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Trump Administration defends family separation policy. TRANSCRIPT: 6/19/2018. The 11th Hour.

Guests: Jill Colvin, Colleen Kraft, Daniel Goldman, Jonathan Lemire, Mike Murphy

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: June 19, 2018 Guest: Jill Colvin, Colleen Kraft, Daniel Goldman, Jonathan Lemire, Mike Murphy

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Deacon Palacios gets tonight`s last word. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, another day of separating kids from parents. No good answers and no sign this policy is stopping anytime soon. No good leads, either, on where the babies are being held.

The president, for his part, digs in, offers a preview of what`s to come in this year`s elections.

Also tonight, the president visited the capital to meet with Republicans and from the ranks of Congress, numerous profiles in courage emerged to confront him. Just kidding. There were no questions or pushback at the meeting. THE 11TH HOUR on a Tuesday night begins now.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 516 of the Trump administration, and we have breaking news from the Associated Press tonight about those migrant children on the border taken from their families. The A.P. puts it this way. "Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three, what are called, tender-age shelters in South Texas, the Associated Press has learned."

We will have more on that later on in this broadcast. Meantime, the president remains firm about sticking to the zero-tolerance policy of separating these families at the border. He said this tonight, "Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen did a fabulous job yesterday at the press conference explaining security at the border and for our country while at the same time recommending changes to obsolete and nasty laws which force family separation. We want heart and security in America."

Secretary Nielsen was treated to a less enthusiastic review when she chose to dine tonight in Washington at a Mexican restaurant of all places.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame on Nielsen, shame on Trump. Shame on Nielsen, shame on Trump. Shame on Nielsen, shame on Trump. Shame on Nielsen, shame on Trump. Shame on Nielsen, shame on Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The secretary was escorted out to a waiting SUV. The immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border is testing the relationship between the president and his party. The pictures of migrant children taken from their parents are fueling new fears among Republicans about the impact on voters in November.

Tonight, the president met with House Republicans at the Capitol to discuss pending immigration bills and then some, including a possible solution to end family separation. The president heard not a single voice in opposition. A few House Democrats were there to make sure the president knew how they felt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quit separating children.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quit separating the kids. They`re separating the children. Mr. President, don`t you have kids?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Again, the president of the United States being, in effect, heckled by members of Congress in the other party tonight. Extraordinary sight on the hill. Congressman Billy Long of Missouri was in that GOP meeting, sent out this photo of it via Twitter. The president gave his brief assessment as he left the hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, if you believe --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are laws that have been broken for many years, decades, but we had a great meeting. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: NBC News is reporting the president told House GOP that he`s backing their effort to pass an immigration bill and essentially, "gave his endorsement to two bills, one by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia, that`s popular with immigration hard-liners, and a second compromise measure that reflects a deal between conservatives and moderates, both of which House leaders are likely to put on the floor Thursday".

The compromise bill does reverse Trump`s zero-tolerance policy. A vote on the bill is, again, expected later this week. We`ll see. The Senate is also trying to work out legislation to quickly end the crisis at the border. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, along with 11 of his GOP colleagues, written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop family separations until such time as Congress can pass a law. Senate Democrats insist it`s up to the president to end this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Have a heart for a change. Take that goddamn pen of yours and do away with this horrendous, inhumane policy of yours that rips children from the arms of their parents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Earlier today, it became clear the president does not favor the kind of quick fix he alone can bring about with a simple phone call. Here is part of his speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We don`t want people pouring into our country. We want them to come in through the process, through the legal system, and we want ultimately a merit-based system. People that come in, violate the law. They endanger their children in the process. And frankly, they endanger all of our children. You see what happens with MS-13. I don`t want judges. I want border security.

These countries that we give tremendous foreign aid to in many cases, they send these people up, and they`re not sending their finest. Does that sound familiar? Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized. Oh, it`s so terrible what he said. It turned out I was 100% right. That`s why I got elected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: And before that speech, there was this from the president`s Twitter feed. "Democrats are the problem. They don`t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our country like MS-13. They can`t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters."

Meanwhile, the government agencies on the front lines at the border, the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services today said that since May 5th, over 2,300 kids have been separated from their parents. There`s another crisis emerging. Immigration courts on the border now overflowing. Look at this. This photo is from a hearing today at the federal building in Brownsville, Texas. Immigration advocates are calling what`s happening here, mass trials, where parents often plead to be reunited with their children. They point to this picture published by the Web site, The Intercept.

Members of Trump`s administration are continuing to take the heat for their boss`s decisions. We want to show you the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known by the more robust-sounding acronym of ICE. He is about to retire, and during an interview with Wolf Blitzer earlier today, he might have been wishing he already had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Is this new zero-tolerance policy that the president has supported, that the attorney general announced, is it humane?

THOMAS HOMAN, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: I think it`s the law and I`m a law enforcement officer, I must follow the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Let`s bring in our leadoff panel on a Tuesday night. From Washington, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for the Washington Post. Jill Colvin, White House reporter for the Associated Press. And here in New York, John Heilemann, co-author of "Game Change" and "Double Down" and co-host of the Circus on SHOWTIME in addition to being a veteran journalist himself.

Jill, a lot of your reporting today painted a portrait up to and including the existence of these tender-age centers tonight, but painted a portrait of a president going it alone.

JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Absolutely. This is a president right now who, you know, he`s actually, I think, a little bit torn here on one hand. This is a president who feels like he is under attack, who feels like he`s going into the midterm elections and that immigration is his issue. He`s told the folks around him that he`s worried that the lack of progress on the wall is going to make him look "weak", and that he feels like this is a winning issue for him. If he`s able to hammer this going into the midterms, it`s something that makes his base very excited and something that`s going to help them turn out. It`s going to be something that`s beneficial to him.

At the same time, you know, the president spoke very briefly this morning, or this evening, I`m sorry, to members of Congress. As you said, he didn`t take questions. He was very meandering. He talked about a number of different things, sources in the room have told my colleagues and I. But, Trump did at one point during that conversation acknowledge -- he said that he had been spoken to by his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and that she had told him that this was a potentially negative issue for him and that he worried that it might "look bad" and that there was a political downside to this.

So it seems we`re at a moment right here where the president is acknowledging that this is something that might have some kind of negative impact on him.

WILLIAMS: And Phil Rucker, in the midst of this, the president goes down to Capitol Hill to meet with the home team. What can you tell us about that gathering?

PHILIP RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, first of all, Brian, it`s been a remarkable day because the president is trying to wish people would pretend like he has nothing to do with what`s happening at the border. He`s blaming it on Congress. He`s demanding that Congress pass a law to change the policy that his own administration has implemented. He`s the guy who ran on "I alone can fix it," and now he`s saying he can`t do anything to fix it even though he can.

So he goes to Capitol Hill tonight for this closed door meeting with Republicans, House Republicans. And he leased them (ph), not sure which of the two integrations bills they`re considering he actually supports. He said, I support you. He said he wants to change this policy. He talked about how bad the family separation has been, but he did not give any clear direction or game plan for Republicans to legislatively fix what`s happening, what`s playing out hour by hour at the border. And he gave sort of a meandering performance. And at one point, attacked Mark Sanford, an incumbent Republican congressman who just lost his primary campaign in South Carolina.

Sanford was not in the room, but Trump went after him in front of his colleagues, called him a nasty guy, and even drew some boos from some of the members of Congress. This is what people in the room were telling my colleague, Josh Dawsey. And that`s a pretty remarkable moment for the president on the home team.

WILLIAMS: John Heilemann, a few anonymous boos from the back of the room is the closest thing the president faced today to any pushback with the letter R after it. I want to show you part of the night that unfolded on cable television, and it`s been a wild one. This is first two surrogates for Trump, Steve Cortes and Corey Lewandowski from tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE CORTES, ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: If you come across our border without permission, you are an invader. There`s no other word --

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OK.

CORTES: -- to describe it.

BURNETT: So why do you use the word invader. They`re not coming with guns. They`re coming because they wanted to farm in this country, not because they want to destroy --

CORTES: I`m not talking about the children. I`m talking about their parents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I read today about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was taken from her mother and put in a cage.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Womp-womp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I read about a -- did you say womp-womp to a 10-year- old with Down syndrome taken from her mother?

LEWANDOWSKI: What I said is you can take anything you (INAUDIBLE) --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How dare you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: John, that`s what passes for the cable news discourse this evening.

JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-AUTHOR, "GAME CHANGE" & "DOUBLE DOWN": Yes. It`s been a tough day, and it`s been a tough -- since this story started, it`s been a tough thing for everyone, I think, to absorb and to get their heads around. And I think what you saw there with Corey Lewandowski and what you saw there with the Trump surrogate is the fact that -- and Rachel was talking about this earlier on her (INAUDIBLE) tonight.

And Phil Rucker talked about earlier also. The Trump administration wants this fight. Everything about this right now so far they have enjoyed. They like the liberal outrage. They like the mainstream outrage. They like -- this is a fight that they are courting. And we`ve seen reporting about it in "The New York Times" and elsewhere. This is an issue that Trump wants to run on. This is an issue that -- and I think he`s wrong about the politics and I`ll say why in a second. But, they are enjoying this. This is not a moment of tension in the White House. This is not a moment of unease. This is not a moment of conflict. This is not a moment where the president is sitting around, I think, in a state of profound ambivalence about what`s going on.

These are the politics that he wants right now. I think the pictures we`re about to see when the -- the pictures, they`ve already been devastating for the administration, I think. But when we see these tender-age shelters as they`re calling them, babies and toddlers in similar kinds of facilities we`ve seen already, the pictures they have been explicitly hiding from us for days, those pictures are going to be horrible. You`re right that Republicans did not confront him in that meeting. But we`re now seeing Republican senators sending the president letters and putting this on his doorstep. We are seeing Republican governors saying they will not send or pulling back National Guard from the border.

And finally, I think that, you know, we saw Stephen Miller today in "The New York Times" saying this is a 90-10 issue for the president. If you define this as secure borders versus insecure borders and open borders, it`s a 90-10 issue. The president is on the right side. The way this issue is unfolding is not like that right now. It`s not close to a 90-10 issue, because this is not a discussion about secure borders anymore. This is a discussion about child abuse and the combination of the photographs and the fact that his party is for the first time, I believe, really starting in kind of a significant way to turn against him. Maybe not as loudly as we would like them in some cases or to his face. But at least we`re seeing Republican senators, Republican governors, as I said a second ago.

The Trump -- the Amen chorus that the party has become for him is really nervous about this right now. And I think that what we`re -- what they are going to discover is that this is not a 90-10 issue for them at all and in fact, that they are on the wrong side of this issue politically and they`re misplaying this horribly in addition to being grotesque in the kind of morals and decency department.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, 108 degrees in Texas this afternoon. You just saw perhaps the pictures of the tents that have been airing all evening, what some have tried to dub already Trumpvilles in the -- under the kind of banner of the Hoovervilles of a different era in our country. But this is among the places where children are being housed. We hasten to add the government is rushing to point out that they have enormous air-conditioning units to feeding fresh air to all of those tents. But that`s their existence.

Phil, I`m going to ask you to prognosticate a little bit, and that is where are we heading, and why are we hearing talk of a government shutdown of all things in September of this year perhaps?

RUCKER: Well, to speak to the government shutdown threat, that`s a threat that President Trump has made repeatedly and is making now privately, that if he does not get the funding that he wants for the border wall that he promised in the campaign, to construct that border wall, he would threaten to shut down the government. It`s one of the reasons why the president has been so -- has been demanding that Congress pass a larger, more comprehensive immigration bill that doesn`t just fix the family separation policy but also includes funding for the border wall. He cares about that wall.

In terms of where we`re headed next, Brian, tomorrow night, President Trump`s going to be in Minnesota. I`m going to be there too, covering it. He`s got a big campaign rally. It`s going to be the first time where he`s talking in a political campaign setting to his supporters about this immigration policy and the crisis down at the border, and we`ll see just how the politics are going to play for him. I anticipate what we saw today at that small business gathering here in Washington, it was just a precursor for what he might do tomorrow night. He`s very animated and exorcised about this immigration issue, and he`s going to be in front of an audience of people that very much agree with him.

WILLIAMS: Jill, does your reporting agree with the portrait of the west wing we just heard from John, and what are the parallels in the handling of the aftermath to some of the previous crises we`ve seen already in this young administration? Someone said today the Trump administration has already had a Katrina. It`s called Puerto Rico. It`s still going on. I have heard comparisons to Charlottesville.

COLVIN: I`ve also heard the comparisons to Charlottesville, and the president in some ways, you know, he thinks of this as a winning issue for him. He has told aides that he compares this actually to the outrage over the national anthem kneeling issue, that he feels it`s that kind of cultural war thing that really gets his base going.

And look, the folks in the White House at this point are sort of acting as a team, speaking as a team. You had Secretary Nielsen, who is out there taking -- making herself the face of the administration, taking questions from reporters yesterday defending this policy. Look, we know behind the scenes that she has not been a strong endorser of it. Some accused her of even slow walking the policy. But nonetheless, you had her out there, you know, defending it for the president.

You`ve had John Kelly who`ve, you know, in the past just talked about this as a potential deterrence issue. And so right now, they`re really presenting this unified front despite the fact there has been some internal back and forth and some debate internally about the merits of this policy and how they would actually put it into place. But this is a White House that has gone from one controversy to the next. They just convened (ph) from one crisis to the next point. And so you`ve got a building full of people who are very wary, who are very browbeaten. You`ve had a number of exits in the last couple of weeks. We`re expecting more exits in the coming weeks.

And at this point, the feel you get from folks in the building is that, you know, they`re used to it at this point.

WILLIAMS: John, one more piece of video, what may emerge as the signature sentence from the speech the president gave today. He started saying he wanted to solve family separation, and then he went here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And when you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: You have to take the children away. You`ve covered Donald Trump for some time, and you`ve covered his extremes. Is this a new bar setting?

HEILEMANN: It`s a new bar setting, I think, in terms of -- on some level, yes, but I think it`s reflective of a more fundamental thing, which is a hollowness at the core of the man. You know, the analogy to this is a winning issue like the national anthem. The national anthem is an issue that separates people and inflames a lot of debate and there are racial overtones in it and it`s divisive, but it`s taking on a bunch of multi- millionaire athletes.

This is an issue that`s different in one crucial respect. It`s different than any other way he`s ever been taken on immigration before. It`s different because it`s about little kids, and that is something the president does not seem to appreciate. This is why I think they`re misreading the politics so much because when he talks about infestation, that language, the Democrats are for infestation, that is a discussion of people as vermin. That is what that language is. It`s a language of right-wing, nationalist, white, fringe politics in Europe. It`s part of the reason why we have such a hard time talking about it in some ways here because the notion that that fringe politics that has existed for a long time in Europe, that language, that idiom is not familiar to Americans, and it`s certainly not familiar coming from the mouth of the president of the United States.

So it`s hard for us to get our heads around it. It`s much more familiar in certain other parts of the world. And I think when Donald Trump goes here on these issues and doesn`t recognize that in that same breath, when he says, well, you have to take the children away, it`s not as if there`s a moral compass in him that is wedded to the political calculus that great politicians have, which is the moral grounding and the fine political calibration. Because he doesn`t have the moral grounding and doesn`t recognize that when you were talking about children, you were talking about something different than all of the other scapegoats and boogiemen that he likes to cite and that he often does win by scapegoating.

I think it`s different, and I think again, as I said before, I think it`s not just disgraceful and disgusting and disheartening, but I think it`s an issue on which the president is really not -- because he lacks this part deep inside him somewhere, it has robbed him of a kind of political calculus and a political calibration that is going to really be devastating for him and the party on this issue.

WILLIAMS: And we, in the news media, go chase the next story. And when we turn around, the word infest has become normalized somehow. Philip Rucker, Jill Colvin, John Heilemann, difficult night for discussion. Our thanks to the three of you for starting us off this evening.

Coming up, a deeper dive on the toll the president`s separation policy is taking on the ones who do matter the most here, and why some have labeled this using the serious charge of government-sponsored child abuse. We`ll ask our next guest, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who`s been allowed to visit some of these children.

And later on, a message posted to Twitter intended for an audience of one, sent from the president`s newest campaign manager. What he thinks Trump should do next. THE 11TH HOUR just getting started tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: We`re back with more on this story from the Associated Press tonight that the Trump administration has been sending babies and other young children to what they`re calling tender-age shelters in South Texas. This report cites Kay Beller, vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which provides foster care and other child welfare services to migrant children. She says, "The thought that they are going to be putting such little kids in an institutional setting? I mean, it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it. Toddlers are being detained."

With us tonight is Dr. Colleen Kraft, who happens to be president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She was recently able to visit a refugee shelter near the Mexican border.

Doctor, a very basic question that has to do with this story we`ve learned about tonight. We know there are infants and babies and toddlers out there. We haven`t been able to get access to them, to their location, certainly not pictures of how they`re being cared for. What do you know about who is calming and holding and changing and feeding and rocking these babies?

DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: Well, let me describe what one of these shelters looks like and the children inside them. So I had the opportunity to tour one of these shelters in April of 2018, and when you walk in, it`s actually fairly homey-looking. There are cribs and beds and toys and books and play mats. And you walk into the toddler room, and you see something very unusual. Normally, when you`re with a group of toddlers, they`re running around and laughing and playing and rambunctious. And in this room, these children were withdrawn. They weren`t interacting except for one little child, who was just sobbing in the middle of the room.

And she was crying uncontrollably and beating her little fists against the mat. And the office of refugee settlement worker was next to her, trying to give her a toy and tried to give her a book and tried to do what she could. But she couldn`t pick her up or hold her or comfort her. And we all in that room knew that we couldn`t give this child or any of these children what they really need, and that was their mothers.

WILLIAMS: What`s behind this policy barring physical contact, tactile contact with children if even to calm them or comfort them?

KRAFT: I`m not sure what`s behind the policy. I can really only tell you what I saw. And, the fact is that the shelters are clean, and they have toys and books and some pediatric-appropriate things. But when you don`t have a parent there, you don`t have the one person that those children really need in order to thrive and to develop and to be happy and to be well cared for.

WILLIAMS: So many people have said on social media and elsewhere this week, think about what happens if you briefly lose contact with your child at a shopping mall or in a public place, how traumatic that is for the both of you, even if it`s for 20 seconds. And imagine if there`s no mechanism for reunification, period, of these parents and children. Talk about the kind of long-term damage. This is your area of expertise. The kind of long-term damage this kind of traumatic separation can bring to these young children.

KRAFT: So what we know is that children experience stress, and we all experience stress. But these very young children experience stress in the form of high levels of cortisol and fight or flight hormones. And in the presence of a parent or a caring adult, they can be soothed and calmed, and those stress hormones can be buffered. But when those stress hormones are allowed to stay untracked by a parent, not buffered by somebody who these children know and love, those levels of chemicals can actually disrupt the neuronal pathways and disrupt the brain architecture of these developing children.

And it`s so important in these very young children because between zero and three years of age, the brain is rapidly growing and developing. And we are inhibiting that brain growth through this policy at the most crucial time in these young children`s lives.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, I can`t thank you enough for coming on and explaining some of what we`re witnessing, yet unable to see at the same time. And we should label all the video we show inside these shelters as government- sanctioned, meaning they were touring with us because we are not free to shoot video of what`s happening inside these centers.

Our thanks tonight to Dr. Colleen Kraft.

Coming up, we turn to politics. Michael Cohen reportedly hires a new lawyer while Trump`s campaign manager takes a hit at a member of the president`s cabinet. All of that next as we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Multiple news organizations are reporting tonight President Trump`s former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen has hired a new lawyer to handle this ongoing criminal investigation into his business dealings in New York.

Emily Jane Fox of "Vanity Fair" reports, "Cohen, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, has now hired Guy Petrillo to represent him. PETRILLO, a New York attorney who works with clients in criminal and civil matters prosecuted by the government, served as the chief of the criminal division in the southern district of New York from 2008 to 2009.

After news broke last week that Cohen was planning to part ways with his original legal team, speculation grew that he might be willing to cooperate with the government. Well, today Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has become a pretty dependable Trump defender in his recent media appearances, told Business Insider, Guy Petrillo is, "the kind of lawyer you would hire if he wanted to keep open the option of cooperation." This as "The Wall Street Journal" reports Michael Cohen wants the president to foot his legal bill, "Mr. Cohen has frequently told associates in recent months he`s frustrated that the president hasn`t offered to pay his legal fees, which he said are bankrupting him according to one of the people. He has said he feels that Mr. Trump owes him after his years of loyalty to the former real estate developer whom he served for nearly a decade at the Trump Organization."

Here with us tonight to talk about all of it, Daniel Goldman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in, of all places, the Southern District of New York as luck would have it. And Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press. All right, counselor. You, I`m told, know Mr. Petrillo and can talk about him in the significance of this hire by Michael Cohen.

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Sure. Guy Petrillo was the head of the criminal division, which means he oversaw all the prosecutors at southern district.

WILLIAMS: Big job.

GOLDMAN: A significant job. That was after. In the 90s, he was an assistant U.S. attorney, a prosecutor on the line himself. He`s a very experienced, very qualified white collar defense lawyer. I worked for him, and then I had the opportunity to be on the other side of him when he went on the defense side.

I don`t agree entirely with Alan Dershowitz in the sense that this is -- this means that Michael Cohen is cooperating. Guy Petrillo has gone to trial. Guy Petrillo has cooperated witnesses. He can do either one. And most lawyers do either one. Very few lawyers would say, I will only go to trial or I will only cooperate. That`s not really how it works.

But Guy Petrillo is going to be very good for Michael Cohen in this sense. He is going to be able to understand and figure out exactly the jeopardy that Michael Cohen is in, and he`s going to be able to provide Michael Cohen with all of the information that Cohen would need to make a determination as to how to proceed. If there`s a guilty plea to negotiate, Guy Petrillo will do a very good job for him. If cooperation is the route that he wants to take, Guy Petrillo will do a good job. And if he wants to fight this, Guy Petrillo he can fight this.

So, this is a -- I think a very sound, strategic hire for Michael Cohen to get someone who really knows the southern district of New York, understands the inner workings as Guy does and can also deal with whichever way this goes.

WILLIAMS: And, Jonathan, you know the dynamic here. Here`s Michael Cohen sitting at home, watching television for signs of loyalty from the president. The president giveth and taketh away at the same time.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: This is someone who has felt in recent months very frustrated by the lack of loyalty he has seen with this president. With Donald Trump loyalty, as we all know, as a one-way street. More times than not.

Cohen thought he would get a White House job, maybe chief of staff, didn`t get that. He remained in New York. Certainly he tried to cash in on his relationship with the president with these corporate clients, but he always felt like he was out of the loop.

Here`s a moment where he is asking, according to the reports, for the president to help pay his legal fees, exorbitant legal fees, and there`s been no indication that`s going to happen. We have seen President Trump, his spokes people including Rudy Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani distance themselves from him repeatedly. We know that some of the Trump children, Ivanka Trump, Junior, and Eric have also soured on Cohen in recent months, probably not inclined to help foot these steep legal bills. And let`s be honest, President Trump is not exactly have a reputation for being particularly generous when it comes to giving his money away to other people.

WILLIAMS: So, Daniel, how does this work? When you come in to be Michael Cohen`s new lawyer, and we have all kinds of uncorroborated reports, some of which sound like Cohen is waiting for a charging document. Do you sit down with your new client, Mr. Cohen, and say, tell me all you`d be prepared to say about the president of the United States so I can judge the potential worth of your testimony?

GOLDMAN: The first question you ask is, tell me all the crimes you`ve committed because when you go into the southern district to cooperate, that`s the first thing that the prosecutors are going to ask.

WILLIAMS: Oh, boy.

GOLDMAN: Then the questions are and what do you know about other people, whether it`s the president or his children or anyone in the Trump Organization, or any of the Russians that he dealt with in January of 2017. All of that will have to come out.

And it`s very interesting to me that Trump is not paying his legal fees, which creates, by the way, all sorts of ethic issues because if Michael Cohen were to cooperate and one of the people he cooperated against were to be Donald Trump, and Trump is paying his legal fees, that poses a whole sort of problem. But it`s interesting that Trump isn`t paying his legal fees because to me, that indicates that Trump is not worried that Michael Cohen will cooperate or that he has anything against him because otherwise, he would try to pay him in a sort of mob type of way because this happens in mob cases, in order to keep him quiet.

On the flip side, Donald Trump has proven he does not understand the law very well over the course of the last year and a half, so it may be that he doesn`t understand what Michael Cohen has against him. But it is a very interesting dynamic going on here.

WILLIAMS: And, Jonathan, in the meantime, the president`s newly named campaign chairman for next time sent this out on Twitter today right at seemingly the attorney general. Do we have that up on the screen? Here we go. Time to fire Sessions. That`s abrupt. End the Mueller investigation. You can`t obstruct something that was phony against you. Who do you think he`s talking to here? The I.G. report gives Donald Trump the truth to end it all. Does the I.G. Report do that?

LEMIRE: We have a fact check Brad Parscale here. No it does not.

WILLIAMS: I don`t think so.

LEMIRE: Parscale, let`s remind the viewers, was the head of the digital operation in the 2016 campaign, already at a very early date named the head of 2020 campaign. He`s very close to Jared Kushner, his big ally within the White House. And these tweets came out of nowhere today.

We`re desensitized somewhat because Donald Trump Bashes on Jeff Sessions all the time. It`s still pretty striking that the campaign manager for the president`s reelection bid goes after the sitting attorney general of the United States as he did there. The reporting that we`ve done suggests this is not necessarily part of a coordinated effort to fire Jeff Sessions, a new talking point and certainly we know the president is deeply frustrated at Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe, but I spoke to Rudy Giuliani just a couple of days ago who very much acknowledges the president`s anger at Sessions but he said he has counseled Trump repeatedly not to fire him. That it would cause an unnecessary distraction and more attention during the midst of this investigation.

So, this is Parscale seemingly going out on a limb here, but it`s part of - - what it is part of is a coordinated effort to attack the findings of the Mueller probe before they`re released, to try to discredit those investigating the president.

WILLIAMS: As we like to say around here, what could go wrong? Gentlemen, thank you both very much. Daniel Goldman, Jonathan Lemire here with us in our New York studio.

Coming up, we`re going to look at a damage assessment perhaps to the GOP for just this week. Veteran GOP strategist Mike Murphy is here with us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLLIAMS: We`re back to have a conversation we need to have. President Trump`s hard line on immigration remains popular with his political base, but it`s putting Republicans on the November ballot in a tight spot. The Associated Press reporting tonight, Republicans, particularly those in more moderate districts, are worried they will be damaged by the searing images of children held in cages at border facilities as well as by audio recordings of young children crying for their parents. A growing number of sitting Republican lawmakers are also speaking out against Trump`s so- called zero-tolerance policy, including a long list of somewhat influential senators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I support and all of the members of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: All of us who are seeing these images of children being pulled away from moms and dads in tears, we`re horrified. This has to stop.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: It`s not American to do this. We`re for families and children and for keeping them together.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER: The White House could change it in five minutes, and they should. I mean it`s a mistake.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Zero-tolerance policy is of their making.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our default every time should be to keep families together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Now we get to see if they convert any of that talk to action. But that`s putting the cart before the horse. As you can see with us tonight is our friend Mike Murphy, veteran GOP strategist, longtime adviser to people like Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, John McCain. He also happens to be a senior fellow up at Harvard. Thank you very much for coming in.

MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN GOP STRATEGIST: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: I have an uncomfortable question to start you. The battle damage assessment for your party just thus far this week.

MURPHY: Oh, it`s a complete disaster. I think the political coroner is going to rule this one a suicide. It is self-inflicted. It`s morally repugnant. It`s a stain on the history of the country and on this presidency. I think this is a disaster at least 70 to 100 congressional districts. Even in base Republican districts, this thing has people outraged. These are not Republican values. These are not American values. And this one is going to be a big price to pay.

Now, you can see the political machinery working as the Senate is in just about full revolt now, and the House which is more factionalized on this immigration issue is following. So there`s tremendous energy there to get out of this thing, but a lot of damage has already been done. If they move very quickly, they can ameliorate some of it.

WILLIAMS: I was thinking tonight about a member of Congress like Leonard Lance. He`s a Republican in a blue area of Northern Jersey not far from where we`re having this discussion.

MURPHY: Right.

WILLIAMS: I`ve got nothing against him at all. You and I could sit down with a laptop and garage band and make a spot right now that could help to defeat him in November using just this issue.

MURPHY: Yeah. No, look, the moderates, the guys in the toughest districts are going to be the first casualties. That`s kind of the cruel irony of this. But, you know, when you follow your president off a cliff of insanity, when you have dregs working as staffers in the White House that order this kind of behavior, you`re going to pay a political price, and that`s what`s going to happen.

WILLIAMS: What if the Dems on the left had their act together?

MURPHY: Well, I --

WILLIAMS: What would that look like?

MURPHY: Well, they -- I think you`re going to see it now because this thing, you don`t have to be a political genius. You know, the president and this policy has managed to offend the whole country on a deep, fundamental level. So you don`t have to be a political Machiavelli to put together the campaign. People are going to be out wanting to punish the party for this. And the next wave will be we`re going to see it on TV. We`re not just going to hear audiotape of a kid screaming for his or her mother. We`re going to see it. And then there will be the investigations, recriminations. The president being the president will dig in. I mean today it was a case study in non-presidential leadership. He went in front of the house, you know, the Republican Conference, and said, I`m for both bills, keep fighting.

WILLIAMS: And didn`t here a peep in opposition.

MURPHY: Yes. No, quietly they`re all horrified. The Senate will move fast, and they will follow. Now, the legal problem is it`s a little tricky to figure out how the Congress can micromanage the justice department. Lamar Alexander in the Senate is right. The president could stop this thing in an hour, you know, with one phone call. And clearly he doesn`t want to do that. He wants to play a political game that ultimately is going to, you know, massively hurt the party he`s allegedly for.

WILLIAMS: And you think he digs in more before a breaking point or a tipping point.

MURPHY: I think he`s a toddler. Push and he throws a tantrum. He wanted to talk today about Mark Sanford and take some victory lap over a primary. You know, it`s infantile. And I think he does not understand what`s happening here or he doesn`t care. You`ve got people like Lewandowsky who`s on Pence`s payroll out mocking these people. I mean this is not only tone deaf. This is morally deficient, and a price will be paid. It`s still America.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, my friend, for coming by.

MURPHY: Oh, thank you.

WILLIAMS: We always appreciate it. Someday we`ll talk about something hopeful.

MURPHY: I`d like that.

WILLIAMS: Of our coverage when we come right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: We want to just take a second here tonight. This may seem like blatant marketing, but the truth is it`s really important to keep up. So we have some reminders for you, especially for those of you who time shift our broadcast. You can indeed watch us any time you please by downloading the MSNBC app right there on your phone. If you`re on the move, you can listen live to us each night at this time on SiriusXM satellite radio and we are also available as a podcast, as we like to say there`s really no reason why you`d ever have to miss a single broadcast of the 11th Hour.

Another break and when we come back, the inverse difference between public outrage and air time and actual work. A look at this day in Congress when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: The last thing before we go here tonight is a reminder of something we try to say all the time around here, Congress is that unique place where the American people are both the boss and the customer. Starting with the hiring, we elect all of them to office, they along with the president then decide how, when and why to spend our tax dollars and we are the customers, as the system is designed for them to serve us and our needs.

So even if you buy the president`s false argument that Congress alone can fix there zero tolerance immigration policy, which in reality is a crisis the president created and can fix, let`s look at what the Congress did for the customers today. The short answer, nothing about this issue.

The pledge of allegiance in the House was at 2:02 p.m., they were in recess at 5:25 so the Republicans in charge could run to that meeting with the president where no questions were allowed. At 6:30 p.m. they were back in session to take up unfinished business, legislation "to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to require improved packaging and disposal methods with respect to certain drugs and for other purposes." No legislative action was taken and at 8:56 the House adjourned for the day.

The Senate was in session for almost nine full hours and they accomplished two votes, one on army contracting, the other to express the sense of the Senate regarding the need for funding for innovative scientific research.

But tomorrow is another day and we`ll be watching as the representatives of the 535 seats in Congress go to work for we the people of these United States. That is our broadcast on a Tuesday night. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END