Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: June 7, 2018 Guest: Jonathan Lemire, Nancy Cook, Frank Figliuzzi, Chuck Rosenberg, Bobby Ghosh, Walter Isaacson
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, Rudolph Giuliani`s P.R. campaign fines an unlikely critic, First Lady Melania Trump, while her husband, the President, just can`t stop attacking the FBI director that he fired.
Breaking from "The New York Times" tonight, with Mueller closing in, Manafort`s allies abandon him.
Plus, is rigorous preparation prior to a summit with a cagey North Korean dictator overrated perhaps? The President says the meeting will depend more on attitude.
And on the eve of a visit to Canada for the G7 summit, President Trump insults the host. That would be the Canadian Prime Minister.
"The 11th Hour" on a Thursday night begins now.
Well, good evening, once again, from our NBC News Headquarters here in New York. Day 504 of the Trump Administration, and President Trump assured everyone today he doesn`t need to prepare very much for the upcoming nuclear summit with North Korea, just hours after launching a fresh round of attacks on the Russia investigation.
We are also following a new report from "The New York Times" tonight that details how associates of Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort are abandoning him as Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in. We`ll have more on that in just a moment.
First, the President`s all-out barrage against Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s team, the Obama Administration, and, of course, former FBI Director James Comey. The President wrote on Twitter, in part, Isn`t it ironic? Getting ready to go to the G7 in Canada to fight for our country on trade," capital t, "then off to Singapore to meet with North Korea and the nuclear problem. But back home, we still have the 13 angry Democrats pushing the witch hunt. There has never been a group of people on a case so biased or conflicted. It`s all a Democratic excuse for losing the election." The President also wrote, "When will people start saying thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?
On Wednesday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani called Comey a villain and said Mueller`s team was trying hard to frame the President of the United States.
Jonathan Lemire of "The Associated Press" spoke to Giuliani today and reports the former mayor "has used a media blitz to frequently set and later move the goal posts of the investigation, making public declarations about the probe to color its perception among voters and lawmakers, all while confident that Mueller will never speak up to correct him. Our strategy is, when we weren`t talking, we were losing, Giuliani told The Associated Press. Normally in a criminal or civil investigation, the audience would not be the public. But in this one, it is."
Meanwhile, Giuliani is also facing increasing fallout over remarks he made Wednesday in Tel Aviv about Stormy Daniels. He told an investment conference in Israel that First Lady Melania Trump believes her husband`s denials of an affair with Daniels and attacked the adult film actress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: She believes in her husband. She knows it`s not true. I don`t even think there`s a slight suspicious when it`s true, excuse me, when you look at Stormy Daniels. I know Donald Trump and -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s respect him.
GIULIANI: -- look at his three wives, right? Beautiful women, classy women, women of great substance. Stormy Daniels?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to respect on the stage everyone.
GIULIANI: Yes, I respect porn stars. Don`t you respect porn stars? Or do you think that porn stars --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I respect --
GIULIANI: -- desecrate women? Do you think that porn stars don`t respect women and therefore sell their bodies? So, yes, I respect all human beings. I even have to respect, you know, criminals. But I`m sorry. I don`t respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a woman who has great respect for herself as a woman and as a person and isn`t going to sell her body for sexual exploitation. So Stormy, you want to bring a case, let me cross examine you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: A lot of audience reaction there in that room.
Earlier today, a spokesperson for the First Lady told NBC News, "I don`t believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani." Proof that sometimes the shade from the East Wing can cast a shadow clear over on the West Wing.
And Stormy Daniels` Attorney, Michael Avenatti, spoke to our colleague, Nicolle Wallace, this afternoon, offering his own review of Mr. Giuliani`s remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: This is an absolute disgusting disgrace, and I have to tell you I`m angry. My client`s angry. And every woman in America, whether you`re on the right, the left, or in the center should be angry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The former New York City mayor is standing by his comments on Daniels, telling NBC News today, "Why would I withdraw them? You`re going to tell me being involved in pornography isn`t demeaning to women? I don`t know. Do you have a daughter? Pressed on whether his comments were an effort to undermine Daniels` credibility, Giuliani responded, I don`t have to undermine her credibility. She`s done it by lying."
Good point to bring in our terrific lead-off panel on a Thursday night. Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for "The Associated Press." It`s his work we were reading from earlier. Nancy Cook, White House Reporter for Politico. And Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times." Welcome to you all.
Jonathan, I`m compelled to ask what else did Rudy tell you today, and where do you think we are in this stage of the fight?
JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER," THE ASSOCIATED PRESS": Rudy Giuliani has hit on something that, for the most part, has been effective. It`s a theory he`s been kicking around and I presented it to him today when I spoke to him when he`s still in Israel. The idea that he feels like he can say things about the investigation. He can lay down markers. He can move the goal posts about significant developments, suggesting for instance the special counsel will wrap this up by September 1st, suggesting the special counsel is open to limiting the scope of the possible interview with the President. And he knows he can say these things because the special counsel, as we all know, is working in secret.
WILLIAMS: Silence. Yes.
LEMIRE: That`s exactly right. Robert Mueller is not saying anything at all. He`s not out there correcting complete falsehoods. Nonetheless trying to add his opinion to anything Rudy Giuliani is saying. And Giuliani believes that this is more than -- as much as it is a case of law, it`s going to be a case of public opinion, believing that Mueller will eventually come up with a probe, go to the Department of Justice, that will likely release it to Congress, and then pressure is on Congress, on those lawmakers to make a decision whether to impeach or not. And this is Giuliani`s way of trying to influence them and influence the voters who put them in office.
Now, there have been missteps. The one with Stormy Daniels you just played is one of them. I might add the shade that Melania Trump`s spokeswoman gave Giuliani today came just a very short time after Secretary of State Pompeo from the White House briefing room basically told Giuliani, "Hey, stay out of foreign affairs." We don`t need you talking --
WILLIAMS: He doesn`t make too much.
LEMIRE: -- about the North Korea situation either." But this is a tactic that Giuliani believes is effective. He wants to be aggressive. He told the President -- has told him to keep doing this. And he is trying to sort of set the perception of what`s going on in the Mueller probe.
WILLIAMS: So, Peter Baker, let`s continue right there. They`re winning the noise war. It`s Giuliani one, Mueller nothing. Complete silence, which is their custom and want. But as Jonathan mentioned, there`s this danger of having to be walked back by the First Lady, by the Secretary of State, and their ilk on occasion.
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No, what`s really fascinating is it`s not just that Rudy Giuliani is talking about the Mueller probe or talking about whether the President should be giving testimony or not, whether or not there is collusion or not, whether there`s obstruction or not. He`s wandering far afield in talking about really the President`s marriage, and talking about the President`s foreign policy, this upcoming summit with North Korea. These are things that he`s not, in fact, you know, paid to talk about necessarily except the question is, is he, right? Is this freelancing, or is the President happy that he`s out there saying -- somebody is saying things that even go beyond the investigation?
Why does the President, you know, accept, you know, his lawyer out there saying what he said about North Korea? What he said about North Korea could have upset the apple cart, right? He said that Kim Jong-un came back on his knees begging to have the summit rescheduled after the President canceled. Well, that has a very big potential of upsetting the very prickly North Koreans, and yet Rudy Giuliani said that, and there`s no pushback from the President. There is from Mike Pompeo as Jonathan said.
So, you know, the question becomes is Rudy Giuliani doing the bidding of the President? Is he saying exactly what the President wants him to say? How coordinated is this, or how much is this sort of him, you know, flying off the script and causing some issues with fellow advisers to the President who find themselves surprised and trying to clean up afterwards?
WILLIAMS: So, Nancy, as a well sourced White House reporter, what`s your read on what this does, having Rudy Giuliani around and especially his verbal Rudy Giuliani around? What does this do to and for the President`s mindset?
NANCY COOK, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER POLITICO: Well, I think it does a few things. One, it creates a lot of noise, a word you used earlier which I thought was very apt. And it really throws a lot of facts out there.
You know, some of what Rudy Giuliani says may be on point. Some of it, as Peter said, is very far afield. But the fact of the matter is there`s so much information that he`s putting out there that it sort of distracts often from sort of the core issues of the special investigation because you`re trying to fact-check Giuliani or you`re just following the latest thing that he says. So it`s the noise.
And then secondly, I think it does keep some of the heat off of Trump himself. I was told by a Republican close to the White House recently that the President, yes, thinks that Rudy makes some missteps sometimes but also is sort of getting a kick out of it because Rudy`s taking some of the heat off of him. And I think, you know, the President doesn`t like it when people hog too much of the spotlight. That`s definitely a problem for people in the White House. But if it`s going to take the heat off him and the special investigation, I think he would welcome some of that spotlight to be shared.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan, I keep asking legal types on this show, as a layperson, can Rudy just do this? Can he continue to say that they`re framing the President of the United States? And the answer seems to be unless he is, you know, an attorney attached to a case that is under way, he`s a citizen, Rudolph Giuliani.
LEMIRE: Yes. And Giuliani is as much as he`s part of the legal team, he`s really more of a public relations figure here for the President.
WILLIAMS: He`s become apparent.
LEMIRE: He`s a spokesman and I think there`s a divide between some of the decisions made by the White House legal team versus what`s Giuliani is doing. There`s no question, though, the President in our reporting has been, as we just said, upset at a few things that Giuliani has done, he largely has his blessing certainly to go on the attack. And what he has done is he`s gone after James Comey repeatedly, suggesting that, you know, Comey, as we know, is a significant witness in the Mueller probe, of a possible obstruction case against the President, suggesting that he`s untrustworthy. He`s been undermining his credibility, hinting that this Department of Justice Inspector General report, they were expected to come out in about a week or so is going to be very critical of Comey, which they think will then help further sort of damage his credibility as a witness against the President.
And we also reported with the A.P. today that this new classified briefing, the informant -- the FBI informant who was part of the campaign, who the President of course has deemed a spy, there`s going to be a third briefing out for lawmakers next week. Giuliani has suggested that the White House legal team wants a redoubt of that. That`s what he said last week. Today, moving those goal posts further, he says, we want to see the documents themselves.
WILLIAMS: If Mueller has any chance of interviewing my guy.
LEMIRE: That`s right. And that seems like a pretty unlikely thing to happen, which is perhaps another way of suggesting they`re going to dangle the idea of a presidential interview and just keep pulling it further away, suggesting it may not ever occur.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Peter, I want to read your own words back to you. This is you on Twitter this morning. "Hard to remember maybe, but it wasn`t that long ago that it was considered unthinkable for a President to call on his Justice Department to prosecute a political foe." Tell the good folks watching tonight what made you say that.
BAKER: Well, there are any number of tweets today probably would fit into that category. The one I was referring to in particular was one referring to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was the Chairman of the Democratic Party. And I said because, you know, I covered four Presidents. Brian, you`ve certainly covered quite a few with these tempests in Washington. And it`s certainly true the other presidents have, you know, had something out for their political opponents, thought their political opponents might have even done something wrong.
But it`s so different to have a sitting President out there pressuring the Justice Department to go after a political opponent, no matter what the political opponent has done. Most Presidents have seen that, at least in the post-Watergate era, as that being a step too far, that that was too interfering of the idea of an independent law enforcement process. If their opponents did do something wrong, then an independent law enforcement process should be able to determine that and take care of that on its own without a President putting his foot down on the scale.
But we`ve seen, you know, with this letter for instance that my colleagues wrote about earlier this week, that Trump lawyers sent to Robert Mueller`s office. They have a very expansive view of the President`s authority, and basically, you know, defending this idea that he has absolute power to do whatever he wants with the Justice Department as the head of the executive branch under the Constitution. That`s a really interesting moment in our system, and it`s sort of untested in a way.
WILLIAMS: And, Nancy, as you know well, there`s nothing like any kind of utterance from the special counsel`s office, from the feds, to refocus the conversation and all of this coverage and all of this talk in a hurry. In your view and based on your reporting, for at least this interregnum, for now, does the Trump White House, i.e. President Trump, prefer noise per se to the absence of it?
COOK: Well, I think he does prefer the noise. And, you know, polls have shown actually that there`s a shrinking majority of Americans who support the special counsel. You know, there`s still -- the majority still does support it, but that percentage has really shrunk since last summer. And so all this noise, all the, you know, stray Giuliani comments are actually having an effect on public perception.
And, you know, I think Mueller still has in his back pocket the element of surprise, when those indictments have dropped on Friday afternoons, you know, they read like novels and they`re amazing, and they surprise people. And so he does have that, and he`s always like two or three steps ahead of what people think he`s doing. And so he has that. But I do think that the public perception of it and public support for the special counsel will be really fascinating to watch sort of how that holds up over the next six months and heading into the midterms.
WILLIAMS: Boy, you`re right. When they do come out, they do read like novels. They have at least one superb writer in that shop who takes legalese and makes it so readable in document form.
Peter, we are duty-bound to end with you by asking you about something going on tonight involving a reporter at "The New York Times" and concurrently a Senate staffer on the Intel Committee has been arrested, picked up by the feds. Can you tell folks what`s going on?
BAKER: Well, that`s right. This staffer worked for the senate Intelligence Committee. He`s been arrested on -- apparently on some sort of charges about lying, about contacts with reporters. Our reporter, Ali Watkins, had a particular relationship with this staffer a number of years before coming to work with us at the "Times." And what we`ve learned is that the Justice Department seized years` worth of her phone and e-mail records, which is something that we hadn`t seen in this administration. We saw that on a number of occasions in the Obama Administration, it caused a big furor when it happened about the idea of going after reporters` records as a way of pursuing leak investigations.
The Trump Administration has made a big deal about leaks, but this is the first time we know of anyway where they`ve actually seized records of a reporter in order to try to prove some sort of illegal leak. So that`s something obviously we`re watching and something of great concern, I think, to any reporter out there working in Washington today.
WILLIAMS: Yes, I was going to say, as of now, tonight it`s a huge story in our world, and the world of Washington politics, by this time tomorrow it will likely be a huge story everywhere to many different communities. Our thanks. Jonathan Lemire, Nancy Cook, Peter Baker, thank you all so much for starting off our conversation tonight.
And coming up for us, this new reporting on Paul Manafort tonight, what may be a very lonely life at the hands of the feds.
And later, another day, another very odd Scott Pruitt headline. This is the first, to our knowledge, to involve moisturizer.
"The 11th Hour" just getting started on a Thursday night.
WILLIAMS: Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort has until tomorrow at midnight to respond to Robert Mueller`s motion that his bail be either revised or revoked entirely over these allegations of attempted witness tampering. Then on June 15, Manafort will appear in court for a hearing, and that`s when he finds out whether or not he will head directly to jail.
Earlier this week, a Manafort spokesperson said he`s innocent, and these latest allegations do not change his defense. This as "The New York Times" reports tonight on how former associates of Manafort abandoned him. The "Times" reports the Special Counsel`s accusations this week "originated with two veteran journalists who turned on Mr. Manafort after working closely with him to prop up the former Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, interviews and documents show. The two journalists who helped lead a project to which prosecutors say Mr. Manafort funneled more than $2 million from overseas accounts are the latest in a series of one-time Manafort business partners who have provided damaging evidence to Robert Mueller. Their cooperation with the government has increasingly isolated Mr. Manafort as he awaits trial."
We have two gentlemen here to talk about it, who know a lot about this. And with us tonight, Chuck Rosenberg, Former U.S. Attorney and Former Senior FBI official, and Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence who has worked for Robert Mueller among others in the past. Gentlemen, welcome to you both.
Frank, reading this reporting tonight about -- in "The New York Times," what stands out to you?
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. ASST, DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: A couple of thoughts, Brian. First, witness tampering is a very serious offense because it goes to the heart of our justice system and the credibility of the system. And in reading the charges, we`re seeing a man here, Paul Manafort, who just seems to have utter contempt for the system. It`s very typical for your bond conditions in the federal system to say, "By the way, you can`t have contact with witnesses in this case."
Not only did he have contact with witnesses, he had contact with multiple witnesses, and he did it using encrypted applications is what we`re hearing. So, that itself could show the intent to corruptly communicate and alter the statements of witnesses. The witnesses themselves came forward and reported it, so they`re cooperating.
So we`ve got here somebody who is acting a whole lot like maybe he doesn`t care, and maybe because he thinks a pardon could be coming his way, at least at the time that he did this.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Chuck, talk about life under the federal thumb. Once you`re in the glare of federal investigators, once you`ve been charged, a life where not only do friends and family stop calling, but your world can shrink, can it not?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL: Oh, it can certainly shrink, Brian. And I think his world is shrinking as we speak. You know, Frank made an important point about the use of encrypted messaging, which may show that he`s trying to hide his conduct. I want to build on that a little bit too, if you don`t mind, Brian.
ROSENBERG: See, the hardest thing for a prosecutor to prove in a white collar case, and I was a prosecutor for a long time, is intent. And when you reach out to witnesses in violation of court order and try to get them to change their story, what you`re demonstrating is what we call a consciousness of guilt.
And so whether or not his bond is revoked, and it probably will be, he is going to have to now face the additional fact that the stuff he did trying to contact witnesses and get them to change their story is going to be used against them in court. It`s more evidence of intent. He just made the prosecutor`s case easier, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Frank, am I being melodramatic by saying that it is mathematical and possibility that one -- mathematical possibility, rather, when Manafort leaves for this next court appearance, that could be it? If he is jailed pending trial and then nicked on guilty charges, still does not cooperate, isn`t he conceivably going away for a long time?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes. As we say in the FBI and prosecutors, officers around the country, he needs to bring a toothbrush to the hearing because it could indeed be the last free day that he has. I think there is -- and Chuck would know better than I, but I would say better than 50 percent chance that his bond could get revoked here. The judge is not going to be pleased with this.
And it just shows the corrupt nature of the man that facing these intense charges, he decides to go ahead and do something that could --is high risk and could land him back in jail, get landed in jail early, and he`s gone ahead and done it.
WILLIAMS: And, Chuck, of course, all the questions about this guy are, is he going to flip? Is there a signal that there`s a pardon coming for him?
Chuck, tell me, in the Fed bag of tricks, can they tighten the screw even further? Is there anything left?
ROSENBERG: Well, they`ve charged him with a whole bunch of stuff. You know, they could always supersede the indictment, fancy word for add additional charges. So, yes, it could get worse for him.
And as I mentioned earlier, Brian, he helped create new evidence for the government to use to convict him at trial. His world is shrinking. His options are diminishing. It`s going to get worse for him.
And I think Frank is right. I think it`s more likely than not that his bond will be revoked because judges do not like it when you disobey their orders, and that he will be in jail for a very long time.
One last thing, Brian, and I hope this is appropriate, but I just wanted to mention that our Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup.
WILLIAMS: It is appropriate. We don`t pass along enough scores on this broadcast. But, indeed, they have beaten the Golden Knights of Las Vegas, the expansion team. So Ovechkin et al can now celebrate in Washington and wherever their fans may be.
Gentlemen, thank you both very much. Chuck Rosenberg, Frank Figliuzzi, appreciate you coming on the broadcast tonight. News, weather, and sports.
Coming up, we are just days away from what will be the biggest moment of Trump`s presidency thus far, no doubt. We got an idea today as to his preparation regimen. We`ll hear about it from him when we come back.
WILLIAMS: As you may have heard, as we`ve been mentioning, the president today talked about his preparation style in these days leading up to the high-stakes summit with the leader of North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I`m very well prepared. I don`t think I have to prepare very much. It`s about attitude. It`s about willingness to get things done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The problem with that answer is we were told his prep would be so rigorous that it would have been unfair to ask the president to simultaneously prepare for a Mueller interview. His own lawyer said so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: You can`t possibly not feel, as a citizen of the world, that his negotiations with North Korea are much more significant than this totally garbage investigation. If Mueller said to me tomorrow, bring him in, two hours like you want, no questions that you don`t want, and we`re pretty much ready to clear him. I could not go to the president of the United States and say, take two days off to get ready for that and screw the whole thing with North Korea.
Do you realize I -- last -- yesterday, I felt terrible calling the president? I had to call him twice, and I got to take him away from North Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: There`s even more backstage intrigue as the president prepares. POLITICO adds the following detail, "National security adviser John Bolton has yet to convene a cabinet-level meeting." And there`s this. "Trump also -- has also not presided personally over a meeting of senior National Security Council officials."
Some of the older hands in the field of diplomacy, and some of them are still around, are openly uncomfortable that the meeting with North Korea is taking place at all. The Associated Press reporting today, Christopher Hill, the lead U.S. negotiator with North Korea during the George W. Bush administration, said a summit with the North had long been available to U.S. leaders. "The fact was no U.S. president wanted to do this, and for good reason", he said. "It`s a big coup for the North Koreans, so the question is whether we can make them pay for it."
Well, here with us tonight is Bobby Ghosh, a veteran foreign affairs journalist. He`s the former world editor for "TIME" magazine across the street from here. He`s also worked in the past with CNN and other publications. And staying up late for us in Washington, our friend Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for "The New York Times."
Bobby, you get to go first. What should prep for a summit with the North Korean dictator look like? And set the stakes for us once the president arrives.
BOBBY GHOSH, VETERAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS JOURNALIST: Well, this is not just a question of the president being prepared. If this -- a summit of this nature, of two leaders who have not met, two countries that have not had direct discussions with each other, this should have been months and months and months, bureaucrats at different levels of the State Department conversing with each other from sort of undersecretary level all the way up to the secretary of state and the president. Months in preparation. Lots of paper, lots of e-mail -- well, e-mail may be tricky, but lots of paper going back and forth. Lots of intermediaries going back and forth. That`s how it`s meant to work.
If you remember, those of us of a certain age, the summits between Reagan and Gorbachev, the enormous amount, the industrial quantities of preparations that were involved. This ought to be something close to that. The fact that the president himself is not prepared is, if you like, the sort of the Macabre (ph) cherry on top of a pretty crazy cake.
WILLIAMS: And Peter Baker, it also includes things like psychological profiles, like we can anticipatably predict here tonight that the North Korean leader will flatter Donald Trump because it says in his binder, by the way, the key to this guy is flattery. And there`s details about their history and how to comport yourself that are in these types of briefings. I want to read you something about a different briefing and have you react to it.
This was "The Washington Post" in 2016 about the president`s debate prep. "He summons his informal band of counselors, including former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani", a name that`s been in the news of late, "to his New Jersey golf course for Sunday chats. Over bacon cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and glasses of Coca-Cola, they test out zingers and chew over ways to refine the Republican nominee`s pitch."
Peter, are you sensing that different debate style this time?
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, look, you know, the problem is that a debate against an opponent where a zinger might be useful is a very different thing than a summit meeting with a very mercurial, very hard pin-down leader who has a nuclear arsenal. And there`s so many details that go involved -- are involved in any kind of nuclear negotiation. You saw how many years it took the Obama administration to come up with its deal with the Iranians.
There are so many -- and the Iranians didn`t actually have nuclear weapons. They only had a program that might have potentially led to nuclear weapons. Here, you`ve got various aspects of a program, and you can easily see details eluding somebody who has not spent a lot of time preparing them, you know, if you have a -- what kind of deal would you craft? What does it mean to denuclearize? What kind of equipment are we talking about? What kind of timetable are we talking about? What kind of, you know, methodology would this be? What kind of verification would this be? These are very, very complicated questions. They`re complicated for people who`ve spent a whole lifetime on them, much less somebody who is only learning them for the first time now.
WILLIAMS: Bobby, I want to show you some video. We`ll talk about it on the other side, of the president already looking forward to his second visit with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the summit does go well, will you be inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the United States?
TRUMP: Well, the answer is yes, certainly if it goes well. And I think it would be well received. I think he would look at it very favorably, so I think that could happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, if you do invite him to the White -- or to the United States, would it be here at the White House or at Mar-a-Lago?
TRUMP: Maybe we`ll start with the White House. What do you think?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So, Bobby, a little -- having a little bit of fun there. But this is a high-wire game. What kind of message does that send?
GHOSH: Well, that sends -- I would have liked that camera to pan to the face of the Japanese prime minister. This is the man whose country is directly under the shadow of Kim Jong-un`s nuclear arsenal. This is a man many of whose compatriots are held hostage by Kim Jong-un. I wonder what his face would look like when the president of the United States was talking about potentially bringing this abject horror of a dictator to the White House.
I think the -- in the president`s way of doing this thing, he`s trying to dangle an additional carrot. Does Kim Jong-un want a photo op in the Rose Garden? I`m sure he`d be happy to have it. He -- let`s be clear what Kim Jong-un wants. He wants legitimacy that a shaking of hands with the president of the United States would bring. He`s already getting that. He wants to be taken seriously as a nuclear power. He`s already getting that. He wants a kind of rapprochement on his terms with South Korea, he`s on his way to getting that, and he wants the sanctions to go away, and that hasn`t happened yet.
For him, if he gets a little bit of give on the sanctions in Singapore, he walks away plenty happy even without a Rose Garden photo opportunity.
WILLIAMS: And we should probably add one problem inviting him to the White House, the North Koreans do not have an aircraft at this point that can make the trip all the way here from there.
Our thanks tonight to Bobby Ghosh, to Peter Baker. Thanks for hanging around for us, Peter.
And coming up, Trump leaves for the G7 summit tomorrow. First things first. What better way to prepare than to criticize two of the G7 leaders who will be there on Twitter, no less. That and more when we continue.
WILLIAMS: While President Trump is making strides to develop a relationship with North Korea, tomorrow morning, let`s not forget he heads to Canada and will face some angry allies. The annual G7 Summit is meant to be an example of global unity, but as "The New York Times" writes, "Mr. Trump has repeatedly poked his counterparts in the eye."
The latest example being Trump`s threats to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel from France, Canada, and the U.K. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Trump`s recent threats are ridiculous. The tensions escalated today when the French president, Emmanuel Macron, wrote on Twitter, "The American president may not mind being isolated but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be."
Trump then fired back on Twitter, writing, "Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things."
Let`s bring in an expert in this area. Walter Isaacson is with us here tonight, distinguished fellow with the Aspen Institute, former editor of "TIME" magazine, veteran journalist and author. Biographer of, are you ready, Franklin, Einstein, Kissinger, Jobs and Da Vinci, who in his spare time is a professor of history at Tulane University in the great city of New Orleans. It`s a pleasure to have you.
WALTER ISAACSON, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Thank you, Brian.
WILLIAMS: I want to talk about norms that we have watched fall away. The French finance minister is calling this summit the G6 plus one, and this is the president of the United States flying into this group.
ISAACSON: It`s totally amazing. For 70 years, we`ve had this wonderful system in this world where the Europeans and North Americans stood as bulwarks for things like free minds, free trade, democracy, capitalism, free markets. Russia has always tried to break that up for 70 years.
Now, Putin has finally scored this victory, and he`s gloating, too. He gloated in his four-hour press conference or town hall yesterday that he`s been able to separate the United States from the Europeans. So you talk about breaking of norms. This is not just somebody being weirdly repellent or impolite. This is somebody who, you know, they are empowering our adversary, especially Russia, and undercutting our allies, which is something that the Democrats -- the republicans used to blame the Democrats for doing. If Obama or any Democrat had done this, there would be outrage.
WILLIAMS: Our friend, Steve Schmidt, put out last night a beautiful picture of his handsome son standing next to a veteran of the 82nd Airborne. They`re over in France for the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings. And I`m looking at this member of the 82nd Airborne. This veteran, who knew he was part of something grand and glorious and special. The formation, though, we didn`t know it yet, of the post-war world. And that`s what we`re seeing these enormous fissures in. And I`m wondering about this great Kojers (ph) going back for their -- what is for many of their last reunion, wondering whatever happened to that.
ISAACSON: And it`s so weird. I mean, it`s like the State Department spokesperson a couple days ago saying, you know, we have a great relationship with Germany such as on D-Day.
ISAACSON: It`s like, whoa, it`s all right not to sort of have a deep feel for history. But to have sort of a fake history as your only framework, it`s just appalling to me, especially since it`s breaking up what has been the most important alliance to protect freedom and free markets and trade and everything that has made a prosperous world for the past 70 years.
WILLIAMS: You can`t blame the folks watching tonight, especially those on the left side of the political ledger, for wondering aloud and repeatedly, is it fixable? Are these permanent cracks -- can this go back to where we had it?
ISAACSON: You know, there was an interesting word that Macron used, or maybe it was Trudeau. I can`t remember, saying we have the values. We are holding --
ISAACSON: -- true to those values. Of course, we share deeply values with the Canadians. They`re not a national security threat despite what the president said. We have deep values that we share with the Europeans. So of course, it`s fixable. But it`s just, you know, frightening at the moment. I mean, there are people who are beginning to think that maybe this isn`t fixable, but I`m not going to go there.
WILLIAMS: What about the big ideas you here at the Aspen Institute? Are they just for the room now? Do they leave the premises because they`re not welcome anywhere else?
ISAACSON: Well, it is true that there has been sort of this idea that globalization was going to be great for everybody. And one of the things that people missed and why Trump got elected is that free trade, immigration, technology has been good for the world economy, but it`s dislocated a lot of people.
So I think the people, you know, that we`re talking about --
ISAACSON: -- the, you know, economic elites, in some ways, it was good that they got this wake-up call. But I don`t think it should extend to breaking up the great alliances that we`ve had throughout the past 70 years.
WILLIAMS: Anytime we can talk to you to come up here from New Orleans and stop by --
ISAACSON: New Orleans. You have to come back to New Orleans.
WILLIAMS: Oh, believe me.
ISAACSON: You are a hero there.
WILLIAMS: Oh, thank you. Thank you. Back at you. We`ll come down and do it right. Walter Isaacson, it`s a pleasure.
ISAACSON: It`s a pleasure.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, Scott Pruitt`s affinity for hotel-related products continues. First, it was a used Trump hotel mattress. Now, his quest reportedly includes a particular hotel moisturizer. What were we just saying about norms? More on all of it when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: The problem I have is with Mr. Pruitt`s personal judgment. He said it yesterday. I don`t mean any disrespect, but he`s acting like a moron.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Well, another day means another day of multiple headlines surrounding Scott Pruitt. "The Washington Post" reports that the EPA chief asked his security detail to run random errands for him, including directing agents to "drive him to multiple locations in search of a particular lotion on offer at Ritz-Carlton hotels."
Now, a quick search of their website shows a number of moisturizing products to choose from, but the product that bears the Ritz-Carlton brand name carries this description. This exclusive moisturizer is lightly scented with sweet notes ylang ylang, which we believe to be Van Morrison lyrics, jasmine and uplifting bergamot. Replenish your skin and revive your senses throughout the day with this luxuriously smoothing lotion.
And a question for all of us really. Don`t cabinet members deserve the same suppleness and elasticity the rest of us enjoy? But wait, there`s more, including this piece by "The Daily Beast." Scott Pruitt made public servants fetch his protein bars and Greek yogurt." They report that he`s "regularly sent his subordinates out during the workday to pick up his favorite snacks and treats. Pruitt has been known to send staffers on these errands at least twice a week with some sources describing his demands as constant and others merely noting that he does this frequently."
And finally, POLITICO reports that Pruitt used a dining privilege to excess at the navy-run commissary known as the White House Mess, where White House staff members eat. "A member of the White House`s cabinet affairs team told agency chiefs of staff in a meeting last year that cabinet members shouldn`t treat the White House Mess hall as their personal dining hall according to three people with knowledge of the issue. The message was clear, according to one person close to Pruitt. "We love having Mr. Pruitt, but it`s not meant for everyday use."
Now, according to POLITICO, Pruitt racked up a large bill and even invited friends, prominent Oklahoma Republicans and representatives from the Oklahoma Farm Bureau to join him there at the White House Mess hall.
Coming up for us after a break, the thousands of Texans who went out in boats to watch the arrival of Hurricane Harvey and then needed rescue by the coast guard. The story isn`t true, but the allegation came from the very top when The 11th Hour continues.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, the moment that got the most attention when the president visited FEMA headquarters in Washington yesterday was his decision to place his water bottle on the floor, followed immediately by Mike Pence`s decision to do the same with his water bottle.
Even though the president was at FEMA talking about the start of hurricane season, it was noted that he said nothing about the loss of life in Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are, of course, American citizens just like the people of Texas. The president was all too happy to talk about Texas yesterday. It came up when he was paying tribute to the United States coast guard. It was followed by a reference to something in Texas no one understood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don`t think the coast guard gets enough credit. I`ve said it, and I even say it to the army, navy, air force, marines. I said, I think this year the coast guard may be, in terms of increased branding, the brand of the coast guard has been something incredible, what`s happened. Saved 16,000 people, many of them in Texas for whatever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane. That didn`t work out too well. That didn`t work out too well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That didn`t go over too well in Texas where, yes, there were rescues in Texas because that`s where Hurricane Harvey hit. A local Houston-area sheriff, who was interviewed tonight, said he had no idea what the president was talking about. Officially and for the record, the coast guard performed a still astounding and heroic 11,000 rescues in the aftermath of Harvey.
But people getting in boats to go out and watch the hurricane was not an issue during Harvey according to local law enforcement in Texas. Having cleared that up, that is our broadcast for this Thursday night. Thank you so very much for being here with us.
Good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.
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