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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 8/31/21

Guests: Ashley Parker, A.B. Stoddard, Ben Rhodes, Irwin Redlener, Matthew Dowd


Biden offers strong defense of Afghanistan withdrawal. Taliban leaders call for new relations with the west. Much of Louisiana still without power after hurricane. COVID Delta surge continues to affect unvaccinated. Texas Republicans pass restrictive voting bill.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Finally, an American president has said that we do not know how to remake other countries. We never have and we never will know how to do that. 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 224 of the Biden administration, which is now trying to turn the page on the controversial exit from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation. This afternoon, about 24 hours after the last American C-17 cargo plane took off from Kabul. President Biden stepped to the podium at the White House State Dining Room to offer a vigorous defense of his decision to end America`s longest war.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: No nation, no nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. Extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravely and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals. That was the choice, the real choice between leaving or escalating. I was not going to extend this forever war. And I was not extending a forever exit. To those asking for a third decade of war in Afghanistan, I asked, what is the vital national interest, it was time to end this war. We will maintain the fight against terrorism. We just don`t need to fight a ground war to do it. And to ISIS-K, we are not done with you yet.


JANSING: The speech sketched the broader outlines of his foreign policies saying the era of nation building is over. The President also noted the U.S. would help evacuate the estimated 100 to 200 Americans still in Afghanistan if they want to leave. The State Department also thanked Kabul embassy staff on social media, posting this photo taken just before their departure. There was no longer an embassy in Afghanistan, those diplomats will not be based in Qatar.

Meanwhile, NBC News has learned more about just how closely the Taliban worked with the American military to get evacuees to the airport. In some cases, the Taliban, "drove Americans through checkpoints, cleared streets so Americans could pass safely and even carried luggage to the airport gates. They may have also prevented some attacks."

Today in Kabul, the Taliban solidified its grip on power and pledged to unify a "stable and safe Afghanistan." They also called for new relations with the West and international investment. That may be a long time coming. Earlier this evening, Biden`s Chief of Staff spoke to our MSNBC Colleague, Mehdi Hassan, about recognizing the Taliban.


MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC HOST: Will the United States be recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan anytime soon?

RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I don`t think anytime soon. I don`t know if we will ever recognize their government.


JANSING: Today with U.S. forces gone, fighters on Kabul airport freely examining equipment that had been left behind. U.S. military officials say it was all permanently disabled.


GEN. KENNETH MCKENZIE, U.S. MARINES CENTCOM COMMANDER: We demilitarize those systems so that they`ll never be used again. We have also demilitarized equipment that we did not bring out at the airport. Those aircraft will never fly again when we left. They`ll never be able to be operated by anyone.


JANSING: We`re also keeping an eye on several other major developments tonight. In Louisiana, more than a million people are still without power after Hurricane Ida battered the gulf coast on Sunday. Then areas have no gas, no clean running water supply, and the whole region is now blanketed in a sweltering heat. One of the hardest hit areas is the barrier island of Grand Isle, which is right next to where Ida landfall Sunday. Here`s what the director of the Jefferson Parish Department of Emergency Management told around Rachel Maddow earlier tonight.


JOE VALIENTE, JEFFERSON PARISH DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: This one really hit us out on it, did a tremendous amount of damage. We just made it to the island today with a rescue crew, on a search and rescue mission, and they reported that the island is devastated. That is totally uninhabitable. There is three to six feet of sand that was washed up on the golf on the entire island. And they have no power. They have no cell phone communication. So, we are staging supplies now. So, we can set up for a recovery process. But that`s certainly going to take a while.


JANSING: Meanwhile, a Texas bill restricting access to the ballot is now headed to Governor Greg Abbott`s desk. Democrats in the state legislature have been trying to stop the measure, even leaving the state in protest to prevent votes. We`ll have much more on this just ahead.


And all of this as the U.S. continues to grapple with the relentless spread of the Delta variant. The White House says it`s ramping up efforts to help states dealing with a surge of infections by sending more personnel, critical supplies and treatments to hospitals. And there is now new concern tonight about an emerging COVID variant.

Bloomberg News reports, South African researchers have identified a new strain that they say may spread easily and may have an increased ability to evade antibodies, that as Florida has begun penalizing school districts defying Governor DeSantis` ban on mask mandates. The State Department of Education is now withholding funds from two school districts that made masks mandatory in classrooms.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, A.B. Stoddard, veteran Washington journalist and Associate Editor and Columnist for Real Clear Politics, and Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Adviser for President Obama. His latest book is After the Fall: Being American in the World We`ve Made.

Good to see all of you tonight. A very important night for this country in Afghanistan. So, Ashley Parker, you were actually in the room at the White House for that speech. What struck you about what he said in his delivery that perhaps was not as apparent to those of us who are watching at home?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: You know, in the room, and I think a lot of this did come through on television. What struck me first was his tone and his delivery that he was defiant in fiery in moment that felt like he was almost shouting the first part of this speech and hushed and whispery, and others trying to make a point banging a soul finger on the lectern. He was defensive, he seemed to anticipate the criticism, understand it very much, wanted to push back on that narrative that we left Americans behind. In fact, there are about 100, 200 Americans, the President said himself who wanted to get out and have yet not been able to do, but he very much sort of went through all the people who had been evacuated, the more than 6000 Americans, the more than 100,000 Afghans, and even in some cases sort of explicitly pre-butted in rebutted his predict state.

You may say this, here`s my response, you may ask for a third decade in Afghanistan. Here`s my response. So, it was explanatory. It was defiant. It was justifying it. And it was a grim speech. It was not particularly a Boolean or hopeful, although there were small glimpses of the president tried to lay out sort of a better path forward in the 21st Century of fighting terror and going to war abroad.

JANSING: A.B. Stoddard, was this speech Biden needed to give right now post withdrawal, post evacuation? Did you think this was the tone he needed to take? Some critics have argued he sounded too defensive. And I understand we`re having some problems with your video, but we can hear you. So, what`s your thought about the speech?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Well, Chris, I think he has -- I mean, Ashley is right, he was defiant. And he was defensive. And he -- that`s consistent with the way he`s spoken about this all along. He has the support of the public on his side on the policy of withdrawal. It`s the process of the withdrawal, that he is losing support over people have not accepted yet what he`s saying, which is that it was inevitable that chaos was always going to ensue. And it was going to be dangerous. And they see tragedy, and they think this was botch. Maybe after the speech today, they will believe what the President is telling them that there was no other way to do this, it was always going to come out this way. And they will change their mind. I think that though, will depend on whether or not the remaining Americans are able to come home safely, or they are in Afghanistan a while longer and remain safe that we don`t see chaos, violence, executions, tragedy, from the Taliban. And that`s really going to be the burden of the White House is to -- this administration is to take care of those people that they say now that the military is gone, they believe they can protect and bring home through diplomatic channels with the Taliban. That`s a huge, huge challenge.

So, I think the President believes that the policy was right. I don`t know the American people even if they agree with him, like the way it`s going, or that they`re going to change their mind.

JANSING: We`re going to talk some more, Ben Rhodes, about the specifics of Afghanistan right now. But I want to ask you about policy, big picture, because we began to hear Biden lay out his doctrine. What would you say were the main components? You know, he said this decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan, it`s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.


BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Yeah, no, Chris, I think in the big picture, the bet that Joe Biden is making is that his foreign policy is about bringing an end to the post 9/11 period of these large nation building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, that set unachievable objectives that were unsustainable, that have cost trillions of dollars. And what he`s saying is, I`m not going to continue those policies that have demonstrably not succeeded against their objectives that carry huge costs. And also, importantly, in the back half of that speech, what he was saying is, look, part of the reason why we have to end these wars, is we have to focus on a new set of challenges in the world, we have to focus on the challenge from China and the threats to democracy from Russia, with the focus on the challenge of climate change, we obviously have to do a lot of work on our democracy at home.

And I think the entire Biden presidency as it interacts with this foreign policy, is saying, I`m going to turn the page on this post 9/11 period and move us into a new phase, a new role in the world that is not defined by these military endeavors.

And frankly, look, obviously, there`s a lot to look at, and things to criticize in the execution of the withdraw. I think what they`re thinking in the White House, Chris, is that as this decision agent, the profound choice to end the war is what people will remember. And that`s something that will both draw public support in the long run. And we`ll also position the United States in the long run, to be better capable of defending these other interests, and addressing these other priorities without continuing to be prosecuting the war in Afghanistan.

JANSING: Let me ask you about another take of The Wall Street Journal has on this ban, "counterterrorism and intelligence officials say it will be much harder and less effective than the White House suggests. The U.S. has lost many of its key assets for tracking violent militants and their plots, they say." All that, plus, we can`t forget the fact, Ben, that the Taliban is inheriting a country that`s both very poor and polarized. Has the White House boxed itself into a corner, how difficult is it going to be to achieve all of its objectives and dealing with the Taliban, getting Americans, getting some Afghans home safely and protecting national security?

RHODES: Well, I think, you know, you talk about a Biden doctrine. And I`m always hesitant to affix, like a bumper sticker to things. We were resistant to that in the Obama years. But essentially, when it comes to terrorism, the argument that he`s making, that he made again today, is that if you look, Chris, I mean, you covered us in the Obama White House, if you look at the places where the United States has had to take action to disrupt certain terrorist plot, it includes countries like Pakistan, or Somalia, or Yemen, or places in North Africa, where we do not have 1000s of troops on the ground, where, you know, in most cases, we`re not engaged in a ground war. And what he`s saying is that combination of intelligence and air power, and in some cases, cooperation from partners on the ground, is ultimately a more sustainable way to defend the country than having this kind of ground presence in a country like Afghanistan. I think that holds up if you look at the experience in recent years, with one big question mark, Chris, which is that we don`t know, what the Taliban is going to do when they`re actually in charge. Are they going to tacitly allow for a group like ISIS to have a safe haven? Are they going to invite in elements of al Qaeda that they`ve had connections to in the past, therefore raising the bar on the United States take military action, more aggressive military action in Afghanistan.

We don`t know that yet. And that`s, you know, the Taliban will have to watch that in the coming weeks and months to determine whether or not, you know, obviously, the Taliban poses risks the Afghan people, but whether or not they pose an increased counterterrorism threat, but again, I think his core argument, which I think is backed up by a lot of evidence in the last one years is trillions of dollars spent nation building and permanent U.S. presence in these countries where they`re having civil wars, is not making us safer, is not the right allocation of resources, is not sustainable, is not achieving the objectives that were set at the outset of these wars. And somebody had to turn the page on this error. And again, there`s a lot to debate about the execution of the withdraw, as A.B. said, and you know, there are a lot of Afghans as well as Americans who still need to get out of that country if they`re going to be safe.

But on the core issue of America`s interest, I think he`s quite confident in the long run, you know, he`ll be able to demonstrate that we need to move beyond this period of war and that we can defend our counterterrorism interests without having a ground force in Afghanistan.

JANSING: Yeah. And there`s no doubt that in the long run, the American people in poll after poll support the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but you write today, Ashley, about this more perilous phase for Biden`s dealings with Afghanistan as you talk to folks with within the White House. What`s their biggest concern in the short term?


PARKER: Well, in the short term, there`s a couple, sort of first and foremost, of course, are those roughly 100 to 200 Americans who are still on the ground perhaps there who want to leave, as you pointed out, Americans generally agree with the President`s decision to leave Afghanistan where it has gotten problematic for him, is how he is managing this process. And that is the one thing that Americans and the White House was aware of, are still paying attention to if there is a fellow American citizen in Afghanistan, who cannot get out. Or again, if there are, you know, any other major attacks, obviously, all of our troops are gone. But that`s sort of the immediate, and then in the near-term issues, they`re dealing with is, for starters, the refugee crisis, right?

We have airlifted, as the President said over 100,000 Afghans out of the country into neighboring countries, but this now begin a long and perilous journey. For those refugees, many of them are being housed in places that are over-crowded in squalid conditions, they then have to be processed. There are many Afghans who worked with Americans for this two-decade long war who are eligible to still leave the country and have not yet been able to. Interpreters, for instance, who worked with, again, soldiers and military contractors, and then those Afghans are going to be resettled, some of them in the United States. In some communities, they`re receiving a very warm welcome, other places, it`s a bit more wary and other places it`s downright hostile and has the potential to become a Republican talking point that`s weaponized. So those are sort of the media and mid short-term concern for the white house right now.

JANSING: And A.B. let`s talk just for a minute about the politics of all this. And I want to play what congressional Republicans are saying tonight about the president.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: We`re less safe as a result of this self-inflicted wound. This was an unforced error. A foreign policy, blunder, gargantuan proportion.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA MINORITY LEADER: I believe there should be accountability for what I see is probably the biggest failure in American government on a military stage in my lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Biden ministration is lying to us about the threats we face from Afghanistan, about what they knew, and when they knew it.


JANSING: What do you think, A.B., from a political perspective about the republican reactions so far? And how -- will what happened in Afghanistan impact Biden`s effort to get his domestic agenda passed in Congress? Or maybe even looking forward to 2022? Is this going to be the issue? Or is COVID the economy going to be the issues that people vote on?

STODDARD: Well, I think that the president`s approval numbers were dipping before the withdrawal from Afghanistan, because of the explosion of the Delta variant and concerns that the country and the economy are going to suffer because of the new infections from the Delta variant. The Republicans, even if they were supportive of withdrawal from Afghanistan, are going to take advantage of this and be watching any potential terror threat emanating from Afghanistan. There`s no question.

The problem with further issues there in terms of the Americans who remain is that Democrats have been, you know, as some of them as critical as Republicans. So, the actual -- the abandonment of Americans will be a major theme, I think, louder than even the vetting of refugees that you hear from Republicans in the weeks to come. Domestic agenda is reaching an acute stage in September as the Democrats tried to come together with intra party fights on this human versus physical infrastructure and avert a government shutdown and increase the debt ceiling. This is an excruciating month ahead for them. They really need Afghanistan to go smoothly, and to be out of the headlines.

JANSING: A.B. Stoddard, Ben Rhodes, Ashley Parker, thank you all. Appreciate it.

And coming up, that disturbing report out of Georgia, where anti-vaccine protesters actually forced one vaccine drive to shut down as new cases continue to rise. And later, what`s next in the battle for voting rights after Texas Republicans passed a major bill today that makes it much harder to vote. The 11th Hour, just getting underway on a Tuesday night.




DR. KATHLEEN TOOMEY, GEORGIA DEPT. OF PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Many of our line workers who are doing these vaccinations are receiving threats or receiving hostile emails when I heard that one mobile event in one town had to close down because of the harassment, bullying and threats that were directed at our team. I just said this is wrong. These people are giving their lives to help others and to help us in the state. We in Georgia can do better.


JANSING: A direct rebuke from Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the head of Georgia`s Department of Public Health, who said several vaccination drives were disrupted and that one was actually forced to shut down over threats from anti-vaccine protesters.

A spokesperson for Dr. Toomey told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Aside from feeling threatened themselves, staff realized no one would want to come to that location for a vaccination under those circumstances. So, they packed up and left."

Back with us again tonight, Dr. Irwin Redlener, Founding Director of Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, who advises us on public health. He`s also a professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Well, you know, first of all, the threats besides the fact that that is absolutely outrageous. I thought, if you haven`t gotten vaccinated jet chances are you probably were a little hesitant, you finally decide you`re going to go and there are threats, there`s harassment. What do you make of what you heard from the good doctor there?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Chris, it was just stunning to hear those words and those reports. This whole anti-vax movement has reached a new unchartered layer of insanity that I think we have to worry about. It was bad enough when people were just actually hesitant and when gentlemanly waiting for new information and reassurance that the vaccines were effective and safe. We got that especially emphasize that with the full approval of the FDA for those vaccines.


But then we`re left with this hardcore group of people who believe in conspiracy theories and just nutty ideas about what vaccines do and don`t do. And I think that was bad enough. And now we have these reports now of violent threats against people that are administering these life-saving vaccines to people, enough so that it actually intimidates people who really do want to get vaccinated to the point where they`re not coming to get their shots. I wish the government locally in states where this is happening, would crack down, this has got to be not acceptable, no matter what party, the governor is, and the local officials are. We`ve got to put a stop to this.

JANSING: Yeah, because as we know, people who are involved whether it`s in vaccinations or treating people with COVID, who had their hands full during an interview with USA Today, today, you called Hurricane Ida`s aftermath, "a pandemic tinderbox." So, you have a state that has hospitals already full. Now you have no water, no electricity, myriad problems, what are your biggest concerns coming out of the storm`s devastation?

REDLENER: Yeah, so this is the problem with some large-scale natural disasters, which include hurricanes like Hurricane Ida, but also things like wildfires and on the west coast. And what I`m talking about is if you have a natural disaster, that`s forcing people to evacuate quickly and go into shelters, whether it`s again a wildfire, or Hurricane Ida, you are actually forcing people to move together on buses and other forms of transportation. And then they end up in a shelter where it`s very difficult to maintain spacing, and do the other things that keep people safe, especially in states like Louisiana, where the vaccination rates are low. So, we have conflicting agendas for managing Hurricane Ida survival and making sure that people do not get too close to cross contamination with the Coronavirus. And it`s a very tough situation, because the solution, Chris, is that you need twice as many shelters because we have to keep people separated. And we don`t really have that in very many places now.

JANSING: Before I let you go, I have to ask you about this new research from South Africa that flag their new C.1.2 variant for the world to monitor. What do we know about it? Should we be worried?

REDLENER: Well, I`m not worried, most people not worried about it. We`ve noticed it. But it`s not even a variant of interest, no less a variant of concern, which are the categories that we start to really pay attention. Right now, it`s just a newly identified variant, we`re going to have to see how that unfolds. Hopefully, it will not be a cause for too much concern or trouble, but we`ll just have to watch. But it`s a reminder that variants are constantly developing, constant mutations, and we have to track and surveil those as carefully and as effectively as we possibly can, Chris.

JANSING: Dr. Irwin Redlener, always great to see you. Thank you so much.

And coming up, what exactly is in that new restrictive voting bill in Texas that`s on its way to the governor`s desk? When the 11th Hour continues.




JASMINE CROCKETT, (D) TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: This is not a day that I was looking forward to. It`s not that I was naive and thought that this day would not come. I knew this day was coming. I just hoped that Washington would act before my colleagues here in Austin would act and hopefully provide some cover, so to me it`s very solemn day.


JANSING: Strict new voting restrictions are on their way to Texas Governor Greg Abbott`s desk after cruising through the Texas Legislature. The state Senate gave final approval today.

Now, among other things, the law restricts early voting adds criminal penalties for some poll workers, protects partisan poll watchers and institute`s voter I.D. for vote by mail. Red state election laws like this increased pressure on Congress to protect voting rights on a federal level, something that in the current political climate seems unlikely.

Back with us again tonight, Juanita Tolliver, a veteran political strategist to progressive candidates and causes. And Matthew Dowd, former George W. Bush Strategist and Founder of Country Over Party. Good to see both of you.

So, Juanita, where does the Biden White House need to focus his energy if there`s any hope of moving federal voting rights legislation? When you look at this bill clearly, it targets some of the things that were very effective in 2020, and allowing more people, particularly people of color to vote?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right, Chris, in the two places, the button administration should focus on our first publicly expressing their support for passing voting rights and election protection legislation through Congress with a carve out in the filibuster, and then privately applying pressure to Senate Democrats. And I want to emphasize some Democrats, because we know that the Republican Party writ large is resolute in their decision to not advance any voting rights protections, and honestly support this coordinated effort of voter suppression that we`re seeing across the country. So, it now falls to Senate Democrats to honestly take up that same energy that we saw from the Texas Democrats and State Representative Crockett. And use every tool in their power to be able to advance HR1 and HR4.

And I don`t say that lightly, I think it`s going to be a big step for the White House to come out and absolutely naming the need to have a carve out in the filibuster, because without it, we know that black and brown voters will suffer. We know that the very voters who elected Democrats and gave them the White House and gave them the Senate will be looking at them to deliver for them and protect their rights and vote, which we should all have access to. Not these new barriers that we`re seeing out of Texas that we know even though their state representatives are, and the Republicans in the state house are trying to say it`s not racist action. We know that these voter suppression bills disproportionately impact black, Latino, API, and indigenous communities. And that`s why we need the White House to apply pressure and that`s why we need Senate Democrats to stop tiptoeing about the filibuster.


JANSING: And because, Matthew Dowd, I Since Donald Trump lost the election, there been night -- this is maybe the 17th or 18th, I think it`s the 18th state that has passed restrictive new voting laws.

I want to play for you this exchange when Wisconsin Senator Rob Johnson, who has perpetuated lies about voter fraud in 2020 says something actually different. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only reason Trump lost Wisconsin, is that 51 thousand Republican voters didn`t vote for him. They voted for other republican candidates, so .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you`re telling me that Joe Biden won this state fair and square? Because I don`t see it, I don`t believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, book at the totals, it`s certainly plausible there`s nothing obviously nothing skewed about the results. There isn`t --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s nothing skewed about the result?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About the results in Wisconsin.


JANSING: But then, Matt, after saying the vote wasn`t skewed, he said he supports the Wisconsin Republican election investigation and audit. How do you square that?

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: Well, there`s no way to square anything with what the Republicans are doing right now. And it is fundamentally, just to follow up, it`s fundamentally they know the electorate has changed, they know it is changing. We added 23 million Americans between the two senses, all of which were people of color, all 23 million that were added were people of color in Texas, where I am, where the leadership here is got awful in doing all this, 4 million people got added 95% of the people that were added in the population where people of color.

And so, this is, I think it`s directly related to broaden this a little bit, is Republicans want to pass unpopular things that the American public doesn`t want. And then they don`t want to be held accountable. Because the only way in our country to hold politicians accountable, unless you`re a multi-millionaire can hire lobbyists is through the franchise of vote. And one thing about the history of our country, we have never had true universal suffrage. We`ve struggled towards it. We`ve moved towards it over the years, granting the right to vote for people that don`t own property, granting the right to vote to women. And then the Civil Rights Act that finally got us the closest we`ve ever come in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act to universal suffrage. And what are the Republicans doing? Rolling it back? Pre-1965, that`s basically what they`re doing. And this is not just, it disproportionately affects African Americans and Latinos, as was said, but it affects everybody. This is an American issue. It affects urban voters, suburban voters, rural voters. And basically, as I said, what it does is removes any accountability, these elected officials would have four unpopular policies because they don`t want to face an electorate that they know if it looks like America, if electoral looks like America, Republicans can`t win.

JANSING: Both guests are staying with us.

And coming up, now the big lie coming from inside the House when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



JANSING: Nearly seven months after Trump`s supporters laid siege on the U.S. Capitol, his staunchest allies continue to pour fuel on the conspiracy flames that sparked the riot. This was Freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn at a GOP event in North Carolina this past weekend.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN: I`ll tell you, anybody who tells you that Joe Biden was dutifully elected is lying to you. If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it`s going to lead to one place and its bloodshed. And I will tell you as much as I`m willing to defend our liberty at all costs, there`s nothing that I dread doing more than having to pick up arms against a fellow American.


JANSING: So not only did an elected member of Congress appear to threaten violence against fellow Americans, when asked when he called people to Washington again, he told that crowd, "We are actively working on that."

In a statement of The Washington Post, a spokesman for the Congressman said, "The lawmaker was in no way supporting or advocating for any form of violence."

Still with us, Juanita Tolliver and Matthew Dowd. Matthew, so he says he would dread doing it. But if elections continue to be stolen, also known as the big lie, it`s going to lead the bloodshed, Democrats are complaining, but really, where`s the accountability here? He`s not the first one.

DOWD: Well, it`s already led to bloodshed, the big lies already led to bloodshed. I mean, to me, the most dangerous thing that`s affecting our democracy today, which may sink it, which I`m actually worried about it is the fact that we no longer believe, part of our country no longer believes that truth matters. And they no longer believe in the common good, they no longer believe that we should do things and sacrifice in the interests of all to make everyone else better. But the constant lies as had not only caused this huge problem with what happened on January 6, they`ve caused this huge problem on the pandemic, they`ve caused a huge problem on facing climate change, because lie after lie after lie after lie keeps feeding this. And in the end, what it`s going to do. I mean, I don`t feel sorry for the people that are listening to this and then taking action on it. But they`re being lied to. And when they`re lied to, they actually decide, well, if this is not -- if I need to, like overthrow the government, because it`s been, it`s a fraud, and when they`re told that over and over and over again, the natural extension from that is what happened on January 6, and I worry that January six is just a precursor to a worse event or worse events around the country. It`s not going to just happen at the Washington Capitol. It`s going to happen in Austin, Texas, it`s going to happen in Albany, New York, it`s going to happen in Sacramento, California. It`s going to Tallahassee, Florida.

Every place this is as it gets pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and the anger builds from this group of people that believe the lie, it`s going to keep going. And until elected officials are held accountable, we`re not going to be able to deal with it. It`s not 400 people at an insurrection, elected officials who instigated this have to be held accountable.

JANSING: So, Juanita, look, he`s right. This isn`t a theoretical situation. Five people died as a result of January 6, the 100 plus, police officers were injured. Cawthorn know, calls the insurrectionists, the people who got caught political prisoners. Do you agree? Do you share the concerns that Matthew just stated that this isn`t going to stop here?

TOLLIVER: Absolutely, Chris. And I think the only other thing I`ll say to build on to what Matt shared is that it is already happening around the country. Let`s not forget about the plot to kidnap and harm Governor Whitmer. Let`s not forget that, just what, 12 days ago, there was a guy at the Capitol threatening to blow up the whole space or like it`s still happening, and that I feel like those other state-based events that we saw in Michigan, and Wisconsin and across the country were warmups for the insurrection.


And absolutely, there`s going to be more to come, especially when you have elected officials stealing lies that we know the base that they speak to, they hear that and they`re ready and willing to act on it. And it`s an act of threat. And it`s an act of danger that that really prompts and explains why Representatives like Cori Bush and others have been calling for investigations into an expulsion of any members who have to facilitate the insurrection, who could potentially incite another insurrection. And that`s why Representative Cawthorn should be expelled immediately. And this should be done. He should not be allowed to serve in Congress spouting lies, dangerous lies like this, because it`s not just rhetoric, Chris, this is actionable information that we know, many Republicans across the country are ready and willing to act on.

JANSING: Matthew, you were just talking about Texas. They`re passing laws, and there`s no fraud. Are these lawmakers feeding this dangerous narrative, this potentially deadly narrative with legislation?

DOWD: Yeah, and I think some of them will quietly say, well, like, yeah, we know there`s no fraud. But we`re kind of doing this because our base wants us to do this. But we`re going ahead and doing this. They`re actually part and parcel of why we`re ended up where we are. And keep in mind, this lie, combined with a base that`s willing to be instigated elected officials who are responsible, plus more than 300 million guns that are in this country, more than 300 million guns sit in this country. So, you have a lie. So, you have a fire that started, a fireman that`s supposed to put it out, won`t put it out. And then all of these people hold gasoline at their house, that`s what this is.

JANSING: So, what do you do about it, Juanita? I mean, can the January 6 commission at least shine some light? What can happen here?

TOLLIVER: January 6 commission absolutely is working on, shining the light on this. And we see the concern that Republicans are already pushing back with on what is even being requested in terms of these telecommunication records being preserved. You saw McCarthy come out and oppose it. And they`re already showing signs of concern about what will be discovered? What will be on earth? And so the January 6 commission absolutely needs to keep pressure on this and keep exposing the truth to the American public because not only does the American public deserves to know the truth, but this country never needs to experience what happened on January 6 again, and so getting all the information possible out there is critical as well as again, accountability for elected officials who continue to perpetuate these lies and continue to rally up their base in a violent, violent, dangerous way.

JANSING: Juanita Tolliver and Matthew Dowd, thank you.

And coming up, an update on to natural disasters, including the unrelenting wildfire now threatening a popular vacation destination when the 11th Hour continues.



JANSING: We`re keeping a close eye tonight on disasters in two popular parts of the country. In Northern California, the Caldor Fire is moving ever closer to Lake Tahoe, thousands of people have already been evacuated as firefighters struggle to contain those wind driven flames. And then the hurricane hit state of Louisiana, thousands who fled Ida`s path are still being told not to return. Water and sewer services remain disrupted, and the power is still up for more than a million. NBC News Correspondent Morgan Chesky, reports from New Orleans.


MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, it`s a slow- motion disaster, leaving more than a million people in the dark.

(On camera): Do you have any idea when you`ll get power back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, no. They haven`t, crazy.

CHESKY (voice-over): Ida crippling a massive power grid. Today the energy providers saying it could take three weeks before hard hit areas are backup.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS: The schools are not open, the businesses are not open, the hospitals are slammed. There`s not water in your home and there`s not going to be electricity.

CHESKY: In St. Charles Parish, just west of New Orleans, officials now warning residents to prepare for more than a month.

(On camera): These are all empty?


CHESKY: Jackson (ph) fuel for his generator more precious than water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Among diesel, now I can`t diesel, so I mean, once that go, they`ll go.

CHESKY: What then?


CHESKY (voice-over): Many hospitals including New Orleans, Ochsner health are still relying on generators. But as Ida struck, neurosurgeons, Dr. Roger Smith and Joseph Lockwood (ph) faced a patient emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We brought him into the operating room. We`ve both taking a piece of the school right off temporarily.

CHESKY: In the middle of a hurricane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the middle of the hurricane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lights kind of flickered right before we were starting. I was scrubbing in and then the lights went out and Dr. Smith looked at me and said, well, I guess we`ll do the whole thing under candlelight.

CHESKY: The lights came back on just in time. Tonight, thousands of line crews are racing against time, fighting brutal heat and Ida`s aftermath to bring one disaster to a close.

CHESKY (on camera): And tonight, the governor says, more than 25,000 linemen from 22 states have converged on Louisiana. But even with all that help, the main energy provider says while some could see power back on in 48 hours, there was no definite timetable on when that grid will be fully online.


JANSING: Our thanks to Morgan Chesky. And a very late update, Entergy told the city council tonight, power could return to some customers late tomorrow, though many more will probably have to wait weeks.

Coming up, the top Republican is making threats over the House 1/6 investigation. Wonder why that is, when the 11th Hour continues.



JANSING: The last thing before we go tonight, concerns the House Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection. You`ll remember Republicans namely the most powerful Republican in the house, Kevin McCarthy, refused to deal that would have given his party an equal number of committee members and equal subpoena power throughout the investigation. Democrats are now leading the investigative panel with Republicans of their choosing. Once McCarthy called Pelosi Republicans.

Last night we reported the committee plans to ask telecommunications companies for phone, email and social media records with a particular group of lawmakers in mind, Trump loyal Republicans, including the likes of Lauren Boebert, Jim Jordan, Madison Cawthorn, Matt Gaetz, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Kevin McCarthy`s name is not among those named in the report. But the list of lawmakers is still evolving according to NBC news sources.

Today Leader McCarthy threatened those same companies saying the GOP would punish them if and when they retake control of the House adding, "a Republican majority will not forget." According to Politico, McCarthy called out Democrats for what he called attempts to strong-arm private companies to turn over individuals` private data. Earlier tonight, the McCarthy retribution plan got the Fox News seal of approval.


MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, GEORGIA CONGRESSWOMAN: These telecommunications companies, they better not play with these Democrats because Republicans are coming back into the majority in 2022 and we will take this very serious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you should shut them down. I mean, you should take those companies down.


JANSING: It`s also worth remembering this detail from the Capitol riot. As we reported back in February, McCarthy himself got into an expletive laden argument on a phone call as the January 6 Capitol riot was still unfolding. Since then, he has been tight lipped about that call, as you can see in this exchange back in April on Fox News, Sunday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m asking you specifically, did he say to you, I guess some people are more concerned about the election than you are?


MCCARTHY: No, listen, my conversations with the president, or my conversations with the president?


JANSING: And 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.