Pressure grows to speed up Afghan evacuations. Pentagon says
military can airlift up to 9,000 people daily. Taliban fighters around
airport are slowing evacuations. Pentagon acknowledges tense situation on
the ground. U.S. Capitol has been targeted with bomb threat. Suspect is in
custody after five-hour ordeal. COVID cases spike in Israel as Delta
variant surges. Biden threatens legal action against states with mask
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again, day 212 of the
Biden administration. There is mounting pressure to speed up the airlift to
get people out of Afghanistan, as new reports indicate the White House was
warned about the disaster that will quickly unfold after the official U.S.
withdrawal. Tomorrow, the President will speak to the nation again, about
these evacuations. As the administration tries to ramp up the mission, they
still lack a firm count of the number of Americans in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We don`t have a precise number.
And the reason is because we ask Americans to register with the U.S.
government when they arrive in country and we build the database. But lots
of Americans don`t deregister. So, a number of people come, they sign up,
and then they leave and never let us know they left. And so we can`t know
for certain exactly how many Americans are in country. We will get any
American who wants to get to the airport and who we get in contact with,
who says I want to get out and get on a plane, we will make that happen.
This is a risky operation. We, right now have established contact with the
Taliban to allow for the safe passage of people to the airport and that is
working at the moment.
One of the contingencies we`re very focused on, laser focused on is the
potential for a terrorist attack by a group like ISIS-K, which of course is
a sworn enemy of the Taliban.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So that`s the President`s National Security Adviser. That`s a
heck of a claim he just made that if you`re an American and want to get out
of there, they`ll get you out of there.
Pentagon says the military can airlift 5,000 and 9,000 people a day
currently out of Kabul. So far the U.S. has airlifted about 7,000 people
out of Afghanistan. Not all of them American, which by the way, has been a
Herculean effort by the U.S. Air Force, the 82nd Airborne, the Marines who
are there and others.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan just referred to one of the biggest
obstacles to evacuations, Taliban fighters and their armed checkpoints
surrounding the airport. Today the Pentagon acknowledge the tense
conditions on the ground confirming that jet fighters indeed flew over
Kabul to provide security for the some 5000 troops overseeing the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM TAYLOR, U.S. ARMY: F-18s from the Ronald Reagan Carrier
Strike Group flew armed overwatch flights.
The ability to provide close air support is something that needs to be
immediate, if they -- condition on the ground ever required that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Amid all of this, we are learning that there were warnings about
a rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan. NBC News confirming a Wall Street
Journal report that last month two dozen diplomats at the U.S. Embassy
Kabul warned Secretary of State Blinken about the possibility of a Taliban
takeover and indeed urged immediate evacuations. The Wall Street Journal
and other media outlets have reported that officials also advised the
president against a full drawdown of troops.
Journal reporting it this way, the President`s top generals urged Mr. Biden
to keep a force of about 2500 troops while seeking a peace agreement
between warring Afghan factions to maintain stability.
President was asked about that during his interview with ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: Your top military advisors warned
against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: No, they didn`t. It was split. That wasn`t true.
That wasn`t true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn`t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?
BIDEN: No. Not at -- not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a
timeframe all troops. They didn`t argue against that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no one told -- your military advisors did not tell you,
"No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It`s been a stable situation for the
last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that"?
BIDEN: No. No one said that to me that I can recall. There`s no good time
to leave Afghanistan. Getting out would be messy no matter when it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Tomorrow the House will get a briefing from Secretary of State
Blinken, Secretary of Defense Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley.
Meanwhile, we`re also following developments on the ongoing pandemic. In
Texas, a victory for school districts tonight at least for now, the state
Supreme Court of Texas ruled that school districts can impose their own
mask mandates, despite the governor`s orders, the governor who by the way
has COVID. And today we learn these three senators John Hickenlooper of
Colorado, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Angus King of Maine, all tested
positive for COVID after being vaccinated. Just yesterday, health officials
announced booster shots would be available in the fall. President says he
and First Lady Jill Biden will be ready when they`re eligible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We`re going to get to booster shots. And it`s something that I
think, you know, because we got our shots all the way back and I think
December, so it`s past time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Also today, the U.S. Capitol Complex once again became a target,
U.S. Capitol Police say it started with a man drove his truck onto a
sidewalk outside the Library of Congress this morning and claimed he had
explosives. Authorities were forced to evacuate much of the Capitol Hill
complex as they negotiated with this guy who communicated with them at one
point using a dry erase board. The suspect live stream the ordeal as one
does, he broadcast an unhinged litany of complaints about Joe Biden and the
federal government before it was taken down finally by Facebook. After five
hours of this, 49-year old Floyd Ray Roseberry of North Carolina crawled
out of his truck, was taken into custody, law enforcement says a search of
the pickup did not turn up any viable explosive devices, but did find some
explosive components apparently.
And with that, let`s bring in our starting line on this busy Thursday
night, Shannon Pettypiece, Veteran Journalist, our Senior White House
Reporter at NBC News Digital, Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant
Director for Counterintelligence, author of the book, The FBI Way and the
Host of the podcast, The Bureau, and Admiral James Stavridis, 30-year Navy
Veteran, retired with four stars on his shoulders. He`s the former Head of
the U.S. Southern Command, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, also
happens to be the co-author of the recent book 2034: A Novel of the Next
Well, good evening, and welcome to you all. And Admiral, I`d like to begin
with you along with this quote from the Washington Post. "Several people
said Thursday they had received confusing signals from the United States
about how exactly they were supposed to leave, citing emails from the State
Department, urging them to go to the airport only to find there was no one
to receive them or to answer their questions on how to board flights. A 39-
year old librarian, a dual U.S.-Afghan citizen who came with his wife and
two children after receiving an email invitation from the State Department
said he was whipped by a Taliban fighter."
Admiral, I don`t know much, but I do know we got to do a better job. How
would you assess the mission? And is there a fix, a way to make this better
and smoother at this point starting tomorrow morning?
ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS, U.S. NAVY (ret.): Unfortunately, there is no silver
bullet here, Brian, as you well know, you`ve been in many crisis situations
over the years, the U.S. military has control of the interior perimeter of
Kabul International Airport, that`s a good thing. We can get flights in and
out of there. We want to get people out of the airport. The problem is not
getting people out of the airport at this point, it`s getting people into
the airport, which is to say that Taliban controlled the rest of the
country. And as a result of that we are in the unfortunate circumstance of,
I hate to say these words, relying on the Taliban, to allow people to come
into the airport. That`s why you see my friend Jake Sullivan, National
Security Adviser, working through a lot of challenges, saying that Taliban
have said they will provide safe passage.
Unfortunately, many reports indicate that`s not correct, including what you
just read from the Washington Post. So, what can we do? We need to put
pressure on the Taliban where we can, we`ve given up a lot of leverage
since we`ve taken all our combat troops out of the country. So, our
leverage at this point is moral. It is economic, it is perhaps to offer
some carrots if you let people go, we will make things easier in terms of
recognition. But we have a very weak hand of cards at this point. And
unfortunately, we`re going to have to hope and hope is not a good strategy,
but we`re going to have to hope that Taliban will let people into the
airport. Once they`re in the airport, yes, the U.S. military will get them
out. The problem is getting them in.
WILLIAMS: Shannon, I think our reporting is somewhat duty bound on a couple
of fronts. Number one, this reporting on the warnings Biden received, I
think that should be coupled with his assertion that early evacuations
would have triggered great interest perhaps and at worst panic and I think
on the botched evacuation, it is fair to point out that the leadership
structure of Afghanistan is gone. President left town to go, who knows
where, having established that talk about this dynamic right now as moving
target as it is within the West Wing?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: And the Big
criticism that the President is under is not necessarily that we got out,
of course there are people who will criticize that, that Biden withdrew
troops, period. They argue we should have stayed there. There`s that line
of criticism, but the one that the President is really taking the heavy
fire for, particularly from his allies, is how we got out. And that`s this
issue of helping evacuated not only the Americans, but as you mentioned,
the Afghans who helped assist the government who are eligible for these
special visas or who would like to apply for refugee status. The White
House`s response until this point, I would say, has really been focused on
defending the decision to get out. We heard that again, from the President
on Monday. We heard it again on Wednesday, and that ABC News interview, so
much focus on defending the decision and missing the element of criticism
being lobbed at them about how and we know the President is going to make
remarks tomorrow. The public schedule indicates that those remarks are
going to be focused on the process of trying to get these Afghans out. You
know, we`ve heard a number of lines of rationale from the administration
for why they hadn`t gotten more out. You mentioned one of them, that they
were afraid it could trigger a panic, a mass evacuation. There`s also
criticism from the Trump administration, obviously, many, many of these
people did not just start applying for visa today. They have been applying
for years, we`ve talked to people who`ve been applying for 10 years to try
and get a visa in this country. So, this is an issue that stretches beyond
administrations. So, there is an extent that they inherited it. But it was
not like the warning signs weren`t there in April, May and June and July.
Yet there wasn`t the big reaction necessary from this administration, like
critics are saying.
So, I think that`s one of the things to listen for tomorrow. And the
President`s remark is, does he defend himself and try and tackle this issue
of getting these Afghans special visa applicants out? And how does he
defend that? And is there anything new, he`s actually going to say we`re
going to do as a country to help them numbers of personnel or new systems
being put in place? That seems to be what the White House needs to do at
WILLIAMS: Frank, an emotionally disturbed guy parks his pickup truck in
front of the Library of Congress and livestreams his grievances. His son
later says he wasn`t politically involved or aware until the election of
Donald Trump, all of it refocuses the mind on your life`s work and that is
counterterrorism and especially domestic terrorism. How urgent a threat are
we talking about still?
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:
Well, it played out today. And by that, I mean, what played out was the
warning. We`ve received from the Department of Homeland Security. We just
within the last two weeks that the likelihood of violence arising from the
increased chatter and planning we`re seeing online and extremist and
violent domestic organizations and individual sites with his so-called
perfect storm, that`s converging. What does that consist of, the feeling --
the grievance feeling, the fight for a cause feeling caused by mask
mandates, vaccine mandates, the turning of the country from blue versus red
into vaccinated versus unvaccinated, the feeling that Ashli Babbitt who was
killed inside the Capitol by a police officer, her death needs to be
avenged, she is a martyr. Trump is coming back soon. Well, not today but
maybe tomorrow. Rally is being planned for D.C. in September. This weekend,
Saturday in a small town in Alabama with President Trump, all of this
converging to cause DHS to tell us there`s a warning here that violence can
be on the increase. And sure enough, thankfully, this was not a violent
result today, it was successfully resolved by law enforcement. But we`re
going to see more of this playing out as the polarization and splitting of
And what among the grievances we heard from this gentleman today, what was
one of them, he mentioned Afghanistan. What did he mean by that? Was it
coherent? No probably not. But that`s something we need to understand is
that now everything is suddenly being politicized, and everything seems to
be a trigger toward violence.
WILLIAMS: Indeed, we see that every day.
Admiral, if I am taking your first comments correctly, we`re in the
position of asking the Taliban these days and not telling them that
established, what happens if we make up our minds to stay after 31, August
if you do the math as great as the forces we have there are as terrific a
heavy lift vehicle as C-17s, there`s a high likelihood we`re going to need
to stay after 31, August?
STAVRIDIS: There is indeed. And you see the administration, including the
President, essentially foreshadowing that beginning to talk about the
certainty that we will remain to get U.S. citizens out.
On the other hand, you hear our national security adviser say, actually we
don`t know exactly how many U.S. citizens are there, which is
understandable. That`s a hard number to know with precision. But I would
say the likelihood that this mission extends past August 31, is pretty
high. And if we`re going to do that, without turning this back into a major
confrontation with the Taliban, we`re going to have to get buy in from the
Taliban, and get them to continue to move people, as you are showing right
now, using their whips. Unlikely, it seems that they`re going to do that in
a peaceful manner. So, we`ve got a significant challenge here. And by the
way, to Frank`s point, about concern, about violence in the United States,
I`m going to have to add to that as we get to 9/11, just 11 days after the
end of the month, if we have our troops still there, that`s going to be a
rallying cry for Jihad globally, which is going to say, hey, 9/11, we
brought down the World Trade Towers, at 9/11 20 years later, we`ve just
about forced the United States out of Afghanistan. But if we haven`t gone,
that`s going to create yet another significant aspect to potential violence
here in the United States. So, big challenges ahead, and I`ll closed by
saying, as we pull all our troops out, we`ve lost the intelligence. We
don`t know what`s going on, on the ground there. We have a lot of
challenges ahead, not just domestically, as Frank correctly points out, but
from the international side of the House as well.
WILLIAMS: And Frank, right, quick back to you. And then I`ve got to get to
Shannon, but your name was invoked. What will all of this or any of this do
in the business of counterterrorism as we go forward?
FIGLIUZZI: Yeah, real quick, I published a column this week for MSNBC daily
on this topic. Look for the lives of counterterrorism operators, FBI, DHS,
CIA have been made harder. Why? Because we`re fighting -- we we`ve been
successfully fighting the terrorist threat over there in their backyard, so
that we don`t have to fight it in our front yard here. But now we lose that
command and control element that we`re there, with eyes on. We have 5,000
prisoners, hardcore terrorist fighters released by the Taliban from their
prisons, they`re looking for a fight, looking to get back at us. Things
just got harder for folks like the FBI and DHS, and CIA.
WILLIAMS: And Shannon, indeed, you get the last word on this, endlessly
depressing topic playing out in real time on cable news, this is David
Ignatius, part of a very thoughtful piece tonight in the Washington Post,
"Failure can shatter the trust and consensus of any team and that`s a
danger now for the Biden White House. This group has been extraordinarily
close and congenial during Biden`s first seven months. But you can already
see the first cracks in fortress Biden, Liberal Democrats, especially
activist for women`s rights are genuinely angry that Biden didn`t do more
to protect Afghan women and human rights. Those fissures will widen." And
Shannon, what`s your report on moral and cohesion?
PETTYPIECE: You know, it`s not great. I mean, we`ve seen criticism come
from a lot of the President`s typical allies, not just Democrats in
Congress, former Obama administration officials within the administration,
we have seen a lot of finger pointing at each other. I mean, I think this
is still early days. And there is some upside potential here. There is a
sense in the White House that they can turn things around, but certainly an
acknowledgement that this is a fragile, tenuous situation. And no one
really knows what is going to come next if they`re going to control the
airport, what`s going to happen with Taliban, what`s going to happen after
August 31. So, it is a sense as well that we`re only seeing the beginning
of this and a lot can unfold in the coming weeks.
WILLIAMS: So appreciative of our starting line tonight, Shannon Pettypiece,
Frank Figliuzzi, Admiral James Stavridis, I can`t thank you enough for
starting off our conversation.
Coming up for us, our doctor standing by tonight to talk boosters now that
we`re all being told to get them unless of course, you haven`t had your
And later, the shocking political divide that persists in America on issues
like of all things, insurrection, and a deadly pandemic, as per our
discussion. THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on this Thursday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: The protection
that the vaccine was affording with regard to infection and mild to
moderate disease was diminishing, it still had very high protection against
severe disease leading to hospitalization and death. But the direction was
going wrong. It`s very clear right now that when you give someone a booster
and we`ve done studies, it increases the level of antibody level that`s
associated with protection to a very, very high level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Dr. Fauci just today on this decision to recommend booster shots
to Americans eight months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
shots were completed. Doctor also mentioned the situation in Israel where
infections are surging, we`re going to talk about this, that country saw
cases plummet as you know, after a quick vaccination campaign. But now the
New York Times reports, "A fourth wave of infections is rapidly approaching
the levels of Israel`s worst days of the pandemic last winter. The daily
rate of confirmed new virus cases has more than doubled in the last two
So back with us again tonight, Dr. Vin Gupta, a Critical Care Pulmonologist
out in Seattle who has advised us on this from the start. He`s also on the
faculty at the University of Washington Institute for Health metrics and
And Doctor, let`s start here. I`ve asked you forms of this question before,
how worried should vaccinated Americans be about waning immunity. The
reason we`re being prescribed boosters?
DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Brian. And this is
a consequential, very important and now controversial topic. And this is
what I would say, I`m not in the business of, or nor do I make it a habit
of disagreeing with Dr. Fauci. But with all due respect to him, there is
disagreement here on this issue. And I disagree with what the
administration put out, which is boosters for everybody. There, if you were
under 65 years of age, Brian and otherwise healthy, there is no data right
now to suggest. And I`ve been vaccinated nine months ago was one of the
frontline critical care workers in our country, as many of my colleagues,
there is no data to suggest that many months, folks like ourselves, and
there`s many healthcare workers, again in that boat, are losing any level
of significant protectiveness against being hospitalized from the Delta
variant. There`s just no data to suggest that. Is there -- is our
likelihood of testing positive, Brian, higher than it was, say six months
ago? Sure, but that`s not the purpose of vaccination. The purpose of
vaccination is to keep people away from the hospital. And if you`re
otherwise healthy, less than 65 years of age, there is no indication for
boosters for you.
WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about Israel. People probably wonder why we reference
it so often in these discussions. It`s a nation with the same population as
the New York metropolitan area. But they have been a marker on a one or two
months delay basis for us. So why is the experience they`re going through
now important for us?
GUPTA: Well, they`ve widely deployed the two dose Pfizer regimen, Brian,
and so now, it`s basically an incubator for what is two doses of Pfizer
mean, for a population at large, and what we`re seeing in this reel is
should inform very much what we should be doing here in terms of their
booster shot, that there is waning immunity for those that are older than
65, or have serious underlying conditions like cancer or other
immunocompromising conditions like diabetes, for example, that those
individuals will benefit from a third shot. So, the third booster shot
absolutely, if we are prescriptive and surgical does will benefit a certain
segment of society as evidenced by Israel`s real world experience. But that
does not mean it`s real, as experienced does not augur that everybody needs
a booster shot right now, we should wait and see, we should focus on those
that don`t have one shot, number one. We should focus on kids getting the
vaccine, the vulnerable, as mentioned, and then the rest of the world. The
boosters for all is only going to harm our ability to reach those that are
WILLIAMS: I don`t have to tell you, there are no more ICU beds in Alabama
or Mississippi. If you get deathly ill there, they`ll probably fly you
north to North Carolina if they can. We`re watching field hospitals go up.
Again, we`re seeing refrigerating truck -- or refrigerated trucks coming in
again. Question is, when will you know, when we have hit a spike, or is
this going to be a rolling seasonal spike instead as things move north?
GUPTA: You know, Brian, we`re expecting about 1000 to 1500 deaths a day,
day over day middle of September accounted for largely by the seven states
in the southeastern United States. It`s only going to get worse. Now we`re
going to be entering December to February, non-COVID threats like
influenza, RSV, already rearing its head. So, I expect things unfortunately
will get worse. And it`s only going to compound the challenges of Delta.
Two, I suspect we`re going to reach an endemic status of COVID throughout
the country. Yes, absolutely. So, people will continue unfortunately to die
but at lower levels, hopefully by the end of Q1 2022.
What I will say for everybody out there that is not vaccinated or is high
risk and fully vaccinated, if you`re watching right now, go to combat
covid.hhs.gov. One utilization, the one thing that you can do if you`re in
that boat and you`ve been exposed to COVID. Again, if you`re not
vaccinated, or if you`re a high risk and fully vaccinated, go to the
website, see if you`re potentially eligible for monoclonal antibody
therapy, could potentially save your life. And so one thing you can do to
keep yourself out of the hospital.
WILLIAMS: Our guest tonight has been Dr. Vin Gupta, our thanks with him for
his candor and expertise. As always, thank you, Doctor.
Coming up for us, our political experts, here to weigh in on how the
President can move forward on his agenda as he deals with all this fallout
we`ve been discussing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: There is no good time to leave Afghanistan, 15 years ago would have
been a problem, 15 years from now, the basic choice is, am I going to send
your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan, in Afghanistan in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: President remains defiant in the face of all this criticism of
his strategy in Afghanistan. And here with us tonight to talk more about
it, two friends of this broadcast, Donna Edwards, former Democratic Member
of Congress, now a Washington Post Columnist and Mark McKinnon, former
Adviser to both George W. Bush and John McCain. He is among the co-hosts
thankfully of the Circus on Showtime.
Good evening, and welcome to you both. And, Congresswoman I`d like to begin
with you, I think your total has me beat, if memory serves you made four
trips as part of congressional delegations to Afghanistan. I believe you
had kind words to say about the President`s speech that we started the week
with, we hear from him again tomorrow. What have you made, though, of his
defense of the mission and his tactics and those people around him in the
DONNA EDWARDS, (D) MARYLAND, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, I mean, I do
think that for -- we`ve known for more than a decade that it`s past -- it
was past time to get out of Afghanistan, and the question was just always
going to be how and I agree with the President that this was never going to
be an easy task, but I do think I share in some of the criticism about the
way that things have unfolded, but I agree that it was going to be messy
all along. And, you know, despite concerns about the plight of Afghan
women, I share those concerns deeply, about what kind of governance the
Taliban is going to bring. But in large part, we`re left with -- what has
to be a diplomatic and a humanitarian mission, but not a military mission.
And we haven`t had a serious military mission there in many years.
And I think the most that the President can do at this time in the
administration, get American citizens out and get our allies and friends
who supported us out of Afghanistan, and just, you know, really shore up
that visa process, which is very convoluted. Some of that is because of
legislation. But it`s also process and we just need to speed that up and
get people to safety.
WILLIAMS: Indeed, Mark McKinnon, and I have a reading for you. This is by
Michael Kazin, the historian and the New York Times. We just showed the
headline of the piece, he writes inside it, "The last time a war blow up in
the face of a democratic president, it derailed his domestic agenda and
stalled the most ambitious social reforms of a generation. Two lessons from
LBJ`s downfall are paramount. First, tell the truth, even if it makes you
look bad temporarily. Second, keep the coalition that elected you united in
its response to the crisis."
Mark, I would only urge everyone interested in the topic to listen,
especially to the recorded phone calls between Johnson and McNamara during
those years as they are very illustrative. But what do you make of the
point he makes in the New York Times?
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO JOHN MCCAIN & GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, Brian,
I think the real point here is that President Biden has been defined about
the decision. Not very many people are questioning the decision, most
people supported and he ran on withdrawing from Afghanistan, that`s
supported by a large majority of Americans. It`s the execution that people
are concerned about. And I agree with the Congressman, the important thing
now is the humanitarian effort. And I believe, listen, I`m just looking at
this politically now. I`m putting on my political hat. And that is that,
you know, a year or two from now looking back, the question will be the
humanitarian angle on this right. In other words, did we get people out
that wanted to get out? Did we leave any Americans behind? Did we leave
Afghanis behind that helped Americans? Did we leave people in mortal
danger? And that`ll be the question.
So, I think, listen, this is a hyper partisan, intense time of their --
there`s certainly a lot of criticism that`s deserved on the execution. But
at the end of the day, I think politically, this may be the lowest moment
for the Biden presidency, because if you flash forward six months to a year
from now, pandemic surge will probably be at least better. And hopefully
the humanitarian crisis will have been addressed in Afghanistan.
WILLIAMS: And with a lot yet to do on his agenda, Donna Edwards, Mark
McKinnon are going to stay with us, while I fit in a break.
Coming up, our conversation will continue. We`ll talk about how far Joe
Biden is really prepared to go against those anti-mask Republican governors
as this virus rages out of control in so many of their states.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Unfortunately, as we`ve seen throughout this pandemic, some
politicians are trying to turn public safety measures, that is, children
wearing masks in school, into political disputes for their own political
gain. Some are even trying to take power away from local educators by
banning masks in school. They`re setting a dangerous tone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So on the President`s threat of legal action against states with
mask mandate bans in schools Jennifer Rubin writes this and The Washington
Post today, "Biden and other Democrats should stick with the underlying
message, Republican crackpots courting MAGA base are willing to do anything
to further their careers. In keeping with a necessary effort to identify
Republicans as extreme, radical, dangerous and anti-American, in their
support of insurrectionists, Biden should not hesitate to hammer his
message when it comes to COVID-19 or a host of other issues."
And thankfully, still with us are Donna Edwards and Mark McKinnon. Hey,
Mark, so we`re coming off four years of scorched earth, no one is calling
for that, no one is calling for another round of memorable but horrible
nicknames that reduced people to tiny school yard phraseology. People, I
think would like to see the president get angrier on this. Are you for that
as a strategy going forward, perhaps naming some names at some point?
MCKINNON: I don`t know, Brian, first of all, I`d say that to your earlier
point about, you know, whether or not Afghanistan is stalling the
President`s domestic agenda. I don`t think Afghanistan has much to do with
the domestic agenda. It was stalling out anyway, because of the
partisanship. He may get the infrastructure both bills through, but not
much else was going to happen between 20 -- between now and the midterms,
not because of Afghanistan, but because of the outrageous behavior and
partisanship we see in this country, and to see Republicans, to Jennifer`s
point, taking on really defending freedom at the risk of our children`s
safety. I mean, if freedom is such an issue for Republicans, why not just
go ahead and say everybody drive drunk without their seatbelts. It`s just
insanity to say all the children can`t breathe. Well, the children that
can`t breathe are going to be the children that end up in an ICU on a
ventilator, not because they have a mask on their face. And I think
Republicans have made a huge and dangerous gamble, Brian, to try and sign
on the side of this theoretical freedom versus the health and safety of our
children. And that`s where I think the future is going to be and we`ve
already seen in so many school districts, where, you know, they say go back
to school, there are these mask mandates. And guess what happens? Two or
three days later, everybody`s in court again. So, I think it`s a huge
political mistake on the part of Republicans. And I think we`re just
beginning to see the consequences, and it`s really going to happen when
kids start getting affected.
WILLIAMS: And Donna those are consequential words and a consequential
prediction from our friend Mark, talk about how big you think the
consequences of COVID policy and let`s not forget our deaths toll rising to
one point last week at 1000 a day. We haven`t seen that since the battle
days last winter. What do you think the consequences are going to be? The
next time Americans go to the polls and congressional and gubernatorial
EDWARDS: Well, I think if you look at where those consequences fall, they
fall in the southern states in red states that have resisted the vaccine
that have politicized the vaccine and the wearing of mask.
You just take a state like Mississippi, for example, where 20,000 students
are now in quarantine. And this is just the beginning of the school year,
five young children have died as a result of COVID and no mask mandate. And
so I think those consequences are going to fall, but they`re going to fall
in a lot of red districts where you see this polarization, where you`ve got
blue states that have low, high vaccination rates and low rates of
infection, and red states that do not and I think that what the President
is going to be judged on is now the task of not just cajoling and
incentivizing people to get the vaccine, but really laying the hammer down
on those states that are refusing to get their folks vaccinated and wearing
WILLIAMS: The number I keep harping on, the number I read last week, the
Florida death toll now exceeds the margin by which DeSantis was originally
elected in the state of Florida. This is going to get very interesting and
perhaps to Mark`s point, very nerve racking for Republicans. Excuse me,
Donna Edwards, Mark MacKinnon, two friends of this broadcast, thank you
both for coming on tonight, greatly appreciate it.
Coming up for us, hand to hand combat at 35,000 feet. Flight attendants
didn`t start it. But they are learning how to finish it.
WILLIAMS: Let us please all agree that flight attendants work hard at a
tough job somewhere between adult daycare and server in a bad crowded
restaurant that smells of feet inside and aluminum tube hurtling through
the air. And now they work under physical threat to top it all off, because
of things like mask mandates, flyers have become belligerent and violence
so much so, the FAA has handed out a million dollars in fines just so far
this year. Tonight, Correspondent Tom Costello reports on how flight
attendants are learning to protect themselves.
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At an Air Marshal
Training Center in Chicago, right up close and personal self-defense
tactics. A dozen flight attendants here on their own time has the FAA today
reports nearly 3,900 cases of unruly behavior onboard passenger planes just
this year. Passengers attacking crew members often drinking or angry about
mask mandates. One flight attendant even losing two teeth after being
punched. The FAA now detailing dozens of cases, passengers fined up to
$45,000 each under a zero-tolerance policy with total fines already
surpassing a million dollars.
SARA NELSON, ASSOC. OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT: Every
single day when flight attendants are putting on their uniforms, they`re
saying is this the day that somebody punches me in the face?
COSTELLO: The voluntary self-defense training suspended during the pandemic
now in high demand. Flight attendants don`t sign up to get into a job for a
fistfight. But if it becomes physical, they`re being told, don`t be timid.
LINDA BUMSTEAD, UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT ATTENDANT: If they are going after
myself or anybody on the plane, it`s you or me, right? So, I`m going to
COSTELLO: If I`m a passenger, and I`m coming at you with a fist, you`re
going to block, right? And sometimes it`s going to be a very quick blog,
What did they taught you that you didn`t know before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, so hand and self-defense just as this step, pivot,
bring it back, turn, making sure you`re bringing the hand back into your
face, protect yourself.
COSTELLO: Defending against a new reality in the skies. Tom Costello, NBC
WILLIAMS: And coming up for us, after January the sixth terrorist
sympathizers are popping up in the most unlikely places.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MO BROOKS, (R) ALABAMA: Today is the day American patriots start
taking down names and kicking ass. Louder, are you willing to do what it
takes to fight for America? Louder, will you fight for America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, that was Mo Brooks Republican
Alabama Congressman, trumper, big lie believer, insurrection enthusiast,
that was hand wiping up the crowd on 1/6. He later admitted he was wearing
body armor that day appearing before all those nice people and tourists who
were interested in exploring the history and wonders of our Capitol
Staying on insurrection brand, Brooks put out a statement today about that
would be bomber and pickup truck terrorists who shut down most of Capitol
Hill this morning. And after all the boilerplate language that he had to
say about how happy he was everybody was safe. Brooks was sympathetic and
the statement, "I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial
Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of
American society. The way to stop Socialism`s march is for patriotic
Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 elections. I strongly
encourage patriotic Americans to do exactly that more so now than ever
before, bluntly stated America`s future is at risk."
That`s pretty much everything you need to know about Mo Brooks, educated by
the way at Duke University and the University of Alabama Law School. It is
also why Mo Brooks has a cameo in the following video by the Republican
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ, (R) FLORIDA: We are in a battle for the soul of the
Republican Party and I intend to win it, to win it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Matt Gaetz and other Trump ultra-loyalists are
fighting for a Republican Party that promotes lies.
REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO: The election was stolen.
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY, (R) MISSOURI: There was fraud.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA MINORITY LEADER: President Trump won
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Violence --
REP. MADISON CAWTHORN, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: Call your congressmen, you can
lightly threaten them.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT, (R) TEXAS: You got to go to the streets and be violent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene speculated at
the fire which killed 85 people was sparked by a Jewish space laser.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now they want to exile Republicans like Liz Cheney
in Adam Kinzinger for standing up to a president that caused an
insurrection on the United States Capitol. To save the soul of the
Republican Party, we must stand up for those who act with integrity and
against the ones that lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Mo Brooks and his esteemed colleagues to take us off the air
tonight and that`ll do it for our broadcast on a Thursday evening, along
with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at
these networks of NBC News, good night.