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Trump's brand taking a hit. TRANSCRIPT: 5/17/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Harry Litman, Annie Karni, Liz Goodwin, Laura Barron-Lopez, JeffreyPrescott

GWEN CARR, ERIC GARNER`S MOTHER:  But do not abstract breathing, do not go for the throw.  So, when you see this in the video, you should have let those officers go.

Especially Pantaleo, he had his hands around his neck as my son said he couldn`t breathe 11 times and he did not let go.

There was one officer that tried to push his hand.  He did push Pantaleo.  If you look at the video --


CARR:  -- he pushed.  So, if he didn`t think he was doing something wrong, why would he push him?  He was kind of trying to say, you know, in a way, let go.  But he didn`t do it.

O`DONNELL:  Gwen Carr, thank you very much for coming in to join us tonight.  And I`m so sorry that you`re still --

CARR:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  -- having to live with this story and continue the process with it.  Thank you very much.

CARR:  Oh, you`re so welcome.

O`DONELL:  Gwen Carr gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight after a day spend alleging spying and treason and fake news, President Trump claims he wasn`t warned about Michael Flynn, when we know that`s not true.

Plus, Bill Barr has now decided to go all in with the theories and terminology the President pushes and refers.  Most recently he echoes the President`s spy claims and doesn`t back down the claims of a witch hunt.

And a look at the harm the Trump name has brought to the Trump brand that the President covets as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Friday night.

As we bring another week to an end, good evening from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 848 of the Trump administration, and the President`s latest assertion that the Russia investigation was actually all about illegal surveillance on his Presidential campaign which he refers to call the nefarious title of spying.  That belief is getting new support from his hand picked Attorney General William Barr.

This was Trump`s message early today and we quote, "My campaign for President was conclusively spied on.  Nothing like this has ever happened in American politics.  A really bad situation.  Treason means long jail senses sentences, and this was treason."

So, usual Friday stuff there.  But, about the same time, "The Wall Street Journal" posted an interview with Attorney General Barr.  The A.G. told "The Journal", "Government power was used to spy on American citizens."

Barr also talked about his newly launched inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation with Fox News saying it is necessary because Special Counsel Mueller`s work did not cover the possibility that officials may have abused their power.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  He was looking at whether or not the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russians.  But he was not going back and looking at the counter intelligence program.

BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR:  Can you tell us what the Steele dossier had to do with this?

BARR:  It`s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that, especially one that on its face had the number of clear mistakes.

To use that to conduct counter intelligence against an American political campaign is a strange -- would be a strange development.

HEMMER:  Republicans have said for months that these men, Brennan, Clapper, maybe James Comey had it in for Trump.  Do you think that`s true?

BARR:  Again, I`m not going to speculate about their motives.

HEMMER:  The President calls this a witch hunt.  He calls it a hoax.

BARR:  If you were the President, I think you would view it as a witch hunt and a hoax.


WILLIAMS:  Note that there have been no public reports of surveillance of a, "political campaign."  The FBI has also said it did not rely solely on the Steele dossier to launch this inquiry.

Late today, a former FBI official who helped over see parts of the Russia investigation defended the bureau`s actions.


JAMES BAKER, FMR. FBI GENERGAL COUNSEL:  We were concerned about what was going on here.  And those events didn`t just happen in a vacuum.  We were looking at what Russia was up to generally and the threat that they posed.  We were looking at what they were trying to do with our election.


WILLIAMS:  We also saw Trump revisit history today concerning his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn is still awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to lying to investigators about conversations with Russia`s ambassador.

As we reported last night, newly unsealed court papers, note, people tied to Congress and to the White House tried to influence Flynn`s cooperation deal with Mueller.

Well, just today Trump posted the following on Twitter and full disclosure, this one seems designed to take up our time and waste our breath because it was so immediately and provably wrong.  He wrote the following, "It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation long before was common knowledge.  It would have been impossible for me to know that, but if that was the case, and with me being one of two people who would become president, why was I not told so that I could make a change?"

The simple answer here, among the people who warned Donald Trump about Mike Flynn, former New Jersey Governor then transition chief, Chris Christie.  And for good measure the president of United States at the time Barack Obama.

Also for good measure, Sally Yates, then number two at the Justice Department, don`t forget, went over to the White House to warn them about Flynn being in their midst, something she later testified to Congress about.


SALLY YATES, FMR. ACTING ATTY. GENERAL:  We felt like it was critical that we get this information to the White House because in part because the Vice President was unknowingly making false statements to the public and because we believed that General Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians.


WILLIAMS:  Flynn was forced out after exactly two dozen days on the job.

There is also a new front in this fight with the House Democrats over six years of the President`s tax returns.  Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to comply with a subpoena for those returns from the House Ways and Means Committee and a letter to the Chairman, Richard Neal.

The Treasury Secretary based his refusal on this, "the Committee`s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose."  Chairman Neal responded in a statement, "the law does not allow for discretion as to whether to comply with a request for tax returns."

Neal said the Committee will now likely go to court to get Trump`s tax returns.

That sets up our leadoff discussion on another busy Friday night.  Michael Schmidt is with us, Pulitzer Price-winning Washington Correspondent for "The New York Times.".  Annie Karni is back with us, White House Reporter with "The New York Times."  And Harry Litman returns to our broadcast, DOJ Veteran who is a former U.S. attorney and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Clinton.  These days he happens to be the creator and executive producer of the new podcast called "Talking Feds."

Michael, I would like to begin with you.  With the President talking spying, with the President having found a perfectly pliant, it seems, attorney general on this front, what have you heard about the seriousness of purpose behind this investigation of the investigators?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, THE NEW YORK TIMES WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, that`s what we sort of don`t know.  We reported this week that Barr has asked the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, Durham, to look at this.  But the U.S. attorney is not using his criminal power to do it, he would simply be reviewing the issue of the Counterintelligence investigation and how it all began.

At the sort of heart of this issue is the fact that the President has finally found someone to be his attorney general that will do the things that he wants.  Sessions wouldn`t do that.  Rosenstein wouldn`t do that.  But here you have Barr echoing the President`s talking points and doing it in an effective way.

Barr has figured out a way to stay on message on these issues and to keep it alive and allows the President to undermine the roots of this investigation.  And here we are, over two and a half years, almost three years since it began, and now we`re going to go back and litigate the rudimentary parts that started it.

WILLIAMS:  Harry Litman, say what you will about James Comey, and a ton of people already have, but here is the former head of the FBI tonight on social media.  "The A.G. should stop sliming his own department.  If there are bad facts, show us or search for them professionally and then tell us what you found.  An A.G. must act like the leader of the Department of Justice, an organization based on truth.  Donald Trump has enough spokes people."

Harry, how are you feeling about your old workplace and its current leadership these days?

HARRY LITMAN, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY WESTERN DISTRICT OF PA:  Pretty grim. I mean, Comey`s message, I think, is unassailable.  What he`s really saying is Barr is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

On the surface he`s just saying, well, we need to figure it out and I`m just -- I haven`t been fully satisfied.  But there is just no doubt that he`s carefully chosen words and rhetoric that echo the talking points of team Trump and the President himself and is essentially employing dog whistle terminology to keep this whole notion alive, even as he suggests, well, I haven`t decided anything yet.

Comey`s point is well taken. If you have proof of this, fine, come forward.  But until you do, the sort of insinuations, especially as they continue to sort of trash really good professionally respected members of the FBI are just -- just deplorable.

WILLIAMS:  And, harry, let`s speak English here.  A lot of institutionalist --


WILLIAMS:  -- and folks who are --


WILLIAMS:  -- veterans at the Justice Department are still slack jawed that this guy was willing to come out and say out loud no collusion prior to us ever having seen a word of the Mueller report, and he said it five or six times.

LITMAN:  Yes.  So, I mean, that`s the whole -- that`s where the whole kind of Barr bandwagon on which I was a member, you know, went totally off the tracks.  And that`s where everything has been seen through since.  When we came out there and basically took a report that was very damning on collusion and conclusively damning on obstruction and call it no big deal, everyone move along here, folks, nothing here, it became clear that, to speak in plain terms, he was in the tank for the President.  And that`s continued to be the case since but in a somewhat kind of clever way that doesn`t go all the way on the rhetoric of the President himself but still gives kind of aid and comfort to the talking points.

WILLIAMS:  Annie Karni, that`s why I think it is fine to call him a pliant attorney general unless and until proven otherwise.  I have a bit to play for you.  This is William Barr talking about his boss, the President.


BARR:  I didn`t know him before.  I had only met with him, really, a substantive discussion at the time he decided to make, you know, appoint me attorney general. But I think we have a candid relationship.


WILLIAMS:  Annie, let`s take the other side of this equation.  Are Trump insiders happy they finally got their man at the Justice Department?

ANNIE KARNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE  REPORTER:  Well, they often echo what the President feels, and the President is absolutely thrilled.  This is -- he feels like he finally has the attorney general he`s always wanted in there.

And what Barr has said in that clip is true, they didn`t know each other.  He wasn`t Trump`s first pick to the job.  He was recommended to him blindly.  The weekend before his letter came out, we reported that the President was asking around nervously, like what do people think of Bill Barr.  He did not know what to expect.

But in addition to the backup he`s giving him on the Mueller report, he is also supporting his political agenda in other ways.  We saw him standing in the Oval Office next to the President and giving him the legal ground work to overturn -- to overrule Congress`s attempt to block him from his emergency declaration and even saying that it was actually necessary for the American people for the safety of the American people.  We see him in El Salvador this week talking about MS-13 and illegal immigration.

So it`s not only on Mueller that he`s towing the line.  He is backing up the President in all of his political agenda other than Mueller as well.

WILLIAMS:  Michael Schmidt, the President`s tweet about I wish someone had warned me about Flynn, while wrong, does it also foreshadow or belie a nervousness about what Flynn could say or has already said?

SCHMIDT:  Well, the President unfortunately didn`t provide the larger context to it.  But what I have heard talking to the President`s aids and his lawyers is the notion that the President is upset that four people in his campaign were under investigation and the FBI never came to him and said, hey, you have got potential Russian agents in your midst.

And the President basically says, where was that defensive briefing?  Why didn`t I get that?  Now, the President has struggled to articulate that.

But what is going on here is that the FBI was concerned about engaging Trump at that point for two reasons.  One, they were suspicious of his own connections to Russia.  They didn`t understand why he was saying Russia, if you are listening, please come and hack Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.  And the second thing is that Trump was saying that things were rigged, and they thought if they went to the President he would use that against the FBI to cast doubt on them and potentially cast doubt on the election.

So it was his own behavior publically that served as a deterrent for the bureau to go and speak to him and say, "Hey, you may have a Russia problem here."  The burrow was concerned about him.

WILLIAMS:  And, Annie, I`m also going to ask you to take the other side a second time.  In light of tonight`s conversation, sum up, if you can, without crossing a line, how successful the Trump operation has been thus far at playing defense.

KARNI:  Well, in terms of what?  In terms of --

WILLIAMS:  Everything coming out.

KARNI:  They have been out there saying -- well, in terms of their battle with Congress, they have the Democrats in the House playing defense, so that has been successful.  In terms of defending Trump`s suit, they had surrogates out there explaining that, you know, President Obama warned him- ish, they`re saying.  He said he warned against Flynn in the Oval Office, but he had fired Flynn and Obama -- and Trump wasn`t really trusting Democrats at the time.

So they`re defending him saying kind of what Michael was saying that that tweet didn`t present the whole picture.  He didn`t have a full comprehensive briefing on him.

And in terms of the Mueller invest -- report, Barr`s letter succeeded in what they tried to do.  It has let them set them a narrative of no obstruction, no collusion that, you know, at least Mr. Trump`s supporters are buying and he`ll need more than just them to win re-election.  But it was a message -- they`ll -- they got out of the gate with the first message about the Mueller report, which is a big head start.

WILLIAMS:  Harry Litman, let`s talk English again.  The House Judiciary Committee leads the league in fried chicken eating and angry letter writing thus far.  Do you think Democrats for their part are taking an undue amount of time to exert the rights and privileges they have on this case?

LITMAN:  You know, probably.  But they`re in a quandary because when they come forward, there is going to be a delay.  So let`s take what Mnuchin said today, he has no leg to stand on.  It`s absolutely right that there is no discretion here.

But when they take him to court, as they`re going to have to, they could be in for a one, two, three-year process until they`re vindicated as has happened say with Eric Holder in fast and furious.

And by the way, here is another place where Barr has come in and given a shot in the arm to Trump`s agenda.  What Mnuchin didn`t just say you have no legislative purpose, he said I have consulted with the Department of Justice and you have no legislative purpose.  He, in other words, was able to cloak that legal opinion which, by the way, is wrong as the day is long with some kind of informant (ph)- from DOJ .  That`s going to make it harder to fight.

They will win this fight if they do it.  But what they have to be worried about is, you know, will the time essentially run out on the clock by the time they won.

WILLIAMS:  What a night, what a mess, but what a trio to start off our conversation on a Friday.  To Michael Schmidt, Annie Karni, to Harry Litman, our thanks for joining us tonight as we wind up this week.

And coming up for us, the news on the President`s family business these past few days has not been good.  The hit his name is taking may be even worse.  We`ll ask a man who knows from brands.

And later, the President no stranger to the art of anonymous sourcing himself calls reports of bitter division within his White House over Iran B.S.  The difference is, he now says that word out loud in public and routinely as Presidents do.  "The 11th Hour just getting started on a Friday night.


WILLIAMS:  What we just showed you there, while familiar, is really important.  For 14 years, that was the image of Donald Trump that was televised once a week from this building.  It was like an intravenous feed to the people we would later call his base.

And allow me to say this flatly.  The members of the mainstream media who didn`t get Trump`s hold over his base, they weren`t watching that show.  They dismissed that show for all those years at their own peril we later learned.  But now that Trump brand on his plane, T.V. show, on his buildings and resorts, that brand is taking a real hit.

Financial disclosure forms show revenue is down almost 10 percent for starters at Mar-a-Lago.  His hotels in Chicago and Hawaii and several golf courses have showed losses.

Industry experts tell "The New York Times" "Sales are being affected by consumers decided to turn away from the Trump brand."

Bloomberg also reporting "Trump Tower is now one of New York City`s lease desirable buildings."

Once significant bright spot, Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. up about a million dollars in business this year.

You see, it is blocks from the White House, and it allows those with business before our government to book rooms and events there to try to curry favor.

Back with us again is our own Donny Deutsch.  His new show "Saturday Night Politics" airs as its tittle might suggest, tomorrow night and every week at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time right here on MSNBC.

Donny, I know you take none of this anything less than seriously.  Give us a brand assessment for this guy and why it matters.

DONNY DEUTSCH, MSNBC HOST, "SATURDAY NIGHT POLITICS":  Interestingly enough, you know, Brian, you hit on it.  What "The Apprentice" did for Donald, it took this aspiration and made it mass and accessible, almost in a cartoony way.

You know, we all know live in New York that there was always kind of tawdriness to his branding, a kind of fake gold plate in this.  But to the masses, it was a very appealing and somewhat seemingly accessible.

Look, it was documented when he wrote "The Art of the Deal" in 1987 he was tapped out.  He was loosing -- that was the decade he was losing over a billion dollars.

The brand now, you know, the irony of Trump is his brand was urbane brand or most of his properties were in big cities.  And as we well know, obviously the Blue States are not his great friends.

All you have to know about the Trump brand is, I think he slept in New York City two or three nights since he`s been President.  And the last time he was here there were almost riots outside of Trump Tower.  You know,, the big rat.

He is so low at this point in the major urban areas of the city that to say that his brand is being destroyed is an understatement.  It will never come back from this.

And one other just little funny side note, in his supposed $10 Billion net worth, he has a line item in there, his financial statement that says the name is worth $3 billion.  But the name was never worth that anyway, and I would say it is worth a negative five billion right now.

WILLIAMS:  What do you think becomes of the brand and the one-time boss in his post presidential years?

DEUTSCH: Interestingly enough, the way the brand was growing is in some of the more developing -- you know, the global parts of the universe, the India`s and whatnot.  And to some of the miracle (ph) emerging third world countries, the Trump brand can still be this kind of weird faux accessible wealth kind of place to be.  He obviously can`t develop those properties now, obviously, being President.  So globally there still is potential for expansion of the organization.

As far as what Trump does afterwards, I believe that heavy loss the last election, he would have start the Trump revolutionary network, a paid 799 month prescription -- subscription model where you can come, listen to Trump.  He will somehow monetize this.  It might be different.  It might be a chain of motel 6 type hotels in the red state where is he is so, you know, loved.  So he is not a dumb guy.  He is not well read.  He is not sophisticated, but he is clever, clever, whether you like him or not.  And post-White House, he will figure out a new way to upside down his brand and say, okay, my appeal is to not the people who used to enjoy the Trump brand and he`ll figure out a way to kind refurbish it.

WILLIAMS:  Donny I don`t want to end dark, but I`m going to have to.  And that is to say that when you are on Deadline: White House with Nicole Wallace at 4:00 in the afternoon, you are often one of the voices that reminds the table and reminds the viewers beyond exactly how bad things are in your view and exactly how dark we`ve gotten.  But like the frog boiling experiment, it hasn`t felt like that.  It would feel like that if we took a vacation on the moon and came back.

So the question, how dark are things right now to you?

DEUTSCH:  Very, very dark.  And I want to say this with no exaggeration.  If you look throughout history and you become a student of history and the worst of what humans have done throughout history, Trump is using that play book in every way you possibly can. You start with creating an other.  You get enough rich people to look the other way and that`s how you get power.

And then what you do is obviously destroy the credibility of a press.  You get a judicial system that is no longer independent.  You start to blur separation of powers.

And we should be very frightened.  It`s not just saying, you know, oh, authoritarian tendencies.  I believe this man is capable of horrific, horrific deeds.  And I`m not saying specifically what that is, but let your imagination go.

And also do not kid yourself.  If he gets voted out of office, he will say it was fake.  He will say the written (ph) polls were rigged.  He will tell his people to take to the streets.

People have to understand this is not a man who was playing with any boundaries on what a normal civilization and normal democracy has.  And I use the word sociopath and I know you`re not supposed to use psychological terms, but -- and Michael Cohen we know stood by your side for 10 years, the last thing he said when he spoke to Congress was, he will not go softly.  So, the Democrats better get this one right.

WILLIAMS:  It is no longer darkness on the edge of town.  It`s come downtown and all around.  Donny Deutsch, the host of "Saturday Night Politics" tomorrow evening 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on this very network.  Donny, thanks very much for coming on our broadcast.

DEUTSCH:  Thank you, pal.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up, Missouri is now the latest red state on the board with a bill essentially banning most abortions.  It wasn`t an issue in the coming election a week ago as it has become tonight.  Our preview of 2020 coming up.


WILLIAMS:  Welcome back and now on to this topic.  The state of Missouri passed a law today that bans abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy.  It does not include exceptions for rape and incest.

Republican Governor Mike Parson has indicated he`ll sign it into law.  This of course comes two days after Alabama`s governor signed the strictest abortion law in our country, that bill bans all abortions except in cases where the mother`s health is in immediate danger.

Both states` bills would imprison doctors for performing abortions but laws that violate the law of the land are unenforceable, which the Alabama governor straight up admits.  Instead, they`re designed to be test cases before the Supreme Court.  And just like that, reproductive rights will become a ground war in this next presidential campaign.

We happen to have two terrific journalists with us tonight to talk about it, Laura Barron-Lopez, national political reporter for Politico, and we welcome to our broadcast, Liz Goodwin here with us in New York, she happens to be politics reporter for "The Boston Globe".

Liz, I`d like to begin with you.  Do you agree with our perception this week that this as an issue has vaulted to the front of the line also part and parcel of our health care discussion?

LIZ GOODWIN, THE BOSTON GLOBE, POLITICAL REPORTER:  Yes, absolutely.  And you could really see that in New Hampshire this week.  Kamala Harris had an event to roll out a new proposal on assault weapons.  That was her focus.  That`s what she wanted to talk about.  And then Alabama just kind of ripped through the week and every single candidate has had to scramble to respond.

And in some cases, I think it`s not the most -- it`s not the debate they would desire right now, but it`s one that is, you know, obviously energizing Democratic primary voters.  It`s very important to the party and in general.

WILLIAMS:  Well, Laura, let`s start on Liz`s last point, and that is no one was looking for or expecting this to jump to the head of the line.  But now it`s firmly a political issue.  As a matter of politics, we get that these are Supreme Court bound test cases.  As a matter of politics, though, pick your poll.  This issue is either 60/40 underwater for their side.  It is either 80/20.  How are they going to run under the Republican banner on an issue like this if it permeates down through the tickets to statewide elections?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Right.  So I think we could see a shift in the way Republicans are talking about these bills because even though it hadn`t broken through in the 2020 presidential election race until this week, it was something that House Republicans very much wanted to make a big deal in their campaigns heading into 2020.  They were hoping that the abortion bill that we saw come out in New York which expanded access for abortions into -- later into the pregnancy, they wanted to use that against Democrats.

And now the passage of these laws in these southern states in Missouri as well as Alabama has kind of turned that on its head.  We saw House Minority Leader McCarthy say just a few days ago that he thought the Alabama bill went too far.

But a lot of House Republicans that I`ve tried to speak to about this didn`t really have an answer about the Alabama bill.  Some tried to say, oh, I need to be briefed on it.  So it is going to be difficult for them as this progresses and as 2020 Democrats, the presidential candidate has try to latch on to this.

WILLIAMS:  Liz, as we looked at the 2016 campaign, we saw the evolution of the Never Trump Republicans.  We saw obviously a substantial amount of Republican support for this guy who happens to be in the White House tonight.  And we heard from interviews with Trump voters in the field, I held my nose.  In effect, I did it because of the Supreme Court.  However, 2020, could that not flip the motivation of the court as a kind of unseen candidate in this race to the other side?

GOODWIN:  That`s exactly what Democratic activists are hoping for right now because as you said, the Supreme Court was such a motivational issue for Republicans, for Trump voters.  He released a list saying if -- you know, these are the Supreme Court justices I would pick.  You can see them.  They`re all very conservative.  They were known to be skeptical of Roe v.  Wade.  So that really brought people to the polls who might have, you know, had objections to other parts of Trump`s personality as a candidate.

And I think Democrats now are seeing this as their moment because there`s Democrats who are very upset about what happened to Merrick Garland and then now with Kavanaugh replacing a more reliable vote for abortion rights, it`s starting to hit home for Democrats that this might actually affect people`s lives.

And I think that you`re seeing the candidates reflect that.  Some candidates are floating proposals you never would have heard even just two years ago for Democrats to expand the size of the court, to transform the court.  And I think that`s reflecting some of the anger in the base that`s out there.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, it`s a great point.

Laura, to sheer politics and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, he is going on a Fox News town hall this weekend.  For a lot of folks, either live or subsequently on YouTube, it was a town hall he did on CNN where he entered the ken of a lot of voters, and he happened to have a very good outing that night.

Elizabeth Warren this week specifically said, no, I`m not taking part in a Fox News broadcast.  She had her reasons.  Mayor Pete, I`m sure, has his reasons, but perhaps a new audience is going to come in contact with him this weekend.

BARRON-LOPEZ:  Well, that`s exactly right.  And Buttigieg is hoping to keep this momentum going.  And so that`s partially why he`s going on Fox News.  He, along with Bernie Sanders, have tried to make the argument that speaking to this audience is something that Democrats need to do.  They need to breakthrough here and they feel as though this is a way to bring maybe back some voters that went to Trump that were before -- that before voted for Obama.

But a Warren again doesn`t agree with that.  She doesn`t want to help Fox profit given what we know about Fox News and their relationship with the Trump administration.

WILLIAMS:  Two women who have among the busiest jobs in politics.  If they look well rested now, check with them during the middle of the campaign.  Laura Barron-Lopez, Liz Goodwin, thank you very much, both of you, for coming on on a Friday night.

Coming up, we`ll play for you what happens when Trump talks about Iran before a room full of realtors.  Hope the kids are in bed.

Plus, a veteran of Obama`s national security team joins us to break down the current administration`s foreign policy when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


WILLIAMS:  This has been a week of incredible confusion on Iran, like something of a war game, only quite serious.  Thanks largely to our government speaking with more than one voice in foreign policy.  First we were told our forces were under threat and there were contingency plans for the U.S. to go to war with 120,000 of our young men and women.  Then the President seemed to say, no, not so fast.

Just this morning the President posted, "With all the fake and made up news out there, Iran can have no idea what is actually going on."  He continued that very approach during this afternoon`s speech to the National Association of Realtors. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And the good news I was thinking today.  I said, gee, what must our adversaries think.  And I look and I say, you know, it`s probably a good thing because, man, I don`t know where these people are coming from, right?  But they put out false.  You know, they say confidential sources.  Do you ever notice, they never write the names of people anymore.  Everything is a source says.  There is no source.  The person doesn`t exist.  The person is not alive.  It`s bullshit.  OK?  Bullshit.


WILLIAMS:  So two things to note here.  First our President is now openly swearing in public speeches, so there`s that.  Additionally, members of Congress have made it known they don`t know anymore about the Iran threat than the rest of us do, so to that end, they are planning on getting briefed next week.

In the meantime, Suzanne Glasser writes in "The New Yorker", "One thing this week`s Iran war scare has shown is the extent to which the Trump presidency has blown up the old way of American foreign policymaking, which makes the risk of a miscalculation higher than ever."

For more on this tonight, we welcome Jeffrey Prescott to the broadcast.  He`s a former special assistant to President Obama.  He served as senior director for Iran, Iraq, and Syria and the gulf states on the National Security Council during the Obama administration.  These days, he is strategic consultant to the University of Pennsylvania`s Penn Biden Center as well as a member of the Council on the Foreign Relations.

Jeffrey, I asked this of a guest last night.  I`d like to ask it of you tonight, where do we stand on Iran and specifically, what is the greater threat?  The threat posed by Iran to U.S. forces in the region or the threat that someone is going to do something remarkably stupid on this side and force a conflict?

JEFFREY PRESCOTT, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, thanks for having me.  You`re absolutely right that there`s a real risk of a mistake or a miscalculation here.  And the mixed signals that the President in the clip that you just showed seems to be bragging about is really part of what is making this a dangerous situation because you`ve got a President who a year ago pulled us out of an Iran nuclear deal that was working to keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.  It was lacking down their nuclear program.  They had dismantled a lot of their architecture on that deal and may have international inspections who are on the ground making sure that they complied with it.

The United States rationally pulled out of that deal.  And at the time, President Trump told us that he wanted to get a better deal.  In the year since, we`ve seen a series of actions that the United States has taken to put the squeeze on Iran, but it hasn`t really generated any kind of results in terms of a better deal.  And the President of course have surrounded himself with national security adviser and John Bolton and the Secretary of State in Mike Pompeo who have openly called for a regime change, have called for military strikes on Iran.  So it`s no surprise that seeing this approach has led us to a very dangerous situation that we`ve seen over the past week.

WILLIAMS:  I`m glad you mentioned Bolton.  He has mentioned, here is the Iranian foreign minister on Twitter today.  "With the B Team, that stands for Bolton and his folks, doing one thing and Donald Trump saying another thing, it is apparently the U.S. that doesn`t know what to think.  We in Iran have actually known what to think for millennia and about the U.S. since 1953.  At this point, that is certainly a good thing."

So what does it say, Jeffrey, that Donald Trump is getting trolled on social media by the foreign minister of Iran?

PRESCOTT:  Well, it`s a sign of the confusion of the policy here and the fact that we have walked away from a deal that the rest of our closest allies in Europe were sticking to.  They don`t know what to think.  The rest of the region doesn`t really know what to think.  And it`s really put us in a tough situation.

I think there`s a couple things here that we have to keep in mind.  We had a process that was working, that was keeping us safe and that was keeping a nuclear weapon out of Iranian hands.  That has gone away and no one really knows what the objective of the administration is.  The Trump administration no longer has a policymaking process where the voices from across the government are brought in before decisions are made.

And this erratic approach, when Trump came into office, he promised by disrupting some of the ways that we`ve done business in the past, he would get better results.  But if you look at this process, we don`t see any result anywhere near.  If you look at what the President has done in North Korea, for example, we`ve had two fawning summits with Kim Jong-un.  Not a single North Korean missile or nuclear weapon has been dismantled.  There`s been no restrictions on their program.

And even on China, the American farmers and workers have had tariffs on their back for a year.  The President has promised a major trade deal.  But so far we haven`t seen anything come of that either.  So looking across the board, there`s been a promise that this disruptive approach, this erratic style would deliver results.  And it`s hard to see how that`s adding up to anything consequential for the American people.  And as we see over the past week, we`re taking some serious risk in the process.

WILLIAMS:  As a distillation of what you just said, give me one sentence, one piece of advice from someone who`s been in the expensive seats in the White House and not just the cheap seats out here where all the rest of us are.  What would be your advice to this administration`s foreign policy shop, if asked?

PRESCOTT:  Well, it is important to recognize the role that sanctions can play in creating leverage to get to a diplomatic process.  But you have to have a game plan for what you want to achieve with that diplomacy and you have to actually get to the table and start talking.  And across the board, whether they`ve talked or they haven`t, this administration doesn`t seem to be able to deliver results and we`re taking a lot of risk in the process.  And that`s very dangerous.

WILLIAMS:  Jeffrey Prescott, thank you very much for coming on our broadcast this Friday night.  We appreciate it.

PRESCOTT:  Thanks for having me.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us, the anniversary that was quietly celebrated across our country today over six days now -- six decades now after a loud boom rocked every classroom in this country.  That story when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  It may not have felt like it across our country today, but today was the 65th anniversary of a Supreme Court decision that was a life- changing landmark, an attempt by the justices of our court to take Americans by the hand and walk them into the future.  In this case, it started by walking them through the school doors and declaring the era of segregated schooling in this country was history.  Tonight, Rehema Ellis has our look at the enduring impact of Brown v. Board of Education.


REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  It was a fight Linda Brown`s parents were determined to win, their daughter at the center of the landmark Brown versus Board of Education case during a time when Jim Crow laws dominated the south.  The Browns from Topeka, Kansas, along with other families, including Catherine Sawyer`s in a desperate battle to desegregate schools.  Ten-year-old Sawyer was the only child to testify.  She wasn`t allowed to attend the white school in her neighborhood.  Instead she took a long ride on a packed city bus to an overcrowded black school across town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And we would be standing in the aisles sometimes.

ELLIS:  It`s still difficult to talk about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think of all of us who have could have had that same opportunity and didn`t get it.

ELLIS:  Despite protests


ELLIS:  The Supreme Court ruled unanimously, racial segregation in schools was no longer legal.

THURGOOD MARSHALL:  We do believe that this decision in itself will encourage the people.

ELLIS:  Today, Topeka High School is very different than it was.

CRISTINA DE LA ISLA, TOPEKA HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE:  I learned many different things from other types of people like sexual orientation, race, gender, everything.

CONNOR HARRIS, TOPEKA HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR:  Together we form a better, like, a better group rather than separated. 

ELLIS:  But it`s not all better.  Recently segregation for black students has expanded in most of the country.  The number of mostly black schools more than tripled between 1988 and 2016.

Raise your hands if you think more should be done to integrate schools.

PHILIP CANADY, TOPEKA HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR:  The perspectives of different races makes, like, the school a better place overall.

ELLIS:  Students understanding the past and hoping for a better future.

Rehema Ellis, NBC News, Topeka, Kansas.


WILLIAMS:  Another break and coming up, an attempt to answer one of the more enduring questions of our time when THE 11TH HOUR continues tonight.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight, we might have at least a partial answer to that eternal question, who`s a good dog?  Well, here are several.  These are the faces of the therapy dogs at Parkland High School in Florida.  Some of these very good boys and very good girls are as responsible as any administrator or any human therapist for reminding those returning students that life is worth living, that schools are places for learning and friends, and that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after that awful tragedy was once again a safe place.

There are two rows of 14 therapy dogs in all in the 2019 high school yearbook.  Some of them got dressed up for their photo.  Others thought that was an unnecessary frill.  There are other photos as well including a spread on social media showing the behind the scenes at the photo shoot.

One of the teachers at the high school said there`s nothing a dog can`t fix.  And you know he`s right.  The administrators at the school realized that early on, thankfully, and now the yearbook staff has paid them their proper tribute.

And that is our broadcast on this Friday night and for this week.  Thank you so much for having here with us.  Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.

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