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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, August 27, 2020

Guests: Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Mike Murphy, Clint Watts, Ken Graham, Russel Honore, James Carville


Hurricane Laura grows to "extremely dangerous" Category 4; Republicans conclude night-three of RNC; Jacob Blake shooting protests continue in Kenosha; Bucks decision to sit-out NBA final sparks more boycotts; Trump admin faced with yet another crisis as Hurricane Laura hits the Gulf.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR MSNBC: Well, good evening once again. As we cross into the midnight hour here on the East Coast, that means, so begins Day 1,316 of the Trump administration, 68 days to go until our Presidential election. We will, of course, have more on what was night-three of the Republican National Convention and the fallout from the conflict ongoing in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

But first, Hurricane Laura closing in on Louisiana and the Texas border. Its impact being felt over a wide area. We get the latest update from the National Hurricane Center. It's said the Category 4 storm has maximum sustained winds of 150 miles an hour at the core. And for the very latest on this, we are joined once again by our meteorologist, Bill Karins.

And Bill, landfall can't be long from now.

BILL KARINS, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST: Yes. The center will probably be maybe two to three hours from now, but that northern eyewall, the part that has the 150-mile-per-hour sustained winds, gusts even higher than that, that is only 10 miles off shore right now. That's where the destruction takes place. That's where you'll see houses to get torn apart, you see trees that are snapped in half.

And that's what this band, right here - so wherever that travels over the next six to eight hours, that's where the worst destruction will be. That's what you don't want your town to go through. And that's where everyone in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Lake Charles, everyone who evacuated that's watching this, they're hoping that doesn't go through their house because they may not have the house to come back to.

So, as that moves onshore, the first spot there is in Cameron Parish. Cameron Parish is a very remote area of Southwest Louisiana. It's a lot of wildlife refuge areas, and there's only a population of about 7,000 people. Hopefully they're all gone. So there's not a lot to destroy in Cameron Parish, but it's also very low country and it's swampy.

So it's not going to, like, take a big chunk out of the storm. (inaudible) they make landfall, they kind of lose steam in a hurry. It's going to take a while for this one to wind down. That's the point that the hurricane center was making, that this could have extreme wind damage, 100 miles to the north, as this thing moves through.

So let's talk about some other things. The wind gusts were picking up. We were watching Morgan there in Lake Charles. They did have a gust to 61. Now it has had a gust of 58. The really intense winds are still about three hours away from Lake Charles. That's when that northern eyewall will go in. And I think there's a chance that Lake Charles goes right through the center of this eye.

You notice that on the backside, where we were talking to Ali Velshi, the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, winds are already coming out of the northeast. They'll eventually come out of the north. It'll be a lot less rain. It'll have some gusts that could knock power out, but it won't be the destruction that you're going to see that's really looking and I guess going to primarily be on the Louisiana side of the Texas-Louisiana border.

So, talking about the storm surge, that center of landfall is so important, Brian, because if you're to the left of that, you're not going to get these predictions. If you're to the right of that, you have a chance of getting those predictions.

And so one of the important things we've been following all day long, in Calcasieu Parish, which is where Calcasieu Lake goes up to the Calcasieu River, which heads in through Lake Charles, if they don't get that southerly wind flowing up from the gulf through the lake into the river, they're not going to get that 15-foot predicted surge.

And with a slight track to the east - I'm not saying it's not going to happen yet because it's too early, but I'm starting to feel a little bit better that the dire predictions for Lake Charles may not happen on the river. We'll see. We still have a long night to go. But it looks like from this map, the worst storm surge would be from Jennings southwards, New Iberia southwards, and a very remote and rural section here of South-Central Louisiana. That's one of the stories that's developing.

Also, even if Lake Charles doesn't get that horrifically dire storm surge, I mean, look at these wind gusts that are expected in these cities, Brian. And you can imagine what the damage of 130-mile-per-hour winds would do. So, even if they don't get that storm surge, trees, homes, roofs all through that region just torn apart.

WILLIAMS: Yes. People should remember, as we look at a number like 127 over 60, 70, 80 miles an hour, most humans can no longer stand up. They lose their footing, say nothing of roofing and decking and all the rest.

Bill Karins, thank you for walking us through it and keeping an eye on this major storm for us tonight.

As we mentioned, Republicans have wrapped up night-three of their four-night televised pitch for a second term while invoking fear about the prospect of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris taking over.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heroism is rebuilding our communities, not destroying them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be a radical for our republic, for which I stand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump didn't start any new wars. He brought troops home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American officials will start peace negotiations to end America's longest war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 100 years ago, women secured the right to vote. Let's honor our heroes.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I want my daughter to grow up in President Donald J. Trump's America.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He has stood by me, and he will stand up for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am thankful that President Trump values the life of the unborn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Life begins at conception.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Biden-Harris ticket is the most radically pro-abortion campaign in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most radical anti-police ticket in history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hostile to farmers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They would keep you locked in your house until you become dependent on the government for everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During a once-in-a-century pandemic, the President's effort for New York was phenomenal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were very fine white supremacists in Charlottesville. He didn't say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump truly cares about black lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden will not do what it takes to maintain order.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Joe Biden would set America on a path of socialism and decline. But we're not going to let it happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)WILLIAMS: It was a lot, again, tonight. The aggressive defense of law enforcement comes as the country faces new tensions, of course, over race and use of force by police officers in a state that could play a pivotal role in this coming election.

All this week, protests taking place in Kenosha, Wisconsin after the police shooting of an unarmed black man this past Sunday. 29-year-old Jacob Blake now paralyzed after being shot seven times point-blank range, hitting Blake in his back, as he leaned into his car, his children looking on.

State authority said today, Blake admitted to having a knife on the floorboard of his vehicle but was not armed on his person. No charges have been filed against the officer responsible, who has now been named, but the Department of Justice has formally opened a civil rights investigation into this shooting.

Demonstrations over the shooting turned deadly on Tuesday night, and we'll warn you, this video is disturbing. Two people were killed when a 17-year-old who has since been arrested allegedly opened fire on protestors with a semi-automatic rifle, AR-15. He was arrested today in Illinois. He's now facing murder charges times two.

"BuzzFeed" is reporting the suspect's social media featured support for Blue Lives Matter as well as President Trump. They also showed a photo that purports to show the young man front-and-center at a Trump rally in Iowa late-January.

Shooting of Jacob Blake is reverberating across the sports world. Late today, the Milwaukee Bucks staged their own protest, becoming the first NBA team to boycott a playoff game. When it refused, they refused to take the court against the Orlando Magic. The league then canceled all three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday evening.

That was followed by a similar decision over in the WNBA. Major League Baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers decided not to play against Cincinnati Reds tonight. Also sitting out games, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, L.A. Dodgers, San Francisco Giants. That is one view of where we are.

And here for our leadoff discussion for this hour's coverage, Mike Murphy, Republican Strategist, Co-Director of the Center for the Political Future at USC. He's also Co-Host of the "Hacks On Tap" podcast. Clint Watts, Former FBI Special Agent, Distinguished Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, among our national security analysts. His recent book is "Messing With The Enemy: Surviving a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News." And Brittany Packnett Cunningham rejoins us, a veteran activist on matters of race and social justice, former member of President Obama's 21st Century Policing Task Force.

Brittany, I would like to begin with you, if I can. The modest parade of black speakers stepping forward to endorse this president at the GOP convention, none of them had the impact of Doc Rivers, who has owned at least the last 12 hours with his emotional comments. Again, it's important to note, this is a man who grew up the son of a police officer and spoke with truth and passion about what happened in Kenosha. In your view, Brittany, where are we right now tonight if you combine society, the world of sports, what's happening in the streets?

BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, FORMER MEMBER OF OBAMA POLICING TASK FORCE: I think we're at a point of real transformation, if not yet systemically, most certainly in people's mind sets. I think that there is a level of response that we're seeing across major league sports and multiple leagues that is making people who thought this didn't affect them, who thought this didn't matter to them, who thought that they could remove this from their purview, that they're thinking differently tonight.

Doc Rivers said something so incredibly profound. He said that Donald Trump has been engaging in that fearmongering, that he has been speaking as though the folks that follow him are the ones that have a lot to fear, but we are in fact the ones who are being shot down in the street.

And it's fascinating because what we see throughout history, especially when it comes to black communities, is that we choose the discipline of hope and the courage of protest in the face of that fear instead of succumbing to it.

What Donald Trump in the RNC put on display tonight was actually trying to scare people into submission. I think it's highly unfortunate. But unfortunately, it is par for the record here. It is typical to what we've seen throughout history. But Doc Rivers's points were so salient and so spot on.

And what we are seeing across leagues right now, four years after Colin Kaepernick took a knee, several decades after John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists at the '68 Mexico City games. What we're seeing is the level of solidarity, courage and sacrifice for not just those folks standing in the streets but those families who continue to endure the aftereffects of police violence.

WILLIAMS: Mike Murphy, I'll give you another quote. It was the Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, who said a week ago, this President was unable to meet the moment. Was she right?

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, yes, I believe - I believe that's completely accurate about Donald Trump. He makes things worse, not better. But tonight you saw the hard politics of it at the convention. And while in some ways it was a very kind of discordant convention, not really connected to what's going on America, this focus moment, both on police reform and race relations with this terrible hurricane and everything else, instead they got out the old attack (inaudible) and did, what I have to say, was a fundamentally and often dishonest but pretty effective attack speech on Joe Biden.

The Biden campaign cannot let the race become a simple referendum on who's for looters and who's for the police. It's a much more complex situation than that. And I think Biden understands the nuances a lot better than Trump who has thuggish impulses. But the politics of it, for Trump to energize the people who put him in the White House last time, you can't let him run away and demagogue that issue. Biden has got to watch his flank. And I thought the video he put out today was smart politics for him.

WILLIAMS: Clint Watts, let's talk about something of a sameness that we see when these protests break out in metropolitan areas, large and small. And that is a flood of outsiders after the start of violence. Facebook either missed or chose not to see the plea that went out in Kenosha for armed citizens to come on out and get involved. And of course, we now know a 17-year-old troubled kid with an AR-15 did just that. He's facing double murder charges. Talk about, though, the increasing danger of this trend.

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Brian, it's my number-one concern from now to election day, and from election day to inauguration day, which is mobilization. What we have consistently seen is anytime there is an outbreak of violence or there is an incident, if you see what's going on in our politics right now about picking sides or you may have to essentially put this into your own hands, you the people may have to rise up.

When you see that language spread across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, all of the social media platforms, we've got a big problem in this country right now. You have people coming in from the outside. They don't know the circumstances. They're there maybe to protest, they might be there to riot or to counter protest.

You see in this situation, that video is so striking to watch today, of a 17-year-old bringing an assault rifle. The entire idea of that happening when I entered the army in 1991 and we were just learning how to use these weapons. These weapons are everywhere on the streets. These chaotic situations continue to unfold. And we've seen other shootings out there that weren't as deadly in consequence but are just as dangerous. So I think it's something both in terms of response for the federal government and local governments working together, bringing National Guard out into the street quicker.

The second thing is, having a response plan for these local police departments. They quickly become overwhelmed. And the third thing is, how information and communication, how we can get ahead of these things and start to anticipate them. And on election night, I am very worried. Very worried at this point about something like this sort of unfolding with protestors, counter-protestors, and a very confusing situation happening at a local polling place or a local precinct somewhere.

WILLIAMS: Yes. It's why you're going to be of counsel to us on election night, among other nights.

Hey, Mike, back to your point about how the Democrats need to communicate and go forward. I'm going to play for you how the Democratic ticket reacted today. We'll talk about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What I saw in that video makes me sick. Once again, a black man, Jacob Blake, has been shot by the police in broad daylight with the whole world watching. I spoke to Jacob's mom and dad, sister, and other members of the family just a little bit earlier. And I told them, justice must and will be done.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What happened there is so tragic and still represents the two systems of justice in America. We need to fight again for that ideal that says all people are supposed to be treated equally, which is still not happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)WILLIAMS: Mike, I'll put this out. Bill Kristol said on Twitter today, the ticket should be on a plane and land tomorrow in Kenosha, meet with the family, meet with community leaders. That's one idea. What should the ticket be doing and saying in your view?

MURPHY: Well, yes. Bill and I, we're in the Republican Voters Against Trump organization together, and we talked about this, this morning. I think it would be a strong move for Biden because Biden can show what a lot of the country already knows, that he is a president and understands the role and purpose of a president outside of party politics or policy fights. Trump does not. Trump had the old empathy gene removed and he purely sees his job as President as a possession of his.

So I think if it could be done, I think it would be a very shrewd move for the Biden campaign. I will send a powerful signal. I like the tone of Joe Biden's remarks today, where he - you heard most of it in the tape, but he also, again, protected his flank on looting and all the stuff the Trump people are trying to create as a distraction in the election.

WILLIAMS: Brittany, this is delicate and you don't hear it talked about much, but it's important. Last night in Kenosha, a guy trying to protect his business of 40 years, concussion, broken jaw, and on and on. There are city blocks in Kenosha that looked like Dresden.

What do you say to all those portraits of violence, all the stories of violence that we can see on television regarding how they match the narrative of these three nights of the Republican convention and the big applause line in the Pence speech tonight? I wrote it down, "We will have law and order on the streets of this country."

CUNNINGHAM: It's so interesting, Brian, that throughout night-three of this convention, I kept hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Junior being referred to. And once again, we continued to hear this kind of selective cherry-picking of the quotes that make it sound like color blindness and singing Kumbaya are the only answers here.

We didn't hear him talk about the fact that he said in his letter from a Birmingham Jail that it is actually the white moderate who stands most in the way of black folks who seek freedom because they are more interested in - here's that word again - "order" rather than justice. They're not interested in talking about when Dr. King said that a riot is the language of the unheard.

And the implication there is if we listen better to communities and actually treat folks the way that they deserve, that we wouldn't be in these situations in the first place. If we attack the roots of the problem, we won't have to deal with the symptoms thereafter. We heard this word over and over and over again, including in Vice President Pence's speech, this idea about order. And that is really just about keeping us in line.

So we, who are on the other side of this, are not watching this confused simply because this is well-produced propaganda with a shiny veneer. We know what "order" really means. We know what law and order (inaudible). And if we would just actually get together and resource our communities in the ways that they deserve, grow strong communities from the ground up instead of over-police them from the top down, we wouldn't be having to have any of these conversations.

The answer and the solution is really clear. The question is, are those who have the power actually going to do it?

WILLIAMS: Clint Watts, I said earlier in the broadcast, so many people just seem to think they look better with an AR. And of course, this convention has already featured a guy in the news because he brandished one in front of his house in a gated community in St. Louis and now an unfortunate circumstance for the President. Kid accused of shooting up two people with his AR at the ripe old age of 17 is seen in the photo "BuzzFeed" released, front row, center at a - or front row, side, at a Trump rally.

WATTS: That's right, Brian. A 17-year-old showing up in a protest with a AR-15 is not law and order. That's chaos and disorder. It is creating a dangerous situation. We are essentially seeing people moving out into the streets. And you're seeing an argument from some that people should mobilize for themselves for their own self-defense. This isn't self-defense. Driving across a state border, going to a town, assembling with a weapon, that is not law and order. That's actually chaos and disorder. It heightens a situation. You're essentially pushing people out.

And so what the law enforcement did last night, they were pushing out a protest that had gotten out of control and started to get violent. There was property damage. They were doing what they could. But they are under-staffed, under-resourced. And it's now pushed into groups that are essentially taking it upon themselves to dish out whatever they deem to be law and order under hospices which are unclear.

And as long as we keep having these chaotic situations, we'll keep having these just tragedies like we had last night, where that video right there is absolute anarchy. And bringing weapons in with untrained people who have no authority to be there is only going to make the situation worse. And we'll see more Americans either wounded or killed in these situations, and it could get much, much more dangerous as the election approaches.

WILLIAMS: And to your point, and to be honest, we saw the Twin Cities quickly overwhelmed. We saw Kenosha quickly overwhelmed as well, where the local sheriff today said, no, thanks, we're not looking for armed help in a vigilante form.

Mike Murphy, Clint Watts, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, a pleasure to have the three of you on. Thank you all for staying up late with us.

The latest on this hurricane position, hours to go before it makes landfall, when we come back, when our special coverage continues on this Wednesday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)WILLIAMS: We are back. Our eyes focused on dangerous Hurricane Laura, fixing to roar ashore along the Louisiana coastline, packing maximum winds at the center, 150 miles an hour. We are happy to be joined now by Ken Graham, a busy man. He is Director of the National Hurricane Center.

Ken, we're watching that northern eyewall. It is getting close.

KEN GRAHAM, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Brian, right up against the coast here. I mean, if you look at this right here, that's where you're starting to see these 150-mile-an-hour winds starting to make it on way on shore, and we've got tornado warnings and all of these rainbands. We could get hurricane-force winds in any one of these rainbands. Just an extreme situation. Catastrophic event underway. Think about 150-mile-an-hour winds. And we're getting very close to the Louisiana and the upper Texas coast.

WILLIAMS: Ken, how can a community like Holly Beach - we were talking about this last hour - wiped off the map in Rita. It has since rebuilt, just a beautiful stretch of the Gulf Coast, a small community. How can they possibly survive a storm surge of 15 to 20 plus-or-minus wave action?

GRAHAM: Absolutely. I mean, you think about 15 to 20-foot of storm surge waves on top of that, it's devastating. It's not survivable in this situation. So it's destructive. It's a storm surge that comes in and even destructive as it goes back out. I mean - and it's not just right on the coast, Brian. I mean, think about I-10, right up in here, some of that storm surge, every one of these bayous, every one of these rivers that normally drains the water, it's all going to flow backward and push that storm surge in, even north of Interstate 10.

WILLIAMS: So it is not an overstatement - final question - to say that this storm has the power and the water to redraw the map in sections of the Gulf Coast.

GRAHAM: With this wind speed and with this storm surge, absolutely. This is - this changes the map. This is that type of storm.

WILLIAMS: Ken, make sure you get caffeine and nutrition. Thank you for the work you do and all the forecasters at the National Weather Service. Thank you for being a part of our broadcast, Ken Graham.

Back with us is our own Ali Velshi in Beaumont, Texas, again, where he's going to get the unusual circumstance of winds blowing from the north even though a hurricane is passing from the south to the north, to his east.

Ali, you can probably do a better job explaining that than I can.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, "VELSHI": Yes, but it's an interesting phenomenon, whereon a hurricane runs counterclockwise and the net effect of that is the wind that is blowing on Beaumont. This wasn't - we weren't clear on this a few hours ago because the track has changed just a little bit to the east. We're now going to get the counterclockwise winds blowing the water toward the Gulf of Mexico.

So, as Ken was just talking about, I'm just at Highway 10. I'm at Interstate 10 right now. But what we've got is we'll have the winds going the other way so the water would be forced back in almost - it's a reverse surge, a negative surge. In its most extreme circumstances, it's like a really low tide in the ocean. You see the force of the wind pushing the rain out.

Now, of course, there is rain coming down, and that's the detrimental part. But the flooding that you're going to see in Western Louisiana is going to be very different than what we're going to be seeing here in Eastern, Northeastern Texas.

We are - we're not far away from where the worst of it is going to be. But it's going to be very different picture here. However, we're still about two hours away from the inland, worst of it, where Port Arthur is just a few miles from where we are and it's lower elevation than we are. So those places are still going to see a great deal of danger. But we're still worrying about the effect of the wind.

Even if the flood is not going to be as bad in Texas as we expected, we are looking at these remarkable winds, 140, 150 miles an hour, where I am. It's probably going to be gusting in the range of about 80 miles per hour. So it's going to be quite damaging, regardless. The next few hours are going to be a real wait-and-see.

Anybody who hasn't evacuated is not evacuating now. It's after midnight. Everybody is sticking around. And the next five hours or so are going to be very, very instructive. By the time the sun comes up in the morning, this part of the United States is going to look very different, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Ali Velshi, thank you very much. We wish you and your crew a night of safety, if not sleeplessness.

Coming up for us, leadership during a time of crisis on several fronts, when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): They closed our churches, but keep the liquor stores and abortion clinics open. They say we can't gather in community groups, but encourage protests, riots and looting in the streets. If the Democrats had their way, they would keep you locked in your house until you become dependent on the government for everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)WILLIAMS: Again, some of the tone, tenor and content from this three-night gathering thus far Trump administration has yet another crisis on its hands, though, with Hurricane Laura barreling across the Gulf Coast tonight on top of everything else.

Back with us, two people we rightfully associate with the great state of Louisiana. James Carville, Veteran Democratic Strategist, rose to national fame with the Clinton presidential campaign, Co-Host of the "2020 Politics War Room" podcast; and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who of course led the relief effort on the ground in New Orleans and the days following Katrina. He is a 37-year veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. He has written a book called "Leadership in the New Normal."

Gentlemen, good evening to you both. General, I'd like to begin with you because I do associate you so closely with your state. I know where you happen to live is out of the worst of the danger, but for these last two hours, I've been worried aloud about places like the Cajun Riviera. Tell people what you anticipate to be the need in Louisiana come tomorrow morning, and also tell our viewers about the Cajun Navy, which I've been fortunate enough to ride along with and see in action, and people should know they can donate on the web because they do good work.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, JOINT TASK FORCE KATRINA COMMANDOR: Yes. Cajun Navy is out there. They are pre-deployed in Jennings as well as in the Lake Charles area. And they have a lot of supplies stocked in New Orleans ready to - and Baton Rouge ready to move forward. They are a great group of guys. They responded to Harvey. They beat the Texas National Guard into Houston.

So, enough said, this storm is going to be horrific. It's going to put just about top of most of Cameron Parish. What's different between Hurricane Rita and now? Every storm is just unsurvivable of tidal surge, as has been reported on by the weather people all day. What that would look like on the ground? It will cover just about everything in Cameron Parish, which has been rebuilt twice from storm damage.

I was there the day after Hurricane Rita. We had two navy ships follow Hurricane Rita into Cameron Parish. The good news, most of the people had been evacuated. And those two navy ships led by Admiral Kilkenny and Brigadier General O'Dell with 1,500 marines puked their guts out to get into a place called Pecan Island, right off the coast of Cameron there, where they rescued several dozen people that hadn't evacuated.

Louisiana is in a different state. Our National Guard is home. During Hurricane Rita, we had 5,000 of our National Guard patrolling the streets of Arrall (ph). They are home. They are strong. The Governor has got them in position. They are well led, and they are positioned to be prepared to go in there. We were assisted with a brigade (inaudible) National Guard, working together to go into Cameron Parish and to go into Calcasieu, which itself was under water, the City of Lake Charles. But nothing to compare with the storm that's coming.

This is a lot more tidal surge, and it looked like the wind is going to be stronger, and it will put the lights out, literally, I think, from this path, from Lake Charles to Shreveport. And that's a lot of pine trees. It's going to take a long time to get that power back on besides all of the wind and roof damage. And I hope everybody who could have gotten out has evacuated and those that are still watching, they better find some teams of people to be with to try and save their lives.

WILLIAMS: Hear hear, General. Thank you. James, this is a test always to make sure that a presidential administration can walk and chew gum. Multiple crises underway. Let's not forget 180,000 souls lost in a pandemic; Category 4 storm about to make landfall; at the same time, visuals coming out off Kenosha that nicely match, set against the plot line of the RNC gathering; Mike Pence's quote tonight, "We will have law and order on the streets of this country." What do you make of any or all of it?

JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I would like to point out that prior to this time, one of the great success stories in America was the reduction in urban crime in so-called Democrat-led cities. The only thing that changed between the early '90s and now is we have a different president. Urban crime in most places had had a precipitous decline. So I think somebody needs to set that record straight really clearly.

I cannot agree so much with what General Honore said. This is going to be catastrophic. I mean, man, I feel for people in Southwest Louisiana. And by the way, that's a very stronghold for President Trump supporters. There was a great book written on him in 2016 by an academic named Arlie Russell Hochschild called "Strangers in Their Own Land."

I mean, this is - it could be catastrophic for the people of Louisiana and for the geography of Louisiana. And there are going to be some map-makers at work here in a few weeks that re-altering the map of Louisiana. This is a real, real catastrophe we're faced with.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I almost don't want to see pictures of where I believe Holly Beach is on the map because I don't think there is going to be that much in reality come tomorrow morning.

Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. We'll sneak in a commercial break here. We'll be back with more of our discussion right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)WILLIAMS: We are back with two of the names we associate with the State of Louisiana, James Carville, General Russel Honore back with us.

General, in all the years I've known you, I don't think we've ever discussed the topic of race, but fair warning, I'm fixing to go there. We've got protests in the streets. We've got a pandemic that is already unfairly carving through communities of color in our country. Now we've got the world of sports caught up in the same thing. What do you make of it?

HONORE: Well, I think we're in lot worse shape today than we were four years ago. And much of that is about attitude, much of that is about dividing and not uniting, and our nation is not as united as it was four years ago under previous president, and we have become more separated and apart. And much of this started over the Kaepernick recognition that something had to be done about the police, the way they were shooting African-Americans, many of them unarmed. And I can go through a dozen of them, and more have been added this week.

And the President took that on as an issue and he has divided the country even further. His job is to unite the country. He's divided it and he's politicized violence. And he's almost encouraged violence on the street. And people think they have a right to go out and shoot people now because they have the backing of their White House. And that's a crime, damn shame.

WILLIAMS: General, a question that borders on personal. Last time we spoke, you were waiting on your meds through the U.S. mail, and because you've been very cautious about quarantining, you were worried about having to run to the Walgreens and get them filled there. Are you getting your prescriptions again through the mail or is it still delayed?

HONORE: That prescription we talked about was supposed to be there in five days, it took 10. But I did have meds. I went to the Wall Street (ph) and got it. But every day I'm getting messages from veterans who - medications are showing up late, and they're having to go around or go to the local VA to try to get their meds filled.

So we've slowed down the mail service. We've slowed down testing. This is not working. We are not winning. We're not winning the COVID war. We had to evacuate most of the people in Cameron and Calcasieu Parish. In Cameron, one of the highest rates of COVID right now is in Cameron Parish as far as people testing positive. They had to be evacuated.

We had to use a different technique, the Governor did, by putting them in hotels and separating them and then moving them on buses that were half-full to follow social distancing. All of this has been created because we never did get testing right, we never focused on suppressing, and we politicized masks. A lot of people in Calcasieu Parish would not wear a mask. Why? Because they were listening to the President. He called it a hoax and said they weren't effective. Now they have one of the highest infected rates in the state.

And you know what else? Just quickly - they have built four LNG plants, one that (ph) the President went to last year, in Hackberry, has created a lot of jobs in that area for Texas and Western Louisiana. But those LNG plants were built at 12 feet. What do we say this tidal surge coming in at? Up to 20, right?

Why would you build LNG plant in floodplains along the Calcasieu and Sabine River to sell gas overseas? Gas we don't need. That is polluting our environment here in Louisiana. We're polluting Louisiana to send gas overseas, and Sempra, who for decades had taken gas out of Louisiana and shipped it to California to provide California with natural gas, is now shipping it overseas, and they've put a plant right in Hackberry at 9 to 12 feet elevation, and we've got a 20-foot surge.

God knows what that's going to look like tomorrow morning. And I pray for those men and those stayed behind teams and those four LNG plants because it never should have been built in that flood zone.

WILLIAMS: So, James, that's the view of our country and Southern Louisiana right now from one of your fellow veterans. I'm going to play for you something the President said six months ago to this very day. We'll discuss on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're finding very little problem, very little problem. Now, you treat this like a flu. When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero--

(END VIDEO CLIP)WILLIAMS: So, James, you heard the man. We were going to be close to zero. His management of the virus has scarcely changed. Virus turned out to be in charge.

CARVILLE: Yes. And I agree with everything that General Honore said. And in that LNG plant, we've put a lot of Louisiana taxpayer money into that. But, look, he's (inaudible). I hate to say that he's the President of the United States. But we can go back and draw up any number of things he said, that it's just going to go away when the summer comes, and everything else. I mean, it - this is just a - what we have here is just a colossal failure of leadership on every front, and the General has pointed that out.

And by the way, a lot of these evacuations are going to San Antonio, which is having - Texas is having its own issues. And this is - we're in a third inning of this. We're not even close to getting through this hurricane season. Stand by because more are coming. And if we're going to have more evacuations, it's just disastrous (ph).

If you look at these forecasts, they're utterly depressing in this hurricane season. So I hope we don't have any more. I pray we don't have any more. But I wouldn't bet on it at all. Not at all. This is going to be a bad storm season. And the peak of it is September 10th. We've still got a long way to go.

WILLIAMS: One from the Marine Corps, one from the Army - James Carville, Russel Honore, gentlemen, thank you both. Best of luck to your state. We're thinking about everybody in Southwest Louisiana most immediately tonight.

One more update on this massive hurricane when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)WILLIAMS: Welcome back. Let's get an update on this Category 4 hurricane. And to our viewers, when was the last time you remember the National Weather Service using the word "unsurvivable" to describe a storm surge? That's exactly what we're looking at, though, our meteorologist, Bill Karins, with us for one more update.

Bill, you've made the point all day, and it's so correct. This has chosen, this storm, one of the most sparsely populated sections of the Gulf Coast. And that's good. And most of Southern Louisiana is squishy. It is absolutely beautiful marshland. And that's good except that it's mostly water, meaning it's full of fuel for a storm that's going to be looking for fuel as it goes on up and churns over populated areas. So that's bad.

KARINS: Yes. Yes, that makes a big difference. The - what it travels over, there were mountains that'd be torn apart quickly, but this storm is going to hold together all the way through Northern Louisiana with a good deal of wind damage, all the way up to Shreveport. But the first portion of the really destructive part of the storm is now right over the top of Cameron, a little town of Cameron in Cameron Parish. And that's right here. That's that bright red. This is where the 150-mile-per-hour winds are.

So, right now, for the first time, with Laura, houses, homes, businesses are being destroyed. I'm sure there's a storm surge along with it. But those winds like that are pretty much going to be almost like what a tornado - a strong tornado would do coming on through.

And now the winds are really starting to pick up further to the north. We just had a wind gust of 74 miles per hour. That's a hurricane strength gust in Lake Charles. Even as far to the northeast at Jennings, we've had a 52-mile-per-hour gust. Notice on that backside of the storm? Beaumont and Port Arthur, could be different. I mean, Port Arthur is not going to be that far away from that western eyewall.

I think, Beaumont, you may get luckier and not go through it. So the damage of Port Arthur may be actually significantly worse than Beaumont even though they're very close to each other. That's how a mile's shift, east or west, makes a huge different in these things. And you will notice that extreme wind warning is up. They're pretty rare. And that means we're expecting - nothing like a tornado, but from like - an event like a hurricane, like a Category 4 or 5, we get these. And it pretty much means, expect a period of winds that are life-threatening.

And as far as the storm surge goes, we're still watching the tidal gauges. We're seeing the water levels coming up now. We haven't seen anything dramatic yet. We expect that to happen in the next two to three hours, as the storm pushes inland. And you could see it's to the right of there, where we're going to see the highest storm totals. We're still waiting to see what happens in the Lake Charles area.

And let's kind of give you and explain. I (ph) haven't taken a lot of time to do this. You hear storm surge. People may not know what that means. Storm surge kills the most people, kills more people than the winds do in a hurricane. When you say a three-foot of storm surge, that's actually considered life-threatening. You get six feet, that's the water level rise from where the water typically should be.

But on top of that storm surge, we don't count storm surge in addition to waves. So you get that nine-foot surge and then you get waves on top of it. And those waves are what destroys the homes that are even on stilt. And Brian, I don't even have any animation for 15 to 20 if you really (inaudible), but you can picture what that would be like.

And finally, the peak wind gusts. And this is starting to take place right now. Those 120, 130-mile-per-hour gusts are going to be taking place from Cameron to Lake Charles here shortly. And then, even tomorrow morning at about 11:00 a.m., Shreveport could have gusts, 60 to 70. And we haven't talked a lot about rainfall with this storm, moving at 15 miles per hour. So - and it's been a very dry summer throughout this portion of the country, Brian. But we'll locally have some flash-flooding to deal with. But it's really that surge in the wind that will give you the dramatic pictures come tomorrow.

WILLIAMS: Bill Karins, thank you for your hard work, as always, my friend.

Everybody in the audience, please spare a thought for the lives and property in Southern Louisiana at this hour and as we go through the night.

That's going to do it for our broadcast for this evening. Stay with this network for continuing updates on Hurricane Laura and, of course, our continuing political coverage as well. It all continues at the top of the hour, after this short break.



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