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Trump: "I don't follow" Ann Coulter." TRANSCRIPT: 2/15/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Jessica Roth, Eric Tucker, Emily Cochrane, Franco Ordinez, BarryMcCaffrey

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR:  You can watch "Headliners" Jeff Bezos this Sunday 9:00 p.m. only on MSNBC.  And that is tonight`s LAST WORD.  I`m Ali Velshi.  THE 11TH HOUR with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, Paul Manafort now facing a quarter century in federal prison in just one of the cases he is facing while another federal judge slams Manafort for lying about his repeated dealings with a prominent Russian.

Also tonight, the Roger Stone case comes roaring back as the Feds say they have his communications with WikiLeaks, which is interesting because he says he never communicated with WikiLeaks.  The judge also limits his comments on this case.

We learn today another prominent member of Trump world, Sarah Sanders, has been interviewed by the Mueller team.

And back at the White House President Trump in rambling and disconnected event at the Rose Garden declares his national emergency then goes on to completely undercuts his own case.  All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on a Friday night.

And good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 757 of the Trump administration.

And just within these past few hours on a Friday night, we have seen a number of major developments with regard to the Mueller investigation.  Tonight, the Feds have submitted a sentencing document for Trump`s former campaign chair Paul Manafort, who will soon, we say this because it`s germane, turn 70 years of age. This would apply only to the case he`s facing in Virginia where he was found guilty of tax and bank fraud.  And this sentence would mean he would be in federal prison until the end of his productive life.

The sentencing guideline here is a prison term from 19 to 24 years.  Manafort faces a restitution payment of over $24 million and they suggest Manafort forfeit more than $4 million.  The sentencing document is 120 pages long and has copious amounts of information.  If Manafort receives a sentence in the recommended range, it would be the harshest handed down thus far in the Russia investigation.

Then there`s his other case in federal court in D.C. and another prison sentence awaiting.  The judge in that case this week ruled that he lied to investigators, a violation of his cooperation deal with the Feds.

There`s also news about Paul Manafort`s one time business partner Roger Stone.  Today Mueller`s team filed a document in Stone`s case rejecting his request for a different judge.

And there in the document, the Fed say for the first time they have evidence of Roger Stone communicating with WikiLeaks as well as "Guccifer 2.0."  That was the alias used by Russian intelligence to hack into the DNC computers, steal the e-mails and then leak them.  That`s notable because Stone has said repeatedly he never directly communicated with Guccifer or WikiLeaks.

The federal judge in the case also issued a gag order enough to get Stone to stop talking about the case in ways that would prejudice future jurors.


ROGER STONE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT:  To storm my house with greater force that was used to take down Bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar.

They sent fewer men to go after Bin Laden than after me.

I saw a dozen other FBI agents in the background all wearing night goggles, full SWAT gear.

To make me look guilty in public.  To poison the jury pool and make me look like El Chapo or some kind of drug kingpin.


WILLIAMS:  So, it`s those kinds of interviews the judge is looking to gag.

We also learned today as we mention White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been be interviewed by the Mueller team sometime in the fall of last year.  She put out a statement that says, "The President urged me, like he has every one in the administration, to full by cooperate with the special counsel.  I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them."

Reports say the Feds are likely interested in what Sanders may have known about the Trump Tower meeting, the cover up story and whether she was involved in crafting any misleading statements about that meeting.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  The statement that Don Junior issued is true.  There`s no inaccuracy in the statement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The outside counsel did weigh in saying that yes the President did dictate the statement.

Do you want to correct the record on your statement from August when you said he didn`t dictate?

SANDERS:  Once again, I`m not going to go into detail.


WILLIAMS:  The new attorney general spent his first day on the job at the Justice Department.  Second time in his career he has occupied that office, William Barr was also present in the Rose Garden for the President`s announcement of his national emergency.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want to wish our new attorney general great luck and speed and enjoy your life.  Build a luck.  A tremendous reputation.  I know you`ll do a great job.


WILLIAMS:  Enjoy your life mean while there are reports that Matt Whitaker who was the acting A.G. is still at the Justice Department, still on the federal payroll serving as a senior counselor of some sort at DOJ.

Let`s bring in our lead off panel for a Friday night.  Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counter Intelligence.  We want to welcome to the broadcast, Jessica Roth, former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, this days a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in Yeshiva University here in New York.  And also with us tonight Eric Tucker, Justice Department Reporter for the Associated Press.  Welcome to you all.

Frank, I`d like to begin with you.  We`ll go Manafort first and then later in the discussion we will handle Mr. Stone.  It`s a lot, but we can get through it.  What did you learn today in the documents you read, especially Manafort and his buddy and business partner Mr. Kilimnik?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSIST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:  The judge does not like Mr. Manafort`s position on things.  Doesn`t like the fact that he has lied, slammed him for lying about very substantial issues at the core of the special counsel investigation.  And we are all left to wonder why.  Why the lies continue.  Why he continued to lie to the special counsel and the court about what he knows and who he met with and it`s looking more and more, Brian, like Manafort has such substantial information in his possession that if he let it out, it would not only bring him down, but bring down others.

And so I`m left to conclude through observation and what we`ve learned so far that he has the goods regarding Russian cooperation with the Trump campaign and likely knows the degree to which, if any, this President was aware of Russian quid pro quo deals involving aiding the campaign.  That`s what this is looking like after today`s revelations.

WILLAMS:  Frank, I even came across a quote, page 27, of the judge`s document here that says, she mentions something that says gives rise to legitimate questions about where his loyalties lie.  In other words, this question we have been dealing with on our broadcast is Manafort playing for the home team or the opposition.

FIGLIUZZI:  She wasn`t even buying all his medical condition.  She noted that, you know, you`re trying to claim you have gout, but I note that we`re not hearing any evidence that you had at the time you claimed you were confused and under stress and couldn`t remember things.  She distinctly said, "I`m not buying the I can`t recall, I was stressed argument and I find it interesting that you stood here at the podium earlier in the proceeding and now you`re in a wheelchair and claiming that you`re under stress."  She wasn`t buying any of it, Brian.

WILLAMS:  Counselor, first of all, welcome.


WILLAMS:  Second, we note that there`s the usual collection of redactions.  This goes on for pages and pages and pages, by the way.  But in the words we`re allowed to see, what stood out to you?

ROTH:  So, a couple of things stood out to me.  One was how carefully the judge documented her findings that Manafort had lied in a material way to the special counsel.  And she was clear that she wasn`t relying for example only on representations by Gates but also documentary evidence.  It was very careful to document it.

And also to make clear that he wasn`t just perhaps misrembering at times as had been suggested by his counsel, but that he was actually promoting false narratives that were quite detailed, that were just inconsistent with the notion that he just was caught unawares and was confused at the time that he was interviewed.  But the redactions actually stood out to me the most.

WILLAMS:  I`d love to hear why.

ROTH:  So, you get -- when we get close to Kilimnik, we see more redactions.  We see reductions a bit about this payment that was made.  But it`s really when we get to Kilimnik that we see most redactions than we have a reference to another FOJ investigation that`s not described in any more detail.  And then these pages and pages of redactions that we don`t know what those pertained to at all.

And what that suggests to me is that there is more to come from Mueller on matters that he has characterized as core to his investigation, namely, collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.  The only justification for continuing to redact this transcript and to close these hearings is that there is an ongoing investigation to protect.  And so, it strikes me that predictions that Mueller is nearly done and wrapping up are premature.

WILLAMS:  And that`s one of the things I wanted to ask you, because you are new to us and this broadcast, kind of a fresh opinion.  When you read all those articles and there`s one a week that they`re wrapping up.  This is almost the end, this direct evidence to you not to believe that.

ROTH:  It certainly what we might call circumstantial evidence to me --

WILLAMS:  OK.  Circumstancial.

ROTH:  -- that they are not done and there had been references by Mueller`s attorneys to the fact that there are ongoing investigations that must be protected.  Michael Cohen`s testimony was postponed in light of ongoing investigations.  To me, these are signals that there`s more to come.

We also have in the Roger Stone case, we know that his associate, Mr. Miller, had been subpoenaed before the grand jury and was told he still needed to come even after the initial indictment against Roger Stone.  A grand jury subpoena can only be used to gather evidence of additional charges.  So that suggests to me, along with what we saw today in that Roger Stone case that there`s more to come with respect to Roger Stone.

WILLAMS:  Wow.  All right, Eric, so you covered the Manafort matter in Virginia.  We remind our viewer when we talk about this potential 24-year prison sentence for a 70-year-old man, this is just the case in Virginia.  We haven`t gotten to the federal court in D.C. yet.  What should we know about that case, about what went on there?

ERIC TUCKER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS JUSTICE DEPT. REPORTER:  So, it is entirely a financial fraud case involving work that Paul Manafort was doing.  His international and political consulting and lobbying work, it had nothing to do with the Trump campaign.  And that`s something that he was sort of continuing to pursue in 2015 and then 2016 he winds up taking a job with the Trump campaign.  And he had been under investigation and even before the special counsel.

The one thing that I thought was really notable about the government sentencing memo was just how unsparing it was in its assessment of Paul Manafort`s conduct.  Ordinarily you see an attempt to acknowledge a potential mitigating factor in the defendant`s behalf and say this indeed might be a reason to give some leniency, so and so has led an exemplary life up until this point.

WILLAMS:  None of that here.

TUCKER:  But -- none of that here.  Mueller said it is all stocked in the ledger of aggravating factors.  There`s not a single, there are zero mitigating factors in his favor which was really startling.

WILLAMS:  Indeed.  Our two former feds are nodding back with you.

Hey, Frank, on the matter of Roger Stone, I thought he said numerous times he hadn`t been in contact with Guccifer or WikiLeaks?

FIGLIUZZI:  Brian, this may be the closest we`ve come thus far to actual criminal collusion, evidence of colluding with a foreign power.  This is big.  And it`s buried in a transcript where Mueller is saying, "Wait a minute, Roger Stone is arguing that he doesn`t like this judge.  Shouldn`t be lumped in with these Russian intelligence officers in the same breath, in the same case similarities, and wants out of this, doesn`t know these guys."

And he says in response, "I actually have communications that I got in a search warrant where I seized, searched and seized evidence of communication involving the hack by Russian intelligence on the Democrats and communications with WikiLeaks about releasing that hacked material.  And guess what, Roger Stone, you`re communicating with both parties about that topic.  This is collusion."

And for Roger Stone to sit there and have the hubris of saying I`m above this, right?  You guys don`t have anything on me.  I`m going to lie to the court.  I`m going to lie to the special counsel.  It`s backfired horribly and it`s a huge hint that Mueller knows far more than Roger Stone understands.

WILLAMS:  Jessica to Frank`s point, that`s so right.  This was not a document designed today to tell the public, "Here is what we got on this guy."  This was an ancillary mention of what they`ve got on this guy.  He`s in on seven counts.  Do you expect him to have more counts piled on now that he`s in the system?

ROTH:  I do.  And I agree that it`s fascinating that we get these really important details in what you characterizes an ancillary filling.  I find it fascinating that Mueller didn`t include these details in the indictment against Roger Stone.

WILLAMS:  Yes.  What do you think?

ROTH:  It leads me to believe that he was strategically holding it back.  He clearly had these materials.  So, I think that it must have been a strategic calculation that they wanted to have a surprise element perhaps if they sat down with Roger Stone.  Maybe to protect again on ongoing investigations and to other people who were involved including whoever it was within the Trump campaign that was in contact with Stone and whoever was directing that person to be in touch with Roger Stone.  So I think it is really, really interesting.

This is the first explicit statement from Mueller about direct communications between Stone and WikiLeaks on the one hand and Stone and "Guccifer 2.0," who were the Russians, as we know.

WILLAMS:  So, Frank, I know you`re nodding along as Jessica speaks.  Do we think this is the kind of reason, point of order, Bin Ladin was shot and killed on his raid, the kind of thing that they swept up when they went into his house?

FIGLIUZZI:  Don`t know if they have those results yet back.


FIGLIUZZI:  I`m thinking this is far more sensitive in terms of search warrant material.  If you`re talking about seizing communications from Guccifer, an intelligence operation Russians, WikiLeaks, it could be from his house but it could also be redundantly captured in intercepts of those two parties as well.

Stone and Manafort both have exhibited and not only a huge uberous ego, large egos, but also a naivety as to what Mueller actually has access to in terms of signal intelligence, human sources, and the entire spectrum of U.S. intelligence agency collection, an allied intelligence collection.  When you lie to people who have that kind of information, you`re making a huge mistake and Stone and Manafort have both screwed up in that regard.

WILLAMS:  Yes.  I`ll broadly paraphrase the judge who in the portion of this document that has words on it says in effect to Manafort, you were asked a question by the Mueller team did you not think they already knew the answer.

Hey, Eric, I want to get you on the new era that started today at the Department of Justice or did it.  What questions are you expected to see or not see as the Bill Barr era as an actual attorney general begins?

TUCKER:  There`s no question that the biggest issue facing Bill Barr and the entire Justice Department is what do you do with the end of the Mueller investigation when ever that happens.

And when we talk about this question, the crux is, what do you do about information you gather about people that is derogatory negative information but the person is not charged.  And this is a familiar issue for people who followed the Hillary Clinton investigation where information about her was not -- was released into the publics fear, even though she was not indicted.  And so Bill Barr and the Justice Department is going to be left with the question of, OK, we have investigated all of these people.

We have indictment against so far, you know, we have -- indictments or guilty pleas against 34 people.  Here are all these other people.  Can the public learn their names?  Can they learn what we found about them?  And that`s the issue that Bill Barr is confronting right now.

WILLAMS:  This is the starting panel we could so easily fill the hour without even thinking about it.  But they have lives and families and we have other topics.  So for now, they`ll have to accept our thanks, to Frank Figliuzzi, to Jessica Roth, to Eric Tucker for being a part of our broadcast tonight.

And coming up, President Trump`s rambling Rose Garden address to declare an emergency that he went on to admit as emergencies go isn`t really that urgent or necessary.

And later, we`ll ask a retired Four-Star General, Barry McCaffrey, what he thinks of Trump`s plan to take from the military and give to the wall.  THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on what is yet another busy Friday night.


WILLAMS:  President Trump has now signed the bill to prevent a shutdown while also declaring a national emergency so he can try to rout billions from elsewhere in our government to his wall, which to be fair, Mexico was supposed to pay for.  Before leaving for Florida Trump explained his decision in a morning Rose Garden event that went off the rails rather quickly.


TRUMP:  We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit even though it shouldn`t be there.  And we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we`ll get another bad ruling and then we`ll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we`ll get a fair shake and we`ll win in the Supreme Court just like the band.  They sued us in the Ninth Circuit and we lost and then we lost in the appellate division and then we went to the Supreme Court and we won.


WILLAMS:  Moments later in his answer to a question from our own Peter Alexander he directly undercut his own argument and the urgency for a national emergency.


TRUMP:  I could do the wall over a longer period of time.  I didn`t need to do this but I`d rather do it much it faster.  And I don`t have to do it for the election, I`ve already done a lot of wall for the election.  2020.  And the only reason we`re up here talking about this is because of the election.


WILLAMS:  That prompted former acting U.S. Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, to post this.  And we quote, "Trump just said I didn`t need to do this but I`d rather do it much faster.  Whatever a national emergency may be, that`s not it.  That quote is going right in the lawsuit."

And earlier today former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance agreed the President`s own words just right there in an instant will likely mean big trouble for the President.


JOYCE VANCE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  Now, here we`ve the President himself saying it`s not a national emergency.  And every lawyer will pick up on that and Trump may think that they`re going to go to the Ninth Circuit, the most liberal circuit in the country, there will undoubtedly be cases there, but there is at least one case in progress on the Texas border, that`s in the Fifth Circuit, one of the conservative circuits that exist in the deep south.  I expect that they will succeed there as well.  And the President will have only himself to thank for their victory.


WILLAMS:  The ACLU, for its part says, it will be filing a lawsuit next week challenging the President`s emergency declaration.

And Texas Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro promises to introduce a resolution to try to block Trump`s emergency declaration.

For more here tonight, we`re joined by Jonathan Allen, the veteran and political journalist who is our NBC News National Political Reporter.  We welcome to the broadcast tonight Emily Cochrane who happens to cover Capitol Hill for "The New York Times".  And back with us this evening, Franco Ordonez, White House Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers covering immigration and foreign affairs in his spare time among other topics.  Welcome to you all.

Hey, John, I want to read you something from the "Washington Post" tonight.  Here it is.  "White house lawyers including White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, had repeatedly warned Trump of the legal risks of proceeding.  On Friday some White House lawyers were frustrated and still skeptical of the commander in chief`s rationale."

Two points here, John, this leaked from the office of White House counsel.  What does that tell you?  And number two, it happened because the President made it happen.  What`s the after action damage assessment tonight?

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  I think there`s serious damage to the President`s case from his words.  I think there`s a serious separation of powers issue.  We`re going to watch Congress vote on this likely.  Joaquin Castro, as you mention the congressman from Texas, will bring us this resolution to terminate the emergency.  The Senate will have 18 days if the House passes that.  They will have 18 days either to vote on it or vote to not have a vote it.  So you`re going to see vote put up in Congress likely in the next three weeks.

But in addition to that, Brian, I would just note, the President has been making the case that there is a national emergency on the border for the last several weeks during the shutdown and Congress then acted.  Congress appropriated money and they said, "Here you have $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of fence.  No more, no less."

And so, when you look at the national emergencies act, the reason that that exists is the idea that there might be an attack on country or natural disaster and the Congress would not have time to react to that.  The President ought to be able to spend money to react to things like that between appropriations seasons.  In this case he made that case for an emergency.  Congress denied him the funds that he sought, that $5.7 billion and now he`s going to go ahead and take existing appropriations to try to get done what he wants to do.

I think you`re going to see -- I know you`ll see an aggressive effort to fight him in the courts.  There`s going to be a fight in Congress.  And we`ll have to see where the legal lines are here.  But obviously, the President and the Congress agree that this isn`t an emergency.  That there wasn`t an emergency here as he said in the Rose Garden today.

WILLAMS:  Hey, Emily, John talks about a fight in Congress, but it`s fair to ask because we`ve become a little frosty and cynical on this topic over the past two years.  What are they really likely to do?

EMILY COCHRANE, THE NEW YORK TIME REPORTER:  I think it`s fair to say that there will be some Republicans who join Democrats in voting for this resolution.  There is some concern about the breach of executive power that they`re overstepping what Congress was meant to do.  That being said, the President would be likely to veto such a resolution and I think it would be a lot harder to get a two-thirds majority to overturn that.

WILLAMS:  Hey, Franco, did Trump misplay the timing here among other things.  Say nothing of the fact had he gone for a deal, what is it, a year ago, it would have been perhaps 25 billion, there about?

FRANCO ORDONEZ, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPER WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Absolutely.  I mean, Democrats were all for that.  They were for that deal.  But Trump backed away and said no.  I mean, and just few weeks ago, again, before the shutdown, they had more money on the table for the border wall.  And again, Trump said no at the last minute among criticism from his -- the Right Wing.

So he`s had several chances to do it funny because we`re hearing reports now that he`s trying to talk to some on the conservative media trying to get them to kind of change the narrative that this is a better off deal than he would have had, but that`s certainly not the case.

WILLAMS:  Yes.  We`ve seen sporadic cases of people falling in line.  That`s what we want to talk about after we sneak in a break.  Our guest have agreed to stay with us.  We`ll do that.

And coming up, the President had lots of praise for members of conservative media today.  We`ll count up how many of them perhaps have returned the favor, when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  Welcome back.  And we`ve been talking about this.  Let`s show you the President`s event in the Rose Garden today.

As we said, it quickly went off the rails.  It was designed to announce his national emergency, which he then undercut.  He hit a lot of different subjects from North Korea to conservative media.  So now, just a brief sampling from today`s verbal slalom and the kaleidoscopic array of topics.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  You know, I never did politics before.  Now, I do politics.

I want to wish our new attorney general a great luck, and speed, and enjoy your life.  My button is bigger than yours and my button works.  Remember that?  You don`t remember that.  And people said Trump is crazy.  And you know what, it ended up being a very good relationship.  I like him a lot and he likes me a lot.

Rush Limbaugh, I think he`s a great guy.  He can speak for three hours without a phone call.  Try doing that.  Taking calls is easy.  OK, I`ll answer this one, I`ll answer that one.  He goes for three hours and he`s got an audience that`s fantastic.

Ann Coulter, I don`t know her.  I hardly know, I haven`t spoken to her in way over a year.  I like her.  But she`s off the reservation but anybody that knows her understands that.  I haven`t spoken to her.  I don`t follow her.  I don`t talk to her.  But the press loves to bring up the name Ann Coulter.  And you know what, I think she`s fine.  I think she`s good but I just don`t speak to her.


WILLIAMS:  It was just getting started.  And to keep things interesting, Ann Coulter, whose name was invoked, who has been hounding and trolling this president on the subject of the wall, responded today during a radio interview.


ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR:  So forget the fact he`s digging his own grave.  This is just -- look, the only national emergency is that our President is an idiot.


WILLIAMS:  So there`s that to talk about with our guests.  Jonathan Allen, Emily Cochrane and Franco Ordonez.  Franco, do you believe the President when he says he doesn`t follow Ann Coulter?

FRANCO ORDONEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS:  It`s really difficult to believe that the President is not listening to Ann Coulter.  Let`s just remember a few weeks ago when President Trump was very much ready according to Sarah Sanders and White House staff, to sign a spending bill with that -- that the Democrats and Republicans had agreed to that didn`t have any funding to the wall.

It was Ann Coulter who spoke out and others talking about the President is being scammed if he agrees to that.  Within 24 hours, President Trump had changed his mind, said, "No.  I`m not going to sign this."  And then, we`ve got a record breaking shutdown.  So for him to say that he`s not listening is very hard to believe.

WILLIAMS:  Emily, let`s talk about your line of work and covering Congress, and we`ve watched them all eventually come around.  And people who have some age on them, remember when Bob Bird controlled the Senate and when Tip O`Neill controlled the House.  We watched Democrats with breathtaking discipline come around.

Here is Mark Meadow, the Head of the Freedom Caucus in the House, Republican, North Carolina, "Now, declaring that the POTUS declaration is legal and well-founded of the national emergency.  To my Democratic colleagues complaining about executive authority, welcome aboard.  Good to have you.  If you`re ready to permanently rein in executive branch power and give it back to Congress once and for all, I`ll work with you today."

Emily, what do you make of it?

EMILY COCHRANE, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST:  I think it speaks to the challenging position that some Republicans are in.  There is a lot of concern about the passing of this.  Thom Tillis, the Republican from North Carolina, put out a statement today where he said he didn`t support the declaration and outlined a number of scenarios where a Democratic president would take advantage of the use of executive power like that.

But at the same time, the President`s base does make up part of their own, so they have to weigh how they`re going to vote on this.  And they will have to make a decision.

WILLIAMS:  And, Jonathan Allen, the signage we saw at the President`s event in El Paso.  Finish the wall.  Build the wall became finish the wall.  The minute the lights came up in that arena, we noticed it.  Do you think we`re going to see anymore of that signage or is that going to get foot in the scenery warehouse for a while?

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  I think it`s going to all over Trump rallies for the next two years, Brian.  The President has told people not only that he was going to build the wall.  He has told people that he has already built new sections of wall which isn`t true.  He has told folks that they should start talking about continuing to build the wall, and now finish building the wall.  All of which is sort of a fiction.

I mean, we`re not even talking about a wall anymore.  The word wall refers to something that`s solid.  Congress is approving something that`s see through, that is fence.  The language has been distorted.  But regardless of what the barrier is, we`re looking at something much smaller.

And to Emily`s point and to yours, Brian, earlier, just I wanted to get to this spending and the conservatives being upset about executive power here.  They`re looking at a president of the United States that is taking money appropriated for the Defense Department, and deciding to build something else with it.  And they`re looking at that and saying when a Democrat does it whether it`s for environmental things or infrastructure, or anything else, this is wildly out of control for what they would like to see government doing.

They look at Donald Trump right now and what they see is a big spending Republican and they do not like that at all.

WILLIAMS:  I`m glad you made that point because that is the topic for our next segment.  But we`re getting ahead of ourselves.  Our thanks on a Friday night to our friends, Jonathan Allen, to Emily Cochrane, great to have you on the broadcast, as well as Franco Ordonez, really appreciate it, gang, thanks.

And coming up, the quote from the President today was this.  "If we had a wall, we don`t need the military because we`ve have a wall."  He insisted some generals had told him, "Sure, take billions from the military funding, a wall is more important."  Well, we`ll going to run that by a retired four star general when we come back.



TRUMP:  We had certain funds that are being used at the discretion of generals, at the discretion of the military.  Some of them haven`t been allocated yet.  And some of the generals think this is more important.  I was speaking to a couple of them.  They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for.  I said what were you going to use it for and I won`t go into details but it didn`t sound too important to me.


WILLIAMS:  Let`s go into details, President Trump defending there his decision to take money from funds meant for military construction to, instead, construct his wall.  The defense department has to decide what programs to delay or cancel entirely in order to transfer these funds.  Among the potential options on the table, this is according to the Military Times, "A new vehicle maintenance shop at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, dry dock repairs at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, F-35 hangar improvements at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, ongoing hospital construction at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and new family housing construction, South Korea, Italy and Wisconsin."

Well, with us tonight, General Barry McCaffrey retired US Army Four Star General, heavily decorated combat veteran from Vietnam, ground commander in the Gulf War and for good measure, former White House Drug Czar.

General, I want you to get start on these two topics.  The idea of robbing the military to build the wall and, secondly, what you`ve been talking about on social media all week, article one.  Where is new revenue supposed to come from?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, US ARMY (RETIRED):  Well, you know, Brian, I`ve done a lot of testifying to Congress, House and Senate Appropriations Committee over budgets.  And the implication that you go to a committee and get a slush fund that you can then repurpose for whatever you want to do is just hard to imagine that that`s where we`re going with this government.

There is discretion obviously in execution of the President budget, but not seizing a billion dollars, much of which, as you point out, will come from military construction money, or for that matter the Pentagon`s Department of Defense drug interdiction support of law enforcement.  So it`s hard to imagine.

First of all, this isn`t going to happen.  At the end of the day, the actual construction of the wall will take years.  So I don`t think it`s really going to play out.  But I think the constitutional implications of the whole mess are really surprising.

One other comment, the dignity and gravitas the President of the United States is an important aspect to national security.  The President`s performance today was unsettling.  It`s almost sitting listening to a guy in a bar stool next to you with incoherence and rudeness, and change of policy from what`s happened in the past.  I think we`re in a very dangerous period right now dealing with this issue.

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  I recommend people watch it.  It was hard for us to synopsize down how many turns and changes of topic and changes of mood there were.  I want to play for you a portion of it on a subject near and dear to your heart.  This is North Korea and what the President believes he learned from Barack Obama.  We`ll talk about it on the other side.


TRUMP:  They said, "What`s the biggest problem?"  He said, "By far, North Korea."  I don`t want to speak for him.  I believe he would have gone do war with North Korea.  I think he was ready to go to war.  In fact, he told me he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea.  Where are we now?  No missiles.  No rockets.  No nuclear testing.


WILLIAMS:  General, was Barack Obama close to starting "a big war with North Korea?"

MCCAFFREY:  Sheer nonsense.  You know, I would have been critical of some aspects of foreign defense policy under Obama, but certainly strategic patience dealing with North Korea wasn`t one of them.  He was in no way about to take unilateral or military action, to try to hold together the Japanese, South Korean, Australians, US and common policy, and then deals through the UN, to trying to get to Russians and the Chinese and others, to rein Kim Jong-un back in.

So this is a nonsensical statement.  To go on, President Trump performance in front of the United Nations, threatening rocket man a nuclear war, nothing like that has almost ever occurred since World War II, possibly cruise chapter in Cuban missile crisis.

So I think that, you know, the whole story has turned on its head.  A bigger problem right now is North Koreans are declared nuclear power.  They may have 60 weapons.  They certainly have intermediate range missiles that can strike US military forces in Okinawa, Japan, South Korea, Guam, Hawaii, what are we going to do about it?

You know, and engagement with the North Koreas are smart but the kind of photo optics negotiations that occurred to Singapore are rolling into the current top schedule for Hanoi.  I don`t think the administration has a strategy.  I don`t think they know what they`re doing.  They`re going to put us at risk.

WILLIAMS:  Now I want to play you something else.  And I mentioned that you are a former drug czar for a reason.  This was the President on the fight against drugs and how China handles it.  We`ll talk about it on the other side.


TRUMP:  And when I asked President Xi, I said you have a drug problem.  No, no, no.  I said you have 1.4 billion people.  What do you mean you have no drug problem?  No, we don`t have a drug problem.  I said why.  Death penalty.  We give death penalty to people that sell drugs.  End of problem.  What do we do?  We set up a blue ribbon committees.


WILLIAMS:  General, your assessment of that.

MCCAFFREY:  Well, first of all, you know, the death penalty in China is a state secret.  We don`t know how many people are executed, probably a couple of thousands last year, down considerably in the early 2000s.  Say, we`re executing maybe 12,000 a year.  They do have a drug problem.

You know, they`ve got drug labs, methamphetamines manufacturing going on.  It`s very significant social challenge.  Hardly imaginable you can solve what is actually, at the end of the day, a public health problem, drug education and prevention through threatening execution.  So, again, this a nonsensical viewpoint and factually dubious.

WILLIAMS:  General, thank you very much for coming on this broadcast on a regular basis and taking our questions, and reacting to the news we`re covering here tonight.  We appreciate it.  General Barry McCaffrey with us once again this evening.

And coming up, you know how we keep saying it would be easier to list the Democrats who are not running for president.  In a moment we`ll show you what we mean and fair warning to those living in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, you just might run into a senator this weekend.  When we come back with the lights on.



SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA:  The American dream, much less American values are under attack and it is time to change course.  You know, I was raised by a mother.  My sister Maya is here.  We were raised by a mother.  We`d come home with a problem and my mother, the first thing she would do is look at us and say, "Well, what are you going to do about fixing it?"  So I`m going to say, I decided to run for president.


WILLIAMS:  California senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris kicking off a jam-packed campaign weekend.  She is among nine Democrats hitting the road tomorrow from New Hampshire to Georgia to South Carolina to Iowa.  The schedule for the Democrats starts early in the morning, there will be house parties and listening tours, and walking tours, plus all sorts of meet and greets.

Even cable news staple and California Congressman Eric Swalwell is getting in on the action.  He hasn`t even declared he`s running yet.  And the action starts back up on Sunday, candidates will hit that pivotal early states of Iowa, New Hampshire.  Senator Elizabeth Warren is making her way all the way out west to Nevada.

We`re still four months away from the first debate in June.  We`re still a year and eight months from Election Day, but with nine people already declared as running and seemingly half of the Democratic Party considering a run for president.  It`s going to be a busy time in politics and air travel.

And while things are revving up on the Democratic side, this headline today must have gotten somebody`s attention in the West Wing.  Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld announces plan to challenge President Trump for Republican Nomination.  Note that last bit about the Republican nomination.  Weld is most recently remembered for his role in the ill-fated libertarian ticket in 2016 with Gary Johnson.  Bill Weld hasn`t won an election since 1994.  But as you can guess, any primary challenge will be an unwelcome primary challenge by this White House.

Coming up, America`s former first couple making a surprise appearance when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight.  It`s the roving eye at sports events and you never know when kiss cam is going to find you and your significant other, or as has also happened, two complete strangers forced into awkwardly gesticulating that this is not happening.  So imagine what it was like on valentine`s night.  You`re watching the visiting New York Knicks play your Atlanta Hawks when this happens.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, the first presidential kiss cam.  President Carter and Rosalynn.  Can we get a kiss cam?  No wave, a kiss.  Yeah.  Oh, yeah.  We`re going viral.  We`re going viral with that one. 


WILLIAMS:  And so it did.  And here`s a note for all the believers in marriage out there.  Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have been married for 72 years and 7 months.  Let`s say that gain, only putting in a different way, in five months they will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary.

And if these two kids can manage to stay married and in good health for another nine months, they will break George and Barbara Bush`s record of 73 years and 4 months of matrimony.  That`s the longest first marriage ever in our history.

Jimmy Carter also holds an important record already.  He has lived to see the longest post-presidency in American history.  He`s now been a former president for a record 38 years.

So that is our broadcast for a Friday night and for this week.  Thank you so very much for being here with us.  Have a good weekend.  Good night from NBC News.

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