EPA head fights for job in Trump meeting. TRANSCRIPT: 04/06/2018. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Guests: Toluse Olorunnipa, Matthew Nussbaum, Daniel Goldman, Josh Lederman, Lanhee Chen

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: April 6, 2018 Guest: Toluse Olorunnipa, Matthew Nussbaum, Daniel Goldman, Josh Lederman, Lanhee Chen

KATY TUR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, more damaging headlines for EPA Chief Scott Pruitt. News he spent millions on security and travel, but flew coach when it was on his own dime.

Plus, on a week that brought the first sentencing of prison time in the Russia investigation. And word of a forthcoming report from Robert Mueller, a look at the legal advice being offered up to Donald Trump.

And from surprise policy announcements to staff issues and this dive in the stock market. The wild week in this Trump white house. THE 11TH HOUR on a Friday night begins now.

Good evening once again from our NBC News Headquarters here in New York. I`m Katy Tur, filling in for Brian Williams tonight. Day 442 of the Trump administration.

And the White House is facing mounting pressure to do something about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. He`s been under fire for ethics issues and outside spending. Among those issues, massive raises for two of his closest aides and his rental of a Capitol Hill condo tied to a lobbyist who represents energy clients.

Pruitt met with President Trump today, originally to discuss his agency`s recent efforts to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars. But it seems that the topic of his future was also on the agenda.

"The Associated Press" reports that during his meeting with the President, Pruitt laid out his case for why he should continue in his job. The EPA also reports that Pruitt spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full- time security detail, that is three times the size of his predecessor`s.

Both "The Wall Street Journal" and "The New York Times" say Chief of Staff John Kelly has urged Trump to fire Pruitt, but Trump has been resistant.

This morning, the President sent out a tweet of support for Pruitt, and said he was doing a great job, while being totally under siege. The White House backed that up at today`s briefing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No one other than the President has the authority to hire and fire members of his Cabinet, it`s a decision that he`ll make. And right now I don`t have any personnel announcements.

The President feels that the administrator has done a good job at EPA. He`s restored it back to its original purpose of protecting the environment. It`s gotten unnecessary regulations out of the way, and we`re continuing to review any of the concerns that we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: The White House is closing out this week with new and growing concerns about the future of the economy. Markets took a tumble today, the sell-off largely triggered by concerns about the President`s latest threat to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese imports.

China had already vowed to strike back after the President made his first proposal for tariffs. And today Beijing again promised retaliation. So are we starting a trade war? Americans got mixed signals from the Trump administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not saying there won`t be a little pain. We may take a hit, and you know what, ultimately we`re going to be much stronger for it but it`s something we have to do.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We`re not running a trade war. Nothing implemented.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to people who are afraid? What if there`s a countermeasure and it could because --

KUDLOW: Stay with us, stay with us. Stay with us. This is a growth oriented administration.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We`re in the period before the tariffs go on, we`ll continue to have discussions. But there is the potential of a frayed war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Meanwhile, there were developments on the legal front for the President. It was reported that he is not a target, but a subject in the Russia probe. We learned Mueller is taking a closer look at Trump`s business partners, including his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, yes, that Michael Cohen, the one who paid a porn star $130,000 in hush money.

We also heard the President speak for the first time about Daniels and that payment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS": Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No.

LUCEY: Then why did Michael Cohen make it if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: You would have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael`s my attorney and you`ll have to ask Michael.

LUCEY: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don`t know.

LUCEY: Did you ever set up a fund of money he could draw from?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: The President did not answer that last question, and as if this White House wasn`t juggling enough, this was also the week the administration announced it was sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border. Secretary of Defense Mattis has given the OK, and they`re expected to deploy starting tonight.

Here to talk with us is Carol Lee, NBC News National Political Reporter, Toluse Olorunnipa, White House Correspondent for Bloomberg. And with us from Washington, Matthew Nussbaum White House Reporter for Politico. Welcome, everyone.

Carol, beyond the fact that Scott Pruitt is doing what Donald Trump wants, rolling back regulations, why is the President content to keep him on board after all of the scandals we`ve been seeing in the last few months, especially the last week?

CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, a couple things, one, he`s not just doing what he wants in terms of regulations and other things, there`s a lot of support still for Pruitt among the President`s base. Second, this is not someone who would be on the President`s list of Cabinet officials that he may would be OK with or kind of want to see go or not really feel strongly one way or the other. This is someone he likes.

And he`s a little defiant, you know. He does not like, as you know better than anyone, to be told what to do to feel pressure from the media, from his critics to do something. And he`s digging on his heels a little bit.

TUR: But he`s facing that with Dave Price. Certainly he`s face that with other decisions he`s made.

LEE: Well, but Tom Price was not doing --

TUR: Tom Price, sorry.

LEE: -- he wasn`t getting the job done in his view.

TUR: Dave Price is the weathercaster -- weatherman at WNBC. Sorry for that confusion.

But I mean, just take a look at the headlines on EPA`s Chief Scott Pruitt. He demanded a 24-hour-a-day security details, spent millions on that travel with security as well. And so, the $25,000 soundproof phone system in his office, proposed spending 70,000 to replace desks, one was apparently bulletproof. I have no idea why you would need that.

Flew first class at a cost of more than 100 grand plus charter and military flight. Explored hiring a private jet at a cost of $100,000 a month. Stayed at a townhouse owned by the wife a lobbyist at a rent of $50 a night. Wanted to use sirens and lights to expedite trips to places like lead diplomat in Washington, a hot place to have dinner. Asked subordinates to help find housing violating ethics rules. Apparently used a loophole to boost pay for subordinates. Exiled internal critics of his spending and leadership to new jobs or demoted them.

Politico called him the Kato Kaelin of Washington, D.C., for basically not leaving that $50 a night rental. I mean, these are -- this is a lot. The West Wing staff is already turning on him. How does this make the President look right now?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, this is a President who campaigned on draining the swamp. This is very much swamp- like behavior. And probably Pruitt`s biggest sin with the President was that he went and did an interview on Fox News and he did not really represent himself very well.

The President likes people who do well on T.V. Pruitt did not do very well. He did not look like he had full control over his agency or over the facts behind all of the various scandals that he`s faced over the last few weeks. And it seems like every day there`s a new story today, multiple stories sort of targeting all the negative headlines.

And I talked to a White House official earlier this week, and they said, obviously the President does not like these headlines but at the same time the President does realized that it`s going to be difficult for him to continue shuffling his Cabinet. He`s already gotten rid of at least two Cabinet secretaries. We have at least three Cabinet confirmation fights that are ahead of us.

And if he keeps getting rid of Cabinet secretaries, he`s going to have a very difficult time filling those positions in the Senate, that`s 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. So, the President`s hands are somewhat tied in this situation. And he is hearing from his outside advisers, from his base.

He said yesterday that -- he was just in West Virginia and the people of North Virginia love Scott Pruitt so that`s probably what`s driving him more than anything else, the fact that the base is on board with this guy.

TUR: Matthew, "The Wall Street Journal" and "The New York Times" both reporting that Chief of Staff John Kelly asked the President or told the President that Scott Pruitt needs to go. The President has rebuffed him at least as of now. Does John Kelly have any influence in this White House?

MATTHEW NUSSBAUM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: It looks like Kelly`s influence is really fading fast and I think we`re seeing that more all the time. We`ve seen the President`s more emboldened to put together the team that he said he wanted all along, getting rid of folks like Rex Tiller son. And he`s more comfortable making moves that a lot of people within this administration and within the Republican Party are pushing against like these tariffs in this potential trade war with China.

So I think you see a guy like John Kelly who came in and really brought order to this operation after Reince Priebus. Donald Trump doesn`t like being told no. And I think maybe saying no a few -- too many times has really limited Kelly`s influence.

On top of that, there are few things this President enjoys more than undoing Barack Obama`s agenda, and that`s sort of what`s Scott Pruitt has been up to since Day 1. So, as much as these negative headlines pile up, Pruitt`s been doing what the President wanted him to do. And like Carol said the President doesn`t like folding to outside pressure. So I don`t think negative headlines are going to hurt Scott Pruitt as much as they might have perhaps a few months ago when the President was less confident of just blazing his own path here.

TUR: He might be the Cabinet secretary responsible for undoing the majority of the Obama legacy -- I mean, the Obama regulations. So he`s got that going for him.

Turning to the Mueller investigation, are we getting closer to the President sitting down with Robert Mueller?

LEE: It sure seems like the negotiations or discussions, whatever you want to call them, between the President`s legal team and Robert Mueller are getting somewhere and potentially could be coming to a conclusion at some point soon. The question is whether or not, you know, we know there are those among the President`s advisers who think he should not under any circumstances whatsoever ever sit for an interview for Robert Mueller. But the President has shown that he really wants to do that.

And so, I think it`s -- who wins that fight. We don`t really know but there are reports that he started to at least, some very initial preparations for what that might be like.

TUR: Is there anybody in the White House that`s talking to the President right now? Sitting him down and saying, hey, listen, you`ve got two things unfolding at this time. You`ve got this Mueller investigation, which is still ongoing. You`re going to have to sit with Mueller at some point or find a reason to say why you`re not going to sit with Mueller.

You`ve also got the Stormy Daniels case that`s unfolding, which you are now contributing to by answering a reporter`s questions about it. It had died down, now it`s back in the news. Is anybody telling him why it may be problematic for those two things that happened at the same time?

LEE: Yes, you know, we don`t really -- it`s hard to -- this is not a White House where you get the sense that there are people who sit the President down and tell him hard truths, that speak to him in those kinds of very frank candid ways. The number of people who do that seems to be diminishing by the day. However, you know, clearly the President is well aware that the Stormy Daniels and the Mueller investigation issues are hanging over his presidency and are could be big problems for him. It`s just we don`t know how he`s going to in the end choose to handle that.

TUR: There`s also the stock market taking a big dive today. Larry Kudlow started on Monday in this administration, it seems like from all we`ve seen of him that he`s basically been camped out on the drive way at the White House just answering reporters questions and trying to tamp down on what the President might be saying to reporters overnight. Or sitting in interviews or tweeting about this escalation in this tariff war between China and the U.S.

What is going to happen? Is this just a lot of bluster and big talk from this President? Or are we going to end up enacting really steep tariffs against the other big power in the world?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, that`s the part of the reason Larry Kudlow was hired because the President saw him on T.V. and thought he was doing a great job, and decided to bring him into the White House. Now his role seems to be going a lot on T.V. from the White House north lawn and trying to calm the markets after the President tweets something, or makes a statement, or unveils a policy, which Larry Kudlow said he found out about shortly before the public in terms of new tariffs that could roil the markets and really lead to a trade war.

He has a pretty large task on his hand trying to calm the market when the President is really doing the opposite, really trying to stir up the markets. Trying to stir up what looks like a trade war with the Chinese saying that trade wars are good and easy to win, and showing that he has no fear and going tit-for-tat with China despite the fact that China is taking us on and really pushing back very strongly against the U.S. and against the actions that we`ve taken. So, I`m not sure that Larry Kudlow will be able to keep up this act for much longer saying that just be calm, nothing`s going to happen, you know, this is all about a negotiation when the President doesn`t seem to be wanting to negotiate, he wants to hit China very hard with very large tariffs.

TUR: I love trying to wrap up a week like this, for the 15 minutes for an A-block on a newscast at the end of the week. We have already talked about Scott Pruitt, we`ve talked Robert Mueller, Stormy Daniels. We`re talking about tariffs and the stock market crashing. We haven`t even gotten yet to what`s happening down the border, which dominated a good part of this week.

News now that Secretary Mattis is going to send 4,000 troops to the border, Matthew?

Nussbaum: That`s right. It`s easy to see how that sort of fell off the radar with everything else that`s going on, but this sort of stems from the President`s anger over not getting money in the omnibus to get that wall construction going. And we know his obsession with the border quite well.

So he sees this as a way to try to tighten things down there without a wall, deploying large amounts of National Guard troops, perhaps in response to some Fox News reporting about border crossings. But, again, this is a way for him to say he`s taking action on the issues that are most important to him and his base even though his long promise solution, the wall, doesn`t really seem to be coming together quite yet.

TUR: So, Matthew, big question. What`s on the agenda next week?

NUSSBAUM: That`s always a great question. I think they`re eager to push a few legislative items along with those confirmations that were mentioned. The Dodd-Frank repeal is something they`d like to get done and V.A. choice legislation.

But, look, you guys know as well as anyone that what the President tweets on Monday morning and whoever gets fired or whoever gets indicted is going to set the tone a lot more than any specific plans the White House has.

TUR: Let`s be honest, whatever the President tweets on Sunday morning is going to start driving the newsweek. Carol is staying with us. Toluse and Matthew, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

And coming up on the Mueller front, the advice being offered to Donald Trump from an informal legal team on friends on T.V.

And later, for a President who loves to tout market gains there`s no denying today was a rough day. "The 11th Hour" just getting started on a Friday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: This week we saw the first sentencing in the first Russia probe. Alex van der Zwaan, an attorney who worked with former Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates was sentenced to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000 for lying to investigators.

We also learned from court documents that a search warrant was issued that was tied to Paul Manafort as recently as March 9th. That makes the seventh search warrant against him.

And as we mentioned, we also saw reports about the President`s status as a subject in that investigation. Trump and his legal team have been discussing the possibility of a sit-down with Robert Mueller. But this week we heard a chorus of opposition to such a move from key Trump allies on T.V.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: As a former U.S. attorney and somebody who would be sitting on the other side of that table, I said this all along, George has said it here before, he should never walk into that room with Robert Mueller. Because in the end, one of the things that makes the President who he is, is that he`s a salesman, and salesman, at times, tend to be hyperbolic.

JOSEPH DIGENOVA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Now we are told that Mueller wants to interview the President of the United States who knows nothing, who has been a witness to nothing, who is not a target of the investigation.

The President should not agree to an interview. The President should act the most and it`s written questions in a very limited area and he should never ever be interviewed.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: There is a theory that the statement was made by Bob Mueller in an off handed way so that people like the rest of us would talk about it and the President would have a false sense of security in going into the interview. Stay away from that, Mr. President. That interview is extremely dangerous. If he is the subject and not yet a target and they want him to become a target, they`re going to ask him questions. The answer to which will move him into that category.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Back with me is Carol Lee, and joining the conversation Julia Ainsley, NBC News National Security and Justice Reporter, and Daniel Goldman, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Julia, I want to start with you. You`re new to the table this block at least from a far. How far along is the investigation? What`s the sense that you`re getting?

JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Look, Katy, I mean, that`s the question we`re always asking every week, and it seems to be there are a lot of different indicators. We were talking around the holidays about the facts that Trump`s legal team was talking to Mueller`s team about trying to get out of this kind of interview about doing written questions. We thought that that meant they might be wrapping up. And, in fact, that was the advice that Trump was getting from his legal team.

But we know from things like how vast these probes are going. Like the sentencing of Alexander van der Zwaan, like the fact that the Manafort trial isn`t beginning until later. I mean, these are all sort of reminders of how many probes this investigation has.

We know that Mueller wants to look into the foreign business dealings of Jared Kushner. But it could be that something could be wrapped up more discreetly concerning the President and that is why the President might already be under preparations for an interview, like CNN reported tonight.

We also want to look at whether or not he is being prepared as sort of a just in case. I mean, we know that his advice that he`s been given is absolutely, Mr. President, do not sit down with Robert Mueller. But it may be that there have been negotiations, Katy, between the legal team of the President and Robert Mueller`s team that have already moved close r to an interview than we know. And perhaps these preparations are getting ready for very real possibility. Even though the President has been told that`s not a place he wants to put himself in.

TUR: Carol, who is he listening to, the legal team that works with him behind close doors, off-camera or the unofficial legal team that talks to him on-camera, mostly on Fox News?

LEE: You know, I think it depends on the moment of the day, what channel the T.V. he`s on. I just, you know, he is also of his own mind on this, and we`ve seen that he has a legal team, there are people -- all of those clips you saw, there are people say do not do this interview, it`s a trap. You shouldn`t do this.

And we know the President has said that he wants do the interview. And there`s some growing sense that he feels like, you know, the idea that he can`t do it is some sort of question of his ability that he can`t handle Robert Mueller, and so we see him kind of pushing back and saying he thinks he could do this, and why shouldn`t he do this. And that is going to be the fight that he has with his legal team, we just don`t know who`s going to win out there.

TUR: I want to question the characterization of an interview with Robert Mueller as some sort of trap. Why would folks on television be screaming for him not to do it because Robert Mueller would trap him? If he walks in there and tells the truth, how could that possibly be a trap?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, that obviously wouldn`t be a trap. There is a technical term which is called a perjury trap but that is only when you subpoena a witness to a grand jury for the sole purpose of getting them to lie. You have no investigative reason to have them in the grand jury. That`s obviously not what we have here, there`s no -- whether you talk about a voluntary interview or a grand jury subpoena, we`re not talking at all. We`re not in perjury trap world.

TUR: So they`re misusing the term?

GOLDMAN: They`re completing misusing the term. There`s nothing remotely close to a perjury trap here. There`s an active investigation on multiple fronts that relates to Donald Trump. He`s a subject.

Once you`re a subject of an investigation, there can be no way that there`s a perjury trap, so that`s just completely fallacious. What`s interesting about this news that came out this week about the subject is -- and the fact that John Dowd is no longer on the team, is that Trump needs a very experienced and qualified white color defense lawyer to parse what that means.

The land of subject is vast, and you can be a subject that`s much closer to a witness, you can be a subject that`s much closer to a target. And I think the President really needs someone who can understand that and parse that with Mueller.

TUR: Are you saying that he doesn`t have that? So far five top-notch legal firms have turned him down.

GOLDMAN: I don`t think right now, after John Dowd has left and given that Ty Cobb is really representing the White House`s interest in this investigation. My understanding is he does not have a very -- Jay Sekulow is more of a constitutional lawyer, and my understanding is that he does not have someone with a lot of white collar chops.

TUR: Let`s talk a little bit about Paul Manafort. We`re continuing, Carol, to hear news about Paul Manafort, yet another search warrant for Paul Manafort. Why is he still such a major focus or seem to be such a major focus for this investigation? Julia, I`m sorry.

I`m looking at the camera. I work a lot with Carol, that`s a compliment.

AINSLEY: Yes, Paul Manafort, of course, continues to be a focus and it`s funny, Katy, if we`re thinking back to the fall, we saw Paul Manafort as the first person to be charged along with his partner, Rick Gates. And it`s been a really long time where we`ve tried to figure out why Manafort hasn`t agreed to cooperate in the same way that Rick Gates has.

We`re assuming Rick Gates has cooperating because of his guilty plea. But it seems that we`re getting more information of why Mueller is continuing to go after Manafort, and why he`s continuing to generate these headlines. And a lot of this came this week when we heard about person A, this person who Rick Gates communicated with, who is a known Russian intelligence officer and who Rick Gates knew was a Russian intelligence officer in 2016.

So there are more dots that are being connected as this case goes on. And it`s becoming clear why Manafort is so important to this case. And why the argument from the White House that Manafort was someone who just came in and out of this campaign and is not close to the President and really didn`t have his hands in this. That argument is not standing up, as we`re seeing how closely tied Manafort was with the campaign. And also the connections that go to Russia and the lobbying efforts they did on behalf of pro-Russian interests in the Ukraine.

TUR: Kind of interesting that we hear about Paul Manafort a lot, Rick Gates a lot, a lot of some other, which we, I guess, we could describe as semi peripheral characters, what seems like peripheral characters. We`re not hearing the big names a lot. We`re not really ever hearing about Jared Kushner in relation to the special council. We`re not hearing about other close advisers that are currently alongside Donald Trump.

We`re not hearing about Mike Flynn any longer. We`re also not hearing a lot about Roger Stone. We are hearing about him, but we`re not hearing about Robert Mueller interview Roger Stone. So far he hasn`t been interviewed. Why could that be -- or could that be bad news for Stone?

LEE: It could be and it couldn`t be. The thing about this investigation that`s, you know, frustrating for those of us who cover it, and also make it very challenging is we just don`t know a lot. But there`s a school of thought, you know, among legal experts that will say, if someone like Roger Stone has not yet been interviewed, that could be a sign that there`s potentially some trouble there.

We know that Jared Kushner was interviewed very narrowly about Michael Flynn early in December right before Michael Flynn tweeted in December. He`s, as far as we know, not been set for a full interview. There are some experts that think that would be a flag if you`re representing Jared Kushner.

And elsewhere, you know, some of the big players who haven`t been talked to, but we also know, you know, the special council hasn`t talked to the Vice President, for instance, who was involved in everything campaign, transition in the White House. Nobody thinks that that`s a big flag that somehow Mike Pence is in serious trouble. So I just think, you know, like so much us we just don`t really know.

TUR: Daniel, what do you think?

GOLDMAN: Well, I do think it`s noteworthy, because the way these investigations generally work is you go with the least culpable person first and you kind of work your way up to who`s the most culpable person is. And we know from Sam Nunberg coming on this network and talking about the subpoena that he got and the questions he got, that Mueller is interested in Roger Stone.

We also know from news reports that there`s a lot about Stone`s connections to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and the hacks. So the fact that he has not heard from Mueller is noteworthy, and it would indicate to me, as a former prosecutor, that there`s enough smoke there that they`re looking at him, and they`re sort of building their case to see where it will go before they figure out whether they want to interview him or whether they`re just going to charge.

TUR: Also, as far as we know, he hasn`t interviewed Michael Cohen?

GOLDMAN: That`s right. That gets to be very complicated, and a lot that`s coming out more recently about Michael Cohen. So that`s seems to be a more newly developed area of this investigation, which is really sprawling at this point.

TUR: Carol Lee, Julia Ainsley, thank you very much. And Daniel Goldman, appreciate it guys, sorry for mixing up the names. It`s a late Friday night.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

TUR: Coming up, the President says nobody`s been tougher on Russia than him, but do today`s sanctions live up to that pledge? "THE 11TH HOUR" back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: There are many things that I`ve done. Not only the 60 diplomats, Germany did 4, France did 4, we did 60. There`s nobody been tougher on Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: that was President Trump on Tuesday, reiterating his administration`s tough stance on Russia. And today, they struck again.

The Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on 12 Russian oligarchs, 17 Russian officials and 12 Russian companies. The list takes direct aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin`s inner circle and is considered the strongest move yet by the U.S. Among those included, Oleg Deripaska, a known associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, also targeted Alexander Torchin, who`s under investigation by the FBI in mid allegations. He may have funneled money into Trump`s campaign through the NRA.

Senior administration officials say the sanctions were not a response to specific actions, but to hit back to the Kremlin for "ongoing and increasingly brazen patterns of behavior". The action freezes all U.S. assets, restricts travels and ban business with American companies and individuals.

With us for more, Michael McFaul former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and MSNBC International Affairs Analyst, also author of the upcoming book "From Cold War to Hot Peace", an American ambassador in Putin`s Russia. Also with us, Josh Lederman, National Security and Foreign Policy Reporter for the Associated Press. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Michael, I feel like I ask you this all the time but let`s ask again more sanctions yet again today, are they enough?

MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, first, thanks for mentioning the book, I appreciate that.

TUR: One author to another, I know you always mention the book.

MCFAUL: Yes. I really appreciate that. Are they enough, of course not. And let`s be clear, sanctions always take a long time to have an effect in terms of changing another country`s behavior. As most certainly true with the sanctions that we put in place when I was in the Obama administration on Iran. It took years to have an effect and those sanctions were much broader than this against a much smaller target, the country and economy of Iran compared to Russia.

But it was the right thing to do, I support the administration. There has to be a response. And that was an interesting list but a serious list that they put together and announced today.

TUR: Is Vladimir Putin going to feel this? Not only the folks we mentioned but his son in law is also on that list.

MCFAUL: Well, Vladimir Putin is going to say that we are encircling him. We are escalating. We are trying to destroy Russia. And so he`s going to rally his base, his electoral base and the people around him to say we got to push back. So I really don`t think these kinds of actions in the short term with Vladimir Putin will change his behavior.

TUR: Josh, let`s talk about timing. The administration really dragged its feet initially on sanctions, Congress passed them, the President was reluctant to sign that bill, and then -- or sign those sanctions, and then he signed it. Then the administration was reluctant to enact them. Now, we`re seeing more and more in it, what feels like a much faster stream. Why have things changed?

JOSH LEDERMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think this was a turning point, Katy, and that the administration seems to have finally grasped that they`re just getting creamed over this Russia issue in the court of public opinion. They`re losing Republican lawmakers and that doing the bear minimum was not really going to cut it to a deal with that, all of those previous steps that this administration had taken against Russia, seemed like forced responses to really specific Russian actions.

OK. Congress said, you have to sanction people, we`ll sanction some people. OK, they allegedly poisoned an ex-spy in Britain, we`ll kick out some diplomats. Where is this seemed like something they didn`t have to do, but was a pretty concerted effort to show what administration officials described as a reckless brazen pattern of activity by Russia was going to merit a response by the U.S. And I think that their understanding that they have to go beyond what they`ve done in the past. If they want to put to bed this notion that President Trump simply cannot stand up to Moscow.

TUR: Josh, earlier in the week, we heard that the President extended an offer to come to the White House, an invitation to come to the White House to Vladimir Putin. Are you hearing anything more on that? Is that going to happen?

LEDERMAN: Well, we`re hearing that it`s certainly not off. That despite the actions that were taken today, there is no end to the offer from President Trump to have such a summit with President Putin, still the White House a possibility for the location for that.

So you see this dual track. On the one hand we`re trying to show that we`re tough on them through administration actions. And on the other hand, on leader to leader level, the President is still offering some olive branches in the form of a potential meeting, refusing to actually criticize Putin directly. You didn`t hear the President talk at all about those items today, I think that`s pretty notable.

TUR: There`s also another piece to this puzzle, and that is two new administration officials, John Bolton coming in, Michael, and there`s also Mike Pompeo moving from the CIA over to the State Department eventually once he gets confirmed. What signal is that sending to Russia and what could that mean for a policy going-forward?

MCFAUL: Well, both of those gentlemen have been tough on Russia before, at least rhetorically, with respect to Ambassador Bolton, somebody I`ve talked to and debated about Russia with him before. And I think it will reaffirm the Trump administration`s policy towards Russia. And the conversation you were just having, this dual track, I would I call it somewhat different. It`s everyone`s on one track and the president is on another.

And so far that creates some space, and what`s interesting to note, if you watch the Kremlin media, Kremlin controlled media or media close to President Putin, they also keep open that space. They say, we have the good tsar, right, against the bad boyars. So the good tsar, President Trump, he wants to do the right thing, the deep state is doing the wrong thing and they still want to keep open the idea that Trump and Putin could get together and try to reverse this very bad track we`re on right now.

TUR: It`s interesting to hear Russia use some of the same rhetoric that`s used here in the state. That Donald Trump is the good person and everyone else is out to get him, this vast government conspiracy, this deep state to take down the president. Ambassador Michael McFaul, Josh Lederman, guys, happy weekend.

LEDERMAN: Thanks, Katy.

TUR: Thank you. Coming up, are we in a trade war with China, no matter how you answer the question, it was bad news today for Wall Street. That`s when "THE 11TH HOUR" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: U.S. stocks tumbled today on fears of an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. The DOW fell as much as 670 points before closing down 572 points.

That sharp decline came after President Trump threatened an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports. Thursday night, Thursday night that happen, today Trump`s own team tried to alleviate those concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Now, we`re not running a trade war, if you read this thing, you`ll see, this is just a proposed idea which will be vetted by USDR, and then open for public comments, so nothing`s happened, nothing`s been executed.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: While we`re in the period before the tariffs go on. We`ll continue to have discussions but there is the potential of a trade war. And let me be just be clear, it`s not a trade war. The president wants reciprocal trade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he willing to fight a trade war on this?

SARAH SANDERS HUCKABEE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don`t want it to come to that. The President wants us to move to a process of fairness, to free and fair and open trade and that`s what he`s trying to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Here to talk about it, Lanhee Chen former Policy Director for the Romney-Ryan 2012 campaign and a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Lanhee, good to see you.

LANHEE CHEN, FORMER POLICY DIRECTOR, ROMNEY-RYAN CAMPAIGN: Good to be with you, Katy.

TUR: Trump repeatedly tried to claim credit when the market was going up. Does he deserve the blame when the market starts to fall?

CHEN: Well, Katy, look this is a problem when you tether too much of your economic success to the stock market, because stock markets are going to go up and down. A lot of it doesn`t have so much to do with policy.

Now, in this case, what we are seeing the market reacting to concerns about a potential trade war with China. But my advice for the President would be, don`t tether so much of your success on the economy to the stock market because it is a very fickle thing.

TUR: Let`s just take a look at Donald Trump trying to take credit for the stock market in 2017 alone. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I haven`t looked yet at the stock market it`s been going up at record clips. We have a tremendous streak going on and that`s only because of the optimism.

Our stock market has reached an all time high today. All time high. Think of it, nobody ever talks about it.

The stock market hit an all time record high today. Very proud of our stock market, what`s happen since I became president.

The stock market hit today, 23,000. That`s an all time record high so congratulations to everybody in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Folks are talking about it now, this escalating rhetoric at the moment, this idea that there could be a trade war between the U.S. and China. China is already talking about imposing some tariffs in some pretty key places, Lanhee, red states, Trump`s states, places that voted for Trump. Will they end up feeling it in their pockets come time for these tariffs to be enacted, and what is that going to do for Donald Trump in 2020.

CHEN: If the tariffs do end up getting enacted, the full extent of the tariffs that we were talking about. There will be an impact on consumers. The question is not if but when.

The difficult part of this is really the timing of when consumers are actually going to feel it. And this is why traditionally, Katy, Republicans have been very much opposed to tariffs because they end up falling disproportionally, the effect of the falls on American consumers. So you`re going to see higher prices for regular goods that people buy at the local Walmart, at a local Target. They`re going to see higher prices overall. And that`s why we traditionally have disfavored tariffs.

The question though is when those tariffs going into effect. I don`t see it having an impact before the 2018 elections. But to your question about 2020, that`s when people could feel the pinch of this. And that would indeed be very bad news for the president.

TUR: There are folks who just look at the numbers and say, "Hey, listen, we import a lot more from China than China imports from us. So we can stand to levee a lot more tariffs against them, and really hurt them, where they can only hurt us so much." Explain why China might be able to absorb those tariffs in a way that the American economy just can`t?

CHEN: Well, there`s a couple of reasons. I mean, first of all, we do still import a significant amount from China. And specifically what we`re importing are the kinds of consumer goods that people rely on, the people have become used to in terms of prices. The other issue is that China has got burgeoning tech economy, and increasingly what they`re seeing in China is the production of tech goods which we`re consuming here in the United States.\

So the extent that we place tariffs on incoming goods, all we`re doing is we`re hurting U.S. consumers. Now, to a certain degree, I understand the president`s argument, which is if we have to get tougher on China because they have been cheating when it comes to the rules of international trade for many years. I think everyone agrees with that.

The question is when is a good thing, when we have too much of a good thing. And I think the problem with proposing $100 billion potentially in new tariffs is that, it is far too much of a good thing in the sense that the Chinese then have the leverage to say, OK fine, you want tariffs, we`re going to impose tariffs too, and ultimately that`s going to mean higher prices for the American come assumer.

TUR: Lanhee Chen, Lanhee, thank you very much.

CHEN: Thank you, Katy.

TUR: And coming up, Facebook is working to regain your trust. But the relationship status is still complicated, "The 11th Hour" back after this.

(COMMECIAL BREAK)

TUR: Facebook wants you to trust them again. The social media juggernaut says it`s going to be more careful in the future to make sure your information is better protected. It also announced changes aimed at stopping more election meddling from Russia ahead of this year`s mid terms.

Facebook says, "From now on, any entity posting political issue ads will now need to be authorized." But do these changes go far enough? We get more from our NBC News Business Correspondent, Jo Ling Kent.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JO LING KENT, NBC NEWS BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, Mark Zuckerberg promising to hire thousands of more people to verify political ads, so users can see where they come from and who is paying for them. Facebook also forcing users with big followings to verify their identities, saying they will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I don`t believe today`s actions by Facebook will completely stop what the Russians did in 2016 and what they`re planning on doing in 2018. That`s a good step in the right direction.

KENT: In an exclusive interview with Savannah Guthrie on "TODAY," Facebook second-in-command Sheryl Sandberg apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal that exposed as many as 87 million users` information.

SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, FACEBOOK: At the time we got multiple assurances from them that the data had been deleted. Now, we should have done the forensics audit we`re doing now then for sure.

KENT: Sandberg says Facebook is likely to find more problems.

GUTHRIE: Do you have an opt out button, please don`t use my profile data for advertising?

SANDBERG: We have different forms about that. We don`t have an opt out at the highest level, that would be a paid product.

KENT: But Facebook currently has no plans to offer that. Apple CEO Tim cook disagrees with the way Facebook makes money.

TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: We`ve never believed that these detailed profiles of people that have incredibly deep personal information that is patched together from several sources should exist.

KENT: Next week, Zuckerberg will testify on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers will be demanding answers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: A thanks to NBC News Business Correspondent Jo Ling Kent. A quick break for us right now, more "11TH HOUR" right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: The last thing before we go tonight is about Robert Mueller. We talk about him all the time, but you don`t really know that much about him, do you, behind -- at least the man behind the investigation.

Sunday night our own Nicolle Wallace will host an in-depth look at Robert Mueller right here on MSNBC and here is a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER US SECRETARY OF STATE: And he will take this wherever it leads. I just wish that we could let him do his job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There could be a domino effect that leads to the end of this presidency. And Robert Mueller`s findings could be that first piece to fall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way to best understand Mueller`s investigation is to look at it as bucket. There is a Russia bucket and obstruction bucket and a finance bucket. The bucket we know the most about is the obstruction one. These are question about what the president has done since he came into office, why did he fired James Comey, why did he asked for Comey to end (inaudible) investigation, why is he demanded so much loyalty of the folks running the investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: "Headliners" an in-depth look at Robert Mueller will air on Sunday at 9:00 Eastern, right here on MSNBC.

That`s our broadcast for tonight, thanks for being with us, and goodnight from NBC News headquarters in New York.

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