IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 7/9/21

Guests: Jeremy Bash, Robert Gibbs


CDC issues new guidance to fully reopen schools. Feds release new evidence in January 6 riot probe. DOJ releases new video of January 6 attacks on police. January 6 riot select committee will be holding its first hearing this month. President Joe Biden warns Russian President, Vladimir Putin again to rein in cyberattacks.


MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC HOST: That is Tonight`s Last Word. I`m Mehdi Hasan. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again, I`m Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams. Day 171 of the Biden administration.

We begin with a major change from the CDC involving one of the most divisive issues to ever emerge during the pandemic. The agency urging schools to fully reopen this fall, even if they`re unable to put into place all the recommended steps to keep the virus from spreading.

The CDC also says unvaccinated students and staff members should continue wearing masks. Those who are vaccinated should not. We`ll ask a doctor all about today`s new guidance and about the confusion over vaccine booster shots just ahead.

But tonight, there`s also new information about how the House Select Committee will begin to investigate the deadly siege on the Capitol six months ago.

Just today the Justice Department released more brand new video evidence, this time, showing rioters literally dragging and beating police officers. The DOJ made the footage public at the request of NBC and other news organizations, and we warn you this is among some of the most violent and graphic video released so far from January 6.


VELSHI: Beating police officers, they said it was Antifa, they said it was BLM, some said it was just tourists.

As we mentioned, the special panel of House members will examine the events of January 6. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has yet to name his appointees to that panel. But today, the committee`s Chairman Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said that will not delay the first hearing, which he says will take place later this month.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Either the 21st or 22nd of July, the committee is committed to doing our job, as I say with hope that Kevin McCarthy gives us his fire recommendation so we can fully populate the committee. But if he chooses not to, we will still do our work, yet the facts lead us to members of Congress being complicit in what occurred on January 6. We`ll go there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have also I know not ruled out a subpoena potentially for former President Trump. We know, you know, I know the Trump White House officials have ignored congressional subpoenas before.

THOMPSON: There are some mechanisms to enforce subpoenas. Obviously, we play an extra fat, we might have to go to court.


VELSHI: The former president`s lies about the 2020 election helped fuel the January 6 insurrection. They`ve also given rise to hundreds of new bills aimed at restricting voting rights under the guise of so-called election security.

Texas state lawmakers are now in the midst of a special session to consider new voting bells. Tomorrow, Republicans in the State Senate will hold public hearings on proposals previously blocked by Democrats.

President Biden has been promising for weeks to give a formal address on protecting the right to vote. Today, the White House says that speech will happen on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The President has also been focused on recent ransomware cyberattacks carried out in the United States by criminals believed to be based in Russia. The latest attack on a Florida software company happened after Biden warmed Russian President Vladimir Putin in-person during last month`s Geneva summit that he needed to do something to stop them.

Today, the White House says Biden spoke with Putin on the phone. This afternoon, reporters asked the President about the hour-long conversation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States expects, when a ransomware operation is coming from his soil, even though it`s not -- not sponsored by the state, we expect them to act if we give them enough information to act on who that is.

And, secondly, that we have set up a means of communications now, on a regular basis, to be able to communicate to one another when each of us thinks something is happening in another country that affects the home country.

And so, it went well. I`m optimistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said, three weeks ago, there would be consequences. Will there be, sir?



VELSHI: There will be consequences. About an hour after those comments, Biden was asked for more specifics.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Up until now, the U.S. response has been to exercise sanctions, impose sanctions on Russia for this malign activity. Does it make sense for the U.S. to take it up a notch and attack the actual servers that are used?




VELSHI: Yes, again. U.S. and Russian officials are set to hold talks on cybercrimes next week.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports tonight that the administration is considering plans to shrink the staff at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan because of growing security concerns as U.S. forces are pulled out.

And the New York Times says the Haitian government is asking Washington for U.S. troops to help protect critical infrastructure.

Violence has erupted there following this week`s assassination of Haiti`s president. Late today, the White House insisted that no military assistance would be provided.

A team of FBI and homeland security officials is already on the way to assist in the investigation into the killing. And we continue to follow the latest developments out of Surfside, Florida.

It`s been more than two weeks since the collapse of that 12-storey condominium. Today, as recovery crews still work their way through the rubble. Several more victims were found in the wreckage. 79 people are now known to have died with 61 unaccounted for.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Friday night, Susan Page, Veteran Journalist, Best Selling Author and USA Today Washington Bureau Chief, Eugene Daniels, White House Correspondent for Politico and co-author of each day`s edition of Politico Playbook, and Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon, former Chief Counsel to the House Intel Committee.

Good evening to each of you. Thank you for joining us this evening.

Eugene, let me start with you, busy week for President Biden. He was out there trying to sell not just the infrastructure plan, but the American family plan. He had the cybersecurity issue with Russia that`s taken up a lot of his time, the unexpected assassination of a leader in Haiti, and now new discussions about a resurgence in COVID. What`s your sense of how the White House is prioritizing these matters?

EUGENE DANIELS, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, infrastructure stays number one. This is a White House, when they kind of choose what they want. They go for that one first. And they kind of stay focus as they possibly can on that. And as -- and they kind of take everything else as it comes, right? The Russia ransomware attacks, and the President Biden talking to Putin. We`ve been asking, you know, I`ve been in briefing this entire week, asking the press secretary about that what`s going on? Are they going to talk and then today, right before the press briefing, he got moved back. And every time we get put on hold, we know that something`s coming. And that readout of that phone call came out.

And so this White House is what they`re they continue to learn, they learned it early on, no matter how much you plan, this -- the rest of the world is operating and moving along. And so they have to react at the same time.

But what we do what they tell us every time we ask, you know, what are their priorities? How are you figuring out what to prioritize? They say they can chew gum and walk at the same time. It`s something that we will continue to see, especially when we`re supposed to start seeing some work be really done on turning the framework for the infrastructure bill and this reconciliation bill into actual bills, turn those plans into actual bills, and the rest of it, they have a long agenda, and they don`t have a lot of time to do it. You have Congress going on break here and in about a month. And then more importantly, after January, everyone start going and start looking at 2022. So they don`t have a lot of time to get all the things done on their list.

VELSHI: You know, one of the things that wasn`t on the agenda, Jeremy was the cyber attacks. In fact, it was one of the very clear things that that Joe Biden said to Vladimir Putin in their meeting in Geneva.

I want to play something earlier, that Ambassador Mike McFaul, who knows a lot about this and has been helping Biden work through this said today on MSNBC.


MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: We`re not talking about the Russian government, we`re talking about criminals, at least to the best of my knowledge so far, that what has been discussed publicly. And that I think gives us more leverage and more opportunity to be more aggressive about them and to put pressure on Russian authorities, Russian -- the Russian police to say go arrest these people, go after them. They`re, you know, Putin is not going to defend criminals in the public, you know, tit for tat on this. He`s going to call them criminals or at least say he has nothing to do with them.

VELSHI: Jeremy, help make sense of that. What exactly comes up the warning Geneva, the phone call today, and this idea that Biden has -- in two opportunities, said he`s going to do something. He`s sort of suggested there`s a red line that he`s prepared to take action on.

JEREMY BASH, FORMER, CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Yeah, first, I think by elevating the issue in direct dialogue with the President of the Russian Federation, our president, President Biden is making clear that this is the highest priority for the United States to ensure that our businesses, our private sector, our hospitals, our universities, and our government systems, our data and our communications are protected.


And we`ve done a number of over things like for example, sanctioning those involved, we`ve also gone after the money that`s been stolen, we`ve used technology and capabilities to reach into the digital Bitcoin wallets of the ransomware hackers and actually grab the money back. So, we`ve done a number of over things that I think what Biden is here, also signaling this week, as he did in Geneva, is that we`re going to be engaging in a number of unseen or covert clandestine activities to hold at risk, to deter the Russian Federation from allowing these criminal actions to go forward. I think this is a very consequential pivot alley this week to focus on these cyberattacks, the digital competition between the United States and Russia, which is of course top the agenda.

VELSHI: You know, Susan, there are a lot of options we`ve just talked about, that Republicans can stake out positions on that are either cooperative or alternatives to the White House, whether it be infrastructure, or cybersecurity, or Haiti or Afghanistan or COVID. But in fact, here we have Mo Brooks, who was a headliner, shall we say, at the January 6 event in Washington, talking at CPAC today in Dallas about what the Republican Party actually needs to do. Let`s listen.


REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Dictatorial, socialists want to cancel America. We have to fight back to protect our country`s greatness. They attack our republic by engaging an unparalleled voter fraud and Election Theft activities. They attack our First Amendment freedom of speech, with censorship from big tech, where the cancel culture.


VELSHI: And Trump in his own rallies has been sort of airing this endless grievance about the election. This is where they are at a moment where the country needs political leadership and could use political opposition to engage in a good debate. But this is sort of where they are right now.

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: You know, look what they`re not talking about. They`re not talking about the pandemic, which has been at the top of voters` minds for years. They`re not talking much about the economy. They are talking about the economy only on the fringes since the economy seems to be coming on its way, coming back. They`re really talking about political issues. They`re throwing up, there`s a lot of back in what Mo Brooks was saying. They`re throwing up whatever they can think of in terms of kind of cultural grievance issues, to see what sticks.

You know, so far, it hasn`t stuck much to President Biden, You can criticize some of the things that he`s done, but his approval rating in national polls continues to be just above 50%, a level that President Trump never achieved. So I think with these attacks by Republicans, you see the GOP really struggling to find what it is they can use to make a case against the Democrats and Joe Biden that goes beyond that Trump base.

VELSHI: Jeremy, let`s talk a little about the other issue, that the Biden administration is getting pushback both from Democrats and Republicans and support from Democrats and Republicans, it may be the most bipartisan thing going on in America, and that is this pullback out of Afghanistan. There are people on both sides who support the idea that after 20 years, we have not done enough in Afghanistan, and we can`t afford more losses. And there are others who think it is a remarkably dangerous move to be pulling out of Afghanistan right now with an ascendant Taliban?

BASH: Well, I think what President Biden concluded was that we needed to change our strategy that for 20 years, we`ve had combat troops on the ground, we`ve achieved militarily what we want to achieve, which is that we`ve gotten Osama bin Laden, and we`ve decapitated al Qaeda`s leadership. We prevented Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven, where the al Qaeda network can attack our homeland. And now that the homeland threats actually emanate not just from Afghanistan, but in fact, from Syria, from Yemen, from Africa, from a number of places around the world, we have to reset and re-posture our force, you`ve got to have an over the horizon kinetic strike capability to use intelligence on the ground, fused with air power, from the skies, where we can kinetically strike terrorist targets wherever they are. And that`s going to be the strategy going forward in Afghanistan.

I think there`s a risk, of course that the Afghan government could fall to the Taliban. That`s been clear and Biden said it`s a possibility when he talks to the press this week, but again, that does not mean that we have to have combat troops on the ground. We`re going to have a robust military presence so that we can ensure that the homeland is protected with that which after all, Ali, is the central objective of our being there in the first place.

VELSHI: Eugene tonight, the recount audit, whatever you want to call it in Arizona continues. It`s a remarkable thing. Pennsylvania is getting ready to do something similar. The Texas legislature is in session currently, having looked at pretty much everything that worked in the last election and deciding that they`re making it illegal. There are state leaders, there are civil rights leaders who went to the White House yesterday to plead with the President, the Vice President for leadership on the federal level and it appears that on Tuesday in Philadelphia, Joe Biden is going to say something about voting rights in America. What can he say? What can he do?


DANIELS: What he can do is say things, right? That`s essentially all the power that he has. And that`s exactly what those civil rights leaders said to him yesterday, they wanted to hear him use his bully pulpit more than he has. He`s tasked what Vice President, Kamala Harris ask for, the task to lead on voting rights. But with, you know, when it comes to legislation, it`s kind of over and dead, right? Like what happened with SB1 not allowing any debate republicans blocking any debate on SB1, which is the For the People Act of basically, democracy reform.

The John Lewis Advancement Act hasn`t even really been written in the House or the Senate. And so there`s not a lot of legislative push. And so the civil rights leaders, they spoke with him for an hour and 40 minutes, it was not supposed to be that long. We`re all waiting to hear from them. And when they came out, they said that what they know is that they have to take to the streets. They have to build a public campaign. And what was interesting is that it`s -- they reminded A lot of us of the 60s, they said, you know, when it looked dire, when civil rights, we were asking for civil rights, we kept pushing it, we kept pushing and something happened. So that is what they`re bringing to the table.

President Biden, he is going to, on Tuesday talk about voting rights. He`s been promising to do something like this for a few weeks, like you said at the top here. Well, one thing I talked to some of these leaders who are in the meeting with them, they want to see what they saw when he was selling his infrastructure plan. They want to see him go state to state to state not just go to Philadelphia, you know, the birthplace of democracy, also go to Georgia. Also, go to Texas, go to some of these states where voting restrictions are being put in place. The White House hasn`t said if that`s something they`re planning on doing. But they`re going to have to do more, or they`re going to see more frustration from civil rights leaders.

VELSHI: And Susan, you have recently written about the rise in crime and the concerns around that across the country, there was a lot of supervised or unsupervised release from prisons, because of COVID. There are a lot of police who have retired or resigned in the wake of the social justice movements in the last year. And it is it continues to be a concern. What`s your takeaway from how this plays out in America?

PAGE: You know, we did a national poll this week, the number one concern on the minds of people are crime and public safety. But it is different from the kind of traditional tough on crime response we have seen in the past, we find much more concern about criminal justice, equal rights, equal protection, equal treatment by the police, of people of all races, then I think we`ve seen in previous iterations of concern about from this. It`s complicated. People want to feel safe. People want to have faith in their police. But we found only one in five Americans believe that the police treat all races equally. That is a big erosion in support of the place than we have seen before. And a reflection I think of the past year after George Ford`s murder and the massive protests that followed.

VELSHI: Thank you for that important reporting. Susan Page, Eugene Daniels and Jeremy Bash, thank you this evening.

Coming up, Dr. Vin Gupta on today`s new CDC school guidelines and the vaccine outreach pushback. There`s pushback against just outreach here in this country.

And later, as the dramatic evidence keeps piling up, some Republicans continue to cast doubt about the house investigation into the Capitol Hill riot, now just 10 days away. We`ll get into the politics of accountability. The 11th Hour, just getting underway on a Friday night.




GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) ARKANSAS: It`s a tough wall of hesitancy that we see and we`ve been hit very hard in the sense that we have the Delta variant that came and then our vaccination rate was not as high as it should have been. There is awareness out there. But more than the weariness, I`m concerned about the misinformation and that`s what we`re really trying to counter right now.


VELSHI: Arkansas is just one of several states where less than half the population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. As the Delta variant triggers more outbreaks and hospitalizations, the CDC is advising mask wearing in schools for unvaccinated students and faculty. But the federal health agency is also calling for a full reopening. The New York Times reports "One major shift is in the recommendation for physical distancing. The agency continues to advise that students be spaced at least three feet apart but with a new caveat."

If maintaining such spacing would prevent schools from bringing all students back, they could rely on a combination of other strategies like indoor masking, testing, and enhanced ventilation.

Back again tonight, Dr. Vin Gupta, a critical care pulmonologist in Seattle who specializes in these kinds of illnesses. He`s also on the faculty of the University of Washington`s Institute for Health, Metrics and Evaluation.

Vin, then there`s a lot of information coming out. There are emerging mores about how to behave, along with new information about this Delta variant, that we know that this Delta variant is hitting a lot of people who have not been vaccinated. We`ve also heard that it`s hitting people in what are so called breakthrough cases who have been vaccinated. Put it all together for us and give us your weight matrix of concern right now?

DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: So good evening, Ali. Good to see you. I guess what I would say at the top line is that if you`re fully vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine, so two doses of Pfizer, two doses of Moderna in the United States, you are protected from the Delta variant and from severe outcomes of hospitalizations, truly the end outcome here that we all want to prevent, two doses, so I think that`s going to be key here. We can talk about those who receive one dose of Johnson & Johnson later if you`d like.

But that is the key piece here, which is why this discussion this morning, for example, about requiring a third dose, I think is premature. And you`ve seen Dr. Fauci. And others really pushed back on that, I think appropriately so.

With respect to school reopenings, the CDC got it right. This has to be a decision that local school districts make based on local realities, Ali. However, I think there`s going to be some challenges here. You don`t want local school districts having to enforce a mask mandate based on local realities. I do think the CDC could have recommended into our masking until the vaccines are fully approved. At which point if we`re going to mandate polio and measles, mumps and rubella for young kids, we`re probably going to be mandating COVID-19 vaccines. So that could have been the glide path to a mandate, which I suspect is going to happen in most parts of the country.


Lastly, I`ll just say, I really liked the emphasis on ventilation. We cannot continue to distance. We cannot expect inner urban city school districts to distance, much less three feet versus zero feet, it`s really, really difficult. So this is a long term capital investment. Improving ventilation, for example, is vital. It`s going to help us in the short term and also in the long term.

VELSHI: Right. We`ve come a long way since last year where we were wiping everything down into realizing that it`s ventilation, it`s airborne. That`s a very big challenge when you touched on it, but it`s a very big challenge. I mean, we have broken down inner city schools in this country. They have all sorts of problems fixing ventilations, not a small one.

GUPTA: Oh, you bet. And so this is high efficiency, particle filtration systems, MERV 13 filters, things that people probably have never heard of, you know, I`m a lung doc, so I think about this stuff. But unless you geek out on it, you don`t know a lot about it. These are really expensive things as well. I mean, you`re talking about $30,000 to retrofit one public school and a large public school district, that`s going to cost a lot of money, then this is not necessarily an area that we can expect public school districts just to be able to fund on their own with the resources that they have, that they need to focus on directly towards educational resources. So we need to make sure that the federal government, CDC, if they`re going to say, well, if you don`t distance mask, test, and ventilate, but we need to make sure we provide public school districts, especially with those resources.

VELSHI: Johnson & Johnson vaccine was a fantastic idea for hard to reach populations, people who couldn`t schedule a second dose for a lot of service workers, flight attendants, people like that who, you know, just hard to get them in the same place for a second dose. You`re telling me a little more to worry about if you`re a one dose Johnson & Johnson person as it relates to the Delta variant?

GUPTA: Well, I think we have to infer on the data that we have right now, Ali, versus -- I know the CDC and NIH want to wait until that we conduct a clinical trial here, which is going to take some time, potentially up to six months to determine if a second dose is safe and effective. If you got that one shot at Johnson & Johnson, I think we just need to look at what England has done with one shot AstraZeneca mixing and matching with that second dose of an mRNA vaccine, J&J and AstraZeneca very similar. Turns out if you mix and match AstraZeneca it`s not only safe and effective if you get a second dose of an mRNA vaccine, provides robust protection against the Delta barrier, both keeping out of the hospital and also protecting against transmission. I think every one shot J&J individual here in the United States deserves the opportunity to get a second shot if they so choose, while the CDC, NIH are completing U.S. phase clinical trials.

VELSHI: Vin, let me ask you about this Pfizer discussion about their -- they`d like emergency use authorization, probably around August for a booster shot. Some suggest that was premature and caused a whole bunch of people to think they`re going to need a booster shot of this thing. There seems to be an overlap of a discussion about you`ll need a booster shot because of the amount of time that`s gone by since you got your initial Pfizer shot and for the fact that this will be a better, more effective against the Delta variant. Can you tell me what I`m supposed to glean from this Pfizer kind of announcement?

GUPTA: Well, Ali, let me put it in personal terms. If you know somebody say if you have a loved one that`s maybe 65 years of age or older, or has an immunocompromising condition like cancer, recent chemotherapy, they are the individuals who will be first in line for a booster shot. We`ve long suspected that those individuals would need a third shot if they got two doses of Pfizer, Moderna. So that`s natural. That`s no surprise there.

What was a mistake was for Pfizer coming out and saying all of us need a booster shot, and likely 12 months, if not sooner. There`s no evidence to that effect. Two doses of Pfizer, like the two doses of Moderna keep you out of the hospital from Delta. So this is -- the booster shots are important for immunocompromised people and those with advanced age, for the rest of us, it`s to be determined whether we need it. And this is why it`s important, Ali, the comment I get for most individuals who have yet to get the vaccine or thinking about getting the vaccine is well, why do I need somebody shots? Or are pharmaceutical companies just trying to make a buck on me? So this is only going to worsen our ability to address hesitancy throwing out, through shots without evidence.

VELSHI: Yeah. Vin, I want to ask you about -- I was talking to Dr. Ala Stanford the other day who said, look, it`s time to get out there and try and convince people possibly one on one, use trusted people to go out and get them to break their vaccine resistance, something that White House suggested, and I`m a little puzzled by the response. We had Lauren Boebert calling it Nazi needle people. We have all sorts of governors who are pushing back on the idea that people might go and talk to people to overcome their vaccine hesitancy?


GUPTA: I`m not sure what they`re afraid of. The one-to-one engagement has purse. I`ve seen it work. I`ve been directly, whenever I`ve been doing it, I`ve seen it work and I`ve witness others. I`ve seen it work.

What we need is especially for those that are unvaccinated tend to be younger people. We need to change their threat perception, Ali. Right now, they`re thinking COVID-19, the type of virus, the type of strain that put mom and dad and grandma and grandpa in an ICU, not the Delta variant and the threat that it poses to them in their own health. So we need to have that one on one conversation. What we do, and when we address their concerns, it does work. So, I`m not sure what they`re afraid of.

VELSHI: And no one`s going door to door and jabbing people with injections. It`s a conversation. Vin, thanks very much for being with us. As always, Vin Gupta is a doctor, he is a critical care pulmonologist in Seattle.

Coming up, more than six months after the insurrection, Capitol Hill police are still waiting for accountability. But politics continues to drown out proof. Two of our favorite political observers take that on when the 11th Hour continues.


VELSHI: Even as the Justice Department is warning the former president`s false claims about the election might fuel further violence, we`re seeing for the first time brutal new video from January 6. Rioters can be seen dragon Capitol Police officers into the mob. And we warn you this is hard to watch.



VELSHI: With us to talk more about this Robert Gibbs, he`s a former Obama campaign Senior Advisor and White House Press Secretary under President Obama, Bill Kristol, Author, Writer, Thinker, around good guy in Politico. He`s a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations and the Editor-at- Large at the Bulwark.

This video, Bill, it really, you know, it`s sort of flies in the face of those, including McCarthy, but all the other Republicans who have gone out there and said this was a normal tourist visit. This wasn`t serious. This was BLM, this was Antifa. We are seeing every week, more and more serious matters about how these people egged on by Donald Trump really were doing the things that look very much like insurrection.

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yeah, they were there to support Trump, to support Trump`s efforts to overturn the election and effort he had engaged in behind the scenes with phone calls to the Georgia Secretary of State and pressure on the Arizona elected -- election officials as well as publicly with all the rhetoric, the big lie.

Trump brought them there. Trump spoke to them at noon. And Trump did not do anything to help guard the Capitol or help once the attack began or even tried to call them off in any serious way, for two or three hours. So I think this narrative, you know, it`s very important to really lay out what happened, and for Donald Trump`s responsibility for much of what happened, and hopefully this Select Committee will do that.

VELSHI: Robert, this is interesting, because it comes in right at the moment that the Capitol police are looking to expand their mandate to get out there provide more safety for members of Congress, and they need more money. They`re running out of salary money, there have been a number of Capitol police who have left they`re short of their normal contingent that they should have. And far short of the condition that General Russel Honore thought that they`d be needing. Now this weekend, starting today that fencing is coming down around the Capitol. The President hasn`t had a ton to say about this, should he?

ROBERT GIBBS, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah, I think he almost certainly will, as this commission gets underway. And I think the chairman of the new commission stated today that the first witnesses that he would call and that we would hear from as a country first are many of those police officers, some of whom may have been in the video that you just showed.

And so I think the searing images that we saw a little more than six months ago. And the real heartfelt testimony that we`re surely going to hear in just a couple of weeks from those law enforcement officers are going to spur action around the security needs that we know fell short, on January 6, and to make sure that it absolutely never happens again. There`s a lot to uncover in this commission. We need to know a lot about intelligence failures. We need to know a lot about what happened in terms of the organization around these groups that planned and executed that. And I think hearing that directly from law enforcement will be extremely impactful.

VELSHI: Bill, let`s play this out. I guess McCarthy`s got three options, right? He ignores it doesn`t fill his five seats on the committee and says that this wasn`t a bipartisan committee. He fills it with five Republicans who will be fighters, and who will keep this about something else and managed to just spar because he`s got people in his conference who can do that. Or he fills it with five reasonable people who`d like to get to the bottom of exactly what happened on January 6, and how it should never happen again. What do you think happens in and how does he play that?

KRISTOL: Anyway, put on a mix of semi reasonable people and Trump loyalists, but at the end of the day, we know what the Republican Party in the House thinks about this. Fewer than 20% of them voted for a commission that would have been evenly divided. Those subpoena power unless one member from the other party came along that got 37 House Republican votes, I believe, which out of what 210, seven members, then when it came back when that failed in the Senate because it got only seven Republican senators to support it, 7 out of 50. They came back with a select committee, and that got two Republican votes, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

Republican Party does not want investigation into January 6 and into what led up from November 3 to January 6, that`s really the key. The violence on the sixth is awful. But what the President did over those two months and what he and the Republican Party are still doing his key. So I don`t think the Democrats can count on much help from the Republicans apart from Liz Cheney.

VELSHI: And Robert, how do the Democrats make this into a valid exercise because they tried with the concept of the bipartisan commission. They actually had bipartisan support on that until it just didn`t go anywhere in the Senate. How does Nancy Pelosi move this forward so that it feels like something that has a conclusion that pins the responsibility on anybody who needs to hold responsibility for this to allow us to move forward?


GIBBS: Well, I think she has started that by appointing very serious investigators and given them the mission to uncover the truth. You know, it`s very similar to the approach that she took when, even though she was skeptical many years ago around the Benghazi commission, the investigation around the events in Benghazi, and it`s a similar situation that Kevin McCarthy finds himself in.

She was skeptical of what that might produce but appointed serious legislators and serious investigators that acted in a serious way around this investigation. And so, I think for her, and she understands this methodical, truthful, fact based. I think that`s what she has set out to do. I think that`s exhibited in the appointments that she`s made. She`s made this commission by partisan. Liz Cheney is going to be very active in this commission. And I think it`s going to uncover some things that will shock all of us. I don`t know what those are, but I know that the Republicans are fighting this hard enough to know that there`s something in there that will really jar us.

VELSHI: Kevin McCarthy would have you all believe that Liz Cheney has suddenly become some kind of a lefty liberal lover. I think we`ll all find that`s not actually the truth.

Bill, good to see you as always, Robert, good to see you. Our guests have agreed to stay with us a bit longer on this Friday night.

Coming up, I`ll be working -- it`ll be a working weekend for Texas Democrats still fighting to keep voter rights. But will it be enough?




STATE REP. JASMINE CROCKETT, (D) TEXAS: The reality is that, what we see happening in Texas, it`s not just Texas. This is something that`s going on in the entire country. And so I really do implore our lawmakers to understand that democracy is on the line. And so this filibuster issue, I think we need to go ahead and handle that if we`re going to save our very democracy that we say that we love so much in this country.


VELSHI: In Texas, Republicans are gearing up for their second attempt to pass some of the strictest voting restrictions in the country. The first bill was temporarily killed when Democrat`s stage to walk out back in May, just as it was going to be passed. Now, the governor Greg Abbott has summoned the legislature back for a special session to finish the job.

Still with us, Robert Gibbs, and Bill Kristol. Bill, let me ask you, there are -- clearly some Republicans in this country who do not want the stain of this being what Republicans do now. You know, promulgate the big lie and enact restrictive voting rights. How does this get dealt with? Is it a federal thing? Can enough Republicans at the federal level get together and join with Democrats to stop this kind of nonsense that we`re seeing in Texas, that we`re going to see in Pennsylvania, that we`re seeing in Georgia that we`re going to see in Michigan, and that we`re seeing in Arizona from continuing?

KRISTOL: I`ve been involved in a new group Republicans for voting rights. And we have quite a lot of, I think a lot of reaction from actual Republicans, or some recently, former Republicans around the country, or the elected officials, some of them just want to restrict voting. Some of them want to have the option of overturning the election results in 2022, or 2024 in the state legislature, or possibly in the House of Representatives, and the others, they just don`t want to do anything much, and don`t want to talk about it and want to pretend there`s no problem.

The degree to which there were a few courageous Republicans who stood up obviously after November 3, who did the right thing. And Arizona, in Michigan, in Georgia, they`re all being attacked, they`re all being challenged in primaries are getting very little support from other Republicans in their states or around the country. So the problem with some of the only, some of the Republicans, I don`t know how many believe the big lie, but the others aren`t willing to stand up to it.

VELSHI: Robert Gibbs, how does one take advantage of the fact that a lot of Republicans don`t? A lot of Republicans casually believe that there`s a something of a voter fraud issue in this country that probably needs to be dealt with, but don`t share the view that Joe Biden didn`t legitimately win the election. What`s the way to make this a more partisan effort? Because at the state level in these Republican controlled legislatures, this is getting out of control?

GIBBS: Yeah, I think you`re going to have to see this happen really at the DNC level at the political level. I think you saw this happen earlier in the week with Vice President Harris, announcing a renewed effort at the Democratic National Committee to take this on as an issue, to think about how to register more voters, how to fight some of this suppression, how to get back into the court system. I think the challenge that you heard from Bill and others is this isn`t likely to get solved legislatively as much as Democrats would want it to as much as legislators in a lot of these states would want to see this happen. There`s going to have some success in the courts, the Supreme Court recently ruled against fixing the Arizona law, but state courts have been better in doing this. But I think this is going to have to be an election issue. It`s going to have to be a political issue. And you have to have campaigns, who are going to have to explain to voters literally one to one, the reason they`re trying to take your voice away. Why is that? They don`t want you to participate. That`s got to be a rallying cry that really gets people out to the polls.

VELSHI: And interesting, Bill, I got a minute left. But this is not popular, even amongst Republicans in Arizona, for instance, now Pennsylvania, Republicans are starting down this road of ballot recounting and auditing. It`s not something rank and file Republicans seem that into?

KRISTOL: Some are but some aren`t. But again, it needs, as Robert says, give it a bigger political issue, in my opinion. I am more hopeful for legislation in Washington than some people I`ve been talking to a lot of people about this the last few days. And I think there`s a chance that Manchin, Sinema will rethink their opposition to adjusting the filibuster when they see how intransigent Republicans would be even on the kind of most narrow and focused protections voters and protection against overturning the election, so, but I think a full bore salt across the board by people who believe in voting rights and believe in not overturning elections is necessary. The issue has to be highlighted. It can`t just be we`re going to, you know, put some money into helping people register.


VELSHI: Guys, thanks very much for joining me tonight, Bill Kristol and Robert Gibbs.

Coming up, America`s withdraw from Afghanistan is having a huge impact on some folks who were critical to helping our troops on the ground there for years. So what happens to those people now? That story when the 11th Hour continues.


VELSHI: The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is set to be complete by August the 31st. But that doesn`t leave much time to process and evacuate the 1000s of Afghan interpreters who once worked for the U.S. military. And with the Taliban gaining ground their situation is becoming more urgent.

NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel has our report tonight.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Taliban today took over two more Afghan border crossings and now claimed to control 85% of Afghanistan. That may be an exaggeration, but not by much. The Taliban certainly control or are fighting to control the majority of the country, as the Afghan army fractures and surrenders.

Left behind are 1000s of Afghan contractors and translators. The Taliban considers them traitors. Yesterday, President Biden had this message for them.


BIDEN: Afternoon, there is a home for you in the United States if you so choose and we will stand with you just as you stood with us.


ENGEL: In Kabul, I met Tom (ph) which is what U.S. troops called him.

(on camera): Did you hear President Biden`s promise?

TOM: I got a lot of news, a lot of announcements, but they are no action.

ENGEL (voice-over): Tom lived in close quarters with U.S. troops and has reams of recommendation letters. He helped translate for and sometimes defend U.S. forces on 150 combat operations.

TOM: He told me like hey, Tom, just get behind me and show me the enemies.

ENGEL (on camera): So you`re pointing out, U.S. soldiers where the Taliban?

TOM: Yeah, I`m pointing them, I`m pointing --

ENGEL: They`re over there, they`re over there?

TOM: Yes sir.

ENGEL (voice-over): Tom`s former company commander vouches for him and wrote a letter endorsing his application.


ANDREW ZIEBELL, FORMER U.S. ARMY CAPTAIN: We owe a debt not just to Tom but to the interpreters that served us and fought alongside us.

ENGEL (voice-over): Tom has been waiting for his visa for four years.

TOM: This process is really hard man.

ENGEL (on camera): You help the U.S., now the U.S. needs to help you.

TOM: Yep.

ENGEL: Simple as that?

TOM: Yeah, yeah. That time U.S. need -- was need help to we help them. Right now we need to help. So U.S. army, the U.S. government have to help us.

ENGEL (on camera): Seems reasonable.


ENGEL: Ali, Tom told us he reached out to the U.S. Embassy through the website and was told his visa is in administrative processing. Still, he says that translators have already been killed, including a colleague killed on his way to pick up his visa. Ali.

VELSHI: Yet another night of remarkable reporting from Richard. I thank you for that report.

Coming up, all it takes is a dream really good science and a whole lot of money, the latest on the billionaire Space Race when the 11th Hour continues.



RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GALACTIC FOUNDER: Why shouldn`t we behave as a human race, be able to go into space and marvel, you know, marvel at the world and had the experience of a lifetime and that`s only happened to 500 people roughly since space travel started. You know, Virgin Galactic hope to enable, you know, hundreds more.


VELSHI: Last thing before we go tonight that was Sir Richard Branson who will be fulfilling his dream of rocketing to the edge of space on Sunday. He`ll join his crew board Virgin Galactic VSS unity spaceship two vehicle traveling across the boundary line between Earth`s atmosphere and space. Branson and his crew will get three to four minutes of weightlessness during a mission that`s slated to last about 90 minutes in total.

Join me for our special coverage, The New Space Race right here on MSNBC. That starts at 8 a.m. Eastern on Sunday. I`ll be joined by former astronauts Leland Melvin Scott Kelly and Dr. Mae Jemison, as well as scientist Michio Kaku. I hope you`ll join me. Before that as well tomorrow morning at 8:00 Eastern for my show, Velshi. That is our broadcast for this Friday night, with our thanks for being with us. Brian will be back here on Monday and on behalf of all my colleagues here at the networks of NBC News, good night.