Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: August 3, 2018 Guest: Jill Wine-Banks, Jonathan Lemire, Jackie Calmes, Jack Sharman, Eric Tucker, Jon Meacham
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: That`s Tonight`s Last Word. I`m Katy Tur. The "11th HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts right now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight Donald Trump and his New Jersey golf club after a wild ride of a week moving the goal posts on collusion calling for an end to the Mueller investigation and a full on assault on the media all while his own team beats the drum warning of the Russia threat.
Plus, new developments in the Paul Manafort case. The testimony today that compelled his wife to leave the courtroom.
And after another stunning week in this presidency we`ll ask a celebrated historian if there`s anything to celebrate in the history that we are witnessing.
"The 11th Hour" on a Friday night begins now.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 561 this was of the Trump Administration. And the end of another week brings a new sign of Robert Mueller`s increasing interest in one of Donald Trump`s veteran advisers. His friend of 40 years, in fact, Roger Stone.
NBC News reporting tonight that according to a source with direct knowledge, a member of Mueller`s team met with a Stone associate named Kristin Davis. She first came to prominence when the New York City tabloids nicknamed her the "Manhattan Madam" after she said she provided prostitutes to the rich and powerful including a former governor of New York.
The NBC News report tonight reads, "Davis said in July that the Mueller representative who contacted her lawyer asked if she would accept a subpoena or if the FBI would need to serve it to her. She said her lawyer called the representative back to say she would accept it. Davis said she had worked for Stone for many years and other people who worked with Stone had already been subpoenaed."
Today, Roger Stone released this statement, "Kristen Davis is a long time friend and associate of mine. I`m the godfather to her 2-year-old son. She knows nothing about alleged Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other impropriety related to the 2016 election which I thought was the subject of this probe."
Davis is of one at least three Stone associates said to be on Mueller`s radar. The Special Counsel reported that remains very interested in that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, wants to talk to Russian singer who helped set it up.
Reports this week of a new angle in the Russia investigation, the ongoing negotiations over a possible Mueller interview and the trial of Trump`s former campaign chairman, let`s not forget, all seem to be coinciding with the President`s escalating attacks. He is all over Twitter. He held two rallies in just the space of the last four days. He`s got another one in Ohio tomorrow. Last night he managed to discredit the Russian inquiry while mocking critics of his meeting with Putin.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Helsinki I had a great meeting with Putin. We discussed everything. I had great meeting.
We got along really well. By the way, that`s a good thing, not a bad thing. That`s a really good thing. Now, we`re being hindered by the Russian hoax. It`s a hoax, OK?
WILLIAMS: Earlier this week he wrote, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted and his 17 angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to the USA."
His concern about Paul Manafort`s financial crimes trial comes out in this posting, "Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent respected political leaders. He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn`t government tell me he was under investigation? These old charges have nothing to do with collusion. A hoax."
But Trump reserved some of his sharpest attacks for his critics and the news media.
TRUMP: Even these people back here, these horrible, horrendous people, even these people back there, say look at it, it looks like the Academy Awards is so many. You ever see this?
Let`s say I`m running against Pocahontas or Crazy Bernie. I tell you, I got to hand it to Bernie. I saw him up there the other day. And hair is getting whiter and whiter.
I had Obamacare done except one guy at 2:00 in the morning went in and said you know who that new leader is, Maxine Waters. Very low I.Q. Low I.Q.
They can make anything bad because they are the fake, fake, disgusting news.
WILLIAMS: On that note let`s bring in our lead off panel for a Friday night, Jonathan Allen, NBC News national political reporter and coauthor of the best-seller "Shattered About the Hillary Campaign." Jill Wine-Banks, attorney and former Assistant Watergate Special Counsel. Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the "Associated Press", if it`s Friday it must be New Jersey. And Jackie Calmes, White House editor for the "Los Angeles Times". Welcome to you all.
Mr. Lemire, covering the vacationing president, I`d like to begin with you. By the way, as long as presidents, have vacation White Houses have rushed in to say, "Oh, no, no, no, this is a working vacation." So, calling this a working vacation is one of the most traditional things this White House has ever done. Having established that, you reported just days ago, Jonathan, this President was in a very dark place. Is he in any brighter confines even including the fact that he likes rallies like that for what we just saw?
JONATHAN LEMIRE, REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE: Hey, Brian. Well, he is one of the nation`s greatest states tonight, and he won`t be here for long, though, as he heads back to Ohio tomorrow for a rally as you said.
Last night, though, when he was in Pennsylvania, I think betrayed where his mood was. Though, it certainly was at times jovial and sort of jocular with the crowd, he had a lot of venom, shall we say, towards the media. And it came, of course, just hours after his entire national security staff finally did what so many people have wanted to hear for a long time. Is to chastise Russia for their election interference in 2016 and outline steps to prevent them from doing it again while sounding the alarm, that yes, this is threat, it`s still very real from Moscow and it should be taken seriously.
Of course, what happens later, just six hours later in Northeast Pennsylvania the President down-plays it, suggests the whole thing is a hoax. And then it turns withering scorn on the media that was there. Suggesting that we were treating him unfairly, sort of reapropriating the idea of fake news. No longer as his criticism of a report that he thinks is inaccurate but rather just a report that he thinks is unfair or unkind, you know, unkind to him. And therefore it`s labeling us as sort of his enemy.
Though he didn`t use enemy of the state yesterday he certainly described us as, you know, "disgusting horrible people."
This is the White House as you say, that suggesting it`s a working vacation. He made a series of phone call today. The lawmakers, the press poll, we didn`t lay eyes on him. But he`ll be back out there again tomorrow.
And a day after behaving himself on Twitter, like he did today, I think we all expect that once again it won`t just be the news media in his cross hairs but it will be this Russia probe, which has followed him throughout whether he`s in the White House or here in Bedminster.
WILLIAMS: Jon Allen, you covered last night through to force in Wilkes- Barre, what did you see and note in the arena that perhaps wasn`t obvious on television?
JONATHAN ALLEN, REPORTER, NBC NATIONAL POLITICAL: Well, I was one of the horrible. I guess it rhymes with deplorables, the difference being the news media is just trying to report the facts. I can only imagine what the President thinks of the people are actually opposing him politically.
You know, this rally was a pretty boisterous one. And I think Jonathan was absolutely right, having been in rally in Tampa earlier this week, the President was pretty pumped up, pretty jazzed up, and pretty venomous as Jonathan said compared to how he was earlier in the week. He`s obviously feeling a lot of pressure.
But one of the things I noticed yesterday is, he really emphasized immigration in this particular speech. He was in a part of the country that has seen a big influx of Hispanic immigrants over the course of the last decade or so. It`s a big issue for his base. He went to all of those and you played some of them earlier, some of those greatest hits whether it`s Maxine Waters or Nancy Pelosi, or Chuck Schumer, certainly referencing some of the other greatest hits.
And what`s important about that, Brian, is as he`s ramping up for the mid- terms he`s not really trying to expand the Republican base but really just fire up his own supporters and get them energized. He`s seen a period in his presidency, throughout his presidency that`s been very static in terms of his approval ratings.
So, if he`s party is going to win in the midterm elections, if it`s going to preserves it`s majorities in the Senate and the House, it`s going to be on the basis of every last Republican turning out, and particularly every last base supporter. So, I think we can expect to hear more and more of what we heard last night.
WILLIAMS: Jackie Calmes, you`ve covered a story or two in the pantheons of bad weeks for Donald Trump. Noting that this one started with him telling the A.G. he should end the Muller investigation. And just yesterday after his intelligence community came out and talked about the Russia threat, he went out and called it a hoax in Wilkes-Barre. Where does this rank in sort history of bad weeks of the Trump presidency?
JACKIE CALMES, WHITE HOUSE EDITOR, LOS ANGELES TIMES: I actually think it`s no worse really than some of the worst. But when you look at it substantively it was really important. Because when you think about it, here we are more than a year and a half after he`s taken office, and we`re coming up on two years since he was elected.
The unanimous consensus of the intelligence community of this country is that we were attacked by our biggest adversary, Russia. And for the first time in the past week, he can be -- he presided over a meeting. The first time a meeting of his national security council it lasted somewhere between under an hour, maybe just a half hour before he went off to Bedminster to his golf club for last weekend.
So, this week because the administration feels so on the defensive that they`re not doing enough. We`re just three months away from a mid-term election where the intelligence community is saying that Russia is continuing to try to subvert our elections. They bring five top national security officials before the press corp in the briefing room to say something the President himself has never said publicly. Now, that was a tableau that should have been played out in the east room of the White House perhaps with the President himself as the maestro, at the mic.
Instead, the next we see the President and as your guests have said as you said was there in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania before a crowd of, you know, his adoring supporters in which he`s calling it a hoax. It`s a wonder to me that some of these people haven`t resigned. But I think it comes back to the original sentiment that a lot of people had joining this administration. They`re doing this for their country. They`re doing it in effect, I mean it`s not going too far to say to protect this country from the President.
WILLIAMS: Jill, Jackie just said a series of really important things and now we need to know what it looks like from a lawyer`s perspective. If you were Rudy Giuliani or Jay Sekulow or the White House counsel or the Raskens attorneys at law, how would you view this past week?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FMR ASSISTANT, WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I would be very concerned. I think that the President`s actions have been more obstruction. There`s no question that his tweets saying that Attorney General Sessions should stop the investigation is an active act of obstruction of justice. I also think that his tweet that the hoax -- about hoax and the Manafort trial, saying that there`s no collusion there and the trial is a hoax, could be seen as jury tampering.
He is clearly playing to his base and doing everything he can to undermine the Russia investigation. He has done nothing to protect the country, and I think it`s a serious problem for him from a legal perspective. It`s really bad.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan Lemire, as we say in New Jersey just for a little bon mat, the staff for the 4:00 p.m. hour put together a collection, this is not necessarily everything, a collection of some of the things that were said in Wilks-Barre that are flatly not true, we`ll watch it together, and talk about it on the other side.
TRUMP: Highways would take 21 years to get approved. We have it down to two years, and it`s going to be one-year very shortly.
U.S. steel is opening up seven plants.
I`ll tell you what, Russia is very unhappy that Trump won. That I can tell you.
I raised $44 billion last year, and, you know, I don`t know if you know, NATO funding was going down.
Chain migration, and this was a Schumer deal. Schumer wanted this.
Republicans just passed the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country.
WILLIAMS: So Jonathan Lemire, what is the White House process when the President goes out?
LEMIRE: The President has a pretty unconventional relationship with the truth, Brian. And I think that for the most part the White House process resembles this. I think that, you know, they try to cleanup some of this stuff, but they also know there`s a sense around the building and not just White House aides, but those on the Trump orbit who we talks to late at night. And every so often the president just needs to blow off some steam. Sometimes it happens on Twitter, sometimes it happens at rallies.
But let`s also remember, this is something that predates his political career. From his days as a real estate developer in New York, or he was, according to tabloids, looking to make himself a celebrity, he would sort of push his own version of the truth. He would sort of -- he would lie to reporters, he would lie in public. And he would do it so often.
It seemed as if he was convincing himself that it was real. And we are seeing that since the moment he came down the escalator at Trump Tower three years ago, that a lot of his supporters are willing to go with him. We see the poll numbers, how they trust -- Republicans who trust -- who support Trump trust him far more than say the news media.
And the most, perhaps telling of those that really just played is the one where he is suggesting that Vladimir Putin did not want him to win. Let`s remember, just a couple of weeks ago in Helsinky, Vladimir Putin was asked that very question. Who did you want to win in 2016? And he said, "Donald Trump."
So, and this is now an argument the President has made on Twitter suggesting, well, if there is election interference, maybe it`s the Russians helping the Democrats.
And that just goes to show you not only can he not be taken at face value of these rallies, but this is hovering over him the whole idea of Russia, and that the callers, everything he tries to do and as the Mueller probe seems to be inching closer and closer to him and his family. I expect that this sort of unpredictable moments and the pressure to end the investigation are only going to accelerate.
WILLLIAMS: And Jon Allen as we watch that, we watched the president`s position on all things Russia hardening -- sharpening.
ALLEN: Right. And again, con -- you know, sort of in contrast to what we saw with those officials all of whom at different times said before that Russia had interfered in 2016 election and might be doing so in 2018. They obviously felt like their message wasn`t getting out.
They banded together, wept to the White House briefing room, gave this stunning sort of condemnation of Washington continuing to have this ongoing effort to undermine American democracy. And then you have the President of the United States split screen there in Wilkes-Barre going -- never mind what my top aides are saying.
Never mind that it`s all this is disrupting my relationship with Putin who didn`t want me to win. And of course for those of us who were in the room in Helsinki when Putin was asked that, you don`t have to speak a lot of Russian to know that the answer to the question of did you want Trump to win was basically duh, you know. I mean, Putin was just like yes, yes, yes, I wanted Trump to win.
You know, the lies are -- they mount up. It`s so hard Brian when you`re in the room for -- at those rallies to count them. They`re coming so fast. I -- you know, you showed several clips there. There must have been another half-dozen at least. I know in one case he said that Bob Casey, the sitting senator there wants to abolish I.C.E., not true.
WILLIAMS: Jackie Calmes, at the same time the assaults on the media are getting sharper and more frequent and the crowd is getting into it more.
CALMES: They are, and it`s -- and it is really concerning. You -- I don`t think your audience can really appreciate what it`s like to be a reporter in -- what we call the press pool when you are, you know, shepherded into those big rallies and you`re coming in as all in a group and the audience is looking at you. And it`s clear, you know, who the reporters are and, you know, the camera crews carrying their equipment and such.
And you get the hissing and the booing and the yelling and the middle fingers going up in the air, and it`s really threatening. And, you know, what people -- a lot of people don`t know is that during the presidential campaign, long before now, some of the correspondents had to have security.
At one point, you know, secret service would escort them, but at other points their employers hired security to be with them. That`s unprecedented. And there`s only one reason for it. It`s because people are goaded by Donald Trump himself to be negative against the press.
And what`s really hypocritical about it is Donald Trump himself personally is can be quite nice to these reporters and call them up on the phone. And then this, you know, but we`re, you know, an easy foil for his base that he plays to.
WILLIAMS: Jill Wine-Banks, I keep hearing folks in your line of work say things along the lines of "I wouldn`t want to be Roger Stone right now. I say that by way of asking you what big move you`re looking for the next in the Mueller investigation?
WINE-BANKS: Well, first let me say I also I`m also glad I`m a lawyer on TV not a journalist because it is really scary to listen to that rally. And it`s also scary as a citizen to worry about the freedom of the press.
But as to Roger Stone, it`s very interesting. He seems to be clearly identified in the Russian hacking indictment as one of the U.S. citizens involved. And of course we know that he was in touch with Guccifer 2.0 and with WikiLeaks.
And now, all of the people who surrounded him are being called as witnesses. As you pointed out in your opening Kristin Davis is the most recent one. And the assumption is that she is being called according to Roger Stone about something that she knows nothing about. And the excuse has been that it`s because she was in jail during the campaign.
But she was actually released from jail in May of 2016 just before the Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya, and just before a lot of the Guccifer 2.0 stuff started. So that`s not much of an excuse for what she might know. But it could also be that she has information on other people connected to the Trump campaign from her prior business.
So we don`t know what she is going to be asked or has been asked by Mueller. And the evidence, though, is mounting against Roger Stone, and he should be worried. And instead of commenting on Mueller`s wardrobe choices today, he should be worried about his defense.
WILLIAMS: Our front four brought their a-game on a Friday night in early August and we sure appreciate it. Jonathan Allen, Jill Wine-Banks, Jonathan Lemire, Jackie Calmes thank you all very much for joining us and helping us on this broadcast.
Coming up, Giuliani says a decision on this Trump-Mueller sit down will come in the next 10 days. And as we`ll remind you again in a few minutes, we`ve been here before.
Later on the presidency, the press, just what kind of history are we watching get made these days? Presidential Historian John Meacham is here with us as we`re just getting under way on a Friday night.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. If you believe Rudy Giuliani, President Trump and his legal team are very near a decision on a Trump-Mueller sit down interview. Here is our second reminder, we`ve been here before.
That did not stop "Politico" from writing tonight, "Trump`s legal team will spend the weekend contemplating a new set of parameters proposed by Mueller for an interview with the President then make a decision shortly thereafter". "I think our decisions will get made in the next week to 10 days," Giuliani told "Politico".
He added that team still considering declining and interview altogether despite what he described as Trump ongoing desire to meet with Mueller. "Politico" also reports that both sides remain deadlocks over whether Mueller will ask Trump about possible obstruction.
According to Giuliani, the latest proposal from Mueller offered to narrow the set of questions related to obstruction. Here now a reminder of one of the previous occasions when we were close to a decision for an interview.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you said now July 4th is when you expect to have a decision on whether the president will sit for an interview with the special counsel. Why are you dragging it out? Don`t you know what you want to do now?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: Yes, sure. I do. I don`t want to do it. I`m leaving it open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t want to do it. But you think by July 4th, the president might change his mind?
GIULIANI: Well, the president wants to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is now past the fourth of July. Where do we stand?
GIULIANI: Well, I think we`re pretty much decided where we are, and we await into the decision of the independent counsel. We would not recommend an interview for the President unless they can satisfy us that there`s some basis for this investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it seems like over the weekend you made some news that it seems like you`re moving more and more against the idea of the president sitting down with Bob Mueller.
GIULIANI: That could be true. Yes. We haven`t made a final decision. There`s still a slight opening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are we going to find out? When you`re going to nail this down?
GIULIANI: I think a couple -- I mean maybe this week, maybe next week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. The last time you told us was July 4th, Mr. Mayor (ph).
GIULIANI: Well, a lot`s happened since July 4th.
WILLIAMS: To talk about all of this tonight, we have asked Jack Sharman to spend some time with us. Jack is the former special counsel for the House Banking Committee, these days known as the Financial Services Committee. During the Whitewater investigation, these days he is also a Criminal Defense Attorney.
Jacks, as you can tell the stories become a full on cliche. We could close our eyes and read any version of it from three weeks ago or three months ago. The President who wants to talk, the attorneys cautioning him and the big bad special counsel wants to catch him off-guard.
We can say about this President. He is expansive, tends to be narcissistic and tangential when he starts talking. Doesn`t that mean there are a million ways for him to get into trouble even if there are ground rules for this?
JACK SHARMAN, FMR SPECIAL COUNSEL, HOUSE BANKING COMMITTEE: Absolutely. I mean, that kind of client, the CEO or a highly placed public official, they have those positions because they are confident and persuasive and fluent. And they tend to believe and overestimate their ability to persuade prosecutors and agents of the righteousness of their position.
Prosecutors and agents are generally in the business of building cases not deconstructing them, and they come to an interview with that mind-set. So it could be a very precarious situation for the President to go into an interview ground rules or no.
WILLIAMS: So, Jack, to your ground rules point, let me ask you this, so they -- let`s say they agree on ground rules, we can ask you this but not this, this, but not this. The President starts to talk but takes them into an area that had been walled off by ground rules. That`s now open. That`s fair game, correct?
SHARMAN: Well, that happens often just because of the dynamic of an interview especially a voluntary interview as opposed to, for example, some compelled testimony before a grand jury. Either because that the witness wants to say his or her piece and gets off topic, so to speak, or defense counsel thinks that no harm is being done or that even some hay is being made and lets it go on. I would think in this situation, the former circumstance would be more likely than the latter.
WILLIAMS: Jack, what`s the chance the Mueller team says at some point, you know what, we`re good, we`ve got enough and we don`t need the president. Is there any chance to that happening?
SHARMAN: I would estimate that that is a low chance in that thus far at least what`s been released publicly, any case involving the president seems to be highly circumstantial. Of course we don`t know what is all transpired before a grand jury or what all witnesses may have told special counsel.
But one of the -- one of the best ways from a prosecutor`s point of view of turning a circumstantial case into a director case is to get a statement from the witnesses mouth, the subject`s mouth that is untrue or inaccurate or can be portrayed so believably. So it would change the game for everybody if the President were to submit to an interview.
WILLIAMS: Jack, this is why we wanted to toss you a few questions tonight. Thank you as always for saying yes and coming on the broadcast. We appreciate it. Jack Sharman back with us tonight.
Coming up for us what Paul Manafort`s former accountant admitted today that she once did for the man on trial. Information valuable enough, by the way, to give today`s witness immunity from prosecution. That and more when we come back.
WILLIAMS: The key witness today in the trial for President Trump`s former campaign chairman admitted she cooked the books in an effort to help Paul Manafort hide money. Testifying with immunity, his now former accountant said she helped Paul Manafort and his former Associate Rick Gates commit tax fraud by falsifying documents.
Prosecutors are trying to prove Manafort evaded taxes on millions he made while working for a pro-Russia party in Ukraine and then faked loan documents once the cash dried up. With us for more tonight, Ken Dilanian our NBC News Intelligence and National Security Reporter and Eric Tucker, Justice Department reporter for the Associated Press.
Gentlemen, welcome to you both. Ken, how effective was today? And part of what`s getting the press today is that Mrs. Manafort was driven at some point to leave the courtroom because she got emotional.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: That`s right, Brian. That seemed like a pretty interesting moment. It came when another bookkeeper, Philip Ayliff, was discussing the fact that he was not aware that Paul Manafort had control of all these foreign accounts in Cyprus. And that`s really important because he prepared Manafort`s taxes.
And Manafort had an obligation to disclose his beneficial ownership in those foreign accounts of more than $10,000. And while the testimony was understated at some point, Mrs. Manafort, Kathleen Manafort, began to dab her eye, got slightly emotional. And then she got up and left the courtroom.
And when I heard that that had happened I thought, OK, I`m not crazy. It is true that this trial is going very poorly for Paul Manafort. Because if you look at Manafort, you don`t get that impression, he`s projecting confidence. He`s wearing his blue suit, looking, you know, looking at the jury, participating with his lawyers, seeming like everything is fine.
But the evidence has been very damning. And the defense thus far has been quite ineffective. I mean, they`ve essentially stipulated to most of the facts, and I guess their story is going to be that these frauds and the failure to properly fill out tax forms was inadvertent, not intentional, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Eric, I`ve heard it said, this is a so-called paper case. And I`ve heard it said further that while they can be on the boring side, the feds like a paper case because paper can`t get, you know, cross examined. Having said that, where do you think the opportunities are as they go by in realtime for the defense to come back and take jabs?
ERIC TUCKER, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: SO, I think, Brian, on Monday afternoon, we`re going to see the defense cross examine the very same government witness who was on the stand today. And I certainly agree with my friend ken that the government scored some critical points. But I do think there are opportunities that this witness, Cindy LaPorta, gave the defense, that they`re going to seize on for one thing as you mentioned earlier.
She there under an immunity agreement, which means that she`s not going to be prosecuted for anything she says on the stand. And so, the defense can basically use that to say, OK, you yourself, this tax preparer, you`ve acknowledged and engaged in wrongdoing yourself, so she might not exactly have pristine hands. And I think they`re going to try to exploit that.
And then when we see Rick Gates, who is Paul Manafort`s business associate, I think there`s no question the defense is going to subject him to a bruising cross examination because their whole case relies on being able to prove that the crimes of Paul Manafort on trial for, weren`t actually committed by him. There are committed by Gates and there are reflection of negligence by the team of tax and accounting professionals that he employed around him.
WILLIAMS: And, Ken, let`s go back to the other side of the coin and that is the prosecution. Gates could be a devastating withering witness because of how deep into Paul Manafort`s life and career he was.
DILANIAN: Yes, that`s right. And they set it up today by asking witnesses about the status of Mr. Gates, and he was repeatedly described as Manafort`s right hand man. He was clearly giving instructions to the bookkeepers and tax preparers.
But that could -- that`s a double-edge sword because the defense is going to argue that he was the one responsible for these misdeeds. And he`s going to have to come in and acknowledge that he not only committed these crimes but lied to the FBI, even as he was negotiating his plea agreement.
He is charged and admitted to lying to the FBI: So, you know, it could be a really tough moment for the prosecution. But I would argue that they have established so much evidence without gates.
Cindy LaPorta today, as Eric said, some of these other tax preparers and bookkeepers, and then you know, the days of testimony about of all the luxury goods that Manafort bought, with money from a foreign bank account, that is tax returns clearly say he didn`t have.
WILLIAMS: Eric, about those very luxury goods, this speaks to the judge to say he is brisk sounds like an understatement. He hasn`t allowed art work to come into the courtroom of even the jackets and all of that stuff. He says the jurors will get that in a jury room.
He`s told both sides to take a week out of your arguments. He`s moving it along so much so that I`ve heard former feds say he could hurt the case a little bit because he`s taking some of the juice out of the federal case. Having said that about the judge, what is your view? Sometimes, you can tell a lot about jury interest by looking at them as a journalist. What`s your view of this jury?
TUCKER: I would say the jury just like Paul Manafort seems to actually really engage for the most part in the trial, even though it`s a real document heavy case. It`s an accounting heavy case. There aren`t really Perry Mason (inaudible) opportunities to really slam a witness to the ground.
But you do see the jury taking notes. You do see the jury looking at the screen when there are documents displayed. So as far as a document heavy case like this one goes, I do think they`re engaged.
But there`s also no question, Brian, that the judge himself is part of what`s keeping the jury entertained. He is making them laugh. He`s making the courtroom gallery laugh. I think he`s making the prosecution laugh much less than that, frankly. But there`s no question that this Judge Ellis has become part of the story, and he is working assiduously to make sure that Paul Manafort gets his fair of a trial as possible.
He`s trying to what we call appeal proof the case so if there`s a verdict against Paul Manafort and he wants to appeal it, which he has the right to do and no doubt would want to do. That he won`t be able to say that anything that Ellis did in the courtroom is responsible for him losing the case.
And so, he is trying very hard to keep out any sort of potential prejudicial testimony about all sorts of luxury items or, you know, garish details of a lavish lifestyle. But we did learn, of course, about the ostrich jacket which was the dominant headline of the first week of the trial.
WILLIAMS: Still making the rounds. This judge appointed by the way by Ronald Reagan who says he doesn`t have e-mail and doesn`t intend to start now. Ken Dilanian, Eric Tucker, gentlemen, thank you both very much after what I know was a long day on top of a long week. We appreciate it.
Coming up, Donald Trump talks a lot about his accomplishments as President. Some true, some not so much. We`ll talk about all of it with a Pulitzer Prize recipient when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Our economy is soaring, our jobs are booming. We`re crushing the terrorists. We`ve started the wall, $1.6 billion, 3.7 million new jobs. America`s steel mills are roaring again.
We saved our family, farms and our small businesses. We are going to keep on winning. We are going to win so much perhaps some of you but not all will get tired of winning. Anybody going to get tired of winning?
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WILLIAMS: A list of accomplishments from last night, many of them without any regard for the truth. Coming up, there`s also this. Complaining about news coverage that`s old-fashioned. That`s what presidents used to do. Every one of them, in fact, did. This President has taken it a big step further. We`ll look at all of it when we come back.
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ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you believe that media are the enemy of the people?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Because I`ve seen it with my own -- I`ve seen it with my own eyes how they lie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re right behind him regardless of what the swamp or the fake news says.
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WILLIAMS: A small sample of what we heard from the crowd of Donald Trump`s rallies just this week. The message took root back in 2016 on the President`s twitter feed but the message has evolved over time.
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TRUMP: A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are. They are the enemy of the people. If you want to discover the source of the division in our country look no further than the fake news and the crooked media. They are very, very dishonest people, fake news. But they can make anything bad because they are the fake, fake, disgusting news.
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WILLIAMS: Also importantly, let`s not forget this one from just a few days ago.
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TRUMP: What you`re seeing and what you`re reading is not what`s happening.
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WILLIAMS: With us to talk about it tonight Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winning Author and Historian. His latest book and it`s an important one is "The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels."
Jon, these talking points we`ve just heard the President make, why is this more pernicious than just another Trump thing?
JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR AND HISTORIAN: Well, he is actively making the working press a target of the wrath of people in physical proximity one to another, which is a really remarkable thing. As you mentioned, every president beginning with George Washington who almost did not stand for re-election, I won`t say run because nobody ran against him, but almost decided not to seek a second term because he was so tired of being criticized. So this drama starts in 1792, and presses forward.
What`s a little different is that we used to have to at least hear from aides or in the extraordinary case of the Nixon tapes, we would hear Nixon himself denouncing the press. We would hear about the unhappiness of presidents usually the most casual kind of remark offhand or a leak. This is a case where the president has turned the working media into a permanent foil, political enemy.
And so he`s basically in the tribalize culture of the moment. He has said the media as much an opponent of ours, meaning him and his base, as the democratic party or those who is oppose on policy grounds, which takes the role of a free press and puts it in really significant jeopardy think.
WILLIAMS: Jon, you know this next question is coming. And that is, what if we need to say to the American people no, this next portion of the story is getting consequential for our country, for our presidency and out constitution. And this isn`t fake at all. In fact, it hasn`t been more real.
MEACHAM: Well, it`s the perniciousness of the strategy. He has wounded the messenger. He`s opened fire on the potential outlets that will be the means by which any damaging information will come to the people.
So in that sense, it`s as strategic as anything he does and, you know, you talk to people who know the president and a lot of them will say, you guys over think this. He`s just making it up. He`s just rolling with whatever comes to the top of mind.
But as you just played, this is a consistent theme. And I think what he`s done is attempted to and I think probably pretty significant to an effective degree. He has wounded the means by which Director Mueller`s report will be reported to the people. And lord knows what else.
WILLIAMS: Bret Stephens has written a chilling op-ed in the New York Times tonight. No one`s ever going to accuse him of writing unthoughtful pieces. This one he kind of gives a recitation of a death threat he got on voice mail and the column ends with "We are approaching a day when blood on the newsroom floor will be blood on the President`s hands."
Jon, I don`t think that`s an overstatement. I think it`s feeling just as serious as you portrayed it tonight.
WILLIAMS: I think so. And one of the things about history is when we look back, we often see things in an inevitable progression. When we look back at Dallas, 1963, we remember that the Johnsons were jostled, the lady -- people spit at Lady Bird from the John Birch Society, from the right in Texas.
We see that Adlai Stevenson, the ambassador to the United Nations was attacked with placards at a rally. All, we can see in retrospect all leading up to the tragedy of Dealey Plaza. I fear and I pray that I`m wrong that you could be playing the tape you just played a moment ago, the sequence when in fact something terrible happens. And words have consequences. And words from the very top have the most far reaching consequences.
WILLIAMS: My friend, I join you in hoping you`re wrong for benefit of all of us. Jon Meacham, always a pleasure. Thank you for spending part of your Friday night with us.
Coming up, it was something small that one of our sharp-eyed expert lawyers noticed about the Manafort jury this week. It may be a good sign for the prosecution. We`ll tell you about it when we come back.
WILLIAMS: The last thing before we go here on a Friday night, there`s a lot riding on the trial we`ve been covering this week of former Trump campaign chairman and jacket enthusiast Paul Manafort. It`s the first trial of the Mueller era and the Mueller investigation, and a guilty verdict in this first of two trials would greatly increase the pressure the government could bring to bear against Manafort.
It appears to have been a good opening week for the prosecution though it`s often so difficult to read what jurors are thinking. Veteran courtroom lawyers look for certain things, certain behaviors to read the jury dynamic to see if things are breaking their way.
Well, this week the Manafort jurors asked the judge if they could bring in a birthday cake for one of them. It was a nice enough request, benign enough. It was barely mentioned if at all in the coverage. But one of our on air experts Attorney Mimi Rocah, former federal prosecutor, former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York, saw more than just a request to bring in a birthday cake.
As she told John Heilemann on the air here this week, "A cake request is good for the government."
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MIMI ROCAH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It`s a good sign for the prosecution. If I were a prosecutor on that case, I would be happy that they asked for a birthday cake for one of the jurors. Because --
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Do you think they`re going to share some of the cake?
ROCAH: Yes, because, you know, yes, like birthday cake. No, a happy jury is a good jury for the government and here`s why. Because you need to acquit, you need 12 jurors have to agree on acquittal. To convict you need 12 jurors to agree on conviction.
On this kind of case, really unlikely you`re going to get 12 to agree to acquit. It`s just a very strong case. But what you worry about is that, one or two sort of lone wolf juror who doesn`t want to go along with the program and you get a hung jury.
If you have jury who is celebrating each other`s birthday, they`re talking obviously about personal stuff, they`re bonding. That`s a good thing going into deliberations when that time comes.
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WILLIAMS: Former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah who says a happy jury, a cake fed jury is a good jury for the prosecution. That`s our broadcast on a Friday night and for this week. Thank you so very much for being here with us, have a good weekend. Goodnight from NBC News headquarters here in New York.
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