Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: March 19, 2018 Guest: Philip Rucker, Tamara Keith, Anita Kumar
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, THE LAST WORD, HOST: -- Andrew McCabe`s firing and Donald Trump`s criticism of the FBI. That`s in "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams," and that starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: Tonight, the new NBC News reporting on a series of sit-downs between Trump and special counsel legal teams as an aggressive strategy place out. Trump singles out Mueller by name and hires a new lawyer from the ranks of cable news.
Plus, pay no attention to the chaos behind the curtain. The latest reporting from the White House saying the President is now more comfortable in the job. And the Friday night firing that sends shockwave to through Washington, a former colleague of Andrew McCabe weighs-in on the weekend of personal attacks from the President.
"The 11th Hour" on a Monday night getting under way now.
And good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 424 of the Trump administration. And the President`s response to the Mueller investigation moves into a new phase.
"The Washington Post" reporting that the President is shaking up his legal team, adding a former federal prosecutor, former U.S. attorney as well, who is well known to viewers of Fox News who says Mr. Trump is the target of an FBI conspiracy. More on that in just a moment.
We are also learning from the "Post" about how the President`s lawyers are trying to curtail the scope of the special counsel`s potential interview with the President. According to their reporting, two sources say, attorneys "provided the special counsel`s office with written descriptions that chronicle key moments under investigation in an effort to limit any session between the President and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to a few select topics. Trump has told aides he is chomping at the bit to sit for an interview, according to one person."
Trump lawyer, John Dowd call this report old news but our NBC News colleague, Kristen Welker reports, a source tells her that there`s ongoing communication between the President`s legal team and the special counsel, which includes turning over some documents. And our Senior White House Correspondent, Hallie Jackson, tells us tonight, the two legal teams met recently and that such meetings happened "regularly," in other words, they`ve been talking and they continue to talk.
As we mentioned, Donald Trump has hired another lawyer for the team handling the Russia Investigation. He is Former U.S. Attorney, Joseph diGenova. DiGenova is a frequent contributor to the President`s network of choice where he made public his allegation of an FBI Justice Department plot against the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH DIGENOVA, DONALD TRUMP LAWYER: Make no mistake about it. A group of FBI and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.
They were going to exonerate Hillary and they were going to frame Donald Trump.
What they have done to the department and the FBI is undermine the confidence of the American people in federal law enforcement. It is disgraceful. And it all stems from their animus towards President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Joe diGenova has been around a long time. He`s well known in Washington.
This quote from a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed written by him in 1997 during the investigation of Bill Clinton is getting a wide circulation tonight for reason you`re about to see. "Nobody should underestimate the upheaval that a prosecution of the President would cause. But we went through it once before, in Watergate, and survived. The nation, in fact, could conceivably benefit from the indictment of a President. It would teach the valuable civics lesson that no one is above the law."
President Trump spent the weekend criticizing the investigation and for the first time, he went after the special counsel by name. "The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a fake dossier paid for by crooked Hillary and the DNC and improperly used in FISA court for surveillance of my campaign. Witch hunt."
Trump`s lawyer, John Dowd, also called for an unending investigation fueling new concerns about the special counsel`s future. Ty Cobb, another member of the legal team tried to allay those fears with a statement saying, the President was not considering firing Robert Mueller.
Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy warned of the consequences of moving against the special counsel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I would just counsel the President, it`s going to be a very, very long, bad 2018. And it`s going to be distracting from other things that he wants to do and was elected to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: There is also more fallout from the firing of former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, whom the President targeted before he was dismissed. "The Associated Press" reporting that McCabe kept personal memos about his interactions with the President, which are now in the hands of the special counsel and are similar to the contemporaneous notes and memoranda to file that were made by James Comey about his own conversations with Donald Trump.
That report brought this tweet from the President. "Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don`t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them fake memos?"
With that, we have a terrific starting panel as we start a new week here. Philip Rucker, White House Bureau Chief for "The Washington Post", Tamara Keith, White House Correspondent for NPR and Sam Stein, Veteran Political Journalist, now Politics Editor for "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC Contributor.
Good evening and welcome to you all.
Phil, I`d like to read you a quote from some of your colleagues at "The Washington Post". We`ll call this byline the law firm of Parker, Dawsey, Leonnig and Costa. And we begin, "Trump is not consulting with top advisers, including Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and Chief White House Lawyer, Don McGahn on his Russia legal choices or his comments about the probe, according to one person with knowledge of his actions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive conversations." A lot of that going around.
"He is instead watching television and calling friends, this person said. The President continues to complain that his lawyers are not protecting him and that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who is supervising the probe, is up to mischief, said the person who spoke to Trump in recent days."
Philip, can you shed any light on what mischief Rosenstein is up to and help us fill in the blanks here?
PHILIP RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, Brian, I think what`s happening here is two-fold. First of all, the White House staff, the people working in the government, John Kelly, Don McGahn and others, frankly, would rather not be a part with the Russia discussions. They don`t want to have anything to do with the President`s legal strategy with regard to the Mueller probe. But the President feels increasingly emboldened to make his own decisions, to act as his own lawyer, his own counsel, his own strategist, his own P.R. specialist, if it were.
He feels comfortable in his job. He wants to call his shots and he wants to handle this Mueller probe as he sees fit, which is by these tweets that he had over the weekend. He`s been -- I know from my reporting that he`s been spending a lot of time talking about it on the phone with his friends, less so with his political advisers in the White House, but more so with the people that he communicates with, you know, old pals from New York, even some of the hosts over at Fox News channel and watches a lot of T.V. commentary about all of this. And he`s been using that phrase witch hunt a lot.
And I would just make a historical parallel, Brian. A colleague of mine dug up an old clip in "The Washington Post" under the bilines Woodward and Bernstein, who you`ll remember from the Watergate period, and that`s exactly what Richard Nixon was doing in the White House as the Watergate hearings were under way. He was fuming to his friends and his adviser that this is a witch hunt out to get him. When you read that story it`s just eerily similar to what we have playing out today.
WILLIAMS: It certainly is. Tamara, isn`t it striking to know that Mueller and Trump forces meet at some point late in the week last week? Let`s presume Trump`s lawyers go back to the White House and break it to the boss that this is not going to be over last Thanksgiving or New Years and then we see the President go to social media. Then we see the President hire the very familiar Joe diGenova from Fox News.
TAMARA KEITH, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it had become increasingly clear that the timeline was slipping when it slipped from Thanksgiving to New Years to, well, it`s late March now at this point. And President Trump is bringing on this new lawyer, who based on all of his public comments is very much in line with what President Trump sees of this investigation, which is this idea of it as a witch hunt. And, you know, President Trump, as we`ve well documented, really likes people who he sees on T.V. defending him. And often tries to find ways to bring them into his circle.
Interestingly, diGenova, he`s definitely going to be part of the outside team, not part of the inside team. When I asked White House lawyer, Ty Cobb about this, he made it abundantly clear that diGenova was not going to be part of his team.
Cobb has been more -- has been this lawyer who has been more about trying to cooperate with Mueller`s investigation in hopes that the cooperation will speed things up and not seeing the benefit in pushing back on it. Obviously the President and some of his outside lawyers have a very different view of how this is should be approached.
WILLIAMS: I`m told we`re going to have more reporting on that in about 60 seconds.
Sam Stein, I want to show you an example of the President tweeting something this weekend, and an instant fact checking of him that was kind of breathtaking to read. First, from the President`s Twitter feed. "Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big crooked Hillary supporters and zero Republicans?"
Again, you`ve got to admire the capitalization. "Another Dem recently added, does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is no collusion."
But here came the almost real-time fact checking from Glenn Kessler of "The Washington Post." "The way Trump tweets about how investigators can`t be trusted because they donated to Democrats, it`s easy to forget he donated to Hillary Clinton in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. Melania, Ivanka and Don Jr. also made donations to Clinton."
Facts are stubborn things, Sam.
SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Yes. You know, sometimes it`s helpful to step back and just remind ourselves how loose this President is with the truth. You know, he take to social media and things happen in such a rapid pace that we sometimes forget to notice the clear errors among the tweets.
I will say this, I don`t think this weekend was a particular great sign for the President and his legal team in terms of the strategy that they`re bring in to the Mueller probe. The idea that -- well, first of all, let`s step back and just recognize what is sort of a well-established truth in this city, which is he already has two lawyers who most people regard as a little bit long in the tooth, a little bit unable to keep up with the Mueller team, a little bit in over their heads. Now, that being said, if the reports are true tonight and bringing in this new lawyer is, you know, angering the current legal team and potentially compelling John Dowd even quick or Ty Cobb to resign, that would be a huge setback. You`d essentially be starting at ground zero again.
And I think, you know, Trump`s outburst aside, they are having kind of impacts on the legal case that they`re trying to bring against Mueller. But the bigger story, and I would just clause, this is not exactly what`s happening in the White House. I would argue that it`s what happening on the Capital Hill, because after the tantrum this week on social media, there was a spotlight on Congressional Republican leadership to see if they would do anything, whether it was in their public reactions or maybe a legislative response to inoculate Bob Mueller.
And what we heard today after that Trey Gowdy clip you play from Sunday is basically crickets. Still there is disbelief on Capitol Hill that he would actually take the step to fire Mueller. And so we have no legislative attempt to inoculate him from the firing.
WILLIAMS: So, Tamara, as you were speaking, you made our printer go off, which I`ve never seen done before. But as you were making the point that had been discussed throughout the day and that is how un-Ty Cobbian, a guy, Joe diGenova is.
Our friends over at "The New York Times," Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman are on the board. I`ll read just the first three graphs because this was just handed to me.
"President Trump`s legal team was poised for a shake-up on Monday, according to two people briefed on the matter. As he openly discussed firing, one of his lawyers, another considered resigning and a third who pushed theories on television that Mr. Trump was framed by the FBI, joined the roster. Mr. Trump has weighed allowed in recent days to close associates whether to dismiss his lawyer, Ty Cobb, who had pushed most strongly a strategy of cooperating fully with the special counsel investigation."
Here`s where it gets interesting. "The President reassured Mr. Cobb that he had no plans to fire him, according to a person who spoke with the President late Monday, in part to prevent a narrative that his team was in disarray after the "New York Times" began making inquiries. Mr. Trump`s lead lawyer, John Dowd, had contemplated leading his post because he had concluded he has no control over the behavior of the President, the two people briefed on the matter said. Ignoring his lawyers` advice, Mr. Trump has reverted to a more aggressive strategy and so on."
So, Tamara, there you have it. What could possibly go wrong?
KEITH: Yes. As someone who has covered this White House, this is a familiar narrative applied not just to the legal team, but also to various White House aides. It`s why you`ve had such an incredible level of turnover, both in the President`s Cabinet and in his top aides in the White House. It`s like off-the-charts historically unprecedented amounts of turnover.
President Trump has not settled on the team that he likes and this is not the first shake-up of his legal team. And we should say, we don`t know that this is a shake-up just yet, it might be just an addition. But certainly, you know, there was a shake-up not too long ago that put Dowd in charge of this team and brought in Jay Sekulow. So it is a cycle that repeats itself with some frequency.
WILLIAMS: So, Philip, the question becomes who remains to be able to say, "Mr. President, it`s one thing to want the people around you that you want? If there is something about making a hire that gives you the great feeling of a warm bath, that`s fine, but please remember that hire may not help to achieve your goal."
RUCKER: Well, it`s a good question, Brian. I think President Trump is making a lot of his own decisions at this point. Ty Cobb is a lawyer at the White House who is effectively doing a lot of the paperwork. He`s literally responding to document requests at the White House, arranging interviews for White House staff. John Dowd is the one dealing with the President personally in his personal approach.
But again, I think Mr. Trump -- President Trump is making a lot of these decisions. He`s deciding when to issue these tweets. He`s deciding to attack Bob Mueller personally by name, as he did over this weekend. He`s deciding to call it a witch hunt and he`s deciding he wants to sit down for an interview, even though his lawyers are very concerned that and understandably so because he has a history of exaggerating the facts and sometime outright lying. And so, there`s a real genuine concern about whether he can truthfully answer questions face to face with the special counsel investigators.
WILLIAMS: Sam, I`m reminded over the weekend of what John Brennan said on social media. "Friday night here, we were talking about the words of Barry McCaffrey and now John Brennan on the board with this. It`s a Sorkin-esque statement. When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history."
"You may scapegoat Andy McCabe but you will not destroy America. America will triumph over you," said the former CIA director whose job included but was not limited to going to his counterpart in Russia, saying knock it off, something not done in the spy trade very often.
STEIN: No. I like the use of Sorkin-esque. You can see it in a "West Wing" episode for sure.
I will say, you know, John Brennan got a lot of pushback because in line from Conservatives over that, in part because it was hyperbolic. But maybe that`s what the times call for. The firing of Andrew McCabe is a really interesting case study in what this President has done vis-a-vis the entirety of the Mueller probe.
Now, McCabe, you know, conclude in a two ways. One is he may have been fired for cause, in this case, a lack of candor. And he went through a process within the DOJ that did require political -- I`m sorry, civil servants, not political hacks, to make a judgment on the case. But because Trump had weighed in so heavily and aggressively on this matter because he`d essentially called for his firing and because he tooted his own horn, so to speak, after the firing was done, it created an aura around this, a bad stench of sorts about the whole firing.
And we have to wonder why did he do it in the first place? What was the point two days before McCabe was supposed to get his pension? And the only one conclusion once again is that he was trying to spoil a potential witness against him. He`s trying to gas light the process. And so, this is what John Brennan was responding to, not necessarily two men or one man in the FBI, but the gas lighting of the American institutions and Americans` trust in their institutions.
nd I think, you know, we`ll end up finding out at some point in time whether John Brennan is right or Donald Trump is.
WILLIAMS: We have only been on the air for 18 minutes, yet another eventful night on this shift. With our thanks to Phil Rucker, to Tamara Keith, and Sam Stein for starting us off as we begin a new week.
STEIN: Thanks, Brian
WILLIAMS: And coming up for us, Trump being Trump, the President described as emboldened now, more comfortable in the job as we`ve seen tonight, expect to see and hear even more candor from the President.
And later, a man who worked alongside Andrew McCabe for 20 years weighs-in on his firing and the damage being done when the President attacks the FBI. "The 11th Hour" just getting started on a busy Monday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea, Kim Jong-un, would like to meet with President Trump. This doesn`t happen. You know, they`re saying, oh, well, Obama could have done that. Trust me, he couldn`t have done that.
Today, I`m defending America`s national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum.
If we don`t get tough on the drug dealers, we`re wasting our time. Just remember that. We`re wasting our time. And that toughness includes the death penalty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: With remarks like those, just a small sampling over the past few weeks President Trump has gone against the advice and counsel of his staff and closest allies to push parts of his policy agenda. And we also saw the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via Twitter.
The "New York Times" reports today that feeling newly emboldened, Trump is saying what he really feels now. This weekend, as we`ve said, he unleashed the tirade on Twitter against Special Counsel Robert Mueller attacking him by name for the first time.
"Time" tells it this way, "For months, President Trump`s legal advisers implored him to avoid so much as mentioning the name of Robert Mueller. Ignoring that advice over the weekend was the decision of a President who ultimately trusts only his own instincts, and now believes he has settled into the job enough to rely on them rather than the people who advise him."
We`re joined by two more friends here tonight to react and join our conversation. Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers and John Heilemann, Veteran Journalist and MSNBC National Affairs Analyst.
Anita, again, we try not to veer into the gale he/she Dr. Phil Guardrail. But is it possible this President`s happiness comes a result of enough rage to cause an outburst and then ergo the aftereffect?
ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPER: Right. I mean, it just depends who you`re talking to, you know. People I`m speaking to who are close to the White House, you know, take this as a really actually a good sign, you know, that he is feeling more confident. You would have thought that he would have felt this when he was coming in, becoming the President of the United States.
This is a man who didn`t think he was going to be President. He didn`t think he would win so he wasn`t sort of prepared for that. But he`s feeling better about it. He`s felling like he knows what he`s doing and people close to the White House and close to him are pretty happy about it.
This is, you know, the President they thought he would be, he`s taking sort of control of things. You mentioned the firing of Rex Tillerson, that`s the thing that I keep hearing over and over, that he`s kind of cleaned house into the White House and now he`s venturing out into the Cabinet secretaries. There are a lot of people that wish he would do more with that. But of course, if you talk to the critics, Democrats, they`re afraid of what he`s going to do next.
WILLIAMS: John, we`re not here to advice.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIR ANALYST: Or consent, God knows.
WILLIAMS: We do occasionally judge.
WILLIAMS: What if getting rid of a white shoe legal team is politically suicidal in this case for the President?
HEILEMANN: It could well be. I mean, look, it`s interesting that in the past Presidents you and I have covered, you often see a phenomenon where --
WILLIAMS: I started with Coolidge, I guess.
HEILEMANN: -- new President arrives in Washington, D.C. with a bunch of coterie of people from home, you know. They`re loyalists. They arrive in the White House and they don`t really know what they`re doing, but they have some governing experience.
And one of the things that they learn in the first year or so is that they need to adjust to the ways of Washington. And so, you see the chief of staff or the chief counsel, who was kind of a vestige of the old -- of home, whether it`d be Arkansas, or Texas, or wherever --
WILLIAMS: Or Georgia?
HEILEMANN: -- or Georgia, dispensed with in favor of the old Washington hand. Trump is in so many ways like the bizarre owe world President who came to Washington with no political background and so hired a bunch of people, a bunch of generals for instance and white shoe law firms or assemblage of lawyers. And now because he feels more comfortable as President do after about a year, he`s doing the opposite, which kind of getting rid of the experienced hands and bringing in the flame throwers, bringing in the Fox News personalities, bringing in the war Cabinet, the loyalists who he thinks as things get tougher will be there just to defend him and say yes, yes, yes, your instincts are right.
But the basic thing of arriving in the office, being uncertain and getting more comfortable, he has that in common with his predecessors. It`s just that he came from such a different place that his reaction to it now is exactly 180, opposite from what the other have done.
WILLIAMS: Terrific point. And, Anita, as is your custom, you have written to remind all of us about the down ballot effects. This is all -- we think we`re watching this closely? Imagine having the letter "R" after your name and being an incumbent member of Congress knowing that your neck is going to be on the block come November and you know that it`s going to feel like we wake up tomorrow and it`s Labor Day and the campaign is on, but the down ballot effect is really going to be something dramatic to watch.
KUMAR: It is. I mean, it already was, right? This is a President who is not doing well in the polls. So we already didn`t know exactly what was going to happen except things are not looking good for Republicans. But now, he`s actually making it worse. He`s feeling better. He`s doing what he wants to do, but he`s making it worse because they really don`t know what`s coming.
So, Republicans who, you know, want to say depending on their district, fund raise with him or campaign with him or not run away or don`t know whether to run towards him or away from him are going to have a President now who they don`t really know what to expect policy wise. So, his aides told him, let`s not do this, you know, let`s not do the tariffs, you talked about that before, but he didn`t listen. And he went against something that the bulk of the Republican Party is opposed to.
How is this going to be for the people that are on the ballot who, you know, this is the thing that President Trump is pushing right now, the tariffs, they`re opposed to that. So they`re just not going to know what to expect and it`s going to cause them a lot of problems.
WILLIAMS: John, a question I mean seriously, how did the Trump agenda advance today?
HEILEMANN: Not at all. I don`t think it advanced at all today and I think in some ways to go back to your original point, I think the President is in greater legal jeopardy today than he was yesterday. And I think the legal jeopardy for him is an existential threat and it`s kind of the thing, you tried to point me, I had to point but I wanted to make, but the point you were trying to make, which I think is a good one, to return to you here. It is one thing to bring in people who will encourage your instincts, even if your instincts are at odds with the conventional wisdom.
He was an anti-establishment candidate. He`s going to pursue polices that a lot of people in the establishment don`t like. When it comes to legal jeopardy, there`s a reason why you surrounded yourself with good lawyers, because of that old adage about how a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.
You don`t want to give -- he doesn`t know the law. He doesn`t understand the jeopardy he`s in. None of us do when we go before a tribunal, before a judge, before -- let alone a special prosecutor. So he want to bring in, that`s where the place where you have to say, you know what? My instincts are not, all of us, or my instincts are not going to be the right instincts. I have to trust somebody else here because this is the very, the future of my presidency at stakes and my instincts are not going to be the right instincts because this is a world I do not understand well enough.
And so, to your point before, I this is the place where he -- by following his own instincts., he puts himself in enormous risk because he`s now going to be bringing in essentially yes man into the one arena where, yes, where being a yes man is not rewarded typically in the realm of both law and high, high stakes politics.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Our thanks to two really smart friends of ours, Anita Kumar and John Heilemann.
Coming up here tonight, the President goes after as we said Robert Mueller has investigation by name. The question is, who are the Republicans willing to warn the President not to interfere here? That and more when we continue.
WILLIAMS: With these reports, we`ve already mentioned tonight that the President`s becoming more comfortable in his role, the job of president. Some have worried aloud that his attempts to discredit Robert Mueller, as we saw on social media this weekend, perhaps are just getting started.
We want to bring back to our broadcast, Jill Wine-Banks, Attorney, former Assistant Watergate Special Counsel and an MSNBC Legal Analyst. Jill, we`re you surprised to learn our reporting tonight that both sides, both counsel, and we don`t know what the Trump legal team is going to look for - - by close of business tomorrow? Have been meeting for some time and it`s on a continuum, they still -- they`ve kept talking?
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: No, I think that they need to be talking. I think it`s a good thing for them to be doing it. Although, I would say Mueller has the upper hand in this.
He is really in control because he has subpoena power and can bring in the President at any time and they ask him anything he wants. The President would have to either claim a Fifth Amendment privilege or answer the questions.
I`m not sure what they are still negotiating. Obviously, you want to be kind to the President, you want to agree on a time that`s convenient so that the business of our government can continue. But in terms of whether it happens or not, it`s really not a question that his lawyers can be negotiating, and especially when they`re attacking Mueller at the same time as they`re negotiating with him.
WILLIAMS: When you read the reporting, and you really do kind of do have to set aside of your day every day to read the journalism. And then, you need to read a second wave every night. When you read that the Mueller attorneys report back that they`re really honing in on the Flynn and Comey dismissals, and that that was what they brought back to the White House, what does that tell you about the Mueller investigation?
WINE-BANKS: Well, that could mean that they`re looking at obstruction because they`re focusing on the actions that happened while he was in the White House, as opposed to during the campaign. But I -- you know, we`re basing this on reporting that we don`t know how complete and accurate it is.
I`m sure it`s not coming from Mueller`s office so it may be in the best interest of the President to have us believe that it`s a narrow thing, that they aren`t looking at, for example, follow the money. And that they aren`t looking at the conspiracy with the Russians. So it may be that we are being a little misled by this. We don`t know.
It`s also curious what they`re saying about we`re providing documents in the hopes that this will limit the scope of the interview.
WINE-BANKS: I`m kind of surprised about that. And one report actually says that this documents were summaries of things. And I can tell you that during Watergate, we were offered summaries of the tapes and we said absolutely not. And that is actually what really led to the Saturday night massacre was -- are saying, "We have to have the original tapes. We cannot have a summary of them." We need admissible evidence and a summary is hearsay, it not admissible evidence, so it does us no good to get a summary. And I was very curious about that is something they are actually seriously trying to offer.
It wouldn`t be a Monday night if I didn`t ask you about a porn star. And I`m going to ask you to watch and exchange on this network tonight between Ari Melber and her attorney. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, NBC NEWS HOST: Mr. Trump has been fully aware, you alleged. Does that mean you have evidence or reason to believe he was aware of the threat against MS. Daniels?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` ATTORNEY: Yes.
MELBER: And what does that say to you?
AVENATTI: Well, I think it`s serious. I mean, there`s no question that it`s serious.
MELBER: You think his threat to her was made on Donald Trump`s authority?
AVENATTI: Again, I don`t want to get into the details and my opinion of this threat. We`re going to let the American people judge for themselves as to what happened and judge for themselves as to what my client says and her credibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So, Jill, you may not want to go near that, but what was being alleged there is that a sitting president was aware, is aware in real time of threats being made to Stormy Daniels. That`s a heck of a charge that we`re going to learn more about, apparently.
WINE-BANKS: I can`t wait to learn more about it. I also would like to know what the timing of the threat was. Because of course, if the threat preceded her signing the nondisclosure agreement, it completely voids that agreement.
You cannot reach a fair contract if you are doing so under the duress of threat. But even if the threat came afterwards, it is a serious allegation that the president is involved in threatening witnesses. So we know that it`s happened before and it`s almost not surprising. The president himself has said that he could do almost anything, and wouldn`t lose political support.
So maybe he`s trying to prove it to us. I think we`ll all know a lot more after the Sunday night interview, which I`m sure all of your viewers are looking forward to as much as I am.
WILLIAMS: All the things we talk about around here these days.
WINE-BANKS: I know.
WILLIAMS: Jill Wine-Banks, you always have our thanks. Thank you very much for joining us on this Monday night.
WINE-BANKS: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: And coming up for us, we`ll talk to a former FBI official who has known Andrew McCabe for two decades. We`ll talk about the President`s continued attacks on the FBI as now hundreds of federal agents swarm to Austin, Texas to help stop a serial bomber when we continue.
WILLIAMS: Even though we say this a lot these days, you don`t see this often. President Trump praised the dismissal of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe over the weekend, writing this on Twitter, "Andrew McCabe fired, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI, a great day for democracy."
With us tonight is Robert Anderson, former FBI Executive Assistant Director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch. He`s known Andrew McCabe for 20 years and this is the important part. He was the Assistant Director of Counterintelligence while McCabe was the Assistant Director of Counterterrorism.
Mr. Anderson, I note that you got up either very late or very early for us in London to do this and I thank you for doing that. As I ask you to describe the Andy McCabe you know and part two of that is how do you square the FBI internal findings against him?
ROBERT ANDERSON, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: Yes. Thanks, Brian, great to be with you here tonight.
The one thing I`ll tell but Andy and I don`t think people have said this enough on television. I`ve worked with him for a number of years on the highest levels of the FBI. And what people don`t understand in those jobs as you pointed out, when he was the assistant director of Counterterrorism and I was the assistant director of Counterintelligence, or when we are both executive assistant director of Operations, you basically split the FBI to 35,000 men and women, and he was running one side of it, I was running the other.
And in those positions, you have to make decisions on some of the most complicated, sophisticated operations that the FBI has ever done. And whether it was meetings Eric Holder, Bob Mueller, Jim Comey, numerous people in the Congress or White House, I`ve always found Andy to not only be a trustworthy individual but a man of honor and integrity. And I think it can`t be said enough about that.
WILLIAMS: I want to read you a tweet from one of the many tweets from our President over the weekend about McCabe and specifically something that McCabe shares with Comey and so many of you come up just knowing reflexively, and that`s note taking, contemporaneously dictating notes to file. The President kind of expressed doubt spent very little time with Andrew McCabe but he never took notes when he was with me. I don`t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda.
First of all, there`s no way someone would take notes in the middle of a conversation, but it is a skill set and a mindset that seems to confound the President. He hasn`t been around that ethos before.
ANDERSON: No. But I got to tell you. It`s FBI agent 101, especially men and women that came into the bureau 20-plus years ago like myself, or Andy, or others. You took notes on everything, and whether it was interviews or interrogations or investigational leads, it`s actually quite a routine. And back in the old days, we used to put those notes into one that`s called a 1A envelope. And later on if you developed material or evidence or testimonial information you would pull that information from that and then write informational or what was called FD-302s, which is the report that an FBI agent would testify from court.
So in our side of the world when it comes to law enforcement especially in the FBI, it`s quite a routine.
WILLIAMS: I have to ask you about Austin, Texas. Because as a citizen, it`s calming to see the pictures we keep showing of all those people arriving and putting on that blue FBI or ATF jacket in many cases because this is terrorism by a different name, four bombings around that community. Isn`t it the danger of having a President diminish law enforcement at the federal level, these men and women we now ask them to go into a dangerous place, calm down an entire metropolitan area, oh, and by the way, could you please find this serial bomber before he or her strikes again?
ANDERSON: Yes, I think it`s a great point, Brian. I think the tweets unfortunately are odd at best and at worst. I think they make bad influences on people that don`t understand what you`re talking about. What people need to understand is that the men and women in the federal law enforcement, state and local law enforcement and really ever since 9/11 happened in this country, there is a huge bond between all those inner agencies operational task forces. And really this is when you see it shine, in times of tragedy like this, what`s going on in Texas, the men and women come together and they`ll find whoever has been doing this. And I really think we need to hear more about that.
WILLIAMS: Robert Anderson, who is been terrific with us and very generous with your time in joining us so early in the morning from our London bureau. Really appreciate it. Thank you.
ANDERSON: Thanks, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, how one American company, a big one at that, managed to lose more than $36 billion in market value just today. We`re back with that after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD PARSCALE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN DIGITAL DIRECTOR: I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win. Twitter is how he talked to the people. Facebook was going to be how he won.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Facebook is how he won?
PARSCALE: I think so. I mean, I think Donald Trump won, but I think Facebook was the method. It was the highway in which his car drove on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That was the Trump campaign Digital Director Brad Parscale appearing on "60 Minutes." He has already been put in charge of the Trump reelection campaign. And we`re learning more about a company that was hired by the Trump campaign. Cambridge Analytica, allegedly harvested the data of millions of Facebook users in the months leading up to the election. And now Facebook is under heavy pressure to provide answers.
Facebook has always maintained it`s just a platform, a massive one at that. The problem for Facebook is they were used by some as a propaganda platform to get Donald Trump elected. And big tech might be looking at some big- time regulations.
We get our report on it tonight from NBC News Business Correspondent Jo Ling Kent.
JO LING KENT, NBC NEWS BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, Facebook stock tanking, dropping nearly 7 percent after allegations that data firm Cambridge Analytica secretly harvested the personal information of 50 million unsuspecting Facebook users.
CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, WHISTLE-BLOWER: They are not just a social network. They are also an information battle space.
KENT: Whistle-blower Christopher Wylie helped us found Cambridge, which later was brought on to help the Trump campaign. The firm hired by Jared Kushner, who oversaw the digital operation, and by Brad Parscale, who is now running the Trump 2020 reelection efforts.
WYLIE: It`s really important that Americans understand what has happened with their data, their private information.
KENT: Starting in 2014, Cambridge Analytica funded a personality test on Facebook and paid people to take it. This allowed the company to gather personal information from participant`s Facebook feeds. But what users didn`t know, the company was also collecting data about their Facebook friends.
The alleged goal, influence the views of the American electorate. In hidden camera video from our British partner ITN Channel 4, a company executive told a reporter posing as a perspective client about the company`s edge in politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s no good fighting an election campaign on the facts, because actually it`s all about emotion.
KENT: Another executive brags about the lengths they will be willing to go for a client.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Girls around to the candidate`s house. We have lots of history of things.
KENT: Tonight, Cambridge Analytica denies misusing Facebook data, and says we entirely refute any allegation that Cambridge Analytica or any of its affiliates used entrapment, bribes or so-called honey traps for any purpose whatsoever.
Facebook, which also owns Instagram, banned Cambridge Analytica from its platform and hired a digital forensics firm to investigate, saying "we remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people`s information." Amid new calls for more regulation of social media companies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re seeing the beginning of the breakup of big tech. Big tech has not been held to the same scrutiny as the rest of corporate America.
KENT: Brian, privacy experts warn that anything you post to Facebook, whether it`s a like, an update, a photo, a video, can be used to target you. It can reveal your location, your political preferences or what you like to shop for. And this has Capitol Hill on alert. What has happened with Cambridge Analytica is drawing more scrutiny.
Now, Senators Klobuchar and Wyden want more answers from the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Brian?
WILLIAMS: NBC News Correspondent Jo Ling Kent reporting for us tonight from our Los Angeles bureau. We`ll take another break. An update on some late news coming up when we continue
WILLIAMS: Just a few last items before we go here tonight. Starting in Pennsylvania, where as you may know one of the most famously gerrymandered political maps in the country is about to get redrawn.
Its final hurdle came today. The case went all the way the Supreme Court, and by declining to hear it. The new map goes into effect. And some have theorized this new map could result in a net gain of anywhere from two to five more Democrats in Congress representing the commonwealth.
The next government shutdown deadline is looming. Our kick the can Congress has passed five spending bills so far this year, all of them just long enough to put off the larger conversation of funding the government. Last one temporarily funds our government only through this coming Friday. This time around, there is an effort to actually fund our government all the way to September. Can you imagine that?
As we mentioned, the bombings continue in Austin, Texas after another blast there last night, the toll thus far two dead, four injured. 350 FBI special agents have arrived in Austin, 500 total working on the case. They believe this is the work of a serial bomber who is now emboldened using a trip wire on this last bombing, the reward for information standing at $100,000.
That`s our broadcast for this Monday as we start of a new week. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Goodnight.
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