2 new allegations of Sexual Misconduct. TRANSCRIPT: 9/26/2018, The 11th Hour w Brian Williams

Guests: Robert Costa, Lisa Lerer, Berit Berger, Bob Bauer, A.B. Stoddard

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: September 26, 2018 Guest: Robert Costa, Lisa Lerer, Berit Berger, Bob Bauer, A.B. Stoddard

BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: Tonight, hours away from historic testimony of a Supreme Court nominee and the woman accusing him of sexual assault, Brett Kavanaugh also facing a new accusation about a party in the 1980s and word tonight the committee`s investigating another allegation from an anonymous letter dating to 1998.

The President in a wild word storm of a news conference says, "This is all a con job by the Democrats but says he`ll be watching tomorrow and keeping an open mind."

And the same President who today quoted Elton John and wondered about "Me Too" charges against George Washington today also made news where Rod Rosenstein is concerned. All of it as "The 11th Hour" gets under way on a Wednesday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 615 of the Trump administration.

And tonight there are two new allegations of sexual misconduct against this Supreme Court nominee, Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh. That would bring the total number of allegations to five. We are now less than 12 hours away from a potentially game-changing hearing during which Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who accused him of sexual assault, will appear separately before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the nation.

Kavanaugh has denied that allegation as well as one from Deborah Rameriz who told the "New Yorker" that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were in college.

Tonight, NBC News is reporting that the Judiciary Committee is investigating a previously unreported allegation of misconduct against Kavanaugh, "According to an anonymous complaint sent to Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado Kavanaugh physically assaulted a woman he is socialized with in the Washington, D.C. area in 1998 while he was inebriated."

The committee has released the anonymous letter in which the author writes that, "There were at least four one including my daughter." Tonight the committee also released the transcript of a phone call yesterday with investigators and Kavanaugh when he was asked if the events alleged occurred Kavanaugh -- allegedly occurred, Kavanaugh responded, "No and we`re dealing with an anonymous and anonymous letter about an anonymous person and an anonymous friend. It`s ridiculous. Total Twilight Zone. And no, I`ve never done anything like that."

That the same Senate transcript also indicates investigators asked Kavanaugh about an anonymous allegation of a sexual assault on a boat in Newport, Rhode Island in 1985. Kavanaugh told the committee staff, "I was not in Newport. I haven`t been on a boat in Newport. This is just completely made up or at least not me."

Our colleague Kasie Hunt on Capitol Hill has been looking into this and writes there was, "Broad agreement from those in both parties that this accusation was close to impossible to pursue because there were so many questions about its origins."

Well, this morning we learned about another allegation. A different allegation from another woman named Julie Swetnick, who claims to have attended several parties with the future federal judge back in the 1980s. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, hinted at her story over the past several days. He has now released a sworn declaration from Swetnick in which she says, "I observed Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively in many of these parties and engage in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, grinding against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls` clothing."

Swetnick also alleges that she witnessed Kavanaugh and his childhood friend Mark Judge cause girls to become inebriated or disoriented so that they could be "gang raped."

Today Kavanaugh responded to Swetnick`s accusations through the White House calling them "ridiculous and from the twilight zone." His attorney Beth Wilkinson added this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH WILKINSON, ATTORNEY FOR BRETT KAVANAUGH: He doesn`t know her. He doesn`t -- he`s never met her. And we`ve had people already calling our office and e-mailing us saying they don`t know her, they`ve never seen her at the parties that they attended with him.

But when you think of the allegations, they are alleging that for years there were gang rapes going on with multiple men, with multiple women being victims. That is such a frightening allegation. No one ever went to the police? No one is gone to the police to this day to report those allegations? It`s truly outrageous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Tonight Michael Avenatti says the FBI should begin looking into his client`s allegations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR JULIE SWETNICK: We`re demanding an FBI investigation proceed forthwith. My client is prepared to meet with the FBI.

She`s willing to sit down with FBI agents, answer any questions they have about all of these allegations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: This afternoon in his longest solo news conference to date, only the fourth of his presidency, Donald Trump spoke at length about the allegations facing his nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is. It`s a con job. You know confidence. It`s a confidence job but they -- it`s a con job by the Democrats. They know it.

I`ve had a lot of false charges made against me. Really false charges. I know friends that have had false charges. People want fame. They want money. They want whatever.

So when I see it, I view it differently than somebody sitting home watching television where they say, "Oh, Judge Kavanaugh this or that." It`s happened to me many times. I`ve had many false charges. I had a woman sitting in an airplane and I attacked her while people were coming onto the plane and I have a number one best-seller out.

I mean, it was a total phony story. There are many of them. So when you say does it affect me in terms of my thinking with respect to Judge Kavanaugh? Absolutely. I`m going to see what happens tomorrow. I`m going to be watching. You know, believe it or not.

I`m going to see what`s said. It`s possible that they will be convincing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The President says they, though just one accuser is testifying tomorrow. Both Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh have released the advance text of their opening remarks for tomorrow`s hearing.

Dr. Ford`s statement reads in part, "I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I`m here because I believe that it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school. My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh`s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed."

And this is what Kavanaugh will say in part, and we, "Dr. Ford`s allegation dates back more than 36 years, to a party that she says occurred during our time in high school. I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today. I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done that to her or to anyone."

The President also added this assessment of what`s at stake in tomorrow`s hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is beyond Supreme Court. This is everything to do with our country.

Always I heard you`re innocent until proven guilty. I`ve heard this for so long. And it`s just a beautiful phrase. In this case you`re guilty until proven innocent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: With that let`s bring in our lead-off panel for a Wednesday night. Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for the "Washington Post," Moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS. Lisa Lerer, National Political Reporter with the "New York Times." And Barrett Berger, she`s a Former Assistant U.S. Attorney with both the Eastern District of New York and for good measure the Southern District of New York. We welcome all of them back to the broadcast.

Robert, we`re anxious to get to you. There were serious people tonight in just the past few hours wondering, as you know, whether this nomination would survive the night, whether there would be a hearing tomorrow. What`s the latest on your reporting?

ROBERT COSTA, WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLICAL REPORTER: Brian, calling around the highest ranks of the Senate GOP, it`s clear tonight that the support for Judge Kavanaugh is soft. Talking to top senators, they say upwards of two dozen Republicans are going to be closely watching the hearing tomorrow to see his responses, to see if Dr. Ford comes across as credible. And their votes could be up for grabs, Brian.

And I asked Bob Corker, the senator from Tennessee, retiring on the record, where does this stand, and he said that`s true. He`s hearing that about half the caucus in the Senate GOP is going to watch the hearing closely tomorrow and then decide.

WILLIAMS: And what did you discern, Robert, from the President`s wording, this man who says nothing accidentally? To most people listening, especially watchers of politics, left the door wide open today.

COSTA: Talking to top White House officials in the last hour, they say the President showcased his defiance, he`s standing by Judge Kavanaugh with this nomination, but he also knows that in this charged moment culturally, politically that Judge Kavanaugh is going to have to defend himself tomorrow. He`s going to have to come across strong. The President was disappointed, sources tell me, with the Judge`s interview on Fox News. He wants to see the judge really make his own case. It can`t just be President Trump at a news conference.

WILLIAMS: So Lisa, lay out the stakes for us. The stakes for Dr. Ford for Kavanaugh, this being a visual medium. For the assistant counsel that McConnell famously called a female assistant being brought in to lead the questioning. And for the Democrats, who can misplay and overplay the soap box of this.

LISA LERER THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. That`s exactly right. I can tell you I was on Capitol Hill today and you could get a palpable sense that tensions were extremely high.

Senator Orrin Hatch, who`s generally known as someone fairly polite, soft spoken, shouted "shut up" at reporters and said he was in an extremely bad mood. There was a real sense among Republicans in the Senate that they were extremely worried about this nomination. I mean, don`t forget that just a week and a half ago this seemed like a sure bet for them and now every day there seems to be another bad report.

So what happens in this hearing will be pivotal. Republicans of course have outsourced a lot of the questioning to this prosecutor, a woman from Arizona. So it`ll be interesting to see what they do. Do they ask any questions at all? What do they do when she`s asking the questions? It`s rare you that see senators opting out of talking.

Generally, what they do is talk. So I`m curious about how that`s going to look.

Democrats, the shadow of Anita Hill has hung extremely large over this hearing. And Democrats are really conscious of not being in a position where they`re seeming dismissive of any of either Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford. But I think there`s some risk for them too. We saw from some of the questioning from the testimony that was released, the questioning that was released by the Senate Judiciary Committee that this hearing feels like it`s sort of on the knife`s edge between -- it could easily dip into the ridiculous. You know, they`re asking a lot of questions potentially about the judge`s sex life, about his drinking.

So I think Democrats have to be really conscious about being fair and tough but also having some sense of decorum, which I think people want to see. And they also have to be tough with Dr. Ford and seem like -- while being empathetic. They are trying to get to the bottom of what actually happened on that night if it`s possible like they are trying to get to the bottom of what actually happen on that night if it`s possible to even do that.

WILLIAMS: And Barrett, I`m sure we`ll say this many times during the coverage tomorrow, this is not a courtroom and the rules really discourage being on a roll in terms of questioning. Five-minute limits for each senator.

If you were appointed special counsel by the Dems, what kinds of questions would you want to come at Judge Kavanaugh with to find what you wanted to find?

BERET BERGER, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF N.Y.: So I think that -- look, we have a general sense of what both Judge Kavanaugh and what Dr. Ford are going to say based on the written statements that they`ve given. I think the goal for this, you know, for this hearing is to actually see what they say when they`re under pressure. Right? What is their tone? How are they, you know, are they striking an indignant tone, are they striking an apologetic tone? You glean a lot about a witness and -- or a victim based not just on what they say but how they say it.

I think if I was the special counsel I would, you know, obviously want to ask questions about his drinking, about the people that he was associating with. But I think what really distinguishes is this from a court of law is the fact that we are only hearing from two people. In any court of law you would never have, you know, a case like this going with just the victim and, you know, the alleged accuser.

WILLIAMS: Right.

BERGER: You -- especially when there are named people out there that could theoretically corroborate these stories or add more facts to the narrative. So that`s the biggest difference between a court of law and what`s going to be happening tomorrow is just the sheer absence of really critical witnesses.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, to continue the thread we started, what happens? Worst case scenario this guy doesn`t make it and this nomination has to get pulled.

COSTA: We`ve been waiting for that kind of moment all day. I continue to check my phone until a minute ago. Is this nomination really on the edge? Because what I have are top Republican senators telling me they have to watch the hearing tomorrow, they have to see his performance, with the President at his news conference saying he has to watch how it all unfolds tomorrow.

You have a nomination that is in a totally fragile state. But so far, Brian, the top Republicans in the country are telling "The Post," "Look, we know we had a short list before Judge Kavanaugh, Judge Amul Thapar in Kentucky and McConnell favorite, Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, but they`re not ready to start considering a plan b. They have to see in this crucible tomorrow how do people perform, can the parties somehow make it to a vote?

WILLIAMS: Lisa, having read your news letter for the "Times," if someone was on a plane during the President`s news conference today and you had the task of in 60 seconds updating them on his appearance, the demeanor, the content of his comments, how would you sum it all up? It was a gargantuan 81-minute event.

LERER: Yes. It was sort of the kind of news conferences he gave frequently during that campaign, or more frequently. It was rambling. It was wide-ranging. It felt very free flowing. He -- I think in terms of the hearing the most salient point to me was that he said that his thoughts on this were influenced by his personal experience. He feels that he was falsely accused several times of sexual harassment, of sexual misconduct.

And so when he looks at what`s happening to Judge Kavanaugh he`s thinking about what happened to him. But as Bob pointed out, he also really left open the door to putting somebody else in if he`s not happy with what he sees tomorrow night, which is not what Republicans on the Hill really wanted to hear.

And there is a real question of timing. The reason Republicans, part of the reason they`ve wanted to really push this nomination through is because there is a real question of whether they could get someone else through the entire process before a new Congress could come in. And the concern there of course is that Republicans will lose control of the Senate, which seems like more of a possibility than it did a few months ago. So they don`t want to give up this dream that they`ve been working for, for really decades of getting a conservative Supreme Court. So that`s what -- that`s part of -- that`s a major reason why you see them sticking with Judge Kavanaugh for as long as they have through this entire turbulent week and a half period that we`ve just been witnessing.

WILLIAMS: Berit, you prosecuted sex crimes for a time. Beyond the obvious, how is it a different conversation? How did the rules change surrounding it?

BERGER: Look, I think one thing that distinguishes any kind of crime involving sexual assault or rape is that these are just messy cases. You`re not dealing with perfect victims. Oftentimes, it is just two people in a room. So you may only have two witnesses. Oftentimes, those witnesses will be inebriated. They may have imperfect memories.

You also have situations where they`ll have a relationship with each other. So I think they don`t necessarily fit neatly into the box that people may want crimes to fit into. You have cases where the victims are going out on dates with their alleged attackers afterwards or in contact with them afterwards. So they don`t necessarily -- these victims don`t necessarily fit into a picture of what you would want an ideal crime victim to fit into.

It doesn`t mean these aren`t important cases. It doesn`t mean they`re not difficult cases. But they are different than sort of a robbery or a drug case.

WILLIAMS: And it makes it a challenge to get the tone right for anyone doing the questioning tomorrow.

Robert Costa, Lisa Lerer, Berit Berger, can`t thank you enough for starting off our broadcast on this Wednesday night.

And coming up, we`ll be joined by a former White House counsel who says, "It may have indeed been a fateful mistake by this committee not to have the FBI investigate.

And later, at the U.N. today Trump accuses a foreign power of election meddling but probably not the foreign power you`d expect. We are just getting started on a busy Wednesday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The FBI told us they`ve investigated Judge Kavanaugh six times, five times, many times over the years. They know him very well. But here there was nothing to investigate from at least one standpoint.

They didn`t know the location. They didn`t know the time. They didn`t know the year. They didn`t know anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: President Trump by way of defending his decision not to ask the FBI to reopen the investigation into Kavanaugh. As this headline from "The Atlantic" observes, "The decision not to call in the FBI is looking worse and worse." In it Bob Bauer, the former White House counsel to President Obama, warns "Even if Kavanaugh is confirmed, others will pursue what the FBI has not. There`s already been some discussion among Democrats of an impeachment proceeding if they regain control of the House. Others have suggested a referral in the Ford matter to Maryland criminal-enforcement authorities. The cost to the Supreme Court in either case is incalculable."

With us to talk about all of this tonight, the aforementioned Bob Bauer and A.B. Stoddard, Veteran Washington journalist, a columnist and associate editor at Real Clear Politics.

Counselor, I`d like to begin with you. Make your case that this was he indeed perhaps more of a fateful decision than we realized in real-time.

BOB BAUER, FMR. WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: It would have been standard procedure if an allegation like that surfaced for the White House to have asked the FBI to supplement the background investigative record. It wouldn`t have been a criminal investigation. It would have been an extension of the vet to deal with a serious allegation.

The White House has systematically refused to do that. And as a result of it we don`t have a fixed point of credibility that the senators can refer to or that the public can refer to. And more over, while all of this quarreling has taken place, all of this squabbling on Capitol Hill, the interviews that were required for example in Dr. Ford`s case could have been completed. An interview of Dr. Ford and of the others that she identified including Judge Kavanaugh is having a potentially relevant evidence. We`re pass that point now.

And so what we have essentially are theories of steps that independent actors are taking to fill the void, polygraphs conducted by lawyers after they have been taken by private lawyers. But we don`t have, as I said, a fix point of credibility that anybody can refer to. And I think that turned out to be a serious mistake.

WILLIAMS: And A.B. while it`s easy to say from the chief seats because we don`t have FBI agents crawling all over our lives, it is general true that for the innocent the FBI is your friend. And if you`re Republican you would think you would want this to be exculpatory, you know?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOC. EDITOR & COLUMNIST: That`s really the problem. I`m a layperson. Bob knows more about this than I do. We can look at this and think, yes, usually investigations proceed hearing that maybe the Senate Republicans have decided this is not how it`s done.

But just in raw political context the idea that you would force Lisa Murkowski, the senator from Alaska or Susan Collins or the other ones who have been spooked by these allegations and have questions about why not a subpoena for Mark Judge, why not an FBI investigation, I think there are other senators.

Senator Corker indicated that day beyond the four who are always mentioned and they don`t want packs of media -- of reporters following them all day asking them about every new allegation. But they`re concerned and they`re not making up their mind until they watch tomorrow.

And I think for pure political reasons the idea that you wouldn`t want to protect this vote and this process with some further investigation, you could have this vote by the midterms. It doesn`t have to be on Monday. October 1 at the start of the session. This could happen in two weeks and Bob is right, these kind of probes can be conducted in 10 days or less. So, it`s really hard for the members who are on the fence to be able to defend this vote without it.

WILLIAMS: And Bob there`s still a finite fraternity of those of you who have had the job you held in the White House. The current occupant, Don McGahn, is just in a heck of a fix right now. Do you think for them the best route is damage control and pull this nomination or considering this is his last act in that job is it better to go to the ramparts and try to get this through?

BAUER: He`s certainly not the one who`s going to be making that decision. I mean, he`s going to be providing information to others, in particular to Mr. Trump, to make that decision. His job essentially as long as the President and the Republican majority want to stand with this nominee is to enhance Judge Kavanaugh`s ability to make it through this hearing successfully, to prepare him for it and to essentially do what is needed to enable the President to have the nominee that he wants. That`s his job.

And I don`t know beyond that that he`s going to have a further say on the moment of truth if you will whether Judge Kavanaugh withdraws or when the hearing is over whether he`s deemed to have performed successfully or not. That judgment will lie with others.

WILLIAMS: A.B., your recent headline really caught my eye. How many women does the GOP want to lose? On this specifically, do you think there`s a political calculation that this seat on the court, which, let`s face it, can change American jurisprudence for the next 40 or more years is worth a bloodbath in the midterms?

STODDARD: They`ve made that calculation. So there`s two things going on here. One, people who know Brett Kavanaugh, he`s the most beloved nominee I`ve ever seen up for anything in the entire time I`ve covered Washington. And I`m telling you his friends and his allies are heartbroken because they believe he is the best person and such an earnest man of deep integrity. So they`re very upset, and they believe that this is a smear campaign.

The other raw political calculation is, as I said, as I mentioned in the piece, I have been told by Republicans in the last week is absolutely worth losing the House and even potentially the Senate, to be able to seat him on the court. This is the last seat they concede and they might have the opportunity to fill before they lose power. And that collateral damage would be worth it for the long-term gain of putting him on the seat.

So they are -- the go for broke strategy is absolutely they`ve made it very clear that`s what they`re doing. Like I said, it`s the other people who are on the fence, they have to convince to come over with them in the break glass strategy and those people are very concerned. And as I said, I think they are, you know, measurable, I think it could be five, six, seven people by the end of this week.

WILLIAMS: Bob, a quick prediction. I know you hate predictions. Does this nominee make it?

BAUER: I heard your reporter in the earlier segment say that their support was soft. I think at this point I understand it. The majority is up against a deadline for doing what I think A.B. has successfully said they feel they absolutely have to do, which is to fill that seat. But I also think that those final judgments are not going to be made until after tomorrow, and what`s going to happen tomorrow is far beyond my ability to guess.

WILLIAMS: Understood, counselor, and thank you for taking the question. Two people who really know this game from the inside. Thanks so much to Bob Bauer and to A.B. Stoddard for joining our broadcast yet again tonight.

Coming up for us, tomorrow`s other big news story. What happens to Rod Rosenstein and how the President`s unique "T.V. sensibility," let`s call it, may factor into this. What the President had to say about it all today, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have another meeting tomorrow with Rod Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you planning to fire Rod Rosenstein?

TRUMP: I`m talking to him. We`ve had a good talk. He said he never said it. He said he doesn`t believe it. He said he has a lot of respect for me. And he was very nice. And we`ll see. And he`s a member of the Trump administration in that sense. It`s the Justice Department. I would certainly prefer not doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: President Trump told reporters today he prefers, as you heard, not to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It`s been an open question because of and since "The New York Times" report from Friday that said Rosenstein had suggested perhaps secretly recording Trump, discussed the 25th amendment, which concerns removing a President from office.

The President, who after all as Ashley Parker pointed out tonight came to office from a background in reality television, also suggested today he may delay his planned meeting tomorrow with Rosenstein because it could compete with the Kavanaugh hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I may call Rod tonight or tomorrow and ask for a little bit of a delay to the meeting because I don`t want to do anything that gets in the way of this very important Supreme Court pick. So I don`t want it competing and hurting the decision one way or the other decision.

Again, I want to hear what she has to say. But I don`t want to -- so I may delay that. I`m going to see. I don`t want to do anything that`s going to conflict with that. But my preference would be to keep him and to let him finish up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So whenever this meeting takes place, Ashley Parker and Phil Rucker of the "Washington Post" report that at the very least it`ll be awkward. "People close to the President predict that the meeting could be deeply uncomfortable for Rosenstein, especially if Trump presses him on the veracity of the reporting about his alleged disloyalty. As one outside Trump adviser quipped, Rosenstein would be wise to arrive wearing some depends. But for now, Rosenstein simply awaits his fate."

With us to talk about it tonight, Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. Attorney and a former Senior FBI official. OK, Chuck, granted we are -- those of us who are not principals are in the cheap seats by definition. And it`s easier for those of us in the cheap seats to dispense advice.

Having said that, what would your advice be to Rod Rosenstein? How should he walk in there? What should he be prepared to say or not say to the President?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL: Brian, always easier from the cheap seats. But I actually think that Mr. Rosenstein`s task is relatively simple. He`s going to tell the truth. That`s what we do at the Department of Justice. We tell the truth.

And so if he said it, he tells the President he said it. If he said it sarcastically, he tells the President he said it sarcastically. If he didn`t say it at all, well, then there`s your answer. So, I think this is somewhat overwrought and perhaps overstated, and I think Rod Rosenstein actually has a reasonably easy task.

WILLIAMS: I suspect you may be right. If it goes the other way and there is no Rod Rosenstein after the meeting, what will your level of concern be about the Mueller effort writ large?

ROSENBERG: Moderate level of concern, Brian. Let me explain that. I think we focus too much on the individual. I don`t mean you and I. I just mean generally. And not enough on the institution. There were 100 deputy attorneys general before Rod Rosenstein. There`ll be 1,000 after him.

The Yankees kept playing after DiMaggio retired. The Red Sox kept playing after Williams retired. Ted, not Brian.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. Yes.

ROSENBERG: In case anyone was confused. And the same thing here, so the halls of the Department of Justice we always say are filled with irreplaceable people all of whom are eventually replaced. There`s also an incredibly strong gravitational pull by the department on those that work for it.

By that I mean people who work there fervently believe in the rule of law. They`re tethered to the constitution. And facts and law matter a lot. And so I suppose that whoever comes next is going to be of that ilk. I suppose whoever comes next will shepherd the Mueller investigation. If I`m wrong, then I`m desperately wrong. But I actually tend to believe that`s right.

WILLIAMS: What is your 30-second version when you look at the Kavanaugh hearings? You come from a law and order and investigative background. Is this a perversion of all that, to not have -- to not hear from investigators tomorrow?

ROSENBERG: It strikes me as crazy. It would have been so, so easy, Brian, to ask the FBI to reopen their background investigation. And of course they would have done it. And so we would have had at least other witnesses, other victims, other friends, family, classmates, ways to corroborate, or to refute the allegations.

Sadly, what we have now is a situation that puts Dr. Ford in an almost untenable position because people can just pick sides. The more evidence you have the more the evidence drives the outcome of the case. And so maybe I`ve already gone over 30 seconds. But I think it`s a deeply flawed process not to try and adduce as many and as much facts as you can.

WILLIAMS: Chuck Rosenberg, thank you for always telling it straight when you come on with us. We appreciate it.

And coming up for us, the President today accused a foreign power of meddling in our elections. The only problem is it`s just not the country that`s been found to be doing it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election. Coming up in November. Against my administration. They do not want me or us to win because I have the first President ever to challenge China on trade. And we are winning on trade. We are winning at every level.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The President presiding at the U.N. this morning by accusing another security council member of trying to undermine the U.S. electoral process. Not Russia, mind you, but China. Hours later during today`s 81- minute presidential news conference Eamon Javers of CNBC tried to get out a few more specifics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EAMON JAVERS, WASHINGTON REPORTER, CNBC: Earlier today and just now you made a significant allegation against the Chinese government.

TRUMP: I did.

JAVERS: You suggested that the Chinese had meddled in or --

TRUMP: That`s right. That`s what I hear. That`s what I hear.

JAVERS: What evidence do you have of that, sir? Is there --

TRUMP: We have evidence. We have evidence. It will come out. Yes, I can`t tell you now but it didn`t come out of nowhere, that I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: President went on to say that despite his tough stance on trade China has total respect for him and his, "Very, very large brain." Later, Mark Landler of the "New York Times" again brought up China`s alleged election interference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK LANDLER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: How would you compare the level of interference you see today from the Chinese to what Russia did in 2016?

TRUMP: Well, I think it`s different. If you look at the "Des Moines register," they have ads that are made to look like editorials saying about oh, you`ve got to stop Trump, you`ve got to stop him, you`ve got to vote against him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: President Trump`s answer eventually went on for a total, you get the picture, of two minutes 39 seconds with hand gestures. At no point in the reply did the President mention the words "Russia" or "Putin." which brings us to our next guest.

Clint Watts is back with us, a veteran of the FBI who is currently a Senior Fellow with the Foreign Policy Research institute and conveniently the author of "Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News."

Clint, this took a lot of us by surprise. Does China represent a more clear and present danger to our election process than Russia?

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I think it took the Chinese by surprise too, based on their faces.

WILLIAMS: It was clear they were getting the translation.

WATTS: There just some interesting phrasing from the President. China does take ads out in newspapers. They`ve done his for a long time.

WILLIAMS: Routinely.

WATTS: Routinely, many countries actually do this in the United States.

WILLIAMS: Sure.

WATTS: Trying to push whatever their policy position would be. And there are actually many countries that fund Think Tanks or donate to Think Tanks in the United States to try and, actually push their agenda. But it`s overt and they`ve claim that they do this.

It`s not a hidden thing. This is wildly different. The other thing the President said is against him in 2018. He made it sound as if China is running against his electoral campaign in 2018 as if he`s confused that he`s not actually running for election, that there are congressmen running for election.

And what this really comes down to is they`ve always tried to push this, that it could be someone else or everybody is doing it. This is the rationalizing of what we heard in the election. So it`s very consistent. Whenever the President was challenged about the Russian interference in the election in 2016 very early on he would throw in well, it could be China, it could be someone else.

So what imagine is going on is we`re building what I fear to be alternative intelligence trying to say well, maybe there`s some sort of other interference that is out there. But this looks remarkably different. We don`t see hacking. We don`t see infiltration of audiences. We don`t see social immediate. We don`t see state-sponsored news.

China doesn`t have state-sponsored news outlets in Iowa, let say they`re actually broadcasting information. And so, this is wholly different. And it really just looks like a deflection. At the same point the President has not addressed what we do know about 2018. There have been two senators that have been hacked, Shaheen and McCaskill.

WILLIAMS: That we know of.

WATTS: That we know of. There have been challengers to Congressman Rohrabacher in California that have been hacked that we know of. We`ve seen some infiltration of the audience space but nothing as aggressive as 2016 but the President hasn`t really brought up that.

So it`s curious that if he is worried about this election interference while he could be pushing Congress to pass Honest Ads Act, which is everybody needs to overtly declare on their advertisements kind of like China just did in this newspaper here, and he could be pushing for election infrastructure security.

The Lankford, Kamala Harris bill is another one that has essentially stalled in Congress that was essentially design for the 2018 midterms. Still not passed.

WILLIAMS: Forthy-five seconds I`m told. Tough question to answer quickly. We`re going to be anchoring midterm election coverage in less than six weeks from this very studio. How worried are you about the integrity of the raw vote that we will be broadcasting that night?

WATTS: I`m not overly concerned. I`m only worried about a few states that don`t have the paper ballot back-ups, don`t have a verifiable audit trail. That`s what I`m most concerned about because that I don`t think they`ll actually be hacked. I don`t think any votes will be changed. But it provides an opening for someone to change the narrative that maybe you can`t trust your vote.

WILLIAMS: All right. Very important answer. Thank you. We`ll stay in touch as they say. Clint Watts returning to our broadcast tonight.

And coming up, the way President Trump heard it, world diplomats weren`t laughing at him yesterday at the U.N., they were laughing with him, as we will hear him explain after this.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In less than two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America`s -- so true. Didn`t expect that reaction but that`s OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: It was just tough comparison to things like the Marshall Plan and the Great Society that`s the moment that got a whole lot of attention around the world when laughter broke out during the President`s speech to the general assembly.

He bragged about his achievements, something he does unchallenged and constantly at rallies. But the U.N. crowd wasn`t having it. And laughter built as members of the U.N. heard his words over their headsets via translation.

Afterwards he told reports he meant to get laughs said the speech had gone very well and got great reviews. He was asked about the laughter again today. This time he went after the media and insisted the U.N. audience was laughing with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I was in front of a large group of highly professional people, most of whom are from either countries of the United Nations. People that aren`t big into clapping, applauding, smiling. And I heard a little rustle. As I said, our country is now stronger than every before, it`s true. I mean it is true.

And I heard a little rustle and I said it`s true. And I heard smiles and I said, oh, I don`t know that be like that (ph). They weren`t laugh at me. They were laughing with me. We had fun. That was not laughing at me.

So the fake news said people laughed at President Trump. They didn`t laugh at me. People had a good time with me. We were doing it together. We had a good time. They respect what I`ve done. The United States is respected again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: This morning on Fox News, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the world leaders laughed because they respect Trump and, "Love how honest he is." That does go counter to what many witnessed inside the U.N. chamber yesterday in the opening minutes of the President`s speech.

WILLIAMS: Another and final break for us tonight. And coming up, the President`s obsession on display today for all the world to see and hear.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: People know that a lot of the news is fake and a lot of the people sitting here are fake. But 20 percent of them are wonderful, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, Donald Trump on the news media. As we said, it is difficult still to sum up today`s 81-minute press conference, still hard to get our arms around exactly what transpired in the word flurry and claims all over the map.

Among the few re-occurring themes, the President`s relationship with the media. As critic and consumer, his lifelong addiction to "The New York Times," which he loves to hate but finds himself needing just the same, and his unfettered love for one particular cable news network.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You can check with Sean Hannity, you can check with Fox, because they covered it very strongly. I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me. We caught them and the mainstream media refused to put it on television. They refused to even write about it.

The whole top center front page of "The New York Times," "The New York Times" did false reporting. They`re fake news. And you know what? "The New York Times" would not report that their story was fake. Front page.

When I heard that they caught these four people, I said, wow, that`s a big story. And it was for Fox. We know much more than the media for a change. Much more.

SUSAN LI, FOX BUSINESS REPORTER: Mr. President, Susan Li from Fox Business. Did you reject a one-on-one meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

TRUMP: Yes, I did. Good job, too. You do a very good job. Really. Yes, please. Mr. Curd (ph).

I came back to New York and I picked up the failing "New York Times".

"New York Times," come on. "New York Times." the failing "New York Times," stand up, go ahead.

I think they`re going to endorse me.

ABC, Fox. I like Fox, I really do. But I think ABC, CBS, NBC, "The Times," They`re all going to endorse me because if they don`t, they`re going out of business. Could you imagine if you didn`t have me? Go ahead, what would you like to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me sir, I know you were pointing to me but I work for PBS News outlet.

TRUMP: I know that. No, I know that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

TRUMP: They weren`t laughing at me. They were laughing with me. We had fun. The fake news said people laughed. They didn`t laugh at me. I`ve had many false statements against me. Sean Hannity covered it. There was one story other than Fox.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it OK, if I give it to "The New York Times," Mr. President?

TRUMP: Go head, that`s enough, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

TRUMP: Good job. Good job.

LANDLER: Mr. President could I ask a question since I am from "The New York Times" before this gentleman.

TRUMP: Since you where? Since you where?

LANDLER: I`m actually from "The New York Times."

TRUMP: I`ll let you do it after he does it. Is that OK?

LANDLER: That`s particularly well.

TRUMP: In honor of a paper I once loved.

"The New York Times." Oh, OK.

LANDLER: Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: I would have gotten a bad story in "The New York Times," but I will anyway, so I guess it doesn`t matter. OK, we`ll do you after and then call it quits.

LANDLER: We`re kind of thriving not failing these days.

TRUMP: You`re doing very well. Say thank you, Mr. Trump. I still love the paper. Go ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The President on the media. That will bring this hour of media to a close on a Wednesday night. A reminder, we`re back on the air tomorrow morning for live coverage of the hearing as it`s gaveled to order 10:00 a.m. eastern time.

For now, from all of us here, thank you so much for being with us tonight. Good night from NBC News headquarters in New York.

END

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