Guiliani tweet about Sessions. TRANSCRIPT: 08/10/2018. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Guests: Frank Figliuzzi, Ken Vogel, Annie Karni, Danny Cevallos, Chad Day, Clarence Page, Jon Meacham

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: August 10, 2018 Guest: Frank Figliuzzi, Ken Vogel, Annie Karni, Danny Cevallos, Chad Day, Clarence Page, Jon Meacham

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, President Trump`s lawyers take to the airwaves teaming up to trash the Russia investigation on conservative radio. And there`s more trouble for all those in the orbit of Roger Stone as the Mueller investigation gets closer still.

Plus, drama at the Manafort trial and mystery in the courtroom as well, proceedings were delayed for hours, and the defense goes to work next week.

And they`re hoping to keep the lid on this weekend in Charlottesville in the anniversary of what happened there last year. The President is silent on that topic, but did take a swing at NFL players while Omarosa takes some big swings at him in her new book. All of it, part of THE 11TH HOUR on a Friday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 568 of the Trump administration and like Opie and Anthony, and Mike in the Mad Dog before them, the President`s lead lawyers Jay and Rudy co-hosted a radio show today, it was Sean Hannity`s daily radio show.

And so their appearance suited everyone involved in this way. Hannity was off and needed someone to fill in and it allowed the lawyers to road test some of their theories in the defense of the President of the United States.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: Hey, welcome to the "Sean Hannity`s Show," Jay Sekulow and Mayor Rudy Giuliani. How about that, Giuliani and Sekulow.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: Isn`t that nice?

SEKULOW: For purposes of right now, my colleague and co-counsel in a case involving a Russia inquiry that we`re engaged in. You may have read something about it, we`re also going to be taking your calls.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: These two attorneys are now a big part of the effort to discredit the investigation in Mueller and his team. Before today`s radio appearance, Rudy Giuliani sent this out, and we quote, "Maybe it`s time for Attorney General Sessions to appoint special counsel to investigate conspiracy to defeat Donald Trump by buying and disseminating false dossiers, obtaining illegal wires and commencing baseless FBI investigations."

Later, he looked to amplify that message with his radio co-host and real- life co-counsel Jay Sekulow.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GIULIANI: I think if I were the Attorney General, I would appoint an independent attorney counsel, and I`d appoint the independent counsel for two purposes. Purpose number one to appropriately prosecute the people who violated these laws.

Comey clearly leaked a document that he wasn`t supposed to leak.

SEKULOW: If you look at the scope in nature of this inquiry, the way it started, the corruption of the offset --

GIULIANI: It surely looks like an illegitimate investigation. The President of the United States said this a long time back, that it`s a witch hunt.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Giuliani also brought up Mueller`s effort to have a sit-down interview with the President and talk about the Trump legal team`s concern about what might happen if that interview takes place.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP

GIULIANI: I think what we have to clear is the fact that a lot of people interpret it this way, "Well, if he`s telling the truth, why wouldn`t he just go in and testify?" Hey, welcome to the real world. The fact is he is telling the truth.

We`re walking him into a possible perjury trap, not because he isn`t telling the truth, but because somebody else isn`t telling the truth, who they would credit, namely Comey.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: That last bit was too much for former Federal Prosecutor Mimi Rocah, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who said the following tonight on this network.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIMI ROCAH, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think Giuliani has been skirting the line and, you know, in my opinion, has now gone over the line of violating the rules of a professional conduct as a lawyer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, the special counsel appears to be dialing up the pressure on other witnesses in the investigation, specifically anyone one tied to Roger Stone, anyone in his orbit.

Mueller has a number of stones passed to associates now firmly on his radar tonight. One of them, Andrew Miller is being held in contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury hearing evidence into the Russia investigation. Another Roger Stone`s associate Kristin Davis did testify in front of grand jury just today. This was after she voluntarily spoke to investigators last week.

And Randy Credico, who has been reported to be the back-channel between Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury on September 7th. That could be seen as an indication that this investigation will not be over or pause by the first of the month as Trump`s lawyers have demanded.

Sam Nunberg, former Trump campaign adviser linked to Roger Stone has already testified before a Mueller grand jury. He was on this network earlier today and offered this prediction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM NUNBERG, FMR. TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Ultimately, Mueller wants to indict Roger. I think that this indictment, he`s going to have a very splashy, sexy charge conspiracy to defraud, something to do with hacking of the e-mails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So let`s bring in our lead-off panels on a Friday night. Frank Figliuzzi, Former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence who in the past has worked for Robert Mueller, Ken Vogel, Political Reporter for "The New York Times" who has not. And Annie Karni, White House Reporter for Politico who has been busy today for reasons we will get to.

So, Frank, let`s begin with you. What do you make and, more importantly, what will Robert Mueller and his team make of the President`s co-counsel on the radio today?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: There`s only one conclusion that I`m able to draw from this onslaught now in the last several days of just public appearances by two guys posing as lawyers, trying to get their client some air time. And then it`s that they seemed increasingly convinced that we`re headed toward impeachment proceedings?

Why do I say that? Because this has become completely an all-out preparation of the battleground for the public minds and heart in anticipation of what they seemed to believe are going to be articles for impeachment.

There`s no other way to explain how they`re taking over the airwaves and doing all of this and the issue of supposed journalistic entities allowing partisan political hacks to take over the airwaves as we are several weeks away from midterm elections. It`s something that actually the FCC should be looking into.

They`re preparing for impeachment and they`re trying to win hearts and minds.

WILLIAMS: Ken, they did so, I imagine not being a lawyer but a layperson at some professional peer, listen to what Mimi Rocah says. I supposed it could attract some attention, American Bar Association type of stuff. Does the base need that much bolstering that these guys have to dog and pony it across X.M radio?

KEN VOGEL, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, Brian, it`s very much apart of the P.R. strategy that the President himself has led and set the tone for, and it just shows frankly how Rudy Giuliani has come for when he first started on the legal team and famously was sort of chastised by Donald Trump for not having his facts straight on the Stormy Daniels` payment, the $130,000 hush payment to Stormy Daniels. Now you see him very much channeling the President, talking about a witch hunt suggesting that there needs to be an investigation of Mueller`s team. And we do see that`s tragedy having some effect.

If you look at the polls, it`s not just the base, his numbers are rising of folks who are skeptical of Robert Mueller and therefore might be less incline to accept the results of his investigation. That, I think rather - - although it may be partly of what Frank was saying, a preparations for impeachment but it certainly also is a preparation to try to undermine any adverse findings that Robert Mueller might come with in his report.

WILLIAMS: Annie, have we ever seen anything like this? You`ve got the Fox News involvement with Sean Hannity handing off to two lawyers for the President of the United States.

ANNIE KARNI, WITH HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: I mean, it takes more to the odd role that Hannity is playing to, that Hannity is a White House adviser and the interchangeability between -- I mean, it`s one thing to have these guys on his show as guests and Hannity actually hand over the reins as hosts, taking calls from listeners. The lines are blurred between all the roles here with lawyers playing the roles of spokespeople and T.V. hosts playing advisers. They`re all on the same team at the bottom line and that`s what we saw here today.

WILLIAMS: Let`s not forget, Sean Hannity, a Michael Cohen client. Hey, Frank, let`s talk about the signs that things are tightening around Roger Stone and tell us where you expect this to be going.

FIGLIUZZI: You know, Roger Stone is going to turn out to be a bigger fish than I think many people realize. We`ve all been focused on Manafort, and the Trump Tower meeting, and Gates on that, but while we`re focused on that, Mueller has been ratcheting up the effort on Stone. And why is he doing that? Because I believe that Stone can put the crime in the collusion concept.

By that, I mean the mysterious connection between Stone, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and the hacking into the DMC and the release of those e-mails, Mueller is focus on that like a laser because that`s where you put meat on the bones of collusion. That`s where you get hacking charges, you get emolument clause charges, you get conspiracy charges. And in the middle of that is Roger Stone, a guy who`s been around for years playing dirty politics. But I think he may have cross the line.

And Mueller knows a lot more about Stone than any of us do. Why? Because the U.S. intelligence community has been monitoring WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. They considered Julian Assange a criminal. And it`s possible, Brian, that Roger Stone may have actually tripped into coverage by the U.S. intelligence community of Assange and WikiLeaks and it`s possible that Mueller has all of that documentation even intercepts and is sitting there with it knowing exactly what Stone said and did with Julian.

WILLIAMS: And, Ken, as no one needs to remind you, the last part of what Frank just said, in effect, the equivalent of walking through the beam of a spotlight would be a very bad look for Roger Stone. So, Ken, given what you know, talk about what Stone has called his 40-year friendship with Donald Trump and the kind of damage a guy like that can do.

VOGEL: Yes, I also think, though, that Roger Stone -- Frank used a very odd phrase, "trip into," Roger Stone has made a long career out of sort of exaggerating this roles and his significances of some of these episodes of dark arts and dirty tricks. All the way back from Watergate where he just was the tiniest bit of player in the Nixon operation but has managed to make a whole career out of this sort of personification of himself as a dirty trickster. And I think this ends up being a little bit of careful what you wish for.

It`s true that he was sort of a bit player by the end on the Trump campaign, but that he also continue to try to insert himself in ways that were sort of at the margins, and that he did interact with an internet persona, this Guccifer II, that now Mueller`s one of his reasons of indictment has revealed, was in fact operated by Russian intelligence. So he sort of by almost by accident became very sort of character that he portray himself as and may ultimately be his undoing.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Annie, I`ve been reading and following you all day. And I need you to perform a service for the nice people watching tonight on a Friday night in August, our deal is we send them off into the good night knowing everything there is to know on all of the stories out there. That`s where you come in and you get to tell our audience everything they need to know about this new book by Omarosa, including but not limited to a scene where the President is eating paper and the fact that she gave an NPR interview apparently that conflicted with the tale in the book about the President`s alleged use of the "N" word. How about it?

KARNI: It`s a lot. So Omarosa was fired from the White House last December and now she gets the prize for being the first tell-all memoir out of this White House. And it`s a weird one because there`s questions that Omarosa`s credibility wasn`t true and her allegations are serious. She claims first out of the gate that she calls the President a bigot, a misogynist, all the bad words.

She says that he used the "N" word and she has tapes to prove it. This is where she contradicted herself in the book. She writes that she has not heard the tape of him calling the "N" word but she`s confirmed its existence. In the NPR interview, she claims that she heard say it herself. I think that`s what it is.

She claims that he ate a piece of paper when Michael Cohen, I think, was walking into the office to hide it from his lawyer that he ate it. She claims that Ivanka Trump, the first daughter, was responsible for ordering up the list of leakers in the White House who would be fired. This is like apparently, you know, Ivanka tries to stay or project a persona who was above the fray and cares about women`s empowerment only.

Omarosa portrays her as cut throat as her father and a wig. So, the allegations are tremendous where this falls on the credibility matrix, you know, with Michael Wolff`s book suffered from some questions of credibility and what`s real and what`s not.

How do you judge Omarosa`s book is a big question. But she certainly has a nice runway on a nice August weekend to have the news cycle to herself.

WILLIAMS: All the kids watching, don`t eat paper if you`re seeing this at home. This is from the generation that thought it was a good idea to eat paste in school.

Hey, I can`t thank you, guys, enough. Frank Figliuzzi, Ken Vogel, Annie Karni, our Omarosa correspondent for just this night. Thank you all so very much. Have a great weekend.

And coming up for us, what we think might have been happening behind the scenes during the lengthy and unusual delay in the Manafort trial today.

And later, preparing for a tense weekend in Charlottesville on, of course, the one year anniversary of the fatal confrontation and then Washington where white supremacists and counter protesters will square off, some of then within earshot of the White House.

THE 11TH HOUR on a Friday night is just getting underway.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: It was a mysterious and rather dramatic end to week two of Manafort trial with the President`s name coming up in court again today. But before the day could even begin, proceedings came to a screeching halt with the jury out of the room. The judge and the attorneys spent much of the day huddled in private conversations and in recess, officially, with no explanation as to why.

Transcript of what went on has been placed under seal. At the same time, the prosecution has once again asking the judge to revisit comments he made in front of this jury. This time, they were unhappy with what the judge said while prosecutors were discussing a loan that they say Manafort fraudulently applied for but did not receive. And the motion they argued "The court`s statement that the government might want to spent time alone that was granted misrepresents the law regarding bank fraud conspiracy improperly conveys the court`s opinions on the facts and is likely to confuse and mislead the jury."

Well, when witnesses finally did take the stand, jurors were told that Manafort may have used his position to dangle possible Trump administration jobs, including some big ones in exchange for massive bank loans.

With us to talk about all of it, we welcome back Danny Cevallos, a Veteran Criminal Defense Attorney and we welcome Chad Day, an Investigative Reporter for The Associated Press. He was inside court today for all of these proceedings or lack thereof.

Danny, I heard Chuck Rosenberg on this network earlier tonight. He was U.S. attorney for this district at one time. He was theorizing that this could be one juror who came in today and said, "Your honor, I looked at the device, I saw television coverage and someone talked to me, I talked to another juror," which would still take a lot o f time to turn through, correct?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. It could have been a juror riding on the subway or commuting and seeing a newspaper and glancing at it or maybe a juror overhearing another juror. But either way, this is a process that takes a long time.

They have to take the juror aside in the presence of counsel, remove the other jurors. Ask that juror, "Hey, what did you find out?" And a lot of the time gets burned up. As the attorneys are huddling their corners and decide not really so much whether or not the juror did or didn`t do something, but how can we spin this to our side`s favor.

Do we like this juror, because there may not even be a consensus on the team whether they like that juror. One attorney for the defense may say, "That`s a good juror for us," and the other might say, "No, we got to get him out of there." And that`s why this can take so long because it is a lot of back and forth just because the juror might have flipped on the T.V. at the wrong time.

WILLIAMS: So, Chad, you were there. What was it like, again, we don`t know what it is you witness, but, what was it like witnessing it?

CHAD DAY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Right. So we expected the prosecution to come in and rest their case today and instead we were greeted by 20-minute huddle between the attorneys and Judge Ellis. And like you say, there wasn`t really any kind of explanation for why there was a delay. He recessed until the afternoon.

But we did get a couple of things that kind of backup what Danny is saying, is that the judge at one point actually left the courtroom towards the jury room and then later on when the proceedings actually started, he had manage the jury several times to not discuss the case amongst themselves, not discuss the case with anyone else, and even kind of cracked a joke about don`t even comment on the attire of the witnesses.

So I think all signs are kind of pointing toward this being some kind of jury issue. But like you say, the transcript is under sealed and we won`t know for some time.

WILLIAMS: Now, Danny, we get into your line of work. The defense goes to work. They`re under no obligation to call any witnesses, what work do they have to do and what do you think they`ll do?

CEVALLOS: Right. You`re right, many times the defense calls no witnesses at all. They rely on just attacking the government`s case.

In a case like this, they`re not many defenses in such a paper intensive case, but here is what the Manafort team needs to do. They need to focus on Gates that the order came from Gates. They need to focus on that, which the bank employees when they testify, they don`t have a dog in the fight. They`re not biassed witnesses, they`re not cooperating witnesses.

Some of them, they just have to -- defense has to point out that his isn`t necessarily fraud. He may have put it this way and Airbnb has another policy that allows this and that`s not really accurate. And at least, if it is inaccurate, it`s not intentionally so.

So the defense has a lot of work to do because this has been a paper intensive case with a cooperating witness who got up there on the stand and for all his sins pointed out to the defendant and said that`s my former cohort, he did it.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Chad, I love covering trials if only to test all the theories that people have. Like among journalists and lawyers, you often hear people say if you watch the jury, a jury that has just cleared the defendant is going to come in and make strong eye contact, they`re proud of what they did. A jury that is just nicked him or her found him guilty is going to overt their eyes.

Stuff like that that we journalists watch the jury box for. Having said that, what`s the dynamics with the jury, which I know you`ve been watching sitting there?

DAY: Right. So I`ve been in the trial for the last two weeks. And, you know, the jury seems to really be paying attention. There have been some times where the subject matter`s gotten quite dry.

And so, you know, we have seen the jury kind of, you know, maybe not nod off, but that paying that much attention. But you know, Rick Gates` testimony definitely got their attention, and I think they`ve really been keying in on the discussion of the lavish lifestyle also really following the tax case. You know, the prosecution put on an expert witness who is testifying about how much money, $16 million that he says should have been reported on his taxes. And I can tell that they were taking notes and they were keeping up with that testimony.

And so, you know, it`s a complex case, but these are really kind of simple charges. Did you report offshore bank accounts on your taxes? Did you pay enough taxes that you were supposed to? Did you lie to get loans? And so I think that so far they`ve really been keeping up with what the prosecution has been putting in front of them.

WILLIAMS: Sixteen million dollars on a tax return, sooner or later you`re talking about large amounts that might attract some attention. Can`t thank you, gentlemen, enough after a long week, after a long final day of that week in this trial, which is stretching into what, week three. Danny Cevallos and Chad Day, really appreciate it. Gentlemen, thanks.

Coming up, security is tight around the University of Virginia and the street of that town as well. One year after the violent protest with white supremacists, we are live in Charlottesville. We`ll have that when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Sunday will mark exactly one year since that Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a day of violent clashes between white nationalist groups and counter protesters that resulted, of course, in the killing of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Charlottesville has declared a state of emergency in advance ahead of this anniversary.

Many streets were closed. No protests permits were granted by the city. And this weekend, Washington, D.C. is bracing for a march organized by the same alt-right group. That march plus several counter protests expected in D.C. on Sunday, some of it in Lafayette Park right across from the White House.

But with us from Charlottesville, Virginia, tonight is our own Cal Perry. And, Cal, there`s really no other question except to ask you what it feels like tonight. That is where we`re all imaging it feels quite haunting.

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS INTEL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very much so. Look, you can see the outer edge of the security court behind me. It is not subtle at all. It is not designed be subtle, it is designed to send a message that people should stay out of Charlottesville.

The eight to nine blocks in front of me are going to be completely shut down. No vehicle traffic, pedestrians only.

But way of geography, listen, Charlottesville is a blue dot in a sea of red. This is a liberal town in a conservative part of the country and a conservative part of the state of Virginia. And so for that reason, you have a statue of Robert E. Lee, just 500 meters in front of me. That was supposed to be gone by now because in the heated aftermath of what happened a year ago, of course, it was decided the statue is going to be removed, but not so easy when you start hearing other voices especially around the state of Virginia.

There is a long list, Brian, of prohibited items that you`re not going to be able to bring into this area. Hair spray bottles, but you can bring guns. People are open carrying tonight in downtown Charlottesville. They`re making that point that is their second amendment right to carry weapons, but a lot of people are questioning the police and why it is that that`s allowed to happen at the state assembly line.

All of that is to paint a picture that Charlottesville is a microcosm of America. And all of the issues that this town is going through, that it is healed from is what America is talking about. As we stood outside, Brian, today in this area, a number of people asked us to leave. They say the media is not helping and we don`t like the media. They`re not allowing this town to heal. And it is a town that just has not healed.

So, to answer the question that you started with, you know I think the police have done a great job in sending that message that they understand they din not handle the situation well a year ago. The mayor is gone and the police chief is gone. And so they`re letting people know, if you want to protest, you`re going to do it in Washington D.C. hopefully not here in Charlottesville, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Well, thank you for that report on that summation from Charlottesville, Virginia. Cal Perry on the scene for us tonight. And with us to talk about all of it and where we`ve been and where were headed, Clarence Page, veteran journalist and columnist for the Chicago Tribune and John Meacham is with us. Pulitzer Prize winner author and historian. Importantly his latest book is called "The Soul of America, The Battle for Our Better Angels" paging our better angels. Hey Jon, what is the year later damage assessment from Charlottesville?

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, there is obviously the memory of Heather Heyer who stood as civil rights activist did throughout the long and tragic Jim Crow era stood for what we should be and not necessarily of what we are all the time.

And so I think that`s the most perhaps one of the most important things to take a moment and realize that someone gave her life trying to protest against the neo-Nazis and the clansmen who gathered there a year ago. I think that when the history of this era is written the president`s reaction to Charlottesville, the events of August 11th and 12th will loom pretty large because that was the first moment -- maybe not the first but a significant moment where the president seemed to have a hard time figuring out whether he stood with people like Heather Heyer who argued that we had to be part and aside with our better angels or did he stand with David Dukes and others?.

And David Dukes said that weekend in Charlottesville a year ago that this is why we elected Donald Trump was to protect statues like the Robert E. Lee statue to protest in a way they protested. And when the president of the United States advocated his moral leadership decisively and decidedly then that set a tone for the year and we`re still living with those after shocks.

WILLIAMS: Clarence, you get to write history in real time on a daily basis. Is it possible when we look back at 2018, part of the sub-plot is going to be we have both racism and activism, both as concurrent growth stocks.

CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUTE COLUMIST: That`s a good way to look at because it was quite a wake up call I would say that many of us had a year ago that race relations have gotten this bad only a few years after the optimism that sprung up of Barack Obama`s successful campaign.

Remember that phrase post-racial society, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

PAGE: I never used it but a lot of people were questioning whether that happened. And I didn`t realize how much my spirits have been lifted and my optimism have gotten inflated and told the tragedy hit in Charlottesville a year ago, I have to say as one who remembers the summer of Kent State of 1970, four college students killed in Kent State Ohio on campus while protesting the war and killed by national guard troops, another situation that did not need to happen, people weren`t ready for things escalate like that.

The same thing happened in Charlottesville where the police really under estimated what would happen when protesters or I should say the Unite the Right, far right wing fashion clashed with Antifa and led to violence there in the streets, they weren`t prepared for that.

Now Charlottesville is got hundreds of state troopers who are at the red end during the state of emergency already. Here in Washington here a little more accustom to this kind of disruption. Things are quiet like August and Washington usually is but I expect they`re going to be noisier here tomorrow and Sunday.

WILLIAMS: Of course, one of the tragedies is Charlottesville is known for anything but being home to one of the great universities in our country. Just part of the conversation, both gentlemen, Clarence Page and Jon Meacham have agreed to stay with us over this break.

We`ll take this break. And when we come back, coinciding with the start of the NFL pre-season. The president renews his dispute with protesting pro football players and further adds most don`t even understand why they are outraged. We`ll talk about that on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Would you love to see one of these NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag, you say get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He`s fired. He`s fired.

You should be stand proudly for the national anthem. Well, you shouldn`t be playing. You shouldn`t be there. Maybe you shouldn`t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Well, pro football is back and pre-season at least underway. And someone must have alerted the president early this morning. President Trump shared this thought. "The NFL players are out again taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the national anthem, numerous players from different teams wanted to show their outrage at something that most of them are unable to define." He adds "Be happy and be cool and this warning stand proudly for your national anthem or be suspended without pay."

League policy still unclear on how to address those players who protest. But as Eli Stokols of the L.A. Times observes, "The NFL season brings Trump an opportunity to heighten attention to his ongoing feud with the African American players, a wedge issue that animates a number of his voters heading into the November midterm elections."

Still with us Clarence Page and Jon Meacham. Jon, I got to say, I miss football. I was excited for last night. My beloved Giants didn`t skip a bit. They lost just so wouldn`t feel any shock over the end of last season and the beginning of this season because they care about their fans and then this happens.

MEACHAM: We need certitude at these times.

WILLIAMS: What is going on with the president and the National Football League other than the league`s kaleidoscopic inability to deal from this challenge from the president.

MEACHAM: I think the peachtree (ph) just read from is exactly right. It`s an elective feud that the president has undertaken, an elective battle of and -- he`s -- this is absolutely for the base. It`s kind of 101, old southern strategy and I say that as a southerner. But everybody knows what he`s talking about when he talks about these people should not be in the country.

And it works with the base, I think that 30 and 35% or so of the country that seems to be inclined to follow Trump anywhere including into us a spear of our civic life that a lot of things should be above and beyond politics. But if even -- but if it becomes about politics, it becomes about players who are exercising their first amendment rights. An amendment written by a man who lives not far from Charlottesville, James Madison.

So, I think its pure old fashion unattractive and divisive politics and it`s the kind of thing where the president is playing to fear and not to hope. And he`s going to pay a high price for this if not in the short- term, certainly in the long-term of history.

WILLIAMS: Clarence, Fox News again today proved it`s always an interesting place. I heard Dana Perino and I`ll paraphrase her say that the question a rich white guy asking about the freedom of speech of rich black guy and then we`re just coming off the following from Laura Ingraham, well-known to many in the media world, former supreme court clerk and long time lawyer. She said this. And we`ve attached her attempt and clean up the next night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn`t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been voiced upon the American people. And the change is that none of us have voted for and most of us don`t like. Now much of this is related to both illegal and in some cases legal immigration that of course, progressives love.

The purpose of last night`s angle was to point out that the rule of law meaning secure borders is something that used to bind our country together.

And despite what some may be contending. I may explicitly clear that my commentary had nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: All right, Clarence Page, what do you think is going on here?

PAGE: I have known Laura Ingraham for a couple of decades. She`s special off the campus. I advised her for some time ago, that one Anne Coulter is enough and doesn`t really make a good look for her to come off as a far right anti-immigrant xenophobe if you will. I think it`s kind of ratings grab just like I think Donald Trump little fiasco with the NFL, started out as an attention gather even if its messed up on his own message. He has some important issues going on at the time. But he becomes obsessed when people defy him or anything.

I think this whole NFL protest was began with Kaepernick have faded away on its own had Trump not kept popping it up like he`s still popping it up. And he`s not helping him. He`s not helping the NFL. I don`t think he`s helping his numbers really because what`s his base? Largely, a white male who loves the NFL, I don`t think he`s going to change their minds in any kind of a way that`s going to help him at all. But this is the kind of fiasco that we stumbled into.

WILLIAMS: Well, gentlemen, this is why have smart guys like you on our broadcast at times like this. Our friends Clarence Page and Jon Meacham. Jon, please keep those better angels on speed dial, will you? A lonely nation is asking.

MEACHAM: It`s in our contacts.

WILLIAMS: All right. Thank you both. Really appreciate it. Have a good weekend.

And coming up for us, does the U.S. Military need a six branch. Can the nation afford it right now? What else is out there that may compete more urgently for our time and attention, right now tonight and around the world.

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TRUMP: I had a great meeting with Putin, we discussed everything. I had a great meeting. We got along really well. By the way, that`s a good thing, not a bad thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Just one week ago President Trump was telling supporters how good his relationship with Putin of Russia is, now facing more sanctions from the U.S., Russian leaders are striking a decidedly different tone according to Reuters. The Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev offered this warning. If the new sanctions impact Russian banks, "it would be possible to clearly call it a declaration of economic war and it would be necessary to react to this war economically, politically, or if needed, by other means." At least that sounds closer to normal over the years.

With us tonight retired four star U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, decorated combat, veteran of Vietnam, former battlefield commander of the Persian Gulf, former drug czar for this country, and these days an MSNBC military analyst. General, take them on one at a time please and that`s what are Russia and North Korea and their leaders trying to gain from this country?

BARRY MCCAFFREY, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think they`ve got a clear understanding of their own objectives which I think we lack in the United States. By thy way, I am still very much convinced and confident that Secretary Jim Mattis of DoD and Mike Pompeo an extremely capable person of state, and Gina Haspel`s very professional knowledgeable person, and secretary of treasury and trade.

And having said that, the president`s reaction to many of these situations, I hate to say this in timely, border on fantasy. So, you know, when it comes to North Korea, they`re still producing fissile material, they`re still producing their ICBM which are not yet fully tested.

There is zero chance they`re going to denuclearize. They`re trying to escape sanctions, they`re trying to get us out South Korea and to some extent the president`s public rhetoric is helping them. That`s a problem. When it comes to the Russians the statement by Medvedev was very unsettling.

One thing we shouldn`t do is overstate the threat from Russia. They got a lot of nukes, a lot of oil. A minor strategic force in terms of naval power, air power, an army that is not a significant threat to Western Europe. It is to the Baltic States, Poland, you know, the Ukraine. So they`re batting way above their weight average. I remind people that the economy of Russia is less than that of Italy, less than that of California. This should not a major player. It`s run by -- by the way, the roar of that crowd behind the president is what unsettles me. That is not.

WILLIAMS: This is something new for our times.

MCCAFFREY: This guys a thug. He murders journalists, he murders the opposition. He murders people overseas. He has eliminated most of the democratic beginnings in the Russian Federation. He`s a gad bad guy.

WILLIAMS: General I`ve been wanting to ask you about this Space Force idea. Of course, we already have the U.S. Air Force Space Command which is a large part of the U.S. Air Force with a tack and a mission. What do you make of the Space Force notion and its chance at success?

MCCAFFREY: Well, look, you know, the threat is real particularly from the Chinese and the Russians but the threshold to threaten our communication satellites is pretty low. I mean, modest country can build and attack capability. We`re spending a lot of money right now and a lot of science on trying to harden it and protect it.

Space operations is baked into every service. The Army can`t operate without our smart weapons don`t work without space communications. So the Space Force concept is a separate service is one of those intellectually attractive ideas widely debated that`s a thoroughly stupid idea. I don`t think it`s going to get funded by Congress. It would be 10 to 15 years struggle to disentangle every one o those elements an stick it under a new service, with new uniforms. Civilian secretary, a new chief and -- I don`t think it`s going to happen but it`s not a very good idea. It`s an organizational fix to a functional challenge that I think Mattis is addressing right now minus new legislation.

WILLIAMS: Give us your one-minute summation of this president`s behavior and I`ve heard you put it this way. What if you were a combatant commander in the military?

MCCAFFREY: Well I said actually a battalion commander. You know, we got - - over at Fort Benning all day today with these unbelievable experienced war fighters now that are running the army, air force, navy, marine, coasties. The president is, you know, personally, Brian, I`ve been involved with three White Houses fairly closely. I got a lot of years dealing with business, 15 years. I`ve been in civil government. I`ve never seen this level of illogical behavior, anger, impulsiveness, rudeness to the international leadership, never mind his domestic opposition. This is not the correct behavior for a senior executive at any level, never mind the president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: Strong words from an experienced man, general, always a pleasure to have you on. Barry McCaffrey with us on a Friday night.

Coming up, we remember a friend of ours. A patriot. And a warrior and a scholar and an enemy of terrorists everywhere. When we come back.

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WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, friends and family and colleagues and fellow warriors gathered today to remember a great patriot and public servant, a man our viewers came to know for his expertise and judgment as our analyst and steady hand during scary times.

Michael Sheehan died at Walter Reed this past Monday. He will be remembered most perhaps for what he wrote just before the turn of this century. Back in 1998, a secret memo urging the U.S. government to the cut off financing to a man named Osama Bin Laden and to stop giving sanctuary to an organization named Al Qaeda.

After sounding the warning within his own government, Sheehan became frustrated at the lack of action. In looking back on his life as a soldier, statesman and scholar, "The New York Times" this week quoted Sheehan as asking his colleagues at the time, "What is it going to take to get them to hit Al Qaeda? Does Al Qaeda have to attack is the Pentagon?"

Of course, that was just one of the targets on 9/11 and Sheehan helped secure the other, New York City. He ran the then brand-new NYPD counter- terrorism bureau and he turned it into a world class organization in its field rivalling federal agencies.

Mike was born and raised in New Jersey. I always thought the reason we got along so well was we shared an exit in neighboring towns and both grew up just off Exit 117 of the Garden State Parkway, 114 if you want to go the back way.

Mike left the Jersey shore for West Point, then ranger school, then Special Forces as a Green Beret where one hostage rescue mission got the attention of the New York papers. He later earned two masters degrees, he was chief of counter-terrorism at the State Department. He oversaw special operations at the Pentagon. And peacekeeping at the U.N. which he was proud of.

Mike Sheehan our friend and former colleague was 63 years old. He fought multiple myeloma has hard as he fought terrorism during his lifetime. We, of course, send along our condolences to his family.

That is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Have a good weekend and good night for all of us here at NBC News headquarters in New York.

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

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