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Stone protests possible gag order. TRANSCRIPT: 2/1/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Manuel Roig-Franzia, Daniel Dale, Ben Jealous, Gabby Orr, KenThomas

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR:  That`s THE LAST WORD for tonight.  I`m Ali Velshi, he`s Michael Moore.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

MOORE:  Sorry, Brian.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  The breaking news tonight, the Democratic Virginia governor admits he`s one of two men in a 1984 photo, one in black face, the other in a Klan outfit.  Ralph Northam has now apologized but calls are flooding in for him to leave.

Plus, could Roger Stone, a federal judge says she`s considering a gag order which may be a tall order considering his appearance on Fox tonight.  His description of the case against him as a lynching and the video he posted this week on what to wear for your arraignment in federal court.

And Donald Trump now back in the friendly confines of Mar-a-Lago this evening, leaving the wreckage of his fight over the wall behind.  Returning next week to give his version of the State of the Union, all of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Friday night.

Well, good evening, once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 743 of the Trump administration, we are covering the breaking news tonight on the Virginia governor and his admission that he is one of two people pictured in a racist yearbook photo.  More on that coming up.

But we do want to begin with Donald Trump, who arrived in Mar-a-Lago a few hours ago.  It`s his first visit to his Florida estate since Thanksgiving, and his first since the government shutdown.  Tonight we`re exactly two weeks away from a deadline to avert the next one.  Members of Congress have been negotiating as you may know, to avoid a repeat, but the President as you also may know, calls those talks a waste of time as he steps up his campaign for a wall on the southern border.

Today at the white house, he suggested wall planning is well underway, while threatening to take action if Congress does not.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We are doing things right now.  I mean, we`re building it with funds on hand.  We`re negotiating very tough prices.  We`ve designed a much better looking wall that is also actually a better wall, which is an interesting combination.  It`s far more beautiful and it`s better.  It`s much more protective.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Have you privately decided whether or not you will declare a national emergency?  And just to collar if i --

TRUMP:  Have i privately?  What`s in my mind?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  What`s in your mind?

TRUMP:  Certainly thinking about.


TRUMP:  I think there`s a good chance that we`ll have to do that.


WILLIAMS:  Late today, the President sat down with CBS News for an interview on "Face the Nation."  Offered yet another preview of what could come next.


TRUMP:  On the 15th, we have now set the table beautifully, because everybody knows what`s going on, because of the shutdown, people that didn`t have any idea -- they didn`t have a clue as to what was happening, they now know exactly what`s happening.


WILLIAMS:  Trump also appeared to step up his criticism of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, who continues to insist the wall is immoral and there will be no money for it on top of that.

An example, when asked about the Speaker`s criticism of his administration`s decision to pull out of that nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, the President`s response had more to do with Pelosi`s opposition to his wall.


TRUMP:  Honestly, I don`t think she has a clue, I really don`t.  I don`t think Nancy has a clue.  And i see that when she says walls are immoral.  She doesn`t have -- she doesn`t know.  And I wish she did.


WILLIAMS:  He indeed continued that criticism during the interview with CBS News.


TRUMP:  I think she`s very bad for our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS ANCHOR:  She offered over a billion dollars for border security.  She doesn`t want the wall.

TRUMP:  She`s costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what`s happening is when you have a porous border and drugs pouring in, and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi, who don`t want to give proper border security for political reasons.


WILLIAMS:  Which somehow brings us to the curious case of Roger Stone.  He was back in federal court today, appearing before a judge -- federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson, actually his lawyer was.  He`s charged with obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress.

Ever since his arrest a week ago today, Stone has been a ubiquitous presence on television.  Media of all kinds, really, comparing his case to a lynching.  Comparing the raid on his home to the raid to get Bin Laden.  And the judge has noticed.

She said today she is considering a gag order warning Stone "against treating his pretrial proceedings like a book tour."  She went on to say, "This is a criminal case, not a public relations campaign."  Judge Jackson said adding that she understands Stone wants to tell his side of the story.  "There`s no question at this point he`s had that opportunity."

After she spoke those words, Roger Stone made media appearances, including showing up on Fox News tonight to talk about the possibility of a gag order.


ROGER STONE, LOBBYIST:  The whole purpose of the gag would be so I don`t poison a potential jury pool.  But they just poisoned a potential jury pool by making me look like El Chapo.

WILLIAMS:  There`s also this, a video Roger Stone posted on YouTube this week.  Detailing how a gentleman should dress for an arraignment in federal court.


STONE:  You have to think long and hard about what you`re going to wear for arraignment in U.S. District Court.  You can`t ever really do this in a double breasted suit.  It just doesn`t ride up properly.  This is called a Windsor collar or extreme spread collar.  Cufflinks in this case, onyx cufflinks that were a gift from -- I think it was my first wife, actually.

You never button the top button unless you`re 100 percent Italian.  And I`m only half Italian.  I`m Italian from both waist down.  This kind of knit tie is an absolute requirement for every gentleman.

I don`t want to get into this too far, but, of course, I am wearing underwear.  I was not going commando today.  And that`s how you dress for your day in court.


WILLIANS:  That`s on you YouTube tonight courtesy of the Daily Caller.  And with that, somehow, let`s bring in our lead off panel for a Friday night.  Twitter`s most prolific presidential fact checker, Daniel Dale, is with us.  His day job happens to be as Washington Correspondent for the Toronto Star.  Barbara McQuade, Veteran and Federal Prosecutor, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, back with us.  And from the "Washington "Post" we welcome back Veteran Journalist, Manuel Roig-Franzia.  Good evening to all of you.

Barbara, I have to start with you, it is a tour of Vespa Clothing.  At one point he also mentions how poor he is, when talking about the age of all of these items.  But add all of it up, it can`t go over well with a businesslike law and order federal judge.

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes.  That`s right.  And I`m not surprised to see the judge suggest the idea of a gag order.  You know, in ordinary criminal cases they don`t get a lot of attention, those would be unusual.  But in high profile cases, a gag order is appropriate.  The judge has the discretion to enter a gag order in order to prevent the parties from creating a circus like atmosphere from preventing the defendant from getting a fair trial.

Even -- she maybe trying to save Roger Stone from himself.  Making all these statements and tainting a jury pool that will come in later and have to pass judgment on him.  So I think that she has asked the parties to state if they have any objection and why.  And so she`ll consider that, but it wouldn`t surprise me to see her enter a gag order in a case like this.

WILLIAMS:  Barbara, do you think he has a case when it comes back and says, "Look, this is who I am, this is how I`ve become Roger Stone?  There`s a documentary about me and also by the way, I`m raising money via these appearances for my legal defense fund?"

MCQUADE:  I think what she`s likely to say is that he can talk about things outside the scope of the case.  You know, the First Amendment requires that if you`re going to prohibit speech, it has to be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest.  And so, I think that she could say, you can talk about anything under the sun.  In fact, she even said today, you can talk about foreign relations or immigration or even Tom Brady.  But what you can`t talk about is your trial.

And so, I think he can talk about other things, just not his case.

WILLIAMS:  Manuel, I knew the guy years ago here in New York, you have spent a lot more time with him, and a lot more recently, is there a perhaps wounded or scared inner Roger Stone?  Or is there one layer, what you see is what you get and this is our Roger Stone?

MANUEL ROIG-FRANZIA, FEATURE`S WRITER:  Brian, I just think that if you could go into a laboratory, pull out a Petrie dish and create the most untaggable (ph) human being that any person could imagine.  What you would come up with is Roger Jason Stone Jr.  He is a fire hose of words and I would imagine that if this judge moves forward, with what she seems to be indicating be she wants to do, is impose a gag order, she`ll have quite a battle trying to enforce that with this particular defendant.

WILLIAMS:  Barbara, one more for you, before I come on up to Daniel.  And that is, what are you telling your client if you`re client is Roger Stone?  For that matter, what are you telling your client if your client is the president of the United States?

MCQUADE:  You know I think most lawyers would tell their client not to talk about charges because you might say something and later decide strategically you want to take a different tact.  And it can be very harmful to your case to say things when you don`t have to.  So most lawyers would say that.

Now, when you are the president, or maybe even Roger Stone, I think they realize that not only is the court of law where the decisions are going to matter, but also in the court of public opinion.  And so sometimes, especially when you`re the president, whose ultimate penalty would be impeachment as suppose to indictment, then maybe it`s even more important that you get your message out in the court of public opinion?

WILLIAMS:  So Daniel, you`re the Trump watcher here, and we come to you with the question, how much is all of this gumming up?  What would be the work of a fully functioning White House West Wing and staff?

DANIEL DALE, THE TORONTO STAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  You know, I don`t think it does at this point.  I think they`re used to the circus.  I don`t know how well the staff functions at the best of times.  So I wouldn`t say they`re functioning well at this point, but I think they`re able to tune out the legal drama, unless the President is fuming about it.

And just from the outside, it doesn`t seem like he`s especially concerned about the Stone matter, the Michael Cohen matter or something different.  Certainly the Paul Manafort matter he was concerned about.  But this one, I think he thinks is peripheral to his own situation, whether or not it is, we don`t know for sure at this point.

WILLIAMS:  Daniel, of course miles to go before we sleep, and we`re just talking about post Tuesday night`s State of the Union.  Help us turn the page a little bit.  What is stopping Donald Trump from declaring a national emergency either that night or at a previous or later date?

DALE:  I think the primary thing is that it polls terribly.  I think if he though that this would be a political winner for him, he would have done it long ago.  But all of the polls have showed that as badly as his shutdown polled, the idea of the President declaring a national emergency, after doubting for so long that pretty much everyone understands this is not a true emergency.  Is a sure loser for him.  That doesn`t mean he`s not going to do it, if he`s frustrated, if he doesn`t think there`s a better auction for him.  But I think he`s delayed because he sees the same numbers that we all have.

WILLIAMS:  Also Daniel, hasn`t McConnell gone to him in some form and said, boss don`t make me do this, this is not going to end well?

DALE:  Yes, but, I mean -- yes, but McConnell also did that with the shutdown itself.

WILLIAMS:  Good point.

DALE:  So did Ryan, so did McCarthy.  And so we know that Trump listens sometimes, other times he doesn`t.  Maybe this time he has been persuaded by Republicans in Congress and his own staff that he should hold off for a while.

WILLIAMS:  Manuel, you also have the added advantage of having been based for part of your career in Mexico City.  As you look from the south to the north, knowing as we all do that there is a conference committee working on this, what do you think an acceptable solution might look like?

ROIG-FRANZIA:  Well there were certainly early on, some indications that Latino groups would have been willing to at least talk about a deal in which some sort of a trade would be made for border security in return for DACA recipients getting a little bit more of a break.  But the problem becomes the path to citizenship.  Trump doesn`t want to go there, Latino groups would like him to go there, and it looks like a real stalemate.

WILLIAMS:  Barbara, I have to ask you about a point that Roger Stone made that has been dangling out there all week, that is in your bailiwick, he says he was never given his Miranda Rights.  Not Mirandizing someone you are arresting, if it`s correct that there were 26 officers on that raid, show up at the front door with a battering ram, they know they`ve got media in the front yard.  Failure to Mirandize would be a big deal, some people straight up don`t believe his contention.

MCQUADE:  Actually, Miranda warnings only kick in if you`re going to interrogate a suspect.  And so if they didn`t Mirandize him, and they didn`t ask him any questions, that wouldn`t be a problem at all.  The remedy for failing to Mirandize someone is that their statements to the officers then become inadmissible at trial.  So if there was no question in our interrogation, there would have been no need to Mirandize him.  So he may be telling the truth without any problem at all.

WILLIAMS:  So that intrigue, you`re just going to cuff and walk to the car, and not engage in a are you guilty conversation, that can all be done during processing.

MCQUADE:  Yes.  And so if they thought that there was no reason to ask him questions in that setting, or at all, because they knew he was represented by an attorney, then there would have been no need to Mirandize him in that setting.

WILLIAMS:  All right, to all of our guests, our thanks for starting off the last night of a more consequential than average week as we always seem to say.  Daniel Dale, Barbara McQuade, Manuel Roig-Franzia, thank you all for being with us.  All of our returning guests.

And coming up for us, an offensive yearbook photo from med school in the 1980s ignites a night of rolling thunder against the Democratic governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, including a lot of calls from his fellow Democrats to resign.  Another big name just since we`ve been on the air.

And later, the President arrives in Florida as we look at the fallout left behind.  THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on this Friday night.


WILLIAMS:  Back with the other major story tonight, people have been following, calls are getting louder this evening for Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to resign after these racist photos from 1984 surfaced just today.  Pictures were published in the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook.  They show a man in black face, another person in a KKK robe.  Northam confirmed earlier this evening he is one of the people in the photo.  We don`t know which one and to state the office here, if it`s a choice between black face and KKK robe, it`s not like one is any less offensive than the other.

Northam apologized in a statement, he said impact, "I`m deeply sorry for the decision I made that appear as I did in this photo.  And for the hurt the decision caused then and now".

Northam followed up on that statement with a hastily made video tonight.  In which he makes clear he doesn`t intend to resign at this point.


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM, (D) VIRGINIA:  I cannot change the decisions I made.  Nor can I undue the harm my behavior caused then and today.  But I accept responsibility for my past actions and I`m ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.


WILLIAMS:  Many big named Democrats have started calling on Northam to resign.  One of his predecessor`s former Governor Terry McAuliffe, his fellow Democratic Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey did so on the air here tonight with Chris Hayes.  California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris also says, he should go.

And this from the President of the NAACP and we, "Black face in any manner is always racist and never OK.  No matter the party affiliation.  We cannot stand for such behavior which is why the NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam."

With us tonight to talk about all of it, Ben Jealous, the former President and CEO of the NAACP and former Democratic candidate for Governor of the state of Maryland and Jonathan Allen also with us, NBC News National Political Reporter.  Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

Ben, I`d like to begin with you.


WILLIAMS:  This obviously comes to us from the seat of the confederacy, but this is not from a long ago era of Lester Maddox.  Making this almost worse is the time frame of these photos.

You have Doug Wilder running for lieutenant governor ultimately governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  You had Jesse Jackson running for president as a national candidate.  What do you think, Ben, should happen here?

JEALOUS:  He just has to step down and he should go into churches on Sunday morning.  And he should apologize to people of the state.  He should also apologize to black people there very clearly.

You know, this is a profound lack of judgment.  This cocoon man, you know, posing that he did.  But then you go beyond that and you say, wait a second, if he had character he wouldn`t have done it.  If he had courage he would have apologized in the years since, and his many campaigns for many offices at some point he would have come forward and apologized.  And if he had candor, then he would tell us which one he was.  And he`s been sure about that too.  So he just failed.

You know, my family comes from that state, that was our ancestral home, people want leaders who have character, who have courage and who will be candid with them.  And he is none of that in this moment.

WILLIAMS:  Jonathan Allen, what do you recon is going to happen here?  Does he survive tonight, tomorrow, the weekend?

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  If he was in the private sector, Brian, he would have been fired several hours ago.  He is on the public payroll in Virginia.  I do not see how this is politically survivable for him.  I mean, he could sit in that office, but the calls for him to resign are going to continue to cascade.

This is not something that`s going to go away for him.  It is not imaginable that he is going to be able to regain some sort of credibility with voters in Virginia, with Democratic voters in Virginia, with Republican voters in Virginia.

So, I think it`s only a matter of time.  The writing seems to be on the wall for the governor.  Obviously, you know, I wouldn`t -- you know, as a reporter make any calls, but just watching how this is unfolding, he`s not going to -- I don`t think he`s going to be able to recover from this.

WILLIAMS:  Jonathan, give us the thumbnail sketch of the lieutenant governor.  As I remind our viewers, this is a term limited commonwealth you can only serve one term as governor.  So if the lieutenant governor steps up, he has the ability to serve out the remainder of this term and run again in 2021.  Jonathan, tell us about him.

ALLEN:  Justin Fairfax is a young -- born in 1979, I think -- young up incoming politician in Virginia.  Somebody who`s very well known in the Washington metropolitan area.  Certainly obviously with the name Fairfax like the county locally here in the Washington area.  Somebody who has made a name for himself quickly, is well-known across the state.

And also is somebody that might have gotten some challenges and may still get some challenges if he steps up into that governor`s role and sits it in an election.  There are a lot of candidates across the state that see themselves as potential successors to Northam including the rich man there who called for Northam`s resignation today.  So there could be an interesting fight on Justin Fairfax`s hands if he does succeed to the governorship.

WILLIAMS:  Interesting resume, you`re right.  Duke University undergrad, Columbia Law School, worked for a law firm, volunteered for the Kerry campaign.

Hey, Ben, I want to play for you Governor Northam at a debate on the subject of Charlottesville.  Everything you`re about to here obviously tinged by the news tonight.  We`ll talk about it on the other side.


NORTHAM:  I think, though, what is important is to talk about some of the statues that aren`t built of bronze, the inequities that we still have in our society.  The inequities in access to health care, inequities in access to voting rights, inequities that we have in education.  You know, that was an awakening.

What we saw in Charlottesville there`s still a tremendous amount of hatred and bigotry in this country and to the state and I was proud to be in Charlottesville and stand up for what it was.  And I would ask Ed Gillespie to ask the President of the United States to do the same thing, to call it for what it is.  This was hatred and bigotry, we don`t condone that in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


WILLIAMS:  So Ben Jealous, how do you process that sentiment, those words with the light of the harsh light of day today?

JEALOUS:  Yes.  Having run for governor here, what I can tell you is that you have to have the courage.  And that would have been the perfect moment to disclose things that are time bombs in your past.  You know, I think he thought that perhaps he could get away with this because there are only about 40 people in this class.  They were the only ones who had this book.  And I guess he trusted that they would keep his secret.

But Charlottesville in the wake of that is the state was sort of digging through its soul, would have been a perfect time for him to show courage and step forward.  And he failed to do that.  He built this time bomb and now it seems to have blown up his career.

WILLIAMS:  Ben, do you think if he had preemptively come out it would have been somehow explainable, survivable?  I remember when the biggest rap national Democrats had on this guy that they would say kind of quietly was that he was boring, they thought he was a steady, but boring candidate for the Commonwealth and now this.

JEALOUS:  You know, yes, people are very forgiving.  And people really appreciate it when you have the courage to tell them something that they haven`t discovered.  And similarly, when you hide it and you hide it and you hide it and then it just comes out, you`ve got to take responsibility and bear the price of not having been candid with the people, not having had the courage to step forward with something that quite frankly, you know, is pretty explosive.  So he could have diffused this bomb at any point on any of his races including his race for governor or even in his tenure in office and he refused to do it and now he bears the price for it.

WILLIAMS:  Gentlemen, thank you for a terrific discussion of a perfectly awful topic tonight.  Ben Jealous, Jonathan Allen, we really appreciate you both coming on our broadcast this evening.

And coming up for us, our American viewers tonight may be interested to know that the President has taken us out of a nuclear arms controlled treaty with Russia.  General Barry McCaffrey standing by to talk to us about our world and our safety when we continue.



MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE:  The United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty effective February 2nd.  Russia has jeopardized the United States security interests.  And we can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it.


WILLIAMS:  So we`re going to talk about this, controversial decision by the Trump Administration, capping off what has been a rocky week for the President`s national security strategy, let`s say.  The INF signed by Reagan back in `87 was considered one of the most important landmark nuclear treaties in history it`s suspension sparking fears of a new kind of arms race.

This week also brought a very public rebuke for the president from senators of his own party.  Mitch McConnell actually spearheaded the vote, if you believe this, condemning Trump`s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan.  Passed overwhelmingly in the Senate.

A day after our combined intel chiefs publicly contradicted their boss, the president`s claims that threats from ISIS, North Korea, Russia had been neutralized.

Well, with us on a Friday night to talk about all of it as he does.  General Barry McCaffrey, retired U.S. Army four star general.  Heavily decorated combat veteran in Vietnam and the Gulf War.. Also happens to be a former U.S. drug czar.  General, we`re going to have a theme night.  I`m going to ask you a series of questions all with the same words.  Are we less safe, and the first one is, are we less safe because of this decision on the INF Treaty?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, RETIRED U.S. ARMY:  Not yet.  I think they`re universal concern about the Trump national security process is impulsive and incoherent and uncoordinated.  This case, both President Obama and Trump found the Russians clearly noncompliant.  The SSHC missile we think for use violates the treaty.

I think the big question to me on this issue, Brian, is China isn`t in the treaty.  The Indians, the Pakistanis, the North Koreans, the Russians are concerned about their intermediate range missiles.  At some point one hopes we get a universal treaty and bring all nations into it.  So I think, you know, Secretary Bill Perry who I think -- I think one of the great public servants against withdrawal, Admiral Jim Stavridis, my friend and colleague.  But I`d say, let`s say wait and -- Secretary Mattis when he left office said, withdraw from the INF Treaty is to give our negotiators some tools to negotiate with.  So it`s not clear to me yet we`re unsafe.

WILLIAMS:  Are we less safe because of what`s unfolding to our south in Venezuela?

MCCAFFREY:  No, I think Venezuela is a nightmare.  Clearly has nothing to do with U.S. unilateral military intervention.  It would be another disaster.  We`re not gong to do that.  I`m confident.  We see resignation of the acting sec and others.  And The Congress would turn on Trump if he try that.  So I don`t think that`s a question.

What do we do?  Three million refugees, starvation, murder of the people, I`m actually applaud Secretary Pompeo, whoever came up with this rather clever idea to recognize the opposition assembly leader.  But we got to do something.  The people are in abject misery.  We owe them an international intervention.

WILLIAMS:  On the subject of our president, you know, Donny Deutsch, he`s a contributor to all the broadcast on the calendar around here.  He talked this week on Morning Joe about the President Trump, I want to play it for you and get your reaction on the other side.


DONNY DEUTSCH, FMR. TRUMP FRIEND:  He completely contradicts his intelligence heads on North Korea, on ISIS and the Senate rebuked him on Afghanistan and Syria, and so aid for Saudi Arabia and the war to Yemen.  He`s in an alternate reality.  He`s insane.  I mean, we laugh about it because it is so unsettling, but if we were objective from this, if we had not lived through 25 months of it, you would say --and I`m not overstating this, he`s out of his mind.  I mean, he`s literally out of his mind.  It`s unhinged, it`s absurd.


WILLIAMS:  General your words on social media.  You said earlier this week we are in trouble and that got my attention.  So, are we less safe in your view because of the man who is our commander-in-chief right now?

MCCAFFREY:  I think there`s no question of it, he`s putting us in jeopardy.  It`s hard to understand what`s going on.  I wouldn`t use that kind of language that Mr. Deutsch said.  But I do think we`ve ended up without the safeguards in the White House of sober-minded people.  I think the President is personally making these decisions.

He`s confiding with Kim Jong-un and Putin and other strong men and concealing his dialogue from his own government.  And, by the way, Brian, you know, when he says his intelligence chiefs are naive and need to go to school, where could he possibly have an alternate reality that he`s saying they should understand?  I mean, you can`t have an alternate reality in whether Iran is or is not complying with the treaty.  And Gina Haspel says, so far they are.  How could he say things like, he`s in love with Kim Jong- un, one of the most murderous death pots on the face of the earth.

So, it`s unprecedented situation, I have no idea how we should deal with this.  We ought to be grateful for those intelligence chiefs who have an oath to the constitution, not to the Trump Administration.

WILLIAMS:  As our viewers go to bed tonight, the primary reason not to fear for the safety of our pacific northwest is the man joining us tonight from Seattle.  General, always a pleasure, thanks you very much for being with us.  General Barry McCaffrey.

MCCAFFREY:  Good to be with you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  And coming up for us, one potential Democratic challenger, testing the waters in Iowa, yet another finds the water is fine in New Jersey.  Still another may announce next week.  We`re going to talk about 2020.  Maybe compile a list of who isn`t running when we continue.


WILLIAMS:  There was another edition today, this growing field of Democrats in the 2020 presidential race, if you`re not running, please raise your hand.  New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker made his gauzy announcement this morning in a video posted online.  After a morning media blitz, Booker then spoke in front of his house in Newark, New Jersey where he was formerly the mayor.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY:  People in America are losing faith that this nation will work for them.  They`re beginning to believe that too many folks are going to get left out or left behind.  They`re beginning to believe that the forces that are tearing us apart are stronger than the force that bonds us together as a people, as a country.  I`m running for president, because I want to address these issues.


WILLIAMS:  Another possible candidate, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown making the rounds, he was in the pivotal first in the station state, as we like to call it, of Iowa today.  Part of his dignity of work tour.  But when asked if he`s in or he`s out, still no decision.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where are you at right now on running?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  We`re going to do this tour and not thinking about it.  It`s not something I`ve dreamed of all my life like a lot of my colleagues.  So it`s mixed will needed.  Charges your life before so I`m not complaining it anyway.  But, we`ll make that decision it`s a very personal family decision.


WILLIAMS:  Then there is Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts defly (ph) and disparagingly nicknamed by the President, mocked even by fellow Democrats for her handing of her distant and highly fractional Native American heritage.  Today, she officially apologized to the Cherokee Nation for the genetics test she took to try to prove her Native American roots.

The apology comes as Warren is expected to formally launch her presidential run with a big announcement as they call plan for next weekend.  A lot to talk about.  We have two pros to do that.  With us, Gabby Orr is with us, White House reporter for POLITICO.  And Ken Thomas, political reporter for the Wall Street Journal, covering the 2020 Democrats.

Ken, I`d like to begin with you, with the Booker effect.  Trump said again to CBS News today, I know the guy, obviously he`s from Jersey, Trump seems to think Cory Booker would be easily handled.  Does Booker have what it takes, do you think?

KEN THOMAS, POLITICAL REPOTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL:  Well, he`s taking a different tact than other Democrats have taken.  Most of the Democrats who have announced their candidacies are trying to offer a vision but also show that they can challenge President Trump directly.

Cory Booker is trying to make the argument that he`s someone that can unite the country, who can bring people together, who can heal the divisions, and he`s taking, you know, straight out of the playbook from President Obama in 2008, you know, President Clinton in a way, this idea of bringing a hopeful sunny optimism.  The question is, is that what the party wants right now?  You know, the Democrats seem to be much more interested in a more confrontational style this time around and Senator Booker is taking a different approach.

WILLIAMS:  Gabby, what is the case for Elizabeth Warren do you think according to Elizabeth Warren and those around her?

GABBY ORR, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO:  You know, I think she`s sort of the lead candidate right now on a new form of democratic populism.  One that`s very similar to what Bernie Sanders outlined in the 2015 election, that is something different in a number of ways.  And that`s something that she`s been talking about ever she launched her exploratory committee.

And I think certainly something that`s going to weave its way into this announcement speech that she makes in the coming days.  You know, she`s apologized, she`s laid the groundwork to move pass this controversy over her Native American heritage.  Now it`s time to really hear from her, what policies she would push for as president and how she intends to differentiate herself from the growing number of Democratic candidates who are also (INAUDIBLE) some very populist idea.

WILLIAMS:  And Ken, let`s talk about the market share slice that is open should Sherrod Brown say he`s going to get into this.  He said to reporters trying to be very forthright today.  He`s not trying to be coy that he really is just wanting to talk about folks and feel it out.  What`s the market share potentially for this dignity of work campaign?  He`s an interesting guy, he`s a Yaley.  Who has in public life kind of marketed himself as a working class hero.

THOMAS:  Yes:  He is trying to make the argument that it`s not a choice between, you know, appealing to progressive voters in the party, voters who are more on the left, and then those working class voters who some of whom drifted over to President Trump in 2016.

He is trying to say that you`re going to have both of them and oh, by the way, I happen to be a senator from Ohio, who won by, you know, a strong margin just last year.  The difference with Sherrod Brown is that, you know, a year ago, during the State of the Union, he wasn`t one of those Democrats who was, you know, already charting a path to the White House.

You know, last summer I think, he most likely expected to just, you know, seek re-election, you know, win another term.  And after the election, I think a lot of people came to him and said, look, you could be someone who could really fill a void here in the party and he`s looking at it.  What`s interesting about his trips to Iowa and, you know, he`s going to go to New Hampshire next week.

He`s actually I think taking in a lot of this, you know, a lot of input from the voters there.  And it`s going to help him make a decision.  I don`t think this is preordained.  I think he`s really doing some soul searching on whether it is the right thing for him.

WILLIAMS:  And we always try to point out around here, the state of Iowa has given the United States eight of our U.S. presidents.

Gabby, I`m coming to you after the break.  We`re going to fit a break in.  And when we come back, Donald Trump about to give his second State of the Union Address, what to expect from this tableau on Tuesday night, except for the fact that the guy on the right behind him will be replaced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


WILLIAMS:  Quick reality check here, the President`s State of the Union Address Tuesday night follows the longest government shutdown in history.  Tonight, NBC News reporting the President`s speech will focus on unity, something the President himself said with a straight face on camera just yesterday.

They`ve seen a leaked out portion of the speech, hoping the press would repeat it and it reads, "Together we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America`s future.  The decision is ours to make."

Still with us, Gabby Orr and Ken Thomas.  Gabby, you`ll forgive me.  I felt the need to tell our viewers he said with a straight face it would be about unity.  What is this going to look like Tuesday? And remember, over one of his shoulders will be the new Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

ORR:  Yes.  The new speaker who just a day ago said he said was very bad for our country.  And now the White House is telling us, Brian, that somehow this speech is not only going to be unifying, but it`s going to be visionary.  That`s the word that a White House official used today when briefing reporters on the content of President Trump`s upcoming State of the Union.

Listen, he`s supposed to touch on a number of topics, all of which have been extremely divisive under his administration.  He`s going to talk about healthcare.  He`s going to talk about infrastructure, trade with China, American workers and manufacturing.  Obviously there`s going to be a great portion of this speech that focuses on immigration and what that looks like at a time when we just ended a 35-day government shutdown over that exact issue.

You know, I`m really going to be paying attention next Tuesday night to see how the President somehow balances this idea of sort of unifying the country and introducing the language that he may have used in the 2018 State of the Union where he talked about one American family with all of the current things that are happening in our political environment.

WILLIAMS:  Ken, let`s pick up where Gabby left off and talk about what kind of dynamic we can expect in that chamber.  How much of a body of applause can he expect on the topic of his wall?

THOMAS:  Not much from the majority, you know, on the House now.  I mean, Nancy Pelosi will be behind him.  You can`t expect her to be applauding much at all.  And we have this new class of House Democrats who are very much opposed to this approach and are not going to give an inch.  I think, you know, you`re also going to have a rebuttal from Stacey Abrams, the --


THOMAS:  -- one of the stars of the midterms.  She was defeated narrowly in the Georgia governor`s race.  But, you know, she`s going to be, you know, someone who is going to be responding to the President.  And it`s interesting to look at, you know, who the party chose this time compared to last time.

I mean, Stacey Abrams is someone who connects with women, African- Americans.  The last time they had Steve Bashir, the former Kentucky governor, and that was seemed aimed at, you know, the working class voters who President Trump had attracted.  So this is much more of a combative party not willing to give much of an inch to the President this time around.

WILLIAMS:  Our great thanks on a Friday night to Gabby Orr and to Ken Thomas, thank you both for contributing to our broadcast.  We appreciate you both coming on.

And coming up for us, "what`s a guy from Queens got to do to get a good story in the newspaper once in awhile?" asks the President of the United States.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight, what the president said to the New York Times yesterday in the Oval Office.  This whole thing started when he invited the publisher of the paper to an off-the-record session over lunch.  The publisher, the scion of Sulzberger family countered with the idea of an on-the-record interview in the Oval Office, during which the President made it clear he`s just a man from the borough of Queens, New York asking his hometown paper to love him once in awhile.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  What you do is a very important thing.  And I will tell you, I would love if I was just covered fairly.  I sort of think I`m entitled to a great story from the New York Times.  I mean, I`ve done something that nobody has ever done.  I came from Jamaica, Queens, Jamaica Estates, and I became President of the United States.  I`m sort of entitled to a great story from my -- just one -- from my newspaper, I mean, you know.


WILLIAMS:  Earlier, Maggie Haberman of the Times asked him a thoughtful question about the role of a free press in a democracy, and for a few moments there his answer verged on lofty.


MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  But what do you see the role of the free press as?  What is it that you think that the press does?

TRUMP:  It describes and should describe accurately what`s going on in anywhere it`s covering, whether it`s a nation or a state or a game or whatever.  And if it describes it accurately and fairly, it`s a very, very important and beautiful thing.


WILLIAMS:  But then we remembered this was the President in that same Oval Office just hours earlier.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, did you talk to your intelligence chiefs today about the displeasure you have with their testimony --

TRUMP:  I did.  And they said that they were totally misquoted and they were totally -- it was taken out of context.  So, what I do is I`d suggest that you call them.  They said it was fake news so --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.  We just ran exactly what they said to Congress.

TRUMP:  Excuse me.  Excuse me.  It didn`t surprise me at all.  But we`re here to talk right now about China.


WILLIAMS:  All one day in the life of this President and his White House as we bring another week to a close.  That is our broadcast for this Friday night.

Thank you so much for being here with us.  Have a good weekend and goodnight from NBC News headquarters in New York.

JOY REID, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Rachel has the night off.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                                                     END