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Trump unleashes attacks on FBI and DOJ. TRANSCRIPT: 05/18/2018. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Guests: Philip Rucker, Michael Schmidt, Jill Colvin, Guy Lewis, Matthew Miller, Matthew Nussbaum, Jon Meacham

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: May 18, 2018 Guest: Josh Gerstein, Mieke Eoyang, Brian Bennett, Daniel Goldman, Jennifer Rodgers, Bill Kristol, Bailey Sobnosky

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Stephen Colbert gets tonight`s last word and this week`s last word.

Coming up, "Washington Post" reporter Robert Costa joins Brian Williams with the breaking news about the FBI informant who met with three Trump advisers during the campaign. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, the president floats out the notion that someone from the FBI infiltrated his campaign. But tonight, new reporting on what an FBI informant was actually investigating inside the Trump camp.

Plus, Rudy Giuliani claims Robert Mueller has narrowed the scope of potential questions for Donald Trump, which would officially qualify as an interesting development.

And we`re live in Santa Fe, Texas, tonight where 10 people are dead, 10 wounded in a school shooting outside Houston as THE 11TH HOUR begins on a Friday night.

And good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Tonight, the death toll is 10 in Santa Fe, Texas, following this nation`s latest mass school shooting. The accused gunman is in custody. He is 17. We`ll have a live report from Texas ahead in this broadcast, but first, we begin with what was day 484 of the Trump administration and the president`s new attacks on the FBI stepping up the pressure on the bureau and the Justice Department as part of his latest moves to cast doubt on the entire Russia investigation as led by Robert Mueller.

Today, the president issued these messages raising the possibility of a government informant who was inside the 2016 campaign, "Apparently the DOJ put a spy in the Trump campaign. This has never been done before, and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn`t commit." Not long after that, there was this. "Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president. It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia hoax became a hot fake news story. If true, all time biggest political scandal."

Here`s how Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani responded this morning when asked about the president`s allegations.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Now, here`s the issue that I really feel strongly about with this informant, if there is one. First of all, I don`t know for sure nor does the president if there really was one. We`re told that.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Told that by whom?

GIULIANI: We`re told that by people who -- for a long time, we`ve been told that there was some kind of infiltration. At one time, the president thought it was a wiretap. There were some FISA applications. But we`ve never been notified that he was on a tap or an intercept. It may turn out to be closer to the truth than people thought because if they`re -- we`re told there were two infiltrations, two embedded people in the campaign. And --

CUOMO: Now, when you say you were told, just let`s --


CUOMO: -- clear the record. You mean you`re gleaning this from the reporting that`s out there?

GIULIANI: No, the reporting corroborates what people have told us off the record. You don`t know if they`re right or not. The point is that it could -- the whole investigation is totally legitimate.


WILLIAMS: A number of media outlets have reported that in the early stages of the FBI inquiry into possible Russian campaign meddling, an informant provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI. A story out tonight from the "New York Times" says the bureau used the informant to investigate Russian links to the campaign but not to do any spying. The "Times" reports, "In fact, FBI agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign. The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page."

Some of the president`s supporters in Congress have called for the informant and their exact role to be publicized. This week FBI director Chris Wray, who was appointed by Donald Trump, pushed back.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Human sources in particular who put themselves at great risk to work with us and with our foreign partners have to be able to trust that we`re going to protect their identities, and in many cases, their lives and the lives of their families. The day that we can`t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.


WILLIAMS: That was important right there. "The Washington Post" has also been working on this story and reports that a secret FBI source for the Russian investigation made contact with three Trump advisers during the campaign.

The "Post" reports that, "In mid-July 2016, a retired American professor approached an adviser to Donald Trump`s presidential campaign at a symposium about the White House race held at a British university. The professor took the opportunity to strike up a conversation with Carter Page, whom Trump had named a few months earlier as a foreign policy adviser. The professor was more than an academic interested in American politics, he was a longtime U.S. intelligence source. In late summer, the professor met with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis for coffee in Northern Virginia, offering to provide foreign-policy expertise to the Trump effort. In September, he reached out to George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy adviser for the campaign, inviting him to London to work on a research paper."

Now, it`s a lot. We`ll grant you that. Robert Costa is among the co- authors of that piece we just read you. And as a national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS, he has been kind enough on a busy night to join us by telephone.

Robert, I know your job is to report and not contradict, but what we just heard from Rudolph Giuliani, but I`m looking at my notes. He used the word embedded. Through your reporting, was this person embedded in the Trump campaign?

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Brian, good to be with you. Still working on this story. It`s important to know and we -- and the "Times" notes this, but especially in the Post story, we say, we still do not know a lot about what this FBI source was doing, who deputized him, if anyone, within the intelligence community. We have no evidence so far and we put this in our story, that this FBI source was embedded in the campaign.

But it is clear based on our reporting through many, many sources, working with my colleagues, that this source did brush up against the Trump campaign in various ways, meeting with these three Trump campaign advisers and providing information to the federal government. A longtime intelligence source that has now been used as part of the Mueller investigation.

WILLIAMS: In the trade, as I understand it, there is a huge gulf of difference between someone who is an informant and someone who is a mole. We have guests standing by to help us flesh that out. How does this appear to differ from this charge we`re hearing from Giuliani, perhaps led or abetted by the president, that this was a spy effort greater in national significance than Watergate?

COSTA: At this point, Mayor Giuliani and President Trump, what their assertions, they are functioning with limited knowledge, it appears, because by using the word embedded or these kind of words, it doesn`t really seem to line up with our reporting. However, we still need to learn a lot more about this source. And what we`re finding out is that this was not a mole. This was not someone who was working inside of the campaign. But this was someone who was learning more about the campaign through meetings.

And, for example, we have Sam Clovis, who was national co-chairman of the campaign, going on record through his lawyer, saying that he was -- he met with this source, this professor, for coffee in Northern Virginia in September, the fall of 2016. And yet the source never said anything about meeting up with George Papadopoulos or Carter Page. And now looking back, Sam Clovis finds that unusual. And so we`re just trying to piece together the reporting.

What`s important about this story is that we`re learning more about the origin of the Russia investigation. We knew about the Steele dossier, but what else? And that`s what we`ve been trying to piece together. And this FBI source is an important part, but there`s still much to learn.

WILLIAMS: Let me ask you one final question. It has to do with journalism as a trade as much as your work, and that is that your work and "The New York Times" tonight have walked right up to the line of giving this guy`s name out. It is not difficult to figure out who it is if you`re in the line of work that he is. I note that on social media, other people have already speculated as to his name. If he is outed, that burns every conversation he`s had going back 15 years. How do you approach something like that?

COSTA: It`s a very delicate situation. We know the name. As we put in our story, we are aware based on our reporting of who this source is. However, it has been told to the Post and likely to the "Times" that there is a risk to different intelligence operations, perhaps human risk, by putting the name out there. The "Times" published their story first tonight. The Post working on it concurrently published soon after.

And at this point, we have provided the information we have publicly about the source because we have talked to the people who have interacted with that source and we`re trying to provide as much public information to readers who are curious about the origin of the Russia investigation without causing any kind of danger to human life. But you`re right, Brian. Journalism is full of nuance and gray areas.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for the honest answer, and thank you at 10 minutes after 11:00 on a Friday night for calling in to the Broadcast. Friend of the broadcast, Robert Costa from "The Washington Post."

Let`s bring in the rest of our leadoff panel for a Friday night. Josh Gerstein is with us, White House reporter for POLITICO. Mieke Eoyang is with us, an attorney and former staffer for House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. And Brian Bennett, White House reporter for the L.A. Times, all of whom returning to the broadcast having been guests of ours.

Let`s see here. Where to begin? Mieke, I want to read you part of "The New York Times" reporting, and perhaps we`ll begin by getting your reaction here. According to people -- this is about Michael Flynn. This is buried tonight in "The New York Times," second to last graph. According to people with Mr. Flynn`s -- familiar with Mr. Flynn`s visit to the intelligence seminar, the source was alarmed by the general`s apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance. The concern was strong enough that it prompted another person to pass on a warning to the American authorities that Mr. Flynn could be compromised by Russian intelligence.

Mieke, it used to be possible to live a life in America and not meet or run into a single Russian in the course of your life in this country. Does the previous reporting by Bob Costa -- does this paragraph from "The New York Times" -- does it all mean anything to you in a larger extent?

MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE STAFFER: Yes. What it shows is that the Russians were very serious about trying to get close to the Trump campaign. They knew that he had a serious chance of becoming president and did become president, and they were interested in getting as close to his national security advisers as they possibly could.

Now, remember General Flynn was also a very senior leader in the U.S. intelligence community before then. So he would have been of interest to the Russians even absent the Trump campaign. But when you have a Russian woman getting close to him and people worried that he could be compromised, potentially for blackmail or other, it really raises red flags that a senior intelligence official like that would become close to a Russian.

WILLIAMS: Josh, we`ve been anxious to have you on for a number of reasons, chief among them the detail you possess about the FBI detail working for Mueller. As folks understand it, Mueller, under the special counsel regs, gets to use the mechanism of the federal government to conduct his investigation. He is more familiar than most with the inner workings of the FBI, having been the second longest serving director. Tell us about the men and women working under him.

JOSH GERSTEIN, POLITICO REPORTER: Well, Brian, I mean I think there`s been sort of a lack of attention to the FBI group that`s working with Mueller. There`ve been some sensational headlines. People know, I think, about the Peter Strzok text messages and the scandal surrounding those. But the question of who`s doing the day in, day out work and who has for the last year or so, I think, has really gotten lost here.

And so what I tried to do in a story this week is profile a number of the individuals that have been put onto this team helping Mueller conduct this investigation. A number of them have longstanding ties to some of the other prosecutors on Mueller`s team, such as Andrew Weissmann, one of the top FBI agents who`s handling this investigation, has been working almost 20 years ago. I met Weissmann working on the Enron investigation.

And then you have all kinds of people drawn from various ranks of the FBI, counterintelligence agents, business fraud agents, people who are computer specialists, people that deal with international money laundering issues. Really a wide variety of people with a lot of different backgrounds, some of them coming from business, some of them coming from even the movie business, believe it or not.

WILLIAMS: Brian, forgive me for skipping around. Also forgive me for taking an eye off the journalism business job billboard this week. I got your publication wrong by just a few days. We`re happy to say Brian is now operating under the "Time" magazine banner. Having said that, I invite you to watch this along with us and our audience. This was Sean Hannity from this evening. We`ll talk about it on the other side.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This is the biggest abuse of power, corruption, scandal we have seen in the history of this country. Talk about Watergate. This is Watergate on steroids and human growth hormone. What is playing out right now is nothing compared to Watergate.


WILLIAMS: So, Brian, there you have it. That`s the talking point. We`ve seen it now for the better part of 24 hours. Is this what we can expect more of going into next week?

BRIAN BENNETT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes. This is part of a pattern President Trump and his allies like Sean Hannity are trying to undermine Mueller`s investigation and undermine the FBI`s longtime investigation into the ties between Russian officials and Trump`s campaign.

And so when Trump does things like says that an FBI informant was embedded in his campaign, that`s an intentional exaggeration of the known facts to try to make it look like there was impropriety and overstepping of bounds when, you know, what we know based on the reporting from "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" is that this appears to have been an informant who was stepping around the outskirts of the campaign, brushing up against people, trying to collect information that the people in the FBI was interested in to try to glean what kind of connections they may have had to Russian officials at the time.

And so you`ve got this pattern here of President Trump and his allies like Sean Hannity talking about wiretaps in Trump Tower when what`s publicly known is requests for lifting names inside FISA warrants and talking about embedding people inside of a campaign when what`s publicly known was much short of that.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Mieke, given your past experience with intelligence community product on the Hill, how uncomfortable are you with this discussion of informants in the public sphere with how close to naming the guy two major publications have come tonight?

EOYANG: I`m very uncomfortable with this. The identities of people who are confidential informants are very closely held. In a congressional investigation, when there`s an ongoing investigation, they won`t even talk to you about that information because they`re trying to protect the integrity of the investigation. And we really do worry about the ability to get people to cooperate with U.S. intelligence services to identify threats to the country, to identify places where we as a nation might be vulnerable.

The idea that we and the people who are in touch with this person might reveal his name publicly could jeopardize all kinds of other investigations. We`re really crossing a line here where the president`s allies are pushing for the destruction of FBI`s basic investigative tools that they need to keep the nation safe.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Josh, it is -- we`ve been led to believe it is fairly late in the game where this investigation is concerned, and yet just now we`re hearing more and more about a figure familiar for so many years to so many of us, and that`s Roger Stone. A second aide to Roger Stone has been subpoenaed now. What does this all mean to you?

GERSTEIN: Well, it suggests to me that there`s still an element of wishful thinking in the White House`s talking point that we saw even the vice president of the United States roll out in the last few days, that this investigation either is wrapping up or should be wrapping up. I haven`t seen any diminution of effort by Mueller`s team. It is right that since they`re negotiating with the president, it suggests they`re coming close to a final phase of the investigation. But in terms of seeing witnesses come and go from Mueller`s headquarters or come in and out of the federal courthouse in Washington, I have yet to see any indication that this is an investigation that`s ramping down.

WILLIAMS: Brian, we saw Donald Trump kind of sarcastically congratulate America yesterday. We saw him go there even further today on Twitter. One of our producers went ahead and checked the weather for Washington tomorrow morning. It appears showers may make golf impossible. Does that mean we`re looking at perhaps more Twitter activity tomorrow?

BENNETT: I`m sure if the president is housebound because of the weather, that he`ll be spending a lot of time watching television and writing on Twitter. We also have to remember that there was a rainy weekend in Bedminster after which President Trump, after seeing headlines about the Russian investigation, decided to fire the FBI director, James Comey. And so it`s -- it`s not -- it hasn`t been a good pattern for his venting his anger when the weather is good and he can`t -- the weather is bad and he can`t get out and play golf.

So, I would anticipate a weekend of the president stewing about this and looking for ways to further make his case and try to undermine the Mueller investigation and make these arguments that it should be wrapped up and that it`s a hoax.

WILLIAMS: Brian Bennett of "Time" magazine, Josh Gerstein, POLITICO, Mieke Eoyang of the law. Our thanks for all of you for coming on a Friday night late.

And coming up for us, Rudy Giuliani says Donald Trump would testify tomorrow if this were about the truth. In real life, he says they`ve narrowed the list of possible topics. We`ve got two southern district of New York veterans to evaluate what all that means.

And later, the number of investigations into EPA chief Scott Pruitt can no longer be counted using merely both hands. The 11th Hour at the end of the week on a Friday night just getting started.



GIULIANI: The president would testify tomorrow if it was about the truth. The truth is he had nothing to do with Russia. You`ve got people that are going to ask him questions about, what did you say to him, what did you say to him. You`ve got Comey coming forward who will lie. They believe Comey rather than -- look, it`s like Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart never would have gone to jail if she hadn`t gone and testified. What do you think, we`re stupid?

CUOMO: She lied. She lied.

GIULIANI: Arguably, lying is black and white. It isn`t black and white. The president is not going to lie. Let`s get that straight.


WILLIAMS: Rudy Giuliani on a possible Trump interview with Robert Mueller. While he and the president keep up their attack on the investigators and the investigation writ large, he did say today Mueller has agreed to narrow the scope of questioning.


GIULIANI: They sent us a response. I can`t go into detail, but narrowing the subjects for questioning down to about two. And --

CUOMO: From all like 50 of those --


CUOMO: -- that list that came out from Sekulow?

GIULIANI: You could actually have divided those, and I did into like five categories, subject areas.

CUOMO: All right, that`s fair. Five, maybe seven.

GIULIANI: So three of them are out. I mean, no secret that the whole thing with Michael Cohen is out because that`s in the Southern District of New York.


WILLIAMS: As we mentioned, Donald Trump and his allies are also upping the pressure to get their hands on that DOJ memo written by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. It outlines the parameters, the scope of Mueller`s authority. Giuliani told POLITICO today that this so-called scope memo should be shared with Trump`s legal team. He said, "The only document we want to see is the document to give Mueller his authority. For a year, they haven`t shown it to us."

A lot to talk about. And here with us to do it, Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Jennifer Rodgers, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. These days, executive director of the Columbia Law School Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity.

Somewhere Preet Bharara is saying, boy, I hired good, sharp people. Jennifer, we`ll start with you. What`s in it for Mueller if ruddy Giuliani is telling the truth, to narrow the scope in questioning for Donald Trump?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: What`s in it for Mueller is he may actually get this interview done, right? I mean, they`re negotiating terms. They`re negotiating the length of the interview, the subject matter. I don`t know about two subjects unless those subjects are collusion and obstruction, but I wouldn`t be surprised that he is negotiating with them about what the subjects are going to be in an attempt to get them to finally sit down.

WILLIAMS: Daniel, what would make the president less valuable? What would be Mueller`s motivation to agree to a narrower list?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, to me, it indicates that he`s not looking for a long fight, and he doesn`t really want to subpoena him. And there could be two reasons to do that. One is, he`s just not that important a witness for the ongoing investigations. On the obstruction side --


GOLDMAN: -- it`s -- well, on the obstruction side, it`s really to hear him out and give him an opportunity to give his side of the story because he would be the one who was committing the obstruction. On the collusion side, they may just have determined that -- and this is speculation, but they may have determined that he was really too far removed from what they`re seem to be focused on.

The other reason is I think Mueller probably recognizes that if he doesn`t do a voluntary interview and subpoenas him, it`s going to really prolong this investigation much longer with months of litigation. And so to me, by demonstrating a willingness to negotiate, it does seem to me like he doesn`t want the fight of a subpoena.

WILLIAMS: Jennifer, the scope memoranda, is this possibly be careful what you wish for? Because if it becomes public and it shows Mueller has a huge latitude, who gets helped by that?

RODGERS: It could be. It could be. I mean if that memo becomes public, I think that memo describes in a fair amount of detail why the special counsel is being allowed to investigate what he`s being allowed to investigate. So, I think he probably doesn`t want that out there because it`s probably pretty damning to the president. You know, whether he wants to see it himself, just the legal team so that they know exactly what they`re facing, I`m sure that they want to see it, which is really outrageous. I mean, when does the subject of a criminal investigation ever get to see an internal memo describing that investigation? It`s absolutely unheard of.

WILLIAMS: And, Daniel, because it`s germane as of tonight, please lay out for us as a former fed the difference between an informant and a mole. Rudy Giuliani used the word embedded saying, one, maybe two people were embedded in the Trump effort.

GOLDMAN: The biggest and most easiest -- or the clearest difference is that a mole or an undercover agent is an employee of the law enforcement agency. So in this case, it would be an FBI employee who acts as an undercover agent. A confidential informant is someone who provides information to the FBI but does not work for the FBI. And they could be -- they come in any number of different ways. They could be people who have criminal exposure themselves. They could be people who just provide information.

WILLIAMS: Concerned citizens.

GOLDMAN: And -- yes, and particularly in the counterintelligence area. You have to distinguish the counterintelligence area from the criminal investigative area. In the counterintelligence area, there are a boatload of informants that just provide information, not in connection to a criminal investigation, but just for national security reasons.

WILLIAMS: Jennifer, why are we just now hearing about Roger Stone?

RODGERS: So what I think is going on, and I`m very pleased with this development, is that they are now getting to one of the huge areas where we know there is criminal conduct but it hasn`t been charged yet, which is the hacking, right? The hacking into the DNC, Podesta.

WILLIAMS: We expect that to be the next tranche of indictments.

RODGERS: Exactly. And Roger Stone may be at the center of that to the extent there is Trump team involvement in those crimes. So I think now they`re really focusing in on that. They`re finishing up that piece, and I`m hoping to see an indictment on that fairly soon.

WILLIAMS: And Daniel, if you`re -- excuse me, if you`re Roger Stone or his two colleagues, why is it bad to see your name surface in this so late in the game?

GOLDMAN: Well, Roger Stone`s name is only surfacing because employees of his are being subpoenaed. Roger stone has gone on record to say that he hasn`t yet heard from Bob Mueller`s investigation. If I were Roger Stone, I would reach out myself to Bob Mueller`s investigation if I`m trying to get myself out of trouble, because now would be the time to begin to cooperate because otherwise I think he`s going to see himself on the other side of a V.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Daniel and Jennifer, two veterans of the Southern District of New York, thank you so much for sharing part of your Friday night with us.

Coming up for us, what`s happened to the party designated by that letter R that comes after an elected representative`s name? They were unable to agree on something very big and very basic just today in that building when "THE 11TH HOUR" continues.


WILLIAMS: This next segment is about politics and not farming, but having said that, today on Capitol Hill a major GOP farm bill failed to pass the House after the Conservative Freedom Caucus broke ranks with President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan.

New York Times puts it this way. "This year`s bill has become something of an MRI into the soul of the Republican Party ahead of the midterms, revealing divisions, dysfunction, and jockeying agendas within Congress and the West Wing."

The folks at Vox write today about the emerging struggle between GOP lawmakers and the leadership, quote, "When members look behind the curtain and the emperor has no clothes, then it becomes contagious," said James Wallner, a political scientist and former executive director of the Senate Steering Committee. And that`s what leaders don`t like.

So far they have been successful in convincing members that it`s not good for the majority. Well, with us tonight is Bill Kristol, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, Editor at Large of Weekly Standard, who not unlike the von Trapp family has fled to the mountains, tonight finds him in Colorado Springs, but he`ll be back east, I`m told.

So, Bill, again, use the farm bill as our vehicle in telling us how it is the President`s tweeting support for the farm bill, Mr. Ryan, the speaker of the House from the President`s own party, they have the majority, how it is that it failed.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: It`s rare for a bill to be brought to the floor of the House and have it to go down. Actually, had a vote that usually pull it first. I suppose they decided they just go ahead with the vote and let the chips fall where they may.

But it does show that Paul Ryan, the speaker, his hold on the party is beginning to crumble. I suppose that was to be expected. He`s a lame duck. There`s a reason most speakers have not announced their retirement months ahead of time. They haven`t announced they were going to step down at the end of the year because they have a lot of power over members. They can threaten, and promise, and pledge various things. And suddenly you`re the lame duck speaker.

People are a little less intimidated. The Conservatives were rebelling against the farm bill on pretty standard conservative reasons. I`m still pathetic to a lot of it. It`s kind of a hodgepodge, special interests and payoffs to various groups, and it`s been a traditional, you know, limited government conservative complaint, the farm bills, and liberals have disliked it for various reasons as well.

The conservatives were rebelling because it looks like Paul Ryan has cut a deal with the moderates who were signing a discharge petition, something that rarely gets to 218 votes -- signatures. It`s not quite there yet, to allow a vote for DACA, for the young people who are here in the country to be given legal status. A lot of -- some moderate Republicans and an increasing number were combining with Democrats to try to discharge that legislation.

So basically, you`re seeing the beginning of loss of control by leadership over both the conservative wing and the moderate wing of the party.

WILLIAMS: Kind of unbelievable that through the farm bill, the DACA matter, may finally get a hearing in the House. I want to show you a spontaneous thing that happened today at the White House. This involves number two at VA, who has been running the show in the absence of a secretary, Mr. Wilkie. President Trump decided on the fly to make an announcement about him today. We`ll talk about it on the other side.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: And acting Secretary Wilkie, who by the way has done an incredible job at the VA, and I`ll be informing him in a little while, he doesn`t know this yet, that we`re going to be putting his name up for nomination to be secretary of the Veterans Administration. I`m sorry that I ruined the surprise. I`ll see you anyway.


WILLIAMS: So that`s how that happened today. Man comes forward, thanks President for his appointment. So many questions, Bill, does this mean there`s been no vetting as of yet? Does this mean he`s already vetted? Does this mean the President lacks respect for the top job, or this is the guy they`ve decided has the rigor to be secretary of VA?

BRISTOL: I mean I believe he was already in the Senate confirmed job, in the Defense Department and he served in the Bush administration at a pretty senior level in defense. He`s acting VA head now. So I think it`s more -- so I think he`s been adequately vetted and I think he`s pretty well respected.

I think this is sort of Trump conceding that let`s make a normal appointments so to speak, instead of my personal White House position and announcing it in a Trumpian way, I suppose, without giving a heads-up to him or anyone else. It`s a little irregular. But in a way this is a victory of the system you might say over Trump. We may end up with a competent VA administrator after all of this, which should be a good thing.

WILLIAMS: It`s quite a tour of the landscape tonight. We`re lucky to have you on a Friday night. Come on back. All is forgiven. Bill Kristol in Colorado Springs tonight, we sure appreciate you taking time to be with us. Thank you.

And coming up for us on this Friday night, a live update from Texas after the nation`s latest school shooting. That`s when we continue.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was scared for my life. Nobody should go through this. Nobody should be able to feel that in school. This is the place where we`re supposed to feel safe. This is somewhere we come most of the week. Nobody should have to go through this, and nobody should feel that pain.


WILLIAMS: Yet again today, this network was on the air for hours of live coverage of a mass school shooting, and yet again tonight, a community has been torn up by it. Ready for this? This was the 22nd school shooting just this year. The death toll stands at ten tonight in Santa Fe, Texas, outside of Houston. Nine students, one teacher are dead. Another ten wounded.

Just days before seniors were set to graduate, a gunman opened fire inside an art classroom. Today, the Washington Post put this relentless loss of life in some perspective. Quote, "2018 has been deadlier for schoolchildren than American military service members.

In this case, he`s a 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis charged with capital murder. No motive yet, just clues, like postings to his Facebook page, one of a t-shirt with the words "born to kill." Same day he posted a black trench coat similar to the one classmates say he often wore to school and wore today in 90-degree temperatures. This one decorated with a nazi iron cross and a communist hammer and sickle, a black trench coat that might as well be made out of red flag.

NBC Senior National Correspondent Chris Jansing has made her way to Santa Fe, Texas, where vigils have been under way tonight. Chris, good evening.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Brian. There were a lot of tears shed tonight, hundreds of people turning out. This is a community that is going through something we`ve seen, as you pointed out, with gut-wrenching familiarity. A school where shots rang out, where there`s first confusion and then chaos, and then people literally running for their lives.

One of them is with me now. Bailey Sobnosky, who was really very close to where the shots started. You heard them ringing out. When you realized there was an active shooter, Bailey, in your school, what did you do? What was going through your mind?

BAILEY SOBNOSKY, SOPHOMORE, SANTA FE HIGH SCHOOL: I was about 200 feet from the shooter, and when I like had actually realized it, someone had told me they were running from the art hallway, and I asked them what`s going on? What`s happening? They said, there`s an active shooter. He has a gun. I started telling all my friends someone has a gun in the school, and they didn`t believe me but --

JANSING: You started running?

SOBNOSKY: Yes. After the second round of shots, everybody scattered. We finally all believed it, and everybody scattered and ran for the street. There`s a street behind the school, and I ran onto it and ran over to the gas station next door.

JANSING: You have close connections to this. A good friend of yours is in ICU.

SOBNOSKY: Yes. I had found out at the vigil tonight that one of my friends was apparently shot in the neck and in the leg and that she was in ICU tonight. It was very shocking because you never think that it could be possibly someone you know, someone you love.

JANSING: And you knew the shooter as well? Can you wrap your head around that?

SOBNOSKY: Honestly, no. It was -- you never think it`s someone who you walk past every day in the school. It`s someone you see in the hallway. It`s shocking.

JANSING: Nothing ever an indication that he was anything other than football player, somebody who worked out, you said? You would see at the gym or at the track.

SOBNOSKY: Yes. He seemed like a nice kid, but I -- I didn`t know him personally, so there could be something going on that nobody knew about.

JANSING: The vigil tonight, you said you ran into a good friends of yours.

SOBNOSKY: Yes. We actually seen each other when the two school officials had actually came over to the street of tower and maple, and stopped a bunch of kids, saying we need to get a head count. We need you to stay together. And my friend -- I seen her, as soon as I saw her, I grabbed her hand immediately. Her parents were on the way, so we started walking to the gas station.

My family was on the way to come get me too. I would note let go of her arm. And tonight, when I saw her at the vigil, I broke down. We were hugging for a good three minutes. We didn`t want to let go. It was just relief to know she wasn`t hurt, that everything was all right.

JANSING: How are you?

SOBNOSKY: Still shocked, honestly. It didn`t hit me until probably about three hours after. I was in the car with my brother, and I broke down. It was hard to process because there are now people who won`t be there anymore.

JANSING: Bailey, we`re glad you`re OK, and we are so sorry for everything you and your friends and your family have been through. But thank you for taking the time to talk to us tonight. We appreciate it.

She was supposed to take her A.P. exam today, Brian. One week ago was the prom. Now in the parking lot behind me, they just opened the main road here past the high school. You can see all the cars that are still parked there, teachers and students who, like Bailey, ran out when they heard those shots ringing out. Brian?

WILLIAMS: Chris Jansing, thank you for your reporting tonight in Santa Fe, Texas, and our thanks to Bailey for having the remarkable composure to be able to talk on television tonight after this tragedy. We are so sorry for their loss.

Quick break for us, we`re back with more after this.



SEN. TON UDALL (R), NEW MEXICO: There have been reports that you encouraged the use of lights and sirens on your motorcade even though there wasn`t an emergency; is that true?

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: I don`t recall that happening, Ranking Member Udall.

UDALL: You personally requested that on a number of trips.

PRUITT: That no, I don`t recall that.


WILLIAMS: That`s about how it went, the embattled EPA chief is in hot water again. Scott Pruitt appeared before the Senate Appropriates Committee, in a hearing meant to discuss the agency`s budget, but the focus turned quickly to his multiple scandals.


UDALL: Did you personally on your first day ask for 24/7 protection for yourself?

PRUITT: Personally, in the first day, that 24/7 had been determined by the Criminal Enforcement Office.

UDALL: So your answer is "no"?

PRUITT: My answer is I do not direct that on the first day.

UDALL: OK. Well, all the documents dispute that. Do you see a conflict of interest in accepting a pretty good housing deal from a lobbyist couple that has business before the EPA?

PRUITT: Steve Hart is someone that was not registered as a lobbyist in 2017.

UDALL: Mr. Hart had lobbying contact with the Environmental Protection Agency in the first quarter of 2018, period.


WILLIAMS: And just this week after it was discovered that Scott Pruitt uses four separate agency e-mail addresses, the EPA`s internal watchdog agreed to look how the agency e-mails and text messages are archived. Democratic senators and agency lawyers were reportedly alarmed by the possibility that Pruitt could use different addresses to hide conversations from, say, freedom of information requests.

The numbers for Pruitt are pretty stunning. He has 14 ongoing investigations, one pending, and one complete. That`s eight under the EPA Inspector General`s Office, two from the Government Accountability Office, one from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one from the Office of the Special Counsel and two from the White House. As for that completed investigation, turns out Pruitt`s $43,000 soundproof office phone booth was in face a violation of spending laws.

Another break and coming up as we head to the shank of the broadcast, the closing moments of this week, really. If you`re a kid from L.A. as the bride is, then it`s a destination wedding. A final word tonight about what is getting under way just a few short hours from now when "THE 11TH HOUR" continues.


WILLIAMS: The last thing before we go tonight, the incredible journey of Meghan Markle. After the day we`ve had for those in search of good news, this is it. An American is about to marry into the British royal family. While only the truly dedicated will rise four hours from now, Eastern Time, to watch the start of the coverage live from Windsor, let`s take stock of what`s about to happen.

A biracial kid from Los Angeles, a successful actress and activist at a young age, educated at northwestern with a double major in theater and international studies, Meghan Markle is about to marry Prince Harry, youngest child of Charles and the late Diana, in a family run by an actual Queen, who has had her current job and the throne that comes with it for 66 years. And for all the millions who believe Meghan Markle could be the best thing to happen to the British royal family in centuries, along comes British etiquette expert William Hanson with the bracing reminded as told to the New York Post and we quote.

"Prior to royalty marrying commoners, they married other royals whether British or European or aristocrats. These unions were often loveless and didn`t go particularly well, but you know what to do and how to behave. It`s part of their breeding." He goes on, "In America, the class system is celebrity, and our royal family have taken on celebrity status, but they are at a level above this and should be held to higher standards. There isn`t really a duchess or princess finishing school, so it is a lot of the learning as you go on the job, just like Catherine who took advice from Camellia, Meghan will have been talking to those who got the tiara before her."

So, to Meghan Markle of Los Angeles, California, good luck tomorrow. And remember this about members of the royal family, their valets help them put their pants on one leg at a time. Try to enjoy the day and the better than average wedding reception you`ll have, and forgive us if they don`t watch it all live.

That is our broadcast on a Friday night and for this week. Thank you so much for being here with us. Good night from NBC News headquarters in New York.


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