Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: October 22, 2018 Guest: Carolyn Ryan, Sam Stein, Greg Miller, Carol Leonnig
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, none of it matters, what they said about each other, how family members were attacked, none of it because tonight Donald Trump and Ted Cruz acted like best friends at a rally in Texas with the midterms approaching.
We`ve got Steve Kornacki can at the big board with new numbers.
Plus, our National Security Advisor, John Bolton goes to Russia and tells them their election meddling had no effect on 2016. But would the intelligence community agree with that?
And on the Russia front, Roger Stone feeling the heat of Mueller`s attention. The reporter who broke the story joining us tonight with details.
THE 11TH HOUR on a Monday night, begins now.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York on a Monday night. Day 641 of the Trump administration and the President just wrapped up a rally in Houston, Texas, stumping for, of all people, his own political foes, Senator Ted Cruz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I`ll tell you what, nobody has helped me more with your tax cuts, with your regulation, with all of the things that we`re doing, including military and our vets than Senator Ted Cruz. Nobody.
Ted`s opponent in this race is a stone-cold phony named Robert Francis O`Rourke. Sometimes referred to as "Beto." And he pretends to be a moderate but he`s actually a radical, open border, left winger. That`s what he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Earlier tonight President Trump actually called Senator Cruz, "beautiful Ted" before departing for Texas. And let`s take just a quick moment to review just how crazy that is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED CRUZ (R-TX), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: -- matter of principle and I`ll tell you --
TRUMP: You are the, I think the biggest liar. You`re probably worse than Jeb Bush. You are the single biggest liar.
CRUZ: I don`t get angry often, but you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that`ll do it every time. Donald, you`re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.
TRUMP: High in Ted. Hold bible high, puts it down and then he lies.
CRUZ: Donald is a bully. The man is utterly a more (ph).
TRUMP: I think he`s crazy. I honestly think he`s crazy.
CRUZ: This man is a pathological liar. He doesn`t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that come outs of his mouth.
TRUMP (via telephone): His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this with prior to his being shot and nobody even brings it up. I mean, they don`t even talk about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Donald Trump and the man he now calls "beautiful Ted." Tonight the President once again spoke about this caravan of migrants moving north from Honduras toward the U.S. It`s become a favorite topic for Trump as this midterms approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As the caravan, and look, that is an assault on our country. That`s an assault.
And in that caravan, you have some very bad people. You have some very bad people. And we can`t let that happen to our country. It is not. And I was just talking to your great governor and senators and we were talking about your attorney general who I`ll going to be introducing in a second, but I`m talking to a lot of your people and they are going to form a wall, different kind of a wall until we get the other one built. We need a wall built fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Earlier today the President made this claim without any evidence about the caravan and we, "Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted border patrol and military that this is a national emergy." He called it a "national emergy," "Must change laws."
Tonight Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, and Josh Dawsey at "The Washington Post" report that President Trump has settled on a strategy of fear, list with falsehoods to motivate Republican voters, and we, "The President has been especially focussed in recent days on a caravan of about 5,000 migrants traveling north across the U.S. border, a group he has darkly characterized as gang members, violent criminals, an unknown Middle Easterners. A claim for which is administration so far provided no concrete evidence. The approach, in many ways, seeks to recreate the 2016 playbook that lifted Trump to the presidency in which cultural flash points and controversies like the specter of mass illegal migration helped to energize Trump supporters."
And he saw plenty of that on display tonight in Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Republicans believe we should protect public benefits for truly needy Americans, not for illegal aliens.
As we speak, the Democrat party is openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders, and overwhelm our nation, that`s what happening. The Democrats have launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country, the security of our nation, and the safety of every single American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Meanwhile some very high profile Democrats were out on the campaign trail urging people to get out and vote. Vice President Joe Biden in Florida Supporting Andrew Gillum for governor and Bill Nelson for Senate. President Obama was in Nevada today supporting Democratic candidates urging people to head to the polls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D) FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: This kind of politics, it`s not actually conservative. It`s radical. It is a vision that says we`re going to protect our power no matter what. Even if it hurts the country.
JOE BIDEN, (D) FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: It`s about time we begin to tell the American story. It`s about time we lift our heads up. Get the hell up and take back the country.
It`s about who we are! It`s about dreaming again. Dreaming again. It`s about possibilities! Remember, this is the United States of America! Unlike any country in the world. And that`s not hyperbole. So let`s take it back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Yesterday Carl Burnstein had this warning about what he is hearing from inside the White House about what could happen if Democrats win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL BURNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I talk to people in the White House or in touch with the White House on Friday who believed that if the Congressional midterms are very close and the Democrats were to win by five or seven seats, that Trump is already talking about how to throw legal challenges into the courts, sow confusion, declare a victory actually and say that the election is been illegitimate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Carl Burnstein from this weekend. And while our guests are standing by to join us, we`re going to begin a little differently tonight because we have new numbers on the coming midterms that means our national political correspondent Steve Kornacki must be at the big board tonight to join us and start us off.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brian. Yes. And that the idea that this could be very close in terms of the battle for the House. Our new NBC News "Wall Street Journal" poll suggesting, yes, there may be something to that.
Here is what we found, first of all, the headline number here, this one good news for Democrats. No question the generic ballot. Which candidate do you plan to vote for, the Democrat or Republican? Nine-point edge for Democrats. That`s totally in line with what Democrats are hoping to see in terms of taking back the House.
Here, though, is where it gets more complicated, the President`s job approval rating. Our poll also showing that reaching to 47 percent, that is the high water mark in our poll for Donald Trump as President.
And Republicans have been saying if they can get Trump to that 45 percent, 46 percent, 47 percent margin in his approval rating that that might give them a fighting chance at keeping the House. This is where it gets I think particularly tricky and particularly key, the question of enthusiasm. Which side is more enthusiastic? Is there an edge there?
The story for so much of 2018 and 2017 was in imbalance. We saw it in our poll this summer, in august. Democrats, you see here, we had them with an 11 point enthusiasm edge.
People are saying they were very interested in voting this November. Now in our new poll, that 11 point edge, see what happened, Democrat, their enthusiasm has gone up but Republicans it`s going up by an even larger share there. So now Democrats with only a four point edge down from 11 when it comes to enthusiasm.
This is interesting. Take a look at the last three midterm elections that produced wave results, 2014 for the Republicans, 2010 for the Republicans, 2006 for the Democrats. What do they have in common? At this point, in our poll, on the enthusiasm question there was a double digit advantage in all three of those races for the party that ended up having the wave election.
What we`re seeing now a four point advantage for Democrats in just extremely high motivation on both sides. So what that is pointing to, Brian, probably, when you add in the generic ballot, Democratic gains, Democrats they need a net gain of 23 seats. They certainly seem to be in line for some gains here.
But is that margin close enough where Republicans could keep those gains somewhere right around that 23 seat number? Maybe ideally in the Republican world just below it, just saving the House or is that enthusiasm so high the Democratic side, they can still get over it? But it looks a little more complicated especially when you take a look at enthusiasm than we`ve seen in the past three midterm waves.
WILLIAMS: Well, you just got the attention of a lot of people. Steve Kornacki, stay on those numbers. We will stay on you and thank you for starting us off tonight.
And now to our leadoff panel on a Monday evening, Sam Stein, Politics Editor for the "Daily Beast" and Carolyn Ryan back with us as well, Assistant Managing Editor for "The New York Times" and a veteran on political journalist.
So, Carolyn, what does it say about these midterms that these two guys, let`s speak English, who hate each other, were side by side and lovie dovy at this rally tonight in Texas? What does that say about ant of this?
CAROLYN RYAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR: Well, in a midterm when you have incumbent senators running for re-election, there`s always a little bit of a dance, am I with the President on some issues? Do I depart from the President? This is nothing like this.
This is acrobatics like we`ve never seen. This is somebody who suggested the candidate`s father had something to do with assassinating one of the most popular presidents in American history.
So, what you`re seeing is how important Texas is to the Republicans but also how important momentum is overall in securing those red states. So you`re seeing Donald Trump out a lot. You`re seeing Donald Trump assume the stage, dominate the news. And as you pointed out, in the intro, really point to issues that helped him two years ago. Immigration, which, you know, you have the --they`re really being aided by that visual of a caravan and he is throwing a lot of falsehoods out there about what is happening.
But Democrats, as you know, when you`re talking immigration are usually on the defensive. Republicans like that issue. They like it for their base. And they really want to get the sort of blue collar Trump voters out.
The problem in a midterm is not that your voters might go for the other guy. It`s really indifference. So you`ve got to mobilize, you got to energize, and sometimes you got to scare people. And that`s what it seems like they`re doing.
WILLIAMS: So, Sam, let`s start with that caravan. President is out there, certainly, indicating the Democrats are funding it. Others are straight up saying it`s George Sorrows. No evidence of either one being true. These bad people are going to come for your homes and your family. There`s embedded gangsters, embedded vaguely Middle Eastern people. Is that a strategy?
SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST POLITICS EDITOR: Yes. I mean, it`s a strategy. It`s based in, you know, abject falsehoods. Our just serious lack of understanding of what is happening. First of all, this caravan is somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 miles from the border. It`s not descending upon the United States. So we should be clear about that.
And secondarily, there`s just no evidence even provided by the Trump administration itself to support the President`s assertion that there are, "Middle Easterners" within the caravan. As if being from the Middle East is inherently bad thing. Which it`s not.
So this is, of course, strategy that Trump uses. It`s a strategy based on fear. It`s a strategy based on fear, particularly, brown-skinned people from the southern border coming across and taking over American society, socioeconomically. And it has worked for him in the past, obviously, it worked in 2016.
And clearly the White House feels like from a political standpoint this is the type of issue that could be beneficial in the midterm elections. And I will say just a quick, you know, observation in the media coverage today, they have been very savvy at it. They have injected a topic that hasn`t been or isn`t -- it hasn`t been a focal point of the conversation. Isn`t that pressing of an issue per say. And they made it into national news throughout the course of the day.
Now, can they sustain that for two weeks? I don`t know. Because it`s not a pressing issue compared to everything else. But they`ve been very savvy at getting this discussed in a way that it probably doesn`t deserve to be discussed.
WILLIAMS: And you mentioned socioeconomics. That is the raw material of demographers.
And Carolyn, from demographers, you`ve been able to kind of distill this midterm into two distinct demographic groups.
RYAN: What you`re really looking at on the Democratic side at women. College-educated women who, as you know, fed up, upset about what happened in the Kavanaugh nomination, and really determined to go out and vote. So they are sort of the leading edge of the Democratic mobilization.
And then on the Republican side, you have blue collar men, essentially men without a college degree, who are loyal to Trump in a lot of cases. Are they going to vote? It does seem like the immigration issue appeals to them for a whole range of reasons. And those are sort of the groups that you really have to watch when you`re looking at who is going to be the most enthusiastic. Who`s actually going to turn out?
WILLIAMS: Sam, another bit of news the President broke today. We`ll play this and talk about it on the other side.
WILLIAMS: This apparent outbreak of rioting in California. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEOFF BENNETT, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You said Californians are rioting ever the sanctuary city issue. Where?
TRUMP: You shouldn`t have -- take a look, they want to get out of sight.
Many places in California want to get out.
BENNETT: But that`s not rioting, sir, right?
TRUMP: Yes. It is rioting in some place (ph)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So, Sam, I didn`t call a friend of mine in Santa Monica this afternoon because I just assumed he couldn`t hear me over the rioting. Is this another false lead? Is there not rioting throughout California?
STEIN: No. No. There is not. I mean, this is -- you have to step back at some point and just recognize how crazy this is. That the President of the United States is throwing around baseless stories, accusations, riots, concocting riots. Today he made up the possibility of passing tax reform before the election even though Congress isn`t in session. All of this is happening in front of us and we sort of take it in stride because it`s so regular. But it`s bizarre to just sort of contact these things and act as if they`re realities.
The truth is, there have been some instances of overzealous protesters disrupting, in some cases meals of Republican lawmakers, in some cases going even further. They have stormed the Supreme Court during the Kavanaugh protests. But the truth in matter is it`s been happening on both sides. And this isn`t both sides. It`s just reality.
We`ve seen Democrats be protested in similar ways, Nancy Pelosi down in Florida over the weekend, for instance. And this is what is happening. But there is no one party who is to blame for it. And certainly the way -- nothing is happening on the scale of what the President is describing.
RYAN: If I could just jump in, I don`t think we can under estimate the power of what Trump is doing. Look at your own poll and you look at what issues are people going to vote on, 22 percent of your respondent said immigration. This is during a period where there`s very little actually border crossing. It`s sort of a net zero.
WILLIAMS: Right. Net zero.
RYAN: But when the President of the United States is talking and it seems almost fixated on immigration, it gets it into the national broadcastry.
WILLIAMS: It became an issue almost out of nowhere in the post Kavanaugh period of time.
Our thanks to Sam Stein, to Carolyn Ryan for starting off our broadcast tonight.
STEIN: Thanks, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Veterans both.
And coming up, President Trump send CIA Director Gina Haspel to Turkey as part of the government`s investigation into Khashoggi. But Jared Kushner says they are still in a fact-finding phase.
And later, Roger Stone, famously has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back, these days, there may also be a large target competing for space. More on that when we continue as "The 11th Hour" is just getting started on a Monday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe what the Saudis have said about Khashoggi?
TRUMP: Well, you know what, Jon (ph), I`m getting now very short (ph) because I have a great group of people in Turkey right now and a great group of people in Saudi Arabia.
I am not satisfied with what I`ve heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: President Trump earlier this afternoon before leaving for Texas and that rally tonight. During an interview on board Air Force One, Trump told USA Today he expect -- he suspects the killing of "Washington Post" writer Jamaal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey was a "plot gone awry."
Tonight, a senior intelligence official confirms to NBC News, CIA Director Gina Haspel is indeed traveling to Turkey as part of the U.S. investigation in the Khashoggi`s death.
There is a disturbing new development in this case that raises new questions about Saudi Arabia`s that the king -- the killing, rather, was not premeditated.
Our guest are here and in place. And before we bring them in for our discussion, our Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel has compiled the details for us from Istanbul.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Saudi Arabia denies it ordered the journalist to be killed. Officials say a fight broke out and he ended up dead. But tonight reports, an advisor to the Saudi Crown Prince was on Skype with the killers giving orders. The advisor was fired last week.
Turkish and Saudi Arabia brutally murdered Khashoggi and then bungled to cover up, including the unconvincing news of a body double.
Turkish officials leaked to CNN security footage of this man walking around Istanbul after Khashoggi was dead. Dressed in clothing and glasses.
And tonight, a pro-government T.V. station here aired this, it says, "There are Saudi officials burning documents at their consulate after Khashoggi`s murder." Turkey says the amateurish killers left a clear trail of evidence.
(on camera) A forensic team has just arrived to this underground parking lot where police have found an abandoned vehicle with Saudi diplomatic plates.
Turkey has been revealing damning information about its old regional rival Saudi Arabia day by day. But the white house says it still needs more time to examine the facts.
And today Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with the man who is now the focus of global scrutiny. Saudi Arabia`s Crown Prince.
Richard Engel, NBC News, Istanbul.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WILLIAMS: Well, there are the facts and as promised here to talk about all of that, Greg Miller, Pulitzer Prize Winning National Security Correspondent for "The Washington Post" and Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at CIA and the Pentagon.
And Jeremy, it`s those two posts I`d like to -- that explain starting with you tonight. CIA Director has been sent over to Turkey. How conventional a move is that? What is it say to you about this case?
JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, it`s pretty typical to send a CIA Director overseas to talk to other intelligence counterparts. It`s pretty atypically, Brian, to do so in such a public fashion kind of in the middle of a maelstrom. And it`s clear that the Trump administration has not been able to keep up with the pace the torrent of leaks about the facts of this matter that the Turkish intelligence and Turkish security services are putting out through the media.
And what I think just happened is Washington has become flat flooded or reactive, or not actually understanding the actual facts of the matter and then we get caught by these revelations in the press and the President and his aide are just scrambling to keep up. And they`re looking to kind of cover up for MBS and it`s not going over very well with each passing day, the story gets worse and worse.
And so Gina Haspel has gone out to Ankara to see what the Turks and try to understand exactly what they know and exactly what they intend to reveal tomorrow.
WILLIAMS: Greg, we`ve watched and listened to this President kind of mimic the official line each day as we`ve going on. It`s been the craziest and yet also the saddest trauma to watch unfold. Will this further deepen the gap, lengthen the gap between this President and his intelligence community who can`t have been briefing him this whole time the wrong story.
GREG MILLER, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No, I think you`re right on that, Brian. And I was just thinking the same thing. I mean, Sending Gina Haspel to Turkey in certain sort of fact-finding effort here allegedly is kind of, you know, how is this going to work when she comes back with the facts that this White House really hasn`t wanted to accept from the very beginning. I mean, the story has been pretty clear, the Saudi sort story and crumbled from the almost the minute they uttered this ridiculous explanation for what happened in their own consulate. But this White House, this administration has been very patient and very supportive.
And Trump himself has often been moving (ph) and leading with the Saudi talking points. So I don`t know how he`s going to reconcile that when his CIA director returns with the reality.
WILLIAMS: Greg, I got another one for you. And that is the dollar figures. And the jobs this President talks about in relation to Saudi Arabia. It`s been the entire underpinning of his, hey, let`s not act rash here, argument about the Saudis. We have placed together the migration of those numbers. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don`t like the concept of stopping an investment of a $110 billion.
500,000 jobs, it will be ultimately $110 billion, the biggest order in the history of our country from an outside military.
We have $450 billion worth of things ordered from a very rich country. Saudi Arabia. And 600,000 jobs.
We have $450 billion, a 110 billion of which is a military order, but this is equipment and various things ordered from Saudi Arabia. Four hundred and fifty billion dollars. I think it`s over a million jobs.
I don`t want to lose $110 billion in terms of investment but it`s really $450 billion if you include other than military. So that`s very important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Greg, I know the Fed has been raising rates, but that escalated quickly. That went from $110 to $450 billion and now its a million jobs, that was just before tonight`s trip to Texas. It could have risen during the evening. Is any of that based in truth?
MILLER: Not at all. Obviously, this is a President who has a tenuous grip on the truth and the best of circumstances but he is been on a spree of whoppers leading up to this election and involving this issue that`s really off the charts.
His own White House statement several months ago on the same deals put the job count in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands. And many experts believe even that was highly exaggerated. Most of these deals are sort of based on memos of intent. They`re not signed contracts. They`re not leading and many of these jobs would end up in Saudi Arabia and not the United States. And it`s nowhere near the numbers that Trump is claiming.
WILLIAMS: When we come back, both guests have agreed to stay with us over a break. We`re going to talk about Jeremy`s life work and we`re going to talk about the book Greg just wrote because we`re going to change the subject to Russia. The trip there by our National Security Advisor, what he told the Russians about how far they might have reached into our elections. That and more when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia has not adhered to the agreement. This should have been done years ago until people come to their senses. We have more money than anybody else by far. We`ll build it up. Until they come to their senses. When they do, then we all be smart and we`ll stop and, by the way, not only stop we`ll reduce, which I would love to do. But right now they have not adhered to the agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Well, to sum it up. Hope everybody is in the mood for an expensive arms race with our former Cold War adversaries. On Saturday, the President announced the U.S. intends to pull out of the intermediate range nuclear forces treaty.
A 1987 arms control agreement with the soviet the signed by Ronald Reagan. Trump`s comments came adds National Security Advisor John Bolton prepares to meet with Putin tomorrow. They`re also expected to talk about Russia`s interference in the 2016 election.
You`ll want to hear this. Speaking to a Russian radio station today Bolton down played the impact of the interference. He said, "The point I made to Russian colleagues today was that I didn`t think whatever they had done in terms of meddling in the 2016 election that they had any effect on it.
But what they have had effect on in the United States is to sow enormous distrust of Russian. A lot to talk about there. I can almost not talk about it.
Still with us Greg Miller and Jeremy`s Bash. Greg`s latest book by the way relevant to this conversation "The Apprentice" Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy.
So let me start with Jeremy with a dual question. And Jeremy, it seems to me the thesis of my question is the old fashioned nature of stewardship and the presidency. Number one, what about an arms race? What about casting aside this treaty?
And number two, the Feds just warned us last week of Russian attempts to meddle in our upcoming midterms where is the stewardship over the American people and their safety?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, CIA: Well, first, Donald Trump loves nuclear weapons. He campaigned on building up our nuclear arsenal. He actually asked to sent Secretary Jim Mattis to build some 30,000 nuclear weapons even though we only main 2,000.
And doing so would not only bankrupt us but destabilized the world. Other than was a great idea Brian. I was obviously rejected by the joint Chief and by the Sec. Dept. And here he is again walking from away from arms control and trying to trigger another arm first because I think honestly nuclear weapons make Donald Trump feel tough.
But in fact it won`t make us safer and there were other ways to counter Russia`s use of land base weapons and also to counter China stockpile intermediate range weapons. On this about John Bolton, I`ll just say very quickly that of course what his doing is he`s giving a green light to the Russians to continue to meddle, to attack our election I should say.
They`re doing so in 2018. It`s the Justice Department just indicted somebody for. And this is shameful because they undermine not only our intelligence but our collective defense.
WILLAIMS: Greg Miller, none of this makes sense if you know anything about Bolton and his history. He`s a neocon, he`s a veteran hawk. You`re book about this period and topic reads like a novel. You know what the next chapter going to be because we all lived it.
And yet you can`t wait to get there because of the pace and what you learned. So what do you think is up here?
GREG MILLER, AUTHOR "THE APPRENTICE": Well, I think that Bolton -- this is just sort of the latest example of the sort of contortion that you have to go through as National Security Official and that sort of core beliefs you have to set aside to be able to be part of this administration and to work with his President.
I mean, Bolton`s entire history sent a Russia hawk. And yet, here he has to make gestures toward Russia to be able to work with Trump. He`s the one who sets up the summit in Helsinki for Trump. Of course his predecessor H.R. McMaster had tried to put that off and avoid and try to prevent that from happening.
And now, Bolton has to mount this argument that Russia`s interference really didn`t hurt Hillary Clinton or helped Donald Trump`s chances, which is the core belief that you have to have to work this closely into this White House to this President.
And everything we`ve learned suggests that that just not true. For one, U.S. intelligence agencies specifically did not look at that question because it`s not part of their mission. It`s not part of their job.
But the data that Facebook has looked through and Twitter has looked through has shown that more than 125 million Americans were exposed to Russia propaganda denigrating Hillary Clinton and propping up Donald Trump 2016. And this is in a race that came down to fewer than 80,000 votes. The math just becomes overwhelming.
WILLIAMS: And thank you for putting it that way. Thank both gentlemen for coming on with us. Greg Miller, Jeremy Bash. Really appreciate it. Again, Greg`s book has called "The Apprentice. It is available now. Another break for us.
And coming up, Robert Mueller`s Russia investigation has gone mostly quiet ahead of the midterms as predicted. But one man`s name just keeps popping up.
WILLIAMS: Despite what we`ll call a quiet period in the special counsel`s investigation, the "Washington Post" reports that Mueller`s team "Aggressively pursuing possible ties between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, you remember them.
At the center of the latest inquiries President Trump`s associated and friend of over three decades, Roger Stone. "Washington Post" reporter Carol Leonnig has a byline and the story and standing by to join us.
The post report and "In recent weeks, a grand jury in Washington has listened to more than a dozen hours of testimony and FBI technicians have pored over gigabytes of electronic messages, that`s the part that get our attention, as part of the special counsel`s quest to solve one burning mystery. Did longtime Trump advisor Roger Stone or any other associate of the President have advance knowledge of Wikileaks` plans to release hacked Democratic e-mails in 2016?"
Today, in the statement to NBC News, Stone deny the accusation`s writing and this gets a bit tough but it as written. "I never received anything including allegedly hacked e-mails from Guccider 2.0, the Russians Wikileaks Assange no punctuation or anyone else and never passed anything on to Donald Trump the Trump campaign or anyone else. There is no witness who can honestly testify otherwise and no evidence to the contrary."
Well, with us for more. Before mentioned Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer prize- winning investigator reporter with the Washington Post, and former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor.
Carol, I saw you on our 4:00 p.m. broadcast and we agree on central point that we can`t get beyond. How did Roger Stone now to predict that Clintons` campaign chairman was about to have his turn in the barrel Tony Podesta?
CAROL LEONNIG, POLITICAL INVESTIGATOR REPORTER WASHINGTON POST: Six weeks before the amazing Podesta e-mails were leaked.
WILLIAMS: How did he know that?
LEONNIG: How did he know that? He said a lot of different things. But one thing Roger Stone has said more consistently than others is that he had some research that was provided to him by a conspiracy theorist who passed on something to a journalist and he received this information and it suggested, wow, this drove of e-mails that were released about Hillary Clinton`s campaign were missing materials from John Podesta.
That must be coming, it does seem a little pressure and people are straining to see how that could be true.
WILLIAMS: Joyce, if you`re Mueller, what does Stone get you? What does Stone bring you?
JOYCE VANCE FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Stone brings 30 years of relationship with President Trump. They`ve known each other for a long time. He`s got long-term relationships with Manafort. He has history with all of the key players who are central to discerning whether or not the Trump campaign was engaged in a conspiracy with Russia to impact the election.
WILLIAMS: And where do you believe -- you and I have talked on the air many times about Roger Stone about that target on his back. About the heat, what do you think this is all toward?
VANCE: Roger Stone is like every other key witness in a conspiracy. You can`t go around him. You have to confront all of the evidence as it comes to you. And Stone has made so many public statements about his connections with Wikileaks. There are so many as Carol so nicely put it otherwise inexplicable statements, predictions that he makes about acts that come to pass.
As the prosecutors in this case, you have to understand how he made those. Was he a bragger? Is he a liar, or was he actually connected to Wikileaks and Russia. If so, what, if any, of that information did he pass on to Trump since he also claimed that he and Trump talked frequently during the campaign? You`ve to go through that at a piece at a time to figure out what`s true and what`s not true.
WILLIAMS: Carol, just remind us, to our knowledge, Roger Stone has not been called in.
LEONNIG: That`s right. All though seven associate and friends have. And a lot of them have had their e-mails reviewed. Their text messages reviews, their DMs reviewed. There`s quite a lot of people around Roger Stone who come under scrutiny of a special counsel that must not enjoy having an association with Roger Stone at this moment.
But I like very much what Joyce just said about this issue of going through. It may improve at the end of the day, Brian, that Roger Stone was a bragger who didn`t have any real connection to Wikileaks. No special back channel.
Even though he boasted of it privately. Even though had had some unusual oppression in his predictions. But he does know a lot about Donald Trump, the candidate. Did he know about anything else that was going on behind the scenes that Donald Trump, who doesn`t use e-mail, was talking about.
WILLIAMS: I guess we`ll find out. The Feds, Joyce, your former colleague certainly have ways as they used to say in the old World War II movies. Joyce I have to ask you. We appeared together about a week ago. And you kind of were trying to temper the audiences` expectations about the Mueller investigation.
Everyone likes to see this and bright whites and dark blacks. And he`s going to go silent around the election. Of course, they`re just doing their jobs with their usual silence. Is that along the lines of what you`re trying to warn viewers, were you trying to say don`t expect a dog and pony show when this is over, don`t expect findings from Mueller because that`s not his job?
VANCE: We don`t really know what to expect from Mueller. At least we don`t know what to expect will become public. Mueller will likely write a report and submit it to Rod Rosenstein. And it`s not clear what the fate of that report will be.
It will likely end up, up on the hill. It`s not clear if it`ll go only the leadership or everyone up there. It could possibly have wider dissemination. Some of the material may be classified and that presents some issues. But the reality, Brian, is no matter what the rules say and no matter what the processes are, the American people deserve accountability.
And at the end of this, I think Rod Rosenstein will be sensitive to that. And there will be some form of public narrative. Whether that`s the narrative that people in either side are expecting. You know, a narrative that whitewashes Trump and said he did nothing wrong or a narrative that indicates that serious scene of the crimes were convicted.
We don`t know the answer to that. I feel confident that Mueller will simply chase the facts, follow the law, and wherever those cards fall, he`ll represent those. He won`t try to push it one direction or another.
WILLIAMS: That`s why I asked. Our thanks to a veteran Fed and Pulitzer Prize recipient Carol Leonnig, Joyce Vance. Thank you both so much.
Coming up, there aren`t supposed to be impediments to legal registered voters casting their votes. Yet we`ll take you to a place where that is the fear right now.
WILLIAMS: Midterms are now 15 days away, but early voting already under way across a lot of the country. And with it, concerns that not every eligible American voter will be able to cast their ballot, far from it, in fact.
Just last week the group Black Voters Matter said government officials told about 40 black senior citizens in Georgia to get off of a bus that was taking them to do their early voting. The county administrator told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
They considered the trip a political activity, which is against the rules at county-sponsored event. Meanwhile, a new state policy means thousands of Georgians may only discover they are no longer registered to vote, no longer on the rolls when they arrive at the polls to vote.
We have a report on this tonight from NBC News correspondent Rahema Ellis.
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REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Marsha Appling-Nunez was showing her college students how to register to vote online when she got a rude awakening. After casting ballots on elections since she was 18, she discovered she was no longer registered.
You were in disbelief?
MARSHA APPLING-NUNEZ: Yes, definitely embarrassed.
ELLIS: How did this happen? Georgia has an exact match law requiring voter information be identical to other state records. If a single letter, a hyphen and abbreviation or anything is out of place, the registration goes on a pending list.
In Marsha`s case, the A in Appling was missing. Even more surprising the exact match law seems to be discriminating by race. An Associated Press analysis shows nearly 70 percent of voters with pending status are black in a state that`s only 32 percent black.
STACEY ABRAMS (D), CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR: We are Georgia.
ELLIS: Democrats Stacey Abrams is running for Georgia governor against Republican Brian Kemp, Secretary of State, who`s also in charge of voter registration.
ABRAMS: I have an opponent who has been an architect of voter suppression.
ELLIS: Kemp refused our request for an interview. But on Fox News denies Abrams claims.
BRIAN KEMP (R), CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR: Oh, that`s a smoke screen trying to hide her radical views. Those folks that are on the pending list, all they have to do is go to the polls, show their photo I.D. and they can vote.
ABRAMS: The problem is he`s not even allowing those legally permitted to vote to cast a ballot in the state without fear of being blocked and being suppressed.
ELLIS: Civil rights groups have now sued the secretary of state`s office and Kemp alleging the exact match law has a discriminatory impact on African-Americans, Latino, and Asian-American applicants.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it being implemented differently?
ELLIS: And then another lawsuit in Gwinnett County, where more than 60 percent of residents are minorities, 9.6 percent or nearly 1 in 10 ballots are being rejected according to the lawsuit, by one analysis that`s 12 times the reject rate of the rest of the state.
But he says they`re just following the letter the of the state law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the law is the same in 159 counties, so why is it being implemented differently in Gwinnett County compared to all other counties?
ELLIS: After weeks and numerous attempts to correct her registration status Marsha was cleared.
What would you advise other people to do?
APPLING-NUNEZ: Stay diligent, stay active, check your voter registration status.
ELLIS: On listening democracy, this college professor never thought she`d have to teach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELLIS: As for those mailed-in ballots that are being rejected without notification, a remedy may be on the way. A court hearing on this issue is schedule for tomorrow. The ACLU is hoping the court will force the state to notify a voter if they`re mail-in ballot has been rejected and give them time to correct any issue so that their vote can be counted. Brian?
WILLIAMS: Rehema Ellis reporting for us tonight. Rehema, thanks.
And coming up a game changer in American life has gone silent after years of service to this country, when the 11th Hour continues.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight. There can only be so many genuine American icons, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O`Connor is one of them. Born in El Paso, the daughter of a rancher raise in Arizona, she was truly a self-made Supreme Court Justice.
Stanford, Stanford Law School though none of that mattered when no one want to higher her as a young lawyer, but on grit and sheer intellectual power, she made up for lost time. Ronald Reagan chose her out of the Arizona court of appeals and in 1981 nominated her to the Supreme Court.
She was confirmed 99 nothing and served 25 years. In retirement she still heard cases on the federal bench. She taught law, she wrote books, she campaigned for civics education in our schools. And she went fly fishing whenever she could, but mostly, early on she cared for her husband as the veil of Alzheimer`s descended.
Well, today we learned a giant of our contemporary history. Sandra Day O`Connor has "Stepped back from public life. Her son, Jay O`Connor said in a recent telephone interview with the Associated Press that his mother like many who reached their upper 80s began to have challenges with her short- term memory.
And that she now primarily uses a wheelchair. After her retirement, Justice O`Connor didn`t always like the direction the court took and she said so. And she did not like when decisions that she had shaped were overturned.
History will always remember the first woman on the court. The three women currently on the court know they are still just the first wave, just the start. Despite our impatience, change takes time and Justice O`Connor was the game-changer. Publicly silent now but luckily, we are left with her words and her work and a nation that is better for both. That is our broadcast on a Monday night as we start a new week. Thank you so very much for being here with us. And goodnight from NBC News headquarters here in New York.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END