LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: And that is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the President gets angry, he walks out of a meeting with the Democrats, shows up in the Rose Garden with stats on poster boards that someone found on the web and now he`s saying, "We, the people, won`t get any new big ticket items as long as the Democrats are investigating him."
It was Nancy Pelosi who apparently triggered the President accusing him of a cover-up a real charge that brought about the angry reaction. And more bad news for the President`s tax returns on two different fronts.
And amid the talk of impeachment and the lashing out, remember, please, this was infrastructure day at the White House as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Wednesday night.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters in New York. Day 853 of the Trump administration. What was supposed to be an honest to goodness meeting about our nation`s infrastructure turned into a showdown between the President and Democrats and then just a plain show in the Rose Garden as the President had at it.
The President started his day with a barrage of messages featuring the familiar words, illegal witch hunt and no collusion, no obstruction, woven into his objections to Congressional inquiries. As that was going organization Speaker Pelosi was holding a closed door meeting with her increasingly boisterous, shall we say, House Democrats about said investigations.
NBC News reporting Pelosi did not mention impeachment in the room but did say that Trump`s White House was engaged in a "cover up," a point she repeated in front of cameras and microphones right after the meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA, HOUSE SPEAKER: We believe that no one is above the law including the President of the United States. And we believe that the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Speaker Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with other Democrats then went over to the White House for that previously scheduled meeting on infrastructure.
Trump alive -- arrived late. He bee rated Pelosi about her cover up comments and then stormed out of the meeting after three minutes, shaking no hands in the process.
The House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was in there when it happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER, (D) MARYLAND MAJORITY LEADER: When we walked into the Cabinet room, it was different. The curtains were drawn on the windows, looking out on the Rose Garden. So -- which I said, that`s kind of funny.
The President was about 10 minutes late coming in. And what I noticed is there was no chair set for where he regularly sits. So there is no doubt in my mind that this was a show.
Clearly had no intention of going around the room as he usually does and shaking hands. But stood at one end of the Cabinet table, closest to the door leading to the Oval Office and said, "Nancy Pelosi has accused me of cover-up. But there is no cover-up. I`m not covering up. And therefore, I`m not going to proceed. I`m not going through with this meeting."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So after that scene, the President then came out and appeared in the Rose Garden which had already been set up for an announcement, even though it was build as impromptu. The President was ready with his talking points.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk into look at people that have just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don`t do cover-ups.
And I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. But you know what? You can`t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.
This meeting was set up a number of days ago at 11:00. All of a sudden, I hear last night, they`re going to have a meeting right before this meeting to talk about the I-word. The I-word. Can you imagine?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Trump had prepared visual aids during his statement and ABC News reporter pointed out the President`s Mueller by the numbers graphic appeared to be derive from one created at her network.
It also appeared to be missing the second page. That`s the one that lists indictments, charges, guilty pleas and prison sentences of Trump associates.
Trump also brought along his own handwritten notes and sharpie along with him as this image captured.
And here is how one of Trump`s home town newspapers, "New York Daily News," sums up the day we just witness.
This afternoon, Nancy Pelosi who says she remains focused on pursuing investigations instead of the I-word, impeachment, didn`t appear to be reconsidering that approach to confronting the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: This President is obstructing justice and he is engaged in a cover-up. And that could be an impeachable offense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And so in a letter to her fellow House Democrats, just this evening, she wrote this and we quote, "Sadly the only job the President seems to be concerned with is his own. He threatened to stop working with Democrats on all legislation unless we end oversight of his administration and he had a temper tantrum for us all to see."
While all of that was taking place, there was indeed more news in the investigation surrounding this President.
A second federal judge sided with House Democrats and rules that Trump cannot block subpoenas of his financial records.
Also, lawmakers in New York State approved a bill that will allow Congress to obtain Trump`s state tax returns.
The Justice Department and the House Intelligence Committee agreed on a deal to allow members to see more of the redacted material and underlying information from the Mueller report.
And Mueller`s search warrants and his investigation of Michael Cohen have become public. "New York Times" and "Washington Post" report they show how quickly Mueller`s team began focusing on Cohen. Looking at his efforts to profit from his ties to President Trump as well as his extensive contacts with the U.S. based investment company linked to a major Russian business mogul.
With all of that in mind, here for our lead-off discussion on a Wednesday night, Nancy Cook, White House Reporter for Politico who was one of the reporters in the Rose Garden earlier today. Alexi McCammond, Politics Reporter for Axios. Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at the CIA and Pentagon, as well as former Chief Counsel for the House Intel Committee. Well, good evening to you all.
Nancy, I`d like to begin with you after this dramatic reading of what the leader of the free world just put out at 10:28 p.m. tonight, "In a letter to her House colleagues, Nancy Pelosi said "President Trump had a temper tantrum for us all to see." This is not true. I was purposely very polite and calm much as I was minutes later with the press in the Rose Garden. Can be easily proven. It is all such a lie.`
So Nancy, what did it look like to you in real-time and then filling in what we`ve since learned about it, describe the entire scene.
NANCY COOK, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it was sort of chaos at the White House this morning. We, you know, a bunch of cameras were setting up outside of the -- on the north lawn waiting for Democratic leaders to come for this infrastructure meeting and then suddenly it was announced that press should gather at this other area because there was going to be something at the Rose Garden. So it was a very confusing moment for White House reporters because we were expecting one thing and everyone was suddenly ushered into the Rose Garden for basically this impromptu monologue on the part of the President.
And again we thought the day was going to be consumed by infrastructure talks but it was actually the President taking this whole new tact on the investigations. And basically, threatening that he would not pass legislation with Democrats unless they dropped these inquiries.
And he went on for ten minutes or so and then abruptly left. And I was told by White House officials that basically, he had heard that, you know, Pelosi had met earlier this morning about impeachment and she had said that Trump had engaged in some sort of cover-up on Russia investigation. Some of his aides flagged that for him. And he quickly decided to have this Rose Garden event. It was a knee jerk reaction to that.
And, you know, here we are. That ended up dominating the day instead of sort of talking about bipartisan legislation or anything like that.
WILLIAMS: Alexi, I have a reading for you. This is Zeke Miller, Jonathan Lemire over at AP, "Trump himself has expressed a leeriness of what he calls the I-word. He told confidantes he doesn`t like discussing impeachment. Yet advisers have found that he constantly talks about it. Often veering their mid-conversation to express worry or frustration at the prospect. In one meeting with Pelosi, Trump couldn`t help himself and blurted out a question for the Speaker, asking if she was planning to impeach him. Pelosi assured him that she was not.
Though Trump was worried that impeachment would be the first line of his political obituary, even though he was confident of being saved by the Senate. Those around him think it may be the best thing that could happen to his re-election campaign."
Alexi, I know many people are of that mind. Any reporting you care to add?
ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, certainly we can tell from the President`s behavior that he is worried. Not only about the barrage of investigations coming his way, which was reflected in him, basically threatening to stone wall Congress from doing their job unless they stop investigating him on all fronts.
But we also know that he`s so afraid of impeachment, he won`t even say the actual word. He is turning it into a sort of dirty word by referring to it as the I-word.
And look, it`s no secret that Republicans and even some Democrats think impeachment is so divisive that it could ultimately hurt Democrats` prospects in the 2020 election and help President Trump in his re-election efforts.
I don`t necessarily have reporting to back that up yet, I think that it will certainly fire up the President`s base, however, you know, small it might be. But I think that that`s something the Democrats, especially Nancy Pelosi, are considering for the eventual Democratic nominee because at the end of the day, part of impeachment comes down to timing. And they have to make sure that it`s not interfering with the messages that they`re trying to get across for the 2020 election.
WILLIAMS: A good point to be made here. Jeremy Bash, the President declared today, "I don`t do cover-ups." It was immediately asked where the payment to Stormy Daniels fits in that policy.
Second question, where is Pelosi` stock in your view, considering the kind of roiling in her caucus after tonight?
JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think the Speaker makes a good point, Brian. I mean, our Presidents swear an oath. It`s the only oath delineated in our constitution and Presidents are required to state that they will faithfully execute the duties of the office.
Now, if the President wants to stand there in the Rose Garden in front of Congress and the American people and say "I`m not going to be President. I`m not going to execute my responsibilities." It`s a form of auto impeachment.
I think in some ways, the President has impeached himself. He is removing himself from the duties of the office, and in fact, I think Speaker Pelosi is right to point out that if they cannot work with a President, not much work is going to get done.
WILLIAMS: And Jeremy, on these various investigations, do you think the President understands the delineations between branches of government?
BASH: Well, look, I think, you know, he is in a tiff right now with the Article I branch Congress. But truly the Article III branch, the judiciary, which will cost them most trouble.
We saw earlier in the week a ruling by a district court judge in the District of Columbia. And today a ruling by a district court judge in New York. Both of those cases will quickly be appealed. But in both cases, the judges ruled against the President and said that documents did have to be produced about the President`s finances to Congress.
So, the judiciary will be closing on the President, may be even faster than Congress will.
WILLIAMS: Nancy, new numbers tonight from a Monmouth poll, and this is interesting. Just as a take on American attitudes on this, should Mueller himself testify? Yes, 73-20.
Nancy, what`s your latest reporting? Is it DOJ where he is still on the pay roll that is either making it tough or difficult or impossible?
COOK: Well, I think that it`s the administration that`s making it difficult and they definitely want to put up as many road blocks with all of these people testifying on the Hill, as well as any inquiries. But I think that Mueller himself has been very reluctant to put himself out there. I think him and his associates have always wanted the report to speak for itself. They didn`t want to draw conclusions on whether or not Trump obstructed justice.
And I think that Mueller and his team have tried to be very careful to not get drawn into what is a very partisan warfare over, you know, what Trump did and did not do in office and whether or not he abused that office.
WILLIAMS: And Jeremy, back to this question of testimony. For whatever reason, if we don`t hear from Bob Mueller, what does that do to the public case that is made in the Mueller report going forward?
BASH: Well, we still have Volume II, Brian, which the special counsel said clearly in 10 instances, the President did not, not obstruct justice. He stated, as we`ve said on this program, as it double negative. But the clear implication is the President broke the law and but for that OLC (ph) the President would be facing criminal charges.
WILLIAMS: Alexi, let`s talk about the work to be done as a nation. Will anything get done? This after all was supposed to be a legit workday. It is not as if our country can`t name infrastructure, construction projects that need doing, and urgently. Are we going to see any of it?
MCCAMMOND: I mean, I`m old enough to remember President Trump referring to LaGuardia as a third world country and campaigning on the fact that he would get infrastructure done for the country and make America more beautiful by way of all these infrastructure plans and proposals.
I mean it seems like infrastructure week, or day as it was today, is just anything, you know, it`s infrastructure week in name only. When I talk to Democrats on the Hill, staffers and aides and members, they basically say that this is President Trump who is unwilling to accept that he is now facing a Democratically controlled Congress. It was his first time to the negotiating table with Democrats controlling the House and he simply threw a temper tantrum as Pelosi called it and was unwilling to negotiate because he doesn`t like the way things are getting done.
We`ve seen the ways in which even under President Trump, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to craft bipartisan legislation. They feel good about it. Different groups of folks have tried to do this. They taken it to the President to be signed and he vetoes it at the very end because he doesn`t like one part of it. Whether it`s not enough money for the border wall or something else.
So until the President is ready to negotiate with Congress and let them do their jobs, I don`t see how bipartisan packages or legislation can get done but the President only wants things his way.
WILLIAMS: And a friendly reminder to all, it`s Wednesday after all. With our great thanks tonight to our lead-off panel, Nancy Cook, Alexi McCammond, Jeremy Bash, we greatly appreciate you all being here with us.
And coming up for us, two more big setbacks today, we referenced for the concerted White House effort to keep the President`s taxes out of the hands of Congress.
And later, an important lesson for the current occupant of the Oval Office, thanks to one of this 20th century predecessors, as THE 11TH HOUR is getting started on a Wednesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALMA ADAMS, (D) NORTH CAROLINA: Do you think the American people have a right to know what`s in those tax forms?
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: No, I don`t. Presidents are not required to. And the American public knew that he didn`t release them before they voted for him.
ADAMS: So why haven`t you complied with Chairman Neal`s request?
MNUCHIN: Because I think that would be unlawful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is defending his decision to block the release of Trump`s tax returns. During his testimony on Capitol Hill, he dismissed an internal IRS memo first obtained by the "Washington Post" which concluded, "Trump`s tax returns must be given to Congress unless the President invokes executive privilege."
Mnuchin told law makers the memo doesn`t apply to the current situation and said he hasn`t talked to the President about his taxes, not at all, not one bit.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in New York State have passed a law today designed in effect to end run native New Yorker Donald Trump. "The New York Times" puts it this way, "The New York legislation, which is expected to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a third term Democrat and regular critic Mr. Trump`s policies and behavior, would authorize state tax officials to release the President`s state returns to any one of three Congressional committees."
Since Trump is a New York resident and his business is based here, his state returns would include much of the same information as those federal returns. Congress is trying to get their hands on it.
Meanwhile, federal judge ruled late today, he`ll allow Congress to subpoena Trump financial records from both Deutsche Bank and Capital One. NBC News has learned the two other banks, Wells Fargo and TD Bank have already cooperated.
It`s a lot to cover. With us here tonight to talk about it, Mimi Rocah, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, now a Distinguished Fellow in Criminal Justice at the Pace University School of Law, and Dan Alexander returns, Reporter for Forbes, covering all things Trump. Good evening and welcome to you both.
Mimi, I hope you brought your legal mind because I need it. So, we have three elements. We have the Deutsche Bank, Capital One, we have, I had to take notes here. the New York State effort, and we have the draft letter inside the IRS. Put this all together. Does it mean that Congress and by extension the public, will have any understanding of the President`s tax returns sooner rather than later?
MIMI ROCAH, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Yes, it does. I mean, that`s the short answer.
And really, I mean, you can sort of put some of these other things aside for a moment. The first thing to look at is the law which says that the IRS shall turn them over.
And, you know, it doesn`t say shall if there`s a legislative purpose. It doesn`t say maybe, it doesn`t say under certain circumstances. I mean, in the law that really -- I know to most people, shall means shall. But in the law, it really has a certain meaning and a certain weight.
And judges refer to that kind of language all the time. You know, like in bail statutes. It says I shall reimagine (ph) someone. That means I have no discretion.
And so they really don`t have discretion. And that`s why that`s going to be a winning argument if and when that gets litigated in court. But then you go to the next layer, which is Congress has also served a subpoena on the IRS.
And we now know from the court cases that the judges are overwhelmingly and very loudly and very definitively saying Congress has a right to this information as long as they state some legislative purpose. I mean, both of these opinions were sort of the legal equivalent of, you know, are you kidding me? Get out of my courtroom. This is a joke.
WILLIAMS: But I`m sensing in you a turn that the law may be working toward good purposes here.
ROCAH: Well, yes. I mean I and, you know, others have had faith that once this got to the courts, the positions that have been taken by the Trump administration with respect to all of these subpoenas, and, you know, we can separate them out a little bit and some are more ludicrous than others. But over all, there`s a blanket. And the courts are going to look at the fact that Trump said at the beginning, "No, I`m not responding to any subpoenas."
ROCAH: So, you know, they look at the pattern. And yes, I have faith that the courts will follow the law and the law is on the side of Congress here.
WILLIAMS: All right, Dan, because we don`t often return to this very basic question, help us out. What is it that the President doesn`t want Congress and/or the American people to see do you think?
DAN ALEXANDER, FORBES REPORTER: Well, it`s the big good question. You know, a couple years ago I was in Las Vegas with Phil Ruffin, who`s one of Donald Trump`s best friend, a fellow billionaire and we were sitting in his office and he said "Look, if I were in his position I wouldn`t want to release these things either. You know, my tax returns too look like a tower. And who knows what will be in there? And if you`ve got a bunch of tax nerds looking through it, who knows what they`re going to find?"
And fast forward a couple years later, Michael Cohen is testifying in front of Congress and he basically says the same thing. So you`ve got two people very close to Trump giving virtually the same answer saying that if you`ve got a ton of people looking over this really, really carefully, they`re probably going to find something. You know that`s what Trump is worried about.
WILLIAMS: Mimi, two federal judges in two days, as you said kind of breaking the way of the law. But we also know the federal system. Not as well as you do. Layer upon layer, it seems, of mechanisms to delay things, the court of appeals and so on.
ROCAH: Sure. Look, it`s not going to be lightning speed. There is no immediate gratification here other than knowing and seeing that oh, wait, when a court, when a judge looks at this, they rule, you know, on the side of the law and they write these very good decisions, frankly, that, you know, there is a reason the judge today cited the first judge and the next judge is going to cite them. They`re going to give each other deference and their well written opinions.
And these judges decided this extremely quickly. And I think it`s going to go to the Court of Appeals, it`s going to take the appeal up very quickly.
But even quickly in the courts still means months. So we are not talking about tomorrow or next week. But it`s not going to be years, I don`t think. Especially because I don`t think these are very close questions of law.
WILLIAMS: Dan you mentioned to one of our producers not to forget the folks whose advertising tag line is, what`s in your wallet? Capital One Bank, which let`s not forget is right here alongside Deutsche Bank. Why?
ALEXANDER: Well, Capital One, you know, is a place where Donald Trump has a lot of money. He`s got at least $50 million in cash in Capital One.
But the thing that people often forget is not only are they his bank but they`re also his tenants. I mean, Capital One is paying about a million dollars is our estimate to rent a place just a couple blocks from here, 59th Street in Park Avenue, Trump park (ph). So, there`s a lot of things going on with Capital One and Trump and certainly they have a lot of information, although maybe not quite as much as Deutsche Bank.
WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, that`s why we wanted to have you on and hear you out, both of you. Our thanks to Mimi Rocah, to Dan Alexander for improving the quality of our conversation here tonight.
Coming up for us, some folks struggled for words in trying to describe what was going on in the Rose Garden today.
Standing by for us is a Pulitzer Prize-winner who actually happens to have the best words. So we`ll ask him when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back, President Trump`s frustration with a growing number of congressional investigations on full display today. He declared on Twitter, "You can`t investigate and legislate simultaneously. It just doesn`t work that way."
Well, USA today reporter Gregory Korte was quick to respond and point out, "Even during the Watergate hearings, the 93rd Congress passed and Nixon signed Federal Aid Highways Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Endangered Species Act, Budget Act of 1974," oh and by they, the "War Powers Resolution over the president`s veto. All these laws still exist in some form today."
On a night like this, we`re so fortunate to be joined by the Pulitzer Prize winning author and presidential historian, Jon Meacham. Notably he is the co-author of a recent book called "Impeachment and American History."
Jon, I am told by a reliable source, you have arrived tonight with a quote from one George Mason.
JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: And who else, I would submit, would bring this to you? Of a Wednesday? And I know that`s exciting for you and everybody else. George Mason in the constitutional convention said, who shall be above justice? And the last person on earth who can be above justice is the person who has the capacity to do most extensive injustice.
It was a debate about impeachment in the beginning between James Madison and Edmund Randolph and James Mason really trying to figure out what would in the Republican system of checks and balances? What would the impeachment function be? And it`s inherently political as we`ve discussed. It`s been used for political purposes through the years.
But one of the things that came to a head today, I think, particularly with the case where the President of the United States walks out of a meeting with those who are empowered in the constitution under Article 1 and says I`m not gong to work with you.
At some point you have to begin to seriously consider if you are those Article 1 folks, to what extent is the political situation such that you had a constitutional duty to fulfill what was debated and decided upon between those founders so long ago.
And it strikes me, and it is easy for me to say, I don`t have to face the voters, but it strikes me if I remember the House of Representatives right now, I would be inclined to proceed at least to have hearings on impeachment. Given that the president, we have evidence of attempted obstruction and we also have the political box checked which is, he`s not in fact, he`s saying he`s not going to do his job because people are investigating him. And that`s a fundamental prima facie violation of the rule of law.
WILLIAMS: So put another way, we Americans who will not be the recipients of improved interstate highway systems and new tunnels and bridges and airports, we are being, that`s being withheld from us. He is not full fulfilling his role as president is the view, and that`s what congressional Democrats could operate on?
MEACHAM: Absolutely. It`s very interesting. If you`re keeping score at home, that Speaker Pelosi, I think, Tamika Presinsky (ph) this week said he`s not obeying his oath of office. That to me was a very important political moment because the speaker has been fairly careful about not wanting to proceed on impeachment because of a political understanding which we can argue about.
But there is this oath of office argument, the oath of office argument that he is not, protecting, defending the constitution. And in fact, is not, at least, threatening to not execute his duties here.
This reminds me, nothing less, and obviously, Nixon is top of mind for everybody. But this is really Andrew Johnson. This is really 101 years ago. 151 years ago. Andrew Johnson gave speeches where he attacked Congress. He lashed out about conspiracy theories. He really did.
In fact, many of the articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson was Congress listing the attacks he made on them that weren`t entirely dissimilar from the ones we`ve seen today. So, I think a lot of folks, if they can stand it, should do a little reading on what happened with Andrew Johnson, what happened with Nixon. Because I suspect we`re pretty close here.
WILLIAMS: This is why we like to regularly checking with our friend Jon Meacham on just where we are presently. 11:35 Eastern time on a Wednesday night. Jon, thank you, as always, for coming on the broadcast.
Coming up for us, more than 100 years ago, another president was embroiled in a legal dispute. Veteran lawyer, legal analyst, and all around TV guy Dan Abrams writes about Teddy Roosevelt`s little known court battle. A story you`ll want to hear. He is with us when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This whole thing was a takedown attempt at the President of the United States. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for the way you reported so dishonestly. Not all of you, but many of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As the President ramps up his fight with House Democrats and as you saw members of the news media, he was dealt another blow in federal court today. As we mentioned, federal judge ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can in fact hand over Trump`s financial documents in response to congressional subpoenas.
Trump`s lawyers signaled they would appeal this ruling. In the New York Times points out today, "Mr. Trump has a long history with Deutsche Bank, the only main stream financial institution consistently willing to do business with him after a series of defaults left other lenders facing huge losses. Since 1998, the bank has lent him a total of $2 billion, and Mr. Trump owed Deutsche Bank more than $300 million at the time he was sworn in as president." 300 million dollars, my error, excuse, "at the time he was sworn in as president. The bank is by far his largest creditor."
Here with us tonight is a familiar face around these parts, Dan Abrams. For starts, he used to be on air host on this very airwaves or cable waves. He used to be the boss here. He is the former general manager of MSNBC. These days he hosts a show we`re going to get to in the next segment. He is the chief legal analyst cross town at ABC News, CEO and Founder of Abrams Media, and happens to be co-author of the book I hold in my hand, "Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy." Welcome back.
DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Mr. Williams. Great to be back with you.
WILLIAMS: It`s awfully good to have you. Before we get to Teddy, let`s talk about Donald.
WILLIAMS: If you were doing your daily trade on these airwaves, on this broadcast, what subject would you have pitched yourself on to come and talk about tonight that you deep most important in the last 24 to 48 hours?
ABRAMS: So you just mentioned the Deutsche Bank ruling. You can`t do that in isolation though. That`s now the second ruling that has come in that basically said, not just Trump doesn`t win on the argument of trying to prevent Congress from getting access to certain financial documents, but both courts have almost mocked the arguments that the Trump team has made.
Basically saying, it`s not even close as a legal matter. That has got to be concerning. It`s not surprising. Because I think that most legal analyst will tell you that the Trump team does not have a very strong argument. They have a terrible argument on the tax returns and they have a relatively weak argument when it comes to preventing the disclosure of other financial documents.
As we go on, some of the arguments get a little stronger. You talk about executive privilege on certain aspects of Don McGahn`s testimony. Sure. But on the issue of documents and tax returns, this is a tough go for the Trump team and it really does feel like they`re trying to run out the clock.
WILLIAMS: So, do you think that`s what we were looking at today when he walked into the Rose Garden? In the penumbra of issues, this guy is facing, this may be the one that pierces that inner layer?
ABRAMS: Well, I think this is going to give us more information. I think that he`s more concerned about his inner sanctum testifying than he is. Because, look, there was an enormous article in the "New York Times" I don`t know, a year ago. All about his taxes from the `80s and `90s and it went into great detail. All the sort of shenanigans that are going on. And it fell --
ABRAMS: -- and it did not make much of a difference.
WILLIAMS: We were busy. I remember.
ABRAMS: Right. There was other stuff.
WILLIAMS: Multiple byline. I remember it.
ABRAMS: So the question becomes, let`s assume we get his tax returns. Let`s assume there is really bad stuff in there. Is anyone going to care? I think that the real issues going to be the people who were with him, the people who know him. What did he say? What did he do? I think he is more concerned about preventing them from testifying. I think he knows his tax returns are going to get out. He`s won`t be able to prevent them from getting out forever. It`s just a question of when.
WILLIAMS: Can we talk about your friend Teddy.
WILLIAMS: He was so many things. He was a polymath, he was the author of 45 books in his spare time. He was a dynamo, he was a New Yorker. Why, Dan Abrams, and your co-writer, writing about Teddy Roosevelt?
ABRAMS: My co-author David Fisher and I found transcript of this case. And imagine this. The former president of the United States testifying for eight days, undergoing a vicious cross-examination from a lawyer who dislikes him and disagrees with him and is trying to mock him.
This is one of the most iconic presidents the country has ever had. And we don`t imagine him this way. We think about our iconic presidents, we think about speeches they`ve made, or writings. This is unvarnished. This is Theodore Roosevelt, word for word from the transcript, defending himself and his legacy. And it is fascinating stuff.
And so what we did is we took this transcript and tell the story, surrounding that trial that at the time was huge news around the country. But somehow has back footnote to history.
WILLIAMS: The part I got to last night. He casually tosses off the fact that he hired 40,000 people through patronage into the U.S. government.
ABRAMS: Yes, yes.
WILLIAMS: And just like, you know, it`s another line in testimony for him.
ABRAMS: And there were also -- there was questions about all sorts of campaign donations that were made to him. And on cross-examination, they go through each and every donation that was made. These are the same sorts of issues that come up today. I mean, that`s the striking thing about this trial is you read this book and we read all the 3,000 plus pages of the transcript. And it resonates. And you say, wait --
ABRAMS: -- we`re still talking about those same issues. I mean, the reason Roosevelt got sued is because he accused the party boss of being corrupt.
WILLIAMS: Imagine that.
ABRAMS: Right? And, you know, back then, corrupt? That`s the entirety of the libel. But, wow, having Teddy Roosevelt on the stand, and Franklin Roosevelt actually testified in his defense. So it`s a fascinating read and it was -- I think it was so much fun and so interesting to work on because so few people knew about it.
WILLIAMS: So from Donald to Teddy to Dan, the third there, Dan, has agreed to stay with us.
Coming up, we`re going to talk about Dan`s other line of work. It just happens to be a part of something of an addiction for viewers across the country that is when they are not watching us at 11:00 Eastern time on week nights.
WILLIAMS: We are back with Dan Abrams. You may have seen him working at his other job. He happens to be the host of the hit show "Live PD" on A&E. Here`s a sampling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIO)
UNDENTIFIED MALE: There it is. There it comes.
UNDENTIFIED MAL: They`re coming to you now. It`s that vehicle.
UNDENTIFIED MALE: They got him spiked.
UNDENTIFIED MALE: Go.
UNDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on the way up.
UNDENTIFIED MALE: Get in, get in, get in.
UNDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we got him. We just got to watch. Once they do come to a stop, we`ll going to see the bail out. The vehicle may be abandoned. We got four, four, it looks like four males running north.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And that`s just a small sampling of this broadcast. What has made this take off the way it has taken off?
ABRAMS: You know, I think it is that we are showing the beginning, middle, and end of policing. Up to this point, you and I were talking about this. We in the news business tend to show and talk about officer-involved shootings.
ABRAMS: And yet the vast majority of police officers around this country have never fired their weapon in the line of duty. There`s all of the rest of the police work that happens every day. Some of it tedious. Some of it rewarding. Some of it horrible. But what we show on this program is what it is like to be a police officer. So, sometimes it won`t be as high- octane as what you just saw there. As you know, it will be pulling over a car. Saying, oh, the license doesn`t match.
ABRAMS: Pulling it over, looking it up, the officer doesn`t know who is in the car, doesn`t know what`s going to happen. But you know what, hey, it matches.
WILLIAMS: The cars they know to pull over, astound me. There`s always something or something missing that they spot.
ABRAMS: It is amazing what I`ve learned from the show is how many people drive without a license. How many people have drugs in their car.
WILLIAMS: Meth in the console.
ABRAMS: And how many people have outstanding warrants.
WILLIAMS: Yes, the warrant just crazy.
ABRAMS: Right. The number of people who -- and look, this is what police officers are dealing with and addressing mostly on a daily basis. Look, we see a lot of DUIs, et cetera.
ABRAMS: But then again, there will also be incredibly high-octane moments when we weren`t expecting it, and suddenly, looks like they`re trying to pull over -- whoa. Hang on. Hang on. Looks at what`s happening there. That`s the same way the police see it.
WILLIAMS: With an obvious plug to mostly young people who sit shotgun in the police cars and jump out and follow the actions themselves, while wearing ballistic armor, walk us from west-to-east, if you`ve watched the show, you can hear Dan say we`re tracking our eight departments. So, starting in California, going to New England. What are the average -- this is tough, I know.
ABRAMS: I was like this is like a quiz. Nye County --
ABRAMS: We`re not currently -- so basically, we are always in eight departments.
WILLIAMS: OK. I didn`t know that was a minimum.
ABRAMS: So it used to be six. We`re now in eight.
ABRAMS: And we happen to be, right now, in a department in Salinas, California, starting on the west coast. We are occasionally and often in Nye County, Nevada. We are in Oklahoma, with the highway patrol there. We are often in Florida, with one of the counties that are there. We are currently in Indiana, with a police department there.
So, we try to mix it up, in terms of sheriff`s departments, local police, highway patrol, because they do different kinds of policing. And I think that the show -- it`s different than the show "Cops," which is a highlight reel. Which is here`s a bunch of crazy stuff happening today. This is showing it as the officer see it in these different departments. And so, troopers who are in the highway patrol are going to be dealing with different issues than sheriff`s departments.
ABRAMS: And different than in Warwick, Rhode Island, where they`re going to be dealing with their own set of issues. And one of the really interesting issues is see the community police is how these officers get to know their communities. They`ll know some of the people that they`re pulling over. Oh yes, I know this guy.
WILLIAMS: I hear that a lot. Thank you very much.
ABRAMS: Thank you for having me. Sir, always good to see you.
WILLIAMS: Limited good luck, especially on the Saturday version.
ABRAMS: Right. Right.
WILLIAMS: Dan Abrams, again, his brand new book is "Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy".
"Live PD" is on Friday and Saturday nights on A&E except when they go on (inaudible). They take an hour long break from 11 to 12 Friday nights which is so helpful so you can hear us talk.
Coming up, what Nancy Pelosi said today that reminded us of another time our nation seemed to be at the cross roads when the 11th Hour continues.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, Nancy Pelosi mentioned this earlier today. Members of Congress and talking heads have danced around this topic for days. But this is what they`re all talking about. The following lays out the peril of ignoring subpoenas from a committee of the Congress.
This is Article 3 of the impeachment case against Richard Nixon. And it reads, in his conduct of the Office of President of the united states, Richard M. Nixon, contrary to his oath faithfully to execute the Office of President of the United States and to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty, to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by dually authorized subpoenas issued by a committee on the Judiciary of the Committee of House of Representatives.
The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the president.
In refusing to produce these papers and things, Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives. Thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the constitution in the House of Representatives.
In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president as subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice to the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
Wherefore, Richard M. Nixon by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office.
So there you have with minor edits for dates and redundancy. Those are central holdings of Article 3 of the impeachment case against Richard Nixon, who was convicted -- convinced rather to resign during a very different time by three senior members of his own party, from the House and Senate, who told the president, he simply did not have the support in the party to continue.
The quote from Carl Bernstein endures. It`s something for everybody to think about. Republicans were the heroes of Watergate.
That is our broadcast for this Thursday night. Thank you so much for being here with us. Good night, from our 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