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Buttigieg touts $7 million in first quarter. TRANSCRIPT: 4/1/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Berit Berger, Paul Butler, Tim O`Brien, Nelson Cunningham, ClintWatts, A.B. Stoddard Berit Berger, Paul Butler, Tim O`Brien, Nelson Cunningham, Clint Watts, A.B. Stoddard

PETE BUTTIGIEG, MAYOR, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA:  And I think that informs who we are and also hopefully motivates us to stand up for other people who for whatever reasons of their own have been disadvantaged.  So we`re all helping each other get ahead.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Pete Buttigieg, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate it.  You have a standing invitation, open invitation to join us on this program to continue to discuss the issues in the campaign as does every presidential candidate.  We really appreciate you accepting that invitation and joining us tonight.

BUTTIGIEG:  Sounds good, look forward to it.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Mr. Mayor.  Pete Buttigieg gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, subpoena fight.  With the Democrats deadline for the Mueller report just minutes away and the A.G. saying he won`t hand it over until mid April.  Both sides appear dug in and bracing for a stand off.

And speaking of subpoenas, a whistleblower reveals at least two dozen White House officials were granted a security clearance after being denied access to top secrets by career security professionals.  And in based-place tonight, the President wants an immigration czar, this after he threatens to shut down the border.  "The 11th Hour" on a Monday night starts right now.

Good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  I`m Nicolle Wallace in for Brian Williams.  Day 802 of the Trump administration and we are now less than one hour away from the April 2nd deadline set by top House Democrats for the release of the full unredacted Mueller report.  It`s highly unlikely that the Justice Department will meet the deadline.

Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler escalated the confrontation with Attorney General William Barr over the release of the Special Counsel`s findings.  Nadler says his committee will vote on Wednesday to authorize the subpoena to get that report.  And tonight the Chairman was asked how that vote might go.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK:  I assume he will be issuing subpoenas soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you think that any Republicans will join you in your effort to get the Mueller report but you have known --

NADLER:  I don`t know.


WALLACE:  In an op-ed in today`s "New York Times", Nadler slammed Barr`s four-page summation of Mueller`s findings writing, "By offering us his version of events in lieu of the report, the Attorney General, a recent political appointee, undermines the work and the integrity of his department."  A senior administration official calls Nadler`s move political theater.

On Friday, the Attorney General pledged to release a redacted version of the Mueller report which he says is nearly 400 pages long by mid-April if not sooner.  Donald Trump is now warning that may not be enough for his critics writing, "No matter what information is given to the crazed Democrats from the No Collusion Mueller Report, it will never be good enough.  Behind closed doors, the Dems are laughing."

But when asked publicly about the release of the report, Trump`s been all for it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Does the American public have a right to see the Mueller report?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t mind.  I mean, frankly, I told the House if you want, let them see it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you want the report released?  Completely released?

TRUMP:  With the Attorney General but it wouldn`t bother me at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Attorney General said today that he intends to release the Mueller report in full to Congress and the public.

TRUMP:  If that`s what he`d like the do, I have nothing to hide.


WALLACE:  The latest polling shows a vast majority of Americans agree the report needs to be released.  And a new NBC News poll shows only 29 percent of Americans believe that the Mueller report clears Trump of wrong doing.  49 percent say it does not.

On another front, the House Judiciary Committee also targeting five former west wing staffers who may be witnesses in the obstruction investigation.  The Committee will also vote Wednesday on whether to authorize subpoenas for documents from Former White House Counsel Don McGahn.  Don McGahn spent at least 30 hours with the Special Counsel`s investigators and witnessed the firing of Jim Comey, the attempted firing of Bob Mueller and efforts to get Jeff Sessions to unrecuse.

Ann Donaldson, she`s McGahn`s Former Chief of Staff who, according to the "New York Times", quote, turned over exhaustive notes which detailed in real time Mr. Trump`s behavior in the west wing.  Hope Hicks who testifies that she sometimes told white lies for the President.  Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus who was in that job when Comey was fired and when Trump attempted to fire Mueller and force Sessions to resign.  And Steve Bannon, he was in the west wing doing things during early, these early events now know to be under scrutiny in the obstruction investigation.

Let`s bring in our leadoff panel from Monday night, Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the "Associated Press", Berit Berger, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney with both the Eastern and Southern District of New York, Tim O`Brien, Executive Editor of "Bloomberg Opinion" and Paul Butler, Former Federal Prosecutor in Georgetown Law School Professor.  It`s hard to talk at 11:04.  You`re very (INAUDIBLE).

Jonathan Lemire, take me through the President`s -- you know, he was asked questions about the Mueller report.  It is as though you`ve said like, you OK with grilled cheese?  Oh, yes, I`m fine with that.  I mean, this has been -- I mean, then it would end was foreseeable and that the President he has an evolving response on whether it`s going to be good for him or bad for him feels like a moving target.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:  Yes, I was in that rather ornate room (ph) in Mar-a-Lago --

WALLACE:  Forget the goal.

LEMIRE:  -- all the gold around him.  He was sitting next to Lenny Beckman (ph) as she was stepping down from her post, that was Friday.  And he did say public issues, that you`d be OK with their all coming up.  But the White House is sending mix signals.  He`s taking a Twitter sense suggesting the Democrats would never be satisfied with whatever we give them and suggestion they`d be willing to be a perhaps fight over this.  And we know Attorney General Barr most recent letter on Friday laid out a few things that would be cause for redactions and some of them, you know, sources of means, grand jury testimony that might be legitimate.

Other things, including to prevent the embarrassment of the third parties, that seems like that could be a place where Democrats want to fight specially if we say that third party is Jared Kushner or Donald Trump Jr.  We don`t know that.  But it`s clear with Nadler and the threat of these subpoenas the Democrats are not just going to take this lying down.  They`re not just going to be satisfied with whatever timeline Barr wants to give them, whatever redactions he`s willing to settle, there`s going to be a fight in the White House.

Right after summary, he was released again.  Not the findings, but the summary.  Really tried to jump the news cycle and frame it as a win and we saw that at the President`s rally in Michigan the other night.  But now it`s very clear that seems to be premature, there are other shoes that may drop.

WALLACE:  Well, and one of the shoes that may drip is the -- it looks like Donald Trump didn`t actually read.  I mean, I know he doesn`t read a lot but it was three and a half pages, three and a half pages in which the most newsworthy line was Mueller does not exonerate the President in half of what they spent 22 months investigating.  That was whether or not the President sought to obstruct the investigation into him.

And I wonder if as it sets in and as it becomes abundantly clear that there was conduct that once detailed in narrative form is that`s how it`s presented, we don`t know because there isn`t a single complete sentence in the Barr summary, may look pretty incriminating.

BERIT BERGER, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY, SOUTHER DISTRICT OF NEW YORK:  Yes.  And to some extent, I mean, look, Barr was criticized I think for sort of jumping in and giving his conclusion on the obstruction piece in the summary that`s not really a summary.  But to some extent it doesn`t matter whether the obstructive conduct was actually a crime.

I mean, what matters is the actions themselves and to the extent that those actions are detailed in the report and that that report makes its way to Congress and ultimately to the people.  I mean, the people in Congress are going to be the one to get to decide what to do with that conduct.  So, you know, whether or not it reaches the very precise criminal standards that you have to have to commit the crime of obstruction of justice, it can still be very relevant for people and Congress to hear about.

WALLACE:  But Mueller didn`t decide whether it did or did not.  Barr did.

BERGER:  Exactly.  And Mueller certainly didn`t reach that decision.  In fact, that`s the one thing that was clear in this Barr summary is that there was no decision on that.  Whether that`s because Mueller intended not to go to Congress or because he wanted this to be, you know, reserved for the Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, we don`t know.  Hopefully, that will become clear when we actually see the report.

But I think the more important thing is, you know, there will certainly be evidence in this report, some that we know about, some that we don`t know about, but there are certainly going to be pieces in there that look bad for the President.  Mueller said this much and Barr said this much in the summary and that this does not exonerate the President.  So whether or not it reaches the level of crime, a most doesn`t matter.

WALLACE:  Paul Butler, there`s a terrible game going on in the media and in legal circles what Mueller wanted.  We don`t know what Mueller wanted but we know what he did.  It`s like my colleague Rachel Maddow says watch what they do, not what they say.  And Mueller doesn`t say much so it`s pretty easy.

What Mueller did, on the obstruction evidence, is he walked in three plus weeks ago and said here it is.  I neither make a determination to prosecute nor do I make a determination not to?  What scenarios could have led him to that conclusion?

PAUL BUTLER, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  So not the one that Bill Barr suggests which is that Mueller basically said to him, oh men, this is too hard.  Can you please do my homework for me and make a decision in this case.  So, look, Mueller has some of the country`s best prosecutors and agents.  He ran their criminal division in the FBI.  He knows how to make difficult decision in close cases.

So most likely what he was doing is saying that there is evidence that the President obstructed justice, which is why he couldn`t exonerate Trump and he was sending it not to Bill Barr but to their Congress for it to make the decision about whether the level of evidence reaches the high crimes and misdemeanors that require for impeachment.

WALLACE:  Let me show you what Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, now one of our colleagues here in MSNBC said tonight "The Beat" with Ari Melber.


NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL:  Barr`s going well beyond the rules.  He`s kind of improvising on his own.  Mueller says he can`t decide whether or not there`s obstruction of justice or not.  I won`t exonerate, do not exonerate effectively.  And Barr takes it on himself to say, oh no, I`m going to clear the President.  And that`s one of the many reasons I think Congress absolutely right to say by April 2nd, that`s tomorrow, turn over the full report.


WALLACE:  When it starts to get interesting.

TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION:  You know, Bill Barr auditioned for this job and part of the audition was saying I`ve got a very public and well-thought out view of obstruction and I don`t believe the President of the United States can commit obstruction.  Donald Trump doesn`t pay attention to details.  He doesn`t read, but he has got reptilian survival instincts.

And I don`t think after having made Jeff Sessions recuse himself -- or watch Jeff Sessions recuse himself, and I`d be happy with that as another attorney general come in who wasn`t going to be playing ball the way he wanted to play ball.  I don`t think it`s an accident then that when we come to this moment of Bill Barr having to make a decision on how to interpret obstruction of justice when Bob Mueller hasn`t that he steps into that vacuum and says fine, you`re done with this.

I think the other side of this now, what`s going on with Nadler and the Congress is I think they would be wise not to try to relitigate all it the conspiracy issues.  But they clearly have a door they can push open around obstruction.  And so when you see them subpoenaing Don McGahn, for example, you know, McGahn, Sally Yates walk over from the Justice Department and say we have tapes of Michael Flynn.  We think these matters.  You should do something with this and they didn`t do anything with it until they were forced because of press accounts about Flynn had said and he`d lied about it to do something.

There`s probably more digging Nadler and his crew can do around obstruction and make hey out of that if they`re I think methodic and patient with this.  I think if they get seen as bullying Barr to turn over a document prematurely before Barr has been to beat (ph) it, they give Barr some capitol he probably doesn`t need.  If they`re patient with it and then they push further on obstruction, I think it`s going to develop in to an interesting story line.

WALLACE:  And Jonathan, Tim makes a good point about Barr auditioning for this job.  He actually wrote in that 18-page memo that a president can`t be interrogated on obstruction.  So there was -- with him in charge of the Justice Department.  There was no chance Mueller was ever going to be able to ask the President any questions about the obstruction investigation and he refused to do so anyway.

But Donald Trump also made clear what he wanted in an A.G.  He wanted his Roy Cohn.  Does he have that?

LEMIRE:  I don`t know that he has quite Roy Cohn who rather ruthless and infamous character here in New York.  But he seems to have someone at least in his early days in the job, has the President`s back.  We know from our reporting, reporting here at NBC as well, that that the President wanted his Roy Cohn.

He wanted somebody to be loyal to him like he perceived Eric Holder was to President Obama and Bobby Kennedy was to his brother Jack.  And that he did not feel of course to Jeff Sessions at that.  In fact, Jeff Sessions, to the President`s mind, committed the ultimate betrayal by, you know, choosing country over the President himself, which is not how the job is supposed to work.  But we know how the President views the idea of loyalty.  It`s one-way straight but he demands it and he didn`t get it from Jeff Sessions in that decision to recuse himself.

You know, Barr did write that 18-page letter.  He laid out his thoughts very clear and what he thought at the Mueller probe.  He didn`t think much of it.  And that he did not think the President could be interrogated or indicted.

And Mueller clearly was following Justice Hurwitz (ph) guidelines thinking about the indictment and in this case seemed to defer perhaps or at least knew he`d be overruled by Barr if he tried to push for the lasts round of questioning.  So instead he settled just for those written answers which, I think to some is why we have so many questions now.

WALLACE:  Could anyone have proven an intent obstruct without interviewing a subject?

BERGER:  It`s much harder because that intent element is really the tricky thing that takes it from obstructive acts to actually the crime of obstructing to justice.  I mean look, we have to do that as prosecutors all the time because it`s not always an option to go out there and interview your subjects.  So, either because your investigation is covert still or because the person, you know, asserts their Fifth Amendment privilege and doesn`t want to come in to talk to you.

So, I will say yes, it`s absolutely possible.  Prosecutors do it all the time.  It definitely makes it easier and one would hope that if you have somebody that`s in a position of, you know, leadership that they would want to, you know, be as cooperative with the investigation as I can.  But clearly know what happened here.

WALLACE:  Paul, but there could -- there have been anyone more hostile to obstruction of justice as a category of crimes than the man who is now the country`s attorney general?

BUTLER:  The answer is no, which is he got the job.  So, Donald Trump famously fired Sessions or ran home out of office because sessions wouldn`t protect him in the Russian investigation.  Donald Trump did not make that mistake when he chose his new attorney general.  Out of the 1.3 million lawyers in the country, he chose a man who decided to write an unsolicited letter saying that the Mueller`s theory of obstruction was unsupportable.

And now this is the person who will decide how much of that investigation the American people got to see.  Even the word that`s used, scrub, well that`s the technical term for removing privileged material from the Mueller report.  Do we really trust this man, Bill Barr, who`s acting more like a partisan lawyer for the President than a representative of the United States of America?  Do we trust him to scrub a document that very likely contains very damaging information about the President?

WALLACE:  Something that may be scrubbed from it was on Fox News tonight.  Jared Kushner, let`s watch.


JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO TRUMP:  -- talking about this nonsense further and specially after two years and being wrong so many times is just really not productive and quite frankly it`s kind of an embarrassment for our democracy.


WALLACE:  So this guy talking about embarrassments for our country.  I need like 47 more minutes.  This is the guy who couldn`t get a national security clearance but his father in law weighed in.  This is the guy who uses WhatsApp to text with world leaders.  This is guy who solve -- I mean please, an embarrassment to the nation is nowhere near Robert as Mueller and his investigation.

O`BRIEN:  This is also the dam guy who was basically quoting Chinese investigators to bail his family out of a skyscraper that they overpaid for Fifth Avenue.  And the circumstances around that have never gotten fully resolved.  They only backed away from dealing with Chinese investors during the transition because it became public through reporting.

He held meetings with Russians when he was asked in the Congress, did you ask for money or did you talk about finance for the building in those meetings, he said no.  I`m not convinced necessarily that he was truthful, that`s never been tested publicly.  I think there`s a lot to look at in Jared Kushner using the powers of his office and his proximity to the President to feather his own nest.  Whether it`s through business relationships in the Middle East, in Asia or with Russia and I that hasn`t played out in a very rich and robust way and I think the country has a right to know whether or not he`s been an honest broker in all of the stuff.

WALLACE:  They sure do.  Do you think they will?

O`BRIEN:  I don`t know.

WALLACE:  Me either.  Jonathan Lemire, Berit Berger, Tim O`Brien, Paul Butler, thank you so much.

Coming up, a whistleblower warns the Trump administration handling of security clearances has put the nation at risk.  We`ll assess those risks with two people who know.

And latter, new surprising numbers in tonight from a big blue state candidate and an industrial sitting mayor.  "The 11th Hour" just getting started on a Monday night.


WALLACE:  A whistleblower is accusing the Trump White House of over ruling 25 security clearance denials including clearances for two current senior White House officials.  Tricia Newbold is a security specialist who`s worked for both Democratic and Republican presidents.  And she raised her concerns last month in a private interview with the House Oversight Committee.  She told them, coming forward was her last hope to bring integrity back to the office.

A Committee memo says Newbold told lawmakers these 25 individuals had a wide range of disqualifying factors including, quote, foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use and criminal conduct.

Chairman Elijah Cummings is asking the White House for security clearance adjudication summaries from nine former and current White House employees including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.  Today in an interview with Fox News, Jared Kushner was asked about Newbold coming forward.


KUSHNER:  Well, I can`t comment for the White House`s process but what I can say is that over the last two years that I`ve been here, I`ve been accused of all different types of things and all of those things have turned out to be false.  We`ve had a lot of crazy accusations like that we colluded with Russia.  I complied with all the different investigations whether it`d be the Senate, the House, the Special Counsel.  I`ve sat for nearly 20 hours of interviews with them.


WALLACE:  Clint Watts is here, he`s a Former FBI Special Agent and Former Member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and Nelson Cunningham who works as General Counsel for the White House Office of Administration under Bill Clinton where he over saw security clearances in that role.  He`s also a Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

And let me start with you.  First, thank you for being here.  But let me ask you, is it more than troubling conduct among a handful of individuals when this is 25 applications denied and then over ruled?  Does that suggest that the entire system is broken or perhaps corrupted?

NELSON CUNNINGHAM, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK:  Well, I`ve never seen anything like this.  I came into the Clinton White House about this time, about two years into the administration.  And honestly in the first year or two of that administration, you often find the slow downs insecurity clearances.  You got a whole White House full of new staff.  Many of them are from campaign backgrounds, other backgrounds.  It can take a while to process those people and get them through.

Bill Clinton had back logs.  Donald Trump certainly had big back logs in his first two years.  By the time I got there, it had all been resolved.  Now, it had been reported there that in the first two years of the Clinton White House, there were two employees who had drug use issues in their past and political appointees there had said no, no.  We know these people, we don`t believe they post a security risk.  We`d like to give them security clearances.  That`s two people.

What we`re hearing today is that there were 25 people in the first two years of the Trump administration where political decision makers over ruled the career security professionals who make these decisions.  I`ve never heard of anything like that.

WALLACE:  Clint, Nelson is talking about the kinds of thing I`ve been vetted twice.  Once during President Bush`s first term, second time after his reelection and one time I was a candidate for a job that the FBI was a high degree of scrutiny.  That`s make everybody feel good about the FBI.  But we`re talking about how many times did you smoke pot in college.  What she`s talking about with the "New York Times" has reported on is the CIA flagged Jared Kushner`s application.  What do you have to do for the CIA to raise concerns about your clearance.

CLINT WATTS, FMR. FBI SPECIAL AGENT:  Yes.  This is the bigger stuff.  I think the four categories, drug use, OK, that can vary.  Criminal conduct, that`s usually immediate deal breaker.  Foreign influence, holy cow, financial problems which makes you vulnerable to foreign influence are compromised.  That`s always a big deal.  Aldrich Ames, if you remember back in CIA days, that was part of it there.

I mean, these are all huge red flag issues.  And I think the share volume, the number that we`re talking about isn`t just highly unusual.  It`s way out of bounds.

This is usually resolved before those people ever going to the process.  Most people to go in for these jobs they`ve already been cleared before or they`ve been prescreened by the team that`s going to bring them and to make sure they can quickly get through this process.  This is every vulnerability in the book from this menu.  And one of them, it was interesting even from the Republican who said except for a few who are denied for very serious reasons, which is even more alarming that we only need to deny them.  If it`s so bad you just wouldn`t believe it.

It`s beyond what we want to be thinking about right now when we just went through a two-year investigation that was focused on foreign influence.  And here we`re talking about clearance is going to people with foreign influence.  Could you imagine being a foreign intel agency wanting to share with us right now.  We`ve seen the President cough up secrets in the Oval Office.

You`ve seen this messy investigations going on and you don`t know if your intelligence is going to people that may be didn`t invest from their business.  I think there`s a lot of things to be concerned about.  And if we`re just overruling it as an intel professional, you see this.  Do you go into the White House and divulge everything?  Are you a little bit nervous instead about giving that information up in the White House?

WALLACE:  I want you to explain this further because I feel like what you`re saying is this could have a chilling effect on what is shared with the U.S. government from our intelligence partners.  Is that what you`re saying?

WATTS:  Yes.  I think both in terms of quantity and quality, I would like to know that the House Intel Committee, the Senate Intel Committee are doing a review with the DNI to say what is the effect of our breaking of alliances, of our chastising NATO and the E.U., of having people coming with security clearance, and that affect of our foreign intelligence sharing over the last couple years.  And what is that quality?  Are we just getting info from authoritarians whose backs we scratch?  Are we getting former traditional --

WALLACE:  We know the President after Khashoggi was slaughtered, came out and throw (ph) it out the Saudi talking (INAUDIBLE).

Nelson, let me ask you what power Congress has.  Did you work with your oversight committees when you were in this role?  Do they have the ability to get to the bottom of this and try to protect classified information?

CUNNINGHAM:  Well they do.  When I worked at the Clinton White House, the Republicans had just taken the House and the Senate in 1994.  So we were Democrats dealing with the Republican House and Senate.  They were eager to investigate what we were doing the exact opposite of today.

I can tell you those Republican committees were not stopped by anything in pressing forward for information, seeking it, looking for accountability.  They held our feet to the fire and I see absolutely no reason why it would be improper for the House Democrats now to hold Trump`s feet to the fire, especially given as Clint said the range of the issues raised by the security clearances here.

My professionals, we have a process in place that`s been build over many, many years.  We have career FBI officials who do the security checks.  You have career employees in the executive office of the President who are used to reviewing high level clearances for employees who come in administration after administration.  We have process, we have standards, we have presidents.  Twenty five people in two years is beyond anything I could ever imagine in my time in the Clinton White House.

WALLACE:  Let me give you last word on this, is this more than another sort of example of incompetence?  Does this feel to you like a national security scandal?

WATTS:  I think it speaks to the whole idea of the death of the administrative state.  Well here`s Steve Bannon say that a lie.  You`ll hear Donald Trump, you know, the President will overrule on these things.  All standards and processes have been broken.  It`s the death of institutions.

And it cripples their ability to do their job, whether it`s smearing the FBI on Twitter or going after the security clearances and really weakening the process of securing our intelligence and information.  How can they do their jobs?  They`re working against all sorts of currents.  It`s already a tough job as it is.  They`re putting their life on the line.  Why are they doing it whenever the circumstances, the deck is stacked against them?

WALLACE:  Terrified times.  Clint Watts and Nelson Cunningham, thank you for that.  I`ll be up all night worrying.  Coming up, 19 months before election date 2020, a couple of Democrats are generating big money and big crowds.  New details just out tonight when "THE 11TH HOUR" continues.



MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT:  I am who I am as everybody come nothing to this process is and I`m certainly passionately committed to making sure that the top leadership in this country and in our party just as I work hard to make sure it is in my administration reflects the full diversity of the people that we serve.  Diversity takes many shapes.  And if a millennial son of an immigrant who`s a gay veteran isn`t part of the diversity of our party, then I don`t know what else I can say.


WALLACE:  That was South Bend, Indiana mayor, Pete Buttigieg just last hour.  He posted some impressive fund raising numbers today, announcing that he raised more than $7 million in the first quarter.  That`s just behind Senator Kamala Harris who released her $12 million total late tonight.  We haven`t seen the fund raising figures yet.

From another candidate generating a lot of buzz, Beto O`Rourke who formally kicked off his campaign this weekend.  He drew massive crowds in his home State of Texas and among seven other candidates to address the liberal "We the People Summit Today" and tend to breakthrough the crowded field.

With us to talk about it all, A.B. Stoddard, Columnist and Associated Editor at RealClearPolitics and Kimberly Atkins, Senior Washington Correspondent for WBUR Boston`s NPR news station.

Kim, let me start with you.  First, Mayor Pete has not made a single misstep and if anything he keeps getting better.  He matches the moment.  He knows how to take a news cycle and put his message -- which seems to be his story at this point in time, into that news cycle really effortlessly and it`s paying off literally.

KIMBERLY ATKINS, WBUR SENIOR NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Remember too, we are really early in the primary season.  A large number of Democrats have not even begun paying attention.  And so for not just one, from multiple candidates at this point to be pulling in these very, very large fund raising numbers says something.  It`s good news for the party in general and certainly good news for these candidates.  Someone like Mayor Buttigieg who does not hold nationwide or even state wide office.  Someone who still trying to get name recognition, folks are still trying to learn how to say his name right is able to inspire people to the point that he`s pulling in these kinds of numbers.

And there have been a lot of questions about whether he has enough operation in place in early primary states and whether he can really play in the big leagues.  But I think one thing we learned from 2016 is that convention has been thrown out of the window, you know?  We can talk about Iowa, we can talk about New Hampshire.  At the end of the day, this is a very small percentage of all the Democrats that will have the say and who will be the next candidate.

Think about four years ago, nobody would even -- Donald Trump wasn`t in it and even when he did get in it, people didn`t take him seriously.  He certainly didn`t have strong operations in this early primary states and look what happened.

So I think we have to let this play out and see what happens but I -- you know, also Senator Harris`s pull of $12 million as well, it`s just a big impressive number, again, this early in the season.

WALLACE:  She too really exceeding I think, not just expectations because that`s a media game.  But raising a sizeable amount of money at a point where the field feels very desperate and crowded.

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR AND COLUMNIST:  She has played this really very shrewdly.  I mean she has a very focused operation that intends to get to the right groups and the right places, and really penetrate with those who want excite them.  So while she`s not giving a lot of media interviews and sort of making the charm offensive splash that Mayor Peter is, she`s doing the solid work in South Carolina and other places to really generate enough support to make her coalition very durable.

She is also -- I mean as someone who covers Washington, she sort of didn`t smile her first several years in the Senate.  And she turns out to be really quite compelling.  I mean she giggles and she laughs and she sticks around for pictures, and people just -- she`s really packing rooms.

And it the right approach.


STODDARD:  Yes.  And it really is the right approach.  And I just think working the street quietly metaphorically the street is really smart early on and she doesn`t have to be as sort of magnetic to get the attention because her candidacy is exciting and so she`s doing the hard work of the map of the early -- the early map for the primary candidates and that -- you can tell it`s breaking through.

WALLACE:  And I think she may have posted the largest crowd size, which we know gets under Donald Trump.  A.B. and Kim are not going anywhere.

And coming up Joe Biden`s past become as question mark about Joe Biden`s future before he even announces a presidential bid.  The "11th Hour" back right after this.


WALLACE:  Before he`s even announced his plans for the future, former Vice President Joe Biden is having to can defend his past.  A second woman has come forward accusing Biden of inappropriate contact.  It just comes just days after former Nevada assemblywoman came forward to detail her interaction with Biden that made her feel "uneasy, gross, and confused."  Our own Andrea Mitchell has the details.


ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CORRESPNDENT (voice-over):  Tonight a second woman, a former Democratic campaign volunteer posting on Facebook that Joe Biden touched her inappropriately at a Connecticut fundraiser.  Amy Lappos said he rubbed noses with her in 2009.  Unwanted contact she described as not sexual.  In the statement saying, "Uninvited affection is not OK.  Objectifying women is not OK."  Her account not verified by NBC News.  She says she came forward after former Nevada candidate Lucy Flores said Biden made her uncomfortable in 2014.

LUCY FLORES, FMR. NEVADA ASSEMBLYWOMAN:  He leans down, smells my hair and then plants this big long kiss on the top of my head.  I`m not in any way suggesting that I felt sexually assaulted or sexually harassed.  I felt invaded.

MITCHELL:  Biden issued a statement that, "I have offered countless hand shocks, hugs, expressions of affections, support and comfort.  And not once, never, did I believe I acted inappropriately."  Defending him former defense secretary Ash Carter`s wife Stephanie for his much criticize shoulder rubbing in 2015.  She writes, "She was just a close friend offering support."

Biden`s spokesman today blasting what he calls "a cottage industry of lies" about the former vice president.  Including this cropped image with the boy.  In fact it was Biden comforting his grand son at Bo Biden`s funeral.  Now all of it a 2020 campaign issue.

(on camera):  Have you ever seen him being too huggy, too touchy, feel --


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I believe Lucy Flores and Joe Biden needs to give an answer.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT, PERSIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I have no reason not to believe Lucy.

MITCHELL:  Biden is being hit with all this before he even announced his running.  His allies believe is because he`s polling ahead of the field and it is likely frontrunner.


WALLACE:  A.B. and Kim are still here.  And I`ve never need them more.  Let me figure out how to say this diplomatically.  Are we at moment where you could not -- I mean is this a black and white issue, Kim, for the Democrats?  Is this one and done?  Or the Democrats going to thrash through this with an open mind.  I mean I was stunned to see, you know, of course we believe the woman.  That`s the moment in which we live.  No women, I mean I like to think no woman lies and sits out to destroy someone`s life with a lie.  Is this a black and white issues for Democrats?  Is he done?

ATKINS:  Look, I think the decision as to whether this is disqualifying or not is going to lie with the voters, right?  That`s what a primary reason is about.  This is an issue that he had to have seen coming and the people around him have to have seen coming beyond the stories that these women are telling.  And keep in mind these are stories of women telling how they felt about someone touching them.

I think as an aside, I think on Twitter and in statements I`ve seen a lot of folks in Joe Biden`s corner who are saying that much too much is being made out of this. It`s being blown up.  And I`m not sure that`s statement is telling women that they don`t have a right to say how someone touching them made them feel is going to age very well.

But I think Joe Biden gets through this.  The only way he can get through this is to address it.  He`s talking about these intentions.   He didn`t mean it.  He didn`t think it was inappropriate.  I think for women, a lot of women do understand what it is like when you`re in a professional setting, not in the social setting, professional setting when someone who is not there significant other or family member puts their hands on them for too long or puts their lips on them, I think it`s up to them to decide how that makes them feel and I think Joe Biden needs to acknowledge that he understands that.  I think if he does that in a meaningful way, he probably will get through it because people will make the decision that this behavior isn`t as bad as other behavior.  But that`s a step that he needs to make.


STODDARD:  Well, he has agonized so much and so long about getting in the race.  I`m not entirely sure that he will enter the race, even though the reporting is this is not going to push him out.  But he seems so conflicted all along but this no question if it looks like the voters are going to come after him and some of the sort of also run contenders who might not make it in the long run until next year, sort of seeming excited to jump on this.

I don`t know if this is going to dissuade him because it`s not just going to be about this.  They`re going to pile on about his, you know, votes on Iraq War and Anita Hill and on and on.  I do think that this is an incredibly strange moment for the Democratic Party in which there was backlash to forcing Senator Al Franken out of Senate.  There was a backlash against Senator Gillibrand among female donors, big female leaders in the party.

So this is actually still being debated within the party and it`s not just the opinion of Lucy Flores and this other woman that this might be disqualifying.  It`s actually a real life debate.  I think that, you know, we`re having another conversation about -- I don`t know the primary electorate has resolved itself on a lot of issues and I think it`s really unknown at this point just what the voters are going to say and where those poll numbers are going to go.  I`ll be interested to see how far Senator Warren and Senator Gillibrand and Senator Sanders take this, but I`ll be -- I`m not so sure the voters are going to turn on Joe Biden.  I just don`t think we know that yet.

WALLACE:  And of course the irony we haven`t said the name Donald Trump in this segment.  But, you know, who in Access Hollywood tape bragged about grabbing women in the bleep will be the opponent for whom ever.

STODDARD:  This is not a general election issue for Joe Biden, so he become the nominee.  It just can`t be, it won`t be.  It`s only a primary candidate --

ATKINS:  I`m not sure.  Remember that Donald Trump brought Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones to a debate with Hillary Clinton. I`m not sure that it won`t be an issue in the general.

WALLACE:  Predicting Donald Trump is a dangerous game.  You`re a brave woman to do it, A.B.  A.B. Stoddard and Kimberly Atkins, thank you both.

Coming up.  Help wanted in the Trump Administration.  Must be on board with building that wall.  The "11th Hour" back after this.



  UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What happened in the past few months that the president is now threatening to shut down the border?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE:  Just look at the math.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you mean?

POMPEO:  Just look at the math.  How many folks are coming across?  This is a crisis.  We need to fix it.


WALLACE:  Now they want us to do math.  President Trump continues to threaten to shut down the southern border, as soon as this week.  This, comes as border crossings reached an 11-year high in February and are expected to increase in the coming months.

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warns closing the border could inflict severe economic harm on America families and manufacturers that the U.S. will close the door to over $1.7 billion a day in trade.  Meanwhile the Associated Press reported today Trump is also looking to hire an immigration czar to coordinate his policies across agencies.

In those under consideration, AP reports, "Trump is weighing two potential candidates for the post, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, two far-right conservatives with strong views on immigration.  Jonathan Lemire is back with us.

I never thought that two names could make me miss John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen`s far right views on immigration.  What is -- I mean they have put children in cages.  On Friday they announced to plan to deport unaccompanied asylum seeking minor by themselves essentially on unaccompanied minor trains and flights out of the -- what isn`t going harshly enough for him in the category of immigration?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Right.  That is going even tougher seems hard to believe but that seems to be the message that the White House is telegraphing.  It`s great work from my colleagues at the AP with the story.

Now, it`s not a done deal that this post is going to be created but there is -- it shows you the renewed emphasis on this issue of immigration prior this White House right now, even coming off what they perceive, at least for now, is a victory on the Mueller report. They want to shift back to sort of what they believe is their core agenda, which is of course enforcing that southern border.

The wall has not been built.  Although the president is going on Friday to the border in California to inspect a piece of it that`s under construction.  We should expect to hear a lot about this then and now this new plan.  First of all, they were cutting off the aid, the U.S. cut off aid to three central American nations, those that the president feels is responsible for creating these caravans even though most experts feel that will make things worse.

And if you want people to stay in their country, you should give that country money to improve conditions there and now this threat to shut down the border which is no one thinks it can be done in a week`s time, which was president suggests.  People aren`t be sure is going to happen at all.  He has threatened this twice before and not followed through.  But people I`ve talked in the White House suggest this time feels more real than others.  There`s a chance he does try to do this.

WALLACE:  Do you have any feeling real has got my mind spinning.  But he`s on tirade tonight on Twitter tonight.  Talk about it.

LEMIRE:  Right.  So in addition, people -- the Republicans are very nervous about the plan to shut the border.  There are also Republicans very nervous about the president`s suddenly renewed interest in health care.  But he`s gone on a three-tweet spread this evening, suggesting that though he does want to repeal and replace Obamacare and create a new GOP plan, that he`s punting it, he`s pushing it beyond the 2020 elections.  He says after Republicans win back both the House and Senate.  So we`re little optimistic electoral --

WALLACE:  Never mind.

LEMIRE:  And so he says he doesn`t want to do that now.  So I think in the short term that`s a relief for Republicans who did not want to be saddled with this.  There`s no plan.  The White House did not have replacement plan.  But come 2020, this is going to be an issue again.  It`s going to be that will be a major defining point for that election.

WALLACE:  And maybe somebody reminded him that it was health care that help Democrats --

LEMIRE:  No question.  And there are Republicans nervous but they could take more blows again if they`re forced do this day after day after day.

WALLACE:  All right, Jonathan Lemire, thank you for sticking.

LEMIRE:  Thanks Nicolle.

WALLACE:  -- and coming back to talk to us.  A quick break for us.  The "11th Hour" back right after this.


WALLACE:  That`s all the time we have for tonight.  I`ll be back here tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern and I`ll sit down with Preet Bhara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.  That`s at 4:00 p.m. Eastern right here in this very studio on MSNBC.

That`s our broadcast for tonight.  Thank you so much for staying up with us and good night from MSNBC News headquarters in New York.

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