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Democrats split on impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 4/22/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Jill Colvin, Chris Megerian, Jimmy Gomez, Barbara Res, Rick Wilson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, President Trump says he is not one bit afraid of impeachment as Democrats plot their path forward.  We`ll speak to a member of Congress just off a conference call with Speaker Pelosi tonight.

Trump also said today, no one disobeys his orders.  All evidence in the Mueller report to the contrary.  And in fact tonight we`ll talk to a senior executive who worked for him for years.

Plus, the new revelations we`re still learning tonight from the Mueller report.  All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on a Monday night.

And good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 823 of this Trump administration, and we`re following several important headlines tonight, still emerging from the Mueller report.  Late today House Judiciary Chairman, Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York issued a subpoena for former White House Counsel Don McGahn.  Congress wants to hear from McGahn because he`s so prominently mentioned in the Special Counsel`s findings.

In fact just tonight there`s this, Michael Schmidt writing in "The New York Times," that McGahn, "served as the unofficial narrator of the Special Counsel`s report on whether the President obstructed justice.  He is cited 157 times, more than any other witness."

Jerry Nadler released a statement that read in part, "McGahn is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report."

On Sunday in an interview with our very own Chuck Todd, Chairman Nadler was asked about a sensitive topic for Democrats.


CHUCK TODD, NBC`S MEET THE PRESS MODERATOR:  Do you think this is impeachable?

REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D-NY) HOUSE JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN:  Yes, I do.  I do think that this if proven, which hasn`t been proven yet, some of this -- if proven some of this would be impeachable, yes.

TODD:   All right --

NADLER:  Obstruction of justice if proven would be impeachable.

TODD:  And you`re going to go about to see if you can prove it?

NADLER:  Well, we`re going to see where the facts lead us.


WILLIAMS:  Impeachment was also a prominent topic of a Democratic conference call this evening.  Nancy Pelosi used the call to speak to her membership.  NBC News is reporting House Democratic leaders promised oversight and investigations but would not commit to impeachment proceedings.

President Trump clearly has impeachment on his mind.  This morning he posted this, "Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment.  There were no crimes by me, no collusion, no obstruction so you can`t impeach.  It was the Democrats that committed the crime, not your Republican President.  Tables are finally turning on the witch hunt."

Not long after that during today`s White House Easter Egg Roll, that`s him on the left, he was asked about the Mueller report and impeachment.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you worried that your staff is ignoring your orders as the Mueller report portrays?

TRUMP:  Nobody disobeys my orders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you worried about impeachment, Mr. President?

TRUMP:  Not even a little bit.


WILLIAMS:  As to that first answer about disobeying orders, Aaron Blake of "The Washington Post" found 15 instances of Trump aides and allies declining to carry out Trump`s requests.  Nearly a dozen are detailed in the Mueller report including a February 2017 lunch Trump had with long time friend Chris Christie.  The report reads, "The President brought up Comey and asked if Christie was still friendly with him.  Christie said he was.  The President told Christie to call Comey and tell him that the President really likes him.  Tell him he`s part of the team.

At the end of the lunch the President repeated his request that Christie reach out to Comey.  Christie had no intention of comply with the President`s request that he contact Comey.  He thought the President`s request was nonsensical.  And Christie," who remember happens to be a former U.S. attorney, "did not want to put Comey in the position of having to receive such a phone call."

The President was also attacking Mueller`s team again today writing, "Isn`t it amazing that the people who were closest to me by far and knew the campaign better than anyone were never even called to testify before Mueller.  The reason is that the 18 angry Democrats knew they would say -- they would all say no collusion and only very good things. "

But the Associated Press reports tonight that plenty of people close to the President interviewed with Mueller including two former White House chiefs of staff, Reince Preibus, John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former strategist Steve Bannon.  And political reporter Kyle Cheney points to this section of the report to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, "The office of the Special Counsel spoke to every participant except Veselnitskaya and Trump, Jr., the latter of whom declined to be voluntarily interviewed by the office.  Interesting.

Meanwhile the President is getting air support from his friend and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who made this declaration on CNN yesterday.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY:  There`s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST:  There`s nothing wrong with taking information --

GIULIANI:  It depends on where it came from.  It depends on where it came from.  You`re assuming that the giving of information was a campaign contribution. Read the report carefully.  The report says we can`t conclude that because the law is pretty much against that.  People get information from this person, that person --

TAPPER:  So you wouldn`t accept information from Russians against a client, against a candidate if you were running for president?

GIULIANI:  I probably wouldn`t.  I would advise just out of excess of caution, don`t do it.


WILLIAMS:  Rudolph Giuliani also a former U.S. attorney.  We also learned today the lawyers for President Trump and the Trump organization are suing House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, Democrat of Maryland in an effort to block a subpoena for financial records from several Trump entities.

In a statement another Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow said, "We will not allow congressional pressure to go unanswered."  Where have we heard that talking point before?  It is, by the way, highly unusual if not unprecedented for a public figure to sue to fight a congressional subpoena.  The President is clearly keeping tabs on those.

In the meantime speaking out on his behalf, in the past four or five hour, look at this, he has retweeted about two dozen posts that he`s seen on his phone.  Some of them critical of the Mueller report.  Others have to do with claims of spying on his campaign. A few others refer to the economy, and not to be outdone, today`s Easter Egg Roll.

All in all what we call Monday and time for our lead off discussion on a Monday night.  John Heilemann, Veteran Journalist, our National Affairs analyst, also happens to be coauthor of "Game Change," co-host and co- creator of the circus on Showtime. Jill Colvin, White House Reporter fir the Associated Press.  And Chris Megerian, Reporter for the "Los Angeles Times" who`s covering the Russi investigation in Washington.  Good evening, welcome to you all.

John, I`m going to give you a theory.  The Democrats are dealing with footnotes and tonnage, tonnage from the Mueller effort.  The Republicans under their leader are hearing no obstruction, no collusion, game over.  That`s a gulf.  That`s a disparity.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  It is for sure.  Although, I mean, look, in politics traditionally speaking the notion of a clear message, simple talking points generally wins the day. We`ve discussed on this program, however, that this -- that as long as this report was characterized by those simple talking points, and that was all there was and the report existed in the abstract, that was the theorem that could win the day.

We now have the report.  And I think one of things that happened is each day since the release of the report has the politics have gotten worse and worse for the President because there is so much rich material.

WILLIAMS:  Has been discover with each day, more and more things buried in it.

HEILEMANN:  Yes, it is a treasure-trove.  There are Easter eggs all throughout and to cite the most recent holiday in our national life.  And many of those footnotes not only tell incredible stories, stories unlike any we`ve ever heard about a presidential campaign or presidential administration, but they invite, they beg for further investigation.  And so although it is true that we`ve said, again, many times the Democrats face a difficult political choice.  Do they want to focus on the economy and health care, other things people care about in their every day lives or do they want to get sucked into this impeachment?  And what are the politics of that?

Is that good politics potentially for them against conventional wisdom?  Or is it necessarily bad politics for them?  There`s a middle ground, and it`s the middle ground that even though there`s tension right now, there are people in the activist core of the party saying impeach, impeach, impeach, there are those cautious saying no, no, no.

The middle ground is the ground that Nancy Pelosi, and she often does, assuredly seizing, which is to say, there`s a lot to look at here.  There are a lot of stories to tell.  There are those footnotes to pick apart.  There are interesting stories to be brought to bear.  There are subpoenas to be issued.

This could go on for a long time and you know who knows what a problem that is, Donald Trump.  You look at that Twitter feed he was and you could tell that right now he is reacting to the fact that no collusion and no obstruction, sounded great to him five days ago, doesn`t seem to be enough to him right now if you monitor social media.

WILLIAMS:  That brings us to Jill Colvin this is.  Jill, is this -- looking at his Twitter feed tonight I know this is a certain genre.  Is this volume decidedly unusual?  A friend of mine said tonight it`s as if he knows something.

JILL COLVIN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Yes, you know, I wanted to count it up before I came on, and kind of lost count there just to see how compared to his usual frequency.  This is definitely on the higher end of going out there --


COLVIN:  -- and trying to retweet supportive evidence.  It seems sometimes the President is sort of, you know, going online and looking for things that would be, you know, positive for his ego, things he would like to watch.  People like Lou Dobbs, you know, wanting to put those out there to share with the rest of the people.

And but what you`ve seen happen over the last, you know, number of days since the Mueller report came out is this evolution we`ve seen from the President.  You know from the first moment, with Kellyanne Conway out there saying this is the second best day the administration has had since, you know, Trump`s election day, the President calling this a great day and celebrating the top lines.  But then as the President has watched the news coverage we`ve seen him get angrier and angrier not just at the coverage but also at members and former members of his staff.

And you`ve also seen staffers in the White House, also ex-aides and people close to the President also pointing their own fingers.  Going through the report and going, who said what?  I`m sorry, what is in this?  And you`ve seen fingers point especially at Don McGahn, the person who as you mentioned at the beginning is more cited in this than any other person, who`s sort of the central protagonist.  You can really see how Mueller shaped the narrative through McGahn`s hours and hours of testimony.

And you feel the President feeling betrayed by these people who spoke to Mueller despite the fact that they were speaking to Mueller because his own White House told them to.  And despite the fact even though he hates the idea that the public might think his staff don`t listen to him, the very fact they don`t listen to him actually wound up saving him from a great deal of trouble.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, Chris Megerian, perhaps the ultimate service Jimmy Kimmel has given society and the news media is giving us D.J.T.J., the acronym for Donald J. Trump Jr., it`s terrific shorthand.  Having establish that, there are blind spots in the Mueller report, two big areas, of course, financial crimes and counter intel.  But were individuals are concerned?  Can you answer where is D.J.T.J.?

CHRIS MEGERIAN, LOS ANGELES TIMES REPORTER:  So, he`s in the report but we never hear from him in the report.  He never sat down for interview with prosecutors, so we really don`t know his side of the story when it comes to the episodes he was involved in.  For example, changing messages with WikiLeaks.  Also he had the infamous Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lawyer.  We don`t have his side of the story from that, and we don`t really know what prosecutors, you know, what holes they wanted to fill by talking to him.  You know, he is a key figure in all of this and one of the closest links to these encounters with Russians, and he wouldn`t talk to prosecutors about that.

WILLIAMS:  John Heilemann, I`m going to read from the book of Parker and Dossy, two of our print friends, this duo at "The Washington Post."  "White House aides said they think the report will cause little long-term political damage because most of the damaging stories were already known, and that even some of the President`s most ardent supporters do not view him as a paragon of morality.  Several advisers added that they expect Mueller`s conclusions to cost Trump few votes."

So, that`s a kind of educated arrogance in the in the face of the tonnage we were discussing earlier.


WILLIAMS:  But that`s also the strategy, you could call it gas lighting, the strategy of doling out the bad stuff over two years so that when the bad stuff is in a big, thick report it doesn`t look so bad?

HEILEMANN:  Yes, I mean, I don`t want to say it`s whistle past a graveyard because that would be crazy to graveyard.  But it`s whistle past a car crash.  You`ve got the spectacle, and this gets back to one of the things I`ve kind of glossed over the beginning, you know, what are the politics potentially of certainly having further investigation and potentially of impeachment hearings or an investigation that could turn into impeachment.

What the politics of them are, it seems to me is a parade of people, starting we`ve talked about Bob Mueller testifying.  But now we have a spectacle of people like Don McGahn going before the American people in televised hearings that could dray draw as we`ve seen Michael Cohen and Jim Comey and other high profile figures in this drama.  That could draw millions of people watching them.  And II think there`s no one in the White House who`s dumb enough to not understand that Don McGahn, under oath, telling even more vivid versions of these stories in front of a Congressional committee in the way Michael Cohen did is damaging to the President in the long run.

Does it impact the Trump base?  It may not.  But the Trump base is not enough to win re-election.  And the hammering over and over again of the notion that to what a common person -- maybe not bob Mueller and maybe not in a court of law -- but to a common person hearing those ten incidents Mueller outlined in vivid detail but not full detail.  Hearing those stories that to most people would be like that sounds not great, that sounds like he`s obstructing justice, even if I don`t know what the legal definition is.  But it sounds like the President was trying to kill this investigation even though he claims he have cooperated fully.

Again, I may be missing something but I can`t see how that`s good politics for Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS:  Jill Colvin, let`s talk about Don McGahn.  I know a couple of people in the law business down in Washington who regarded him as more or less a classically trained D.C. lawyer to the point where they were surprised he took this job.  We see in his own words he is telling the boss, "I take notes because I`m a real lawyer."  Is he now looking at full snidely whiplash villain treatment inside the Trump White House?

COLVIN:  Yes, he most certainly is.  There are people who definitely have their knives out pointed towards him and also fairly pointed towards other people who spoke with Mueller`s team including for instance the former Staff Secretary Rob Porter is also someone who has been mentioned as a target.

McGahn is such an interesting figure in Trump world.  You know, he`s somebody the President worked with his uncle years and years ago back in Atlantic City.  He was somebody who worked for decades in Republican politics and working at all these very fancy law firms, just somebody who was really not very similar to most of the people who were in the core of Trump`s campaign operation.  He chose to go from the campaign into the White House with the President, so he`s actually been around him for a very long time.

But nonetheless, the two never really developed a close relationship by the time that McGahn left his job.  The two of them were barely on speaking terms.  And you can see throughout Mueller`s report the tensions between the two of them that day, that Mueller describes in so much details of the President at Camp David calling McGahn twice, at least twice in one day saying, "Look, I want you to fire Mueller.  You got to get rid of Mueller." And McGahn saying, "Look, I just -- I can`t do this."

You have a scene then where Mueller decides to call his chief of staff, actually go to the White House, pack up his belongings and informs Reince Priebus and Bannon that he`s on his way out.  They manage to talk him off of the ledge, but you really see how difficult it was for these two to get together.  And the fact McGahn spent so much time talking to Mueller`s team, the fact he`s featured so prominently in this report just gives his enemies so much to work with here.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, Chris, if we learn in a few months that someone is either writing the definitive book or making the definitive documentary on the death of the Republican party as we knew it and the birth of this new brand of nationalism, Trump Republicanism, where do Rudy Giuliani`s quotes this weekend go on the list of indicators that it`s all new, that it`s really okay to take information from the Russians?

MEGERIAN:  Well, I would put it in the spectrum of, you know, anything you can do to get advantage is fine by him, and that`s clearly how Donald Trump has approached politics and the presidency.  If it helps me and hurts my enemies, it`s fine.  And, you know, we have had a legal judgment on that from Robert Mueller and Bill Barr that there was no criminal conspiracy, but there`s also a political judgment.  Will voters accept the fact that some campaigns are going to be accepting help from foreign governments either directly or indirectly?

And this is a big issue going forward because there`s nothing that Congress can do or even, you know, the Intelligence agencies can do to completely stop the problem of hacking and social media influence and things like that.  It really is about self-policing.  It`s about what do voters read, what do they pay attention to, how do they sift through the information that they see, and what are politicians going to do about how they use this information going forward.

HEILEMANN:  Can I make another political judgment or a political judgment or a legal judgment and make a normative judgment?

WILLIAMS:  Quickly I`m being told, yes.

HEILEMANN:  Rudy Giuliani, it`s one of the most grotesque things I`ve seen in the 30 years I`ve done this.  The idea that a person of some plausibility in either party would stand up and say that it`s tolerable, not just tolerable, but in some cases beyond tolerable.  Some welcomed that an adversary, a vowed adversary of the United States could still break, effectively do what Republicans did in Watergate, break into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and that our enemy could then disseminate in a way that the rival campaign would say "no problem, that`s great, to be encouraged."  And it sends the clearest signal in the world to Russia and other enemies of the United States they should just go ahead and do it again because Donald Trump would be perfectly happy to take that material.  I find it appalling.

WILLIAMS:  John Heilemann, thank you.  To Chris Megerian, to Jill Colvin, could not ask for a better group of journalist, the journalist who make our program go every night to start us off in a new week.

Coming up, one House Oversight member says Robert Mueller uncovered two key things and we, "The President`s blatant disregard for the law and his administration`s sheer contempt for the truth."  We`ll talk to that member of Congress next, fresh from tonight`s conference call with the Speaker.

And later she was once a top executive for the Trump organization for that guy.  We`ll ask her about carrying out orders or not from Donald Trump as THE 11TH HOUR continues.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you worried about impeachment, Mr. President?

TRUMP:  Not even a little bit.


WILLIAMS:  There is division among Democrats in Congress over what exactly to do next.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear again today she has no plans for impeachment.  In a letter to her colleague`s, Pelosi wrote today, "It`s important to know that the facts regarding holding the President accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings."

In that conference call with Democrats tonight a source told NBC News she said, "We don`t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts."

Republican senator and Trump loyalist, Lindsey Graham offered this prediction on Fox News tonight.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH COROLINA:  There`s going to be a stampede to impeach President Trump.  They`re going to use the Mueller report, anything they can find to try to destroy his presidency.  Nancy Pelosi is not in charge of the Democratic Party.  The radical left is in encharge, so I expect that there will be impeachment proceedings against President Trump.


WILLIAMS:  So that`s all the setup you need for our next guest with us tonight from Los Angeles, the California Democratic Congressman Jimmy Gomez who`s also a member of the House Oversight Committee.  We should add the Congressman represents the 34th Congressional district which includes the very center and heart of Los Angeles.  Congressman, thank you for coming on.

First and foremost in your view is impeachment on the table, and if so can you tell me how you get to two thirds in a Senate vote?

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ, (D) CALIFORNIA OVERSIGHT CMTE.:  It`s always an option, and it`s always on the table.  You know, I was one of the first 58 members to actually vote to begin debate on articles of impeachment during my first year and a half in congress.

Are the votes there in the senate?  I`m a political realist.  The votes aren`t there.  So what we`re going to do is follow the information in the Mueller report and make sure that we follow up on each fact and dig into that report.

As you mentioned earlier in your segment, that there is a lot of information and we`re just discovering all these Easter eggs in this report.  So we`re not going to jump the gun.  We`re going to be very pragmatic about this, but at the same time people shouldn`t mistake the fact that we`re determined to uphold the constitution.

You know, when I took an oath that said I swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, and I take that and that oath seriously.

WILLIAMS:  So I guess what some in the House are talking about is its labeling.  It`s impeachment hearings by another name.  They`re relentless, they`re fact gathering hearings.  You heard the conversation I was having with John.  The left is reading footnotes.  The right is operating off the same little snappy quotes like no collusion, no obstruction that they have been feeding off for two years.

GOMEZ:  You know, we understand that this Republican Party doesn`t care about the American people.  They don`t care about protecting the Constitution and living up to their oath of office.  But we do.  And we know that this is a serious matter.

You know, you mentioned that we had a conversation about a Democratic caul.  It`s a diverse Democratic caucus.  People from all walks of life from all over the country, veterans and newly elected members.  But Pelosi wanted to make sure that she called a huddle and make sure that everybody could ask questions and make sure that we`re the same play.

Do we play different positions, do we represent different districts?  Yes.  But we`re all part of the same team.  We`re going to live up to our duty, and at the same time we`re going to live up to pushing for the people agenda.  We`re going to make sure we protect people with pre-existing conditions.

We`re going to protect people who are afraid of losing their homes.  We`re going to make sure that everything that we set out to do, we`re going to do.  You know, defending the Constitution and delivering for the American people are not mutual exclusive, we can do both.

WILLIAMS:  This is going to be something to watch.  Coming up here Congressman Jimmy Gomez joining us from our Los Angeles studios, thank you very much for coming on tonight with us tonight, Congressman.

GOMEZ:  Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  And coming up for us, the President says no one disobeys him.  Our next guest wrote the book about having Donald Trump as a boss.  We`ll speak with her next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you worried that your staff is ignoring your orders as the Mueller report portrays?



WILLIAMS:  President Trump this morning saying his employees always follow his marching orders.  But the detail in the Mueller report shows that is patently untrue.  In fact, stories have been written just in the past few days about how Don McGahn might have indeed saved the Trump presidency by not acting on the boss` orders.

Our next guest knows exactly what it`s like to work for Donald Trump.  Barbara Res was Vice President of the Trump Organization for almost two decades.  She also happens to be the author of "All Alone on the 68th Floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction." More than that, it was the construction trades here in New York which is not for cowards.  It`s so nice to have you on, thank you.


WILLIAMS:  When you hear him say something like that, we`ve got the Mueller report showing people who didn`t follow his instructions.  What does that make you think of?  What happens in your mind?

RES:  I remember I immediately associated with the things that he asked me and other people when I was working for him to do that were ridiculous sometimes, inappropriate sometimes, maybe a little bit illegal, nothing like now.  But -- and, you know, oftentimes we didn`t do what he said.  And, you know, there were ways to approach it.

We tried to talk him out of it or we tried to convince him the right thing was his idea, which worked a lot.  And other times, you know, you just didn`t do it and you waited for repercussions.  But if he really wanted to do something he would lean on you and eventually you`d either do it or stand up to him like McGahn did and just not do it.

WILLIAMS:  We all have bosses and a lot of bosses have bad ideas.  So can you remember sitting there and thinking, yes, that`s just not going to happen in the moment?

RES:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.

WILLIAMS:  Wow.  Also establish for me once and for all how small a family outfit when we talk about the Trump Organization?  When you would think -- when you think back to your work family, how many people was that?

RES:  Well, when I was working that was quite a while ago.  We were doing Trump Tower.  So it was from `80 to `84 that we were building Trump Tower.  At that time there were about ten people in the organization.  That`s it.

WILLIAMS:  So he doesn`t own a backhoe or a dump truck or a crane.

RES:  On no.

WILLIAMS:  It`s a licensing building.  Put my name on your building for X.

RES:  Well, when I was working for him he owned the building.  So he owns the more partners like equitable are high.  So -- but no, he didn`t do any work.  We contracted it out.

WILLIAMS:  When you hear that he is fighting a Congressional subpoena with a counter lawsuit because it`s about the release of his financials, does that make sense to you? 

RES:  Sure.  Every time he had any problem at all with sue immediately, and usually if there was a dispute, he liked to be the plaintiff, you know.  It was an "I`ll sue first."  You know, he thought that was an advantage.  Here kind of dream he was going to the plaintiff, but the idea is to delay.

I mean, I think that what`s behind this.  Maybe avoid getting those financial records out before, you know, the next election comes up.

WILLIAMS:  What`s it like for you?  It`s been two years plus to watch this.  I mean, I have friends from high school, can`t believe I get paid for doing anything.  I mean, for you to watch this guy who was in your head and in your life, and the center of your work universe for so long, what`s it been like? 

RES:  It`s something that was really quite hard to, because, you know, I have very mixed feelings about, and we were closer at a point in time.  And as it evolved, I couldn`t believe some of things he was doing to be honest with you.  I didn`t think he was quite like this.  I`m surprised at him.

He`s not human.  He does terrible things.  He`s destroying the environment.  He`s hurting families.  He`s doing terrible things.

WILLIAMS:  Did he know he had that in him?

RES:  I did not know he had that and I knew he was mendacious.  I know that there was, you know, trickery.  I knew that there was kind of thing, but not like he is now.  No.

WILLIAMS:  And you know him when he was culturally at least a full on New York Democrat.

RES:  Yes, yes.  As a matter of fact he did fund raisers for Democrats which I went out and twisted arms to raise money, but he was definitely a Democrat.

WILLIAMS:  Well, it must be interesting to be you.  I mean starting with tonight`s Twitter fuselage, he was always verbal.  He worked here for 14 years and --

RES:  He communicated better in the older days.  He`s more childish now.  He speaks like a kid almost.  He doesn`t have a good vocabulary.  And he doesn`t seem to focus, so he`s changed in a lot of ways.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you very much for coming in.

RES:  My pleasure, thank you for having me.

WILLIAMS:  It`s a pleasure, great to get to know you.  Our thanks to Barbara Res for joining us here in the studio tonight.

And coming up, as Democrats engage in friendly fire, blue on blue, on how to handle this Mueller report, Republicans seem pretty united on their view.  There`s nothing to see here.  We`ll ask a veteran GOP strategist who has decidedly anti-Trump, how that approach is working for them when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  As we`ve been saying tonight, much division among Democrats on whether or not to pursue impeachment.  In fact, the Speaker of the House is urging her party to hold off on that front, wanting instead to turn up the heat on Republicans.

In her letter to her fellow House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi says, the GOP has "unlimited appetite for Trump`s behavior."  She writes, "the GOP should be ashamed of what the Mueller report has revealed, instead of giving the President their blessings."

Speaking of the Republicans aside from repeating no collusion, most of them have been more or less silent on what the Mueller report does say about Donald Trump, proving that no one from the attorney general on down is above invoking Trump`s preferred talking points.  This is what we got today from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER:  Well, look, I think it`s time to move on.  This investigation was about collusion.  There`s no collusion.  No charges brought against the President on anything else, and I think the American people have had quite enough of it and it`s time to move on.


WILLIAMS:  With us tonight Rick Wilson, a Veteran Republican Strategist and the Author of "Everything Trump Touches Dies," recently released with new material in paperback.  We`re always happy to have you here.

That proves that the majority leader in the Senate will take your talking points if you supply them.  Where is the Republican outrage, say nothing of Donald Trump, Russia is actively engaged in our democracy.

RICK WILSON, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Brian, they`ve decided that no matter what Russia outrages Russia tries to do to manipulate our elections or disrupt our country, it`s OK because they`re helping Donald Trump:  And he said it and my old Rudy Giuliani said it.  You know, this is -- it`s fine to take stolen material brought to you by Russian spies to use in a campaign.  It`s fine to take Russian help to win Wisconsin and Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

It`s all good.  They`ve decided they`re just completely nihilistic about it, and they`re going to have a clear path ahead in their minds.  As long as Donald Trump is happy they`re going to be happy.

WILLIAMS:  For viewers just tuning in, who`ve been maybe in a drug-induced coma for two years, we`re talking about Russia and Republican Party attitudes towards Russia.  Does that ever blow your mind still?

WILSON:  Look, I mean, I grew up in the cold war and as the last generation, the young, people (inaudible) the government and while there was still a Soviet Union, you know, it was always clear that this was a country that was our global adversary.  We`ve tried really hard for a while to pretend it wasn`t, but everything they`ve done in Crimea, in Georgia, in Ukraine, across Europe and around the world, they`ve acted as a global foe to our country.

Donald Trump acts when he`s with Vladimir Putin like a star struck schoolgirl.  He makes googlelize of Vladimir Putin.  Everybody should have a lover in their life that looks at them one time like Trump looks at Putin.  But that`s the changed policy of this country.  At Donald Trump`s whim, he thinks these guys like me and they helped me so I`m going to be nice to them.

WILLIAMS:  I`m going to show you some polling because after all it is it campaign consultant`s mother`s milk.  Donald Trump is now down to a 39% approval.  He`s obviously under water.  It`s down from 44% last week.  If i came to you, Rick Wilson, and hired you and said I need you to work for my candidate.  He`s at 39, could you work with that?

WILSON:  When you`re at 39 you`re doing something wrong, because that is at the base tolerance level.  That`s just where your friends and family and your hard core party members are there for you.

Right now there`s a huge swath of Americans who don`t like or trust Donald Trump.  And I think this last week catalyzed a lot of that because for the first time it wasn`t just, you know, those of us who follow the news and folks on Twitter who paying attention to the Russia scandal.  It was Americans got a huge blast of this news.

And even though the President chanted no collusion over and over again, his approval ratings dropped 5 points in a week, and there`s some serious damage that`s been done here.  And I think that`s why if you end up having a longer set of investigations in Congress, you`re going to see a guy who is in political peril because of that.

You know, the base along the Republican Party gets you only so far.  George Bush won two elections, base plus.  George H. Bush won one election base plus.  And if  you don`t have more than your base in this country, on either side, you`re in trouble.

WILLIAMS:  On that thought, Rick has agreed to stay with us.  We`ll fit in a break.  And when we come back, Rick`s thoughts on how it is that Democrats could easily re-elect Donald Trump to a second term, easily.  More on that when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  To borrow a phrase from our friends at "Meet the Press," if it`s Monday there must be another Democrat in the race.  Indeed today`s candidate is Congressman Seth Moulton of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, member of the House, entered the presidential race.

He`s a lot of things.  He`s a Harvard educated Marine Corp veteran, served four tours in Iraq and indeed was a heavily decorated combat veteran.  With his announcement there are now 19 people running on the Democratic side.  We`re still waiting on Joe Biden who`s expected to make an announcement any day now.

However, a new poll from the University of New Hampshire finds Bernie Sanders in that state leading the field 30% support.  Of course he`s from a neighboring state, followed by Biden, 18%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg in third at 15%.

Still with us for our showcase showdown tonight, Rick Wilson.  Rick Wilson, I`m going to quote Joe Lockhart.


WILLIAMS:  Here is Joe Lockhart.  "For Democrats, leaving Donald Trump in office is not only good politics, it is the best chance for fundamental realignment of American politics in more than a generation.  Mr. Trump is three years into destroying what we know as the Republican Party, another two years just might finish it off."

For good measure here is Ron Klain.  "I really feel like Dems are making the impeachment question complicated when it is simple.  We will hold hearings on what Trump did wrong including things Mueller didn`t even consider like corruption.  At the end of the hearings, we will decide what punishment we support."

Rick, detail the ways in which the Democrats, you`ll forgive the blunt language, could screw this up nine ways from Tuesday.

WILSON:  I have said this a hundred times now.  Donald Trump cannot win the 2020 election but the Democrats can sure as hell lose it.  They will find a way, they -- I joke when I said there the party that seeks their own political death and they will find a way.

I mean, this impeachment question is one where you have two options.  You can try to do an impeachment thing that will go nowhere in the Senate.  There`s no scenario than any human being says right now where Donald Trump will be convicted in the Senate.  It won`t do anything to Trump.

WILLIAMS:  Mitch McConnell, US Senate, you`re going to get a two-third vote?

WILSON:  Right, yes.  You won`t even get 50%.  Mitchell dragged Manchin and others back over the line for him.  There is no scenario where he`s removed from office by impeachment.  So what does impeachment do?

All the impeachment process does at this point is rubs up Donald Trump`s space, raises him $200 million off the Yahoo, so he will get an e-mail every five minute saying send me $5 for Donald Trump will be thrown out of office by the evil witch Pelosi.  It won`t have any political impact on Donald Trump, it won`t have a moral impact because impeachment impart was to shame people who had had (inaudible) in office.

And Donald Trump has no moral center, he has no shame.  You cannot shame the shameless.  What does work is to run investigations into all these things that are legitimate investigations of the actions of the campaign of Donald Trump himself, are the things that have gone around him, all these people, the things that Mueller couldn`t touch, the things hidden right now behind redactions.

To run those investigations and do what they did this week, people learn Donald Trump was both aggressively trying to obstruct this investigation and although they were too dumb apparently to shake hands in the deal at the end, hit deep with Russians.

This entire thing can be dragged out in the public`s fear, it can become the definitional issue of the campaign.  And you make the referendum --  the election a referendum on Donald Trump, not on which one of the 9,314 Democratic candidates has the best policy plan for healthcare reform.

WILLIAMS:  So when you`ve got distractions on your left, some of the elements of this freshman class of the Democrats often wrong, never in doubt.

WILSON:  Right.

WILLIAMS:  How do you concentrate on marketing that 400 plus book that we all spent the weekend reading?

WILSON:  That`s exactly is, how do you keep telling those stories, how do you keep telling those stories in a way that is lured and is not over the top.  Because the materials, the subject material is so dramatic and so shocking that the hearings need to be nuts and bolts, they need to be plain, they need to rock through this thing without the drama of the republicans, you know, throwing -- it`s tearing their hair out and throwing things around the stage during their tenure as Donald Trump`s defenders.

But those things will have a political impact for the Democrats if they play it out correctly.  But right now, a lot of them are screaming, you know, pulling their hair out, and say, "We`ve got to immediately to impeach him, OK.  Once you do that, then all the air goes out of the investigation below.  All that ability you have to have this conversation for the next 19 months or whatever the number is, goes away.

And so, you know, the lack of discipline by a 28-year-old is unsurprising because we were all 28, we had no discipline.  But Nancy Pelosi is a smarter and cagier player than that and that`s why they`re talking about this very procedural ways, were talking about this and how we step through this investigation, let`s call him again, let`s talk to him, then let`s find out where that leads.

Those things give you a slow burn over a long window rather than a one off thing racing to the finish line where you`re going to get to the finish line, OK, so you impeached Donald Trump and guess what he does the next day?  Haha, I am going to have a steak dinner.  I`m done.

WILLIAMS:  Slow burn just gave me a great podcast idea.  Thank you, Rick Wilson, half a million followers on Twitter.  When the guy goes on periscope, they vow down.  It`s an unbelievable thing to watch.  Always a pleasure.

WILSON:  Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up, a strange visitor, no fool in here in the skies over our country.  This coming week, we`ll show you what to look for and what they`re looking for when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go here tonight has to do with the skies above.  And if you`re a plane spotter or a plane tracker, fair warning that you may see something unusual in the skies over our country this week.

That would be a Russian surveillance aircraft, its unromantic name is Tu- 214ON.  And it`s going to be flying all over our country, and it`s perfectly legal and allowed under something called the Treaty on Open Skies.

This is a full size ship with Russian markings.  This one was not built for passenger comfort or luggage or anything else.  It`s built to spy.  It`s built to fly over our military bases and take high resolution photographs.  And we`re allowed to do the same thing over Russia.

More than that, there will be Americans embedded among the Russian crew monitoring their mission over our country because that too is part of the treaty.  We allow the Russians to board our Air Force aircraft when we`re over there taking pictures of Russia.

This jet which only stands out because of the budging pod of electronics beneath its belly, is due to arrive at an international guard base in Missouri.  Starting there, you see gives them the chance to fly around and see a lot since they`re limited to flying 3,000 miles in the air in all.

Now, defense writers and god bless them, they`re going to be tracking this flight on GPS in realtime.  They`ve theorized the Russians would probably like to fly over off at Air Force base in Nebraska, maybe Fort Hood in Texas, and from Missouri they can easily reach all the bases around the D.C. Area.  Needless to say, both countries keep their valuable stuff and anything experimental inside hangers and away from prying eyes above.

Critics of this treaty and Congress say it gives Russia an advantage since their satellite imagery isn`t as good as the US.  They get much more out of these flights like the one coming up this week in our skies than the Americans get when they fly over Russia`s eleven time zones.

That`s going to do it for our Monday night broadcast as we start a new week, thank you so very much for being here with us, good night from NBC News Headquarters here in New York.

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