Trump facing warning signs from economy. TRANSCRIPT: 8/19/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests:
Bill Kristol, Stephanie Murray, Victoria McGrane
Transcript:

RACHEL BITECOFER, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT UNIVERSITY`S

WASON CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY:  And I`m not saying that moderates aren`t

important, that there aren`t moderates, there certainly are.  And they can

be appealed to although Democrats don`t do it well.  But really, it`s all

about the base.

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Professor Rachel Bitecofer, thank you

very much for just the tip of the iceberg version.  We`re going to have to

have you back and we`ll take more notes.  Really appreciate you joining us

tonight.

 

BITECOFER:  Oh, love it.  Thank you so much for having me.

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.  That is tonight`s LAST WORD.  “THE 11TH HOUR” with

Brian Williams starts now.

 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, the President reportedly most worried

about the rising in Syria`s talk of an economic downturn goes after all

kinds of grievances on social media.  Including but not limited to, the

crowd of this rally last week, the former 11-day employee, the pursuits

(ph) of a foreign territory and how we lost the popular vote.

 

Plus, reports tonight that there is a possible plan for a tax cut on

American`s payroll checks to try to bolster the economy and that possible

recession that the White House says isn`t coming anyway.

 

And updates on a possible clash of the political titans in Massachusetts

and the ongoing shame in the City of Newark where the message is, if you

want drinking water without lead in it, you`re going to have to come and

get it.  All of this as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Monday night.

 

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

York as we start a new week.  Day 942 of this Trump administration.  Finds

a president who`s facing down ominous signs about his reelection and

warning signs about an economy possibly headed for a sharp slow down.

 

Tonight both “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times” report the

administration is considering ways to help prop up a weakening economy and

hold off recessions.  Among the options reportedly on the table, “a

temporary payroll tax cut possibly reversing some of President Trump`s

tariffs and a plan to reduce capital gains taxes.”  The white house is

pushing back on that first option, one official is telling NBC News and we

quote, “cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this

time.”  We should add in a place where minds have been known to change. 

Trump is trying to shrug off concerns about the economy while, again,

blaming his Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and his political

opponents, “Our economy is strong despite the horrendous lack of vision by

J. Powell and the Fed, but the Democrats are trying to will the economy to

be bad for purposes of the 2020 election.  The Fed rate over a fairly short

period of time should be reduced by at least 100 bases points with perhaps

some quantitative easing as well.”

 

Just yesterday, “The Washington Post” Phil Rucker who joins us in just a

moment was asked – asked Trump if the White House is prepared for a

possible downturn.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PHILIP RUCKER, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF:  A lot of

economists say that you should be preparing for a recession, that no

president is immune from a recession, and that it`s malpractice for the

government not to be doing something to get ready for that scenario.

 

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Yes.  I feel honestly I

am prepared for everything.  I don`t think we are having a recession. 

We`re doing tremendously well.  Our consumers are rich, I gave a tremendous

tax cut and they loaded up with money.  They are buying.

 

I saw the Walmart numbers, they were through the roofs just two days ago. 

That`s better than any poll, that`s better than any economists.  And most

economy is actually, they feel that we`re not going to have a recession.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Trump may also be rattled by the latest Fox News polling that

shows him under water with leading Democratic 2020 candidates.  So much so

he`s now lashing out at a network he has considered the home team.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  Fox is a lot different than it used to be, I can tell you tell you

that.  Fox has change.  And my worst polls have always been from Fox. 

There`s something going on at Fox, I tell you right now.  And I am not

happy with it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  The President also says he doesn`t believe the Fox`s poll

because of the size of the crowds at his rally.  It appears he was most

recently angered by images of empty seats at his rally last week in

Manchester, New Hampshire.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  Every place I go we have lines outside.

 

I think they said 17,000 people outside that couldn`t get in.

 

The Fire Marshals closed it at a certain level.  The arena announced, I

don`t know the people at the arena that I broke Elton John`s record.  And

then I have fake news.  So, that was an amazing evening.  And you saw the

enthusiasm.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Along with crowd size, Trump has returned to another favorite

topic alleged voter fraud in the last presidential election, never proven. 

And he`s pushing a new conspiracy theory writing, “Google manipulated from

2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 election.  This

was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump supporter.  Google should

be sued.  My victory was even bigger than thought.”  There is no evidence

of that.

 

In fact it came shortly after a discussion aired on Fox Business about one

psychologist research on the popular vote, research that Google had

refuted.

 

Hillary Clinton responded today, “The debunked study you`re referring to

was based on 21 undecided voters.  For context that`s about half the number

of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”

 

Then there is the President shifting positions when it comes to gun

control.  Immediately after those mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, a

combined death toll 31.  Trump sounded ready to support new background

check laws much as he did following the Parkland School shooting last year.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  Take the guns first, go through due process second.  We`re going to

get this done in a bipartisan matter.  I`m not even worried about 60 votes. 

I really believe that 60 votes, 60 percent meaning is – should be so easy. 

It should be 100 percent.

 

I think we can do meaningful, very meaningful background checks.  I want to

see it happen.  And I think we can bring up background checks like we never

had before.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Tonight, Annie Karni of “The New York Times” reports with her

colleague Maggie Haberman that, “after discussions with gun rights

advocates during his two-week working vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey,

including talks with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive at the NRA, Mr.

Trumps resolve appears to have substantially softened.”  And here is what

he says to reporters as recently as yesterday.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  People don`t realize, we have strong background checks right now. 

You go into buy a gun, you have to sign up.  There are a lot of background

checks that have been approved over the years.  Just remember big mental

problem and we do have a lot of background checks right now.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  As all of this unfolds, the battle continues between the

President and his former employee of less than two weeks, “Anthony

Scaramucci is a highly unstable nut job.  I barely knew him until his 11

days of gross incompetence made a fool of himself, bad on T.V.  Got fired. 

He wrote a very nice book about me just recently.  Now the book a lie?  He

was a mental wreak.  We didn`t want him around.  Now fake news puts him on

like he was my buddy.”

 

Earlier this evening Scaramucci was back on cable T.V. again talking about

replacing Trump somehow on the 2020 ticket.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS:  His

entire Cabinet like hates his guts and most of the Congress.  It`s like the

wicked witch of the west.  The water gets thrown, the witch melts.  So I`m

telling my fellow Republicans and my fellow Americans, there is absolutely

no reason to be frightened.  We have to come together now and call this for

what it is.

 

And if we do that, and we do that together, we can bit it back and then we

can get a really experienced Republican candidate to go against some of the

Democratic adversaries that have already been declared.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Here for our lead-off discussion on a Monday night, Philip

Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for “The Washington

Post,” the aforementioned Annie Karni, White House reporter with “The New

York Time,” and Bill Kristol, back with us as well, a veteran at the Reagan

and Bush administrations, director of defending democracy together and

editor-at-large of “The Bulwark” on the web.  Good evening to you all.

 

Phil Rucker, the President said to you in Bedminster just yesterday he was

prepared for everything.  Would his staff agree?

 

RUCKER:  I think not Brian.  And I think that`s why you see so much anxiety

inside the White House right now while you have the President out there

declaring that the economy domestically at least is healthy and that there

is nothing to worry about.  And he does not foresee a recession because he

is the one in charge.

 

Behind the scenes, the advisers, the economic team at the White House has

been scrambling to come up with some plans and some measures that they can

take in order to boost consumer confidence in order to reassure is the

business world and save off what seems to be early signs right now of an

economic downturn.  And at the core of all of this is concerned as always

about the President`s political survival.  He thinks about nothing more

than reelection all the time.  It`s at the top of mind for him and the

concern is that he`s banking on a strong economy in order to win re-

election in November of 2020.  And if there is as downturn, if, you know,

there is as recession or something even more devastating, that could spell

defeat for the President politically.

 

WILLIAMS:  And Annie, all of this gets us into the reporting by your paper

and Phil`s paper about a possible payroll tax cuts or other type of tax

cuts.  And our viewers would be forgiven for saying to themselves, “Hey, I

thought this President just worked through a huge tax cut before?”

 

ANNIE KARNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  He did, and this is

something.  This was news that the White House immediately tried to down

play after “The Washington Post” first reported the story.  First of all,

this was a white paper put together by his economic advisors that hadn`t

yet reach Trump`s eyes.  So, this was not something that was presented to

him in the Oval Office today.  It`s not there yet.

 

People I spoke with said that this something a contingency plan and that

right now they`re at the stage of looking at what and what previous

administrations had done during a recession and just putting all options on

the table.  Really, though, the message here is that Trump`s own advisers

are making contingency plans for him while he goes out there and says there

is nothing wrong and there`s no recession and the Walmart sales are great

and everything, it`s fine.

 

The real question for Trump going into reelection is, can he put any blame

on a potential downturn on his Fed chair, on the media, on these people

he`s been trying to blame when – as we saw last week at his Manchester

rally, his pitch to voters is love me or hate me, you have to vote for me

because if you don`t, your 401(k) will tank.  What does he do when that

argument is no longer valid?  And that`s the real question for him right

now.

 

WILLIAMS:  Bill Kristol, on social media he`s talking about crowd size,

relitigating the popular vote, talking about Scaramucci.  And as they say

the whole world is watching.  Our mutual friend, Eugene Robinson writes

this, “The astonishing thing is that the President of the United States is,

let`s face it, raving like a lunatic, and everyone just shrugs.  The truth

is that we don`t have an actual presidency right now.  We have a tiresome

reality show whose ratings have begun to slide and whose fading star sees

cancellation on the way.”

 

Bill, your response.

 

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE:  Yes, you know, it`s interesting

with Anthony Scaramucci coming out just a week or two ago and he`s saying

that Trump is getting worse, people around Trump are worried.  And then

Trump seems to sort of confirm it with his tweets.  I think that`s pretty

striking and gives Scaramucci who otherwise people might discount a little

bit some credibility.

 

And I do think if other start to say, I was– I`m not like Bill Kristol, I

not some never Trumper, I was for Trump, I voted for him, I wanted to work,

but I– we just can`t afford a seconds term.  That could be a pretty

interesting moment.

 

If you put the economic downturn which may or may not come but Germany is

already in recessions.  So that`s a real question mark.  If you put

together what`s going to happen in September in the Senate where Mitch

McConnell seems to have committed to bringing up a gun bill which is you

reported, the President is now backing off on, this election security

legislation, there will be a lot of pressure to bring up because the

President won`t be happy with.

 

And I think we`ll have one or two ex congressman announcing that they`re

going to join Bill Weld in the field to challenge President Trump for the

Republican nomination.  They will beat him presumably.

 

But again, that could be a bit of – sort of a challenge.  Not just a

challenge but a sense that, you know, it`s not so a 100 percent inevitable

that everyone has to just stack (ph) a yes to the renomination from Donald

Trump.

 

WILLIAMS:  Phil Tucker, president`s are entitled to their own council, they

are entitled to their privacy, but what we have as an arrangement covering

this President especially while at a Trump branded property like

Bedminster, New Jersey, is the opposite of transparency, of not once seen a

briefing from a briefing room there.  And it`s been over 100 days since we

saw the briefing room in the West Wing.  Having said that, we are told now

by both of your newspapers that the President had contact with people in

his life who may have moved him back to the comfortable rights on things

like gun control.

 

RUCKER:  That`s right, Brian.  You know yesterday evening at the end of the

President`s vacation in New Jersey, we had that long Q & S session with him

on the airport tarmac.  And I asked him repeatedly about gun control, what

exactly is your position on background checks, because it was only a week

or so ago that he was saying he supported very powerful background checks.

He thought it would be the sort of obvious next step for policy making

following the two horrific mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.  And

his position has changed almost over night.

 

On Sunday night into New Jersey, he was saying, “I`m not going to say

anything about background checks until Congress figures out some solutions

and gets back to me.”  And then he said, “By the way, keep in mind, we

already have this very strong background checks and it is a mental health

problem.”  And then he went on to advocating for reopening a series of

mental health and institutions that had shuttered in the United States back

in the 1950s and 1960s, of course, for inhumane practices there.

 

So this is not a president who seems to be warming to the idea of any sort

of gun control.  And we should keep in mind this is not a question about

taking away assault rifles or lowering the size of magazines.  This is

about background checks, universal background checks to keep guns out of

the hands of the mentally ill and the other dangerous people.  And they`re

supported according to polling by 80 percent to 90 percent of the American

public.

 

WILLIAMS:  Ninety-four percent I saw in one poll.

 

RUCKER:  Ninety-four.

 

WILLIAMS:  Annie Karni, and this why that cliche about the last person who

talks to him gets to decide his viewpoint comes up now and again.  This is

a post Parkland established pattern as we said at the top of the broadcast,

Annie.

 

KARNI:  Yes, that`s right, after Parkland, he also made big gestures of

really wanting to do major action on guns.  And that, he changed his

position in there after a late night Oval Office meeting with the NRA

officials and then came out and said he would veto any bill about

background checks.  So, this is turn around is a familiar playbook.

 

As Chuck Schumer said, I think, in a statement today, he said, “We`ve seen

this movie before.”  But it is a reminder that however much Trump wants to

say he`s going to do something in the moment after a mass shooting or a

crisis, he gets ultimately get swayed back to playing to his base.  And

while Democrats, I think, want to see him do something and don`t want to

leave the option open, that maybe he`ll come back in September and try and

move Congress again to do something.

 

They admitted at this stage in a campaign when every other play he`s making

in terms of attacking the four congresswomen of color, freshmen Democrats,

in terms of attacking Elijah Cummings is a base play.  They don`t see how

it would fit into his play book right now to do some major legislation on

guns when he believes that members of the NRA make up a huge part of his

base.

 

WILLIAMS:  Bill Kristol, about the polling, do you believe any of it?  The

summer before an election year, do you believe any of the national polling? 

Is it relevant to you?

 

KRISTOL:  I mean it`s some what relevant in terms of just the direction

it`s going.  It doesn`t say where we`ll be in 12 15 months.  But I think

Annie mentioned the base play, the attack on Congressman Cummings, the

attack on the four representatives, the rhetoric about invaders and then

obviously the terrible El Paso shooting.  I mean that six – we forget this

about six weeks ago where people weren`t sure if that was – that might –

they thought that might, remember, even a lot of Democrats were kind of

worried, you know, that this is his – he`s so good at this in working up

the base.

 

It seems pretty clear from the polling and we have this from the bull work

early tomorrow morning making this argument that it has not work.  He`s in

fact, he has lost some voters and I see reports, rather reports of a couple

of focus groups where there`s some, you know, soft Trump supporters, some

people who voted for him saying this is a little too much.  You know, a

little disruption had been fine, he`s little vulgar, we could live with

that and some of the tweets.  But now, we are talking about dividing the

country on race and ethnicity even more than he was doing before.

 

And what would a second term be like?  I think that`s getting in there a

little, the polling suggest that.  And so Trump looks at that and thinks,

well gee, this is my sort of – my whole card.  This is my ace.  And if

this does not work and the economy slowing, you know, I do think he`s

really worried.

 

WILLIAMS:  Our thanks tonight to our big three for starting us off as we

begin a new week.  To Phil Rucker, to Annie Karni, to Bill Kristol, greatly

appreciate you three coming on.

 

And coming up for us, the President says he does not see a recession ahead

because American consumers, we heard him say it, are loaded up with money. 

Tonight, what the actual economists have to say.

 

And later, it`s tough to beat a Massachusetts Democrat with 40 years under

his belt in the Congress, unless you are a Kennedy.  Well, that`s the drama

playing out in the bay state tonight as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting

underway.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  President Trump says the U.S. economy is doing tremendously well

even as others warn we are staring at an approaching downturn.  A dual

byline piece from the Associated Press reports, “Privately Trump is growing

increasingly worried the economy won`t look so good come Election Day. 

Though a pre-election recession here is far from certain, a downturn would

be devastating blow to the President who has made a strong economy, his

central argument for a second term,” as we heard in our last segment.

 

On television, Trump administration officials have been dutifully

downplaying the risk of something bad around the corner.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR:  The fact is the fundamentals of

our economy are very strong and you know it.  We have more people working

in the country right now than even before in the nation`s history.

 

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER:  Before I came to the White

House, they spent a better part of 20 years forecasting business cycles and

stock market trends.  And what I can tell you with certainty is that we`re

going to have a strong economy through 2020 and beyond with the bull

market.

 

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL:  I sure don`t see a

recession.  We had some blockbuster retail sales consumer numbers towards

the back end of last week.  Really blockbuster –

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Sorry, he`s still talking.  Sorry, Larry Kudlow.  It`s time to

bring on our next guest.  Back with us again tonight Stephanie Ruhle, a

veteran of the Investment Banking and Business World and host of the 9:00

a.m. and 1:00 p.m. hours here on MSNBC.  You get what Larry was saying. 

Here`s what I need, fact-check the economic indicator for us.  And when

foreign leaders, when economists in Germany hear those guys we just aired,

do they think it`s crazy talk?

 

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC CO-ANCHOR, “VELSHI & RUHLE”:  They are utterly

confused as our business leaders.  I spoke to a number sea sweet business

executives today who said, “we are sitting on cash because who knows what

the President`s policies are.”

 

For his two top advisers, for Peter Navarro to say, “I can say with

absolute certainty that the economy will be fine in 2020?”  Well, no one

can say with absolute certainly.  For Larry Kudlow to say there`s no

economic indicators?  First of all, Larry Kudlow, days before the crash in

2007 said we`re OK.  But as far as economic indicators go, no one`s

cheering on a recession.  No one is hoping for it for any sort of political

gain.  It`s more about historical perspective.  The economy is chugging

along, compared to other countries, we are doing well.

 

Kellyanne Conway is right on employment is low.  But we are at a 10-year

point in economic expansion and the way financial cycles work, they go up

and down.  A recession is just two consecutive quarters of economic

decline.  That`s not a crash, it`s not a disaster.  We`re at year 10. 

According to David Rubenstein, the co-founder of Carlyle, since World War

II cycles last seven years.  We are due, not celebrating it, but due for a

recession.  We know that because R.V. sales are down 20 percent. 

Historically that is a recession is coming.

 

I won`t get in to the wackiness of an inverted yield curve, but that`s the

reason the Dow dropped 800 points.  So to say there`s no signs of it, is

just incorrect.

 

WILLIAMS:  A lot of people have their favorite industry to track.  Some

people like tracking R.V.`s, others look at trucking.  I know someone who

looks at sales of palettes, wooden palettes because that`s an instant

indicator of planed shipping and activity.

 

Here`s the question, if a payroll tax cut is sold to us as the solution and

we`re told it`s everybody at 130 k is the top end, everyone below, it`s for

working Americans.  Cost of good intentions.  It feels good to say a

payroll tax cut.  Do people actually take the extra bump in their check and

inject it back into the national economy?

 

RUHLE:  Well, you don`t have to take my word, you can look back to Larry

Kudlow himself.  In 2011 when he tweeted the payroll tax cut doesn`t work

because we saw it during the Obama administration that payroll tax cut at

two different times to try to spur consumer.  So Kudlow made the argument

that this doesn`t worked back then.  And now while the White House is

denying it, they`re mulling it over.  But the fact that they`re mulling

over a number of measures to keep us away from a recession is confusing

again because why would they be deny there`s any indicators while at the

same time talking about a payroll tax cut.  And I ask you, how are they

going to pay for that?

 

You`ve got guys like Mark Sanford potentially looking to primary the

President saying, “Shouldn`t we care about the deficit?”  If you don`t have

ways you`re going to pay for this, how are you going to get it approved?

 

WILLIAMS:  It`s exerting care over the generations that follow after you.

 

RUHLE:  Indeed, it is.  You`re going to affect social security.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

RUHLE:  And all of those social security recipients or people who are

planning on it, go out there and vote.  It makes for a precarious

situation.

 

WILLIAMS:  I think you have to be on the air in just over nine hours. 

Thank you very much for stopping by and explaining all the stuff.

 

As usual, our thanks to Stephanie Ruhle.

 

Coming up, a relatively new politician with the last name we all know steps

forward.  But he`s already getting blow back from a top presidential

contender.  It must be Monday night in Massachusetts politics.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We need Ed Markey in the

Senate now more than ever, and here`s why.  Because he`s a leader, he`s a

fighter and he`s a true progressive.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Remember that right there because it`s important.  Elizabeth

Warren reaffirming her support for her fellow Massachusetts Democratic

Senator Ed Markey.  The video endorsement was released amid growing

speculation that Markey, the KG veteran, would face a primary challenge

from a much younger candidate from a very famous family that would be the

young man on the right hand side o f your screen.

 

POLITICO was first to report that mysterious July telephone poll that

tested Democratic Representative Joe Kennedy III against Markey in a head-

to-head contest first sparked speculation about the young congressman`s

intensions.  And the Boston Globe confirmed, “Indeed, Kennedy will make a

decision about whether to run in the coming weeks.”

 

We are happy to be joined tonight by two journalists responsible fore that

reporting, Stephanie Murray, Author of the “POLITICO Massachusetts

Playbook” and Victoria McGrane, Political Reporter for the Boston Globe. 

Good evening to you, both.

 

Stephanie, I would like to begin with you.  How real is this?  And how

close do you think we are to a decision and an announcement?

 

STEPHANIE MURRAY, AUTHOR, POLITICO MASSACHUSETTS PLAYBOOK:  So those

closest to Kennedy are telling me that he`s definitely considering this

race, and he is going to make a decision in the coming weeks.  I think he`s

coming from vacation the next couple of days.  And I think he`ll be

definitely be sitting down with folks close to him, donors, advisers, and

really taking a serious and hard look at this.

 

WILLIAMS:  Victoria, as you know, he has a Kennedy-esque modern era resume,

little Stanford, little Harvard, little Peace Corp, little money making,

and now a seat in Congress.  Why now, if you`re Joe Kennedy, a very young

man still?

 

VICTORIA MCGRANE, POLITICAL REPORTER, BOSTON GLOBE:  Everyone has a shelf

life, and if you`re looking at Massachusetts politics, things – these

spots do not open up very often and there is no guarantee that he`s going

to ever have a better shot.

 

So those who are urging him to run are looking at the build up of–

incredible political talent in the state, looking at the vulnerabilities of

Ed Markey and, frankly, any long time incumbent given the kind of current

restive mood of the Democratic electorate.  And we`ve seen that play out

specifically here in Massachusetts with the surprise primary victory by

Ayanna Pressley in 2018.

 

And, you know, some people could– would argue and are arguing that this is

the time to do it.  If Joe Kennedy wants to be a US senator that this may

be his best shot.

 

WILLIAMS:  Stephanie, there are whispers, correct, that the double secret

strategy here is maybe to get a 73-year-old, four decade veteran of

Washington by way of Commonwealth of Massachusetts to consider stepping

aside and retiring, and enjoying his life.

 

MURRAY:  That is something that`s kind of been brewing among the chatter in

the state.  So you had the secret poll, you see a group of folks who

Kennedy has worked with in past creating an effort to draft in for the

Senate.  I think the next national step here is for some public polling to

come out in the next month or two.

 

And Kennedy`s private poll, the Globe reported, showed him slightly ahead

of Markey.  I think after all of this news, it might show him even more

ahead of Markey, and if the polling looks bad for the incumbent that might

lead him to retire.

 

But Markey`s campaign says there`s no chance that will happen.  And that

he`s running for re-election no matter who gets in the race.  So we`re

going to have to wait and see here.

 

WILLIAMS:  Victoria, couple of things, number one, when Markey jumped on

the Green New Deal, a lot of veteran Democrats found that very interesting,

the kind of people who whisper not on cable television that they don`t find

it a serious document.  They thought his support for it so quickly and

loudly, and publicly was of note.

 

Number two, let`s talk about Elizabeth Warren.  Joe Kennedy was there for

her announcement.  He introduced her when it came time to make in a

commercial, she`s got to side with her brother senator from Massachusetts.

 

MCGRANE:  Well, a couple of things in the Warren endorsement.  First of

all, my reporting has been that Kennedy has kept this very, very close and

it hasn`t been until recently with the news that broke about the poll, that

even other people in the delegation were necessarily aware that he was

seriously looking at this.

 

So we don`t know exactly when that video was cut.  But it was cut before

the news broke that Kennedy is weighing this seriously.  So it`s hard to

know, you know, exactly what to make of it.

 

Certainly, Warren gave some comments over the weekend.  She was asked if

she was still endorsing Markey.  She said yes.  Ed has been a great

partner.  Joe has also been a great partner.  I`ve been – I`ve know him

since before we got in politics.  He is an amazing guy, you know, I`m

paraphrasing here.

 

So she clearly has great affection for both of them.  And at the end of the

day, an endorsement like this when you have the Kennedy name, he doesn`t

need the name recognition that these sort of endorsement are helpful with.

 

So, again, it remains to be seen.  If Kennedy gets in the race, if Markey

stays in, how all of this will play but it certainly putting everybody in

Massachusetts Democratic circle is in kind of an awkward position right

now.

 

WILLIAMS:  To our viewers, we asked both hub journalists to stick around

over this commercial break.  We`re going to talk some more when we come

back.

 

And coming up, more news out of the Commonwealth as its senior senator

issues yet another public apology for those claims she has made about her

heritage when we come back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WARREN:  Like anyone who is being honest with themselves, I know that I

have made mistakes.  I am sorry for harm I have caused.  I have listened

and I have learned a lot and I am grateful for the many conversations that

we`ve had together.  It is a great honor to be able to partner with Indian

country.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Sioux City, Iowa, 2020 candidate Elizabeth Warren offered a

direct apology today for his past claims of Native American heritage.  The

comments came during that forum on Native American issues, a venue chosen

seemingly in an attempt to put the controversy to rest, at least talk about

it.  President Trump made clear last weekend he has no intention to let it

go.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  I did the Pocahontas thing, I

hit her really hard.  And it look like she was down and out but that was

too long ago, I should have waited.  But don`t worry, we will revive it.  I

can be revived.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  It was last Thursday up in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Tonight,

Elizabeth Warren drew her largest campaign event crowd yet, an estimated of

12,000 people showed up to hear her speak at a town hall, the outdoor kind

in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

 

Still with us, our Stephanie Murray and Victoria McGrane.

 

Victoria, starting with you, 12,000 people, a lot of baseball teams would

kill to have 12,000 people in the stands.  Does that say anything about her

ability to put that issue which has been a nagging negative for her to

rest?

 

MCGRANE:  I think it does.  You know, at the beginning of the year, there

is all sorts of news stories written about how this was it.  She was, you

know, not going to be able to overcome this fumble DNA test and what have

you.

 

But the truth of the matter is, even back then when she was started doing

these town halls and start campaigning, voters on the trail aren`t asking

her about this.  And she has steadily climbed in the polls, it is not, you

know, her bringing up the apology today, and not withstanding.  It is not

seem to be an issue at least in the Democratic primary that is proving

fatal to her.

 

WILLIAMS:  Stephanie, she has marketed herself otherwise as a candidate

with a plan.  She`s been kind of in on the joke in that way.  There are

Democrats who worried about how broad based her appeal is, and that she`s

going to draw audiences of mostly earnest, like minded, left and democrats.

 

MURRAY:  Well, the thing that you have to think about here is that, going

out and making this apology and talking to Native American people about

these issues and listening to them isn`t to silence the President.  I think

we all know that he`s going to go continue down this road of using these

nicknames, and using these terms to define her.

 

And it`s not about him.  It`s about getting others folks on her side and

broadening her appeal among Native American groups which is something she

is needed to do and try to do over the last six or seven months.

 

WILLIAMS:  We greatly appreciate having the chance to talk to both of you

on all of this.  To Stephanie Murray, to Victoria McGrane, thank you both

for coming on as we start a new week here.

 

And coming up, the Islamic state claims responsibility for yet another

deadly suicide bombing, this time a wedding in Kabul.  It`s an awful

tragedy.  All of this concise – coincides rather with Trump`s plan to pull

US troops out of Afghanistan.  Retired US Army Four Star General Barry

McCaffrey weighs in when we come back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  We`re talking to Afghanistan, both the government and also talking

to the Taliban, having very good discussions.  We`ll see what happens. 

We`ve really got it down to probably 13,000 people and we`ll be bringing it

down a little bit more.  And then we`ll decide whether or not we`ll be

staying longer or not.

 

It can`t be a laboratory for terror, and we`ve stopped that.  And we have

very, very good view.  I mean some things are going to be announced over

the next couple of weeks as to what happens, who`s been taking out.  A lot

of people have been taken out that were very bad, both ISIS and al-Qaeda.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Well, a horrible event just this past weekend and start contrast

to the President`s decidedly optimistic assessment of the situation in

Afghanistan.  This is important, a terrorist bombing at a wedding.  The

death toll was in a dozens.

 

The Associated Press reports, “The local Islamic state affiliate claimed

responsibility for the deadliest attack in the capitol this year of 63

killed, 182 wounded.  While outraged Afghans questioned just how safe they

will be under an approaching deal between the US and the Taliban to end

America`s longest war.

 

Here to talk about it with us tonight, General Barry McCaffrey, retired US

Army Four Star General, heavily decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, one of

the US ground commanders in the Gulf War, former US drug-czar among his

other roles.

 

General, what do you make of what the President said?  How do you think

Afghanistan will end for us and how do you wish Afghanistan would end for

us?

 

BARRY MCCAFFREY, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, Brian, I think it`s fair

that Mr. Trump did not create the mess in Afghanistan, but also think he`s

going to end up owning its tragic outcome.  We got this brilliant

Ambassador Khalilzad knows more about Afghanistan than anyone in the US

government, negotiating in gutter with the Taliban.  But Mr. Trump has said

publicly essentially we are out publicly by 2020.  So what is there to

negotiate?

 

The Taliban are also winning, are now controlling more terrains than they

have since 2001.  The Afghan government is fractured, incompetent, corrupt. 

Their military is semi-dysfunction, no belligerent ever negotiates a way

something that won in the battlefield.  The situation looks tragic, the

outcome will come soon after we withdraw.

 

WILLIAMS:  As a commander, you have made the call to parents back in the

states.  And if I am the parent of one of the 23,000 killed or wounded in

Afghanistan, what do you tell me about the value of my son or daughter`s

life, about their injuries or god forbid the end of their lives?

 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, it`s a very difficult situation.  There`s a parallel here

to Vietnam, there`s no question.  In Vietnam, we had essentially 59,000

killed, 300,000 wounded.  The war came to knock.  The US politically lost

all belief in the outcome and we withdrew and cut off the money, and it

went under.

 

So the Vietnam generation, which certainly includes me, were very bitter

about our politicians, the media.  There was a real alienation in the armed

forces.  We`ve got millions of US servicemen and women who have fought and

died in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

So the notion that you can casually pull the plug and walk away from it,

you`re going to be discounting the commitment, the sacrifice, the courage

in many ways of all of those troops.

 

WILLIAMS:  Just for a little context here, something I think about a lot

but we don`t think to say often enough.  Tell our viewers how unusual the

pace of deployments has been for our armed forces given the fact that we`ve

been at it for 18 years. 

 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, it`s remarkable.  You know, I don`t think there`s been

anything like this since World War II, which was an open-ended commitment,

16 million people in the armed forces.  The entire country was wrapped up

in the war and committed to it, but now we`ve got a very small essentially

cadre, 1 percent of the population fighting our wars.

 

Many of these young men and women have had – and the senior NCOs and the

lieutenant colonels have a dozen combat deployments.  And, you know, I

remind people there`s over 60,000 killed and wounded in the US Armed Forces

in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

So it`s been an unbelievable commitment.  They`re up to it.  I think

they`ll stay in the fight as long as they`re asked to.  The footprint in

Afghanistan is now way down.  It`s around 20,000 NATO forces.  But it`s

been a display of courage and commitment, the likes of which a country has

rarely seen.

 

WILLIAMS:  And also let our viewers know, if the United States gets out,

does that mean everybody follow suit? 

 

MCCAFFREY:  I cannot imagine anybody in their right mind staying.  The

United States is the load bearing institution in this war.  It`s our

helicopter, our air force, our hospitals, our communications, our

intelligence.  The Tier 1 Special Operations forces there who are in combat

every night includes our allies, but basically it`s JSOC out of our special

ops unit.

 

So if we leave everyone`s leaving.  By the way, I think that will also

withdraw all possible financial support from Congress.  We won`t be in

there.  We won`t be facing the enemy.  We won`t see the results of our own

investment.  So I think the thing`s going to go implode pretty rapidly if

we jerk the forces out by 2020.

 

WILLIAMS:  General Barry McCaffrey, sobering conversation tonight.  They

always are.  Thank you very much for coming on to talk about it with us.

 

And coming up, the message from a major American city to the thousands who

want clean water with no lead in it, come and get it.  An update on the

shame of Newark, New Jersey after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go here tonight is the grinding urgent sad

ongoing crisis in Newark, New Jersey.  Eight miles from this studio,

largest city in the most densely populated state in the union.

 

This affects about 15,000 homes, and as we`ve said, they`re largely poor

neighborhoods.  And if you live in the part of the city where the lead in

your water exceeds federal standards, meaning it`s a poison to pregnant

women, meaning it causes brain damage in your developing children, then you

qualify to pick up your own water, two cases at a time at one of four

distribution centers.

 

The governor of New Jersey says clean water is a right and not a privilege,

but apparently that does not include delivery.  Brian Thompson, the veteran

New Jersey reporter for our NBC station here in New York, WNBC, has been

doggedly covering this story.  Big local news story in this area, not very

big across the country.

 

Again today he showed us the hardship, the elderly and disabled, in some

cases with disabled family members back at home who are forced to go get

water, which they do largely without complaint because for them in Newark

nothing has ever been easy.

 

We went on the city of Newark website tonight curious about the bottled

water program, thinking maybe we had missed an announcement that the city

perhaps over this past weekend had come up with a breakthrough idea like

putting the water on trucks and delivering it to those in need.

 

No, nothing to see here.  But we did see this, waiting in the hot sun is

not enough, re-engineering your life and household function on 16 ounces

bottles of water.  Not enough, no.  You better be ready to prove you really

need those two complimentary cases of bottled water that you`re prepared to

lug back to your house in the hot sun.

 

And we quote, “Residents must show the most recent proof of residency to

pick up bottled water, including a tax bill, water bill, lease agreement,

utility bill, cable bill, driver`s license or government-issued ID.”

 

Well, that will teach them, all those people from those surrounding towns

who were probably planning right about now to flood into Newark for free

water.  Having grown up just 23 miles from Newark, I remember my friends

were always scheming, always planning some caper just to try to get our

hands on some of that free Newark water.

 

Now back to real life and death in Newark.  One more time, let`s look at

some of the elderly disabled folks in Newark as they struggle to get and

then live on two cases of 16 ounce bottles of water.  The question for all

of New Jersey`s political leadership is very simple, if this was your mom,

would you stand for it?  If this was your town, would you stand for it?  Or

would you demand better?

 

That`s our broadcast on this Monday night as we start a new week.  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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