Trump goes off the rails at Montana Rally. TRANSCRIPT: 07/05/2018. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Annie Karni, Malcolm Nance, Brian Bennett, Nancy Cook

Date: July 5, 2018
Guest: Annie Karni, Malcolm Nance, Brian Bennett, Nancy Cook

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: tonight, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt resigns amid
more than a dozen scandals and blatant unrelenting attacks on his way out.

In a freewheeling Montana rally, the President tonight says he`s been
preparing his whole life for meeting Vladimir Putin, while a Russian who
met with Republican lawmakers this week said it was one of the easiest
meetings of his life.

Plus, new reporting on Robert Mueller`s expanding team as the special
counsel investigation plows forward.

THE 11TH HOUR on a Thursday night begins now.

Good evening, once again, from our NBC News headquarters here In New York.
I`m Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams. Day 532 of the Trump Administration.

An EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, joins the list of high profile
departures from the White House. Hours ago, Pruitt sent his resignation
letter to the President as he faced the growing fallout from a whole bunch
of ethic scandals that includes spending tax payer money on a $43,000
soundproof phone booth, a sweetheart deal on a condo rental linked to a
lobbyist and ordering aides to help him obtain a used mattress from Trump`s
hotel in Washington.

Right now Pruitt is the subject of 15 ongoing federal investigations.
Earlier today in a tweet, President Trump announced that he had accepted
Pruitt`s resignation. He wrote, “Within the agency, Scott has done an
outstanding job and I will always be thankful to him for this.” The
President goes onto write, “The Senate confirmed Deputy EPA Andrew Wheeler
will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA.”

In his own resignation letter, Pruitt praised President Trump and the EPA`s
work. He refers to improved environmental outcomes and historic regulatory
reform. And he goes on to say, “It is extremely difficult for me to cease
serving you in this role first because I count it as a blessing to be
serving you in any capacity, but also because of the transformative work
that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my
family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.”

Earlier today as President Trump was traveling to a rally in Montan aboard
Air Force One, he told reporters there was “no final straw” when it came to
Pruitt`s resignation. He said it was Pruitt`s decision to step down. But
“The New York Times” reports, “On Thursday afternoon around 1:30, Mr.
Trump`s Chief of Staff, John F. Kelly, reached out to Mr. Pruitt to tell
him the time had come.

The President also told reporters that he has narrowed his possible Supreme
Court picks to about four people. A source familiar with the selection
process told NBC News the list is actually down to three, these three,
Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge. And at tonight`s
rally in Great Falls, the President was teasing up his big reveal.


vacancy on the Supreme Court. And if you turn in Monday at 9:00, I think
you`re going to be extremely happy with this one, right? And they`re all
great. They`re all great.


VELSHI: Now, from there you can say things went off the rails. Among many
other things, the President went after Maxine Waters, Elizabeth Warren and
the NFL.


TRUMP: We turn to away thousands of people. They never say I`m a great
speaker. Why the hell so many people are come? I`ve broken more than John
Elton records. He seems have a lot of records, and we`ve met.

And by the way, I don`t have a musical instrument. I don`t have a guitar
or organ. No organ. Elton has an organ.

Yes, she is a low I.Q. individual, Maxine Waters. I said it the other day.
I mean, honestly, she`s somewhere in the mid-60s, I believe.

Pocahontas, they always want me to apologize for saying it, and I here by -
- oh, no, I want to apologize. I`ll use tonight. Pocahontas, I apologize
to you. I apologize. To you I apologize. To the fake Pocahontas, I

Yes, we are already building the wall. It started in California and San
Diego. I`ve directed the Pentagon to begin a process of creating a sixth
branch of the United States Armed Forces called the space force.

How about the NFL? Look, I don`t want to cause controversy. They passed
this stupid thing. You don`t have to do this anymore. If you don`t
respect the flag or if don`t like the country or whatever it is, just go
into the locker room. Just go into the – I think in many respects that`s
worse. Isn`t that worse than not standing?


VELSHI: Let`s bring in our lead-off panel for a Thursday night. Peter
Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for the “The New York Times” and
MSNBC Political Analyst. Annie Karni is the White House Reporter for
Politico, and Kimberley Atkins, Chief Washington Reporter for the Boston
Herald and an MSNBC Contributor.

Annie, the boarder wall is not being built. We`ve all ready fact check
that. The racial slur, the Pocahontas thing continues.

The U.S. is a signatory to an international agreement not to militarized
space. But I don`t know, this has picked up yet. You know, I haven`t seen
fraction around this. But the President criticized the Me Too Movement in
his criticism of Elizabeth Warren. These rallies tend to go off the rails.
This one was spectacular.

bring up the Me Too Movement. Trump – the President doesn`t have a lot of
holding himself back, and it`s not a subject that is helpful to him given
that there are more than half a dozen women who have accused him of sexual
misconduct and more. So to hear him bring up that subject when he is part
of it was a surprising turn.

The attacks on Pocahontas, Elizabeth Warren`s team was probably loving it.
I think the Democrats are all like waiting for their turn to be Trump`s
pinata tha day.

VELSHI: Right.

KARNI: And the attacks on the NFL, the White House officials have
explained that this is his 2020 strategy and his midterm strategy to run on
culture wars. That part of it was kind of the Trump playbook. But to
bring up Me Too, especially on the same day that they officially announced
that Bill Shine will be a Deputy Chief of Staff and the Communications
Director, this is a former Fox executive who was involved with cover ups
for Roger Ailes, was a surprising – was probably the most eyebrow raising

VELSHI: And by the way, he brought it up in connection to the conversation
about Pocahontas and Elizabeth Warren. Let`s just play that for our


TRUMP: Let`s say I`m debating Pocahontas, right? I promise you I`ll do
this. I will take – you know those little kits they sell on television
for $2, learn your heritage. The guy says, “I was born in Scotland.” It
turns out he was born in Puerto Rico. That`s OK. That`s good.

You know, the guy says, “I was born in Germany.” Well, he wasn`t born in
Germany.” He was born someplace else. I`m going to get one of those kits
and in the middle of it debate when she proclaims that she`s of Indian
heritage because her mother said she has high cheekbones, that`s her only
evidence that her mother said she had high cheekbone.

We will take that little kit and say, but we be to do it gently because in
the Me Too generation, we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently
take that kit, and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn`t hit her and
injure her arm, even though it only weighs probably two ounces. And we
will say, “I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity paid
for it by Trump if you take the test and it shows you`re an Indian.”


VELSHI: Peter Baker, does not sound like a guy who`s all bent out of shape
about losing a Cabinet secretary today, but he did. There was a
resignation or an invitation to submit a letter of resignation from Scott
Pruitt earlier today. What`s your reporting on how that went down and
particularly what John Kelly role was in it?

John Kelly has been ready to get rid of Scott Pruitt for quite a while.
His whole tenure in the White House, John Kelly`s tenure in the White House
seemed to be short and we don`t seem to be expecting him to last much
longer. But on the way out, he wanted to make sure that Pruitt went first.

I think he was offended by the various scandals, the use of government
resources for his personal gain, for his family`s gain. You know, offended
a career Marine general who had basically spent decades in the service of
his country. And I think that if he`s going to do one thing before he left
the White House, he was going to make sure the President accepted the
resignation of Scott Pruitt.

But, you know, it`s interesting to hear the President at these rallies.
You know, this is not a President speaking so much as a television
entertainer. He knows his audience. He knows loves nothing more than a
good provocative line or a series of lines.

This thing with Elizabeth Warren has been an obsession for him for quite a
bit of time. Sort of an irony there, of course, because he once claimed or
his own family once claimed to be from Sweden when in fact they were
actually from Germany. But, you know, this is a regular joke of his. He
gets good reaction from his crowd. He likes to poke, and to prod, and to
generate some sort of reaction on the part of the Democrats.

VELSHI: Kimberley, it`s kind of hard to imagine we`re a few days away from
the President nominating a Supreme Court pick with all the noise swirling
around it. But the President announced here that his announcement will be
made at 9:00 on Monday. We don`t know whether that`s 9:00 a.m. or p.m.
I`m assuming 9:00 a.m., but he says he`s going to make this pick on Monday.

We`re reporting that it is down to three nominees, three potential
candidates. Kavanaugh, Barrett and Kethledge. What`s your thought on
where this is going?

mean I do believe that the President met in the evening. I think he wants
to build it up as a prime time special the same way that he rolled out the
nomination of Neil Gorsuch, his first Supreme Court pick. But, yes, I mean
it`s – it wouldn`t be a mistake to say this is probably one of the most
consequential things that this President can do in his term is nominate
another conservative to the U.S. Supreme court, which is what`s going to
happen on Monday regardless of the three finalists that he picks.

It seems to me, I`m told that Brett Kavanaugh who`s a D.C. Circuit Court of
Appeals judge is at the top of this list because the President simply likes
him. He has a good feel for him. You know, the President likes to trust
his own gut and people who he likes in making this pick. Of course, he`s
selecting from a carefully honed list of people put together by the
Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, conservatives that he knew,
the evangelicals and the other conservative Republicans would love. So
it`s not a big stretch between them, but somebody who he seems to like.

But, yes, you`re right, this is the time that the President should be
talking about this and only this rather than going to where he seems to be
going tonight with the attacks on Elizabeth Warren and others. Especially
given the fact that in the midterms and beyond in 2020, the President and
the Republicans are going to need suburban women. And in this case the two
big things and you see him attack several women today in his speech, you
see him make fun of the Me Too movement. And there is a lot of concern
that whoever he appoints to the U.S. Supreme Court might be willing to
overturn Roe v. Wade. These are all things that seem to be political
against the President at this time. But in all this case is he`s doubling
down and he thinks he has the right strategy.

VELSHI: Annie, back to this issue of losing Pruitt. I mean, the list has
become too big, the list of administration departures, the turnover in the
White House, but particularly at the highest levels, Cabinet secretaries.
The President talked about the replacement for – the immediate replacement
for the Secretary for the Administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt. And it`s
going to be a guy who`s as committed to the deregulation of the EPA as
Scott Pruitt was.

A lot of people argue that`s why Pruitt last so long, because like Rick
Perry at the Energy, like Mick Mulvaney at the CFBP, like Betsey DeVos at
the Education, he`s doing what he promised the American people. He`s
deregulating the EPA.

KARNI: I think it`s a mixture of things. I think Pruitt had supporters
among people who have said that despite the distractions of the mounting
scandals that you can`t even keep track of anymore, he was quietly
delivering on the on the agenda that he was put in place to do. His
successor will do that without the mattresses and the lotion and the Check-
fil-A and whatnot.

So to liberals, that could be even more damaging. To conservatives, that
could make them feel better about it. But I think for Trump himself, it
was also – Pruitt knew how to kiss up to the President. We saw it in the
language he used in the resignation letter. I think a lot of this happened
in private, that he knew how to flatter Trump.


KARNI: And so I think it was the personal relationship, too, that made
John Kelly have to be the hatchet man here, that Trump was dragged along to
this decision by his aides. Pruitt probably would have hung on longer if
Trump was left to his own devices on this one for both of those reasons.

VELSHI: Yes, Peter, Josh Dawsey of “The Washington Post” is reporting
Pruitt`s survival came from being in the line of eyesight-angling to hang
around in the West Wing while lavishing Trump with praise, telling the
President he was brilliant and a political revolutionary, according to
people who have attended meetings with him. The two men also commiserated
about the deep state, along with current and former aides, conspiring
against them. Even the letter was of obsequious, the resignation letter.
But in the end, Scott Pruitt hung around. Something broke the back of this
thing, the idea that he was criticized by his Deputy Chief of Staff on
television Tuesday night, some say might have been the last straw.

BAKER: Yes, it`s hard to pinpoint one last straw because there were so
many straws. I mean, this is, you know, a candle`s back that was ready to
be broken for weeks. But you`re right, you know, Scott Pruitt played this
very cleverly.

He was at the White House as recently as yesterday for the Fourth of July
celebrations with the President. He did stay in the line of sight. And I
think he did appeal to the President in the sense of, you know, being
somebody who is being unfairly maligned by the Washington chattering class,
the liberal medians and so fourth. That was something that appealed to the
President Trump`s own sense of persecution right now.

He also, you know, he had a brash style that the President appreciated, and
the President wasn`t eager to get rid of somebody who in some ways was
practicing politics the way that he himself had done. But ultimately, of
course, the laws of political gravity have not been repealed entirely at
least in Washington.

VELSHI: Entirely.

BAKER: And they did eventually, you know, pull-down somebody, you know,
had had so many things on his back that it`s hard to imagine he lasted this

VELSHI: Peter Baker, Annie Karni, Kimberly Atkins, thank you all three of
you for joining me on a Thursday night.

A delegation of Republican U.S. senators since spends the Fourth of July in
Moscow. Critics question the intent and the optics of this unusual holiday

Later, new numbers on just how many migrant children are spending another
night separated from their parents. What the Trump Administration says
it`s doing now to bring families back together.

THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on a Thursday night.



TRUMP: I`m meeting with President Putin next week. Now, they`re saying
with Putin, “Well, Putin is highly prepared. And Trump, will he be
prepared for the meeting?” Trust me, we`ll do just fine.

I might even end up having a good relationship but they`re going, “Will
President Trump be prepared? You know President Putin is GPB and this and
that.” You know what, Putin`s fine. He`s fine. We`re all fine. We`re

Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I`ve been preparing for this stuff
my whole life. They don`t say that.


VELSHI: The White House today confirmed that President Trump will be
speaking one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their July
16th summit in Finland. The administration says the President will
“continue to hold Russia accountable for its maligned activity.” The
official said that could include election interference as well as Russia`s
military activity in Ukraine. But once the two men are alone, there`s no
telling what really will be discussed. There`s no plan to have a note
taker or anyone else in that room.

This week, a delegation of Republican senator, seen here, traveled to
Moscow to meet with Russian foreign minister and his staff. They said they
were there to help lay the groundwork for the upcoming summit. “The
Washington Post” reports the Republicans sounded like “nearly conciliatory
tone” in their meetings with the Russians. The paper quotes one Russian
official is saying the meeting was one of the easiest ones in my life.

Here`s how one of the Republican senators who was in that delegation
described the talks.


SEN. STEVE DAINES (R), MONTANA: It was a productive visit. We sent a very
strong message and a direct message to the Russian government. First of
all, don`t interfere in U.S. elections.


VELSHI: Earlier this evening on this network, Former CIA Director John
Brennen said he`s worried about the senators` Moscow visit and what it
could mean for the Trump-Putin sit-down.


JOHN BRENNEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The perception is that they are giving
in at this point to the Russians to just pave the way for the Trump-Putin
summit. By having this delegation out in Moscow right now is not sending a
signal to Russia that they`re going to be costs to pay for any type of, you
know, continued interference. It`s going to be we`re going to forgive and


VELSHI: Malcolm Nance is a long time U.S. Armed Forces, Veteran of
Intelligence and Counterterrorism. He joins us tonight. His latest book,
“The Plot to Destroy Democracy, How Putin and His Spies are Undermining
America and Dismantling the West” debuted at number nine on “The New York
Times” best sellers list. And Brian Bennett is a Senior White House
Correspondent for Time Magazine. Welcome to both of you.

Malcolm, we knew there was a rally tonight. But that one was popcorn
worthy. It was unusual. The President is saying he`s been prepared for
this all his life and will do just fine. He does not seem to be heading
into this meeting with the seriousness that a lot of people think it

has this Chamberlain-esque attitude towards Russia where he`s just going to
lay it down. I mean, we already know that based on his past statement.
And he`s correct. He has been preparing his entire life for this.

I mean, he went to the Soviet Union in 1987 trying to get Trump hotels. We
know that he was taking Russian money and was, you know, selling real
estate to them for years. We also know that in 2013 he met with the top 12
Russian oligarchs and received their version of events for over two hours
and since that time has been spouting it.

And quite – I mean, quite honestly, Donald Trump is going there to meet
with his handler. I mean, you know, he`s going to meet with the guy that
he has been worshipping and admiring for years, not just the last two
years. And that doesn`t bode well for the United States. I think he`s
going to lay down on this one, and I think they will raise Russian
sanctions within months if not just by executive fiat.

VELSHI: Brian, there are legitimate concerns about the relationship
between Donald Trump and the Russians, relationship between Donald Trump
and Vladimir Putin. With that cloud that continues to be over the
President`s head, why have a meeting in which no one else will be present?

is really interesting that the White House is so direct in saying that only
the two men will be in the room. Obviously with translators if they want
to have that to make it easier for them to converse.

Donald Trump has said during the campaign and since he was elected he wants
to try to have a better relationship with Russia and a better relationship
with Vladimir Putin in particular. And Donald Trump puts a lot of stake in
his ability to develop a personal rapport with someone. And he wants to
have that time by himself with Vladimir Putin to try to break through the
tensions that have bedeviled the U.S.-Russian relations for the last
decade. Especially in the Putin era has Russia has been backsliding on
democratic values and invading Crimea and a bad actor in Syria.

And so Donald Trump believes that he can fix it, and he is going to be able
to sit in a room with Putin and come to another – a new way of the U.S.
interacting with Russia.

VELSHI: But, you know, Malcolm, the President says things like Putin`s
fine. Putin`s just fine. He`s just fine. Journalists have died in
Russia. Political opponents have died. Political opponents have been

You know, George Will has written a column about this summit. He says a
Trump summit with Kim could foretell catastrophe with Putin. He said if he
does as badly in his July 16 meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland as he
did with Kim Jong-un in Singapore, the consequences could be catastrophic.
It is kind of remarkable the President continues to down-play not just the
effect Russia has had in interference in other elections but the idea
Vladimir Putin is OK and he`s a good guy to befriend.

NANCE: Yes. And Donald Trump obviously in some way, shape or form that is
yet to be determined is in debt to Vladimir Putin. Today, he normalized
the KGB. He spoke as if being a KGB officer, a career officer, their motto
was once KGB, always KGB, he runs that country with four top advisers who
are ex-KGB and he murders people.

He invades our allies. He`d subverts American democracy, and Donald Trump
today normalized him just as he normalized the Nazis in Charlottesville.
This is very dangerous for American democracy. And to have seven
Republican senators go through there to pave the way in this grand
appeasement of Moscow only shows the Republican Party has surrendered to
this Russia, and this will hurt this American constitutional republic
seriously. John Brennan was absolutely right.

VELSHI: Let`s listen to something else John Brennan said a little earlier
this evening about both Donald Trump`s approach to North Korea and Russia.


BRENNAN: Mr. Trump is dealing away whether it be the North Koreans, with
the Russians, whatever, all the things that are in U.S. national interest
and giving them what they want. The Russians will feint sincerity better
than anyone I`ve ever dealt with in my life. And so they`d be very careful
about being swept in.

And I think Mr. Trump is not sophisticated enough, unfortunately, to deal
with these foreign leaders in a manner that is going to protect U.S.
national security interest.


VELSHI: Brian, a year and a half ago John McCain and Lindsey Graham were
ceaseless in their pressure on the President about an appeasement strategy
towards Russia. And now we have Republican senators basically acting as
advance team for the President. What happened to the Republican Party and
its the concern about the Russia that it remembers in the Cold War?

BENNETT: Well, this was something that Russia has been frustrated with for
months. They have heard from Donald Trump that he wants to have a better
relationship, and they felt like they weren`t seeing enough concessions
coming from congress in particular. And so they wanted to have a high
level delegation come from Congress to meet in Moscow. And there`s a
reason that a high level delegation hasn`t come from Congress to go to
Moscow in the Putin era and that is because Putin has turned his back on

And there was a concern among lawmakers that by meeting with members of the
lower and upper house of the legislature in Moscow that it would be
justifying what is essentially an undemocratic process of electing those

Another thing is that Ambassador Kislyak, who was a famous Russian
ambassador to the U.S. who had been on a phone call with Michael Flynn,
President Trump`s first National Security Adviser, during the transition
over a promised to ease of on sanctions when Donald Trump became the
President. that Ambassador Kislyak is now a member of the Upper House of
Representatives in Moscow, and he was in those meetings with those
lawmakers. And that`s – we would think that would be a third rail –

VELSHI: We would think.

BENNETT: – in the political – in the public form for those lawmakers,
but he was there. He met with them. And we`re going to have to see how if
there`s any political ramifications for those lawmakers for taking this

VELSHI: Brian Bennett, Malcolm Nance, thanks to both of you for joining me

Coming up, what Michael Cohen`s latest maneuvers might be signaling in the
special counsel`s Russia investigation apparently beefing up his
prosecution team.

THE 11TH HOUR is back after this.


VELSHI: Tonight brand new reporting that indicates the Mueller Russia
investigation may be expanding. Bloomberg reports the special counsel is
calling for more justice department resources to help with the Russia
investigation, and that he is, quote, making more use of career prosecutors
from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from the justice department
headquarters as well as FBI agents.

Meanwhile President Trump`s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen is taking
another step to shore up his own legal team as an investigation into his
business practices moves forward. Cohen has just hired the man on the
left, Lanny Davis, he`s former top lawyer in the Clinton White House and a
long time friend of Hillary Clinton. He`s now be serving as one of Cohen`s
new attorneys.

Tonight, in a statement Davis says he recognized Cohen`s sincerity after
reading his interview with ABC News. Davis also said, quote, Michael Cohen
deserves to tell his side of the story subject, of course, to the advice of

With me for more is former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance, who spent 25 years as
a federal prosecutor. She`s now an MSNBC legal analyst, and Nancy Cook,
the White House reporter for Politico. Joyce, welcome to both of you.
Joyce, let`s start with you. What does it mean that Robert Mueller is
expanding his team but he`s going to the U.S. Attorney`s Office and the
Justice Department for career lawyers. Is that relevant?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s very interesting. You know, part
of it may be resources. He`s getting ready to launch the Manafort trial,
and he may feel the need to bring more bodies onboard to manage all the
pieces of the investigation. It could also signal he`s thinking about
spinning off pieces of the case or that there are matters that aren`t so
central to the Trump-Russia campaign relationship that they can go to other

But, Ali, one of the interesting details that this reporting gives us is
that Mueller is tapping investigators in Pittsburgh. And that`s
interesting because Pittsburgh is a venue where the FBI has gone in the
past for high-end cyber crime investigation including the Chinese hacking
case, that was indicted during the Obama administration. So this could
signal prominence for cyber crime and hacking.

VELSHI: Nancy, last week the testimony of Rod Rosenstein in that
congressional hearing got very hot. Trey Gowdy, one of the Republicans,
the lead Republican in the e-mail investigation to Hillary Clinton, really,
really encouraged Rosenstein to wrap this investigation up. Does this call
for more resources and the news that there are more people getting onto
this investigation, well, that doesn`t sort of sit where the Republicans on
the intel committee want it to go.

Trump`s own lawyers for a long time said this would wrap up by December,
and now we`re in July. And to me the idea that the special counsel is
bringing on additional career prosecutors and FBI agents shows that this is
far from over. There`s a lot of different tentacles to this. He`s brought
20 indictments so far, and I think that, you know, he`s under a lot of
political pressure and is not necessarily going to get more resources to
add to the investigation in terms of peoples who are dedicated specifically
to it, but he could bring on these career people and that`s what we`ve
seen. And I think it shows this could go in a lot of different directions
we don`t know about yet.

VELSHI: And we always find about when the Mueller investigation wants us
to find out about them and that`s usually when some action has been taken.
So we don`t know what part of the iceberg we`re actually looking at. But
let`s bring the Michael Cohen part of this up, Joyce. Michael Cohen hiring
Lanny Davis. What is that mean to you?

VANCE: So all be contrarian here. I know people are concerned with the
fact he has ties to the Clintons. But he`s a lawyer. Lawyers represent
all different kinds of clients, some whose views line up with theirs and
others whose views don`t. And so I think he`ll do what good lawyers do,
give his client the best defense he can, and whether he`ll be working on
the legal end of things or more on PR, damage control, image resuscitation.
He`ll do the best he can for his client.

VELSHI: And putting aside, Nancy, the Lanny Davis connection to the
Clintons and the Clinton orbit, the fact is Michael Cohen has either been
shoring up his defense or signaling something to Donald Trump for the last
week. What do you read into this?

COOK: Well I think initially my impression was definitely that he was
signaling to Trump and sort of Trump`s kitchen cabinets and all the
surrogates, it was almost like a plea for help that he, you know,
definitely wanted to be in the president`s good graces.

But really this week I think we`ve seen a real change in tone from him.
You know, he scrubbed from his own Twitter profile the identifier he was
the president`s personal attorney. And then in an ABC interview earlier
this week he also indicated that his family – he kept stressing his
family was his first priority above – the implication was that was above
sort of protecting the president or, you know, the president`s sort of

And so I think we`ve seen a real shift in tone. And I would interrupt you
can never get in the mind of someone, but I would say my impression is that
that shows he`s more willing to play ball with the special investigation
than perhaps he was earlier.

VELSHI: And Joyce, the talk about the family, the complimentary tone
towards prosecutors and investigators and the fact he seems to be
considering some level of cooperation, other legal experts have said to me
once you start going down that road, it usually ends up down that road.
The people who say they`re never going to cooperate sometimes don`t, but
once you start thinking about your family or thinking about cooperating,
you might be ready to talk.

VANCE: So he`s certainly ready to talk. He`s signaling it anyway he knows
how to. But the real question here is will prosecutors in the southern
district of New York be interested in what he has to say. They`ve only
just gotten their hands on the 1.3 million items that were turned over to
them after the search of his home and business. They`ll need to come
through that and make a determination about what if any crimes they believe
he`s committed. And it won`t be until they reach that point really that
would I expect them to reach out and have an interest in seeing what
information he might want to proffer as his potential cooperation. So,
pretty much the prosecutors hold all of the cards here, and he`ll just have
to wait and see where they end up.

VELSHI: Joyce Vance, Nancy Cook, thanks for joining me tonight.

Coming up, the secretary of state travels to North Korea for another one-
on-one with Kim Jong-un. What Mike Pompeo hopes to accomplish for his
third trip to Pyongyang when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


VELSHI: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is arriving in North Korea
overnight. Just as we came on the air tonight after a quick refueling stop
in Japan, he`s in North Korea for meetings met to cement details for a
nuclear disarmament plan. Now, this is the first high level meeting since
President Trump`s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month.
Trump addressed the deal that he said he made with Kim at the rally tonight
in Montana.


tough, he`s going to close the war, it`s too tough. Now they say he`s too
nice, he`s too nice. He`s too nice. I got along very well with Chairman
Kim. I got along very well. That`s a good thing I got along well. We
signed a wonderful paper saying they`re going to denuclearize their whole
thing. It`s going to all happen.


VELSHI: The paper the two leaders signed doesn`t actually lay out any
specifics for denuclearization. In fact, intelligence officials have told
NBC News that North Korea has actually increased its nuclear production at
secret sites in recent months.

Here to talk about that tonight is Sue Mi Terry, a senior fellow for the
Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and MSNBC
Korean affairs analyst. She`s also a former senior analyst for the CIA and
was in charge of this region while on the White House National Security

Sue Mi Terry, this is just kind of crazy. The president keeps referring to
this agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. I think it`s a
stretch to suggest that there was enough detail in there to be touting this
in front of a rally.

Absolutely right. There`s no agreement. There`s no deal. The single
point of declaration that President Trump was talking about was very short,
just kind of, you know, aspirational statement, if anything. North Korea
agreed to work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But, no, there is no deal. And as you just mentioned now the U.S.
intelligence community concludes that not only that North Korea has been
working on expanding their nuclear missile program but that they continue
to, intend to deceive the U.S. officials on future negotiations as well.
So I think that was a very exclusive report. And Secretary Pompeo has work
cut out for him when he meet with Kim Jong-un and confronts him about what
North Korea is going to do next.

VELSHI: Right, and some people describe Mike Pompeo`s visit there as make-
or-break. Pompeo is going to have to leave North Korea convinced that
there is forward movement on this. And that is a very, very big task for
him. If he doesn`t do that, this administration is talking about a second
summit, possibly here in New York, possibly in September. Do we risk
elevating Kim Jong-un on the global stage while getting nothing in return
for doing so?

TERRY: That`s right. And we`ve already done that by President Trump
already meeting with Kim Jong-un in the first place in Singapore. We
elevated him, we gave him legitimacy, and so we cannot invite him to New
York. And Kim Jong-un cannot stand at the United Nations General Assembly
and give a speech while meet with President Trump without giving anything.

U.S. has suspended U.S.-South Korea doing exercises. So I think now we
have to get something back such as a time line at least of how to move
forward or get a complete declaration of their nuclear weapons program of
facilities, but you don`t feeling that in some sort of a broad road map how
we`re going to move forward on denuclearization. Otherwise what do we
have? We have nothing.

VELSHI: What is the impetus? What would be the thing that would motivate
Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear program? Because it has been driven by
this passion for reunifying Korea and America has really been painted as an
ultimate evil in North Korea. Why would he give it up? What would he have
to get in exchange?

TERRY: I mean that`s a very good question because North Koreans always
said they need a security guarantee. But what are they talking about? How
do we give a security guarantee? North Korea met by that end of U.S.-South
Korea alliance, U.S. pulling troops out of South Korea. But again, it`s
hard to give a security guarantee to North Korea.

And as you mentioned North Korea`s while existence was all about having the
United States as their number one hostile enemy. That sort of justified
their existence, it justify all the suffering of the North Korean people,
jut all these years since the founding of North Korea.

So, beyond having nuclear weapons as deterrence against the United States,
beyond trying to get security guarantee from the United States, it`s also
the reason for their existence. So I think it`s going to be a very hard
thing to achieve. But since President Trump said we are going to get there
at least Secretary Pompeo need to get minimum out of North Korea right now
on this visit, and I think that starts with a road map or some sort of time
line and hopefully even a little bit more, even with declarations of their
nuclear program. At least there will be a beginning of something.

VELSHI: He`s got a lot of work ahead of him. Let`s home he succeeds.


VELSHI: Sue Mi Terry, thank you as always.

Coming up, with that court imposed deadline to reunite migrant families
fast approaching with, how DNA testing could help get thousands of kids
back with their parents. THE 11TH HOUR is back after this.



TRUMP: We believe in strong borders and no crime, it`s very simple. A
vote for the Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our
communities. To let drugs pour into our cities. And to take jobs and
benefits away from our hard-working Americans and we`re not letting it
happen. Democrats want anarchy. They really do.


VELSHI: More tough talk from President Trump on immigration and the
border, but no mention of the thousands of children being held in detention
centers. The Department of Health and Human Services now says there are
nearly 3,000 children who were taken from their parents, about 100 of those
children are under the age of 5.

However, officials refused to offer an exact figure. This was the first
update since last week, when we were told there were 2,047 kids being held
as a result of Trump`s zero tolerance policy. The federal government is
now struggling to reunite the children with their parents ahead of looming
court mandated deadlines.

“The New York Times” reports tonight that records linking children to their
parents have disappeared, and in some cases, have been destroyed, according
two officials of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving authorities
struggling to identify connections between family members.

HHS announced today it will try to use DNA to more quickly reunite
families. As we`ve been reporting, immigrant parents are being handed a
form, giving them the option to leave the country, either with or without
their children. They are no longer offered the option to stay with their
children as they seek asylum.

Today, President Trump repeated his calls to deport asylum seekers without
due process, writing on Twitter, “When people with or without children
enter our country, they must be told to leave would our country being
forced to endure a long and costly trial. Tell the people out, and they
must leave, just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn.”

Also new tonight, the president`s policies are impacting the United States
military. The Associated Press reporting that some immigrant U.S. Army
reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with promise path to
citizenship are being abruptly discharged. The exact numbers of service
members affected isn`t known, but the AP confirms at least 40 have been
kicked out.

Coming up, British residents shell out $20,000 to fund a peaceful
presidential protest in the skies over London. London mayor says it`s a
go. President Trump isn`t going to like this one. THE 11TH HOUR is back
after this.


VELSHI: The last thing before we go tonight, President Trump will visit
London next week. He plans to meet with both Queen Elizabeth and British
Prime Minister Theresa May during that trip, but it`s a trip that like so
many things involving this president is not without controversy.

In the past, President Trump is publicly has feuded with London`s mayor,
attacking him on Twitter just hours after a terror attack killed seven
people in that city. Weeks later, Trump`s commentary on Twitter after a
separate attack in London`s subway earned him a rebuke from Prime Minister

So, while the diplomatic link between Washington and London has often been
called a special relationship, it`s one that`s also complicated by the
Trump presidency. And tonight, we have a resolution to a political drama
that`s been playing out ahead of the president`s visit. Protests are
expected to meet President Trump at each and every stage of his trip, but
today, the Office of the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, the same mayor that
Trump has feuded with, says a group of protesters will be allowed to fly
this blimp portraying the president as a giant diaper-wearing baby over
parliament during his visit.

And given that Trump`s fights with British leaders have been launched on
Twitter, it`s worth noting that blimp baby Trump is also holding a
smartphone in its right hand. As for its size, this handy graphic was made
by our friends at “The L.A. Times.” You can see it stands about six meters
high, that`s 20 feet, or more than three times the height of the actual
President Trump. But you might be wondering why a big blimp baby Trump?
One of the protesters who helped create it answered that question last


the man has no shame. So, moral outrage is not an effective form of
protest to Donald Trump. What he hates is when people take the piss out of
him. And he`s got a really fragile ego. I would say that`s the only sort
of real leverage that we have over this man. He`s like the most powerful
man in the world, but he seems very vulnerable to being mocked.


VELSHI: That is our broadcast for tonight. Thank you for being with us
and good night from NBC News headquarters in New York.


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