Ethics scandals plague Trump WH. TRANSCRIPT: 03/30/2018. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Guests: Matt Apuzzo, Tamara Keith, Matthew Nussbaum, Indira Lackshmanan, Jonathan Allen, Barry McCaffrey, Sue Mi Terry, Steve Kornacki

11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS March 30, 2018 Guest: Matt Apuzzo, Tamara Keith, Matthew Nussbaum, Indira Lackshmanan, Jonathan Allen, Barry McCaffrey, Sue Mi Terry, Steve Kornacki

BRIAN WILLIAMS, HOST, 11th HOUR: Tonight, the Mueller team strikes in a scene out of a movie. A man gets off a plane at Boston`s Logan Airport, he is quickly surrounded and detained by the Feds, questioned by the FBI about what he knows and then served a subpoena to come talk to the Special Counsel.

Plus, with the President in Florida tonight, more trouble back in Washington. Bad news for members of the cabinet after a week of still more White House departures. And fascinating new numbers are out, and you might be surprised to learn what kind of Americans came out last weekend to march and demonstrate against gun violence.

Steve Kornacki will break it down for us as "The 11th Hour" gets under way on a Friday night.

We`re almost there and good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York on a Friday night. Day 435 of the Trump Administration, and as another week comes to an end, there is a new figure at the center of the latest development tonight in the Russia matter.

Our NBC News investigative unit reports earlier this week Mueller`s investigators detained, questioned and then served a subpoena to a Trump ally named Ted Malloch when he arrived at Boston`s Logan Airport from his home in England.

Malloch is an American, he is a Trump ally and former adviser who has just finished a book called "The Plot To Destroy Trump: How the deep state fabricated the Russian dossier to subvert the president." He is also a Brexit supporter with ties to the British leader of that movement, Nigel Farage.

In 2016, just days after the election, Malloch spoke with the BBC about Donald Trump.

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THEODORE ROOSEVELT MALLOCH IS AN AMERICAN AUTHOR, CONSULTANT, AND TELEVISION PRODUCER: I`ve been involved in the campaign for over a year and a half. I think the media gets Trump wrong almost constantly.

So, I think when it`s all said and done, if we`re sitting here eight years from now, the world would have been a safer and a better place. The economy would have grown, and we would have rebuilt American infrastructure. That`s what Trump will be doing.

I mean, I think that there will be a very interesting relationship between Russia and the United States now, between Putin and Trump as powerful world leaders. Whether it`s a bromance, I think it should be decided, but I think that will be a much healthier situation.

(VIDEOCLIP BEGINS)

WILLIAMS: Well, he got part of that right. It`s an interesting relationship, at least, fast forward to his encounter this week at Logan up in Boston with the FBI.

According to a statement that Malloch e-mailed to NBC news, we`ll quote here, "Two FBI agents told him he was being detained to answer questions related to the special counsel`s investigation. He said they told him it was a felony to lie to the FBI and he told them he would gladly cooperate." According to Malloch, the agents produced a document allowing them to seize and search his cellphone." Malloch added quote, "The questions got more detailed about my involvement in the Trump campaign which was informal and unpaid, whom I communicated with, whom I knew and how well."

Malloch said, they asked him about former Trump campaign adviser, Roger Stone, author Jerome Corsi and WikiLeaks.

Malloch said he told them he met with stone a total of three times and always with groups of people. He said he was asked if he had ever visited the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange has been living since 2012 and he replied, "no."

Malloch also said, the agent served him a subpoena from Mueller`s team that had been issued that day, March 28th, to appear for questioning on April 13th.

Earlier on this network, former federal prosecutor, Harry Litman put this latest development into context.

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HARRY LITMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It`s this breathless kind of new development that shows you know, Mueller is not thinking about the red line, the blue line the yellow line. He`s just thinking about the finish line and plumbing the depths of everything that is involved here, I`m sure to Trump`s great chagrin. We`re back in Tom Clancy territory with a very rich complicated bruise centering around the 2016 release of the WikiLeaks documents.

(VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

WILLIAMS: And just to recap here on a Friday night, what we`ve learned on the Russia front as we closeout another week, it was reported that John Dowd, President Trump`s former lead lawyer in this Russia case spoke last summer with lawyers for Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort about the possibility of presidential pardons.

We learned from a court filing, one time Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates was in contact during the `16 campaign with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, and it is being reported that Mueller is asking questions about contacts between the Trump team and Russians, out of all places, the Cleveland 2016 Republican national convention.

And the President`s legal team got smaller this week, just as it was about to get larger by two. Attorneys Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing backed out after saying they would represent the President.

In exiting, they cited conflicts as the reason. The two are also representing an important witness in the Mueller investigation, former spokesman for Trump`s legal team named Mark Corallo. It`s a lot and for more, we turn to our lead off panel on a Friday night, Matt Apuzzo, a Pulitzer Prize winner and "New York Times" reporter, and MSNBC contributor; Tamara Keith, White House correspondent for NPR; Matthew Nussbaum, White House reporter for POLITICO.

Well, good evening and welcome all three of you. Matt Apuzzo, it`s a hell of a thing, I am tempted to say on Holy Week, the terrible swift sword of the federal government when Feds act, when you witness it, it is striking to watch. I can`t imagine what it`s like to be the guy surrounded at Logan, your phone is taken. What it`s like to be the folks in that concourse that watched this go down, but it`s never uninteresting around the Mueller investigation.

MATT APUZZO, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, that`s right and the power of the federal government is very much on display here. Look, I think what all these developments, this week show, at least for me is that the question of collusion or conspiracy or whatever we want to call it is still very much in play as far as Bob Mueller is concerned.

I mean, he`s asking about essentially contacts between or potential contacts between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which obviously we know was the vehicle that was used to disseminate those hacked e-mails related to the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The fact he`s asking about that still, I mean, we`re going on one year in. It tells me he has absolutely not foreclosed the idea of collusion or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence operatives.

So, that is very much a live issue, even as Republicans on Capitol Hill are saying, it`s over and done with, no, we`ve got no evidence of collusion. He is asking questions, and let`s not forget Roger Stone, that Trump adviser -- campaign adviser, we know he was in contact with the Twitter account that say run by Guccifer 2.0 which was a front for Russian intelligence operatives to disseminate hacked e-mails.

So, this is alive. The question of collusion is still very much alive.

WILLIAMS: And Tamara, as is the case with film directors, I don`t imagine Mueller is going in order. I think he`s shooting out of sequence and when you think about it, Papadopoulos, Flynn, Gates cooperating, this tangent brings us back to the campaign era along with some other developments this week.

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yes. So, we`re back in the campaign, and you know, if they are in fact asking about Julian Assange, that does go back to that intelligence assessment that came out more than a year ago that said, you know, WikiLeaks was, you know, a venue to get these hacked e-mails out to the public via Russia, and so as Matt said, this is a live issue. This is ongoing, and I think the challenging thing with any one witness that you learn about or any of these little pieces is that we don`t see the whole picture.

And Mueller`s team does, and we don`t, and so it can be hazardous to read too much into any one data point along the way.

WILLIAMS: And Tamara, as you and I have discussed, we see actually so little, and everyone who`s had any contact with Mueller on either side of the ball comes away saying he has everything, they have everything.

KEITH: Yes.

WILLIAMS: All right. Matthew Nussbaum, we keep reading these accounts that the President is more comfortable in the job, but this White House now, the President is in Florida, what could go wrong? The White House is functioning without a comms director, with a, let`s say, if press accounts are correct, a diminished chiefs of staff. Where is strategy going to emerge?

MATTHEW NUSSBAUM, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: I think that`s really hard to say. I think they were happy just to make it to this weekend, this holiday weekend, the President and the Vice President are both out of town on vacation, and like you said what we`re seeing from a lot of these staffing moves is that President Donald Trump is feeling a lot more comfortable to put together the team he wants.

I think he`s feeling a little bit emboldened and the main thing to watch, I think, within the White House has been the departure of Hope Hicks. She was someone who was seen as someone that could talk to the President, had a relationship with him that almost no one else had and could sort of tamp down some of these more reckless impulses and tendencies that he had and there`s real concern in the White House that with her departure, he might be even more off message than we have seen in the past.

Go ahead and couple that with John Dowd leaving, someone who had urged cooperation with the Mueller team, and I think you see a President who is more and more emboldened to maybe push back publicly on this investigation, which everyone else in the White House knows is not a good move.

WILLIAMS: And Matt Apuzzo, let`s double down on your first answer and because your paper gave us the story of the potential pardons, and we repeat it`s not illegal to mention pardons on the President`s behalf. It being the most awesome exercise of presidential power. It`s illegal to dangle them as a potential use for lessening damage or softening a case. What was the most in your view, consequential single thing we learned this week, Matt?

APUZZO: You know, these weeks all run together. I mean, John Dowd quit and I was like -- oh, what month was that thing that that happened?

Look, I think the story that my colleagues broke about the dangling of a pardon is important because the White House has consistently said, "We`re not talking about pardons. It`s not on the table."

And Manafort and Flynn, these guys don`t have anything to give that`s harmful to the President. And so, the very fact that the President`s lawyer is dangling this even if he was just doing this on his own, shows that there`s at least some consideration going on, or there was some consideration going on about what is our exposure here and what do these former senior advisers have to tell Bob Mueller, and is there a way to get ahead of that?

And whether that`s illegal, whether that`s part of an obstruction case, I mean, who knows at this point? But it certainly goes to the consideration that`s going on inside the Trump team.

WILLIAMS: Tamara, we`re led to believe they are still looking for lawyers. Imagine how difficult it would be to join at this point. Say nothing of the client, but this is a mature apparently, leading to the final stages case. There`s so much catch-up work to do. The previous point, Mueller`s already seen everything, so you`re running behind by nature.

Question to you is, are Messer, Sekulow and Cobb enough to lead this effort?

KEITH: No. I mean, basically Robert Mueller`s team are killers. I think that`s what Steve Bannon called them. They are some of the best prosecutors that you can find in this country. They`ve been involved in everything from Watergate to Enron. And in Jay Sekulow, you have someone who is best. He`s argued a bunch of cases before the Supreme Court.

He`s best known for arguing on religious liberty, not white collar defense. He does have some people working under him who we don`t hear that much about, who aren`t the big names, but who have been working on this case, and the thing with Ty Cobb in the White House, I don`t think he sees himself as the President`s lawyer.

I think he sees himself more as a lawyer for the institution of the Presidency and for the White House and he sees his job more as facilitating a relationship with the office of the special counsel more than being part of the President`s defense team.

WILLIAMS: Matt Apuzzo, you were agreeing with that.

APUZZO: Yes, no, that`s right, and I mean, I actually think that Ty Cobb, who as Tamara said is absolutely, he is a White House lawyer, he does not represent the President here personally. I actually think that Cobb and Sekulow could probably get through this next stage where the President has to interview with Bob Mueller or has to negotiate some sort of interview with Mueller.

The question is, who is going to do the lawyering at the next stage? With whatever comes out of this investigation, whether it`s some sort of referrals, whether it`s something further where Mueller wants to do more in terms of the President personally or other White House aides, who`s going to litigate that?

And that`s kind of where you need both a constitutional lawyer and criminal lawyer and that`s why they have been looking around for the lawyers because whatever comes next, they`re going to need another lawyer.

WILLIAMS: So, Matthew Nussbaum, again to set the scene, the President is in Florida. We know not who he is going to see, talk to, what he is going to say on Twitter. It could be something explosive, it could be radio silence. He gets back to Washington Sunday night. How is the Trump agenda supposed to get pushed forward on Monday with the staff anxiety over potentially more departures? What can you speak about the inside mood in this place you cover every day?

NUSSBAUM: Well, I think there`s a lot of concern like you said about more staff turnover with these controversies at the Cabinet level. People aren`t really sure who`s going to go next. There`s really no legislative agenda to speak of. There are these confirmation fights that are going to be happening in the Senate, but I think the main thing is seeing how Trump now operates that to some degree, he`s a little bit unchained now with both Hope gone and feeling more confident, and like he`s fit for the job and he`s ready in the job.

I think seeing how he acts with a little less of a filter is very much on the mind of everyone in the White House, and the fact that he`s had any filter so far is probably surprising to a lot of your viewers, but that is what Hope Hicks was for him.

WILLIAMS: Matt Apuzzo, what`s the one question you`d like to lob to Sarah Huckabee-Sanders during the next briefing that you`d actually like answered?

APUZZO: That`s a tough one. You put me on the spot. I mean, look the problem is that, I`ll be honest with you, Brian, we just haven`t been able to consistently rely on answers from the White House and that`s what has been really frustrating.

You know, you get denials like when it was reported that the President was preparing to fire the Secretary of State and there`s outright denials, that`s absolutely not happening and he does it and the President turns around says, "Oh, as you all know, I have been considering that for a long time."

So, at least for me, covering this investigation, I haven`t really relied on the official podium statements. I know that`s been a frustration for both my colleagues at "The Times" and probably for just about every other journalist in the city.

WILLIAMS: And Tamara, I know two estimates, number crunchers, amateurs both who have done the study that a major figure departs every nine days in this administration. That is just an incredible rate of change.

KEITH: Yes, we have had about one a week for the last five weeks of really major big name departures, Cabinet level, top level staff. It is a remarkable rate of change in the highest echelons of White House staff, 48 percent have already departed that`s according to Perkens (ph) numbers and that is double for -- the double the rate of departures that happened in President Obama`s full first two years, and we`re at 14 months.

WILLIAMS: On this Friday night, our thanks go out to Matt Apuzzo, to Tamara Keith, to Matthew Nussbaum. Really appreciate you guys showing up to help us out with our lead off conversation tonight.

And coming up for us, as March closes out, a look at the volume of departures that we were just talking about from this White House and the deeper meaning for the President and actually for our country.

On this night, when there are new headaches for Donald Trump when it comes to his Cabinet back home.

And then later, the Korean peninsula learning curve for President Trump as he prepares to sit down with the dictator of the north. "The 11th Hour" is just getting started on a Friday night.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the best people. I know the best managers. I know the best deal makers. I know people that will make us so -- I know guys that are so good.

I know the best people.

We`ve got the best people.

I have the best people.

So, we`re going to get the best people.

(VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

WILLIAMS: Despite those mentions as you may have heard of the best people, thus far in just the month of March, we have witnessed the departure of six administration officials including the Secretary of State, National Security Adviser, comms director and the White House turnover continues.

New reporting tonight from "The Washington Post" sheds new light on the huge number of open positions in this administration that just haven`t been filled. According to "The Post," 387 of Trump`s appointees have been confirmed. Compare that to 548 of the Obama folks, 615 by the George W. Bush by this time in their administrations.

The responsibility for filling these positions falls largely on something called the presidential personnel office, but according to the "The Post" the, "Obscure White House office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees has suffered from inexperience and a shortage of staff, hobbling the Trump administration`s efforts to place key -- to place qualified people in key posts across governments documents and interviews show."

The article describes the office as, "something of a social hub where young staffers from throughout the administration stop by to hang out on couches and smoke electronic cigarettes. It describes a night in January when they played a drinking game in the office called icing to celebrate the deputy director`s 30th birthday." "Icing," outside of the world of hokey, "involves hiding a bottle of Smirnoff Ice," a flavored malt liquor, as they described it in the newspaper world, "and demanding that the person who discovers it," in this case the deputy director, "guzzles it."

Earlier on this network, Steve Schmidt, the Republican political strategist and veteran to the Bush White House and the McCain presidential campaign characterized the chaos in this White House in his own unique way during an appearance with Nicolle Wallace.

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STEVE SCHMIDT, AMERICAN COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS STRATEGIST: From a personnel perspective, we`ve never quite seen the assemblage of crooks, just outright weirdos, wife beaters, drunk drivers, complete and total incompetence that`s been assembled. If you took the ten greatest HR managers in the history of the world, put them together and said, "We want to form a 1927 Yankees of incompetence," it`s not possible they would have done a better job.

(VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

WILLIAMS: The gentleman does have a way with words, doesn`t he? Here to take about it all, Indira Lackshmanan, columnist for the "Boston Globe," sharer of journalist ethics at the Poynter Institute and Jonathan Allen, NBC News national political reporter, a veteran journalist himself and co- author of the book on the Hillary campaign, so Jonathan, these are not the headlines you want and just a reminder to all, Steve Schmidt is a Republican.

JONATHAN ALLEN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NBC NEWS: Absolutely, I mean, the transformation in what you hear from Steve Schmidt has been incredible, but the things is, like Steve is still a Republican. He still has the Republican values.

I think what we have seen in this White House is really -- it`s something we`ve never seen before, the tumult. You go back in history and you think about you have Nixon firing Halderman in April of 1973, that`s a huge moment.

You think about the Saturday night massacre at the Justice Department a few months after that. Every week in the Trump administration is like the Saturday night massacre. And so, he no longer has -- I mean, he said he had the best people. They`re all gone now.

So, what are they being placed by? The answer according to "The Washington Post" is in a lot of cases, nothing. There`s a lot of open space there. It`s not helpful for their policy, it`s certainly not helpful for the stability of the government and certainly not helpful for the way the United States appears overseas.

WILLIAMS: Indira, I first got to walk through the West Wing as a very lucky intern the late `70s and I got to do it many, many times and years since covering the place and visiting the place.

The absence of noise is so striking. There`s an intentional quiet and softness in the West Wing and the solemnity and solitude. Having said that, is this West Wing in your time and observation that much different from all the others?

INDIRA LACKSHMANAN, COLUMNIST, BOSTON GLOBE: Well, okay, first of all, I want to make the point, Brian, that I really appreciate that you have assembled the best people tonight to talk to you about this subject.

ALLEN: There you go.

LACKSHMANAN: So, thank you for that, but I will say in the Eisenhower office building where these drinking games that you described and the vaping were taking place with these 20-year-olds, some of whom you know, two senior officials who seem to have gotten there by -- according to this "Washington Post" investigation, it looks like clear out nepotism.

One is college dropout with DUI convictions and passing a bad check. Another one is a former Marine who`s had all sorts of convictions for assaults. So, you have to wonder about who are the people that they`re putting in charge of looking for important government employees.

Let`s not forget that what is the root of all this? The root is that President Trump when he was still a candidate put Chris Christie, the then governor of New Jersey in charge of his transition. And just a couple of days after Donald Trump was elected, he booted Chris Christie. That should have been a real signal to us of what was to come if his head of transition was booted just you know, a couple of days after the election.

And so, you can`t just put together a transition team like this overnight, and you know, what you`re talking about is not only the most departures in the first year of an administration that we have seen in 40 years, but it is also the failure to even name people to new posts.

So, not only do we have Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State; Gary Cohn, top economic advisor; David Shulkin, Veterans Affairs. I mean, H.R. McMaster, National Security Adviser. The list goes on and on of all these people leaving, but we don`t have the Trump administration even putting forward yet at this point, more than a year in putting the name of a new South Korea Ambassador and we are about to go into these talks with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator and we don`t even have a nomination for a US Ambassador to South Korea.

So, some of these is just self-inflicted wounds. You know, this is his own goals, Brian, where they could be nominating people to these posts, and they don`t seem to have the infrastructure in order to do that and to make good calls and decisions.

WILLIAMS: I will add to what Indira just said, Chris Christie on this broadcast told the story of his departure. He handed over the structure and due diligence they had done, the work they had done towards the transition, and in his view they went in a different direction when he left.

Hey, Jonathan, I`m going to read you a quote from "The Washington Post" about the EPA administrator, Mr. Pruitt. "Scott Pruitt`s unusual housing arrangement during much of last year," they talk about it in detail, "he paid a lobbyist a modest sum each night for staying in a Capitol Hill condo she co-owned. It has generated a new round of scrutiny about the financial decisions of the Environmental Protection Agency administrator."

Speaking of protection, Scott Pruitt has been in the news for the security detail and the extraordinary arrangements he has around him including but not limited to his desire to sit in the pointy end of the airplane where the seats are wider.

ALLEN: At least he`s not icing anyone that we know of.

WILLIAMS: There you go. No icing.

ALLEN: But look, I mean, this has been a problem for any number of the White House officials, the Cabinet department officials. This short of -- this self-dealing, this comfort with the old ways of Washington that President Trump said that he was going to cleanup. He said he was going to drain the swamp to the extent that it`s been drained, we`re just seeing the crocodiles and alligators in there in the White House.

Really, I live on Capitol Hill, a $1,500.00 a month apartment is not a bad price, but the arrangement that he has with this lobbyist where he only pays him on the nights that he stays there, I would love to have that for my bank you know, with my mortgage. Only the nights I stay there do I have to pay the mortgage and the rest of it just kind of goes by the wayside.

This is a sweetheart deal. It smacks to the kind of corruption that the President said he was going to clean up, but I think it`s going to be a problem for Pruitt going forward. I cannot imagine the White House is happy to hear about this, and I imagine we will hear more about, not only this but other Cabinet officials with sort of self-dealing and being too tight with those who seek influence with them.

WILLIAMS: And Jonathan reminds me, Indira the promise to drain the swamp, Trump has talked about the phrase, it was not his. He took credit for it once, and then took it back and said it was given to him and he didn`t like it, but then he said it at an event and the crowd went wild and he kept saying it, but that was a promise made to his base.

LACKSHMANAN: I`m so glad you brought that up, Brian because drain the swamp is something that Donald Trump has owned and not only is he not draining the swamp, we see again and again, self-dealing is the perfect word. That could be like the subheading of the Trump administration, self- dealing.

And you know, it`s not only -- you know, the White House has tried to defend Scott Pruitt`s apartment by saying, "Oh, this is friend and the friend is giving him a discount, and there is no problem with that." This is lobbyist. You know, if this is some fantastic family friend, so close, you would be living with them for free.

The fact that this is a lobbyist giving this discounted deal, it smacks up and let`s not forget, I am an ethics person too. It is conflict of interest. It is also about the perception of conflict of interest and a deal like this makes you wonder what is a Cabinet secretary offering in exchange for this, either now or in future implied special sweetheart deals.

You know, there is a lot of interesting investigations that have just come out today. POLITICO did a big investigation as well and you know, one of the things we`ve seen is this, for example, Ryan Zinke, speaking of self- dealing, you know, concerns about people at the Interior Department about being asked to share information ahead of time, market valuable information about US oil reserves and refusing to do that.

I mean, it is really troubling, and if Donald Trump wanted to drain the swamp, he has not shown any one iota of evidence of doing that so far; in fact, quite the contrary, bringing in people, smacking of nepotism and self-dealing.

WILLIAMS: Indira Lackshmanan and Jon Allen, as we`ve established, they are the best people to have this conversation on a Good Friday night. Thank you both so much.

LACKSHMANAN: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Always great to have you on.

Coming up for us, what was President Trump talking about when he talked about North and South Korea to a union audience in Ohio this week? And later, some fascinating new numbers are out about the kinds of people who came out to protest gun violence a week ago tomorrow in DC and in so many other locations.

Steve Kornacki will have the numbers at the big board. It`s a big enough story to warrant that. "The 11th Hour" back after this.

Lots of news on North Korea to catch you up on. First, we had Kim Jong-un took his big green bulletproof train to China. Then we had news that the north and south are going to meet. Then today we saw tough new sanctions announced against North Korea at the UN by Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Meanwhile as planning continues for his own meeting with Kim Jong-un, President Trump said some things in his speech in Ohio yesterday about the north and the south that no one in power seems to understand. No one seems to know what he was talking about here.

As you listen to this remember, North Korea has a broken, rogue dictatorship, South Korea is our ally.

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TRUMP: Just this week, we secured a wonderful deal with South Korea. And I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea. Does everybody understand that? Do you know why, right? Do you know why? Because it`s a very strong card, and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly and we`re moving along very nicely with North Korea. We`ll see what happens.

(VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

WILLIAMS: With us tonight, retired four-star US Army General Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, former battlefield commander in the Persian Gulf and MSNBC military analyst with expensive knowledge of the Korean peninsula, and Sue Mi Terry is also back with us, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Importantly, she is a former senior analyst at CIA and was in charge of this region while on the White House National Security Council.

General, what was the President talking about there?

BARRY MCCAFFREY, RETIRED FOUR-STAR US ARMY GENERAL: Well, it was hard to follow that. Look, at the end of the day the South Koreans, you know, I remember an ambassador giving a tutorial for a bunch of us, the South Koreans are our friends. They are a democracy. They`re one of the most advanced economies on the world. They`re in great peril from a brutal, cruel regime now armed with nuclear weapons and other allies in the region, Japanese, Australians and others are equally terrified of the road ahead. That`s what we`re trying to solve.

WILLIAMS: Sue, is it a particular challenge dealing with a President with no institutional history, readily admits he`s not been boning up on the history of the presidency, of world matters prior to this job. If someone tosses off a mention of Lloyd Booker and the Pueblo during their talks, he is not likely to get that reference.

SUE MI TERRY, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES : You`re absolutely right, and I think this is real problem. And this speech you just mentioned, we can`t make any sense of this.

I mean is he getting South Korea, our ally and North Korea our adversary confused? Why is he putting even the trade issues with our ally with the security issues, linking it together?

You know, at a critical time like this, when we are trying to get all hands on deck trying to solve North Korean crisis, we need to have close coordination with our ally, South Korea. So, to cause animosity with our ally in a key moment like this, I just can`t make sense of it, Brian.

WILLIAMS: So, what do you make of the train trip to China? Here`s a guy who was educated in Europe, but since he`s been leader, he has not left his own country, but for this trip by his big green bulletproof train?

TERRY: You know, this is significant. I mean, it is the first time that he has -- Kim Jong-un is meeting with a foreign leader. I think this is all part of the charm offensive phase that he is on, starting with the New Year`s editorial address and then the whole Olympic outreach to South Korea, sending his whole North Korean delegation to the Olympics and now meeting with Xi Jinping and I understand he`s also going to meet with Putin and even potentially Abe, Prime Minister Abe of Japan.

So, this is all an effort to really bring, I think international pressure against the Kim regime. So, it really makes sense from Kim Jong-un`s perspective to go to China and meet with Xi Jinping. China is after all, North Korea`s still patron, ally, security partner and so on.

And of course, Xi Jinping does not want to be side lined either. China wants to makes sure that its interest is protected, so it makes sense from Xi Jinping`s perspective and Kim Jong-un`s perspective to have this meeting.

WILLIAMS: General, if you were in charge of all US military personnel, Pacific, meaning you know, Japan, South Korea and the like, what would your goal be? How would you be watching all of this differently other than wanting all of your men and women to get home alive?

MCCAFFREY: Well, I do think there`s a commitment, certainly on the part of Secretary Mattis and the Pentagon to dialogue, to trying a diplomatic, economic covert action in lieu of threatening little rocket man with potential nuclear attacks.

So, I think the notion of talking to the North Koreans is a sound one. The South Koreans are relieved. They were worried about what President Trump might do, so are the Japanese. The US Armed Forces are an enormously powerful institution, over two million men and women. They`re actually getting prepared to fight if the United States or our regional allies are attacked.

That`s their sole mission, and I think they are gleaning forward now without any overt planning, getting ready to back up diplomacy with hard military power.

WILLIAMS: Sue, talk to me finally about a point you made a few weeks back about Kim Jong-un`s sister going to the Olympics and the coverage and interest she generated in South Korea. We have no understanding for that here.

TERRY: No, I think Kim Jong-un`s sister, Kim Yo-jong, I think is -- first of all, she`s the most trusted family member and adviser to Kim Jong-un. She put a human face to this totalitarian regime.

So, I think in terms of Kim Jong-un trying to have North Korea have this huge makeover, she was very useful in that regard. She represented the North Korean delegation going to the South Korean Olympics and she was hugely popular and well-received in South Korea.

And again, she put really a human face to North Korea.

WILLIAMS: Well, our great thanks on a Good Friday night to Barry McCaffrey, to Sue Mi Terry. We really appreciate any time we can have you both on. Thank you so, so much. Coming up nearly a week after the March For Our Lives, what we`ve learned about who was there in the march? Who`s become part of the movement? What it may tell us about politics in age of Donald Trump. That and more when we continue along the way.

WILLIAMS: Just a week ago tonight, we were in Washington. We originated our broadcast there on the eve of what became the "March For Our Lives". What happened that next day was beyond our ability to predict and beyond the organizer`s wildest dreams.

The satellite imagery of Washington, D.C., those are people through the middle there, showed a crowd larger than the population of Washington, D.C.. And well beyond Washington, from New York to L.A., in cities and towns and hamlets across this country, for that matter around the world, people came out to demonstrate against gun violence.

What brings us back to the subject, almost a week later is this, "We`ve learned a lot more about the kinds of people who came out to protest last weekend and who better to crunch these new numbers than our own national political correspondent Steve Kornacki at the big board for us tonight? Steve?

STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS: All right, thanks, Brian. You`ve got seas of people last weekend around this time forming in Washington around the country. The "March For Our Lives", if you were there, if you watched it on television, if you read about it, you might have looked at all those people and wondered, "Who are they? What brought them there? What is it going to mean forward for politics?" Well, guess what, a very interesting study was done in Washington by a political scientist who is writing a book about the resistance. She basically did a demographic and political profile of who was marching last week. And then there`s some surprises in here, some things we thought this was but it maybe wasn`t and some things that are actually was but we didn`t think it was.

Let me show you what I mean. First of all, how about this -- we thought maybe is this a bi-partisan uprising, a non-partisan uprising? Well no, this was a political action. It was really about one side of the political spectrum. Almost eight in ten identified themselves as left leaning, almost nine in ten, said they voted for Hillary in 2016. So, you know where they are politically.

How about this, how about age? Certainly what triggered this was that massive casualty down there in Florida. There were some young folks. There were some teenagers, some high school age folks and younger there. But the average age, this was squarely middle age, 49 years old was the average age of participants. How about this one though, this was a little bit of surprise to me -- 70 percent, according to the study, 70 percent of the promoters there in D.C., women -- 70 to 30, big disparity there.

And also, very well educated, almost three out of four, at least a bachelor`s degree from college, so, female, very educated. Then how about this? This one surprised me, too. Is this your first protest or have you protested before? Only 27 percent had never protested before. You flip that around, the vast majority according to this study had protested before. So what does that tell us? That tells us the way to think about the "March For Our Lives" last weekend is not so much an isolated event, just about guns. This is about a bigger story -- about activism on the left in the Trump era.

These are folks who turned out not just for this but other action during the Trump era. They were very well educated; they are female, on the left politically. Think about that, what we`re seeing here maybe is the face of the Democratic Party at the grass roots level in the era of Trump. It is women who were very active, college educated, and middle age. That`s been the story from the women`s march at the very beginning of the Trump Presidency, through the "March For Our Lives" last weekend, and who knows where it`s going to go heading forward, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Steve Kornacki tonight, with some fascinating numbers on this 100 percent student fueled social movement. Steve, who is still playing with a hurt paw we appreciate it very much.

Another break coming up. A look at what happened this week while we were distracted by some other stories when "The 11th Hour" continues.

In another week dominated by White House chaos, stories like Stormy Daniels, the Russia news, all of them big stories granted. They`re also big distractions for us in the news business and tend to take all of our time and attention. There are three cabinet-level stories that didn`t make the front pages or our broadcast this past week so let`s go back over them.

We start with another rollback of an Obama policy, this time targeting climate change. An announcement next week is going to detail cuts to vehicle emission standards, which require car manufacturers to reduce carbon dioxide and increase fuel efficiency further. Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, actually frames this as a way of make vehicles more affordable. That is one way of describing what is otherwise, a big win for the auto manufacturers and for the fuel industry. Some states like California plan to keep current standards in place. Theirs of course are the strictest in the country and have been.

Next, Secretary of the Interior has been caught apologizing to the CEO of a mining company. Video of a listening session held by Secretary Ryan Zinke, shows him apologizing, "on behalf the United States Government after the CEO complained about permit requirements". The problem with that is, the last company that guy ran was found responsible for pollution costing the government tens of millions of dollars to clean up.

And because of his ties to that previous case, his current company is considered a, "bad actor" in the eyes of the U.S. Government officially. And over at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the New York Times reports under Ben Carson, HUD Scales Back Fair Housing Enforcement, the time citing 20 current department officials say the move is, "Meant to roll back the Obama Administration`s attempts to reverse decades of racial, ethnic, and income segregation in federally subsidized housing and development projects. Our look at the news that didn`t make it that past weekend, coming up -- we`ll take you to a place where history and tradition have given way to modern times.

On this Good Friday, we`ll show you why the place may never be the same.

Last thing before we go tonight, roughly 35 million Americans are Irish- Americans, way more than the number of Irish in Ireland, like a nation of only about 4.5 million people. We close tonight with an item about our brothers and sisters on the other side. We are thinking of the Irish on this historic Good Friday night, that`s because of this -- pubs have been closed on Good Friday in Ireland since 1928. No alcohol served, no exceptions, that is until today.

Pub owners proudly put out their signs and declared their establishments open for business and while the idea of a breakfast pint doesn`t exactly appeal to everybody, we did hear from some happy customers.

(VIDEOCLIP STARTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to England ten years ago. I`ve come back and everything`s changed. Good Friday in my day, we had to eat fish; we had to go to the chapel, no rule in the pub drinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was born in 1985, so I`ve never known a Good Friday where there was alcohol sold. Children probably born today will never know one without. But it`s kind of fun to come in on a morning like this. I`ve never been in an early house before so this is my first pint at this at this time of the morning, and it should feel unnatural but it doesn`t really...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Good Friday was always a big day for parties anyway, so now that we`re allowed, I have to crack it. I don`t know, people might actually take it a bit easy today but it could turn into something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was great that the ban was lifted on Good Friday?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I definitely do. I think it`s about time that we had separation of church and state.

(VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

WILLIAMS: Interesting last point there about separation of church and state in a country almost 90 percent catholic. One pub owner said close to half a million people steam into Dublin every weekend. By his thinking, why deprive Good Friday visitors of a good visit to an iconic Irish pub. Submitted without judgment, that is our broadcast on a Friday night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END