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75 years after D-Day. TRANSCRIPT: 6/5/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Tal Kopan

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  And chairman at least used to try to control what their member said publicly.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D), COLORADO:  You know, I`ve only been in Congress for a few months, so, you, of course, have a far better understanding of it given your experience in the Senate for many years.  But, you know, my sense of it is, you know, we govern by consensus in the caucus.

You know, each of us are elected to represent our constituents to the best of our ability and ultimately to honor the oath that we take to defend the constitution.  So, you know, members are going to make the decisions that, you know, is ultimately on their own timetables and I think we ought to respect that.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Joe Neguse gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Congressman.

NEGUSE:  Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, after an overnight attack on Bette Midler and a discussion with Piers Morgan about the Royal family, Vietnam and Hitler, Donald Trump leaves London behind, headed for Normandy while still the waging war with Mexico.

Meanwhile, back at home, Nancy Pelosi response to more questions about impeachment proceedings.  Jerry Nadler tries to hint they still could come.

And among our guest tonight, a man who was calling out the attorney general for a direct contradiction and not telling the truth.

Plus, new numbers this evening with polling just in from two important states for the Democrats if they believe they can win in 2020.  All of this as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Wednesday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 867 of this Trump administration, and just hours from now the President will represent all of us, the American people, at event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

And as they saw off and do, tonight, "The New York Times" sums up the President.  We have watched during his first three days of this overseas trip.  He quoted Roosevelt and generally greeted frail veterans on a D-Day commemoration hours after proclaiming Bette Midler a psycho and Charles Schumer a creep.  "He exalted soldiers` bravery while dismissing his avoidance of service in Vietnam, calling it a country "nobody heard of."  He toasted Britain`s queen at a Buckingham Palace banquet, after calling London`s mayor a loser."

Before leaving the U.K. for his golf resort in Ireland, the President sat down for a wide ranging interview, it turns out with his friend and former celebrity Apprentice contestant, Piers Morgan, who this days is the host of "Good Morning Britain."  And among the many topics the two of them covered was Trump`s many deferments during the Vietnam War.


PIERS MORGAN, "GOOD MORNING BRITAIN" HOST:  You were not able to serve in Vietnam because of a bone spur condition in your feet.  Do you wish you could have served?  Did you wish to serve for your country?

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, I was never a fan of that war.  I`ll be honest with you, I thought it was a terrible war, I thought it was very far away.  Nobody ever, you know, you`re talking about Vietnam under that time.

This isn`t like I`m fighting against Nazi Germany, I`m fighting -- we were fighting against Hitler.

MORGAN:  Would you have wanted to serve, generally?

TRUMP:  I wouldn`t have minded that at all.  I would have been honored.  But I think I make up for it right now.  And look, $700 billion I gave last year, and then this year $716 billion.  And I think I`m making up for it rapidly because we`re rebuilding our military.


WILLIAMS:  The interview also covered Trump`s thoughts of a possible war with Iran, his view of Hitler and Winston Churchill, and what the President told the queen about her nation`s next prime minister.


TRUMP:  And I was saying to the queen last night, the choice of your next prime minister is a very important choice.  You really have to get it right.

MORGAN:  Would you see similarities in yourself to Winston Churchill?

TRUMP:  What I see of him is he was able to handle pressure very well.  And people forget that at that time Hitler was virtually unstoppable.  He was going through countries like cheese.

MORGAN:  What if war drums beating about Iran, do you think you will need to take military action?

TRUMP:  There`s always a chance.  Do I want to?  No, I`d rather not.  But there`s always a chance.

MORGAN:  After the interview we have a little gift for you.  Because we`re in the Churchill ward. This is where Britain`s greatest leader fought the war and he used to wear this famous hat.

TRUMP:  Yes.  It`s beautiful.

MORGAN:  And so we`ve had one made for you.

TRUMP:  I like it.

MORGAN:  This is a Churchill hat, exactly the style he used to wear.

TRUMP:  OK.  Let me try this on.

MORGAN:  Please try it on, that`d be great.

TRUMP:  It`s a little big.

MORGAN:  That`s -- we can get that.  That`s fantastic.


WILLIAMS:  While meeting this afternoon with Ireland`s prime minister, Trump turned his attention back to a growing political crisis at home, his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico unless Mexico stems the flow of migrants coming to the U.S. southern border illegally.


TRUMP:  I think Mexico has to step up, and if they don`t, tariffs will go on.

They`re swamping up, whether they`re coming up by the millions.  Mexico can stop if they have to stop it, otherwise we just won`t be able to do business.  It`s a very simple thing.  And I think they will stop it.

I think they want to do something.  I think they want to make a deal, and they sent their top people to try and do that.  We`ll see what happens today.  We should know something.


WILLIAMS:  Also tonight, after senior officials from the White House and the Mexican government both met for about an hour and a half, ending with no agreement, the President wrote, "talks with Mexico will resume tomorrow with the understanding that if no agreement is reached, tariffs at the five percent level will begin on Monday with monthly increases as per schedule.  The higher the tariffs go, the higher the number of companies that will move back to the USA."

Republican senators opposed to the tariffs warned the White House they are prepared to block Trump`s move.  Tonight NBC News reports Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has asked the administration to please delay the tariffs until Republican lawmakers can perhaps meet personally with Trump.

Meanwhile, over in the House, the talk of impeachment is not dying down.  There are now 60 members of Congress members of Congress in favor of opening an inquiry.

Today Speaker Pelosi warned that there is no guarantee that impeachment would automatically mean the end of this presidency.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA, HOUSE SPEAKER:  Do you know most people think that impeachment means you`re out of office?  They think that you can impeach, you`re gone.  And that is completely not true.  It`s an indictment.

So when you`re impeaching somebody, you want to make sure you have the strongest possible indictment.  Because it`s not the means to the end that people think.  All you do, vote to impeach, bye-bye birdie.


WILLIAMS:  Our last bit of news here is news on the House Democrats` efforts to get Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify in person.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler was sounding optimistic today.


REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK, CHMN. HOUSE JUDICIARY CMTE.:  Let`s just say that I`m confident he`ll come in soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will you need to subpoena him to make that happen?

NADLER:  We may.  We will if we have to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How much longer will you wait to subpoena?

NADLER:  I`m not going to comment, not too much.


WILLIAMS:  Here for our lead off discussion on Wednesday night, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times," Tal Kopan, Washington Correspondent for the "San Francisco Chronicle," Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for "The Washington Post," and here in our New York studio is Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff CIA and the Pentagon, former Chief Counsel for the House Intelligence Committee.

Jeremy, with you here in New York I`d like to begin with you.  What kind of message has our President sent the world the past few days?

JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF:  An erratic one.  An uncertain one.

Now on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the American President should symbolize confronting tyranny.  He should symbolize the union between the United States and our trans-Atlantic allies.  He should symbolize confronting aggression, confronting the anti-democratic forces which are very much alive and well in the form of Vladimir Putin in Russia and else where the world.

But instead, Brian, the President is sending erratic tweets criticizing the royal family, making comments about things that have nothing to do with his trip or the solemnity of this day.  And I think it really detracts.  It detracts from the observance of the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the heroism and bravery of the people who stormed those beaches to keep the free world free, and it also detracts ultimately from American security, because I think it sows doubt in everybody on the continent as to whether or not the America and the American President can be relied upon, trusted upon during very chaotic times.

WILLIAMS:  Peter Baker, in your reporting, do you think there has ever been any effort in House to get this president to be a more compose figure especially going in to a during your reporting, do you think there has ever been an effort in house to get this President to be a more composed figure, especially going in to a day like tomorrow?  People are already holding their breath as to which Donald Trump we`re going to get.

PETER BAKER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, I think -- look, they long a recognized of course President Trump is President Trump and they try to change him as sort of fool`s errand.  They can tell him all they like the way they think they ought to, he ought to comport himself, but it`s really going to depend on how he feels.

And he does show an interesting, you know, split-screen to show, you know, just quote the article that you put up from our paper tonight, the ability to be on good behavior when he`s standing next to the queen for the most part, when he`s, you know, clicking glasses with Prince Charles, when he`s reciting FDR`s famous words.  And then, you know, he has free time back in the hotel or something and he`s up until 1:45 in the morning or something, and then there`s suddenly this, you know, tweet storm about Bette Midler and other folks.

And it`s just -- it`s a very jarring contrast between, you know, the presidential and the non-presidential, and that`s been the characteristic trait of his presidency now for two and a half years.

WILLIAMS:  And Phil Rucker, we saw again in the Piers Morgan interview, he welcomes new topics as new conversational opportunities.

PHILIP RUCKER, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF:  And Brian, he welcomes these new topics as a way to keep it interesting and keep the news media focused on him.  You know, most presidents when they travel overseas have a very carefully scripted and choreographed message that they plan to deliver on behalf of the United States, and they organize their trip based around presenting that image.

With Trump it`s, you know, whatever comes at him he`s going to respond to, whether it`s that, you know, monologue about the Vietnam war which went into all sorts of areas, or his comments on climate change.  It was really striking, for example, that he said that he was so surprised that Prince Charles would be focused on climate change for future generation`s comments and not just focused on himself.  Well, of course most, you know, people who lead countries focus on the citizens of their countries and the future generations.

But, you know, look, President Trump is just taking what`s coming at him, and it started before he even left the United States with the comment about Meghan Markle being nasty.

WILLIAMS:  Hey Tal, take us to the Mexican border by way of what looked like the Roosevelt room.  Are these meetings perhaps for air cover to kind of pre-message a change in the coming days, especially if we are to believe there is genuine Republican, though again largely, silent resistance?

TAL KOPAN, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  This one is a really hard one to game out, Brian.  And it`s because, you know, this is one of those areas where Trump is just so unpredictable.

You know, I spoke with, in particular, California`s House Republicans.  There are now just seven of them but I chased down as many of them as I could, and all of them said they don`t want the tariffs to go on, but they said that Trump has the right to sort of threaten it, to bring Mexico to the table.

But keep in mind the important context here, Mexico has been steadily stepping up its efforts to work with the U.S. to interdict migrants in their country for years.  They have actually been deporting more migrants in the U.S. in some years, tens of thousands a year. They`re offering tens of thousands more now.

Asylum in Mexico or other kinds of visas to stay, they`re taking them away from the border.  They are doing a great deal.  What they don`t want to do is to have to completely militarize their own country and there are routes that are completely controlled by the cartels, that this has been a persistent problem for Mexico.

And so, you know, on the one hand, you could sort of see this as an effort to kind of bring them to the table and then they`ll all walk away with some sort of handshake agreement that doesn`t really feel like a change but everyone feels like they can sort of claim some victory.  But you could just, just easily see this as an instance where Trump is dead set.  And, you know, one of those California Republicans I talked to said that is the sense he is getting, that Trump really seems to want to put these tariffs into effect.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, Phil, back over to you.  In Lou of Donner and Dancer, I`m going to play for you some Nadler and Blitzer from this afternoon and pay special attention to how Nadler talks about and answers the question about impeachment.


NADLER:  -- right now they doesn`t appear to be to support for it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR:  Are you on the same page with the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, when it comes to impeachment?

NADLER:  As I said, we are launching an inquiry now, and whether we`ll launch an impeachment inquiry, it may come to that.


WILLIAMS:  So, Phil, this is important in light of reporting that`s emerging from inside the Democratic caucus.  This isn`t going to be easy for the speaker who has her membership, and as a subset of that, a powerful one, these committee chairs.

RUCKER:  That`s exactly right, Brian.  She is dealing with a very sort of difficult and ever-changing political situation within her own party.  And it`s troubling for President Trump because there appears to be growing momentum among Democrats to proceed with beginning impeachment proceedings, but there is not a majority within the Democratic caucus to pursue impeachment.

And you have in Pelosi someone who is determined to do this in a methodical and slow way to avoid her party of being accused of a political witch hunt, of being too partisan in pursuing the President`s impeachment.  And so she is determined to wait for some evidence to come in.  She wants to slow walk this, but she also is trying to show her members that she is at least somewhat in agreement with them.

Politico reported today that she actually said in a closed meeting with some of Democratic members of the House that she would like to see the President in prison.  And that was her way of sort of signaling to her own members that she`s in agreement, that she wants to see something happen here, that she wants to see justice for President Trump, even if she`s not yet ready to pull the trigger on impeachment proceedings.

WILLIAMS:  And tal, back to you.  She has set the bar high.  She has used words like overwhelming regarding public support and evidence to go forward on impeachment, and one presumes she`s done this and said this for a reason.

KOPAN:  Yes.  Isn`t it overwhelming one of those beautiful terms of art that doesn`t have a specific definition.


KOPAN:  I mean, look, Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House is concerned about one thing and one thing only, and that is Democrats keeping the House majority.  And that is always going to be on her mind.  And she is not afraid of taking the hard position as a way of bringing the heat off other members of her party.

So, I don`t see her as caving to pressure.  As long as she feels like her most vulnerable members don`t want to go anywhere near a conversation about impeachment she will keep them away from it.  That is what she sees her job as being.

And so, you know, there may come a time where she feels like, or the caucus feels like they are ready to go there, but 60 members -- and keep in mind it is also significant that she is not doing anything to restrain the members that are talking about impeachment.  Even chairs like Maxine Waters, who is in a very powerful position, they have free rein to say what they want.  Nancy Pelosi is giving them that leash.  But until she wants her vulnerable members talking about it, she will take the heat on keeping things moving slowly.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, great last point there.

Hey, Jeremy, as two lovers of history, if you gave us a laptop in about an hour, because you and I have watched some of the very best do it, we could probably write a pretty fair speech to give tomorrow at Normandy about the invasion and the sacrifice.  With that in mind, what should the American President say tomorrow?

BASH:  I think he should say, Brian, fundamentally that D-Day is a symbol.  It`s a symbol of the United States and Europe working together to keep Europe whole and free, to avoid the vulcanization, the atomization of Europe, the re-imposition of all the hypernationalism, the neonationalism that seems to be sweeping these populous movements.

He should say that America is going to support those, we`re going to push back against tyranny, against tyrants, against autocrats like Vladimir Putin.  But I don`t think our American President is going to say that, because as we`ve talked about so many times, Brian, in such a troubling manner, our President not only sought but he received and then welcomed the support from one of those autocrats, Putin, in the President`s own election.

WILLIAMS:  Peter Baker, talk about the bar, where it is set for tomorrow.

BAKER:  Well, it`s pretty high.  I mean, everybody -- not everybody, but everybody of a certain age, anyway, remembers Ronald Reagan giving the speech during his presidency at that same place.  The boys point to hawk.  Barack Obama, I was with him five years ago and he addressed that same location.

The meaning of the moment is so extraordinary, as Jeremy just talked about.  So, poignant with history, with solidarity, with blood and sacrifice that it would be a challenge to the best of orators.  And President Trump strength as a speaker is not poetry, it`s pugilism.  And so he`s going to have to reach to his, you know, his best ability, I think to try to match the moment.  It`s a hard thing to do.

But I think, you know, he has some speech writers who I`m sure are working on a speech.  But it may not be quite like Jeremy outlined but will hopefully hit some high notes.  And at least for the one moment, at least, recall the moments when we were together with our European allies at this very critical moment.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, Peter, I realized tonight the first one of these anniversaries I covered was the 50th.  Here we are on the 775th.  We have live pictures tonight of that beachfront which almost becomes almost a place of religious significance tomorrow.  And of course all those able- bodied veterans who are able to be there are there and in place.  We`re going to have a word about it at the end of the broadcast tonight as well.

So our thanks go to Peter Baker, to Tal Kopan, to Phil Rucker, to Jeremy Bash, greatly appreciate you starting off our conversation here tonight.

And coming up, a former high-ranking Department of Justice official says he`s no longer sure he can trust our current attorney general.  Tonight, here, we`ll talk about why that is.

And later, the new polling on which of the many Democrats running has a chance of meeting, one, Donald Trump.  THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on this Wednesday night.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA, CHMN. INTELLIGENCE CMTE.:  We find ourselves, I think, for the first time with an attorney general who really is the President`s defense lawyer and spokesperson.  And who is quite good at it.  And has the veneer of respectability to camouflage what he`s doing.  He is not the sophist that Giuliani is, he`s much more dangerous.  I think he`s the second most dangerous man in the country for that reason.


WILLIAMS:  Next week the House of Representatives is expected to vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress over access to the Mueller full report and his investigative material.

Barr has come under fire of his handling of the report`s release and his apparent reluctance to fulfill requests from lawmakers as well as his decision to essentially clear the President of obstruction.

Former acting solicitor general, Neal Katyal who wrote the current special counsel regulation is an author of a piece in "The Washington Post" called, "Barr`s zealous defense of Trump makes it impossible to trust his legal judgment.  In it he writes, "Barr has thrown himself in with Trump in ways unbecoming to the nation`s highest legal official.  His conduct in trying to clear Trump is of a piece with his baseless attacks on spying by the FBI and his defiance of Congress`s subpoenas.  Barr has shown himself to be an unreliable and unsteady voice careening from one position to the next, always in favor of protecting his boss."

We`re pleased to welcome Neal Katyal back on the broadcast.  And Neal, it was a conflict you noted in two statements that Barr has given separated by time that we`re going to play now for our audience.  We`ll discuss it on the other side.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  He could have reached a conclusion, the opinion says you cannot indict a president while he`s in office, but he could have reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity.  But he had his reasons for not doing it, which he explained.  And I`m not going to, you know, argue about those reasons.  But when he didn`t make a decision, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I felt it was necessary for us as the heads of the department to reach that decision.

  I think Jim Comey, as I`ve said, is an extremely gifted man who has served country with distinction in many roles, but I thought that to the extent he actually announced a decision was wrong.  And the other thing is, if you`re not going to indict someone, then you don`t stand up there and unload negative information about the person.  That`s not the way the Department of Justice does business.

WILLIAMS:  So, counselor, what do you see right there?

NEAL KATYAL, FMR. ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL:  Yes, so first, Brian, you know, I don`t take any joy in writing that piece.  I love the Justice Department.  I`ve really respected every attorney general regardless of party in the past.  But I do feel like President Trump`s anti- constitutional rot is infecting now the attorney general, the highest legal officer in the land.

And in particular, that clip you just showed, I think, demonstrates the problem.  You know, Barr said last week to CBS that Comey could have -- correction -- that Mueller could have reached a judgment, that he thought it was fine that the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that prohibits indicting a sitting president doesn`t mean that Mueller couldn`t have made a decision about obstruction of justice.  And when I watched that, and Brian, actually, you play a role in the sequence of events, actually, because when I watched that I was like, huh, I think I`ve discussed this with Brian, and I realized that you and I were watching the confirmation hearing of one William Barr together on your network a few months ago, and Barr said exactly the reverse, that actually Comey -- he went and criticized Comey for not -- when he didn`t indict Hillary Clinton for then attacking Hillary Clinton.  He said, that isn`t what the Justice Department does.  That`s not the way it does business.  You either indict or be quiet.

And now he`s saying something very different.  And it just, I think it furthers this underlying perception that we have an attorney general who is willing to do anything, say anything to protect his boss, and that is not the job of the nation`s chief law enforcement official.

WILLIAMS:  Neal, Washington is full of good people, many of them in the law who have been stunned at how pliant of a man Bill Barr has proven to be as attorney general.  These are people who lined up based on in his past and gave him the benefit of the doubt when he was named to this job.  Who or what are the guardrails that exist within or around DOJ?

KATYAL:  Well, I mean, there are a number of career civil servants who I think are aghast.  I mean, literally I hear from them every day.  And so I think they are really worried about what can happen.  But unfortunately, the Justice Department does put the attorney general in control of a lot of operations.

And so when the attorney general does something to protect the President and does so in ways that are really wanton and dangerous, then I think, unfortunately, the nation is stuck with it at least with respect to the Justice Department.  There may be a role for Congress. I think we`ll start to see that next week.

But internally, the Justice Department is set up so that the career officials can only give advice to the attorney general, but ultimately it`s the attorney general`s call.

WILLIAMS:  In your personal opinion, as our last question, all this energy being expended, all this hubbub over getting Mueller to personally testify in front of the House, do you think it might be a case of be careful what you wish for?

KATYAL:  No, I think it`s right that Mueller testify.  I can understand Mueller`s reluctants too.  He is, you know, doesn`t want to create a public spectacle, but I can also understand the House has reasons to get that.  I think Mueller all he has to do is present what was in the report, because unfortunately, Barr, in his four-page summary, really clouded the debate, cleared the President with really nothing to do, with really no support for that.

And there is a really important piece that by Ryan Goodman, an NYU law professor, which I put on my Twitter page, which goes through methodically everything Barr said and everything Mueller said and shows just how different they are.  And I think Mueller has really got to go before the House now and explain.

This is the most serious inquiry imaginable for our House of Representatives.  It is literally their job.  And right now, the only thing that`s clearing the President -- really, two things.  One is Trump`s word, and the second is Barr`s word.  And increasingly, those are looking like actually the same set of words.  And so, I think we do need Mueller to come forth.  I think all Americans need to read the report, and I do suspect that hearings are going to, you know, be launched, and ultimately, you can call it an impeachment inquiry, you could call it something else, but justice will ultimately be done, and the House of Representatives is the place that it starts.

WILLIAMS:  DOJ veteran, Neal Katyal, thank you for staying up with us.  Thanks for coming back on the broadcast, we certainly appreciate it.

And coming up for us tonight, Donald Trump says he hasn`t seen a Democratic hopeful yet that he thinks could beat him.  Voters on a few states are telling pollsters something different but it is awfully early yet.  We`ll talk about all of it when we come back.



PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST:  Do you see any Democrats that you`ve already --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t see anybody that I would -- this is not -- there is no Winston Churchill in the group, let me put it that way.

MORGAN:  You don`t see Joe Biden as the new Winston Churchill?

TRUMP:  No, I think that would be a big upset if he was.  I`ll tell you.  That would be a big surprise to a lot of people.  No, there is nobody that I see that should be able to win.


WILLIAMS:  As of today, by the way, we`re inside 18 months until the election.  There is a new poll from CNN that has Joe Biden maintaining his lead among Democrats.  Former vice president is at 32 percent followed by Bernie Sanders at 18, Kamala Harris at 8, Elizabeth Warren at 7, and so on.  On this network tonight at a town hall hosted by Chris Hayes, Senator Warren was asked about taking on Trump in a general election.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  What do you say to people that say, I like you on the substance but I`m worried about your electability as nominee for the Democratic Party?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  You now, I remember when people said Barack Obama couldn`t be elected.  I remember when people said Donald Trump couldn`t be elected.

HAYES:  That`s all true.

WARREN:  And here we are.  Elections are about getting in there and fighting for it and making clear to the American people what you stand for.  I got in this race because an America that keeps working better and better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top just isn`t going to work.


WILLIAMS:  Here with us to talk politics tonight, John Ralston, veteran journalist at the Veteran Independent, and our own national political correspondent, Steve Kornacki.  Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

Steve, I`m kind of fascinated.  CNN in their poll asked a straight-up question, and you know this is coming.  Do you think Trump will win in 2020?  Yes, 54.  No, 41.  Steve, that yes way exceeds what we are taught is his base.  So explain those numbers other than it`s early.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Yes.  Well, it`s early but I mean I look at that and I just see there is a hangover from 2016, I think there, if that`s the right term, probably for a lot of Democrats.  Probably for a lot of Democrats who looked at polls throughout the entire 2016 campaign and they saw that there was no nominee who had ever been as unpopular as Trump was.  There was no nominee who ever had numbers as low as Trump when it came to do you think this person is competent?  Do you think this person is qualified to be president?

Trump was off the charts low when it came to all those questions in 2016, and yet even Democrats who didn`t like him watched him win, anyway, and so I think they look now at a certain number of Democrats -- Republicans probably just want Trump to win -- but I think a certain number of Democrats look at -- and they say, well, his job approval may be low, he may be coming off rough midterm but we remember 2016.

WILLIAMS:  Hey Jon, I got states for you here.  I have holes (ph) from Michigan and Texas.  First up, Michigan shows Biden up 12, Sanders notably also up 12.  Buttigieg, the other headliner here, up six, Warren and Harris.

Let`s go to Texas and this gets you closer to the margin of error, with Biden up four and you see all the results in Ruby red Texas for the Democrats.  Jon, what do you make of it, or do you make nothing of it because it`s too damn early?

JOHN RALSTON, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT EDITOR:  Well, yes, I think, Brian, the most important number I`ve heard so far from you tonight is 18.  That is 18 months away from the election.  I don`t think you can discern a lot from this, and so at the risk of the great Steve Kornacki disagreeing with me which I never want to happen on national television, I will say that none of these numbers mean that much outside of obviously Biden has name recognition in all these states.  He does in Nevada, too.  He`s ahead in a couple of polls.  I`ve seen here, though, not as much as in some others.

Those Texas numbers are the most interesting ones to me, though, Brian.  If those are real, that is a warning beacon for team Trump, because if Texas is really like that right now, that could be a real problem for the president.

WILLIAMS:  Steve Kornacki, your name is invoked.  You get an automatic rebuttal.

KORNACKI:  Here`s one way I think these numbers do matter it connects to the first question you asked there that shows a majority of voters right now saying they think Trump is getting reelected, and that includes a substantial number of people relatively speaking who don`t like Trump and don`t want to see him get reelected.

And that tells me how important that issue of electability is going to be the Democratic primary voters and we can go on and on with this debate about how do you measure electability, how do you define it is an inexact thing.

But to the extent it matters particularly to Democratic voters heading into 2020, if this becomes a trend where you take a poll in a state like Texas and there`s Joe Biden leading, and there is every Democratic candidate trailing, when you look at that sort of culture on the Democratic side right now that`s valuing electability, if that`s something we keep seeing Biden underperforming in the Democratic field, I think these polls start mattering very much in the Democratic race.

WILLIAMS:  All right.  Both these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us.  And coming up, more on what`s motivating voters a full 18 months ahead of this presidential election.



WARREN:  Donald Trump as president delayed, deflected, moved, fired and did everything he could to obstruct justice.  If he were any other person in the United States, based on what`s documented in that report, he would be carried out in handcuffs.


WILLIAMS:  It was Senator Elizabeth Warren who was the first Democratic presidential candidate to call for Trump`s impeachment once that Mueller report was out.  And as we mentioned here last night, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Searchlight Nevada now supports an inquiry, telling Susan Page the great USA Today veteran writer, "It`s not the right thing to do nothing," Reid said in an interview Monday.  "It`s not the right thing to jump into impeachment without doing an inquiry. The most important goal, he said, would be to give the American people a view of what`s going on."

Back with us John Ralston and Steve Kornacki.  Jon, you`re out there, we`re not.  What would Nevadans like to see out of this Congress, perhaps if not impeachment, and is there anything easier candidly for Harry Reid to say from the cheap seats than maybe we should proceed with impeachment?

RALSTON:  You know, I think it`s interesting, Brian.  Let me answer the first question about what folks out here are thinking.  There are a lot of people out here on the left in the Democratic Party who really want to see impeachment.  You can see them very active on social media as you can almost anywhere talking about let`s not take it slow, you`re being too careful, Nancy Pelosi.

On Harry Reid, I think people need to know, Harry Reid is a huge admirer of Nancy Pelosi.  He said very nice things about her in his book.  I bet he talks to Pelosi more than he talks to his old friend Chuck Schumer, that`s how close they are.

So, I think he was on the Nancy Pelosi track for a while, but then he said this, and whether he said this to her privately before he said it publicly, I`m not sure, Brian, but he was sending a message.

Of course he`s in the cheap seats now, but Harry Reid most of all, and you know I followed him, Brian, for 35 years, is a politically ruthless strategist.  He understands the way the winds are going to blow.  He thinks that maybe it`s time for a little nudge to start moving this along.  And so I think he`s sending a signal to Nancy Pelosi and to other Democrats that maybe we need to start doing something because doing nothing is really going to erode maybe parts of our base.

WILLIAMS:  Steve Kornacki, that`s a great point about the KG veteran Democrat out there in Nevada.  How will you know when the Pelosi standard of overwhelming is reached?  Are you going to be looking at Gallup to see when it`s more above water than below?

KORNACKI:  Yes, I mean, it`s interesting right now because the Democratic base is there.  There is not unanimity in the Democratic side but they`re strong majority, very strong majority support for impeaching just among Democratic voters.  But then that`s the dilemma that Pelosi faces.  She looks at it, you know, Harry Reid was there in `98, Pelosi was there in `98 and that`s her reference I think for this.  The politics of the Clinton impeachment.

The Republican base wanted to impeach Bill Clinton.  The rest of the country wasn`t there.  They thought it was a step too far.  The Republicans calculated, hey, we got to keep our base happy.  There is a midterm election coming up in `98, so they went forward with it.  And then the rest of the country delivered the message in the midterm election in `98, and it cost Newt Gingrich the speaker of the House`s job.

So I think that`s point of presence for Pelosi, and I really just get the sense she needs to see those overall poll numbers change in a way that says, hey, it`s not just the Democrats were there, it`s the broader country.

WILLIAMS:  And because I like to quote Rick Wilson at least once a week, his argument is, if impeach Trump runs a martyr raises $100 million off of it and walks into reelection.  Look at the time. John Ralston, Steve Kornacki, gentlemen, thank you both for adding so much for our conversation on a Wednesday night.

Coming up for us, the Road to Miami goes through a state where their chief exports of the world including clam chowder and Tom Brady and where they take their politics very seriously. We`ll have that when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  There it is, three weeks from tonight, the first Democratic debates right here on this network. It`s a two-night event.  It kicks off Wednesday, June 26.  Again, there may be periodic reminders on this network that this event is coming.

Tonight we`re continuing our series of reports "The Road to Miami" as our own Steve Kornacki breaks down everything we need to know about the critical states all along the teaming and vital north south Carter of I-95.

Last we were in the night we were in the Granite State of New Hampshire.  Tonight we are crossing into the Bay state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Still with us a man who like my own father is a veteran, a native of Massachusetts, Steve Kornacki.  Steve?

Kornacki:  Brian, that`s right.  I`m back in my home state.  Very excited here.  There`s so much I can tell you about.  Massachusetts, about the bay state.  But let`s stick to the politics.  One thing on this Road to Miami heading south to Florida, there is probably not a bluer state that we will go through than Massachusetts.

In fact, there was a book that came out a few years ago that called Massachusetts the bluest state.  Here`s one way to put that into perspective.  What you`re looking at here is the congressional district map for Massachusetts.  You don`t see any red here.  Nine congressional districts right now.  Every one of them represented by Democrat.  And guess what?  It is been this way for a generation in Massachusetts.

The last time Republicans won a single House district in Massachusetts you`ve got to go all it way back to 1994.  Democrats are undefeated in- house elections since then.  No other state this big has a streak like that for Democrats.

Massachusetts produces a lot of Democratic politicians.  It also produces a lot of presidential candidates.  There are three candidates for president right now who are from the state of Massachusetts.  Three of them.

Trivia question can you name them?  The first one we all know, Elizabeth Warren.  She`s running on the Democratic side town hall here on MSNBC tonight.  Who else for Massachusetts?  Seth Moulton, congressman, one of those Democrats who won congressional elections in Massachusetts.  He`s running although he`s got a big test ahead.  First debate coming up in a couple of weeks.  He may not qualify for that debate. He`s going to need some big news in polling maybe or donations the nexzt week or Moulton won`t make it.

And there is a third presidential candidate from Massachusetts.  Who is it?  It`s not a Democrat.  It`s a Republican.  It`s one of the rare Republican to actually win an election in Massachusetts.  It`s Bill Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts running against Donald Trump in the Republican primary.  I say Bill Weld was governor of Massachusetts.  He was governor of Massachusetts a while ago

You`ve got to go back to the 1990s.  He was elected in `90, re-elected in `94.  And there have been a lot of different versions of Bill Weld since those gubernatorial days.  Number one, he tried to become ambassador to Mexico.  That`s Jesse Helms who blocked his appointment back in `97.

By the way, look who`s looking on there, that`s Joe Biden.  So he try to be, well, did the ambassador to Mexico.  That didn`t work.  Then he moved to New York.  He ran for governor of New York in 2006, lost at the state Republican convention, so that one didn`t work out for him.

Then in 2016 he was the vice presidential candidate of Libertarian Party running with Gary Johnson.  You see them together there.  He`s moved back to Massachusetts and now rejoined the Republican Party and he`s running for president as we say against Trump in the primaries.

So, he`s up against what is weld up against in this challenge?  Here`s one way to put it in perspective.  Here is Donald Trump`s approval rating with Republican voters.  89 percent and it`s constantly at that level his entire presidency.

Presidents who have received challenges in their own party primaries where were they with their own parties voters when those challengers emerged?  Bush senior, 73 percent, Carter at 40 percent with Ted Kennedy reign against him, Gerald Ford was at 60 percent.  You don`t see numbers like that, like Trump`s number from presidents who faced trouble.  Look, Nixon was at 82 percent.  That was not a challenge from Pete McCloskey that got much traction.  So, 89 percent Trump with Republicans.  That is one heck of a hurdle for Weld to overcome with that translates into his.

Here`s a recent poll out of New Hampshire.  Trump 72 percent, Weld, 12 percent.  Republicans in New Hampshire a lot of them have heard of Weld from his Massachusetts days.  That`s the kind of hurdle he faces there.  Just a president who has a uniquely strong support with his own party.  Outside the Republican Party, obviously, a different story.  But Trump has a challenger and he`s from Massachusetts so we thought we would share that with you tonight, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  A proud Massachusetts native.  We`re awfully happy to have you here now though.  Steve Kornacki, thank you very much.  Look forward to tomorrow night.

KORNACKI:  Thanks.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us on this Wednesday, what it was like and what was happening at this exact time 75 years ago when all we asked of our young men was to go and save the world.


WILLIAMS:  This night 75 years ago tonight was an uneasy evening across the beautiful Normandy region of France.  The occupying German troops spent the night chasing down rumors and random reports of troop and ship and plane sightings.  People saw things they heard noises across the French countryside.  Members of the French resistance knew.  They knew what was coming.  They`d been signaled days before when a tree line of snippet of poetry was read aloud on the BBC.  That was their signal.  That`s what told them the allies would be coming.

By this exact time on that morning Operation Overlord was already under way.

You know, to this day, you can go out and walk in the craters of the American bombs.  At low tide you can see the equipment the allies left behind, and in some cases died in.  You can stand in the German bunkers and look out at the Atlantic as they did when they realized they were about to die.

Ninety-seven percent of the men who fought in World War II are gone.  The remainder won`t be with us, sadly, much longer.

Today a 97-year-old veteran of the 101st Airborne reenacted the parachute jump he had first made as a young man.  This time around he got to jump in daylight.  He did it for all of his brothers, and he did it because he could.

For all who remain with us and all who were lost, let June 6th, which is now just moments away stand as a fitting 75th anniversary memorial to the boldest invasion in the history of modern warfare.  The Titanic undertaking that cleared the way to the defeat of the Nazis let`s hope for all-time.

That is our broadcast on this Wednesday 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