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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 8/11/21

Guests: Michael Osterholm, Aileen Marty, Mike Murphy


California mandates vaccines for public school staff. Senate approves $3.5T budget plan that would expand social safety net. Dems Manchin and Sinema signal budget cost concerns. Would Health Organization predicts another 100,000,000 COVID cases worldwide by early 2022. Anti-mask protests erupt at Tennessee school board meeting. Feds warn of violence fueled by Trump election lie. COVID cases and hospitalizations surge in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis defies health experts backing school mask ban. Political tensions grow in Florida over COVID precautions. Dems see a divide between progressives and moderates. Texas Democrats at odds with one another as some return to Legislature and others stay in Washington, D.C. Warrants served to Texas Democrats, but holdout continues. Senate adjourns until September without advancing voting rights legislation. Taliban advances as U.S. nears final withdrawal.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again. Day 204 of the Biden administration. Millions of Americans may soon be eligible for a third shot to boost their immunity. NBC News among those reporting. The FDA is expected to green light booster shots for immunocompromised people at first as soon as the next 48 hours. Today the CDC took a step to endorse vaccines for pregnant women, citing new data finding no increased risk of miscarriage. This comes amid more vaccine mandates.

Employees of Amtrak for one were the latest to learn today, they`ve got to get the shot or submit to weekly testing on the job. Same now goes for all staff working in California schools. Governor Gavin Newsom is the first state leader to put such a requirement into place.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: We think this is the right thing to do. And we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open, and to address the number one anxiety that parents like myself have for young children. And that is knowing that the schools are doing everything in their power to keep our kids safe.


WILLIAMS: On the political front here at home, we are getting yet another account of the lengths to which the former president was willing to go in order to hold on to power.

Katie Benner of the New York Times who will join us in just a moment, was first on the board tonight with reporting about the testimony of a former U.S. Attorney in Atlanta. He testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Times reports BJ Pak told lawmakers, "his abrupt resignation in January had been prompted by Justice Department officials warning that President Trump intended to fire him for refusing to say that widespread voter fraud had been found in Georgia." And The Washington Post now reporting that ex-Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who took Trump`s election fraud claims to court and failed, told federal agents back in 2018, it was OK to throw a fake in the course of a campaign. Post says that during that same interview, Giuliani`s then law partner Marc Mukasey added that during a campaign, "you`re under no obligation to tell the truth."

Meanwhile, a Trump appointed federal judge has rejected efforts by the three top promoters of the former president`s election fraud lies to toss out defamation suits they`re facing for allegedly false statements they made about the election technology firm dominion. It comes as the Department of Homeland Security is warning police departments around the country about possible political violence fueled by those same false election fraud claims.

As all this unfolds, House Democrats won a partial victory and their effort to get some of Trump`s financial documents. A judge said they can indeed see documents covering 2017, 2018 but turned down their request for information dating back to 2011 before Trump was president. As for the current president, his agenda moved a little closer to reality this morning when the Senate approved a framework for that three and a half trillion dollar plan to expand the social safety net.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this vote, the yeas are 50, the nays are 49. And the concurrent resolution as amended is agreed to.


WILLIAMS: What you just saw there was a party line vote of all Democrats, no Republicans, and it came just before 4 a.m. and the exhausted chamber. This afternoon the President took something of a victory lap.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: In the past 24 hours we`ve seen the Senate advanced to keep pieces of my economic agenda, historic investments are on the way as well. This is an accidental, they`ll make a huge difference for families, and they`re going to be fully paid for. This isn`t going to be anything like my predecessor, whose unpaid tax cuts and other spending added nearly $8 trillion in his four years to the national debt $8 trillion.


WILLIAMS: Two Democrats in the Senate and to use plain English they are the usual suspects Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have already started expressing concerns about the plans price tag. Some of their colleagues over in the House are also worried about the cost while others we should point out don`t think it goes far enough.

And with that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, Peter Baker, veteran journalist and author who is Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, the aforementioned Katie Benner, Justice Department Reporter, also with the Time, she broke tonight`s news about the former president`s attempts to subvert the election results. Also back with us tonight, Michael Osterholm, the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota. He was also a COVID advisor to the Biden transition team back then.


Michael indeed, because of the news tonight, I`d like to begin with you. During the simpler days of our single strain uncontrolled pandemic, we made it a habit on this broadcast of asking you what inning we were in, in the fight. Those were the days before vaccines. And I`m tempted to ask tonight, have they added on innings in the game? Or do we find ourselves perhaps in game one of a doubleheader?

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, MEMBER OF BIDEN CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Well, I guess I would take it even a slightly different direction to that, Brian. I gave up on innings, and I`m now into quarters, which minute of the quarter it is, because we really had game changers when these new variants arrived. And they have fundamentally changed the game that we`re playing. So from my perspective, right now, it`s all about the variant. It`s about what Delta is doing, what it`s going to continue to do and what we can do about it.

WILLIAMS: I know of your concerns to get the rest of the world vaccinated. And I think all good hearted Americans agree with you. But are all Americans headed for a third shot sooner rather than later not just the immunocompromised?

OSTERHOLM: Well, one of the things we have to remember here as we talk about these vaccines, because I hear many people say, oh, my, we didn`t know that about the vaccines. We knew from the very beginning, we would live in a world that we call corrected science. You know, scientists make discoveries, we then change what we`re doing based on that discovery, we then have more discoveries, we can make changes. And in this case, what you`re hearing about tonight from the FDA, is not really a booster shot, although is being characterized is that remember, for many childhood vaccines, we have three to four doses of the vaccine to be given before we consider them fully vaccinated. And we now know that immune compromised people that it`s going to take three doses to get them to a point that we want them to be at. But then as we move forward, I think you`re going to find that over the course of the next several weeks, you`re going to hear a lot more about waning immunity, that in fact that people who have beyond six months after their vaccination end up looking like they may need another booster shot. And that`s got to be balanced against the fact that right now, among the 6.4 billion people living in low and middle income countries, less than 2% of those people have that access to vaccine, if we are want to approach this from a humanitarian standpoint, which I think we should, obviously we need to do a lot more. But even more importantly, we need to approach her from a strategic standpoint. And what I mean by that is that this is where the new variants are going to come spinning out of all those 6.4 billion people who are getting infected and getting infected frequently now. And so I think we`re going to have to balance somehow how do we look at three doses to a person in a high income country like the United States, and no doses to the vast majority of the world?

WILLIAMS: Katie Benner before I get to the story you broke tonight, a little background join us in watching this reminder of what Trump was saying about Georgia, among other states before the U.S. Attorney there resigned.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Do you remember Georgia when they said oh, we had a big flood, we had a pipeline break, a major water pipeline break. It was no pipeline. That was the people where they took all of those ballots, all of those Biden ballots under the table with the black dress, and they took them and they started shoving them into a machine.

In Georgia, the Secretary of State began illegally processing ballots weeks before Election Day, and also destroyed the signature verification systems. These actions alone were more than enough to rig the election results for Democrats.

So dead people voted and I think the number is in the prox --close to 5,000 people.


WILLIAMS: So Katie, join me in labeling all of that garbage. And to your reporting tonight remind us how Georgia fit in the big lie that of course culminated with an attempt to overturn the results of the election?

KATIE BENNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: And Trump was obsessed with Georgia. As we hear from those clips, he really was convinced that there was fraud in Georgia. And one of the interesting things is that nobody could change his mind, not his own justice department officials, not officials in Georgia who would also -- state officials in Georgia who would also investigated these claims. We heard on leaked audio phone call with Brad Raffensperger, Secretary of State that indeed they had looked into these claims not found anything.

And one of the things that BJ Pak the former U.S. Attorney in Atlanta testified to today before the Senate Judiciary Committee was the heat who had looked into these claims and had not found any evidence to support them. Yet, he also told them that this enrage President Trump so much that he was warned before his departure that he was going to either have to quit or be fired, but it was certain that he would have to go because Trump was so angered by this.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, as a journalist, do you have a full sense yet of the length of the former president went to, to stay as President?


PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, I think Katie`s reporting is just the tip of the iceberg. I think we have seen repeatedly over the last six months, particularly actually, a lot of Katie`s reports, in that time have revealed again and again, just how far both the President and his team were willing to go, to overturn a democratic election through false claims through, you know, far fetched theory, through pressure on people who were in the federal government, people who were in state government, people who were in local positions, people who were, you know, beyond his reach. It didn`t matter if President Trump was going to try to convince everybody and pressure everybody into backing his claims, even knowing that they weren`t true. And his own people told him they weren`t true again and again, as Katie said, yeah, was Attorney General Barr told us this is all nonsense. He used the BS term to tell him there was nothing there. The U.S. attorney that Katie has written about tonight is just one of many in the Justice Department who basically said there`s no there, there and it didn`t matter. The President didn`t want to hear it. He just wanted anything that anyone would tell him that would justify the idea that he could stay in office beyond his democratically constitutionally set term.

WILLIAMS: Michael, back to you and the issue at hand, I`m going to play for you part of a school board meeting in Tennessee that just dissolved over the subject of mask wearing.


CROWD: Will not comply! No more masks!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a place in hell for you guys. There is a bad place in hell and everybody`s taking notes, buddy. Keep that little smile. Yeah, we know who you are. We know who you are. You can leave freely but we will find you and we know who you are.



WILLIAMS: Michael, you and I are close in age and we have the vaccine scars to prove it. I don`t recall through the measles, mumps, rubella, polio vaccines, our parents being guided by either their political party or the votes and wishes of politicians. How scary is that atmosphere to you, as someone in public health in this fight every day?

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, it causes anger, it causes sadness. And it surely causes a question about how can we move forward with many of these very, and critical public health activities we need to take on to control this disease.

You know, I`m the grandfather of five wonderful children. All of them, unfortunately, are under the age of 12. So they can`t be vaccinated. And I look at, how can we protect them in our schools today because we want them to go to school. And that`s not easy. It`s complicated. You know, what kind of mask do you wear? What kind of ventilation system do you use?

And when it boils down to what we just saw, you don`t have any discussions about those things. But you have our discussions about selfish people who are more concerned about personal views for themselves, and they are about the safety of their kids. And I don`t know how to describe it than that. But at some point, when we wake up, how many kids are going to have to get sick, how many will die before people realize that all this rhetoric is going to do nothing to protect the lives of these children?

WILLIAMS: Assuming our viewers can ride with us as we ping pong between subjects. Katie Benner, back to you and your beat, the January 6 investigation has already for its limited time, I think you`d agree had a high yield. Anyway, you can preview any reason you have to know what`s coming in the investigation?

BENNER: Sure, so to your point, about 570 people have now been charged and investigators are moving quickly to try to push these cases through the courts, as you can imagine, between COVID and the backlog that created here in the courts -- the federal courts in Washington and this enormous number of cases. That is -- time is of the essence to try to figure out how to deal with them while you`re going to see the Justice Department move to try to cut plea deals with defendants, try to achieve guilty pleas and then to also really focus on the cases that are not the more, that are not breaking and entering. They`re not being in places where they shouldn`t have been, they`re not illegal entering the building, but that speak to active conspiracies to come to Washington to try to stop the certification the election. There`s going to be a lot of focus there and it will take time to get those through the courts. But that is the big challenge facing the Justice Department right now on January 6.


WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, final word goes to you. I don`t know much but three and a half trillion dollars seems like a whole lot of money. Talk about how the White House is feeling about the coming fight not only friendly fire blue on blue, which they have to face and try to put down. But what they`re looking at to try to advance with anything they can label as bipartisan.

BAKER: Yeah, I don`t think the White House has any illusions that they`re going to get anything that looks bipartisan on this second spending package. They`re very happy they got through the Senate first hard infrastructure bill that was passed yesterday with 19 Republican votes, including Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, they have no illusions that`s going to happen, anything like that on this second bill, which is what they`re calling human infrastructure, meaning things like, you know, universal pre-K, two-years of community college, expanded Medicare, climate change measures, that kind of thing.

They`re going to have to do this entirely on their own votes. And remember, the Democrats have a 50/50 Senate with the vice president breaking a tie, and basically a three vote, I think margin in the House. There`s no room for error. And we heard already today even after the Senate voted to advance the beginning in effect of the debate over this budget blueprint to Democratic senators, Manchin and Sinema, as you mentioned earlier, express their doubts about it.

So the President is really focused now, having spent a lot of time on the bipartisan, you know, approach is now focused on the partisan approach. How does he get his own team behind him? How does he marry the progressives who want more with the moderates who are concerned about going too far?

WILLIAMS: So thanks to those watching tonight, and to our starting three for bouncing along with us between topics, to Peter Baker, Katie Benner, Michael Osterholm, our thanks for starting off our conversation on this Wednesday night.

Coming up after our first break, a record no one wants why Florida has more COVID patients in the hospital than even New York back in the battle days, the worst days of the pandemic early on. I`ll talk to a top physician fighting her way through it.

And later, what will Republicans do with those pesky Texas Democrats who left town in order to stop oppressive voting restrictions from becoming law? If you guessed, arrest warrants, why you`d be correct. All of it as the 11th Hour it`s just getting underway on this Wednesday night.



WILLIAMS: Florida continues to lead the country in New COVID infections averaging roughly 20,000 new cases every day. Data from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services reveals Florida`s hospitalizations have broken daily records for 11 days in a row now. First responders in one Florida county pleading with the people there to think twice before they call 911 because they`re struggling to contain the surge again, just like the battle days of the pandemic.

The Miami Herald reports, "This new wave is increasingly affecting younger populations in terms of the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19, Florida has ranked among the two worst states in the nation. And hospitals have been sounding alarms. Despite the urgency to protect children with things like school mask mandates, the governor remains opposed.


GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: We believe this is a decision for the parent to make. What we found, fortunately, is there`s actually was higher infection rates when you`re just in the community versus whether when you`re in the classroom, particularly for the younger kids, you know, these kindergarteners and first graders, you know, they`re not people that are really transmitting this in significant levels.


WILLIAMS: Here to help us make sense of all of it Dr. Aileen Marty, she`s a Professor of Infectious Diseases at Florida International University in Miami. She`s a veteran of Global Medicine with the World Health Organization, and is now part of a task force advising public schools in Miami on the pandemic. And Doctor, let`s start with a situation report from you about how bad things are in your area, please?

DR. AILEEN MARTY, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY INFECTIONS DISEASE PROFESSOR: It`s very bad. Our hospitals are between 100 and 160% capacity. And I`m talking about the major medical centers that we have like Jackson and Baptist and so forth. Our urgent cares are backed up, people are waiting ridiculously long hours to get attention because each COVID person requires a lot of care, requires a lot of resources. And that takes away resources from every other type of medical care that we -- that we need to give to members of our community. And that it`s really, very dramatically stressing our system, especially our healthcare workers, our nurses, our physicians, our technicians, everyone is under a tremendous amount of stress. And we`re running down on some resources as well.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, I try to avoid dragging you into politics. But in this case tonight, I find it all but inevitable. And I want to ask you what it`s like to be in your line of work in a state where the governor is anti-mask, especially and including where it applies to children?

MARTY: And that is the million dollar question. Because from my perspective, I am only looking at what is the risk benefit ratio of each public health measure that we do or don`t use, right? And if you look at the risks, which are trivial from the use of a mask compared to the benefits, what you`re preventing, there`s no question that it`s going to reduce transmission. We know masks work very, very well in clinical settings. We have many studies and we`ve known that for decades. That`s why -- you don`t want your dentist not wearing a mask when he`s in your mouth. These things are fundamentally and we know they`re true. And now there`s plenty of studies that show the value of masks in social settings. What we don`t know is exactly what the best policy is for the use of masks, but because we know that masks help and will reduce transmission, and they only really work when everyone around you is doing it because once there are people without masks who are shedding virus, the amount of virus in the atmosphere in an unventilated room becomes so high, that it can overwhelm the protection you have from your mask. And it may also overwhelm the protection you have from a vaccine.


So you want to layer as many protections as you can, and you need other people to be wearing their masks as well. And this is a fundamental thing that we have to recognize is that, yes, we want liberties and freedoms. But my freedom ends, when I`m endangering your health, there`s a limit in society, we can`t be irresponsible, we must be responsible, not just for ourselves but for those around us. We mustn`t put other people in danger. And we have many laws about this, for example, we have laws about secondhand smoke, you can`t smoke in a restaurant these days, because you`re putting other people`s lives at risk. So there are freedoms that we voluntarily give up in order to protect others.

And I think it`s important that we recognize that there`s also freedom on - - that we give up as parents, you`re not allowed to leave a minor at home alone, for very, very good sound reasons. So we, when we impose public health mandates for one reason or another, it`s to the benefit of society at that time in that moment, and in order to do the best thing, and that`s what these issues are about when it comes to our current situation in Florida, which is very, very dire, and are incredibly high viral loads. We`re up to 617 cases per 100,000 in Miami, right now -- excuse me in Florida right now. And that is just not a place where we can sustain not using additional protections. Even the vaccines can be overwhelmed. Everything can be overwhelmed if the dose is really high.

WILLIAMS: Final question, this report about ventilators from the National Stockpile heading your way however much the governor says he was not aware of this, didn`t request it. It sounds like, God forbid, you may need them?

MARTY: I`m so sorry to say that, that is happening. We are having to put more people in ICU. The percentage of our population in ICU now has gone up and our need for ventilators has gone up. So we`re grateful that more coming our way. We`re also going to need more staff. Our staff is really overworked.

WILLIAMS: Yep, indeed the state of Texas is already importing doctors from surrounding states. I`m sure it`s inevitable in Florida. Dr. Aileen Marty, thank you so much for always being generous with your time and taking our questions along with your forthright answers.

Coming up for us, why one of our next guest says, "maybe, just maybe Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi actually know what they`re doing after the Democrats pick up a couple of wins.




SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MAJORITY LEADER: Look, there was some in my coffees who might believe it`s too much there are some in my caucus who believe it`s too little. I can tell you this in reconciliation, one. We are going to all come together to get something done. And to it we`ll have every part of the Biden plan in big bold -- in a big, bold, robust way.


WILLIAMS: Majority Leader they`re sounding a note of optimism despite the uncertain future of infrastructure legislation. The deal is contingent on getting Democrats in both houses on board.

West Virginia democratic senator, wait for it, Joe Manchin, who`s support will be key issued this statement today saying in part, given the current state of the economic recovery, it is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or a Great Recession, not an economy that is on the verge of overheating.

Well, lots to talk about with our guests with us again tonight. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post and Mike Murphy, veteran republican strategist, co-director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern Cal, also co-host of the Hacks on Tap podcast.

Eugene, you get to go first your assessment of the week the Democrats have had thus far.

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, it`s been a pretty incredible weekend. And, I mean, they you know, they were -- there`s no way they were ever going to get a trillion dollar infrastructure bill through the Senate with 19 Republican votes. And there was no way that we`re going to hold together the entire Senate Democratic caucus to pass that $3.5 trillion budget resolution of that whole new ideological range all the way from Joe Manchin to Bernie Sanders.

Yet, here we are. They got both of those things done. And there`s absolutely no way that we`re going to have -- they were going to do both these things at once. Right.

And so, for Democrats, you know, congenitally, I think they`re inclined to just think that the sky is falling, sky is always falling. But I think they ought to entertain the possibility that maybe the sky isn`t falling, maybe Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer are good at this.

And so as we look ahead to all the obstacles that this legislation but everything else will have to cross to actually become fact, maybe you should think (INAUDIBLE), you know, maybe they can get a lot of stuff done, because that`s what they seem to be doing. They`re getting it done.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Murphy this following quote from Mitch McConnell of The Wall Street Journal caught our eye, though the first of these two sentences is on the indecipherable side. It reads, "There`s nothing to back you up like the promise of a presidential signatory, word people use every day, if you`re in the same party as the president."


Here`s the money bite. And so I think the President deserves a lot of credit for getting the democrats open to reaching a bipartisan agreement on this bill. As a McConnell whisperer, Mike, does that mean anything for the future? Or is it simply a quote for the Wall Street Journal?

MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, I think he means it. McConnell could torpedo this thing. He voted for it. And I think he whipped forward a little bit. I think that translation is Biden stopped the liberal wing of the Democratic Party from screwing with this thing that let us get to a place where a bunch of Republicans could vote for it.

And look, I`ll give President Biden and Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell a ton of credit for this, we needed to show our allies and NATO and around the world that we can pass a grownup bill and something we really need to be economically competitive with, which is infrastructure.

So I think they all ought to take a bow in the Senate. But, you know, now we`re going to part two, and I`m a little worried about the House where there are a lot of progressive Democrats who are unhappy, and they`ve been beating their dream catchers into stabbing sticks lately. And, you know, I think the infrastructure bill and that may not be out of the woods yet, though. I hope I`m wrong, because the country needs it.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, to Mike`s colorful point, is Biden`s biggest problem. Blue on blue friendly fire?

ROBINSON: Well, I frankly, think that`s -- I think I that`s overdone. I think blue on blue is overrated. Because look at the record so far in the Biden administration. I mean, yes, you have grumbling from the progressive when you have some grumbling from the moderate way. And as the House tries to pass the infrastructure bill, and also, you know, wants to see the Senate budget resolution with all the climate provisions and everything in it and, and the progressives and the moderates go back and forth about what should come first and what to come now and what`s come later and what shouldn`t come at all.

That`s always the dynamic. Yet, Nancy Pelosi has shown she`s very, very good. Even though she`s only working with a three or four vote majority. She`s very good at marshaling her caucus taking its temperature at finding a way to get what she needs out of the House.

And so I think anyone who underestimates her ability to do that, even in this what many people see as daunting circumstances, I think anyone who has to underestimate her is frankly a fool and at least take a glance at her record doing the sort of

WILLIAMS: Mike, take 45 seconds because I got to get to a break and react to the quotes last week from Hakeem Jefferies about his party, about the Democrats on the left have focused mainly around Twitter, but his contention was Democrats across this country, a country where Trump won, what, 90 percent of the counties in the United States, Democrats, by and large are of the moderate variety.

MURPHY: Well, I think he`s right, and I mean, center left, I wouldn`t say pure moderate. But look what`s happening in these elections where the grassroots Democrats are speaking Ohio 11. The Super progressive candidate, the AOC squad candidate was 20 points ahead collapsed and lost. New York City mayors raised the top two finishers were the moderate Democrats. So, I think the Twitter verse and the real Democratic Party are not the same thing. And I think they need to learn that lesson Hakeem already has.

WILLIAMS: Both of these gentlemen along with their respective dream catchers have agreed to stay with us over this break. And coming up the war over voting rights now includes arrest warrants delivered in door to door visits for those Texas Democrats fighting to protect the ballot.




STATE REP. JASMINE CROCKETT (D-TX): At this point in time, we are handing the baton off. I don`t know what else Texas Democrats can do to get this thing past the finish line. But I do feel confident that we have given it our all and I`m going to my district. I`m not going to the floor. I`m going to hopefully stave off some of the issues that we`re having, because our governor fails to lead as it relates to COVID-19.


WILLIAMS: The Texas Democrats who spent the last month breaking quorum in Washington are taking the voting rights fight back home under the threat of arrest. The U.S. Senate adjourned without taking up federal legislation, putting it off until at least September because they of course need their summer break.

In the Texas Capitol, The House Sergeant at Arms there went door to door earlier today armed with civil arrest warrants, not criminal, for any Democratic lawmakers who might have shown up part of Governor Abbott`s political performance art initiative.

And now on the Senate side right now Senator Carol Alvarado is about to enter her fifth hour of a filibuster, little Mr. Smith action to draw attention to voter suppression efforts. Still with us are our friends Eugene Robinson, and Mike Murphy.

Mike to you first, are you surprised at the drive at the passion and sticktoitiveness of these Texas Democrats and what do we look to thus far to say it has been a result?

MURPHY: Well, Brian, first I got to say I generally root for the Taylor machine to do one more Mr. Smith referenced here. But it is -- you have to admire their passion. But ultimately, this is Kabuki Theater. I`m with them on the issue. I don`t like the bill. But you get elected. This has happened before in Texas where they do the quorum thing it boils on for a while, but eventually, you got to show up and vote.

So with the Supreme Court acting, I think the jig is up. And they`re going to have to go participate now or risk being arrest which, you know, we don`t need any more process kabuki theater. If they don`t have the votes, they don`t have the votes as big as the issue is.

WILLIAMS: And Eugene, I know you`ve thought a lot about this and you`ve written about this. What happens if voting rights fail in the U.S. Senate?


ROBINSON: Well, look, if, you know I talked about how Democrats love the worry and think the sky is falling if they want something to worry about voting rights is what they got to worry about, because this is -- it`s such an important issue. Many Democrats see it as an existential issue for our democracy, not just for the party.

That said, you know, I`m not ready to write it off, right off the possibility that something actually gets through somehow hard to imagine exactly how that happens. But here`s maybe how it starts. Senator Schumer and along with Senator Warnock, Senator Manchin, I think Senator Angus King and one other. They`re already meeting trying to craft voting rights, federal voting rights bill that is broadly acceptable to the entire Democratic caucus in the Senate.

Now, the question is, even if you get all the Democrats on board, how do you get over the filibuster in it may come down to crunch time. I mean, it may come down to bringing that legislation up and getting it to the floor. And then seeing finally, in the end, what Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are willing to do in support of existential, you know, piece of legislation that they support, and that they helped craft.

And so we may get to that point, we may see, because I don`t see Republicans any of them jumping in to support this effort, however reasonable however necessary, they`re just not going to they`re not going to budge on this.

WILLIAMS: Mike, 45 seconds. Again, here we are the last word in the segment. Is it sustainable for Ron DeSantis who appears to have no limit in what he`s willing to do or say for the support of the MAGA community? Is that a sustainable brand or run on if you`re anti-mask and Airgo anti-child safety in your state with a staggering death toll?

MURPHY: I think he`s put himself in a bad corner. He`s playing Republican primary politics, because he wants to be president. He`s even in a bit of an auction on who can out anti-mask each other with Ted Cruz, who also wants to be president.

The problem is DeSantis has a reelect where his polling numbers have collapsed. So his day jobs in jeopardy if he is the drum major for the biggest March stupidity in COVID of any state in the country, which is what`s going on in Florida now. And I think even the Republican politics are going to sour around this over time.

So I think he`s really making a making a political mistake here, but he`s one of these guys. I think he was afraid to back down. And so the problem is compounding.

WILLIAMS: I just read tonight in fact, this number may get some traction. The Florida death toll now exceeds the margin he won by in Florida. So the constituency he`s looking to be his cushion may have gone away in the worst way.

Our thanks to two friends of our broadcast, Eugene Robinson, Mike Murphy. Gentlemen, thank you both for sticking around on talking tonight.

Coming up for us, where America has pulled out the Taliban is rushing in. And tonight in Afghanistan, there are worries that Kabul will fall and the remaining Americans will have to get out sooner than they thought.



WILLIAMS: As we said earlier concern is growing in the capital of Afghanistan tonight as the Taliban continues to take ground from Afghan fighting forces across the country.

Politico reporting there are now internal discussions underway about possibly evacuating the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. All of this happening Of course, in the vacuum of the U.S. pullout after a 20-year war. We get our report again tonight from NBC News foreign correspondent Kelly Cobiella in Kabul.


KELLY COBIELLA, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the Taliban claims hundreds of prisoners in Afghanistan second largest city Kandahar are free after they say they overwhelmed the jail holding the insurgents and flung open the gate. This after a devastating setback in the north for Afghan officials.

Hundreds of Afghan soldiers under siege of the Kunduz airport reportedly surrendered. Taliban video purports to show vehicles, weapons and even an attack helicopter now in their hands.

By some estimates, the Taliban now controls 65 percent of Afghanistan. More families are fleeing to the capital Kabul every day. This woman says the Taliban are not allowing girls and women to go to the market.

Under the Taliban, girls were banned from school and women from work. Many here are terrified those dark days are about to return.

(on camera): Do you worry about the girls safety today?

Yes, the principle says they tell us you all might die.

It upsets you. Yes, she says. I tried to help the women. I`m very sad. When I see all these girls, I get really upset now.

(on camera): Today, students at the American University here told me that her mother bought her a burqa, not because she wants her to cover up, but because she said they have to be prepared. Brian.


WILLIAMS: Kelly Cobiella in Kabul, Afghanistan for us tonight. Thank you for your reporting. Coming up for us how the tables have turned for a former fed a prominent American politician who chose to go all in for Donald Trump to dire consequences.




RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER PERSONAL LAWYER TO DONALD TRUMP: Hi, it`s Rudy Giuliani and I`m on Cameo. If there`s an issue of concern that you want to discuss, or a story you`d like to hear or share with me, or a greeting that I can bring to someone that would bring happiness to their day, I would be delighted to do it. It can be arranged and we can talk through the magic of Cameo. Thank you.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, just think about it for a modest fee, children`s birthday party message, a personalized greeting for that favorite Republican or insurrection enthusiast in your life from Rudy Giuliani himself. And who knows throwing a little extra maybe he`ll do that trick where he produces the drippy brown goo.

Besides, it would be a keepsake. Think about it. How many personal greetings are you going to get in your lifetime from people under federal investigation?

You know, press reports say Rudy really does need money. He was apparently never paid for the superb legal services he provided to Trump. In fact, this was our first indication that Rudy may indeed be short on cash.


GIULIANI: I`ve been sleeping on my pillows for some time. I love them. The simply the very best pillows ever made. But I just found out they also have a wide assortment of other incredible products like a mattress topper sheets, towels and slippers and more.


WILLIAMS: Rudy`s in the news tonight because of Washington Post and New York Times reporting quoting transcripts of Rudy`s FBI interviews, in which his law partner is quoted as saying there`s no obligation to tell the truth in the context of a presidential campaign. And that Rudy said it`s OK to throw a fake as he put it and make up as he apparently did information on Hillary Clinton. He said the FBI agents were giving him during the Trump campaign.

FBI was understandably surprised to learn their agents were leaking to Rudy. They weren`t. It just was Rudy making it all up. Rudy isn`t hung up on the truth. And it made us wonder about the viability of the big lie. It`s not a great look any of it for a lawyer, especially a former U.S. Attorney.

This wasn`t a great look either. Come to think of it. But that`s all behind him now that he`s in the business of customized personal greetings. So he`s got that going for him.

That`s our broadcast for this Wednesday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.