11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS March 23, 2018 Guest: Susan Page, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, Tom Hamburger; Michael Beschloss, Sam Zeif, Manuel Oliver
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, a veto threat, a laundry list of complaints, and a hastily called news conference, all in the space of just a few hours, Donald Trump camps up a week of chaos with what one insider saying, has never been this wild.
Plus, one week after being fired from the FBI, Andrew McCabe is speaking out tonight about what he`s calling "Trump`s unhinged attacks." And new from the "Washington Post", the Trump campaign encouraged George Papadopoulos to communicate with Russia. The reporter who broke the story standing by to talk with us here tonight as "The 11th Hour" gets underway.
Well, good evening once again. The night finds us in our NBC News studios here in Washington. Day 428 of the Trump administration. And the President closed out a volatile week nearly up ending a $1.3 trillion government spending bill that his party negotiated, his White House staff praise and that he had supported.
He sent this out via Twitter a few hours ago, "As a matter of National Security I`ve signed the Omnibus Spending Bill. I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. To prevent this omnibus situation from ever happening again, I`m calling on Congress to give me a line-item veto for all government spending bills." More on that later.
The drama begin this morning with this message on Twitter, "I am considering a veto of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats, not even mentioned in bill, and the border wall, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, with capitals, is not fully funded." That was followed by a scramble inside the White House and on the Hill to keep the President from blowing up this deal and triggering another government shutdown.
"Politico" reports say it this way, quote, "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly were key in convincing Trump not to veto the legislation, according to a source familiar with conversations between Congressional leaders and the President.
And "The Washington Post" adds this, "Aides told Trump it would be historic funding, a word that he likes to hear. Trump was given a list of all the planes, submarines and other military equipment the bill would fund, a list the President would rattle off later in his hastily organized appearance in the White House`s Diplomatic Reception Room."
Our NBC News colleague reports Speaker Paul Ryan who yesterday said the President supported the spending bill, also spoke with him by telephone this morning. If you think there was urgency in Ryan`s voice, consider this, he was already home in Wisconsin having started the Congressional Easter break since the big spending bill was done and already in the books.
And while no one is saying what led the President to the edge, you need only look at this segment that preceded the President`s tweet. It aired on the President`s morning show of choice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a swap budget. This is a Mitch McConnell special. This is a dysfunctional Senate.
You know there are things this White House wanted that did get in there, additional ICE funding 10 percent, DHS funding up 12 percent, some infrastructure, opioid funding, Fix NICS. You know, there`s no Dreamers in there. There is a pro-life stuff in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no insurance bill but there`s no wall. I mean, if you can`t -- ultimately, the Democrats control this process and the Senate, that`s why Chuck Schumer was so happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As we said, the President did finally come around but not without listing his grievances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are a lot of things that I am unhappy about in this bill. There are a lot of things that we shouldn`t have had in this bill but we were, in a sense, forced if we want to build on military, we will forced to have. There are some things that we should have in the bill. But I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. I`m not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It`s only hours old.
Not happy with $1.6 billion dollars but it does start the wall and we will make that $1.6 billion go very, very far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The President`s decision to sign the bill didn`t go over well with some members of his own party. And Coulter mocked his comments on Twitter writing, "I will never sign another bill like this again." Yes, she added," because he`ll be impeached."
The President`s veto threat and the near panic that followed ends another, shall we say, rocky week for the White House. We saw him announced his third National Security Adviser shake-up his legal team, yet again on the Russia investigation and attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller by name.
He`s also announced tariffs on imports from China. He has congratulated Putin on winning a rigged election. Amid all of that, the President is facing mounting legal challenges from former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, reality T.V. show contestant, Summer Zervos, and porn star, Stormy Daniels.
Before leaving for Mar-a-Lago, the President was reminded of Miss Daniels` upcoming 60 Minutes interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you watch 60 Minutes on Sunday, Mr. President?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you watch 60 Minutes, Mr. President?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It maybe hard to believe a week ago, tonight, the breaking news we were covering was the firing of Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Tonight, he is speaking out in an op-ed written for the "Washington Post". He says he learned of his dismissal from a friend who saw the news on television.
He also writes, quote, "The next day I woke to find the President of the United States celebrating my punishment, Andrew McCabe fired, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI. A great day for Democracy. I was sad, but not surprised, to see that such unhinged public attacks on me would continue into my life after my service to the FBI."
Let`s get to our lead-off panels on this Friday night, a rare night in Washington for us, featuring two of the very pillars upon which the newspaper of Mrs. Graham and Mr. Bradley currently rest. Is that an overstatement? Ashley Parker, White House Reporter for the "Washington Post", Philip Rucker, White House Bureau Chief for the "Washington Post". We are also so happy to welcome to our broadcast one of the best known and most-widely read journalist in the city, Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for "USA Today".
Susan, we begin with you. You wrote today about, asking the question whether today was a show of rising confidence or a rising sense of peril.
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Or both, because I do think we see the President trusting his instincts, going with his gut, getting rid of people who tell him you can`t do that, you shouldn`t do that, that`s not a smart thing to do, and surrounding himself increasing with this legal team, his economic team, and his national security team, with people who will say, you`re exactly right, trust your gut, do what you think is the right thing to do, live with the consequences.
WILLIAMS: Ashley, does this match the reporting that the President is finding himself more comfortable within the contours of the job that he`s plainly happier? And subsection of that question, what about the staff? What about the folks who work for him?
ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, there`s sort of an inverse correlation, right? So the President finds himself more and more comfortable. His staff finds himself, increasingly less comfortable and dismayed. I mean, it`s true, the President is emboldened. He`s trusting his instincts more and he`s doing what he wants.
I mean, basically this is a President who is always going to do what he wanted but it`s just coming into sharper focus now. And the truth is the staff just does not know what`s going on. For instance, when the President announced that bill ceremony, an hour or so before, the staff didn`t know if the President was coming down there to tear up the bill, to sign it or to do what he actually did, which was graze about it and then ultimately sign it.
And so there`s just no real sense of where this President is going to go and he is sort of making decisions and making policy and hiring and firing and they are scrambling to react to it.
WILLIAMS: And, Phil, think about that, that tableau today, he signed -- his tiny signing desk was there.
PHILIP RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes.
WILLIAMS: It was standing by. We didn`t get the big signature and we didn`t get the moment where he shows it to the class after he signs it. We didn`t get to see him signing it. And in a way it`s kind of a welcome to Washington event.
Think about what he didn`t get. We have a graphic of all the things dear to him that he ran on many of them that he didn`t get in this. No money for the border wall. Sanctuary cities. No thousand new ICE agents.
No cuts to Planned Parenthood. No expanded school choice. No cuts to Pell grants, Head Start. No cuts to EPA. And the Schumer tunnel project, one of the reasons Chuck Schumer, the leading Democrat, was smiling today. New Russia sanctions.
So, is this kind of a welcome to Washington? This is actually how this stuff works?
RUCKER: It sure is. I mean, Donald Trump views the world through winning and losing. And there`s really no way to look at this omnibus bill and conclude that he has won big. Sure, he got some money to start building the wall but it`s not nearly enough to actually construct the thing at the Mexican border and he wants to be able to do that. He wants to cut ribbons.
He wants to have achievements that he can run on. And it`s important, frankly, for the Republican Party to have some of those achievements heading into the midterm elections in November. But he doesn`t have them here today and he is increasingly under seized politically, legally, personally in his own life.
WILLIAMS: What Philip just mentioned, Susan, is the part of this that`s tougher to discuss because at the end of the day, this is a family. We watch them go to Mar-a-Lago today. Coming up 60 Minutes, 7:00 Eastern Sunday night. President is supposed to land a few minutes before the interview airs in Washington.
Mrs. Trump is staying behind in Mar-a-Lago for a pre-planned spring break. She`s going to be down there for the week.
Most people regard the Russia crisis as being the existential to his administration. Some believe this to be just as bad, the starting with these three women, certainly, an enormous distraction.
PAGE: Well, I think history actually indicates that the legal action by these three women, especially by Stormy Daniels, could be more perilous to his presidency. I mean, if you look the example of Bill Clinton that there would be some evidence of that.
Although, I think the thing that is so striking is we have these three women making very disquieting allegations about the President of the United States and that doesn`t seem to be cutting much with his reputation. I mean, it seems to be something does is not make -- doesn`t make the people who like, not like him as much, even evangelical religious leaders are tonight counting the fact that he is trying to reinstitute the transgender ban on the military and not talking about these ugly allegations, these state -- these allegations of such personal misconduct by the President. That, I think is a sign of our times and something maybe we should take a moment to just consider that we are at a place over these scandalous things can be strolling around the President and not having much effect on his reputation in the country.
WILLIAMS: Ashley, as no one needs to remind you, he`s not silent about much. But he has been silent about this.
PARKER: He has. And this is in part is because his White House and his advisers have urged him to be silent about this. And that`s largely allowed them to whenever this question comes up to basically say, the President sort of -- the President has blanket denied all of these allegations and we`re not going to get into it. They don`t have much of a con strategy beyond that.
I will say the President`s advisers and his lawyers, for instance, on the Russia probe had also told him to stay silent on that. That have largely been the case up until recently when, you know, he attacked Robert Mueller in a tweet. He went after Andrew McCabe.
And so there is some concern in the White House of that, again, this newly embolden, newly unchained, newly unleashed President may not stay silent much longer, especially if he watches that interview with Stormy Daniels as we know he will. And hears from friends and doesn`t like the coverage. But that`s what he`s done so far and that`s what they`re hoping he`ll still do.
WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, as we mentioned, he is in Mar-a-Lago right now. What could go wrong in Mar-a-Lago?
RUCKER: A lot can go wrong at Mar-a-Lago. We see it almost every time he goes to Mar-a-Lago. This is his oasis, it`s sort of cocoon where he`s surrounded by club members who is service for policy advice, friends who he goes up to at dinner, at breakfast, on the golf course to get them to back him up and cheer him up.
He works to phone. He stays up watching cable news on his DVR at Mar-a- Lago. And he`s separated from some of the people who work in the West Wing whose jobs are to try to enforce that order and discipline and try to pull him in one direction or another.
At Mar-a-Lago, he`s more of a free spirit and we see it time and again on these weekends where he`ll tweet up a storm on a Saturday morning or Sunday morning, making for announcements, lobbying attacks, and I fully expect we`ll probably see that this weekend especially as the March takes shape here in Washington.
WILLIAMS: That`s exactly where I was going to go. Susan, we have some polling numbers that a lot of people will find striking and it speaks to tomorrow`s gathering. Nineteen percent in a poll commission by your news paper said they don`t feel safe at school, 25% believe a classmate will bring a gun to school. Can you believe that`s where we are in the country where a quarter of the kids in school believe that? Fifteen percent likely there will be a shooting at their school, cut to tomorrow, maybe a half million voices out on them all behind us.
PAGE: Amazing. And we found in the survey that a third of the kids we interviewed, 13-year-olds to 24-years-olds, a third of them said they would participate in the mass protest, they go in personal or they participate via social media. That would be the biggest mass protest we have seen in this country now. Not all of them may show up, but this is extraordinary.
Here`s one more statistic, 80% of the middle school in high school students we interviewed said that they have sat down -- their parents have sat them down and had a conversation about what to do if they face an active shooter at their school.
WILLIAMS: Welcome to 2018 in the United States. I know it`s late and I know it`s Friday night, so I thank you extra especially. And we`ve all got some form of work to do tomorrow to cover this event.
Thank you so much, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, Susan Page.
PAGE: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us on a Friday night, Donald Trump, as we said, heads to Florida but his problems follow along with him as more dogged reporting from the "Washington Post" today reveals new details on the Trump campaigns contact with Russia.
And later, historian, Michael Beschloss, on Trump`s apparent notion that he could be his own chief of staff. We`ll ask our favorite questions around this part, what could go wrong. "The 11th Hour" from Washington just getting started on a Friday night.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. New reporting today gives new insight into the extent that high level members of the Trump campaign encouraged Former Trump`s Adviser, George Papadopoulos, to reach out to foreign government most notably including Russia.
Tom Hamburger, the "Washington Post" reports e-mails turned over to investigators show, "Papadopoulos had more extensive contract with key Trump campaign presidential transition officials than has been publicly acknowledge."
The post cites this example. "When a Russian news agency reached out to George Papadopoulos to request an interview shortly before the 2016 election, the young adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump made sure to seek approval from campaign headquarters. You should do it, Deputy Communications Director Bryan Lanza urged Papadopoulos."
According to the "Post," Papadopoulos also corresponded with top campaign and transition Advisers, Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn. The White House has downplayed the rule of Papadopoulos rather famously.
The President said this about back in October. "Few people knew the young low-level volunteer named George who has already proven to be a liar. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty as part of a deal and lying to the FBI and has been cooperating with the special counsel."
It`s an important conversation to have. We`re going to have it here on Washington. Tonight with us to do that, the aforementioned Tom Hamburger, "Washington Post" National Reporter, our own, Carol Lee, MBC News National Political Reporter and our Friend, Paul Butler, Veteran Former Federal Prosecutor who is these days a professor down the road at Georgetown Law School and an MSNBC Legal Analyst.
Tom, I keep on asking this question of learned writers like you, how far are we from normal? How normal would it be for a Russian to contact a campaign official for that official to seek approval and for a senior to say, "No, go ahead, do that. That`s a good idea."
TOM HAMBURGER, NATIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Brian, it seems as though we`re pretty far from normal at least in the experience that we`ve all had covering and observing other presidents and other administrations in the past.
WILLIAMS: Let me put it in a different way. All of the people`s efforts on the Trump`s side to diminished George Papadopoulos, it appears some days, and especially from your reporting, that where Mueller looks at it, he could be more of a whale in terms of his importance and where he could lead investigators.
HAMBURGER: Well, Brian, when George Papadopoulos, this young 30-year-old, former aid to Donald Trump into the campaign and unpaid adviser, when he was first indicted in, it was confirmed that he was cooperating with Special Prosecutor Mueller, you recall and you just quoted it. The President and his aids and former aids said, "This guy is a nobody. He does not know anything. He`s quiet."
WILLIAMS: Coffee boy.
HAMBURGER: Coffee boy was one of the phrases, yes. Well, the e-mails that we were able to look at, part of this cash of 20,000 or more that it had been turned to investigators, suggest that he was quite a bit more than a coffee boy. He was a person who was arranging appointments with foreign leaders, specifically Donald Trump and the President of Egypt, Mr. el-Sisi.
And he was also making contact with Russians and folks who had contact with Russian foreign ministry and suggesting to candidate Donald Trump and now President Donald Trump that a meeting with Vladimir Putin might be possible.
WILLIAMS: You don`t veer into opinion and your work, and it`s the last thing I`d ask you to do. But does the phrase freelancing fit, what was what we know of his role during the campaign?
WILLIAMS: So there are two ways after he was indicted and it was revealed that he was cooperating with the special counsel. That he was integrated. One is we suggested that he was very low-level. The other is that he was discouraged from this outreach to foreign government, to foreign officials.
And indeed, the e-mails, and there are vast numbers of them, some show that, in fact, there was -- there were times when Papadopoulos was discouraged. But what we found in this new cash that we were looking at for the first time, I read that, it was provided to us or described to us is that, in fact, he sought permission in some cases from the campaign and received a go ahead, a green light to go ahead and speak, for example, about the possibility of stronger, warmer relations with Russia under a President Trump.
WILLIAMS: Just for the benefit of the folks watching tonight, underscore and put a period at the end of this, if you have seen it or if it has been described to you, Mueller already has it.
HAMBURGER: We would think -- so, the documents that we are looking at, these are e-mails that would have been sent back and forth as we describe in tonight`s story that I did with my colleague, Rose Helderman, at "The Post." These were e-mails that George Papadopoulos wrote to the campaign. It would have been received by the campaign server or the Trump org. server. And our understanding is that those e-mails have been turned over to investigators, including the special counsel.
WILLIAMS: Let`s get to our lawyer on this panel because you told one of our producers this could speak to collusion or obstruction in your view, why?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Sure. So, Brian, if you reach out to the Russians to try to help them elect American President, that`s unpatriotic, it`s un-American but it`s not a crime. But we know that George Papadopoulos has already pled guilty to lying about his contact with the Russians.
So, the question is who directed him to lie, why is he lying, and what else do we know? We know that President Trump tweeted out a lie about Papadopoulos` role. He was hardly a coffee boy. He was not a nobody. He was meeting with high-level people like Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn.
And so, this is yet another example of the President creating this false narrative that makes the Special Counsel Mueller think about obstruction of justice. It makes him wonder why is the President trying to cover up something if it`s all innocent?
WILLIAMS: Carol, you had "Lucky Beat" this week of covering the Trump legal team. A lot of activity on that front. DiGenova is in but we`re told not signed. It`s kind of like spring training.
Dowd is definitely out. There are some mixtures of personalities here that don`t make a whole lot of sense on paper. What is the state of play as of tonight, at this time?
CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL REPORTER: As of this very moment, what we believe the state of play is that they are still sorting it out. We may see another subtraction from the team, some more additions to the team. There`s questions about whether diGenova will bring his wife on, if he does, you know, that look like, obviously, there are conflicts of interest because they represent a number of witnesses in the investigation.
There`s reporting that there have been waivers that they are able to take on Donald Trump as a client if they want to. It`s still a little bit influx and they`re saying that it will be finalized in the coming days.
WILLIAMS: Paul, because everything in cable reaches full circle, Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, her husband, have been guests on this network going back years and years and years on a variety of different legal subjects. We`ve got a ton of final tape. But when Carol mentioned Joe diGenova`s wife, you were nodding your head vigorously no. Why is that?
BUTLER: Because it`s textbook example of a conflict of interest. The person they`re representing now is a witness against President Trump. He apparently is talking to or cooperating with Mueller. So Mueller -- the lawyers can at the same time represent someone who may be out to get or who has incriminating information against the President and at the same time representing the President.
So, even if these lawyers are somehow able to co-orders or persuade their perverse client into waiving, a judge is something not going to allow that. Again, it is a textbook example of conflict.
LEE: I think it also underscores the fact that we`ve been having this conversation just how kind of the President just shot from the hips on this and didn`t -- this is work that would normally be done and settled before you would announce that you are bringing somebody on to your legal team, particularly in something as consequential.
BUTLER: That`s right because they haven`t formally been retained.
WILLIAMS: What are you looking for, for next week? Do you have anything that we should know about?
LEE: Well, I don`t know. I mean, I feel like everyday is a week.
HAMBURGER: That`s right.
LEE: And we just have no idea kind of where it`s going. You know, what will be interesting is to see how the in coming national security adviser starts to build a team in the West Wing and how those relationships start to jolt particularly with Secretary Mattis over at the Pentagon.
WILLIAMS: Two veteran reporters and a veteran journalist and our thanks on a Friday night. Thank you. As I said to all of you when you sat down, I know it is late on a Friday and we appreciate it. Tom Hamburger, Carol Lee and Paul Butler, our thanks.
Coming up. It`s one of the few things every President in the modern era has had in common. They`ve all had a chief of staff considered perhaps the toughest and most thankless job in Washington. Does this President believe he can do that job in addition to his day job? We`ll talk about that when we come back.
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STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STRATEGIST: If General Kelly at any time does decide to leave the president, decides that it`s time for him to move on. I don`t believe there`ll be another chief of staff. I think that there`ll be direct -- I think there`ll be five or six direct reports like there was in Trump Tower. I think the President is a very hands-on manager and he feels more comfortable with that, I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: An incredible quote just there, more on that in a minute. The President`s week included a series of unexpected events, a complimentary call with Vladimir Putin announcing consequential tariffs on China and continued staff changes.
As the New York Times wrote just today, quote, "The decisions attested to a president riled up by cable news and increasingly unbound, Mr. Trump appeared heedless of his staff, unconcerned about Washington decorum, confident of his instincts and determined to set the agenda himself, even if that agenda looked like a White House in disarray."
But the claim of Donald Trump becoming comfortable in his role might not actually be a sign of him growing into the job. Rather SNBC News reported, the White House transforming into a board room, either real or television version, "Trump has news to close associates about running the West Wing as he did his business empire, essentially serving as his own chief of staff." Where have we heard of that before? The answer of course Steve Bannon.
We are fortunate to have us with here in Washington tonight, author and presidential historians, Michael Beschloss. Around when did the chief of staff era start, that is to say what president looked at the workflow, the pressures of the job, and said this is way more than I can handle.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIANS: Well, the one we remember most of all is Richard Nixon who was the first one who had someone called the chief of staff by the name of H.R. Haldeman and which did not -- and well, he wound up in prison. But, you know, presidents really going back to FDR have had, you know, one person who really was first among equals.
One of the amazing things in that NBC story that you mentioned, Brian, was I was astounded to hear that they said that Donald Trump has been talking to people and amusing on the fact that LBJ and John Kennedy were their own chiefs of staff. I mean, that`s absolutely crazy. I mean as you know John Kennedy had a very tough World War II hero named Ken O`Donnell who was a militant guard of the door of the Oval Office and Lyndon Johnson had an ex- marine named Marvin Watson who was even tougher. You know, those two presidents would be astounded to hear if that they were acting as their own chiefs of staff.
WILLAIMS: The Massachusetts Irish man for Kennedy and a Texan for Lyndon Johnson as (INAUDIBLE). Can you imagine a functioning West Wing with -- as Bannon said, five or six direct reports, a very loosey goosey style like Trump Tower, a much smaller family business than running the United States.
BESCHLOSS: Is completely chaotic. I mean, to use the Johnson example, you know, look at the summer of 1965, Johnson was simultaneously making, you know, world shattering decisions about Vietnam and civil rights, and to education and Medicare, the great society. You can`t do that with a president deciding who`s going to come into the Oval Office and especially these scenes we`ve heard about, you know, in the early Trump presidency when there was a fairly weak chief of staff, Reince Priebus. But the stories of people flooding in and milling around, and handing the president pieces of paper with, you know, the news from sources, from God knows where.
WILLIAMS: There are two great stories and folklore about Eisenhower. Number one, that he always stepped into his boxer shorts in the morning because he had to ballet holding them out.
WILLIAMS: And number two, that he famously handed a phone to someone in frustration when he became President of Columbia University in New York and said, "It`s making a noise." It was a dial tone. He never had to dial for himself as Supreme Allied Commander.
WILLIAMS: Now, that`s a job with a huge responsibility where he held that, took time off for Academia, then became president of the United States.
BESCHLOSS: Right, yes. And had a little bit of good experience in forming an organization that managed the D-Day invasion that ended pretty well.
WILLIAMS: There was that.
BESCHLOSS: Yes. You didn`t see Eisenhower saying, you know, I am so brilliant and I have had so much experience, I should be my own Chief of Staff. I mean, Kennedy was in the navy, in government for 18 years, Johnson, 32 years. They would never imagine saying, my instincts are so wonderful that I`m just going to sort of follow my own impulses and not have some guy trying to manage this operation.
WILLIAMS: Thank you so much.
BESCHLOSS: My pleasure as always.
WILLIAMS: Great to have you here in Washington.
BESCHLOSS: Wonder to see you. Good to see you. Thank you.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. Michael Beschloss.
Coming up, a preview of the event tomorrow that brings us to the city tonight when "THE 11TH HOUR" continues.
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SAM ZEIF: The amount of impact that he made in everyone`s life was unreal. He`s just the type of kid that can make every single person smile. He was the captain of our basketball team. His father the coach and, you know, a lot of people say, oh, he`s just the captain because his dad the coach.
He was the captain because he`s selected every single person on that team and he knew how to lead us. He knew how to lead us. And my hair has not always been like this, you know? He was practically in love with Frank Ocean and when Frank dropped his album Blonde, and then Joaquin --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rest is history.
ZEIF: Yes, exactly.
WILLIAMS: Because sometimes you have to do what Frank Ocean does? That was Parkland student Sam Zeif remembering his good friend Joaquin who was killed in last month`s shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Before Sam joined us on "THE 11th HOUR" that evening for that interview, he had just hours earlier taken part in that listening session at the White House with the President. Where he made a heartfelt argument that AR-15s, to name a make of weapon, are too easy to be -- to obtain. Tomorrow, Sam will be joined by his classmate and other survivors as they lead the way in more ways than one, in an enormous event that they brought about. "The March Through Our Lives".
Crowd size is always hard to predict but the Associated Press puts it this way tonight, "Organizers are hoping to draw 500,000 protesters. That would match last year`s women`s march and make this one of the largest Washington protest since the Vietnam era."
With us here tonight is our old friend Sam Zeif, a senior at Marjory`s Stoneman Douglas High School and Manuel Oliver, the father of Sam`s close friend, Joaquin who was lost in the shooting, he is also the founder of changetheref.org and as we mentioned, coach of the basketball team.
Welcome to you both. Somebody got accepted to college. That`s very happy to hear your news.
Manuel, you have chosen to remember your son and everyone watching joins me and offering our condolences.
MANUEL OLIVER, FATHER OF A PARKLAND VICTIM: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: I`m sorry you had to relive as much of it as you do, but you`ve chosen to remember your son in a unique way and we have pictures of your work I`d like you to talk about.
WILLIAMS: Hang on. Somewhere we`re going to show your mural. There it is. Tell us about this.
OLIVER: Wow. This is me being myself, OK? I`m an artist. That`s what I do for a living. And after getting through this very difficult part of our lives, I found a way to express myself, but also to give a voice to Joaquin. That`s Joaquin talking through me, through the art. And somehow it great to a lot of people without even planning it, I mean, I made a lot of paintings for my life but I never had to paint my son onto this sort of sense. So it`s not easy at all.
But it`s impactful and I think it is making people think of many things and it`s a strong message directly from Joaquin.
WILLIAMS: So using you as the medium --
WILLIAMS: -- it reached an enormous audience and it is impactful, it`s shocking to look at.
OLIVER: Right. And not only that I feel very bad of what I was painting. Today I feel very good that we were able to send a message through art. And somehow became myself, you know, in an organic way.
Now we`re going to make another one, and then another one, and we`re going to paint as many walls as Joaquin demands me to paint. And it`s good that I enjoy painting. It`s a nice consequence, right, that`s he wants to send a message and he can use me for that.
WILLIAMS: And you`re the one who was born with the talent to be able to do that. As for you, what is your school feel like? How does your life feel like? And what are you thoughts about going into tomorrow?
ZEIF: Well, at school we still don`t feel safe. All in one day we had two kids bringing in weapons, an officer feel asleep guarding the same building that was shot. They brought in a police watchtower like at concerts, so it really feels like a prison.
And it`s -- we just don`t feel safe. The clear backpack measure is unreal. The same weapon that was brought into school that day, you can easily fit into a folder inside a clear backpack. I think we need metal detectors, perimeter watch. We need way more than just clear backpacks. That`s not where our money should be going towards.
WILLIAMS: That is not right. Has the president disappointed you? Are you disappointed that he flew to Florida, won`t be here to hear the voices tomorrow.
ZEIF: Well, I mean, I guess it was one of those regular golfing trips. And obviously, I`m disappointed but I was already disappointed in him. What the state our countries in and the lack of effort that he`s made to fix it. And I heard that his new slogan will be "Keep America Great Again", what has he done honestly? And I guess that`s a rhetorical question for everyone to answer in their own way. But --
OLIVER: Is he still saying that?
ZEIF: That`s his new slogan for 2020.
WILLIAMS: He`s potential re-election slogan. He tried that out a few days ago and he said, perhaps we`ll call it "Keep America Great."
Manuel, you realize that tomorrow`s march in way is an accusation that you have failed and I have failed, and everyone our age, and everyone in responsibility. And that it`s time to let them have a shot of this issue.
OLIVER: Oh, yes?
WILLIAMS: OK. With that because they are the ones stepping up for this responsibilities saying this is intolerable.
OLIVER: Yes. And not only, I mean, I`m 100 percent and they are not the only ones. You know, I can tell you I`m with them and I`m one of them. I may be a little older or way older but I`m right there. And that brings us back to Joaquin`s voice. What are all their parents doing right now? Are they going to watch the march on TV? You can`t do that.
So, so it`s our fault but we don`t march? We`ll going to let them fix it? No. That`s not the way it works. And one of the reasons that I like to be here tonight in your show is that I`m with, not only in my son`s best friend but also someone that I trust as a leader, all right? But, I also support. And now that I`ve evolved that weight over his shoulder, hey, go ahead, but fix what we weren`t able to fix.
WILLIAMS: We`re both kind of physically leaning on you. In a way, everyone will be tomorrow because you guys have looked at this thing like lead, follow or get out of the way.
WILLIAMS: Mostly tomorrow is about all three of those on your part.
ZEIF: Exactly. That`s the thing. Lead, follow or get out of the way. We as Americans have been paying taxes out of my paychecks since I was 15 years old. And we are the employers. They are the employees. So, we`re not asking for everything.
In the words of my late best friend, we are demanding a change and those are the words you said to him. We are demanding.
WILLIAMS: On behalf of everybody watching tonight. Thank you, it is great to see you.
OLIVER: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: And it`s great to see you holding up, sir, it`s an honor. And I am sorry for your loss.
OLIVER: Thank you. Thank you.
WILLIAM S: Thank you very much. Sam Zeif, Manuel Oliver, our thanks.
Coming up as we await this historic event to take place here in the nation`s capital in a matter of hours, really. We`re reminded of another consequential march that took place in the city over half a century ago led by a young charismatic minister, a new documentary traces his movement to the young activist of today, one of whom who is in this room when "THE 11TH HOUR" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELANEY TARR, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Everyone needs to listen to us and we need to be heard not -- doesn`t need to be half less and just be told that we`re being listen to. We need to actually see them taking our statements into consideration and to actually do something about it because we`re not going away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And yes the students are incredible. And tomorrow, as we`ve said, half a million, thereabouts, expected to join the students from Parkland, Florida as they march to demand and end to gun violence. This network will be on the air with day-long live coverage from here in Washington.
I`ll be with you during the hours of noon to 3 p.m. Eastern Time.
And then 50 years after the assassination of the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a new documentary "Hope and Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media" explores how social movements and the news media have influenced each other from the civil rights movement through today. Here`s a sneak preview.
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DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR, BAPTIST MINISTER: You are God`s children. We`re not going to let anybody turn us around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the reasons why Martin Luther King was so successful was he understood television. We deliberately had demonstrations before 12:00 in order to get the film to New York. They had to leave by 1.
KING: We cannot in all good conscience obey such an injunction.
JOSEPH BOYCE: Dr. King and their staff were very, very savvy. They knew exactly what was going on.
KING: You want me to just make a statement and not interview. You don`t want the interview?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they strategized how they could use their coverage to their advantage.
KING: We must be willing to fill up the jails all over the state of Georgia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s nobody that could make an hour-long speech any better than him. But for the 6:00 news, you had to get your message across. It had to be 30 seconds or less.
KING: The time is always right to do right and we cannot wait. We cannot continue to accept these conditions of oppression.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: King would dramatize and force the media to deal with the issue. I`ve got to grab your attention without losing your interest and respect, and King mastered that.
WILLIAMS: It`s a brand new documentary. It airs tomorrow evening, 8:00 P.M., 7:00 Central on your local NBC station.
Coming up for us, was it the week that was or was it just this week? When we continue.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we leave you in Washington tonight, bears repeating. This was a particularly tumultuous week. President Trump parted ways with his second national security adviser in 14 months and his lead lawyer on the Russia investigation. It was the week he mentioned Mueller by name on social media, something his lawyers had warned him not to do.
Among other things, he called the Russia investigation," A total witch hunt with massive conflicts of interest."
Yesterday, he got into it with Joe Biden, who to be fair, has said more than once he`d like to fight the President, take him out back sort of thing. The President channeled Ali (ph) a little bit when he said the former VP, "Would go down fast and hard crying all the way."
Then today, Trump surprised both Republicans and Democrats by threatening on Twitter to veto that huge Congressional spending bill before signing it hours later. It was a lot. And among the more indelible and difficult to explain moments, the President congratulating Putin on his victory in a sham election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory.
Politics is nasty. I used to say the toughest people are real estate developers in New York City. And now I say you guys are babies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, would you still like to testify before Special Counsel Robert Mueller, sir?
TRUMP: Thank you, sure. I would like to. I would like to.
I may ask Marilyn Lockheed, the leading woman`s business executive in this country according to many.
The word that I want to use is reciprocal. The word is reciprocal. That`s the word I want everyone to remember. We want reciprocal. I say to Congress I will never sign another bill like this again. I`m not going to do it again. Nobody read it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What advice would you give to the 25-year-old Donald Trump knowing what you know today?
TRUMP: Don`t run for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: All of that from this past week, the week that was until that is. We have another one just like it next week.
That is our broadcast for this Friday night. I`ll see you from noon until 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow. Thank you so very much for being with us. Have a good weekend and goodnight from NBC News here in Washington.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END