IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 9/10/21

Guests: Eugene Daniels, Jon Meacham, Peter Bergen, Nahid Bhadelia, Mike Murphy


U.S. marks 20 years since attacks of 9/11. September 11th anniversary comes just after U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. 19 Americans on latest evacuation from Kabul. Biden defends vaccine mandates in face of GOP attacks. GOP governors outraged over vaccine mandates.


CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again. I`m Chris Jansing in for Brian Williams. Day 234 of the Biden administration and in less than an hour, it will be September 11. Two decades since the terror attacks that killed 1000s and change this nation forever. President Biden arrived in New York earlier this evening. Tomorrow he`ll take part in ceremonies here as well as in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

Today in a White House video posted on social media, he reflected on the impact of that awful day.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We saw a national unity bend, we learned that unit is the one thing that must never break. Unity is what makes us who we are, America at its best. To me, that`s the central lesson of September 11.


JANSING: It`s 9/11 anniversary is being marked just weeks after the end of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, and the airlift that evacuated some 125,000 people, including 1000s of Americans. Those evacuations continue.

Today the second commercial flight since the military withdrawal departed Kabul airport for Qatar, with 19 Americans among the 158 passengers on board, and 20 years on from 9/11 were battling another even deadly or adversary. The nation is now in the midst of a COVID outbreak that`s affecting every corner of this country.

President Biden today continuing to talk up his new vaccine rules that will impact some 100 million workers, as part of his six-point plan to stop the spread of infections. Either get vaccinated or be tested weekly for COVID. That has sparked a furious backlash from several Republican governors who are now threatening lawsuits to stop those federal requirements. This morning, Biden was asked about his new rules.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your message to Republicans who are calling your vaccine requirements an "overreach," who are threatening to challenge it in court?

BIDEN: "Have at it."

Look, I`m so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. This is - we`re playing for real here.


JANSING: So that was this morning and then late this afternoon, more defiance from one of the most outspoken GOP governors.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: When we see elected officials violate the constitution, we have a responsibility to fight back. And that`s what we`re doing. And that`s what we`re going to do in Florida to combat what Joe Biden is trying to do with these unconstitutional mandates he`s imposing. This won`t stand.


JANSING: Biden senior advisors point to the administration`s authority to make certain that the Labor Department ensures workplace safety as the basis for its vaccine orders. Today, the White House appear to suggest it`ll take further steps if necessary.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are always looking at more we can do to protect and save lives. We`ll continue to look for ways to save more lives.


JANSING: Pfizer, meantime, says it will be requesting approval for COVID vaccines for children as young as five within just the next few weeks. And as the President battles his opponents on vaccine mandates, he`s also working to help fellow Democrats stay in office.

On Monday, Biden will travel to California to campaign with Governor Gavin Newsom on the eve of that state`s recall election.

Politico reports a new University of California at Berkeley survey shows, "Roughly 60% of likely voters polled say they opposed recalling Newsom, compared to 38.5% who supported removing Newsom.

Also, tonight organizers of that September 18 rally at the U.S. Capitol are now planning similar events around the nation. Demonstrators expected to gather next Saturday to demand what they say is justice for the hundreds of people facing charges after the January 6 insurrection.

Today, those organizers announced more than a dozen additional rallies that state capitals across the country to be held September 18 and 25th and on into October.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guest this Friday night, Eugene Daniels, White House Correspondent for Politico and co-author of each day`s edition of Politico Playbook, Peter Bergen, Professor, Veteran Global Security Expert and Author of the new book, The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden, and Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author, Presidential Historian and the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University. He occasionally advises President Biden on historical matters and major speeches.


Good to see all of you tonight. So, Eugene, a former aide confirmed to NBC today that on 9/11, George W. Bush did indeed called Joe Biden from a secure location in the Midwest. And Joe Biden advised him to get back to Washington. You know, in times of crisis, a president unifies the nation and President Biden`s spoke of unity in his message tonight about 9/11. It was a recurring theme during his campaign. If so, tomorrow, after he and his country have been through some difficult weeks, and obviously, we`re commemorating that horrific day, 20 years ago. What`s the tone we expect him to strike? And what are we expecting to hear from him?

EUGENE DANIELS, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What`s really interesting about 9/11 and Joe Biden is that just months -- late months before he became the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And that was the first moment that in a time of national tragedy, that Joe Biden was the voice that we`ve seen since then, right, the voice of compassion, the voice of we`re going to get through this because he was trying to get on the Senate floor, he was trying to get to those C-SPAN cameras.

And I`ve talked to many of his aides who were with him that day. And they say he kept trying to get in the Capitol so that people can see that the government was back in business. And so instead, what he was doing is going around and talking to people that were on the streets telling them we`re going to be OK. He did it in front of a couple of cameras. He also went on OPRA six days after and did the same thing.

And so, you know, we`re going to see the same Joe Biden that became -- that started that day, talking to Americans about, you know, there`s nothing that we can`t do when we`re -- when we team up and we get together, we`re always going to be better on the other side of really tough things.

And I think one of the things that is really interesting in the story that I`ve been working on about how 9/11 impacted Joe Biden is it also made change and reinforced the way that he thinks about foreign interventions. That is exactly what we saw in Afghanistan. So, you have these kinds of bookends of him becoming the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman just months before 9/11. And him being the president who ended that war. And I think, Joe Biden sees it that way. His White House sees it that way. And so, while we`re not expecting a big speech from him, because, you know, according to Jen Psaki, he has so much going on, that he`ll be bouncing around if they weren`t able to kind of pin that in. But I can guarantee that we`re going to continue to hear from Joe Biden about 9/11, and more importantly, about what it means to this nation 20 years later.

JANSING: How do you see, Jon Meacham, the line from the Joe Biden, who was in the Senate in 2001, to the president today, and what is his role now, as we look back at 20 years ago?

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think President Biden like President Bush, would rise to an occasion, if need be, God forbid, you know, President Bush wanted to get back to Washington as well, is he was asking to do it. His father, the one conversation they had that day, as I recall, President Bush Senior said, you know, you got to get back to Washington. They both have a kind of intuitive understanding of what the presidency is. And it goes back to a sentence that Franklin Roosevelt wrote, interestingly, on September 11, 1932, in a little piece for the New York Times Magazine, FDR defined the presidency as preeminently a place of moral leadership. And moral in that sense, doesn`t just mean ethical, good behavior, it means how we are together, it means custom.

And our president is not an Olympian figure. But a president does have a unifying role, and both symbolically and substantively in hours of crisis. And the two men bring very different life experiences to the pinnacle of power. Unquestionably, Governor -- President Bush had been a governor for six years at that point of Texas, and Joe Biden, something happened now. He`s been in the Senate, of course, for so long. He came into office in 1972 when Richard Nixon just won reelection.

And so, I think they have a similar view of the presidency, which is, it should be a unifying force. You make decisions, you make your best call, and you live with the consequences no matter what people say, from minute to minute.

JANSING: As much as it`s been talked about, Peter, there`s a lot we don`t know about 9/11 and the families of victims have been pushing pretty hard for the release of some unclassified documents from the report. We know that some of them said they didn`t want the president at the ceremony`s tomorrow, if he didn`t order it, which he did, and some of those unclassified portions are going to be released over the coming days, months. Do you think we might learn more about Osama bin Laden? Any possible Saudi culpability? What will you be looking for?


PETER BERGEN, "THE RISE AND FALL OF OSAMA BIN LADEN" AUTHOR: I don`t think we learn anything new about Osama bin Laden in those documents. I mean, my understanding is that they will investigate in one of the Saudi links to 9/11 and there`s -- two of the hijackers, as you know, lived in San Diego, and they were helped by Saudi officials, it`s still never really been clear.

If those Saudi officials were just kind of being helpful on their own, sort of cognizance or whether it was something more. Also, of course, as the role of Saudi charities supporting elements of al Qaeda, the core case and, you know, as dragged on for 20 years now, it`s like a scene from a sort of Dickens novel, that one of the judges has died, the lead lawyer and the case died, Ron Motley. So, this has gone on for a very long time, you can understand the frustration of the families.

On the other hand, I think once we see these documents, I`m not sure there`s going to be any revelations that get us any closer to the idea that the Saudis were somehow really involved in 9/11. After all, you know, al Qaeda`s main goal was the overthrow of the Saudi government. So certainly, maybe some Saudi officials working, you know, maybe wittingly or unwittingly to help the hijackers, certainly some Saudi charities with links to the Saudi government, helping out members in al Qaeda, I think you`ll find, but sort of pinning it on the Saudi government. I think that`s highly unlikely.

JANSING: Meantime, Eugene Daniels, as we all know, there`s a very different kind of war that this President is fighting against the coronavirus. And there`s a new poll from CNN showing a decline in approval on Joe Biden`s handling of it, 56% approved now as opposed to 66% in April, how concerned is the administration? How much if any, did that play into the decision to get tougher with the vaccine requirements?

DANIELS: Yeah, I think you know, they are always paying attention to polling, you can look at the retweets and quote, tweets of the White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, and you know that that`s happening, that they`re looking at polling. When it comes to the mandates or the requirements of vaccines that we saw the President announced, they are just getting frustrated. And as the President said, basically fed up with the idea that people aren`t getting vaccinated that there`s this 25% of people who have yet to get one jab. And I think what we saw the president, what we saw the administration working on doing is making it tough to be unvaccinated in this country, right? Because that is in their minds the way to take this public health crisis across the finish line to make sure that we cannot leave our homes that we can be in person, that people are safe. And I think that is what we`re seeing the most from this administration is you talked about that polling in April, that was around the time we`re all feeling good, right? The vaccines, people that most of us were starting to be able to get those vaccines. That was kind of this promise. And this goal of July 4, that we were going to be out and about and having a good time, and that the summer was going to be completely different than it ended up being.

And now this administration with not just the Delta variant, but also the pushback, the extreme pushback from Republicans, especially Republican governors, on being, as they put it helpful in this fight against COVID-19. They weren`t expecting that. They weren`t expecting people not to want to get vaccinated as much as they have been pushing back against that right now. And so, I think that they are working on every single ways. You heard Jen Psaki say, every single way they can to figure out how to make this happen, because they know this presidency depends on them actually getting this pandemic under control. Almost nothing else matters unless people feel like they handled that well, especially as we go into the midterm.

JANSING: It`s not lost on anybody, Jon Meacham, that many of the governors who are pushing back hardest are also people who are considering whether to run against Joe Biden, having said that, how do you see his battle with this pandemic?

MEACHAM: Well, I have this view that President Biden`s not on trial here, we are, the country is, this is a matter of common sense and fairly straightforward civic engagement. You know, my liberty does not extend to endangering you. It doesn`t extend to continuing a pandemic, the possibilities of a pandemic, that are killing people, that is killing people, and wrecking so much of our economic and cultural life. And so, the President seems to me to be asking us to be sensible and to be good citizens. And one of the keys to a democracy is that we see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. And why wouldn`t you want to do what you could not just to protect yourself, but to protect your neighbor?


And it`s a pretty fundamental insights, a pretty fundamental conversation that we`re having. And I think the really one of the disturbing things as we look forward politically and culturally in the country, is that if we can`t unify around our own health, around the health of those we love, what could we unify around? You know, has unreason and a polarization that has affected our lives so much in the last 10, 15 years, as it -- is it reaching a point where we`re honestly willing to die for a political belief that`s about a partisan election, and scoring points? It`s a really fundamental question.

JANSING: And in the middle of that fundamental question, as you well know, Peter, has been this debate about Afghanistan withdrawal, but particularly some of the people who were left behind and they`re still trying to evacuate, we saw that second plane going out today. I want to play what we heard from Condoleezza Rice earlier this evening.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I do worry with the Taliban back in power, and with their well-known integration, or collaboration with al Qaeda, that al Qaeda could rebuild. We`re going to have to work awfully hard with no eyes and ears on the ground, no intelligence assets on the ground, we`re going to have to work awfully hard to make sure that that doesn`t happen again.


JANSING: So, bringing us back to 9/11, Peter, you write in your book on bin Laden, killing bin Laden didn`t kill his ideas which lingered on among al Qaeda affiliates in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Africa, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. And they also lived on among Islamic militants around the globe. So, what do you make of where we are now with Afghanistan? Have we set the stage for a new threat?

BERGEN: I think we have. I mean, the question is one of scale, I mean, I think it speaks for itself that the new Minister of the Interior, Sirajuddin Haqqani in Afghanistan, is, according to the United Nations, a leader of al Qaeda, so you have this kind of astonishing, we`re about to -- you know, sort of memorialize the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And for the first time in history, the leader of al Qaeda is a senior member of the Taliban cabinet in control of an entire country. And to say that that isn`t a surprising outcome. It doesn`t really quite cover it. It`s not -- if we`d had this conversation a year ago, that would have seemed extremely improbable. But here we are, and here -- you know, if bin Laden was alive today. I`m sure he`d be thrilled by this development.

Now, what does it mean for U.S. national security? You know, we`re still very well defended. The 16 people on the no-fly list on 9/11, there are 81,000. Now, our intelligence in budget is tripled. There was no ta TSA, no Department of Homeland Security. There were a bunch of three letter agencies that now exists. So, we`re a much harder target. But that said, you know, if al Qaeda has two or three years to regroup in Afghanistan with a very friendly government, that you can certainly train people in. And importantly, they can inspire people because if you look at the ISIS attacks in United States, they weren`t carried out by people trained by ISIS. They simply carried out by people inspired by ISIS, and we saw, you know, 49 people killed in an Orlando nightclub inspired by -- an ISIS inspired terrorist.

And I think, you know, the Taliban will declare its Emirate. It will be not dissimilar to the caliphate ISIS declared in Iraq. It will prove inspirational to a new generation of jihadists. Unfortunately, we`re set for another iteration of this. It`s not an existential problem, but it`s certainly a problem.

JANSING: Some sobering thoughts on this eve of 9/11. Peter Bergen, Eugene Daniels, Jon Meacham thanks to all of you, gentlemen.

And coming up, today`s COVID headlines deal with children, vaccines, mask wearing. One of our favorite doctors is here to help break it all down.

And later, the President is issuing a call for national unity on this eve of September 11. We`ll ask Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss about the likelihood of that. The 11th Hour just getting underway on a Friday night.




DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Looking at cases over the past two months when the Delta variant was the predominant variants circulating in this country, those who were unvaccinated were about four and a half times more likely to get COVID-19 over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from the disease.


WILLIAMS: It`s worth repeating, unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID. The CDC is out with a series of new studies that underscore the Biden administration`s main message, vaccines work, and Americans absolutely have the scientific tools to finally turn the corner on this pandemic.

Back with us again tonight, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease physician and founding Director of Boston University`s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research.

Good to see you. You told us you would like to shout those statistics at the top of your lungs, vaccines mean five times less likely to get infection, 10 times less likely to get hospitalized, 11 times less likely to die.

Now we`re seeing that San Francisco`s Public Health Department reports, this is another important number zero outbreaks in the city schools since students and teachers went back in-person but the department says 90% of kids 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated. What more is it going to take to convince people vaccines work? They`re worth it.

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN: I want to look that number a little bit, Chris, because there is another depressing number when it comes to pediatric cases. The American Association of Pediatrics reported that last week you had over 251,000 cases the most ever pediatric cases in a week that we`ve had since the pandemic started and majority of those cases are, you won`t be surprised to hear those in states that have high community transmission and lower rates of vaccination and not only are you seeing cases go up, but in many those states are seeing hospitalizations also be on -- also on the increase for pediatrics.


And the tough part is when you look at states like, sorry, Florida or Texas, many of those pediatric cases are related to school outbreaks. So, you really do have to ask them, you know, what is the cognitive dissonance? I`m going to echo something that Jon Meacham said before the break, what will it take for us to come together? If it is not for us to keep even the most vulnerable, such as our children safe in this country?

JANSING: Well, it makes the CNBC poll that I`m about to tell you about even more interesting because it found that unvaccinated Americans are largely driven by mistrust of the government and fears over side effects, 83% of those polled who still haven`t gotten the shot, say they do not plan to get it, 83%. So how risky is it? If there`s nothing that it seems anybody can do to convince this group to get vaccinated? I mean, does that literally mean we`ll be living with COVID forever?

BHADELIA: Yeah, I think that the only way to get to the other side of it, right, when you hear this term, this virus may get endemic, it literally means that it`s going to stick around for a while. And unfortunately, it means that for a longer period of time, we will all unfortunately have a potentially a chance to come across it and you`ll either be vaccinated when you do or not vaccinated. And we talk often about the unvaccinated right, because they really are carrying the greatest burden 90% of the hospitalization that are among unvaccinated, even with, you know, even with the Delta variant, but I want to talk on the -- for the vaccinated majority Americans are vaccinated 75% have gotten one dose. And so often you hear this question, why do the vaccinated care, you know, if there are people who aren`t vaccinated, because that remaining population has an impact on all of us indirectly, indirectly, as well.

If you live in a community, where there are more people who are unvaccinated, the rates of infection are higher. You know, everything you do, right? Break to infection rates might be slightly higher, everything you do becomes ever so slightly more riskier. If you have kids who are not vaccinated, you`re sending them to schools, they`re more likely to come across somebody who might have the infection. If you live in a community where there are fewer people vaccinated and the hospitals are overwhelmed and care of patients with COVID, than everybody with a burst appendix or motor vehicle accident, gets their care delayed. And there was just a study, Chris, last week from the CDC that said, overwhelmed hospitals with COVID saw increase in hospital acquired infections. That means people who came to the hospital and gotten infections like, you know, IV catheter associated infection, or a urinary catheter associated infections, which means that overwhelmed hospitals, it`s harder for them to take care of any of us. And so that`s why we care because those remaining folks are not just hurting themselves, but they`re having an impact on their entire community.

JANSING: And then our last minute, I want to ask you about a concern because the FDA is urging parents not to look to get their kids under 12 vaccinated until the agency gives the, all clear. What`s the concern of having young children take these vaccines before they`re approved?

BHADELIA: Yeah, a big part of the pediatric trials is because they`re also testing the dosage, right? It is looking at the efficacy also, testing dosage and the fact that they wanted to increase the amount of follow up and the number of kids who are being followed, but just make sure that we set the minds of parents at ease to make sure that there`s no side effects. And so, what Pfizer has said, as your reported is that recruitment has ended, they`re looking at primary data, and really is they`re still going to submit it in a couple of weeks. So, I would advise parents to not try to do what we`ve been with the heardest off label vaccination of kids under 12 because that data is coming soon. And it should be available or of the parents who are worried about their because as we all are.

JANSING: Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, always great to see you. Thank you so much.

And coming up, see you in court, Joe Biden tells the Republican governors fighting his vaccine mandate to have at it, a deeper look at pandemic politics when the 11th Hour continues.




BIDEN: This isn`t a game. And I don`t know of any scientist out there in this field but doesn`t think it makes us considerable sense to do the six things I`ve suggested.


JANSING: President Biden remaining defiant even as Republican governors threatened to sue over sweeping new vaccine requirements. As our friend Jon Allen put it this week, "Biden`s six-prong strategy amounts to a two-part bet: that vaccination mandates will wrangle a pandemic and the public will reward him for using his authority."

Here with us, Juanita Tolliver, Veteran Political Strategist to Progressive Candidates and Causes and Mike Murphy, Veteran Republican Strategist and Co-Director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California. He`s also co-host of the Hacks on Tap podcast.

Good to see both of you, Mike Murphy, these Republican governors are not letting up. And I want to play this for you from former Florida Congressman David Jolly.


DAVID JOLLY, FORMER FLORIDA REPRESENTATIVE: Republicans want this fight, and rightly or wrongly, and they could be very wrong with the politics, but they believe the politics actually will help them go in into November 22. I got a text from a Republican insider after Biden`s speech and he said Biden just handed Republicans the House in next November if they didn`t have it already, and we`re going to be looking for a whole lot more. We want this fight.


JANSING: Mike, I wonder if you`re hearing the same and if you are, do you think they might be right or are they a little bit delusional?

MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, both parties want the fight because they come at it from different voter coalitions. Among Democrats 90% approval what Biden`s doing, he`s digging in his troops like it, among independents it`s about split. And they`re betting that more people in the country want a tougher line on vaccinations than support mask mandates. And I think the numbers show it`s a pretty good bet. And the number of people who are in that corner saying no vaccination at all, has been slowly but steadily declining. So, I think Biden is playing to the bigger numbers.

The Republicans are always tangled up in party based primary politics. A lot of these governors are from safe Republican states for all I have to worry about, you know, is their nomination primary and a couple of them are trying to run for president, trying to out trump Donald Trump. I think the midterm election point of this is I don`t think David Jolly was talking about some Republicans said, this will deliver the House. The House has probably already delivered. The Republicans have a lot of advantages.


The bigger problem is the Senate where Biden`s move will -- is the net, net, states are different is a plus for a democratic work to pick up a few endangered Republican Senate seats or defend their incumbents in places like New Hampshire. So, I think the politics of it a little more complicated, but no doubt both sides want the fight because that you`d see a win. I think Biden`s got the better hand here, long term.

JANSING: Yeah, and I think simplistically, obviously, Juanita, the calculation on the Republican side is that they`re overplaying, Joe Biden`s over playing their hand, that the Democrats who support him are as well, you know, back off, back off, this is not where you should be as the government. What do you think the impact is, you know, this guy that is quoted Biden just handed Republicans the House?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I completely agree that Republicans had a lot of structural advantages going into the midterms with regards to the House. But what Biden is doing here is making sure that he`s delivering on his promise that he made on the campaign trail to get this pandemic under control. And by taking the fight directly to Republicans, by taking the fight directly to the unvaccinated individuals who qualify for the vaccine right now, he is making sure that he makes good on that knowing that he has years and years of federal precedent on his side, knowing that polling shows that voters in battleground states overwhelmingly support this, also 75% of Americans already have received one dose, right?

So, Biden has a lot to play here. And honestly, this back and forth, debate is not going to end well for Republicans who ultimately are using this harmful, inhumane approach to drive a political narrative when their supporters are dying as a result, right? Chris, like hundreds of 1000s of people have lost their lives in this pandemic, and hundreds of 1000s more stand to lose their lives if this pandemic isn`t brought under control. And so, what Biden is doing here is he`s getting those Republican governors out of the way so they can scream and holler and make all the noise and chaos they want. What matters here is that this mandate, or this requirement for testing will save people`s lives.

JANSING: Many of the people who told me over the months that they were not going to get vaccinated are the same people who said during the election, remember it was Operation Warp Speed. Remember, it was Operation Warp Speed, and that was Donald Trump.

Look, there is also a disconnect with what a lot of Republican governors are saying. I want to play what two of them said about vaccines very recently.


GOV. KAY IVEY, (R) ALABAMA: It`s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It`s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.

GOV. JIM JUSTICE, (R) WEST VIRGINIA: For God`s sakes a-living, how difficult is this to understand? Why in the world do we have to come up with these crazy ideas? And they`re crazy ideas that the vaccines got something in it and it`s tracing people wherever they go. And the same very people that are saying that are carrying their cellphones around. I mean, come on.


JANSING: Does that play the Republican base, pro-vaccine, Mike, but anti- mandate?

MURPHY: Yeah. Yeah, I think there is some there, there for Republicans. I mean, if you look at the polling, over eight -- more than eight out of 10 Democrats support a harder line on vaccine, which is what Biden`s doing. And I think once he engages, that`ll go to nine. Six out of 10 Republicans oppose it. So, Biden is doing one of the great moves you do in politics, he`s uniting his side, he`s dividing the other side. If it`s a two to one fight the Republican Party with 1/3 pro-vaccination, they`re going to be with Biden.

The other thing is, we`ve got to remember that Biden is in political trouble right now. It`s got three big problems, Afghanistan, people wanted to leave, but not the way we left, he has got the threat of the economy slowing down, which is real trouble for a president and the President`s party. And he knows that the old strategy of declaring victory and COVID on July 4 is out the window with Delta. So, he owns it, he`s got to fix it. So, I think he`s making a smart move by doubling down and turning it into a fight to kind of draw the Republicans out to engage them.

JANSING: Juanita, let me give you the final 30 on that.

TOLLIVER: Yeah, I completely agree in this concept of stepping up to the plate for Biden, and this is a big moment for him because this is something that he can look back to, as we get close to midterms and say, I changed the course of this pandemic. I stopped them Delta variant by going hard against it and going hard against Republicans and that`s the case that Democrats are going to be able to make and the lead up to midterms that`s going to serve them well.

JANSING: People stop dying, you have to believe that that`s a good political move. Juanita Tolliver, Mike Murphy, good to see you both tonight.

Coming up, we`re going to talk to Presidential Historian, Michael Beschloss, about the state of the country 20 years after September 11.




GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and acquired, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings. But they cannot touch the Foundation of America.


JANSING: Some of what we heard from President George W. Bush on the evening of September 11, 2001.

Back with us tonight, Michael Beschloss, celebrated author and presidential historian, his latest work, Presidents of War. Michael also has a new show called, Fireside History with Michael Beschloss. It premiered tonight, and you can catch it this weekend on the choice from MSNBC which is streaming on Peacock.

Michael, so much I want to talk about tonight, but our own Mark Murray compared NBC News polling and he found that after 9/11, 72% said the country was headed in the right direction. As of August, only 29% say the country is headed in the right direction. I wonder was it an illusion to think that in times of crisis Americans have always come together? Or have we as a people really just changed that much since 9/11?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think our system has basically broken down in the last 20 years in a way that no longer do we -- are we in a position to depend on the kind of unity for instance that we saw after Pearl Harbor with Franklin Roosevelt in 1941. You know, look at 20 years ago, as you remember, Chris, you know all those members of Congress of both parties, saying God Bless America together on the Capitol steps.


Al Gore, who had lost this bitter election to George W. Bush and the Supreme Court by little over 500 votes in Florida, heads up and makes a speech. George Bush is my president and I support him. Now, if that were to happen nowadays, if God forbid, we had another 9/11, would Donald Trump get up and say, Joe Biden is my president and I support him? I don`t think so. We are in a very bitterly divided country after two wars that did not work out as planned, a great recession in 2008 that brought people a lot of misery in which many of the people who are responsible on Wall Street were never properly punished.

JANSING: Well, then I wonder, when we look at it in totality, was a post 9/11 world destined to be divided. We honored those who died, of course, rightfully so. The brave firefighters who rushed into the building. The United 93 passengers and crew that stormed the cockpit, the volunteers who joined the military to defend our country. But, you know, as you point out, in the aftermath, there was war, there was discrimination against Muslims, there was torture at Abu Ghraib. I mean, it doesn`t diminish or change the heroism of that day. But there is a complexity of the picture in its totality?

BESCHLOSS: And you have to begin to ask where are those lives of Americans and others who sacrificed given in vain? I would answer they were absolutely not given in vain. But what our government owes us is to protect us, didn`t do that in 9/11. It didn`t do it sufficiently in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which most Americans now look at as exercises that did not succeed. You know, the job of not only government, but the American president is to protect us as much as possible. And you have to look at last year, did Donald Trump protect us at the time of a terrible pandemic? Reminded me of Woodrow Wilson in 1918, when there was an influenza pandemic, Wilson made not a single speech, telling Americans what they could do to protect themselves because he was worried it would make him unpopular.

JANSING: So, you -- we mentioned you have your first episode of your new series Fireside History, and you were viewing the 9/11 attacks from the eyes of the president and a Congress as they wrestled with a response. What did you discover?

BESCHLOSS: I discovered that George W. Bush, with the best of intentions, rushed into a war with Afghanistan, which was the right thing to punish al Qaeda, and to deprive them of a safe harbor that they could use to wage another large-scale attack against the United States. But within a couple of years, this grew up into nation building and an effort to make Afghanistan into an Athenian democracy, it was never going to be one. And over 20 years, we spent as we know, trillions of dollars, Americans and others lives were lost in that noble effort. And Americans now look at all that, as they say, you know, should we ever get more into involved in wars at all, even if it`s a noble war, like World War Two to defend the country and the world against Hitler and the imperial Japanese, that is not great for our country.

JANSING: Michael Beschloss, please stay with us because coming up, what we`re hearing from family members of one of the heroes of United flight 93, 20 years later.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re both fathers now, what will you tell your children about their grandmother?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In our city for periods, we have a statue that`s right next to the water. And my oldest son Tyler (ph), he loves to go visit the statue. And he`s like, that`s my grandma. She`s a hero. And I just remind him every time, you know, like what they did on that flight was spectacular.


JANSING: CeeCee Ross Lyles was a flight attendant on United Flight 93. And, of course, it was on that flight passengers and crew heroically ensured those hijackers never reached their intended target in Washington, D.C. 20 years later loved ones and we as a nation keep these stories alive.

Still with us, Michael Beschloss. Yeah, you know, Michael, I think there`s a beautiful simplicity to that statue. And we as a country are good at memorials all along the mall in Washington, Ground Zero, Pentagon, Shanksville. We are a country that honors fallen heroes every year, the reading of the names from 9/11. What`s the importance, Michael, of marking these moments of history of preserving these stories, and frankly, bringing people together around them?

BESCHLOSS: Because all of us should be able to unite around the idea that we`re saving our democracy. That`s what those people were doing, those heroes on flight 93 and elsewhere 20 years ago, tomorrow. Our democracy tonight is as much in danger, I think, as it was in 1860, before the Civil War, and in 1940, before Pearl Harbor, the right to vote is being taken away from people in various states, the legitimacy of elections is being undermined. We could be in a situation where the congressional election next year in which certain people are elected to Congress who are deprived of taking office. And the same thing even true when a president is elected in 2024. That`s enormously dangerous. We`ve got to follow in the footsteps of those heroes.

JANSING: What should we take away from tomorrow? I think a lot of people will be glued to their televisions, but even if they`re not just about everybody I`ve run into is now again, talking about where you were, right? Anybody of a certain age, it`s so seared in our collective consciousness where we were what we did, how were you reacted? Can there be some sort of coming together tomorrow, which is now six minutes away?

BESCHLOSS: There should be, you know, we all have who remember it, some kind of PTSD from going through 9/11 that we will never get over. In normal times, the country should be able to unite with that kind of common experience. Instead, what you`ve got is people who profit from dividing this country and pitting one group against another. You had a great talk earlier on the show about the politicizing of the vaccine against the COVID pandemic, who in history ever could have imagined that something that horrible could have taken place in our beloved country.

JANSING: Michael Beschloss, what a pleasure. Thank you so much. And congratulations on the new program.


BESCHLOSS: Thank you so much, Chris.

JANSING: We`re back with more of the 11th Hour after a quick break.


JANSING: Lower Manhattan, the last thing before we go tonight, a couple of programming notes. Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning for MSNBC Special Coverage marking 20 years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Our America remembers programming gets underway at 5 a.m. Eastern. We will be live from ground zero. Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace will pick up the coverage at 8 a.m. Eastern. Among their guests, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

And coming up next, an MSNBC special presentation, The First Night. NBC News coverage as it happened the night of September 11, 2001.

Meantime, that is our broadcast for this Friday night with our thanks for being with us. Our hearts tonight with the families of those we lost. And we leave you again with that side of New York City, a reminder perhaps, of the possibility of a country coming together.