Trump declares talks with Taliban ‘Dead’. TRANSCRIPT: 9/9/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests:
Ras Baraka
Transcript:

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, the Trump administration in new hot

water over the President`s Scotland land resort as an overnight home for

traveling service members over the President`s attempt to change the

weather forecast over the new reports just tonight that the CIA has lost a

great source in Russia, someone who is ordered extracted taken out of there

and now the questions begin as to why.

 

And the President cancels the invitation to the Taliban to visit Camp David

days before 9/11.  Just the thought of it was too much even for some loyal

Republicans.

 

And did the President just criminalize the people of the Bahamas? 

Hurricane victims who are boarding ships and planes with nothing left

hoping our country will take them in temporarily.  All of it as THE 11TH

HOUR gets under way on a Monday night.

 

Good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters in New York.  Here

we go.  As we start a new week with day 963 of the Trump administration.  A

number of stories to catch you up o, some of them on the move still

tonight.  The President spent his evening at a rally in North Carolina,

more on the special election coming up there in just a moment.

 

It`s Monday and yet this has the makings of yet another chaotic week.  Over

the weekend, the President uninvited the Taliban from Camp David via

Twitter.  He apparently wanted a meeting with the president of Afghanistan

that would bring peace to Afghanistan.  The President let us know about his

decision late Saturday night on social media when he revealed that all

parties, “were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday.” 

But after “an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great, great soldiers

and 11 other people, I immediately canceled the meeting and called off

peace negotiations.”  Today Trump appeared to rule out any future peace

talks.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  They`re dead.  They`re

dead.  As far as I`m concerned, they`re dead.

 

They thought they had to kill people in order to put themselves in a little

better negotiating position. When they did that, they killed 12 people. 

One happened to be a great American soldier.  A wonderful young man from

Puerto Rico, family is from Puerto Rico.  And you can`t do that.  You can`t

do that with me.  So they`re dead as far as I`m concerned.

 

And we`ve hit the Taliban harder in the last four days than they`ve been

hit in over 10 years.  So that`s the way it is.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Tonight, we also learn North Korea has fired off two more

projectiles.  Earlier today, the “Associated Press” reported Pyongyang,

“offered to resume nuclear dip diplomacy with the United States but warned

its dealings with Washington may end without new U.S. proposals.”

 

And there is more.  New reporting about an apparent arrangement to send

U.S. military flight crews to overnight at Trump`s golf resort in

Turnberry, Scotland.  “The New York Times” reports, “Back in 2014 Trump

entered a partnership with a struggling local airport there to increase air

traffic and boost tourism in the region.  The next year as Mr. Trump began

running for President the Pentagon decided to ramp up its use of that same

airport to refuel Air Force flights and give the local airport authority

the job of helping to find accommodations for flight crews who had to

remain overnight.”

 

One Trump post from 2014, in fact, quote a Scottish T.V. network saying

that Donald Trump promises to make Prestwick Airport really successful.”

 

But this morning, Trump tried to tamp down any of these growing questions

on this writing, “I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an

airport which I do not own and have nothing to do with near Turnberry

resort, which I do own, and filling up with fuel with the crew staying

overnight at Turnberry.  Nothing to do with me.”  He followed that with, “I

had nothing to do with the decision of our great Vice President Mike Pence

to stay overnight at one of the Trump-owned resorts in Doonbeg, Ireland.”

 

Still, later, there was this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I haven`t found out other than when a plane stops at a massive

international airport and gets fuel, I don`t own the airport.  When pilots

stay – I own a lot of different places.  Soon you`ll find that out.  When

I – because I`ll be at some point prior to the election, I`m going to be

giving out a financial report of me and it will be extremely complete.  I`m

going to give out – I`m going to give out my financial condition, and

you`ll be extremely shocked that the numbers are many, many times what you

think.  I don`t need to have somebody take a room overnight at a hotel.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Tonight, POLITICO is reporting Air Force crews have stayed

overnight at the resort at least four times, two more than previously

reported.  Now Congress, as you might imagine, and the Air Force, are

investigating.  A lot of defense types and analysts have argued, including

on this broadcast by way of reminding us we have air bases all over the

world for just this sort of thing.

 

There are also new developments tonight concerning the President`s false

claim that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian.  It`s now grown

into a full-scale controversy for the White House lasting longer than the

storm, itself.  Late Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration contradicted its own scientist days after the National

Weather Service, a part storm, a part NOAA, in Birmingham, issued a

correction saying, “Alabama will not see any impacts from Dorian” in direct

response to erroneous warning from the President.

 

Well, tonight “The New York Times” reports Secretary of Commerce Wilbur

Ross threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency`s

Birmingham office contradicted Trump`s claim.  The “Times” puts it this

way, “That threat led to an unusual unsigned statement later that Friday by

the agency disavowing the National Weather Service`s position that Alabama

was not at risk.  The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency

and drew accusations from the scientific community that the National

Weather Service, which is part of NOAA,” which is all part of the Commerce

Department, had been bent to political purposes.  NOAA`s statement on

Friday is now being examined by the Commerce Department`s Office of

Inspector General.”

 

Late today, a Commerce Department spokesperson told NBC News, and we quote,

“The New York Times” story is false.  Secretary Ross did not threaten to

fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane

Dorian.

 

Meanwhile, “The Washington Post” also reporting that NOAA`s chief scientist

will investigate why the agency backed the President over its own storm

experts on Dorian.

 

And all that brings us to what may be an even more alarming development

tonight.  We told you it was a busy evening.  “The New York Times”

confirming that a CIA informant of ours who had sent secrets back to

America for decades was abruptly pulled out of Russia.  The paper writes,

“The Moscow inform informant was instrumental to the CIA`s most explosive

conclusion about Russia`s interference campaign that President Vladimir

Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself.  As the American government`s

best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was

also key to the CIA`s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J.

Trump`s election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic

National Committee.  The informant, according to people familiar with the

matter was outside of Mr. Putin`s inner circle but saw him regularly and

had access to high-level Kremlin decision-making, easily making the source

one of the agency`s most valuable assets.”

 

Here now for our leadoff discussion as we start a new week on a Monday

night, Shannon Pettypiece, veteran journalist who is now Senior White House

Reporter for NBC News Digital, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter

for “The Washington Post,” moderator of “Washington Week” on PBS.  We

welcome to our broadcast Brett McGurk, he`s the former Special Presidential

Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat Isis, these days an NBC News

Senior Foreign Affairs Analyst.  Also with us, Ken Dilanian, NBC News

Intelligence and National Security Reporter.

 

Ken, I`d like to begin with you as you were out front on this story today. 

To be fair, there have been three basic buckets of reporting on this story

thus far, CNN, “The New York Times,” and your slice of this.  Tell the good

people watching what happened when you drove to a suburban home in your own

car based on a positive lead that this was the residence of this gentleman

we`re talking about who`d been pulled from Moscow.

 

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTEL. & NATL. SECURITY REPORTER:  And to be clear,

Brian, I`m not reporting tonight that this is, in fact, the asset that is

mentioned in “The New York Times” and CNN that we have not confirmed that

to our reporting satisfaction.  But what I can say is that I went to the

house of a former senior Russian government official who had access to

Vladimir Putin and who is now living in the Washington, D.C., area, clearly

under U.S. government protection.

 

And one of the reasons I know that is because five minutes after I knocked

on his door, he wasn`t home, I went back to my car, I was approached in

rapid fashion by a couple of young men in an SUV.  It was pretty clear they

were U.S. government agents alarmed by the idea that a random stranger was

approaching this person`s house. They were kind of asking me what I was

doing there. I was trying to get information out of them.

 

And subsequently having spoken to a number of sources about this, we have

been asked by the U.S. government not to name this person who is living in

the open in his true name in the Washington, D.C., area, and not to divulge

the details that led us to go out there, but I can just tell you that the

CIA doesn`t have very many high-level sources inside the Kremlin.  And

there are sources of mine who believe that this is the same person.  This

is the asset.

 

And a lot of people, Brian, are wondering tonight, first of all, how it is

this person can be so easily findable and why we would be reporting about

this.  The answer to the first question is – my understanding is this is

not a secret to the Russians.  They knew that this person was a spy and had

been exfiltrated.  And there isn`t much of a danger, there isn`t much a

track record of Russians assassinating former spies now under CIA

protection.

 

What the agency is now worried about is we`re all putting a spotlight on it

so that ups the ante, ups the danger for this person.  And that`s why our

understanding is he`s being moved away from this location.  And that`s as

for our reporting on it, Brian, we negotiated with the U.S. government

about exactly what we would say here and at their request we`re not naming

this person or divulging details about his location for the very reason

that they say that now his life may be in danger.

 

WILLIAMS:  And we are not alone among news organizations in knowing his

identity and more about him.  We should point that out as well.

 

Hey, Ken, the headline, obviously, tonight, is a Russian who was at or near

the Putin circle, CNN reporting close enough to Putin to have taken

photographs of documents on Putin`s desk, was extracted by the United

States with whom he was sharing secrets, is now living in the United

States.  Answer me this, why are we talking about it?  What does this all

possibly have to do with Donald Trump being president?

 

DILANIAN:  Well that`s a great question, Brian.  I think there is some

disagreement about that aspect of it because CNN is reporting that one of

the reasons this person was exfiltrated is because of concerns about Donald

Trump`s indiscipline with classified information and particularly his

encounter in the Oval Office with the Russian ambassador and other Russian

officials where he disclosed code word classified information not about

this Russian source but another program implicating a third country.

 

However, we are being told by U.S. government officials that “The New York

Times” in their story suggests that that really wasn`t much of a factor

here.  That this source had essentially aged out.  Had, you know, had been

in some jeopardy for some time, even during the Obama administration, and

they had recommended that he leave Russia.  He declined at that time, but

then early in 2017 it became clear that he was in trouble.

 

I mean, if you spy long enough and take enough risks for the CIA, as a

Russian official, the chance of discovery increases and they decided to

bring him out and it`s a good-news story, Brian, in the sense that this key

source who provided so much important information about that Russian

election interference effort got out safely and is now apparently under the

protection of the U.S. government.

 

WILLIAMS:  Indeed, good news.

 

Brett, I`m going to go ahead and guess that given your life`s work, you

regard all of this business as a damaging revelation.  It being out

already, what are we to take away from it?

 

BRETT MCGURK, FMR. SPECIAL PRES. ENVOY FOR THE GLOBAL COALITION TO DEFEAT

ISIS:  Well, yes, I mean, where you stand is where you sit.  I`m on a panel

here with some pretty intrepid reporters who are doing their jobs.  I

served three administrations of, you know, pretty senior levels including

overseas and we rely on these really brave informants who are betraying

their country on our behalf to help us protect our national security

interests.

 

And when you read intelligence in the morning, you know, it says a source

is trusted and reliable, and if you see that, you know what you`re reading

is something you can trust.  You never ask about who that source is or

anything like that.  I have no firsthand knowledge about this case.  I

would never comment on any intelligence matters, but I really – it is

really discomforting for me to see this kind of information discussed in

the public realm.

 

I know “The New York Times” article had just popped tonight.  James

Clapper, the former head of director of National Intelligence who knows

about these things, spent his whole life in the Intelligence Community,

said, “You know, revelations about this extraction is going to make it far

more difficult for us to recruit informants in Russia.”  And it`s already

extremely difficult.

 

So this will have an impact, and, you know, I don`t – a huge defender of

the First Amendment.  I think information is important, man, having this

kind of information out there, I am sure that the Kremlin is watching this

and that this individual has friends and family, you know, people back in

Russia, and they`re, you know, they`re hearing about this, too.  So it`s

going to have damage.

 

WILLIAMS:  And, Brett, while I have you, later on this week, the lower end

of Manhattan will be lit up by two beams of blue light heading skyward to

stand for the World Trade Center towers.  That being the case, September

11th being on the way, what would your reaction have been if we were coming

on the air tonight to report the House guests at Camp David had been

members of the Taliban leadership?

 

MCGURK:  You know, it`s one of the – look, I`ve been a lot in a lot of

National Security Council meetings.  I served two years on the Trump

administration.  This is one of the craziest ideas I`ve ever heard, to have

a Taliban come to Camp David to culminate an agreement that wasn`t really

even concluded because the Taliban and the Afghan government had never

talked.  And the Taliban is still committed to overthrowing the Afghan

government when we leave.

 

So it`s a really half-baked crazy idea that apparently the President

thought he could work his magic and get these two parties together.  That

was totally wishful thinking.  And really, it`s just outrageous to think

about the Taliban who harbors Al-Qaeda to be coming anywhere near

Washington let alone Camp David.  It`s a crazy story, and I`m glad it`s not

happening.

 

WILLIAMS:  And Shannon, is it now by design that we learn about now-

canceled meetings via Twitter?  What do we have in common with a huge

percentage of the standing Washington government, is this also the way they

learned?

 

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SR. WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  That`s the way

White House staffers learn about things.  Over and over again, you know,

interactions with Kim Jong-un, interactions with Iran, we`re learning about

them on Twitter.  Some major – I mean, there`s been instances I have been

told about in the past where obviously the Pentagon was caught off guard. 

I believe it was the time when the President announced troop withdrawal

from Afghanistan.  A lot of people in the Pentagon were caught off guard by

that.

 

And, of course, though, this speaks to this pattern of the President having

a strategy of calling off meetings last minute or walking out of a room,

walking out of negotiations with Kim Jong-un, walking out of talks with the

Democrats on immigration.  And here, again, a very public canceling of this

meeting which, of course, the President could have just done privately. 

This could have been just kept between the U.S. and Afghan negotiators and

the Taliban, but he made this public display of it and it`s almost become a

bargaining tactic or negotiating tactic that he seems to use where he walks

away from the table which is something he did as a businessman and thinks

that`s going to help get them back.

 

So if people had initially predicted in the start of this administration

that there would be governing by tweet, that has certainly come to

fruition, not just on foreign policy but announcing key Cabinet members, a

defense secretary being announced on Twitter, firings on Twitter.  So, yes,

that is the way not only we are all learning about it but people in the

administration and the White House are learning about it as well.

 

WILLIAMS:  Hey, Robert Costa, who`s on the inside to say, “Mr. President,

Taliban, Camp David, 9/11 week, not a good look for so many reasons?”

 

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Almost

everyone on the inside has a more conventional approach to foreign policy

in national security and there are rising tensions inside of this White

House and the broader administration about the President`s conduct and

decision-making.  When you think about the national security apparatus at

the CIA, the state department, the NSC, and even top officials in the

Cabinet, they`re telling this President not to pursue some of these more

unconventional ambitions, yet the President is pushing back against them

and they all are taking a more formal position, a more mainstream position

when it comes to issues like Russia.

 

You know I was just on the road with Vice President Pence for a week in

Europe and he was articulating a hawkish position on Russia just days

after, President Trump was thinking about inviting Vladimir Putin to the

next G7 meeting.

 

And when it comes to Afghanistan, he`s surrounded by Secretary of State

Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, far more hawkish in their

approach, yet the President continues to move forward on his own.  Some say

he`s isolated.

 

WILLIAMS:  Bob, the version in the movie is somebody always threatens to

resign during one of these.  Did any of that go on, do you think, behind

the scenes?

 

COSTA:  On Afghanistan, it`s seen as one of the signature campaign promises

so most people who signed up for this administration knew coming in that

the President was not going to be adding troops to Afghanistan.  They don`t

sometimes like the process, but they are in this administration.  They want

to be close to power.  And they believe that the President can be persuaded

to somehow back away from some of these ideas.

 

WILLIAMS:  Shannon, not to turn you into Gail Sheehy, but you`ve been

present for so many Donald Trump rallies.  How did tonight measure against

the baseline, keeping in mind, he`s got a full plate and he`s been on the

south end of a lot of news stories lately.

 

PETTYPIECE:  It was notable that he did not address any of these big

controversies.  He did not talk about the Alabama storm controversy which

he spent a full week on Twitter discussing.  He did not talk about

Afghanistan even though he`s said there are these misreporting –

misreports out there.  He didn`t talk about any of the investigations that

are now coming back to life with Congress back in session, investigations

into an impeachment and his visit – and Vice President visiting his

properties and the whole issue around the emoluments clause.  None of those

were there.

 

If you just watched his rally tonight, you would have no clue that any of

those things were going on.  And I believe that was intentional and to keep

the message on why he was here, which is try to help a Republican win a

special election and try and pick up the House seat.  So I think he was

doing his best as he can to keep on message and talking about the economy

and creating fears about crime and socialism that would come from a

Democrat taking over this House seat.

 

So he was focused and on message, of course, on message with a caveat

because he certainly deviated into rifts on Bill Belichick and incandescent

light bulbs and his standard rally-type spontaneity but kept all of these

controversies off the table.

 

WILLIAMS:  He seemed surprised that his “Go Patriots” did not get a bigger

response in North Carolina.  We are in your debt to the four of you for

starting off our conversation.  To Brett, thank you, and welcome, by the

way.  To Ken, Shannon, and Robert, our thanks.

 

Coming up here tonight, the President promised the best is yet to come.

What a newly returned Congress is saying about that.

 

And later, an update on another city in the middle of a safe drinking water

crisis.  The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is here, as THE 11TH HOUR is just

getting started on this Monday night overlooking the West Wing.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  Your United States Congress has returned to work and House

Democrats are getting back to their investigations into Donald Trump.  One

hundred thirty-four House Democrats have publicly backed an impeachment

inquiry.  That`s now over half of their 235-member caucus.

 

Today, House Judiciary Committee laid out specific procedures for hearings

moving forward as part of what one describes as an ongoing impeachment

investigation.  Now, the committee plans to vote on these procedures

Thursday.

 

Earlier, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler gave his reasons for moving

forward.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK, JUDICIARY CMTE. CHAIRMAN:  The inquiry`s

getting more serious and it`s time to have very specific procedures to

enable counsel to question witnesses.

 

At some point, we`ll introduce articles of impeachment and have the

committee vote for those articles of impeachment.  And then it`s up to the

House to do I because with the articles they did reported into the floor.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  Jerry Nadler sporting new glass frames but also a terrible head

cold.  The “Times” reports that Democrats want to expand the impeachment

inquiry beyond the Russia investigation to Trump`s role in hush payments,

reports of discussions of pardons and whether his properties illegally

profited from government business.

 

We have secretly asked Shannon Pettypiece and Robert Costa to stick around

for just one more conversation.

 

Shannon, on the short list of things I never thought I`d say, Saturday

night the President tweeted out a cat video that was kind of a Meta

gaslight of his own Alabama forecast.  You don`t see this a lot, a cat

chasing a laser pointer.  Sure, that`s old hat, but not against the

backdrop of the NOAA graphic in the Oval Office as tweeted by the

President.

 

I`ll just say that.  I`ll put that out there.  Is there any view inside the

traveling Trump White House that this latest story we`re covering,

Scotland, Mike Pence`s choice to stay at a Trump resort, way far away from

the venue where the talks were taking place, that this kind of thing,

recent, understandable by the public, may have true consequences?

 

PETTYPIECE:  I think it`s all a risk that it could have true consequences. 

I think most people don`t know sort of what`s going to – what`s going to

sort of catch fire, what could catch on, what could turn into a bigger

story than it actually is.  I mean, the fear here is that, you know,

there`s been concern about these emoluments issue for a while and people

staying at the Trump hotel in Washington, but maybe as Democrats or

investigators or reporters start digging deeper into these other

properties, that there`s more threads that could be pulled, that could

start to unravel something bigger.  That`s the risk, if there is anything

there, that there`s a concern that that`s out there.

 

And, of course, anyone who`s working on the Trump campaign or trying to get

this President re-elected doesn`t want those type of risks out there. 

Because this one, in particular, I think, you know, has a – there`s a lot,

I think that the President can get away with on his base.  But on the issue

of looking like double dealing or back dealing or back dealing, it fits in

with this “drain the swamp” mentality that his supporters have.  And when

they see things of nepotism or corruption, I think there`s always a bit of

concern that that will counter this “drain the swamp” narrative and take

away this perception of a President who`s there working for them fighting

against the corruption in Washington that people put the President in the

office to stop.

 

WILLIAMS:  Robert Costa, where the House Democrats are concerned, it

appears to me we have two polls.  On one hand, we`ve got Jerry Nadler with

a head cold.  On the other end, we`ve got the Speaker of the House.  It

also seems to me impeachment comes in two flavors, regular/classic or diet. 

This seems to be the close to diet impeachment we`re ever going to see and

that seems to be exactly the way the speaker wants it.

 

COSTA:  There`s not really a different of opinion between Chairman Nadler

and Speaker Pelosi.  I was talking to House Democrats over recess and in

the last week, and their whole perspective is Speaker Pelosi wants to drag

this out a little bit longer because she wants to see the investigations

and the probes on the Trump properties.  She wants to see people brought up

to Capitol Hill.

 

Her argument to her top alleys is not that she doesn`t want to impeach

President Trump.  It`s that she wants to see the process play out so the

case can be made.  You still have House Democrats adjusting to the post-

Mueller report world.  And they`re starting to build the facts in the

public narrative about what the President has done in terms of his

administration, spending money, whether the Trump hotel in Washington or

Trump properties elsewhere.  And that story isn`t fully known.  The “Post,”

the “Times,” and other have reported on it, NBC News, but it`s not at the

threshold of the Mueller report.  So Speaker Pelosi is telling her

lieutenants, tell that story, report that story, probe that story.

 

WILLIAMS:  Isn`t it notable, Bob, the House Democrats are going to go back

and retell the Michael Cohen hush money, porn star, Playboy bunny story,

retell that in the public square?

 

COSTA:  Part of it, Brian, you have committees in motion on a lot of these

fronts.  They know that they`re not as politically viable as they would

have hoped months ago when the Mueller report was still TBD.  They didn`t

know how it was going to play out.  So they`re going to check the boxes,

shall we say, in the coming weeks in some of these investigations.

 

But when you talk to the top House Democrats, they believe the tax cut

argument, it`s faded a bit since 2017-2018. They need a new case.  Race,

Mueller report, all important issues but now this emoluments clause, you

have the Trump properties.  It`s more visceral to them in how they think

about 2020 and building the case against the President.

 

WILLIAMS:  Thank you guys for taking our added questions and indulging me

one cat with a laser pointer.  Shannon Pettypiece, Robert Costa, our thanks

to two of our returning veterans.

 

And coming up, who`s surging, who`s slipping a bit in the latest polling? 

We are days away, after all, from the next Democratic debate.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It`s like did you ever

really sort of feel where you don`t even have to treat people nicely?  You

don`t have any choice.  You have to vote for me.

 

I can leave right now.  I can say, North Carolina, I`ve had it with you,

I`m leaving right now.  And you know what, you got to go out and vote. 

What are you going to do?  Put one of these crazy people running our

country again?

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  I think we`ve established politics can be a cruel business. 

POLITICO is reporting today that pretty much every one of Joe Biden`s

rivals are planning their road to the nomination around his campaign`s

inevitable, as they see it, collapse.

 

For more on the number, hopefully a sunnier note, we go to Steve Kornacki,

our National Political Correspondent, who is an optimist, I happen to know,

and is also standing by at the big board.  Hey, Steve.

 

STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC NEWS:  Hey, Brian. 

Yes.  Well, look, if the Democrats, his rivals, at least, are waiting for

Biden to collapse in this race, that has not happened yet.  But we got a

batch of new polls from the four early states.  Remember, they go Iowa, New

Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina.  They`re all standalone events that are

going to lead this off.

 

This is a CBS/YouGov poll out in the last day or so.  So start in Iowa. 

Biden is still in the lead in this poll in the leadoff state.  But you can

see, look at that, Bernie Sanders right behind him.  Only a couple points

behind him.  Elizabeth Warren within striking distance.

 

Nobody else, by the way, you see here, in double digits that massive

Democratic field.  Really the only three candidates popping in Iowa in this

poll, Biden, Sanders, Warren.  Then you go next, New Hampshire, it`s eight-

day, you know, eight days from Iowa to New Hampshire.

 

Here, they have Elizabeth Warren, remember, next door neighbor,

Massachusetts, that Boston media market goes into southern New Hampshire. 

They got Warren at 27.  Look at this for a three-way race.  Biden with 26

and Sanders with 25.  Again, nobody else in double digits.

 

Then you go Nevada, again, Biden not in first in this poll in Nevada.  It`s

Sanders, very tight with Biden, Warren in striking distance.  Nobody else

popping.  You have to go all the way to South Carolina.  This is where

fortunes change for Joe Biden in this poll.  Way out in front here, Biden

is, in South Carolina.  We`ve seen this in a number of polls.

 

What`s the big difference?  South Carolina of all these four states, easily

the largest African-American population.  About 60 percent of the

electorate in South Carolina will be black in the Democratic primary.  That

is a group who Biden`s been strongest with.  This is Biden`s strongest

early state.

 

You just see, though, when you look at these four, you go back to the

beginning, this is the danger scenario for Biden.  He`s not losing yet in

Iowa, but if he were to lose to a Sanders or to a Warren, especially, and

then you go to New Hampshire, Sanders, Warren, are both positioned right

there to benefit from any kind of surge they`d get from Iowa and then they

could easily, you see in this poll, at least, follow it up in Nevada.

 

If Biden were to go one for three or maybe one for three in those early

ones, would that firewall hold for him in South Carolina?  That`s the

question.  That`s the troubling scenario if you`re Biden`s campaign and

that`s – especially if you`re Warren or Sanders, that`s what you`re

hopeful about right now.

 

WILLIAMS:  And Steve, give the folks a quick preview of what will bring us

together in this studio tomorrow night.  Political types call it North

Carolina 9.

 

KORNACKI:  It is the final unfinished piece of business from the 2018

midterm but also a test for 2020.  North Carolina`s 9th district starts in

the suburbs of Charlotte, goes across parts of southern North Carolina. 

Again, this is a district, go back 2012, Mitt Romney won it by a dozen

points.  2016, Donald Trump won this district by 12 points.

 

This is a Republican district and a competitive race.  Democrats think they

have a shot of competing and winning here.  Republicans, obviously, with

Trump having that rally there tonight, they badly want to win this one. 

This is a big day.  If Democrats are able to win this kind of a district

right now about a year from election day 2020, that would signal big

problems for this White House heading into 2020.

 

WILLIAMS:  See you tomorrow night, Steve.  Always a pleasure.  Thank you so

much for stopping by tonight.

 

KORNACKI:  Thanks.

 

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us, just a few miles from this studio tonight,

people in New Jersey`s largest city still can`t drink the water coming into

their homes.  A lot of them.  We`ll have the latest on the water crisis

affecting thousands.  The Mayor of Newark, New Jersey standing by to talk

to us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  As we`ve been covering for weeks here, thousands of people in

Newark, New Jersey, remain without safe drinking water, as workers scramble

to replace lead service lines.  More on those in just a moment.  The city

along with Essex County announced a $120 million bond that is expected to

greatly speed up this process.

 

The estimates are that it will take two or three years to replace the

18,000 service lines.  That means the pipes from the street into your

house.  In the meantime, many thousands of people still left to depend on

bottled water.

 

We are so happy to have with us tonight the two-term mayor of the largest

city and the most densely populated state in our union, Ras Baraka.  Mr.

Mayor, thank you very much for coming in.

 

MAYOR RAS BARAKA (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY:  Thank you for having me.

 

WILLIAMS:  If I`ve had a frustration as a native New Jerseyan in covering

this, it`s been that I wanted somebody to step up and own it.  Not blame,

not responsibility for it, because that`s a lot of people.  Someone to own

this crisis and be the advocate for the old lady tonight in a high-rise –

 

BARAKA:  Right.

 

WILLIAMS:  – who`s low income.  Who you know could use bottled water

tomorrow and doesn`t want to bother anybody.  And so she`s going to go

without.

 

BARAKA:  Well, first of all, people in high-rises don`t have lead service

lines.  That`s number one.  Number two, I`m from Newark and we have taken

this thing on, head-on.  I live there.  My mother lives there.  My brothers

live there.  My cousins, my aunts, my nephew, my wife who`s pregnant, we

all have lead service lines.  We all use filters.

 

I use a pitcher filter in my house that I got from the water department

when they were passing them out, going door to door, and as people went to

the places to pick up these filters.  So we gave out 39,000 filters at the

very beginning.  We changed over 800 lead service lines.  We bonded $75

million ourself, and got the state to subsidize that bond so residents only

had to pay 10 percent.

 

But with this new money that we just raised, the oldest city in America

raised $120 million to replace every single lead service line, not just in

Newark but also in Belleville and Hillside.  We`re going to change their

lead service lines as well.  I mean, going to do it in about 24 months. 

Twenty-four to 30 minutes given weather and other eventualities.

 

WILLIAMS:  I know you`ve grown to hate comparisons to Flint, Michigan but

here`s one area where there`s commonality.  The water source in Flint was

clean.

 

BARAKA:  Yes.

 

WILLIAMS:  The water source in Newark – Newark used to brag about the

cleanest water anywhere on the planet.

 

BARAKA:  That`s right.

 

WILLIAMS:  It`s the chemical formulation that water companies have used

forever that changed, that takes the lead lining from inside the pipe,

sends it into homes.  You`ll concede that and Flint are alike.

 

BARAKA:  Absolutely.  The only difference is Flint changed their water

source on purpose and they did not put a corrosion control in the water

because it was too costly.  Our corrosion control stopped working and we

immediately upon DEP recommendation and approval put a new corrosion

control in the water, the orthophosphate zinc, orthophosphate.

 

While we tested the zinc orthophosphate, the state was actually having an

impact, is when we actually tested three filters.  That`s when we found out

that two filters out of 39,000 did not work.  So we, out of an abundance of

caution, decided to give out water until we figure this out.  And the great

news is in about a couple days, we`ll be able to tell people whether the

filters are working or not.  And I`m very optimistic about that.

 

WILLIAMS:  A big difference with Flint, and I`ll be candid, is if you look

at the landscape, Flint gave the left a big Republican target.

 

BARAKA:  Sure.

 

WILLIAMS:  In Newark, it`s a field of blue.  All you can see is blue, from

the mayor to the governor to Senator Menendez.  Oh, look, we got a U.S.

senator who lives in Newark, who`s a former mayor of Newark.

 

BARAKA:  Right.

 

WILLIAMS:  So a lot of folks wonder if this isn`t a greater crisis than the

incumbent Democrats aren`t making it out to be.

 

BARAKA:  Well, there is lead service lines all over the state of New

Jersey, about 300,000 –

 

WILLIAMS:  In old cities all over our country.

 

BARAKA:  – and millions of lead service lines across – and there are

people that are getting exceedances all over the state and all over the

country as well.  I think what we did in Newark, it was a heavy lift,

there`s a problem there.  We put our foot to the pedal.  And that story has

not been told.  The fact that we changed the law to make it possible that

we could use public money to change people`s private lines because they own

the lead service line.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

BARAKA:  Not the city.  That we raised $75 million.  Now in additional to

$120 million to do the same thing.

 

WILLIAMS:  The bond means homeowners are not out that money anymore.

 

BARAKA:  Right.  They don`t have to pay anything at all.  It`s free to get

their lead service line changed and we just passed a law to make it

mandatory to get your lead service line – we`re in the process of passing

a law, I should say, to get it changed so we do not have to get your

signature on a piece of paper in order to go onto your property.  We can

actually go to your property and change your lead service line without your

permission, if necessary.  The council is entertaining that law right now

as we speak.

 

We took a pipe out of the ground and sent it to the EPA.  The EPA are the

one who told us that the corrosion control is not working.  There`s nobody

who came into Newark testing our water.  We tested our own water.  We told

people that we had lead exceedances.  We told people that the filters

didn`t work.  We told people all of these that things are happening is

because we told everybody it`s happening and we sent mailings to everybody

at the same time.

 

So the characterization that the city didn`t care about what was going on

is just not factual.  I mean, how can I not care?  My wife`s in my house. 

She`s using water with a lead service line, right?  My mother, I had to

take a filter to her home when they were passing out filters to help her

put it on her faucet, right?  My cousin, my aunts.  Everyone live in the

city is affected by this.  So I take it very deeply personal that this is a

crisis, a problem for all of us and we are trying to deal with it as much

as we can.

 

The thing that bothers me is this characterization that the entire city is,

like, succumbed to this lead problem.  And that`s just really not true,

right?  There are 18,000 homes that had lead service lines.  There are

14,000 of those homes are in the Pequannock area that, in fact, affected by

this.  People with lead service lines in the other part of the city where

the corrosion control is actually working –

 

WILLIAMS:  That never changed the mix, right.

 

BARAKA:  Right, that`s actually working.  And so they don`t have the

problem that we have.  But we`re going to change their lead service lines,

too.  Because I believe the ultimate fix to change the lead service lines,

right?  I didn`t put the lead service lines –

 

WILLIAMS:  No.

 

BARAKA:  – in the home but I`m going to take them out.

 

WILLIAMS:  OK.  Mayor`s agreed to stick with us having been nice enough to

make the trip across the Hudson River to be with us.  We`ll fit in a break. 

Our conversation will continue after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  We are back, joined by the two-term Democratic Mayor of the

great city of Newark, New Jersey, Ras Baraka.  Thanks very much again for

being here.  Do you agree with the governor who says clean drinking water

is a right and not a privilege?

 

BARAKA:  Absolutely is a right.  I mean, I don`t think people should be –

should have to wait in line to get bottled water.  I don`t think any of

that is right.  We`ve been delivering water and allowing people to come

pick up water.  We want to get away from that as soon as we possibly can. 

I hate it and I wish we didn`t have to do it.  Prayerfully the filters

we`re going to give good news and we can move away from that.

 

WILLIAMS:  When the governor came on this broadcast, he said that folks in

the lead district, for lack of a better term, are told don`t drink it,

don`t cook with it.  It`s fine to bathe in it.

 

BARAKA:  Right.

 

WILLIAMS:  And I don`t know your family, but I am picturing your blessed

little infant baby girl or baby coming home from the hospital, and I am

guessing as a fellow parent that you`re not going to bathe that brand-new

baby and pour water over the head of that baby that we know to be from an

unfiltered lead line.

 

BARAKA:  Sure.  I mean, if you go on the CDC website, it tells you that you

can – it`s perfectly fine to bathe.  It`s perfectly fine to wash your

dishes.  It`s perfectly fine to wash your clothes.

 

WILLIAMS:  Are you OK with that?

 

BARAKA:  Yes, I`m fine with it.  I mean, it`s on the CDC website, the EPA

website.  They tell you specifically what to do and what not to do.  But

ultimately, the best thing for us to do is to remove, because I know there

are people in their homes who won`t be OK.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

BARAKA:  That they`re scared to death.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

 

BARAKA:  The information that`s out here is all over the place.  They don`t

know what to believe and what to think, right?  So you have people in the

city who saying they don`t want the bathe with the water.  The problem with

that, it poses a public health issue, because we want you to use the water,

because if you don`t use the water, the disinfectants come out of the

water.

 

WILLIAMS:  You need it to be drawn (ph) through the pipes.

 

BARAKA:  That`s right.  And so we want you to use the water because it

helps us begin to fix the problem.  So that`s why we want to move these

lead service lines as quickly as possible because I know people in the city

have doubt in their mind, have doubt in government.  They have doubt in

EPA.  They have doubt in the CDC.  At this point, they have doubt in what

I`m saying, right?  So, what we want to do is remove the lead service line

and that will remove all doubt from people`s minds.

 

WILLIAMS:  Thank you for coming in.

 

BARAKA:  Thank you for having me.  Yes.

 

WILLIAMS:  Mayor Baraka of the great city of Newark, New Jersey.  Coming

up, we check in on another very close neighbor.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight is about our neighbors just 50

miles to the east of the Florida coast, the Bahamas, staggered by Hurricane

Dorian.  Tonight the health minister there tells NBC News the official

death toll is 50, and that is a number guaranteed to rise.

 

So many Americans feel helpless watching.  So many are giving what they can

to charities like the Red Cross, and many were sad to hear our President

today when he said the people who`ve lost everything in this storm won`t be

allowed in our country without what he called totally proper documentation. 

His theory goes that there are people who didn`t belong in the Bahamas,

using the storm perhaps somehow as a vehicle just to come here.

 

And we`re already seeing the cost of good intentions.  There are pallets of

disaster aid going unused because the people are gone, including this,

items like eggs.  Someone meant well, but now they`re rotting in the hot

sun in a ghost town.

 

Just today in the Bahamas, our own Cal Perry went out to a section of Abaco

known forever by the locals as The Mudd where the damage was breathtaking,

and he filed this report for us.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  This is the neighborhood The Mudd that

we`re hearing so much about, where so many undocumented Haitians lived,

around 7,000.  Devastation is clear.  The standing water everywhere.  And

it gives you an idea of why it`s difficult to find a death toll.  You

physically cannot get to these areas.

 

Things you find in this storm are amazing.  I mean, a generator that was

picked up and flung.  These crates came from the port a quarter of a mile

away.  The storm picked them up and slammed them on top of these houses. 

You see the members of this church walking around, and everybody`s got

masks, because the smell as the winds shift becomes awful.  It becomes

overwhelming.

 

The army is trying to work in this area behind me, but it gives you a sense

of just how incredibly difficult it is to access these areas.  The other

problem here is that we`ve had one disaster, and this country is now trying

to avoid another one.  The disease of whatever bodies may be in this water

is going to be a significant issue, which is why aid groups are trying to

get into these areas, these inaccessible area.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAMS:  It`s a tough story to tell.  Cal Perry in the part of Abaco they

call The Mudd.  Large numbers of people still haven`t been heard from while

at the same time Bahamians are leaving every day, there is just not enough

left in parts of the Bahamas to support all the lives of the people who are

from there and have lived there all their lives.

 

That is our broadcast for this Monday night as we start a new week.  Thank

you so very 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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