Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: November 1, 2018 Guest: Frank Figliuzzi, Cynthia Alksne, Jeremy Bash, Michael Schmidt, A.B. Stoddard, Jill Colvin, Tia Mitchell, A.B. Stoddard, Jill Colvin, Mike Murphy
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MNSBC HOST: Sully Sullenberger has been a lifetime Republican. He is now advocating that everyone vote Democratic in this upcoming election. At Saturday night at 9:00 p.m., in an exclusive interview, Sully Sullenberger will tell us why he has made that decision and why he is advocating people vote Democratic. Now, that is tonight's "Last Word." "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, what did Roger Stone know about the WikiLeaks e-mail attack on the Clinton campaign in '16 and when did he know it? "The New York Times" breaks news with e-mails between Stone and Steve Bannon an exchange that the Mueller team has already well aware of.
Looking for the next most provocative thing to say, the President today offered this, threatening to invoke a national emergency and ordering U.S. forces to shoot any migrants on approach to our southern border who may be throwing rocks.
And did we mention the midterms are five days away? That's what brought Oprah to Georgia where she delivered a stem winder on voting rights and where the Democrats are hoping to win the governor's race. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Thursday night.
And good evening, once again, from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 651 of the Trump administration, and five days ahead of Election Day, the President said tonight that although two maniacs had disrupted the momentum of the midterm campaigns, one with pipe bombs, the other with an AR-15 in a synagogue, he feels the momentum coming back. More on that in a moment.
But first tonight we begin with the looming existential threat that hangs over this entire administration. That would be the Russia investigation, and specifically this latest reporting from "The New York Times" that may further connect the dots between the Trump campaign for president and Russia.
This is new reporting about veteran Trump Advisor Roger Stone, friend of the President for 30 years, and his links to WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign during 2016. One of the co-authors, Michael Schmidt, is standing by to join us.
The "Times" is reporting on a newly revealed e-mail exchange between Stone and campaign head Steve Bannon that, "underscores how Mr. Stone presented himself to Trump campaign officials: as a conduit of inside information from WikiLeaks, Russia's chosen repository for documents hacked from Democratic computers.
Mr. Bannon and two other former senior campaign officials have detailed to prosecutors for special counsel, Robert Mueller, how Mr. Stone created that impression, according to people familiar with their accounts.
One of them told investigators that Mr. Stone not only seemed to predict WikiLeaks' actions, but that he also took credit afterward for the timing of its disclosures that damaged Hillary Clinton's candidacy."
According to the "Times," after Roger Stone tweeted about predictions of an October surprise from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a reporter from Breitbart e-mailed him, "Assange, what's he got? Hope it's good." Stone writes back, "It is. I'd tell Bannon but he doesn't call me back."
The Breitbart reporter forwarded the e-mails to Bannon and he seemed to brush them off. The very next day, Assange held a press conference promising weekly dumps of documents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: We hope to be publishing every week for the next 10 weeks. We have on schedule, and it's a very hard schedule, all the U.S. election-related documents to come out before November 8.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: After that, Steve Bannon reached out to Roger Stone to ask about it, writing, "What was that this morning?" Stone responded, "A load every week going forward."
"The New York Times" reports, "In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Stone insisted he did nothing more than posture, bluff, hype, based on WikiLeaks Twitter feed and miscellaneous tips."
Stone has issued similar denials about alleged ties to WikiLeaks in recent months, while also lashing out at Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: It is not inconceivable now that Mr. Mueller and his team may seek to conjure up some extraneous crime pertaining to my business or maybe not even pertaining to the 2016 election. I had no advance notice of the content, source, or the exact disclosure time of the WikiLeaks disclosures.
It's now abundantly clear that the special counsel seeks to go through every aspect of my personal, business and political life, try to conjure up some offense to pressure me to testify against the President.
I know that there exists nowhere evidence of Russian collusion or WikiLeaks collaboration or any nonsense pertaining to John Podesta's e-mail. But I'm also mindful of any prosecutor's ability to squeeze underlings to get them to compose testimony against a bigger fish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: A number of Stone's associates have been questioned by Mueller's team, and Stone is also firming back -- firing back, rather, at Steve Bannon in an op-ed in today's "Daily Caller." He's accusing Bannon of leaking their e-mail exchange to the media.
Stone writes, "Bannon's animus toward me stems from a column I wrote for the "Daily Caller" arguing that he had outlived his usefulness in the Trump White House and should be fired. The next day he was."
On that note, let's bring in our lead-off panel for a Thursday night. Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence who in the past worked for Robert Mueller among other. Cynthia Alksne , a former Federal Prosecutor, veteran of the Civil Rights Division at Justice who has worked with among others Robert Mueller. And Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at CIA and Pentagon, former Chief Counsel with the House Intel Committee.
We have also asked Michael Schmidt to join us at the very top of the broadcast here, the Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Correspondent for "The New York Times." Michael, for the people out late tonight, just arriving home who haven't had a chance to read and digest this work you contributed to, what do you view as the take away concerning the role of Messieurs Stone and Bannon?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, THE NEW YORK TIME WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What these new e-mails that we brought forward today show is one of the central question of Stone in the Mueller investigation. Was Stone someone who was simply trying to boast about contacts with Assange and WikiLeaks to give him extra relevance, to give him better currency in the Trump campaign and around the President or was he truly in touch with them? Was he truly a cut-out, truly a conduit?
And the campaign wasn't really sure. Several people have -- from the campaign, including Bannon, have told Mueller that Bannon represented himself as in touch with these -- with Assange and with WikiLeaks. But who really knew what he was doing?
The campaign was also not really sure what to make of Stone. They didn't want to alienate him. Stone is someone who, you know, has openly says he's gone out and created political problems for other people.
He's someone that the President trusts, and he was someone who, on the outside of the campaign, was doing a lot of work for the President, really trying to undercut Hillary Clinton publicly, and leading those efforts in a way that maybe the campaign thought that they couldn't.
So, what these e-mails show is that difficult balance that the campaign had with dealing with Stone, giving him attention, and trying to figure out what Assange really had as they're, you know, coming a month into the election. And, you know, what Mueller is looking at in the larger sort of sense of the investigation, where Stone fits in.
WILLIAMS: Michael, you are fond on this broadcast of describing the Mueller effort in terms of buckets. And we are in your debt, because it's a good word picture to paint. Where do you, in light of that view, those various buckets, in terms of completion based on what you know?
SCHMIDT: Well, in terms of buckets and the President, it's probably best to look at it with the President. In terms of this, this falls in the collusion bucket. And what did the President know? Was this information that trickled back do him?
Did Stone tell the President about his contacts with WikiLeaks? Did anyone in the campaign who stone spoke to talk to the President about it? What did the President know? That is even a question that Mueller has for the President.
When we learned the various questions that Mueller wants to ask the President, this is part of it. How much of that information actually got back do him? These are collusion questions.
The thing about the buckets is that many of the President's problems are in the obstruction bucket, things he has done since he came to office, his interactions with the Justice Department, his treatment of Jim Comey, his treatment of his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. So this is much more in the collusion area where there are fewer questions about the President.
WILLIAMS: Mike Schmidt, the creator as far as we know of the buckets theory of the Mueller investigation and the co-author of today's piece of work by "The New York Times." Mike, thanks for staying up with us. We know it's been a long day. Thank you for being on the broadcast again.
Let's go to our panel to start off, and that would be Frank. Frank, tell me how it is that Mr. Stone can rightfully contend that he has taken and passed a lie detector test? Tell me how it is that he can contend with such surety that he was never in touch with any Russians on the other side.
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: Well, a lie detector test is garbage in, garbage out. So, the questions have to be the right questions. So, if you're paying for your own lie detector test, you can pay for the right questions to be asked, and you have the right answers to those right questions.
So if the examiner is asking you, did you ever talk to anyone at WikiLeaks, and the answer -- the true answer is no, you're okay. You can say no. But he's not asking you the questions that really matter, like, were you in contact with the Russians? Who were in contact with WikiLeaks?
Or maybe you weren't in direct contact with WikiLeaks but Credeco was or someone else was. So you shape those questions and then you pronounce to the world that you've passed your own polygraph. That's the way that's done.
WILLIAMS: as a friend of mine likes to say, Frank, there's nothing that will serious you up in a hurry quite like sitting across from Mueller and/or his investigators. What is likely to happen in that room with Roger Stone?
FIGLIUZZI: Well, let's understand this. The person that knows more than Roger Stone even realize is Mueller. Why is that? We're talking about WikiLeaks. We're talking about the Russian intelligence service. The U.S. intelligence community has those entities covered like a blanket. That means that Mueller has the answers to the test. He has both ends of the equation.
So someone needs to make a decision. I'm either going to lie to the FBI and be charged with that among other charges, or I'm going to realize that they have the answers to the test. They know the other end of the communications. And so, when you get to this point in an investigation, Brian, it's coming to the end. They're asking you questions to see if you're going to lie about what they already know to be true.
WILLIAMS: Well, sounds like that would serious up most people.
Cynthia, with your former fed trained eye, what do you see as far as criminality in today's reporting by Mike and his colleagues?
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I don't think we know because it is one or the other. Either, you know, he calls himself the king of dirty tricks. He has a tattoo of Nixon on his back which is just as creepy as it could be.
WILLIAMS: I wasn't going to mention that.
ALKSNE: Well, I mean, it's just wow, ooh, too even late to talk about it anyway. And it could be -- it reasonably can be that he was completely bluffing, or it can be that he did know everything. And that when the access Hollywood tape came down, he use some secret way to communicate with Assange and said, please drop e-mails. And we just don't know that. Mueller knows that but we don't.
Something else that we know. We know two other things. One, he's a serial liar, because remember, he said originally, I never spoke to any Russians. Well, that turns out to not be true because there are texts that show he did talk to a Russian who offered to give him dirt on Hillary Clinton for $2 million. And he remembered in the texts what the guy was wearing. He called him the crazy Russian. He said he had a Russian accent. So that was a complete lie.
And it was just this week he said there are absolutely no e-mails which suggest that I ever told anybody in the Trump campaign about Julian Assange and what was going on with WikiLeaks. But, in fact, we have this e-mail today.
So, we know he's a serial liar. That's one thing we no. The other thing we know is, that during the campaign -- I mean, after he left the campaign, and during the general election, he had several campaign committees that were going on, that Mueller is also investigating. He was making a film at some point about Bill Clinton, which was very negative, and he also had another campaign.
And the person who was working in that other campaign, it had about $350,000 in it in a C-4, has been talking to Mueller. So, it may be one of those situations where he bluffed and said he was so important, which got himself investigated by Mueller. The end result may be that caused Mueller to find out about other things about him, which may be true. And we just don't know that yet, but we will know reasonably soon.
WILLIAMS: So, Jeremy, we've been talking with Mike and Frank and Cynthia thus far about Mr. Stone. Let me lead you to Mr. Bannon.
As we like to say, call-backs are only good in auditions. They're not good when it's Mueller, and you've already spent 20 hours, and now Bannon has gone back again. What do you think the risk is in this time line that we're seeing so far to Mr. Bannon?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think the big picture, Brian, is that there was a Trump tower meeting in June. At that meeting, the Russian government sent a delegation, and they informed the high command of the campaign -- Manafort, Trump Jr. and Kushner, that in fact that the Russian government would be interceding in the election by the hacked e-mails by dumping them into the campaign. They were informed of that in June and the conversation was about what policy trades they would get if Trump were elected president.
Following that according to Mueller's indictment of the Russian intelligence officials, the Russian intelligence officers actually moved those hacked e-mails to WikiLeaks. And now we see that Roger Stone got a heads up about those, that dumping of those e-mails and he informed the campaign manager, Steve Bannon. So now we have the following individuals on the Trump campaign witting of the Russian plot, Bannon, Kushner, Manafort, Donald Trump Jr.
To believe that Donald Trump, our current president, didn't know anything about it, you have to believe none of those people mentioned anything about it over a span of several months. Several individuals mentioning nothing to Donald Trump about this, I just find that absolutely hard to believe and I bet Bob Mueller does as well.
WILLIAMS: And, Frank, do I have it about right, the call-backs are great if you're looking for a part in the Lion King, not so great if it's Mueller calling?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes, that means he's got something more that you haven't shared with him and he's giving you an opportunity to come clean on that. And I think Bannon should be worried about that.
Look, if you rob a bank and if you know someone is robbing a bank, they give you the proceeds of that bank robbery, you know where his money came from. You're benefiting from it. And/or the person is paying your bills off with the proceeds from the bank robbery, you're likely going to prison. Bannon and Stone appear, or at least are being investigated for having prior knowledge of a bank robbery, in this case the hacking of e-mails.
If they benefited from it, the campaign, and they knew about it and did nothing about it, they're looking at prison time.
WILLIAMS: Cynthia, by definition, did Trump's legal risks go up today based on what we know?
ALKSNE: I think it's about the same. I will say this, the only thing worse than getting call-backs to Bob Mueller is not getting called by Bob Mueller when you're Stone.
WILLIAMS: Good point.
ALKSNE: And the people who haven't been interviewed by Bob Mueller right now are the people who are really in trouble, and that is Stone, Kushner, and Don Jr. Those are the people who are really in the crosshairs, and they aren't getting interviewed, and they should be very worried.
It will be interesting to see what happens as we move forward with Stone. I mean, maybe he gets an invitation to come to the grand jury. When somebody moves into target status, we instead of subpoenaing them, they get an invitation and they have to make an election. Is he going to try to BS the grand jury or is he going to take the 5th Amendment? And that will be an interesting development on that day.
WILLIAMS: Jeremy, we appreciate that folks are trying to wind down at the end of the day. We try not to scare folks, but this quote got our attention and it speaks to your background in national security, so I have to ask you.
This is from David Sanger in "The New York Times." "While some say they believe President Vladimir Putin of Russia is sitting out this election, the scrutiny is intense, the argument goes, and 470 House and Senate races make it just too hard for the Russians to figure out their interests, much less manipulate the outcome. Still, others find the quiet deeply disturbing, perhaps a sign of a plan to make a last-minute effort to the voters that their ballots might not be counted or counted correctly." Jeremy?
BASH: I think when the full tally of this election season is rendered, we're going to see if the Russians are very active. They've probably been very active on social media. They paid absolutely no price for doing so the last go around.
And we don't know yet the extent to which they have been able to somehow get into the election systems or somehow play some other role with their active measures, their covert action in our election season. I think that's going to be a big job for the U.S. intelligence community in the following months.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Michael Schmidt at the top of the broadcast and to our friends Frank Figliuzzi, Cynthia Alksne and Jeremy Bash, appreciate it greatly.
And coming up, the competing messages on the campaign trail today. Oprah enters the fray down south in a race the Democrats badly want. And later, the President gets called out for calling the media the enemy of the people, and offers his explanation. THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on a Thursday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN MEDIA EXECUTIVE AND TALK SHOW HOST: I called Stacey Abrams, and I said, "Stacey, this is Oprah." You know what she said? She said, "Girl, let me pullover the side of the road." And I told her that I wanted to come to Georgia and lend my support. And she said, "That would be all right."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams got some help, as we saw, from Oprah Winfrey today in Georgia. In a pair of town halls, Oprah made it clear this is not about her running for anything, rather, she said it was a trip to Georgia to help elect a candidate who could be the nation's first black woman governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: I'm here today because of Stacey Abrams. I'm here today -- and I'm here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed, and oppressed for the right for the equality at the polls. And I want you to know that their blood has seeped into my DNA and I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Dwarfing even the publisher's clearinghouse, some folks later got the surprise of their lives when Oprah went door to door briefly campaigning for Abrams. This is the race the Democrats badly want down south.
Abrams is running against Brian Kemp backed by Donald Trump in a close race where voter suppression is already out front as a major issue. Barack Obama, for good measure, heads to Georgia to campaign tomorrow. In contrast, the President's rally in Missouri tonight, again playing up immigration, especially that caravan making its way north through Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These are tough people. These are not angels. These are not little angels. These are tough people. And we're not letting them into our country. They're not coming in illegally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here to talk about it tonight, A.B. Stoddard back with us, Columnist and Associated Editor at RealClearPolitics. Jill Colvin returns, White House reporter for the Associated Press. And we welcome to our broadcast, Tia Mitchell, reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Tia, how did Oprah change the race, if at all, today?
TIA MITCHELL, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION REPORTER: I don't know if Oprah changed the race, but I do think Oprah is another tool that Stacey Abrams has to get her base riled up because she needs Democratic turnout to win the race on Tuesday. She needs Democrats across Georgia if she's going to turn Georgia blue.
WILLIAMS: And I hate to talk about her like she's a product, but she is a political asset. How did they deploy the political asset that is Oprah?
MITCHELL: Well, it was twofold today. There was Oprah the surrogate who got on stage and talked about why she thinks Stacey Abrams is good for Georgia and why she wants Stacey Abrams to win the race, but it was also classic Oprah. So, they sat down in plush arm chairs and just kind of had a one on one conversation. They talked about Stacey Abrams and her personal life and her family and her story.
And so I think it was that two-prong approach. So, it wasn't just Oprah on the campaign trail, kind of the way that Vice-President Pence and Brian Kemp have kind of said, you know, we don't need people coming from here just to say who to vote for. But it was also like that one on one Oprah interview that she's known for.
WILLIAMS: A.B., in your opinion, does this kind of thing get votes?
A.B. STODDARD, REALCLEARPOLITICS COLUMNIST AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR: I think that what she did was so counter intuitive, just injecting this positivity into the campaign, saying this is about discernment. We're going to turn our backs away from fear. This is about the privilege of voting, the power of voting. We're all the same at the ballot box, all of us. We live in the best country on earth. We get to do this.
Just absolutely the opposite of what everyone would expect, it obviously drawing a sharp contrast with President Trump's message. It was up beat. It was inspirational. It was energizing. She said to the people in the room, of course you're going to vote, but I need you to go out and get other people to vote for Stacey Abrams.
She didn't talk about President Trump. She didn't complain. She didn't name drop. She didn't name call. It was everything you don't expect in a political rally. And because of that, even if you didn't know who Stacey Abrams was this morning and you were a Georgia resident, this went viral and it's exciting and it just is -- there's just all up side for Stacey Abrams, I think.
WILLIAMS: Wow, well put indeed. Hey, Jill, because you play the hard news role here all the time, we have to snap the conversation back to the President talking today about the caravan. We'll do that and talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They're throwing rocks viciously and violently. You saw that three days ago, really hurting the military. We're not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We're going to consider it. And I tell them consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Jill, I heard Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of IAVA, Iraq Combat Veteran tonight on another network saying they got rocks thrown at them constantly in Iraq. They never emptied their clip at someone in return. You couldn't ask for more of a broad contrast between these two events today.
JILL COLVIN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Absolutely. The contrast here could not be clearer. Look, the President is planning a trip to Georgia on this weekend. Mike Pence was there today campaigning, but the split screen image that everyone saw today was Oprah Winfrey up on stage there versus the President delivering this very hard line speech and the White House in the Roosevelt room, delivering his vision on immigration.
The President in the final days of his campaign is really focused on a campaign of fear and zeroing in on illegal immigration. Today he talked about a plan. He said that he plans to sign an executive order next week that will crackdown on asylum seekers. He says his plan is to prevent any asylum seekers who try to enter the country illegally between ports of entry claiming those people will not be allowed into the country period. And then saying that he plans to erect tent cities of thousands of tents along the border in the southwest, a full of asylum seekers.
These are people who are coming to the country. These are people who fear for their lives, who fear for their safety, who are trying to take refuge in the United States. And the President has clearly tried to seize on these people trying to paint them as dangerous, trying to paint them as people who will bring crime and danger to the families of America as he tries in the final days of this campaign to energize republican voters and get them to come out using the same play book that he did in 2016. A play book that for him was successful.
WILLIAMS: A.B, react for me, please, to what Steve Schmidt said on twitter tonight. "The deployment of active duty U.S. Armed Forces to the U.S./Mexican border in an operation named faithful patriot, with lethal force authorized, is a scandal. This is a shameful misuse and abuse of the U.S. Military in service of Trump's desperate political stunts."
STODDARD: Well, the -- I think that many people in the military feel that way, but this is not an illegal deployment. It was used -- the same type of operation was used smaller scale by Presidents Bush and Obama. The military says yes to their commander-in-chief. And no one has going to resign over this as much as this is making people all the way up to Secretary Mattis uncomfortable. This -- beyond this is the layering over the birthright citizenship executive order, and now this other fictional executive order about minimizing the -- excuse me, restricting the criteria for asylum.
It's very surreal, even by the Trumpian threshold. He's gotten into this frantic sort of manic thing where each day he has to add a new layer of action to the caravan fear campaign theme. By Tuesday morning it could be 60,000 troops because he keeps elevating the number. But what I wonder in terms of its effect, Brian, if you are a Trump voter and he's raised the stakes with all this fear, but now he's told you there's all these executive orders and they've sealed the border, are you actually motivated to vote on Tuesday?
Or if have you had your fears assuaged by all these promises, all these "solutions" that promise that there are people with rifles, no one is coming in, birthright citizenship is about to be ended, and asylum is going to be extremely narrowed down. I just don't know what these people believe.
WILLIAMS: And Jill, indeed today, under the cloak of new policy which didn't materialize, the President used, as you know, the backdrop of the stature of the Roosevelt room in the west wing across the hall from the Oval Office for today's announcement. There was a lot of talk about that. And to A.B.'s point, how much more can he ratchet it up in these remaining rallies?
COLVIN: Well exactly. I mean the question is now it's almost every day the President has tried to unveil one of these new sort of shock and awe proposals, you know, from claiming yesterday that he was going to increase the number of troops along the border to up to 15,000 people, which is an extraordinary number, to his announcement about attempting to revoke the birthright citizenship right. I mean every day we have had this build up as the President attempts here to increase the stake.
And also as he's described it, really focus attention on the issue. We heard the President tonight as -- in the rally talking about how he felt like momentum had been diverted by the incidents that we had last week, speaking about the person who sent the suspicious packages to those people, the President's critics, and then of course the synagogue shooting on Saturday and the President talking about how he's interested in now reclaiming that momentum in the final days leading up into this race.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks and again welcome to the broadcast to Tia Mitchell who suddenly is living in the most powerful state in the union in terms of politics. You got the former President tomorrow. Thanks very much for coming on tonight. Thanks as well to A.B. Stoddard and Jill Colvin for returning to the broadcast.
And coming up for us, Trump, when confronted, gives his defense of that phrase of his "enemy of the people" when we continue.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I'm talking about the fake news media. They are truly an enemy of the people. The fake news, enemy of the people.
They interviewed ten women on one of the opposing networks, you know, the enemy, the enemy of the people like all of them. 33% of the people in this country believe the fake news is, in fact -- and I hate to say this -- in fact, the enemy of the people.
WILLIAMS: Just some recent examples of the charge from the President sadly so familiar by now, calling the news media the free press, and the free society, the only profession with rights enshrined in the constitution, calling them the enemy of the people. The President has been asked about it, asked to defend it, but never quite like this, and we're going to show you how it's done.
This is Jim VandeHei, a veteran Washington reporter now with Axios confronting the President on his use of this inflammatory language.
JIM VANDEHEI, CEO, AXIOS: To be honest, what scares the crap out of me is if you're saying enemy of the people, enemy of the people --
TRUMP: God forbid.
VANDEHEI: God forbid they like somebody -- like you got fervent supporters, they love you, they listen to you, enemy of the people, enemy of the people.
TRUMP: They like me more because of that. They like me more --
VANDEHEI: They like to mumble. What happens if all a sudden someone get shots -- someone shoots one of these reporters?
TRUMP: Jim that, I totally --
VANDEHEI: Look, I don't think you think worthy, we're the enemy of the people, do you?
TRUMP: I don't. I don't. But if you give me false reports, I would say that's not a good thing for our country.
VANDEHEI: But do you worry at all, do people -- you are like the most powerful man in the world. Like if you say that word, enemy, enemy, literal tens of thousands of people going to a stadium to listen to you and then people go on social media and they get themselves so jazzed up, there's got to be a party that's like, I'm scared that someone is going to --
TRUMP: It is my only form of fighting back. I couldn't be here if I did that.
VANDEHEI: But you won. You have the presidency.
TRUMP: No, no, but I did this before I won.
WILLIAMS: Washington journalism veteran, a well known by line, Jim VandeHei of Axios part of their new show in conjunction with HBO.
When we come back here tonight, to the midterms we go. Steve Kornacki with the numbers at the big board when we come back.
TRUMP: We have gotten tremendous numbers, tremendous numbers of Republicans are going out to vote. Now, we did have two maniacs stop the momentum that was incredible, because for seven days nobody talked about the elections. t stopped the tremendous momentum --
WILLIAMS: And the President said that out loud tonight. Two maniacs upset the midterm momentum. Between them, those two maniacs, you recall, sent out 15 pipe bombs and killed 11 innocent souls in Pittsburgh.
With us tonight to talk about where we are, Mike Murphy, veteran Republican strategist and long-time advisor to Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and John McCain. And, Mike, I thought of you when I heard that tonight. It's bracing and, in fact, you tweeted something about these Trump rallies and about Ronald Reagan, the former Republican standard bearer. If Ronald Reagan suddenly came to life and saw this rally, he would look around and ask where Trump's straight jacket is. Expand on that for me.
MIKE MURPHY, STRATEGIST, REPUBLICAN: Well, I watched a bunch of the rally in a digital feed today, and it's just unhinged. There's no empathy, there's no understanding of the job of head of state. Not just head of political campaigning. To look at the wider picture and understand what's going on in the country right now, he's just so tone deaf.
Also the meandering sentences, he did this one whopper where he started with the evil foreign dictator would get his wife and somehow come to the U.S. for three minutes and have a kid, and that child, under birthright citizenship, would be as -- that boy or girl should be an American citizen would bring down the country. It was such a crazy non sequitur. I think if Ronald Reagan, God bless him, were to wake up and suddenly see that in the Republican Party that he loved and helped build, he would be horrified.
WILLIAMS: One of the things we're going to talk about with Steve Kornacki tonight is the suburbs. And -- what is -- how do you look at this moderate -- let say moderate Republican, there are still a few left in suburban districts who want very much to put a little distance between them and this President right now?
MURPHY: Yes, this is an amazing election because a lot of things are happening. The Republican House candidates, the ones having the most trouble that is putting our majority in tremendous jeopardy, are in the wealthier suburban districts with more college educated voters who tend to be economically conservative and in line with the Republicans, but were not having the election about the economy, even though we have a case to make.
Because the President injects himself into the daily dialogue with, you know, just crazy antics and now increasingly, and I'll say it as a Republican, pure out race baiting, he's turning those voters off, particularly college educated women. So it's crushing us in the suburbs. And that is -- you know, it's almost like he's trying to lose. He's just narrowed down to this Republican primary appeal. And by the way, the disease is not just there. Those midwestern states -- I'm from Michigan. Those are the states that elected President Trump.
Now those governorships are all in tremendous danger and they're mostly Republican. So, you know, I don't think there's any rhyme or reason to this. I think it's just he wants a crowd, wants applause. He feeds on the crowd, the crowd are hard core base primary voters. And he just ramps up this stuff and he's crowding out any messaging that might help save some of ours. Instead, they're getting in what some might call a karmic punishment here for being passive. Then the President's antics in the first place and now the President of course is doubling down on all that stuff.
WILLIAMS: My goal is never to put you on the spot. But I going to ask you the question that people would stop and ask you in an airport. And that is, where do you see this, where do you see the House five nights from now when we start our coverage Tuesday night?
MURPHY: Well, what we know is we're going to have a big turnout election. Rather than 85, 90 million votes cast, I think we're going to be more over 100, which would be an abnormally high midterm. That probably will benefit the Democrats more. The fact that Independents are breaking toward the Democrats and against the President will help them as well.
So, if I had to bet, I would bet a fair amount of money that we're going to lose the House majority, probably in the high 20s to the low 30s, it could be worse in terms of number of seats. I'm very worried as gov -- came up doing governor races, that we're going to have a really bad night unfortunately and a lot of the Republican governors who've been sucked into this Trump disaster, even though they tend to try to run on their own agendas in the states, where in real races in places like Ohio or real trouble in Michigan, and so real fight in Wisconsin, all Republican incumbents, not to mention Florida, I think we will hang onto the Senate, but this is a year, if it were at all normal, which it's not, where the Republicans would build on their majority.
Instead, we're going to have to fight to defend it, probably be successful, but have a lot of opportunity costs. But again, the governors are the story of real political power, in legislative power in those big states in Midwest and potentially Florida where we could have a really bad night. Should be tragic for the party and I'll lay it all at Trump's feet. He got us here.
I think people have been too complacent going along with him. But now live by Trump politically, die by Trump politically.
WILLIAMS: Well, it's powerful hearing you say that given your expertise and your past in this party. Tell you what, we're going to take a break. To our audience, Mike is going to stick around and return at the end of the broadcast to talk about something unique to this day, Thursday before a Tuesday election.
So, Mike, we'll be back to you. Our break. And when we come back, to Steve Kornacki and the latest numbers tonight.
WILLIAMS: Because we're a family around here, we try to run a family operation, I'm going to be honest and tell you that our big board is, shall we say, having a moment tonight. And better tonight than five nights from now when the big board is just going to be overheating and used every second by our guest tonight Steve Kornacki, our national political correspondent. So this gives us some me time, some us time.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Weird experience, sitting down, I'm not used to this.
WILLIAMS: So you have your regular graphics. Tonight's task is to take us through the suburban districts.
KORNACKI: Yes. A couple new polls we can show you districts here. They all have one thing in common. They're Republican-held congressional districts that are up in a couple days in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. So suburbs that already didn't like Trump, Republicans trying to defy sort of that tide. And take a look, this is a brand new poll just out tonight, this is right outside Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. That is Barbara Comstock. This district went for Hillary Clinton by 10 points. Comstock survived in 2016, but now in the Trump midterm, her number looks just like Donald Trump's did in this district two years ago.
You can look in New Jersey. This is actually the 7th district of New Jersey. I think we have that.
WILLIAMS: I've been watching this one.
KORNACKI: Yes. And this is -- there is Leonard Lance -- and this -- if you're from New Jersey, that name is associated with the old moderate wing of the Republican Party there.
KORNACKI: Goes way back. There was a thaw at the beginning of this cycle that that reputation would supersede Trump in this district, now, that looks like Trump number in that district as well against suburban New Jersey.
And also have that this Kansas, you don't think Kansas is suburban. Right outside Kansas City --
WILLIAMS: Oh yes.
KORNACKI: -- you know, Kansas City, Kansas, and the bedroom communities of Johnson County, a little yellow splotch there in the corner. Again, look at this, Republican incumbent, Clinton won the district, and now that Republican incumbent, it seems like the voters in that district are saying that they view the Republican incumbent in the district as a proxy for Trump and they're voting that way.
WILLIAMS: So, I always say this. So many companies test products in Oletha, Kansas, and the suburbs around Kansas City, because it's considered just so robustly centrally American.
KORNACKI: Yes, and this was the kind of district Republicans -- the bedroom communities outside Kansas City, Republicans dominated. And you've got Trump -- you've also got in Kansas that statewide factor Kris Kobach running as the gubernatorial candidate there. He is bringing the politics a lot the sort of cultural politics not necessarily resonating there. So you got Trump nationally Kobach in Kansas. And you've got this traditionally culturally moderate sort of pocketbook Republicans if you want to call them in these bedroom communities. So we're just saying, in these polls, are certainly, not for me.
WILLIAMS: Proving, again, the phrase around here, if you got Kornacki, you don't need the big board really, no offense to the big board. And the big board will be back in action tomorrow night. Steve, thank --
WILLIAMS: -- you, as always.
Mike Murphy is going to come back again to tell us why the final Thursday before Election Day is a big deal in the political business right after this.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, how a smart guy -- not me -- looks at the midterms in a way that will make us all smarter as we watch these races next Tuesday night. Mike Murphy, the veteran Republican strategist, remains with us for this final segment.
And Mike, why is tonight right now, the final Thursday before the Tuesday midterms, why is tonight an important night in your business, the business of politics and elections?
MUPRHY: Well, today, Thursday, is the last day where you can make any kind of big meaningful decision about messaging. New ads going up for the final weekend, you know, tweaking too much of what you do in terms of big strategic way. Tonight is also the last night where you can really do any phone polling where to damn (ph). So tomorrow is the last time you look at the radar. It's going to like landing a plane.
Tomorrow morning they're 100 feet off the runway and it's all about turnout and get out the vote operations. The big strategic moves are over and the radar screen is switched off. So people get very nervous the last weekend, but there's not a lot they can do. Just ride it out and turnout the vote.
WILLIAMS: We have been looking at these congressional districts. Perhaps you heard our segment with Steve Kornacki. Give us a viewer's guide. If we were sitting with you, is there one early bellwether that you're going to -- do you have a favorite district, favorite that race you're going to look at for some indication of how the night is going to go?
MURPHY: Yes, I think in Virginia, Barbara Comstock, my friend, has a tough district. She's in big trouble. But Dave Brat in the old (INAUDIBLE) district, he is dead even with the Democratic challenger Abigail, I'm going to mispronounce her last name. But dead even in that district, if she wins it's going to be a good night for the Democrats. I'd also watch the Indiana Senate race, Republican territory in a tight race, reports quickly.
WILLIAMS: And any of the governors you ran through quickly, is there a governor's race that again is a bellwether for you?
MURPHY: I'll be watching Ohio. If Mike DeWine can't make it out of Ohio, that is a big beat. I think Michigan is gone and Scott Walker is fighting for his life in a Democratic state. So Michigan and Ohio (INAUDIBLE) and of course Florida, the big prize where it looks like the Dems are a point or two ahead, we'll see what happens.
WILLIAMS: One of the long time pros in the Republican Party, back when it was the Republican Party, our friend Mike Murphy. Mike, thank you. It's always a pleasure having you on with us. Appreciate it.
MURPHY: Thank you, Brian.
WILLIAMS: And that is our broadcast for this final Thursday before the midterm elections. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Happy to have you with us.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END