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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, August 26, 2020

Guest: Claire McCaskill


Vice President Mike Pence joined other speakers in the third night of the RNC Convention suggesting Trump is the only thing standing between good, peaceable citizens and violent mobs, rampant abortion and the end of America as we know it. Pence claims the U.S. is on track to have a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year. Hurricane Laura has grown to become a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches the United States. Protests continue in Kenosha, Wisconsin over Jacob Blake shooting. The Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly boycotting Game 5 of their first-round playoff series to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake.



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, we're passing through a time of testing, but, soon, we will come to a time for choosing.

Joe Biden has referred to himself as a transition candidate. And many were asking, transition to what? But, last week, Democrats didn't talk very much about their agenda. And if I were them, I wouldn't either.


PENCE: I mean, Bernie Sanders did tell his followers that Joe Biden would be the most liberal president in modern times. In fact, he said -- and I quote -- that many of the ideas he fought for that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream in the Democratic Party.

At the root of their agenda is the belief that America is driven by envy, not aspiration, that millions of Americans harbor ill will toward our neighbors, instead of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

The radical left believes that the federal government must be involved in every aspect of our lives to correct those American wrongs. They believe the federal government needs to dictate how Americans live, how we should work, how we should raise our children, and, in the process, deprive our people of freedom, prosperity and security.

Their agenda is based on government control. Our agenda is based on freedom.


PENCE: Where President Trump cut taxes, Joe Biden wants to raise taxes by nearly $4 trillion.

Where this president achieved energy independence for the United States, Joe Biden would abolish fossil fuels, end fracking, and impose a regime of climate change regulations that would drastically increase the cost of living for working families.

Where we fought for free and fair trade, and this president stood up to China and ended the era of economic surrender, Joe Biden has been a cheerleader for communist China. He wants to repeal all the tariffs that are leveling the playing field for American workers.

And he actually criticized President Trump for suspending all travel to China at the outset of this pandemic.

Joe Biden is for open borders, sanctuary cities, free lawyers and health care for illegal immigrants. And President Trump, he secured our border and built nearly 300 miles of that border wall.


PENCE: Joe Biden wants to end school choice. And President Trump believes that every parent should have the right to choose where their children go to school, regardless of their income or area code.


PENCE: President Trump -- President Trump has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life every day of this administration.

Joe Biden, he supports taxpayer funding of abortion, right up to the moment of birth.

When you consider their agenda, it's clear. Joe Biden would be nothing more than a Trojan horse for the radical left. The choice in this election has never been clearer, and the stakes have never been higher.

Last week, Joe Biden said, democracy is on the ballot. And the truth is, our economic recovery is on the ballot. Law and order are on the ballot. But so are things far more fundamental and foundational to our country.

In this election, it's not so much whether America will be more conservative or more liberal, more Republican or more Democrat.

The choice in this election is whether America remains America. It's whether we will leave to our children and our grandchildren a country grounded in our highest ideals of freedom, free markets, and the unalienable right to life and liberty, or whether we will leave them a country that is fundamentally transformed into something else.

We stand at a crossroads now. President Trump has set our nation on a path of freedom and opportunity. Joe Biden would set America on a path of socialism and decline. But we're not going to let it happen.


President Donald Trump believes in America and in the goodness of the American people, the boundless potential of every American to live out their dreams in freedom. And every day President Trump has been fighting to protect the promise of America. Every day our president has been fighting to expand the reach of the American dream. Every day President Donald Trump has been fighting for you. And now it's our turn to fight for him.


On this night in the company of heroes, I'm deeply grateful. Deeply grateful for the privilege of serving as vice president of this great nation and to have the opportunity to serve again. I pray to be worthy of it. And I will give that duty all that's in me.

In the year 2020, the American people have had more than our share of challenges. But, thankfully, we have a president with the toughness, energy, and resolve to see us through. Now, those traits actually run in our national character. As the invading force learned on approach to this fort, in September of 1814, against fierce and sustained bombardment, our young country was defended by heroes, not so different from those who are with us tonight.

The enemy was counting on them to quit, but they never did. Fort McHenry held. And when morning came, our flag was still here.


My fellow Americans, we're going through a time of testing. But if you look through the fog of these challenging times, you will see our flag is still there today.


That star-spangled banner still waves over the land of the free and the home of the brave.


From these hallowed grounds, American patriots in generations gone by did their part to defend freedom. Now it's our turn. So let's run the race marked out for us. Let's fix our eyes on old glory and all she represents. Let's fix our eyes on this land of heroes and let their courage inspire. And let's fix our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith and our freedom. And never forget that where the spirit of the lord is, there's freedom. That means freedom always wins.


My fellow Americans, thank you for the honor of addressing you tonight, and the opportunity to run and serve again as your vice president. I leave here today inspired. And I leave here today more convinced than ever that we will do in our time as Americans have done throughout our long and storied past, we will defend our freedom and our way of life.

We will re-elect our president and principled Republican leaders across the land. And with President Donald Trump in the White House for four more years, and with God's help, we will make America great again, again.


Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.




BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Brian Williams here with you 10 minutes after the hour of 11 here on the East Coast. Vice President Mike Pence, his boss, the President in attendance tonight closing out the third night of the Republican Convention from Fort McHenry in Maryland.

To all of you, good evening once again. We are covering a lot tonight from the RNC to the police shooting and subsequent violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin that itself has turned fatal.

Tonight its repercussions are being felled in the world of sports as well. As we watch the President and First Lady come through the tunnel to join the Vice President and his wife.

Let's not forget we have an urgent matter as well on the Gulf Coast tonight. We're a category four hurricane. Powerful enough to redraw the map of the U.S. coastline is just two to three hours away from landfall.

As we watch all this in Fort McHenry we'll bring into the conversation our friends in New York anchoring our coverage watching it all tonight, Rachel Maddow, Nicole Wallace, and Joy Reid.

Rachel, I'll let you guys mix it up. We have heard from none tonight. We heard from Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame Coach who questioned Joe Biden's religion. We have heard from Mike Pence, "We will have law and order on the streets of this country." And, "You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America." I leave it over to you.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Well, Brian, I have to say this felt like a long night from the Republican National Convention in part because a lot of the speeches are fairly long, including Mike Pences. And while that wouldn't usually matter to me that much, they did go out of their way to showcase the fact that this is an event with an audience. And our reporting suggests that there was not universal testing of everybody who was invited to this event. And to have so many elderly veterans or otherwise elderly people in this audience not sitting socially distance, the vast majority of them not wearing any masks for this to go on for a very long time, including a lot of chanting and shouting. I just -- it's a -- you, I feel concerned for what's happening here, especially after what happened at the Tulsa rally and at other Trump events when they have done -- gone out of their way to try to portray, to try to show a visual image of a world and a country that's gotten past the COVID threat when we really haven't. I know politically why they want to do that. But this is potentially a dangerous situation, even an outdoor setting for all of these elderly veterans.

Tonight it's also -- it's particularly striking against the backdrop of Mike Pence who led the Coronavirus Task Force maybe still does if it still exists, talking about how the untold number of American lives were saved by President Trump's actions.

Well, there's over 180,000 Americans dead, and maybe you feel good about that number. Maybe you feel like that's success, but over 180,000 American families have been destroyed by the loss of a loved one. And all they're talking about with COVID is how it's over and how they did great. And by the way, implicitly, there's no reason for anybody here to be distanced or wearing a mask or to have been tested. For this to come on the day that we learned that the new CDC guidelines that just came out that said, you don't have to get tested if you've been exposed to somebody who's positive. We learned that those guidelines were not actually devised by the CDC. They were from the Trump administration and imposed on the CDC. It's just -- it's unnerving. It's unnerving at a health level. I feel like we're watching chronicles of a death foretold here. Yup.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "THE REIDOUT": Well, you know, it's wild because I mean, debate on what Rachel said, Mike Pence stood up and he said he's speaking as if the coronavirus is over, right?


REID: And, you know, the -- here's the success. You know, banning people from traveling China brought us a time to launch the greatest national mobilization since World War II. President Trump Marshal the full resources of the federal government and directed us to forge seamless partnerships with governors across America in both parties. That's the opposite of true. I mean, they're literally -- and that's been the difficulty of watching this over the last three days. They are creating a separate a new reality. That is the complete opposite of reality and just saying it with a straight face in droning fashion into the camera. And it's scary the thing that they really do believe that they're -- and they probably are, tens of billions people that will just accept that reality.

But meanwhile, as Rachel just said, the actual humans standing in front of them or sitting in front of them applauding are in danger of dying from COVID now. And they don't care. It's bizarre.

And one last thing not to sound like a broken record as I mentioned last night, I am a bit. I can't get over this misuse of the resources that don't belong to them. Mike Pence here at Fort McHenry, which you can't visit, I can't visit. Nicole and Rachel can't visit. We can't bring our families there. They only open it for their personal use for a political event. It's just wrong. It's wrong.

NICOLE WALLACE, MSBBC HOST, "DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE": I mean, they're in a grift. I mean, what strikes me, Brian, is that we've covered the Washington Post lie tracker, it's up to -- I don't know 22,000 23,000 lies. There's a reason they told all those lies so that when we heard them say sentences like this tonight, the hard truth is you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America. And President Trump will stand with those who stand on the same blue line and we're not going to defund the police, not now not ever.

So Pence basically announcing he joins Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in being against defunding the police. But they told 22,000 lies before that so that people like us say, oh, that was a lie. The Trump base has heard lie, lie, lie so many times that they're like, oh, lie is mine (ph).

And then another one, here from Mike Pence, and just interesting that he's in on it. Because before he was, you know, in a buddy movie with Donald Trump, he was a normal ish Republican, never would have been a nominee or a national figure. I don't think in his own right. But he said yes, as they say.

This is also from Pence speech. "Joe Biden has referred to himself as a transition candidate. Many are asking your transition to what? Last week, Democrats didn't talk about their agenda."

Well, this is a convention or convention like event without a platform. It literally is devoid of an agenda as a strategy. It doesn't have one because the platform was really ripped up, burned down. And it just says we're enthusiastically for Donald Trump. So, you know, the 22,000 lies make a lot more sense because when they lie about big stuff in the context of an election that's 68 days away. All the Trump base hears is people like us saying, you know, why meter add to?

WILLIAMS: To my friends who I've been watching all night, we get one more night to do this. Tomorrow evening, bright eyed and bushy tailed to Rachel, Nicole and Joy, our thanks. We will take this next leg.

And as we begin this special two hour edition of THE 11TH HOUR as I mentioned, we are tracking several major stories on what was day 1,315 of this administration, 69 days to go until our presidential election.

Much more ahead on politics and on the situation in Kenosha, Wisconsin, all of it ahead, in fact, but we want to begin with crisis tonight along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Hurricane Laura, closing in fast, something like the Texas, Louisiana border though it looks like a more easterly track than predictions earlier today. It is a monster. It's a massive category four storm, winds of 150 at the core.

All day forecasters have been warning of catastrophic damage from an unsurvivable storm surge. A word we don't hear often in weather forecasting, but it could reach up to 40 miles inland.

Our meteorologist, Bill Karins is with us to talk about the newest advisory from the National Hurricane Center at the top of the hour. Hey Bill.

BILL KARINS, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST: Brian, the storm is now moving on shore. We're watching that northern eye only about 20 miles off the coast right now. We have numerous bands that are moving on shore with tornado warnings. The storm surge is coming up so all the ingredients that you'd expect with a category four mayor hurricane that almost made it to a category five is about to happen.

So the power outages will begin as those strong winds move inland and it's going to be a very difficult night for anyone that stayed behind in Southwest Louisiana.

So here's the update from the Hurricane Center, 150 mile per hour winds. It looks like it's still over warm water about only for another two to three hours before landfall. So it doesn't look like it's going to make it to a category five. But wow, what a show it put on in the last 24 hours. Rapid intensification, one of the strongest we've ever seen in the Gulf of Mexico.

So we bring it on shore. Landfall inspected about three hours from now. And look at this, even tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. a 110 mile per hour winds all the way parallel between Lufkin and Alexandria right along the Texas Louisiana border.

We are going to see power outages and tree damage that will be in the extreme category as far as 100 miles inland. So this isn't just a problem for, you know, the Lake Charles area, I mean, far inland even up towards Shreveport tomorrow evening, we could have significant power outages from the storm.

And then the Hurricane Center does finally weaken it to about 60 miles per hour over Little Rock. And then the wind damage portion will be done and we'll have to deal with some flooding as far as rainfall.

But the biggest thing in the life threatening portion of the storm is beginning and that's when the storm surge. You notice anywhere to the right of the landfall. So we're talking that pink section in there, that's where it's extreme. It's very rare to get a 20 foot potential storm surge. The worst on record was Katrina that had 28 foot storm surge. Camille was in the 20s. Ike was in the 20s. Rita was around 15 to about 18. This storm has a potential to be up there on the list of those historic all time storms. And when this is all finished and set and done, you know this could easily be a multi billion dollar weather disaster. It from Louisiana northwards and potentially through some sections of Arkansas and you can see where that -- the position there is of the landfall almost right over the top of Cameron Parish.

Lake Charles, by the way, it goes and then -- is fed by a river that goes to a lake it goes to the gulf. The waters can go all the way up through that chain. And we're expecting that storm surge tomorrow morning to be 15 foot in Lake Charles. Their record is 13 feet in the city half of it floods at 13 feet. So you get the idea of just, you know, how dire the prediction is for Lake Charles.

Here's the current wind gusts notice Lake Charles, now with a gust of 55 miles per hour. So we're really starting to get sporty. When you start to get the wind gusts in the 50 to 60 mile per hour range, that's when we start getting the power outages.

This is that northern eye in that when it moves on shore, that's going to be like the equivalent of like an EF2 tornado with winds of 130 miles per hour.

Brian, shortly, we'll have what we call an extreme wind warning issued for this eye when it moves on shore. That's something new. They started doing in the last couple of years. It's, you know, the equivalent of they know there's a huge tornado on the ground. And that's going to make a 30 mile squat, inland progress all the way through Lake Charles and into areas of Southwest Louisiana.

So our thoughts and prayers with everyone as they ride out the storm, hopefully a lot of people evacuated and, you know, and they're probably nervous about what they're going to go home and see. And if, you know, if it's a typical category four it's not going to be pretty.

WILLIAMS: And Bill using time I don't have. I have to ask you about one tiny community in particular, Holly Beach, just to the south of Mud Lake. I have visited there. It is beautiful. It's lightheartedly called the Cajun Riviera. It was wiped off the earth after Rita. It's been rebuilt largely on stilts. And this is passing pretty much right over their heads.

KARINS: How cruel, Brian, I mean, it's OK, so you're talking about a spot that's located right here on the map, right next to Cameron, where they're expecting wind gust possible of 127 miles per hour. So that's bad enough, but that's where the 15 to 20 foot storm surge will be. And then you have another 10 to 15 foot of wave action on top of that. So even if your house is 15 foot stills in the waters in the first level of your house and then the wave action on top of it, Brian, I'd be surprised if there's anything left in Holly Beach once again. Sadly for those people, you know, 15 years ago it was destroyed and now they're going to face rebuilding again. Do they bother, should they? I mean, horrible.

WILLIAMS: Well, it's why we're thinking about them tonight. Bill Karins I can't thank you enough for the latest update.

Coming up for us, as we approach a break, Ali Velshi will join us from Beaumont, Texas with an update of what it's like there. They're going to get all the storm. They can handle tonight.

And later, we'll have much more on both the RNC and the continuing story out of Kenosha, Wisconsin, as this special edition of THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway. All two hours of it on this busy Wednesday night.


WILLIAMS: Back to the big story and the only timing that matters along the Gulf Coast tonight this very dangerous hurricane Laura, we think about two hours and change away from making landfall. You see there right over the top of Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

This is a large category four hurricane force winds extend about 60 miles out from the center of that very large eye. Tropical storm force winds stretch for about 205 miles all around.

The images of Laura that we have to show you were captured by the GOES-East satellite run by the Federal Government early today. And crucially some of them as the sunset there and you see, it only highlights the size of the eye of this storm which is larger than the State of Louisiana.

Correspondent Ali Velshi watching conditions deteriorate tonight, in Beaumont, Texas. And Ali, you're in for that strange occurrence when the left side eye wall has cleared you, you're going to be getting winds out of the north, which is kind of hard to process.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, "VELSHI": Yeah, and so this is going to be really interesting because this track of the storm is just a smidge to the east of us. We're getting the counterclockwise effect. And that might actually be a saving grace for Beaumont, because we're going to get those winds from the north, which are going to push the waters out to the Gulf of Mexico, which are about 30 miles, which is about 30 miles south of here.

If we were a little more central to the storm, or to the right of it, we'd have the opposite problem and Beaumont, Texas familiar with that. They talk a lot about Rita, which dumped a lot of rain and seeped into the ground and loosened trees and then the wind came over and just toppled all those trees, a massive percentage of the trees in Beaumont.

Then they talk a lot about Hurricane Harvey, which of course flooded this entire place. And then Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019, only about three feet of water, but it flooded a lot of stuff around here. So folks are very, very concerned both about the flooding and over the years, Brian, since Katrina, we really start to do appreciate the detrimental effects of flooding. We used to think of hurricanes really as wind storms, but realize that most of the deaths and most of the destruction come from flooding.

We're back into a place, a category four storm with 150 mile per hour winds are going to be pretty devastating even if the flooding is not extreme. So here in Beaumont, we're worried about the wind. We do seem to be avoiding the worst of it because we're on the North West portion of the storm. We're probably about three hours two and a half hours away from seeing the heaviest winds here. But as you can see the rain and the winds have just started.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, you're going to -- as I said, you're probably going to get all the storm you want in Beaumont tonight.


WILLIAMS: Ali Velshi, our live report from there. Stay safe, of course.

Coming up for us, more on the other breaking stories we have for you tonight, our next guest, Claire McCaskill, Lawrence O'Donnell, Michael Steele, all three standing by to talk to us when we come back after a break.



WILLIAMS: A line for the RNC taking place against the backdrop let's not forget of what is now a third night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the shooting of yet another black man by a white police officer. Jacob Blake shot in the back seven times point blank range Sunday evening. His children were in the car. The shooting was captured on video quickly and widely circulated on social media.

Blake survived, but he is paralyzed from the waist down. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said today Blake admitted he had a knife in his vehicle between the floor board and the floor mat apparently but was not armed on his person. No charges have been filed against the officer responsible though we learned who he is today.

The president has not addressed this shooting directly except to say he was sending federal agents and the National Guard to Wisconsin. The governor of Wisconsin later made clear he had already called out the National Guard because it's governors who call out the National Guard. In a stunning move today the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for game five of the NBA Playoffs in protest. All other playoff games tonight also postponed. Big night in the world of sports because of this.

Let's talk about it with our guests Claire McCaskill former Democratic senator from the great state of Missouri, Lawrence O'Donnell, the host of the 10:00 p.m. Eastern hour week nights on this network, and Michael Steele former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former lieutenant governor of the great State of Maryland, these days the host of the Michael Steele Podcast. Good evening and welcome to you all.

Claire, what would you have assumed about the extent of the upset, the tumult, and the unrest in our country tonight had you solely watched the republican national convention?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO) FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Well, I don't think you would have really even understood all of the things that are going on in our country right now. All of these speeches were taped with the exception of Pence's. Every single one of them.

And while last night I was angry, you know, tonight I found myself just feeling flat worn out by this festival of lies. Although I will admit my blood pressure went up when Pence started talking about law and order with two campaign banners spread out over a national monument, which of course is illegal.

But it is hard to listen to speaker after speaker tell lie after lie after lie and not just want to throw up your hands in disgust and just give up on these guys. It is unbelievable how many lies were told, from the president protecting pre-existing conditions to that he's brought the troops home, to the fact that Angela Merkel respects him, I mean, all of them told just blatant lies.

WILLIAMS: Michael Steele, did the RNC miss a moment and forgive the snowflaky, upbeat nature of the question, or is it just not on brand to have, plan, and deliver a moment on what's happening in the streets and in professional sports tonight?

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: No, because that's not their audience. That is not part of the ongoing narrative, because what's happening on our streets tonight, why the NBA is suspending its playoff games, is not part of their story. Because, in fact, it is happening because of the lack of response, the lack of interest or concern.

And so to Claire's point, to elevate that at this stage after all that we've seen and heard, you know, it's disingenuous. So let's not pretend. And so they didn't. And so I think a lot of the takeaway from what you heard tonight was, again, they see two different Americas. And I guess a little bit in response to Claire's point, Claire, they really don't want to do anything more than just focus on these two visions of America.

And to make it very clear, they want you to get exhausted. They don't want you -- they just want you to be worn out. This is a war of attrition and deluge. They want you to flip out over what they're doing to our national monuments and how they're staging the white house grounds, because that is energy -- by the time you get into the game you're tired and you're accepting of so much more that is going to come.

So I say, buckle up and strap in, and get ready for the fight ahead because this is all the warm up. Wait until you get into the debate ring. Wait till you get within about three weeks of the election. There's a whole lot -- a lot more that's coming here, so this contrast of the two Americas ironically the one he's talking about is the one he created. So that is -- but you're not supposed to know. You're supposed to think about that. And for all of those folks out there that are with him, that works.

WILLIAMS: I take your preview and your warning and I think you are probably right. Lawrence O'Donnell interesting conversation tonight on social media by a gentleman, a veteran, who believes we have become too militarized generally as a society all camoed up and to no one's surprise we've had two basically endless generation long wars in this country.

A lot of people believe that they're not fully dressed until they've accessorized with an AR. Last night following this convention that featured a speaker in the news for brandishing an AR in front of his home in St. Louis, last night a young and apparently troubled 17-year-old grabbed his AR to go to Kenosha. He is now charged with two murders.

Tonight here is what I want to play you from Fox News, Tucker Carlson took on this topic.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: People in charge from the governor of Wisconsin on down refused to enforce the law. They stood back and they watched Kenosha burn. So really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?


WILLIAMS: Lawrence O'Donnell, your thoughts?

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, "THE LAST WORD": Well, that is Rupert Murdoch financing vigilanteism, a conscious business decision made by Rupert Murdoch and his son that this is what they want to tell America. Of course there was a very big police presence out there when that 17-year-old went out there. In fact, the 17-year-old was given a water bottle by police. Some of whom considered it to be helpful to have these vigilantes out there in the streets doing this.

It does seem as we sit here tonight like an inevitable outgrowth of what's been happening with Trump rhetoric, with the concept of open carry, and bring my rifle to every public demonstration. And there you see him. There you see this 17-year-old just firing away right there. I'm supposed to talk over this as if it's a normal piece of video to run under cable news dialogue. A kid. A misguided kid who is shooting other people with the active encouragement of the Fox propaganda channel.

WILLIAMS: Claire, it is a leadership challenge right now. When you just take a 6-inch step back, look at our pandemic, 180,000 souls lost and climbing. We have, let's not forget a category 4 hurricane that is going to be making landfall probably within the next two hours of this conversation, and we have this, and a situation that is also enveloping the world of sports all from the once modest, quiet streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

MCCASKILL: Yes, this would be a challenging time for a competent president. It is a brutal time for an incompetent president, which is what we have right now. What the president will do tomorrow is what he always does. He will look at the overnight ratings numbers, he will watch Fox News and tweet what he thinks makes him look good. He will say a bunch of lies and all of his synchophants will repeat them, which by the way, most of the agenda tonight were employees and family.

And they will repeat what he says and we will not have the kind of leadership that could unite this country around a series of crises whether it is the wildfires or the hurricane or the pandemic or the racial strife that is breaking out in our streets. There is nobody home. There is nobody home to help.

And it is a sad, sad state of affairs that this president finds himself at a moment when we need leadership and he is just incapable of being that president. As Michelle Obama said last week, he just is not up to the job.

WILLIAMS: Lawrence, Claire, last night at this hour on live television basically challenged reporters to do their jobs and look into the back story of the naturalization ceremony we saw as part of the telecast of the convention to call those new citizens a highly curated bunch would be an under statement. Sure enough the (INAUDIBLE) party and Mike Bender over at "The Wall Street Journal" report that two of the women did not know they would be appearing in an event with a political target and they were -- they had not given their consent.

O'DONNELL: Yes, and they were given the oath by a person who does not actually occupy the job that he claims to have, that Donald Trump claims to have. The so-called acting secretary of Homeland Security has been determined to be fraudulently positioned there and may have absolutely no legal authority to have admitted that oath, they would do well to get themselves to a federal judge which where these are normally done and maybe get that oath taken again just to be sure.

But it was obviously a disgraceful use of government facilities, first of all, and then the disgraceful use of government personnel on the job in a convention setting. And let's remember the lie told last night by the White House personnel about why this president had to be at the White House. They said, we don't want to move him, you know, because it is so difficult in the age of COVID to move him around to different places. It takes a lot of people. Of course he has gone and done these rallies.

And then who walks out there tonight? Who walks out there at Fort McHenry tonight at the end of it all? Donald Trump, the person who they said they didn't want to move around last night so we have to keep him at the White House because it's easier.

So everything they're saying about the way they're violating these laws is a lie. They violated the laws last night. They violated the laws again tonight. Kellyanne Conway who has violated the Hatch Act more than anyone in history went out there and violated the Hatch Act again tonight on television, preceded by the White House press secretary who went out there and told lies about what Donald Trump has done to health care in America when all he has done is try relentlessly to take it away from people and especially people with pre-existing conditions.

She just went out there to lie about that while violating the Hatch Act on television. And as long as they continue to go out there and literally violate the law by appearing at this thing, we shouldn't be letting it go without comment. It was Claire's turn last night. And I'm sorry but I have to u my time for it tonight.

WILLIAMS: Michael Steele, let's talk about activism in sports. Happens to be the very day anniversary of Kaepernick taking a knee. You and I are old enough to remember Cassius Clay before he became Muhammad Ali. You and I are old enough to remember the Mexico City Olympics. Mike Tirico on this network earlier tonight said today was the biggest act of its kind in the world of sports. My question to you is today the start of something all together new?

STEELE: That is a good question, and I think that is one of those to be determined answers because we're not really sure. We want to get some feedback maybe tomorrow from the players meetings tonight, the NBA players meetings tonight when they canceled the games. All the players in the bubble decided to have a conversation.

And my hope as part of that conversation, that if they decided that they're going to not to play out the rest of the playoffs, fine. But then stay in the bubble and keep your platform because America believe it or not is listening, they're paying attention, and use that platform for that if you decide to go on with the games OK. Manage that.

But I think, Brian, we're going to wait and see. This was that moment, Mexico City. It was the fist raised in the air. It was Muhammad Ali declaring I'm not a slave. Don't use my slave name. This was a defining step and we hope that the other sports franchises and owners and players around the United States take note of this moment and decide over the next few weeks themselves because I think it can pay some real big dividends. I really do. It is one of those moments. If you listen to Doc Rivers and the plea in his voice and the pain in his voice, and when he said, when he looked at us and he said, you know, why -- you know, we love America. Why can't America love us back? Man. That stops you. That stops you in that moment.

WILLIAMS: yes, yes.

STEELE: I hope all sports figures take note of this.

WILLIAMS: Yes, Doc Rivers especially as the son of a police officer. But you're right. Everything we have mentioned from Kaepernick to Ali to the two American sprinters with raised fists on the podium it all changed that part of their world and the world of sports and society.

To Claire McCaskill, to Lawrence O'Donnell, to Michael Steele, thank you on a busy Wednesday night for hanging out with us and taking our questions. Coming up, we continue to cover all of these major stories including a late live report from the ground as Hurricane Laura rages and is now very close to landfall. More on that when we continue.


WILLIAMS: We are continuing to track Hurricane Laura, an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm, sustained winds of 150 miles per hour at the core, nearing landfall on the Louisiana border, as you see coming right in over Cameron Parish. The powerful weather system already spinning off a lot of tornados and threatening what forecasters warn will be an unsurvivably high storm surge. For more, we're joined by NBC News Correspondent Morgan Chesky who is going to ride out the storm in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Hey, Morgan, what's it like there?

MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Brian, I can tell you those outer bands from Laura are starting to make their way through Lake Charles. We've seen wind, we've seen rain, only increase in its intensity over the past several hours and it's letting everyone here know that Laura is arriving in earnest. And that's why so many people took advantage of the fact that they had a bit of warning to get out of town.

I had a chance to speak with the mayor of Lake Charles today and he said that city buses were taking people to the civic center to be bussed about 100 miles to the north all day long. However, Brian, that said, he still is concerned that not enough people heeded those evacuation warnings and got out in time because at this point, it's too late. We know that portions of Interstate 10 have been shut down, leading out of Lake Charles, and we know that the surge threat is significant.

One of the recent forecasts has it coming 40 miles inland. That will be a more powerful surge Brian that this city saw back in 2005 from Hurricane Rita. Brian?

WILLIAMS: Morgan, I won't keep you, but indeed I heard the maybe say earlier tonight that if there are 911 calls after this thing begins in earnest, they can't be answered in Lake Charles at the height of the storm. And since - I guess we've lost Morgan Chesky. Morgan is in a city where most of the land mass --

CHESKY: I don't know if you can still hear me, Brian, but I can't tell you that --

WILLIAMS: Go ahead.

CHESKY: -- every minute that goes by brings another powerful gust of wind here. And what's remarkable is the fact that Laura has not even made landfall. That's not anticipated until around 1:00 a.m. Central/Standard time. And when you realize that that's coming, it really puts it into perspective. This is a storm that could be devastating for not just those coastal communities, but even those well inland like here at Lake Charles.

One of the forecasts shows that up to nine feet of water could be covering the majority of this city by day break tomorrow. Incredibly scary thought when you look around, particularly with it arriving under the cover of night. We're not going to really know what it's bringing until day break tomorrow. Brian?

WILLIAMS: You can always tell when the storm gets close, we lose communications. But Morgan, thank you for making exactly the point I was going to make, and that's just how much water they're expecting. Please be safe and shelter on high ground.

Coming up for us, more of our special coverage of this approaching hurricane, of the situation in Kenosha. Night three of the Republican National Convention. We'll rejoin you at the top of the hour for that.



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