Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: February 8, 2018 Guest: Michael Steele, Rachael Bade
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, THE LAST WORD, HOST: -- earlier so the government won`t shutdown. That is tonight`s last word.
Coming up on the 11th Hour with Brian Williams, Brian has someone who was the staff secretary to President Obama. That is the job that Rob Porter had in the Trump White House until today. You`ll find out how important and sensitive that job is in the White House. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: The breaking news we are covering tonight is the government shutdown deadline now an hour away. And right now, one man, Republican Senator Rand Paul, stands in the way of a vote. And a shutdown tonight would be the second time in 20 days.
Plus another unfolding crisis for this White House after allegations of domestic abuse have lead to the departure of another close aide of this president. And tonight, one of Rob Porter`s two ex-wives has spoken with NBC News. The 11th Hour on a Thursday night begins now.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York, day 385 of the Trump administration. It now appears we are indeed headed towards the second government shutdown in less than three weeks. The U.S. Senate has adjourned until 12:01 a.m. and that means by definition that will be a minute after the government is set to shutdown.
An issue here, Federal funds run out at the stroke of midnight. The Senate has yet to vote on a bipartisan agreed to spending plan agreed to yesterday as we heard in their announcement by the leaders, Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell. The bill adds up to a massive increase in domestic and defense spending about $400 billion for two years.
And out of 100 U.S. senators one man, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has been holding up the vote. He`s been speaking on the floor tonight, not a filibuster technically, but blocking any other progress in an attempt to force a separate vote on an amendment to reverse spending increases.
REP.RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama`s trillion deficits. Now we have Republicans hand-in- hand with Democrats offering us trillion dollar deficits. I can`t in all good honesty in all good faith just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits.
What we are looking at is a bill that was decided in secret. Seven hundred pages were printed last night in midnight, released in midnight. And for the most part I had not been read. If you were against President Obama`s trillion dollar debts -- trillion dollar deficits, why are you for trillion dollar deficits when you just simply put a Republican name on it?
WILLIAMS: Well, remember, Senator Rand Paul is a Republican, the libertarian branch of the Republican Party, to be sure, but there`s an R after his name. And under the Senate rules Senator Paul can delay a vote until 1:00 a.m.
Here is what fellow Republican, the number two Republican in the Senate John Cornyn of Texas had to say about Rand Paul.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: So, the senator from Kentucky by objecting to the unanimous consent request, will effectively shutdown the federal government for no real reason. I know he wants to make a point. He has that right. I agree with many of his concerns about deficits and debt but we are in an emergency situation.
WILLIAMS: So nice to see everybody getting along. Wherever the Senate votes, whenever they vote the spending plan has to then clear the House where it faces opposition from a number of Democrats who are not in the majority because it fails to protect the Dreamers
Today, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she will not support the bill unless Speaker Paul Ryan promises a House vote on the continuation of the DACA program.
Now, let us bring in our own Garrett Haake live at Capitol Hill. Garrett, I understand the clock to run this way. The House has been told to come to work and prepared for a vote between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.?
GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brian. And that`s probably an optimistic assessment of how early the House could vote. Rand Paul could run the clock out till at least one. And there`s a series of votes that has to happen in the Senate.
Long short story short, it would take a little while to get this 700 page or so bill transmit into the House and in situation where they can vote on it. So, it`s entirely likely, if not essentially guaranteed at this point that federal workers and folks around the country will wake up tomorrow morning and find their government shutdown, which is a question now for how long that`s going to happen.
You laid some of this out at the top. Rand Paul, as any other senator would has enormous power the way the Senate rules are structured to slow things down. But he can`t stop this vote. Ultimately, this deal, this bill will pass on the United States Senate.
What you`ve got right now is Rand Paul acting as sort of the nagging conscience of a Republican Party that no longer feels, broadly speaking, the same way he does about debt and deficits. And he`s going to remind them of that tonight slowly and painfully until the clock runs out and these votes has to happen some time in very early hours of Friday.
WILLIAMS: Speaking of slow and painful, we have a former chairman of the Republican Part in the studio who I`m going to get to in just a minute to talk about some of this. You see right there Eli Stokols and Michael Steel.
But, Garrett, it is true as a factual matter that deficits have gone up under Republican precedence in the modern era and down or zeroed out under the Democrats. And Rand Paul`s critics have said, now, wait a minute. Republicans in the Senate can`t run through the tax cut that we have just witnessed and then complain about a trillion dollar federal deficit.
HAAKE: Yes, and without making any value judgment on the claim I will say that Republicans make the argument that they will say that this is logically consistent because by cutting taxes, they are -- they think that they are starving or shrinking government. So, in that view if you want to look at it wholistically at least the way many Republicans do that that is the people`s money not necessarily the government`s money doesn`t belong to them. That`s how they make that argument.
But it is very difficult to square if you just care about the bottom line that these two things aren`t obviously related. And that`s the argument from the left against Rand Paul on this. He has done the impossible tonight. I mean, he is united -- essentially, everyone in the United State Senate, including other senators who will ultimately vote against this package in opposition to the way that he is handling this.
They want to see a deal done, a vote taken so that they can go home for tonight. And also continue to fund the federal government and get on with all these other issues, including that immigration debate, which is going to be a big deal in the Senate next week and in the House in the weeks to come, part of the reason the House is -- House Democrats are so twisted up about this vote which now they`ll make probably Friday morning over breakfast.
WILLIAM: Well, let`s talk about that immigration thing for just a second, because the last time we`re in this situation going into what we knew was going to be a long night of a shutdown we heard Mitch McConnell at the end of the night promised to bring up DACA. And I believe it was in the realm of kind of let`s resolve DACA by itself with nothing cluttering it is. That -- is that what we are talking about next week?
HAAKE: Not exactly. The majority leader has now said is that he will bring essentially a clean bill, almost a blank sheet of paper to the floor of the Senate and let senators fight it out. It`s going to be an extraordinary for people who`d been following congress over the last few years. This kind of thing just isn`t done anymore. It will be a wide open amendment process. Let the best idea win.
So, even Democratic senators who are skeptical of the majority leader have now heard him say this enough times that they trust that there will be an open process but no one in this town or anywhere else can tell you what`s going to come out of that process in the Senate. In the House, Democrats don`t have any other leverage point over Paul Ryan except this vote right now on funding the government for the next month or so. So, they would be entirely dependent on the speaker`s goodwill to have a similar project such as this.
You heard Nancy Pelosi say let`s have a queen of the Hill bill just like this in the House. So for Paul Ryan hasn`t been willing to go for that, he want`s to make sure whatever he brings to the floor in the House has the President support, and nailing that down has been extraordinary difficult for anyone, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Garrett, we`re going to talk to you later in the hour. But before I let you go, while still a young man you are already a grizzled veteran of the Hill and there are always two indications that the Senate is secretly planning to go later than posted times. That is the arrival of one or both of these things, pizzas in bulk and cots. The kind they will around the Hill. Have you seen evidence of either?
HAAKE: Brian, I`ve seen significant quantities of pizza but no cots thus far.
WILLIAMS: All right. Garrett Haake, with the pizza confirmation tonight from the halls of Congress. We`ll be back in touch. Thank you, buddy.
And here with us New York for more as I said, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and MSNBC political analyst Eli Stokols. Why are you smiling, Mr. Chairman?
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: It is all so amusing.
WILLIAMS: Yes, right, until you remember how serious it is. Right until you remember this is our government at work or not at work.
STEELE: That`s the sad part. It`s not at work. And the thing about it is you finally get to a bipartisan moment. It`s tenuous but it`s there.
WILLIAMS: Yes, we witness this week.
STEELE: Everybody is --
WILLIAMS: We actually had one of those.
STEELE: -- we actually watched it happen and everybody is like, OK, here we go and here we are tonight with less than an hour before the whole thing closes now. But here`s the part that I like and appreciate what Rand Paul is saying. I mean, at the bottom of the fiscal concern and so they`re going I remember getting a lot of guys elected to Congress who were concerned about the debt and deficit and would not spend the dollar more than we were talking in.
But you just passed a tax bill where you just increased the national debt by 1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. So, how can we now all a sudden find sanctimony about spending $300 billion and trying to get this two year budget in place? And then move on to go back and figure out how, because you`re going to have to come there again. This it is not the last time you`ll have this conversation on either the debt ceiling or the deficit.
WILLIAMS: Eli, I watched carefully the conversation tonight on Rachel`s broadcast and Lawrence`s broadcast and a lot of people have been careful not to confuse Rand Paul with Jimmy Stewart. I think that`s the most polite way of putting this. But Rand Paul, while he has had some principled, again, libertarian wing of the Republican Party stands is not winning friends tonight in that chamber. ELI STOKOLS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, and that`s one of the more normal aspects of this. I mean, the Republican Party this days, we don`t really know what it is. So, it is almost comforting to see something familiar, which is Rand Paul upsetting all of his Republican colleagues.
STOKOLS: That seems familiar here. But, you know, we just don`t really know. I mean, idealogical consistency is something that matters I guess or that is something that is right for your opponent to go after you on in either a primary perhaps in a general election.
But in Donald Trump`s Republican Party, I mean Donald Trump personifies ideological and coherence and mildly ability and switching back and forth in positions, and he gets away with it. And what I think members -- some members care more about being ideologically consistent than others. But, you know, we`ve seen Republican members of Congress, they are not Donald Trump. They can`t all get away with the same things that he does. And, you know, you can foresee a situation going into the election where some members are held accountable.
WILLIAMS: Let me bring in one more member of our T.V. family for the night, Rachael Bade of Politico has been standing by on Capitol Hill. Of course, it sounds like the Snickers commercial, not going any where for a while. We appreciate you spending part of your free time tonight with us.
Rachel, what have we missed that you have witnessed or picked up on the Hill and what`s been missing from our conversation that you could add?
RACHAEL BADE, POLITICO CONGRESIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, basically, we`re hearing that Republicans and Democrats here on the Hill are expecting the shutdown about six to seven hours. It sounds like the Senate is going to get ready to vote around 2:00 or 3:00. The House actually needs about four hours to get something ready in this chamber to actually reopen the government. And then that`s assuming that Nancy Pelosi actually case on the -- of demand that she`s been making of Paul Ryan that he make a promise to hold a DACA vote before she backs this budget.
Now, a lot of my Republican sources they`re feeling pretty confident that she`s going to either came here herself or that a number of her Democratic folks in the conference are going to join Republicans to reopen the government. And the reason why is because they`re expecting a very strong vote in the Senate at 3:00 a.m., of course, when the world is sleeping. But that will put a lot of pressure on the Democrats over here and ultimately perhaps they`ll be able to reopen the government before anybody even wakes up and tries to go to work and might be sent home if they are a government employee.
WILLIAMS: Rachel, we talked about this last time. Shutdowns have real consequences because at midnight there is the chance that again a CDC researcher in Atlanta who is chasing down a strain of flu that is effecting children. We`ll have to put his or her research down. A park ranger getting ready for visitors tomorrow in California, a military contractor in charge of the chow lines at any number of our domestic or overseas basis will either have to stop work or expect a difference in their paycheck because of this. So, there are real life consequences far from Capitol Hill.
What lawmakers have you run into tonight who have a kind of seething frustration because they know that this matters? We`re able to see this and we are kind of taking account of it.
BADE: Yes, so I talked to Charlie Dent just a couple over hours ago here and he said something about Rand Paul and the neighbor that beat him up. He said something, I wish the neighbor or I understand why the neighbor did what he did, which is perhaps not the most professional thing to say. But to shows his level of anger --
WILLIAMS: Well, Charlie Dent is living Congress after all.
BADE: -- yes, he`s living Congress. He`s always a great folk, very bold, speaks his mind. But that just again shows you the level of anger Republicans have at Rand Paul right now.
The thing they point out is that, yes, he is taking a stand. He is saying, you know, this is not offset, this is not what fiscal conservatives should be backing and he is objecting to the process. We just saw this 700 page bill 24 hours ago. No member clearly has had time to go through this before they cast this vote.
But shutting down the government is irresponsible, obviously, and that`s why a lot of people, frankly, don`t approve of Congress and Congress`s terrible approval ratings. So there`s a lot of anger on this and through it`s not going to change anything. The government is going to be closed for how many hours. And ultimately there will be no change in the text that you see right now on the floor.
WILLIAMS: Rachel, thank you. I know you wanted to report more joyful news than this tonight, but I`m sure appreciate your candor and your late live reporting from Capitol Hill on a busier than usual night at this hour. Rachel Bade with Politico, thank you very much.
Well, Mr. Chairman, she quotes Congressman Dent who is a long-time Republican from Pennsylvania has decided --
STEELE: No more.
WILLIAMS: -- I`m done with this. Though, he was just as candid in his quotes before deciding to leave Congress.
STEELE: Yes, well, he along with 36 other House Republicans and Senate Republicans who decided to hang up the shingle. And there was a reason for that because it is not a fun place to work. It`s certainly not a fun place when you had ideas of going there and sort of laying down some core principals and attaching that to legislation and creating good policy. So, that`s the idea.
What has happened the system is something that you mentioned is that there`s such a wrath in such a way that the system is working. It just grinds itself down to a stop. And that`s where we are right now. You think about this folks, it is the second shutdown in the two weeks. I mean, really?
WILLIAMS: Like it`s normal.
STEELE: Well like it`s normal. And when you start accepting this as leaders, the country has to ask itself what type of men and women are we sending to represent us? What type of men and women are prepared to do the heavy lift? Just how important is that job. Is that job more important than the very things you listed, you know?
The contractors, the men and women out there --
WILLIAMS: The CBC?
STEELE: -- the CBC, those folks who are on front lines, you know, governments or bureaucracy, but beneath that are a lot of people who go to work to do very important things on behalf of the American people. And in less than an hour they are going, well, what do I do? Do I go to work? Do I not go to work? And, oh, by the way, how much of my paycheck is going to be effected by this in two weeks?
WILLIAMS: That`s right.
STEELE: So, it`s a big deal. I expect a more responsible response from my party leader`s right at this point. They were there and they cut the bipartisan deal. Now they got to go cut a deal with Rand Paul.
WILLIAMS: Eli Stokols, you have covered Donald Trump since the beginning. Where is Donald Trump literally and figuratively tonight?
STOKOLS: Well, the lights are off in the residence. I mean, he may be asleep. And it just tells you, I mean, what Michael is talking about is true that this the second potential shutdown in 20 days and it barely registers. It`s leading your broadcast most likely because it`s about to happen with in the hour. And yet just a couple of hours ago there was so much other news in the churn about this White House.
STOKOLS: All the other things it happen and this has been --
STOKOLS: -- I know but this has been the story of the presidency. And so, I think it doesn`t really register for most people. This is where we are at now is that you can have two government shutdowns within three weeks and people just sort of shrug. So it has become the norm. They say, you know, don`t normalize or don`t get use this, don`t accept this --
STEELE: The new normal.
STOKOLS: -- I mean this is the government we`ve got and this is where we are at. And I think people, you know, to a lot of people in terms of what they`re upset about this probably isn`t even the top thing.
WILLIAMS: I always say about politics, it`s the one business where we the people are the customers and the boss at the same time.
STEELE: That`s right. That`s right. And a lot of Americans have forgotten the fact that they`re the boss. And talking about the boss, you know, the question is just how many phone calls have been placed from the White House tonight from the Senate floor to get the senator to stand down, senator on behind this bill.
STEELE: So, I need you to stand down for the good of the country and the good of the party. All right. So, let`s put it all on the table. As president, I need you stand with me on this. Where is that phone call because that`s the leadership you need right now at this hour?
WILLIAMS: The President didn`t tweet about Mark Warner about an hour ago.
STEELE: Oh that`s good. That was very helpful.
STOKOLS: Well, and, you know, Rand Paul is someone who has tried to develop something of relationship --
WILLIAMS: Yes, exactly.
STOKOLS: -- and did golfing several times. And so you would think if the White House thought to pick up the phone and say, hey, what can we do to just move this along and avoid the shutdown for the American people, but just rewind a couple of days. I know it`s hard to remember. You have the president there with the cameras in the room saying we`ll have a shutdown and might be -- maybe should have a shutdown. So you don`t get the sense that he`s all that bothered by this.
WILLIAMS: Two of our very best friends with us to talk us through just what we`re witnessing tonight in Washington and else where, Michael Steele and Eli Stokols.
To the story Eli just mentioned and our first break we are just getting started on this busy Thursday night. But when we come back, what is a widening crisis in the White House in the West Wing it is about the departure of another of the aides closest to this President.
WILLIAMS: So to recap, on top of a government shutdown that is now going to arrive at the top of the next hour the White House is dealing with significant fallout from the resignation of a top aide tonight. Staff Secretary Rob Porter left his position after two of his ex-wives accused him of physical and verbal abuse. The accusations were first reported by thedailymail.com.
And tonight, the White House is calling them serious and disturbing. That`s a change over the course of these past few days. Also tonight, there is new controversy swirling around White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, specifically, what did he know and when.
A former White House official tells NBC News that Kelly was alerted months ago about some alligations of domestic abuse from Porter. But the White House is insisting that Kelly learned the whole truth just yesterday.
Earlier today, Porter second ex-wife, Jennifer Willoughby spoke to NBC News Kristen Welker, as you see there, about concerns she shared with the FBI last year when they were conducting their background check of her ex- husband.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KRISTEN WELKER, MSNBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You told the FBI about your concerns about Rob Porter. What did you tell them?
JENNIFER WILLOUGHBY, ROB PORTER`S EX-WIFE: Yes, during the FBI background interview for security clearance I shared with the FBI all of the details that I have shared in through these articles, including access to a protective order from June of 2010 and police calls that I made to our home.
WELKER: So you told the FBI that Rob Porter was abusive towards you?
WILLIAMS: That same woman give a long and remarkably composed interview to CNN tonight on live television in which she said she fears for the safety of Hope Hicks, the White House communications director who`s been reportedly in a dating relationship with Rob Porter. For his part, Porter denies the allegations and released a statement that read in part, "These outrageous alligations are simply false. I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign."
Chief of Staff John Kelly initially called Porter a man of integrity on Tuesday, but last night released a statement saying he was shocked by the allegations against Porter and that there is no place for domestic violence in our society. Tonight, our fried Jonathan Lemire of the AP says "A harsh spotlight is cast upon Chief of Staff, John Kelly."
We want to bring in our panel to talk about this lead by Rajesh De. He is back on the broadcast. He is a former White House staff secretary who served under President Barack Obama, very same job title that was held by Rob Porter. He also happens to be former general counsel to the NSA, National Security Agency and former principal deputy assistant attorney general.
Kimberly Atkins is back with us, Chief Washington reporter for the "Boston Herald" and MSNBC contributor. And Brian Bennett is back with us, White House reporter for the "Los Angeles Times".
Raj, thanks you so much for being on with us. And I`m afraid I have more than a few questions for you
First of all, in business job titles are often exaggerated and grandiose. But throughout a lot of official Washington, job titles are often dominative an understated. The Office of Policy Planning at the State Department sounds like nothing it`s hugely important during normal times. De, as staff secretary to the president, tell us about what the job entails and was there anything in and out of the Oval office you didn`t see?
RAJESH DE, FMR WHITE HOUSE SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA.: Certainly, Brian. Well, it is one of the most sensitive if behind the scenes jobs in any White House, simply put the role is to manage and review all written material that needs to go to the president of the United States. So think about things like executive orders, decision memoranda, correspondence, highly classified material.
The role is twofold. One, to serve is a gatekeeper to control the flow of information to the president, prioritize what he needs to see and so forth. And two, to serve as an honest broker to make sure that what the president sees has been vetted appropriately. If the national security advisor wants to send something to the president to make sure it`s been reviewed by the White House council if appropriate and vice versa.
WILLIAMS: Raj, I have to also ask you about kind of an ancillary issue that you can speak about, and that`s security clearances. When someone is hired for a job that`s going to include dealing with sensitive matters, the FBI does what they call in the trade a full field investigation. Some times you have to put people on a fast track. Some times presidents must be allowed to say I need this guy or this woman right now, can I hire them while you work on that?
Talk about your knowledge of this process and what it seems like Mr. Porter was operating under while again touching and seeing and hearing all of these secrets.
DE: Well, you`re exactly right. The person in this role needs to see everything that the president to see. So needless to say, they have to have the highest level security clearance one can have. That`s sort of thing doesn`t happen overnight, particularly if you`re not currently serving a government.
So, it`s not unusual to have let`s call a provisional or interim clearance while you start the job. It is highly unusual for someone to be in such a senior role to be a year into that role and to have that clearance status still on that same state. I can`t say I have heard of a similar instance.
You know, I tell you I left this role to serve as the general counsel for the NSA and I can say unequivocally I had exposure to far more -- far wider range of highly classified and sensitive information in the White House, that I do as a top lawyer for the National Security Agency.
WILLIAMS: Kimberly Atkins, let`s move to you. We have seen a memo come out tonight from John Kelly that reads like a memo from the CEO of any of the companies that have lately been deals with cases of harassment. It says to reach out to your supervisor if you feel the need. This is the memo as tweeted tonight by Maggie Haberman of the "New York Times".
But I have to ask this question, what if your supervisor is Chief of Staff John Kelly, what if your supervisor is Communications Director Hope Hicks?
KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, BOSTON HERALD: Yes. I mean this shows how complex of the problems with this entire situation is when you had someone who is the White House, who had this temporary security clearance, yet, reviewing all of these sensitive documents.
You have the person in charge of creating the first communication about these allegations of abuse and the photographs that came out, is the person who was dating that person. It`s just an HR guide and how not to do things, and that just complicated in already difficult question, essential question, which is what did the Chief of Staff John Kelly know about this and when. And, you know, in legal standards, there`s something -- when you`re talking about knowledge of something, it`s whether someone knew something or should have known something.
And even if John Kelly said these allegations were only fully brought to him, he`s fully aware of them yesterday, he should have known. He was in the position of knowing about the temporary security clearance, at least perhaps being curious about what was holding it up the permanent clearance. And he should have known these allegations existed even if he didn`t.
So, it`s a problem all around for this White House. My question is how many other people have temporary security clearances that we don`t know about. And if there are other people whose clearances are being held out. But it`s a big problem for this White House, how it handles itself just in its staffing.
WILLIAMS: And Josh Dawsey tweeted about this issue of security clearances tonight. I wonder if we have that up in a control room mentioning one of the more notable people who is lacking a security clearance and that is Jared Kushner, something that`s been kind of in open secret around Washington.
So, Brian, our friends Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman over at The Times have, they are on the score board tonight with another story that indicates the long knives are out for John Kelly. There`s vignette in here with the president asking people what they would think about Mick Mulvaney for Chief of Staff. There`s an end of vignette in here about the president showing his frustration with Hope Hicks in addition to Chief of Staff Kelly. What`s your read of the state to play?
BRIAN BENNETT, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, this is episode that we`ve just gone through with Rob Porter is another indication that John Kelley`s credibility is a diminishing asset and that was the reason he was brought into job. He was brought into this job to bring order and to what was the very chaotic West Wing. And over the last several months, there have been moments where his credibility has been called into question.
He makes statements from the podium about Congresswoman Frederica`s speech in Florida, for example, where he mischaracterized it. He talked about defendant Robert E. Lee. He now issued the statement defending Rob Porter and had to walk it back. And there`s tons of questions about how much he knew about the abuse.
And so, the very reason that he is there is now called into question. And you can imagine that Trump has been bristling already at some of the patronizing statements that Kelly has made about how Trump, for example, has evolved in his ideas about the wall because of briefings that Kelly gave him.
WILLIAMS: Raj, I`d like the lawyer in you and the West Wing veteran in you to react to this next bet. This came out tonight, it`s the writing of Josh Dawsey and Beth Reinhard in the Washington Post and it`s about White House council Don McGahn.
In January, 2017, when McGahn learned of the allegations, these of the allegations against Porter, he wanted Porter to stay put because he saw the Harvard Law-trained Capitol Hill veteran as a steadying, professional voice in the White House, according to people familiar with the matter. His view didn`t change in June, when the FBI flagged some of its findings to the White House. Nor did he act in September when he learned that the domestic violence claims were delaying Porter`s security clearance, or in November when Porter`s former girlfriend contacted him about the allegations, according to these people. Raj, it doesn`t read well.
RAJESH DE, THE WHITE HOUSE STAFF SECRETARY UNDER OBAMA: Well, it certainly does and I can certainly understand why a calm demeanor is premium asset in this White House. But nevertheless, for any of these jobs, they`re all about discretion, integrity, and judgment, first and foremost, above any other skills. Without that, it almost doesn`t matter what other skills first in brings to (inaudible). And so I really don`t know what to say about that lately (ph).
WILLIAMS: Kimberly, it`s been talked about and whispered about over the past 48 hours, people have said various versions of Porter look like a Republican recruitment poster. His dad worked for 41, guy went to Harvard Law School, was a Rhodes Scholar, kind of tall, look the part. There he is alongside the Chief of Staff General John Kelly. And it`s somehow germane to the conversation that the work Porter was the only part of him that people knew in the West Wing and that it differs so widely with the man accused of serial abuse.
ATKINS: And it`s interesting that that work persona, that professional persona is what made it take so long for a Chief of Staff John Kelly and other such as Senator Orrin Hatch to come out with a statement actually condemning the behavior that he is accused of. It was thought that, no, this isn`t the guy we know, this guy is outstanding, you know, I trust him, he has great integrity.
And it just sort of blinds his idea that, you know, people who commit abusive acts are often very charming in their workplaces. They don`t go around, you know, walking into the office and saying, hey, you know, I hit my wife yesterday. So, it`s really strange that that was the justification for so many people to delay believing this or addressing this.
It`s sort of a new offset now of the midst to movement that women aren`t initially believed, you`ve sort of believed as long as someone seems like a nice guy in the office and he denies it, then he sort of gets people cover not to act immediately and not just -- it`s not acceptable.
WILLIAMS: Brian, we haven`t seen much or heard much from this president. We go into another day tomorrow where a quick look at the schedule shows no public events.
BENNETT: That`s right. We`re going to be watching close to see if the president makes any comments about his Chief of Staff, of he`s about whether confidence in John Kelly. I mean, another thing that we`ve -- that`s been called in a question is, it`s just a vetting of people who come into this White House, again this is something that the Chief of Staff is responsible for. He`s responsible for making sure that the president`s agenda is followed through but also that it`s not distracted by other types of scandals that come out. And it`s his job to know if there are skeletons in the closet of anyone on his staff.
And, you know, either he did that vetting and knew about it and kept it internal, or he didn`t do that proper vetting and that wasn`t being done and be a question to find out is to whether that is part of a larger pattern of a lack of internal vetting going on here at this White House.
WILLIAMS: Raj, before we lose you, I just want one more question and that is, I`ve always said that having been lucky enough to cover the White House. When you get just outside the oval office and you get ready to walk in, the world seems to slow down and get very quiet. The carpets are thicker. The walls are thicker.
Our friend Steve Schmidt always talks about the lack of rigor in this administration as he puts of the lack of professionalism in some of the roles we`ve seen. Is that how you view this, that this job title you held and took so desperately, seriously, is now being talked about because of the occupant and his past, and this is just one more nick on this still young administration?
DE: Well, it`s certainly is ironic at a job who is very focus is about assisting the discipline in focus of the organization, that is a chaotic White House. In any administration, it is how the source of for the chaos. It couldn`t be more poetic in that regard.
WILLIAMS: Our great thanks tonight, to Raj De, to Kimberly Atkins, to Brian Bennett, a terrific conversation, thank you all. We`ll head for another break.
We are continuing our live coverage of this now looming less than half hour to go until we witness another government shutdown as the White House fights other battles on other fronts.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled. Whether they affected the outcome is another question, but they meddled and that`s a dangerous for democracy.
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WILLIAMS: Sounds like it was recorded in prison but he was delivering remarks there without naming names, you heard former President George W. Bush making it clear in his view unlike the current president, he has no trouble accepting that Russians interfered in the U.S. election. Bush having mostly stayed out of the political limelight delivered those comments during a conference in Abu Dhabi. There were just no cameras allowed.
Former Vice President Joe Biden had some strong words for the current administration. He has been on the tour and spoke with NBCs Andrea Mitchell earlier today.
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JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I just can`t fathom. I can`t fathom why the President, just as a patriotic American, let alone as president, would not be looking for every single bit of data and evidence that would show what they were doing and what they are attempting -- continued attempt to do. Putin must be sitting behind his desk and the Kremlin go on, it`s working man.
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WILLIAMS: Those comments come as we wait to see if and when the White House will release that memo by Democrats on the House Intel Committee that refutes the Republican memo of a few days back accusing the Justice Department of all around misconduct. President Trump has until Saturday to decide. The GOP memo as you recall lead to some new reporting tonight from POLITICO that, "FBI surveillance of Carter Page might have picked up Steve Bannon."
This report says, "The FBI was monitoring Carter Page when the former Trump campaign advisor says he spoke with Trump Advisor Steve Bannon about Russia in January of 2017 raising the strong possibility that the FBI intercepted a conversation between the two men.
Page told Congress in November about the call, but it has been cast into a new light by last week release of a Republican memo revealing that the FBI was monitoring Page`s communications at that time.
Bannon, we`ll remind you, is not accused of any wrong doing but he is under subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee and is expected to speak with the special counsel`s team next week. All of this is by way of saying we have asked Kimberly Atkins and Brian Bennett to rejoin us here.
Wow, Kimberly, where to begin here. The Democratic memo, why is there not as much hubbub around this one and what are expectations about what`s in it according to year and the best reporting?
ATKINS: Yes. You know, while law makers have encouraged the President to release this memo too. We have to remember that president used the Republican memo as evidence of some sort of witch hunt -- a Russian witch hunt against him that the FBI was bias so that they were out to destroy his presidency.
So the idea that he`d be eager to release of a Democratic memo that essentially refutes all of that, you know, it`s not a surprise to me anyway that it hasn`t been released yet. And, you know, this is even though or maybe in addition to the fact that GOP memo seems to be the gifts that keeps undermining arguments that the President is making regarding the Russia investigation or throwing other monkey wrenches in. I mean, and the Carter Page revelation is the latest one.
Because of this memo, we know that Carter Page was under surveillance. And now, we know that the surveillance could have picked up Steve Bannon and perhaps even other people in the White House. Carter Page that he doubted that other people will pick up that he couldn`t go without completely.
The memo also revealed that the investigation wasn`t started by this infamous dossier that it was actually a comments made by George Papadopoulos that lead to the beginning of this program, you know, it sorts of undercuts the arguments that the president has been making as much as it supported this notion that it was some sort of politicize endeavor to undermine him.
WILLIAMS: And just as a point of information for our viewers, as we hark and back to the unmasking mini scandal, when someone is collateral damage in eves dropping, if you`re being surveilled and your conversation with someone else gets recorded, they are usually listed in the transcript as U.S. person or something like that, unless and until an intelligence official says, hey, who is that, I need to know its germane to our investigation because of what they said back. So I want today get that on the road -- on the record.
Brian, there is an excitement gap between the Republican and the Democratic memo. We should be very candid and say that Fox News kind of rolled out a campaign of coverage aimed at getting the Republican memo revealed. I looked up at Fox News at three separate occasions tonight a sampling of the segments, I saw them doing, Macy`s selling her jobs, Clintons and the Uranium One scandal and most recently before we came out to go on the air, confederate monuments in New Orleans. There is no such excitement over the release -- potential release of the Democratic memo.
BENNETT: Well, if you look at these two memos and how they have come out to the public, I mean, you can see that there is a masterful disinformation campaign that`s been waged here. You had the news cycle dominated last week by the Republican memo. Articles and articles and articles written about what it might say. And then lot more articles earlier this week about what was actually in the memo.
Unfortunately, you know, a lot what`s was undermining the president`s case was buried. And then the Republicans and the House Intelligence Committee, you know, drag their feet in releasing the Democratic memo. And it`s entirely likely that the White House will send a letter to Congress to allow that memo to be released maybe tomorrow, maybe Saturday.
But in the meantime, the initial revelations and accusations that came out in the first Republican memo just been allowed to hang out there and drift. And, you know, this is part of a larger campaign that the president has launched to try to undermine the Russia investigation. It`s really interesting that George W. Bush who has been nearly silent for so long did come out and say that he believes the Russian meddle in the elections.
And the fact is, the way to prevent Russia from meddling in future elections include in the midterm elections is inoculate the public by getting more information about how it was done in the past. And in order to do that, we need to know more about ways that they are, you know, promoting fake news and trying to influence voters` decisions.
And the more information that the public knows about the investigation, how it happened in the past, the less likely it is that Russia could have a similar impact on future elections.
WILLAIMS: Great thanks tonight. Brian Bennett. Kimberly Atkins, appreciate your contributions to our conversation this evening.
One final break for us as we approach this midnight witching hour, and the shutdown that however long or short, is starting at midnight.
When we come back, a former star of reality television speaking about another who happens to be our current president.
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OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, EX-TRUMP AIDE : Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It`s everyone who has ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him.
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WILLIAMS: That gets your attention. That was Omarosa Manigault-Newman in 2016 on Frontline, right before the presidential election.
The former apprentice cast member developed a loyalty to Donald Trump that led to her appointment to this title, Director of Communications at the Office of Public Liaison. But after less than a year at the White House, Omarosa is back on reality television, where it all started for her. And she is back in the news because of what we`re about to show you.
As one does after leaving a West Wing job, Omarosa is currently a contestant on celebrity Big Brother. And in this scene you are about to see with her house mate who came to famous Ross the Intern on "The Jay Leno" tonight show. Omarosa talks, it`ll be it as barely audible whisper about her time in the Trump White House.
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MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I was haunted by tweets every single day, like what is he going to tweet next.
ROSS MATTHEWS, INTERN, THE JAY LENO SHOW: Does anybody say to him, what are you doing?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I tried to be that person? who has that power to say what`s going on?
No. Not there. It`s not my -- it`s not my circus, not my monkeys. You know, I like to say not my problem, but I can`t say that, because it`s bad.
MATTHEWS: Should we be worried?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Oh, don`t say that. No, because we are worried but I need you to say, no it`s going to be OK. No it`s going to not be okay. It`s not.
MATTHEWS: Would you vote for him again?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: God no, never. In a million years, never.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It`s not hers -- I am sorry, it`s not her circus and not her monkeys was the quote there. That was Omarosa and Ross from Celebrity Big Brother. We are free to speak in normal tones here in the studio.
As we remember that our President came to the White House after years as a reality television star. Having said, that here is how the Trump White House reacted today to Omarosa.
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RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Omarosa was fired three times on "The Apprentice". And this is the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the President while here. She has no contact now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: From the podium and the White House briefing room, back with us to talk about what is going on currently is Michael Steele and Eli Stokols.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I`m sorry.
WILLIAMS: I have watched you now react to this at 4:00 p.m. and at the shank of the evening here four minutes from midnight.
STEELE: You see where he says she was fired three times at "The Apprentice", and now here. I`m sorry, the White House is not "The Apprentice". It`s a whole different.
ELI STOKOLS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Why does the White House press secretary even know how many times she has been fired on a reality show?
STEELE: And so, this is the crazy drama that this country is getting sucked up into. Every day is another episode. Almost every hour is a new chapter within that episode. And what we just saw, you know it`s crazy, it`s sad. Oh my God, oh, my God, please, spare me, that was not the attitude you had walking around Washington for almost a year.
WILLIAMS: You get the final 30 seconds.
STOKOLS: I mean, it`s something they probably filmed five times to get the drama right. buy, you know, if you step back from this and that`s when you think about Omarosa said one thing like, Mike, that when she was in Washington now she is saying this, "Raj Shas, we found that this week from his text, you know, he`s the one up there defending this White House today and dumping on Omarosa.
And what was revealed this week? That his texts when the access Hollywood tape came out, that he is -- Donald trump was a deplorable and he texted a friend, he was enjoying it.
So, you have to wonder, if the people have qualms about working for this president, why did they take the job. It`s obviously the access to power, but they leave with even less personal capital they may went in with. It`s just stunning.
WILLIAMS: We are exactly two minutes until the next government shut down which we know will now automatically happen at midnight eastern time because time has run out to save and because of the actions of senator. Garrett Haake is our man on Capitol Hill.
Garrett, do you have anything else to report prior to this deadline, which I know kicks off a number of hours of debates and votes and then back to the House?
GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Brian it`s ultimately Rand Paul`s call how long he wants to make this go over the next couple of hours as the Senate floor reopens here in the next few minutes.
Senators will likely again ask for unanimous consent to go straight to the vote. Rand Paul could decide that he has made his point and he is ready to let that happen but that`s not in keeping with what we have seen from the junior senator from Kentucky. We expect him to take at least the next hour to continue making his point about debt and definite fits before this vote happened in the Senate.
Again, this was supposed to be the easy part in getting this bill passed today.
WILLIAMS: Garrett, one minute to off air. Do we have every reason to believe this shut down will be measured in hours? Or is there a chance we are talking days?
HAAKE: There`s always a chance, Brian. Again, this was supposed to sail through the Senate. There was a comfortable cushion of votes on the Senate side. In the House they have a different set of problems. House conservatives don`t like this deal because of everything that`s in it. They think it spend tens of billions of dollars too much on domestic spending.
And House Democrats don`t like it because of what is not in it. There is still no immigration deal. If House Democrats could take a queue from Rand Paul and decide they want to drag this thing out a little bit. So, nothing is guaranteed at this point.
WILLIAMS: All right. Thanks to our man on the Hill, Garrett Haake, to Michael Steele, to Eli Stokols, our thanks. And thank you for joining us for our broadcast this even.
Up next, our live coverage of your government at work or not, this pending government shutdown at this very moment, it continues on live edition of "The Rachel Maddow Show". And Rachel it`s all yours. Good evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END