LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: And he was proud that he wasn`t out in the street marching.
When Donald Trump`s father got him that doctor`s note, that got him out of the draft. The minimal morally responsible thing to do was to take to the streets marching to try to stop that war, to try to save the life of the boy who was going to be drafted instead of Donald Trump and Donald Trump did not do that. Donald Trump did nothing. Because in war that`s what Trumps always do.
That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, while sitting in the midst of almost 10,000 heroic souls, Donald Trump uses a Fox News interview on hallowed ground to take political shots back home. He calls Robert Mueller a fool. Calls Speaker Pelosi a disaster.
Back in Washington, we can now hear the tape and we`ll play it for you. The voice of Donald Trump`s lawyer urging Michael Flynn`s lawyer to do the right thing. Today a former federal prosecutor said the tape sounds to him like a federal crime.
And Joe Biden learns a valuable political lesson early in this race. Not this issue, not this year. Tonight his complete about-face on abortion and what brought it on. All of it as "The 11th Hour" gets under way on a Thursday night.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. This was day 868 of the Trump administration. And to be candid, the reviews of the President`s performance on this day in a cemetery in France sounded at first almost unavoidably patronizing. Those watching, those covering the event gave him almost universal credit and high marks for reading the speech as was intended to be delivered and for showing respect and deference and appreciation to the old men behind him who 75 years ago today were boys dropped into the surf from ships and forced to survive withering machine gunfire just to make it to the beach on their way to saving the world. Well, the President did that right before we learned he had done something else as well.
In an interview with Fox News, framed by over 9,000 grave markers, he attacked the Speaker of the House and a decorated combat veteran named Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He made such a fool out of himself the last time she -- because what people don`t report is the letter he had to do to straighten out his testimony because his testimony was wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It`s unclear what letter or testimony the President`s referring to there. And there`s new material we`re about to show you from this interview tonight. Robert Mueller did read that 10-minute statement at his news conference in which he made clear his report did not exonerate Donald Trump.
As we mentioned, the President also aimed insults at Nancy Pelosi, who led a bipartisan delegation today to the D-Day commemoration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She`s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person. The Mueller report came out. It was a disaster for them. They thought their good friend, Bobby Mueller, was going to give them a great report and he came out with a report with 13 horrible angry Democrats who were totally biased against me.
Nancy Pelosi, I call her "nervous Nancy." Nancy Pelosi doesn`t talk about it. Nancy Pelosi is a disaster, OK? She`s a disaster. And let her do what she wants. You know what? I think they`re in big trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Pelosi is at the center of this struggle in her party caucus over whether or when to begin impeachment proceedings, even an inquiry against Donald Trump. Today our NBC News colleague Andrea Mitchell asked the speaker about the potential impact if the House were to move forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We are so divided as a country right now. Do you worry about the politics right now, impeachment and everything else that`s on the -- on the table and how that can further divide us?
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA, HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, again, with all due respect to your question, I`m not here to talk about impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: There have been reports that Pelosi and Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York are at odds on this topic of impeachment. He said to be opposed to her go slow approach. We have much more on that ahead.
There`s also new reporting on Nadler`s other project, and that`s getting Robert Mueller to testify publicly. Politico is reporting he`s told Democratic leaders had a close door meeting this week that he could issue a subpoena to Mueller within two weeks if a deal for public testimony can`t be secured. Just yesterday Nadler said he was confident Mueller would appear at a hearing.
As all that unfolds, there are questions about the house Democrats efforts to hold Attorney General Barr and former White House Counsel, Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas for Mueller`s full report and supporting materials and documents. The full House is set to vote Tuesday, but a new resolution released just today appears to speed up the legal process by which Democrats can ask a court to intervene and force witnesses to give up information, and by extension that could make a contempt vote unnecessary.
And amid all this, the legal battles over Mueller`s report. We`re also getting new information about another key witness for the prosecution. Notes from Michael Flynn`s interview with the FBI back in 2017 have now been released, unsealed by a federal court. The former National Security Adviser to Trump pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his 2016 conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak.
The notes reveal that on December 28 of 2017, the day Obama expelled Russians from the U.S. for election interference, Kislyak "asked Flynn to set up a VTC," a video teleconference" between President-elect Trump and Russian President Putin for January 21st of 2017." One day after the inauguration.
Michael Flynn, a reminder, is still awaiting sentencing. Today his longtime attorney, Robert Kelner, notified the court he was no longer representing Michael Flynn.
Prosecutors have also released a voicemail that left by that same attorney, Robert Kelner by President Trump`s one-time personal lawyer, John Dowd. This call was made not long after Flynn agreed in 2017 to cooperate with the special counsel investigation with the Feds.
Now, we`ve already been able to read the transcript of what you`re about to hear and we`ve read it on the air, but sometimes hearing the human voice helps. So hear now the actual recording of this voicemail message from Trump`s lawyer to Flynn`s lawyer.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN DOWD, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Hey, Rob, uhm, this is John again. Uh, maybe I-I-I`m -- I`m sympathetic, I understand your situation, but let me just see if I can`t state it in starker terms. If you have -- well, it wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve gone on to make a deal with and, uh work with the government. Uh, I understand that you can`t join a joint defense, that`s one thing. If, on the other hand, there`s information that implicates the President, then we`ve got a national security issue, or maybe a national security issue. I don`t know. Some issue. We`ve got to -- we`ve got to deal with not only the President but for the country.
So, uh, you know, then -- then we need some kind of heads up. Um, just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can without you having to give up any confidential information.
So, um, and if it`s the former then, well, remember what was always said about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and all that still remains. But, in any event, let me know, and uh, I appreciate your listening and taking the time. Thanks pal.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So much to talk about there. Just an hour to do it. Here for our leadoff discussion on a Thursday night, 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. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for "The Washington Post." And Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor for Politico. Good evening and welcome to you all.
Mimi, you get to go first with a very simple question. What do you learn from listening to a human voice on that recording?
MIMI ROCAH, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: You learn a lot, Brian. You know, as you said, it`s one thing to read the words, but when you hear his intonations, when you hear, frankly, his hesitancy, he`s struggling with the words because there is a certain consciousness of guilt going on here. He knows he shouldn`t be doing this.
Now, you can question why would someone leave this in a voicemail? It seems pretty dumb, frankly, but he`s uncomfortable with it. I think he knows on some level, you know, I really shouldn`t be doing this, but it tells you the importance of what he feels he`s doing because he`s doing it anyway.
And he is -- there are so many clues in what he says. I mean, for example, he says you know what we`ve always said about how the President feels about Flynn. Well, first of all, this isn`t the first time this has come up. They`ve had these conversations before. That`s what that says. We have always said. I mean, this isn`t Dowd going out and saying how Trump feels about the President. This is how -- Trump feels about Flynn. This is what Trump has told Dowd about how he feels about Flynn to pass it on.
So, look, Mueller didn`t go there. Mueller didn`t subpoena Dowd and try to sort of pierce the veil of the attorney-client privilege and find out how involved was Trump in this, how -- what discussions did they specifically have about this?
It`s clear to me that Dowd is committing a crime here. The question is, how involved and what would the evidence be against Trump? I mean, common sense tells us he`s involved, but what would the proof be? But Congress can go there. They don`t have to stand by the attorney-client privilege in the way that Mueller did.
WILLIAMS: You know your way around a recording as a former Fed. Most of them, of course, organized crime and not presidential politics, but there is that certain element that reading a flat transcript on a page doesn`t deliver.
ROCAH: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I`ve listened to dozens and dozens of recordings of organized crime and other people, and, you know, if you play a recording for a jury, I mean, every trial lawyer knows this, it just brings home what is happening in a way that a transcript doesn`t. And this shows you, you know, we`ve seen this again even with Mueller`s 10-minute press conference. Hearing words, hearing someone speak as opposed to reading a report is so compelling. And this is why Congress needs to get going as best they can on having witnesses, whether it be playing recordings like this.
I think they should subpoena Dowd. I really don`t see any barrier to that. You know, I`m not saying he`ll just willingly come but there, frankly, are not a lot of legitimate privileges he could invoke on that. And having Mueller testify, even though he doesn`t want to.
WILLIAMS: Eugene, it won`t surprise you to learn that, shall we say, Fox News did not dwell on this story tonight. Here is how they went alternatively.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Speaker Pelosi now apparently telling senior Democrats she`d like to see Trump behind bars. Based on no actual crime she wants a political opponent locked up in prison? That happens in banana republics beyond despicable behavior.
And, by the way, they would literally turn in many ways, the USA, into a country we no longer recognize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Back on to what we`re talking about --
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: I`m sorry. I missed part of that. I was hearing this vague chant of "lock her up," "lock her up."
WILLIAMS: And Michael Flynn may have said that at the convention.
ROBINSON: And Michael Flynn, I believe I heard him say at the convention.
WILLIAMS: Why leave a voicemail like that on somebody --
ROBINSON: I don`t know. I don`t know. But, you know, i read the transcript like everybody, and I didn`t get all of that out of the transcript. You`re right about that.
And it is the hesitancy and the consciousness that this isn`t -- and, you know, I`ve got to sort of talk my way around this because I can`t go at it directly because I really shouldn`t be going at it at all.
ROBINSON: This is, like, not something I`m comfortable with, but I got to do it. And also a sense that Dowd is thinking about the President, thinking about what he might not know about what Flynn and Trump might know and so he`s trying to maneuver and find that out as well.
WILLIAMS: Anita, how will we ever know, based on the beat that you cover every day, the level of concern inside the West Wing, whether, for example, the Departure of Mr. Flynn`s counsel is based on the knowledge that this audio was coming out today.
ANITA KUMAR, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think there is concern. You can see from the President`s remarks that he feels concerned or he`s feeling that he wants to -- that he`s thinking about things, he wants to comment about them. He`s clearly still thinking about the Mueller report and how that`s going to play out in his testimony, if he does testify in the next couple of weeks.
They were -- knowing that this was coming out, they`ve known each little piece that comes out, obviously they`re following that. I have to say, the White House, though, is really -- so much is going on right now about these tariffs with Mexico. It`s all we`re hearing about. You know, it`s a whole different subject, I know, but this feels very different than some policy that the President usually has because it feels like a lot of people think this is going to happen and a lot of people were unprepared for it, including his aides.
WILLIAMS: Yes, here, here on a good point for us to remember. Hey, Eugene, when people walk to the U.S. military cemetery in Colville Sermur, France, they`re often struck dumb, speechless. It`s sacred, hallow ground. T he President came so close to having a good day.
ROBINSON: Yes. Yes. Yes. And so, how can you sit there with that backdrop and go where he went in that interview? And why would you do that? I mean, you know, if it was just an unconscious sort of thing, he just would naturally, you know, say those things about Nancy Pelosi -- about the Speaker of the House and --
WILLIAMS: Bobby Mueller.
ROBINSON: -- and Robert Mueller, a war hero, in that setting. But I think there was some design there. I mean, and it indicates not strength but weakness. It indicates this is so -- he`s so wrapped up in this. He`s so thinking about the Mueller probe, the prospect of impeachment hearings, whatever, Pelosi, it`s so working on him that he made a decision to do that interview and to do it in that way. And it strikes me as sort of a defensive posture that he`s taking there. It`s interesting.
WILLIAMS: Anita, we also know folks in the business of advance, and what a hard job that is, advancing a trip like this, going on ahead for the President, getting every last detail taken care of. A public ceremony that had to go perfectly today with easily half a dozen flyovers, the leader of nations, all of these veterans there for, really, their last major gathering for an anniversary.
And then same question as my first one to you, how do you gauge if there was actual disappointment in the West Wing at what the day will now be known for?
KUMAR: I think there has to be some disappointment. I mean, there was clearly some people very pleased that he did, you know, you were saying he read from the TelePrompTer, and he did do that, but you and I both know that it`s been two-plus years with President Trump in the White House where he does occasionally have these good days. And I shouldn`t say occasionally. He does roll out things. He does have good speeches where even his critics praise him, like they did today, but he often steps on his own message.
And he did, not only in the Fox interview but he did in other ways. He`s done it all week. He`s been gone all week and he is been through all these ceremonial things, particularly with the queen. He talked a lot about her. You know, the prime minister. He`s had all these other meetings. But he is very much paying attention to what`s going on back home.
He is tweeting. He is giving multiple news interviews much more than he usually does overseas. And he`s very much paying attention to what`s going on. So, you know, people were happy with his speech, but then he stepped all over that, and this is what we`re going to remember, is this -- is this interview.
WILLIAMS: Mimi Rocah, to back up a bit, what do you think he was talking about with Robert Mueller and submitting the letter and the testimony, what is that about?
ROCAH: I mean, as usual --
WILLIAMS: You`re suppose to help us out.
ROCAH: Yes, well, he`s got this word salad and it`s hard to try to get inside his head, but I think he was talking about after Mueller gave his press conference. There was this sort of joint letter that went out between the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel`s Office saying, oh, no, we don`t really disagree on whether or not there would have been a finding that Trump committed obstruction if it weren`t for the OLC policy, which was, frankly, kind of ludicrous because there really was -- there is a gulf. There is a gulf between Barr saying no obstruction and Mueller saying, well, I can`t say there is obstruction but I can`t say there`s not obstruction, so I don`t know why they put that out, but I think that`s what Trump is talking about.
And clearly, it seems to me someone told him, oh, look, see, Mueller had to correct himself. That is -- but really what happened is Mueller got up and spoke, he was very clear. It wasn`t as sort of, you know, it wasn`t follow of hyperbole. It wasn`t as exciting as, you know, people want it to be, but he was clear in his point that in a way that I think terrified Trump and Barr.
And Barr has really stepped up his attacks on Mueller since that press conference. Which if you think about it is really remarkable. It`s not just Trump, you know it`s Barr going after Mueller directly saying Mueller should have done this, he should have made an explicit finding and, by the way, he`s wrong on the law. And he`s trying to paint Mueller as this sort of, you know, rogue prosecutor. And --
ROBINSON: Robert Mueller, a loose cannon.
ROCAH: Right. Exactly.
ROBINSON: Those things don`t actually go together.
WILLIAMS: Nor is he known as Bobby.
Hey, Anita, one last question. We first noticed you because of your questioning at the White House briefing long ago. Tell me how long it`s been since the last White House briefing.
KUMAR: Remember those days? It was March 11th, it was the last one, so that`s 87 days and we`re not counting the one that Sarah Sanders gave on take your kids to work day for the kids. So 87 days, which is I believe is a record for her, you know, almost three months.
Now, to be clear, they do have these little sporadic gaggles or little, you know, impromptu things that happen after they give T.V. hits on the driveway of the, you know, the driveway of the White House. But it`s definitely not the same thing.
WILLIAMS: Well, we like to record keep on the disappearance of norms, a lot like the frog boiling experiment in 87 days as 87 days. To Mimi Rocah, to Eugene Robinson, to Anita Kumar our thanks on this Thursday night for starting us off.
And coming up, as House Democrats wrestle with the impeachment question, we`ll talk to a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin Democrat, Tammy Baldwin is here to talk impeachment and what, in her view, should happen to this President.
And later, on a day of such historic significance, we call on a historian of significance to guide us through everything. "The 11th Hour" is just getting under way on this Thursday night.
WILLIAMS: NBC News tonight has confirmed reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to see Trump in prison. And it`s very clear from his comments today in Normandy that Nancy Pelosi now has the attention of this President.
Equally clear, the choice Democrats have to make on how to play this. Is impeachment truly the solution given the beyond slim chance of conviction and removal by the Senate or is the remedy here the ballot box in 2020? Pelosi has said the need to impeach must be overwhelming. So far, 61 members of her chamber, the House, are in support, including just one Republican.
We are happy to be joined tonight by one of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, Tammy Baldwin of the State of Wisconsin. Senator, thank you for coming by.
SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN, (D) WISCONSIN, APPROPRIATION CMTE.: My pleasure.
WILLIAMS: This is where I`d like to begin.
WILLIAMS: Where do you stand on impeachment and/or how this President should be treated?
BALDWIN: Well, first of all, I think it`s too early in terms of the progress of oversight in the investigation, and yet I think it`s important to always start remembering that the Mueller report made it clear that Vladimir Putin directed Russia to interfere with the U.S. elections, our democracy. And there are at least 10 instances where the Mueller report describes Trump lying, Trump asking someone else to lie on his behalf, Trump instructing someone to fire Mueller.
I`d like to hear Mr. Mueller testify. I`d like to see Don McGahn testify. The instances involving K.T. McFarland, I think that we need to hear everything.
But I would also say there`s many remedies depending on what we uncover. One would be censure, another would be impeachment, another, as the speaker just said, the ballot box followed by a criminal inquiry. And another is passing laws to make sure we protect our democracy from this type of interference and curb presidential abuses moving forward. And almost everyone agrees we should be doing that.
WILLIAMS: When you`re home, do people come up to you to talk about the Mueller report? These days, do they come up to you to talk about tariffs?
BALDWIN: I hear mostly about health care.
BALDWIN: Well, I think --
BALDWIN: -- we`re in court with the President asking the court to strike down in its entirety the Affordable Care Act.
BALDWIN: Anyone with a child with a pre-existing condition got to be frightened to death that this could happen. And there`s all this other sabotage. But I would say secondly I do hear a lot about tariffs. We have a dairy farm crisis. I represent America`s dairy land. We have lost 1,590 farms since Trump took office. That`s well over 15 percent of our dairy farms.
WILLIAMS: Unsustainable rate.
BALDWIN: Unsustainable rate. And when we see the heightening of the trade war and the tariff threat with Mexico, we see no easy way to get that Mexican export market back for our cheese producers.
WILLIAMS: I want to show you something from tonight. Joe Biden reversing his position on the Hyde Amendment, which withholds federal funds that are used for abortions. We`ll talk about this on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We now see so many Republican governors denying health care to millions of the most poorest and most vulnerable Americans by refusing even Medicaid expansion. I can`t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right. If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone`s zip code.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So two things there. Our producer just alerted me to the fact that he`s clearly reading off notes and not the TelePrompTer which had the rest of his remarks on it. Number two, was that a necessary change tonight?
BALDWIN: Well, I think that, you know, that`s ultimately up for the viewers to decide. However, I think that -- first of all, let me state my clear opinion that I oppose the Hyde Amendment because of precisely the new words that Biden has found, which is your income, your zip code, none of those things should affect a woman`s access to full health care, full reproductive health care or abortion services.
The other thing I think is important to note here is this comes in a context of an all-out attack on Roe versus Wade. We`ve seen several states act. By the end of this week it`s possible that Missouri will have no abortion services provider in the entire state.
And others are clearly set on passing laws that would put doctors in prison. There is obviously an attack going on. And I think people are looking for clarity of do you stand with women to make their own choices about their bodies and should they have -- should all women have access to comprehensive health care?
WILLIAMS: Final question is about pride.
WILLIAMS: As the first in our history LGBT member of the U.S. Senate, the NYPD -- I`ll give you four more letters. Apologized today for their reaction, what`s known for 50 years now as the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village. A bellwether event. Step in the right direction?
BALDWIN: Absolutely. You know, I think about what happened those 50 years ago, and as we celebrate pride, it is a remarkable anniversary. I think about brave people who spoke out, who after nightly acts of police oppression finally became visible and pressed back. It started the modern day --
WILLIAMS: It did.
BALDWIN: -- gay liberation movement. Now LGBTQ movement for civil rights. It allows us to think about how much progress we`ve made, but also how much more we have to do. We have to pass the Equality Act so regardless of where you live people won`t be evicted or fired or discriminated against in other ways.
But I have to say that symbolism from New York Police Commissioner O`Neill was really powerful and it reminded me of some of the recent re-enactments of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, when they observed through re-enactment then the Alabama police, state police line up and salute the marchers.
BALDWIN: So much in contrast to what happened all those years ago.
WILLIAMS: To show that things have changed.
BALDWIN: Yes, indeed.
WILLIAMS: Senator Tammy Baldwin, thank you very much for spending time with us tonight.
BALDWIN: My pleasure.
WILLIAMS: Appreciate it.
Coming up for us, the Road to the Miami Democratic debates happens to travel through a small state with outsized politics. When we come back.
WILLIAMS: We`re now just 20 days away from the first of the Democratic debates here on this very network, and helping us to get to that big event, our series, "The Road to Miami," where Steve Kornacki boldly tells us what we need to know about presidential politics within all those important states along the vital corridor of Interstate 95.
Tonight, we`re crossing from Massachusetts, south into the ocean state, the great state of Rhode Island. Back again with us, Steve Kornacki, our national political correspondent. Steve, this remains in my power category, my favorite uncle Billy, Aunt Fran, cousins Wendy and Laurie and our friends, the Candomos (ph) love Rhode Island.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I have been looking forward to this leg of the trip. Little Roady, The URI Rams, The Providence College Friars.
WILLIAMS: There you go.
KORNACKI: And how about colorful politicians and colorful being a euphemism for indicted. There is a rich political tradition and rich political history. Lots of interesting characters in politics have come from Rhode Island. You recognize this guy. This is Vincent A. Cianci Jr. Buddy Cianci, he was the mayor of Providence. He pleaded no contest to charges. He had to leave office. Staged a comeback. Became the mayor again. Got convicted of racketeering. Had to leave office. Went to prison, came back, ran for mayor again. That was Buddy Cianci`s life in politics in Rhode Island at the end of it. He died a couple of years ago.
Toward the end he was honored with an unveiling of an efficient portrait at city hall at the ceremony. You see Buddy Ciani here. He turned around, he looked at that portrait and he said, you know, I always said the government was trying to frame me. One of the great lines from one of the great characters in Rhode Island politics.
In terms of Rhode Island politics in its significance on the national scene, well, look, this is a blue state but it`s a very interesting kind of blue state. It probably has a higher concentration of Obama/Trump voters than just about any other blue state.
Here`s what I mean. Look, Hillary Clinton won this thing by 16 points. Pretty overwhelming. Not a suspense on election night. But that was a far cry in some ways in from 2008. Obama had won the state by 28. The Clinton margin was down to 16, 15 in after. A 12-point swing toward Trump.
If you look at every blue state in the country in that swing from Obama to Trump, look, some of these states got more blue, some of them, you know, pretty much stayed the same, between 12 and 16, but there it is, Rhode Island and Maine among all the blue states swung the hardest toward Trump.
So, you`ve go -- and we talk about it all the time in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Michigan, those Obama/Trump voters. They exist in Rhode Island. There`s a lot of them in Rhode Island because there are a lot of those blue collar white working class voters in Rhode Island. Also the most catholic state in America is Rhode Island. So you certainly find those Obama/Trump voters there. Just not going to be enough to ever swing the state in the near future toward the Republicans.
WILLIAMS: Two more note point, point out the obvious, Buddy Ciani stopped wearing his hair piece in prison, kept it out when he got out. And also the headquarters of Dunkin` Donuts is Rhode Island. You got to love that.
KORNACKI: There it is.
WILLIAMS: Steve Kornacki, our thanks for the entire series. We`re loving it. Appreciate it very much.
KORNACKI: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: And coming up, as "The New York Times" reports, this was the day the president carried politics with him beyond the water`s edge. We`ll ask a historian why that is so unusual when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made did not just win a battle, it did not just win a war, those who fought here won a future for our nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And that right there is what our presidents or supposed to do, pay tribute to the men who when they were young saved the world. Starting at that beach. What presidents aren`t supposed to do is what are president also did today. With over 9,000 grave markers over his shoulder, he attacked the Speaker of the House and he attacked a decorated combat veteran who was air lifted off the battlefield in Vietnam named Robert Mueller.
We are blessed to be joined on this 75th anniversary of D-Day by the author of "Presidents of War." Among his other books. The presidential historian, Michael Beschloss. Michael, I`d like to begin with how "The New York Times" put it. "Mr. Trump had never visited Omaha Beach, and as he has done in other similar first-time encounters, he reacted with an almost childlike wonder. When he sat down later to meet with Mr. Macron in the nearby city of Caen, the president marveled at the high fatality rates suffered by the first soldiers on the beach."
Michael, what have we come to expect from our American presidents?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, we usually expect a president to have read history and know that most presidents before they become president, they know about D-Day, they know about the high casualty rate, they know about the cost of war.
Donald Trump is someone who has exalted in the fact, you know, he boasts of the fact he doesn`t read books and doesn`t particularly read history. OK, you know, if this is the way he had to learn it, I`m glad to see that he did, but I was just heartbroken when I saw that image of him denouncing the Speaker of the House, denouncing an official of his own justice department, the special counsel Robert Mueller, in front of those gravestones. And all I could think of, Brian, and I know you`ve seen it. Last night I watched again the special that was on Walter Cronkite.
WILLIAMS: So did I.
BESCHLOSS: 1964 on CBS.
BESCHLOSS: Ninety minutes.
WILLIAMS: Dwight David Eisenhower.
BESCHLOSS: Dwight David Eisenhower went back to that cemetery and went back to the battlefields and he walked past those same gravestones almost crying because of the memory of all those deaths that came because of decisions that he had made. How an American president on foreign soil could talk this way and especially do it in front of those gravestones, I just can`t imagine how that could have happened.
WILLIAMS: I`ve been thinking so much about Dwight David Eisenhower, one of the spectacular American lives, a product of Abilene, Kansas.
WILLIAMS: Went through West Point. Worked his way up the military chain of command. A controversial call by FDR to give him the job he had, but looking back at it, it`s hard to think that we could have had anyone better in charge of this massive undertaking. And, Michael, I assume you regard d- day, twinned as it is in history with Pearl Harbor --
WILLIAMS: -- to have been part of the formation of our modern world and the United States as we know it.
BESCHLOSS: Absolutely. D-Day was one of the most important days of the 20th century. Very close to being the most important day. Good versus evil. The Americans coming back to cinch the victory in Europe. Showing us Americans at our best. Soldiers risking their lives for world freedom, risking their lives for their fellow soldiers. These were citizen soldiers. Most of them had not been trained, but they demonstrated a competence that you could not have imagined from people who before then were farmers or merchants or students.
WILLIAMS: Do you think, and god forbid, I hope the answer for historic reasons is no. Do you think we`ll ever again ask what we asked of that generation of young people, as you said, mushed together from Madison, Wisconsin to Brooklyn, New York to San Diego, California, all of them on these landing craft on that gray morning.
BESCHLOSS: That`s the responsibility of any president and going back to that Eisenhower show that you and I have both seen. Do you remember what he said near the end when he was talking about what happened on d-day? He said that makes it even more imperative for Americans of the future to somehow find some kind of universal peace to make sure that no supreme commander, no president has to send Americans into harm`s way that way again.
WILLIAMS: Michael has agreed to stay with us. We`ll just interrupt our conversation. Work in a break here. We`ll come back with more on this day that FDR infamously labeled a mighty endeavor. That and more right after this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Almighty god, our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It`s hard to find any American alive today who still speaks with that accent that FDR used in his spoken voice.
BESCHLOSS: That`s right.
WILLIAMS: Michael Beschloss is still with us. I have two graphics to put up on the screen. Number one, FDR`s private calendar. This actually made me chuckle. Invasion day, June 6th. He put it next to 8:00 a.m. That was for his eyes only. And secondly, Michael, a photo you put out on social media today that says it all.
We should remember that he was dying and certainly his cardiologist, Dr. Bruin, seemed to know secretly that the old man was dying and he didn`t live to see the end of this endeavor, but that`s a photo taken of him after at least first wave reports that the invasion look like it was going to succeed.
BESCHLOSS: Absolutely. And you see it in his face and the fact that he was seldom this way in the Oval Office in that chair with no suit coat on. And that same day 75 years ago today, Roosevelt writes to Churchill about what he calls the stupendous events that are going on and he says how I wish I could be with you to see our mighty war machine in operation, and at the same time that was the day, d-day, that Winston Churchill had begged King George to let him sail into the battle along with the seamen and soldiers and airmen who were going to invade the continent of Europe. The king said, no, you`re indispensable.
WILLIAMS: Michael, we love labeling eras, the gilded age, the post-war age, the roaring `20s, the depression era, I was thinking about Eisenhower today. He died believing he had defeated the Nazis. He died in `69. By `71 we had the measles vaccine. Could you make a case we`re living in the regression? We have Nazis back in American society and 1,000 active cases of measles because of a campaign against vaccinations.
BESCHLOSS: Yes, I think one can make a case that, you know, society does not always move forward. And oddly enough that`s a lesson that Franklin Roosevelt`s mentor and minister and head of school Endicott Peabody used to say that society usually moves forward, sometimes moves back.
But I think if FDR were here today, if Dwight Eisenhower were here today, they would say teach your children and grandchildren about d-day and what Americans were able to accomplish on that day. That expresses the center of America, what America is really like, all the way back to George Washington and the revolution than perhaps some of these other things that we`ve been talking about.
WILLIAMS: I hope someone in Groton, Connecticut is smiling that Beschloss just quoted the old head master. Michael, thank you, as always. A great pleasure to have you on at the end of this history making day.
BESCHLOSS: Me too. Thank you so much Brian.
WILLIAMS: Another break. We`ll be back with much more right after this. Including a progress report from 75 years ago tonight.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is one more update. 75 years into the future on the progress of the fight in Normandy region of France, on this night 75 years ago. With day breaking on D-Day plus one, the Americans and their British and Canadian brothers in arms were in the thick of the fight, really. Not all the landing units had been able to link up as of yet, and yet by the end of that first day, the allies had punched inland in a number of places, capturing entire towns along the way.
But for that first 24-hour period, the beach was either the place where you died or the place where you survived. The great war correspondent Ernie Pyle famously said about the Germans firing down from the hillside, "The advantages were all theirs. They had four men on shore for every three men we had approaching the shore," and yet he said in a characteristic understatement "We got on."
The best estimate is the one-day death toll on that beach was 4,414.
Here now the story of just one of the veterans, Jake Larson, the last surviving member of his platoon. Here`s his memory of that day, as told to Andrea Mitchell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE LARSON, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: When we landed and I finally got out of that water, the water was up to my chin, and I found -- it just seemed like in front of me came this burrow, and at that time two machine guns were shooting at me from two different angles, cross-firing right at -- right at my feet.
And that little burrow kept them from hitting me. So I lay behind that burrow and they were shooting it and I dug out a cigarette out of a waterproof cigarette holder, put that in my mouth and reached in for my matches and my matches were all wet.
Not 3 1/2 feet behind me on my left-hand side, I looked back, there was a GI there. And I said, buddy, have you got a match? And he didn`t answer. I looked back again and there was no head under the helmet. To this day, I think that soul of that boy inspired me to get up get a move to the cliffs, which is exactly what I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: How about that? June 6th of 1944. Changed history. Well, today was history, too. Likely the last time we will see these survivors at a major anniversary gathering. And to those beneath all those crosses and stars of David, almost 10,000 of them, including 45 sets of brothers and four women, we owe them everything because they helped to save the world.
That`s 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