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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, August 18, 2020

Guests: Adam Schiff, Claire McCaskill, Michael Steele, Pete Buttigieg, Doris Kearns Goodwin


Former Second Lady Jill Biden addressed Democrats in the keynote address during the second night of the Democratic National Convention. She discussed family in message about unity. The Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday, totaling nearly 1,000 pages, was the product of more than 200 witness interviews and nearly a million documents. It's the only bipartisan account of how the Trump campaign embraced Russia's intelligence operation in 2016 designed to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Trump.


JILL BIDEN, JOE BIDEN'S WIFE: We're seeing that our differences are precious and our similarities infinite.

We have shown that the heart of this nation still beats with kindness and courage. That's the soul of America Joe Biden is fighting for now.

After our son, Beau, died of cancer, I wondered if I would ever smile or feel joy again. It was summer but there was no warmth left for me.

Four days after Beau's funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit. I saw him steel himself in the mirror -- take a breath -- put his shoulders back -- and walk out into a world empty of our son. He went back to work. That's just who he is.

There are times when I couldn't imagine how he did it -- how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I've always understood why he did it. For the daughter who convinces her mom to finally get a breast cancer screening and misses work to drive her to the clinic. For the community college student who has faced homelessness and survived abuse -- but finds the grit to finish her degree and make a good life for her kids. For the little boy whose mom is serving as a marine in Iraq, who puts on a brave face in his video call, and doesn't complain when the only thing he wants for his birthday is to be with her. For all those people Joe gives his personal phone number to, at rope lines and events -- the ones he talks to for hours after dinner -- helping them smile through their loss -- letting them know that they aren't alone. He does it for you.

Joe's purpose has always driven him forward. His strength of will is unstoppable. And his faith is unshakable -- because it's not in politicians or political parties -- or even himself. It's in the providence of God. His faith is in you -- in us.

Yes, so many classrooms are quiet right now. The playgrounds are still. But if you listen closely, you can hear the sparks of change in the air.

Across the country, educators, parents, first responders -- Americans of all walks of life are putting their shoulders back, fighting for each other. We haven't given up.

We just need leadership worthy of our nation. Worthy of you. Honest leadership to bring us back together -- to recover from this pandemic and prepare for whatever else is next. Leadership to reimagine what our nation will be.

That's Joe. He and Kamala will work as hard as you do, every day, to make this nation better. And if I have the honor of serving as your first lady, I will too.

And with Joe as president, these classrooms will ring out with laughter and possibility once again.

The burdens we carry are heavy, and we need someone with strong shoulders. I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours, bring us together and make us whole. Carry us forward in our time of need. Keep the promise of America, for all of us.

JOE BIDEN, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great. I love you. Hi everyone, I'm Joe Biden's husband has heard tonight. Excuse me. You can see why she's the love of my life, the rock of our family. She never gives herself much credit, but the truth is, she's the strongest person I know. She's a backbone like a ramrod. She loves fiercely, cares deeply. Nothing stops her when she sets her mind and getting something right.

And, you know, for all of you out there across the country, just think of your favorite educator who gave you the confidence to believe in yourself. That's the kind of first lady, lady, lady, lady. This Jill Biden will be. God love you.

J. BIDEN: So go to Joe to join our campaign.

JOE BIDEN: Thank you all for watching. I'll see you soon. Thank you.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: From the elementary school in Wilmington, Delaware, where she wants taught now being applauded at least virtually. Dr. Jill Biden, wrapping up her speech and joined by her husband who we can now officially call the nominee of the Democratic Party.

Good evening, once again as we welcome you to a special two hour edition of THE 11TH HOUR. Day 1,307 of the Trump administration 77 days to go until our Presidential Election, night to have the Democratic National Convention, at least the virtual format dictated by the ongoing pandemic.

But before we get too far into this, let's begin with what we have just seen and witnessed. My friends Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, Joy Reid, remain in our New York studios where they've been hosting all night. And Rachel, starting with you, your thoughts on Dr. Biden's speech and night two as a whole?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You know, it was such an interesting mix tonight. And I thought heading into it, oh we've got an interesting mix of speakers having, you know, President Clinton and President Carter and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and, you know, the other speaker. I was thinking it would be an interesting mix. It ended up being really interesting mix of themes. The biographical focus tonight on Jill and Joe Biden is so emotional.

And the video presentations in particular they did talking about that in the personal stuff is so emotional in part because so much of their family history is tied up and really serious, emotionally difficult loss that they are good at talking about. And have that alongside the like incredible, wonderful snapshot of life weirdness of the roll call. And that that alongside the very serious, very well produced very well programmed national security stuff, including that very good video with Brett McGurk and Marie Yovanovitch, and all those other people. Colin Powell, doing very well, John Kerry doing very well. Health care stuff with Ady Barkan. I mean, it was just -- it was -- this is like a, this was a lot. It was also much better produced than I think last night was just in terms of our experience of it moving, don't you think?

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "THE REIDOUT": I think so. I think it moved a lot faster. It felt like it moved more smoothly. You know, they worked out some of the quirks in the first night that seemed awkward at time.


REID: Even though the presentations were wonderful in the first night. This was smooth. It was -- you know, I felt like as I was watching it, we were over the Biden's house. It was so relatable.


REID: I mean, who can't relate to Joe Biden. You know, my mom is a college professor. And I'm like, wow, I think Jill Biden met my mom, right? I mean, these guys, there's so relatable, there's so normal, there's sort of their cut out of just, you know, middle Americana in a way that the Trumps are just not. There so not unusual that it's actually comforting to watch them. And --

MADDOW: what do you think about the empty classroom as setting for her speech?

REID: I mean, I thought it was perfect because this is the thing that is driving so many parents to distraction and anxiety, the angst over the reopening schools.

MADDOW: Everybody in America. Everybody in America has no idea what to do about this.

REID: No idea. I mean, friends of mine that still have young kids, I'm so thankful my kids are old now. I don't have to worry about it. But you know, it's -- they're terrified. And I think the fact that she's a teacher, and that she can relate to them and that she's so relatable, and that the Biden story. It's just beautiful that there was a mommy and a mom, you know, and you'll never replace Mommy, but this is our mom. It's -- they couldn't have done better, honestly.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSBBC HOST, "DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE": Yeah. I mean, and Brian, we've talked about the Biden's in this way that the loss is just this unthinkable thing that it's your throat catches when you think about what they've been through, the loss of Beau recently, and what brought them together. And as you said, they're able to talk about something that most people can't talk about what happens to somebody else.


WALLACE: It happened to them. And I think to take that pain, and match it to the country's pain, I mean, we're living in such painful times.


WALLACE: And to take that trauma -- and I actually, I thought there was a thread that ran through during the national security argument, and the fear, the fear that we have with Donald Trump is our president, and there were some great lines about flattering dictators. I think it was Brett McGurk or Marie Yovanovitch. We haven't seen Marie Yovanovitch but she was in that national security video, Brian, and you and I covered the impeachment hearings live together. And I don't know that other than Fiona Hill, there was a more compelling witness to Donald Trump's criminality and misconduct around National Security than Marie Yovanovitch. So to see her come out --

MADDOW: We all gasp when she --

WALLACE: We did. You know, and to see her there show up I think putting these things together that these are painful times, and these are scary times. They're painful because of the tragedy of COVID. Because of the economic despair, it's unleashed. And this is a family that's dealt with pain and they're scary because of what Donald Trump represents to our national security, to put Joe Biden in the center of solving both those problems, our pain and our fear was just was strategically brilliant.

And I think it's time in the convention, have you worked on images (ph), to give this campaign some credit for execution.

MADDOW: Absolutely.

WALLACE: It could have been a weird mix, right? We could have been trying to talk about Joe Biden's humanity, is Joe Biden detailed it and that brilliant national security piece that was produced in there and all those interviews with Chuck Hagel and Brett McGurk, but to put it together speaking to our fear of having Donald Trump as our country's commander in chief, and our pain about what we're living through, I think was masterful messages.

MADDOW: And bringing this -- I mean, talking about healthcare taught me yet personal racked, but talking about how having health insurance is something that can relieve some of your fear even when you are going through the pain of losing somebody.


MADDOW: When Biden talks about how Beau was insured, and that and he -- but he was thinking about what it would mean if he had not been insured in terms of what the end of Beau's life would have been like. It is it's bringing the pain of the loss, but also the fear and what can be done to alleviate that fear if we act responsibly, and we do something that looks out for each other. It's a profound capital E, empathy message that does hit all of the themes.

REID: Yeah, absolutely. And I think when he spoke with those individual people who had been through that, you know, that is Joe Biden's best when he's able to show that empathy.

MADDOW: A round table thing, yeah.

REID: Absolutely. But I think that whole sense of loss and the fear was also woven throughout the roll call. I love the roll call. I think they should always be this way. I love seeing the country, seeing the scenes of what America looks like, all the accent seems so different.


REID: I was obsessing over that and just seeing all of America one by one by one. But you also had Khzir Khan in the roll call you had Matthew Shepard's parents in the roll call. So there were other people who also spoke to that idea that you can overcome pain with action. I thought the healthcare -- the entire healthcare section was moving. Ady Barkan, who's a hero being the climax of it, I thought was brilliant.

MADDOW: Seeing him with his kids and his wife at the end of it, you know, in there it's just, yeah.

REID: Yeah, it's -- I mean, it's heart wrenching, but I thought it was put together and I thought the healthcare argument is one of the strongest arguments that Joe Biden has because it's the thing that Republicans so want to take away.

MADDOW: I would also just like to say for the record that I completely blew it and was completely wrong. I was like, there's no way they're going to get through this roll call with 30 something states all on tape and 12 live and everything. There was a really funny moment when it was like Delaware passes. Nobody had any idea what that means. And it was like just so they can go last and they could put him over the top. That was like the one moment that was momentarily and it's workable. But other than that, it was fine. There's no way, it's fine.

WALLACE: I bet they were trying to build suspense but I mean, just to tie all of this together and Brian, to your point, I mean, I think that what they tried to do tonight was really ambitious. And I think that if you look it again, these are all about what happens as a week, as a package. What is the story they're telling? What did Michelle Obama kickoff? And did they build on that? And they undeniably built on that. They undeniably have set a bar that there is no way the Trump team can meet or match just from a production value.


WALLACE: I mean, they're just having worked in the Republican side. There aren't people that could do all that stuff.

REID: And what the story going to be?

WALLACE: Well, right. And then what builds on what?


MADDOW: Stories are going to be very scary. I mean, talk about they're going to be approaching fear from the other side of it.

REID: Yeah.

MADDOW: Right. I mean --

REID: Yeah. But what's the story of the Trump? I think the thing that Trump has never had is that he ran a sort of the every man in the populace. But what he doesn't have as a populist story, he doesn't have an up from nothing story, right? He inherited $370 million at birth and then he lost --

MADDOW: They're going to spend the whole time talking about the story of other people.

WALLACE: Yeah, that's all they can do.


WALLACE: But the problem now is that every man is now living in fear of all the things that they've highlighted tonight, losing their health care.


WALLACE: The country being, you know, handed off or chopped up all the way to Russia and just the pain of the of the pandemic and all the losses. So I think they are advancing the cause of the Biden-Harris ticket. And I think they are also doing a lot of advanced work to undermine whatever attacks come next week.

MADDOW: It'll also be interesting to see, Brian, I think formatically, one of the things that we're looking for and thematically we got an explicit mention from Tracee Ellis Ross, who I thought was actually very good tonight.


MADDOW: Talking about Kamala Harris and the historic nature of her selection is the V.P. right at the -- towards the beginning of the event. But this is still -- this is not about a -- this is not a vice president and vice presidential nominating convention, is very much about Joe Biden and his family and his history, and people have known him over the course of his long public life.

Tomorrow is going to Kamala Harris day and it's not just her remarks, it'll be really interesting to see whether basically with very short turnaround because she was only chosen recently, whether they can make the convention as much about her tomorrow and for a country that knows her much less well than we all know Joe Biden from his years of service.

WILLIAMS: Rachel at the risk of sounding like a Supreme Court opinion agreeing in part and dissenting in part I loved what Joy said, we saw way more of the country than we ever see during a roll call where they normally it's funny ads, it's scattered around what would be the arena where the Milwaukee Bucks play basketball, and that was great.

To Nicolle's point, I think the hard viewers guide to next week is a week from tonight, they're going to be long stretches of the next convention, where we are being led to believe that Hunter Biden is the nominee of the Democratic Party. I think that's going to -- with the time and space continuum that we're all living, they're just going to insist that enough days have passed since this emotional high note to just go pure politics and you know that speaker after speaker will do that.

MADDOW: Yeah. I mean, I think, well we already saw a little bit of that tonight, the Trump campaign in the middle of the programming tonight, sending out an attack piece hitting all 17 of the young Democratic leaders who appeared as part of that keynote literally 17 people there alongside the sort of setting up Stacey Abrams. And they just like came up with one nasty thing make a thick as each including like the mayor of Long Beach, who literally lost his mother to COVID in July and then the day that his -- of his mother's funeral lost stepfather to COVID and he's standing there as the mayor of Long Beach. He's making this earnest and positive case and they're like he's a terrible socialist radical. He's a make America last again, like --

REID: I mean, we're going to go from America, the beautiful which I think that kind of what it was.


REID: The roll call was like, look how beautiful America is, look how interesting it is to America is hell, like I'll be doing that but Trump is president.

MADDOW: Also America is calamari, which is going to snip in me from the roll call more than anything else because I was like --


WALLACE: Rachel's insisting that the lower third comeback as you can see --


WALLACE: There is descent with your descent a little bit. Justice. The point I was trying to make wasn't that they won't, you know, hug the low road next week. It was that they have some inoculation on the other side. Because what we know we don't fear. And my only point was by knowing the Bidens as well as we are all going to feel like we know them this week. It won't matter on the far right. We won't matter with Trump's faces. Anyone who would have attended the Trump convention that's not who anyone's talking to really either week, but knowing the Bidens makes it hard for the scary messages we are sure to hear next week to stick to the Bidens among the people that that may be sort of trying to figure out what to do come down.

MADDOW: They will try to make it stick to Kamala Harris in a way that they know they won't be able to stick it to Joe Biden. Good luck with that the K high won't let that happen.

REID: They are serious.

MADDOW: Check them out on Instagram.

WILLIAMS: And for the record, I love Rhode Island and their local favorite Dells frozen lemonade. I love calamari. But I have not had calamari in Rhode Island and now I will make it one of my life's goals.

REID: Excellent.

MADDOW: Coffee, milk and calamari, I will meet you there.

WILLIAMS: There you go. Thank you friends, we get to do this again tomorrow night. Our thanks to Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid.

Coming up for us, our first break but it's what's coming up after that that you'll want to see. House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the California Democrat joins us next to give us his take on what we've seen tonight but more importantly the damning report out of the Senate Intel Committee. And then later, one time rival for the nomination turned Biden supporter. Mayor Pete will join us, the 11th Hour just getting started on this convention Tuesday night.



SALLY YATES, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: From the moment President Trump took office, he's used his position to benefit himself rather than our country, he's trampled the rule of law, trying to weaponize our Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends. Rather than standing up to Vladimir Putin, he fallens over a dictator who was still trying to interfere in our elections.


WILLIAMS: Night two of the Democratic National Convention the Republican led Senate Intelligence Committee today made some news of their own. They took the wraps off 1000 page final report on Russian election interference in our 2016 election.

The New York Times sums up the damning conclusions this way. "The Russian government undertook an extensive campaign to try to sabotage the 2016 American election to help Mr. Trump become president and some members of Mr. Trump's circle of advisers were open to the help from an American adversary."

We're having happy to have with us for more tonight congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, Chairman of the House Intel Committee.

And Congressman, first off, let's rewind just a bit to what we just saw Sally Yates the likes of Colin Powell. And if you had to sum up their conclusions tonight, that we are not safe under this president.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, CHAIR: Well, I think that's exactly right. And we're not safe in a couple key respects. I think both of them highlighted. One, you know, Colin Powell, the threat from outside the country the danger of from an adventurous Russia, the danger from the challenge posed by China. But from Sally Yates, the threat from within, the threat to our democratic institutions, the fact that we cannot rely on this president to do what's right for the country only what's right for himself. I think they highlighted both aspects of why this President is so wrong for America and poses a grave risk. It was a terrible epiphany for me during the course of our investigation, that that threat that Sally Yates spoke to, the threat from within, in fact, is now greater than the threat from without.

WILLIAMS: I just read you the thumbnail description from the New York Times article, Matt Miller, the former spokesman for the Attorney General in the Obama administration, put it I thought more directly in a stronger fashion more succinctly this way. Trump solicited welcomed and benefited from Russian interference. There wasn't sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime. The fact we've let 2, become the excuse to ignore 1, was and is a national failure. And I assume, Mr. Chairman, you concur with that?

SCHIFF: Well, I certainly would, and you know, this was the point that I tried over and over again to make with my Republican colleagues, which is are you really saying that you think this is OK, that the Trump campaign invited Russian health, they made full use of Russian health. They did so as the Senate report today makes clear knowing that it was Russian health, that the Russians had been responsible for the hack that they were responsible for, essentially, the drip, drip, drip leak of these documents through cutouts, and they still eagerly embrace the self.

And in fact, more than that, one of the new findings that's revealed by the Senate report today is that Konstantin Kilimnik the Senate finds was not just someone linked to Russian intelligence, but was a Russian agent himself. This is a partner of the Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman. And so here you have Paul Manafort, the chairman secretly meeting with a Russian intelligence agent, providing that agent internal campaign polling data while that agent's country, Russia, is engaged in a social media campaign to denigrate Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. That is really damning stuff.

It may not have been enough to charge either Trump or his campaign with a crime. But it is certainly unethical, improper, immoral and reprehensible. And we ought to as Mr. Miller points out, be able to distinguish the two.

WILLIAMS: It is not said directly in the report, but in your judgment, did the President lie to the Mueller investigators?

SCHIFF: Well, I don't think there's any question about it. But who can really be surprised by that? It's been a long litany of lies from this president. And of course, we saw more lies when it came to the Ukraine misconduct.

And now that we know so much more about what the President tried to do with you pray and how he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars to try to coerce that country to help him. We can look at the Russia misconduct in a wholly new light. We can see why he was so willing to openly invite Russia to hack his opponents' emails.

We learned from John Bolton that he also sought China's help in his reelection and beg President Xi to help them. So all of this, I think, shed light on the character or rather lack of character of this president. And I think one of the things that makes the convention so powerful is there's such an emphasis from Michelle Obama to Joe Biden, Joe Biden, is someone who speakers on the need for basic decency, appeals for the restoration of basic decency. And I thought Bill Clinton in a way only that he can because he remains one of the great communicators gave us the choice. And he often, you know, frames elections as they should be as choices. Do we want a president who spends his day watching TV all day and tweeting bile? Or do we want a president who is spending his day trying to help the country move forward? I think the choice is pretty clear.

WILLIAMS: Knowing what you know, and this time I'm not talking about 2016. I'm talking about 2020, a little over 70 days from now, how do you commit yourself to shouting from the mountaintops what you know, and worse what you fear about the Russians being players, again, when we go to the polls in some form or fashion?

SCHIFF: Well, Brian, this is exactly what I've been doing and what I pledged to continue to do. We have been urging the intelligence committee to speak to the American people, tell them what we are seeing. I don't have the authority to declassify information, they do.

And finally, we're prevailed on them to issue a statement, which they did about three or four weeks ago, it was completely inadequate. It was so generic as to be meaningless. And of course, we call them out on it as we had to, and they issued a subsequent statement, which acknowledged publicly that which we knew already, which is that the Russians were added again, with the same object this time to denigrate Joe Biden, but once again to elect Donald Trump.

The American people they pay their taxpayer funds that fund these intelligence agencies. The work product belongs to the American people. And when it comes to something as sacred as our elections, I'm going to make sure that our intelligence community is willing to speak plainly to the American people. I'm going to call them out when they don't. I do everything I'm able to do lawfully to make sure that our country is informed of what formed bad actors and then

WILLIAMS: California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of House Intel, thank you very much for joining us our post convention coverage tonight. Another break for our coverage when we come back three veterans of the arena former senator Claire McCaskill, Michael Steele Lawrence O'Donnell, when we continue.



BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead of the storm center is only chaos. Just one thing never changes, his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there.


WILLIAMS: Bill Clinton from his home and Chappaqua, upstate New York more on his appearance later. In the news, the President's hand picked Postmaster General today backed off his plan to make more cuts to the U.S. Postal Service in order to hinder voting by mail. He says changes will now wait until after the 2020 election to quote, avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.

Of course, the worry is if you're ahead of me, the damage is already done. Sorting machines taken apart hauled out all over the country. Mailboxes unbolted from sidewalks taken away on flatbed trucks. Piles of mail inside awaiting delivery.

With us now three of the very best Claire McCaskill, former Democratic senator from the great state of Missouri, Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, former lieutenant governor of Maryland. These days the host of The Michael Steele Podcast, Lawrence O'Donnell, who is, of course, the host of the 10:00 p.m. hour on this network and is a product of the sovereign state of South Boston.

Good evening, and welcome to all of you. I'd like to propose a lightning round let's call it 30 seconds each will go from left to right. So for those following our home game, McCaskill, Steele, O'Donnell, your impressions of night two before we get into specific subjects, Senator.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO) FMR. U.S. SENATOR: I thought it was terrific. I love the roll call. I thought I was going to hate it. And I love, love, loved it. I love seeing all the states and all of the diversity. And I thought Joe Biden was just terrific. We got a real sense of the Biden family tonight.

WILLIAMS: Michael.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: Yes, I want to echo that. I thought this was the first time the country actually got to witness a nomination from the country, which I thought was very impactful. You got to see parts of the world of this of this wonderful world of ours here in America that most people don't get to see. So, kudos for execution on that. And again, to the Senator's point. The Biden story is such a powerful, impactful story. It married well with the images of the country.

WILLIAMS: Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, "THE LAST WORD": Brian, I've been through, I guess, 14 of these that I've attended in the hall, Democrat and Republican seven each. This is by far for me the best one yet, not just because it's the most comfortable one for all of us. But it's showing us what the economical version of this could be. We've always hung around these things and not bothered to listen to most of the speakers because there's one too many. That roll call the state's I thought was amazing. I agree with Senator McCaskill. I thought it was going to be terrible. I thought, OK, this is one I'll take a break. I couldn't turn away. And I hope these changes are all permanent.

WILLIAMS: Now Senator McCaskill to the legislative body, you once belonged to Senate Intel, the report is rather devastating. It is also voluminous and a lot of people aren't all the way through the 1,000 pages. Are you surprised it got the Republican buy in that it did? Now that we know what it says?

MCCASKILL: Yes, in fact, I think that's the headline. And by the way, if this report had been issued in isolation, under any president, it would blow the lid off. The fact that it's not blowing the lid off gives everybody some indication of how bad this presidency is.

But think about the buy in on this report, especially when you realize what's in it. Tom Cotton, John Cornyn, Ben Sasse. These are the senators that agreed with this report. Now they put a little PS at the end, because they had to send Trump a love letter and say no Russian collusion. But the facts in this report are devastating, and the Republicans agreed with them.

WILLIAMS: Lawrence, I'm going to skip over to you because you're a former staff guy in the U.S. Senate and again, quoting from Matt Miller, Trump solicited welcomed and benefited from Russian interference to Claire's point, she named just some of the names with a lot to lose in terms of getting tweeted about, but still,.

O'DONNELL: Yes, it's the kind of thing you'd get impeached for in a previous world for example. It's really stunning and it also by the way shows some of the failures of the Mueller investigation, it points to perjury in the Mueller investigation on the part of witness Donald Trump in writing. It was the way he gave his answers to the Mueller investigation and it -- but -- it's also one of those things that's coming so close to the election, that it can't have the impact it would have had an another calendar year because everyone's emotional momentum is for election night. And the change that this report calls for is available on election night to voters. And so that's part of why it's probably not going to get the kind of attention it should.

WILLIAMS: Michael Steele, I didn't leave you out. I got something for you. Here's one of your favorite guys. Donald Trump will discuss on the other side.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absentee is great. But universal is going to be a disaster the likes of which our country has never seen. It'll end up being a rigged election or they will never come out with an outcome. They'll have to do it again. Nobody wants that and I don't want that.


WILLIAMS: Michael he's going to go after the U.S. mail and mailing in ballots from now until the election where the post office is concerned. Could it be that he ran into an American constant and that is, we like the post office, we grew up with the post office.

STEELE: Yes, 91 percent approval among the American people who use it services every day who now find themselves without the medicine, without the paychecks that would normally come to them, certainly those who are in government assistance. So this is having a real impact on a significant portion of the American population. Republicans internally back channel to the White House, you got to get off of this point. They were not going to stand in the way of hauling the Postmaster General in front of the Senate or the House. So the President saw the writing on the wall.

But here's the rub, folks. This is the just the tip of the crazy to come. This is just the tip of what Donald Trump is going to be doing. He's laying down the predicate, every time he opens his mouth. He is not going to accept the outcome of this election unless he is declared the winner. Period, full stop. Don't even try to get over it deal with that, because that's the point we've got to stick with.

Now when you get to the Postal Service's they've decided to call off their dogs. Put the mailboxes back we got them from so grandma can get her postage mailed, put the super high performing machines back in the post offices so they can process the mail. That's the next step that we got to oversight to make sure that we the people see this part of getting done but don't think don't start tripping over the fact that you know, this, OK, we're done with the postal stuff and Donald Trump is going to hurry on and on about the election.

This goal here is to declare this election of fraud, he's setting it up, just be prepared to do with it.

WILLIAMS: Claire, let's borrow the name of Lawrence's broadcast and give you the last word. Postal Service for their part says, look, we move a billion Christmas cards every holiday season. We don't even break a sweat at the thought of all these ballots. But speaking of pernicious, the president now, as you heard getting out into the water, the possibility of a do over.

MCCASKILL: Yes. And he keeps saying this universal bailing out of ballots. Very few states have that. I mean, in my state, you have to request a ballot, even though you can mail one in this year, even if you're not -- if you don't have an excuse, because of COVID. You still has to request it. So it's just like an absentee ballot. It's that way in most states.

He's making up that there's this universal mailing imbalance and what, you know, we got to keep pushing back. And frankly, that's why I think they keep saying over and over again in the convention that you've got to make a plan to vote, because if it's close on election night, then we really will be in for a roller coaster ride.

WILLIAMS: Claire McCaskill, the great State of Missouri, Michael Steele, great State of Maryland, Lawrence O'Donnell, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thank you gang for being with us on convention night, too. We appreciate it greatly.

It was probably interesting for our next guests, guests to watch this moment, as it played out on live TV tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you to all our delegations, I'm pleased to announce that Vice President Joe Biden has officially been nominated by the Democratic Party as our candidate for president of the United States.


WILLIAMS: OK, so it was in a school library of less than maybe a dozen balloons limited confetti, but that was the moment my next guest had been hoping to hear for himself with a different name attached perhaps. Yes since ending his own campaign March 1, two days before Super Tuesday, he has been out there helping Joe Biden secure the nomination.

Joining us tonight indeed former South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Mayor, what did you make of night to and what would you say to now the nominee of your party?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, I congratulate him of course, and I'm thrilled tonight went well. We're continuing to really break new ground in uncharted territory, running a convention in a way that's just not been done before.

I was also wearing the hat of a delegate today. I'm a delegate from Indiana and proud to cast and to do the honors on behalf of Indiana, casting our votes to help make your -- by the nominee you know, this is the moment obviously that all of the campaigning has built up to and now we're unified party.

I think we see that across the last two days with Democrats from every corner of our big 10. Independents, Republicans, even from the Bush administration officials speaking tonight to the Republicans who spoke last night, sending the message that we are unified as Democrats, but also that you don't have to be a die hard Democrat, to know that we need change in this country, to know that we can have four more years of this kind of chaos and division and to come together behind the Biden-Harris team.

WILLIAMS: Let's talk about something you had to deal with as a candidate every day and that's the balance in your own party between the forces and you know who they are on the let's call it far left, and the center left some days it appears to be to complete political parties. If they're successful after four nights of this, it will look more likely one. How are they doing thus far balancing those competing interests?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think it's extraordinary. Look, nobody's pretending that we all agree on everything. But, you know, compared to where we've been in the past as a party. I think we're showing that we not only are unified, knowing what it is we're against, but also unified in terms of what were for.

To your Republican speak about Joe Biden's leadership the same night that Bernie Sanders talks about how authentically progressive President Joe Biden will be, and really reflects the direction that we're moving in as a country. And part of it's also just meeting the moment.

You know, a lot of these ideological debates that were so big six or nine months ago, most of those battle lines are going to fade away in the face of reality, in the same way that FDR was a very pragmatic and you could say pragmatist president also wound up enacting some of the boldest measures ever seen from a president because he had to because that was what it took to solve the problem. We're going to see a lot of that in the coming years too. And we're unified around that that necessity.

WILLIAMS: Final question about the damage the President is doing to the legitimacy of the election. You heard, perhaps in the previous segment, that today he's floating out just the possibility of a do over using the big microphone that comes with the presidency.

You know, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln fully expected to lose reelection and still insisted that it take place on time as scheduled, and that everybody abide by the results. When President Trump talks like this, it's not only embarrassing to him in his party, it's not only bad for America, it's bad for democracy itself.

We as Americans, there's nothing more fundamental to what it is to be an American than our belief in democracy and this erosion Democratic values. Look, we shouldn't be surprised. It's part of what we've seen again and again from this president. But it's yet another reason why you shouldn't have to be a lifelong Democrat, to know that this is unacceptable and to insist on something different and better.

This is our one shot. This is our only chance to change the direction of this country before it's too late. And a vote for Joe Biden isn't just a vote for a Democratic candidate. In this case, it is a vote for believing in democracy itself.

WILLIAMS: Pete Buttigieg, Democratic National Convention delegate tonight, thank you very much for making time for us and having us in. We greatly appreciate it.

Coming up for she has compared this Zoom meeting convention to the Democrats offering up a fireside chat in a way that just might make her an optimist during a pandemic. Forgive me. We'll hear from the great historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin. When we continue.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new generation of leaders is rising up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And with Joe Biden in the White House, there's no limit to what we can do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He understands that leadership means fighting for the people who built this country. All of you.


WILLIAMS: If you watched you know, that's kind of the way it went the future of the Democratic Party tonight to kick off night two of this convention. With us to talk about all of it, Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian and author. She has written bestsellers about both Roosevelt's, Kennedy's LBJ, Lincoln, for starters, her latest is "Leadership in Turbulent Times," which should be required reading during these turbulent times.

Doris, I was thinking tonight of the only parallel which is the front porch campaigns of the late 1800s. At least people showed up to those this really has no direct historic parallel in terms of conventions, but I know you're a theater Is it has delivered its own intimacy, so make your case.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think in some ways what tonight was, was a long conversation that people could in their living rooms feel that the Biden's were talking to them. And then all the people that were talking about them were in what FDR had to do was to just stand or sit in front of a microphone and project in a certain way to people in their living rooms.

So this is a great story about a construction worker hurrying home one night, and his partner said, where you going, he said, my president's coming to speak to me in my living room tonight. It's only right I be there to greet him when he comes. That was the challenge of a virtual convention.

And I think when you think about what happened tonight, it's what Teddy Roosevelt said, what a leader is, is someone who's like a good neighbor or a trustworthy friend, someone who can keep his word and never make a promise that he won't keep.

When you think about that healthcare segment tonight, instead of it being rhetoric, it was stories, stories from any individual people who talked about the promise that he had made to keep healthcare given what had happened in his family, given what it meant to his children and his wife.

We introduced Joe Biden tonight as a human being, as a leader with empathy, as -- I mean, we knew him before, but somehow you're seeing him differently. And certainly we introduced Joe Biden tonight the Democratic Party did, and the country was introduced to them in the same way that I think FDR introduced himself, his fellow, my fellows, he would start out my friends when he began those fireside chats.

WILLIAMS: I have to ask you about another point in history that came up today. We're of course marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. President flying back from a campaign event yesterday, came to the media in the back of the plane mentioned a very prominent pardon he was going to issue today, news media doing what the news media do, figured it was a Paul Manafort type, it turns out to be Susan B. Anthony and Doris tell the folks watching why it proved to be a controversial choice given history.

GOODWIN: Well, in some ways it did prove to be a controversial question. But I'll make an opposite argument. I think anything that reminds us of an important event and the struggle to get that right to vote is a good thing to do, despite the fact that he was maybe using it for himself in a very different way.

I mean, think about the fact that Susan B. Anthony was indeed arrested and issued a fine because she wanted to vote in 1872. The whole women's movement had to do with trying to find that vote. And one of the key moments in the women's struggle was in 1914, 1915. The wars happened and they are picketing. The women are picketing the White House. And day after day they're there and Wilson's against the idea of the president is giving them the right of suffrage.

So finally, the women -- they're really getting more militant, and they get arrested for obstructing traffic. They get fined. They don't accept the fine they go to jail. And while they're in jail, they are force fed because they're on a hunger strike that just created empathy for the movement. And then finally Wilson realizes, oh my god, these women are also working in the war. There's millions of them. And he finally has to go before Congress and say, I realized that they are fighting for us. They're ambulance drivers. They're in manufacturing. They're in the agricultural plants. They're overseas as telephone operators. They're our partners in war. They must be our partners in write a finally comes out for it. So it's a good thing to celebrate these anniversaries a very good thing.

WILLIAMS: I know it dawns on you all the time that our history is so short and so narrow by comparison to the rest of the world I think of my own late mother was born into a country where voting for her or her mother or sister was not a birthright and it became a birthright when she was a little girl.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, thanks for hanging out with us. Thank you for taking our questions and summing up the day in your own style as you did. Coming up for us after another break more of our special coverage of night two have this Democratic National Convention when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



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