Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: September 10, 2018 Guest: Frank Figliuzzi, Sue Mi Terry, Mike Murphy, Seung Min Kim
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight Bob Woodward insist it`s more than just stories in a book and warns that Donald Trump represents a threat to national security. And while the President fights back his new poll numbers on honesty have taken a dive.
Plus, there are no missiles on the parade, but new reporting shows that North still making nuclear weapons on the sly as Kim invites Trump to meet again.
And what may be the most immediate threat to millions of Americans, Hurricane Florence, a powerful Cat 4 storm predicted to make a powerful landfall.
THE 11TH HOUR on a Monday night begins now.
And good evening once again as we start off a new week from our NBS News headquarters here in New York. Day 599 of the Trump Administration.
And veteran journalist and author Bob Woodward, who has written 18 books and covered nine administrations, is speaking out and defending his latest work, which, as you may have heard, has to do with this administration. Woodward`s new book on Trump and his White House comes out tomorrow.
Ever since the first anecdotes from this book were released a week ago, Trump has been fighting back attacking the author. This morning on "Today" on NBC, Woodward pushed back with a genuine warning about this President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR "FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE: There`s more untruth by him. And he says, "Oh, these are unnamed sources," but these are not unnamed incidents.
Well, I`ve never seen an instance when the President is so detached from the reality of what`s going on. This has not been treated seriously enough, and the things -- some of the things Trump did and does jeopardized the real national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That gets your attention. The President sent out these attacks almost all at the same time as the Woodward interview was airing on NBC, "The Woodward book is a joke, just another assault against me and a barrage of assaults using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources. Many have already come forward saying the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can`t stand losing. I`ll write the real book."
And the White House is a smooth running machine. Let`s not forget that one. Woodward has this to say about the denials of the accounts in his book by some of the President`s top advisers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODWARD: They are not telling the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s a lie?
WOODWARD: No, but --look, what`s going on here, and my old boss at the "Washington Post," Ben Bradley, the great editor, used to say "The truth emerges. Sometimes it takes time."
These people, these are political statements to protect their jobs, totally understandable. But this is as carefully done as you can do an excavation of the reality of what goes on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: While Trump was attacking Woodward, his press secretary focused her outgoing fire on that anonymous op-ed in the "New York Times" which of course still wrinkles. Sanders says, "No lie detector test will be used to find the author," yet she did back the Presidents assertion that the Justice Department should get involved in uncovering whoever wrote that opinion piece.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly if there`s an individual whether or not, since we don`t know who they are, if that individual is in meetings where national security is being discussed or other important topics, and they are attempting to undermine the Executive Branch, that would certainly be problematic and something that the Department of Justice should look into.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Reporter Jonathan Lemire, who is standing by to join us is the co-author of AP, posted tonight about the latest tensions in the White House and the concerns amid west wing staff, "There was fear among some Trump advisers that if the President felt that his staff or the Justice Department was not carrying out his order to find the leakers, then he could feel compelled to make changes."
Meanwhile, former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman reemerge today with her latest secret audio tapes, secret no more, from a White House communications meeting in October of 2017. Here was a portion that was released during her appearance on "The View."
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Hillary`s getting killed now with Russia. The real Russia story is Hillary and collusion. Somebody told me, "Hope you told me it was $9 million they spent on the phony report."
SANDERS: Closer to six.
HOPE HICKS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes, someone just said, "She`s far worse for the country that we thought if she didn`t know her own campaign was spending $9 million."
TRUMP: Did you see? Nobody knows who sent it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Later while appearing on this network, Omarosa has said -- was asked about the depiction of the White House that we read about in Bob Woodward`s book.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does what you heard from the author and what you`ve read, does it jibe with your experience in the White House?
OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Absolutely. What we`re seeing are these themes emerging. You see these themes about his mental stability, about his ability to comprehend complex policies, his ability to lead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This hash tag you say you and other staffers used, TFA. What does that stand for?
NEWMAN: 25th Amendment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you guys would use that in the context of what?
NEWMAN: We used it as a way to cope when Donald Trump would flip from one moment to the next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And back to the legal battle, the President has pitch against the Russia investigation. And the open question about whether he and Mueller will sit down for an interview.
Today Ken Starr, former independent counsel in the Clinton investigation, was asked if he thought Trump should speak with the special counsel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN STARR, FMR. UNITED STATES SOLICITOR GENERAL: I think as the President of the United States, he should. And my perspective is the President of the United States has an obligation to enforce and obey the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: We should tell you Ken Starr will be here in the studio with us on Wednesday, and we will no doubt hear more from him on that front.
With that, let`s bring in our leadoff panel on a back-to-work Monday night. Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize winning White House reporter for the "Washington Post." Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press. And Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counter Intelligence who in the past has worked for among others, one Robert Mueller. Welcome to you all and good evening.
And Ashley, take us inside this west wing, inside this presidency, the mind of the President and those around him. What`s your latest reporting?
ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: So the President is deeply upset. As you can see from his public comment and his public tweets are not that dissimilar from the sense he`s giving privately. He`s upset about the Woodward book, he`s upset about this anonymous op-ed in the "New York Times."
And again, he feels that he is sort of being betrayed by someone incredibly close to him, so on the one hand there is a feeling of vindication, the sense that he couldn`t trust anyone around him, and now he sort of believes he`s correct. But he also feels this is a President who places himself at the center of every issue. And so it feels deeply personal to him.
Within the White House and within the President`s orbit, it`s a little more mixed. There are people who, as Jonathan writes in his great piece, are worried that, you know, they may needed to curb the President in, they need to focus him on this coming hurricane, they want to curb his impulses. This is also a White House who is used to careening from crisis to crisis, and there is a sense that this, too, shall pass.
You remember the Woodward book when it first came out, it was only a one or two-day story because the op-ed supplanted it. So there is a sense that that they may -- whether this is simply because another crazy comes and pushes it out of the news.
WILLIAMS: And Jonathan, Ashley mention of the hurricane is actually critical. While things like this are huge empathy challenges for an empathy-challenged President and administration, and while every move they make will be correctly judged against Puerto Rico, we are kind of on the loose eve of a natural disaster predicted in this country. And is there anyone in the White House to turn and focus his attention to prevent what we can all predict is a week-long obsession on a book and an op-ed otherwise?
JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. We`ve seen this -- it began over the weekend. As the President, as we write in the piece, was still very angry about the op-ed, the anonymous op-ed in the "Times."
And then as the Woodward book start to pick up scene again as the actual release date approach, that he was sort of obsessed with this. That who -- let`s identify these leakers, let`s get rid of them, you know, perhaps let`s get the Department of Justice involved, and certainly there is some around him who suggested that would be inappropriate. There doesn`t seem to be any sense that an actual crime was committed or any sort of state secret was revealed, classified information disclosed in the piece or in the Woodward book.
So there are people around him suggesting to him then, let`s focus on something else. Let`s focus on the midterms. Let`s focus on, you know, the economy. Let`s talk about some good things here, and he didn`t seem willing to do that.
And in fact, it`s been a struggle in the White House, according to our reporting, even this morning to get him on anything else. Note that the tweets about the hurricane only came this afternoon --
LEMIRE: -- after the White House briefing. Which, mind you, began with a guest appearance which Sarah Sanders did before. A lot of reporters in the room thought it would be about the hurricane. Instead it was about the economy. And it seems like a direct for battle to President Obama`s remarks over the weekend, which he claimed credit for the economic recovery, when of course President Trump wants that glory, if you will.
There are people in there, though, who have -- they feel like they`ve -- in the last day or so maybe managed to get the message across to the President that this is a major event coming. As you said, he had challenges before, not just with hurricane, but other moments.
He`s not necessarily grasped for that moment of national unity that some of his predecessors have done when there has been a tragedy. He hit some of the right notes during the Las Vegas mass shooting. He hit some of the right notes when it came to the congressional baseball practice shooting, but let`s level with it Charles (ph), so.
WILLIAMS: The --
LEMIRE: And certainly the hurricane in Puerto Rico as well.
WILLIAMS: And paper towel toss.
LEMIRE: Exactly right. And this is going to be a significant test for him with everyone watching. Although in the short term for the White House, it does change the subject.
WILLIAMS: Hey frank, I know you`ve been asked a lot about the op-ed piece, where we stand. Whether it amounts to a national security crisis to take Mr. Woodward`s point. But tonight Mr. Bannon went on Fox News and had this comment for Laura Ingraham. I`ll get your comment when we`ve seen it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: The conversion of that book in the anonymous column. I mean it`s quite evident that President Trump, there`s a coup. What was said in that anonymous letter was absolutely outrageous and I think the President will take immediate and direct action. I don`t think there`s any one author. I think it`s probably six to a dozen people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Frank putting aside his argument there is a coup actively underway in this country, let`s take his last point that it was somewhat of a work of a committee.
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FORCOUNTERINTELLIGENCE: So I will concede up front, Brian, that I know just enough about psycholinguistics and content analysis to be dangerous. But over 25 year career in the FBI investigating everything from serial murder to counterintelligence, I`ve had tremendous about of exposure to this field and the experts in it.
And one of the things they taught me is to look at the fact of different themes being inserted in a written product, different writing styles to look at. And so, well again, I`m not the expert on this, we cannot rule out. If you`re investigating this, if I`m assigned to this case to investigate, I`m going to keep in my -- on my radar screen the possibility that this has multiple authors. So what do I focus on in there? We -- it`s almost imagine people -- a group of people sitting around the room and somebody saying, "Hey, for me it`s all about morality."
So put something in there about him being amoral. For another person is -- let`s make sure that people know that he has done some good. That he`s helped the military and bulked up the resources in the armed forces. I want that in there.
And other people inserting other things and, you know, let them know we`re trying to do our best. So it`s quite possible that this is the work of multiple people. But it goes right back to the coup statement.
And let`s go to the definition of coup. By definition it means that someone is trying to take over power, wrest power from someone in power. But what we`re seeing here is quite the opposite. We have people saying, "I`m here, many of us were here to try and keep this man in power and from hurting others until he goes away." That`s not a coup. That`s not a national security threat.
And you`ve heard the President say and suggest that I think he`s going to get stronger in this. The DOJ or FBI should look at this as a national security issue. So I`ve asked myself, are you a national security threat if you expose a national security threat? And in this case I would say no.
WILLIAMS: And, Frank, if that request comes in under the door of the FBI Director, what do you think will happen? What do you think should happen?
FIGLIUZZI: He`s going to ask two questions, which is what we ask when anything walks in the door and that is, has a crime been committed? And the answer to that is no. And secondly, has some counterintelligence interests been raised here that we need to look at from a national security perspective? And again, I would say no. Is this an H.R. issue for the White House? You bet.
A personnel issue to be dealt with? Absolutely. Do I understand the President is upset? Of course. But there is no crime here. There is no counterintelligence or national security threat here to be examined.
WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, we take Frank very seriously when he does comment on matters like this and there`s a lot there to get your attention. Certainly the note goes out of its way. The op-ed for the "New York Times" goes out of its way to say I speak for others. There are others like me. We are working inside the system to save it from this President.
And at the end of the day, Ashley, that really is, could be viewed as a clear and present danger. And they are going to, despite all the fun the networks are having about this, despite the fact that all the Sunday shows were predicated on this, they`re probably going to want to find this person or persons.
PARKER: They absolutely do. And that goes back to Steve Bannon`s point that you just played a little bit. Whether or not this op-ed was literally written by committee, it certainly was metaphorically in the sense that the sentiment expressed here is a sentiment that reporters who cover the White House have heard from a number of people both in the White House and in the President`s general orbit. And that`s what the real problem is for this President and this White House.
It`s that this op-ed, the stuff in Bob Woodward`s book, even some of Omarosa`s recordings, they all feed a narrative that has played out in news stories since just about the day that he took office. So even if it is just one person, they are sort of channeling a broader concern. And that`s why the administration has an incredibly tough time pushing back on this because yes, on the one hand, it may just be one person, but it is one person expressing what a number of people in the President`s orbit believe to sort of be at this point in incontrovertible truth.
WILLIAMS: And Jonathan, two points here. Number one, everyone love to search for a suspect that it`s true that the op-ed takes a turn late in the game and goes into almost speechwriter poetry where you could conceivably come up with two or three people in the business who writes in that soaring style and would "John McCain".
But point two, for you, you and Maggie Haberman at the "New York Times" are the first journalists in my memory who started talking about President versus Presidency. What do you mean by that equation in this case?
LEMIRE: Well there are couple ways to interpret it, but in this particular case is things happen in the White House on two different tracks where Donald Trump, President trump wants -- wanting to happen. And in some ways, the administration, those around him are working in exactly different direction, you know. In this case almost immediately, the president is looking for this leaker. Saying we just find them and fire them.
And certainly, there`s an effort within the White House to do that. But no one else admit, there`s no suggestion that they`re going to go at the Department of Justice, that the FBI is going to be involved. I mean the Department of Justice of course is not going to comment publicly one way or the other.
The people we`ve talked to around the White House do not suggest that Jeff Sessions is going to step in. As just Frank just said, "There`s nothing illegal here. There`s no classified information being disclosed."
So therefore, they`re sort of going to try to slow walk this perhaps and then take all the steps the President wants. And so many other times, we`ve seen that. We`ve seen that with Russia where of course where Trump speaks very positively about Putin and the need to have these great relations. At the same time his administration is loving top sanctions on Moscow and threatening more going forward.
We`re seeing it right now with North Korea where we are suggesting the President today and through Sarah Sanders talked about this letter that Kim Jong-Un received that was sent to him, a very kind letter, very nice letter. Let`s talk about having another summit. And yet the administration has been warning that North Korea has not upheld its end of the deal in terms of denucleurizing.
So that is where he is. He has broken so many conventions and so many norms that the very functions of the presidency don`t work like we`re used to, because what he wants and what the people around him actually deliver can sometimes be very different things.
WILLIAMS: And Frank, I`ve asked you no fewer than 50 times on this broadcast whether you`re colleagues in the Security Criminal Justice, National Security field will have the ability to put their heads down and do their work. You must find some perverse satisfaction from the op-ed that not only are they, they`re doing it at the highest levels of this government.
FIGLIUZZI: People who raise their hand and take an oath to uphold the laws and protect the constitution of the United States, they know that`s their first loyalty. It`s not to the President. It`s to the country and to the constitution.
I will say, though, Brian, that I have to alter my usual answer, when you ask the usual question about the men and women of justice and the bureau because it`s getting to them. There -- and we have to separate this from their ability to do their job. Their heads down. They`re doing their job and maybe doing it stronger than ever. But I am seeing signs that the morale is dipping, that is grading that this is getting to them.
I know people leaving and retiring before they thought they would. And over the weekend someone who is leaving earlier than he expected said that the atmosphere is circus like right now in the community. So it`s getting to them, but they`re not going to let it stop them from doing their job.
WILLIAMS: Thank you for the honest answer. A cautionary final note from our big three along with our thanks for joining us and starting us off on a Monday night, Ashley Parker, Jonathan Lemire , Frank Figliuzzi. We appreciate it greatly.
Coming up, as Jonathan just mentioned, Trump`s warm words for Kim Jong-Un and plans in the works for another summit perhaps, but complicating things just a bit, the new NBC news reporting that North Korea is still making nuclear weapons.
THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway as we start a new week.
WILLIAMS: On Sunday North Korea held its annual military parade to celebrate the nation`s 70th anniversary. It featured the usual cast of thousands, including their armed forces who may lead the world in calf muscle development required for the synchronized marching with that little hop at the end of every little step.
There was artillery. There were tanks, but even a casual viewer might have noticed what was missing. They displayed none of their ballistic missiles, the big ones, on the trucks.
Donald Trump took a victory laugh about it, "This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea. Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong. There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other, much better than before I took office."
And yet today, there was this new report from NBC news that says there is a steady stream of evidence that North Korea is still making those nuclear weapons. Our duo byline of Courtney Kube and Carol Lee reported, "The newest intelligence shows Kim`s regime has escalated efforts to conceal its nuclear activity, according to three senior U.S. officials. During the three months since the historic Singapore Summit and Trump`s proclamation that North Korea intends to denuclearize, North Korea has built structures to obscure the entrance to at least one warhead storage facility. U.S. intelligence assesses North Korea could produce five to eight, five to eight new nuclear weapons in just the year 2018."
Well, during today`s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the President had received another letter from Kim Jong-un, and she said another Summit could be on the horizon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: The President has received the letter from Kim Jong-un. It was a very warm, very positive letter. We won`t release the full letter unless the North Korean leader agrees that we should.
The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the President, which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here to talk about all of it, the aforementioned Courtney Kube NBC News National Security and Military Reporter. And Sue Mi Terry is back with us, senior fellow for the Korea and share at the Center of Strategic and International Studies. Importantly, she`s also a former senior analyst at the CIA and was in charge of this entire region while on the White House National Security Council.
Courtney, by way of asking you how we know what we know, is this a two- track world? You`ve covered the Pentagon for a long time. Is it the Pentagon and what they do every day and viewing the North as a clear and present danger, and on this other track, whatever happens to come out of the White House?
COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY & MILITARY REPORTER: I think it`s actually more of an Administration versus what comes out of President Trump.
KUBE: And so there is, you know, I`ve heard it described as a very bifurcated strategy where you have President Trump, who is praising the leader and praising this dictator while his Administration at the same time is enhancing or reigniting this maximum pressure campaign. That we were hearing a lot about when the tensions were at their highest with North Korea in 2017 and this early 2018.
So, and this is similar to what we see with Russia. Candidly where he`ll praise Vladimir Putin and their relationship and talks about wanting to have a better relationship. And at the same time, this Administration is cracking down with sanctions and what not.
We are seeing at here with North Korea. And it`s interesting, you know, him talking and tweeting about this parade yesterday. Well, you know, you could go either way depending on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Is it a good thing that North Korea didn`t they view new ICBMs or any new technology. Probably, because they --and they also didn`t fire up any missiles, which they frequently do in conjunction with this military displays.
At the same time, there`s been a lot of concern for months now by analysts who thinks that Kim Jong-un feels that with his ICBM test last year with that sixth nuclear test that he has achieved a nuclear security and he has now sees himself as a world power, a nuclear world power. And he`s moving on to sort of the next line, in the next point of his diplomacy in economic development and doesn`t feel the need to make these displays anymore.
Who knows what the truth here is, but you know, it`s not necessarily a big win as President Trump has been saying.
WILLIAMS: And, Sue, does it sound like the Kim you have known and studied over here that he would invite Trump to another Summit right at this point where we and others in the civilized world are reporting their capability of making -- that they are actively making new weapons?
SUE MI TERRY, FMR. NORTH KOREA ANALYST FOR CIA: No, absolutely, this is Kim`s play. I absolutely believe he wants to meet with President Trump again. I think he thinks there`s an opportunity here for President Trump to give him what he wants, and what he wants is eventually start with a declaration. A peace declaration. Declaring there was end of the Korean war, but he wants a peace treaty with the United States.
And of course his real goal is to get an international acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear power. They already see themselves as a defective nuclear weapon state. North Korea wants to be like Pakistan, and I think that`s Kim`s goal. And he thinks he can get it, if he can just sit down with President Trump.
And he -- I think Kim Jong-un has found a way to deal with President Trump. He knows how to flatter him. He is not criticizing Trump when he has criticized every other leader, South Korean leader, former President Obama. I think he knows how to manipulate Trump, and I think that`s his goal.
WILLIAMS: And so, Sue, this is why you hold for the American team a second Summit could be disastrous?
TERRY: Well, on this we are really prepared and unless we can get something out of North Korea like declaration of all their nuclear and missile program or like agreement on some sort of timeline and verification regime. We should not hold a Summit.
We thought, there was some sort of agreement before Trump met with Kim Jong-un the first time in Singapore. But there wasn`t any agreement. All we got was some aspirational statement, not any kind of agreement. So I don`t think we should just meet for the sake of meeting. Unless we know this time, we can get something out of North Korea like declaration of all their nuclear and missile program.
WILLIAMS: And Courtney, it bears repeating in the place where you cover for a living. Rule one at the Pentagon is never, ever believe anything that the North Koreans say, correct?
KUBE: Yes, and Russians right now.
KUBE: I mean, and one thing that`s really interesting in, you know, from our reporting. We had been reporting, of course, that North Korea wanted to continue to conceal their program. And that`s a big point of contention with the United States and the International Community.
One of the things that, you know, as Sue Mi Terry was talking about this -- the Summit that was now three months ago, one of the thing the U.S. hoped to get out of that was a declaration of the North Korean missile and nuclear program, a list of all of the things that they have in their program.
The fact that they are still actively working to conceal their program now, the extent of it, shows that they cannot be trusted, at least on that one point. Since the summit, since this big declaration of denuclearization, they still are not. They are still working to actively deceive the United States and the International Community about their program.
WILLIAMS: And luckily for us peace-loving nations, you can`t hide everything from satellite staring into outer space. Courtney Kube, Sue Mi Terry, thanks to both of you for your time and educating our conversation tonight.
Coming up for us, a veteran of Republican politics is here this evening to react to a terrible new set of poll numbers for this president and to tell us what it means for the upcoming midterms.
WILLIAMS: We are no inside two-month window to the midterms shaping up as an enormous test for both parties. The Dems need 23 seats to flip control of the House. Experts on both sides see at least 40 seats as competitive. Republicans are facing the challenge of unusual first term losses combined with a president whose latest approval rating is below 40%.
One Republican operative told Axios, "Every metric leads you to one conclusion. The likelihood of significant Republican losses in the House and state local level is increasing by the week."
With us tonight, Mike Murphy, veteran GOP strategist, long-time adviser to Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and John McCain. And Mike, by thanking you for coming on and putting on my Mike Murphy autograph model glass frames, I`m going to read you further pullouts from the Q-Pac poll. 60%, he`s not honest. 57%, doesn`t have good leadership skills, 55%, doesn`t care about average Americans, 65% feel our president isn`t level-headed. 60%, doesn`t share the same values that I as a voter have, 55%, not fit to serve as president. Mike, what would you do if you had to run this guy for Congress?
MIKE MURPHY, GOP STRATEGIST: I would lock him in a skiff somewhere and hire a robot to impersonate him for the next 60 days because he`s had no success of getting on an economic message of discipline to argue the one thing he`s got going for him. You know, these descriptor numbers are very important. They what the political operators look at.
The jobs approval bounces around 38%, 42% mostly in the margin of error. But if you look at these descriptor, almost every number, he`s got a majority, or in few cases a supermajority, that are on the negative side of the description with pretty hard language. So, that just shows the majority energy billing in the country to really, really punish him in the elections, and if I one of those worried congressmen, again, I wish he had something in the White House basement to do where he would not be heard or seen for the rest of the campaign, at least if I were in those 40 districts that are in the most trouble.
WILLIAMS: And Mike, what would your -- what you`ll use to define as a kind of garden variety middle of the road Republican running for, let`s say, reelection in a middle of the road Republican district, they`re still out there, both of those categories. What do you do in that case?
MURPHY: Well, there are couple -- there are a few members who are on television now talking about when they, you know, stood up to their party. They`re trying to get their own identity, either as the local fixer, I did the case work, I helped this lady, I stood up for the local issue. They`re trying to get some distance.
The problem is, the president, when these numbers are so heavily against him, and two, he`s so ubiquitous all over TV. I mean right now he`s running around trying to do slap a polygraph on each cabinet member. This drama is 24/7 in the earn media, so your local ads (INAUDIBLE) for Congress can`t overcome that. So it`s extremely frustrating to these folks. I know a bunch of them. And they know in some ways their future is not really in their hands anymore.
WILLIAMS: And I have to ask you about Texas. Beto O`Rourke has this thing almost even. Ted Cruz probably should be leading. He was passed was prolonged by, what, 15 points. Haze in the caution everybody, Beto O`Rourke leading 38-37 does not mean they can turn a red state blue.
MURPHY: Yes. You know, the laws of gravity there are still the same. It is a Republican state, but over the last 15 years, it has become less Republican, which has given hope to the Democrats. This is the kind of year where if you have abnormal turnout surges and a lot of luck, Beto, who is kind of the tiger beat, you know, charmer of the Democratic Party right now is raising so much money on line, he can slug it out with Cruz who has been cruelly, I would say, described by a British newspaper as the sitcom Dracula. So if it becomes a charm contest, Beto might actually -- it`s a real upset to be able to pull it off.
But in normalcy, Cruz has the advantage, and now I think you`re going to see the big sledgehammer come down on Beto. He`s pretty liberal for that state, and they`re going to hurt him with ads. The last thing I would say quickly is Beto has earned some Democratic love by pulling money into Texas for the Republicans to defend Cruz that would have gone to another state. So it`s kind of pulling gear (ph). He`s done a good job at least for the Democrats. And my money is still on Cruz, but it`s going to be tighter than people expect.
WILLIAMS: My apology to our audience, I transformed Cruz`s and Beto O`Rourke`s numbers, but they`re both following when a statistical dead heat exactly what makes this Texas Senate race so interesting. Mike, we`ll do it again. Thank you so much for coming on the broadcast.
MURPHY: Thank you, Brian.
WILLIAMS: I love to have you every time.
WILLIAMS: And coming up for us, is there anything left that would prevent Judge Kavanaugh from being sworn in as Justice Kavanaugh? We will ask a journalist in the thick of this story when we continue.
WILLIAMS: As of tonight, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appears -- appears -- poise for confirmation. That`s despite a long week of testy confirmation hearings, and what you may have read over this past weekend, those allegations of perjury.
Politico is reporting that several liberal groups are urging Senate Dems to launch a formal investigation. They`re trying to make the case that, "five topics Kavanaugh addressed with judiciary panel senators this week reveal inconsistencies with statements he made during confirmation hearings for his current appellate court positions that appear to rise to the level of perjury." More on that in just a second. One of those topics involves e- mails, the Dem say were stolen by Republican during the Bush administration`s judicial nomination process which were then passed on to Kavanaugh, and if you were watching, then you know. Last week Senator Patrick Leahy pressed the judge to defend his past statements.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: It was concerted by many both Republicans and Democrats as a digital Watergate. This is not unlike but the Russians did in hacking with the DNC. During all this, you worked hand in hand in the White House with Manny Miranda to advance these same nominees were he was stealing material.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I don`t really have a specific recollection of any of this, senator, but it would not have been at all unusual for -- and this happens all the time, I think, which is the Leahy people --
KAVANAUGH: -- are looking into this and the hatch people are looking into that. I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Now, over the weekend, the liberal Super PAC called the Democratic Coalition filed an official complaint with the Department of Justice. According to that complaint the group is seeking, "An impartial investigation by the DOJ, a grand jury investigation and ultimately an indictment."
With us tonight to talk about it and returning to our broadcast to do so is Seung Min Kim. She is White House reporter for the "Washington Post." And the reason we wanted you on was the P word. Perjury is a lot to say, it`s a lot to alleged or accused someone of, and yet I`m guessing a lot of the members of our audience either saw it mentioned in a news story or received an e-mail over the weekend if they are part of any organized groups alleging this. So, tell me where we stand and how far if it all are from any real allegations or penalties of perjury of all things.
SEUNG MIN KIM, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: So, you`re absolutely right that we should be careful in using that word, but it essentially stems from what you mentioned earlier, these 2004 and 2006 testimonies that Brett Kavanaugh gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee for his current job to the D.C. Court of Appeals where on some of these issues such as his involvement with controversial Bush judicial nominations, it appears he may not have been as accurate or as precise as he could have been in his testimony back then, and the reason that we`re seeing this now is because we have these new e-mails, these new records from his time in the Bush White House Counsel`s Office that kind of lay out these discrepancies or show where he could have been probably more precise more than a dozen years ago.
And one of the examples, you mentioned the Manny Miranda case that got a lot of attention during the judiciary committee hearing, the other example is his involvement with Judge William Pryor`s confirmation to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, he was a controversial nomination. This is a kind of a judge who called Roe v. Wade an abomination. Susan Collins actually voted against him, his nomination back in 2005.
But we have -- we saw some e-mails for the first time last week that talked a little bit about how Brett Kavanaugh may have had some knowledge of how an interview with Pryor went, that he was on these e-mails talking about meetings to strategize for Pryor`s confirmation hearing.
But at his own confirmation hearing more than a dozen years ago, Judge Kavanaugh, at the time just Kavanaugh, said that he had no involvement in this. This wasn`t one I was involved in personally. So there did seem to be some discrepancies we got from those e-mails, and he was able to -- he did get a chance to explain that during the judiciary committee hearing last week, but as you know, you are getting these, you know, increasingly louder perjury calls.
Now, I do want to point out that Senate Democrats for the most part have been careful not to use those words just yet, rather saying they are -- he appears to have misled the committee back with his testimony. It`s difficult to see how far this goes, but again, these arguments yet haven`t seemed to have persuaded the two Republican senators that opponents of Kavanaugh really do need to persuade, and that`s Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.
WILLIAMS: That`s where I wanted to go next, and this could -- you could make an easy argument this is the most consequential vote for each of them as senators. Their states, when you think about it, kind of anchor the northern United States. Their states are similar in that they are largely ruled. Their constituents are, in a way, similar. And these two women openly pro-choice among Republicans in the Senate, how do they get to yes on this vote?
SEUNG MIN: I think -- first of all, they`re officially not decided, but I think you`ve seen signs that they are pretty much at a yes. And I think Susan Collins in particular has made it clear that she -- that Kavanaugh has told her in these private meetings that he says Roe v. Wade is settled law. This is something she repeated a lot after an extensive two-hour meeting with him.
But going back to those e-mails, we saw even more new e-mails that we hadn`t seen yet before from Kavanaugh, one back from 2003 where he did seem to cast some skepticism on the fact that Roe v. Wade is settled law. He said in this new e-mail where he said, I`m not sure all legal scholars believe Roe v. Wade is settled law, particularly because it can be turned over by a Supreme Court. He again had to explain that e-mail to the judiciary committee, Susan Collins -- when asked -- when reporters asked her about that new e-mail, she didn`t seem that concerned about it, but again, they haven`t yet made up their minds. They`re hearing vociferously from their constituents both for and against. But again, all throughout this process, they haven`t shown signs that they are struggling to get to a yes. And that`s what`s giving Mitch McConnell and the White House confidence that those two very powerful, very swing senators will be a yes vote at the end of the day.
WILLIAMS: We will stay on this. Our great thanks to you for returning to the broadcast, Seung Min Kim. Appreciate it very much.
Coming up for us, a late live update on the story that will command our time and attention in the latter stages of this week.
WILLIAMS: Cable news viewers are just now starting to experience the drumbeat of coverage and urgent warnings as a massive storm approaches the Atlantic coast. All those warnings are justified. Florence is a Category 4 hurricane. It could become a 5. Off and on along its westward journey across the Atlantic to us.
And what`s unusual is the agreement among forecasters and computer forecast models about where this thing is headed. The satellite pictures show the churn of the eye, and it`s positively chilling, so are some of the more dire predictions about this storm.
The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center released 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time tonight projects Florence will make landfall right where you see it there, near the North/South Carolina border. Some time late Thursday or into early Friday.
Hurricane hunter aircraft have been flying missions into Florence, as they do to help provide accurate forecasting data. This is video from inside the eye of the storm. That is the eye wall there in the far distance. The National Weather Service is warning of life-threatening winds, storm surge and flooding from torrential rains.
Tonight, upwards of a million people are either on the move in advance or fixing to shortly. That includes a mandatory evacuation order for the entire South Carolina coastline. A similar order has gone out in North Carolina for (INAUDIBLE) island on the outer banks. Widely expected to expand. Similar orders posted for low-lying areas of Virginia to the north of where this storm is expected to deliver a strike. The U.S. Navy has ordered 30 vessels out to sea from naval station Norfolk in preparation of the storm.
And the Atlantic, we should point out, is already angry. A wealthy buoy 75 miles off the coast of New Jersey was showing 11-foot waves today at sea well before the official arrival of this storm.
And, again, while it`s days away and subject to change and while we`ll pray for something to shred or diminish this storm before its scheduled landfall, this one has the potential to rearrange the map of the coastline. A historic storm going back to something like Hugo in `89. It left 100,000 people homeless. It could potentially erase years of life and livelihoods along with family histories of so many along that stretch of beautiful coastline. And sadly forecasters are tracking two other storms, would you believe it, Isaac and Helene in the Atlantic tonight in addition to two more in the pacific during this hurricane season of 2018.
Coming up tonight, a reminder as to why this day on the calendar will be known for generations as the day before.
WILLIAMS: The last thing before we go here tonight, we come to you live from New York each evening, which means that as we speak, in just about two minutes` time it`s going to be 9/11. It`s been 17 years, which means that members of this year`s college freshman class have no memory of 9/11.
This weekend, our friend, the historian and author Michael Beschloss posted this photo. It`s an otherwise unremarkable color snapshot as we called them taken by a Canadian tourist showing the World Trade Center towers against a dramatic early September sky. Michael also posted the front page of "The New York Times" from that day, September 10th, featuring the usual stuff, stories about the economy, stem cell research along with photos and an accompanying big story about the New York mayoral race to replace Rudolph Giuliani.
And about that simple color photo we keep going back to one more time, September 10th, 2001. When you think about it might have been the last innocent day of the modern era. Life in our nation has never been the same. They said the same thing about Pearl Harbor and they were right. Every night here we talk about efforts to reshape the post-World War II world, after all, as we live in the post-9/11 world every moment of every day.
That is our broadcast for this Monday night, September 10th, 2018. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.
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