IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

John Stewart calls out Congress. TRANSCRIPT: 6/11/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: A.B. Stoddard

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Detective Luis Alvarez, gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Tonight, it could be a preview of the general election.  Joe Biden calls the President an existential threat while Trump after calling Biden mentally weak avoids his name this evening.  We`re live in Iowa tonight with the latest.

Donald Trump Jr. set to appear behind closed doors for more testimony before a Senate Committee tomorrow to talk about a limited list of topics as top Democrats on the House side weigh impeachment for his father.

And tonight, Steve Kornacki`s latest stop on the road from Maine to Miami.  And Donald Trump says his received yet another beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un.  As "The 11th Hour" gets underway on a Tuesday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 873 of this Trump administration.

And if you looked at cable news today and all good citizens should, you might think the general election is set and Donald Trump is straight up running for re-election against the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, but that is certainly not the case.  Donald Trump sounds like he`s running against Joe Biden, but there are a whole slew of Democrats, dozens of them, who beg to differ.  And then there`s what history tells us about what happens to frontrunners this early in the race.

Back to today.  Both men attacked each other during multiple events in Iowa.  The President`s first event was at an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs before he spoke at the Republican Party dinner in West Des Moines.  Biden held campaign events today in the eastern part of the state and used those opportunities to repeatedly tell Iowa voters why Donald Trump should not be President.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Our Democracy is at risk.  I never thought I`d use those words in my lifetime.  But it`s true.  Everywhere you turn, Trump is tearing down the guardrails of democracy, tearing down the things that prevent the abuse of power.

The four years of Donald Trump will go down in history as an abrasion.  But eight years, eight years he will fundamentally change the nature of who we are as a country.  He goes over to celebrate the beginning of that, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, and he`s tweeting about Bette Midler?  And no, no, I`m not joking.  He`s making personal attacks on Nancy Pelosi who`s there with him?  He embraces dictators like Kim Jong-un who`s a damn murderer and a thug.  Or the one thing they agree on, Joe Biden and I shouldn`t be president.

Look, I believe that the President is literally an existential threat to America.

But this is a guy who does everything to separate and frighten people.  It`s about fear and loathing.  It`s about what he calls people, the names he calls them.  No President has done something like that for god`s sake.  I mean it`s bizarre.  And it`s damaging.


WILLIAMS:  During the President`s second event in Iowa, a few hours ago tonight, he actually made no mention of the former vice president.  That was not the case during Trump`s first stop in Iowa.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  He was someplace in Iowa today and he said my name so many times that people couldn`t stand it anymore.  No, don`t keep saying it.  Sleepy guy.

With Biden, we would never be treated with respect because people don`t respect him.  Even if the people that he`s running against, they`re saying where is he?  What happened?  He makes his stance in Iowa, once every two weeks and then he mentions my name 74 times in one speech.  I don`t now.  That reminds me of crooked Hillary.  She did the same thing.


WILIAMS:  Prior to departing from the White House, the President went from the hard stuff.


TRUMP:  Well, I heard Biden, who`s a loser.  I mean look, Joe never got more than 1% except that Obama took him off the trash heap.  Look, when a man has to mention my name 76 times in his speech that means he`s in trouble.  Now, I have to tell you, he`s a different guy.  He looks different than he used to.  He acts different than he used to.  He`s even slower than used to be.

I`d rather run against -- I think Biden than anybody.  I think he`s the weakest mentally.  And I like running against people that are weak mentally.  I think Joe is the weakest up here.


WILLIAMS:  Tonight "The New York Times" sums up Trump`s attack on Biden this way, and we quote, "The hostile change underscored the extent to which the two men are already waging a battle against to each other already.  Mr. Biden has largely ignored his Democratic rivals while building his campaign around the urgent need to oust Mr. Trump.  The President, mindful of polling that shows him trailing Mr. Biden in several key states, has targeted him in particular with ridicule."

Earlier tonight, the Former Vice President was asked about Trump`s attacks on him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Vice President, the President today raised questions about your age.  He raised questions about whether you have the stamina to run for president.  There`s been a lot of questions about your schedule and if that it`s been a little lighter in some of the other candidates?

BIDEN:  Look at him and look at me and answer your question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You answer the question.  Will you please answer the question?

BIDEN:  It`s self-evident.  You know, it`s a ridiculous assertion on his part.  But, anyway, look, and some and people have a right to question all of our ages.  That`s totally a legitimate thing.  All I can say is watch me.


WILLIAMS:  Now, as to "The New York Times" reference to polls that are capturing the President`s attention in the latest Quinnipiac nationwide survey, Joe Biden now leads the President by 13 percentage points in a hypothetical generally election matchup.  Though, a quick reminder here general elections are a collection of 50 separate elections.

That same poll shows five other Democratic hopefuls, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Cory Booker would also defeat Trump if this theoretical election were to be held today.

Here for our lead off discussion on a Tuesday night, our own Garrett Haake, who was already been out on the 2020 trail.  He is in Davenport, Iowa.

Tonight, A.B. Stoddard here with us, columnist and associate editor of RealClearPolitics.  And John HEILEMANN is here with us, veteran journalist, MSNBC national affairs analyst, co-author of "Game Change" and co-host of the "Circus" on Showtime.

Good evening and welcome to you all.

Garrett, you get to go first because you traveled the most miles to do it.  You heard perhaps the point we made at the top of the broadcast.  People would be forgiven for tuning in today and thinking this is a generally election campaign between these two guys.

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, Brian, that`s absolutely right.  And that`s exactly the way the Biden campaign would like this to be.  Look Joe Biden would not be running for president against to Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.  He really does see Donald Trump as an existential threat.  And when you are the frontrunner in the position that he`s in both in the early states and nationally, the only thing you can really do is punch up.

And what you saw the Biden campaign do today was essentially set a trap for Donald Trump.  They released the excerpts of his speech that the Vice President did not intend to give for another 12 hours.  About 6:00 this morning, let all of us talk about it on the cable news all day long, and get it into Donald Trump`s head.

The President responded exactly as you might expect, coming after the Vice President and allowing this back and forth split screen image which lets Joe Biden stand then head and shoulders, at least for this one day, over 22 other candidates who would like to take his place and be the Democratic nominee.  The voters I talked to all across this country, the Democratic voters want one thing.

They want someone who can end the Donald Trump presidency.  And every day that Donald Trump targets Joe Biden and makes him look like a threat, he makes it more likely that Joe Biden becomes that candidate because, Democrats and turn around say, OK, if Donald Trump is worried about this guy, then maybe there`s something to this.  And that`s what we saw played out in Iowa today.

WILLIAMS:  A.B. is that the same thing you observed here in the east, that for the Biden campaign and let sound really patronizing, they`re starting to learn how to deal with this incumbent President.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOC. EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS:  Well, I mean, Garrett is right.  They laid a trap and he took the bait.  And no one has been campaigning harder for Vice President Biden than President Donald Trump.  And so, Biden did have about last week, he wasn`t on the cattle-call on Sunday with the other candidates.  He was at his granddaughter`s graduation.  He had the high amendment reversal.  He`s facing some questions.

But on a day like today, when you look at the inside of that Quinnipiac poll, you look at him one point away from Donald Trump in the white vote that Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton by 20 points, his numbers with the independents, with African-Americans, his edge with 18 to 34-year-olds and then you combine this sort of general election matchup day, that`s a good day for Joe Biden.

Can he -- always talk about Trump?  Can he skip (INAUDIBLE) poll thing -- politicking in the Iowa?  No, he`s going to have to show up and he is going to work hard.  And as a frontrunner he`s going to have worse polls and stumbles.  But he still offers the thing they want the most.  So and until and unless we see the polling change, what we`re seeing is that the Democrats on the left are not as left as we thought.  They want a winner.

WILLIAMS:  So, John HEILEMANN, our own Mike Memoli whose first Biden rodeo this is not.  He said something interesting today.  He said Biden`s strength is his perceived strength.  And if you buy that thesis, every time the President talks about him adds a little luster to that.  What must it be like to be Swalwell and Gillibrand and for that matter, Booker every time the President talks about this other guy in the Democratic race?

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  You know, they look at Donald Trump and they see how much money he`s raised which is a significant asset that this incumbent is building up, as he heads into this general election unopposed other than by Bill Weld and the Republican side.  And they look at him and say, these other Democrats, why is he giving in-kind campaign contributions to our rival Joe Biden?  You know, they all are desperate for any oxygen, anything that will get them over the line into qualification for the first set of debates in Miami at the end of this month.

And yet they`re not able to get a moment of oxygen when Donald Trump is carpeting the airwaves with attacks on Joe Biden.  And Joe Biden is inviting them and then wallowing in them in the way he is today.  I agreed everything here one said, great day for Joe Biden.  After last week I would say that arguably the worst week any candidate had on the Democratic side in the campaign so far last week for Joe Biden.

Today, arguably the best day that any candidate has had in the 2020 cycle for an individual candidate.  Just everything worked for Biden today, including the poetry of 76 assaults, before -- making me think of 76 trombones.  And the music man --

WILLIAMS:  And the music briefly.

HEILEMANN:  -- (INAUDIBLE).  Well, for Donald Trump 76 insults, 76 trombones and he`s good on drums, the music man of this man.  What city in Iowa?

WILLIAMS:  River City.

HEILEMANN:  Mason City, Iowa.

WILLIAMS:  Oh.  Right here in River City.

HEILEMANN:  Yes.  So, that River City was the false -- was the -- with the fictional city based on Mason City.


HEILEMANN:  And the caucuses in January, I`ll take it Brandon is a very nice town.

WILLIAMS:  Partial points for correct answer.  A.B. agrees.  Hey, Garrett, I want to put some polling on the screen.  And I`m hoping you can share in it with us.  The numbers in Iowa.  This is the lets say Qpac poll nationwide, Biden then Sanders.  So there`s a drop off between 30 and 19.  Then you have the upper four or five and then it just falls off a cliff.

HAAKE:  Well, I think to go back to the code that you gave from our colleague, Mike Memoli.  It`s not just Joe Biden that benefits from the assumptions about his strength.  The Democratic voters that I talk too are really are looking for a winner.  Strength begets strength.

If you are having a good week, you will likely have a better week next week.  There is something to the momentum of this race where folks are looking around, they`re looking for different options.  People are looking for a liberal or more progressive alternative to Biden, I hear that all the time.

Sometimes that may be Bernie Sanders.  Sometimes that may be Elizabeth Warren.  But people want to back a winner and that seems to be the thing here.  So when it was Beto O`Rourke launching his campaign and it seemed like all the excitement was around him, he benefited.  When Pete Buttigieg had a moment, he benefited.

Now, there is a little bit to talk around Elizabeth Warren.  A lot of the voters I talk to here today told me she was their other favorite candidate that they were looking at in this race.  Yes, there is that big gap between Joe Biden and the rest of the field, but you still have to think with the debates coming up, there`s a lot of room for other folks to gain if Biden appears to slip.  If you let any air out of that balloon, the momentum works the same way coming down, I think.  And we might see some of that happen once we get into the debates and start to see all these candidates lined up together on the same stage.

WILLIAMS:  A.B. I want to play for you another kind new line of Biden attacked today.  We`ll talk about it on the other side


BIDEN:  Look, in 2020, we not only had to repudiate Donald Trump`s policies and values, we have to clearly and fully reject for our own safety sake, his view of the presidency.  Quote, "I have complete power".  No, you don`t, Donald Trump.

Quote from Donald Trump, "I have absolute power".  No, you don`t, Donald Trump.  Or, "only I can fix it".  Fix yourself first, Donald Trump.  When is the president ever used those phrases?


WILLIAMS:  So A.B., this seems to be Joe Biden putting himself in the role of reminding everybody how far from normal we are.

STODDARD:  Right.  And I think it`s a way to kind of wake up young voters.  People who might not be tuning in yet, might not be tuning into the concerns that he`s outlining that, sort of a civics lesson, but I think it`s also a way to reach never-Trump Republicans.  Who are watching from afar and might think they really seated it out next year to say look this is so not normal, no matter what you think of me or the Hyde Amendment, you`ve got to come back to your country.  You`ve got to think about how close we are to an abuse of power over and over and an autocracy.

I think it`s actually -- it might be an interesting time in the primary, but it`s obviously a compelling message.  The general election message.

WILLIAMS:  To Garrett`s point about the blood thirst in politics.  If anything happens to Joe Biden, think about how that affects the next stack of candidates and how quickly someone will rise to fill that vacuum.

STODDARD:  And that`s really interesting because if you look at the chunks of support of people who are competing for each other supporter, Senator Warren and Senator Sanders.


STODDARD:  And they are the anti-Biden.  So, that becomes a very complicated other alternative.

WILLIAMS:  John, does it tell you that Donald Trump is perhaps taking political advice, that he did not invoke the name of Jo Biden tonight at a 45-minute otherwise red meat political event?  If he`d been left to his own, don`t we think he would have used the name a few times?

HEILEMANN:  I kind of -- the stunning display of self-correction and restraint on the part of the President two words that I don`t normally apply to him that he earned all the merits.  You know, he seems to at least have conflicts the ways.  Like this is not -- this dynamic is not working out the way it`s supposed to.  I attacked him early it`s feeding this fire on Biden`s side and he seems to have upheld himself back tonight.  I doubt that will last for very long, self-restraint, when you rarely see that Trump does not generally last for a long time.

I will say this thing to back something Garrett said, and just the -- the discussion you mentioned, it`s not a national election, right.  It is a state-by-state election.

WILLIAMS:  So not a national (INAUDIBLE).

HEILEMANN:  And we focused rightly today on Iowa where the President and Joe Biden are.  And the reality is that beyond all these other polls, the most important poll of the last few days has been the Des Moines Register poll over weekend, which did show Joe Biden had lost a little altitude there and others had gained.  You said now a very clear top tier, five people on the Democratic side, and the people moving up right now, Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren, the people moving down right now have been Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

Not dramatically, but the trajectory is now want you want to see, if your Biden, I believe he is down four points in that poll from -- for the previous one in Iowa.  And that`s where it starts.  And that I`d say that when Donald Trump calls him 1% Joe Biden, he`s talking about 2008 where Joe Biden won 1% in Iowa and had to drop out the race the next day.

You know, Joe -- they`re going to be watching those Iowa polls pretty closely by the world that was saying.  If you keep to see them take down and others take up.  That becomes a tossup race among about four or five people and then got trouble if you`re Joe Biden.

WILLIAMS:  With all the noise today, something threatened to get lost.  And since you would vote his name, let`s hear Mayor Pete -- remember Rhodes Scholar, Afghanistan, U.S. Navy Veteran, gave a speech today on foreign policy.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D) PRESEDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This administration has embraced and embolden autocrats while alienating democracies and allies around the globe.  It is undermined America`s alliances, partnerships, and treaties.  We need a strategy.  Not just to deal with individual threats, rivalries and opportunities, but to manage global trends that will define the balance of this half century in which my generation will live the majority of our lives.


WILLIAMS:  A.B. Stoddard, what has become such a central question of this campaign, staying power, running realm.  How much potential does that man have?

STODDARD:  I think that he -- well, I think we all know he`s going to have a great debate.  I think we all know that the people who are gravitating to Pete Buttigieg just trust him.  They don`t even need to look at his foreign policies or national security plans.  They just trust him, they trust his intellect, his curiosity, his decency, his honesty, and he`s smarts.  And they just believe that he would be a good leader.

I think his separation from Biden is the most interesting thing.  I think he`s made a decision that he knows he will never be picked for VP on a ticket with the Vice President.  And so he`s going to go the runway.  He`s either going to make it to the nomination or he`s so young, he`s going to have another chance another time.

But I don`t think that he`s trying to play it safe when he tells us over and over again in all these speeches the riskiest thing for the Democratic Party is to play it safe.  That`s a direct shot at Biden.

WILLIAMS:  To our friend Garrett Haake, let`s just call it a quiet Tuesday evening in Davenport, Iowa.  Thank you for staying up with us.  Thank you to our friends, A.B. Stoddard and John Heilemann here in our studio.  We greatly appreciate it, gang.

And coming up for us, House Democrats who want to question fact witnesses in the Trump administration decide on a legal move to enforce their subpoenas.

And later, the Speaker of the House says every time the President attacks her, stock goes up.  "The 11th Hour" just getting started on this Tuesday night.



REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) NEW YORK:  The resolution passed today will allow Congress to enforce our subpoenas in the courts.

REP. JIM MCGOVERN, (D) MASSACHUSETTES:  No Congress should stand for this obstructionism.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA:  Today we added a new tool to our arsenal to make sure that the committee chairs can compel answers.

REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA:  Who does this President think he is?  In the United States of America no one is above the law.


WILLIAMS:  So just what did the House pass today?  We`re about to make it more understandable than they did.  The Democrats in control passed a resolution today that essentially gives those Committee chairs the power to sue the Trump administration to force compliance with subpoenas.

They now no longer need a vote of the full House to do so every time, the resolution passed 229 to 191 along party lines in practical terms that means the Committee like judiciary can now use the courts to enforce subpoenas for people like these two.  The Attorney General William Barr, Former White House Council Don McGahn.

Sources tell NBC News that Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to meet with her caucus the House Democrats tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. for a status update from their lead lawyer about all the legal action against this administration.  Make no mistake, today`s House vote keeps the Democrats firmly on the investigative track which Pelosi supports and away for now from an impeachment inquiry.

Politico reports Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has twice urged Pelosi to start proceedings against Trump and that she has refused.  Today they appear to be working from the same play book.


MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  If the caucus wants to go forward with an impeachment inquiry, would you go for it?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA:  There`s an insight close in our caucus, but --

RAJU:  But you`re not affected?

PELOSI:  -- I think it`s much as nothing as divisive in our country on my view than impeachment.

NADLER:  Well, I agree with Nancy Pelosi 100% that all options must be on the table, and what we`re doing now and what we will continue to do, is to get the information through the resolution, through the -- once we say we`re going to bring to enforce our subpoenas.


WILLIAMS:  You should hear when we use a microphone.

Politico also notes what its calling Trump`s attempt to weaponized the process of impeachment with escalating counterattacks on the Democrats like this one from earlier today.


TRUMP:  They are guilty of many crimes, many, many crimes what they`ve done.  They`re guilty of many, many crimes.  And hopefully in a short period of time that`ll be seen.  They should never have done what they`ve done.  And all they do is waste time on these investigations.


WILLIAMS:  House Democrats will again put the Mueller report front and center at a hearing tomorrow when the Intelligence Committee on the counterintelligence findings that are laid out in volume, one of the document.

Over on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, DJTJ, Donald J. Trump Jr. will be back in front of the Intelligence Committee for a closed-door hearing that is expected to focus on Trump Tower Moscow and the meeting with the actual Russians in the actual Trump Tower a few blocks from here in New York.

Now, with that as the prologue, with us for more, Kimberly Atkins, senior Washington correspondent for WUR Boston`s NPR News Station, and Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press.  Welcome to you both.

Jonathan, where does this put the how -- let`s agree that the Democrats have messaging issues perhaps in the House of Representatives.


WILLIAMS:  Like a whole lot of messaging.  Where does this put the Democrats in the House vis-a-vis Donald Trump in the White House?

LEMIRE:  Just a few things.  And this is a concrete step they took today, but still a relatively small one that allows the committee chair as you explain better than they did.  To try to compel testimony from these witnesses.  But more than anything, its -- I reading of the report that we`ve done suggests that this is about letting some the Democrats get blow off some steam.  Mrs. Pelosi understands that her caucus is pretty split here.  She downplayed it in that interview where you just played a minute ago.

But there`s a real portion of people in -- her members who want to fast track impeachment and she is trying to put up as many road blocks as she can.  But part of that is allowing them to do other things, to have a hearing like yesterday where John Dean appeared to take other steps like we`ve seen today.  Their collision course is still coming.  Most people around this Congress, this White House think that we will get towards impeachment, whether we go all the way there or not, there`ll be at least serious proceedings or serious maneuvers to take as the brink of impeachment at some point.  But this is -- this is her effort here to try to slow this down.  But there certainly no suggestion that these two sides are going to the White House and the Congress, are going to come to any sort of peace or terms here.  This is legal warfare.

WILLIAMS:  Kimberly, I`m going to play for you Donald Trump, this is today talking about the Democrats, and we`ll talk about what these talking points represent on the other side.


TRUMP:  Every day the Democrat Party is becoming more and more unhinged and more and more extreme.  They`re going crazy.

They waited for the Mueller report.  They were waiting, waiting.  That was their guy.  He had 18 angry Democrats, all Democrats, many of them contributed to crooked Hillary.  And these were the people that were looking at me, did nothing, no collusion, the result comes out, no collusion.  So now they say can we have a do-over?


WILLIAMS:  Of course, factually where to begin, they`re not all Democrats, and so on.  But Kimberly, that`s what the Democrats are up against.

KIMBERLY ATKINS, SR. NEWS CORRESPONDENT, WBUR:  Yes.  And there is a genuine concern that moving forward to impeachment could serve to embolden the President, embolden Donald Trump and to be politically advantageous to us, the people -- politically advantageous to Trump.  Trump has been using the Democrats as a political foil, as a political foil, and it has served to be a talking point that has been picked up by Republicans in the House or -- and by his base for quite some time.

And the idea that the Democrats are just trying to delegitimate -- take away the legitimacy of his presidency that this is purely a politically move seems to resonate for him.  And so the Democrats have that.

But on the other hand, as Jonathan said, you have this growing, steadily growing more than 60 Democrats now in the House, members who really want to see at least an impeachment inquiry break out if not actual impeachment proceedings.  And so that`s where the dividing line is both legally and politically.

WILLIAMS:  Jonathan, two things.  Number one we realize that a certain percentage of our viewers are just marveling in the construction of his hair in the wind.  We get that.  He`s a visual creature.  Number two, what do we need to know tomorrow about when his son testifies under oath behind closed doors, Senate Intelligence Committee?

LEMIRE:  He does look great. Well it`s a few things.  I mean, first of all, though we got here all remains noteworthy.  This is the Senate Intelligence Committee.  The Republicans control the Senate, Brian.  Donald Trump is a Republican so as his son.  But there are questions about some of his answers when he was on to testify for Congress previously.

Chairman Barr led the initiative to get him to come back tomorrow.  He received a lot of blow back from the right.  Donald trump Jr. is extremely popular among rank-and-file Republicans, particularly on the extreme edges, the real conservative Republicans.  And there was an online harassment campaign towards the chairman when this all went down.

You know, it`s behind close doors.  We`re not going to know what happens immediately, of course, but it remains a noteworthy event.  This is going to happen.  They are still question -- they want answers to questions, particularly about Trump Tower-Moscow and whether or not his answers line up with some of the things that say Michael Cohen also told Congress.

WILLIAMS:  That`s the problem with things like this.  Both of our guests have agreed to stay with us, a quick break here.

And coming up, the President has called her a mess for starters, but the speaker of the House says a tax like that helped her stock go up.  The latest on all of it when we come back.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I`m done with him.  My stock goes up every time he attacks me.  So what can I say?  But let`s not spend too much time on that because that`s his victory, the diverter-in- chief, the diverter-of-attention-in-chief."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Speaker Pelosi said today every time you attack her, her stock goes up.  Are you helping her politically?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  You know, look, Nancy is a mess.  The Democratic Party is a mess.  They`re doing everything they can to win the election in 2020?


WILLIAMS:  We are back for our double jeopardy round.  Kimberly Atkins, Jonathan Lemire remain with us.

And I want to throw something new into this conversation.  The "I" word as the President has taken to calling impeachment.  This is Donald Trump on the subject of impeachment.


TRUMP:  All of a sudden I hear last night they`re going to have a meeting right before this meeting to talk about the "I" word.  The "I" word.  Can you imagine?

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Just to confirm some details as it relates to Nancy Pelosi.  She says that you want to be impeached.  Do you want to be impeached?

TRUMP:  I don`t think anybody wants to be impeached. 

It`s a dirty word, the word impeach.  It`s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word and it had nothing to do with me.

There is no basis whatsoever for impeachment, none.

You can`t impeach somebody when there`s never been anything done wrong.


WILLIAMS:  That`s Donald Trump on impeachment.  Here`s Ashley Parker in the Washington Post on same.  "On one side are those loyalists, mainly outside the White House, who are telling the President that impeachment could be a political blessing for him and his party, that one road to re-election runs through impeachment."  Next.

"Down the other is a larger continent warning that impeachment, even under the rosiest scenarios," our old friend rosy scenario, "is a grueling gauntlet that will leave him political bruised with an asterisk forever marring his presidency."

Jonathan, you are nodding yes.

LEMIRE:  Yes.  Our reporting lines up exactly with Ashley`s.  We`ve written similar things.  That yes, there are people around the President who believe that impeachment is a winner here.  They saw what happened with Bill Clinton in 1990s, how his approval rating soared.  They feel they can paint the Democrats as a party of overreach, particularly as we get closer and closer to the 2020 election.  They think impeachment is sort of the way to go.

The President has signaled that he sort of understands that, but the concept makes him very nervous.  He is, as you`ve noted, he doesn`t like even say the word.  He`s a very superstitious type.  He does there things he won`t do.  He didn`t frankly plan his transition because he didn`t want to jinx the fact that he was maybe not going to win or maybe (inaudible).

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  Chris Christie`s work was (inaudible).

LEMIRE:  Toss aside.  So he doesn`t say the word.  He tries not to, both publically and privately.  He is concerned that it would be the first line of his political obituary.  Even as he knows, there`s little chance that the Senate would ever remove him as long as the Senate remains in the hands of the Republicans.

Impeachment is something that makes him queasy.  And it`s something that -- he`s had several meetings with Speaker Pelosi where impeachment, not on the agenda, but that will be the first thing he would bring up to her.  He would say, "Nancy, you`re not going to impeach me, are you?  And I think it is clearly something on his mind and his attacks on the speaker have only increased in recent days, on Twitter, in interviews, even when he`s sitting beside the gravestones or American soldiers in Normandy to commemorate the D-Day invasion.

WILLIAMS:  And, Kim, you know the -- what we call the Rick Wilson theory that if he is impeached, he then runs as a victim, raises $100 million off of it and cruises to re election.

KIMBERLY ATKINS, SENIOR NEWS CORRESPONDENT, WBUR:  That`s a possibility.  That could be the one thing that boosts his popularity.  We saw that happen with Bill Clinton.  I think there is concern among Democrats that that could happen.

But this is also a president who we know has really bristled at any notion that his presidency is illegitimate.  And he sees impeachment not just as something that can leave him within asterisks as the third president to face that, but also as moved by the Democrats to continue to relitigate 2016 and that gets under his skin too.

I think that`s why you see him so eager to trade barbs with Nancy Pelosi now in a way that he didn`t in the past, is because this impeachment question continues to loom in both as a re-election point as well as the notion that his current presidency is somehow not legitimate.

WILLIAMS:  To our friends Kimberly Atkins and Jonathan Lemire, our thanks for joining us and improving our conversation here on this Tuesday night.

And coming up, our next stop on "The Road to Miami" is a personal favorite of mine.  It`s also a state where Democrats flipped four Republican congressional seats last year.  Steve Kornacki is back at the big board when "The 11th Hour" continues.


WILLIAMS:  Now, two weeks and one day away from the very first Democratic presidential debates here on MSNBC.  And we`re continuing our series called "The Road to Miami."  As Steve Kornacki fills us in on everything we need to know about the important states along the crowded bustling I-95 Corridor.

You might remember, it was just last night Steve got stuck in some horrible traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway.  But tonight having slipped the surly bonds of New York, we are happy to report our friend Steve has crossed the magnificent George Washington Bridge and is now safely in the Garden State, the great state of New Jersey.  And back at the big board with us tonight is Steve Kornacki.  Steve?

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, Brian.  Yes, that`s right.  We, finally, we made it across that Cross Bronx Expressway.  Of course, it took all the gas out of my tank so I had to make a pit stop here at the Vince Lombardi Service Area when I hit New Jersey.

Filling up the tank right now, of course, I can talk to you while I`m doing this because in New Jersey there is no self-service gas.  It is all full service.  That is a state law.  It`s the only place in the country where they have that.  So I get to sit here.  They get to fill out the tank

Of course, the problem is there`s 18 pumps here, there`s only one attendant.  So actually I`ve been waiting a few minutes when they bring the company car back to me.  But while I continue waiting, maybe I can ask folks a trivia question.  How about that?

I`m going to give you four names here, four people, and I want you to think about what might they all have in common.  Number one, exuberant sports caster Dick Vitale.  Number two, hip hop artist and comedic actress, Queen Latifah.  Number three, 19th century novelist James Cooper and number four, television news icon and 11Th hour host Brian Williams.  What do all four of these individuals have many common?

Well, they`ve all never been in my kitchen, that is true, but there`s something else worth thinking about.  All of them are members in good standing of the New Jersey State Hall of Fame located mere miles from where I am right now in New Jersey`s historic Meadowlands.

In fact, I believe we have  exclusively obtained some footage from that night five years ago when the host of this show was inducted by Mr. Bruce Springsteen into the hall of fame.


WILLIAMS:  My life really comes down to three numbers I`m Very proud of.  I was born at Exit 163, raised at Exit 117.  And we are currently homeowners at Exit 98.


WILLIAMS:  It`s all about the numbers.  It`s always been all about the numbers.

KORNACKI:  That was, of course, those were Parkway references.  We`re on I- 95 on this trip, but close enough.  Brian Williams, of course, as we said inducted five years ago and we can report some new news on this front for you tonight, Brian.  You will soon be joined.

It was just announced this week, by several new esteemed inductees into the New Jersey Hall of Fame including the Smithereens, Southside Johnny, George R. R. Martin, Martha Stewart and Jason Alexander, all of them will be taking place with you in that hall of fame this October.  So something for everybody to look forward to there, OK.

Now, we always talk two on these trips about politics, about presidential politics, about the significance of each place we visit when it comes to New Jersey.

Well, look, we think of New Jersey as a blue state.  This is what it looked like, though, before the 2018 midterms.  12 congressional districts in the state, seven of them were blue, five of them were red.  That`s because New Jersey, blue state, yes, but a suburban state, a lot of traditionally Republican suburbs.  Suburbs that Democrats in the Trump era have been targeting, suburbs that are filled with the types of voters, it can be more college educated, more culturally moderate.

Democrats have said there`s going to be a backlash against Trump with those voters that`s going to power them.  They said this in the 2018 midterms.  And look at New Jersey, this was before the 2018 midterms.  It was 7 to 5, Democrats over Republicans, after 11 to 1.  That`s what the 2018 midterm wave did here in New Jersey.

But the way, it wasn`t just that.  US Senator Bob Menendez, he went in trial for bribery.  He was -- got a hung jury during the campaign ran for re-election, his numbers were in that tank and yet the resistance to Trump and the Republican Party was so strong that Menendez still won by double digits.

Democrats look at those suburbs in New Jersey, they look at those results from 2018, and they see something that didn`t just power them in New Jersey, they think it`s something that`s going to power them in suburbs all across the country into 2010, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Steve, thank you.  It`s an honor to be included.  We look up to James Fenimore Cooper, he is a rest stop and of course we all hope to be rest stop someday.  If you`re from New Jersey, that`s the ultimately honor.  Steve Kornacki, thank you so much, we`re just loving the series of reports.

KORNACKI:  Thanks.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up, what was it the President said today that once again has the US intelligence community concerned?  That when we come back.



TRUMP:  I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un.  I can`t show you the letter, obviously, but it was a very personal, very warm, very nice letter.  I appreciate it.  I think North Korea has tremendous potential.  And the one that feels that more than anybody is Kim Jong-un.  He gets it.  Again, the letter he sent was a beautiful letter.  It was a very warm letter.  It`s a very nice thing.


WILLIAMS:  President Trump once again extolling the beauty of his relationship in the letters he gets from the North Korean dictator.  We don`t know if it was another one of the giant letters, just that it was beautiful.  We do know the President really enjoys this kind of correspondence.


TRUMP:  Chairman Kim, Kim Jong-un sent me a beautiful letter two days ago. 

He likes me, I like him.  We get along.  He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters.  This is a historic letter, and it is a historic letter.  It`s a beautiful, it`s a beautiful piece of art.

He wrote me beautiful letters, and they`re great letters.  We fell in love.


WILLIAMS:  He must have some better than average letter head.  Trump`s renewed praise for the North Korean leader comes as we`re learning more about Kim Jong-un`s half brother who it`s believed he had assassinated back in 2017.  There are reports Kim`s half brother was also an American intelligence asset.

According to a new book released just today, the author of which will join us tomorrow night, Kim Jong-nam became an informant for the CIA.  And on the day he was killed, security camera footage showed him in a hotel elevator with an Asian looking man who was reported to be an American intelligence agent.

At that news, the President appeared to side with North Korea over something that is a staple of our intelligence business.


TRUMP:  I saw the information about the CIA with respect to his brother or half brother.  And I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that`s for sure.  I wouldn`t let that happen under my auspices.


WILLIAMS:  So here`s how our former CIA Director John Brennan responded to the president`s comments earlier tonight on this network.


JOHN BRENNAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  He has no appreciation for the importance of the intelligence profession and the work that intelligence professionals do around the globe to include going out and trying to recruit individuals to provide us the insights we need to keep our country strong and safe.


WILLIAMS:  The most recent letter from Kim Jong-un appears to be the first correspondence since the failed nuclear summit in Hanoi.  Since then Kim Jong-un has resumed short-range testing.  So far there`s been no sign an agreement is any closer to reality.

Another break for us and coming up, a moment of genuine passion and genuine emotion that broke out in Congress today, but no, not for many member of Congress.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight.  There he was, our friend Jon Stewart, a New Jersey native who was living in New York on 9/11.  And in the years since, he`s been out front on behalf of first responders to get funding for the health crisis that has been slicing through their population.

We are nearing the point where the deaths of first responders after 9/11 will soon surpass the death toll of first responders on 9/11.  There`s a cancer epidemic among them.  Remember the Bush administration EPA administrator told at us air was safe to breathe down there at ground zero.  Thousands worked on that pile, first in the search for bodies, and then in the effort to clear what had become a tomb.

And make no mistake, they were all victims of the same terrorist attack.  The funding from Congress has been stretched to thin, payouts have been reduced.  It`s a heavy lift to get the funding reauthorized every five or so years, and that was behind Jon Stewart`s frustration and emotion today.


JON STEWART, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS ADVOCATE:  I`m sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I`m angry, and you should be too.  And they`re all angry as well. 

Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity, time.  They responded in five seconds.  They did their jobs, with courage, grace, tenacity, humility.  18 years later, do yours.


WILLIAMS:  And to those in Congress who have treated this rising death toll with benign neglect, and they know who they are, perhaps dismissing it as a New York problem, Jon Stewart reminded Congress today the terrorist didn`t declare death to Tribeca, they declared death to America.

That is our broadcast on this Tuesday 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