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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 8/6/21

Guests: Kavita Patel, Cynthia Alksne, Ebony Hilton


Florida is U.S. epicenter of COVID surge. 50 percent of Americans now fully vaccinated. More companies require vaccines and masks. Court weighs in on Arkansas mask mandate ban. Experts worry Sturgis rally will be superspreader event.


JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: I`ll see you Sunday morning on the Sunday Show right here on MSNBC. But don`t go anywhere because the 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts right now.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again, I`m Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams. Day 199 of the Biden administration. As the Delta variant races through all 50 states driving new case numbers upward, the President is signaling a possible shift to a much more aggressive campaign to stop the surge.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I put in place new incentives requirements to encourage vaccinations. There will be more to come in the days ahead. America can beat the Delta variant, just as we beat the original COVID-19.


VELSHI: Florida is now the undisputed epicenter of this latest outbreak. Today nearly 23,000 new COVID cases were recorded in the state. The highest single day case count since the pandemic began last year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says Florida now accounts for a significant portion of the new cases across the country.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Florida itself is about 20 percent of the infection. So that is really not acceptable that we shouldn`t be looking at that right now, given the fact that we have highly effective vaccines that are safe.


VELSHI: Today, Florida`s Republican Governor was asked about the case surge in his state.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You have some politicians that say I am going to eliminate the virus. I will defeat it. Unfortunately, government can`t just end it. So, we knew this is something that`s going to -- that you`re going to have to live with.


WILLIAMS: Something you`re going to have to live with. There was some progress reported today by the White House, the nation has passed an important new milestone, 50 percent of all Americans are now fully vaccinated. And another major corporation has joined the list of those issuing vaccine mandates for employees.

United Airlines is requiring its 67,000 us employees to be vaccinated by this fall. It`s the first major airline to take this step. Amazon says all workers that its U.S. warehouses will be required to wear masks on the job starting Monday.

New Jersey`s governor is ordering all students, teachers, staff members and visitors to wear masks inside of schools once classes begin next month, and a judge in Arkansas today temporarily blocked the state from enforcing its ban on mask mandates. That ruling came after lawmakers had adjourned a special session called by the Arkansas Republican governor. He wanted them to consider rolling back the ban for some schools as COVID cases continue to climb in that state.

And then there`s this weekend`s big event in South Dakota, the popular Sturgis rally, that`s a motorcycle rally in Sturgis South Dakota. It`s expected to draw close to 1 million motorcyclists. Health experts worry the event could make the current Delta outbreak even more severe, especially once those at the rally head back to their home states.

Despite the rapid resurgence of the coronavirus, there is encouraging news about the economy. The Labor Department announced that employers added 943,000 net new jobs last month, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent. Economists are watching closely to see whether the current outbreak is going to pose a threat to that recovery. And the President caution that we`re not out of the woods quite yet.


BIDEN: My message today is not one of celebrations. It`s wondering minus we got a lot of hard work left to be done. What is indisputable now is this, the Biden plan is working. The Biden plan produces results, and the Biden plan is moving the country forward.


VELSHI: White House is also taking steps to help the millions of people with student loans. This evening the administration announced an extension of the federal student loan payment moratorium until January 31 of next year.

We`re also keeping an eye on the latest developments involving New York`s Governor Andrew Cuomo. A former executive assistant who accused him of groping her has now filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County Sheriff`s Office. That office says it will address the complaint at a news conference in Albany tomorrow. That allegation is one of 11 accounts included in the Attorney General`s -- Attorney General Letitia James` report that accuses the Governor of multiple instances of sexual harassment.

Cuomo denies all allegations. He hasn`t been charged with anything. This afternoon a lawyer for the governor`s office cast doubt on key parts of the former assistant story, calling it false while blasting the Attorney General`s report.


RITA GLAVIN, ATTORNEY FOR GOV. CUOMO (D-NY): There has been no open-minded fact-finding in this case. The investigation was conducted to support a predetermine narrative. Here instead of acting as independent fact finders, the investigators acted as prosecutor, judge and jury. We do not have the underlying evidence that has not been provided to us from that report.



VELSHI: Tonight the New York Attorney General said interview transcripts will be made available to the state lawmakers investigating Cuomo adding that all the accounts were extensively corroborated. As for what New Yorkers Now think about their governor a new Quinnipiac/Poll found that some 70 percent of those surveyed said it`s time for Andrew Cuomo to step down.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Friday night, Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for The Associated Press, Cynthia Alksne, former Federal Prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and Dr. Kavita Patel, Clinical Physician and former Senior Policy Aide during the Obama administration. She`s also one of our public health experts and a non-resident Fellow at Brookings.

Good evening to all of you, Dr. Patel, let me start with you. Where are we now? We`ve got the administration pushing a more aggressive agenda to get the vaccine out there. We`ve got people like Ron DeSantis pushing back. And we`ve got a Delta variant that continues to spread across this country at great speed.

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FORMER AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Yeah, look, the efforts for vaccination must continue need to even accelerate as much as possible mandate, whatever we can do. But that`s not going to make a dent in the acceleration of cases we`re seeing today. And as you mentioned, Florida in hard pursuant to the Texas, we`re seeing now hospitals that are so overwhelmed in those two very large populous states that they`re having to send patients out of state, just simply to get adequate care.

So, you add all of this up in the fact that we`re starting schools, some have already started, but the majority of schools starting in the next two to three weeks, and pediatric cases on the rise. This is just a powder keg of sorts.

So, what we`re all kind of bracing for is when will this descent happen? And we looked at other countries, the U.K., Netherlands, where they have had steep descent, despite Delta kind of taking hold. And we`re hoping we can follow that pattern. But we`re looking at least two to four more weeks of this type of precipitous increase until we crest and then come down. And honestly, Ali, there`s going to be a lot of deaths and hospitalizations along the way and largely preventable.

VELSHI: Jonathan, I want to just play for our viewers how this week has gone in terms of the back and forth between the White House and Governor DeSantis in Florida. Let`s listen together.


DESANTIS: These interventions have failed time and time again, throughout this pandemic. The best defenses we have are the combination of the natural immunity.

BIDEN: I say to these governors, please help. But if you`re not going to help, at least get out of the way.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are leaders who are not stepping up and are getting in the way of the American people.

DESANTIS: He wants to have the government force kindergarteners to wear masks in school in Florida. The parents are going to be the ones in charge to that decision.

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS: He`s saying, "I am in the way to block too much interference from the federal government." Your response, Mr. President?

BIDEN: Governor who?

DESANTIS: I guess I`m not surprised that Biden doesn`t remember me. I guess the question is, is what else has he forgotten? I`m the governor who protects parents in their ability to make the right choices for their kids` education. I`m the governor who protects the jobs and education and businesses in Florida.

PSAKI: Not only is Governor DeSantis not abiding by public health decisions, he`s fundraising off of this.


VELSHI: His fundraising off of it, Jonathan Lemire, after he talked about the federal government getting out of the way, sent out a letter to fundraisers asking for donations. It`s not necessarily a fight that the White House is looking for, though?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: No, it`s not. And first Ali, I regret not wearing my tan suit tonight. You look fantastic.

VELSHI: Thank you sir.

LEMIRE: This is part of a far sharper rhetoric from the President that we`ve seen now for about a week to 10 days as the Delta variant has really surged, and we`re seeing cases explode throughout the country is when he`s really fastened on to the phrase, the pandemic of the unvaccinated. And he`s pointed his finger squarely at those who haven`t gotten the shot those who are putting themselves, their loved ones in danger, he says, but also - - it also jeopardizing the comeback the whole nations had. You know, threatening the economic recovery, forcing everyone back in masks, so on and so on. And he`s taken square aim in recent days at the Republican governors who, as he put it have gotten in the way of trying to safeguard the American people that Governor DeSantis certainly tops the list.

No, this is not a fight the White House wants, but it is it is evidence of the frustration that the President and Senior officials in the West Wing and health officials elsewhere in the government feel about the American response right now to the pandemic, that this is something where they should feel like, we should be further ahead than we are. The vaccines are there. They`re plentiful, we can`t give them away yet, because of the politics of it, because masks have been politicized, because the vaccine has been politicized, because the influence of the former president and his disciples including the Republican governor of Florida, you know, they`re feel like their progress is not nearly as quick as it should be. And people are getting sick.

So, I think, though, this sort of stern, almost scolding, tone is now where we`re going to hear from the President as he tries to pull the levers of government to try to figure out any way short of a mandate to get people to take the vaccine.


VELSHI: Cynthia, I want to talk to you about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a lot of activists who complain about the workforce and the extent to which they`re continues to be harassment in the workforce often say that success looks like some sort of acknowledgment for it, some sort of remorse about it, some sort of action that`s being taken. Andrew Cuomo is not reading from that pamphlet.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, he`s not reading from that pamphlet at all. And today, they went after, as you would expect a bully to do, went after the entire investigation, claiming that of course, there was just a pre-determined narrative, and it was a complete mystery how it all happened.

Listen, you can`t have a pre-determined narrative with 11 different women who don`t know each other where there`s corroboration is, some by state troopers, others by emails, others by witnesses at the very moment of the time this happened. So, I think the pre-determined narrative attack, it really isn`t going to work. They do make a good point, though. I`m going to give them this. He is entitled to the witness interviews, and I do think he should get them. And my guess is that happens relatively soon.

VELSHI: But given that what you`ve seen, polling is increasingly showing that voters think he should resign. He`s lost all of his support in amongst New York Democrats, and Jonathan Lemire, he`s lost his support amongst federal Democrats as well. The New York State congressional legislation, the New York legislation to Congress at the congressional level and Senate level, both calling for his resignation, even the Prime Minister -- even the president calling for his resignation. Where does Andrew Cuomo go for support now, if anywhere?

LEMIRE: Yeah, there aren`t many places to go. Governor Cuomo is a man on the island right now, Ali. You know, when these allegations first emerged earlier this year, there were a number of Democrats, influential ones in New York State who called for him to resign. We heard then from Senator Schumer, obviously, Senate Majority Leader, but also New Yorker suggested he should resign. But it wasn`t unanimous. There were still some holdouts within New York State.

Some of the real power players there, some of the unions who have supported him for a long time, still had his back and gave him the hope that he could survive this. And in recent months, it seemed like there was a shot that he could have his poll numbers have crept back up. He had really done a lot of constituent services, he touted his handling of the pandemic, he worked with African American communities and church leaders, and it seemed like he might be able to stabilize himself. And perhaps rumor had it even run for another term next year, his fourth term, but now after the wake of his attorney general`s investigation, there`s no support left. A lot of those groups in New York have abandoned him. And of course, the deathblow may have been, earlier this week, I was in the White House when President Biden said that he should resign.

Biden, of course, back in March said that he would be deferential. He would take his cues from the findings of this investigation. That`s what he did. And, but it`s more than that. He and Cuomo are friends, they`re political allies. They believe their cut from the same political cloth. And it is, of course, extraordinarily damaging to Andrew Cuomo that the leader of the free world is also a Liberal Democratic Party wants them out. And it seems like it`s an accelerated timeline, that the Articles of Impeachment, if you will, in the New York State Assembly could be ready in a matter of weeks. You know, we`re looking at September, October for the trial. And at least right now, my colleagues Associated Press did a headcount of those in the assembly. They`ve got the votes to impeach.

VELSHI: Dr. Patel, you mentioned mandates that the government as we saw with, between the White House and Ron DeSantis, they`re not looking for direct control, you know, conversations and confrontations with a lot of these states. However, a number of companies are stepping up. They`re saying either their workers have to be mandated or have to be masked, and some are even insisting that customers and clients be vaccinated. Is American business going to put this over the top?

PATEL: Yeah, I think that American business, private sector kind of say what you will. And by the way, Ali, it`s very -- I can tell you that the conversations between the public and private sectors are absolutely ongoing and will continue because you bet that people inside the White House are talking to these companies to also express their support, even though they can`t actually technically issue a mandate over these private companies.

So, this is going to be the way we`re also seeing, you`re seeing teachers unions and others around the country starting to express support for a possible school-based vaccine mandate, kind of if they`re available, and when they`re available for children and when they`re fully licensed, not under an emergency authorization. That resulted obviously in the kind of pressure on the FDA which was announced that they would likely have an approval in the next several weeks.

So, you can see this kind of sequencing, if there`s an approval in the next four to six weeks, and then -- sorry for licensure in the next four to six weeks. And then you have the ability to kind of fully express a mandate, you stitch together, hopefully close to 80 to 85 percent of the country, either vaccinated or with some degree of immunity by infection, and that might be our best way, Ali, to get to that kind of notion of herd immunity, but we can`t get there fast enough. And we got to do it before the lambda variant, which is worrying a lot of us, can take a foothold after the Delta variant.


VELSHI: And Cynthia, I guess the White House would love for this to happen in some way other than a federal mandate. And from a legal perspective, obviously, all of it will face challenge. But companies seem to be on stronger footing with being able to say, hey, we can`t endanger our clients, we can`t endanger our fellow workers.

ALKSNE: Yeah, I think that`s right. I don`t necessarily think they have to wait until for licensure, I think the EEOC said they can go ahead and do it now. And I would really like insurance companies to get serious about, you know, after a certain date, that could be determined that people are going to have to pay more for their insurance if they don`t get vaccinated. I mean, after all, when people don`t get vaccinated then they get sick, it raises health insurance costs for all of us. And just like the people who smoke we can - they can be charged more so should people who refuse to get this vaccination, because it`s not only a threat to everyone else`s health and be incredibly selfish, in my opinion, but it`s also a financial burden on our entire healthcare system that can hardly afford it.

VELSHI: Jonathan, there has been in addition to the January 6 panel, a staff edition former Virginia member of Congress, a Republican Denver Riggleman has been added to the staff. Here`s what he said when he was appointed.


FORMER REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA): Doing this might be one of the biggest things I`ve ever done in my life. That includes deploying almost 20 years ago, right after 9/11 with a 34th bomb squad. We can`t worry about the color of the jerseys anymore, or whether we RD next to our name. It`s time for us to look in a fact-based way. What happened on January 6, but to see if we can prevent this from ever happening again in the future.


VELSHI: Jonathan, what`s the significance of this?

LEMIRE: Well, that`s certainly a refreshing tone there. And I think that it`s what we just heard from Denver, which is some -- in addition to this committee had been rumored for some time, is frankly, in the minority right now. You know, we obviously there are two Republicans on the committee, Cheney and Kinzinger. But we know that GOP Leader McCarthy refused to participate otherwise, he yanked his nominees for this committee, in part because some of them probably called as witnesses for the role that they played in January 6, it`s hard to do both. And I think that right now, it`s unclear exactly what the timetable of this committee is. We heard extraordinarily emotional and powerful testimony from some of those Capitol Police officers, as Metropolitan Police officers, who were there that day, who testified before Congress, the first session of this hearing, and there`ll be another soon.

And, you know, it remains a shame, of course, and you say this from a -- without any political lens, that there isn`t a bipartisan commission that came through the one that we saw up September 11, which was -- which Denver just mentioned there. But whether -- but I think that despite these few lonely Republican voices, we`re looking for it to find the truth, to find what happened, to try to prevent it from happening again, most of the Republicans want to just turn the page, they don`t want to be full participants in this. They want to continue to downplay it and diminish it. And they want to adhere to the big lie that perhaps it was even justified, that this violent mob stormed the Capitol to try to prevent Joe Biden`s win. Because they felt like Donald Trump should have been reelected. They want to whitewash what happened that day, frankly, one of the darkest days in American history, and it has set up the attack on voting rights throughout the nation and these individual states and frankly, set the plate for a fierce fight ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections.

VELSHI: We`ll be discussing that more through the course of tonight`s show, thank you to the three of you for kicking it off tonight, Jonathan Lemire, Cynthia Alksne and Dr. Kavita Patel.

Coming up, hospitals in hardhead COVID states are calling it a crisis situation. There are nowhere near enough staff to handle the surge. One of our doctors is standing by. And later, looks like infrastructure week is going a little bit longer again. We`ll preview weekend efforts to advance the Biden agenda. The 11th Hour is getting underway on a Friday night.



VELSHI: As the Delta variant fuels a surge in new hospitalizations, hospitals are running out of a critical resource. There are simply not enough people to care for their patients. The Texas Tribune reports hospitals there are struggling with historically low staffing levels writing, "There are 23,000 more unfilled jobs in Texas for registered nurses then there are nurses seeking to fill them, according to labor analysis by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Burnout is causing nurses of all specialties to leave the profession in droves, or to accept better paying nursing jobs in an increasingly competitive market. Nurses and hospital officials say. And it`s not just Texas hospitals around the country are facing staffing shortages amid this latest spike in COVID cases.

Back with us tonight, Dr. Ebony Hilton, an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Virginia`s School of Medicine. She also hosts the podcast, the B Word Unpacked.

Dr. Hilton, good to see you again. This is a serious problem. It was a serious problem all through COVID where there were -- there have been shortages of nurses in this country for a long time. But the burnout, the rate at which people were burning out or getting the infection last year was tremendous. Now we`ve got the same thing. And with the pressure to get vaccinated, we have some medical workers and healthcare workers saying I`m out.

DR. EBONY HILTON, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ANESTHESIOLOGY: Right, I think it`s a combination of a number of different things. One, we are tired. You know, we talked about the nurses burnout, all we know is that every year between 300 and 400 physicians before COVID, we`re committing suicide.


HILTON: We`re seeing not only this burnout of people not wanting to go to work, but we have to think about the mental health of the nurses or the respiratory therapists of our transporters, the persons that are working directly with patients and seeing these deaths day in and day out. What does that do to your own mental capacity, right? And then the threat that when you go to work that you may become infected yourself? How does that make you feel? And is there a confidence that this will ever stop if we`re not getting vaccinated?

VELSHI: So, on one hand, hospitals and doctors and employers in the medical field, need to learn new things and be really sensitive to all of these things that you talked about that existed before COVID. And as a result of COVID, where that burnout sort of came to the surface. On the other hand, in Houston, there was a medical center who basically told everybody get vaccinated or you don`t work here anymore, and they ended up losing some staff as a result. That`s not something hospital groups across the country can actually afford to do. And yet we want these health care workers vaccinated?


HILTON: Right. I mean, if we know how the politics of this pandemic have played out, we see it in other industries, we look at teachers unions, and how they`re struggling to get the teachers vaccinated. And it`s the same thing within the hospital. And unfortunately, what we`re seeing right now, so the hospital census is not slowing down, we only have a total of 6000 hospitals within the United States of America with about 780,000 beds, will six or 1000 of those beds are now in use with 63,000 being of COVID patients.

So, we have to somehow find the will to press through this time period. But it will take an awakening at the hospital system to say, is this really provider burnout? Or is provider abuse? How we really treating our healthcare workers like people? Are we feeding back into them and literally saying, are you taking care of yourself? And how can we better make sure that the workload we`re placing on your shoulders that is, you know, responsible for us to do so? Yeah, because you`re just a person too.

VELSHI: I`ve never seen it look responsible when you see the training that both nurses and doctors go through. I`ve never thought that it made sense. But do you agree with health care centers and hospitals insisting that their staffs are vaccinated?

HILTON: Most certainly. At this point, because when I walk into the hospital, people are trusting me to do the very best I can do to take care of them. If I am not vaccinating myself, and I know that I can become infected with COVID-19. And I know that I can infect someone who has tried to do their best to protect themselves by doing vaccinations and the simple public health measures then I owe it to them. That`s my job. That`s my responsibility. So, I will urge all the healthcare workers, this is not the time to play politics. We have patients` lives into consideration.

VELSHI: There`s also kids, everybody -- a lot of people are going around, talking about my body, my choice to not get vaccinated. But it`s not the kid`s choice, right? If you`re under 12, and you`re in a school, you don`t get to make that choice. So, somebody else not masking or not getting vaccinated couldn`t be making a very serious life or death choice for children?

HILTON: Right. And for certain, if we look at it right now, more than 4.2 million children have been tested positive for COVID. And in early June, one out of every three teens who were hospitalized were admitted to the ICU with 5 percent requiring invasive ventilation. If you look at the numbers that we have now, we`re seeing tons of kids become infected. And literally last week, 72,000 children were newly diagnosed with COVID-19. We do not have time to play, you know Russian roulette with our children`s lives. Everyone needs to get vaccinated and provide some form of herd immunity to protect them.

VELSHI: Well said Dr. Hilton, good to see you again, as always, Dr. Ebony Hilton and thank you for joining us tonight.

Coming up, Democrats are renewing their push to protect the ballot on the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act when the 11th Hour continues.




STATE REP. CHRIS TURNER (D-TX): So, I think that there`s a collective will of this caucus to do everything we can to continue to defeat Republican voter suppression efforts in Texas. That`s what we did in May. That`s what we did in July. That`s what we have done now in the first week of August. And then as our continued commitment going forward.

If you`re looking for us to telegraph exactly what we`re going to do over the next couple of days, we`re not able to do that this time. I think, you know, the governor would love us to do that. But we`re not going to.


VELSHI: We`ll do that end Texas Governor Greg Abbott is making good on his promise to call another special session to pass voting restrictions. The legislature convenes at noon, Texas time on Saturday. And it remains to be seen if the Texas Democrats who`ve been breaking quorum in Washington will return. They`re in town to pressure Congress to pass federal voting protections, an issue the Attorney General is weighing in on.

In an op-ed, Merrick Garland writes, "On this anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we must say again that it is not right to erect barriers that make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to vote. And it is time for Congress to act again to protect that fundamental right."

For more we welcome back tonight, Juanita Tolliver, a veteran political strategist to progressive candidates and causes and Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker at Politico. He`s a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administration`s and the editor-at-large at the Bulwark.

And I`ll start with you, Bill, you have any information about what Republicans might do with a voting rights bill that is being brought to the United States Senate?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I`m afraid that the end of the day very few Republicans will support any of the possible bills that are going to be brought. But the good news if you believe that the federal government has to step in, as the Attorney General says, protect voting rights, protect against election overturning. Try to make sure we have free and fair elections in 2022 and 2024. And that Trump doesn`t get away with the kinds of things he tried, as we`re learning more and more about them in November 2020.

If you believe that the good news is that the Democrats are negotiating seriously among themselves, and they will have a new bill, that Senator Manchin has been key in developing next week, more targeted, more focused, some of the progressives were disappointed. It`s not quite as broad as HR-1 was. But I think it`s a bill that all the Democrats can support that Republicans in my view should support, and that ex-Republicans or whatever I am now, sort of Republican can urge good and good, in honesty, in good faith be supported. It doesn`t have this big progressive wish list, a targeted bill to make sure our elections are free and fair and secure. It has some conservative ideas in it too, such as voter I.D., a generous kind of voter ID that everyone can get, but still voter ID which has always been a Republican talking point.

So anyway, that`s going to be unveiled some point next week, maybe not the final text. And I think that will change the debate. And then Manchin is going to go try to get a few Republicans at least to support it. And if they don`t, then I think that tough decision gets made by Manchin and Sinema, are they willing to break the filibuster. But I`m more optimistic that that`s going to happen. And I have been for a while, and I think then many other people are.

VELSHI: All right, Juanita, we`ll take optimism on this. At some juncture, something has to happen. Everybody sort of spoken, we`re in the middle of this so-called summer of action. We`re seeing the Texas Democrats who are holed up in Washington try to do something but they`re begging the federal government. They`re saying we can`t keep on holding out on this one. We`re seeing the people, including members of Congress being arrested to draw attention to this. We`re seeing this new effort that that Bill Kristol is talking about. What in your opinion has to happen next, to not lose the momentum that folks have to entrench voting rights in a way that cannot be eroded by the state legislators?


JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Action Ali, and while Bill remains optimistic, I`m concerned. I can`t say I`m optimistic at this point, because we know that the two wind passes here, as far as action on this new legislative piece on voting rights is about either it`s coming down to the filibuster, or it`s coming down to getting Republicans. I don`t believe there are 10 good Republicans who will do the right thing. The Republicans have shown this ironclad opposition to any and every piece of legislation coming from Democrats prior to this bipartisan infrastructure package. But everything else they have stuffed. They`ve leveraged the filibuster back in June on The For The People Act.

So even though Democrats are negotiating the terms of the new updated voting rights legislation, I`m not confident Republicans will come through. And if Schumer is holding out on us, if Schumer knows something as far as an agreement within the caucus, that they will carve out a portion of the filibuster to advance this voting rights legislation, then bless, right? Because I`m looking at this, like this is a do or die moment for Democrats to protect the voting rights of black and brown voters who we know are being targeted across the country.

And Ali as mentioned the Texas Democrats look, they`ve succeeded on their three primary objectives of delaying any type of voter suppression bill passing the Texas State House by advocating and Congress for legislative action. And by garnering national attention to voting rights, which we know getting oxygen on this has been a problem, especially competing with infrastructure package and other issues in Washington right now. And so, the Texas Democrats have done their job. Now I`m looking to the Senate, as well as the Democratic caucus in the Senate to do their job because we know Republicans have absolutely obstructed everything to this point and will continue to obstruct everything.

VELSHI: And Bill, obviously there are people like Jim Clyburn who have said, keep your filibuster for other things. Don`t keep it for this. So, if what you`re talking about gets Manchin on board and Sinema on board, Democrats can do this if they agree to it to avoid the filibuster, but where our sort of conservatives on this? Because there must be some in the Senate who are prepared to say there`s something we can do here. Why is this become such a party line issue? It hasn`t traditionally been as hard to get Republicans to back things as basic as the Voting Rights Act.

KRISTOL: It`s terrible. And it`s Trump`s Republican Party. And I think what it is right, and Chuck Schumer agrees with Juanita that there are not many Republicans to be gotten. I think Joe Manchin probably knows that. But he wants to come up with what he regards as a bill. He can defend, go to Republicans and give them two, three weeks and say you want to make some changes? You want to offer some amendments, go right ahead. Let`s have a debate about it. I think he`s going to find very few Republicans willing even to debate about it, to made it, even willing to let it come to the floor and have an honest exchange of ideas, amendments, or different proposals. And I think once Manchin goes through that process, he will feel he has done what he can. He`s very big believer in bipartisanship to do that. And then the question is, is he willing to carve out something from the filibuster and he hasn`t told me, and he`s even told Chuck Schumer. He`s gotten an awful lot of trouble if he`s just going to let it die. So, I think actually, there`s a decent chance he will.

VELSHI: All right, both of you hang on there, Juanita Tolliver and Bill Kristol, stay with us.

Coming up, the House Speaker reacts to concerns from within her own party. The Democrats could be at risk of losing the House when the 11th Hour continues.




REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I always run from behind. You always run from behind. So I have no, no comment about my colleague, except to say he`s a great Chair of the DCCC, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the State of New York. I`m very confident that we will win the House, but in terms of the specific -- what he was zeroing in on, always run scared. That`s it.


VELSHI: Speaker Pelosi today responding to warnings from the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the DCCC. The Democrats might be in trouble in the middle of the midterms if they don`t change their messaging on the economy.

Still with us, Juanita Tolliver and Bill Kristol. Juanita, let me start with you. What do you make of Maloney`s comments and Speaker Pelosi`s response?

TOLLIVER: Look from the DCCC perspective, they`re like, let`s make our case to the public. And let`s stick to Biden. And it makes sense his agenda is wildly popular from the Affordable -- for the American Rescue Plan to the infrastructure packages, people support this, people need this. And people will recognize it when Democrats call it out and say, hey, we delivered this to you and almost exclusively delivered this to you. I think Pelosi`s response also just recognizes that not only is she a scrapper, but she also knows the uphill battle that Democrats are going to be up against recognizing that we still have redistricting that will come down that is going to be led by a number of GOP state legislators. And that`s going to be a structural battle.

So that`s not even anything that messaging can handle. But on the other thing that Speaker Pelosi said in her weekly conference was that she also empowers her members to customize their messages so that it appeals at a local level. Because we recognize that in a generic ballot, which the DCCC presented to the caucus last week, it does not capture individual members` popularity at the district level. And so that is something she`s really encouraging people to do. But the win, the overall objective here is going to come from the fact that they are leaning on an agenda that is wildly popular with the American public, and they`ve done so much.

So, it`s time to highlight that it`s time to emphasize it. And it`s time to let people know that they did that alone, without help from Republicans. And that`s going to create a quite a dichotomy of what you`re going to see from the Republicans in the midterms where they`re more focused on culture wars. And Democrats are more focused on the results that they`ve delivered.

VELSHI: Which is interesting, Bill, because when you look at the infrastructure stuff, it`s polling at two to one in favor right now, including with a majority of Republicans. In fact, it`s typically been a Republican type of undertaking. And you`re seeing that in the Senate, right? You`re seeing movement from Republicans who say, unlike what Juanita saying, they don`t want this thing to go through without the idea that there were Republicans on board.

So, I hear that from some people, and I hear from other people that nobody ever cares about who was behind the bill in the end, so Republicans are fine pushing back on these things and having them passed. They`ll take credit anyway.

KRISTOL: Yeah, the Republicans in the House just think they have a structural advantage, both in terms of redistricting and just in normal, the difficulties of party and power has in the first term after two years in the White House voters tend to want a little bit of a check. They`ll say great, I`m glad we got all those bills through. Now we want to make sure that Biden doesn`t go too far. That`s what the Republicans are counting on.


So, the only thing I would add to what Juanita said is I think the Democrats could do more to discredit the Republicans in the House. They need to make it unacceptable to have Kevin McCarthy, speaker for swing voters. And that means I think tying the crazies in the House of them, there are now a lot to, you know, 60 percent of that as part of during the election, they got Marjorie Taylor Greene, you can make Lauren Boebert, they got Matt Gaetz. They`ve got to make the more mainstream Republicans, whether they`re members, incumbents or challengers, are an open seat, account for those people. Are you going to be in the same conference with them, but you`re fine with McCarthy being speaker, and at Elise Stefanik? They`re all top three. Elise Stefanik voted to overturn the elections on November 6.

So, if I were running everything for the House, if I work, some combination of Pelosi and Maloney, I think you`re doing a good job on the affirmative side, Pelosi is extremely impressive speaker, very tidy majority that she has no room for error. But I think they could do more to make the Republicans an unacceptable alternative honestly.

VELSHI: Juanita, what`s the balance that Pelosi and Democrats have to manage between progressive agendas, including a success this week with the eviction moratorium? And things like infrastructure that have appealed to a very broad base? How does how does she manage what Democrats are to Americans when the next election comes around?

TOLLIVER: Look front and center on what they`ve delivered. I think that point around infrastructure is key. Because we know especially when the bipartisan package gets through the Senate, House progressives are going to be looking for that reconciliation package to come right along with it. And so, avoiding friction on that is going to be key for Speaker Pelosi. And we heard in her weekly press conference today that, hey, it depends on what happens in the Senate.

And so, what she`s going to do was try to walk that tightrope, because we know that that bipartisan package is wildly popular. And we also know there`s a lot in the reconciliation package. So, emphasizing what those additions are, whether it`s access to early childcare, and paid medical leave, access to universal pre-K, all of the positives included in what they`re doing in a reconciliation package should be front and center as a reason why it needs to also get to the House and pass through the Senate.

VELSHI: And Bill Kristol, what about the Republicans in the House, in the Senate, who aren`t part of that crazy caucus? What about mainstream Republicans outside of elected government who would like to see something of a Republican Party once again or a party that that puts forward normal but conservative proposals? Where is that right now? Are people just sending it out, thinking that they`re still talk that either Donald Trump is coming back into office on August 13, according to the pillow guy or getting reelected again?

KRISTOL: There`s -- what happens in primaries, there is so much less Trump Republicans running in some of these open seats and challenger races for the Senate and for the House. So far that, you know, it doesn`t look good for those Republicans. I mean, Liz Cheney says it all, right? Conservative Republican went along with Trump reluctantly but went along on most things for four years. Broke on what he did after November 3, said it was not acceptable has continued to say that and how many Liz Cheney Republicans out there in the House?

VELSHI: Yeah. That says it all. Thanks to both you, great conversation tonight, I appreciate it, Juanita Tolliver and Bill Kristol.

Coming up, the alarming new research that suggests a crucial part of the Atlantic Ocean could be at risk when the 11th Hour continues.



VELSHI: Alarming new research is providing more evidence of the devastating effects of climate change. The German study published in the British journal Nature Climate Change warns that currents in the Atlantic have already been disrupted by warming temperatures and could collapse faster than previously predicted. And that could lead to dramatic changes in weather patterns across the world. Climate change is already having a devastating impact this summer on the west coast. The latest example is Northern California`s huge Dixie fire, which is NBC News Correspondent Steve Patterson report is getting bigger.


STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the Dixie fires march of flames swallowing more than 400,000 acres becoming the nation`s largest active wildfire and third largest in California history. The small town of Greenville transformed into a field of ruin and heartbreak.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We watched it, swirling and burning trees, getting closer.

PATTERSON: Rhonda Reams and her partner made it out just in time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re just grateful to be alive. We got each other and bodie boy.

PATTERSON: The fire threatening some 13,000 structures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m kind of holding out. If I start seeing spots in town, I`ll leave.

PATTERSON: So far this year, California wildfires have charged more than 808,000 acres more than tripling what burned by this time last year.

SERENA BAKER, DIXIE FIRE EAST ZONE SPOKESPERSON: We are at historic levels for how dry the fuels are. We are at 100 percent chance of starting wildfire.

PATTERSON: A climate in peril, priming the already fire weary west for more pain. Steve Patterson, NBC News.


VELSHI: Experts say there`s more of that to come. The drought passing through California and the very hot weather means that we can expect more of this as the season continues.

Well coming up, the President`s bold sartorial move that sent off social media today when the 11th Hour continues.



VELSHI: The last thing before we go tonight, the tan suit. I`m sure you noticed it earlier today and how could you not? President Biden was wearing a tan suit. Well, we all know the former guy has a pension for ill-fitting blue suits. You may recall in August of 2014, President Obama addressed reporters wearing a tan suit and the right was outraged. Our friends at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah made this video a few years back to remind us of what happened then.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President came out addressing reporters on Thursday and he was wearing this tan suit, tan suit, tan suit.

President Obama`s decision to wear a light tan suit at yesterday`s news conference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was wearing a tan suit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like tan suit, I think it was shocking a lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this an effort to make him look warmer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no way I think any of us can excuse what the President did yesterday. I mean, and then for him to walk out, I`m not trying to be trivial here but in a great suit, a tan suit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also known as tan-gate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tan suit and how the tan suit made him look unpresidential.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever talked him, going into a tan suit, you`re so desperate because of these low poll numbers. They`re willing to do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The tan suit made him look unpresidential.


VELSHI: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah pointing out that even the Gipper saw nothing wrong with wearing a tan suit every now and then. And that is our broadcast for this Friday night with our thanks to you for being with us. Brian will be back on Monday, and I will be back tomorrow and Sunday 8 a.m. Eastern for my show, Velshi. On behalf of all my colleagues here at the networks of NBC News, good night.