John Stewart calls out Congress. TRANSCRIPT: 6/11/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

A.B. Stoddard

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Detective Luis Alvarez, gets tonight`s



BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Tonight, it could be a preview of the

general election.  Joe Biden calls the President an existential threat

while Trump after calling Biden mentally weak avoids his name this evening. 

We`re live in Iowa tonight with the latest.


Donald Trump Jr. set to appear behind closed doors for more testimony

before a Senate Committee tomorrow to talk about a limited list of topics

as top Democrats on the House side weigh impeachment for his father.


And tonight, Steve Kornacki`s latest stop on the road from Maine to Miami. 

And Donald Trump says his received yet another beautiful letter from Kim

Jong-un.  As “The 11th Hour” gets underway on a Tuesday night.


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

York.  Day 873 of this Trump administration.


And if you looked at cable news today and all good citizens should, you

might think the general election is set and Donald Trump is straight up

running for re-election against the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, but that

is certainly not the case.  Donald Trump sounds like he`s running against

Joe Biden, but there are a whole slew of Democrats, dozens of them, who beg

to differ.  And then there`s what history tells us about what happens to

frontrunners this early in the race.


Back to today.  Both men attacked each other during multiple events in

Iowa.  The President`s first event was at an ethanol plant in Council

Bluffs before he spoke at the Republican Party dinner in West Des Moines. 

Biden held campaign events today in the eastern part of the state and used

those opportunities to repeatedly tell Iowa voters why Donald Trump should

not be President.




JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Our Democracy is at risk.  I never

thought I`d use those words in my lifetime.  But it`s true.  Everywhere you

turn, Trump is tearing down the guardrails of democracy, tearing down the

things that prevent the abuse of power.


The four years of Donald Trump will go down in history as an abrasion.  But

eight years, eight years he will fundamentally change the nature of who we

are as a country.  He goes over to celebrate the beginning of that, the

75th Anniversary of D-Day, and he`s tweeting about Bette Midler?  And no,

no, I`m not joking.  He`s making personal attacks on Nancy Pelosi who`s

there with him?  He embraces dictators like Kim Jong-un who`s a damn

murderer and a thug.  Or the one thing they agree on, Joe Biden and I

shouldn`t be president.


Look, I believe that the President is literally an existential threat to



But this is a guy who does everything to separate and frighten people. 

It`s about fear and loathing.  It`s about what he calls people, the names

he calls them.  No President has done something like that for god`s sake. 

I mean it`s bizarre.  And it`s damaging.




WILLIAMS:  During the President`s second event in Iowa, a few hours ago

tonight, he actually made no mention of the former vice president.  That

was not the case during Trump`s first stop in Iowa.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  He was someplace in Iowa today

and he said my name so many times that people couldn`t stand it anymore. 

No, don`t keep saying it.  Sleepy guy.


With Biden, we would never be treated with respect because people don`t

respect him.  Even if the people that he`s running against, they`re saying

where is he?  What happened?  He makes his stance in Iowa, once every two

weeks and then he mentions my name 74 times in one speech.  I don`t now. 

That reminds me of crooked Hillary.  She did the same thing.




WILIAMS:  Prior to departing from the White House, the President went from

the hard stuff.




TRUMP:  Well, I heard Biden, who`s a loser.  I mean look, Joe never got

more than 1% except that Obama took him off the trash heap.  Look, when a

man has to mention my name 76 times in his speech that means he`s in

trouble.  Now, I have to tell you, he`s a different guy.  He looks

different than he used to.  He acts different than he used to.  He`s even

slower than used to be.


I`d rather run against – I think Biden than anybody.  I think he`s the

weakest mentally.  And I like running against people that are weak

mentally.  I think Joe is the weakest up here.




WILLIAMS:  Tonight “The New York Times” sums up Trump`s attack on Biden

this way, and we quote, “The hostile change underscored the extent to which

the two men are already waging a battle against to each other already.  Mr.

Biden has largely ignored his Democratic rivals while building his campaign

around the urgent need to oust Mr. Trump.  The President, mindful of

polling that shows him trailing Mr. Biden in several key states, has

targeted him in particular with ridicule.”


Earlier tonight, the Former Vice President was asked about Trump`s attacks

on him.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Vice President, the President today raised

questions about your age.  He raised questions about whether you have the

stamina to run for president.  There`s been a lot of questions about your

schedule and if that it`s been a little lighter in some of the other



BIDEN:  Look at him and look at me and answer your question.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You answer the question.  Will you please answer the



BIDEN:  It`s self-evident.  You know, it`s a ridiculous assertion on his

part.  But, anyway, look, and some and people have a right to question all

of our ages.  That`s totally a legitimate thing.  All I can say is watch





WILLIAMS:  Now, as to “The New York Times” reference to polls that are

capturing the President`s attention in the latest Quinnipiac nationwide

survey, Joe Biden now leads the President by 13 percentage points in a

hypothetical generally election matchup.  Though, a quick reminder here

general elections are a collection of 50 separate elections.


That same poll shows five other Democratic hopefuls, Bernie Sanders, Kamala

Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Cory Booker would also defeat

Trump if this theoretical election were to be held today.


Here for our lead off discussion on a Tuesday night, our own Garrett Haake,

who was already been out on the 2020 trail.  He is in Davenport, Iowa.


Tonight, A.B. Stoddard here with us, columnist and associate editor of

RealClearPolitics.  And John HEILEMANN is here with us, veteran journalist,

MSNBC national affairs analyst, co-author of “Game Change” and co-host of

the “Circus” on Showtime.


Good evening and welcome to you all.


Garrett, you get to go first because you traveled the most miles to do it. 

You heard perhaps the point we made at the top of the broadcast.  People

would be forgiven for tuning in today and thinking this is a generally

election campaign between these two guys.


GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, Brian, that`s absolutely right. 

And that`s exactly the way the Biden campaign would like this to be.  Look

Joe Biden would not be running for president against to Ted Cruz or Marco

Rubio.  He really does see Donald Trump as an existential threat.  And when

you are the frontrunner in the position that he`s in both in the early

states and nationally, the only thing you can really do is punch up.


And what you saw the Biden campaign do today was essentially set a trap for

Donald Trump.  They released the excerpts of his speech that the Vice

President did not intend to give for another 12 hours.  About 6:00 this

morning, let all of us talk about it on the cable news all day long, and

get it into Donald Trump`s head.


The President responded exactly as you might expect, coming after the Vice

President and allowing this back and forth split screen image which lets

Joe Biden stand then head and shoulders, at least for this one day, over 22

other candidates who would like to take his place and be the Democratic

nominee.  The voters I talked to all across this country, the Democratic

voters want one thing.


They want someone who can end the Donald Trump presidency.  And every day

that Donald Trump targets Joe Biden and makes him look like a threat, he

makes it more likely that Joe Biden becomes that candidate because,

Democrats and turn around say, OK, if Donald Trump is worried about this

guy, then maybe there`s something to this.  And that`s what we saw played

out in Iowa today.


WILLIAMS:  A.B. is that the same thing you observed here in the east, that

for the Biden campaign and let sound really patronizing, they`re starting

to learn how to deal with this incumbent President.



right.  They laid a trap and he took the bait.  And no one has been

campaigning harder for Vice President Biden than President Donald Trump. 

And so, Biden did have about last week, he wasn`t on the cattle-call on

Sunday with the other candidates.  He was at his granddaughter`s

graduation.  He had the high amendment reversal.  He`s facing some



But on a day like today, when you look at the inside of that Quinnipiac

poll, you look at him one point away from Donald Trump in the white vote

that Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton by 20 points, his numbers with

the independents, with African-Americans, his edge with 18 to 34-year-olds

and then you combine this sort of general election matchup day, that`s a

good day for Joe Biden.


Can he – always talk about Trump?  Can he skip (INAUDIBLE) poll thing –

politicking in the Iowa?  No, he`s going to have to show up and he is going

to work hard.  And as a frontrunner he`s going to have worse polls and

stumbles.  But he still offers the thing they want the most.  So and until

and unless we see the polling change, what we`re seeing is that the

Democrats on the left are not as left as we thought.  They want a winner.


WILLIAMS:  So, John HEILEMANN, our own Mike Memoli whose first Biden rodeo

this is not.  He said something interesting today.  He said Biden`s

strength is his perceived strength.  And if you buy that thesis, every time

the President talks about him adds a little luster to that.  What must it

be like to be Swalwell and Gillibrand and for that matter, Booker every

time the President talks about this other guy in the Democratic race?



Donald Trump and they see how much money he`s raised which is a significant

asset that this incumbent is building up, as he heads into this general

election unopposed other than by Bill Weld and the Republican side.  And

they look at him and say, these other Democrats, why is he giving in-kind

campaign contributions to our rival Joe Biden?  You know, they all are

desperate for any oxygen, anything that will get them over the line into

qualification for the first set of debates in Miami at the end of this



And yet they`re not able to get a moment of oxygen when Donald Trump is

carpeting the airwaves with attacks on Joe Biden.  And Joe Biden is

inviting them and then wallowing in them in the way he is today.  I agreed

everything here one said, great day for Joe Biden.  After last week I would

say that arguably the worst week any candidate had on the Democratic side

in the campaign so far last week for Joe Biden.


Today, arguably the best day that any candidate has had in the 2020 cycle

for an individual candidate.  Just everything worked for Biden today,

including the poetry of 76 assaults, before – making me think of 76

trombones.  And the music man –


WILLIAMS:  And the music briefly.


HEILEMANN:  – (INAUDIBLE).  Well, for Donald Trump 76 insults, 76

trombones and he`s good on drums, the music man of this man.  What city in



WILLIAMS:  River City.


HEILEMANN:  Mason City, Iowa.


WILLIAMS:  Oh.  Right here in River City.


HEILEMANN:  Yes.  So, that River City was the false – was the – with the

fictional city based on Mason City.




HEILEMANN:  And the caucuses in January, I`ll take it Brandon is a very

nice town.


WILLIAMS:  Partial points for correct answer.  A.B. agrees.  Hey, Garrett,

I want to put some polling on the screen.  And I`m hoping you can share in

it with us.  The numbers in Iowa.  This is the lets say Qpac poll

nationwide, Biden then Sanders.  So there`s a drop off between 30 and 19. 

Then you have the upper four or five and then it just falls off a cliff.


HAAKE:  Well, I think to go back to the code that you gave from our

colleague, Mike Memoli.  It`s not just Joe Biden that benefits from the

assumptions about his strength.  The Democratic voters that I talk too are

really are looking for a winner.  Strength begets strength.


If you are having a good week, you will likely have a better week next

week.  There is something to the momentum of this race where folks are

looking around, they`re looking for different options.  People are looking

for a liberal or more progressive alternative to Biden, I hear that all the



Sometimes that may be Bernie Sanders.  Sometimes that may be Elizabeth

Warren.  But people want to back a winner and that seems to be the thing

here.  So when it was Beto O`Rourke launching his campaign and it seemed

like all the excitement was around him, he benefited.  When Pete Buttigieg

had a moment, he benefited.


Now, there is a little bit to talk around Elizabeth Warren.  A lot of the

voters I talk to here today told me she was their other favorite candidate

that they were looking at in this race. 

Yes, there is that big gap between Joe Biden and the rest of the field, but

you still have to think with the debates coming up, there`s a lot of room

for other folks to gain if Biden appears to slip.  If you let any air out

of that balloon, the momentum works the same way coming down, I think.  And

we might see some of that happen once we get into the debates and start to

see all these candidates lined up together on the same stage.


WILLIAMS:  A.B. I want to play for you another kind new line of Biden

attacked today.  We`ll talk about it on the other side




BIDEN:  Look, in 2020, we not only had to repudiate Donald Trump`s policies

and values, we have to clearly and fully reject for our own safety sake,

his view of the presidency.  Quote, “I have complete power”.  No, you

don`t, Donald Trump.


Quote from Donald Trump, “I have absolute power”.  No, you don`t, Donald

Trump.  Or, “only I can fix it”.  Fix yourself first, Donald Trump.  When

is the president ever used those phrases?




WILLIAMS:  So A.B., this seems to be Joe Biden putting himself in the role

of reminding everybody how far from normal we are.


STODDARD:  Right.  And I think it`s a way to kind of wake up young voters. 

People who might not be tuning in yet, might not be tuning into the

concerns that he`s outlining that, sort of a civics lesson, but I think

it`s also a way to reach never-Trump Republicans. 

Who are watching from afar and might think they really seated it out next

year to say look this is so not normal, no matter what you think of me or

the Hyde Amendment, you`ve got to come back to your country.  You`ve got to

think about how close we are to an abuse of power over and over and an



I think it`s actually – it might be an interesting time in the primary,

but it`s obviously a compelling message.  The general election message.


WILLIAMS:  To Garrett`s point about the blood thirst in politics.  If

anything happens to Joe Biden, think about how that affects the next stack

of candidates and how quickly someone will rise to fill that vacuum.


STODDARD:  And that`s really interesting because if you look at the chunks

of support of people who are competing for each other supporter, Senator

Warren and Senator Sanders.




STODDARD:  And they are the anti-Biden.  So, that becomes a very

complicated other alternative.


WILLIAMS:  John, does it tell you that Donald Trump is perhaps taking

political advice, that he did not invoke the name of Jo Biden tonight at a

45-minute otherwise red meat political event?  If he`d been left to his

own, don`t we think he would have used the name a few times?


HEILEMANN:  I kind of – the stunning display of self-correction and

restraint on the part of the President two words that I don`t normally

apply to him that he earned all the merits.  You know, he seems to at least

have conflicts the ways.  Like this is not – this dynamic is not working

out the way it`s supposed to.  I attacked him early it`s feeding this fire

on Biden`s side and he seems to have upheld himself back tonight.  I doubt

that will last for very long, self-restraint, when you rarely see that

Trump does not generally last for a long time.


I will say this thing to back something Garrett said, and just the – the

discussion you mentioned, it`s not a national election, right.  It is a

state-by-state election.


WILLIAMS:  So not a national (INAUDIBLE).


HEILEMANN:  And we focused rightly today on Iowa where the President and

Joe Biden are.  And the reality is that beyond all these other polls, the

most important poll of the last few days has been the Des Moines Register

poll over weekend, which did show Joe Biden had lost a little altitude

there and others had gained.  You said now a very clear top tier, five

people on the Democratic side, and the people moving up right now, Mayor

Pete and Elizabeth Warren, the people moving down right now have been

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.


Not dramatically, but the trajectory is now want you want to see, if your

Biden, I believe he is down four points in that poll from – for the

previous one in Iowa.  And that`s where it starts.  And that I`d say that

when Donald Trump calls him 1% Joe Biden, he`s talking about 2008 where Joe

Biden won 1% in Iowa and had to drop out the race the next day.


You know, Joe – they`re going to be watching those Iowa polls pretty

closely by the world that was saying.  If you keep to see them take down

and others take up.  That becomes a tossup race among about four or five

people and then got trouble if you`re Joe Biden.


WILLIAMS:  With all the noise today, something threatened to get lost.  And

since you would vote his name, let`s hear Mayor Pete – remember Rhodes

Scholar, Afghanistan, U.S. Navy Veteran, gave a speech today on foreign






embraced and embolden autocrats while alienating democracies and allies

around the globe.  It is undermined America`s alliances, partnerships, and

treaties.  We need a strategy.  Not just to deal with individual threats,

rivalries and opportunities, but to manage global trends that will define

the balance of this half century in which my generation will live the

majority of our lives.




WILLIAMS:  A.B. Stoddard, what has become such a central question of this

campaign, staying power, running realm.  How much potential does that man



STODDARD:  I think that he – well, I think we all know he`s going to have

a great debate.  I think we all know that the people who are gravitating to

Pete Buttigieg just trust him.  They don`t even need to look at his foreign

policies or national security plans.  They just trust him, they trust his

intellect, his curiosity, his decency, his honesty, and he`s smarts.  And

they just believe that he would be a good leader.


I think his separation from Biden is the most interesting thing.  I think

he`s made a decision that he knows he will never be picked for VP on a

ticket with the Vice President.  And so he`s going to go the runway.  He`s

either going to make it to the nomination or he`s so young, he`s going to

have another chance another time.


But I don`t think that he`s trying to play it safe when he tells us over

and over again in all these speeches the riskiest thing for the Democratic

Party is to play it safe.  That`s a direct shot at Biden.


WILLIAMS:  To our friend Garrett Haake, let`s just call it a quiet Tuesday

evening in Davenport, Iowa.  Thank you for staying up with us.  Thank you

to our friends, A.B. Stoddard and John Heilemann here in our studio.  We

greatly appreciate it, gang.


And coming up for us, House Democrats who want to question fact witnesses

in the Trump administration decide on a legal move to enforce their



And later, the Speaker of the House says every time the President attacks

her, stock goes up.  “The 11th Hour” just getting started on this Tuesday







REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) NEW YORK:  The resolution passed today will allow

Congress to enforce our subpoenas in the courts.


REP. JIM MCGOVERN, (D) MASSACHUSETTES:  No Congress should stand for this



REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA:  Today we added a new tool to our arsenal

to make sure that the committee chairs can compel answers.


REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA:  Who does this President think he is? 

In the United States of America no one is above the law.




WILLIAMS:  So just what did the House pass today?  We`re about to make it

more understandable than they did.  The Democrats in control passed a

resolution today that essentially gives those Committee chairs the power to

sue the Trump administration to force compliance with subpoenas.


They now no longer need a vote of the full House to do so every time, the

resolution passed 229 to 191 along party lines in practical terms that

means the Committee like judiciary can now use the courts to enforce

subpoenas for people like these two.  The Attorney General William Barr,

Former White House Council Don McGahn.


Sources tell NBC News that Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to meet with her

caucus the House Democrats tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. for a status update from

their lead lawyer about all the legal action against this administration. 

Make no mistake, today`s House vote keeps the Democrats firmly on the

investigative track which Pelosi supports and away for now from an

impeachment inquiry.


Politico reports Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has twice urged Pelosi to

start proceedings against Trump and that she has refused.  Today they

appear to be working from the same play book.




MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  If the caucus wants to go forward with an

impeachment inquiry, would you go for it?


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA:  There`s an insight close in our caucus,

but –


RAJU:  But you`re not affected?


PELOSI:  – I think it`s much as nothing as divisive in our country on my

view than impeachment.


NADLER:  Well, I agree with Nancy Pelosi 100% that all options must be on

the table, and what we`re doing now and what we will continue to do, is to

get the information through the resolution, through the – once we say

we`re going to bring to enforce our subpoenas.




WILLIAMS:  You should hear when we use a microphone.


Politico also notes what its calling Trump`s attempt to weaponized the

process of impeachment with escalating counterattacks on the Democrats like

this one from earlier today.




TRUMP:  They are guilty of many crimes, many, many crimes what they`ve

done.  They`re guilty of many, many crimes.  And hopefully in a short

period of time that`ll be seen.  They should never have done what they`ve

done.  And all they do is waste time on these investigations.




WILLIAMS:  House Democrats will again put the Mueller report front and

center at a hearing tomorrow when the Intelligence Committee on the

counterintelligence findings that are laid out in volume, one of the



Over on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, DJTJ, Donald J. Trump Jr. will be

back in front of the Intelligence Committee for a closed-door hearing that

is expected to focus on Trump Tower Moscow and the meeting with the actual

Russians in the actual Trump Tower a few blocks from here in New York.


Now, with that as the prologue, with us for more, Kimberly Atkins, senior

Washington correspondent for WUR Boston`s NPR News Station, and Jonathan

Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press.  Welcome to you



Jonathan, where does this put the how – let`s agree that the Democrats

have messaging issues perhaps in the House of Representatives.




WILLIAMS:  Like a whole lot of messaging.  Where does this put the

Democrats in the House vis-a-vis Donald Trump in the White House?


LEMIRE:  Just a few things.  And this is a concrete step they took today,

but still a relatively small one that allows the committee chair as you

explain better than they did.  To try to compel testimony from these

witnesses.  But more than anything, its – I reading of the report that

we`ve done suggests that this is about letting some the Democrats get blow

off some steam.  Mrs. Pelosi understands that her caucus is pretty split

here.  She downplayed it in that interview where you just played a minute



But there`s a real portion of people in – her members who want to fast

track impeachment and she is trying to put up as many road blocks as she

can.  But part of that is allowing them to do other things, to have a

hearing like yesterday where John Dean appeared to take other steps like

we`ve seen today.  Their collision course is still coming.  Most people

around this Congress, this White House think that we will get towards

impeachment, whether we go all the way there or not, there`ll be at least

serious proceedings or serious maneuvers to take as the brink of

impeachment at some point.  But this is – this is her effort here to try

to slow this down.  But there certainly no suggestion that these two sides

are going to the White House and the Congress, are going to come to any

sort of peace or terms here.  This is legal warfare.


WILLIAMS:  Kimberly, I`m going to play for you Donald Trump, this is today

talking about the Democrats, and we`ll talk about what these talking points

represent on the other side.




TRUMP:  Every day the Democrat Party is becoming more and more unhinged and

more and more extreme.  They`re going crazy.


They waited for the Mueller report.  They were waiting, waiting.  That was

their guy.  He had 18 angry Democrats, all Democrats, many of them

contributed to crooked Hillary.  And these were the people that were

looking at me, did nothing, no collusion, the result comes out, no

collusion.  So now they say can we have a do-over?




WILLIAMS:  Of course, factually where to begin, they`re not all Democrats,

and so on.  But Kimberly, that`s what the Democrats are up against.



genuine concern that moving forward to impeachment could serve to embolden

the President, embolden Donald Trump and to be politically advantageous to

us, the people – politically advantageous to Trump.  Trump has been using

the Democrats as a political foil, as a political foil, and it has served

to be a talking point that has been picked up by Republicans in the House

or – and by his base for quite some time.


And the idea that the Democrats are just trying to delegitimate – take

away the legitimacy of his presidency that this is purely a politically

move seems to resonate for him.  And so the Democrats have that.


But on the other hand, as Jonathan said, you have this growing, steadily

growing more than 60 Democrats now in the House, members who really want to

see at least an impeachment inquiry break out if not actual impeachment

proceedings.  And so that`s where the dividing line is both legally and



WILLIAMS:  Jonathan, two things.  Number one we realize that a certain

percentage of our viewers are just marveling in the construction of his

hair in the wind.  We get that.  He`s a visual creature.  Number two, what

do we need to know tomorrow about when his son testifies under oath behind

closed doors, Senate Intelligence Committee?


LEMIRE:  He does look great. Well it`s a few things.  I mean, first of all,

though we got here all remains noteworthy.  This is the Senate Intelligence

Committee.  The Republicans control the Senate, Brian.  Donald Trump is a

Republican so as his son.  But there are questions about some of his

answers when he was on to testify for Congress previously.


Chairman Barr led the initiative to get him to come back tomorrow.  He

received a lot of blow back from the right.  Donald trump Jr. is extremely

popular among rank-and-file Republicans, particularly on the extreme edges,

the real conservative Republicans.  And there was an online harassment

campaign towards the chairman when this all went down.


You know, it`s behind close doors.  We`re not going to know what happens

immediately, of course, but it remains a noteworthy event.  This is going

to happen.  They are still question – they want answers to questions,

particularly about Trump Tower-Moscow and whether or not his answers line

up with some of the things that say Michael Cohen also told Congress.


WILLIAMS:  That`s the problem with things like this.  Both of our guests

have agreed to stay with us, a quick break here.


And coming up, the President has called her a mess for starters, but the

speaker of the House says a tax like that helped her stock go up.  The

latest on all of it when we come back.







stock goes up every time he attacks me.  So what can I say?  But let`s not

spend too much time on that because that`s his victory, the diverter-in-

chief, the diverter-of-attention-in-chief.”


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Speaker Pelosi said today every time you attack her,

her stock goes up.  Are you helping her politically?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  You know, look, Nancy is a mess. 

The Democratic Party is a mess.  They`re doing everything they can to win

the election in 2020?




WILLIAMS:  We are back for our double jeopardy round.  Kimberly Atkins,

Jonathan Lemire remain with us.


And I want to throw something new into this conversation.  The “I” word as

the President has taken to calling impeachment.  This is Donald Trump on

the subject of impeachment.




TRUMP:  All of a sudden I hear last night they`re going to have a meeting

right before this meeting to talk about the “I” word.  The “I” word.  Can

you imagine?


PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Just to confirm some details as

it relates to Nancy Pelosi.  She says that you want to be impeached.  Do

you want to be impeached?


TRUMP:  I don`t think anybody wants to be impeached. 


It`s a dirty word, the word impeach.  It`s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word

and it had nothing to do with me.


There is no basis whatsoever for impeachment, none.


You can`t impeach somebody when there`s never been anything done wrong.




WILLIAMS:  That`s Donald Trump on impeachment.  Here`s Ashley Parker in the

Washington Post on same.  “On one side are those loyalists, mainly outside

the White House, who are telling the President that impeachment could be a

political blessing for him and his party, that one road to re-election runs

through impeachment.”  Next.


“Down the other is a larger continent warning that impeachment, even under

the rosiest scenarios,” our old friend rosy scenario, “is a grueling

gauntlet that will leave him political bruised with an asterisk forever

marring his presidency.”


Jonathan, you are nodding yes.


LEMIRE:  Yes.  Our reporting lines up exactly with Ashley`s.  We`ve written

similar things.  That yes, there are people around the President who

believe that impeachment is a winner here.  They saw what happened with

Bill Clinton in 1990s, how his approval rating soared.  They feel they can

paint the Democrats as a party of overreach, particularly as we get closer

and closer to the 2020 election.  They think impeachment is sort of the way

to go.


The President has signaled that he sort of understands that, but the

concept makes him very nervous.  He is, as you`ve noted, he doesn`t like

even say the word.  He`s a very superstitious type.  He does there things

he won`t do.  He didn`t frankly plan his transition because he didn`t want

to jinx the fact that he was maybe not going to win or maybe (inaudible).


WILLIAMS:  Yes.  Chris Christie`s work was (inaudible).


LEMIRE:  Toss aside.  So he doesn`t say the word.  He tries not to, both

publically and privately.  He is concerned that it would be the first line

of his political obituary.  Even as he knows, there`s little chance that

the Senate would ever remove him as long as the Senate remains in the hands

of the Republicans.


Impeachment is something that makes him queasy.  And it`s something that –

he`s had several meetings with Speaker Pelosi where impeachment, not on the

agenda, but that will be the first thing he would bring up to her.  He

would say, “Nancy, you`re not going to impeach me, are you?  And I think it

is clearly something on his mind and his attacks on the speaker have only

increased in recent days, on Twitter, in interviews, even when he`s sitting

beside the gravestones or American soldiers in Normandy to commemorate the

D-Day invasion.


WILLIAMS:  And, Kim, you know the – what we call the Rick Wilson theory

that if he is impeached, he then runs as a victim, raises $100 million off

of it and cruises to re election.



That could be the one thing that boosts his popularity.  We saw that happen

with Bill Clinton.  I think there is concern among Democrats that that

could happen.


But this is also a president who we know has really bristled at any notion

that his presidency is illegitimate.  And he sees impeachment not just as

something that can leave him within asterisks as the third president to

face that, but also as moved by the Democrats to continue to relitigate

2016 and that gets under his skin too.


I think that`s why you see him so eager to trade barbs with Nancy Pelosi

now in a way that he didn`t in the past, is because this impeachment

question continues to loom in both as a re-election point as well as the

notion that his current presidency is somehow not legitimate.


WILLIAMS:  To our friends Kimberly Atkins and Jonathan Lemire, our thanks

for joining us and improving our conversation here on this Tuesday night.


And coming up, our next stop on “The Road to Miami” is a personal favorite

of mine.  It`s also a state where Democrats flipped four Republican

congressional seats last year.  Steve Kornacki is back at the big board

when “The 11th Hour” continues.




WILLIAMS:  Now, two weeks and one day away from the very first Democratic

presidential debates here on MSNBC.  And we`re continuing our series called

“The Road to Miami.”  As Steve Kornacki fills us in on everything we need

to know about the important states along the crowded bustling I-95



You might remember, it was just last night Steve got stuck in some horrible

traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway.  But tonight having slipped the

surly bonds of New York, we are happy to report our friend Steve has

crossed the magnificent George Washington Bridge and is now safely in the

Garden State, the great state of New Jersey.  And back at the big board

with us tonight is Steve Kornacki.  Steve?



Yes, that`s right.  We, finally, we made it across that Cross Bronx

Expressway.  Of course, it took all the gas out of my tank so I had to make

a pit stop here at the Vince Lombardi Service Area when I hit New Jersey.


Filling up the tank right now, of course, I can talk to you while I`m doing

this because in New Jersey there is no self-service gas.  It is all full

service.  That is a state law.  It`s the only place in the country where

they have that.  So I get to sit here.  They get to fill out the tank


Of course, the problem is there`s 18 pumps here, there`s only one

attendant.  So actually I`ve been waiting a few minutes when they bring the

company car back to me.  But while I continue waiting, maybe I can ask

folks a trivia question.  How about that?


I`m going to give you four names here, four people, and I want you to think

about what might they all have in common.  Number one, exuberant sports

caster Dick Vitale.  Number two, hip hop artist and comedic actress, Queen

Latifah.  Number three, 19th century novelist James Cooper and number four,

television news icon and 11Th hour host Brian Williams.  What do all four

of these individuals have many common?


Well, they`ve all never been in my kitchen, that is true, but there`s

something else worth thinking about.  All of them are members in good

standing of the New Jersey State Hall of Fame located mere miles from where

I am right now in New Jersey`s historic Meadowlands.


In fact, I believe we have  exclusively obtained some footage from that

night five years ago when the host of this show was inducted by Mr. Bruce

Springsteen into the hall of fame.




WILLIAMS:  My life really comes down to three numbers I`m Very proud of.  I

was born at Exit 163, raised at Exit 117.  And we are currently homeowners

at Exit 98.




WILLIAMS:  It`s all about the numbers.  It`s always been all about the



KORNACKI:  That was, of course, those were Parkway references.  We`re on I-

95 on this trip, but close enough.  Brian Williams, of course, as we said

inducted five years ago and we can report some new news on this front for

you tonight, Brian.  You will soon be joined.


It was just announced this week, by several new esteemed inductees into the

New Jersey Hall of Fame including the Smithereens, Southside Johnny, George

R. R. Martin, Martha Stewart and Jason Alexander, all of them will be

taking place with you in that hall of fame this October.  So something for

everybody to look forward to there, OK.


Now, we always talk two on these trips about politics, about presidential

politics, about the significance of each place we visit when it comes to

New Jersey.


Well, look, we think of New Jersey as a blue state.  This is what it looked

like, though, before the 2018 midterms.  12 congressional districts in the

state, seven of them were blue, five of them were red.  That`s because New

Jersey, blue state, yes, but a suburban state, a lot of traditionally

Republican suburbs.  Suburbs that Democrats in the Trump era have been

targeting, suburbs that are filled with the types of voters, it can be more

college educated, more culturally moderate.


Democrats have said there`s going to be a backlash against Trump with those

voters that`s going to power them.  They said this in the 2018 midterms. 

And look at New Jersey, this was before the 2018 midterms.  It was 7 to 5,

Democrats over Republicans, after 11 to 1.  That`s what the 2018 midterm

wave did here in New Jersey.


But the way, it wasn`t just that.  US Senator Bob Menendez, he went in

trial for bribery.  He was – got a hung jury during the campaign ran for

re-election, his numbers were in that tank and yet the resistance to Trump

and the Republican Party was so strong that Menendez still won by double



Democrats look at those suburbs in New Jersey, they look at those results

from 2018, and they see something that didn`t just power them in New

Jersey, they think it`s something that`s going to power them in suburbs all

across the country into 2010, Brian.


WILLIAMS:  Steve, thank you.  It`s an honor to be included.  We look up to

James Fenimore Cooper, he is a rest stop and of course we all hope to be

rest stop someday.  If you`re from New Jersey, that`s the ultimately honor. 

Steve Kornacki, thank you so much, we`re just loving the series of reports.


KORNACKI:  Thanks.


WILLIAMS:  Coming up, what was it the President said today that once again

has the US intelligence community concerned?  That when we come back.






TRUMP:  I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un.  I can`t show

you the letter, obviously, but it was a very personal, very warm, very nice

letter.  I appreciate it.  I think North Korea has tremendous potential. 

And the one that feels that more than anybody is Kim Jong-un.  He gets it. 

Again, the letter he sent was a beautiful letter.  It was a very warm

letter.  It`s a very nice thing.




WILLIAMS:  President Trump once again extolling the beauty of his

relationship in the letters he gets from the North Korean dictator.  We

don`t know if it was another one of the giant letters, just that it was

beautiful.  We do know the President really enjoys this kind of





TRUMP:  Chairman Kim, Kim Jong-un sent me a beautiful letter two days ago. 


He likes me, I like him.  We get along.  He wrote me two of the most

beautiful letters.  This is a historic letter, and it is a historic letter. 

It`s a beautiful, it`s a beautiful piece of art.


He wrote me beautiful letters, and they`re great letters.  We fell in love.




WILLIAMS:  He must have some better than average letter head.  Trump`s

renewed praise for the North Korean leader comes as we`re learning more

about Kim Jong-un`s half brother who it`s believed he had assassinated back

in 2017.  There are reports Kim`s half brother was also an American

intelligence asset.


According to a new book released just today, the author of which will join

us tomorrow night, Kim Jong-nam became an informant for the CIA.  And on

the day he was killed, security camera footage showed him in a hotel

elevator with an Asian looking man who was reported to be an American

intelligence agent.


At that news, the President appeared to side with North Korea over

something that is a staple of our intelligence business.




TRUMP:  I saw the information about the CIA with respect to his brother or

half brother.  And I would tell him that would not happen under my

auspices, that`s for sure.  I wouldn`t let that happen under my auspices.




WILLIAMS:  So here`s how our former CIA Director John Brennan responded to

the president`s comments earlier tonight on this network.




JOHN BRENNAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  He has no appreciation for the importance

of the intelligence profession and the work that intelligence professionals

do around the globe to include going out and trying to recruit individuals

to provide us the insights we need to keep our country strong and safe.




WILLIAMS:  The most recent letter from Kim Jong-un appears to be the first

correspondence since the failed nuclear summit in Hanoi.  Since then Kim

Jong-un has resumed short-range testing.  So far there`s been no sign an

agreement is any closer to reality.


Another break for us and coming up, a moment of genuine passion and genuine

emotion that broke out in Congress today, but no, not for many member of





WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight.  There he was, our friend Jon

Stewart, a New Jersey native who was living in New York on 9/11.  And in

the years since, he`s been out front on behalf of first responders to get

funding for the health crisis that has been slicing through their



We are nearing the point where the deaths of first responders after 9/11

will soon surpass the death toll of first responders on 9/11.  There`s a

cancer epidemic among them.  Remember the Bush administration EPA

administrator told at us air was safe to breathe down there at ground zero. 

Thousands worked on that pile, first in the search for bodies, and then in

the effort to clear what had become a tomb.


And make no mistake, they were all victims of the same terrorist attack. 

The funding from Congress has been stretched to thin, payouts have been

reduced.  It`s a heavy lift to get the funding reauthorized every five or

so years, and that was behind Jon Stewart`s frustration and emotion today.




JON STEWART, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS ADVOCATE:  I`m sorry if I sound angry

and undiplomatic, but I`m angry, and you should be too.  And they`re all

angry as well. 


Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity,

time.  They responded in five seconds.  They did their jobs, with courage,

grace, tenacity, humility.  18 years later, do yours.




WILLIAMS:  And to those in Congress who have treated this rising death toll

with benign neglect, and they know who they are, perhaps dismissing it as a

New York problem, Jon Stewart reminded Congress today the terrorist didn`t

declare death to Tribeca, they declared death to America.


That is our broadcast on this Tuesday night.  Thank you so much for being

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




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