Bush had to say about the former president today.


GEORGE P. BUSH, TEXAS LAND COMMISSIONER: I continue to be a supporter of the president and of America first policies, and I`ll continue to fight for that as Land Commissioner and hopefully as Attorney General, but the reality is here that Ken misled the president.

BRIAN KILMEADE, THE BRIAN KILMEADE SHOW HOST: Do you wish the president, former president would not get involved in primaries?

BUSH: No, it`s certainly within his right. I certainly courted that, and I will continue to reach out to his supporters and support his policies wherever I can as Land Commissioner.


JANSING: Can misled the president. Matthew, is there a lesson to be learned in all of us?

DOWD: First of all, yeah, for Georgia number of lessons. First, George P. Bush, he got to learn the lesson that`s been learned over and over and over by anybody that deals with Donald Trump loyalty is a one way street. And being a sycophant and kissing his boots, does not get you what you want, no matter what, how often you do it. So maybe George P. learned that.

The fascinating thing about that race is that it may not even be any either one of those two that wins that primary there is a woman Supreme Court Justice Republican who may actually end up winning that primary. I think what we`ve learned in this and the learned in the special election yesterday, is that when two basically Trump republicans are running against each other who basically have similar issues, and that`s what was special election. It wasn`t a never Trump person running against a Trump person. They had exact same stands on issues. They were very Trumpist in the border wall, on guns, on abortion and all of that very much the same.

But it basically shows you when two people adopt the same viewpoint on those that same very various Trump viewpoint, Trump doesn`t help any in the primary. Trump does not help you any but it is a reflection about what the Republican primary because has become. Take Donald Trump out of it. Every single person, whether they get Trump endorsement or not, are becoming Trump like, that`s what`s happened to the Republican Party.

JANSING: Our thanks to Matthew Dowd and Eugene Robinson, great to see you gentlemen. Appreciate it. The unexpected new face of the Summer Olympics who has a history of soaring under pressure when the 11th Hour continues.



JANSING: With defending champions, Simone Biles sitting out the individual all-around competition getting underway in just a few hours in Tokyo. All eyes are now on an 18-year-old gymnast Suni Lee. Now she is Team USA`s top hope for gymnastics gold. And what a story she has, a history of facing high pressure situations and soaring. Our report tonight from NBC News correspondent Kate Snow.


KATE SNOW, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sunisa Lee, Suni, knows a lot about how to handle life`s twists and turns.

SUNISA LEE, OLYMPIC GYMNAST: I mean, it`s just so fun like flying from one bar to the other bar.

SNOW (on camera): Do you feel like you`re flying?

LEE: Yes. Like you`re like literally flying in between.

SNOW (voice-over): She grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota surrounded by siblings and a large extended family. Her parents moved here from Laos. She`s the first Hmong-American to compete on Team USA with a huge community cheering her on.

LEE: We`re basically all like family. We`re all related.

SNOW: Suni`s Olympic dream started young, and she found a partner in her dad, John.

LEE: My dad`s like my best friend, has been through the whole journey with me. He would give me peptides and make me feel better about myself.

SNOW: But two years ago, he was about to drive Suni to Nationals when he fell headfirst off a ladder.

LEE: His foot slipped and he landed headfirst. And he was paralyzed from the waist down.

SNOW: Suddenly competing felt impossible.

LEE: I saw my dad right before I was about to leave, and I was like, I don`t even want to go to championships anymore. My dad comes first.

SNOW: But John urged her to go.

JOHN LEE, SUNISA`S FATHER: I told Sunisa that, you know, you worked so hard for this and just go. I`ll be OK.

SNOW: She thought about him the whole time.

S. LEE: As I say she`s probably watching like right now. And I just know that he`d be so proud.

SNOW: Suni shocked everyone finishing second.

J. LEE: Let me know she was nervous. And on top of that, she had me to worry about those amazing.


S. LEE: I hung all my medals, like the shelf that my dad made me.

SNOW: She was coming into her own. Then the pandemic shut her gym down. Her parents contracted COVID and she lost an aunt and uncle to the virus.

S. LEE: It was hard, but I feel like when I come into the gym, it kind of helps me forget about everything. Because the gym is like my safe place.

SNOW (on camera): Have you learned about yourself in the last year?

S. LEE: I will pretty like strong person.


S. LEE: I`ve gotten through so much and I still managed to get through it every time.

SNOW (voice-over): Kate Snow, NBC News St. Paul, Minnesota.


JANSING: And the late note from Tokyo, Team USA swimmer Caeleb Dressel won his first individual Olympic gold medal, setting up an Olympic record in the men`s 100 meter freestyle. The World Champion also has three Olympic gold medals in relay races, so decent games so far.

Coming up, an awkwardly hilarious moment today for the British Prime Minister.


JANSING: The last thing before we go tonight, the latest in the ongoing saga of world leaders versus umbrellas. Today it was UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeing in a video that`s now gone viral, struggling to open one in such a way as it would actually keep the rain off during an event in (inaudible) Staffordshire Britain.


Even Prince Charles, as you can see appears in views as BoJo (ph) battle the winds and his bumbershoot refuse to cooperate. He might remember the twice impeached former guy had his own ordeal with an umbrella back in October 2018. He finally just gave up leaving it for someone else to fetch at the doorway of Air Force One.

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