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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 8/3/21

Guests: Cynthia Alksne, Phyllis Mason, David Plouffe, Tim Miller


President Joe Biden calls on NY Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. Cuomo has been accused of sexually harassing 11 women. NY Attorney General`s report details allegations against Cuomo. Cuomo denies allegations in a pre-recorded statement. Biden lauds officials and businesses trying to curb COVID. Biden blasts officials banning mask mandates. Defiant Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing behind mask mandates ban. CDC issues new eviction ban for COVID hot spots. Louisiana shatters record for COVID hospitalizations. House Dem campaign chief warns the majority is at risk without message reboot. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson pardons St. Louis lawyer couple who waved guns at protesters. Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP special election primary in Ohio`s 15th District, AP projects. The Republican race was closely watched in its final days after the loss last week of a Trump-endorsed candidate in a special House election in Texas.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again, I`m Chris Jansing in for Brian Williams. Day 196 of the Biden administration. Tonight the President has joined the chorus of voices from both parties calling on longtime political ally and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to step down after today`s explosive report from that State`s Attorney General. That A.G. report alleges Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women including a state trooper.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you now calling on him to resign?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he should be prosecuted?

BIDEN: What I said was if the investigation Attorney General concluded that the allegations are correct, that back in March that I would recommend he resign. That`s what I`m doing today.


JANSING: Biden is just one of many Democratic politicians in federal, state and local positions who now say Cuomo can no longer remain in office. State Attorney General Letitia James issued her report following a five month long civil investigation. The 165 page document paints a damning portrait of unwelcome and inappropriate behavior.


LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of both federal and state laws. The independent investigation found that Governor Cuomo sexually harass multiple women, many of whom were young women by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging and by making inappropriate comments. The governor and his senior team took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story, her truth and Governor Cuomo`s administration fostered a toxic workplace that enabled harassment and created a hostile work environment where staffers did not feel comfortable coming forward with complaints about sexual harassment due to a climate of fear and given the power dynamics.


JANSING: The investigation was launched after multiple women accused Cuomo earlier this year of unwelcome personal comments or physical contact. One of the many encounters laid out in the report describes Cuomo allegedly embracing an executive assistant and reaching under her blouse to grab her breast. Another involved in New York State Trooper assigned to Cuomo security detail whose allegations had not been previously reported.


ANNE CLARK, INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR: The governor also several times inappropriately touched a state trooper assigned to the unit to protect the governor. In an elevator while standing behind the trooper he ran his finger from her neck down her spine and said hey you. Another time she was standing holding the door open for the governor. As he passed he took his open hand and ran it across your stomach from her belly button to where the hip where she keeps her gun. The state trooper, the touching incidents, the one where he touched her stomach was witnessed by another state trooper who confirmed it to us. The kiss -- the governor kissed her once that was confirmed to us by another state trooper.


JANSING: The Attorney General`s investigative team says it reviewed more than 74,000 pieces of evidence and interviewed 179 people. The governor denies the allegations. And this afternoon he issued this pre-recorded rebuttal, complete with photos he`d included of people hugging and kissing.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old. I`ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am. And that`s not who I have ever been. I do kiss people on the forehead. I do kiss people on the cheek. We are living in a super heated if not toxic political environment. Politics and bias are into woven throughout every aspect of this situation. For those who are using this moment to score political points or seek publicity or personal gain, I say the actually discredit the legitimate sexual harassment victims that the law was designed to protect.


JANSING: Andrew Cuomo is now under criminal investigation. The New York prosecutor leading that inquiry has requested material from the State Attorney General`s office and he`s encouraging other victims to come forward.


DAVID SOARES, DISTRICT ATTORNEY ALBANY COUNTY, NY: The allegations early on certainly led myself and other prosecutors with concurrent jurisdiction to believe that criminal activity in fact had taken place but we will conduct our own independent investigation that will be done expeditiously. And we will arrive at those conclusions.



JANSING: We`re also following new developments tonight in the effort to stop the spread of the COVID Delta variant which continues to drive up infections in several states. The New York Times reports the FDA is speeding up its timetable for full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, with a goal of completing the process by the beginning of next month. The Times quotes a source who says the FDA is unofficial deadline is Labor Day or sooner, FDA approval would likely trigger more vaccination mandates.

Today, meat processor Tyson Foods joined the list of companies requiring vaccines for it`s more than 139,000 employees. And New York today became the first city to require proof of vaccinations for most indoor activities, like dining or using a gym. This afternoon President Biden made it clear he supports actions by businesses and officials to try to curb the spread of the virus.


BIDEN: I will have their backs in the backs of other private public sector leaders if they take such steps. But others have declined to step up. I find it disappointing. And worst of all, some state officials are passing laws or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing. As of now, seven states not only ban mask mandates but also ban them in their school districts. I say to these governors, please help. But if you aren`t going to help, at least get out of the way.


JANSING: But Florida`s governor remains unconvinced and defiant and continues to stand by his ban on mask mandates in schools. Here`s what he had to say earlier today.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: The best defenses we have are the combination of the natural immunity that`s been built up and our seniors` first vaccination efforts.


JANSING: Also tonight, the CDC has issued a new more limited freeze on evictions to remain in effect through October 3. The new ban covers areas the CDC describes as experiencing substantial and high spread of the coronavirus. The earlier eviction ban expired just a few days ago. Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri has been leading a one woman protest to get that band reinstated. She spent the past several nights sleeping on the Capitol steps to bring attention to the millions of renters who were in danger of losing their homes.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday 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 is now a New York Times bestseller. Also with us, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and moderator of Washington Week, also on PBS, and Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

Good evening to all of you. So, Phil, the governor appears to be hanging tough tonight, even as the kind of mechanics to remove him through impeachment, appear to be underway in Albany. Here`s what the AP reports, I`m quoting here. "In a television conversation with the New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Cuomo insisted he wouldn`t leave office and told the speaker he needed to work fellow Democrats and garner enough votes to stop an impeachment, according to a person familiar with the conversation."

For those who don`t live in New York who aren`t familiar with Andrew Cuomo`s ways, what does that tell us about who he is as a political figure, and how he is operated, particularly within the Democratic Party?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: You know, Chris, Governor Cuomo is spoiling for a fight, clearly. He`s a political Island. Tonight, he has virtually no support from within his own party, the Democratic Party, President Biden, obviously is calling for him to resign, but so too, is every member of the New York congressional delegation, many of the leaders of the New York State Legislature, and as you just noted, impeachment proceedings are due to begin in due course and quickly in Albany. And so he may be forced out of office, but he`s clearly not taking the hint and resigning gracefully as most democratic leaders would like to see him do. And in a way, he`s acting very Trumpian. This is the same way that Donald Trump handled so many controversies in his presidency. He, you know, denied any wrongdoing again and again and again and then would hope people forget and he can stay in office and continue to plug away and charge ahead, if that`s what Cuomo is trying to do in New York, it may not work, however, because again, we should just underscore that he is an isolated political figure tonight, has no support in his party.


JANSING: Yamiche, in fact, you asked the President today about possible prosecution for Cuomo. Talk about their relationship over the years. Wasn`t there even talk at one time that he might join the administration?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that`s right. And these were two men who have known each other for a long, long time. And but President Biden made clear in an interview way back in March that if there were allegations that were corroborated, and that the governor was found to actually have sexually assaulted, sexually harassed women, then he would call for his resignation. And President Biden added that he`ll probably also be prosecuted. That`s what he said in March, which is why I was pressing President Biden to say, well, do you think that these women should get dusted in the form of a prosecution against the governor, but the president said it in fact that he had not read the entire report and would reserve comment on that?

The big picture here is though, that is exactly what Phil was just talking about. This idea that because after former President Trump there are so many people who think maybe I can hold on, let`s remember that the former president had dozens and dozens of women come out with their name, saying that they had been sexually assaulted, even raped by the former president and the president, the former president continued to have political power, he continues to have political power right here in the Republican Party. The issue with Andrew Cuomo, of course, is that Democrats have made fighting back against sexual assault, fighting back against sexual harassment, a core part of their ideal, and as a result, you`re seeing people like Senator Gillibrand, but of course, now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the President, Chuck Schumer, all of these hype and prominent Democrats saying this governor has to go.

So I think Andrew Cuomo is absolutely isolated. He is in a party that has said that they`re not going to stand for this sort of behavior. And as a result, it`s going to be very, very hard for the governor to stay. Of course, there are people that I talked to say they don`t imagine him resigning, because of the fact that he`s had this sort of bullish personality where he doesn`t really want to give up a fight, but we could see the governor impeached, possibly.

JANSING: There was nobody who watched his pre-taped response today who thought he planned to do anything but fight this. He denied absolutely everything, Cynthia, we heard Cuomo directly address a few accusers in those pre-recorded comments and one of them, Charlotte Bennett, was on CBS Evening News and spoke to Norah O`Donnell.


NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS EVENING NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think he`s gaslighting you?

CHARLOTTE BENNETT, FORMER GOV. CUOMO AIDE: Absolutely. He`s trying to justify himself by making me out to be someone who can`t tell the difference between sexual harassment and mentorship. He`s sexually harassed me. I am not confused.

O`DONNELL: At one point. He said that he was trying to help you work through a difficult time that seemed like that was his intention?

BENNETT: No, his intention was trying to sleep with me.


JANSING: So Cynthia in that pre recorded rebuttal, Cuomo said he was trying to help her because she was a survivor of sexual assault. What do you make of how he responded today?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think that was gutless. And he didn`t have the guts to take questions from reporters. And he had these pre-recorded pictures of himself kissing his mother. I don`t think that`s very impressive. And essentially, what`s happened is, he has disgraced his family name, the -- which breaks my heart because I adored his father. And he will eventually be sued for sexual harassment civilly. And he will be sued in his personal and his official capacity and he will end up with judgments against him. I mean, that`s obviously what`s going to happen. At some point, he`ll be out of office, I don`t know, because I`m not a political person, whether there`ll be impeachment or resignation.

But the writing is on the wall for him. I will say this about the criminal case. The DA in the county is looking at it criminally. My guess would be it is never prosecuted criminally. If you read these allegations, they really are misdemeanor assault allegations. And the statute of limitations is about a year many of them are outside the statute limitation. Some are in but many are out. And I would think that a career prosecutor with the kind of crime that they have in Albany, will focus on the murders, rapes, burglaries and arsons and leave the demise of the disgraced governor to the president and the entire Democratic Party united against him.

JANSING: So I think that when you look again at that rebuttal, it was part politics, part legal, you could make that argument. So I`m interested in what you thought about it as a legal strategy as part of that lengthy rebuttal. That was released by -- first of all, there`s a written document released by Cuomo`s lawyers in response to the New York Attorney General`s report and they included images showing other political leaders embracing people, politicians embracing him and he said he`s someone who naturally embraces people. We also sell those kinds of images in his pre-recorded statement. What do you make of this as both a legal strategy and, you know, win people over. I`m just a friendly guy.


ALKSNE: Yeah, right I do it is weak. I think what he`s trying to do is be Joe Biden, and he`s not Joe Biden. He is somebody who has 11 -- I mean, we`re not talking about one or two, we`re talking about 11 women who have accused him of sexual harassment, and several of them have been corroborated by other people watching him do it. And worse, the staff was told about it in his office, and they had a policy, not to allow women to be alone with him, that tells you what you need to know. And the fact that he`s kissed his mother in public or that Biden is kiss people, or the George Bush kissed people has absolutely nothing to do and it`s not admissible in any court in this country as to what he was doing. So I thought it was weak and a disgrace to his family name.

JANSING: Well, it looks like this could move fairly quickly if state lawmakers want it to and we could start seeing some of these impeachment proceedings in the fall. But in the meantime, Yamiche, what should we make of Joe Biden`s comments tonight criticizing governors for trying to block certain mandates to stop this latest COVID surge?

ALCINDOR: What we should make a visit that is that the President is really he`s talking about and really expressing the increasing frustration that the White House has with really conservative leaders who are in some ways playing to their base, but really playing around with public health. When you talk -- when I talk to White House officials, they find it to be pretty preposterous. And the President seems to also find it pretty preposterous that you have leaders who are trying to tell localities, you can`t even require people to wear masks, even though we`re living continuing to live through a pandemic, even though we`re seeing hospitalizations, deaths and cases go up because of the Delta variant. I was told ahead of this. These remarks today that the President was going to be more aggressive than usual, because he wanted to call out and by certain states in particular, but he pointed to Florida and Texas and say that these laws cannot stand that these -- the way that they`re looking at this and really playing politics with science, that it can`t be the way that we move forward. He`s saying that there are people who are dying, that don`t need to die, there are people that are going to die. They don`t need to die. And that not encouraging people to wear masks and encouraging people to vaccinate people just simply is not a political stance. It`s not a public policy stance that can stand here.

JANSING: Yeah, he continues to be blunt about that, Phil. So talk about the White House`s counter in what has evolved into a culture war with Republican state leaders over this push for getting people vaccinated and other measures including masking in schools?

RUCKER: You know, Chris, they`re trying to do a couple of things at once here. First of all, they`re trying to get the real science, the information, the guidance from the health experts and medical experts out to the American people. You`ve seen a stepped up public relations campaign from the CDC director, but also from other leaders in the administration to communicate that message. But you`re also seeing real aspiration in the voice of President Biden, who today was calling on the governors who are not going to help save lives in their communities to step aside, and to let the truth get to the people.

Clearly, they`re looking ahead on the calendar a month from now when schools are going to be reopening heading into a long winter. Nobody in this country wants to have the winter of 2021, like the one we had last winter. And so the White House knows that politically, this could become a huge problem for Biden and for the Democratic Party if it gets out of control. And you can sense from the president, he`s effectively begging state and municipal leaders to step it up, to try to communicate the right messages to their citizens and to try to protect their people by requiring vaccines and having sort of common sense mask restrictions in their communities.

JANSING: Can`t say it enough. We know how to stop this, Phil Rucker, Yamiche Alcindor, Cynthia Alksne, great to see all of you. Thank you.

And coming up tonight, the state of Louisiana is said to be witnessing the darkest days of the pandemic. We`ll ask a doctor there about the growing risk to non-COVID patients. And later voters went to the polls today in Ohio. What the decisions they made today could mean for the midterm elections, THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Tuesday night.



DR. MARK KLINE, CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL NEW ORLEANS: Every children`s facility in the state is absolutely full.

SANDRA KEMMERLY, OCHSNER HEALTH: 90% have preventable illness that they don`t need to be hospitalized for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are the darkest days of the pandemic.

DR. PHYLLIS MASON, NATCHITOCHES REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: This is now not just about the COVID patient this is about you the general public that we cannot provide quality care for you.


JANSING: Many of Louisiana`s hospitals are warning that right now they can`t offer adequate care to anybody. More than 2000 COVID patients are already hospitalized, shattering the state`s previous record in January. And the head of Children`s Hospital New Orleans says there hasn`t been an open intensive care bed in weeks. As the AP put it, hospital leaders across Louisiana described staff shortages, emergency rooms packed beyond capacity and non emergency surgeries for cancer patients, knee injuries and other problems sidelined until the pressure eases.

For more we welcome to the broadcast, Dr. Phyllis Mason. She`s the Chief Medical Officer of the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center in rural Northwestern Louisiana and also a Board Certified OB-GYN. It`s so good to with you to be here with us. You were one of the leaders speaking at the governor`s press conference. What`s happening at your hospital?

MASON: First of all, I just want to thank you for allowing me to have this platform to speak about this important subject. And I just thank you for being here. But at our hospital at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center in Natchitoches, Louisiana, what we`re seeing is -- we`re seeing the increased volume. A month ago we had zero COVID patients. Today we have chin. Our ICU is full. We have -- we`re small hospitals, we have an eight bed ICU. Seven of those patients have COVID. One of which is pregnant. And so -- and what we`re also seeing is we`re also seeing that this is really taxing our staff. We`re short on nurses. We`re short on staff. And we really feel like here we go again, and the morale is low. And so we`re really struggling with the challenges that we`re facing right now with this pandemic.


JANSING: So if I`m there, and I have a heart attack, or I get into an accident, or I am in need of the emergency room, maybe I have to wait and wait, what`s the danger?

MASON: And right now, what is happening isn`t -- what I talked about at the press conference was the bottleneck. And so what we`re finding is that because we don`t have the staffing available, the capacity available to take care of patients, were having to board patients in the emergency room, sometimes 234 days that we`re having to just keep patients in the emergency room, until we can get them into a bed in our hospital, in addition to that, hospitals in the state are full. And so we`re unable to transfer patients out, that need to be transferred out to a higher level of care. And what that means for you with a heart attack is when you come in, we may not have the staff available to take care of you. Or you might be sitting in a waiting room, and you`re having chest pain. But because we don`t have the bed available to pull you back into our emergency department, now you leave without being seen. And we found that our left without being seen patients is it has increased because of this. So you might leave without being seen. And then you go home and have a heart attack and pass away.

And it really is one of those things that really can touch your heart and make you cry is when you know that as a health care provider, you`re not providing the same quality of care that you desire to do so to your patients as we did pre-pandemic.

JANSING: How do you even process that or deal with that, you know, you take the Hippocratic Oath, your job is to heal. You can only do so much that I saw an article in the advocate saying that Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge got a 33 member disaster strike team from the federal government. I mean, for a small rural hospital like yours, can you even get something like that?

MASON: Actually, we can`t get it -- it`s got to go to the larger hospitals. And that`s the right thing to do. So we`ll go to the New Orleans Baton Rouge, Shreveport, which is the larger hospital and medical centers. And that is the right thing to do. What that does for us, though, is it allows them to have more capacity to accept our patients.


MASON: So then now maybe we can move our patients. And then that gives us increased capacity for what we can take care of in a hospital. But your question is a very good one about how do you deal with that, and you know, you go home, and you sit down and you eat a good dinner, and you go to bed and you wake up and you do it again because it really is about the patient. It really is not about me, it`s not about this pandemic. It`s not about any of that. It is about that patient in that bed that I want to take care of. And one of the things we don`t have, we might not have the capacity. But when we take care of you, we`re going to take care of you with care and compassion.

JANSING: We only have a minute left, Doctor, but the governor`s indoor state mandate officially begins tomorrow. How much do you think that might help the surge now? Are you confident people will actually comply?

MASON: I am. I think the mandate will definitely help. We know that masking help the last time that we had a masking mandate with restrictions. It flattened the curve for us. Businesses are going to comply which will encourage people to comply. So I do think it`s going to be a game changer and it`s going to make a difference.

JANSING: I can`t thank you enough for everything that you do. I know that the folks there in a rural Louisiana thank you. And I`ll just also comment that when you say you go home and eat a good dinner, if you`re in Louisiana, that`s almost like repeating yourself because you get good dinner when you go to Louisiana.

MASON: That goes without saying Louisiana, you got good food.

JANSING: Dr. Phyllis Mason, thank you really, we appreciate it.

And coming up, the warning is coming from inside the House that Democrats are at real risk of losing their majority, an assessment from two leading political strategists when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



STATE REP. ANDRES CANO (D-AZ): We`re done with those who wish to rewrite the rules so they can pick their voters not the other way around. And it`s why we`re here to demand passage of the For the People Act.

STATE REP. DONNA LASINSKI (D-MI): No political intimidation, no domestic terrorists are going to stop us from doing our job in our job right now is to protect the freedom to vote.

STATE REP. TREY MARTINEZ-FSCHER (D-TX): Our job was to rally the nation and bring people to Washington DC because just by chance, if we came together, we would not only get the Senate to hear us. We will also get them to act.


JANSING: Elected Democrats from across the country who descended on the U.S. Capitol today to pressure Congress to pass voting rights protections.

With the filibuster firmly in place, Congress remains deadlocked even as Republicans jam through an alarming number of voter suppression laws at the state level.

At last count by the Brennan Center, more than 400 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in just the 2021 legislative sessions.

Back with us tonight, David Plouffe, former Obama, campaign manager and Senior Advisor to the President. He`s also on the board of directors for the Obama Foundation. And Tim Miller, a contributor to the Bulwark and the former communications director for Jeb Bush. Good to see you guys.

Tim Miller, is it possible do you think to overstate how important voting rights reform is for Democrats to get a fair fight in 2022?

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I guess if I`m going to be directive, possible to overstate it. I mean, I think I`ve seen some people overstating it, as far as you know, some of these voter restriction efforts. If you look at the political science, I`ve actually had a backlash effect that you`ve seen more increased turnout as a result of.

Now I`m frankly more concerned about 2024. I`m more concerned about the Electoral Count Act and what we saw with this past election in 2020, and the interregnum between Donald Trump`s defeat and his attempt to overturn the election. We`ve seen more news about that today about what happened with the Attorney General. There`s options of state legislatures, you see states like Georgia were trying to centralize control. That for me is a much bigger concern.

This isn`t to say that voting rights is not a concern at all, but I just think before prioritizing it, that`s a much bigger concern. And I get a little bit concerned.


I`m with all the people that rally in spirit. I`m with them. I`m happy they`re there speaking out for our democracy that is needed. But there`s a practical question here. And this, For the People Act isn`t going to pass, right. And so is there a way to get Joe Biden and Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema and Lisa Murkowski on board for a more narrow bill, whether it be the John Lewis Act, whether it be making Election Day a holiday, whether it be changing the Electoral Count Act, whether it be empowering Merrick Garland more. I would like to see more creative thinking along that lines, you know, rather than, you know, continuing to beat a dead horse and it`s just unfortunate, but it`s a dead horse.

JANSING: Well, David Plouffe our crack NBC team on Capitol Hill has confirmed that in a closed door lunch last week with frontline Democratic members, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney showed new polling indicating Democrats need to fix their economic messaging or they will lose the majority. DCCC spokesman confirmed that reporting first published by Politico, that polling by the way, covered 48 battleground districts. David, do you agree first of all with Maloney`s assessment, and should democrats be panicking? Yeah.

DAVID PLOUFFE: No, they shouldn`t be panic. And Chris A long time ago, I ran the DCCC. So, you know, I`ve spent a lot of time in presidential races, but spent a lot of time in House and Senate races to its very early. You`re not going to be successful as a national party or digital (ph) candidates without a compelling economic message that`s more compelling than your opponents.

And I think Democrats, whether they be incumbents or challenges are going to have a great message to run on. You have to remember, we`ve obviously got COVID. We`ve got voting rights. We`ve got immigration, there`s a lot of critical issues, but ultimately, your economic story, and most of --

JANSING: What is that message? We always say you`ve got to have a strong economic message, but what is it right now?

PLOUFFE: I think it`s one, you know, we were heading towards a great depression. And Democrats have brought us back from that brink. And the economy is growing. Things to help families with children, this infrastructure package, assuming it passes is both bipartisan, but also great storytelling in every district in America. You can talk about the people being put back to work. And to say that my opponents didn`t want to do any of that. All they wanted to do was basically give tax cuts to the wealthy.

So there`s also great economic messaging around taxes. We want to pay for this by making the wealthiest the big corporations pay. They don`t want to make those changes. So, this is pretty basic stuff. You`ve just got to remember what home base is.

But back to your previous question. If we basically have in states like Georgia, the election was won`t matter. If you allow state elected officials to decide who wins elections, and that`s whatever Congress does, and they have to do something. Yes, the voting rights piece is essential. But you also have to be fluid and understand the debates change. And where the Republican are really spending energy is to try and change who decides who wins elections, and that, you know, would basically mean the death of our democracy.

JANSING: Before we go to break Tim Miller, I want to ask you about something that happened on the Republican side, Missouri`s Governor Mike Parson made good on his promise to pardon that St. Louis couple who pointed guns at social justice protesters last summer and the rifle toting husband of course now running for Senate.

Is this the kind of thing Republican candidates plan to hang their identity on? I mean, he, for example, got a lot of free airtime over this.

MILLER: Look, Chris, this Missouri Senate race, I just wrote about it for the Bulwark this morning. You know, you have this crazy, the crazy gun toting guy is running give the former governor who is disgraced for just a really grotesque sexual assault and revenge porn charges had to leave the governorship. He`s the favorite right now.

But then you have the quote unquote, mainstream candidate who`s the Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri. He`s one of the establishment Republicans are getting behind. His campaign wants their first ad today, or excuse me, as PAC on surfers ad today and it`s all about the rigged election. And now he`s trying to overturn this rigged election. I was looking for the real like OJ out there looking for the real killer, who overturn this election that Donald Trump won. That guy`s the mainstream candidate.

And so now you`ve got the, you know, the gun toting couple, the husband, he`s the outsider. You know, there is no, you know, there is no Trump light, right? It`s Trump and Trump heavy. And I think that this Missouri Senate race is a prime example of that.

JANSING: Tim Miller, David Plouffe are staying with us. Coming up why the former guy is reportedly ignoring advice from advisors and getting involved in special elections around the country when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Carey, a fighter, an outsider.

MIKE CAREY, ENDORSED BY FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My name is Mike Carey. I stood with President Trump when he stood up to career politicians and we`re putting America first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now President Trump stands with Mike Carey endorsing his campaign.


JANSING: A litmus test tonight for Trump`s influence over the Republican Party. According to the AP, his chosen candidate, Mike Carey, who you just heard from there, beat 10 Republican opponents in Ohio`s 15th House District primary tonight. It was a closely watched race given that just last week in Texas, the Trump-backed candidate in a house special election lost.

Still with us David Plouffe, Tim Miller. David, what`s your read on Trump`s influence heading into the midterms? Now was the Texas thing just a fluke? What about what we saw in Ohio? What do you think?

PLOUFFE: Well, in Ohio, my understanding is the winner got about 36 percent of the vote was a big field. So I think that`s important. I mean, I think in most states in most districts, a Trump-endorsed Trump like a candidate is going to get 35, 40 percent of the vote, that`s driving so much a Republican primary politics, it`s driving how we`ve responded to the pandemic. It`s driving American politics, sadly.

So I think there is still some influence there. But at the end of the day, my guess is over time as we get deeper into 2022. You know, Trump`s going to lose a lot more racist than he`s used to. And so I think he`ll have a tote board that probably has some wins, that he`ll speak loudly about some losses, he`ll speak less, you know, effusively about, but at the end of the day, you have to understand that that is driving so much of our politics today.

And even if Trump himself, Wayne`s (ph) is a figure over time, that approach to politics is not going anywhere, you know, based on what Tim said earlier, and I very much agree with that. And we have to understand that. A winning candidate for Republican primary in those places, what would they say? The pandemic was created by the Chinese to attack America. We shouldn`t have worn masks, some of the problems with vaccines, Donald Trump won the election. He`s going to be returned to office. I mean, we can laugh at that. That will win primaries, and I don`t think that`s going to change in `22 or `24.


JANSING: Well, Tim, I want to read this to you from the Washington Post, quote, Trump has disregarded advice from advisors who have warned that getting involved in races such as special elections this year in Texas and Ohio, and a contested Republican primary for North Carolina Senate race could blemishes record, fueling the perception that his prominence is fading. There`s no reason we should have to be worrying this much about a congressional special in Ohio, said one Trump advisor. It`s just totally crazy and unnecessary. But you know, then the Ohio guy he backed won tonight. So where does that leave us?

MILLER: Chris, sorry, I`m still just kind of wrapped around the axle that this advisor that is still advising Donald Trump, who`s holding fake cabinet meetings at his golf course, thinks that the crazy things that they`re endorsing and primaries. I think they`ve kind of lost touch on reality of their altogether.

Look, I think that his influence will weigh a little bit in these random races. Right. And I don`t know that it met, you know, that Trump puts the Trump`s stamp of approval on someone that automatically means that they`re going to win. But to David`s point, and you know, if you look, I encourage you to look at this ad talks about the Missouri Senate race that Eric Schmitt ran today. I mean, it his wheels off insane and it`s all the things that David listed earlier, you know, on top of blaming immigrants for every problem that faces the country, and that is the most, you know, quote unquote, you know, establish extreme candidates, they need to win the Trump voters.

So you know, even Ellzey in Texas, I`m happy that the Trump ease candidate didn`t win. But Ellzey was just, you know, running as a pro Trump candidate. You know, there was also a candidate in that race who is running as we need to move on for Trump. The insurrection was bad, you know, in the first round, they got like 4 percent, Michael wood, right. And so Ellzey wins in the runoff, and he didn`t get the endorsement. But I mean, is it really better? Or is it a distinction without a difference, and I kind of land on the lap.

JANSING: So David, really quickly, I want to get to the Democratic side, two candidates from opposite wings of the party, I guess you can say running in the 11th District of Ohio, Nina Turner, progressive, early favorite against the more establishment Shontel Brown. The AP reports Brown has defeated Turner. And here`s what Connie Schultz tweeted tonight. Hello from Ohio`s 11th Congressional District, tonight is a reminder that elections are not won or lost on Twitter and communities are more complicated than the national narratives wrapped around them. This was a local race, always.

Do you agree with that? I mean, a lot of people are looking at the various endorsements on both sides saying who came out ahead? How do you read that race?

PLOUFFE: Well, you know, Joe Biden lost the Twitter primary decisively, but the Twitter primary awards, no delegates. And so yes, I agree with that. I think the lesson here is, you and Jim Clyburn in your corner. He`s on quite a winning streak here. And I think we`ll see more candidates do all they can to try and get Clyburn on their side.

JANSING: Yes, and best not to talk against him. David Plouffe, Tim Miller, thanks to both of you. Coming up the inspiring story of how an American Teenager went from skateboarding in her backyard to competing in Tokyo when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they write this chapter of your life, what do you want people to take away from it?

SIMONE BILES, USA GYMNAST: That I`m a fighter and I don`t give up and no matter what you go through, even if you have to drop out of your biggest competitions it`s going to be OK.


JANSING: Amazing stuff from gymnastic superstar Simone Biles ending her headline making time in Tokyo with a bronze medal on the balance beam. But there was another young American athlete hoping to take her own metal home and one of the sports debuting at the Summer Olympics. NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz has her story.


GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the future of American skateboarding is looking great, Brighton Zeuner is a big reason why.

BRIGHTON ZEUNER, USA TEAM SKATEBOARDING: I just started skating and skating and I like loved it like I loved falling and getting back up and progressing and stuff.

SCHWARTZ: By age 13, she was the youngest gold medalist in X Games history. By 16, she was a two time world champion.

ZEUNER: Bend your knees.

SCHWARTZ: We got a chance to hang out.

(on camera): What is it about Brighton that`s gotten her here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s that switch. I`m going to dig deep.

SCHWARTZ (voice-over): And she digs deepest when the pressure is on.

ZEUNER: And get just as nervous no matter how little or how big the (INAUDIBLE) is. And I think that`s just really good.

SCHWARTZ: But Brighton always comes back to that feeling she first experienced around six years old. The zen of a kid at a play.

(on camera): This is still recessed for you.

ZEUNER: Yes. Oh, for sure that like it`s so much fun. I mean, like how finally -- that looks like a playground to me.

SCHWARTZ (voice-over): It also helps so when she was a kid, her parents had the same perspective even saying yes to building a vert ramp and there`s Southern California backyard at the request of her big brother.

The next thing they knew skateboarding greats like Tony Hawk were stopping by.

(on camera): So it was like build a vert ramp and they will come.


ZEUNER: They came.


SCHWARTZ: Soon she was writing Hawk`s legendary vert ramp as well picking up her signature knock for good luck for.

ZEUNER: My board up, knock on wood. And then --

SCHWARTZ: But Brighton tries not to let skateboarding define her.

You make that look so easy.

The 17-year-old says comfortable designing clothes and thrift shopping as she is on a board.

ZEUNER: Skateboarding makes me feel like a young kid. And then hanging out with my friends. I feel like a normal teenager.

SCHWARTZ: And as she heads to Tokyo is one of skateboarding first Olympians, Brighton is blown away at the thought of becoming a skater pioneer.

Now you`re paving the way for all different generations.

ZEUNER: If so, I think that`s really cool because I still feel like that little girl going into skate park.

SCHWARTZ: A new role model in a new Olympic sport. Gadi Schwartz, NBC News, Newport Beach, California.


JANSING: We`ve got a quick Olympic update tonight. Brighton did make her Olympic debut in the women`s skateboard park, not long ago did fail to qualify for the finals in the preliminary round, but she`s 17. Why don`t I have a feeling she`ll be back. Coming up, the dividends of determination on display today on Capitol Hill when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



JANSING: The last thing before we go tonight, the extension of the ban on most evictions may not have happened today without the perseverance of Congresswoman Cori Bush. The democrat from Missouri led a protest over the weekend and into this week, sleeping on the Capitol steps, having experienced homelessness herself from an eviction in the past.

This fight was personal to her. And today she quit tweeted this. On Friday night, I came to the Capitol with my chair. I refuse to accept that Congress could leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction. For five days we`ve been out here demanding that our government act to save lives. Today our movement moved mountains.

And she celebrated the announcement of the extension today with fellow Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. There they are dancing at the Capitol. Some Democratic senators rushed out to congratulate them as well.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Boy, oh boy, you guys are fabulous.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I`m so happy for you. I`m so happy for all of us. When I came here, I never thought about running for elected office. And when I came here, I used to ask myself, does it matter that I`m here. Is there somebody else? And you`ve now answered that question. I understand you`re here. You`re not someone else.


JANSING: So they did a little dance. They`re celebrating tonight. And yet they say they`re looking for permanent solutions to these problems. So we`ll see. Maybe a few more dancing it out.


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