Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: April 23, 2018 Guest: Susan Glasser, Toluse Olorunnipa, Jon Meacham, Amy Chozick
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: -- firing Robert Mueller as the Russia investigation plows forward along with the investigation into his attorney, Michael Cohen.
Plus high stakes for Trump`s meeting with the leader of France as Trump welcomes Emmanuel Macron to Washington. These two already have history, and more of it was made today.
And the troubling word late today that Former President George H.W. Bush, 41, is seriously ill and hospitalized tonight in Houston as THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on a Monday night.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News Headquarters Here in New York. A quick update here at the top of hour broadcast on some breaking news before we get under way with our broadcast. As you may know, Former President George H.W. Bush, 41, is in critical condition tonight in Houston, hospitalized yesterday, a day after the funeral of his wife of 73 years.
We`re told he has a blood infection. He appears to be responding to treatment. We`ll have more on that.
Unrelated but also having to do with medicine, the late story tonight that the President`s choice for V.A. Secretary is in trouble. "The Washington Post" first reported that Dr. Ronny Jackson`s confirmation hearing has been postponed. NBC News has since confirmed that. We`ll have more later on this now threatened nomination of Dr. Ronny Jackson to run Veterans Affairs.
But we begin with what was Day 459 of the Trump administration. And as the President launches his first state visit welcoming French President Macron, he is increasingly worried about the investigations plaguing his presidency. Trump`s agitation took shape in a familiar form. Nearly a dozen tweets alone on just the Russia inquiry as well as the criminal investigation of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
"The New York Times" reporting on his relationship as well as other reports that Cohen might start cooperating with prosecutors, well, that struck a particular nerve. Trump responded by accusing the "Times" and Pulitzer Prize Winning Reporter Maggie Haberman of "going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will flip." And that "most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don`t see Michael doing that."
Throughout today, the White House was asked to explain just what it is the President meant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump tweeted over the weekend that he doesn`t expect Michael Cohen to flip. Has he been offered any assurances from Mr. Cohen?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I`m not sure about any specific conversations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the President open to a pardon for Michael Cohen?
SANDERS: I don`t think that we`re going to talk about hypotheticals that don`t exist right now.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was noticed by some that you didn`t close the door one way or the other on the President pardoning Michael Cohen. What is your -- what`s your read on that right now?
SANDERS: It`s hard to close the door on something that hasn`t taken place.
JUSTIN SINK, BLOOMBERG NEWS: The first is, what the President believes his personal attorney might have done to get him in trouble with the government. And secondly, what the President has done that he is worried Michael Cohen could flip about.
SANDERS: The President`s been clear that he hasn`t done anything wrong. I think we`ve stated that about a thousand times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Tonight Victoria Toensing, who serves as an informal legal adviser to the President, offered one explanation for the President`s tweets about Michael Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA TOENSING, ATTORNEY, INFORMAL TRUMP LEGAL ADVISER: The concern could be that he`s just very upset that this has happened to somebody. I don`t like this kind of system that I see. The Feds can put the pressure on anybody and say if you do such and such, you know, we`ll let you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The questions about the President and Michael Cohen came as the White House also declined to categorically rule out any attempt to bring an end to Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation. The White House has response to questions about that possibility also emphasized the word "intention."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: When he`s going to fire Rosenstein? When`s he`s going to fire Mueller? We have the same conversation. As far as I know, the President has no intention of firing these individuals.
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS MODERATOR: Right. But it`s always as far as I know, and the President -- he never says definitively. Why not?
SHORT: Because you don`t know how far off this investigation is going to veer. Right now, he has no intention of firing him.
SANDERS: As we`ve said many times before, we have no intention of firing the Special Counsel. We`ve been beyond cooperative with them.
We continue to repeat that we think that the idea that the Trump campaign was involved in any collusion with Russia is a total witch hunt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It was Chuck Todd also criticized by the President who seized on that word over the weekend. Well, with that, let`s bring in our lead-off panel for a Monday night, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for "The Washington Post." Also happens to be moderator of Washington Week on PBS. Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize winning White House Reporter for "The Washington Post," and Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the "A.P." All three are MSNBC Political Analyst.
So, Ashley, a question I would not have asked, could not have asked just a few weeks ago. What does this White House, in your reporting, fear more now? The Mueller investigation writ large or the Cohen investigation headquartered in New York?
ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think it`s -- so the short answer is probably a little bit more the Cohen investigation, but I have to say for them, that`s sort of what they`re more worried about at least. It is inextricably bound up with the Mueller investigation, and so they don`t necessarily separate the two. And certainly the President doesn`t.
Of course one is being done in the Southern District of New York, and it was referred to that district. So, for instance, if something were to happen to the Mueller investigation, that would still proceed apace. But to the President especially, the Cohen thing was so upsetting for him in part because he saw it as a sign of the Mueller investigation run amok, an overreach, and going a bit more afield than he is comfortable with. And when you ask those questions, you are just playing, you know, would the President ever actually fire Bob Mueller? Would the President actually ever pardon Michael Cohen?
There`s this sense that basically if there is a red line crossed and in the President`s mind, it`s not just his business and his families, it`s basically the investigation, Mueller`s investigation goes outside the scope that the President understood it to be, which was Russia collusion and then obstruction. That is when White House aides say the risk becomes really real, and the threat becomes more than, sort of, a near constant boil in these angry tweets that don`t necessarily mean any imminent action.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Bob, talk about the relationship as you know it between Trump and Cohen and, you know, especially this weekend. This got down right scorse-ian. The President wasn`t tweeting about Cohen`s innocence. He was saying, "No, he won`t flip."
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": This is a long relationship between these two men. At times, it seems father-son, according to people close to both of them. At times, it can be quite acrimonious over the past decade. But Cohen was not so much a legal mind at the side of businessman Donald Trump and then-candidate Donald Trump. He was a political adviser, a media adviser, a relationship builder.
I remember during the beginning of the Presidential campaign process in 2015, he was someone trying to reach out to evangelical pastors in Iowa, someone who did -- he was an every man for Mr. Trump, and he has retained that role as we all know throughout the campaign and even the presidency.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan, let`s talk about this President on Twitter this weekend. There were many not so great hits. His use of the word "breeding" on the subject of immigration. He got North Korea policy wrong, went after Maggie Haberman before she even had a chance to pick out what shelf her Pulitzer is going to go on in her house. Two misspellings while we were on the air Friday night that started this whole cavalcade.
My question to you, what about the anxiety in-house? Knowing only that they`re coming, but not knowing what they`re going to say.
JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Right. That points to the mood of the President right now. Remember, it`s sort of laughable looking back on it, but the White House had hoped that last week in Mar-a-Lago would be a nice distraction for the President, to keep him out of Washington as the James Comey book lands, as the Cohen probe intensifies, you know.
He originally was even supposed to spend a couple days in Latin America. That of course got scuttled. He then -- they thought he would be jam- packed with events with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, who was in Florida. But then, of course, we had a lot of executive time starting Friday and over the weekend. And this President, these tweets, I think, are an excellent indication of where he is and the people that we`ve talked to around him suggest he is rattled, he is unnerved. He is pissed -- upset, as Ashley said there, about the Cohen investigation.
You know, these people around him aren`t sure right now about Cohen`s loyalty. As much as the President talks about it and, as you point out, talks about flipping rather than saying, well, he`s got nothing to say because nothing bad happened.
WILLIAMS: No story.
LEMIRE: That they are worried that this is someone who does have a family, who potentially could be facing a lengthy prison sentence if he doesn`t cooperate with prosecutors, and in the President`s world, people around him, they find that loyalty often is a one-way street. The President demands loyalty. He doesn`t always give it back. The question is will Cohen reciprocate?
WILLIAMS: Ashley, serious question intended without snark, and that is what is Rudy Giuliani supposed to help with on this laundry list that so far we`ve just run through?
PARKER: That is a great question and a fair question. And the answer is sort of twofold. His stated role is that, you know, he`s basically going to allegedly come in and talk to Mueller`s office and put an end to this probe very quickly. That`s simply not going to happen. Let`s just be clear about that.
And even some of the President`s aides sort of question the wisdom of bringing in someone who they sort of say, "Look, he`s a smart guy, but he is in the twilight of his career, and he hasn`t practiced law, and certainly not law of this type and this caliber and this pressure in decades." That said, there is some role they believe that he can play. One is that the President likes familiar faces. He is a familiar face.
The President likes people who look the part, and he sees on T.V. and can go out and play a sort of forceful attack dog role on T.V., and that`s something we`ve seen Rudy Giuliani do, and he will likely do in the probe. And that`s something that`s been lacking.
There was also a hope that sort of a big name like Giuliani would bring the imprimatur of credibility to a legal team that`s had trouble bringing on top-notch lawyers. And so there`s a thought that if he`s the public face and kind of the big name that then it may help the President actually hire some people who can do the real work. So there is sort of a potential role that Rudy could play, but it is not the publicly stated role that the President has, you know, seems to think he will play.
WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, the story that broke shortly before we came out here tonight has to do with the problem the White House really didn`t need. The ebullient doctor we got to know during the health briefing about the President, Dr. Ronny Jackson, also a rear admiral assigned to Walter Reed, nominated to run the second largest bureaucracy in all of government. It`s on the rocks. It`s officially in trouble.
What can you add to what we add to what we know?
COSTA: President Trump did not have an extensive search process for replacing Secretary Shulkin at the V.A., but he had a personal rapport with the doctor, Dr. Jackson, Admiral Jackson. Because of that lack of due diligence on the White House`s part, the rush to nominate Dr. Jackson, you have a lot of wariness among Senate Republicans at this moment tonight but also among Senate Democrats.
Senator Jon Tester is leading a push today to try to look into the conduct of Admiral Jackson while he was at the White House, serving as the White House physician, about different reports that may have surface in recent weeks. So you have a postponement of this whole process as Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats start to dig into someone who is seen as perhaps an outside contender to say the least for this extensive and complicated post.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan, the question to you is, again, absent snark, serious question. Usually the vetting goes on the front-end of a nomination, not after it lands on the Hill.
LEMIRE: Yet another Presidential norm that Donald Trump seems to be casting aside. That`s exactly right. There was no formal interview. There was very little vetting process.
You know, there are certainly these reports now coming out about questions about Mr. Jackson -- Dr. Jackson`s behavior at the White House. But the concern runs deeper than that. He has no experience of any sort of -- managing any sort of large bureaucracy. He has very little sort of leadership role outside of the relatively small unit there at the White House.
This is a moment where the President valued, you know, sort of personal rapport over experience. And, you know, we saw Dr. Jackson. You`re right, in front of that press briefing in the Briefing Room about a couple months back, he`s making some sort of perhaps hard to believe claims about the President`s health. But it must be said, he is someone who people -- veterans of the Obama White House also spoke very highly of.
WILLIAMS: Including the President.
LEMIRE: That`s exactly right.
LEMIRE: And his colleagues here in this White House have also largely sung his praises. But it goes to show again sort of the haphazard nature that this administration has always had towards these positions. The transition moved very slowly. Lots of questions about the some of the people, the qualifications of other Cabinet members.
And let`s remember, of course, the sea of empty desks across this government, positions that have still not been filled. This one is just another high-profile example of this administration struggling to find good people to take the important jobs.
COSTA: And that empty seat that Jonathan`s talking about is an important point because when I`m talking to Senate Republicans and their advisers, they`re saying it`s enough of a struggle right now to deal with the nomination of Pompeo, Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State. That was a process today, trying to get Senator Paul to come along, moving it to the floor. Then they have to deal with the next CIA director.
That nomination, this House bill, is already coming under scrutiny. And so the Senate Republicans looking ahead to the midterms, looking just at the calendar, they`re saying enough. Even if it takes time to vet Dr. Jackson, they`re OK with it because they`ve got enough on their plate already.
WILLIAMS: And, Robert, a fair question to ask because we did in realtime today watch Rand Paul and Jeff Flake come around on this nomination to be Secretary of State. And reasonable people could reasonably ask what did they get? Based on your experience, is this a federal judge or an infrastructure program, or was it just ideology-based, a change of heart? They heard from the nominee what they needed to hear?
COSTA: Senator Flake is more important here in a sense than Senator Paul who has a relationship with the President. The President knows that Paul counts on the President`s support to keep his conservative base in line even though he has libertarians, he wants to have the Trump voter as well. Senator Flake is heading for the exit door, but they know that Senate Republican from the Paul link to the Flake link that Pompeo may be the best at this moment they can get as Republicans into that Secretary of State slot, someone who actually has a relationship with the President and can get approved by the Senate in the next few months.
And so, is he a perfect nominee in their eyes? No, but they also know there`s not a lot of other people on the agenda, on the docket, who could step up and fill in if he fell away.
WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, the malfeasance that cost the job of the Secretary of Health and Human Services now looks like jaywalking and I said that because Mr. Pruitt at the EPA, to be perfectly honest, every day in our editorial meeting and I`m quite sure in yours, someone goes through the litany of charges, sometimes just that day`s revelations or accusations, regarding Mr. Pruitt at the EPA. Again, relying on your reporting, does he continue to enjoy the blessing of this White House?
PARKER: It`s a good question. I mean you saw Sarah Sanders today was asked about it and equivocated a little bit. She said they`re certainly looking at those reports. But this is someone who on the whole, the President likes.
It`s not that they have a particularly warm or longstanding, close, personal relationship. But in a White House that has struggled to really do anything and certainly anything on the legislative front, the President believes that Scott Pruitt at the EPA is successfully, through a series of rollbacks and regulations, promoting and enforcing his environmental policy.
Now, I do have to say there have been some great articles that sort of detail there`s some nuance missing there because sort of in his eagerness to push stuff through, some of it has been done in a sort of shoddy and sloppy way and is not standing up to court challenges. So he is not actually doing all the things that the President thinks, but he is someone who the President can affirmatively point to and who conservative groups are still really strongly supporting as pushing the President`s agenda. Now, if that is enough to carry him through, I don`t know, another cascade of stories, we sort of don`t know yet. But even when people in the White House and the administration are sort of furious and ready to throw up their hands, the President isn`t, and he is the person whose voice and decision matters at the end of the day.
WILLIAMS: You guys all brought your midweek game to start us off on a Monday night. And we sure appreciate the conversation and the reporting from Robert Costa, from Ashley Parker, from Jonathan Lemire. Great appreciation on a Monday night.
Coming up for us, Donald Trump holds his first state visit as he welcomes the French President to Washington.
Later, Bush 41`s biographer, Jon Meacham, standing by to talk to us about the health of the former president, which has sadly taken a bad turn. He`s in ICU and critical in Houston tonight, just days of course after his wife`s funeral.
THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on a Monday evening.
WILLIAMS: French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Washington for the first official state visit of the Trump presidency. This evening the President and the First Lady took the Macrons to Mount Vernon to tour the home of George Washington with a U.S. park service tour. And tomorrow night, the Trumps will host the Macrons for the first state dinner of the Trump administration.
In a break with tradition, much was made of this over the weekend. No Democratic members of Congress have been invited to the event.
Macron arrives wanting to conduct business, especially the topics of trade and the Iran nuclear deal.
Peter Baker of "The New York Times" writes it this way. "Arriving in Washington just weeks before a May 12th deadline for Mr. Trump to keep or abandon the accord, Mr. Macron hoped to use his unusual bond with the American President to make the case that the world was safer with the deal in place. The French leader has promised to work with the United States and European partners to strengthen it."
On Sunday, Macron appeared on the President`s favorite news network and offered this take on not scrapping the deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: What do you have as a better option? I don`t see it.
What is the what-if scenario or your plan B? I don`t have any plan b for nuclear against Iran. So that`s a question we will discuss, but that`s why I just want to say, on nuclear, let`s present this framework because it`s better than a sort of North Korean type of situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: We should note that Macron is not the only European leader who will visit the White House this week to press Trump on the nuclear deal among other topics. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is slated to arrive on Friday, but without the fanfare of a state visit.
Here to talk more all of these, Susan Glasser, Formerly of Politico. We are happy to say newest staff writer for the New Yorker, where she`ll be writing home regularly in the Letter from Washington. And Toluse Olorunnipa, White House Correspondent for Bloomberg, who covered the President`s visit to Mount Vernon tonight for the White House press pool.
Susan, I`d like to begin with you. Set the stakes for us between Trump and Macron.
SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, you know, for the French, it`s enormously high stakes. One European diplomat said to me they`re terrified of the visit here. Remember, Donald Trump is extremely unpopular in France as he is across much of Western Europe.
Our traditional allies obviously feel that they have not had the closest relationship with Trump. To the extent they have had a close relationship, it`s mostly been through the person of Emmanuel Macron. And, you know, so he now needs to prove that he can deliver something.
Now, of course, Trump does not like to be the guy who is seen as giving concessions. And as we know, Trump has been out to get the Iran deal ever since the campaign. He`s now installed a hawkish new Cabinet official to be almost the new Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo publicly in the past has been opposed to the Iran deal.
His new National Security Adviser John Bolton, I was told, has already told French officials basically that President Trump has probably going to decide to kill the deal on May 12th when this deadline comes up. And Bolton said, "You know, if it was me, I`d have already done it three months ago." So it`s looking uphill for Macron`s last-minute diplomacy to save the Iran deal.
WILLIAMS: Yes, that might be the nicest way of putting it. Toluse, for our viewers who don`t know what the pool is other than something to swim in, because all the journalists covering the trip can`t be there, a select tight group of them is allowed to go. So it was incumbent upon you to report back to your print journalist colleagues tonight. Other than smiles and outwardly getting along, what did you pick up from the visit to Mount Vernon?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes, just watching the body language, it`s obvious that the presidents do have a very close personal relationship. We saw the President sort of exchanging this French kiss where they both sort of pecked each other on each check, and they spent a lot of time shaking hands and really spending time together and showing that personal relationship. But for President Macron, the big question is whether or not he`s going to be able to translate that very close personal relationship into policy victories. And we have not seen very many world leaders be able to do that on the world stage, whether it`s President Putin and President Trump saying he wants to get along with Russia and wanting to have close contacts with the Kremlin. That hasn`t translated to a very strong relationship when it comes to policy matters.
The same thing with Prime Minister Abe, who was down at Mar-a-Lago last week playing golf with the President, but he left without getting very many wins during that visit. And it looks like President Macron could face the same fate where he`s trying to move President Trump on the Iran deal, trying to change the President`s mind on some trade matters, even trying to convince the President not to pull out of Syria too quickly because that could lead to more terrorism down the road.
We saw President Macron trying to make that pitch on Fox News. Now he had the opportunity to make the pitch directly to the President. We`ll hear from them both during a press conference tomorrow to see whether or not President Trump actually makes a change. But so far, that has not been the path that we`ve seen President Trump go down. He spends his time very closely with some of these world leaders but then goes right back to his same positions that he had before the world leaders came to visit him.
WILLIAMS: Susan, I have to say that fans of great writing and more specifically your writing were thrilled to see the announcement that you`ve joined the New Yorker. You`re going to be writing regular dispatches to the rest of us from the peculiar land of Washington, D.C. More specifically for your first piece in Letter from Trump`s Washington, this title, "How James Mattis Became Trump`s Last Man Standing." I have a co- worker here who calls him a human guardrail for this administration.
Specifically give folks, until they can read it themselves, a preview of what you`ve written about Jim Mattis.
GLASSER: Well, first of all, Brian, thank you so much for the kind words. It`s really, really over the top.
As you said, there`s a lot of fodder here, and I`ve been really struck by this spectacle right of the purge of President Trump`s national security and foreign policy team over the last month. He really has seized the reins, if you will, of his own foreign policy team. He`s redirected it in a significant way, first firing Rex Tillerson, then firing H.R. McMaster, the purging and the shuffling of officials continues to this day. Obviously Mike Pompeo, the putative now Secretary of State made a big step forward towards confirmation clearing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.
But what I was told that was really significant, I think, was that both -- that there really was a substantive falling out between the so-called adults in the room, the axis of adults, Tillerson and Mattis on the one hand and H.R. McMaster on the other. They were not on the same page, and while in different ways many of them stood up to President Trump at various points over the last year on foreign policy disputes, that actually Mattis, Tillerson, and to a certain extent John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, really disagreed with H.R. McMaster and felt in some ways he had perhaps been to accommodating to President Trump and his desire to see military proposals and solutions to problems. I think that`s very significant. It suggests that the infighting among these folks is part of what triggered the purge by President Trump.
So it`s amazingly toxic environment obviously that`s been going on inside the White House.
WILLIAMS: Well, keep them coming. Our great thanks tonight to Susan Glasser of the New Yorker and Toluse Olorunnipa of Bloomberg in tonight reporting for all the news media who couldn`t report from Mount Vernon. Thanks to you both.
Coming up, an update on President George H.W. Bush, as we said, hospitalized tonight in Houston. His condition critical. THE 11TH HOUR back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON MEACHAM, GEORGE H. W. BUSH BIOGRAPHER: Barbara Bush was the first lady of the greatest generation. As the fiance and then the wife of a World War II naval aviator, she waited and prayed in the watches of the night. During the war, she worked at a nuts and bolts factory in Port Chester, New York, and she joined George H.W. Bush in the great adventure of post-war Texas, moving to distant Odessa in 1948, 70 summers ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: As we`ve said, we`ve learned tonight former President George Herbert Walker Bush, 41, has been hospitalized for an infection that has spread to his blood. Bush is 93 years old. He was admitted yesterday morning to Houston Methodist Hospital, one of the best in the country, just one day after the funeral for his wife of 73 years, former First Lady Barbara Bush.
A statement released from his office reports he`s responding well to treatments and appears to be recovering. With us tonight, the man you just saw. The former president`s biographer, Jon Meacham, presidential historian, and author of "Destiny and Power, a biography of George H.W. Bush."
Jon delivered one of three eulogies on Saturday. Jon, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. And If you would, I`d like to start with an update on his health situation as you know it.
JON MEACHAM, GEORGE H. W. BUSH BIOGRAPHER: Well, I think the statement is operative as they say. I do know that the president very much wants to get to Maine. He wants life to go on. He`s a goal kind of guy as he once described himself in an interview. He believes in missions, and he thinks that one of his missions is to be eating lobster rolls with his family and his friends, and I think he thinks that`s what -- I think he knows that`s what Mrs. Bush would want him to be doing.
And there`s obviously a lot of poetry in the atmosphere right now, but I think we have to remember that this may be one of the few things in his 93 years that`s maybe not in George H.W. Bush`s hands anymore. He`s a fighter. I think he`s going to fight through as hard as he can to stay on this side and stay with his family. But we`re all -- as he once put it, if you`re inclined that way, we`re all praying and thinking about him.
WILLIAMS: I heard you say tonight, and it`s so right, but I hadn`t thought of it this way that this weekend for the first time, the first time in his life since just after Pearl Harbor, there was no Barbara Bush in his life. And I have to say I`ve had the good pleasure of knowing you for a good, long time. And when you`ve written about Andy Jackson, you`ve inhabited their life for a short time. Ditto Jefferson, ditto FDR, and Churchill.
But with the Bush family, Jon, because they have shared their inner most thoughts, their diaries, because you`ve gone in and out for years to Texas, to Maine, you have inhabited their life for a long time. What has it taught you about what we`re watching right now?
MEACHAM: Well, this is one of the great American families. It`s one of the great families, period. They`re not perfect, and they would be the first to tell you that, and Barbara Bush right now is still rolling her eyes about all the praise of the past week. But at heart, they`re a family that is devoted to public service and is devoted to the life of the nation.
I remember asking President Bush a long time ago now, probably 10 years or so. We were sitting in his living room in Houston, and I remember his left leg was propped up on the coffee table, and there was a glass of wine at hand. And I said -- because the standard answer of, why did you go into politics, why did you do all this, was, you know, believe in service, you know, give something back. And I said, well, to be honest, sir, you could have opened a soup kitchen. But you sought ultimate authority in the nuclear age. There had to be something more there. And he raised that big left fist, and he said, my goal has always been to be number one, to finish the job. He said that`s not always good, but it is good. It`s a classic George Bush formulation.
The ethos of the family is a search for excellence. It`s competition, but it`s competition within the rules, and it`s about thinking about the other guy. And one of the reasons I think you saw the remarkable sentiment last week, and what I found biographically, I worked off and on that book for 17 years, a long time. And it was -- what you find again and again with the Bushes is they do believe in the virtues of empathy. George Bush thinks about the other person.
Now, was he a hard-knuckled political figure? Yes. As he once said, he told his diary in the 1988 campaign, you know, politics is not easy. You know, if you want to have the biggest job in the world, you have to press on. He told me once, politics is not a pure undertaking, not if you want to win, it`s not.
So, we don`t have to exaggerate their virtues to celebrate those virtues because those virtues are there. They`re there for us to see. And if you have any doubt about that, if you`re sitting at home and you`re thinking, oh, my god, this is all going to be sentimental again, I submit to you as we`ve said before, the movement from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to where we are now in many ways disproves Darwin. You know, this is -- that was an era that was not perfect but which was superior to our own, and we can learn from that.
WILLIAMS: Thinking about the other guy, an almost quaint notion that perhaps will return to our politics and discourse. Jon Meacham, this is exactly why we invited you to come on tonight. We`re of course all thinking of the former president and the extended Bush family. Our thanks to you, Jon.
Coming up for us, the new must-read look inside what went wrong with Hillary Clinton`s campaign for the presidency. The author of the book that comes out tomorrow with us here tonight.
WILLIAMS: It was been 18 months since Hillary Clinton stunning defeat to Donald Trump and a new book is offering some perspective shall we say on Clinton`s failed, presidential bid from someone who was a long for the ride.
With us tonight, Amy Chozick, returning to this broadcast as the author of "Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling." That`s part of the subtitle that`s going to get to everybody. She`s also a writer-at-large for the New York Times.
And before we get to Hillary, you chose to go really personal in this book. You went personal about your own body and fertility struggles, and your husband, and a flannel shirt which I hope has been delivered to a license land shelf after he`s wearing it for so many days on it.
And it helps the story because we see it through personal lens?
AMY CHOZICK, "CHASING HILLARY" AUTHOR: Oh, thank you. You know, this campaign was such a confluence of the first woman with a real shot at the presidency, a largely female press corps. And so, I really made a decision to write a female campaign book. You know, I`ve read them all and they`re all about great men getting inside the campaigns of other great men. And so this one was really personal. And I think, you know, my personal life happened to be tied to my life covering the woman who wanted to be president but every woman can relate to making these choices based around their own professional lives.
WILLIAMS: If we put your clips up on a whiteboard, every thing, every word you had sent back to New York from the campaign, and then we added to it, the little signs you were picking up, the food on the charter plane, the schedule, the fact that the candidate was fine with you guys being in the back of the plane and didn`t feel the need to be any closer to you.
WILLIAMS: Was it all there? Were all the signs there to an informed eye?
CHOZICK: Absolutely. I mean I look back to Iowa, you know, and I look at, you know, Bernie`s enormous crowds, and we thought she was going to win. But also it didn`t feel like -- the energy didn`t feel like a winning campaign. And I kept sort of relaying that to people. They said, all the data, I mean she`s going to win. She`s got this. I said, yes, you know, you`re right. I believed them. But I covered Obama in 2008. You know, I felt sort of the swell of excitement. That`s not to say there wasn`t excitement for Hillary. There`s just something about it toward the end we were calling it Hillary`s death march to victory. It just felt like why isn`t there more of a swell of, you know, of enthusiasm here for this historic campaign?
WILLIAMS: And yet when it came time for that night, this news organization wasn`t prepared. I read that "The New York Times" didn`t have a piece ready for Donald Trump as elected president. We now know there was no acceptance speech ready at Trump Tower. And you didn`t get to write the A- 1 lead-all front page madam president. Nobody did.
CHOZICK: Oh I wrote it. It just didn`t run.
WILLIAMS: Well, yes, yes.
CHOZICK: I have a beautiful nut graph that just never ran. You know, absolutely. I think we were all basing this on, you know, conventional wisdom and certainly even both of the campaigns thought the outcome would turn out differently. But in the book actually the person that was least surprised was Hillary Clinton. She almost sort of never -- she never really -- even though of course she thought she was going to win, she was the happiest I`ve ever seen her in 10 years of covering her on that final day on the road. But when she finally, you know, hit the realization, she thought they were never going to let me be president, it`s what she said. She`s had that defeatist ideal all along, that she thought the level of misogyny and hatred for her in the country was bigger than any of us sort of anticipated.
WILLIAMS: As you have back you have at least a chapter devoted to this and your unwitting role in a Russian operation. Were the Podesta e-mails, any e-mails we see leaked and published, the same kind of theft as reaching into someone`s apartment and taking something?
CHOZICK: I don`t think it`s the exact same thing, but certainly I think that we have to assess these things on a case by case basis, how newsworthy they are versus how we acquired them. I mean if you think about the Russians breaking into to Brooklyn and physically stealing files that they have been disseminate to every news organization, I wonder how we would approach that. I think we`re in this brave new digital world and so I`m not saying we -- they`re the wrong thing or the right thing, just after, in retrospect, I think there are a lot of questions to be answered especially because these Russian hacks are going to continue to happen.
WILLIAMS: Well the books moves like freight train. And speaking of freight train, your press tour is just starting.
CHOZICK: It is. It is.
WILLIAMS: So good luck out there.
CHOZICK: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: Maybe you`ll have young journalists covering your press tour and they know the -- they know what that feels like, but --
CHOZICK: I`d love to.
WILLIAMS: Thanks for coming back.
CHOZICK: Thanks for having me.
WILLIAMS: Amy Chozick has been our guest tonight. The book, as we said, "Chasing Hillary". And I`ve always want to say this. It goes on sale pretty much when Tuesday arrives at the top of the hour. So if your favorite local bookseller is keeping the lights on late, that`s why.
Coming up, more on the relationship between President Trump of the U.S., President Macron of France.
WILLLIAMS: We are back. Tonight, the relationship between two presidents, Trump of the U.S., Macron of France, enters its latest chapter. As we mentioned earlier, the two couples dined at Mt. Vernon tonight. Tomorrow night is the state dinner. France is, of course, our oldest ally but this very modern relationship got off to a weird start with Trump contending that somehow Paris had changed and he was fond of quoting his friend with the name Jim.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a friend, he used to like France. Used to. And he was going to France and I said, how`s your trip going? He goes, where? I said, France. He said, I`m not going to France, because France is no longer France.
If you look at what`s happening in France, it`s no longer France. Friends of mine that used to love to go to Paris, they say, we`re not going to Paris anymore. It`s no longer Paris.
I have a friend, every year he goes to Paris. I see him like a month ago. How was Paris this summer? Oh, I don`t go to Paris, are you kidding me? It`s no longer Paris. I said, Jim, let me ask you a question. How`s Paris doing? Paris? I don`t go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So, there was that. And then came their first meeting last May. Trump and Macron shared that intense, lengthy handshake, and it appeared for a minute there Macron was aware in advance that Trump is that guy with the handshake designed to draw you in and take the upper hand. The very next month, President Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord with a parting shot at the host country.
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TRUMP: The Paris agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country`s expense. I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Trump and Macron met again in July, punctuated by Trump`s comments to Macron`s wife.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You`re in such good shape. Beautiful. Go have a good time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Then, the next day, however, the piece de resistance. Macron rolled out the big guns for Trump who loved the military Bastille Day military parade. He was riveted by it and now wants the same thing in Washington. When saying their good-byes, the two men exchanged a more cordial and even longer handshake that kept going for a full 30 seconds. We had to speed it up here in the interest of time.
Later, reports in French media sure seemed to indicate that Macron knew exactly what he was doing. Then, a few days later, President Trump praised macron to "The New York Times" saying, "He`s a great guy, smart, strong, loves holding my hand. People don`t realize he loves holding my hand and that`s good as far as that goes."
And then today, arriving at the West Wing, Macron once again set the bar in terms of intimate, personal greetings by planting not one kiss but moving in for two kisses on the cheeks of the famously germophobic American president. Thought for a minute there they were going to register at crate and barrel.
Coming up for us, we thought we would end our broadcast on a bit of good news tonight. We`re back with that after this.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, perhaps because so much of our news is so grim, a day of genuine joy and celebration today in the U.K., the announcement of the birth of a new prince tonight, the third child for William and Kate. No name yet, but all the glee and all the pomp that the Brits do best starting with the official notice of the birth posted at Buckingham Palace and the highlight of the day might well have been the arrival of big brother and big sister to meet baby brother for the first time.
It was cute as a bug Charlotte who stole the show with her enthusiastic waving to the press corps and admirers. This waving continued with one last look back, wait for it, from on top of the steps. There it is. Good- bye, Charlotte.
Later, mom and dad appeared, Kate wearing a red dress that a lot of people saw as a callback to the day Diana emerged with baby Harry in her arms, and because they do things a bit differently there, William drove off with his wife and new son in the backseat of the Range Rover and a cop sitting up front.
None of the security of, say, an average cabinet secretary in this country, a minimalist motorcade took them back to their place where, for this credit to be named tiny new prince, fifth in line to the throne, his new home really is his castle.
And that was the good news from the U.K. today. That is our broadcast for this Monday evening as we start off a new week. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Good night 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
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