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Omarosa: Trump White House revelations. TRANSCRIPT: 08/13/2018. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Guests: Ashley Parker, Eugene Robinson, Mike Murphy, Sam Stein, Berit Berger

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: August 13, 2018 Guest: Ashley Parker, Eugene Robinson, Mike Murphy, Sam Stein, Berit Berger

BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: -- recordings from inside the Trump White House. And we learned of others just tonight. Omarosa, the former Apprentice contestant turned White House aide is being labeled of disgruntled former employee and being attacked by Trump himself.

Also on the Mueller front, Rudy Giuliani attempts to recover from a huge contradiction and tonight goes after a new target. And the Mueller team rests its case against Paul Manafort. The question now, will the defense put the man himself anywhere near the stand?

"The 11th Hour" on a Monday night begins now.

And good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York as we begin a new week. Day 571 of the Trump administration.

And while our lead story here tonight does have to do with two people who gained fame in the reality television business, Donald Trump and Omarosa Manigault-Newman, it would be a grave mistake to dismiss what we are witnessing right now as some sort of tabloid dust up between the former host of The Apprentice and a former contestant, because the host went on to become President, the contestant became a White House aide in his administration. Her departure was sudden and ugly and now she has a book out and it turns out she has recordings from the inner sanctum of the Trump White House.

For starters, a recording she made inside the fortified situation room in the White House of her own firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly.


JOHN KELLY, CHIEF OF STAFF: I think it`s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be -- you know, you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.


WILLIAMS: And then there is this, the recording she released today of the phone call she says she had with the President after her firing.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Omarosa, what`s going on? I just saw on the news that you`re thinking about leaving. What happened?

OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave.

TRUMP: No. I -- nobody even told me about it.


TRUMP: You know, they run a big operation, but I didn`t know it. I didn`t know that.


TRUMP: Goddamn it. I don`t love you leaving at all.


WILLIAMS: Those recordings along with others she says she has of Jared, and Ivanka, and Eric and Lara Trump, have brought a ton of criticism and backlash from the White House, as you can imagine, and this comment from the President. "When General Kelly came on board, he told me she was a loser and nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out if possible because she only said great things about me until she got fired."

Just a few hours ago, Omarosa explained to our colleague Chris Matthews why she taped conversations.


MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I`m so glad that I did it because no one would believe me if I didn`t have that recording.


WILLIAMS: Over the last 24 hours, she has revealed much more about the White House. This is what she shared on this network earlier today about Trump.


MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: The President talked often as you`ll see in Unhinged about how important it was to tape your enemies and to make sure that you had information on your enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So theoretically though, you think actually taped people inside the White House?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: He threatened Comey. We have to take him at his own words. He said to Comey, "You know, you better watch out because, you know" -- he`s insinuated that there might be tapings.


WILLIAMS: She also said this about the interview that President Trump gave to NBC News last year in which he discussed the firing of FBI Director James Comey.


MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: He was being prepped by Hope Hicks and the comms team to say that the DOJ had came up with this memo so that they could justify the firing of Comey.


MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: That was definitely a Hope Hicks press secretary kind of things.

RUHLE: So if the comms team prepped the President to lie to Lester Holt --

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: They prepped him to lie every day.

RUHLE: Did you ever ask the question why we are lying?


RUHLE: And the answer was?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: This is how they do it. This is the Trump administration at its best.


WILLIAMS: This was her assessment of the President`s ability to do his job.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The book is called Unhinged, who does that refer to?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Donald J. Trump, absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he`s mentally competent to do this job?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: No. I don`t think he`s fit. And as we heard on the recording that you just played, he doesn`t even know what`s happening in the White House.


WILLIAMS: That was part of the media tour today. The most explosive allegation involves Omarosa`s claim that she heard a tape recording of the President using the N-word during a production of season of The Apprentice. She says that she`d discovered the tape`s existence during the 2016 presidential campaign and that was when she informed key members of the Trump campaign staff.


MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I immediately called Lara and Eric, that`s Eric`s wife to share what I learned. And we had those conversations. I actually have those conversations with her, Lara Trump.

I called her to tell her what I heard and what was happening. And they weren`t -- she wasn`t surprised. She was just kind of in damage control mode.


WILLIAMS: And again, what she appears to mean there is she has those conversations on tape.

Tonight, the President sent this response on Twitter, "Mark Burnett called to say there are no tapes of The Apprentice," Mr. Burnett is the creator of the show, "where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by wacky and deranged Omarosa. I don`t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have. She made it up."

"Look at her many recent quotes saying such wonderful and powerful things about me, a true champion of civil rights, until she got fired. Omarosa had zero credibility with the media. They didn`t want interviews when she worked in the White House. Now she says bad about me, they will talk to her. Fake news."

Lara Trump, again the wife of Eric Trump, had this to say to Sean Hannity tonight.


LARA TRUMP, SENIOR ADVISOR FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: What an incredible opportunity she wasted. You know, the President gave her the chance to make a difference, to take care of people that she claimed to care about and here she squandered it for this fictitious, ridiculous book.


WILLIAMS: Well, the White House has pushed back against all the accounts in this book calling them "lies and false allegations." Omarosa seemed to indicate tonight that she has more information that could be damaging to the White House.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Do you have any other recordings?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I have plenty.

MATTHEWS: Anything Mueller would like to see? Mr. Robert Mueller?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: If his office calls again and they want I will share.

MATTHEWS: Would you give to this investigation by Mueller.

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Absolutely. Anything they want, I will certainly cooperate.

MATTHEWS: Do you think Trump should be impeached?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: At this point, yes.


WILLIAMS: On that note, let`s bring in our lead-off panel for a Monday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Reporter for The Washington Post, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist along with The Washington Post, and Mike Murphy, veteran Republican Strategist, longtime advisor to among others Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, John McCain. Good evening and welcome to you all.

Ashley, let`s set the scene tonight. You had the President steps down the hall from the Lincoln bedroom presumably in the residence portion of the White House on social media, quoting the creator of The Apprentice, denying his use of the N-word. The President clearly in an aggravated state may have met his match.

Someone pointed out, these are both -- both people are playing by reality television rules, the spooling out of stories in a slow motion basis. What has this done? What will this do to the West Wing?

ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, first that`s one of the things that the President, until recently, appreciated about Omarosa. Everyone else in the West Wing didn`t like her, but he appreciated her sense of drama and her sense of sort of reality showmanship and that`s one of the reasons that he kept her around. What it does to the West Wing is that it just creates another level of headache as we`ve sort of discussed that nauseam. Omarosa is not credible.

The President and the White House pushing back because of their depending on the person and the day, their lies or their mistruths are also not credible. But in this case, it embroils the White House in a scandal in a drama that they don`t want to be taken part in. It elevates Omarosa and it also, as you pointed out, it puts the President in a horrible mood.

So when talking to people in the West Wing, a lot of people never liked her. They`re happy she`s out. What they`re saying now publicly is no different than what they were telling us privately for weeks or months. But when you have the President ordering responses and going out and tweeting about this, that`s just a headache for everyone in there who`s actually trying to run the government.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, with your way with words, you`ve gone and written a column that says of course Omarosa has tapes. And in it, it said way with words continues, it is hard to take Omarosa Manigault-Newman`s words for anything. But Lordy, she has tapes and they offer vivid proof that Donald Trump`s White House is part clown show, part nest of vipers.

Eugene, it`s all yours. What are we witnessing?

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, that`s what we see. This is a White House full of the kind of people who tape conversations, private conversations, with their colleagues and co-workers, including in the situation room. She taped the Chief of Staff of the White House, she taped the President, she taped others. And I have no doubt that she has other recordings.

This is not the way a White House is supposed to be or it is supposed to behave. As Ashley said, Omarosa just by herself, just saying X happened has zero credibility. She has as little credibility as President Trump in that situation. But when she has documentary proof, when she has recordings and documents, those stand up. And if she is writing a playbook on how to attack Donald Trump and get under his skin playing by his rules.

WILLIAMS: So Mike, Lawrence O`Donnell tonight highlighted the obvious but then set it apart by underscoring that we have never in the history of this republic have had a senior aide come public and expose the President using recordings that were taken in the White House. Lawrence`s point was we`ve never seen senior staff of this caliber or lack thereof hired by White House`s past.

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. That`s one of the many moving parts of this. We now have the lord of the flies management theory in the White House with constant drag upon drag violence. You know, they`re like locust feeding on a public institution that`s supposed to be the high lantern for the country and is now becoming the worst elements of cheesy reality show television.

I mean, I look at this fight between Omarosa and President Trump because they`re very similar people. They`re both massively ethically challenged and untrustworthy. It`s like stallion grab, there`s nobody you can morally rope of. And you don`t know who to believe because they`re both liars.

So I have decided that my position is going to be that I am going to believe the worst things they say about each other because I`m probably closest to the truth with that. But, you know, beyond all of that, there`s real damage to the institution here. So much about self, her book deal, Trumps profiteering, the egos, and sort of corruption of our public institutions.

I think it will pass but it`s doing damage to the country. And this documentary evidence, as the other panelists have said and as you`ve said, does sort of breaks it through the depressing reality show circus in to real, true things that show you just what it is like inside the White House.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Sooner or later here, we`re talking about the presidency that belongs to all of us.

MURPHY: Right.

WILLIAMS: Ashley, at least there are nondisclosure agreements. Please, I read your reporting on this tonight. Fill our audience in on why it would be a problem.

Non-disclosure agreements are kind of coin of the realm in places like Hollywood and in certain industries, people agree never to talk about what they see and read and experience. Why is that a problem in the West Wing when working for Uncle Sam?

PARKER: Well, first of all, nondisclosure agreements are basically for all intents and purpose when you are a government employee serving the public and not actually pledging your loyalty to Trump personally unenforceable. So people can sign them, they cannot sign them, but as we`ve seen, they`re very hard to enforce.

But I think the fact that President Trump -- we at the Post have gotten our hands on a copy of a non-disclosure agreement that he had people signed during the campaign. We have had one that he tried to make people sign in the White House described to us. We have a copy of the one that Omarosa was urged to sign after she left.

The mere fact that they are so pervasive in President Trump`s orbit all the way into this White House underscores sort of a more key point, which is this is a President who at the top is fostering a culture of leaks and in- fighting and audio recordings and back stabbing where you have staffers, as Omarosa articulated on this network earlier today, who said they learned from the President that you need to tape things and you always need to have fodder on the enemies to deploy and you need to behave in these duplicities ways just to survive.

And so I think that`s the culture that we`re seeing. The NDAs were his attempt to halt that, but it certainly didn`t work.

WILLIAMS: And Eugene, let`s take just a moment and I`m going to play something for you. Let`s remember who Omarosa was, remember these words from the PBS frontline documentary after the election.


MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It`s everyone who`s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, whoever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.


WILLIAMS: So, Eugene, that was then. That`s who she was then. And we see who she is now. Do you think the President and the White House would do well to have a certain amount of fear for what this woman knows and has in her possession?

ROBINSON: I think they definitely should be afraid of her because she`s Trumpier than Trump. I mean, you know, what Trump has on his side going into any sort of script is complete and utter shamelessness. He will do anything. He will bite, gouge, kick, scrape, whatever. He will lie, he will do whatever he has.

He doesn`t have those boundaries. She has even fewer boundaries, I think, than he has. And she certainly will match him sort of transgression for transgression in a fight like that.

And so I do think they have reason to be concerned about what tapes she has, about what she will say. You know, she has very little credibility without documentary evidence. But she believes in sort of, you know, putting it out there massively. So I think there`s just going to be -- you know, we won`t be able to shut her up.

WILLIAMS: And, Mike, of course no discussion of American politics over the last few decades has been complete without a mention Mark Burnett. I`m kidding but, unbelievably Mark Burnett, he of Los Angeles and reality television show fame is now, like it or not, a public certifier of the President on a pretty key point that Omarosa`s been holding out.

MURPHY: Yes, I know. His entire reputation is at stake and he ought to be thinking about that.

One footnote to this whole thing, Brian, for her regardless of the drag violence, for her to tape a conversation in the situation room is a huge breech of professional White House standards and she should be prosecuted for it.

WILLIAMS: All right.

MURPHY: Just for her actions.

WILLIAMS: All right. We`ll take it. Ashley Parker, Eugene Robinson, and we know a quote to go out on when we hear one from Mike Murphy, we appreciate you all starting us off on a Monday night.

Coming up for us, the President`s lawyer sends more mixed messages about if and when Donald Trump might meet with Mueller and contradicts himself over what Trump has said and not said.

And later, families coming apart before our eyes. Stephen Miller`s own uncle calls him a hypocrite, that and more. We`re just getting underway on a Monday night.



RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: The President says I never said to Flynn anything about -- I never said to Comey anything about Flynn. Comey says -- and he adds this at the very end, Comey says he told me to see -- if I`d give him a break basically.

So we have three defenses to that. Under Article II of the Constitution, you can`t question why the President would say something, he has the power to say it. Number two, what he was saying is perfectly justifiable. He didn`t say you must, you have to, I`ll fire you if you don`t. He said consider it.

Number three, he never said it.


WILLIAMS: That was Rudolph Giuliani`s latest response to questions about the now infamous meeting between President Trump and now fired FBI Director, James Comey.

Over this weekend, Giuliani backtracked on his own admission that the President did in fact ask Comey to stop investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia. First things first, this was Giuliani on CNN Sunday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to be clear exactly of what happened in that conversation with Comey about Michael Flynn. What exactly did President Trump say?

GIULIANI: There was no conversation about Michael Flynn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, you told ABC News last month that the President told Comey, "Ccan you give him a break? Now you`re saying that they never had --

GIULIANI: I never told ABC that. That`s crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you`re saying that President Trump and James Comey never discussed Michael Flynn?

GIULIANI: That is what he will testify to if he`s asked that question.


WILLIAMS: But this is what Giuliani said just last month.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: How is he a good witness for the President if he`s saying that the President was asking or directing him in his words to let the Michael Flynn investigation go.

GIULIANI: He didn`t direct him to do that. What he said to him was by can you give --

STEPHANOPOULOS: He took as direction.

GIULIANI: Well, that`s OK. I mean I`ve taken it that way. I mean by that time, he have been fired.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, Trump`s legal team says it`s expecting a response to its little proposal for a sit-down with Mueller. They are expecting that response sometime this week.

The two teams have been going back and forth on terms. Most recently Giuliani said the President would answer questions about collusion during the campaign but not about obstruction after the election meeting. Comey`s firing would be off limits.

And now the Trump legal team is setting time limits. The Journal is reporting "Mr. Giuliani said the President is open to talking to Mr. Mueller under limited conditions but, in a new development, said Mr. Trump wouldn`t sit for an interview after September 1 because that would interfere with the midterm elections."

Well, here to talk about all of it, Berit Berger is back with us, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney with both the Eastern District of New York and for good measure the Southern District of New York. And Sam Stein is back with us, Politics Editor for the Daily Beast.

Sam, beginning with you because you can say whatever you wish. What are we -- is this just letting it fly?


WILLIAMS: Well, within reason I guess. It`s a family broadcast.

STEIN: It`s probably not professional. It is letting it fly. This is not a coherent legal strategy by any stretch. It is not even a very effective one. It`s not even an effective P.R. strategy.

For awhile now, though it`s been clear that Rudy Giuliani is not there to serve the President as a lawyer in the traditional sense of what a lawyer does, he`s there as a political henchman. And part of his task, I guess, I can surmise is, is to just simply muddy the waters and insist that things that he said a month ago he never actually said to keep moving the dates in the negotiation goalpost.

And what he gets out of this is not entirely clear except for the fact that they`ve convinced a fair chunk of the population essentially that what Robert Mueller is doing is the equivalent of a political witch hunt, that he`s out there looking to trip up Donald Trump up in any fashion, any way possible and that Robert Mueller is just inclined to find any wrongdoing wherever he can find it and it`s not pertinent to anything that happened in the 2016 election. And I will say this, to a degree, they`ve been successful.

The polling shows that opinion of the Mueller probe dropped precipitously among Republicans but most explicitly among viewers of Fox News, which is where Rudy Giuliani and a lot of the Trump fans do the majority of their cadence. So it is a political strategy and a legal one, but it`s actually not a -- and successful.

WILLIAMS: And, Sam, to your point, just tonight on Fox, he went after John Brennan vis-a-vis the Steele dossier as kind of opening a new front.

So Counselor, does any of this matter? Does any of what Rudy is saying immediately affect his client other than the ways we talk about on television? And how much of this is the staff of Robert Mueller paying attention to?

BERIT BERGER, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY., SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: My answer to that, I think, is not. I don`t think they`re paying any attention to this. Honestly, I think this is just noise for the prosecutors and the investigators working for the special counsel right now.

I mean, depends what kind of a court you`re trying to try your case in here. Is this is a strategy that would work in a court of law to say, we`ll, maybe it was this way, maybe it was this way? No, it`s not going to work in the court of law. We never hold up.

Would it work in the court of a public opinion? Maybe. But to your original point, I don`t think what Giuliani is saying, you know, in interviews or in Twitter, none of that is going to matter to the special counsel. What matters to them is what the actual witness would say, and what the witness would say more importantly under oath.

So Giuliani could tell five different versions of the same story and I don`t think that`s ultimately going to matter one to the special counsel.

WILLIAMS: I want to show you what the President said to the "Washington Post" about this now famous Trump Tower meeting. Can we put that up on the screen and get your reaction to this vis-a-vis what`s been established.

"Don has received notoriety for a brief meeting that many politicians would have taken and most importantly and to the best of my knowledge nothing happened after the meeting concluded."

First of all, people pointed out you don`t hear the President often using that phraseology to the best of my knowledge.

BERGER: No, but we lawyers use. That`s kind of --

WILLIAMS: That`s right. Are you struck by anything else there?

BERGER: I mean, look, what`s striking in that is that it doesn`t matter. I mean, look, first of all, we know that events did happen after this meeting. We know that WikiLeaks released a lot of material. We know that, you know, this came on certain strategic time periods during the campaign that this material was released. But for a legal theory, it doesn`t actually matter.

If you`re talking about a conspiracy, which is what we want to be talking about opposed to collusion, you don`t actually have to have something that happened. For conspiracy, all you would have to have had is an agreement between two people that they were going to do something illegal and then they took one step. So whether somethings happens, you know, to his knowledge or not, kind of irrelevant from a legal perspective.

WILLIAMS: And Sam, there we were tonight watching Hardball, Chris asks Omarosa, "Do you have anything Mueller would be interested in?" And she makes a point to say if he calls me again, absolutely. Did that get your attention?

STEIN: Yes. Yes. You know, one of the underlying elements of her book tour has been that she feels deep regrets and has receipts. Now how deep those receipts go is really intriguing.

Putting aside whatever you think about her character and ethics. And obviously there are criticisms of both, she is producing hard tapes and those tapes do matter both in the court of public opinion and the court of law.

I do want to go back quickly if I can for the Don Jr. statement that the President put out. One of the clauses that struck me was not the literally lawyerly one, it was the clause about how any politician would have taken the meeting.


STEIN: And that is ridiculous. That`s not true. Most politicians, if not all, would have referred the inquiry to the FBI because that`s what you do in those situations. But it goes to a bigger issue that I have here which is that that meeting, the idea that you would sit down with people promising dirt on your opponent who had ties to the Russian government had become sort of accepted as something that just happens. And part of it`s because the P.R. campaign that the Trump people have done.

But it is a remarkable thing. You know, I just keep thinking that if that meeting were not been exposed now as opposed to a year prior, if we just found out about it now, it would have been an existential crisis for this presidency. It would have been a complete breaking point for this Mueller probe. But we have basically baked it in to the cake and those statements helped bake it in basically.

WILLIAMS: It turned out to be something more of a slow motion crisis. Berit Berger, Sam Stein, appreciate having you both on tonight. Thank you so very much.

STEIN: Thanks, Brian.

BERGER: Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Coming up, prosecutors in Paul Manafort`s trial rest their case. What happens next as the jurors wait to begin their deliberations when we come back.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, BLOOMBERG ANCHOR: After ten days, the prosecution has rested its case against Paul Manafort. Before they did, the jury heard from a witness, Jim Brennan, vice president of a bank that found several red flags while considering to loan Mr. Manafort $16 million. That gets your attention.

Brennan detailed false paperwork and misleading information from Manafort`s applications including outstanding debt, undisclosed mortgages. The president of the bank rejected the loan request but the decision was overturned by the bank`s CEO who, according to another witness in a key document, was hoping to get a top job in the Trump administration. Now, tomorrow Manafort`s attorneys are expected to reveal whether or not they will call Manafort himself to the stand.

With us to talk about all of it two people that were in court today, Daniel Goldman, former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and a "Los Angeles Times" reporter, Chris Megerian, who covers the special counsel investigation.

Daniel, we`re very glad you`ve been willing to dip into the court proceedings as our kind of special correspondent this week. What struck you as this of all days for the prosecution to rest its case?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT US ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, the one thing that really stood out is his CEO that you mentioned, Stephen Calk. It was almost as if the defense was starting to lay the foundation for an argument that Paul Manafort in some ways that so dirty. That the real reason he got the loan is not because he committed bank fraud, but because he offered to do a personal favor for the CEO by trying to get him an administration job.

And for them basically, to set up the argument saying, hey, this might be a bad guy and he might have been a bad thing to get this loan, but it`s not the bad thing that charged in this indictment. So you have to say that, you know, you have to vote not guilty.

WILLIAMS: Chris, I am looking at this e-mail. I am holding it in my hand. This bank CEO, just talks openly about the job titles he`d like, starting with secretary of the Army Treasury, and then ambassadorships, the UK, France, Germany, some big allies of ours. Talk about the nexus between the Trump campaign and this Manafort case.

CHRIS MEGERIAN, REPORTER, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, this is actually one of the most interesting parts of the trial, because this is one of the few places where this trial actually overlaps with politics and the Trump campaign. Most of the charges have nothing to do with the campaign or Paul Manafort`s work on the campaign.

Over here is a situation where a bank CEO allegedly wanted a job so much on the campaign and therefore afterwards in the Trump administration is willing to put up his own company`s money, you know, $16 million to secure himself a spot in that administration. A job he did not eventually get. But still, that`s a quite a bet.

WILLIAMS: Daniel, prediction. Does Manafort take the stand? Would you put him on? And how much of a case do you think the defense will mount?

GOLDMAN: I would be absolutely shocked if Manafort took the stand. I think the defense`s view is, are theory of the cases that we were going to attack Rick Gates and put it on him. We got pretty good traction from our cross-examination on that. We`re not going to mess with that by putting someone like Manafort on the stand.

And because that`s their theory, I actually think they very well may not call any witnesses at all and just play the government didn`t meet its burden defense by saying we don`t need any witnesses because they didn`t even make their case.

WILLIAMS: Wow. That will be interesting to watch. Chris Megerian, what do you want answered?

MEGERIAN: Well, at this point, I definitely want to see what the defense going to do if they have other information about Rick Gates that would further undermine his credibility. They asked a lot of questions about, you know, was Rick Gates honest in this moment, was Rick Gates honest in that moment. Could they present evidence that show that he wasn`t honest, in this situation we don`t know about yet. We`re not sure, hopefully we find out more tomorrow.

WILLIAMS: We realize court begins early in the morning. We realize you were both there today and we so appreciate you taking sometime at this late hour to bring us up to speed. Daniel Goldman, Chris Megerian, thank you gentlemen very much.

And coming up for us, President Trump suggests today`s firing of a prominent FBI agent proves the Russia investigation is a total fraud. We will ask another FBI agent about that very thing when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Peter Strzok, the FBI agent removed from the special counsel`s team after his anti-Trump text became public after their discovery is without a job tonight. According to Strzok`s attorney, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich ordered his firing on Friday, overruling a recommendation that he`d be demoted and suspended.

Peter Strzok posted a statement on Twitter saying, deeply saddened by this decision. It has been an honor to serve my country and work with the fine men and women of the FBI. That Twitter post links to a GoFundMe page to help pay for his legal bills, said attorney added the decision to terminate was taken in response to political pressure and to punish special agent Strzok for political speech protected by the first amendment. Not on a fair and independent examination of the facts.

Strzok help led the early investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. He became a lightning rod for the critics of the special counsel after his anti-Trump text traffic became public and he was removed from the investigation. Today, the President was looking for more writing, "Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the witch hunt will it be dropped? It is a total hoax/"

He continued, "Just fired agent Strzok, formally the FBI was in charge of the crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation. It was a total fraud on the American public and should be properly redone."

Earlier on the network this former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi explained what he believes is the reasoning behind this firing.


FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE, FBI: Back in the FBI academy in your earliest days, it is grained into you above all things never embarrass the bureau. And that`s what Pete did. Yes, he was a great counter intelligence agent, but the damage he did to the incredible perception of the bureau which has to remain apolitical, can`t be recovered from and his effectiveness was gone. That`s why he is out of the bureau today.


WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about this with Stephanie Douglas, former Executive Assistant Director of the FBI, National Security Branch . She worked closely with Peter Strzok and the FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich. She these days is Senior Managing Director at Guidepost Solutions.

Stephanie, do you concur, first of all, with what Frank Figliuzzi just said and what do you make of the players in this case and the damage to the FBI?

STEPHANIE DOUGLAS, SENIOR MANAGING DIRECTOR, GUIDEPOST SOLUTIONS: Well, I do think that the scandal around the sending of political texts by peter Strzok to Lisa Page, and back and forth, I think it has had a very, very significant impact on the bureau. At no time, can the bureau afford to look like it is bias or political in any way.

While the inspector general report come out and said that they could not identify any specific action tied to bias or political leanings, it still reflected very, very poorly on the FBI.

WILLIAMS: And so, that standard that Frank was talking about. It`s possible this is a good person on top of a terrific career of counter intelligence. He did a bad and foolish thing. Because of that exposure, he had to go. Is that about right?

DOUGLAS: Yes. I mean Pete Strzok is an incredible agent. He was well- respected in the FBI. He was well liked. And he had a stellar career up until about a year ago. But the long-term impact of his actions on the FBI really led to what I think David Bowdich felt like he had no choice to make, and that is terminating Pete Strzok as an employee of the FBI.

WILLIAMS: This has been, as you and I have discussed on this broadcast before, a very tough time for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And let`s be honest in part, it`s been under regular attack for the first time in our history by the President of the United States. Do you consider that a kind of de facto victory for our Russian adversaries?

DOUGLAS: Well, I mean any time that Russians or any other nation state actor can muddy the waters with disinformation, was producing chaos as part of any kind of process. It really goes to their benefit. I do think that this is just another part of probably not even what they could have possibly anticipated as such a successful campaign.

WILLIAMS: How, if you are one of the 36,000 employees of the FBI and I know you do not know all of them but you know the place pretty well, how do they do what the Director Wray has instructed them to do, keep their heads down, try to seal out the noise and do their jobs?

DOUGLAS: You know, I think that it`s incredibly difficult right now. And I think it has been difficult for a while. There`s so much constant talk about the FBI. There are so many personal attacks pointed at the FBI and it has got to be hard to be there. But with that, I think that, you know, the leadership, Director Wray and the deputy Director Bowdich are doing the very best they can to clear the way so that the men and the women can get back to work. And I think there are of that today with -- on Friday, with the deputy`s decision. He wants to put an end to it and he wants to get people back to work.

WILLIAMS: And what does it mean to you as a veteran of the FBI, that every time we toss around the name Mueller, which we do a good many times every evening tonight. When you say Mueller, you also mean the second longest serving FBI director in the history of the bureau.

DOUGLAS: Yes. Director Mueller left the bureau incredibly well respected. You know, I think it`s -- telling to only very few people really trying to attack Director Mueller, even in his role as special counsel. You see attacks about the actual law around creation of the special counsel, but people are very hard pressed to attack him directly. And I think it`s because of his personal integrity.

WILLIAMS: I`ve said so many times, it`s the name used the most on this broadcast and the person heard from the very least. There is no second place on that score. Stephanie Douglas, we really appreciate you and your forthright answers to your questions at this, shall we say, interesting time for your beloved bureau at the FBI. Thank you for joining us tonight.

And coming up after our next break, the politics of Donald Trump and his era have torn some families apart, but it usually isn`t as public as it got today. We will have that when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Once a day, easily once a day, a major publication publishes an essay about the death of civility in our country. It`s been said that before our current political time, the era of Trump, perhaps, we didn`t have the power to tear apart families based only on the politics in our country. Perhaps you know a family torn apart by it.

Well, we don`t often see it quite so publicly. For example, Virginia Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte is retiring. His own son is making it no secret that he`s supporting the Democrat running for his dad`s seat this November.

Yesterday, Bobby Goodlatte announced on Twitter, "I just gave the maximum allowed donation to Jennifer Lewis, a Democrat running for my father`s congressional seat." His father, the congressman, shares the House Judiciary Committee and was among those who interrogated the now fired FBI agent Peter Strzok during a hearing last month.

Today, the son took another public shot at his dad, saying, "I`m deeply embarrassed that Peter Strzok`s career was ruined by my father`s political grandstanding. That committee hearing was a low point for Congress."

The political family discord also extends to the west wing of the White House. Immigration hardliner Stephen Miller, he of the Trump White House Senior Staff, has been raked over the coals by his own uncle, in a scathing op-ed for POLITICO. Miller of course may be best known as the architect of the Trump administration`s Muslim ban and these zero tolerance crackdown on the southern border.

But his uncle David Glosser points to the family`s rich immigrant history. He says Miller`s grandfather fled violence in Eastern Europe with just $8 in his pocket to make a life in the United States. Glosser calls his nephew an immigration hypocrite.

He says, "I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family`s life in this country." He goes on to write that had his family not migrated to the United States, they likely would have been killed by the Nazis.

Another break for us, coming up, a big thing and a small thing, both having to do with the President`s decidedly military backdrop for that bill signing earlier today. We`ll have that story when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, as we said, it was both a big thing and a small thing from earlier today, when the president flew up to Fort Drum in update New York. He did so in order to have a military backdrop for the signing of the giant annual pentagon funding bill.

As busted and broken as toxic as Congress has become, one of the few things they usually manage to do with astounding regularity is pass the defense bill. More unusual was the fact that John McCain`s colleagues in the Senate named the bill after him. It is officially that John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019.

McCain is a genuine American hero and former POW. He also happens to be Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He`s been absent for months, of course, while battling terminal brain cancer. So, it was a big deal that his name appears on this $700 billion spending bill. So, it may seem like a small thing for the President to read McCain`s name as part of the title. He did not.


WILLIAMS: The National Defense Authorization Act is the most significant investment in our military and our war fighters in modern history. And I am very proud to be a big, big part of it. We would not be here for today`s signing ceremony without the dedicated efforts of members of Congress who worked so hard to pass the National Defense Authorization Act.


WILLIAMS: At a later event, the President relitigated the failed healthcare vote and accept by name, he replayed Senator McCain`s memorable role in killing it.


WILLIAMS: Obamacare, we got rid of the individual mandate. I would have gotten rid of everything, but as you know, one of our wonderful senators said thumb`s down at 2:00 in the morning.


WILLIAMS: As for the reaction to today, McCain`s fellow navy veteran, from the Vietnam War former Secretary of State John Kerry said, "Disgraceful, but nothing will erase for an instant the legacy John McCain has written and is still writing every day.

And not surprisingly, McCain took the high road today. "I am humbled that my colleagues in congress chose to designate this bill in my name. Serving as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and working on behalf of America`s brave service members has been one of the greatest honors of my life."

That is our broadcast for a Monday night. And as we all start a new week, thank you so very much for being here with us. And goodnight from NBC News headquarters here in New York.


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