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Rep. Nadler negotiating for Mueller testimony. TRANSCRIPT: 5/24/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Ken Thomas, Rick Wilson

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR:  That`s right.  Ana Marie Cox, good to see you again.  Thank you for joining us tonight.

And that`s tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Tonight, Trump says it`s about transparency.  But this new power he`s given to his new friend the attorney general to declassify documents about the start of the Russia investigation, it has sparked legitimate worry about our national intelligence, not to mention the President has already prejudged the outcome.

Plus dissecting the fight between the President and the speaker, now that Donald Trump has set out a doctored video of Nancy Pelosi before departing for Japan.  And with our usual warning that it`s early yet, new numbers show where Democrats stand in the race for 2020 as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this preholiday weekend Friday night.

And good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 855 of the Trump administration, the end of a week that saw a very public fight between the President and the Speaker of the House.  And of much greater importance just in these past 24 hours we saw the President hand his attorney general unilateral authority to declassify any intelligence he deems necessary and related to the origins of the Mueller investigation.

Tonight, the President is on his way to Japan for a state visit.  The traveling White House made a refueling stop at Elmendorf in Alaska tonight on route.  Before leaving the White House, Trump defended expanding the attorney general`s power.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, why should people trust the Attorney General to select what`s declassified.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The Attorney General is one of the most respected people in this country and he has been for a long period of time.  He is going to look at a lot of documents.  Some he might find interesting, maybe he finds none interesting.  But for over a year people have asked me to declassify.  So what I`ve done is declassified everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you feel protected by William Barr?  You always said you admired how Eric Holder.

TRUMP:  No I don`t want him to be for me or for anybody else.  I just want him to be fair and that`s what he is.  This is all about what happened and when did it happen because this was an attempted takedown of the president of the United States.


WILLIAMS:  Barr has opened what he has described as a review of the Mueller inquiry with a focus on surveillance activities.  You may recall Barr drew a lot of attention when he agreed to use the President`s preferred and much more nefarious term for surveillance.  He deemed it was OK to call it spying when he appeared before a Senate hearing last month.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, (D) NEW HAMPSHIRE:  You`re not suggesting, though, that spying occurred.

BARR:  I don`t -- well, I guess you could -- I think spying did occur.


WILLIAMS:  In addition to giving the Attorney General sweeping declassification power, Trump also directed the nation`s intelligence agencies to assist the Attorney General in his investigation.  Today the director of National Intelligence Dan Coates released a statement that seemed to be of an effort to calm fears that this directive would make the intelligence community political.

This read in part and we quote, "The Intelligence Community, IC, will provide the Department of Justice all the appropriate information for its review of intelligence activities related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  I am confident that the Attorney General will work with the IC in accordance with the long-established standards to protect highly-sensitive classified information that, if publicly released, would put our national security at risk."  More on that in just a few minutes.

Trump`s actions this week come amid his demands that House Democrats end their investigation while at the same time he is attempting to block requests for related documents and witnesses to appear.  For a while now the face of the Democrats` effort in the House has been Congressman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat who represents part of Manhattan in Congress.  He is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Well today at an event with the mayor of New York, the 71-year-old Nadler had a health scare.  As cameras looked on with everybody else he became briefly unresponsive.  He was immediately attended to.  He was taken to the hospital by ambulance.  He insisted later on social media that he is feeling much better.  Jerry Nadler has been trying to get special counsel Mueller to testify before Congress.  Last night on in network he revealed that Mueller has been pushing to do so in private.  Today the President who had said he would leave the decision on whether Mueller could testify up to his friend the Attorney General offered doubts about the Democrat`s motives.


TRUMP:  If they want to do a redo like even the fact that they`re asking Bob Mueller to come and testify.  He just gave them a 434-page report, which says no collusion, which leads to absolutely no obstruction.  He just gave that report.  Why does he have to testify?  It`s ridiculous.


WILLIAMS:  Newly retired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who famously oversaw the Mueller investigation also weighed in on the matter today and seemed to agree with President Trump.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL:  The idea that they want to go harass everybody involved in the investigation I think is inappropriate.  And so I don`t think that that`s -- I mean it won`t be fruitful.


WILLIAMS:  As we mentioned earlier, Trump has been a -- had been in a running battle with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Last night the President circulated a doctored video of Pelosi.  Today he continued his attack.


TRUMP:  Did you hear what she said about me long before I went after her?  Did you hear?  She made horrible statements.  She knows they`re not true.  She made -- she said terrible things.  So I just responded in kind.  Look.  You think Nancy is the same as she was.  She is not.  I think Nancy Pelosi is not helping this country.  I think the Democrats are obstructionist.  They are hurting our country very, very badly.


WILLIAMS:  On that note here for our lead off discussion on a Friday night Julia Ainsley, NBC News national security and justice reporter, Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney, former senior FBI official who served as counselor to Robert Mueller, he`s now the host of a new MSNBC podcast called "The Oath."  This week`s edition, we want to let you know, features a discussion with DOJ veteran James Baker.  And Frank Figliuzzi back with us, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence who also worked with Robert Mueller.

Good evening and welcome to you all.  Julia, I`d like to begin with you.  We`re 24 hours now into knowing about the President`s action where the Attorney General is concerned.  Now on a Friday night, the question to you is what is the take away for our viewers on the weight of the President`s action here?

JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER:  The take away -- and I think we can read into the President`s comments today to pretty clearly decipher in, is that the President wants to use his power, which he does have of declassification in a very specific way as a tool in order to get out the information he wants.  So he wants to be able to allow his attorney general, William Barr, to declassify information as part of his investigation into the origins of the Mueller probe.

At the heart of this, Brian, if we can just zoom out is the FISA warrants that were signed off on in order to open surveillance on Carter Page who worked for the Trump campaign.  Those warrants had to be signed off on by a judge multiple times and renewed.  And in order to get a judge to approve that the Justice Department had to come forward with evidence to show that there was a reason and probable cause to open those warrants.  That is at the heart of this.

There are two other investigations looking into these origins.  And now the President has an investigation that he feels that he can more wholly control with his attorney general looking over it, and that is why in declassification is worrisome on two levels.  One, of course -- and I`ll let our other guests get into this more -- what this means to future cooperation from informants, how this could endanger them.  And then also what it means in terms of how he could selectively decide what comes out and he could politicize the narrative while he pulse back on information by asserting executive privilege that we may not get in terms of what Mueller actually uncovered.  And so he`s able to further distort this narrative.

That is what I think is our biggest danger.  And I think 24 hours in that`s what I`m on alert for.

WILLIAMS:  OK, Frank Figliuzzi, I`d like to play for you what former CIA Director Brennan said on this network some three hours ago.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  But I do hope that Dan Coates and Gina Haspel stand up to this effort by Mr. Trump which really does seem to go into the sensitive files, the very sensitive, whether technical, or human source files, and to pull out of that information that they may see fit as to defend Mr. Trump.  So I again I implore Dan Coates, Gina Haspel and others to stand up to this I think unprecedented act on the part of Mr. Trump who doesn`t understand nor care about the national security concerns of the intelligence community.


WILLIAMS:  Frank, simple question, do you concur with that?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:   I do.  I think the heads of our intelligence services, NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA and the others are about to be tested more than perhaps they ever have in their professional careers.  They are going to have to make a decision about how their intelligence is used exploited, twisted interpreted for political purposes.  Intelligence is either done professionally and used professionally or used politically.  But it really can`t be both.

And I fear here in this kind of declassification trap that we`re all being asked to fall into that really this is a political exploitation of intelligence.  Understand, when the President says I quote I declassified everything well, of course, he hasn`t declassified everything.  And by the way, the Attorney General has all the clearances he needs to look at intelligence.

So what the President is saying I`m going to declassify what I think the public should see but I`m not going to declassify what I think the public would perceive me poorly by if they saw it.  So we`re about to see the Attorney General joined at the hip with the President trying to convince the public that the foundation and predication of the special counselor inquiry is somehow flawed, that`s where it`s going.

WILLIAMS:  Chuck, I`ve asked you this 500 times.  Let`s make it 501.  The charge is that people including but not limited to Carter Page were spied on by our country.  Carter Page an American working for a Russian concern living for a time in Russia.  How hard or easy is it to get a FISA warrant to surveil an American?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL:  Hard.  It`s a lengthy process.  It`s multilayered.  Many lawyers look it both at the FBI and Department of Justice.  By the way, Brian, as we`ve discussed, this is court authorized surveillance.  Words matter.  It`s not spying.

But may I add one thing to what Frank and Julia said, because I think Julia`s idea of zooming out a bit is important.  And here`s one other way to think about it.  We have 17 agencies within the U.S. intelligence community, some quite large.  Frank mentioned them, DIA, CIA, NSA, FBI, some quite small, all very good.  When we declassify something -- and, oh by the way, the FBI is the one most likely to declassify it because I want to use it publicly in a criminal case.  We run that declassification request through the entire intelligence community.  We have the DNI to oversee it so we`re only declassifying things that are properly declassified.  We never want to give authority unilaterally to an attorney general.  Even if it was a really good attorney general and right I fear we don`t have that.

And so the process matters.  Process sounds like a boring word but it really truly matters.  And we need to have agreement within our intelligence community before we declassify stuff.  There is a danger to subverting the process.

WILLIAMS:  Chuck, I`ve got two more elements for you.  First of all what Mr. Comey put out on Twitter today.  "Investigate whatever you wish about 2016 but don`t forget the people of the FBI must investigate and stop Russian efforts in the 2020 election.  What impact will loose talk about spying on disgraceful talk about treason have on FBI agents and analysts?"

And I also have this.  Our chief legal correspondent Pete Williams took on this word treason because our President is accusing Americans of it on an almost daily basis now.  We`ll listen to Pete, we`ll come back, Chuck and talk about it.


PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT:  First of all, it applies against the United States, not against someone running for president.  Donald Trump when he was running for president was just a candidate, he was a private citizen.  So nobody can commit treason against a private citizen.  It`s just impossible.

But secondly, it means more than just being disloyal.  It`s a totally different thing.  It means levying war with a designated enemy against the United States.  Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, for example, who were convicted and put to death for giving away atomic energy secrets, they couldn`t be charged with treason because at the time the Soviets were not designated an enemy of the United States.  So it really has to do with helping people in wartime try to attack the U.S.


WILLIAMS:  So, Chuck, this is hardly the first time we`ve heard series terms tossed around in the public space.  But this one, the way the President is using it is truly dangerous.

ROSENBERG:  Truly dangerous and completely wrong as Pete points out.  This is not treason.  It`s not a case of treason.  But I don`t think the President means it in a legal sense.  He means it in a rhetorical sense and that`s equally dangerous.  So he`s just wrong, he`s dangerously wrong.

By the way Jim Comey ask rhetorical question what affect will this have on the men and women of the FBI, when you use the terms that holy inapplicable.  It may actually have an unintended benefit to the FBI and to the people of America because I can tell you knowing and as Frank knows, the men and women of the FBI.

I imagine they`re bearing down really, really hard on their duties right now that they`re ignoring the non-sense from the President of the United States and they`re doubling and tripling their efforts to protect us.  They would be more likely to succeed if they were supported by the man in the White House.  But I can tell you they`re working awfully hard to make sure we`re OK.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, Frank, I got another one for you.  Related topic, related character, this is from the "Washington Post".  Rudolph Guliani had a lengthy meeting last week with a former Ukrainian diplomat as part of aggressive efforts aimed the gathering information to undermine Democrats in the United States.  Guliani has previously talked with law enforcement and government officials in Ukraine about the DNC claims about -- and about Hunter Biden who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas producer while his father was vice president.

Frank, is the thinking here that if they do this in plain sight it will make it somehow more right or it will help normalize the notion of the Russians hacking into our election?

FIGLIUZZI:  Boy, we are headed into an entirely dangerous zone in terms of what future campaigns are going to look like if this is where we`re going.  And if -- you know, remember these are the same folks who screamed bloody murder when they discovered that in some part the opposition research, the dossier, the famous Christopher Steele dossier might have been used in part for predication for an investigation.  Now they`re doing the same thing reaching out for dirt.  Opposition research.

And here is the big problem for me.  Rudy Giliani is the President`s personal attorney.  He is sitting down with foreign countries representatives, former diplomats, current diplomats with a country we need to get along with.  An important country Ukraine and in the process of doing that he`s kind of a bull in a geopolitical China shop.  He`s going to break some things.  He may even brake relationships with foreign governments all in attempt to get some dirt and help his private client out.

WILLIAMS:  Julia Ainsley we started with you tonight and you`re going to get the last word.  Last night with Rachel Maddow, Chairman Nadler almost casually mentioned that they believe Mueller will give an opening statement and then go behind closed doors.  We later can get the transcript, read what he says, interpret what he says.  Can you shed any light on the thought process going into this and the state of the talks to not be satisfied with that that just that arrangement.

AINSLEY:  Yes Brian, I`ve heard two things about the negotiations that are going on with Mueller right now.  And that committee, that may shed some light on why Chairman Nadler said that last night.  It seems that Robert Mueller, unlike James Comey we know is someone who does not want to be a political pinball.  He does not want to be in a very public space where he might have to take what could be seen as politicized questions from Republicans and Democrats as they get their time on live television.

And so being in a closed door setting would give him that opportunity even if the transcript came out later, it wouldn`t be live televised like other hearings that we`ve seen.  And the other is executive privilege.  We know that Mueller is very concerned over what pieces of information the White House wants to assert executive privilege over.  And he doesn`t want to put himself in a position where he goes out and gives information on something that the White House can later say no you shouldn`t have said that and then he gets into a back and forth with their legal team again.

So I think he`s giving himself some cover here.  But I would stress that these are not final.  The idea of him going closed door is not final.  The idea of him testifying at all is not final.  These are all ongoing negotiations.  They are taking longer than we expected but I think it`s because of those two things, the incredibly hostile political nature that is surrounding this investigation.  And of course the White House and whether or not they want to assert executive privilege over how much of this information all of that remains to be seen, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you for that reporting Julia.  Our thanks if to our big three for bringing the A game on this Friday night before the Memorial Day holiday weekend.  Julia Ainsley, Chuck Rosenberg, Frank Figliuzzi, our thanks.

And coming up here, how the Presidents order to investigate the investigators could put our allies at risk.

And later a war of words of fake video, a call for prayers and intervention for a man who insist on his stability and genius.  A look back at a rougher than usual week in our nation`s capitol now in its final hour.  The 11th Hour just getting started on a Friday night.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you going to talk to Theresa May about the five eyes spying into your campaign.

TRUMP:  I may very well talk to her about that.  Yes, there`s word and rumor that the FBI and others were involved, CIA were involved with the UK having to do with the Russian hoax.  That I may very well talk to her about that, yes.


WILLIAMS:  So Trump`s decision to give the attorney general this brewed new authority to declassify government secrets is raising a number of alarms in the real world intelligence community about exposure of sources and methods while potentially putting the CIA on a collision course with our own Justice Department.  The directive may also impact how we work with our allies, the so-called collection of five eyes.

You just heard a moment ago refers to the agreement between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, U.K. and U.S.  The best of friends at least they were to share intelligence.  This is how one former FBI official described what information getting into the wrong hands could mean.


JAMES BAKER, FORMER FBI GENERAL COUNSEL:  It`s damage to prior sources.  It`s damage to current sources and its damage to potential future sources.  Because who wants to become a source of the United States if we can`t keep a secret.


WILLIAMS:  Counterintelligence of the FBI Frank Figliuzzi has remained with us for just this conversation.  Frank, simple question who`s going to want to share information with us after this?

FIGLIUZZI:  This is the greatest concern is that whether he -- he`s doing this deliberately or not, the President may be dismantling our allied relationship within the five eyes.  And I cannot emphasize enough, Brian how essential it is to have friends in the world.  Friends who have our back and we have their back and understand the relationship is that we don`t spy on each other in this pack of countries and we share virtually everything with each other.  And if we see a threat to one country, we share that information and work to counter that threat for our friends.

If indeed the President wants to expose the fact that the UK helped the U.S intelligence community spot and work a threat, perhaps Russia in our campaign for President, if he wants to attack the fact that an Australian diplomat reported to us that George Papadopoulos told him that the Russians were supporting the Trump campaign, then he -- he could go about dismantling this very crucial intelligence relationship.  And that erodes our national security.

WILLIAMS:  Frank, I heard it asked to why aren`t this intel chief justice resigning in protest, the heads of CIA., FBI the DNI.  I also heard that theorize that they would worry about who`s going to replace them.  And at least by staying on the job they can get through this.  What do you think morale is like on the inside?  And won`t there be a natural kind of attempt to withhold the best stuff because of institutionalist worried about the institutions?

FIGLIUZZI:  Yes.  I think what we`re headed to here is a situation both external to the intelligence community and internal.  By that I mean I think our friends are going to be very reluctant to share everything with us, because they can`t be assured that the President won`t somehow declassify it or release it if it`s to his political benefit.  And then internally, I can`t imagine now the plight of the CIA officer or the FBI counterintelligence agent -- counterterrorism agent who has to convince a source, a human source.

I`ve got your back.  Your identity is never going to be disclosed.  You need to come onboard with team America.  And having that person look across the table and say your President is declassifying everything.  Everything is getting exposed, you can`t guarantee anything.  That could lead to people just resigning and leaving their posts and that`s troubling.

WILLIAMS:  Frank Figliuzzi, I hate to go out on that note but we must.  Thank you very much for sticking around for this part of the vital conversation.

Coming up for us, 23 people have thus far lined on the other side to take him on.  But Donald Trump seems to be concerned with one man in particular in the Democratic column.  Two veteran political journalists break it down for us when THE 11TH HOUR comes right back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  How about sleepy Joe Biden?  Sleepy Joe.  I don`t know what the hell happened to Biden.  What happened to him?

Joe.  Sleepy Joe Biden.  Don`t forget, Biden deserted you.  He`s not from Pennsylvania.  I guess he was born here but he left you, folks.  He left you for another state.


WILLIAMS:  Trump hasn`t let up on Biden since the former vice president joined the race.  As the Washington Post reports it today, "By the time the President Trump road tested his fourth nickname for Joe Biden, it was clear that he and his allies are treating the former VP as their chief Democratic rival.  With Trump turning his considerable talent for political destruction on both Biden and his family."

Latest numbers out of the Monmouth poll showing Biden extending his lead over the crowded Democratic field.  That same poll shows support for Bernie Sanders slipping while Senators Warren and Harris are gaining ground.

For more tonight, two veterans of this trade, Jonathan Allen, NBC News National Political Reporter, and Ken Thomas, Political Reporter for the "Wall Street Journal."

Jon, what is it about Biden and that I mean what is about his poll numbers and what is it about Trump`s fixation on him.

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  It`s a great question Brian.  Most of the sources I talked to both on the Republican side and the Democratic side said they think that Donald Trump is worried about Joe Biden.  They look at those Midwestern industrial states that flipped from the Democratic column to the Republican column last time and they see Joe Biden as a natural fit perhaps to take on Trump there.  And they think the president is obsessed with him because of that.

There is a smaller group in both parties that say the president actually wants Joe Biden, that he thinks that Joe Biden be beatable, sees a lot of vulnerabilities.  I think what you`re seeing right now is the president just road testing somebody who`s leading in the Democratic polls.  He`s using these nicknames.  You`re going to see mud flying at Joe Biden.  You`re going to see the kitchen sink fly at him, you`re going to see napalm fly at him.  You`re going to see a lot of these nicknames.

The president is going to get some feedback, you`re going to see some poll numbers see what works and he`ll keep doing it.  So, it will be Sleepy Joe.  One day it will be Uncle Joe.  Another day it will be Joe Mama another day and the president will see what works with his own base and what might hurt Biden a little bit.

But I think for the moment without the Democrat knocking him on the same things, it`s not going to have the same kind of effect that you saw in 2016 when Bernie Sanders was hitting Hillary Clinton on the same things Donald Trump was during the Democratic Primary.

WILLIAMS:  Ken, I guess we`ll also if even Trump`s base won`t tire of these nicknames after a while and demand some governance.  The question to you is, what does this all reveal about either man, Trump or Biden?

KEN THOMAS, WALL STREET JOURNAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Well, they seem to be on a collision course at this point.  And to be clear, the Biden team welcomes it at this stage.  This is something that helps them get closer to the Democratic base.  Every time Trump attacks Biden, you know, he elevates Biden in this field of, you know, 23 Democrats.  So this is something that`s helpful.

The question, though, is if Democrats begin picking up these arguments that the president is likely to take on, things like Biden`s, you know, lengthy voting record in the Senate, some of the roles he played, you know, as Obama`s vice president.  If these are arguments that then will be reinforced by Trump if Biden is the nominee that could create some damage later on.

WILLIAMS:  Ken, you`ve been out on the trail.  Let`s talk about a story because of what we`re talking about right here and now, that isn`t getting a whole lot of ink or air time and that is the kind of slow and steady rise and the fortitude behind the numbers of the major women in this race on the Democratic side.

THIMAS:  Yes, this most recent poll from Monmouth shows Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar rising steadily, slowly making gains.  And, you know, it speaks to the sort of openness -- so wide open field that we have.  Biden has established himself as the front runner in the first -- in the first month of his candidacy and built a lead against Bernie Sanders.

But there is still a lot of unrest, a lot of interest among Democratic activists in finding a fresh face, finding someone new.  And a lot of the Senate women represent that.  Elizabeth Warren has been leading in the ideas primary I think.  And Harris has been very effective in her appearances in the Senate and grilling people in the judiciary committee. Klobuchar is someone who will appeal well to Iowans.  So there is certainly an open lane for an alternative to Biden.

WILLIAMS:  Jon, not to be a cynic here, but is it possible last time around, Bernie Sanders was seen as a better alternative to Hillary Clinton than he seen as a stand alone candidate this time around?

ALLEN:  I think that`s certainly possible, Brian.  There obviously was a piece of the Democratic Party that was anti-Clinton.  And Bernie Sanders was able to pick up on that and use that to gain traction and to get interest in his candidacy in the first place.

But I also think that our times have changed a little bit.  I think the Republicans have done a very good job over the course of the last couple of months turning socialism into a four letter word.  I think that`s harmful to Bernie Sanders.  I think it`s made Democrats take a hard look at what they want to put up in to 2020.  And while there is a segment to the Democratic Party that`s not afraid to that word.  There is a segment to the Democratic Party that even embraces.  There are a lot of other Democrats who think that it`s a bad idea to put forward somebody who is potentially going to -- it`s going to -- not only embrace the ideas but have a hard time getting outside of them in taking on President Trump.

And if I could just add one thing about the rise of some of the women candidates you talked about.  You know, one thing they`ve been doing is really hustling on the campaign trail as compared to Vice President Biden who has just recently gotten in.  You know, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar have been doing the hard work of campaigning in the early states.  And Elizabeth Warren as Ken said has put together these policy ideas.  She`s got a plan for everything.  And owns that lane.

No other candidate can say they`ve done more on that.  Kamala Harris has been working, you know, various communities across the country, not just in the early states but in the -- in the Midwest as well and working across racial and ethnic lines.  And so what you`re seeing now is some of that paying off.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, I think that`s exactly right.  Gentleman thank you for coming on this Friday night before the holiday weekend.  Jon Allen and Ken Thomas, we really appreciate it.

And coming up for us, yet another eventful week.  Our next guest says the president is painting himself into a corner that he cannot tweet his way out of.  Rick Wilson, waiting in the wings.



REP. NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:  This time another temper tantrum again I pray for the President of the United States.  I wish that his family or administration or staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.  Maybe he wants to take a leave of absence.  I don`t know.

TRUMP:  I was extremely calm very much like I am right now.  And it was sad when I watched Nancy all moving -- the movement and the hands and the craziness.  And I watched her.  That`s by the way a person that`s got some problems.  I`m an extremely stable genius.


WILLIAMS:  The movement and the hands.  This week sniping between the two of them, Trump and Pelosi proved to be too much even or the host of the five on Fox News the president`s cable network of choice.


GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS HOST:  Think about how lucky all of us are to be alive at this moment.  Things are so good that two of the most powerful American politicians are in a roast.  A public roast.

LISA KENNEDY, FOX NEWS HOST:  Washington is by and large a pretty deplorable place for this very reason and I think a lot of people watched this and they think they`re both nuts.

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST:  It`s like two people over 70 accusing each other of being mentally deficient.


WILLIAMS:  Back tonight, our returning champion, Rick Wilson, veterans Republican strategist who`s views about our 45th president are best summed up by the title of his book, "Everything Trump Touches Dies" which is now out with new material and paperback including an updated death toll.

Rick, take on just two aspects of what we saw yesterday.


WILLIAMS:  Number one, the ritual of watching our President call his senior aides forward.  Including Larry Kudlow who had to limp forward on a cane to praise him and speak to his calmness.  And number two, the president caps the day by redistributing on Twitter a doctored video of the speaker of the House.

WILSON:  You know, the lineup of his aides and staff to sing praises reminded me of those guys that would stand up when Saddam Hussein was still in power in the Iraqi parliament and shout out that they were the most loyal, no I`m the most loyal.  The kind of the display you see in some sort of third world autocracy.

And it`s unsurprising though because it`s obvious that Trump went in the room and lost his damn mind, and basically ran out after having an stompy foot hissy fit and embarrassed himself in such a way that it acknowledge for Trump deep is hardly knew that Nancy Pelosi had owned him and owned him hard.

And this distribution of the modified video, on the one hand it`s a pathetic example of how silly and small this White House is.  On the other hand I think it`s a preview of something very disturbing and very troubling.  And that is that they want to diminish the value of truth in our political space.  They want to break down the value of fact and truth as much as they can and Trump knows with 60 million people out there a certain percentage of the folks that follow him on Twitter would believe him if he said that Nancy Pelosi was an alien lizard creature.

And so they will follow his lead on those things and he know that very well.  And it shows he has no compunction about lying and using, you know, propaganda techniques that are far outside the main stream of American political discourse.

WILLIAMS:  Let`s talk about the arc of Jerry Nadler in this studio last night with Rachel almost casually mentioned that he expects Mueller --

WILSON:  Sure.

WILLIAMS:  -- to deliver an opening statement on camera and then go behind closed doors, give testimony.

WILSON:  Right.

WILLIAMS:  -- to House Judiciary, a transcript of which we will be able to read.  Hours after that, Jerry Nadler shows up with Mayor de Blasio at an event in New York City and becomes visibly and obviously unresponsive.  For quite some time.  Medical attention is rushed in.  He is rushed to the hospital.

WILISON:  Right.

WILLIAMS:  He insists he is fine.  71-year-old chairman of House Judiciary and now I`m going to show you the reaction of the woman who is the borough preponderate in Nadler`s Manhattan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The whole entire country is on the shoulders of Congressman Nadler.  That`s what was going on my mind literally.


WILLIAMS:  So that may be a bit of an overstatement of the power of the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  Rick, but, look at the characters we are left with now, the Democrats have had a little bit of an advantage vacuum here.  They`ve been reduced to writing angry letters and empty chairs in lieu of people testifying.

WILSON:  They have and it`s time for them to step up and start exercising this congressional prerogatives that they have.  And time it`s the time for them to start finding some of these people and hold them in contempt and start taking some scalps.  You need to start making sure that there is a pain level that is attendant with this whole thing of thinking that a congressional subpoena is optional if the president`s mood is a certain way about it.  It`s not optional.  This is a co-equal branch of government.  They need to act that way.

And I think when Chairman Nadler`s case.  You know, look everybody in politics hit the moment where they skipped a couple of meals have been running hard all day and just get their blood sugar crashes out.  I hope that`s what happened today.  I`m hearing tonight he is OK from a couple of different folks.  And I hope he is.

Because it is important that this Committee continue to have somebody on it who is going to put the country first before partisan interests because the Republicans on the committee right now are members of the Donald Trump cheer section and not actual members of a second branch of government.  They`re like employees at a Trump golf course.

WILLIAMS:  Let`s talk about M. Barr, the attorney general.  Those of us -- how do I put this gently with graying or no hair who are old enough to remember incarnation number one of Bill Barr during the Reagan and then Bush 41 administration remember him as kind of Republican, a Bush era Republican.


WILLIAMS:  But now he has proven to be so pliant to this president that he`s been ritually rewarded with the new powers concerning our nation`s intelligence.  What do you make of it?

WILSON:  Well, there is a ripple going through the intelligence community today.  And it`s not a ripple of fear they`re going to be caught in some conspiracy against Donald Trump.  It`s a ripple that Bill Barr will demand information from them, politicize it, expose it, put it out there for Donald Trump`s political benefit, because everything Bill Barr has done so far as attorney general has not been in service to the nation or justice.  It has been in service to Donald Trump`s political standing and security.

So there is a great fear out there that he is going to start demanding human sources.  He is going to start demanding intelligence materials that were used in the -- in the legitimate FISA warrants in this thing and demanding the information from our allies to use for a political purpose for Donald Trump`s benefit.

And I think that this is something that is -- that has shocked the conscience of a lot of folks in the intelligence community.  And I`m hearing it`s actually got some trouble, there`s some pushback coming from his own DNI tonight that this is a bridge too far in terms of giving a political hack like Bill Barr the keys to the intelligence kingdom in order to serve Donald Trump`s re-election campaign.

WILLIAMS:  Rick Wilson, POLITICO author, one of the kings of Twitter, easily the prime minister of periscope, thank you for making time on this Friday night.

WILSON:  Thank you, Brian.  Have a great day

WILLIAMS:  You may return to your viewers and offer the after action report on said periscope.

WILSON:  Thank you, sir.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us, Theresa May has given two week`s notice.  And no one here or there knows who will be the next person to lead our closest ally.  We`re back with that after this.



JULIE ETCHINGHAM, ITV NEWS:  Good evening.  Theresa May is not the first politician for whom is saying every political career ends in failure seems relevant, has though ended this morning in tears.  She stepped into Downing Streets spring sunshine to announce she`ll step down as conservative leader on June the 7th, a four night today.


WILLIAMS:  Julie Etchingham anchoring the news as viewers in the U.K. saw it tonight.  History being made to be sure it`s just that nobody knows what`s next.  Theresa May is now the second prime minister to leave office in the wake of brexit.  In announcing her departure today in front of Number 10, she noted her own place in history and a line that began with Margaret Thatcher.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honor of my life to hold -- the second female Prime Minister but certainly not the last.

I do so with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have the opportunity to serve the country I love.


WILLIAMS:  And that`s how it ended with the door Number 10 closing.  As of tonight no one certainly no American but no one in the U.K. more importantly knows what will happen next.  Britain is now supposed to leave the EU on October 31st.  There may be a new prime minister.  There maybe another referendum election to see if Brits still think breaking away is a good idea.

It appears that among Theresa May last official act as head of the British government will be welcoming Donald Trump as an official visit to the U.K. days before she steps down.

Another break for us.  And coming up, why these next three days are so much more than the unofficial beginning of summer here in the U.S.  That when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  The last thing before go tonight is about the old guard, the U.S. Army unit that really predates our nation.  The unit that watches over the tune of tombs of the unknown in Washington.  For days now they have been setting out flags at Arlington National Cemetery.  One for each of the 400,000 souls, close to half a million veterans who went to their final rest there, almost a third of all the deceased war veteran in our country.

This is of course not like any other holiday weekend.  Memorial Day means something.  It`s about all those who believe they were fighting and serving for a cause greater than themselves.

And while that cause our country is being tested, make no mistake.  The cost endures and as we honor their service and their memory this Memorial Day 2019.

And so that is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week.  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