Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: June 21, 2018 Guest: Todd Gillman, Kimberly Atkins, Peter Baker, Robert Costa, Jeremy Peters, Emily Jane Fox, David Jolly, Jon Meacham
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That reporter will join Brian in "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams, and that starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, President Trump promotes zero tolerance while unleashing venom on Mexico as his administration struggles to reunite migrant children with their parents.
First Lady Melania Trump makes a surprise visit to a border facility for children, but her appearance gets overshadowed by her choice of a jacket that reads, "I really don`t care, do u?"
And the carefully cultivated image of first daughter presidential adviser, Ivanka Trump, notably out of the public eye during this week`s epic policy reversal. THE 11TH HOUR on a Thursday night begins now.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 518 of the Trump administration. Few details, lots of confusion about how to make the President`s executive order ending the separation of migrant families an actual reality
The White House would prefer the focus be on these images of the First Lady showing compassion, doing some damage control admittedly a day after her husband`s policy walk-back.
Melania Trump went to McAllen, Texas today, an unannounced visit to a children`s shelter there that currently houses about 60 migrant children, think of that, most of them teenagers. Her trip a clear contrast to the images and sounds of children in what appear to be cages and crying out for their parents, the same images, same sounds that made this both a humanitarian and publicity crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me begin to recognize each of you and thanking you for all what you do, for your heroic work that you do every day, and what you do for those children. I`d also like to ask you how I can help to these children to reunite with their families, you know, as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The visit was largely uneventful and well reviewed. As you heard there, the First Lady asked how she could help reunite children with their parents. Instead, though, the day will be remembered by a choice the First Lady made, her choice in jackets on an 81-degree day in Washington.
She wore a green military jacket printed on the back with the statement, "I really don`t care, do u?" She did not wear it during her visit at the children shelter. She did wear it getting on and off the plane at Andrews and was seen wearing it after her return to the White House on route to the west-wing. It has even made the cover of tomorrow`s New York post in the President`s home city.
When asked about the jacket, the First Lady`s office said, "It`s just a jacket. There`s no message." But about an hour after she returned to D.C., the President thought differently about it and wrote on Twitter, "I really don`t care, do u? Written on the back of Melania`s jacket refers to the fake news media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares."
But back to the central question here, following this forced policy change, when will there be a mechanism to reunite children, including infants and toddlers, with their families? An early look at next week`s "New Yorker" magazine cover shows the profound imagery the artist Barry Blitt shows to illustrate these family separations.
Tonight "The Washington Post" says at least 13 states that it knows of are home to shelters for those children, again, some as young as a few months old. Despite repeated requests, NBC News cameras have not been allowed inside any of the shelters around the country.
The Department of Health and Human Services has released these new handout pictures. These are government controlled pictures showing conditions inside facilities in Florida and Virginia, and that`s all we know.
Immigration and the executive order were on the agenda at today`s cabinet meeting at the White House where the President made sure to show toughness on immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I signed a very good executive order yesterday, but that`s only limited. No matter how you cut it, it leads to separation ultimately. I`m directing HHS, DHS, and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups.
Mexico, by the way, is doing nothing for us. Nothing. They have the strongest immigration laws. They can do whatever they want. They can keep people out of Mexico. They have a 2,000-mile journey up Mexico. They walk through Mexico like it`s walking through Central Park. Mexico is doing nothing for us except taking our money and sending us drugs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, NBC News has confirmed what was firm reported by "The Washington Post," that HHS has asked the Pentagon to house upwards of 20,000 migrant children on our military bases.
Also the Justice Department has asked the federal judge to allow the government to detain migrant families for long periods of time, which brings us to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Here he is speaking about the separation policy today and a few months back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The American people don`t like the idea that we`re separating families. We never really intended to do that. What we intended to do was to make sure that adults who bring children into the country are charged with the crime they`ve committed, instead of giving that special group of adults immunity from prosecution, which is what in effect we were doing.
If you don`t want your child to be separated, then don`t bring them across the border illegally. It`s not our fault.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So with the Attorney General caught in a direct contradiction there, with the President telling the story his way, nothing from Congress today. Speaker Paul Ryan has delayed a vote on a compromise immigration bill as they hunt for that magic majority number of 218, 218 votes.
Let`s bring in our leadoff panel, shall we, on a Thursday night. Todd Gillman, Washington Bureau Chief for "The Dallas Morning News," he was a pool reporter today traveling with the First Lady. Kimberly Atkins, Chief Washington Reporter for the Boston Herald, and Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times." Welcome to you all.
Let`s begin with the only man among you who made the trip today. Todd, tell us about how the trip came about to your understanding. What was the stated goal of the trip, and what ended up defining the day?
TODD GILLMAN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Well, the First Lady`s office told reporters traveling aboard her plane to McAllen this morning that she decided two days ago that she really wanted to see these facilities. She told her husband, and that he was supportive of it, but that it was her idea 100%. This, of course, was about two day after she went public on Sunday putting out a statement saying that she was not happy about the family separations.
The press was assembled very secretly yesterday for this trip that began this morning. We were told by the First Lady`s office that secrecy was important to protect the First Lady because they didn`t have time to have an advance team down there, and of course all of the federal assets were, you know, they had their hands full. But there probably was another agenda that they didn`t want protesters to know exactly when and where she would pop up.
So this -- the goal of it was to put a spotlight on this policy and for the First Lady to see for herself what the conditions were of at least some of these migrant children.
WILLIAMS: Kim, looking back at the First Lady`s day, to quote a great man, was this a case of one step up and two steps back?
KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE BOSTON HERALD: You know, I don`t doubt that the recent images and sounds of these children moved the First Lady and that she was concerned about it, and that made her go down there.
I think the issue over her wardrobe, which sort of took over social media today, is perhaps a Twitter troll for reporters to seize on, and so that makes me hesitant to do it. I thought the most interesting thing about the First Lady`s trip honestly was the statement she put out afterwards, calling for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform.
She made that call to Congress. She really should be making that call to her husband because the closest that Congress came to tackling immigration reform at all, those efforts were completely torpedoed by President Trump.
And now we have a Congress that is, again, hamstrung on this issue and refuses to move -- chooses to refuse to move unless they have a bill that they are certain that the President will sign. Well, no one is certain of what -- that the President will do anything and so they are ceding their legislative authority to the White House.
And so for her after this trip to sort of place this issue on Congress, Democrats and Republicans, I think was really puzzling when she`s in the White House with the person who is in the biggest position to do something about this.
WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, what`s to stop this story from just dragging the way it is? People are still red-hot over this. At airports around the country, these kinds of flash mobs form when flights arrive that activists think might be carrying children to a shelter in their area.
And of course these kids are now out there, and a lot of them are going to remain out there. A toddler can`t tell you where they came from, their home address, their parents` names or cell phone numbers.
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDEN, THE NEW YORK TIMES. Yes. No, it`s reminiscent of the first days of the Trump administration when they tried to put on that travel ban on mostly majority Muslim countries, and there was great confusion, a great deal of conflict, a great deal of protests as you say at the airports, sort of spontaneous people rushing to the airports to make their feelings known, to try to express solidarity with the people that they saw were being targeted by these orders.
And you have a situation here where the President decided yesterday to reverse course without really having decided how to do it. And there are so many unanswered questions today. You mentioned the report about 20,000 children potentially being housed in these military bases.
Well, we don`t know yet whether that would include families or just unaccompanied minors. We don`t know yet whether they`re really going to continue with the prosecutions that under this zero-tolerance policy that Attorney General Sessions put it place or not. The Justice Department says one thing. You hear different thing from the border patrol.
So they haven`t yet got their act together in this 24 hours since the President`s order, and it`s left everybody pretty confused.
WILLIAM: So, Todd, what`s the agenda for them in the coming days? It was hard for the President rhetorically to move the bar on Mexico. I think he actually succeeded today, however. It depends on which way you define the bar, but what is their plan to manage this roll-out?
GILLMAN: Well, as Peter says, they really don`t have their act together. And I think part of the problem is that the President himself doesn`t really understand how the process works. He`s very angry about illegal immigration. He`s frustrated that we have so many migrants, and it`s on his watch. But one of the main solutions to this would be to process these cases much more quickly, and that requires a lot more immigration judges.
Lo and behold, there are legislative proposals to do just that, and the President has said repeatedly this week, "I don`t want judges." People want to hire thousands of judges, which is an exaggeration, but I don`t want judges. I just don`t want people coming to this country.
Well, OK, you don`t want judges, but you also want these migrants to not have to stay in detention for extended periods of time where you have children wailing, and it`s a terrible P.R. problem.
So I think the President probably needs to do a little bit more homework, and that people around him need to get him up to speed on what some of the nitty-gritty solutions are to the sub problems within this overall situation.
WILLIAMS: Kim, I don`t want people to think this is a gender-based question, but so many people are still stuck on this jacket. And I should share with our viewers, Kim is a lot of things, journalist, lawyer, and on the side you have had a fashion design business for years in your life.
So, as you`re talking about the jacket, I`m seeing it going up the air stairs at Andrews, coming down the air stairs at Andrews. And the last photo in the sequence we showed was on the colon aid adjacent to the Rose Garden as the First Lady was walking to the west-wing where I understood she wore it in the Oval Office.
They say in the airline business, we know you have a choice in air travel, and we`re so happy you chose us for your flight today. She has a choice in jackets or, say, to not wear one on an 81-degree day in Washington. So more than a troll, there`s got to be a story here.
ATKINS: You know, I agree with you in that, in the fashion industry and of course the First Lady is a former model and is very aware of the fashion industry. She has stylists. There is no optic in the world of fashion that is accidental. Everything is very purposely placed. So there was a purpose for that jacket.
It was not inadvertent the way her spokesperson initially said. Perhaps the President was right. Perhaps it was a message to the media. But I think whoever convinced her to do it or if it was her idea, it was a really poor way to message before going to visit children, some of whom don`t know where their parents are or if they will ever see them again.
So whether it was a media troll, a jab, it wasn`t an accident, and it was a really unfortunate choice.
WILLIAMS: And here we are, of course, talking about it tonight. To Peter Baker, who is merely a fashion enthusiast, Peter, you wrote today about the hit -- another hit our discourse took today at the hands of the President. It was a bad day on that front.
BAKER: Well, you see a President who continually refers to people coming over the border illegally in terms that seem very dehumanizing. He talks about animals. He said that was just the MS-13 people, but otherwise he`s talked about, you know, murderers and thieves coming over to infest our country.
He has routinely shown in 18 months in office that he will say things that presidents just don`t say. He might take the same position on some of the issues that some other presidents would say. Presidents generally don`t tend to talk in this way.
He let Melania be the face of compassion today except for the jacket, which seemed to contradict the message. He wanted to be seen as the face of strength, of toughness and he talks tough. He`s going to talk tough about Congress. He`s going to talk tough about Mexico. He`s going to talk tough about human beings coming across the border. And that`s affected I think our national discourse when it comes from the top.
We are at a moment now where people are saying things and crossing boundaries that the President has crossed and shouted first in a way that has, you know, really influenced our national conversation.
WILLIAMS: To Todd Gillman, to Kimberly Atkins, to Peter Baker, our thanks for starting off our conversation after another busier than average day in the news business.
Coming up for us as we approach our first break, according to the President their policies stink. They have no ideas. They cause destruction. We`ll talk about the object of his fusillade of blame today.
And later, the "Time" magazine cover not likely to be framed and hung with pride at a Trump property. THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on a Thursday night.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. Let`s rewind. Earlier today at a cabinet meeting the President lashed out at Democrats on immigration, attempting to blame them for the current crisis. But he did, as you`ll see, leave the door open for another White House meeting with the Democratic duo who have visited him before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That`s what they are. They`re extremist, open-border Democrats. The Democrats are causing tremendous damage and destruction and lives by not doing something about this. This isn`t Trump administration.
You look back at 2014 during the Obama administration, they have pictures that were so bad. Take a look at some of the court rulings against the Obama administration, they talked about inhumane treatment. I read them. I looked at them. Their policies stink. They`re no good. They have no ideas. They have no nothing, the Democrats. All they can do is obstruct and stay together and vote against and make it impossible to take care of children and families and to take care of immigration.
They have to sit down. I`ll be certainly -- I`m willing to do it. I`ve just told you I`ll invite Senator Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. They can come over. They can bring whoever they want. But the lawmakers have to sit down, and they have to do something. We were given a lot of bad cards. One of the bad cards, we were given this immigration mess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here to talk about what we just heard, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for "The Washington Post," moderator of Washington Week on PBS, and Jeremy Peters, Political Reporter for "The New York Times." Gentlemen, welcome to you both.
So, Jeremy, it`s kind of pivot, deflect, blame, find fault, keep on going. A, tougher to make an argument that the Democrats can fix it when that`s what you said about the last thing you fixed. And, B, is there an end game here, or is it a game of rolling grievances?
JEREMY PETERS, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think if you look at history, Brian, the end game with immigration has been the status quo for three decades now. Every time Congress has tried to approach this issue, they`ve failed miserably.
Just today on Capitol Hill, we saw a continuation of that where Republicans thought that they could put something on the floor and possibly muster enough support for it, and they had to pull it at the last minute.
So I don`t really see a path forward here unless you have both sides sitting down constructively talking, which is not something that has happened on any issue, let alone immigration, the most divisive of issues.
I think Republicans believe that they have some opening here because this issue has gotten dragged to the extremes on both ends, on the left and the right. And if you look at, you know, disregarding the 10%, 20% on the left, and the 10%, 20% on the far right that want really extreme things either totally open borders or mass deportations, there`s room in there to do something. I just don`t know the Republicans have figured out how to do something.
WILLIAMS: Robert, join us in watching this second collection of the President looking for who to blame for a variety of issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Whether it`s North Korea, whether it`s so many other things, we have a lot of things. Look, I`ve been given a very tough hand because I came up here. We had an economy that was going down. We had an Iran problem. We had a Middle East problem.
Take a look at what was going on in the Middle East. It`s a lot better now, you know, a lot smoother right now than anything you heard over the last eight years. But we were given a lot of bad cards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So, Robert, here`s the question. He`s in Duluth last night, promising the folks up there new highways, new airports, and as he put it, new rail lines. That`s going to require some reach-across. That`s going to require money, cooperation. Where is that going to come from?
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And he also even talked about a space force, perhaps having more armed forces in space. You see a disconnect, Brian, between the congressional Republicans and President Trump, and it`s across the board.
Every time leader McConnell has a news conference, he begins by talking about conservative appointments to the federal bench. Whenever Speaker Ryan begins a news conference, he begins talking about the tax cut, the tax law now that was passed a few months ago last year, yet President Trump, immigration, infrastructure. And just a few months before the midterm elections, this is a vexing issue for a Republican Party that can`t have a coherent message at this point.
WILLIAMS: Jeremy, we did hear some conservatives come out against this separation of families of all things. But most of them were unwilling to use the President`s name to attach anything Trump to it.
PETERS: That`s exactly right. The one word you did not hear in any of the condemnations about this policy was Trump. They are fearful, of course, of the wrath of not just the President but his voters. And this extends, I mean, throughout the party. It`s not just the leaders on Capitol Hill, it`s the leaders of the crucial evangelical wing.
You have people like Ralph Reed, the former chairman of the Christian Coalition and Franklin Graham, a very influential evangelical pastor, who is saying, "Yes, I think this policy is abhorrent. It`s terrible." But they will not blame Trump for that.
So I think that to a certain extent, yes, while, you know, they are condemning what they believe to be an abhorrent policy, they don`t get a lot of credit from Democrats or anybody really looking to see some type of common ground here between right and left because they won`t take that extra step and say, "No, this is the President`s policy and he should be held accountable."
WILLIAMS: So, Bob, if we accept that when the Kennedy Library gives out this year`s Profile in Courage Awards at the end of 2018, there won`t be a recipient named Schumer, McConnell, Ryan, or Pelosi. If we accept that, is there anyone we civilians should watch in Congress for perhaps leadership to break out for a functioning member of Congress to break out of the pack?
COSTA: At this point, Brian, the people who are really breaking stride with the Republican leadership, with the Republican president, are those who have chosen to retire. There is not a crowd of Republicans who are talking about maybe running in 2020 against President Trump.
They keep telling me behind the scenes that the breaking point where you will have a growing group of Republicans having that kind of contrast with the President, that kind of profile in -- against the Republican leadership and the President, will come after the midterm elections if the President loses power.
WILLIAMS: So, in other words, there are still times for Profiles in Courage, just give us until about December 1. Gentlemen, I can`t thank you enough. Perhaps not as upbeat as our viewers would expect at this hour, but a truthful assessment of where we stand. Jeremy Peters, Robert Costa, gentlemen, thanks.
Coming up, her Secret Service code name is muse. She`s been notably out of the news this week, but she is on the cover of a new book. That is ahead when we continue.
WILLIAMS: A new book out this week takes a detailed look at Donald Trump`s children as a better way to understand their father, the President. One of the central figures, as you might imagine, daughter Ivanka Trump, who has a coveted office in the west wing as Senior Adviser to the President.
The book details her planned proximity to the man who would become president at some of his most important moments, introducing her father at his official campaign launch back in 2015. You might have heard something about that speech.
Positioning herself front and center as he was sworn in on Inauguration Day and during his welcome celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.
Since he has been President, she has traveled overseas to represent our country, most notably at the winter Olympic games, sitting just feet away from one of Kim Jong-un`s top officials. Portions of her life she makes sure are on public display via social media, yet she is much more circumspect where it we are tans to her job. She picks her issues and chooses her targets carefully.
A vacation with her husband and fellow senior staffer Jared Kushner famously took her out of town for the aftermath of the Charlottesville debacle, and most recently she stayed publicly silent on the immigration crisis, instead choosing to thank her father on Twitter after he ended the child separation policy his own administration imposed.
With us is the author of this new book, appropriately wrapped in gold. Emily Jane Fox is a Senior Reporter at "Vanity Fair." the book is called "Born Trump: Inside America`s First Family." Welcome to you.
EMILY JANE FOX, AUTHOR "BORN TRUMP": Thank you.
WILLIAMS: Thank you for coming on. And I guess because of the news this week, I`m going to focus mostly on Ivanka though the book is pretty evenly split. It is reported that she was asking around this week should she come forward, say something about this crisis. Why not given the fact that it was a crisis about women and children at its heart?
FOX: So there are a number of people close to her who she called this weekend and early this week, and they said no-brainer. Of course you should say something. You are there to be an adviser for women, for families. Speak up. Now is the time.
The only thing you need to know about why she didn`t speak up. and I go into great detail in the book, is that she has such a twisted dynamic with her father that she`s had since she was 8 years old, when her parents got divorced.
She would never do anything to alienate her father. And the one time that she has publicly spoken up about a policy issue or our position that her father had since she`s been in the White House, around the Roy Moore campaign, he was furious with her. So that`s not something she`s going to repeat again.
This is a man who has dictated pretty much every decision she has made in her entire life, and she essentially lives to please him and to serve him now in his administration.
WILLIAMS: When you live by the social media sword, you can die by the social media sword. I want to show you something that showed up in the Twitter feed. Who wore it better? Children detained in McAllen, Texas, or Ivanka Trump.
That was just one random entry in the sea of social media. I`m curious how aware of news on a daily basis is she? What do you know about her news diet and sources? And is she aware that you can have a kind of gilded tin ear about your own life on social media when your constituency is all of America?
FOX: It seems to me like her gut sense of all of this is totally off. I remember the week around the travel ban when the President first took office. She posted that photo of herself in that black tight outfit, and she got so much heat because it was so off-color for her to be posting that photo for her going to a gala when all these people were separated at airports, the parents and the children the first time around.
And then just last month, she did the same thing. She posted a beautiful photo of her hugging her son as the border crisis was starting, where parents were again being separated from their children. So you would think after a year and a half of this scrutiny, someone who has spent so much time trying to perfect their brand would catch on to this. But she clearly does not connect the dots and keeps making the same mistake over and over again.
WILLAMS: I know she is not among the members of the family you profile directly, but it would be malpractice on this day of all days not to ask you what you think was going on with Melania`s choice of that garment, again, on an 81-degree afternoon in Washington.
FOX: Not only was it 81 degrees, but the thing that struck me the most is it had to be a calculated decision because this is not a first lady who shops at Zara typically. This is a jacket that was $39 and a first lady who wears jackets that are thousands of times that amount. So this, to me, was not a natural fit for her wardrobe, and that signaled that perhaps there was a deeper meaning to that.
WILLIAMS: We want to let everyone know that from -- how do I put this? From big game to produce, it is all in this book, all the tales of the Trump children, how they relate, interrelate to their father, the President.
The book is called "Born Trump: Inside America`s First Family." We thank Emily Jane Fox, its author, for being here with us. Thank you very much.
Coming up, will this image become part of the lasting and sad iconography of the Trump administration when it`s all said and done? The reaction from our next guest when we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I`ve been on the cover of "Time" magazine so many times, and the cover of everything. I feel like a supermodel except like times ten. "Time" magazine, places don`t even like me although I have been on the cover of time a hell of a lot lately, I will say this.
Saw a reporter four-time, and I have been on their cover like 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of "Time" magazine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: While he is nowhere near the record for "Time" magazine covers, which belongs to Richard Nixon for perhaps all time, as a 72-year-old man, Donald Trump is in many ways a child of the Henry Luce "Time" magazine era.
The brand still matter and still resonates to him, so he mustn`t have liked it today when the cover came out. It`s stark cover art. It`s designed to speak for itself. And circulation being what it is, let`s say this honestly. The cover will be seen by millions more people than will actually read the magazine this week.
To talk about the history and imagery we have witnessed this week, we are joined tonight by David Jolly, former Republican member of Congress from the great state of Florida, and Jon Meacham of the great state of Tennessee, Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian his latest and most timely work is, "The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels."
Gentlemen, welcome to you both. Jon, I was given a quote from you earlier today, and I will read it. You called this the longest abusive relationship in American history. Clue in our viewers as to who and what you were talking about.
JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR "THE SOUL OF AMERICA": Well, really the President and all of us. We`re just locked in this co-dependent, bizarre dialectic with each other where he does something outrageous.
We`re forced to deal with it because he is the President of the United States. And we`re in many ways having to deal with reality. I hate to say it, on his terms because he did become of the President of the United States.
And the context was, so the administration pushes the family separation policy. He then reverses it. People, in my view, should say, because hopefully that`s progress -- we say progress, but then the huge part of the American tribe says, how can you possibly give him credit for anything? He created this. This is insane, which then produces on the right, with the Trump people, a predictable tribal response, which you see, they can`t say anything good.
And we`re just -- it`s just this -- it rolls forward. And to some extent, I sometimes get the feeling that the President, was basically saying subtle to us, which you don`t often use those words in that order about Donald Trump. I hit you because I love you.
He thrives on the controversy. He thrives on the Hobbesian fight of war against all. And the only alternative we have to not be engaged with it is to cede the public arena to him, and that`s not an acceptable response.
WILLIAMS: Congressman, we are not used to president as combatant and not custodian. Division can get you elected. We`ve proven that in congressional districts, governors, presidents. But can it govern?
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN, (R) FLORIDA: Division is different than unity because you have to sustain it. You can`t just use it in doses. Jon hits on an interesting point with co-dependency.
This is a President who sold himself on anger and populism and yes division, which is different than 40 years of presidential history that Jon knows very well. Obama sold hope. George Bush 43 if you agree or not sold compassionate conservatism.
Bill Clinton sold empathy. Bush 41, a thousand points of light. Reagan, the better angels. The difference here is when you sell division and you sell anger, you have to sustain it. And so what we`re seeing in this President is somebody who informs policy making with this anger and division, and he uses it as a tool.
It has upended 40 years of presidential history. It is why we are uncomfortable with it. You see it often on Capitol Hill. We have a low regard for members of Congress who often say, I`m not going to work with the other party.
There are questions around Chuck Schumer suggesting I`m not going to work with McConnell on solving the border crisis. This is the President`s issue. We expect that in Congress. We`ve never expected that from our Presidents. We really have not seen that in 40 years. We are seeing that from Donald Trump.
WILLIAMS: And Jon, throw on the pile of firsts a first lady in 81 degrees weather wearing a green army jacket with what may be a white trolling expression in Les Miz (ph) paint type on her back. So we have that to toss on the pile of firsts.
And when you go out and sign copies of your new book and you look up at those hopeful eyes of people waiting to see your name in sharpie, the hopeful eyes of golden retrievers, and people say, it feels like it`s never been this bad before, what do you say to them?
MEACHAM: Right. Well, I have to speak loudly because usually they`re older, and I`m usually wearing the green jacket. So I don`t think you really commented on that clearly enough. I don`t think they sell it at J. Press, but if they do, I`ll be getting one.
What I say is things have been miserable before. The congressman just ran through the history quite brilliantly. Even Richard Nixon in 1968 -- remember, when he stands in Miami beach, I think it was, or certainly Miami, he said that he wanted to talk about the lift of a driving dream in the midst of that miserable year.
Successful political figures on the national stage have always spoken in the vernacular of hope, not of fear, beginning with Jefferson, running through Lincoln all the way through. And that`s a really important point because anger and fear is what got Trump here. He`s not going to change. He`s not going to change that because I don`t think he knows any other vernacular.
My argument to folks is that every crisis feels outsized and potentially insuperable to the present because it`s our crisis.
MEACHAM: And these are our issues that we have to overcome. What is unique is this is as though George Wallace off Strom Thurmond or even William Jennings Bryan to some extent became president.
And so, what President Trump represents, what this -- the past ten days or so is really a wonderful case study, disturbing and distressing case study, but a really interesting one of where we are now because you have this since that the President sees this as a perennial conflict, not as an arena for resolution.
WILLIAMS: David Jolly, any chance effectiveness is going to break out in Congress? Can we take that off our list of worries?
JOLLY: Yes, no, the cake is baked going into November. But I want to revisit the Melania thing for a moment because we`ve touched on it with kid gloves. This was an unforgivable moment for the first lady and the first family, not because of what happened in the initial moment where, why did she wear this? And there was entry.
And frankly I was one who dismissed it the first time we saw it as she was departing. But to wear it on her return affirmed she was making a political message. This was not a fashion message. This was a political message where she said, I don`t care.
And I don`t care personally as David Jolly how the White House tries to manipulate this. She was going to the border where her husband has ripped families apart wearing a jacket that said, I don`t care. It is an unforgivable moment for Melania as the first lady, but also for the President of the United States, and she does not deserve latitude on this because she doubled down on it after questions were asked.
WILLIAMS: Snapshot of where we are, ladies and gentlemen, in 2018. With thanks to two our of friends, David Jolly and Jon Meacham, gentlemen, thank you both.
And coming up after another break, the ongoing Mueller investigation not stopping the next big summit the White House has in the works. It will make for an interesting combination. The latest on this possible Trump/Putin get-together when we continue.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back, as you may have heard a Trump/Putin meeting is looking more likely. Next week National Security Adviser John Bolton will travel to Moscow to talk about the potential summit, after first stopping in London and Rome.
Also tonight NBC News reporting that delegation of six Republican senators expected to travel to Russia next week to talk about economic and security issues with high level Russian officials.
Back with us Peter Baker who we`ve talk in to hang around. Peter is with the New York Times but should be noted for this discussion is the former Moscow co-Bureau Chief for the Washington Post. So Peter, I`ll ask the question and the conversational manner. Is this the look they want right about now?
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YOURK TIMES: Well, it is the look that President Trump wants right about now. It might not be looked in people round him want.
He`s been talking about this meeting now for a while. He tried to get Putin to agree to it back in March. I think then his staff kind of like tried to warn him about this, maybe not the best idea. We are in the middle of a conflict with Russian right now over the poisoning of that former Russian spy and Britain and we had 60 diplomatic expulsions. We had sanctions in the last few months.
But the President has been very determined and he has pushed and pushed until his staff is acting on his desire. And that`s why John Bolton is going to week to see if they can arrange this trip. It`s a remarkable thing because he`s going to Europe in a couple of weeks to meet with NATO at the time when he`s at odds with all of those eight NATO partners and yet he wants to meet with Vladimir Putin who has made Europe`s life so difficult lately.
WILLIAMS: And of course, we could imagine a statement at the end where the President said some form of is it better to talk and get along. But what on the reality side is the maximum upside for the U.S. to walk away from this with?
BAKER: Well, it`s a great question. We have big disputes right now with Russia and particularly in Syria where we would like to find some way on reconciling what`s going on the ground there keeping things from getting worse, figure out how limit Iranian influence there.
We`ve got a continuous dispute with them over Ukraine and there`s been boiling now since 2014. Doesn`t seem to be a big priority, President Trump though and we`ve got sort of this Trans-Atlantic tension right now with Russia seems to be interfering not just in American election in 2016 but European elections across the board.
And it`s a big concern for Angela Merkel of Germany for Theresa May. And in England and for Emmanuel Macron in France, those are America`s biggest allies, the question whether they`re on the same sheet singing with President Trump.
WILLIAMS: And just one more note. What side of the NATO meeting would this beyond, would this before or after?
BAKER: It`s a good question. There some talk they might before. And that would be really optic, in terms of the office that would be quite interesting to see President Putin before you go see your allies.
We`re not sure that`s the way it`s going to be. We`ll obviously learn a little bit more when John Bolton gets there next week. He`s supposed to go to this trip in England. It`s a long delay trip that have been put off. Fear of protest and so fort. He`s supposed to meet with the queen there and there is a lot of anger right now at President Trump in Britain and it could be a very volatile visit.
WILLIAMS: What are world we are living in. Peter Baker, who has a big damn job by day as Chief White House correspondent for the New York Times that`s why we`re always so grateful when he agrees to stay up with us here at night. Peter, thank you peter, so much.
BAKER: Thank you.
Coming up, we will remember one of the leading voices of the political opinion these last several decades when we continue.
WILLIAMS: The last thing before we go. Tonight, the death today of Charles Krauthammer, those who did not encounter him in print and the pages of the Washington Post, the new republic or Time magazine or in his many books over the years.
Perhaps knew him as a long time contributor and commentator across the street us at Fox News. He was born in New York to Jewish refugees from Europe. His family settled in Canada and somewhere between finishing first in his class at Magill then studying at Oxford then on to Harvard medical school.
Somewhere in there it became clear he was a young man with a giant intellect. His life as a young Athlete and scholar was dealt a giant challenge with a diving accident left him paralyzed. He adjusted his future plans hoping as he set back at the time to muddle through life.
Well, he finished med school at Harvard. He practiced psychiatry before discovering he had a gift for the written word. He wrote with strength and clarity always clarity. He`s work for the Washington Post was honored with Pulitzer Prize back in 1987.
While he may have started out on the left hand side as a young man, he later railed for years against what he saw as the liberal monopoly of the news media. He wrote in muscular style about a muscular United States on policy matters and the spectrum between conservatives neocon.
He was stagnant anti-communist, a zealous and steadfast defender of Israel and famously one of the drum major of the drum beats towards war in Iraq after 9/11. A task he predicted at the time would take three weeks. And of course, at the time of his death, 15 years later, 4,000 American lives later we remain in Iraq.
His friends say he will be remembered as warm as he was stoic and interesting one-on-one as he was interested in the lives of everyone he met. In the end, he was taken down by intestinal cancer and in a public farewell letter a few weeks back, he was true to form keeping with style both forward and forthright about his approaching death. Charles Krauthammer was 68 years old.
That is our broadcast on a Thursday night.
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