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Nikki Haley resigns. TRANSCRIPT: 10/9/2018, The 11th Hour w Brian Williams.

Guests: Jeremy Peters, Jeremy Bash, Kimberly Atkins, Nancy Cook

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: October 9, 2018 Guest: Jeremy Peters, Jeremy Bash, Kimberly Atkins, Nancy Cook

BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: Tonight, a bright star in the Republican galaxy leaving Trump`s orbit, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announces her resignation. The President said she brought glamour to the job, but what`s next for Haley and who is next at the U.N.?

Plus, Trump tries to keep his Kavanaugh moment of a lie about a rally in Iowa tonight.

But there is a storm hours from arrival now that might just have the power to knock politics off the front page tomorrow. Tonight, the strengthening Hurricane Michael and the danger it poses now to lives and property and the Gulf coastline. "The 11th Hour" on a Tuesday night begins now.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 628 of the Trump administration and we will get to all it have of it in just a moment.

But first there`s been a dangerous change in the forecast, and we want to get to the latest update on the path and intensity of Hurricane Michael. For that we are joined by our Meteorologist, Bill Karins.

Bill, what do you have?

BILL KARINS, MSNBC METEOROLOGISTS: Brian, the bottom line of this is that North Florida has never seen a hurricane like this on recorded history. It will be the storm of record for that area including the Panama City Beach area. It does still look like our interest in Fort Walton Beach the destination area over towards Pensacola. That`s on the back side of the storm. It doesn`t look like they`re going to be a extreme damage.

But again, Panama City Beach, the Eglin Air Force Base area down the Appalachia and Mexico Beach, those are the communities that is going to be devastated. We thought maybe we get this to a Cat 4. It showed rapid deepening over the last couple of hours. It`s almost up to a Cat 4 already, 125-mile-an-hour winds. It always getting one thick higher at 130 then we`re at Cat 4.

The initial rain bands are not far away from the coast. This are the -- literally the final minutes of preparation time for anyone here in this area, and if anyone still remains in that area, they still should get out now while they can.

I mean, even if I was as far inland as the areas of Tallahassee at I-10, I would consider getting out of there, because you`re not going to have power for weeks after the storm goes through. And if you can avoid living in that and you don`t want to worry about trees falling in your house and, you know, car and stuff like that, just get away. Get out of the way of the storm if possible.

So here is forecast update from the Hurricane Center, at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning they do have a goal 9 (ph) up to a category 3. They have 80 mile per hour wind as far north and goes in to Tallahassee. There`s a lot of trees in Southern Georgia, in this portion of Florida. There`s going to be extreme tree damage and extreme power outages. All of our computer models are targeting the Panama City, the Apalachicola Florida. We don`t know exactly who`s going to be on the eye up to this area. We`ll see extreme wind damage.

The storm surge still eight to 12 feet mythological over to cedar key. And then the winds with this, and Brian, this is the timing that everyone needs to know, in the morning not too bad yet. Still starting at a little sporty in Apalachicola. But there in a daylight hours tomorrow, this is when it gets real. Wind goes up about 110 in the right corner of the eye at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. And from there we take those strong winds in the Southern Georgia.

So, yes, a very dangerous storm and this will be one of those events where the community will not look the same after the storm is finish.

WILLIAMS: Yes. It`s horrible news. This communities are not ready for a category 3, category 4 storm landfall.

Bill, thank you. Stay on it, we`re going to check back in with you, a live update at the bottom of the hour. Bill Karins in our weather center.

As we said, this is day 628 of the Trump administration which brought a surprise resignation from perhaps the most prominent woman in the Trump Cabinet. Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations joined the President in the Oval Office today for the announcement that she would be leaving at the end of the year.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She told me probably six months ago, she said, "You know, maybe at the end of the year, the end of a two-year period, but the end of the year, I want to take a little time off. I want to take a little break."

I mean, she`s made it a very glamorous position. She`s made it a more important, more importantly, a more important position.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: There`s no personal reasons. I think it`s just very important for government officials to understand when it`s time to step aside.

For all of you that are going to ask about 2020, no, I`m not running for 2020. I can promise what I`ll be doing is campaigning for this one.


WILLIAMS: Now, it is true today`s announcement caught a lot of people including those inside the administration off guard. It comes just two weeks before the midterms, of course, just weeks, rather, before the midterms. And this departure means everyone except for the President in this picture from august of 2017 is now, in effect, out of the picture.

Haley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, declined to be more specific about her reasons for leaving. She did, however, make a point of praising two key members of the President`s family.


HALEY: I can`t say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka. Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands. I mean, to redo the NAFTA deal the way he did. What I`ve done working with him on the Middle East peace plan, it is so unbelievably well done. And Ivanka has been just a great friend, and they do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about.


WILLIAMS: So far no word about Haley`s future plans, but in her resignation letter dated October 3rd, notably, she writes, "I expect to continue to speak out from time to time on important public policy matters, but I will surely not be a candidate for any office in 2020.

Earlier today on this network, the man who preceded her as governor of South Carolina questioned, well, like a lot of other people, the timing of Haley`s decision.


MARK SANFORD, (R) FMR. GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Something doesn`t smell right. Something is weird. I can`t put my finger on it. Either there`s another shoe to drop from a Trump standpoint, something that we don`t know and she wants to get out of the way of.


WILLIAMS: Again, no proof of that. Nikki Haley went from being an outspoken Trump critique during the 2016 presidential campaign to his very first ambassador to the U.N. She has consistently advance his policies, places like Iran and North Korea while also pushing for change with in the U.N. She has at times openly disagreed with the administration, that includes her criticism of Russia and Vladimir Putin.

When another White House official accused her of having, "momentary confusion," forgive me, after announcing sanctions on the Kremlin before the President did, she fired right back saying, "I don`t get confused."

Haley also came under scrutiny after the publication of that anonymous "New York Times" op-ed last month written by an unnamed member of the Trump administration. A few days later, Haley came out with her own op-ed in the "Washington Post" criticizing the "Times" op-ed author for not challenging the President directly.

Tonight, a new piece in the "Washington Post" details the tensions within the west wing that might have led to this. "The expansive portfolio she enjoyed during Rex Tillerson`s tenure as Secretary of State was diminished by the arrival of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who controlled foreign policy out of the White House and made themselves more visible than their predecessors. Trump has also been leery of her ambitions at times, frustrated when she made announcements on T.V. or when she garnered large amounts of glowing press coverage."

"The Post" also mentioned the possibility that Haley might seek Lindsey Graham Senate seat if Trump offers him a position in the Cabinet. Trump was asked about that earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to see Nikki Haley be the next U.S. senator from South Carolina?

TRUMP: Well, that all depends on who she`s going to be running against. I mean, I can tell you, you have some two really good ones right there right now, so I don`t see her doing that, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Lindsey Graham have a place in your administration after the midterms?

TRUMP: Well, Lindsey is a terrific guy. I think he wants to stay where he is. Certainly, I would. But I think he`s really happy.

I tell you what Lindsey really stepped up over the last two or three weeks. I thought it was fantastic. So Lindsey is a popular guy, and Tim is a popular guy. I think those are the two people, and Nikki doesn`t have that in mind.


WILLIAMS: The Tim he was talking about there is Tim Scott, the other Republican senator from South Carolina.

Tonight, Trump hinted at his thinking on Haley`s replacement, he says, he has five people on his short list. Among them Dina Powell, a veteran of the Bush 43 administration and a former Goldman Sachs executive who was Trumps` Deputy National Security Advisor until late last year.

Let`s bring in our lead-off panel for a Tuesday night, Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent also of course the host of the new (ph) hour Eastern Time every weekday on this very network. Jeremy Peters, Political Reporter for "The New York Times". And for good measure, Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at CIA and the Pentagon. Good evening and welcome to you all.

Andrea, yo get to go first. This is your beat. Why now and what does this say about Nikki Haley and the Trump administration?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ashley Parker, for the record, didn`t win those Pulitzers for nothing. They`re exactly right, I think, that she has a diminished role right now because she has a very strong, very effective Secretary of State in Mike Pompeo who is very close to the President. Rex Tillerson was none of those things. And you`ve got John Bolton who hates the United Nations, is very strong and with a very strong deputy.

Nico Recordel (ph), not well known but becoming a real power inside. She was having less flexibility, less, you know, ability to exert her influence. And this is perfect timing. This is Nikki Haley, I think, choosing the exact right moment to have her day in the sun. How many people have left this administration on good terms with the President, even though she has, in the past, disagreed with him on some issues, you pointed out Russia?

And sitting in the Oval Office with her own moment without any kind of tension with her script, and that`s her -- that`s the way she wants to leave before the election, which has an uncertain, you know, outcome, certainly, for the Republicans. This way if she leaves after the election, there`s going to be a lot of departure. She would become a footnote in the resignation or firing of Jeff Sessions, and you know, sort of checkerboard of people leaving. Now she has the full day and more of the lead story.

WILLIAMS: And Jeremy Peters, Andrea raises so many interesting points there, number one, how few have come away from this crowd with their reputation, a, burnished, but b, even u undamaged and it occurs to me that Nikki Haley and Dina Powell are two of those names on that short list.

MITCHELL: Exactly.

WILLIAMS: Also, Jeremy, let`s take up for "The New York Times," your friend and colleague Maggie Haberman tweeted this tonight, "GOPers and Trump supporters saw last week as one of the few good ones of his administration. Consider, instead of continuing any momentum, the week is instead likely to be about Nikki Haley," and the President House guest coming up this Thursday, "Kanye West." Jeremy, how about it?

JEREMY PETERS, THE NEW YORK TIMES POLITICAL REPORTER: I don`t know that I`m quite qualified or anybody wants to hear me talk about Kanye West. So I will talk about Nikki Haley in the political ramifications there instead, Brian.

And what Nikki Haley has done here, really and this is not lost on any Republican in Washington that I`ve spoken to, but any Republican period. She has kept her political reputation intact by leaving before the midterms which are likely to come to and -- rather unpleasant conclusion for Republicans if they were held today. She avoids that tint of looking like she`s leaving on a bad note.

She also is existing at a time when Trump is further alienating himself from women voters. Women voters who have been leaving the GOP in droves. There was just the other day when Trump called Christine Blasey Ford`s accusations against Judge Kavanaugh "a hoax and a fraud," so Nikki Haley gets to put some distance between herself and the President.

So when she`s asked about those remarks which she most certainly will be, she can give a more honest answer instead of having to say something where she`s hedging in having to really curry favor with the President and give a less than forthright answer.

Nikki Haley has always been a very savvy person who`s aligned herself with elements of the party that have proven controversial. Most people don`t remember that it was Sarah Palin who catapulted her to national stardom when she endorsed Nikki Haley for governor in 2010. Now that made Nikki Haley rise in the poll. She was at the bottom rung and she won the Republican primary and won the governorship.

So, I see this move as being executed by somebody who sees a political future for herself, and I don`t know any Republican who thinks that someday she won`t run for President, whether that`s in 2020 if Trump decides not to run again, or 2024 or some other date.

WILLIAMS: Yes, a lot of us hearing the same thing.

So Jeremy Bash, about the work and the rigor of conducting foreign policy which has been the work of most of your life, what is lost in that area with the loss of Nikki Haley? And of course we don`t know about a replacement yet.

JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, first I think we should say, Brian, that working one year in Trump land is like working seven human years. It is a complete grind. Most of the senior officials with whom I speak are counting the days until they can hit the exits.

Second is, Brian, she`s been in the enviable position of defending unilateralism, defending this crazy America First approach to the world. Of all places, the most multilateral, of all multilateral organizations, the United Nations. And so it`s been very awkward for her. She has conducted diplomacy well, but she has not exactly been a full throttle endorser of the President`s approach to world affairs.

And third, and I think most substantively, she has been in sharp disagreement with the President on Russia policy. And she had to watch and stand idly by while the President has been obsequious to Putin sit next to him at Helsinki and basically said he trusted the KGB success of organization over at the United States Intelligence Community position. She is not only been unwilling to endorse, but actually she`d been sharply critical of Russian`s put her at odds with the way Trump and his White House thinks about the issue.

WILLAMS: Andrea, what should the folks watching tonight know about the woman at the top of the short list, Dina powell?

MITCHELL: Well, Dina Powell and she did return to Goldman Sachs, so she would be sacrificing a lot financially and personally if she were to do this. But Dina Powell was very successful. She worked for Condoleezza Rice. She worked in the Bush White House which used to be disqualifying in Trump land, but we`ve seen as Judge Kavanaugh when the moons are aligned in the right way. The President can compromise on that.

And having worked for George W. Bush in the White House she then worked for Candi (ph) Rice at the State Department. She has foreign policy experience, she is ethnically Egyptian. It would be challenging to go to the U.N. at a time when not only the Muslim ban but the Palestinian, the withdraw of all funding for U.N. Palestinian relief and refugee aid. But she`s been very adopt, she`s very close to Ivanka and Jared and also has gotten along well with Secretary Pompeo.

So if she wants it, this could be a very good fit for her. The other candidate is rip without completely different is the ambassador and terminate very controversial there and been very, very close, he was a top aide to National Security Adviser Bolton when he was at the U.N. as ambassador. And Bolton, of course, was a recessed appointment, never confirmed by the Senate, just likes the United Nations and everything it stands for (INAUDIBLE) in that mode. And he`s not been terribly diplomatic. He`s defended Angela Merkel in Germany, but is very close to Bolton and well thought of by the President.

WILLIAMS: So Jeremy Peters, when the President said today Nikki Haley made the job more glamorous, I`m going to assume that wasn`t a comparison to Adlai Stevenson. What do you think he meant?

PETERS: I think that`s a safe bet.

Look, how Trump views success is through image. And when he looked at Nikki Haley, he saw somebody who fit the part. He is somebody himself who has said he picks people from central casting. That`s part of why he picked Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. It`s also part of why he was drawn to Mitt Romney as Secretary of State. It`s why he likes Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, right. He wants somebody who was out there projecting a positive image to the world for our country.

With Trump, image appearance is never far from his mind, and I think that that`s a lot of what he saw in Nikki Haley. Of course, he also saw somebody who is very shrewd politically and somebody who is no doubt a threat to him should she choose to be.

But as I said earlier, I think she`s too clever to get in Trump`s way, to get crosswise with the Republican base. I heard today, just to show you how well she`s got her bases covered, who else are you going to hear praised by the "New York Times" Editorial Page and Rush Limbaugh in the span of 12 hours.


MITCHELL: And Netanyahu. It would be Netanyahu, too.

WILLIAMS: That`s a good three-way bank shot right there.

And Jeremy Bash, we`re not even going to run the part of the President`s comments that dealt with his daughter Ivanka. He said that would be nepotism. We remind everyone she remains a assistant to the President and senior advisor tonight. But Jeremy Bash, a reminder, please, that this is about a very serious work of foreign policy on behalf of this government.

BASH: That`s right. I think if the President selects somebody like Dina Powell or somebody with significant foreign policy experience, the President and our whole nation will want that person to conduct American foreign policy to work on issues like Middle East peace, to work on issues like sanctions against Russia, against North Korea, to deal with China`s rise, to deal with migration issues across Europe, to deal with counterterrorism and cybersecurity. These are some very serious issues that protect our national security. It`s important that you put someone in that job who is both confident and experienced.

WILLIAMS: A lot of nods of agreement from our chief foreign affairs correspondent, and our thanks tonight to Andrea Mitchell, to both Jeremy`s, Peters and Bash for being of council and part of our opening conversation tonight. Really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, President Trump tonight wrapped up his midterm tour, this time time with a rally in Iowa, but new polling out find his message may not be reaching a very critical voting block.

And later on, from the accusations against Kavanaugh, to the Mueller investigation, the serious danger of this President go to charge that it`s a hoax. "The 11th Hour" just getting started on this busy Tuesday night.



TRUMP: On November 6, you have the chance to stop the radical Democrats by electing a Republican House and a Republican Senate.

Democrats have become totally unhinged. They`ve gone crazy. The Democrats have become too extreme, and they`ve become, frankly, too dangerous to govern. They`ve gone wacko.

You don`t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don`t give power to an angry left wing mob, and that`s what the Democrats have become.


WILLIAMS: So President on the road this week out ahead of the midterms. You heard the message there, vote Republican or risk mob rule by the Democrats. This is the new talking point just in the past few days. Listen for it already in heavy rotation as our friends at the APM hour compiled tonight.


TRUMP: The radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNEL (R), KENTUCKY: The far-left mob is not letting up.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: They have encouraged mob rule.

TOMI LAHREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Anyone who is a Trump supporter, we`re all targets of this.

SEBASTIAN GORKA, FMR. DEPUTY ASSISTANT: There is only one party that has normalized violence in America in the last two years, and it`s not Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the mob rule.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is this mob rule?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mob rule, that a mob rule --

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Basically mob rule, no law and order. Do you want mob rule?

TOMI LAHREN, HOST, FOX NATION: Yes. The average citizen, if you`re on the right should be concerned and in danger.


WILLIAMS: Back to the event in Iowa tonight. Plenty of anger on display in the arena this evening, including a familiar chant but this time directed at a new target.


TRUMP: How about Senator Feinstein? That`s another beauty. That`s a beauty.

Did you leak the documents? What? No, I didn`t.

Did we leak? Did we leak? No. No.

And I think they`re talking about Feinstein, can you believe that?


WILLIAMS: Well, with us to talk about what we witness tonight and going forward, Nancy Cook, White House reporter for Politico, and Kimberly Atkins, Chief Washington Reporter for the Boston Herald.

Well, Kimberly, what do you dreaded? Do you get to go first, it`s our fear and anger motivators that are likely to sustain for 28, 29 long days here until the midterms?

KIMBERLY ATKINS, THE BOSTON HERALD CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER: Well, the Republicans seem to think so. It`s a unified message that has brought them together from the Hill to the White House. You see the President there and Senator McConnell and others really doubling down on it.

We`ve seen the President turn to fear before, whether he is pushing immigration policies or other things. But it`s clearly very important for the Republicans right now to try to keep the momentum up that they saw from their base in particular after the fight over the new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

It seems that these rallies that the President does, stumping for various midterm candidates, is a test-kitchen -- a messaging test kitchen of sorts, and it seems that the crowd really responded to it. So I think this is something that you`re going to continue to see.

WILLIAMS: They sure are taking mob rule out for a spin. Hey, Nancy, I want to show you something else. The President apparently miffed tonight when he discovered the number of Nebraskans in the crowd after being promised an event in Iowa.

We`ll listen to it and talk about on the other side.


TRUMP: Today I kept another major promise, as I said, to the people of Iowa and Nebraska and other countries.

I could go on all night, but I want to get the hell out of here, OK? Because I thought I was coming to Iowa, and there`s more people from Nebraska.


WILLIAMS: Well, let`s just consult the map here for a second. The President landed tonight in Omaha, Nebraska where it is possible to drive south just across the river into Council Bluffs, Iowa where the rally was held. So the rally was held in Iowa. You`re going to attract a lot of Nebraskans, a lot of red Cornhusker-wearing Nebraskans.

Nancy, I don`t know of another politician who can get away with, I want to get the hell out of here?

NANCY COOK, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Well, I think that, you know, you have to keep in mind, you know, Trump at his campaign rally is having bit in a bunch myself. The crowd is just in the palm of his hand, and I think that that`s why he likes going on these campaign style rallies so much, because it is such a friendly environment. And the White House is feeling like up this high after getting Kavanaugh confirmed, even though it was a very contentious parties in fight.

The president now has a foil heading into the midterms, you know, he`s talking about Democrats as this mob rule, and so he is doing all of these rallies this entire week. He was in Iowa, tomorrow he`s going to Pennsylvania, Friday, he`s going to Ohio. And, you know, even though he could say anything to this crowd like, "I want to get out of here," or, you know, chanting about locking up Senator Feinstein, that`s what the crowd was doing tonight. And everyone goes along with it. It`s really is an adoring situation for him and he loves it. He eats it up.

WILLIAMS: Well, Nancy, while were there, you just mentioned the upcoming rally schedule, and a lot of people noticed today it looks like a 2020 rally travel map more than just a 2018 midterm map?

COOK: Well, I think that honestly that has been the plan even since August. You know, I`ve talked to Republicans close to the White House who really laid out to me the idea that moving ahead, so much of these rallies strategically are in places the Trump will need to win in 2020 in states like Florida. And you saw some of the rallies that he did in August in Pennsylvania, in places like that where the Senate or Congressional races were a bit more toss up, he did those rallies a bit earlier.

And as we move closer towards the midterms, he`s going to do rallies in places where he thinks he`ll be more successful. And as you said, he is really trying to create and build support heading into 2020.

WILLIAMS: And, Kim, the section of the West Wing where they worry about things like polls, they`ve got a problem with independence post-Kavanaugh and increasingly they have a problem with women who are telling pollsters they will vote for a Democrat in their Congressional district. You see that far category. Let`s round it, 70 to 30, that`s bad news for the Republicans.

ATKINS: Yes. This is a key demographic going into this midterm election. I mean, I`m thinking back to just a couple short weeks ago where Republicans were telling me that they were nervous that the Kavanaugh nomination would be problematic for the midterms for women just because of how much abortion would be talked about. That was before the sexual misconduct claims, that`s before the way many Republicans have responded to those claims. And so we are seeing some numbers that clearly has turned off some women, has really caused some concern in these races where Republicans are trying to stave off any sort of blue wave ripple, whatever size it might be.

It`s proven problematic and that`s one thing that Republicans are going to have to try to -- one reason why they`re trying to gen up their most ardent base to get them out to vote but they`re going to have to deal with this somehow in the four weeks -- less than four weeks we have left before voters go to the polls.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Our thanks to two of our favorites, Nancy Cook, Kimberly Atkins. Really appreciate you both coming on with us tonight.

And coming up, we`re going to go west. We`re going to talk about a key race out in Nevada, one the Democrats want badly. We`ll be doing it with Steve Kornacki, who`s at the big board with some new numbers in. That story when we come back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In just four weeks, you will have the chance to render your verdict on the Democrats` outrageous conduct, on November 6. And you can do early voting. In Iowa, go, just vote. Get it over with.


WILLIAMS: President Trump tonight urging Iowans to get out the vote before expressing his disappointment over the number of Nebraskans at the event. There are two distinct plot lines we`ll be watching on election night in this very room, the House and the Senate. Where the Senate is concern, the dream of Democratic control may indeed be too lofty to be obtainable.

One pick up they were hoping for was Nevada, but the latest numbers could mean trouble for the Democrats. Our national political correspondent Steve Kornacki has the latest numbers at the big board.

Hello, Steve.

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brian. And yes, we`ve got a brand new NBC News-Marist Poll from Nevada. The bottom line results, the Republican, Dean Heller in our poll just out today leading his Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen by two points.

You say this one key for Democrats. Heller is the only Republican incumbent on the Senate side this year who is running in a state that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. So on paper, he`s a very vulnerable Republican. He still is a vulnerable Republican, but there`d been other polling before over the summer that had Heller down. We have him leading by two points in this race.

If Democrats are going to have any path of picking up the Senate, they need a lot of things to happen, but one thing that absolutely must happen for them is they must beat Dean Heller. So this is a bad sign for Democrats, but it really comes on the heels of a string of polls on the Senate side in particular that have spelled trouble for them.

We seen in Tennessee, this the other day, an eight-point lead for Marsha Blackburn, second poll to show we are ahead by at least ahead by five, you know, last week in Tennessee. Of course, over the summer, the story have been partisan (ph), maybe defying political gravity a bit in Tennessee. Is political gravity starting to reassert itself in Tennessee?

In Texas, Democrats have certainly made a lot of noise when it comes to Beto O`Rourke. Ted Cruz though continuing to lead there in that race. And in North Dakota, of course, last week, the big story. This obviously, Heidi Heitkamp, the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, this poll taken before she voted no on the Kavanaugh nomination.

And just to show you what this would mean in terms of the Senate battleground. Look, if North Dakota were to go Republican, if Ted Cruz were to hang on in Texas, if Tennessee, if we say political gravity asserts itself, those three, right there, with nothing else, those three right there get Republicans to 50.

And with Pence breaking the tie, that`s the majority. And then if you could add in Nevada, if Dean Heller could ever hang on, Republicans up to 51. This entire rest of the battleground, Democrats could sweep it and you`d still have a Republican majority. So that`s why Democrats discouraged this week on the Senate side. These are two different tracks here. But on the Senate side, Democrats discouraged this week, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Nobody better -- no better way of laying it all out. Steve Kornacki, thank you, as always. Sure appreciate having on you this shift.

Coming up for us, hoaxes, witch hunts, fake news. The long-term impact of those go-to phrases our president uses. That when we come back.



TRUMP: Now they`re thinking about impeaching a brilliant jurist, a man that did nothing wrong, a man that was caught up in a hoax that was set up by the Democrats using the Democrats` lawyers. It was all made up, it was fabricated, and it`s a disgrace.


WILLIAMS: So you heard the word hoax there, President Trump talking about the nomination fight surrounding Justice Kavanaugh employing that go-to phrase when he encounters a problem, and that is to label something a hoax.


TRUMP: You can talk all you want about Russia, which is all a, you know, fake news fabricated deal.

It`s a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election.

This was a -- really a hoax created largely by the Democrats.

The Russian collusion hoax. It`s a hoax.

Then they go after us for a Russian hoax. It`s a witch hunt hoax.

I had nothing to do with Russia. I never did. It was a big hoax. It`s a hoax. It`s called the Democrat hoax. It`s a big fat hoax. I have nothing to do with Russia.

And just remember, what you`re seeing and what you are reading is not what`s happening.


WILLIAMS: While it may seem familiar by now, the practice of labeling something that is unproven, as fake or a hoax, has its own real dangers. One author explained this in his book "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century." In it, Professor Timothy Snyder writes, "To abandon fact is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle."

For more, we welcome back to the broadcast the aforementioned Timothy Snyder, a professor at Yale University Professor Snyder started academically as marshal scholar, educated in the Ivy League and an Oxford specializing in Europe and the holocaust originally. His latest work is "The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America."

We`ll have you on again to talk about the next book. First, this $9 investment people can make in their homes and in their lives, specifically on what you have seen since publishing this book, fake news, hoax, the danger of it.

TIMOTHY SNYDER, AUTHOR, "ON TYRANNY": Yes. Fake news is a problem because it means you`re trying to govern from uncertainty. What you`re doing as president filling the public`s fear with fiction. Then you blame it on the other side, the Democrats or the journalists, and then you try to govern from a position of confusion.

What I`ve noticed is that the rest of the world looks at this and is copying it. It`s particularly disturbing in Germany and Austria where I`ve been spending some time lately. In German, there is this phrase lugenpresse, which is very disturbing. It`s made a comeback. The reason it`s disturbing is it`s what -- it`s what Hitler said about real journalists. He said real journalists were the lying journalists.

But the most disturbing thing for us as Americans is the reason why it`s come back. Lugenpresse in German is the direct translation of fake news in English. So what we`re seeing is our own ways of underwriting our own democracy are starting to ripple ours.

WILLIAMS: Here comes your new book into this conversation. So weaving together as we watch the president arrived back at Andrews from Iowa, weaving together your experience, you can make a direct red line tie from what is going on in the United States to these terrible tales we`re hearing in Europe.

SNYDER: Oh absolutely. This is all one story. There`s no such thing as American exceptionalism. What do matters to everyone else, what everyone else does matters to us. The rise of authoritarianism has been the story throughout the west for the last decade or so. And authoritarians look at Trump. They copy his tactics, the ones that worked, express their admiration for him just as he expresses his admiration for them.

WILLIAMS: Before modes in which the truth dies, open hostility to verifiable reality. Shamanistic incantation, magical thinking, misplaced faith. How do these all relate to the Trump presidency you`ve witnessed?

SNDER: I wrote that before the presidency started, and I wish I could say that all four weren`t president. But in your show thus far, we`ve seen all four. Calling, for example, Russia or the investigation of Russia a hoax is denial of obvious reality. It`s denial to 126 million exposures on Facebook. It`s a denial of the stolen e-mails, which affected the debates and the headlines. It`s a denial what the Russians themselves basically admit at this point. And then shamanistic incantation. Those are phrases that were tested like lock her up precisely. The things that have a magical power to get us -- forget about what`s actually going on.

WILLIAMS: Mexico will pay for the wall.

SNYDER: Yes. And there doesn`t have to be a wall, doesn`t have to be swamp. There just has to be a chant, the thing that makes us feel like us and forget about the facts.

WILLIAMS: I can`t thank you enough for returning to our broadcast. Again, this is the book. Very simple, "On Tyranny," written by a man who has just returned from reporting on his next book. And that is Europe, and that`s a story line we just discussed sadly has a lot to do with what we`re witnessing.

Professor, thank you, as always, for coming on our broadcast.

SNYDER: It`s my pleasure.

WILLIAMS: Another break here. When we come back, this upgrade in the forecast, sadly, from 3 to a suspected 4 at landfall for this out of nowhere but now very dangerous hurricane on the gulf coast of Florida.


WILLIAMS: Welcome back. Just want to show you some of the imagery as we talk about this hurricane. You remember Florence, a long lead time, we were talking about it for a week before landfall. Look at this thing churning in the gulf right now. It gets as its food the warm water from the Gulf of Mexico. And as we heard Bill Karins say earlier, it looks like it`s going to arrive as a 4. They are not used to handling a 4 of a hurricane on that side of Florida. Bill Karins joins us for a late live update on this storm.


BILL KARINS, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST: Good evening, Brian. You know, when we get into these situations at this point, the National Weather Service offices, probably local area, send out their own hurricane that they call local statement. And in it, they usually have some pretty strong wording for their -- to let them know how serious this is. So, this is just one sentence from the National Weather Service out of Tallahassee, which is the Panama City area, all the way down to the big bend of Florida.

They`re saying a potentially catastrophic event is developing. And they`re saying that some areas could be uninhabitable for weeks, if not months after the storm goes through. And this is all going to happen tomorrow in real-time during the afternoon into the early evening.

So, let me give you the latest, in case you weren`t with us at the top of the hour, for the 11:00 update. The next big update will be 5:00 a.m. in the morning. Hundred and twenty-five-mile-per-hour winds, we`re almost up to a category 4. It`s been strengthening all day long. And you can see on radar, which is the green here, there`s the eye. That`s what we will track. You do not want to go through that eye wall. You don`t want to be on the right side of that eye. That`s where the strongest winds will be at landfall.

So the Hurricane Center hasn`t changed the forecast path. The intensity has been getting worst, but the path has been almost right over the top of Panama City here for 24 to 48 hours at least. And then the right side of that is down near towards Apalachicola, Florida and Mexico Beach area. So that`s the area of most concern. But we still haven`t ruled out anything.

You know, we`re watching this closely from Destin to Fort Walton Beach down towards Panama City. And one thing, when you have a storm that`s this huge and because of the topography of Florida, because, you know, the southern portion to the north goes pretty much north to south and then we go east to west. Now, water piles up here, has nowhere to go. So, 200 miles away from the center landfall, we will get water levels of 8 to 12-foot storm surge.

Yes, there`s not a lot of huge population centers here, but a lot of these small towns are just going to be swamped with, you know, basket hoop type, water with wave action on top of it. So, that`s really from Cedar Key all the way back to wherever we get the landfall here, back in areas near Panama City.

The winds, the timing of it, when you wake up tomorrow morning, don`t expect to see the worst of it yet. It will just start to be getting windy at 8:00 a.m., you know, when the sun comes up. And then as we go through the day, that`s when things really start to ramp up.

Look at this. By 1:00 p.m., there`s the eye. So we`re going to be close to a landfall a little after noon, local time here. Remember, the western portion, this is right where the time zone changes here, right where it`s going to be making landfall. But 109-mile-per-hour winds early in the afternoon. So once you get to winds at about 50 to 60, that`s when you start losing power.

So during the middle of the afternoon, there`s still be daylight. You can still see what`s happening. People will be using power. This is when the destruction will be taking place. This also when the worst of the storm surge will be coming onshore all through North Florida.

Waters levels are already up 2 to 3 feet just because of the constant wind from the south. There is 5:00 p.m. Tallahassee, that could be approximately 3:00 to about 6:00 p.m. is when you`ll see your highest winds. Albany, Georgia could be around 8:00 p.m., you start to see your highest gusts. And when you get gust to 60 to 70, you`re losing power.

And then finally, the other element, remember, Florence was a horrible rainstorm. This one`s moving pretty quickly, Brian. We are going to see a general 3 to 6 inches of rain. We can take that. We haven`t had a lot of rain since Florence in the Carolinas. So I don`t think we`re going to deal with a lot of water problems with this storm. It`s mostly going to be the storm surge and incredible destructive winds.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Bill, right quick, why is this so sudden? We weren`t -- mostly people weren`t talking about this storm as recently as this weekend. It seemed to explode off the coast of Cuba and come from out of nowhere.

KARINS: About seven days ago, our computers were hinting at something forming in western Caribbean possibly into the gulf. But at the time, the computers were also saying there was going to be a lot of wind shear. The wind shear destroys thunderstorms. It`s kind of the strong winds where the jets fly, and that tears the top off thunderstorms.

Well, the wind shear died off significantly over the last couple days. That wasn`t really predicted well, say four, five days ago. That`s we were thinking and now maybe just tropical storm, a rainmaker. Bull when that shear died off, this time of year, it`s bath water in the gulf of Mexico. Some of the warmest water on our planet and this storm is just feasting on it.

WILLIAMS: Yes. It really has our attention tonight. Bill Karins will be one busy man tomorrow. Bill, we sure appreciate you staying up with us tonight.

Another break. And coming up, the search for clues in the mysterious disappearance of a journalist overseas and where he was last seen alive when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, serious business involving that man, the ongoing questions of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and "Washington Post" columnist last seen entering Saudi Arabia`s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. That was over a week ago. Along with the last known photo of him tonight, we get the latest details on this case from our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS, CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: This is the last time Saudi journalist and "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi was seen alive, entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. What happened next is a mystery. And now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling on Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation.

Khashoggi, a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia`s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, told the BBC three days before he went missing he knew he`d made powerful enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do you think you might be able to go home again?


ENGEL: Turkish officials have two working theories that Khashoggi was kidnapped from the consulate or that he was killed and dismembered inside. Turkish security forces are now hunting for a black van that may have carried Khashoggi`s body and two Saudi charter jets that arrived and left Istanbul Airport.

Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to get paperwork so he could marry his Turkish fiancee. Tonight, she has a police escort. Saudi Arabia will allow investigators to search the consulate and denies any involvement in Khashoggi`s disappearance.

Richard Engle, NBC News.


WILLIAMS: And late tonight, "The New York Times" reports Turkish officials say they`ve concluded that Khashoggi was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate there. The report adds it remains unclear how the Turkish government determined that he had been killed. As we said, some serious business to end our broadcast.

And that is our Tuesday night broadcast. Thanks to you for being here with us. Good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.


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