Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: July 5, 2018 Guest: Annie Karni, Malcolm Nance, Brian Bennett, Nancy Cook
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: tonight, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt resigns amid more than a dozen scandals and blatant unrelenting attacks on his way out.
In a freewheeling Montana rally, the President tonight says he`s been preparing his whole life for meeting Vladimir Putin, while a Russian who met with Republican lawmakers this week said it was one of the easiest meetings of his life.
Plus, new reporting on Robert Mueller`s expanding team as the special counsel investigation plows forward.
THE 11TH HOUR on a Thursday night begins now.
Good evening, once again, from our NBC News headquarters here In New York. I`m Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams. Day 532 of the Trump Administration.
An EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, joins the list of high profile departures from the White House. Hours ago, Pruitt sent his resignation letter to the President as he faced the growing fallout from a whole bunch of ethic scandals that includes spending tax payer money on a $43,000 soundproof phone booth, a sweetheart deal on a condo rental linked to a lobbyist and ordering aides to help him obtain a used mattress from Trump`s hotel in Washington.
Right now Pruitt is the subject of 15 ongoing federal investigations. Earlier today in a tweet, President Trump announced that he had accepted Pruitt`s resignation. He wrote, "Within the agency, Scott has done an outstanding job and I will always be thankful to him for this." The President goes onto write, "The Senate confirmed Deputy EPA Andrew Wheeler will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA."
In his own resignation letter, Pruitt praised President Trump and the EPA`s work. He refers to improved environmental outcomes and historic regulatory reform. And he goes on to say, "It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it as a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us."
Earlier today as President Trump was traveling to a rally in Montan aboard Air Force One, he told reporters there was "no final straw" when it came to Pruitt`s resignation. He said it was Pruitt`s decision to step down. But "The New York Times" reports, "On Thursday afternoon around 1:30, Mr. Trump`s Chief of Staff, John F. Kelly, reached out to Mr. Pruitt to tell him the time had come.
The President also told reporters that he has narrowed his possible Supreme Court picks to about four people. A source familiar with the selection process told NBC News the list is actually down to three, these three, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge. And at tonight`s rally in Great Falls, the President was teasing up his big reveal.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, there`s now a vacancy on the Supreme Court. And if you turn in Monday at 9:00, I think you`re going to be extremely happy with this one, right? And they`re all great. They`re all great.
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VELSHI: Now, from there you can say things went off the rails. Among many other things, the President went after Maxine Waters, Elizabeth Warren and the NFL.
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TRUMP: We turn to away thousands of people. They never say I`m a great speaker. Why the hell so many people are come? I`ve broken more than John Elton records. He seems have a lot of records, and we`ve met.
And by the way, I don`t have a musical instrument. I don`t have a guitar or organ. No organ. Elton has an organ.
Yes, she is a low I.Q. individual, Maxine Waters. I said it the other day. I mean, honestly, she`s somewhere in the mid-60s, I believe.
Pocahontas, they always want me to apologize for saying it, and I here by - - oh, no, I want to apologize. I`ll use tonight. Pocahontas, I apologize to you. I apologize. To you I apologize. To the fake Pocahontas, I won`t.
Yes, we are already building the wall. It started in California and San Diego. I`ve directed the Pentagon to begin a process of creating a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces called the space force.
How about the NFL? Look, I don`t want to cause controversy. They passed this stupid thing. You don`t have to do this anymore. If you don`t respect the flag or if don`t like the country or whatever it is, just go into the locker room. Just go into the -- I think in many respects that`s worse. Isn`t that worse than not standing?
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VELSHI: Let`s bring in our lead-off panel for a Thursday night. Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for the "The New York Times" and MSNBC Political Analyst. Annie Karni is the White House Reporter for Politico, and Kimberley Atkins, Chief Washington Reporter for the Boston Herald and an MSNBC Contributor.
Annie, the boarder wall is not being built. We`ve all ready fact check that. The racial slur, the Pocahontas thing continues.
The U.S. is a signatory to an international agreement not to militarized space. But I don`t know, this has picked up yet. You know, I haven`t seen fraction around this. But the President criticized the Me Too Movement in his criticism of Elizabeth Warren. These rallies tend to go off the rails. This one was spectacular.
ANNIE KARNI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: It`s surprising to hear him bring up the Me Too Movement. Trump -- the President doesn`t have a lot of holding himself back, and it`s not a subject that is helpful to him given that there are more than half a dozen women who have accused him of sexual misconduct and more. So to hear him bring up that subject when he is part of it was a surprising turn.
The attacks on Pocahontas, Elizabeth Warren`s team was probably loving it. I think the Democrats are all like waiting for their turn to be Trump`s pinata tha day.
KARNI: And the attacks on the NFL, the White House officials have explained that this is his 2020 strategy and his midterm strategy to run on culture wars. That part of it was kind of the Trump playbook. But to bring up Me Too, especially on the same day that they officially announced that Bill Shine will be a Deputy Chief of Staff and the Communications Director, this is a former Fox executive who was involved with cover ups for Roger Ailes, was a surprising -- was probably the most eyebrow raising moment.
VELSHI: And by the way, he brought it up in connection to the conversation about Pocahontas and Elizabeth Warren. Let`s just play that for our viewers.
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TRUMP: Let`s say I`m debating Pocahontas, right? I promise you I`ll do this. I will take -- you know those little kits they sell on television for $2, learn your heritage. The guy says, "I was born in Scotland." It turns out he was born in Puerto Rico. That`s OK. That`s good.
You know, the guy says, "I was born in Germany." Well, he wasn`t born in Germany." He was born someplace else. I`m going to get one of those kits and in the middle of it debate when she proclaims that she`s of Indian heritage because her mother said she has high cheekbones, that`s her only evidence that her mother said she had high cheekbone.
We will take that little kit and say, but we be to do it gently because in the Me Too generation, we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn`t hit her and injure her arm, even though it only weighs probably two ounces. And we will say, "I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity paid for it by Trump if you take the test and it shows you`re an Indian."
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VELSHI: Peter Baker, does not sound like a guy who`s all bent out of shape about losing a Cabinet secretary today, but he did. There was a resignation or an invitation to submit a letter of resignation from Scott Pruitt earlier today. What`s your reporting on how that went down and particularly what John Kelly role was in it?
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Ali, John Kelly has been ready to get rid of Scott Pruitt for quite a while. His whole tenure in the White House, John Kelly`s tenure in the White House seemed to be short and we don`t seem to be expecting him to last much longer. But on the way out, he wanted to make sure that Pruitt went first.
I think he was offended by the various scandals, the use of government resources for his personal gain, for his family`s gain. You know, offended a career Marine general who had basically spent decades in the service of his country. And I think that if he`s going to do one thing before he left the White House, he was going to make sure the President accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt.
But, you know, it`s interesting to hear the President at these rallies. You know, this is not a President speaking so much as a television entertainer. He knows his audience. He knows loves nothing more than a good provocative line or a series of lines.
This thing with Elizabeth Warren has been an obsession for him for quite a bit of time. Sort of an irony there, of course, because he once claimed or his own family once claimed to be from Sweden when in fact they were actually from Germany. But, you know, this is a regular joke of his. He gets good reaction from his crowd. He likes to poke, and to prod, and to generate some sort of reaction on the part of the Democrats.
VELSHI: Kimberley, it`s kind of hard to imagine we`re a few days away from the President nominating a Supreme Court pick with all the noise swirling around it. But the President announced here that his announcement will be made at 9:00 on Monday. We don`t know whether that`s 9:00 a.m. or p.m. I`m assuming 9:00 a.m., but he says he`s going to make this pick on Monday.
We`re reporting that it is down to three nominees, three potential candidates. Kavanaugh, Barrett and Kethledge. What`s your thought on where this is going?
KIMBERLEY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE BOSTON HERALD: Yes. I mean I do believe that the President met in the evening. I think he wants to build it up as a prime time special the same way that he rolled out the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, his first Supreme Court pick. But, yes, I mean it`s -- it wouldn`t be a mistake to say this is probably one of the most consequential things that this President can do in his term is nominate another conservative to the U.S. Supreme court, which is what`s going to happen on Monday regardless of the three finalists that he picks.
It seems to me, I`m told that Brett Kavanaugh who`s a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judge is at the top of this list because the President simply likes him. He has a good feel for him. You know, the President likes to trust his own gut and people who he likes in making this pick. Of course, he`s selecting from a carefully honed list of people put together by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, conservatives that he knew, the evangelicals and the other conservative Republicans would love. So it`s not a big stretch between them, but somebody who he seems to like.
But, yes, you`re right, this is the time that the President should be talking about this and only this rather than going to where he seems to be going tonight with the attacks on Elizabeth Warren and others. Especially given the fact that in the midterms and beyond in 2020, the President and the Republicans are going to need suburban women. And in this case the two big things and you see him attack several women today in his speech, you see him make fun of the Me Too movement. And there is a lot of concern that whoever he appoints to the U.S. Supreme Court might be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade. These are all things that seem to be political against the President at this time. But in all this case is he`s doubling down and he thinks he has the right strategy.
VELSHI: Annie, back to this issue of losing Pruitt. I mean, the list has become too big, the list of administration departures, the turnover in the White House, but particularly at the highest levels, Cabinet secretaries. The President talked about the replacement for -- the immediate replacement for the Secretary for the Administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt. And it`s going to be a guy who`s as committed to the deregulation of the EPA as Scott Pruitt was.
A lot of people argue that`s why Pruitt last so long, because like Rick Perry at the Energy, like Mick Mulvaney at the CFBP, like Betsey DeVos at the Education, he`s doing what he promised the American people. He`s deregulating the EPA.
KARNI: I think it`s a mixture of things. I think Pruitt had supporters among people who have said that despite the distractions of the mounting scandals that you can`t even keep track of anymore, he was quietly delivering on the on the agenda that he was put in place to do. His successor will do that without the mattresses and the lotion and the Check- fil-A and whatnot.
So to liberals, that could be even more damaging. To conservatives, that could make them feel better about it. But I think for Trump himself, it was also -- Pruitt knew how to kiss up to the President. We saw it in the language he used in the resignation letter. I think a lot of this happened in private, that he knew how to flatter Trump.
KARNI: And so I think it was the personal relationship, too, that made John Kelly have to be the hatchet man here, that Trump was dragged along to this decision by his aides. Pruitt probably would have hung on longer if Trump was left to his own devices on this one for both of those reasons.
VELSHI: Yes, Peter, Josh Dawsey of "The Washington Post" is reporting Pruitt`s survival came from being in the line of eyesight-angling to hang around in the West Wing while lavishing Trump with praise, telling the President he was brilliant and a political revolutionary, according to people who have attended meetings with him. The two men also commiserated about the deep state, along with current and former aides, conspiring against them. Even the letter was of obsequious, the resignation letter. But in the end, Scott Pruitt hung around. Something broke the back of this thing, the idea that he was criticized by his Deputy Chief of Staff on television Tuesday night, some say might have been the last straw.
BAKER: Yes, it`s hard to pinpoint one last straw because there were so many straws. I mean, this is, you know, a candle`s back that was ready to be broken for weeks. But you`re right, you know, Scott Pruitt played this very cleverly.
He was at the White House as recently as yesterday for the Fourth of July celebrations with the President. He did stay in the line of sight. And I think he did appeal to the President in the sense of, you know, being somebody who is being unfairly maligned by the Washington chattering class, the liberal medians and so fourth. That was something that appealed to the President Trump`s own sense of persecution right now.
He also, you know, he had a brash style that the President appreciated, and the President wasn`t eager to get rid of somebody who in some ways was practicing politics the way that he himself had done. But ultimately, of course, the laws of political gravity have not been repealed entirely at least in Washington.
BAKER: And they did eventually, you know, pull-down somebody, you know, had had so many things on his back that it`s hard to imagine he lasted this long.
VELSHI: Peter Baker, Annie Karni, Kimberly Atkins, thank you all three of you for joining me on a Thursday night.
A delegation of Republican U.S. senators since spends the Fourth of July in Moscow. Critics question the intent and the optics of this unusual holiday visit.
Later, new numbers on just how many migrant children are spending another night separated from their parents. What the Trump Administration says it`s doing now to bring families back together.
THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on a Thursday night.
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TRUMP: I`m meeting with President Putin next week. Now, they`re saying with Putin, "Well, Putin is highly prepared. And Trump, will he be prepared for the meeting?" Trust me, we`ll do just fine.
I might even end up having a good relationship but they`re going, "Will President Trump be prepared? You know President Putin is GPB and this and that." You know what, Putin`s fine. He`s fine. We`re all fine. We`re people.
Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I`ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life. They don`t say that.
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VELSHI: The White House today confirmed that President Trump will be speaking one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their July 16th summit in Finland. The administration says the President will "continue to hold Russia accountable for its maligned activity." The official said that could include election interference as well as Russia`s military activity in Ukraine. But once the two men are alone, there`s no telling what really will be discussed. There`s no plan to have a note taker or anyone else in that room.
This week, a delegation of Republican senator, seen here, traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian foreign minister and his staff. They said they were there to help lay the groundwork for the upcoming summit. "The Washington Post" reports the Republicans sounded like "nearly conciliatory tone" in their meetings with the Russians. The paper quotes one Russian official is saying the meeting was one of the easiest ones in my life.
Here`s how one of the Republican senators who was in that delegation described the talks.
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SEN. STEVE DAINES (R), MONTANA: It was a productive visit. We sent a very strong message and a direct message to the Russian government. First of all, don`t interfere in U.S. elections.
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VELSHI: Earlier this evening on this network, Former CIA Director John Brennen said he`s worried about the senators` Moscow visit and what it could mean for the Trump-Putin sit-down.
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JOHN BRENNEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The perception is that they are giving in at this point to the Russians to just pave the way for the Trump-Putin summit. By having this delegation out in Moscow right now is not sending a signal to Russia that they`re going to be costs to pay for any type of, you know, continued interference. It`s going to be we`re going to forgive and forget.
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VELSHI: Malcolm Nance is a long time U.S. Armed Forces, Veteran of Intelligence and Counterterrorism. He joins us tonight. His latest book, "The Plot to Destroy Democracy, How Putin and His Spies are Undermining America and Dismantling the West" debuted at number nine on "The New York Times" best sellers list. And Brian Bennett is a Senior White House Correspondent for Time Magazine. Welcome to both of you.
Malcolm, we knew there was a rally tonight. But that one was popcorn worthy. It was unusual. The President is saying he`s been prepared for this all his life and will do just fine. He does not seem to be heading into this meeting with the seriousness that a lot of people think it deserves.
MALCOLM NANCE, AUTHOR, "THE PLOT TO DESTROY DEMOCRACY": No. He sort of has this Chamberlain-esque attitude towards Russia where he`s just going to lay it down. I mean, we already know that based on his past statement. And he`s correct. He has been preparing his entire life for this.
I mean, he went to the Soviet Union in 1987 trying to get Trump hotels. We know that he was taking Russian money and was, you know, selling real estate to them for years. We also know that in 2013 he met with the top 12 Russian oligarchs and received their version of events for over two hours and since that time has been spouting it.
And quite -- I mean, quite honestly, Donald Trump is going there to meet with his handler. I mean, you know, he`s going to meet with the guy that he has been worshipping and admiring for years, not just the last two years. And that doesn`t bode well for the United States. I think he`s going to lay down on this one, and I think they will raise Russian sanctions within months if not just by executive fiat.
VELSHI: Brian, there are legitimate concerns about the relationship between Donald Trump and the Russians, relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. With that cloud that continues to be over the President`s head, why have a meeting in which no one else will be present?
BRIAN BENNETT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, it is really interesting that the White House is so direct in saying that only the two men will be in the room. Obviously with translators if they want to have that to make it easier for them to converse.
Donald Trump has said during the campaign and since he was elected he wants to try to have a better relationship with Russia and a better relationship with Vladimir Putin in particular. And Donald Trump puts a lot of stake in his ability to develop a personal rapport with someone. And he wants to have that time by himself with Vladimir Putin to try to break through the tensions that have bedeviled the U.S.-Russian relations for the last decade. Especially in the Putin era has Russia has been backsliding on democratic values and invading Crimea and a bad actor in Syria.
And so Donald Trump believes that he can fix it, and he is going to be able to sit in a room with Putin and come to another -- a new way of the U.S. interacting with Russia.
VELSHI: But, you know, Malcolm, the President says things like Putin`s fine. Putin`s just fine. He`s just fine. Journalists have died in Russia. Political opponents have died. Political opponents have been jailed.
You know, George Will has written a column about this summit. He says a Trump summit with Kim could foretell catastrophe with Putin. He said if he does as badly in his July 16 meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland as he did with Kim Jong-un in Singapore, the consequences could be catastrophic. It is kind of remarkable the President continues to down-play not just the effect Russia has had in interference in other elections but the idea Vladimir Putin is OK and he`s a good guy to befriend.
NANCE: Yes. And Donald Trump obviously in some way, shape or form that is yet to be determined is in debt to Vladimir Putin. Today, he normalized the KGB. He spoke as if being a KGB officer, a career officer, their motto was once KGB, always KGB, he runs that country with four top advisers who are ex-KGB and he murders people.
He invades our allies. He`d subverts American democracy, and Donald Trump today normalized him just as he normalized the Nazis in Charlottesville. This is very dangerous for American democracy. And to have seven Republican senators go through there to pave the way in this grand appeasement of Moscow only shows the Republican Party has surrendered to this Russia, and this will hurt this American constitutional republic seriously. John Brennan was absolutely right.
VELSHI: Let`s listen to something else John Brennan said a little earlier this evening about both Donald Trump`s approach to North Korea and Russia.
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BRENNAN: Mr. Trump is dealing away whether it be the North Koreans, with the Russians, whatever, all the things that are in U.S. national interest and giving them what they want. The Russians will feint sincerity better than anyone I`ve ever dealt with in my life. And so they`d be very careful about being swept in.
And I think Mr. Trump is not sophisticated enough, unfortunately, to deal with these foreign leaders in a manner that is going to protect U.S. national security interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Brian, a year and a half ago John McCain and Lindsey Graham were ceaseless in their pressure on the President about an appeasement strategy towards Russia. And now we have Republican senators basically acting as advance team for the President. What happened to the Republican Party and its the concern about the Russia that it remembers in the Cold War?
BENNETT: Well, this was something that Russia has been frustrated with for months. They have heard from Donald Trump that he wants to have a better relationship, and they felt like they weren`t seeing enough concessions coming from congress in particular. And so they wanted to have a high level delegation come from Congress to meet in Moscow. And there`s a reason that a high level delegation hasn`t come from Congress to go to Moscow in the Putin era and that is because Putin has turned his back on democracy.
And there was a concern among lawmakers that by meeting with members of the lower and upper house of the legislature in Moscow that it would be justifying what is essentially an undemocratic process of electing those representatives.
Another thing is that Ambassador Kislyak, who was a famous Russian ambassador to the U.S. who had been on a phone call with Michael Flynn, President Trump`s first National Security Adviser, during the transition over a promised to ease of on sanctions when Donald Trump became the President. that Ambassador Kislyak is now a member of the Upper House of Representatives in Moscow, and he was in those meetings with those lawmakers. And that`s -- we would think that would be a third rail --
VELSHI: We would think.
BENNETT: -- in the political -- in the public form for those lawmakers, but he was there. He met with them. And we`re going to have to see how if there`s any political ramifications for those lawmakers for taking this trip.
VELSHI: Brian Bennett, Malcolm Nance, thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.
Coming up, what Michael Cohen`s latest maneuvers might be signaling in the special counsel`s Russia investigation apparently beefing up his prosecution team.
THE 11TH HOUR is back after this.
VELSHI: Tonight brand new reporting that indicates the Mueller Russia investigation may be expanding. Bloomberg reports the special counsel is calling for more justice department resources to help with the Russia investigation, and that he is, quote, making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from the justice department headquarters as well as FBI agents.
Meanwhile President Trump`s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen is taking another step to shore up his own legal team as an investigation into his business practices moves forward. Cohen has just hired the man on the left, Lanny Davis, he`s former top lawyer in the Clinton White House and a long time friend of Hillary Clinton. He`s now be serving as one of Cohen`s new attorneys.
Tonight, in a statement Davis says he recognized Cohen`s sincerity after reading his interview with ABC News. Davis also said, quote, Michael Cohen deserves to tell his side of the story subject, of course, to the advice of counsel.
With me for more is former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. She`s now an MSNBC legal analyst, and Nancy Cook, the White House reporter for Politico. Joyce, welcome to both of you. Joyce, let`s start with you. What does it mean that Robert Mueller is expanding his team but he`s going to the U.S. Attorney`s Office and the Justice Department for career lawyers. Is that relevant?
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s very interesting. You know, part of it may be resources. He`s getting ready to launch the Manafort trial, and he may feel the need to bring more bodies onboard to manage all the pieces of the investigation. It could also signal he`s thinking about spinning off pieces of the case or that there are matters that aren`t so central to the Trump-Russia campaign relationship that they can go to other offices.
But, Ali, one of the interesting details that this reporting gives us is that Mueller is tapping investigators in Pittsburgh. And that`s interesting because Pittsburgh is a venue where the FBI has gone in the past for high-end cyber crime investigation including the Chinese hacking case, that was indicted during the Obama administration. So this could signal prominence for cyber crime and hacking.
VELSHI: Nancy, last week the testimony of Rod Rosenstein in that congressional hearing got very hot. Trey Gowdy, one of the Republicans, the lead Republican in the e-mail investigation to Hillary Clinton, really, really encouraged Rosenstein to wrap this investigation up. Does this call for more resources and the news that there are more people getting onto this investigation, well, that doesn`t sort of sit where the Republicans on the intel committee want it to go.
NANCY COOK, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPOTER: Yes, not at all. I mean, Trump`s own lawyers for a long time said this would wrap up by December, and now we`re in July. And to me the idea that the special counsel is bringing on additional career prosecutors and FBI agents shows that this is far from over. There`s a lot of different tentacles to this. He`s brought 20 indictments so far, and I think that, you know, he`s under a lot of political pressure and is not necessarily going to get more resources to add to the investigation in terms of peoples who are dedicated specifically to it, but he could bring on these career people and that`s what we`ve seen. And I think it shows this could go in a lot of different directions we don`t know about yet.
VELSHI: And we always find about when the Mueller investigation wants us to find out about them and that`s usually when some action has been taken. So we don`t know what part of the iceberg we`re actually looking at. But let`s bring the Michael Cohen part of this up, Joyce. Michael Cohen hiring Lanny Davis. What is that mean to you?
VANCE: So all be contrarian here. I know people are concerned with the fact he has ties to the Clintons. But he`s a lawyer. Lawyers represent all different kinds of clients, some whose views line up with theirs and others whose views don`t. And so I think he`ll do what good lawyers do, give his client the best defense he can, and whether he`ll be working on the legal end of things or more on PR, damage control, image resuscitation. He`ll do the best he can for his client.
VELSHI: And putting aside, Nancy, the Lanny Davis connection to the Clintons and the Clinton orbit, the fact is Michael Cohen has either been shoring up his defense or signaling something to Donald Trump for the last week. What do you read into this?
COOK: Well I think initially my impression was definitely that he was signaling to Trump and sort of Trump`s kitchen cabinets and all the surrogates, it was almost like a plea for help that he, you know, definitely wanted to be in the president`s good graces.
But really this week I think we`ve seen a real change in tone from him. You know, he scrubbed from his own Twitter profile the identifier he was the president`s personal attorney. And then in an ABC interview earlier this week he also indicated that his family -- he kept stressing his family was his first priority above -- the implication was that was above sort of protecting the president or, you know, the president`s sort of interests.
And so I think we`ve seen a real shift in tone. And I would interrupt you can never get in the mind of someone, but I would say my impression is that that shows he`s more willing to play ball with the special investigation than perhaps he was earlier.
VELSHI: And Joyce, the talk about the family, the complimentary tone towards prosecutors and investigators and the fact he seems to be considering some level of cooperation, other legal experts have said to me once you start going down that road, it usually ends up down that road. The people who say they`re never going to cooperate sometimes don`t, but once you start thinking about your family or thinking about cooperating, you might be ready to talk.
VANCE: So he`s certainly ready to talk. He`s signaling it anyway he knows how to. But the real question here is will prosecutors in the southern district of New York be interested in what he has to say. They`ve only just gotten their hands on the 1.3 million items that were turned over to them after the search of his home and business. They`ll need to come through that and make a determination about what if any crimes they believe he`s committed. And it won`t be until they reach that point really that would I expect them to reach out and have an interest in seeing what information he might want to proffer as his potential cooperation. So, pretty much the prosecutors hold all of the cards here, and he`ll just have to wait and see where they end up.
VELSHI: Joyce Vance, Nancy Cook, thanks for joining me tonight.
Coming up, the secretary of state travels to North Korea for another one- on-one with Kim Jong-un. What Mike Pompeo hopes to accomplish for his third trip to Pyongyang when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
VELSHI: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is arriving in North Korea overnight. Just as we came on the air tonight after a quick refueling stop in Japan, he`s in North Korea for meetings met to cement details for a nuclear disarmament plan. Now, this is the first high level meeting since President Trump`s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month. Trump addressed the deal that he said he made with Kim at the rally tonight in Montana.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember they said he`s too tough, he`s going to close the war, it`s too tough. Now they say he`s too nice, he`s too nice. He`s too nice. I got along very well with Chairman Kim. I got along very well. That`s a good thing I got along well. We signed a wonderful paper saying they`re going to denuclearize their whole thing. It`s going to all happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: The paper the two leaders signed doesn`t actually lay out any specifics for denuclearization. In fact, intelligence officials have told NBC News that North Korea has actually increased its nuclear production at secret sites in recent months.
Here to talk about that tonight is Sue Mi Terry, a senior fellow for the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and MSNBC Korean affairs analyst. She`s also a former senior analyst for the CIA and was in charge of this region while on the White House National Security Council.
Sue Mi Terry, this is just kind of crazy. The president keeps referring to this agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. I think it`s a stretch to suggest that there was enough detail in there to be touting this in front of a rally.
SUE MI TERRY, FMR. DIRECTOR FOR KOREA, JAPAN, AND OCEANIC AFFAIRS: Absolutely right. There`s no agreement. There`s no deal. The single point of declaration that President Trump was talking about was very short, just kind of, you know, aspirational statement, if anything. North Korea agreed to work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
But, no, there is no deal. And as you just mentioned now the U.S. intelligence community concludes that not only that North Korea has been working on expanding their nuclear missile program but that they continue to, intend to deceive the U.S. officials on future negotiations as well. So I think that was a very exclusive report. And Secretary Pompeo has work cut out for him when he meet with Kim Jong-un and confronts him about what North Korea is going to do next.
VELSHI: Right, and some people describe Mike Pompeo`s visit there as make- or-break. Pompeo is going to have to leave North Korea convinced that there is forward movement on this. And that is a very, very big task for him. If he doesn`t do that, this administration is talking about a second summit, possibly here in New York, possibly in September. Do we risk elevating Kim Jong-un on the global stage while getting nothing in return for doing so?
TERRY: That`s right. And we`ve already done that by President Trump already meeting with Kim Jong-un in the first place in Singapore. We elevated him, we gave him legitimacy, and so we cannot invite him to New York. And Kim Jong-un cannot stand at the United Nations General Assembly and give a speech while meet with President Trump without giving anything.
U.S. has suspended U.S.-South Korea doing exercises. So I think now we have to get something back such as a time line at least of how to move forward or get a complete declaration of their nuclear weapons program of facilities, but you don`t feeling that in some sort of a broad road map how we`re going to move forward on denuclearization. Otherwise what do we have? We have nothing.
VELSHI: What is the impetus? What would be the thing that would motivate Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear program? Because it has been driven by this passion for reunifying Korea and America has really been painted as an ultimate evil in North Korea. Why would he give it up? What would he have to get in exchange?
TERRY: I mean that`s a very good question because North Koreans always said they need a security guarantee. But what are they talking about? How do we give a security guarantee? North Korea met by that end of U.S.-South Korea alliance, U.S. pulling troops out of South Korea. But again, it`s hard to give a security guarantee to North Korea.
And as you mentioned North Korea`s while existence was all about having the United States as their number one hostile enemy. That sort of justified their existence, it justify all the suffering of the North Korean people, jut all these years since the founding of North Korea.
So, beyond having nuclear weapons as deterrence against the United States, beyond trying to get security guarantee from the United States, it`s also the reason for their existence. So I think it`s going to be a very hard thing to achieve. But since President Trump said we are going to get there at least Secretary Pompeo need to get minimum out of North Korea right now on this visit, and I think that starts with a road map or some sort of time line and hopefully even a little bit more, even with declarations of their nuclear program. At least there will be a beginning of something.
VELSHI: He`s got a lot of work ahead of him. Let`s home he succeeds.
VELSHI: Sue Mi Terry, thank you as always.
Coming up, with that court imposed deadline to reunite migrant families fast approaching with, how DNA testing could help get thousands of kids back with their parents. THE 11TH HOUR is back after this.
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TRUMP: We believe in strong borders and no crime, it`s very simple. A vote for the Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities. To let drugs pour into our cities. And to take jobs and benefits away from our hard-working Americans and we`re not letting it happen. Democrats want anarchy. They really do.
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VELSHI: More tough talk from President Trump on immigration and the border, but no mention of the thousands of children being held in detention centers. The Department of Health and Human Services now says there are nearly 3,000 children who were taken from their parents, about 100 of those children are under the age of 5.
However, officials refused to offer an exact figure. This was the first update since last week, when we were told there were 2,047 kids being held as a result of Trump`s zero tolerance policy. The federal government is now struggling to reunite the children with their parents ahead of looming court mandated deadlines.
"The New York Times" reports tonight that records linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases, have been destroyed, according two officials of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving authorities struggling to identify connections between family members.
HHS announced today it will try to use DNA to more quickly reunite families. As we`ve been reporting, immigrant parents are being handed a form, giving them the option to leave the country, either with or without their children. They are no longer offered the option to stay with their children as they seek asylum.
Today, President Trump repeated his calls to deport asylum seekers without due process, writing on Twitter, "When people with or without children enter our country, they must be told to leave would our country being forced to endure a long and costly trial. Tell the people out, and they must leave, just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn."
Also new tonight, the president`s policies are impacting the United States military. The Associated Press reporting that some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with promise path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged. The exact numbers of service members affected isn`t known, but the AP confirms at least 40 have been kicked out.
Coming up, British residents shell out $20,000 to fund a peaceful presidential protest in the skies over London. London mayor says it`s a go. President Trump isn`t going to like this one. THE 11TH HOUR is back after this.
VELSHI: The last thing before we go tonight, President Trump will visit London next week. He plans to meet with both Queen Elizabeth and British Prime Minister Theresa May during that trip, but it`s a trip that like so many things involving this president is not without controversy.
In the past, President Trump is publicly has feuded with London`s mayor, attacking him on Twitter just hours after a terror attack killed seven people in that city. Weeks later, Trump`s commentary on Twitter after a separate attack in London`s subway earned him a rebuke from Prime Minister May.
So, while the diplomatic link between Washington and London has often been called a special relationship, it`s one that`s also complicated by the Trump presidency. And tonight, we have a resolution to a political drama that`s been playing out ahead of the president`s visit. Protests are expected to meet President Trump at each and every stage of his trip, but today, the Office of the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, the same mayor that Trump has feuded with, says a group of protesters will be allowed to fly this blimp portraying the president as a giant diaper-wearing baby over parliament during his visit.
And given that Trump`s fights with British leaders have been launched on Twitter, it`s worth noting that blimp baby Trump is also holding a smartphone in its right hand. As for its size, this handy graphic was made by our friends at "The L.A. Times." You can see it stands about six meters high, that`s 20 feet, or more than three times the height of the actual President Trump. But you might be wondering why a big blimp baby Trump? One of the protesters who helped create it answered that question last week.
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LEO MURRAY, PROTESTING TRUMP`S VISIT TO BRITAIN: He really doesn`t care, the man has no shame. So, moral outrage is not an effective form of protest to Donald Trump. What he hates is when people take the piss out of him. And he`s got a really fragile ego. I would say that`s the only sort of real leverage that we have over this man. He`s like the most powerful man in the world, but he seems very vulnerable to being mocked.
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VELSHI: That is our broadcast for tonight. Thank you for being with us and good night from NBC News headquarters in New York.
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