Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: May 16, 2018 Guest: Shannon Pettypiece, Jeremy Bash, Frank Figliuzzi, Chuck Rosenberg, Stephanie Douglas, Robert Anderson
BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: The breaking news we`re covering tonight, Rudy Giuliani says Robert Mueller cannot indict a sitting President. Donald Trump`s financial filing reveals he did pay Michael Cohen who in turn paid Stormy Daniels.
While the leaker of Cohen`s financial record showing those payments is speaking out tonight there are new details on Donald Trump Jr. and his Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.
And in one hour, it marks one year since Mueller was appointed. Tonight, four of his former lieutenants at the FBI are here to talk with us about their former boss and this investigation. All of it as "The 11th Hour" gets underway on a Wednesday night.
And good evening once again from our NBC News Headquarters here in New York. And fair warning right here at the top of the broadcast, we have an unusually high volume of news to get through together in the course of this broadcast and so we will. Day 482 of the Trump Administration, and we are tracking breaking news concerning the Trump White House on multiple fronts, as we say.
President Trump`s lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani is speaking out again on the Russia investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We`re trying to get him to end this. This is not good for the American people, and the Special Counsel`s Office doesn`t seem to have that sort of understanding that they`re interfering with things that are much bigger than them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: More on Mr. Giuliani in just a moment. We know President Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for over $100,000 for what certainly appears to be that payment to Stormy Daniels. We got a first-hand look at thousands of pages of Congressional testimony today about the now infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The Senate Intelligence Committee said today that Russia did favor Trump in 2016.
"The New York Times" has a new report on the secret origins of the FBI`s Russia investigation. The leaker who revealed Michael Cohen`s financial payments said they were prompted to leak because of a troubling discovery that they made. All this as we are just minutes away, as we said, from the one-year anniversary of Robert Mueller being named special counsel. And there is a new report tonight that Giuliani is planning to weaponize the one-year anniversary mark in an effort to end the investigation.
We`re going to break down all of this news tonight with four veterans of the FBI, all of them worked with Robert Mueller. They`ve never been assembled in one place before. But let`s start with President Trump`s newly released financial disclosure forms.
They reveal Trump reimbursed his long-time attorney Michael Cohen, who made that $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. At the bottom of the 45th page of the disclosure, a note that reads, "In the interest of transparency, while not required to be disclosed as reportable liabilities in 2016, expenses were incurred by one of Donald Trump`s attorneys, Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Cohen fully reimbursed -- Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Cohen in 2017."
The category of value would be $100,001 to $250,000. They had to do it by category. But in another footnote, the Office of Government Ethics said information related to the Cohen payment is required to be reported.
Earlier today, Stormy Daniels` attorney Michael Avenatti said this about the disclosure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: I think the President disclosed this on the form because he realized that this juncture, based on advice of the people around him, that he was left with no other choice but to disclose it on the form today. And I`ve said it before, I`m going to say it again, Michael Cohen will lead to the downfall of this President. He will not serve out his term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: In April, Trump said on Air Force One he did not know about the payment or where Cohen got the money.
We`re also following another major headline pertaining to Michael Cohen tonight. "The Washington Post" reporting that Cohen solicited $1 million payment from the governor of Qatar in late 2016 in exchange for access and advice to the incoming administration. The "Post" reports that Qatar declined the offer and that Cohen did not participate in an official meeting with Qatari officials around that time.
In a statement to NBC News, a spokesperson for the Qatari official who was solicited apparently by Cohen said a payment was never made, nor did the official ever even entertain making such a payment.
And more on Cohen from Ronan Farrow in "The New Yorker" magazine. He reports, the source who leaked the Cohen financial records did so because they believed some bank records strangely were missing. "The official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen`s financial activity in a government database. The official worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement released the remaining documents."
Meanwhile, new reporting from "The New York Times" reveals how the FBI kept the investigation into Trump`s campaign secret when it started, so as to not influence the election.
Matt Apuzzo reports, "Fearful of leaks, they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department. Peter Strzok, a senior FBI agent, explained in a text that Justice Department officials would find it too tasty to resist sharing. I`m not worried about our side, he wrote. Only about five Justice Department officials knew the full scope of the case, officials said, not the dozen or more who might normally be briefed on a major national security case."
"The Times" also reports that when the investigation started "a small group of FBI officials knew it by its code name, Crossfire Hurricane. The name, a reference to the Rolling Stones lyric from Jumping Jack Flash. I was born in a Crossfire Hurricane, was an apt prediction of a political storm that continues to tear shingles off the bureau."
We also learned much more today about that June 9th, 2016 meeting, Trump Tower, with members of the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump Jr. and a Russia lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.
Senate Judiciary Committee released thousands of pages of testimony about the meeting today from Donald Trump Jr. and others who have come before them. Among the headlines here, though, it`s a lot, Donald Trump Jr. was anxious for opposition research or dirt on Hillary Clinton. But meeting attendees said no valuable information was provided.
Donald Trump Jr. said he didn`t recall telling his father about the meeting, but as NBC News points out, Trump Jr. was "grilled about a phone call he made to a blocked number during the planning stages of the Trump Tower meeting, but said he didn`t remember who he spoke with. Asked whether his father used a blocked number, Trump Jr. said "I don`t know." This as the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report today that backs the conclusion from intelligence officials that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of helping Donald Trump.
And finally, Shannon Pettypiece of Bloomberg is reporting today that Trump and his legal team are planning to use this one-year anniversary of Robert Mueller`s appointment to, they hope, ratchet up pressure on the special counsel to close the investigation.
With all of that, and our apologies for the volume, let`s bring in our lead-off panel for another Wednesday night. The aforementioned Matt Apuzzo, Pulitzer Prize-winning "New York Times" Reporter, Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at CIA and the Pentagon, also Former Counsel to House Intel, also the aforementioned Shannon Pettypiece, White House Correspondent for Bloomberg News.
Shannon, I looked around the room. And of this group, you were the last one to talk to Rudy Giuliani. So you get to go first with his mindset and what he told you tonight.
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes. That`s what I was doing around 8:00 tonight. So I mean, he basically was going over this idea of whether or not the President can be subpoenaed or a sitting president can be indicted. He says that he talked to the Special Counsel about this a couple of weeks ago and they told him that they`re following some current DOJ guidelines that have been in place for a long time that his interpretation of says a sitting president cannot be indicted and a sitting president cannot be subpoenaed for a civil matter.
All this and watching him just now on Fox News, I get the sense increasingly that the President`s legal team is heading to a court fight if need be over this interview. They are starting to dig their heels in and indicating that they will battle this in court. And this is a President who doesn`t mind a circus, a spectacle. He doesn`t mind a battle. So I could, you know, increasingly see that direction that this is all going into.
WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, we never ask you to come on this broadcast in your capacity as a lawyer, but there`s no avoiding it. You are one. So you`re going to get a dual question here.
Does it seem likely to you that Mueller would, without exertion of any leverage, agree to a condition or a statement by Rudy Giuliani? And is what we`re talking about settled law at all?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: No and yes. In the following respects, Brian, which is, if you look at the 1973 Office of Legal Counsel Department of Justice memo during the Nixon impeachment era, and then the subsequent October 2000 memo that was written after the Clinton years, what those memos say is that a president cannot be indicted because to convict a president criminally would deprive us of a commander-in-chief, someone who was required by our Constitution to execute the laws of our country. It doesn`t say anything about the president can`t be subpoenaed or asked to give testimony or asked to speak truthfully on any matter.
In fact, subpoenaed testimony would take what? Four hours to provide? And that`s less time than the President usually spends on the golf course over the course of a weekend.
So you can hardly make an argument that the President would be deprived of his ability to execute his constitutional duties simply by sitting in front of Bob Mueller and telling the truth.
WILLIAMS: Matt Apuzzo, we were all doing fine today, complaining about the lack of volume of work until your book-length article came out in "The New York times" compelling us all to read our computers. For those who haven`t yet and who are just getting home perhaps and dialing in, what did you learn in compiling this piece? Again, part of a shared biline with Messers, Goldman and Fandos, about the origins of this. The early, early stages of this investigation, and how they moved forward to present day, especially in the chant of deep state.
MATT APUZZO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s absolutely right. I mean, we focused on those key first few months from July 31st when Crossfire Hurricane opened through the election, through the end of 2016. Because the core argument that President Trump is making is that inside the FBI, there was a secret cabal working to undermine the possibility of his presidency and that they were out to get him. And that this all started at the end of 2016.
And so we spent several months looking at this. And what we found that far from gunning for Mr. Trump, the folks at the FBI at every turn seemed to err on the side of secrecy in ways that ultimately helped the President. They had opportunities to do things overtly, to interview witnesses. They considered interviewing members of the Trump campaign but opted against doing that because they said, "You know, if this comes out that we`re investigating the Trump campaign at the end of the election, it`s just going to play into Donald Trump`s theory that this is all a rigged system." So they erred on the side of caution, which, of course, stands in contrast to how they decided to talk publicly about the Hillary Clinton investigation at the end of October 2016.
And lastly, one of the things that I think is really interesting is that one of the people who has really become kind of the bette noire for the Trump team is one of these agents, Pete Strzok, you know, and they`ve cast him at the center of this. What we actually found is that he was actually arguing to be more aggressive in the Hillary Clinton case and actually clashed with DOJ and argued we should be more willing to use subpoenas and search warrants in that case. So it`s just becomes -- it becomes really hard to draw a really good Venn diagram on, you know, what the deep state would look like here.
WILLIAMS: Wow, another story line, ruin by too much checking.
Hey, Jeremy, of the two other stories in our laundry list at the top of the broadcast, how do you rank the Cohen roll in the financial disclosure by the President today? And "The New Yorker" reporting tonight that these bank records were somehow missing and that`s part of what compelled the leaker to leak.
BASH: Yes, the first story, Brian, is shocking, but obviously not surprising. We know the President lied when he said he knew nothing about the payments to the adult film actress. And obviously when the President filed a formal financial disclosure form, he had to come clean. And so it does shock the conscious to see in black and white the President`s payments to that individual. But none of us should be surprised.
On the issue of Ronan Farrow`s story about the missing documents from the Treasury database, that is very concerning. I mean, there are a lot of questions about that. Why would documents be missing? Is it because somebody inappropriately removed them? Or is it because Bob Mueller got his hands on them? Or is it because they were segmented and compartmented because they`re part of a broader investigation? We just don`t know.
And I do think it`s strange that someone came forward, admitted to Ronan Farrow that they leaked this information to Michael Avenatti. That person is obviously in some professional hot water. We don`t know exactly what that person knows or what the underlying facts will reveal.
WILLIAMS: Matt, back up to you for one second. I meant to ask you about the Donald Trump -- another aspect of our lead story, the Donald Trump Jr. testimony that dropped today. So much testimony to get through from the Senate side. Any big headlines stick out for you from that?
APUZZO: Look, I thought one of the important takeaways here was right at the top of that meeting, Donald Trump Jr. says to the Russians in his office, I hear you have some information for us. And it really just set the tone. This is something that, you know, a lot of people have written about.
The argument from the Trump team in that meeting was, you know, there was no collusion. But it appears from these documents it wasn`t for lack of trying, right? I mean, they were told we have -- these Russians have dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government`s support for Donald Trump. The response was I love it. And they were disappointed that this meeting turned out to just be about, you know, sanctions -- Russian sanctions. So I think there was no bombshell, but it certainly felt like it colored in the edges of the picture that we already knew.
WILLIAMS: Now Shannon, one of the things you are familiar with is the White House briefing room. You can`t hide from us. We see you on camera there all the time, and you`re going to presumably be back there tomorrow with Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the podium.
In one way, I want to ask you, which of tonight`s headlines do you think will stick? Which one will people still be asking about tomorrow? And will the answer be any more than a deflection?
PETTYPIECE: Well, I mean, I`m hesitant to say because I don`t know what the headlines are going to be between now and 1:00 p.m. when the briefing is.
WILLIAMS: That`s true, we`ve got couple of hours, yes.
PETTYPIECE: So I usually don`t think about my briefing questions more than half an hour ahead of time because I don`t know what can happen between now and then. I mean, I think certainly the Ronan Farrow report. I don`t know if the White House would be able to weigh in on that at all if it`s a Treasury issue. But certainly they oversee the Treasury so that`s something they could go to.
I mean, there are still a lot more we would like to know about the President`s financial disclosures. He appears to solely to be in control of 500 LLCs. We know the revenue that his businesses have generated but we don`t know how much of it his personal income because of they way it`s reported. So we still don`t know how much of that actually profit that goes into the President`s pocketbook.
I mean, and then I guess who knows what`s going to happen with continuing issues with China and those tech companies, ZTE, the Middle East, not to mention everything going on there. So there will be plenty to talk about. It will probably be another rapid fire round for us all.
WILLIAMS: Well, so we set up tomorrow with an appropriate amount of mystery. With our thanks to Matt Apuzzo, Jeremy Bash, to Shannon Pettypiece. Terrific lead-off discussion. Thank you all very much.
And coming up for us, we have yet more news to get to tonight. More of tonight`s latest headlines on this busy news day. All of it on the eve, as we said, of the first anniversary of the special counsel investigation. We`ll take a look back at how it started, what we eve learned so far, the questions that remain, and a look at the man in charge from four people who worked for Robert Mueller.
"The 11th Hour" is just getting underway.
WILLIAMS: We`re facing this on east coast time where we`re live here tonight, but Robert Mueller`s investigation will be a year old in less than an hour. So far four former Trump campaign associates have been charged. Three have pleaded guilty and are cooperating. Mueller has also obtained two more guilty pleas while indicting 13 Russians and three Russian companies.
As we mentioned earlier, "The New York Times" has done an extensive report on the origins of what later became the Mueller investigation. President Trump and his allies have launched unrelenting attacks on the inquiry, calling it politically motivated as well as an attempt to undermine him, while issuing threat against the U.S. Department of Justice.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it`s a disgrace. And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point, I won`t. Our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: "The New York Times" report gives us a very different picture of the FBI. Writing this in part, "interviews with a dozen current and former government officials and a review of documents show that the FBI was even more circumspect in that case than had been previously known. Agents considered, then rejected, interviewing key Trump associates, which might have sped up the investigation but risked revealing the existence of the case. Those who saw the investigation up close, and many of those who have reviewed case files in the past year, say that far from gunning for Mr. Trump, the FBI could actually have done more in the final months of 2016 to scrutinize his campaign`s Russia ties."
Well, with us tonight we are so fortunate to have four veterans of the FBI, all of them worked with Robert Mueller. Frank Figliuzzi, Former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence, Chuck Rosenberg, Former Counsel to then FBI Director Robert Mueller, he`s also happens to be a former U.S. attorney. Robert Anderson, Former FBI Assistant Director of Counterintelligence, Former Executive Assistant Director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch. And Stephanie Douglas, Former Executive Assistant Director of the FBI National Security Branch who these days is a Senior Managing Director of Guidepost Solutions.
I jokingly said you`ve never been in the same place before. Not since you were all Feds together, I guess is the answer to that.
Frank, I`d like to begin with you. Your reaction to the way "The New York times" laid out the early seeds, the origins of this case.
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: So isn`t it ironic that the White House has been bashing the FBI as corrupt and targeting the President. But today we find out through the article that quite the opposite was true, that they went to great lengths to set parameters, to be secretive, cryptic, not to tip their hand, in the hopes of not influencing another presidential election. That`s the professionalism that we see in the FBI. And that`s what`s been revealed today.
WILLIAMS: And what happens when you hear the President on "Fox and Friends?" You can hear the host trying to say OK, you know, trying to wrap him up. But when you hear that attack on the corruption at the top of the FBI?
FIGLIUZZI: It goes much bigger than this case. It`s a coop certain about long-term damage to our institutions and the rule of law and the public perception of the FBI that`s being damaged. And ultimately that damages our attempts -- the FBI`s attempts to protect the nation.
WILLIAMS: Chuck, by my calculation thanks to what you`ve told us about Robert Mueller, he`s due to arrive at work in six hours or less. When he does, I presume there won`t be special presentation of bagels and breakfast foods to mark the one-year anniversary. I am guessing it is a meaningless day to him except for another day at work.
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FMR. SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL: It`s another day at work. What I saw when I had the privilege, and I do mean privilege, Brian, of working for director Mueller, is a guy who didn`t pay attention to these sorts of anniversaries. We`ll talk about it. He won`t. Tomorrow is a day that you get up early, you put on your white shirt and your red tie and you go to work.
WILLIAMS: Stephanie, do you think they are able to insulate themselves from the coverage? Do you think they`re watching just enough to hear us bloviate and maybe have a chuckle after work on a Friday night? Do you think they`re as completely monk like and insulated as they can be?
STEPHANIE DOUGLAS, FMR. FBI SENIOR EXECUTIVE: I think they probably are. While there may not be any absolute firm rules around it, I think they`re being very, very careful about how much media they ingest just to make sure that they can do the best, most objective and most comprehensive investigation without being tainted from outside voices.
WILLIAMS: And, Stephanie, a question I`ve asked you before with limited success because I guess no one really knows the answer, what percentage of the Mueller effort do you think we`ve seen above the water in the public domain thus far?
DOUGLAS: I mean, again, I think it`s -- we would be totally speculating if we tried to guess how much Director Mueller has information relative to a full scale investigation. You know, every time we come on, or every time a person gives an opinion about what we`re seeing as far as the investigation, I can guarantee you Director Mueller has more that we do not know. And furthermore, we really shouldn`t know. That`s his job is to keep the investigation discrete, professional, independent, and objective as much as he can.
WILLIAMS: Robert, of course, we learned what we already guess, and that is that just as we all carry around a preference for colors and cars and sports teams, politics are interwoven whenever humans get together, even at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As you look at the reporting on the early days of this case, will you ever look back and say "boy, things should have been done better?" And is there ever a kind of best practices review at the FBI?
ROBERT ANDERSON, FMR. FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: Yes. I mean, Brian, I think we always look at everything we do and try to have an after-action afterwards. You can always be better. And I think in this case, especially because of all the other kind of details that have come out about text message by employees that are currently still there and some that have moved on, I think there definitely will be an after-action review.
The good thing about this is the men and women in the FBI and the United States Intelligence Community look at these types of investigations really, really seriously. And I think they will look at it very hard and see what they can do better next time.
WILLIAMS: Frank, Rudy Giuliani was on Fox News tonight, and I`m paraphrasing. Though he was careful to make the point, this case in the Southern District of New York, he said, "They`ve given us assurances it`s not about us." I was curious to hear that remark. Where do you put this case in the Southern District of New York and the panoply of things that could existentially threaten Donald Trump`s presidency?
FIGLIUZZI: So I don`t believe the case in the Southern District of New York is an island completely onto itself. It just can`t be. So necessarily when you go to the president`s lawyer in his office and you raid it and you seize file, you will inevitably possibly see things that relate back to the special counsel inquiry.
I don`t think it`s entirely called off. I believe that they will share information they find that`s pertinent with the special counsel.
WILLIAMS: Chuck, same question.
ROSENBERG: Yes, I can tell you now putting on my prosecutor`s hat for a minute, Brian, I would not give that type of assurance, particularly if I`m at the beginning of an investigation. I don`t know what people are going to tell me, I don`t know what other documents are going to reveal. So the notion that he -- Mr. Giuliani would have an assurance that it`s not about his client that doesn`t strike me as right.
WILLIAMS: We have a quote here from "The New Yorker" reporting about the financial records, and this is about the official who decided to leak, as reported by Ronan Farrow tonight. The official who released the suspicious-activity reports was aware of the risks but said fears that the missing reports might be suppressed compelled the disclosure.
"Things that stand out as abnormal, like documents being removed from a system, are of grave concern to me. Of the potential for legal consequences, the official said, to say that I am terrified right now would be an understatement. But referring to the released report, as well as the potential contents of the missing reports, the official also added, this is a terrifying time to be an American, to be in this situation, and to watch all of this unfold."
Chuck, what`s your reaction to a quote like that? And what`s the chance, there`s lay audience listening, that the good guys remove these records?
ROSENBERG: Yes. So first question`s first, Brian, I think it`s overblown. There`s a chance that something bad happen. There`s a chance that something nefarious happened but that`s not my instinct. My instinct is that if the record is missing it could be for a legitimate law enforcement purpose. I don`t know that, but I could imagine a bunch of scenarios where that might be true.
And I think there`s a second important piece to that. The Mueller team will have the underlying records. This is just a report of a transaction filed by a bank because they saw something that they thought was suspicious. Banks do that all the time. If we didn`t know anything about the underlying case, then that`s suspicious activity report might point us in the direction of that case. But where we are already on it, where we are already investigating it, we have the underlying bank records. So I think the concern might be overblown. I think there might be an innocent reason for those records not being there. And I`m confident that the Mueller team has all the records.
WILLIAMS: Robert, here`s Mr. Cohen sitting here in New York uncharged. The meter is running and you know something about the hourly rate on a new York law firm. He has a wife and two daughters. He knows he is in legal jeopardy. What do you think his life is like and what do you think the feds are waiting for before charging him, which I guess will tell us if he`s going to cooperate?
ANDERSON: Well, two things. I mean, I`m sure he`s under an immense amount of stress. I mean, he knows what he had in his offices and everywhere else that the FBI and the New York United States Attorney`s Office searched. I think there`s going to be a lot of documents and a lot of things coming out of that. Perhaps Mr. Cohen would not want anyone to see the light of day.
The second part of that, as Chuck said earlier, I totally agree with him, Bob Mueller and his team as Frank said, I`m sure, are sharing information that is needed in the investigation that is a wider scope. So as far as him being charged, I think it could be at anytime, or it might be never. It depends what the charges and allegations of Bob Mueller and his team and the southern district looks at and actually sees it fit the crime.
WILLIAMS: Stephanie, a lot of folks in the civilian ranks didn`t quite understand the dance moves when the case of Mr. Cohen was spun off up the eastern corridor to the southern district of New York, also a federal appointment for U.S. attorney, is there reciprocity and free flow of information between the mother ship, the Mueller investigation, southern district vice versa?
DOUGLAS: I mean, I think it will depend on what information is developed from each investigation. So if there`s applicable information and if it goes through appropriate process, I think there will be information sharing.
WILLIAMS: All right, I just wanted to get the word reciprocity in here somewhere. The panel is staying with us as we fit in a commercial break.
And coming up, more on what we`re learning from Donald Trump, Jr.`s testimony before congressional investigators. Including the number of things he doesn`t remember. Our conversation continues on the other side.
WILLIAMS: A year after a special prosecutor was brought in to explore the depths of Russian meddling in American politics, the threat of Russian interference remains very real. The Senate Intelligence Committee is out today with its findings from its investigation. In a bipartisan statement, the leaders of that committee wrote, "Our staff concluded that the intelligence community conclusions were accurate and on point. The Russia effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton."
The findings contradict the Republicans report released by the House Intel Committee, which the president so often points to as proof of vindication.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were honored. It was a great report. No collusion, which I knew anyway. No coordination, no nothing. It`s a witch hunt, that`s all it is. There was no collusion with Russia. But the report was very powerful, very strong. There was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The question of collusion, of course, has not been decided by the Mueller inquiry. And as we mentioned earlier, we`re learning more about Donald Trump, Jr.`s role in that Trump Tower meeting 2016. As the A.P. puts it, if there`s a single big takeaway from the nearly 2,000 pages of transcripts of interviews with Donald Trump, Jr. and others, it`s that Trump Jr. never thought twice about meeting with people tied to Russia promising dirt on his father`s political opponent.
Let`s go back to our conversation. Frank Figliuzzi, Chuck Rosenberg, Stephanie Douglas, Robert Anderson. Frank, I know you spent a good deal of your time thinking about this. What do our viewers need to know? What have you been able to figure out about the relationship at the heart of this? What is it about Donald Trump and Russia, Donald Trump and Putin?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes. So look, if you study his behavior, the president`s posture toward Russia, which is really a head-scratcher, you`re left to really only one conclusion, that in some form or manner, he is somehow compromised. It could be financial indebtedness, it could be a personal issue that`s been captured. But there`s something not right with this picture. And when we see the top campaign officials during the campaign not only agreeing to sit down with representatives of Russia, but wanting to get dirt on another American, a candidate for president, and then being upset when that dirt isn`t forthcoming.
ROSENBERG: I completely agree. It just doesn`t seem like the president of the United States, any president of the United States would hesitate to criticize a foreign power that clearly interfered in our election. That`s a big deal. And I think sometimes we forget how big a deal that is.
WILLIAMS: Yes, I was just going to say, can we assume that other people on other political campaigns would have the wherewithal to, when an e-mail came in from anyone associated from Russia promising dirt on an opponent in the heat of a campaign, would everyone know to call the FBI?
ROSENBERG: I`m not giving the hyperbole, Brian. That`s a hair on fire moment. That`s not something I think that an ordinary campaign or an ordinary campaign staffer would miss.
WILLIAMS: Stephanie, same question. What do you think it is about Russia and Trump?
DOUGLAS: You know, I mean, we have to remember that Donald Trump did not - - he has not ever held political office before this. I think he`s very unfamiliar with the threats that exist, not just on the part of Russia, but on other foreign governments. But I do agree with what Chuck said. If you get an e-mail -- if you`re Donald Trump, Jr. or any person participating in a political campaign and you receive an e-mail saying a foreign government attorney wants to meet with you in order to provide compromising information relative to your opponent, it should be -- it would make me sick as a national security professional.
I would think that either I`m being very aggressively pursued by a foreign intelligence agency, or honestly, I`m being set up by -- or I`m being tested by a U.S. government agency to see what my response would be. The only correct answer when you receive something like that is to immediately call the FBI. That did not happen, and not only did that not happen, there were efforts to deceive the American public as to the real intent of that meeting that they were unsatisfied with.
WILLIAMS: Wow, that gets your attention. Thank you for the forthright answer. And Robert, there was a sidebar story out there today. We`ve learned there are small stories but no unimportant stories about this plot line these days. This had to do with the guy who handled social media for Roger Stone. He was apparently called in to be interviewed by the Mueller team and excused.
I heard -- I read some speculation about this tonight. And I just want to ask you a general question. Is it possible they call a guy like that in and say, you did social media for Roger, did you sometimes have control over his Twitter account? Did you share it with him so it was sometimes him speaking, sometimes you? And when he promised that dirt was coming out during the campaign, was that you or him? Is that the kind of thing they would ask a kid from the social media department?
ANDERSON: Oh, I think they`ll definitely ask that. They`ll also ask what specifically were your intentions or your orders about, what you were putting on social media and who were you working with? And who were those people working with? I think the one thing that you`re seeing throughout this entire investigation by Bob Mueller and his team is absolutely how thorough they are when they look at an investigation like this. So when they call an individual in like that, they`re not just going to ask him or her about what they`re doing but about what everybody else is doing around them and how they could possibly impact the investigation.
WILLIAMS: To our viewers, because we`re approaching this anniversary tomorrow, while it may not be marked among members of the Mueller staff, we`re sure to mark it tonight. So we`re going to continue this extraordinary conversation with four former Mueller lieutenants. When we come back, the things you may not know about Robert Mueller, like the accounts of his battlefield actions in Vietnam. That and more when we come back.
WILLIAMS: Before Robert Mueller took on the role of special counsel, he already had a long and distinguished career in public service and law enforcement. In a new account of his time in combat as a platoon leader in Vietnam, which we hardly recommend, written by the journalist Garrett Graff in "WIRED" magazine, he quotes two of Mueller`s fellow marines who talked about what young lieutenant Mueller was like in the midst of a fire fight. "He had remarkable composure, directing fire. It was sheer terror. They had RPGs, machine gun, mortars."
Another survivor of the battle says, "Lieutenant Mueller was directing traffic, positioning people and calling in air strikes. He was standing upright, moving. He probably saved our hide."
Lieutenant Mueller was a rare Ivy Leaguer serving as a platoon leader in Vietnam. He`d already gone to Princeton and Army Ranger School for good measure before getting deployed with the marines. He was decorated with the bronze star for his courage and valor in combat and a purple heart for his combat wound. He came back to the U.S., went to law school, spent two decades as a federal prosecutor before becoming the longest serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover.
Frank, Chuck, Stephanie, and Robert are still with us. Stephanie, is this a case -- and we made your bias clear -- is this a case of the right man for the right job at the right time for our country? Our democracy, really.
DOUGLAS: Yes. I mean, director Mueller is a man of impeccable personal integrity. He is unflappable under stress. And I know that that article talks a little bit about some of the incredible experiences he had in Vietnam. And he is -- you know, he will get the job done. And honestly, President Trump should want Bob Mueller to be the prosecutor on this case, because he will be objective. Even if it does not satisfy the demands of the American media or the public or the calling that he hears from so many different voices, he will stay with the truth. He will have to factually back up everything he presents as a finding, and he is the man for the job.
WILLIAMS: Robert, it`s getting noisy out there, as you know. Looking at the resume of Robert Mueller, it`s difficult if not impossible for a patriot to find fault and criticize, and yet we have heard some Trump surrogates criticize Robert Mueller, his methods, the cost of the investigation. To you, what world or phrase do you conjure up when you think of your prior boss?
ANDERSON: Oh, he`s an incredible human being, a great American. He is probably one of the most loyal and dedicated people I`ve ever met in my life. I echo what Stephanie said earlier. It doesn`t matter in this investigation if you`re a Republican, a Democrat, it doesn`t matter. Bob Mueller is going to look at this by the rule of law. He`s going to go through it methodically. And whatever the facts are at the end, I`ll believe what he says.
WILLIAMS: I graphically put up, should include his law degree from UVA. Chuck, what do you want people to know about your old boss?
ROSENBERG: Well, first of all, hopefully he`s not watching this because if he hears what I`m about to say, he would scoff. But it was the honor of a professional lifetime to work for Bob Mueller. By the way, your viewers should know that the three retired FBI agents on your show, Stephanie, Bob and Frank, were at the very top of the bureau and very top of their game. I mean, these are the types of people you want living next door to you.
FIGLIUZZI: Thank you for saying that.
ROSENBERG: That`s what Bob Mueller is. He`s the guy you want living next door to u. He is as straight an arrow as there is. He is brilliant. He is unflappable. And he is a man of tremendous integrity. The honor of a professional lifetime to work for him.
WILLIAMS: Wow. Frank, last word to you.
FIGLIUZZI: I`m struck by the degree to which we`re talking about polar opposites here. When you look at Mueller and when you look at the president. And how they`ve chosen to pursue what they`ve chosen to pursue in their lives. The pursuit of wealth and fame by the president. The pursuit of justice and public service by Mueller. That`s the distinction the public needs to understand.
WILLIAMS: It`s been an honor to have the four of you on. We can`t thank you enough. Frank Figliuzzi, Chuck Rosenberg, Stephanie Douglas, Robert Anderson. Our thanks. The 11th Hour will be back right after this.
WILLIAMS: On one way, not much has changed over the course of the past year. President Trump still calls the special counsel investigation a witch hunt and repeats the now familiar defense of no collusion every chance he gets. On Twitter, he has labeled the investigation a witch hunt more than two dozen times. Since the appointment of Mueller, his first tweet claiming, "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history." Just yesterday, he gave us this, "The $10 million Russian witch hunt, there is no collusion."
Some night the capitol police are going to respond for the use of capital letters. There is one difference in Trump over the year, and it is his respect, as he puts it, for the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt.
There was no collusion. And everybody, even my enemies, have said there is no collusion.
No collusion. No obstruction.
It is really unfair because it`s like a witch hunt. It`s like a witch hunt.
So they`re investigating something that never happened.
When you`ve done nothing wrong, let`s be open and get it over with because honestly, it`s very, very bad for our country. It`s making our country look foolish.
It`s called the witch hunt.
Why don`t I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it`s a disgrace what`s going on. We`ll see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: President Trump on the Russia investigation over these past few months. And coming up for us after another break, just a few weeks ago he was our top diplomat. Well, today, after taking some time to think it over at his ranch in Texas, Rex Tillerson seemed to rebuke the commander in chief to an audience of future military leaders. We`ll show you the video after this.
WILLIAMS: We`re back with the last thing before we go tonight. It`s something "The New York Times" described as a veiled but powerful rebuke to Donald Trump. This is part of a commencement address delivered today by Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump`s first secretary of state. He spoke at VMI. So as you watch this, remember, about half of these graduates are going to go on to become commissioned officers. They are our future leaders.
But some of those who watched Tillerson in office were surprised to hear this. Those who watched Tillerson`s dismissal were not. Here now, Rex Tillerson in Lexington, Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom. A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not, and begin by holding ourselves accountable to truthfulness and demand our pursuit of America`s future be fact-based, not based on wishful thinking, not hoped-for outcomes made in shallow promises.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Interesting words today from the commencement speaker at the Virginia Military Institute, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
That`s our broadcast for tonight. Thank you so much for being here with us.
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