LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL" HOST: -- the important states voting, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren`s Massachusetts, Kamala Harris`s California, Beto O`Rourke`s Texas, Martin -- sorry, Julian Castro`s Texas. That is the date that should clarify things, but it might not. It might be a split vote all over that map, but California`s the biggest prize that day. It is going to be the superest of super Tuesdays. That`s tonight`s last word, "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight just an hour away from day 33 of the shutdown. There`s talk of two planned votes, but no predictions of opening back up again.
Also uncertain tonight, if and where there will be a state of the union address this year.
Meanwhile, FBI agents reveal real world implications and the alarming effects of this shutdown on them. Inside the nation`s premier law enforcement agency.
And another day, another walk back by Giuliani, also reports tonight the President`s now exasperated.
Plus, a decorated veteran of the FBI has a disturbing theory on the Trump campaign and Russia, all of it as "The 11th Hour" gets underway on a Tuesday night.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 733 of the Trump Administration and we`re now into month two of the government shutdown. Thirty-two days it will now become day 33 at end of this hour.
We`re also just minutes away from another deadline that directly impacts 800,000 federal workers and tens of thousands more who depend on them for their living. At the stroke of midnight Eastern Time tonight, those employees missed their second pay period as anger and frustration over this shutdown grows, the president staying on message.
Today he wrote, this was a big day for capital letters we should just tell you. "Without a wall our country can never have border or national security. With a powerful wall or steel barrier crime rates and drugs will go substantially down all over the U.S. The Dems know this, but want to play political games. No cave. Never seen the Senate majority leader and Republicans so united on an issue."
Well, a major test for that unity comes later this week when the Senate will vote on two competing bills to open back up the government. One of them is Trump`s proposal that includes, as you well know, the billions to pay for a border wall or barrier or steel slats and temporary protections for certain immigrants, which they threw in.
The other is the Democrats` plan to simply reopen the government until February the 8th without funding for the wall while border security talks continue, but it would get paychecks out to those who have been going without.
As of tonight, neither bill expected to clear the 60-vote hurdle for passage. This afternoon Senate leaders were making their views known from the floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY, MAJORITY LEADER: All that needs to happen is for our Democratic friends to agree that it`s time to put the country ahead of politics, take yes for an answer, and vote to put the standoff behind us.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK, MINORITY LEADER: The President had to make a proposal to try and shake things up. It was not a good faith proposal. It was not intended to end the shutdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, the President`s still planning to give a State of the Union Address one week from tonight, location TBA. You may recall House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the President to delay the speech or submit it in writing as used to be done. Pelosi had cited security concerns related to the shutdown. Senior administration official tells NBC News that White House speech writers are working on "separate passages." Sounds like a daytime soap. If Trump were to deliver the speech somewhere else and perhaps to an audience other than combined members of Congress. Pelosi was asked about the plan for the speech earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We understand that the White House has sent a letter to the sergeant in arms that President Trump still intends to come give the state of the union here next week?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA, HOUSE SPEAKER: We just want people to get paid for their work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Tonight the White House press secretary was asked about next week`s plans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS: Will the President deliver the State of the Union from the Capitol?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Nancy Pelosi offered us the invitation to the President on the State of the Union. He accepted. She cited security concerns as a potential reason to delay it. Those concerns were addressed by the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Secret Service, at this point we`re moving forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: There`s a podium inside she could use. Much warmer, no dice today. All the political maneuvering continues. This record long shutdown now forcing nearly a million federal workers across this country to make difficult choices.
Today, FBI agents issued a new report detailing how the shutdown is straining resources and hampering investigations. More on that just ahead.
And justifiably, members of Congress are hearing about it, and it`s getting louder and near impossible to defend back home. During a town hall in Iowa, Republican Senator Joni Ernst was confronted by one of her constituents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am deeply ashamed that we have, at the moment, Federal employees in soup lines and trying to find food for their families while they`re still working. And I wonder how in the world anybody in the senate can defend that?
SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: I don`t -- I don`t think we can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President is having a tantrum.
ERNST: The Senate is not going to wait any longer. We are voting to reopen the government on Thursday, folks. I want to see this government reopen. Let`s see what the Democrats do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
ERNST: Let`s see what they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And we have this from a TSA officer talking about her struggle through five weeks working without pay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICKEY ALSTON, TSA OFFICER: The job itself is already a stressful situation, but we feel disrespected. It`s demeaning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Let`s bring in our leadoff panel for a Tuesday night, shall we. Shannon Pettypiece, I knew I was going to do that, White House correspondent for Bloomberg. Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press and we welcome to the broadcast Eliza Collins, politics reporters for USA TODAY who covers Congress.
Good evening and welcome to you all. You were the latest to post, Mr. Lemire. Where do we stand on this right now?
JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, on one hand, the fact that there are bills introduced in the Senate is being interpreted as a first step, perhaps, to some sort of solution, some sort of bipartisan solution. As indicated, neither of these measures are expected to pass. This is not going to reopen the government. It`s still going to be closed on Friday unless something dramatic occurs that we don`t foresee the next day or so.
But there`s a sense here, this is finally Mitch McConnell engaging with the process that this point he has been content to take a backseat.
WILLIAMS: Why was that?
LEMIRE: Because he doesn`t want to anger President Donald Trump.
LEMIRE: A fellow Republican who remains extremely popular with members of their shared party.
So, some are looking into this as this is perhaps a step in the right direction, but we have long way to go. There`s certainly pressure building in both parties.
We know there are some Senate Republicans. You saw the video clip there, Senator Ernst getting additional heat from constituents. There`s some pressure at home village to reopen the government.
There are centrist Democrats in the House who were trying to push Speaker Pelosi to put to get -- forth her own sort of compromise solution. To this point, of course, Pelosi has been very content to say, we`re not going to give the President a dime for this wall. This is a moral issue, not just a political one. We`re not going to do it. It`s up to the President, who as I remember said he would own this shutdown. It`s up to him to come up with a solution to reopen the government.
WILLIAMS: Eliza, it`s very good to have you on. We`ll play off the point Jonathan just made as I read you this quote, New York Times profile of the Senate majority leader, "The shutdown distilled the essence of Mitch McConnell`s position in Trump`s Washington, a man of institutions and establishments whose own legacy was now tied to that of a President who seems hellbent on burning both to the ground."
Now, it strikes me, you could also insert Paul Ryan into those same mentions and have the very same paragraph written. Question to you is, how much leverage Jonathan correctly reports he`s off the bench, how much leverage does McConnell have in this right now?
ELIZA COLLINS, POLITICS REPORTER, USA TODAY: He really doesn`t have very much leverage. In December, McConnell and the senate unanimously passed a bill that would keep the government funded at the current levels. And if you remember that got sent over to the House, the President said I`m not going to sign that. Although he had given indications to the senate and to McConnell that he would sign it.
So I think after that happened, McConnell basically said, all right, I`m only taking up something that the President will sign and they thought that they put Democrats basically on the defense this weekend when this President came out with a proposal, and expanded proposal on what he would accept.
There were some things in there that did make Democrats sort of have to think about it, basically, three-year protections for the so-called dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, and refugees who had been temporary protected status, but there were also all sorts of things hidden in the bills that would change the way asylum seekers can come to the U.S.
And so Democrats have really roundly rejected that and so, basically, over the weekend Republicans were feeling a lot more confident about that bill, though it didn`t really look like it would pass. They thought at least they could make Democrats uncomfortable, but as more has come to light within the bill, it doesn`t look like Democrats are going to get on board there either.
So, McConnell`s scheduling a vote with Trump`s bill because Trump wants that vote.
WILLIAMS: Shannon, I have a quote for you as convenience would have it.
From The Washington Post Tonight, this speaks to the shutdown, hundreds of Internal Revenue Service employees have received permission to skip work during the partial government shutdown due to financial hardship and union leaders said Tuesday, that they expected absences to surge as part of a coordinated protest that could hamper the government`s ability to process taxpayer refunds on time.
Now there you go.
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Right.
WILLIAMS: Standing in an hour long TSA line is one thing. Start screwing around with people`s tax refunds, now you`ve got the full undivided attention of the American people. Shannon, the question is --
WILLIAMS: -- is there any miracle in anybody`s bag?
PETTYPIECE: No. There is not. The White House does not know where the off ramp is. This is not where they want to be. They -- this was not in their plan. This was not in their priorities for their agenda. This is not where they wanted to be a month in to 2019.
They are looking for the off ramp, and they don`t know where it is. They have tried pretty much everything they can think of. They did the border visit. They did the Oval Office address. There was this proposal they came up with and sort of touted this announcement on Saturday to try and get the Democrats to the table. They`re not making any progress.
Tomorrow they`re bringing in conservative leaders. They`re going to have state and local leaders come in to try again to show that they`re doing something, but it is not budging the Democrats. They don`t know how to get out of this.
And to the point of the IRS workers, yes, this is starting to get real now. We`re 33 days in, whether it`s the IRS workers, or you`re going to be talking to people at the FBI later where there are grand jury that can`t be impanelled because they can`t pay grand jurors, whether it`s, you know, just people coming to a school trip in Washington, D.C. We have the museums closed. We have little things they`re going to make to seem real.
And the goal of the White House so far has been to make this shutdown not seem real, and the Democrats have been trying to make it feel real with things like canceling the State of the Union, but so the more and more this starts to feel real, the worse and worse it gets for the White House, not the Democrats.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan, fast forward to the State of the Union. I don`t know if this is going to be the first State of the Union in the history of the republic that begins it`s great to be back in Wacha Shaw. I don`t know if we`re going to take this on the road and make it a rally or remote. Maybe if it`s just delivered from the Oval Office that would digress from tradition going back for all time. Does -- on this one, does Trump have the balance of power?
LEMIRE: Well, he -- Nancy Pelosi, as Shannon just said, and fellow Democrats have been trying to get the President really connect to what this shutdown means. We know he doesn`t have much in the way of empathy or at least doesn`t display it very often and stories of federal workers not getting paychecks have yet to resonate. But take away a national television audience, that hurts, this President.
WILLIAMS: It`s like refund.
LEMIRE: Yes, he felt that he can speak to. So he is looking very much forward to this address, and they are trying everything they can to have that moment, details though still to be worked out.
Of course, tradition is to be in the House, and Nancy Pelosi has rescinded that invitation. The White House team has suggested could we have it in the Senate. That would certainly define tradition. They have looked at the idea of trying to have it in White House.
But the President, according to our reporting, was very unhappy with how that address -- his Oval Office address went a few weeks ago. He thought he came off as like us. He thought he came off as flat. He didn`t like the visuals of sitting behind the desk. He much prefers to be up and engage where he can interact with an audience. Best case scenario, of course, would be lawmakers in the well of the Capitol where, you know, he would receive a standing ovation after standing ovation at least from half the room.
If he can`t have that, there are two possibilities, they`re looking at other sites in D.C., if not the White House, something else, but they haven`t figured out a location that would work. Or perhaps as you say great hit the road, or Ohio, or Pennsylvania or in Wisconsin wherever might be. But there`s a sense that would look like just another Trump rally. It wouldn`t carry the meaning and weight of what a State of the Union is supposed to do.
WILLIAMS: Hey Eliza, when the Republicans go into their caucus, whoever the modern day equivalent maybe it`s Frank Luntz. I`ll say Frank Luntz is, don`t they have political guidance polling someone to stand up in the front of the room and say "guys, ladies and gentlemen, we have to go very carefully here because we`re all getting tagged with this."
COLLINS: Well, what`s really interesting is polling so far has shown that the President has been tagged with this, first and foremost, then Democrats, but most polling actually puts Republicans kind of on the side because people associated the shutdown with Trump. So they`ve kind of tried to squeeze by on this, but the truth is Republicans are really afraid of the base that is still very loyal to the President.
Trump is very popular with Republicans, and he won this election with a promise of the wall, and so he is doubling down and it`s forcing them to double down. There`s a handful, who are facing tough re-elections who have been vocal about trying to pass something that doesn`t include wall money, to just get the government re-open but it`s not likely that`s going to be enough people to pass the Clean Bill on Thursday.
WILLIAMS: Shannon, I ask without being snide, what percent of the President`s day is spent on this shutdown, i.e. on fixing it?
PETTYPIECE: I mean, as soon as my reporting indicates, there`s not much ill-toughing in the White House other than this shutdown. The White House kind of had the bear-bone stuff right now. It`s a little bit of a ghost town because a lot of the workers there are furloughed. Things they would like to be doing like, you know, making --
PETTYPIECE: Right. Well, infrastructure, there`s still threats of another infrastructure week, but, you know, they would like to be sort of taking a victory lap on things like criminal justice reform, on this new NAFTA they negotiated. You know, they would like to be, you know, really hammering away at China, negotiations there. They would like to be not disturbing the -- you know, the stock market with talk of the shutdown.
There`s a lot of things the White House would like to be doing right now that they can`t be doing. Healthcare, maybe there`s something they would like to get done on healthcare. But that has all really ground to a halt during this shutdown.
And so, that`s really one of the kind of frustrating things for people inside is that this isn`t -- I know that immigration is the number one issue to Republicans and they understand that, too, and they understand how important the wall is to the President`s supporters. But as this like increasingly looks like an agenda without an end, this shutdown fight, it does start to worry people in the White House about, well, how do we get things back on track?
You know, they were supposed to be in re-election mode right now. This isn`t a great way to start off re-election mode.
WILLIAMS: To Shannon Pettypiece, to Jonathan Lemire, to Eliza Collins, welcome. It`s great to have you and to all three of you, thank you for starting off our broadcast on a Tuesday night.
As we continue, the FBI`s dispatches from the field on how this shutdown is threatening national security, let`s not forget.
And later, a senior administration official has some advice for Rudy Giuliani. If what he`s saying isn`t helping the home team, let`s stop saying it. "The 11th Hour" just getting started on a Tuesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS O`CONNOR, FBI AGENTS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: Last night my wife who is also an agent and is also my boss, we delivered food to our office for those in need. The FBI family comes together in times of crisis. It is truly sad that we must resort to this because we are being let down by our elected officials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Gridlock in Washington is taking an especially hard toll on some of our nation`s very top law enforcement officials, our premier law enforcement agency. That`s according to a 72-page report filled with firsthand accounts from current FBI employees across the country.
The report is from the FBI Agents Association lays out how the shutdown is among other things, "Undermining criminal counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations for an agency already under siege for the President." The shutdown is also taking a personal toll. In the words of one agent, "The federal government shutdown means I continue to work every day to protect America while investigations are delayed and my family goes without pay." And according to another, "The fear is our enemies know they can run freely."
Well, with us to talk about it, our National Security analyst, Shawn Henry, former Executive Assistant Director at the FBI among a number of posts. He`s a veteran of the bureau. Shawn, let us in on what life on the ground is likely like. For those of us who don`t come home and take a badge off and take a holster off, family life is family life for the most part. And what must it be like? Did you ever think your bureau would be a recipient of charity of food drives, food banks, free meals, yard sales?
SHAWN HENRY, FBI FORMER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well Brian, the FBI is a very, very proud organization. And the men and the women in the FBI sacrifice on behalf of the American public every single day. They leave their families to go to work, to help to disrupt some of the biggest attacks against the United States, criminal organizations, terrorists, et cetera. And they`re doing it now for no pay, and when you listen to Tom O`Connor from the FBI Agents Association today talking about the disruption and the distraction and the pain that he`s felt personally, that cuts across 32,000 employees in the FBI. It absolutely is impacting their morale.
When people go to work, you -- we know they`re going to work. We know they`re still trying to put up the mission and do what`s right. But this is weighing on their minds, and it is absolutely a distraction for them. And it`s also impacting the operations. While the people might be showing up, they`re -- they`ve lost funding for some of the critical components of their investigations, the ability to pay sources.
We heard about a Joint Terrorism Task Force they couldn`t pay their intelligence sources. An MS-13 trial that`s been postponed where they`ve got more than 20 people indicted. They don`t have translators or contractors to come in and help them. So these operations are being impacted and that is a risk for the American public. It`s a risk to this country, and it is absolutely a National Security challenge, Brian.
WILLIAMS: And that was one of my questions to you. Is there a trial starting tomorrow where there`s not an agent available to come into court and raise his or her right hand? Is there a door that`s not going to get knocked on tonight? Is there a drug raid for tomorrow that`s been canceled because it was part of a joint operation, that kind of thing?
HENRY: So there are some trials that have been postponed. I`ve talked to some folks who say trials have been postponed in anticipation of the inability to get certain witnesses to travel. Travel funds have been impacted here. So there has been some of that, but the infrastructure for the FBI, while the people are there. They need their certain sensitive techniques that are utilized in their investigations.
The FBI, as you know, is a proactive organization that`s meant to prevent and detect and disrupt operations. They`re not able to lean forward and do the things they should be doing to disrupt some of these attacks. You said in the Lead-in, Brian, that our adversaries are watching. Make no mistake. They know what`s happening here. And that is a long-term risk for us.
I think if you`re thinking National Security long-term, there are a couple of motivators when foreign intelligence services are looking to co-op people to work for them. One of them is finances, people who have financial problems. The other is when you`re looking for somebody who may be disgruntled or has some dysfunction. And we`ve got a lot of disgruntled people and a lot of people who were looking for money.
I`m certainly not saying that people in the FBI are going to turn over to our adversaries, but if you`re looking long term, that`s the environment that foreign intelligence services seize upon, and we`ve got 800,000 people who are living in that caustic environment right now, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Wow, that`s a lot to reflect on, a hell of a powerful thing to say. Shawn Henry, it`s always a pleasure having you on the broadcast. Thank you very much. Our best to your former colleagues at the bureau.
Coming up, one senior administration official says about those comments from the president`s personal attorney, he`s not helping. The story when we come back.
WILLIAMS: New reporting from "POLITICO" tonight reveals President Trump is growing fed up with his personal lawyer, long-time friend from New York, that would be Rudy Giuliani. "POLITICO" tells it this way, "Trump was apoplectic after a pair of weekend media interviews by his personal lawyer, in which Giuliani said that the president had been involved in discussions to build a Trump Tower Moscow through the end of the 2016 campaign, a statement that enraged Trump because it contradicted his own public position. Trump spent much of Sunday and Monday fuming to aides and friends about his lawyer`s missteps. Asked who in the White House is responsible for handling Giuliani`s missteps, a White House aide said handling Rudy`s expletive ups, use your imagination takes more than one man. Giuliani pushed back at "POLITICO`s" reporting saying he`s known Trump for 30 years and hasn`t heard him complain.
Meanwhile, last night Giuliani was asked by "The New Yorker" if not always being truthful while working for Trump might impact his legacy. His answer was interesting. "I`m afraid it will be on my gravestone. Rudy Giuliani, he lied for Trump. Somehow I don`t think that will be it, but if it is, so what do I care? I`ll be dead. I figure I can explain it to St. Peter. He will be on my side because I am so far, I don`t think as a lawyer I ever said anything that`s untruthful. I have a sense of ethics that is as high as anybody you can imagine".
Let`s talk about it, shall we with our next guest, Cynthia Alksne is back with us former Federal Prosecutor and a veteran of the Justice Department who`s nodding her head back and forth. Have you ever seen anything like this?
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, I`ve never seen anything like it. There`s a lot of talk about what possibly is the value-added Rudy, and one is you can make an argument, oh, he gets facts out in advance.
WILLIAMS: And he works for free, I should add that.
ALKSNE: He works for free. That`s another good one. But let`s look at it, for example, this latest one where he says the President told me that the conversations about the Russian tower deal were going on from when I started to run until I was elected.
OK, that is not helpful, right? He could have said we answered the questions to Robert Mueller in a broad way because the President wasn`t sure, so we did it up until the election. That is a factual base. That`s getting fact out.
But when he says I had a conversation with the President and he quoted the President, now what has he done? He has maybe waived the attorney/client privilege and he is also solidified that the President was lying to the American people during the entire campaign.
I would view that as not helpful, and no wonder everybody in the White House is mad. Remember, it was about a month ago that they were saying the entire legal strategy was basically Jesus take the wheel, I can`t do this on my own. And of course they`re mad. If they`re not mad, they`re not thinking.
WILLIAMS: I want to show you a moment that happened, sometimes even in this business, we are still capable of recognizing things that have yet to be said a certain way on television, especially depending on the speaker.
This was our veteran FBI agent, veteran FBI counter Intel specialist and long-time on air contributor Frank Figliuzzi on with Nicolle Wallace this afternoon, talking about the Russia investigation. Listen to this. We`ll react to it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER FBI ASSITANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: I keep coming back to what is already been said which is why all the lying about Russia, and Nicole, I am left now with only one conclusion, that the news on Russia, the truth about Russia is so bad that no one can afford to let it leak out.
We have too many people covering up the same thing over and over again, and the only conclusion I have is that it`s about as bad as it can be. I`m developing a real sense here that there is now knowledge within the Trump circle that the Russians did assist with in a successful way the winning of the presidency.
I am increasingly convinced that this is what people are trying to cover. I`m particularly focused on Paul Manafort, right, and his incredible reticence and reluctance to fully cooperate. Mike Flynn and the judge saying you`re not there yet. I`m not ready to accept the -- to handle sentencing yet.
The Trump family members, Cohen saying they`re getting briefed. The polling data going from Manafort to Russia. All of this points to knowledge in my mind that the Russians were -- it was understood that the Russians were assisting the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Cynthia, that stopped us in our tracks. Your reaction?
ALKSNE: Well, first of all, frank figliuzzi a treasure. I rely on him. I call him all the time to bounce things off. I agree, and I not only agree that the campaign has figured out and the White House has figured out that, yes, there was assistance, but also that they`re very worried about the quid pro quo issue.
When Giuliani said this week, well, sure, my -- the President didn`t work with the Russians, but I can`t say that`s true about other members of the campaign, that`s a big red flag to you that he thinks there`s a big problem.
And another problem that Frank didn`t mention that I would say I agree with all of his list, it`s interesting that Mueller required Cohen to plead guilty when he didn`t really need to. You know, he -- they were already caught him on eight felonies, but he`s requiring him to plead guilty on the Russian Moscow tower deal.
What that tells me is that`s a building block, that Mueller is focused on that Russian tower deal, which is the quid pro quo for the Russian interference, and that he`s going to build on it, and so that`s another reason why I think the White House knows that something`s coming.
WILLIAMS: Is Rudy, in your mind, guilty of unsound lawyering or unethical lawyering? And I ask because there`s a controlling authority for everything, for airline pilots, for shrinks, for romaine lettuce. What would happen to a Rudy Giuliani, and would someone have to bring charges?
ALKSNE: I`m not sure. I think if he would -- I think he will get credit for his work in New York after 9/11 and the contributions that he`s made. I don`t think anybody wants to humiliate him. I don`t think he`ll be disbarred if that`s what you`re asking me.
I just think he`s not helping the President, and my hunch is that that`s starting to sink in, not only from these reports but I noticed tonight that on Fox Laura Ingraham took a shot at him, and that`s always a sign that the President is getting some information that it may be time to move on.
WILLIAMS: Cynthia, we always appreciate your contributions. Thank you very much for coming on with us again tonight.
As we continue, will there be a State of the Union address in some form or another one week from tonight? Well, not one but two Pulitzer prize- winners will join us to talk about it when we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I got along great. I have great relationships with people. I think that people will be really surprised to see how well, if I win and I become President, I think you`ll see a tremendous unification of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That`s going well. At the halfway point into Trump`s first term, that unity has been, shall we say, elusive. The latest fight over the wall and the shutdown has only heightened this feeling of deep division, polarization between the two parties.
And now the State of the Union address, itself is part of the standoff underscoring just how far apart these two sides are. If next week`s speech takes place somewhere other than the house chamber in the U.S. Capitol, our next guests will have to write all new stuff basically.
With us for more, two recipients of the Pulitzer prize. They had to be separated for security reasons. You just have to keep them all apart. The Author, Biographer and Presidential Historian Jon Meacham, his latest work is "The Soul of America" more on that after this and Eugene Robinson, the celebrated columnist for "The Washington Post."
Jon, I want you to go deep history professor in short segments, of course, and tell us the origination of the State of the Union as a verbally delivered speech that is, I understand it`s written nowhere in the mechanism of government?
JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Right. Washington gave it as a speech in 1790 when the capitol was in New York. It`s in Article 2 of the executive shall from time to time, give information have gone the State of the Union to the Congress and then suggests things for them to do. Washington and Adams gave the speeches.
Jefferson in 1801, two reasons really, one, he thought it was too monarchical, looked a little too much like the British system. The other thing is that Jefferson was a wonderful, wonderful writer but a terrible public speaker, and that`s a great politician he went with what he was best at, and so from 1801 until 1913, the speeches. The statement was sent usually in December, that`s when Congress started out. It was called the annual message.
Wilson as you know had this vision of executive authority being more in the center of action said the President has the right to be as big a man as he can. He wanted to bring the presidency more forward. And every president since then has enjoyed doing it. FDR started calling it the State of the Union himself, itself. And I think what you have here is if this goes off site, it will be exhibit 712 of our system doesn`t work.
So you`re looking at 100, let`s just date this from Wilson. You`re looking at 105, 106 years of our being able through war and peace and scandal to work this out, and now all of a sudden we can`t even schedule a speech.
WILLIAMS: Gene, I said earlier it could begin with the line it`s great to be back in Waukesha. Let`s not rule that out.
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I`m not ruling everything out.
WILLIAMS: Rick Wilson has a book called "Everything Trump Touches Dies" which may put him in the no category. But let`s agree that everything has been soiled in some way, traditions and norms have fallen. This would be another. We already -- this fight --
WILLIAMS: -- over whether it`s going to be delivered at all is the breakage of a norm.
ROBINSON: Yes. And this -- it`s a tradition, there`s something comforting about the State of the Union, even though, let`s be realistic, let`s look at what the State of the Union usually is. It`s a set piece, right, and there have -- we can -- you and I can remember many truly memorable presidential speeches over the time --
ROBINSON: -- we`ve been covering presidents, not that many of them are State of the Union addresses.
ROBINSON: And they`re not generally great speeches. They`re usually laundry lists more than speeches. Sometimes, because of the moment or the man, the speech rises above but that`s unusual, but there is something comforting ability the ritual.
WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker. Yes.
ROBINSON: It`s, every year at this time we have it, and it`s Mr. Speaker, and they all come down the aisle, and they all stand and one side gets up and the other side sits down, and the --
WILLIAMS: Supreme Court sits there.
ROBINSON: -- like this and then the Supreme Court can`t do anything. Its -- I remember when Nancy Pelosi, the first time she became speaker, of that image of, a woman that change sitting there behind the President, that changed America. I mean, that changed us in an increment. And --
WILLIAMS: Then we had the first African-American President, and then we had the first African-American President to be heckled from the well of the House.
ROBINSON: Yes, we did.
WILLIAMS: So, you and I have covered a lot lately.
ROBINSON: Yes. We`ve seeing a lot of this. So maybe we won`t see one this year. Maybe we will. Maybe we`ll see something totally different, and it will be interesting to see after the Trump presidency is over and will be over someday. Do we reclaim more traditions or are some gone.
WILLIAMS: Jon, borrowing from the great phraseology of one Abraham Lincoln, your book deals with our better angels, every other time you come on, I ask for names. Who strikes your fancy these days? When are they going to land, and could you give us a heads-up on who they are?
MEACHAM: I really think that this is going -- they`re going to be innumerable, and they`re not going to be famous people. I really believe that a change in America comes, America is rescued from its worst instincts less by the actions of the powerful and more by the protests of the powerless that actually finally manage to get the attention of the powerful.
Lyndon Johnson stood in that chamber in 1965 and finished the work of Lincoln, but Johnson didn`t do it. It was because John Lewis was in the hospital in Selma because he had been beaten nearly to death. It was because Rosa Parks didn`t get up.
I really do believe that there is a sense in the country that things will - - if they haven`t gone too far, they certainly are mighty, mighty close. One other thought about the State of the Union, and this is how far we`ve fallen. When George H.W. Bush was Vice President, then they started, you remember handing out the text so that people --
MEACHAM: -- could read along, and his mother, the formidable Dorothy Walker Bush was watching on television and was watching her son not listen to the President but read the speech, and she called him afterward and said, "George, I think it`s rude of you not to listen to President Reagan." And the vice President said but, "Ma, she`s -- I mean, he`s reading. I`m reading it." She said well, "he`s also saying it, so I think you can just watch him and listen."
So we`ve gone from Dorothy Walker Bush chiding her vice presidential son to not even having the damn thing. So once again we`ve disproved Darwin.
WILLIAMS: I`ve never agreed with the advanced text. I believe those speeches should be watched like viewers are watching at home. Eugene, your piece titled "Above all else Trump is a bully" kind of puts you on the record here, but it contain this quote that knock me over, a shameful governing philosophy has emerged, cruelty for cruelty`s sake. Imagine saying that about any other occupant?
ROBINSON: No, I can`t. There were -- we`ve had presidents who might have been cruel. They were generally cruel for a reason.
You know, 800,000 federal employees and untold numbers of contract workers are being punished some forced to work without pay. They`re struggling to make ends meet. NBC had a heartbreaking interview with a woman --
ROBINSON: -- who`s deciding whether rent or chemo.
WILLIAMS: That -- she`s coming up at the end of our broadcast.
ROBINSON: It`s just stunning. These people are being punished for no reason. They`re being punished gratuitously by this President. The child separations, the family separations at the border as a deterrent, gratuitous cruelty, trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act because it`s named after President Obama, having no idea and no intention of coming up with an idea of what to replace it with knowing that people are going to lose their health care.
WILLIAMS: And what they have in common is --
ROBINSON: Gratuitous cruelty.
WILLIAMS: There are people on the other end of those decisions. Two Pulitzer winners, Jon Meacham, Eugene Robinson. Gentlemen, it`s always a treat. Thank you.
Our coverage continues right after this
WILLIAMS: The shot heard round the world. History was made tonight in Cooperstown, New York.
Mariano Rivera, the best relief pitcher of all time, became the first baseball player in history to enter the baseball Hall of Fame by unanimous vote. It`s never happened before. Not to Henry Aaron or Ty Cobb, not to Ripken or DiMaggio or Ruth or Mays or Mantle or Koufax. No one until Mo and this is what it was like when the word arrived while Mariano was surrounded by his family and friends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m calling to tell you that the Baseball Writers elected you to be in the Hall of Fame. I have another piece of news.
MARIANO RIVERA, HALL OF FAME: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the first person --
RIVERA: Oh my God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLAIMS: Let`s put this achievement another way.
All 425 Baseball Writers voted to put him in the Hall. The first minute he was eligible. Now, we love us some Baseball Writers in our house, but members of Congress are more agreeable and collegial than Baseball Writers a lot of the time.
Mariano was also a gift to those of us who were parents of a young pitcher. He was a role model. At the same time, he was a model of control and competitiveness, equal parts, modest and monster when he was on the mound.
He played for one team and for 19 years, 652 saves, most of all time, 5 World Series. His go-to lights out pitch was his cutter, a cut fastball that could cut glass. It went right where the batter wanted it to, right up until the ball made other plans.
When he was dialed in, he was unhittable. Period. End of sentence. It`s remarkable that some guys didn`t just choose to remain seated. He would admit he shares a tiny bit of dishonor with Jorge Posada, who managed to catch all of those pitches and somehow knew where they were going.
Mariano was an elegant pitcher, beautiful to watch at his craft, and that`s perhaps why this kid from Panama became a model of high-end Italian menswear.
His class of 2019 includes the late Roy Halladay, Seattle Mariners, Edgar Martinez and fellow Yankee, Mike Mussina.
Mariano Rivera is now the class of the baseball Hall of Fame.
Coming up, paying for rent or paying for chemo.
As you heard gene talking about the real life decisions families are considering tonight all because they happen to work for our government. We will continue telling their stories right after this.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight has to do with a month-old government shutdown and our fellow citizens who are often coldly and cavalierly referred to as federal employees. They are the reason all of the flights currently over the U.S. will land safely tonight because control towers are staffed by unpaid public servants and TSA officers on the ground are on duty.
They are the reason our current and former presidents will be in no danger tonight as they sleep because the secret service is working without pay. Think of it this way. Picture your job, what it would be like to be ordered for a month without salary then double the stress level if you have a job that affects our public safety.
So let`s keep their stories front and center, and tonight`s unpaid workers begin with Nic Trujillo, working with the IRS without pay, raising a son with autism. He currently has $350 left in the bank.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC TRUJILLO, IRS EMPLOYEE: I live paycheck-to-paycheck, like many other Americans do, and right now it`s dire need. My landlord has made it very clear I have a week to pay or I`m going to be evicted.
QUASHAWN LATIMER, FEDERAL WORKER & CANCER PATIENT: Here comes January and I`m still having chemo treatments. We have to figure out a way to pay for chemo. I still have medical expenses that are not covered by insurance.
Although my husband is a postal worker, we still need those, miscellaneous expenses that come with this medical thing, this disease called cancer. So putting cancer in your budget is -- it`s unexpected, but we just have to deal with it. With no end in sight, this is like the most horrible experience ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As they say, the whole world is watching. Those were just some of the federal workers AKA our federal -- fellow citizens who have been asked.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END