Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: June 8, 2018 Guest: Josh Gerstein, Jeremy Bash, Jill Wine-Banks, Susan Glasser, Sue Mi Terry, Barry McCaffrey, Kate Anderson Brower
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight there are new charges for Paul Manafort as Robert Mueller issues a new indictment alleging obstruction of justice, false statements and conspiracy against the United States.
Plus, you don`t see this every day. Our President with a straight face making an argument for Russia joining the G7 after Russia hacked our presidential election. As one of our guests tonight says about this moment right now, this is not a drill.
And then it`s on to Singapore and the huge stakes as the President meets with the North Korean dictator.
THE 11TH HOUR on a Friday night begins now.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC headquarters here in New York. Day 505 of the Trump Administration, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller has filed new charges against the former Trump campaign chairman. It is even more clear tonight that Paul Manafort is in a world of trouble.
Earlier today, Manafort was indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice for allegedly trying to tamper with witnesses in his case. As we reported, Mueller`s team is seeking to have Manafort`s bail revised or taken away entirely over these allegations.
Late tonight, Manafort responded to Mueller`s bail finding, saying the accusations of attempted witness tampering are based "on the thinnest of evidence." Manafort is due in court on June 15 to find out if he will immediately head to jail.
The same obstruction charges were also brought today against Manafort`s longtime Russian associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. Today`s indictment says that around February and April of this year, "The defendants Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik knowingly and intentionally conspired to corruptly persuade another person with intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.
Josh Gerstein of Politico, who joins us in just a moment, reports today, "A source familiar with the case called the indictment brutal for Manafort. Paul`s problem is he doesn`t actually have anything to trade, the source added. Cooperating isn`t an option because he really didn`t collude with the Russians at the Trump campaign`s request."
Paul Manafort`s team had no immediate comment on today`s indictment, but earlier this week, a spokesperson said Manafort is innocent and nothing about the allegations changes his defense.
Ken Vogel over at "The New York Times" reports that Manafort`s associate, this Konstantin Kilimnik "has studied at a linguist at the Military Institute of the Ministry of Defense in Moscow. He initially worked as a translator in Ukraine for Manafort, who speaks neither Russian nor Ukrainian, and became a progressively more integral member of Manafort`s team, eventually running the Kiev office for Mr. Manafort`s firm."
Well, earlier today, Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, spoke to Ari Melber about this Kilimnik`s possible ties to Russian intelligence agencies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: He was well-known working with Manafort, and he was working in Ukraine, but he`s a Russian national working in Ukraine. And the world of intelligence services just generally is murky. And to say that he worked for the GRU or the SVR, I don`t know that for sure.
ARI MELBER, NBC NEWS HOST: Right.
MCFAUL: But from my general experience in the region, would he have relationships with those kinds of organizations? My answer to that would be probably yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And we should note that of course Kilimnik has denied links to Russian spy agencies.
Meanwhile, on his way to the G7 summit in Canada earlier today, President Trump spoke about a whole host of issues from porn stars to his upcoming summit with Kim Jong-un. He also discussed his pardons and the Russia investigation.
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PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you believe that you are above the law?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No. No, I`m not above the law. I`d never want anybody to be above the law. But the pardons are a very positive thing for a President. I think you see the way I`m using them. And, yes, I do have an absolute right to pardon myself. But I`ll never have to do it because I didn`t do anything wrong. And everybody knows it.
There`s been no collusion. There`s been no obstruction. It`s all a made- up fantasy. It`s a witch hunt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you pardon Paul Manafort?
TRUMP: I haven`t even thought about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about Michael Cohen?
TRUMP: I haven`t even thought -- I haven`t thought about any of it. It certainly is far too early to be thinking about that. They haven`t been convicted of anything. There`s nothing to pardon. It`s far too early to be -- it is far too early to be thinking about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As the President and Rudy Giuliani continue to paint the Russia investigation as a witch hunt and a hoax, Philip Bump of "The Washington Post" points out that today`s news "brings the investigation by Mueller to a total of 20 individuals and three businesses that have either been indicted or admitted guilt and a total of 75 charges filed by the year-old probe. One-third of the counts included in Mueller`s indictments, 25 of them target Manafort."
Let`s bring in our lead-off panel for a Friday night. The aforementioned Josh Gerstein, Senior White House Reporter for Politico. Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at both CIA and the Pentagon. And Jill Wine-Banks, here in New York with us, veteran Attorney and Former Assistant Watergate Special Counsel. Welcome to you all.
And, Josh, I want to begin with you because you were present for part of this today, even at a point before which you knew what you were witnessing. Tell us what you saw.
JOSH GERSTEIN, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, I was down at the federal courthouse, and there was considerably more activity than usual involving the Mueller team. We saw Andrew Weissmann, the lead prosecutor on the Manafort case and one of Mueller`s top deputies, coming into the courthouse. There was comings and goings by another Mueller prosecutor by the name of Kyle Freeney, as well as several FBI agents. And there were signals with them going back and forth into the clerk`s office that perhaps the grand jury was preparing to return an indictment.
And indeed by the early afternoon, there was a notice posted outside one of the courtrooms that just that had happened, that there had been a session where an indictment had been handed up although it was not immediately clear who was being indicted or why. It certainly seemed like Manafort was a live possibility for what would be the second superseding indictment, the third indictment total in Washington, D.C. given the very serious tampering allegations that Mueller leveled earlier in the week.
WILLIAMS: And for some Civics 101, an indictment means 23 members of a grand jury have found reasonable cause that a crime might have been committed.
And, Jeremy Bash, the presence of this Russian in today`s document, the presence of this Russian perhaps in our society, how was today different? What just happened in this case?
JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, it`s the first time, Brian, that the Mueller special counsel team has really drawn a direct link between the Trump campaign`s chairman, Paul Manafort, and an official with ties to the Russian government. There have been other Russians who have been indicted by the special counsel, but heretofore, we do not have one that has specific ties to the Russian government. And this individual, Konstantin Kilimnik, is a Russian army-trained linguist. He was doing pro- Russian government propaganda in Ukraine for the Yanukovych regime.
You`d have to believe it`s an entire coincidence that he would be a private actor, a Russian national living in Ukraine, living in Kiev, but actually having no ties to the Russian government, yet doing their bidding. So obviously nobody believes that and people do believe that he has a Russian government nexus.
WILLIAMS: So what is it alleged, Jeremy, that he was doing in our country, especially in and around our Presidential election?
BASH: Well, if there is a -- if there is an effort by Manafort and a Russian government official to advance pro-Russian propaganda, to advance the Russian government`s view of policy and to inject themselves into politics, that`s precisely what they were doing during the 2016 campaign. And it shows an element of sophistication, an element of capability, an element of expertise by Paul Manafort with this Russian government official in doing exactly that. And there`s a possibility that`s exactly what they were doing during the 2016 election.
WILLIAMS: So, Jill Wine-Banks, put another way, there`s a chance that this Paul Manafort, American citizen, was working against the home team during a Presidential campaign. A couple questions for you. How was the screw further turned on Manafort today, and what are your remaining questions about this case?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FMR. ASST. WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I have very few remaining questions. It`s just a question of how soon he`s going to end up in jail because these are serious charges and are very valid grounds for revoking his bail and putting him in jail. And, remember, this is not the first time that he has violated his conditions of being free. He wrote an op-ed that he wasn`t supposed to have written, and he stayed free after that. But this is the second time, and the indictment has some very specific pieces of information, texts that were written and exchanged and a phone call that show that they were really trying to change the testimony of witnesses, to hide the fact that they were colluding in America to influence policy toward Russia and the Ukraine.
WILLIAMS: And these charges we`re talking about are heavy federal time. Some of these are 20 years each. If he gets nicked by a portion of these, he dies in prison.
WINE-BANKS: Well, he does just on the indictment even before today. He would have had a life sentence basically if you add up all of the charges currently pending against him. So if he`s convicted just on the substantive charges, without his having tampered with witnesses, which is one of the most serious things that judges and federal prosecutors are concerned about is when people actually tamper with the justice system by trying to change the testimony of witnesses.
WILLIAMS: Josh, what do we make of Manafort`s team`s response tonight? And we`ll remind the audience this gets a little complicated. They weren`t responding to what happened today, this new and superseding indictment. They were responding to this threat to revoke his bail, to just bring him in, and that`s his last day of freedom is someday next week.
GERSTEIN: Yes, it was a pretty interesting response to those charges or claims that were leveled earlier this week. Essentially the defense is saying that there`s not much to see here. Maybe there were a couple of text messages reaching out to some former associates. They say there was never any warning by a judge or probation officer to Manafort that he could not directly contact witnesses in the case. And they say that this falls short of witness tampering as sort of an independent crime.
And in terms of what Jeremy was saying earlier, there`s also some interesting pushback here where the Manafort team starts to lay out their own narrative about what went on here. They claim that Manafort was actually working against the Russians at different points during this Ukraine-related influence campaign a few years ago. They say the main goal was getting Ukraine into the European Union, and that was something that the Russians were quite nervous about at the time. Clearly there`s an effort to sort of undercut the idea that all these charges build toward the notion of some grand scheme to cooperate with Moscow. They`re saying there are facts here that are not congruent with that particular analysis.
WILLIAMS: Jill Wine-Banks, I ask this because now the whole world is wondering why Paul Manafort hasn`t flipped. Let`s talk about pardons. We just heard the President talk about pardons.
I heard an attorney on this network early today speculate that what the President is doing with talk of Muhammad Ali and others, is normalizing the handing out of pardons. Perhaps someone told him about the number of commutations President Obama handed out. So that when it comes down to it, it won`t seem that dramatic in a Manafort is pardoned. Could there be any truth to that?
WINE-BANKS: There absolutely can be. I believed from his first pardon of Joe Arpaio that the President was trying to send messages. "Don`t cooperate. You can obstruct justice. You can be in contempt of court. I have your back. I will pardon you. Don`t worry about it."
Now, the problem for him is that a pardoned witness has no Fifth Amendment privilege. So that means that they can be forced to testify against him. So it`s not necessarily in the President`s best interests to pardon people because then they can testify against him. So we have to assume that Paul Manafort was there long enough to know enough to be dangerous to him. So it may not help to pardon Paul Manafort.
WILLIAMS: Jeremy, you get the big wrap-up question. How did our understanding of this case advance today? And, part two, what in your view should we not lose sight of right here and now?
BASH: I don`t think we should lose sight of the fact that there is a Russian government official who has now been indicted by the special counsel for colluding with the American chairman of the Trump campaign to influence American politics and European politics. That`s effectively what Special Counsel Mueller is investigating, and if you kind of just focus on the big picture, Brian, it shows a clear conspiracy to undermine our politics.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks tonight to Jill Wine-Banks, who we add is in New York for her law school class reunion. So good on you. Our thanks as well to Josh Gerstein and to Jeremy Bash. Appreciate you all being part of our lead-off discussion on a Friday night.
Coming up for us, President Trump thinks the G7 should really go back to being the G8. And it`s the nation that hacked our presidential election that he feels should be added to the list of nations.
Remembering the man who called himself a cook but became one of the great storytellers of his time. Celebrating the life and mourning the death of Anthony Bourdain, all part of our "The 11th Hour" on a Friday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Justin has agreed to cut all tariffs and all trade barriers between Canada and the United States. So I`m very happy.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: So I`d say NAFTA is in good shape.
TRUMP: But we are actually working on it. We are actually working on cutting tariffs and making it all very fair for both countries. And we`ve made a lot of progress today. We`ll see how it all works out, but we`ve made a lot of progress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister, are you disappointed that the President is leaving early?
TRUMP: No, he`s happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Perhaps an awkward attempt at levity during an otherwise tense and uncomfortable day of meetings at this G7 summit under way in Quebec. Remember, President Trump landed in Canada at this summit with a looming trade war of his own making and having criticized our closest allies at least.
And you won`t hear this often. The President of the United States arguing on behalf of Russia. And, again, with a straight face. The G7 used to be the G8 before Russia was kicked out for invading Ukraine. The President today said he`d like to see Russia back in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would recommend -- and it`s up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting. It should be a part of it. You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. And in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Two quick reminders here. The effort to quick Russia out of the G8 was led by the U.S. that`s why it`s the G7 today. And this is indeed the same Russia that hacked our Presidential election.
Susan Glasser, who`s going to join us in just a moment, lays out the potential repercussions of Trump`s actions in a New Yorker article headlined "Under Trump, America First really is turning out to be America alone." She writes, "As Trump`s dramatic moves have played out this spring and hardened into a presidential narrative of American victimization at the hands of free-riding allies, senior government officials in London, Berlin, and other European capitals, and in Washington, have told me they now worry that Trump may be a greater immediate threat to the alliance than even authoritarian great power rivals, such as Russia and China."
Well, here with us for more, the aforementioned Susan Glasser, Staff Writer at "The New Yorker." And Jonathan Allen, longtime Political Journalist and our NBC News National Political Reporter. He happens to be in Quebec City tonight covering this summit.
Susan, you get to go first because when I heard what you said at 4:00 p.m. on this network, it stopped me in my tracks. You said this is not a drill. Tell the folks what you mean.
SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, you know, for a year and a half we have been wondering with trepidation what`s going to happen with President Trump and the rest of the world. A lot of chest-beating about the death of the liberal international order, but what does that mean? Will we recognize it when it actually happens?
In my view, what`s happened over the last few weeks and in particular the last few days looks pretty much like the death of the liberal international order. I think that the statement this morning about wanting Russia to rejoin the G7, it just suggests Donald Trump is not subscribing to the basic tenets that brought the world`s leading democracies together. It`s not a club that anyone thinks Vladimir Putin should join.
But it says that Donald Trump thinks the world really should be organized in a very different way than it is right now. And rather than our alliance with Western Europe, we should have a partnership of, you know, cold-eyed realists, Russia, China, the great powers and the United States should run the world together, as he said. It`s just a flabbergasting day. And I know we get lost in a lot of details and Kim Kardashian, but this is a really big deal.
WILLIAMS: Susan, how must the other six be responding to this, and do you put this down as that kind of Trumpian method of over time, owning the worst possible thing he could say and, in the interim, saying it enough times to hopefully normalize it?
GLASSER: Absolutely, Brian. And what we`re seeing in a way is the fact that the rest of the world hasn`t normalized Trump in the way that we here in the United States have. We`ve become desensitized to it. And even talking with officials, leaders in other countries, you realize they`re not desensitized to this.
When Donald Trump hate-tweets at our allies and is attacking the President of France and the Prime Minister of Canada hours before the G7 summit, the rest of the world is not used to that. This is not normal behavior by the President of the United States. And what`s crazy to me is that we`ve all accepted it as normal behavior. But our partners and allies, they haven`t. This is shocking stuff.
WILLIAMS: So, Jonathan, you`re up there among our neighbors to the north, at least they were until we angered them recently. What`s the reception for the American President been like? I got to say that family photo was the fastest and most uncomfortable-looking in all the years I`ve watched these family photos get taken.
JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Brian, they`re still our neighbors, whether or not they`re our friends. And I think what`s clear here is that it`s becoming murkier as to who an America adversary is and who an American friend is. You know, the President has slapped our allies with tariffs. He`s now said that he wants to bring Russia back into the community of nations, the G8. And there`s a lot of confusion about both of those things.
Certainly the people here, I think, are focused mostly on these trade issues. They`re very upset with where the President is. But, you know, to Susan`s point before, you know, I spoke to a National Security Council official earlier today who said the President`s comments on Russia were "not planned."
I spoke to another National Security official in the Trump administration. I asked, what`s the reaction within national security circles to what he said about Russia within the administration? And the response was probably just about the way everyone else responded to it. I think this was a surprise today to a lot of people. And certainly shocking.
One other thing that I think was interesting because we`ve seen the United States so isolated that people are sort of referring to this conference somewhat jokingly as a G6 plus one with America being the plus-one. You also saw the new Italian prime minister today, Conte, say that he would also support Russia joining the G7 again.
WILLIAMS: And, Jonathan, tomorrow he leaves early for Singapore. And, oh, look at the time. The event he`s missing is about climate change, correct?
ALLEN: He is. You know, the President came late to this meeting. He`s leaving early. He insulted the hosts and several of the other countries through the week. Some increasingly angry rhetoric.
And we got some photo ops today and some niceties, but I don`t think anybody`s moved a whole lot on their positions. What you have right now is a divided G7, and I spoke to Bob Hormats today, who is a National Security official in several administrations, both Republican and Democrat, and he said Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin are sitting back right now very happy because the President has -- in Hormat`s words, provided another opportunity to exploit divisions that now exist in these G7 countries.
WILLIAMS: And, Susan, I`ll give you the last word. You and I remember a time when there were strategies that the U.S. had toward different nations in Europe. Usually a kind of soviet containment strategy. Did you think you`d live to see a day when E.U. member nations now have to have a how to handle the United States strategy?
GLASSER: Well, Brian, that`s right. You know, I reported in my piece that Germany embarked upon this effort to come up with its first ever America strategy in the wake of President Trump`s inauguration. And, you know, it`s really -- it`s hitting at the core of our allies and partners in a way that they never imagined. Many of them use the analogy with me of a dysfunctional family. One Germany official said to me it`s like as if your father didn`t love you anymore and might even beat you.
You know, this is pretty profound stuff. And I think that, you know, we treat it sometimes as a circus. And, you know, it could have potential long consequences even after President Trump is gone from the American political scene.
WILLIAMS: And we hope our viewers read the piece you`ve written in The New Yorker. Really glad to have been able to talk to both of you tonight. Susan Glasser, Jonathan Allen up in Quebec City, thank you both so much as we move on.
Coming up for us, we learned today what in his judgment the President`s career in real estate and reality T.V. has been preparing him for all this time. More on that when "The 11th Hour" continues.
WILLIAMS: Having arrived at the G7 summit an hour late, President Trump, as we said, will be leaving the summit early to fly on ahead to Singapore for his meeting with the North Korean dictator. Trump said yesterday he didn`t need to prepare much, that attitude is more important. Well, he followed that up with these remarks today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you serious about really not needing to prepare for the Kim summit?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn`t say that. I said I`ve been preparing all my life. I always believe in preparation. But I`ve been preparing all my life. You know, these one-week preparations, they don`t work. Just ask Hillary what happened to her in the debates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here to talk about all of it tonight, Sue Mi Terry, a senior fellow for the Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, importantly, she`s also a former senior analyst at the CIA and was in charge of that region while on the White House National Security Council. Also with us, retired four-star U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, former battlefield commander in the Persian Gulf, is global portfolio and it is vast includes the Korean Peninsula as well.
Sue, I`d like to begin with you here in New York. What -- I know you`ll be part of our coverage Monday, but what will you be watching for? What should our viewers be watching for when these two emerge?
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER NORTH KOREA ANALYST FOR THE CIA: Well, the first optics is going to be good because both leaders are invested in having good optics. I want to watch out if there`s going to be a second day after the initial meeting because right now they`re planning for a second day meeting if the first day goes well.
And honestly, after this meeting, we`ve got to have more than just a very broad joint statement, something about North Korea being committed to denuclearization. We need to -- they need to at least produce North Korea defining denuclearization as we define it, which is unilateral dismantlement of their nuclear program. And what they need to produce at least some sort of a timeline that will show that North Korea will fully give a declaration of all their nuclear weapons program and at least some sort of a timeline that says we`re going to move towards verification and implementation. Outside of that, if there is just a joint broad statement after two days of meeting, I don`t think that`s a success.
WILLIAMS: General McCaffrey, before we talk Korea, you`ll forgive me if I go back exactly one segment. I was thinking of you earlier. You are a cold warrior at first, turned Connetic (ph) warrior, later in life, you spent most of your adult life in uniform. When you hear Susan Glasser say this is not a drill and talk the way she is talking, she doesn`t toss language around casually about the post-World War II alliance on this week when we`re marking yet another D-Day anniversary, how do you react to that?
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, I think it`s appalling to be blunt. These international alliances that have sustained us both economically and in national security are now being called into question, and particularly with the Russians. It`s just bizarre. The soviet evil empire came apart. The poor Russians are still under the sway of Mr. Putin. He`s essentially running a thugocracy, a kleptocracy. His neighbors are frightened by him.
By the way, nobody cares anything about Russia except for their nuclear weapons and their oil and natural gas. Their economy is less than that of Italy. So what the president is up to is beyond most of us who have watched this situation over the last several decades.
WILLIAMS: I would only add Mr. Ovechkin of the Capitals has had a good week, the great number 8 on the ice. So, General, the president likes to complain that no one dealt with the Korea issue before him. The truth probably is that because a bunch of presidents dealt with it, that has kept the peace on the peninsula. What will you be watching for as we get underway Monday?
MCCAFFREY: Well, by the way, I think you just made an extremely important point. South Korea, a democracy, rule of law, an ally with a massive well- equipped and trained military force, and the Japanese are our allies in the region. And poor North Korea represents -- these are bad people exploiting the North Korean population, they`re in penury. They don`t have a very good military, but now they`ve got ICBMs that can threaten us.
So Mr. Trump has to go into that meeting with Secretary Mattis and Pompeo`s advice. We`ve got to try and get them to reduce the military tension on the peninsula. The North Koreans want us out -- the U.S. Armed Forces out of the region. They want to be accepted as a nuclear power, and they need the economic constraints lifted. So if Mr. Trump thinks it`s just attitude, then we`re about to get greater risk in the Korean Peninsula than we had before.
WILLIAMS: And, of course, Sue, that means that across this country there are 38,000 families who have at least one loved one on that peninsula. I want to show you some measure of the popularity of Kim Jong-un. We have new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" polling numbers. He`s at a 3% positive rating, which kind of falls within the margin of error. So let`s put him as unpopular in this country. How do you think he is preparing for this meeting with Donald Trump?
TERRY: Well, first of all, North Koreans have been preparing for this meeting for half a century, I would say. Kim Jong-un knows what he wants out of this meeting, and he`s probably preparing for all kinds of scenarios. And he`s 100% focused on the U.S. while obviously we are focused on -- we have million and a half issues that`s distracting us. And President Trump doesn`t feel like he needs to be prepared or read the briefing book that I`m sure National Security Council staff have prepared for him.
Kim Jong-un is prepared. He knows what he wants, which is to gain an -- get an international acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear weapons power. He thinks he`s coming into this meeting from a position of strength because he has reached certain capability in his nuclear missile program. And he thinks he`s going to now see what he can get out of the United States. So I hope that President Trump actually, you know, reads the briefing book, at least on his way to Singapore and think about this.
WILLIAMS: Barry McCaffrey, even at a car dealership, number one rule is be prepared to walk away. Do you think this president who brags about deals is at the end of the day prepared to walk away?
MCCAFFREY: We`re about to find out. I think going into the negotiations, he`s played a very unusual, you know, set of cards, revealing, I think most of us would agree, a predisposition to not demanding immediate, irreversible, verifiable denuclearization, not demanding a timeline, a shortened timeline. So I think we ought to be very cautious about this. The key to North Korea is China and unified allies in South Korea, Australia, and Japan. So I think the president actually, in a raw military power, has the upper hand. I hope he understands that going into the negotiations.
WILLIAMS: Well put. Two of the great thinkers in this area. Our thanks to both of them. Sue Mi Terry, General Barry McCaffrey, thanks for joining us late on a Friday night.
And coming up for us, the man in the shadow of the presidency might just be exactly where he wants to be. More on that when we continue.
WILLIAMS: A few nights back, we highlighted one of the genuinely strange moments of this week, for that matter this presidency. It happened at that FEMA briefing when the president chose to put his bottle of water on the floor and then Mike Pence did the exact same thing. It is a moment now forever immortalized in video and slo-mo and you may see it through a new prism upon reading a new book on the lives and roles of our vice presidents.
About our current president and vice president, the author writes, and we quote, "Pence and Trump have a relationship more like the domination- subordination that characterized the alliance between Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey than the friendship that evolved between Obama and Biden or the professional partnership during the Bush-Cheney years. Pence even occasionally gives lessons to other members of the administration on how best to handle Trump. Top aides admit that Pence is loyal to a fault, sometimes standing by and defending Trump even when it jeopardizes his own reputation."
Well, journalist and author Kate Andersen Brower is with us tonight. Her most recent book out is called, "First in Line: Presidents, Vice Presidents and the Pursuit of Power."
Welcome to you. I hope this does spectacularly well because it`s full of great stories that people perhaps need a refresher on. Start with our current president and the relationship with the vice president and even parts of it that involve the first lady and Mrs. Pence.
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, AUTHOR, FIRST IN LINE": Well, I interviewed every living former vice president for this book.
WILLIAMS: With one exception.
BROWER: With one exception, the current vice president, who I was very close to interviewing. Last-minute cancellation, and I think, you know, I interviewed Nick Ayers, who is his chief of staff, and I was told pretty bluntly it`s because there`s nothing in it for them to talk about this, because if Pence looks really good, Trump will be upset. If Pence looks really bad, it doesn`t help them in 2024 because he is going to run.
I interviewed his brother -- older brother, Greg, who described how the vice president called him and said, you know, Donald Trump reminds me of our father. And Greg said, I was surprised by that. Well, their fact was this very difficult personality. He would make his six children stand when an adult entered the room and beat them with a belt. I mean he was a difficult guy.
So there is something there, I think, that Pence is used to being in the situation of not doing the talking, being very careful on what he says. He doesn`t disagree with Trump ever. And he knows that he could have lost as governor in Indiana. He was running again. It was a really tight race. The only reason on God`s green earth that he is where he is, is because of Donald Trump.
WILLIAMS: I found reading last night a fascinating passage, which you will know because you wrote it, about the politician Pence used to be in Indiana. He was a lot of things. He was a radio talk show host, and this shows his kind of elasticity in the Republican Party. You write, I think people will be interested to hear this, "His anti-establishment streak went off the rails when in a 2000 op-ed, he made the nonsensical claim that cigarettes are not lethal. Time for a quick reality check, Pence wrote. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn`t kill. In fact, two out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking-related illness, and nine out of 10 smokers do not contract lung cancer."
You go on to write, "In 2000, Pence received more than $10,000 in contributions from the political action committees of major tobacco companies including Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds. Over his 12 years in Congress, he received $39,000 from R.J. Reynolds, maker of Newport and Camel cigarettes. When he ran for governor 2012 and 2016, dropped out of the race to become Trump`s running mate, he received more than $70,000 from the tobacco industry."
So we`ve become used to certain stories about Mike Pence. Mike Pence, the tough as nails politician, is a storyline you bring out in this book that is not in the public realm.
BROWER: Yes. He`s very, very ambitious, and he will do almost anything to get to the top. I interviewed one of his bosses at his radio station in Indiana, and he described himself as Rush Limbaugh on decaf at the time. And his boss said he has never met a more directable talent. He asked Pence to not be too long winded and the very next day Pence was spot-on perfect. He is somebody who is always angling. You know, he beat Phil Sharp in this very contentious House race in 1990, and I talked to Phil Sharp, and it was a really tough, mean, nasty race. And Pence later wrote an op-ed about it, apologizing for being a negative campaigner.
BROWER: Exactly. And Phil Sharp said, I never got a call from him. I never heard anything. He said he`s Midwest nice. He is not -- he was, you know, nice to his face, but said all sorts of nasty things behind his back and never personally apologized to him for that race. And I do think that says something about him. He has these chaperone lunches and as you know, presidents and vice presidents, they usually treasure this time.
BROWER: Alone. But with Vice President Pence and President Trump, they have their chiefs of staff sitting in on these lunches to kind of steer the conversation, take notes, remind Pence what`s said afterwards. To me, it struck me as very odd because Al Gore said that was precious time with the president, unstaffed time where I could just talk to him about issues I cared about. And it strikes me as odd that their relationship needs to be kind of managed in this way. It`s really unusual.
WILLIAMS: To your future hopeful readers, we`ll point out there are stories in this book about Melania`s role in the Pence selection, stories about people like Ted Agnew, all but lost to history, Walter Mondale and a huge role he played in the history of modern vice presidency. All of it part of Kate Andersen Brower`s new book, "First in Line." Great pleasure to have you here. Thank you very much for staying up with us on a Friday night.
BROWER: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: Another break for us. And coming up, the wide-ranging comments of our current president on the South Lawn today prior to departing for Canada.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. As we mentioned earlier, President Trump spoke to reporters today on his way to that summit in Canada about the technical term is a whole bunch of issues, including in no particular order, North Korea summit, Rudy Giuliani, Dennis Rodman, pardons, Scott Pruitt, his own wife, Russia, porn stars and marijuana, to name a few. So in case you missed it here`s a quick recap of just some of his remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Rudy is great but Rudy is Rudy. But Rudy is doing a very good job actually.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Is being a porn start respectable work? He said it`s not.
TRUMP: He said what?
ALEXANDER: He said a porn star is not a respectable work.
TRUMP: I`m not going to disagree with him on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would it take for you actually to get tired of Scott Pruitt and say enough?
TRUMP: Well Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. And we`re setting records. Outside he is being attacked viciously by the press. And I`m not saying that he is blameless. But we`ll see what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was Dennis Rodman invited to North Korea?
TRUMP: No he wasn`t but I like Dennis. A great rebounder. You know, when you think Dennis was a great rebounder and he wasn`t relatively speaking that tall. One thing we are speaking about speaking about sports stars, the power to pardon is a beautiful thing. You got to get it right. You got to get the right people. I am looking at Muhammad Ali. But those are the famous people. And in one way it`s easier and people find it fascinating. But I want to do people that are unfairly treated, like an Alice where she comes out and do something beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: We should tell you an attorney for the late Muhammad Ali released a statement after hearing what the president said there and reads, "We appreciate President Trump sentiment but a pardon is unnecessary. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971. There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed." And about the first lady, the president revealed her surgery a few weeks back lasted four hours and she has been barred from flying for a month.
Coming up for us, suicide has yet again touched our public life in America. After the Kate Spade tragedy earlier this week, tonight millions are mourning a chef turned storyteller. We will remember Anthony Bourdain after this.
WILLIAMS: This Sunday night I was so looking forward to going to Berlin with Anthony Bourdain. Even though it was just watching a TV show, and even though I`ve been to Berlin, I`m pretty sure I haven`t been to the places he is planning on taking us this Sunday night. That`s why it was such a punch to the gut this morning when we learned that the poet laureate of food and travel was gone.
When he wasn`t eating he always seemed to be walking, wandering is probably more like it with a gate that made him look like a lanky collection of spare parts. His physical height and the artwork on his body that told the real story of his life got him noticed but his writing made him standout. He was an elegant author who ripped the lid off the restaurant busy as he rhapsodized about the trade and those run to it.
He was known to friends as Tony and known to all the rest of us as the guy so many guys would like to be, even for an hour or a day, whether we admit it or not. He seemed equal parts honest and fearless and game for anything. And when Anthony Bourdain was eating, nothing was safe. He got as excited over a snail or a sprout as he was a hand rubbed side of beef. He ate anything and everything that was put in front of him, even if it was still moving, still fighting for its life. He dug into things on his plate large enough to be considered pets.
Between meals he taught us history, geography and anthropology and we watched him hangout with peasants and presidents. He made us want to ride that train in Myanmar and kiss that fish in Newfoundland. He did a better job at explaining places like Iran and Gaza than those of us paid to do it for a living.
No matter where he went, he always knew a guy or a woman who was the very best local tour guide. And like our favorite relatives and writers he got hammered and high regularly and he swore lustily and often. He was a foodie who loved street food and was never above a waffle house or a New Mexico Frito pie. And he always made a point to eat with families knowing that`s where the truth emerges with a little help from food and wine.
Anthony Bourdain`s favorite book was heart of darkness. He was a recovering heroin addict among other things. The man we were allowed to see on TV seemed to be a unique mix of fatalist and romantic, light and dark. In the end we now know dark won. He took his own life while shooting a TV episode in France. He was 61 years old. Our condolences to all those he leaves behind.
That is our broadcast for a Friday night and for this week. Thank you so very much for being here with us. And good night from NBC News headquarters in New York.
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