Biden reverses on Hyde Amendment. TRANSCRIPT: 6/6/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests:
Anita Kumar, Tammy Baldwin
Transcript:

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  And he was proud that he wasn`t out in

the street marching.

 

When Donald Trump`s father got him that doctor`s note, that got him out of

the draft.  The minimal morally responsible thing to do was to take to the

streets marching to try to stop that war, to try to save the life of the

boy who was going to be drafted instead of Donald Trump and Donald Trump

did not do that. Donald Trump did nothing.  Because in war that`s what

Trumps always do.

 

That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.  “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts

now.

 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, while sitting in the midst of almost

10,000 heroic souls, Donald Trump uses a Fox News interview on hallowed

ground to take political shots back home.  He calls Robert Mueller a fool. 

Calls Speaker Pelosi a disaster.

 

Back in Washington, we can now hear the tape and we`ll play it for you. 

The voice of Donald Trump`s lawyer urging Michael Flynn`s lawyer to do the

right thing.  Today a former federal prosecutor said the tape sounds to him

like a federal crime.

 

And Joe Biden learns a valuable political lesson early in this race.  Not

this issue, not this year.  Tonight his complete about-face on abortion and

what brought it on.  All of it as “The 11th Hour” gets under way on a

Thursday night.

 

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New

York.  This was day 868 of the Trump administration.  And to be candid, the

reviews of the President`s performance on this day in a cemetery in France

sounded at first almost unavoidably patronizing.  Those watching, those

covering the event gave him almost universal credit and high marks for

reading the speech as was intended to be delivered and for showing respect

and deference and appreciation to the old men behind him who 75 years ago

today were boys dropped into the surf from ships and forced to survive

withering machine gunfire just to make it to the beach on their way to

saving the world.  Well, the President did that right before we learned he

had done something else as well.

 

In an interview with Fox News, framed by over 9,000 grave markers, he

attacked the Speaker of the House and a decorated combat veteran named

Robert Mueller.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He made such a fool out

of himself the last time she – because what people don`t report is the

letter he had to do to straighten out his testimony because his testimony

was wrong.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  It`s unclear what letter or testimony the President`s referring

to there.  And there`s new material we`re about to show you from this

interview tonight.  Robert Mueller did read that 10-minute statement at his

news conference in which he made clear his report did not exonerate Donald

Trump.

 

As we mentioned, the President also aimed insults at Nancy Pelosi, who led

a bipartisan delegation today to the D-Day commemoration.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  She`s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.  The Mueller report

came out.  It was a disaster for them.  They thought their good friend,

Bobby Mueller, was going to give them a great report and he came out with a

report with 13 horrible angry Democrats who were totally biased against me.

 

Nancy Pelosi, I call her “nervous Nancy.”  Nancy Pelosi doesn`t talk about

it.  Nancy Pelosi is a disaster, OK?  She`s a disaster.  And let her do

what she wants.  You know what?  I think they`re in big trouble.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Pelosi is at the center of this struggle in her party caucus

over whether or when to begin impeachment proceedings, even an inquiry

against Donald Trump.  Today our NBC News colleague Andrea Mitchell asked

the speaker about the potential impact if the House were to move forward.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  We are so divided as a country right

now.  Do you worry about the politics right now, impeachment and everything

else that`s on the – on the table and how that can further divide us?

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA, HOUSE SPEAKER:  Well, again, with all

due respect to your question, I`m not here to talk about impeachment.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  There have been reports that Pelosi and Judiciary Chairman Jerry

Nadler of New York are at odds on this topic of impeachment.  He said to be

opposed to her go slow approach.  We have much more on that ahead.

 

There`s also new reporting on Nadler`s other project, and that`s getting

Robert Mueller to testify publicly.  Politico is reporting he`s told

Democratic leaders had a close door meeting this week that he could issue a

subpoena to Mueller within two weeks if a deal for public testimony can`t

be secured.  Just yesterday Nadler said he was confident Mueller would

appear at a hearing.

 

As all that unfolds, there are questions about the house Democrats efforts

to hold Attorney General Barr and former White House Counsel, Don McGahn in

contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas for Mueller`s full report and

supporting materials and documents.  The full House is set to vote Tuesday,

but a new resolution released just today appears to speed up the legal

process by which Democrats can ask a court to intervene and force witnesses

to give up information, and by extension that could make a contempt vote

unnecessary.

 

And amid all this, the legal battles over Mueller`s report.  We`re also

getting new information about another key witness for the prosecution. 

Notes from Michael Flynn`s interview with the FBI back in 2017 have now

been released, unsealed by a federal court.  The former National Security

Adviser to Trump pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his 2016

conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak.

 

The notes reveal that on December 28 of 2017, the day Obama expelled

Russians from the U.S. for election interference, Kislyak “asked Flynn to

set up a VTC,” a video teleconference” between President-elect Trump and

Russian President Putin for January 21st of 2017.”  One day after the

inauguration.

 

Michael Flynn, a reminder, is still awaiting sentencing.  Today his

longtime attorney, Robert Kelner, notified the court he was no longer

representing Michael Flynn.

 

Prosecutors have also released a voicemail that left by that same attorney,

Robert Kelner by President Trump`s one-time personal lawyer, John Dowd. 

This call was made not long after Flynn agreed in 2017 to cooperate with

the special counsel investigation with the Feds.

 

Now, we`ve already been able to read the transcript of what you`re about to

hear and we`ve read it on the air, but sometimes hearing the human voice

helps.  So hear now the actual recording of this voicemail message from

Trump`s lawyer to Flynn`s lawyer.

 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

 

JOHN DOWD, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER:  Hey, Rob, uhm, this is John again.  Uh,

maybe I-I-I`m – I`m sympathetic, I understand your situation, but let me

just see if I can`t state it in starker terms.  If you have – well, it

wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve gone on to make a deal with and, uh work

with the government.  Uh, I understand that you can`t join a joint defense,

that`s one thing.  If, on the other hand, there`s information that

implicates the President, then we`ve got a national security issue, or

maybe a national security issue.  I don`t know.  Some issue.  We`ve got to

– we`ve got to deal with not only the President but for the country.

 

So, uh, you know, then – then we need some kind of heads up.  Um, just for

the sake of protecting all our interests if we can without you having to

give up any confidential information.

 

So, um, and if it`s the former then, well, remember what was always said

about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and all that still

remains.  But, in any event, let me know, and uh, I appreciate your

listening and taking the time.  Thanks pal.

 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  So much to talk about there.  Just an hour to do it.  Here for

our leadoff discussion on a Thursday night, Mimi Rocah, former Assistant

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, now a Distinguished

Fellow in Criminal Justice at the Pace University School of Law.  Eugene

Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for “The Washington Post.”  And

Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor for Politico. 

Good evening and welcome to you all.

 

Mimi, you get to go first with a very simple question.  What do you learn

from listening to a human voice on that recording?

 

MIMI ROCAH, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY:  You learn a

lot, Brian.  You know, as you said, it`s one thing to read the words, but

when you hear his intonations, when you hear, frankly, his hesitancy, he`s

struggling with the words because there is a certain consciousness of guilt

going on here.  He knows he shouldn`t be doing this.

 

Now, you can question why would someone leave this in a voicemail?  It

seems pretty dumb, frankly, but he`s uncomfortable with it.  I think he

knows on some level, you know, I really shouldn`t be doing this, but it

tells you the importance of what he feels he`s doing because he`s doing it

anyway.

 

And he is – there are so many clues in what he says.  I mean, for example,

he says you know what we`ve always said about how the President feels about

Flynn.  Well, first of all, this isn`t the first time this has come up. 

They`ve had these conversations before.  That`s what that says.  We have

always said.  I mean, this isn`t Dowd going out and saying how Trump feels

about the President.  This is how – Trump feels about Flynn.  This is what

Trump has told Dowd about how he feels about Flynn to pass it on.

 

So, look, Mueller didn`t go there.  Mueller didn`t subpoena Dowd and try to

sort of pierce the veil of the attorney-client privilege and find out how

involved was Trump in this, how – what discussions did they specifically

have about this?

 

It`s clear to me that Dowd is committing a crime here.  The question is,

how involved and what would the evidence be against Trump?  I mean, common

sense tells us he`s involved, but what would the proof be?  But Congress

can go there.  They don`t have to stand by the attorney-client privilege in

the way that Mueller did.

 

WILLIAMS:  You know your way around a recording as a former Fed.  Most of

them, of course, organized crime and not presidential politics, but there

is that certain element that reading a flat transcript on a page doesn`t

deliver.

 

ROCAH:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean, I`ve listened to dozens and dozens of

recordings of organized crime and other people, and, you know, if you play

a recording for a jury, I mean, every trial lawyer knows this, it just

brings home what is happening in a way that a transcript doesn`t.  And this

shows you, you know, we`ve seen this again even with Mueller`s 10-minute

press conference.  Hearing words, hearing someone speak as opposed to

reading a report is so compelling.  And this is why Congress needs to get

going as best they can on having witnesses, whether it be playing

recordings like this.

 

I think they should subpoena Dowd.  I really don`t see any barrier to that. 

You know, I`m not saying he`ll just willingly come but there, frankly, are

not a lot of legitimate privileges he could invoke on that.  And having

Mueller testify, even though he doesn`t want to.

 

WILLIAMS:  Eugene, it won`t surprise you to learn that, shall we say, Fox

News did not dwell on this story tonight.  Here is how they went

alternatively.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Speaker Pelosi now apparently telling

senior Democrats she`d like to see Trump behind bars.  Based on no actual

crime she wants a political opponent locked up in prison?  That happens in

banana republics beyond despicable behavior.

 

And, by the way, they would literally turn in many ways, the USA, into a

country we no longer recognize.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Back on to what we`re talking about –

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST:  I`m sorry. I missed part

of that.  I was hearing this vague chant of “lock her up,” “lock her up.”

 

WILLIAMS:  And Michael Flynn may have said that at the convention.

 

ROBINSON:  And Michael Flynn, I believe I heard him say at the convention.

 

WILLIAMS:  Why leave a voicemail like that on somebody –

 

ROBINSON:  I don`t know.  I don`t know. But, you know, i read the

transcript like everybody, and I didn`t get all of that out of the

transcript.  You`re right about that.

 

And it is the hesitancy and the consciousness that this isn`t – and, you

know, I`ve got to sort of talk my way around this because I can`t go at it

directly because I really shouldn`t be going at it at all.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

ROBINSON:  This is, like, not something I`m comfortable with, but I got to

do it.  And also a sense that Dowd is thinking about the President,

thinking about what he might not know about what Flynn and Trump might know

and so he`s trying to maneuver and find that out as well.

 

WILLIAMS:  Anita, how will we ever know, based on the beat that you cover

every day, the level of concern inside the West Wing, whether, for example,

the Departure of Mr. Flynn`s counsel is based on the knowledge that this

audio was coming out today.

 

ANITA KUMAR, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I mean, I think

there is concern.  You can see from the President`s remarks that he feels

concerned or he`s feeling that he wants to – that he`s thinking about

things, he wants to comment about them.  He`s clearly still thinking about

the Mueller report and how that`s going to play out in his testimony, if he

does testify in the next couple of weeks.

 

They were – knowing that this was coming out, they`ve known each little

piece that comes out, obviously they`re following that.  I have to say, the

White House, though, is really – so much is going on right now about these

tariffs with Mexico.  It`s all we`re hearing about.  You know, it`s a whole

different subject, I know, but this feels very different than some policy

that the President usually has because it feels like a lot of people think

this is going to happen and a lot of people were unprepared for it,

including his aides.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes, here, here on a good point for us to remember.  Hey,

Eugene, when people walk to the U.S. military cemetery in Colville Sermur,

France, they`re often struck dumb, speechless.  It`s sacred, hallow ground.

T he President came so close to having a good day.

 

ROBINSON:  Yes. Yes.  Yes.  And so, how can you sit there with that

backdrop and go where he went in that interview?  And why would you do

that?  I mean, you know, if it was just an unconscious sort of thing, he

just would naturally, you know, say those things about Nancy Pelosi –

about the Speaker of the House and –

 

WILLIAMS:  Bobby Mueller.

 

ROBINSON:  – and Robert Mueller, a war hero, in that setting.  But I think

there was some design there.  I mean, and it indicates not strength but

weakness.  It indicates this is so – he`s so wrapped up in this.  He`s so

thinking about the Mueller probe, the prospect of impeachment hearings,

whatever, Pelosi, it`s so working on him that he made a decision to do that

interview and to do it in that way.  And it strikes me as sort of a

defensive posture that he`s taking there.  It`s interesting.

 

WILLIAMS:  Anita, we also know folks in the business of advance, and what a

hard job that is, advancing a trip like this, going on ahead for the

President, getting every last detail taken care of.  A public ceremony that

had to go perfectly today with easily half a dozen flyovers, the leader of

nations, all of these veterans there for, really, their last major

gathering for an anniversary.

 

And then same question as my first one to you, how do you gauge if there

was actual disappointment in the West Wing at what the day will now be

known for?

 

KUMAR:  I think there has to be some disappointment.  I mean, there was

clearly some people very pleased that he did, you know, you were saying he

read from the TelePrompTer, and he did do that, but you and I both know

that it`s been two-plus years with President Trump in the White House where

he does occasionally have these good days.  And I shouldn`t say

occasionally.  He does roll out things.  He does have good speeches where

even his critics praise him, like they did today, but he often steps on his

own message.

 

And he did, not only in the Fox interview but he did in other ways.  He`s

done it all week.  He`s been gone all week and he is been through all these

ceremonial things, particularly with the queen.  He talked a lot about her. 

You know, the prime minister.  He`s had all these other meetings.  But he

is very much paying attention to what`s going on back home.

 

He is tweeting.  He is giving multiple news interviews much more than he

usually does overseas.  And he`s very much paying attention to what`s going

on.  So, you know, people were happy with his speech, but then he stepped

all over that, and this is what we`re going to remember, is this – is this

interview.

 

WILLIAMS:  Mimi Rocah, to back up a bit, what do you think he was talking

about with Robert Mueller and submitting the letter and the testimony, what

is that about?

 

ROCAH:  I mean, as usual –

 

WILLIAMS:  You`re suppose to help us out.

 

ROCAH:  Yes, well, he`s got this word salad and it`s hard to try to get

inside his head, but I think he was talking about after Mueller gave his

press conference.  There was this sort of joint letter that went out

between the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel`s Office saying,

oh, no, we don`t really disagree on whether or not there would have been a

finding that Trump committed obstruction if it weren`t for the OLC policy,

which was, frankly, kind of ludicrous because there really was – there is

a gulf.  There is a gulf between Barr saying no obstruction and Mueller

saying, well, I can`t say there is obstruction but I can`t say there`s not

obstruction, so I don`t know why they put that out, but I think that`s what

Trump is talking about.

 

And clearly, it seems to me someone told him, oh, look, see, Mueller had to

correct himself.  That is – but really what happened is Mueller got up and

spoke, he was very clear.  It wasn`t as sort of, you know, it wasn`t follow

of hyperbole.  It wasn`t as exciting as, you know, people want it to be,

but he was clear in his point that in a way that I think terrified Trump

and Barr.

 

And Barr has really stepped up his attacks on Mueller since that press

conference.  Which if you think about it is really remarkable.  It`s not

just Trump, you know it`s Barr going after Mueller directly saying Mueller

should have done this, he should have made an explicit finding and, by the

way, he`s wrong on the law.  And he`s trying to paint Mueller as this sort

of, you know, rogue prosecutor.  And –

 

ROBINSON:  Robert Mueller, a loose cannon.

 

ROCAH:  Right.  Exactly.

 

ROBINSON:  Those things don`t actually go together.

 

ROCAH:  Exactly.

 

WILLIAMS:  Nor is he known as Bobby.

 

Hey, Anita, one last question.  We first noticed you because of your

questioning at the White House briefing long ago.  Tell me how long it`s

been since the last White House briefing.

 

KUMAR:  Remember those days?  It was March 11th, it was the last one, so

that`s 87 days and we`re not counting the one that Sarah Sanders gave on

take your kids to work day for the kids.  So 87 days, which is I believe is

a record for her, you know, almost three months.

 

Now, to be clear, they do have these little sporadic gaggles or little, you

know, impromptu things that happen after they give T.V. hits on the

driveway of the, you know, the driveway of the White House.  But it`s

definitely not the same thing.

 

WILLIAMS:  Well, we like to record keep on the disappearance of norms, a

lot like the frog boiling experiment in 87 days as 87 days.  To Mimi Rocah,

to Eugene Robinson, to Anita Kumar our thanks on this Thursday night for

starting us off.

 

And coming up, as House Democrats wrestle with the impeachment question,

we`ll talk to a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin Democrat,

Tammy Baldwin is here to talk impeachment and what, in her view, should

happen to this President.

 

And later, on a day of such historic significance, we call on a historian

of significance to guide us through everything.  “The 11th Hour” is just

getting under way on this Thursday night.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  NBC News tonight has confirmed reporting that House Speaker

Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to see Trump in prison.  And it`s very

clear from his comments today in Normandy that Nancy Pelosi now has the

attention of this President.

 

Equally clear, the choice Democrats have to make on how to play this.  Is

impeachment truly the solution given the beyond slim chance of conviction

and removal by the Senate or is the remedy here the ballot box in 2020? 

Pelosi has said the need to impeach must be overwhelming.  So far, 61

members of her chamber, the House, are in support, including just one

Republican.

 

We are happy to be joined tonight by one of the Democrats in the U.S.

Senate, Tammy Baldwin of the State of Wisconsin.  Senator, thank you for

coming by.

 

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN, (D) WISCONSIN, APPROPRIATION CMTE.:  My pleasure.

 

WILLIAMS:  This is where I`d like to begin.

 

BALDWIN:  Yes.

 

WILLIAMS:  Where do you stand on impeachment and/or how this President

should be treated?

 

BALDWIN:  Well, first of all, I think it`s too early in terms of the

progress of oversight in the investigation, and yet I think it`s important

to always start remembering that the Mueller report made it clear that

Vladimir Putin directed Russia to interfere with the U.S. elections, our

democracy.  And there are at least 10 instances where the Mueller report

describes Trump lying, Trump asking someone else to lie on his behalf,

Trump instructing someone to fire Mueller.

 

I`d like to hear Mr. Mueller testify.  I`d like to see Don McGahn testify. 

The instances involving K.T.  McFarland, I think that we need to hear

everything.

 

But I would also say there`s many remedies depending on what we uncover. 

One would be censure, another would be impeachment, another, as the speaker

just said, the ballot box followed by a criminal inquiry.  And another is

passing laws to make sure we protect our democracy from this type of

interference and curb presidential abuses moving forward.  And almost

everyone agrees we should be doing that.

 

WILLIAMS:  When you`re home, do people come up to you to talk about the

Mueller report?  These days, do they come up to you to talk about tariffs?

 

BALDWIN:  I hear mostly about health care.

 

WILLIAMS:  Still?

 

BALDWIN:  Still.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

BALDWIN:  Well, I think –

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

BALDWIN:  – we`re in court with the President asking the court to strike

down in its entirety the Affordable Care Act.

 

WILLIAMS:  True.

 

BALDWIN:  Anyone with a child with a pre-existing condition got to be

frightened to death that this could happen.  And there`s all this other

sabotage.  But I would say secondly I do hear a lot about tariffs.  We have

a dairy farm crisis.  I represent America`s dairy land.  We have lost 1,590

farms since Trump took office.  That`s well over 15 percent of our dairy

farms.

 

WILLIAMS:  Unsustainable rate.

 

BALDWIN:  Unsustainable rate.  And when we see the heightening of the trade

war and the tariff threat with Mexico, we see no easy way to get that

Mexican export market back for our cheese producers.

 

WILLIAMS:  I want to show you something from tonight.  Joe Biden reversing

his position on the Hyde Amendment, which withholds federal funds that are

used for abortions.  We`ll talk about this on the other side.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOE BIDEN, (D) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We now see so many Republican

governors denying health care to millions of the most poorest and most

vulnerable Americans by refusing even Medicaid expansion.  I can`t justify

leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the

ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right.  If I believe

health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that

makes that right dependent on someone`s zip code.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  So two things there.  Our producer just alerted me to the fact

that he`s clearly reading off notes and not the TelePrompTer which had the

rest of his remarks on it.  Number two, was that a necessary change

tonight?

 

BALDWIN:  Well, I think that, you know, that`s ultimately up for the

viewers to decide.  However, I think that – first of all, let me state my

clear opinion that I oppose the Hyde Amendment because of precisely the new

words that Biden has found, which is your income, your zip code, none of

those things should affect a woman`s access to full health care, full

reproductive health care or abortion services.

 

The other thing I think is important to note here is this comes in a

context of an all-out attack on Roe versus Wade.  We`ve seen several states

act.  By the end of this week it`s possible that Missouri will have no

abortion services provider in the entire state.

 

And others are clearly set on passing laws that would put doctors in

prison.  There is obviously an attack going on.  And I think people are

looking for clarity of do you stand with women to make their own choices

about their bodies and should they have – should all women have access to

comprehensive health care?

 

WILLIAMS:  Final question is about pride.

 

BALDWIN:  Yes.

 

WILLIAMS:  As the first in our history LGBT member of the U.S. Senate, the

NYPD – I`ll give you four more letters.  Apologized today for their

reaction, what`s known for 50 years now as the Stonewall riots in Greenwich

Village.  A bellwether event.  Step in the right direction?

 

BALDWIN:  Absolutely.  You know, I think about what happened those 50 years

ago, and as we celebrate pride, it is a remarkable anniversary.  I think

about brave people who spoke out, who after nightly acts of police

oppression finally became visible and pressed back.  It started the modern

day –

 

WILLIAMS:  It did.

 

BALDWIN:  – gay liberation movement.  Now LGBTQ movement for civil rights. 

It allows us to think about how much progress we`ve made, but also how much

more we have to do.  We have to pass the Equality Act so regardless of

where you live people won`t be evicted or fired or discriminated against in

other ways.

 

But I have to say that symbolism from New York Police Commissioner O`Neill

was really powerful and it reminded me of some of the recent re-enactments

of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, when they observed

through re-enactment then the Alabama police, state police line up and

salute the marchers.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

BALDWIN:  So much in contrast to what happened all those years ago.

 

WILLIAMS:  To show that things have changed.

 

BALDWIN:  Yes, indeed.

 

WILLIAMS:  Senator Tammy Baldwin, thank you very much for spending time

with us tonight.

 

BALDWIN:  My pleasure.

 

WILLIAMS:  Appreciate it.

 

Coming up for us, the Road to the Miami Democratic debates happens to

travel through a small state with outsized politics.  When we come back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  We`re now just 20 days away from the first of the Democratic

debates here on this very network, and helping us to get to that big event,

our series, “The Road to Miami,” where Steve Kornacki boldly tells us what

we need to know about presidential politics within all those important

states along the vital corridor of Interstate 95.

 

Tonight, we`re crossing from Massachusetts, south into the ocean state, the

great state of Rhode Island.  Back again with us, Steve Kornacki, our

national political correspondent.  Steve, this remains in my power

category, my favorite uncle Billy, Aunt Fran, cousins Wendy and Laurie and

our friends, the Candomos (ph) love Rhode Island.

 

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  And I have been

looking forward to this leg of the trip.  Little Roady, The URI Rams, The

Providence College Friars.

 

WILLIAMS:  There you go.

 

KORNACKI:  And how about colorful politicians and colorful being a

euphemism for indicted.  There is a rich political tradition and rich

political history.  Lots of interesting characters in politics have come

from Rhode Island.  You recognize this guy.  This is Vincent A. Cianci Jr. 

Buddy Cianci, he was the mayor of Providence.  He pleaded no contest to

charges.  He had to leave office.  Staged a comeback.  Became the mayor

again.  Got convicted of racketeering.  Had to leave office.  Went to

prison, came back, ran for mayor again.  That was Buddy Cianci`s life in

politics in Rhode Island at the end of it.  He died a couple of years ago.

 

Toward the end he was honored with an unveiling of an efficient portrait at

city hall at the ceremony.  You see Buddy Ciani here.  He turned around, he

looked at that portrait and he said, you know, I always said the government

was trying to frame me.  One of the great lines from one of the great

characters in Rhode Island politics.

 

In terms of Rhode Island politics in its significance on the national

scene, well, look, this is a blue state but it`s a very interesting kind of

blue state.  It probably has a higher concentration of Obama/Trump voters

than just about any other blue state.

 

Here`s what I mean.  Look, Hillary Clinton won this thing by 16 points. 

Pretty overwhelming.  Not a suspense on election night.  But that was a far

cry in some ways in from 2008.  Obama had won the state by 28.  The Clinton

margin was down to 16, 15 in after.  A 12-point swing toward Trump.

 

If you look at every blue state in the country in that swing from Obama to

Trump, look, some of these states got more blue, some of them, you know,

pretty much stayed the same, between 12 and 16, but there it is, Rhode

Island and Maine among all the blue states swung the hardest toward Trump.

 

So, you`ve go – and we talk about it all the time in places like Wisconsin

and Pennsylvania and Michigan, those Obama/Trump voters.  They exist in

Rhode Island.  There`s a lot of them in Rhode Island because there are a

lot of those blue collar white working class voters in Rhode Island.  Also

the most catholic state in America is Rhode Island.  So you certainly find

those Obama/Trump voters there.  Just not going to be enough to ever swing

the state in the near future toward the Republicans.

 

WILLIAMS:  Two more note point, point out the obvious, Buddy Ciani stopped

wearing his hair piece in prison, kept it out when he got out.  And also

the headquarters of Dunkin` Donuts is Rhode Island. You got to love that.

 

KORNACKI:  There it is.

 

WILLIAMS:  Steve Kornacki, our thanks for the entire series.  We`re loving

it.  Appreciate it very much.

 

KORNACKI:  Thank you.

 

WILLIAMS:  And coming up, as “The New York Times” reports, this was the day

the president carried politics with him beyond the water`s edge.  We`ll ask

a historian why that is so unusual when we come back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The blood that they spilled,

the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they

made did not just win a battle, it did not just win a war, those who fought

here won a future for our nation.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  And that right there is what our presidents or supposed to do,

pay tribute to the men who when they were young saved the world.  Starting

at that beach.  What presidents aren`t supposed to do is what are president

also did today.  With over 9,000 grave markers over his shoulder, he

attacked the Speaker of the House and he attacked a decorated combat

veteran who was air lifted off the battlefield in Vietnam named Robert

Mueller.

 

We are blessed to be joined on this 75th anniversary of D-Day by the author

of “Presidents of War.”  Among his other books.  The presidential

historian, Michael Beschloss.  Michael, I`d like to begin with how “The New

York Times” put it.  “Mr. Trump had never visited Omaha Beach, and as he

has done in other similar first-time encounters, he reacted with an almost

childlike wonder.  When he sat down later to meet with Mr. Macron in the

nearby city of Caen, the president marveled at the high fatality rates

suffered by the first soldiers on the beach.”

 

Michael, what have we come to expect from our American presidents?

 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Well, we usually

expect a president to have read history and know that most presidents

before they become president, they know about D-Day, they know about the

high casualty rate, they know about the cost of war.

 

Donald Trump is someone who has exalted in the fact, you know, he boasts of

the fact he doesn`t read books and doesn`t particularly read history.  OK,

you know, if this is the way he had to learn it, I`m glad to see that he

did, but I was just heartbroken when I saw that image of him denouncing the

Speaker of the House, denouncing an official of his own justice department,

the special counsel Robert Mueller, in front of those gravestones.  And all

I could think of, Brian, and I know you`ve seen it.  Last night I watched

again the special that was on Walter Cronkite.

 

WILLIAMS:  So did I.

 

BESCHLOSS:  1964 on CBS.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

BESCHLOSS:  Ninety minutes.

 

WILLIAMS:  Dwight David Eisenhower.

 

BESCHLOSS:  Dwight David Eisenhower went back to that cemetery and went

back to the battlefields and he walked past those same gravestones almost

crying because of the memory of all those deaths that came because of

decisions that he had made.  How an American president on foreign soil

could talk this way and especially do it in front of those gravestones, I

just can`t imagine how that could have happened.

 

WILLIAMS:  I`ve been thinking so much about Dwight David Eisenhower, one of

the spectacular American lives, a product of Abilene, Kansas.

 

BESCHLOSS:  Yes.

 

WILLIAMS:  Went through West Point.  Worked his way up the military chain

of command.  A controversial call by FDR to give him the job he had, but

looking back at it, it`s hard to think that we could have had anyone better

in charge of this massive undertaking. And, Michael, I assume you regard d-

day, twinned as it is in history with Pearl Harbor –

 

BESCHLOSS:  Right.

 

WILLIAMS:  – to have been part of the formation of our modern world and

the United States as we know it.

 

BESCHLOSS:  Absolutely.  D-Day was one of the most important days of the

20th century.  Very close to being the most important day.  Good versus

evil.  The Americans coming back to cinch the victory in Europe.  Showing

us Americans at our best.  Soldiers risking their lives for world freedom,

risking their lives for their fellow soldiers.  These were citizen

soldiers.  Most of them had not been trained, but they demonstrated a

competence that you could not have imagined from people who before then

were farmers or merchants or students.

 

WILLIAMS:  Do you think, and god forbid, I hope the answer for historic

reasons is no.  Do you think we`ll ever again ask what we asked of that

generation of young people, as you said, mushed together from Madison,

Wisconsin to Brooklyn, New York to San Diego, California, all of them on

these landing craft on that gray morning.

 

BESCHLOSS:  That`s the responsibility of any president and going back to

that Eisenhower show that you and I have both seen.  Do you remember what

he said near the end when he was talking about what happened on d-day?  He

said that makes it even more imperative for Americans of the future to

somehow find some kind of universal peace to make sure that no supreme

commander, no president has to send Americans into harm`s way that way

again.

 

WILLIAMS:  Michael has agreed to stay with us.  We`ll just interrupt our

conversation.  Work in a break here.  We`ll come back with more on this day

that FDR infamously labeled a mighty endeavor.  That and more right after

this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

 

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  Almighty god, our sons,

pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle

to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set

free a suffering humanity.

 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  It`s hard to find any American alive today who still speaks with

that accent that FDR used in his spoken voice.

 

BESCHLOSS:  That`s right.

 

WILLIAMS:  Michael Beschloss is still with us.  I have two graphics to put

up on the screen.  Number one, FDR`s private calendar.  This actually made

me chuckle.  Invasion day, June 6th.  He put it next to 8:00 a.m.  That was

for his eyes only.  And secondly, Michael, a photo you put out on social

media today that says it all.

 

We should remember that he was dying and certainly his cardiologist, Dr.

Bruin, seemed to know secretly that the old man was dying and he didn`t

live to see the end of this endeavor, but that`s a photo taken of him after

at least first wave reports that the invasion look like it was going to

succeed.

 

BESCHLOSS:  Absolutely.  And you see it in his face and the fact that he

was seldom this way in the Oval Office in that chair with no suit coat on. 

And that same day 75 years ago today, Roosevelt writes to Churchill about

what he calls the stupendous events that are going on and he says how I

wish I could be with you to see our mighty war machine in operation, and at

the same time that was the day, d-day, that Winston Churchill had begged

King George to let him sail into the battle along with the seamen and

soldiers and airmen who were going to invade the continent of Europe.  The

king said, no, you`re indispensable.

 

WILLIAMS:  Michael, we love labeling eras, the gilded age, the post-war

age, the roaring `20s, the depression era, I was thinking about Eisenhower

today.  He died believing he had defeated the Nazis.  He died in `69.  By

`71 we had the measles vaccine.  Could you make a case we`re living in the

regression?  We have Nazis back in American society and 1,000 active cases

of measles because of a campaign against vaccinations.

 

BESCHLOSS:  Yes, I think one can make a case that, you know, society does

not always move forward.  And oddly enough that`s a lesson that Franklin

Roosevelt`s mentor and minister and head of school Endicott Peabody used to

say that society usually moves forward, sometimes moves back.

 

But I think if FDR were here today, if Dwight Eisenhower were here today,

they would say teach your children and grandchildren about d-day and what

Americans were able to accomplish on that day.  That expresses the center

of America, what America is really like, all the way back to George

Washington and the revolution than perhaps some of these other things that

we`ve been talking about.

 

WILLIAMS:  I hope someone in Groton, Connecticut is smiling that Beschloss

just quoted the old head master.  Michael, thank you, as always.  A great

pleasure to have you on at the end of this history making day.

 

BESCHLOSS:  Me too.  Thank you so much Brian.

 

WILLIAMS:  Another break.  We`ll be back with much more right after this. 

Including a progress report from 75 years ago tonight.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight is one more update.  75 years

into the future on the progress of the fight in Normandy region of France,

on this night 75 years ago.  With day breaking on D-Day plus one, the

Americans and their British and Canadian brothers in arms were in the thick

of the fight, really.  Not all the landing units had been able to link up

as of yet, and yet by the end of that first day, the allies had punched

inland in a number of places, capturing entire towns along the way.

 

But for that first 24-hour period, the beach was either the place where you

died or the place where you survived.  The great war correspondent Ernie

Pyle famously said about the Germans firing down from the hillside, “The

advantages were all theirs.  They had four men on shore for every three men

we had approaching the shore,” and yet he said in a characteristic

understatement “We got on.”

 

The best estimate is the one-day death toll on that beach was 4,414.

 

Here now the story of just one of the veterans, Jake Larson, the last

surviving member of his platoon.  Here`s his memory of that day, as told to

Andrea Mitchell.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JAKE LARSON, WORLD WAR II VETERAN:  When we landed and I finally got out of

that water, the water was up to my chin, and I found – it just seemed like

in front of me came this burrow, and at that time two machine guns were

shooting at me from two different angles, cross-firing right at – right at

my feet.

 

And that little burrow kept them from hitting me.  So I lay behind that

burrow and they were shooting it and I dug out a cigarette out of a

waterproof cigarette holder, put that in my mouth and reached in for my

matches and my matches were all wet.

 

Not 3 1/2 feet behind me on my left-hand side, I looked back, there was a

GI there.  And I said, buddy, have you got a match?  And he didn`t answer. 

I looked back again and there was no head under the helmet.  To this day, I

think that soul of that boy inspired me to get up get a move to the cliffs,

which is exactly what I did.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  How about that?  June 6th of 1944.  Changed history.  Well,

today was history, too.  Likely the last time we will see these survivors

at a major anniversary gathering.  And to those beneath all those crosses

and stars of David, almost 10,000 of them, including 45 sets of brothers

and four women, we owe them everything because they helped to save the

world.

 

That`s our broadcast for this Thursday night.  Thank you so much for being

here with us.  Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.                                                                                                    

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