Trump reignites feud with “the squad.” TRANSCRIPT: 8/16/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: It looks like a great series. Jacob Soboroff,
thanks for telling us about it. Everyone should check this out, “American
SOBOROFF: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: As mentioned, the finale this Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. That`s
“Tonight`s Last Word.” You can always find me on “The Beat,” 6:00 p.m.
Eastern. But don`t go anywhere because “The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams
BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: Tonight after a week`s worth of some
political and some diplomatic damage, the President continues to go after
two members of Congress in particular against a backdrop of real concern on
foreign policy and real fear that the economy may be in for a turn.
Michael Moore is here with us tonight to talk about the people of a big
American city who have been failed by their government. Michael Beschloss
with us tonight as well to remind us where we all are right about now as
THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on a summer Friday night.
And good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New
York. This was day 939 of the Trump administration, and here are two more
numbers for you on this Friday night. This is the President`s 222nd day at
a Trump golf venue, his 290th day at a Trump-branded property since being
sworn in as our president. Tonight finds our President at his Trump golf
club in New Jersey.
It`s been a week, and for this president, it brought the first really
indications that he economy he is running on may be running into real
trouble. Financial markets signaling that a recession is a real
possibility and that his trade war is taking a toll. The Dow posting an
800-point drop, the largest this year. Trump blamed his own Federal
Reserve chairman, who he referred to as, “clueless Jay Powell,” citing his
actions on interest rates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jay Powell should be cutting
rates because every country all over the world is cutting them. He raised
them too fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: While falsely saying China would pay tariffs and not American
consumers, just this week Trump delayed the next round of tariffs until
December. He said out of deference to the Christmas shopping season. Last
night in New Hampshire, he assured his supporters that his strategy would
lead to success.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I never said China was going to be easy, but it`s not tough, and
they want to make a deal. We just spoke to them yesterday. They want to
make a deal. They want to make a deal. They have to make a deal. And you
know what? It will be wonderful to make a deal.
You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k)`s down the tubes.
Everything is going to be down the tubes. So whether you love me or hate
me, you got to vote for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press, who will join us in
just a moment, reports on the administration`s concerns about the economy
ahead of 2020. He writes, “Trump advisers feel a weakened economy would
hurt him with moderate Republican and independent voters who have been
willing to give him a pass on some of his incendiary policies and
Trump is now stepping up his attacks on one of two Democratic congresswomen
who were blocked from visiting Israel after he asked that nation to bar
their entry and after Prime Minister Netanyahu quickly complied. Yesterday
we learned that Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were not allowed
to visit. Today Israel did relent and gave Tlaib permission to visit so
she could see her grandmother who lives on the west bank. Tlaib has now
decided not to visit on humanitarian grounds.
Tonight Trump weighed in, “Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a
complete setup. The only real winner is Tlaib`s grandmother. She doesn`t
have to see her now.”
“New York Times” columnist Tom Friedman writes that Trump`s battle with the
congresswoman is part of his effort to activate his base and we, “Trump`s
way of and motivation for expressing his affection for Israel is guided by
his political desire to improve his re-election chances by depicting the
entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as
This week Trump also engaged in veiled swipes at old adversaries by pushing
a conspiracy theory on social media that the Clintons somehow had Jeffrey
Epstein killed. Trump then tried to defend his action by saying he was
just re-tweeting someone else`s theory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That wasn`t from me. That was from him. But he`s a man who has
half a million followers, a lot of followers, and he`s respected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Trump`s concerned about 2020 appears to be part of his
motivation to begin making plans to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.
As “The Washington Post” first reported, Trump met with his national
security team. Tonight he confirmed the meeting, noting that, “Many on the
opposite side of this 19-year war and us are looking to make a deal if
“Washington Post” reporter Anne Gearan says Trump has made it clear Trump
sees little reason to remain there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The President sees
this as a kind of pointless exercise. He recently referred to the role of
the U.S. military in Afghanistan as policemen building gas stations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: In addition to all that, Trump will now face the prospect of the
House Intelligence Committee taking a more active role in the impeachment
effort, the investigation. This as his former campaign manager Corey
Lewandowski testifies before the House Judiciary Committee next month.
And here`s a bell weather that will get the attention of the President`s
political party, perhaps even the Majority Leader of the Senate.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine may be more vulnerable than first
thought in defending her seat in 2020. The Cook Political Report has
shifted her seat from lean Republican to officially a toss-up now.
And on that note, with us for our leadoff discussion on this Friday night,
Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for “USA Today.” She also happens to
be the author of “The matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American
Dynasty,” Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the Associated Press,
and Jonathan Allen, a veteran political reporter who happens to be our NBC
News National Political Reporter. Good evening and welcome to you all.
Susan, I`d like to begin with you. Where the shattering of norms are
concerned, how big a week have we just witnessed, remembering this is
summer vacation for the President?
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: You know, I actually think
the controversy over Israel denying entry to two American members of
Congress at the urging of the President was shocking. Even in 2 1/2 years
of things that we say break the norms never happened before unprecedented,
but this is one I think crosses a new line, for the President of the United
States to encourage an ally, one of our closest allies to refuse to let two
American citizens, members of Congress, into their country I think is on
the list of the most far-reaching and serious undermining of democratic,
national, and international norms that we`ve seen.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan Lemire, with Susan`s comments in mind, is it possible
to gauge what the White House made of this week and how fearful they really
are of the economy down the road?
JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: As you mentioned,
the President`s on vacation this week, and there`s sort of been a series of
summer storms that have gathered over Bedminster, New Jersey, where he has
been staying, and we can assume they`ll shift south to the White House when
he returns there at the end of this week.
But the one that has the most attention, the darkest cloud if you will on
that sky, is about the economy. This President and the team around him
have made it very clear that the strong economy, the President`s sort of
overseeing and supervising this economy is his number one argument for re-
election, to ask the American people to give him another four years in
And let`s be clear. He inherited an economy that was doing well under
President Obama. It`s certainly an economy that is not perfect for every
American, but most of the fundamentals of the economy have been good. The
White House believes that is his best argument. And as we wrote in that
story, allows some Republicans some independence, even that sliver of
disaffected Democrats who voted for him last time or at least considering
voting for him again, you know, to ignore a lot of stuff that comes with
him, the baggage, the tweets, frankly some of the racism because the
economy is doing well. And if that argument goes away, that becomes a lot
harder just to – for this President to keep him on his side.
And there`s been real warning signs in the last week or so. The R word,
you know, the recession, is for the first time being bandied about. We
don`t know that one is coming and we don`t know when it would come, but
there are at least some forecasts that suggest if they were to happen,
maybe the middle of next year, just a few months before the President were
to face voters again. And that, for this White House, is a terrifying
prospect. I think that`s why we`re already seeing, according to our
reporting, some of the pivoting the last week or two that start to stir up
other issues. This thing with Israel and the congresswomen, the attacks on
those same congresswomen a few weeks ago, on Elijah Cummings and cities,
the minority/majority cities, where – culture was issues, even plastic
straws. That that sort of stuff is going to be in the President`s arsenal
right now as he tries to distract from the impact his China trade war has
had on the economy and the very volatile markets.
WILLIAMS: No doubt about it. Jon Allen, the President gave us positively
cat skills material tonight on social media. At least her grandmother
won`t have to see her. Is there a strategy here? Is someone with a
straight face able to make a mathematical argument that this is a path to
victory which all efforts ideally in the White House political shop should
JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I`m not sure
anybody has ever had a borsht belt strategy for winning before, Brian. The
stand up comedy routine may not extend that far. There`s been bible belt
and southern strategy. I`m not sure that will work. And if he gets down
to the point where he`s talking plastic straws that may be the last straw
for the American public if that`s all he`s got to talk about.
I think it was very weird today, speaking of Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib
and her grandmother. He put her grandmother in quotation marks in one of
those tweets, I guess trying to stir up some sort of conspiracy theory
about whether her grandmother is actually her grandmother. It has been a
very, very strange week indeed, Brian.
But I don`t think at this point the President or the folks around him are
sure exactly what their next steps are. They`re looking at really bad
polling. I think the strategy has been to try to find more people who
support the President and try to get them ready to go out to the polls next
November. And what they`re seeing in polling is really scary to them
because a big portion of what had been expected to be his base has peeled
away since the midterm elections or in the midterm elections and since
then. He`s losing support from non-college educated women, for instance,
particularly non-college educated white women.
And so you see in these approval ratings, you see in this head to head
polls with Democrats, you see in the internal numbers here, it is – the
path for him to win is getting narrower and narrower and narrower. It
looks like a White House that`s just flailing.
WILLIAMS: I want to read, Jonathan Lemire, a tweet we got today from the
Greenland Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Greenland, a man of – a land of
stark beauty and lovely people, suddenly on the market as a potential
hostile takeover for the United States. They have tweeted, “Greenland is
rich and valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice,
fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure
tourism. We`re open for business, not for sale.”
Jonathan, where did this story come from, and how real is it or just
another shiny object?
LEMIRE: Well, we`ve been saying that the Trump campaign was looking to
expand the Electoral College map. This would be one way to do it, although
I don`t know how many vote you`d get from Greenland. Perhaps they were
confused by those none globe maps –
LEMIRE: – to be the size of Africa or so. So this is somewhat serious.
The President has had a few conversations in recent weeks floating the idea
of purchasing Greenland. It is possible to purchase a territory like
Greenland, which we should be clear, is under the control of Denmark, and
Denmark has made very clear today it is not for sale. He`s not the first
president to suggest this. Harry Truman did as well more than half a
Greenland is abundant in natural resources, particularly energy. It is
also because of its location near Europe, not too far from Russia, a pretty
important strategic location as well. The U.S. has a military base there.
They have looking to develop others. They`ve blocked China from trying to
expand there. So there are reasons why one might be interested in
However, there`s no serious plan here. This is something that was place –
a bug caught in the President`s ear through dinner conversations according
to our reporting. He`s raised it with a few advisers. You know, he`s
raised it with a few advisers, he`s raised it with friends on the phone,
you know, makes those calls from the White House residence or this week
from Bedminster, and he`s floated the idea. Sort of one of those legacy-
defining things, something that he could say he acquired an island. But
there`s no real suggestion that this is going to happen anytime soon.
WILLIAMS: Susan Page, snap us back into the reality of present-day
politics. A lot of head-to-head polling match ups are out this week and
these days with all the necessary provisos. It`s summer. We`re more than
a year out. It`s not a national election, we hold, rather 50-state
elections. But here are the head to heads. And they do kind of snap your
attention back into focus.
Biden puts Trump way underwater, Sanders, Warren, Harris and so on. What
does any of this mean to you? What can we glean from this?
PAGE: I think there`s something very significant in these Fox News match
up, and that is no matter who he runs again, President Trump gets 38
percent or 39 percent of the vote. That is his core support. I think we
should expect those voters who will be with him no matter what happens,
whatever happens with the economy, buy Greenland or not, they`re going to
be with him next year. But that is not a majority. That does not get you
even a majority in the Electoral College unless you have a serious three-
So the President needs to do exactly what he said in his rally last night.
He needs people who don`t like him to vote for him. And the reason that –
they`re going to give voters two reasons to do that. One is if the economy
is good. We have no history of ejecting presidents from office when the
economy is as strong as it`s been.
The other is to use culture as a wedge. And you certainly see that almost
every day with this White House trying to use cultural issues from race and
urban settings and Muslim members of Congress and plastic and paper straws
in an effort to make that work for the President. But 38 percent or 39
percent, that is a sobering number to be so consistent for the President
regardless of who he is running against.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan Allen, I have a piece of reporting from “The New York
Times” to read you about Obama/Biden, and this went up tonight. “While
initially skeptical of Mr. Biden`s decision to run, Mr. Obama driven by
affection and loyalty has been more active in advising his campaign than
previously known, going so far as to request a briefing from the campaign
before his friend officially joined the fray, according to people close to
both men.” Jon, do you buy it, and to what end?
ALLEN: Well, look, the fact that this is out there at this point and that
folks talked about the interaction between these two men suggests to me
that there was some interest in having it known that Mr. Obama was not so
keen on the idea that Mr. Biden run in the first place, but also that he
recognizes that Vice President Biden is, in fact, still the front-runner
here. And that it`s a possibility that Vice President Biden will, in fact,
be the Democratic nominee. And that`s still kind of playing both sides of
President Obama did not set up vice President Biden to be his successor.
When Hillary Clinton wanted to move forward and run in 2016, Vice President
Biden did not have President Obama`s support. It`s important to remember
even after President Obama had twice told the nation that Joe Biden was the
next best person to be president, gone out and campaigned with him that
way, he wasn`t ready to endorse him back then.
So I don`t think it`s shocking that President Obama didn`t think Biden
should run this time in the first place and suggested that to him, maybe
not in so many words. But there is a reality here, and I think that
President Obama would like to be influential with whoever the Democratic
nominee is going to be and would like to be helpful to them to try to
defeat Donald Trump.
WILLIAMS: Some important recent history there to remember. Our thanks to
three terrific guests to start us off on a Friday night and end this week.
Susan Page, Jonathan Lemire, Jonathan Allen, thank you all for being here
Coming up, most people know the city as EWR, its airport code on your
luggage tag. But tonight the real people who live in Newark, New Jersey,
are dealing with lead in the water and a failure of their government.
Michael Moore, who has seen this movie where he grew up, is standing by to
talk with us.
And later, the phrase the President keeps repeating that seems to be
catching on, particularly on his news network of choice as “The 11th Hour”
is just getting started on this august Friday night.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. And as we have been reporting, the biggest city
in the most densely populated state in the union, Newark, New Jersey, eight
miles from where we sit here in our studio, is in the midst of a crisis
over lead in the drinking water. This involves an estimated 15,000
households. It has exposed once again the intersection of race, class,
poverty, health, and infrastructure. In plain English, well-off cities and
towns would never put up with this. But in Newark, where they have known
for years that there`s been lead in the water, it`s a different story.
A filter giveaway program for home faucets, that was botched. Tonight
there`s still no plan to get bottled water to the thousands of homes other
than telling people to come and get it. And now a federal judge is
deciding if people in an eastern section of the city are eligible for
bottled water as well because their lead levels tested lower. If it sounds
like Flint, Michigan, there`s a reason why this situation has a lot in
common with Flint, Michigan, starting with benign neglect and continuing
tonight with paralysis, which brings us to our next guest here in the
We are pleased to welcome a Michigander, a movie maker, a muckraker in the
finest tradition, Michael Moore, is with us tonight. Thank you for coming
MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Thank you for having me.
WILLIAMS: At the very top, an obvious difference between this and the
Michigan situation is a sea of blue – governor, mayor, both senators.
Hey, one senator has a Newark address and is the former mayor. Why do you
think this story hasn`t received more coverage?
MOORE: Which is so strange consider, as you said, it`s just across the
WILLIAMS: Eight miles.
MOORE: – from the media capital of this country. People in Newark, I
would guess tonight, are very afraid, and they should be. If Flint,
Michigan, is any example of what could happen here in Newark, the, you
know, it`s not just, as you said – it`s not just the main pipelines that
are going down the streets, under the streets. It`s every line into every
home. And once that gets contaminated, then that carries into each
internal plumbing of everybody`s home.
WILLIAMS: Of course.
MOORE: And from the internal plumbing into every washing machine,
dishwasher, bathtub, it`s such a phenomenal crisis. And it`s not just
Flint, and it`s not just Newark.
Now, the other difference between Flint and Newark is that, yes, we had a
Republican governor. When his staff found out, they tried to cover it up.
They tried to say it was something else or whatever, and it went for a long
time. And, you know, the new attorney general is still saying that they`re
going to investigate this, and there`s going to be charges hopefully. We
all hope there will be, because they knew that people were being poisoned.
How long have they known? I watched your show last night. How long have
they known in Newark? They`ve known for a while –
WILLIAMS: Known for a while.
MOORE: – there`s a problem. And my guess is any other mayor of a mid to
large size city right now, if they`re watching this, they know they`ve got
the problem too, especially if they live in the eastern half, the older
part of the country, where these pipelines were laid down in the late 19th,
early 20th century. This is a huge problem, and I don`t think they know
what to do because they`re not going to have the money to do it. They
haven`t fixed Flint yet.
We`re – tomorrow will be – at the end of this show, actually, it will be
day 1,940 of people having contaminated, poisoned water in Flint. Those
lines are not fixed yet. They either don`t want to spend the money, they
can`t spend the money. There is a Democratic governor now and lieutenant
governor and attorney general, so there`s a lot of hope that that will get
fixed, but that hasn`t happened yet.
And for the people of Newark, if think this is going to get fixed tomorrow,
it`s not. And let me tell you about those cases of water. I hate to just
put a – because so many people were so good to Flint. I mean people like
Jay-Z and others, just millions of cases of water were sent to Flint. But
the average American uses 50 to 80 gallons of water a day.
MOORE: OK. That`s cooking, cleaning, drinking, bath.
WILLIAMS: They`re bathing with a 16-ounce bottle of water.
MOORE: No, it can`t happen. And, in fact, you will need so many cases. I
can`t do the math for you right now, but there`s 16 ounces in those
MOORE: Just to get 50 gallons for one day, 50 gallons per person, so
you`ve got four people in the house, so that`s 200 gallons of water, you
know. And –
WILLIAMS: There`s the National Guard. These are Flint pictures.
MOORE: Yes. Right.
WILLIAMS: The National Guard was at least there. We`ve yet to see them
called out in New Jersey. The only sound the people of Newark should wake
up to is the thud of water being delivered to their homes –
WILLIAMS: – by either volunteer Fire Department or the National Guard.
MOORE: And these large water trucks –
MOORE: – that could come in with their big hoses.
WILLIAMS: Park it at the end of the street.
MOORE: Exactly. And so that people could fill up there. But imagine now,
if you live in Newark, if you`re watching us right now, imagine doing this
for the next five years.
WILLIAMS: And it`s going to be over 90 degrees again this weekend.
MOORE: No. I`m telling you right now if you are waiting for the State of
New Jersey, for the city of Newark, for the National Guard, for anybody to
come and save you, let me remind you that you live in Newark. You live in
Newark, and in this country, as we saw with Flint, as you`ve seen in other
cities, cities that are poor, cities that are black, Hispanic, they`re not
at the top of the list as to who`s going to get help. And you`re not going
to get help in Newark unless you demand it, unless you fight for it, unless
you rise up nonviolently to say, “We cannot and will not live like this.”
People in Flint, who live in Flint, still they don`t bathe. They can bathe
once a week. They take the kids down to a relative in Detroit or Ann
Arbor, Lansing. They drive for the once a week shower because it`s still
not fixed in Flint.
WILLIAMS: In a country that won World War II as we tried to point out last
MOORE: This is – no, no – exactly. And I mean this is going to take a
massive effort, and it`s not just Flint, and it`s not just Newark. And
there`s no real commitment to this to making this happen.
Now, again, if this was a wealthy city, if this was a white city, this –
well, as you lay it out, you can imagine what the response would be
tomorrow. But the response tomorrow in Newark is going to be – and it
just needs to be said plainly and bluntly, Brian. You are black, and you
have the money to contribute to any of our campaigns, and you are not on
our list. And we`ll show up – you know, watch this happen, politicians,
celebrities, people will show up, they hand out the water, make it look
like something`s happening, and nothing happens.
And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I watched your show last night
when you reported on this, and I saw your personal reaction. This is where
you`re from. You said it plainly. If this was Bedminster, if this was
WILLIAMS: Yes. Summit, Rumson, all these beautiful towns.
MOORE: Yes. If this what your gross point –
MOORE: – your Bloomfield Hills –
MOORE: – your Ann Arbor, you`re right, that`s – but that`s not where
it`s happening, and no one`s coming to the rescue. And I hate to be the
one on a Friday night at the end of the week here –
WILLIAMS: I understand.
MOORE: – to say this, but unless the people realize this, the one thing
that the people of Newark have is there`s more of you and the people who
support you in all the other New Jersey cities than there are of them, the
them who are not going to come and help you. You have got to politically
rise up immediately, or you will be the Flint of New Jersey, and you do not
WILLIAMS: To the political leaders listening, if you want to make a liar
out of Michael Moore, it`s right there before you.
MOORE: Please do.
WILLIAMS: The solution is right there. We`re going to take a break.
Michael has agreed to stay with us.
Coming up, the uproar over two of the four members of the squad, two women
that Michael has praised for speaking truth to power, they`re back in the
news. We`ll talk about that when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, `THE FIVE` CO-HOST: For example, the squad has become now the
face of the Democratic Party. The President doesn`t even need to run
against Joe Biden, right, because he can just run against them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That, what she said, that was Dana Perino on Fox News recently.
And then sure enough just tonight, we get this from the President of the
United States. “Like it or not, Tlaib and Omar are fast becoming the face
of the Democrat Party. Cortez, AOC, is fuming, not happy about this.
Michael Moore remains with us. So, Michael, when your political opposition
tells you this is the play we`re going to run and the President underscores
it, and they`re running this play, is there any – is the squad blameless
for giving the President a steady stream of oxygen and ammunition?
MOORE: I`m so glad he`s that frightened of them, both he and Netanyahu are
scared of them. And the reason they are is – and this is why Trump isn`t
as dumb as he comes off. I`ve always felt that it`s important to respect
him on some –
WILLIAMS: He did a TV show out of this building for 14 seasons.
MOORE: Yes. How many people have been on TV for 14 seasons? That`s not
an idiot. I`ve always thought that we should treat him the way Patton
looked at Rommel. He respected Rommel. He read Rommel`s book. He thought
we`re only going to beat him if we understand him and actually respect his
And the – Him saying that Rashida and Ilhan are the face of the – by the
way, it`s called the Democratic Party.
WILLIAMS: I know. That goes back to –
MOORE: I know. No, I know. They`re still taking –
WILLIAMS: Make it sound harsher. That was a dick army staffer.
MOORE: Yes, yes. Well, that it lives on is I guess some credit to their
mad genius too.
MOORE: But – No, let`s hope that Alexandria and Rashida and Ilhan and
Congresswoman Pressley are the face because that`s how we`re going to win.
We`re going to win with people who believe that climate change is real.
We`re going to win by getting behind people who want to raise the minimum
wage, who are going to fight for all these things that the American public
wants. That`s the squad. They`re the force out there.
WILLIAMS: But the President`s telling the people in Michigan they`re scary
MOORE: Yes. Well, first of all, Michigan has a long history, as does
Wisconsin and Minnesota, the upper Midwest, of what you would call
socialism or Democratic socialism or farm labor Democratic Party. We`ve
never trusted the banks or the large corporations. General Motors was
founded in Flint, Michigan, in 1908.
A year of General Motors trying to turn this into a company town, people
were so upset at it, in the next election. Flint elected a socialist mayor
to remove the pro-G.M. mayor when the corporation first began. So that`s
who we are. And the 13th district that Rashida Tlaib represents also has a
strong history of – sadly right now it`s the third poorest congressional
district in the country.
But it also has another history. The congressman back in 1972 – I
remember this. I was a senior in high school. Charles Diggs was his name.
He`s one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus. He represented
Rashida Tlaib`s district in the `70s. And he wanted to go and see the
situation in South Africa. And the South African government would not give
him a visa and they banned him from visiting the country.
So all these years later to have our congresswoman from the 13th district
in Detroit facing a similar thing, what is it that they`re afraid that
they`re going to see? What is it that – what doesn`t the Israeli
government – I mean I watched earlier Ali Velshi had on one the refused
things, one of the Israeli army veterans. And he said, I was going to be
her guide through Hebron, and I was going to take her down the main street
of Hebron, where it`s now vacant.
All the shops are gone. The Israeli army calls it a sterile street.
That`s what he said right on this network, a sterile street because there
are no Arabs around. Our members of Congress need to see that, and that`s
what unfortunately they`re not going to be able to.
WILLIAMS: We`ll break on that point. We`re back on the topic of guns
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are working very hard to make sure we keep guns out of the hands
of insane people and those who are mentally sick and shouldn`t have guns.
But people have to remember, however, that there is a mental illness
problem that has to be dealt with. It`s not the gun that pulls the
trigger. It`s the person holding the gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: No real specifics there on gun restrictions from the President.
That was last night at his rally in New Hampshire, just an emphasis on
mental illness. And the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee want us
to know they`re cutting short their summer recess and coming back to
Washington early just to tackle the issue of gun violence.
The truth is they`re coming back September 4th when summer is over, but
they want the credit for working. They want to put no fewer than three
bills before the House for a vote. Again, the truth is nothing matters
unless Mitch McConnell says it does, which brings us back to tonight.
The last of the El Paso funerals and a heart-wrenching sight. When Antonio
Basco lost his wife in that Walmart shooting, he had no other living family
in the world, and he was worried that no one would show up at her memorial.
So he invited El Paso, and by all accounts, they showed up tonight along
with flowers from around the country and around the world.
Michael Moore is back with us. And Michael, it strikes me that unlike
coastal Democrats, you are driving distance away from a Bass Pro Shops and
Cabela`s, and you know from gun culture. You know your way around Mitch
McConnell. What`s the least we can expect from Washington on guns?
MOORE: Well, I`m also in a state that`s a half a mile across the river
from a country where their boys watch violent video games, where they have
mental health issues, where they have all the stuff – oh, and by the way,
hunting`s the number one sport in Canada. There are more guns than hockey
WILLIAMS: Are AR-15s a problem?
MOORE: No, because they don`t allow this. And to get a – To be able to
have a gun, a certain kind of gun in Canada, you have to get – you have to
have your wife, your girlfriend, and your ex-wife all have to sign a piece
of paper saying that you`re not a violent person, and you can have a gun,
you know. I think that Canada just does this in a very sane way. They let
hunters be hunters, but they don`t allow children to be able to take guns
It`s – It – That was that was a very sad thing you just showed there from
El Paso. How will this end? You know, I made “Bowling for Columbine”,
this is like 20 years ago –
MOORE: – and we started the afternoon – I said, we came in. We saw it
on the news that morning, and we were working on it that afternoon. I
thought we`ve got – because this was the first. We`ve got to make sure
this never happens again.
And not only did that movie not stop it, nothing has stopped it. It`s only
gotten worse. The good news is that 78 percent of the American people do
not own a gun. 78 percent. But there`s 320 million guns in this country,
and 3 percent of the population owns 160 million of them. This is a
We`re going to have to face it down sooner or later. But this is just one
of so many problems that we, whether it`s climate change, whether it`s
this, you know, I was thinking about this earlier today because Peter Fonda
passed away –
MOORE: – today. And this, today, is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.
And it`s the 50th anniversary of his movie, “Easy Rider,” this summer.
And, you know, the baby boom generation, the `60s generation, `60s and `70s
generation, we – our promise to the next generation was we`re going to
leave you a better world –
MOORE: – than the one we inherited, not one that`s polluted, not one
where there`s all this violence, not one with war. And in thinking about
it – and actually, I was talking to Peter Fonda just a couple months ago.
He was going to come to my film festival that I have in the summer in
Michigan, and they couldn`t make it because he was not well. And it`s that
sense of now as we get older, how do we feel that this is the world we`ve
WILLIAMS: You can hear that baton being passed.
MOORE: Well, we have ruined it for these kids. We have choked the planet
to death. We send them into debtor`s prison when they graduate from
college. They`re in debt for the next 20 or 30 years in ways that we
weren`t when we went to college. All these things that we didn`t fix and
that I think everybody over the age of 50 has to redouble their efforts to
turn this thing around.
All these things can be fixed. There`s good news around the corner, but we
have to go and get it. It won`t happen on its own.
WILLIAMS: It will all be better in Greenland. I`ll see you there.
WILLIAMS: Michael Moore, our guest in the studio tonight. Thank you.
MOORE: Thank you, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Very much.
Coming up, the potential purchase of Greenland making news this week, for
real. Our look at five days of this presidency, including the late, great
Peter Fonda coming up after this when we`re joined by Michael Beschloss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELISABETH BUMILLER, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s one
of the most astounding things President Trump has done. We looked back.
There is no – we could find no evidence of any other American president
ever pushing a foreign country to bar the entry of U.S. citizens, let alone
democratically elected members of Congress. So this is way off the charts.
It`s off the charts even for President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Each week of this administration seems even more astounding to
some than the previous one. Back with us again tonight Presidential
Historian and Author Michael Beschloss, the latest of his many great books
“Presidents of War”. And Michael, there you have Elisabeth Bumiller,
Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Times as the commercial says she
knows a thing or two because she has seen a thing or two. Do you agree
with her that in the pantheon of pliant foreign leaders, the place
Netanyahu now takes is something we could not have anticipated ever before?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, NBC NEWS: Here is yet again a
case where President Trump is shattering president and doing things in a
way that we haven`t seen before and pursuing that confrontation with the
Democratic House. And part of this, you know, Brian is really political.
You know, Donald Trump is the last person who would say that he is a
historian. But one way the presidents have made the other party seem
unpalatable is to take a few people within the party and identify them with
the rest of the party. You remember 1940, the Republican candidate was a
moderate named Wendell Willkie. But if you listened to Franklin Roosevelt,
you`d think the candidates were three congressmen named Martin, Barton and
Fish who were extreme isolationist and very reactionary so it`s a political
device that goes back in the history.
WILLIAMS: What are we watching in realtime with Joe Biden that has echoes
in your life`s work of history?
BESCHLOSS: Well I think one thing is that it reminds me a bit of Ronald
Reagan at the beginning of 1980 where Reagan was extremely popular within
the Republican Party. Some people said that he had perhaps been there too
long but in the end he was the one nominated, although there were other
candidates running against him who seemed to be more brisk and adventurous.
And I think we may see the same thing happening here. Who knows.
WILLIAMS: And when you hear about the possible purchase of Greenland
there, insisting of course they`re not for sale.
BESCHLOSS: Well, what it reminds me of is, you know, we heard a panel
earlier saying that there were all sorts of danger signs for Donald Trump
this week. What Greenland reminds me of is how much a president, an
incumbent president can do to reverse his fate.
In August of 1971, Richard Nixon was behind in the polls. The economy was
going bad. There was a war. And he reversed those things, did wage and
price controls that helped for a little while. He went to Russia, he went
to China. Wound down the war and went on to win one of the great
presidential landslide in history. So events these days seem to be
happening with all sorts of velocity but we are 13 months from an election
and I think it doesn`t have too much predictive ability.
WILLIAMS: If we had a podcast, I`d ask about James Knox Polk but we`ll
spare the cable audience for now. Michael –
BESCHLOSS: Director`s cut.
WILLIAMS: – Michael Beschloss has agreed to stay with us over this break.
And when we come back for one American generation, you heard Michael Moore
talk about this earlier, a big anniversary, and a big loss, all in the same
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight. As we`ve often said while
corners of Twitter are indeed the world`s social media bile duct, there are
places and moments for great value and sharing and education, none more so
than the social media feed of our guest tonight, Michael Beschloss, where
today you would have seen his Woodstock remembrance on this 50th
anniversary of the groundbreaking music festival.
And tonight you would have seen this, Peter Fonda, as we remember him the
son of Hollywood royalty, the brother and father of Hollywood royalty, and
easy rider for an entire Woodstock generation gone today at the age of 79.
So our friend Michael Beschloss remains with us. Michael, talk about the
anniversary and today`s loss.
BESCHLOSS: Well, it – our sympathies to Peter Fonda`s family but it`s
almost as if the stars came together to give us a message. Because on this
weekend you have the sad death of Peter Fonda, as you said the beginning of
the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock fair Upstate New York. And also this
is a month after the premier “Easy Rider” with Peter Fonda and Dennis
Hopper and Jack Nicholson, that great counterculture film.
All of which suggests to me the question, you know, was 1969, was that a
time when America was more divided than it is in 2019? And I would say yes
that was a time of an ugly war in Vietnam, a division between the
generations that ran through absolutely every American household. And
anyone who despairs about a time when America is divided I think has to go
back to a moment like August of 1969, 50 years ago, to see how quickly we
were able to overcome it. And how much the DNA of the United States draws
us together in the end. I would never bet against the United States and
our ability to bring our people together.
WILLIAMS: And in 30 seconds or less, let`s remember Max Yasgur a
Republican by inclination and registration who loaned his land to host all
BESCHLOSS: And got up and you probably have seen the film just like –
BESCHLOSS: – he gets up and says I`m a farmer and everyone cheers. Never
did he remotely imagine that those acres would become such an historic site
that we would be honoring that day with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and
everyone else 50 years ago as it began today.
WILLIAMS: To our friend Michael Beschloss, our thanks. Have a good
weekend. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Michael, as always.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you Brian, be well.
WILLIAMS: And to our viewers, that is our broadcast for this Friday night
and for this week. Thank you so very much for being here with us. And
good night from our NBC News headquarters in New York.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the