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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 8/30/21

Guests: Peter Baker, Carol Leonnig, Tom Nichols, Craig Fugate, David Plouffe, Tim Miller


The United States has finished its evacuation efforts from Kabul`s airport, effectively ending America`s longest war. Ida is now a tropical depression and storm activity in Louisiana caused New Orleans to lose power. The U.S. reaches a daily average of 100,000 COVID hospitalizations for the first time since the winter peak. New Orleans hospitals, residents brace for perfect storm of Hurricane Ida amid Covid-19 surge.


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, I`m Chris Jansing in for Brian Williams. Day 223 of the Biden administration. And as we come on the air tonight we`re following two major stories. The U.S. has officially ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan. It is now Tuesday, August 31. There the deadline President Biden set for all U.S. troops to be out of the country. Afghanistan is now run by the Taliban. We`ll have much more on that in just a moment.

Also, tonight, millions of people across the Louisiana are coming to grips with the scale of damage from Hurricane Ida. The storm made landfall near Port Fourchon Sunday as a Category 4, slamming into the coast with devastating wind and rain. It`s one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. mainland. Official say at least two people were killed. Search and rescue operations are still underway in communities along the Gulf.


GOV. JHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: Either pain on shore with everything that was advertised.


EDWARDS: The surge, the rain, the wind, all of our levee systems, particularly our federal levee systems and hurricane risk reduction systems performed magnificently. Having said that, the damage is still catastrophic.


JANSING: Catastrophic, the storm devastated the electrical grid, more than a million customers without power in Louisiana, including the city of New Orleans. The city`s mayor issued a warning today for residents who fled ahead of the storm don`t come back until further notice.

We will have much more on the night other major story just ahead. But first, our own Ali Velshi is live for us in New Orleans with the very latest. And Ali, you`re virtually in the darkest city that is in the dark and the number one questions for residents is when will power be restored?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well first of all right in front of me, this is a roof from a neighboring restaurant. But take a look at this. This is the French Quarter right now. There`s nothing you can see the lights are off all the way through in the French Quarter. This is Decatur Street over here. Normally even during COVID the French Quarter sort of never stops in this city. completely dark, no traffic, no traffic lights. As you said more than a million people far more than a million people in this state.

But in this city, you and I talked last night when the power first went out and the power company said they`re not coming back. They`re not getting power back at least overnight. What we learned today is that most people will not be getting power back for seven to 10 days. All of the transmission has stopped from Entergy, the company that sends transmission out. We don`t know what the fault is, but they said it`s going to take a long time to fix.

So while we`re seeing these bucket trucks out there, they`re trying to clean some of this stuff off of the streets. They are trying to restore some of the power lines in most places that restores the power. That`s not the case here. Those power lines might be restored in the course of the next week or so. But until Entergy is able to flip the switch and get power back out, people are not getting power.

Now they`re going to give priority to police, police stations, infrastructure, hospitals, the sewage and drainage system here in New Orleans are going to try and get them going first. They`ve said that they`ll be able to get most people power within seven to 10 days, but in the hard hit parts of New Orleans. And by the way outside of New Orleans and those parishes to the west and to the south where there is flooding and there has been more danger, it may actually be more than seven to 10 days. They said it might be three weeks or longer.

That`s a problem, Chris, because while it`s dried out, and while the city did not flood, which was really the major achievement compared to Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago, this power outage in the middle of summer in a city that feels like it`s about 100 degrees in the day is a big deal. We don`t know how that`s going to play out for the next few days. Everybody was told to prepare for a few days. The city was not under an evacuation order.

As you know, the mayor has now said if you did evacuate, don`t come back here because it`s not going to be worth coming back to a hot and entirely dark city. And I have to say we`re lighting this ourselves with car vehicles and battery operated lights. If you saw one of them went out a moment ago, which put me in the dark.

It`s quite something Chris to be in a completely populated big city in which there are no light it is really, really light. If you`re driving and you turn dark, if you turn a corner, that`s all you see. So that`s going to be hard to spend several days doing that in the city. They have dodged a major catastrophe. But this power issue especially as it relates to water and sewage and drainage and hospitals where there`s a COVID surge in the state continues to be a major issue.

JANSING: Yes, in fact, in nearby Jefferson Parish, they`re talking about getting buses to get people who stayed out of there because there is no water, there is no power.

VELSHI: No, that`s right.

JANSING: There is no cell service. Ali Velshi, amazing reporting on I know very little sleep. Thank you, sir. Take very good carry yourself.


Now to the end of two decades of war and Afghanistan is tonight in the hands of the Taliban. Americans C-17 military jets took the final flights out of Kabul at one minute before midnight, local time there. The 18th Airborne Corps posting this image on Twitter, the last U.S. soldier boarding, the last military plane out of Afghanistan. He`s Major General Chris Donahue, commanding general of the 82nd airborne.

The withdrawal comes after the evacuation of some 123,000 civilians over 17 days, including 6,000 Americans. It also comes after the deaths of 13 service members killed in a terror attack while carrying out that evacuation.

The President today praised U.S. troops in a statement that also said military leaders unanimously recommended to quote, end our airlift mission as planned, and that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the troops. The President says he will address the nation tomorrow on Afghanistan.

This afternoon, the Pentagon and the State Department both acknowledged that there are Americans left behind in Afghanistan.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will continue our relentless efforts to help Americans, foreign nationals and Afghans leave Afghanistan if they choose. We believe there are still a small number of Americans under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave.

GEN. KENNETH MCKENZIE, U.S. MARINES CENTCOM COMMANDER: There`s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we`d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn`t have gotten everybody out.


JANSING: We`re also following important developments on the pandemic tonight there are now over 39 million cases in the US. Just seven days ago, there were 38 million cases. The number of people who have been lost now top 640,000.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Monday night. Peter Baker, veteran journalist and author who is now chief White House correspondent for The New York Times. Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter with The Washington Post, her latest book co-written with her colleague, Philip Rucker is "I alone Can Fix It, Donald J. Trump`s Catastrophic Final Year." And Tom Nichols, author and Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, and didn`t know that the opinions Professor Nichols expresses are his own. Good to have all of you here tonight.

So Peter Baker, what are you hearing from the White House tonight about the troop withdrawal kind of put in perspective, just how big this moment is not just for the administration, but obviously for the entire country?

PETER BAKER, NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a big moment, obviously, is a big moment, a life of a country when you lose a war, especially the longest war you`ve ever fought to leave the way that we have left 20 years after we first got there with great promise and hope is an ending that nobody could have obviously imagined 20 years ago.

You know, I was on the ground in Afghanistan, just days after 9/11. I got there -- when I got there the CIA wasn`t there yet. The American Special Forces weren`t there yet. The Taliban was there. And what we learned as reporters in Afghanistan in that fall 2001 was just what a wretched, miserable country it had been under the Taliban rule for so long. I don`t think anybody imagined that that time, that 20 years later, we would be handing it back over to them.

So I think it`s a tough moment for everybody all around, it`s tough in the White House, their calculation is that Americans are glad to be out that after 20 years, Americans don`t want to be fighting there any longer. But they obviously recognize that these last few days had been a mix of, you know, heroic efforts on the part of military to get as many people out as possible. But with the departure was still some Americans left and obviously many Afghan allies left is, you know, mark that they had hoped not to have against them at the end of this operation.

JANSING: And the fact Tom Nichols that the majority of the American people wanted us out that an awful lot of people agreed with the President`s decision to finally withdraw from Afghanistan, that does not change the fact of what we have left behind. And so I want to play this what we heard from CENTCOM commander, Frank McKenzie, about ISIS.


MCKENZIE: We know that ISIS-K has worked very, very hard, the strikers and to continue to talk. There are at least 2,000 hardcore ISIS fighters in Afghanistan now. And of course, many of those come from the prisons that were -- there were opened a few a few days ago. So that number is up and is probably as high as it`s ever been in quite a while. That`s going to be a challenge for the Taliban.


JANSING: I mean, Tom, the point of all this was to keep America safe from another terror attack. What is the challenge now for U.S. intelligence with regard to tracking ISIS in Afghanistan, and are we at risk are we at more risk?

TOM NICHOLS, U.S. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE PROFESSOR: You know, we`re going to -- once we`re not there, there`s always an elevated risk.


I mean, I think everybody in the intelligence community and the national security community understands that when you have a large ungoverned space, and you know, to call the Taliban, the government is probably generous. It`s a large and contested space, you`re going to have the possibility for more threats.

But, you know, 20 years of staying there has changed the landscape. And I think the idea that somehow, we can simply contain all threats in the world by just being present where they are. You know, we`ve learned our lesson about that. You just cannot reduce the world to zero risk.

So will there be more bad guys? And is it possible that there will be more dangerous emanating from this part of the world? Yes, but I think the American people, I hope the American people have decided that they understand that you can`t live in a world with zero risk. And then if they`d rather have American forces home, which I think they`ve said, overwhelmingly and clearly to the commander in chief, then, you know, that`s a risk that the that the American public is willing to take. I think we`re not blind. We`re not suddenly, you know, without resources, and we`re not helpless in that part of the world. It does -- it makes things more difficult. But it doesn`t send us all the way back to square one, you know, 21 years ago.

JANSING: Well, Carol, as one of your colleagues points out further to that point is that the forever war is an over, it`s entering a new phase. And of course, President Biden followed a deal that was put in place by his predecessor, someone you covered deeply and knew well, Donald Trump. What was it about that administration and their dealings with the Taliban that has gotten us to this point?

CAROL LEONNIG, THE WASHINGTON POST INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: It`s such a good question, Chris, because Donald Trump`s idea of how this would happen would be like, you know, the snap of a finger. In fact, some of his aides in the final weeks and days of his administration were proposing almost like a victory announcement about how the war had been ended overnight. And that caused incredible consternation in the Pentagon, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley and other members of the Pentagon top brass were on guard for an order to come down from the White House for this sort of overnight departure. They all envisioned sort of those scenes from Saigon or something similar, you know, the last helicopter on the top of a building and people calling for it.

I would also say that, you know, President Biden has made his choice here, he is not -- he is not tied and bound to something that Donald Trump articulated the peace agreement with the Taliban, Biden could have chosen what he wanted to do there. But he is in agreement with the American people, let`s leave. And I would remind everybody of something pretty important that the U.S. government said under President Obama and also under President Trump, and that was that this war was failing, it was secretly failing behind the scenes. People in the Pentagon were trying to sort of rush over it, paper over it, make it more attractive.

But ultimately, the success of stabilizing this country was only lasting as long as the coalition forces were in each of these communities. The efforts and the programs to root out corruption to make sure the Taliban wasn`t the sort of grievous force that it is didn`t last very long. Our architecture and our scaffolding there just didn`t have the kind of penetration despite 20 years of our presence, that people hoped when Peter Baker and others landed those first days.

JANSING: We`ve heard from the President in recent days, most specifically, Peter, after the deaths of those 13 Americans. What do you think that we might expect to hear from the President tomorrow? Are you surprised, for example, he put out a statement today and mentioned those 13 service members who were lost at the end of it. But were you surprised he didn`t have something to say today?

BAKER: Well, I mean, it is a little surprising, in a way it`s the end of a 20 year war usually hear from a president. But if we hear from him tomorrow, I don`t think that that matters, a great deal in terms of timing. What we -- I think what he will probably say is, you know, to defend once again, his decision to get out to make the points that have been made here right now, which is that this is something he promised on the campaign trail. It is something his predecessor promised as well, this deal that he made with the Taliban and something that most Americans want. It`s the conclusion that a lot of people have come to after 20 years of war that it was time for us to get out.

What I`ll be enjoying hear him say and address is what does he say to the Afghans who are left, the Afghans who worked with American forces or the American businesses or American government or NGOs who did not get out.


And then of course there are thousands left behind who feel that they have a target on them now under the Taliban whip. What does he say to the 38 million Afghans who might not have worked with the Americans, but are now going to be living once again, under a very, very, you know, brutal totalitarian regime to the extent as Tom says, there`s a government, those are important questions as well.

But I think that he will portray this as, you know, a progress for the American people that we`re pulling away from forever wars, as he calls them. And, you know, that was never our idea to remake Afghanistan or image, even though we that`s sort of what we tried and failed to do. And then it`s time to move on.

JANSING: It is true, Tom Nichols, though, that some of the most vocal critics of the president right now, including Democrats, are veterans who are very concerned about the people who are left behind, who were side by side with them, and who serve them, the Afghans who are interpreters and served in other roles. Here`s what we heard from Secretary of State blink and light today about the Taliban.


BLINKEN: While we have expectations of the Taliban, that doesn`t mean we will rely on the Taliban. We`ll remain vigilant in monitoring threats ourselves, and will maintain robust counterterrorism capabilities in the region to neutralize those threats, if necessary.


JANSING: And yet, he also said that we are going to have to, Tom, rely on them, and that we do rely on them in terms of helping to -- in terms of those assurances that they gave the United States government that they would allow the folks who want to leave to leave. Is that feasible?

NICHOLS: No. And, you know, at some point, it does get the rhetoric about the Taliban, or the statements about the Taliban coming into the White House, you know, really -- can really make you wince. But on the other hand, they don`t have much choice at this point. They -- They`re, you know, this is just the situation we`re in we`re, you know, we`re -- this is what surrender and retreat looks like, we`re going to have to just accept that this was always the option. We were either going to stay and just create a kind of permanent presence and outposts in Afghanistan, or we were just going to accept that it had to be handed over to the Taliban.

And I think there`s simply no point in not talking this way. But I think the language about relying on them and, you know, calling on them to be inclusive, and other things that have come out of the White House and the State Department aren`t helpful.

But I think the other problem here is that we need to hear about an articulated policy about Afghanistan, the war is over. But we still have to have a policy in this part of the world and the Secretary -- Secretary Blinken started talking about that we`re going to have robust counterterrorism capabilities and so on.

But to follow up on Peter`s point about tomorrow, you know, I hope the president says and here`s what happens in the coming days, here`s what we`re looking at, too, because I think a lot of Americans just want to kind of dust their hands off and forget this place that they were never that interested in over the past few years. And, you know, we can`t afford to do that. There has to be some kind of policy about Afghanistan. And it`s going to have to include how we actually deal with and what we think of the possibilities of dealing with the Taliban are.

JANSING: And, Carol, before we go, I want to ask you about the House Committee investigating January 6, we now know that they have asked 35 telecom and social media companies to retain records involving communications from a group of GOP members of Congress. What does that tell you about where this committee is going about their approach?

LEONNIG: Well, you can look at it in the most basic way, Chris, which is that if for any investigation from you know, a local police department, to a federal prosecutor in New York, phone records are a treasure trove of following who was talking to who. You don`t always find the content, you know, you can`t hear the conversation. This is not the NSA.

But amazing things are learned when you discover who was calling who, when. And it may prove very important, because while you may not know exactly what say a Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff may have said on January 5th, you now know you can ask a particular lawmaker about what he was talking about with the chief of staff on January 5th.

All of these things end up being really big, and potentially powerful clues, not answers, but clues. And it strikes me as well, that what it probably indicates is that members of the committee and their investigators probably more importantly, are hearing sort of side long information that points to specific lawmakers, that points to what lawmakers were saying at the time about their conversations. And they have been sharing with their peers, and hence those phone records become much more interesting.


JANSING: To be continued. Carol Leonnig, Peter Baker, Tom Nichols, thanks to all of you tonight.

And coming up, former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is here on the daunting recovery effort ahead for Louisiana as the city of New Orleans as you saw remains in the dark tonight. And later how some hospitals being pushed to the brink by COVID patients are having trouble taking care of those who don`t have the virus. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on another very busy Monday night.



RANDAL GAINES, STATE REPRESENTATIVE (D) LOUISIANA: Probably the damage is catastrophic. Every neighborhood has a significant amount of property damage, so it`s going to take a while the recovery efforts going last four weeks.


JANSING: The full extent of this destruction is still very much under review. Officials in New Orleans are urging residents not to return since many areas tonight have no power water communication or supplies. The chief executive of Entergy New Orleans says it`s too early to know whether it`ll take days or weeks to restore electricity to the city.

The governor`s office warns damage to Louisiana`s power grid appears catastrophic. Rural hospitals have been evacuating patients to larger facilities. Their intensive care units are overwhelmed with patients from a fourth surge of COVID.

According to at one hospital quote, and emergency generator lost power in the intensive care unit where patients rely on life sustaining ventilators, medical staff manually ventilated critically ill patients and transported them to other floors. One doctor does scribed it as Katrina ask.


We welcome to the broadcast Craig Fugate, former FEMA Administrator during the Obama administration. He`s also chief resilience officer at One Concern, a technology firm working to combat natural disasters and climate change. Good to see you. No one has more expertise than you on these things, though, obviously, we`re always talking to you under the worst of circumstances. And while rescue efforts in Louisiana we`re going on all day, the governor has warned the death toll may still rise considerably. So talk about the priorities in these first critical days after a storm like it hits.

CRAIG FUGATE, FMR. FEMA DIRECTOR UNDER PRES. OBAMA: Both parties will always be probably the same, it`s always going to be the first focus is life saving, getting to those that are cut off, getting to those that are injured, checking for people. And as you saw the day, a lot of areas are still flooded. They`re having to go in by boat. High-wheel vehicles are doing overflights. So that will continue.

The second thing is to life sustaining. With power outages crosses region, remember, we`re still in summertime. This is a very hot, humid area of the country. But as temperature starting to rise again, heat related illnesses. And all of that stuff that`s taking place without electricity are going to add to that.

Not to mention the fact, we tend to see as many injuries and deaths after the storm and the recovery as we do sometimes from the store. And you already said the hospitals are jammed with COVID patients. So the message is if you`re somewhere safe, stay there. If you`ve evacuated, don`t come back. And let the rescuers, utility crews do their jobs and stay off the roads, because it is still a very dangerous time for recovery.

JANSING: But that`s exactly the reason why there are officials in various places in Louisiana, including right outside of New Orleans in Jefferson Parish, who are saying we`re going to bring buses in, there are people who are in conditions that are unsafe. And I know the inclination of a lot of these folks is they want to stay, they want to be in their house, they want to protect their property. But these are not safe conditions to stay in.

FUGATE: No, again, without electricity. And in many of these areas, they don`t have water, or they have bottled water orders, which if you don`t have electricity, there`s not much you can be able to do there. And there are going to be places where, yes, you`re hearing the report, we`re not sure yet weeks or more. It may be better to move people out of these areas to where there are facilities where there is air conditioning power and stuff.

And, you know, this may be something over the next couple days. We`ll see more people choose to leave these areas if conditions don`t, you know, start turning around. And again on the power is really going to be how much they have to rebuild. This isn`t going to just fix things. I mean, in most of these areas, they`re going to be rebuilding the power grid.

JANSING: There was my understanding that Entergy opened a new natural gas power plant last year that was supposed to help in situations like this. Obviously, we don`t have a situation where they`re able to just get that up and running. And suddenly everybody`s got power. Once again, have utilities done enough do you think generally, not just in Louisiana, to deal with what we are seeing, which is an -- what seems to be an increasing number intensity of natural disasters, and the association that they have with climate change?

FUGATE: They`re learning, and again, I think we see some utilities are starting to look at things like undergrounding for repeated storms and wildfires. We`re seeing others that are looking at how to build more resiliency in the micro grids and ways to get power back into areas quickly by doing new technologies.

But I think this is points out one of the things is as climate is changing, our infrastructure was really built for the past wasn`t built for what`s happening now. And it`s not built for the future. And as we go back in and we get these systems back up, we really need to focus on how do we build more resilient infrastructure, so that when these storms do come in, yes, we`ll have damages, we may have outages, but it`s not so widespread and catastrophic that we end up having to move more people out after the disaster.

JANSING: So whose responsibility? Do you think this need to be a whole of government, federal response? I`m just thinking about the fact that a system a 911 communication system that was rebuilt after Katrina in New Orleans crashed yesterday.

FUGATE: Yes, they`re in a process. I mean, the system they had was a new building, but their technology hadn`t yet been updated. They were in the middle of that refresh. And this is something we`re seeing at local levels. We`re seeing it state. We`re seeing the federal levels where our systems are just not keeping up with either growth, demand or the impacts from climate. This is why the investment, the President`s proposing in the infrastructure bill is a good downpayment. FEMA got additional money for mitigation programs, that`s a good downpayment.


But the most important thing is we`ve got to quit rebuilding stuff the way it was in these disasters and build it back for the future, and focus on the risk we`re facing, not what we`ve been facing in the past.

JANSING: Craig Fugate, you`ve given us a lot to think about tonight. Thank you so much. And coming up tonight, the war in Afghanistan is finally over. But the political fallout from that 20-year conflict is only just heating up, that part of the story when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


JANSING: Regarding the final days of the war in Afghanistan the Atlantic`s David Rothkopf writes this, Joe Biden doesn`t own the mayhem on the ground right now. What we`re seeing is the culmination of 20 years of bad decisions by the U.S. political and military leaders. If anything, Americans should feel proud of what the U.S. government and military have accomplished in these past two weeks. President Biden deserves credit, not blame.

Back with us tonight, David Plouffe Obama, campaign manager and senior advisor to the President and Tim Miller, a contributor to The Bulwark and a former communications director for Jeb Bush. Good to see you gentlemen,

Tim Miller, do you agree should Joe Biden be getting more credit for finally getting America out of Afghanistan?

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Boy, I think that was pretty delusional, Chris, I`m sorry to say. Whatever you think about the war in Afghanistan, there`s a lot of really good incredible reasons why we shouldn`t have been there to start with.


I think the Joe Biden was probably right during the Obama administration when he said we, you know, should have been getting out there. And he`s been consistent about this for many years. And I don`t really have any quarrel with that. I think in retrospect, with the hindsight 2020, I think that that makes sense.

But what we`ve seen over the last two weeks, I think gives me grave concern about his political standing going forward. And I have real humanitarian concerns about the people we`ve left behind. I, you know, we don`t exactly know how many people are there 100 to 200 people. This is a big wild card that the President has left himself. You can imagine and we could have prophesized all the worst case scenarios that could happen in the coming weeks and months.

And, you know, I hope that it ends up being clean. I hope that is planned to have 97 countries working together with the Taliban, who even the president says he doesn`t trust can get people out diplomatically, that I think this is a big gamble. And he promised that we are going to get people out. And we really do need to get the Americans out. And in addition to that, I think that we, you know, fell down on our bargain to a lot of a lot of men and women that helped us over the last two decades.

JANSING: David, you know, better than anybody that what Tim Miller says is right, in terms of this is a president who was consistent. I`m sure he was consistent in the Obama administration. He`s been consistent since. He absolutely believes that history will judge him well on this. But what about the point that he has left himself and the United States and our allies who are still there exposed?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all, Chris, there was no good time to get out. OK, there was always going to be issues. And that`s one of the reasons we stayed for so long. So I think the big thing here from the American public standpoint, is they wanted this war to be over and Joe Biden delivered on a core commitment from his presidential campaign.

There`s no question the Americans left behind, they`ve spoken about today, the administration, they`re going to stay with it. I`m sure we`ve got intelligence assets there working with allies. So of course, seeing that through is going to be really important and continuing to help Afghans who want to leave do that as well.

But let`s talk about the politics from here. If the Republicans who are running for senate and governor and house next year, this time, 12 months from now, are going to make this the centerpiece of their campaign, that we should have stayed there longer, maybe we should have sent more troops in. That`s not going to happen. OK. And so the substantive part of this is critically important. I think they`ve done an amazing job over the last two weeks --

JANSING: But don`t you think, David, they`re not going to talk about the withdrawal. They know that the majority of the American people are for the withdrawal. But they might talk about the way that it happened. In fact, they`re already talking about it. So you can`t conflate the two really, it`s about how this was pulled off. And we don`t know what`s going to happen in the days, weeks and months to come.

PLOUFFE: Right. Well, the Republicans are largely talking to friendly microphones, OK. They`re shooting political free throws. OK. So campaigns are not that their political comment, you say something, your opponent`s going to say something else. And so I think at the end of the day, they`re not going to argue that. They`re going to try and have it both ways. They`re going to criticize the last couple of weeks, without trying to then take ownership on what they would have done differently.

JANSING: You know, there`s a bigger picture here, Tim Miller, Congressman Ruben Gallego said earlier today, look that he`s sort of tired of hearing from people like General Petraeus, McMaster coming in and talking like they`re not part of the problem, that this was the tragedy that started under Bush and went through four administrations, and in fact, at least give President Biden some credit for getting out. That`s the other side of the argument you`re making, right? That he made the best of what was a bad situation that developed over 20 years?

MILLER: I guess the question is, did he make the best of a bad situation? I`m not sure. And I`m not sure that what David laid out is going to is going to play out the politics. Look, you know, I voted for President Biden. I want President Biden to succeed. I wanted this withdrawal effort to succeed, even if I`m going to disagree with him from time to time on the politics, being a former Republican. I am deeply concerned about this as a political and strategic matter.

And so I think that he`s sure that H.R. McMaster made plenty of mistakes in the Trump administration, and we could spend all night talking about all the Bush administration mistakes. And I know a lot of Democrats like to peg me with that coward for Jeb, but it has a child during the Bush administration. I`m happy to say I agree with you 100 percent of the Bush administration made grave, grave errors and foreign policy 20 years ago, but he was dealt a bad hand and he had to play the hand that he was dealt.

And, you know if you`re going to -- if we`re leaving people who are American citizens in Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban, I`m worried that that`s playing a bad hand badly. And that`s the part that worries me about the decision.


I hope I`m wrong. I hope that using our intelligence assets and our diplomatic partners that this administration can prove me wrong over the next 12 months. But I think they`re taking a big political risk, and I think pretending otherwise would be would be folly if you`re a Democrat that wants President Biden to succeed.

JANSING: Or thanks to David Plouffe and Tim Miller. Appreciate you both. Coming up, health care workers in the south are now trying to fight a pandemic during a lengthy power outage. We`ll ask Dr. Kavita Patel about that. And the days other COVID headlines when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


JANSING: The U.S. has now crossed another COVID milestone. Over 39 million confirmed cases and hospitals are being pushed to the brink. The daily average of COVID patients has now passed 100,000 over the past week. That is the highest average since last winter when vaccines were not widely available. Some hospitals are being forced to delay surgeries. One mother in Texas issued this desperate play after her son a veteran died of a treatable disease with no ICU beds available. By the time he finally got treatment, it was too late.


MICHELLE PUGET, SON DIED AFTER WAITING FOR ICU BED: They had called all the hospitals in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. I just don`t think people realize, you know, how important this is, you know, it could be your mother, your son, you know, your daughter.


JANSING: For more we welcome back to the program Dr. Kavita Patel, Clinical Physician and Former Senior Policy Aide during the Obama administration. She is also one of our Public health experts and a non-resident Fellow at Brookings.


Your heartbreaks for that mother may call five different states. They can`t find an ICU bed for her son and he dies. How worried should all of us be about the strain on hospitals right now?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FMR. OBAMA WHITE HOUSE AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT: Yes, Chris, we all should. And, by the way, that physician in Texas, the emergency room physician that was making calls to those outlying hospitals, he actually went on Facebook to a physician`s Facebook group that I happened to be a part of asking for help for anyone who could actually help get that patient transferred. And that`s what we`re at. We`re crowdsourcing, triage in medical care. And that`s insane.

So everyone should be concerned because Chris, you look at the map of the country, according to the CDC, and the by transmission rates, the entire thing is a black of red. So, it could happen to you even if you`re in kind of a more vaccinated area, parts of the Northeast, parts of the Northwest, for example. So it`s relevant and something that all of us should consider more than anything, Chris, when you think about needing to go to the emergency room, be very thoughtful on whether you need to make that emergency room visit. Many people don`t need to go to an ER and can find ways to deal with issues short of going into one of those hospitals with overwhelmed.

JANSING: Yes, if you`re not sure there`s always telemedicine. We`re getting pretty good at that. Right.


JANSING: You mentioned vaccines. So let me ask you about some of that. I want to play for you a prediction from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. He sits, of course on the board of Pfizer, and he has some information on availability of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five to 11. Here`s what he said.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FMR. FDA COMMISSIONER: Of the FDA sticks to its normal timeline, in terms of how it reviews these applications, you would expect that review to be a four to six week review for potentially an emergency use authorization. So that puts you in a timeframe -- timeline where you`re late fall, early winter. I think that that`s sort of an optimized scenario if everything goes, right, and this is an accelerated review, like the other applications have been.


JANSING: I`m guessing you get this question a lot. So does that timeline sound right to you? And what about children younger than five?

PATEL: Yes, Chris, it does. And Dr. Gottlieb kind of hit on all the points kind of the process that the FDA needs to undergo, and the fact that it is a pediatric emergency authorization, obviously, a lot of attention, just like with other vaccines, but especially with pediatric vaccines is going to be paid for your question about under five. So let`s just consider that all those trials are happening right now.

But they need -- Their FDA did ask for more data for all age groups and under five also has a challenge in trying to make sure that we have enough cases. You can`t have a robust trial without having a controls with people with no COVID compared to COVID.

So right now, we actually unfortunately, have a lot of young children getting COVID, it`s possible that we could see under five earlier than -- not earlier than five to 12. But earlier than the beginning of 2020, Chris, simply because we have so much COVID and young children right now.

JANSING: So, there`s a lot of folks who are suffering in Louisiana tonight. And I`d like you to walk us through just how difficult this is. I mean, obviously, they had a terrible situation before a category four hurricane hit their state. What are the biggest concerns when you see hospitals like that, what they`re facing COVID on top of what certainly will be and the big concern is that people who are left without power without water without communication, lots of places that are that were flooded. The possibilities are endless for health concerns.

PATEL: Yes, this is near and dear to my heart. I kind of helped up post Katrina, of course, then the levees broke. And we were dealing with flooding situation. But Chris, it`s very similar. So colleagues on the ground in New Orleans, they`ve been prepared, they`ve been ready for this. They`ve got generators backup power.

But Chris, these are staff that are literally going to be living inside of these buildings. And you saw what Ali covered early on, might be weeks before people get power. So you can just imagine how many people will come to a hospital because it can be a source of respite to, that`s very obvious when it might be the only place that has power in a grid.

So number one, staff that have been overworked that are willing to make a commitment, number two, people who are coming in not necessarily for emergencies, but just to seek respite, some sort of shelter. And then number three, we are going to see increased cases because of the power outages and sewage backups. We`re going to see infections and other illnesses on top of what we`re worried about with COVID transmission.

So, this is not -- might not be realized in numbers today, Chris, but I`m very concerned about a spike in COVID cases, several weeks from now. And those are people who are going to be going to outline state when we had -- when Katrina happened when we were in Houston, Texas and we were able to put people kind of in safe shelters and places we had that capacity.


We don`t have that capacity today, not even in the health system or in some of the outlying areas.

JANSING: And let us not forget many of those folks who again, as you point out, we`re already exhausted just from COVID. They may well have families who are suffering as well. They may have damaged to their homes. They may have to leave their homes or have already evacuated their homes. The complications boggle the mind. Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you. And thanks to all those folks down in New Orleans who are fighting the good fight there.

And coming up, we`ll remember the heroes who are lost in last week`s attack in Afghanistan when the 11th Hour continues.


JANSING: 11 Marines, a sailor and an Army soldier were the final Americans killed in the Afghanistan war. They are heroes. And it is for us to remember what has been sacrificed. Remember who has been lost. Tonight NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander brings us their stories.


PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Behind every name is a story and a family in grief.

RICHARD HERRERA, FATHER OF SGT. NICOLE GEE: There`s more Nicole`s there has to be a much better world.

ALEXANDER: Just days before her death Sergeant Nicole Gee wrote I love my job posting this poignant picture of her cradling an Afghan baby. For Nicole`s dad she will always be his little girl.

HERRERA: She`s my hero. She`s a warrior. She`s very compassionate. She`s very caring, loving.

ALEXANDER: 20-year-old Marine Corporal Dylan Merola, his mom says was one of the best kids ever. Just an infant when U.S. troops first arrived in Afghanistan. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss`s wife says her husband would have no regrets.

ALENA KNAUSS, WIFE OF SGT. RYAN KNAUSS: For him it is the ultimate honor he could get back to his country and to help those people.


ALEXANDER: These service members now home their sacrifice honored in cities and towns across a grateful nation, including Marine corporals, Daegan Page and Humberto Sanchez, Lance corporals, David Espinoza and Kareem Nikoui, Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak, Marine Sergeant Johanny Rosario was from Massachusetts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will always remember her as the hero that she is.

ALEXANDER: The town of Wentzville, Missouri remembering Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz. 10 of the fallen were based in California as Camp Pendleton like Lance Corporal Riley McCollum, set to become a new father in just three weeks. And corporal Hunter Lopez, the son of sheriff`s deputies.

SHERI KELLEY, MOTHER OF CAMP PENDLETON SERVICE MEMBER: The patriotism doesn`t go by area or state. It impacts all of us.

ALEXANDER: Marine Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover`s dad says he was a natural leader.

DARIN HOOVER, FATHER OF SGT. TAYLOR HOOVER: He was helping those that are less fortunate those that can`t help themselves.

ALEXANDER: The ultimate sacrifice in service of others. Peter Alexander, NBC News.



JANSING: The last thing before we go, in the popular vacation area surrounding Lake Tahoe, thousands of people are evacuating the southern and western shores after the Caldor fire quickly intensified overnight, fueled by dry windy conditions. Many evacuees from South Lake Tahoe spent much of today in standstill traffic on Highway 50 as they tried to flee east toward Nevada.

The Caldor fire has already burned more than 177,000 acres, and tonight it`s only 14 percent contained. Surreal photos capture parts of the Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort in flames surrounded by a smoky orange sky. Forecasters say the region will remain at risk for critical fire weather until at least mid-week ahead of what would typically be a busy Labor Day weekend.

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