Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: October 19, 2018 Guest: Josh Gerstein, Mike McFaul, Mimi Rocah, Bill Kristol
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: The breaking news tonight, a Russian has been charge for meddling in the midterms just 18 days away. Tonight, what we know about this active and on going threat, a clear and present danger to a Democratic society and what the President has to say about it.
Also breaking, Saudi Arabia finally confirms Jamal Khashoggi has died inside their consulate in Turkey. Eighteen Saudis are in custody tonight and now all eyes on this man, the crown prince.
And Paul Manafort shows up to court in a wheelchair as his sentencing date is set.
THE 11TH HOUR set to begin on a Friday night.
Well, good evening once again on this Friday night from NBC News headquarters here in New York and, my, do we have a lot to get to. Day 638 of the Trump administration saw a major turn in the case of the "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Tonight, the Saudis have conceded Khashoggi was indeed killed while in their consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, August 2nd. They say 18 people are being held in connection with his death and we will have more on this still developing story coming up.
But we begin with this evening with brand new allegations of interference in U.S. elections coming even as the President continues his campaign to get out the vote for from Republicans. And to be clear, this is not about the Russian election interference in 2016, this is about the Russians interfering right now and in realtime with our midterm elections that are 18 days away.
The Justice Department today revealed its charges against a Russian operative, a woman, based in St. Petersburg with links to Vladimir Putin, a woman who will likely never and see the inside of an American courtroom. The President has spoken about the development during events today in Arizona.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It has nothing to do with my campaign. You know, all of the hackers and all of the -- everybody that you see, nothing to do with my campaign. If they`re hackers, a lot of them probably like Hillary Clinton better than me. Now they do, now they do.
But, you know, they go after some hacker in Russia and they say, oh, had nothing to do with my campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The governments criminal complaint reveals that Elena Kuvshinova has been charge with conspiracy for taking part in a scheme to, "sow division and discord in the U.S. political system," in other words, to turn us against each other.
Prosecutors say she worked for a Russian firm that Robert Mueller first indicted back in February for meddling in the last election in 2016. That same firm is linked to a man known as Putin`s chef who also been named in the Mueller indictment.
Today`s criminal complaint says the Russian conspiracy to influence our midterm elections 18 days away included, "posing as U.S. persons to operate fictitious social media to address divisive political and social issues or advocate for the election or electoral defeat of particular candidates."
Now, the social media post covered the gay rights, gun rights, the anthem protest in the NFL, family separation, criticism of Mueller, criticism of John McCain, any subject that can divide Americans one against the other. Prosecutors say this is how conspirators referred to Mueller as they spread articles attacking him as "a puppet of the establishment" and his investigation as "damaging to the country."
This post was also allegedly part of an online propaganda campaign titled, "Every deported illegal household saves taxpayers $700,000."
Today`s charges will revealed not long after the nation`s intelligence chiefs issued a joint statement of warning today, warning of foreign interference in our election from Russia, China, and other foreign actors and it came just one day before the National Security Adviser John Bolton heads to meet with Russian officials in Moscow.
Indeed, just within the past month President Trump has been pushing this new theory, new line on election meddling that it`s not the Russians, it`s the Chinese.
(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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And just this past week, he has continued to repeat that along with other familiar themes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTE HOST: Do you believe the Russians interfered in the 2016 campaign -- election?
TRUMP: Well, they meddled but I think China meddled too.
Do you think I`d call Russia to help me with an election? Give me a break. They wouldn`t be able to help me at all. Call Russia. So ridiculous.
First of all, there was no collusion, there`s no Russia -- do you think I`d call Russia? I need help in Idaho, I need help in Iowa, oh, let`s call Russia. It`s a con job.
Can you imagine me saying, "Oh, I don`t know what to do, gee, let`s call the Russians, maybe they can help." Can you believe the stupidity of this? Let`s call the Russians.
It was an excuse made by the Democrats for losing an election that, frankly, they should win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Today`s news brought a sobering assessment from an intelligence veteran who is a frequent guest on this broadcast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSIST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: Here we are on the eve of the midterm elections and we`re still hearing solid evidence that nothing has changed, nothing has stopped, the social media we`re consuming is propagated by a foreign adversary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Let`s bring in our leadoff panel on a busy Friday night. Mimi Rocah, a Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, now a Distinguished Fellow in Criminal Justice at the Pace University School of Law. Julia Ainsley, NBC News National Security and Justice Reporter. Josh Gerstein, Senior White House Reporter for Politico. And Michael McFaul, a Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, which makes him a better-than-average expert on Russia.
Welcome and good evening to all of you.
Julia, I`d like to begin with you. What is your number-one take away from this document we have printed here today? It is likely what we used to call the phonebook of a medium-sized U.S. city.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NTL. SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That`s right. I can remember some phonebooks, Brian.
WILLIAMS: There you go.
AINSELY: There`s a very detail obvious that even when Mueller turns out the lights and closes up the special counsel`s office we are living in what may be the new normal. We`re going to continue to see interference primarily as we`ve seen from Russia and they lay out all the ways they can do it. And all of those ways that you can see that they can sow discord from both sides.
What I think has to be taken together is that report that also came out today from the intelligence community saying that you should be aware of other meddling campaigns from Russia and they say China and Iran. But I want to really clearly point out is that we have yet to see evidence of any other country illegally meddling in our elections.
We`ve seen the President point to ads that China might have taken out in a newspaper, nothing to this extent. Nothing like what we`ve seen Russians do on social media has been able to be charged by one of our federal districts like we saw today. This is a very calculated campaign and it`s the same play book they used in 2016. And they`re able to use the same playbook, Brian, because of the President`s reaction. Just like what we saw over the weekend, just like what he told "60 minutes."
The President wants to say that he doesn`t need help from Russia so therefore he`s not really able to just take on the responsibility as the President in order to get rid of this election hacking and election meddling because it would affect him as the candidate. He`s still hung up on his candidacy more than his presidency.
And as we saw Frank Figliuzzi point out, there needs to be that kind action to stop this or, like I said, we`re living in this new normal. Doesn`t it take away?
WILLIAMS: Yes. I heard from an FBI veteran this week incensed that effective on the "60 minutes" interview the President has changed his talking point to "do you really think I`d call Russia." As this investigator put it, of course, the allegation was he was in with them somehow, he was compromised somehow and this was a rolling ongoing effort so it allows him to ask the rhetorical question, "Do you think I`d call them help me in this election."
Julia, on your last point, I want to play for you former CIA Director Mike Hayden who was asked on CNN this afternoon about the presence of China in this Intel document. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN ANCHOR: We all have seen the details involving Russia. Have you seen specific similar details involving China, Iran and other foreign actors?
MIKE HAYDEN, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: I have not. I think what we`re seeing is a bit more of just another nation state attempting to influence American policy through traditional tools. I mean, you may and may not like their taking out a four-page ad in the "Des Moines Register" but that`s above board. That`s fair play.
The Russians are doing something more extensive and more below the surface.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So, Josh, that`s what Hayden has been saying all along and other Intel veterans. The question to you is, square what`s in this complaint with the talking points you`ve heard from this President over these many months.
JOSH GERSTEIN, POLITICO SR. WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I mean, I`m struck by the fact that it does seem to reflect a great deal of sub refuge (ph) and a very insidious effort on the part of the Russians because when you read through the complaint a lot of the tactics they`re using and a lot of the tweets and memes, some of which you just showed, Brian, it`s very hard to tell looking at them that this is some kind of Russian effort. There is no obvious tell here.
So, it does seem like the President has been trying to minimize this activity. But one thing I would say also is that I`m not convinced that the legal system ultimately maybe up to dealing with this challenge. It struck me in reading this complaint that a lot of what people are objecting to here goes well beyond politics.
When you talk about sowing social discord and turning gay Americans against other Americans and black Americans against white Americans, is that fundamentally about changing the results of the 2018 midterms or is that simply about trying to rip apart American society? If it`s the latter, I`m not sure the Justice System will be the vehicle to address it.
WILLIAMS: Mike McFaul, is it an article of faith that Putin knew about or just plain ordered this?
AB. MICHAEL MCFAUL, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, I don`t know that for sure so I can`t call it an "article of fate," but I would be very surprised if he didn`t. It`s the same organization, the internet research agency after all that did the same thing in 2016, a dozen of them were indicted, that indictment was handed over right before the Helsinki summit and yet President Putin and his proxies are continuing. And that`s because President Trump has not made them pay a price, he just continues to deny it, he embraces Putin and gets nothing back.
And I think until we push back, until we try to deter this kind of behavior, of course, we should expect people like Putin and other actors, but Putin first and foremost to continue to intervene in our elections and in our democratic society.
WILLIAMS: Mimi Rocah, I am holding in my hand as they say this complaint. It is voluminous. A couple of things to know about it, it was filed September 28, we just learned about it today. It was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, so that`s question one, why that jurisdiction. Question two is why now?
MIMI ROCAH, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Well, the why now question is intriguing. So, first of all, it`s not just why now. It was, as you said, sworn out, this affidavit and the complaint on September 28. A couple of weeks later it gets unsealed. That was enough time for them to go to the grand jury and get an indictment.
Usually prosecutors do a complaint, which is what this document is, when they`re sort of in a hurry. You know, they don`t quite have time yet to go through the indictment process which is a more laborious lengthy process. But the fact that this was done on the 28th and unsealed now there is -- I don`t have a great answer yet but it tells me that we may find out more. There might be more to this timing that we might find out in the coming days or weeks because there was something specific that happened where they got it sworn but decided to hold it until today and we may never know but we could know and it could be enlightening.
It could have something to do with her, this woman. Why this woman now? I mean, she`s the accountant. She seems to be in charge of the money, making sure everyone gets paid. That`s an important role for sure in this organization which, you know, this is the same organization, essentially, as several of the other guest have said that was involved in 2016. It`s just continuing.
And so, you know, but why this woman in particular now? And I -- we may see more about that in coming days.
WILLIAMS: OK. The counselor just heat that up for you, Julia, what are you expecting in the coming days?
AINSLEY: Gosh, well, you now, we aren`t supposed to hear a lot from Mueller we`re not expecting because we know that he is quiet presumably heading into the midterm elections. But we may continue to hear for this drum beat of almost public service announcements from the Department of Homeland Security and others who want to ensure the election infrastructure.
Another thing they want to do, Brian, is to make sure while people are maybe taking a second look at some of the ads, some of the memes they`re seeing online, making sure they know who is purchasing those and how they`re being influenced. They also don`t want them to lose faith when they go to the ballot box in November.
They want everyone to know and that was clear in this report today that the election infrastructure, what is actually in place to make sure that that vote that you cast, it remains unchanged. They say that is not under threat, that they have not seen clear evidence of that. That`s something that I`ve heard the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen repeat again and again.
But it is kind of enlightening, unlike, Mimi, I want to take this over and figure out why this woman, why today. One thing I heard about the jurisdiction was that for somehow in Eastern District of Virginia there maybe many internet companies that are crossing through that. I mean, it`s hard to know. She`s not an American citizen, so it`s not like they take where she leaves.
There`s something very interesting about the fact that it`s Eastern District of Virginia, this woman, so close to the midterms. There seems to be a message that they`re sending. I want to know what it is.
WILLIAMS: OK. Josh, let`s go down that rabbit hole. This document explains the weird item that your Aunt Fanny sent you from her Facebook feed about families being separated at the border. They`re hoping it doesn`t explain any shenanigans. We have 435 Congressional races in 18 days, we`ve got local elections, State Houses, U.S. Senate and we better not see any numbers that as they come in don`t make sense to us. So is there any chance this document is a civic warning?
GERSTEIN: Oh, I think that`s primarily its functio function here. I mean, there`s some chance they`re going to be able to pick this woman up somewhere and maybe she`s traveling somewhere or had a plan to go to Europe. Although, frankly, I don`t even know if you can be extradited on these types of charges from most countries. So I do think the primary role here was to get this out in advance of the election as a reminder to people that this Russian operation is not a thing of the past, it`s on going.
But I think there frankly is supposed to be a little bit of a reassurance here for President Trump that this is not officially a Mueller charge as we were just discussing, it was brought by prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, and it suggest this is project of trying to rein in the Russians, at least to the extent you can do it through the legal system is now going to be taken on by the, you know, rank-and-file bread-and-butter prosecutors of the Justice Department and that Mueller probe will eventually come to a conclusion.
WILLIAMS: So, Michael McFaul, just to put it a finer point on this for our viewers who may not get the mechanism here, some of this was to criticize Marco Rubio. Some of it was to call the late Senator John McCain an "old geezer." Some of it is just straight up racist. Some of it is anti-LGBTQ. What`s the goal there, since those seem to be dispirit topics, not all associated on the right or left?
MCFAUL: Well, as the indictment says, the goal is to fuel polarization in American society. You can`t do that if there isn`t polarization already there. So let`s be clear, it takes -- the basis has to be there first.
You know as a social scientist we have lots of people here at Stanford studying this. I would like to actually dig deeper into it. I`m not so sure it`s just about polarization. It could be more partisan.
But there is a bigger issue here, Brian, that we have not actually figured out where the lines are. You quoted my former colleague Mike Hayden saying, "Well an ad, an insert in the newspaper, that`s what the Chinese do. That`s above the line." Is it? Why is it?
When sputnik tweets #crookedhillary as they did repeatedly at 2016, that`s freedom of speech? Well, that`s the Russian government? Is that OK?
When the Saudis pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobbyists to stop legislation, that`s a -- is that a violation of our sovereignty or not just the political system?
And I think we as America, we really haven`t come to grips with where those lines need to be, especially when it`s so easy to do because of these social media platforms. And I believe it`s just the beginning of this conversation not just the, you know, a little howdy dowdy before the 2018 election.
WILLIAMS: And to any Aunt Fannies out there, I meant no disrespect.
To Mimi Rocah, to Julia Ainsley, to Josh Gerstein, to Ambassador Michael McFaul, our thanks.
Our discussion continues. Coming up, an apparently ailing Paul Manafort gets wheeled into court to hear his sentencing date.
And later, the President`s supporters cheer on his most outrageous statements as the red meat gets redder out on the road.
THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on this Friday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP`S FORMER ATTORNEY: Listen, here`s my recommendation, grab your family, grab your friends, grab your neighbors, get to the poll because if not you`re going to have another two or another six years of this craziness. So make sure you vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: Wow, that civic announcement by the man who once said he`d take a bullet for Donald Trump apparently not anymore. Michael Cohen, former Trump attorney now cooperating with the feds after a guilty plea. He sat down with prosecutors we`re told as recently as Wednesday.
And in Virginia today another former Trump associate back in court to learn his sentencing date. Though some interesting things to report from this. This former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort also pleaded guilty to criminal charges, also cooperating with the Mueller investigation.
Though Manafort arrived in court today in a wheelchair, in his prison jump suit, his request to wear a suit having been denied, his hair is growing out gray. He was missing his right shoe.
According to his attorney, "There are significant issues with Mr. Manafort`s health concerning confinement."
And a source told NPR, "he has a serious medical condition related to his diet."
Manafort`s sentencing, which has been postponed until his cooperation with the Mueller team was satisfied has now been scheduled, docketed, for February 8.
Remaining with us are Mimi Rocah and Josh Gerstein. Thank you for sticking around.
Mimi, I will admit, none of us are doctors and we thought for amateur doctoring today on television and radio was either gout or diabetes. Also there is the carmine the Chin Giganti theory, legendary New York mobster who made sure to be photographed wearing a full on bathrobe and that hat while walking outside court, walking outside his home in New York, hoping for a mental illness allowance in his sentencing. Hard to know, isn`t it?
ROCAH: It is hard to know and while it`s not limited to the Italian mob, it is kind of a specialty of the mob and Manafort`s activities and background have been compared to the Mafia, but it`s a specialty of theirs to find illness in order to get more lenient sentences or get out of certain prison conditions that they don`t like.
Sitting here obviously we don`t know for sure, he could have developed a condition. But, you know, we`ve also heard that maybe he didn`t like the solitary confinement that he apparently was in, in the prison he`s being held in now for his own safety. And so now he might be able to move to a different prison. So, you know, it`s hard to tell. I mean, one would hope now that he`s cooperating that he wouldn`t be pulling any of those shenanigans.
It doesn`t sound like anyone from the government said anything to cast doubt on these claims. But on the other hand, Judge Ellis is not the kind of judge who`s just going to take that at face value. That`s the one thing, I think, you know, we`ve learned about Judge Ellis is he scrutinizes everybody`s statements.
WILLIAMS: Josh, first of all, let me lead with a huge mobster correction. It was Vincent Vinnie the Chin Gigante.
But second, you were there today, we`re not making light of this. This guy went from the highest of the high life to the low life of prison and wearing somebody else`s jump suit everyday and having no control over your own life. So, what was the atmosphere that you saw and took in there?
GERSTEIN: Well, it was pretty dour, people were fairly surprised when he came into the courtroom in the wheelchair. There was a sort of hush that fell followed by murmuring and people elbowing each other and saying, do you see that he is coming in a wheelchair, what`s going on? It was not something that people had expected.
Although, I will say towards the end of the trial that wrapped up a couple of months ago he was looking not terribly well to me. He had sort of a pallor to him. Maybe that`s just the effect of having been in jail since June. But there were also times when emotionally it seemed like his lawyers were trying to console him or he might have been crying or breaking down a little bit towards the end of the trial. So I can`t tell you that I was really shocked to hear that he might be suffering from some health issues.
He was kind of shifting around in the wheelchair at different times. But I don`t think he`s in any really crippling condition given how much cooperation he`s been doing with Mueller`s team in the recent few weeks.
WILLIAMS: I can`t thank you two enough for sticking around. Mimi Rocah, and Josh Gerstein, just one of many stories we are covering here tonight.
GERSTEIN: Thanks, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, it turns out the Saudis killed Jamal Khashoggi. We`ll ask a four-star retired general and a former FBI official what they think about the explanation for the cause of death when we come back.
WILLIAMS: Tonight, the Saudis announced to the world what the world already knew. Journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Saudi state media said after Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate, seen here October 2, he got into a fight with people there leading to his death. Saudi Arabia says 18 Saudis have been arrested and are being investigated in connection with the case.
Tonight, the Saudi embassy in Washington said a number of senior government officials have been dismissed, including a top Saudi intelligence official and a royal court adviser. Reacting to the news, our own Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel said, "Very few people around the world are going to believe this."
Earlier tonight before his rally in Arizona, President Trump reacted to the news. He started by calling it a good first step, and then he continued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Saudi Arabia has been a great ally but what happened is unacceptable. We are going to see. They`ve arrested -- for the people at the table -- a large number of people having to do with the event that took place in Turkey, in the consulate, the Saudi Consulate. And it`s a big first step. It`s only first step but it`s a big first step.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you consider it credible, their explanation?
TRUMP: I do. I do. I mean, it`s, again, it`s early. We haven`t finished our review, or investigation but it`s, I think it`s a very important first step and it happened sooner than people thought it would happen, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they also said there was a first fight and as a result of the fist fight Mr. Khashoggi was killed.
TRUMP: Well, I don`t know that that was -- I don`t know that that was an issue. I mean that was -- that`s a theory that`s being thrown out. I don`t think anybody said that. But they`re saying there was a fight but that`s a theory that was put out. But they are going to be giving us a full report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The President said he would prefer not to cancel the $110 billion military order from Saudi Arabia that he keeps talking about, and that he would be working with Congress on how to move forward. A reminder here, the Washington Post repeatedly points out that figure the President keeps pointing to is false.
Joining us now, our Military Analyst, retired Four Star US Army General Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, former Battlefield Commander in the Persian Gulf with extensive experience in the Middle East and especially with the Saudis. And our National Security Analyst Shawn Henry, former Executive Assistant Director of the FBI.
General, I`d like to begin with you. A US resident, a US-based journalist killed in a Saudi facility in Turkey. What do you make of it? What should we make of it?
BARRY MCCAFFREY, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: You have to start by recognizing that Saudi Arabia is a vital ally of the United States. Not just because of its incredible production of oil in the world market but also a hedge against Iranian terrorism and expansionism. So we`re going to have to be thoughtful about how we deal with this.
Having said that, though, this was a brutal murder, a clumsy murder by agents who are clearly under the control of the crown prince and we have to react to it. We have to react on principle.
I`m shocked at the US government response. Secretary Pompeo, very intelligent, capable, experienced guy, Congressman, CIA director, Harvard Law School, he goes in to see the Crown Prince and it`s more of a diplomatic slap-and-tickle than it is a stern rejoinder to sort out the murder of a US resident. So we`re in a troublesome situation. This is not the first incident of MBS the Crown Prince.
The war in Yemen, the blockade of Qatar, the torture, abuse and extortion of several hundred of his fellow royal family members in the Riyadh Carlton Hotel. This fellow is moving Saudi Arabia to the edge of the cliff.
WILLIAMS: Shawn, a couple things don`t add up here. Number one, that this started as a fight. Someone said the translation is different, it wasn`t so much as a fist fight as a headlock. But still 15 of you in a van we might get a fight so bring the bone saw? Answer me that and also answer me I know the FBI ain`t going to be invited to Turkey to a Saudi facility to investigate this. How is the US going to conduct a review?
SHAWN HENRY, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think you have to look at the totality of the circumstances here. First, starting with the timeline, when people arrive Saudi officials arrived, when they got to the consulate, when Khashoggi arrived and then when they subsequently left, took off, went to one of the residences. And Khashoggi never leaves, right?
So we know he`s gone. As you say, there`s implications that they brought certain type of equipment, different personnel that were there, that were medical examiners or they do autopsy, so people that you wouldn`t expect to be conducting a particular type of an interview.
So when you look at the circumstantial evidence, laying the timeline out, it appears certainly that this may have been pre-meditated as opposed to something that just happens for the moment, maybe it was a rendition that was botched. They were talking to him trying to get him to come back to Saudi, he didn`t, they got in a fight and this happened.
If, in fact, that happened, where`s the body?
HENRY: If somebody dies accidentally, we didn`t expect it, it`s an accident, where`s the body? So I think that the US looks at that in totality.
There`s two pieces here. The FBI isn`t going to Turkey. They`d have to be invited in by the Turkish. If they had a particular type of expertise to offer but then they`d have to be invited by the Saudis into the consulates because it`s a diplomatic establishment. That`s not going to happen in this case.
I think one of the key pieces here is the US intelligence community. There`s a lot of information that US intelligence may have collected through signals intelligence or human intelligence, both on their own volition but also through allies, who they have regular contact with, who might have intelligence that would add further color to what happened inside the consulate.
The intelligence community can and will provide that information to the president, to the administration in terms of a report. And then US president can make policy decisions based on that report, not necessarily releasing all the information contained therein which may be classified but he certainly could use it to make policy decisions.
WILLIAMS: General, Bob Bear, former CIA official not give on the hyperbole was on CNN last night and I`ll paraphrase, he said the methods of this Crown Prince have become unsound and in his view he needs to be taken out of management. He said his father, the King, only has several lucid hours everyday and it`s a hell of a mess over there. Do you concur?
MCCAFFREY: Oh absolutely. You know, this was also not normal Saudi behavior. If we go back ten years ago, the Saudis aren`t normally fighters. They bribe people. They lie. they form alliances. They`re totally under the umbrella protection of the United States.
So I think MBS, the Crown Prince, has taken up a new aggressive, very disruptive control over his own people never mind his neighbors. So I think we`re in trouble with this guy and I`d be unsurprised given his extortion attempt over his fellow royal family members if he`s not personally at risk in the coming months and years. This guy is a menace to the royal family maintaining their enormous wealth.
WILLIAMS: Shawn, 30 seconds of brilliance. How is it the Turks would know what was going on inside a Saudi Consulate?
HENRY: Well, you suspect they have some type of surveillance coverage, technical coverage inside, whether it would be audio and/or video, even potentially human. Somebody that they may have their intelligence service may have co-opted, who is working inside the consulate there.
It`s a standard trade craft, surveillance trade craft. When you`re operating in a foreign country, you have to suspect that the host country is kind of watching what you`re doing and trying to determine what your motivation may be or any activity you might be conducting in order to collect intelligence within that particular country. That`s another piece of this that US intelligence is going to look at.
WILLIAMS: Our great thanks tonight to General Barry McCaffrey, to Shawn Henry, a veteran of the FBI. Gentlemen, can`t thank you enough. Thanks very much.
Coming up, a look at what sells on the road these days and what connection it may have to the truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I heard that he body slammed a reporter. I said, "Oh, this is terrible, he`s going to lose the election." Then I said, "Well, wait a minute. I know Montana pretty well. I think it might help him." And it did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: President Trump defending a congressman`s attack on a journalist because it worked to Republicans` advantage at the polls. It`s not the first time we have seen this kind scorched earth approach to the presidency. It was just last weekend on "60 Minutes" he defended his attack on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a rally where he publicly mocked her testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAHL: You mimicked Professor Blasey Ford. You mimicked her.
TRUMP: Had I not made that speech, we would not have won. I was just saying she didn`t seem to know anything.
STAHL: But you seem to be saying that she lied.
TRUMP: You know what, I`m not going to get into it because we won. It doesn`t matter, we won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: With us to talk about it, all of it, Bill Kristol, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, Editor-at-Large of the Weekly Standard, what he`s doing in Los Angeles, we`ll never know. But, Bill, thank you very much for making time for us.
I have to ask you about the ends justify the means. This guy whose name has been on the ballot once, what about the GOP members of Congress who come up every two years, who have to run different kinds of campaigns and they have to run on the results?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. Well, let`s see what happens in a couple weeks on the election. You know, it`s just not true that these tactics necessarily are winning tactics. The Republican in Montana won a very close race and a race that should have been a 20-point Republican victory as I recall. Kavanaugh got confirmed because Flake and Collins insisted on an extra week, the FBI looked, they at least in Flake and Collins` judgment didn`t find anything they confirm Mrs. Ford`s, you know, account. And they thought they could confirm Kavanaugh.
It`s not clear that Trump helped at all. There`s not a single vote Trump he brought over. So he takes credit for these things and then he associate this victory in these matters, if they really are victories, with his rhetoric and no one really rebuts about the Republican side. I mean, that`s what`s so dangerous I think.
WILLIAMS: Well, here`s something else we heard Rudy Giuliani say -- no, it was Newt Gingrich on Fox News earlier this week, if they`re successful in the run-up to the midterm this is campaign will be about two words, Kavanaugh, caravan. We got aerial pictures of the caravan between Guatemala and Mexico, the bridge of humanity. Later we saw people jumping into the water.
Bill, is this an issue that will cut well for at least the Trump base of the GOP?
KRISTOL: The Trump people believe they won the Republican primary because of their stance on immigration, because of the stance on the Muslim ban, their stance on Mexicans, their stance on the border wall. I don`t know if it helped in the general election or not. I don`t know, we`ll see -- will that works. This is why this election is so important in two weeks.
It`s important to obvious wins the House or wins the Senate, governorships, the usual reasons. Why elections matter, it matters who`s governing the country. But it really is also -- we`ve taken so much I think by Republicans in particular as of something of a verdict on Trump.
I mean, Trump managed to win in 2016 which we`ll didn`t expect him to. McCain did lost, Romney lost. You could argue until you`re blue in the face, Obama was a tougher candidate than Hillary Clinton, and there all kinds of reasons that candidate Romney lost. But nonetheless, Trump seemed to have the magic sauce that produced victory.
If Republicans outperform in a couple weeks, if they hold the Senate and pick up a couple seats and do less badly in the House, wholesome surprises, and then I`m afraid -- I see little resistance unfortunately from my point of view of the Republican Party or the conservative movement almost to these kinds of tactics, to this rhetoric even though it seems so obviously in my judgment bad for the country.
WILLIAMS: We`ll pause our conversation, we`ll get in a break. Bill stays with us and when we come back, the comedy and political chops of a future Republican political star.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, OUTGOING UN AMBASSADOR: I get it. You wanted an Indian woman but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test. Actually, when the President found out that I was Indian-American if asked me if I was from the same tribe of Elizabeth Warren.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: She also had some biting Manafort material last night. Outgoing UN Ambassador Nikki Haley showing off her comedy chops at Al Smith Dinner in New York last night, raised $4 million dollars for Catholic charities.
By the way, she was introduced to the crowd by the stellar comedian and loyal 11th Hour viewer Jeff Gaffigan who said ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States. And that got the crowd going. Especially considering we last heard from her on the day her resignation was announced while sitting next to the president in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: I will say this 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. So I look forward to supporting the president in the next election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol remains with us from Los Angeles. And, Bill, before I even get to my question, I want to play one of the serious comments she had for the crowd. This one is particularly interesting. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: In our toxic political environment, I`ve heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil. In America our political opponents are not evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Well, Bill, the meaning there was very clear. The question to you is would you accept Nikki Haley by acclamation as either president or GOP candidate?
KRISTOL: I would love it if she ran against Donald Trump in 2020. I don`t think that`s impossible. I mean, we did a poll by a month ago, poll with New Hampshire and Iowa, and she was the strongest opponent to Trump, and about half of the Republican primary voters at this stage even we`re willing to consider Haley against Trump.
I thought it was very interesting what she did last night at the Al Smith Dinner. The joke about Elizabeth Warren is also a little bit of a take to Donald Trump, like (inaudible). She managed to take on both Warren and Trump at the same time.
But more importantly, the clip you just played she says, you know, we have opponents here not enemies, we don`t -- we shouldn`t call people evil. Trump has called I think Democrats evil on two or three different occasions in the last week, or two weeks. So that`s a pretty direct dig I think at her former boss, I guess still boss, or soon to be former boss Donald Trump.
And then, she goes onto say we do know about evil in the world. As she mention I think the Syrian government and the Sudanese government, everyone had in mind surely the action of the Saudis, which she didn`t -- I don`t think directly comment on. So she`s I think positioning herself as a very different kind of Republican from Donald Trump.
But, and this is why she`s the most strongest primary challenger to Trump, someone who also wasn`t like me, she`s not there for Trump. She worked in the Trump administration, she did her best to help secure some good foreign policy achievements. But ultimately she would take the country in a different direction.
I think she`s a nice place for people who sort of reluctantly supported Trump to go to, you know, to say, look, I wasn`t wrong to vote for Trump once, better than Hillary Clinton and all of that, but now I`m -- we`re going to sort of time for change with Nikki Haley. And of course, people like me who are anti-Trump would be comfortable with Haley.
So, it was a pretty impressive -- I`ve just saw the clips on, you know, the couple you played, the couple others. I see it like a pretty impressive performance last night, though, and she`s a talented politician who is now got foreign policy credentials as well.
WILLIAMS: By any standard it was an impressive performance. Bill Kristol, it`s always such a pleasure to have you on. Thank you for making the time in LA and joining us on a Friday night. We appreciate it.
KRISTOL: Thanks, Brian.
WILLIAMS: And coming up, it`s been two years since the 2016 campaign, and a funny thing happened when we went back and looked at some of those Trump rallies. We`ll show you the results after this.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight. It was Janet Johnson of the Washington Post who just yesterday shared her own finding that Donald Trump rallies are events frozen in time.
As she puts it, attendees dance today the same blaring hits from decades ago, roar as the President enters, listen to his trademark attacks and alternative facts, boo liberals and the media, chant the classic chants, and relive the drama of election night that Trump recounts nearly every time. She goes onto note that not even Fox News carries every rally live anymore, and quote, "Some attendees will wait hours to see the President then leave before he has finished speaking to beat the traffic." Indeed, when we look back at 2016, our archives revealed some of the repetition she`s talking about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Polls have just closed in the state of Montana. Trump has won Montana. The vote is in, the polls have closed in Kentucky. Donald Trump is the winner. We won Ohio by so much that it took one second before they called. Pennsylvania was always the person that got away.
You know, my son comes up here, does anybody know that? Where are the guys that go hunting with my son? My son is here all the time, Don, big fan. He`s a hunter. He`s a hunter.
We have tremendous crowds no matter where we go, and it really is. It`s a movement. No matter where we go we have crowds like nobody`s ever seen before. And we have crowds with tens of thousands of people outside every arena. They have to start building larger arenas in this country.
For a long time i said, oh, the cameras are very modern, they don`t move because my wife would always say you never show the crowd. They never turn the cameras. I go home, I say my wife, how did the crowd look? They only show your face.
We don`t win anymore. You people don`t win, that`s for sure. You just have to look at the statistics, the jobs. We`re going to start winning again. We`re going to win so much you`re going to get sick and tired of winning. The only reason to vote Democrat is if you are tired of winning. Then you should vote Democrat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And so on. That`ll do it for our Friday night broadcast and for this week. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Have a good weekend. Goodnight from NBC News headquarters here in New York.
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