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Harris (D-CA) confronts Biden (D-DE). TRANSCRIPT: 6/28/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Shannon Pettypiece, Barry McCaffrey, Jacqueline Alemany, A.B.Stoddard, Josh Gerstein

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  That is tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, Donald Trump sent a Twitter invite to Kim Jong-un and jokes about election interference with the man accused of interfering in our election, while serious people looking on find nothing to laugh about.

Plus, the fallout after two nights of debates, 20 Democrats  spread over four hours.  There was one moment there that tonight has forced the front runner into damage control.

And this week`s overlook legal headline included a Paul Manafort perp walk and the Supreme Court action that could impact our presidential election.  All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Friday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News head quarters here in New York.  Day 890 of the Trump administration.  However, it`s day 891 where the President is, in Osaka Japan, where it`s Saturday morning.  The President capped off his day of meetings at the G-20 summit with this Twitter.  "After some very important meeting including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving japan for South Korea with President Moon.  While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the border DMZ just to shake his hand and say hello?!"

Not long after hitting send on that, reporters in Japan asked about the invitation.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I just put out a feeler because I don`t know where he is right now.  He may not be in North Korea, but I said if Chairman Kim would want to meet, I`ll be at the border.  I`d certainly -- we seem to get along very well.

For the stupid people that say, "Oh, he gets along," no, it`s good to get along, it`s good to get along, because frankly, if I didn`t become president, you`d be right now in a war with North Korea.  You`d be having a war right now with North Korea.  And by the way, that`s a certainty.


WILLIAMS:  Much more on that just ahead.  Trump has already met with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit.  The two greeting each other like old friends.  At this point it`s important to remember this is their first sit- down since Robert Mueller reported and we quote, "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election and sweeping and systematic fashion.  We assess, President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election."  Mueller also reported those efforts were aimed at helping Donald Trump.

During today`s face to face meeting with Putin, Trump seemed to make light of the interference.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?


TRUMP:  Don`t meddle in the election.


WILLIAMS:  About those do we (ph) optics, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia wrote this today.  "Why does trump so desire Putin`s approval?  There is something so unnatural, strange, and troubling about his fealty before Putin, especially when he was in Putin`s presence."  That from Ambassador Michael McFaul.

The White House says the two leaders went to meet behind closed doors for nearly an hour.  Prior to departing Trump said their discussions were none of our business.  Indeed, the White House says election interference did not come up in today`s discussion.

Trump`s past meetings have been notable for remarks seeming to absolve the Kremlin in the 2016 election meddling even though 16 intelligence agencies had said that Russia was indeed responsible.


TRUMP:  I believe that President Putin really, and he feel strongly that he did not meddle in our election.  What he believes is what he believes.

I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections.  I felt this was a message best delivered in person, spent a great deal of time talking about it.

My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it`s Russia.  I have President Putin.  He just said it`s not Russia.  I will say this.  I don`t see any reason why it would be.


WILLIAMS:  Those comments you`ll recall in ignited criticism back at home as did Trump`s more recent interview with ABC News, the one where he admitted that if offered foreign dirt on a political opponent he`d take it.

And on the question of what Russia may have done for Donald Trump, today 94-year-old former president Jimmy Carter went there during an interview with the historian and author Jon Meacham.  He questioned the legitimacy of Trump`s presidency.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT:  There`s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn`t actually win the election in 2016.  He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.

JON MEACHAM, HISTORIAN:  So do you believe President Trump is an illegitimate president?

CARTER:  Based on what I said which I can`t retract.  I`d say yes.

MEACHAM:  Copy that.


WILLIAMS:  By the way, returning the spirit of friendship, here`s part of what Putin said about Trump in an interview just this week.  "I think that he is a talented person.  He knows very well what his voters expect from him."

And while we were all in the midst of covering two debates over two nights, this indelible image was all but lost.  Paul Manafort in cuffs, in prison clothes, being walked down a hallway about to face New York state charges, multiple fraud charges in the midst of the federal prison sentence he is serving.

He pleaded not guilty to the new charges.  Nonetheless, an arresting image of the man who was once chairman of Donald Trump`s campaign.  Which brings us to our leadoff discussion on a Friday night, Shannon Pettypiece, White House correspondent for Bloomberg.  Frank Figliuzzi, former senior FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence, and Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and former senior FBI official who served as counselor for a time to Robert Mueller, also happens to be the host of the MSNBC podcast "The Oath" with Chuck Rosenberg.  Latest episode features FBI Director James Comey.

Hey Frank, in your professional opinion, what`s it like to watch the President and Putin again today?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:  A couple thoughts, Brian.  First, every American who cares about national security should be deeply offended by the fact that the best our President could muster today was a joking admonition to Putin to hey, don`t interfere again and smile, joke.  It`s not funny.  The security of our elections is not funny.

Observation number two.  Its clear world leaders have figured President Trump out.  Psychologically assessed him and figured out you can manipulate and drive his conduct through ego stroking.  And even in a clip you played earlier, you could see Putin mirroring the posture of Trump.

Putin has very rigid straight posture but he`s leaning over shoulders slouched as Trump often does.  That helps Trump feel not only comfortable but feels like he is aligned and allied with Putin.

Our foreign policy is essentially being driven and manipulated by how well you can stroke this President`s ego.

WILLIAMS:  And Frank, that`s Psych 101.  Job candidates are told if they wish, if they want to try it, to mirror the person they are interviewing with for a job, it`s supposed to make that person feel oddly more comfortable in ways they haven`t grasped.

FIGLIUZZI:  Well, and the President falls for it quite easily it appears.  The thing that I think is most disturbing as well, it`s -- as you said, it`s kind of Psych 101.  Our allies try it and then they get slapped down anyway.  So everybody is trying it, but it only seems to work with adversaries, dictators, killers, and so we`re left with two possible theories.  One, this President is compromised in some way, shape, or form, personally or professionally and that`s causing him to buddy up with Putin.  Or number two, even worse quite frankly, could be that he sees himself psychologically as that dictator, that killer, that tyrant, and he envies their position and wants to be them.

WILLIAMS:  Well, that`s reassuring.

Hey Shannon, in addition to the President calling American journalists fake news in front of the world and the Russian president, and the President joking about interference in our election.  I`m going to quote for you from our friend Anita Kumar in Politico, "it could have been expected according to his current and former advisers.  They say Trump often bristles at being told what to say or do so when pushed the President simply mocks what is expected of him," speaking of Psych 101, "even when it comes to Russia."

Shannon, of course, the question is, how do the adults around Trump react because they keep calendars and they know Mr. Mueller is testifying just for starters a couple days from now.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, of course the President has had a big issue with this allegation of Russian election interference because he and even those close to him who helped get him elected feel that it undermines his 2016 victory.  So, when that question was shouted at him, he certainly could have just ignored it.  But he chose to wade in it.  He chose to make the comments he made.

There was a group earlier this week of top intelligence officials, top law enforcement officials, top administration officials who held a conference call with reporters on election meddling where they specifically said that Russia, China, and Iran were working on efforts to influence the 2020 election.  They said Russia was still engaged in this type of social media communication manipulation behavior.

At the time, my colleagues and I kind of wondered why they were holding this call now because it seemed unusual timing.  And I apologize for speculating.  And I can only speculate, but now looking at where we are today with election interference coming up again, having this information from a few days ago about the urgency the administration -- these administration officials felt about election interference is useful.

So I mean, despite what the President is saying there`s still a large group in the government that is working on this.  But if you don`t have a president who is going to tell Putin to knock it out, then the best we seem to be able to be doing is defense.

WILLIAMS:  Chuck Rosenberg, like our other two guests tonight, I don`t know your politics, I don`t care to know and you`re not going to tell me if I ask.  So with that as the predicate, I`ll ask you a hypothetical.  If you were the Democrats on the Hill investigating this guy, how big a thumb in the eye is it with him joking about election interference and remember, we American citizens who have a stake in this because we`re staring the next presidential election in the face?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL:  It`s despicable behavior, Brian, but it`s not new.  I mean, look, at one level the Russian interference in the election was designed to undermine Hillary Clinton.  They hacked into her campaign accounts and into the DNC.  But at a much broader, much higher and much more important level, it was an attack on America.

At the outset of this program you said it was day 890 of the Trump presidency.  And so I would submit to you it`s time for him to start acting like a president whose nation has been attacked.  I understand that he feels that it undermines the legitimacy of his election.  He is the president.  Behave like one.

WILLIAMS:  Shannon, I referenced this clip earlier.  I want to play it for our audience.  Here`s what the President said about us and our colleagues in the news media in front of Putin.


TRUMP:  Fake news is a great term, isn`t it?  You don`t have this problem in Russia.  We have that problem.  You don`t have that problem.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT:  Yes, yes, we have -- we have it too, it`s the same.


WILLIAMS:  Yes, we got the same problem too back home.  Looking at the comment, weigh it against how Russia has had journalists killed Shannon.  It`s just and obviously there`s going to be oversensitivity in the journalism community, but it`s an incredible thing to hear all over again.

PETTYPIECE:  Right.  On the one-year anniversary of the Capital Gazette shooting.

WILLIAMS:  And Annapolis, yes.

PETTYPIECE:  Right.  And obviously why don`t they have a problem with "fake news" in Russia?  It`s because they arrest and they murder journalists there.  You know, outright murder them.

I know that the President has been explained why this phrase fake news is detriment tall not only to the U.S. media, but international media, the publisher of "The New York Times" publicly said he went in and talked to the President and explained to him how -- while it might seem like a politically clever thing to say to help him in the U.S., it is putting journalists lives at danger in authoritarian countries around the world, Russia included.

So the President is aware of this.  He knows what`s happening.  And I think it`s almost one thing when he uses it at a rally as a sort of political tool, but then to use it to another foreign leader who murders journalists is seems to be a different level.

WILLIAMS:  Frank, I know you regard former feds, current feds as your brothers and sisters have, and given so many years of your life in federal service, and from time to time I like to check in with you on the morale as you`re hearing it, as you perceive it, because times remain tough for the rigor of office, for all those charged, especially in your old line of work in Counterintelligence.

FIGLIUZZI:  I have some better news to report.  This -- I think you`re right to check in periodically because it does wax and wane.  And I think what I`m hearing recently is that people within the ranks understand where this president is coming from.  Understand now that what they`ve signed up for is essentially periodic bashings.  They understand that in the form of the FBI director, Chris Ray has their back.

And so they`re still going about their work and public corruption and civil rights and counterterrorism and counterintelligence.  And I think we may even see some glimpses of that come out perhaps as Mueller testifies on July 17th.  And in particular, as his team behind closed doors shares what they know with House and/or Senate Intelligence Committees, we may here a little bit, just a little bit about the counterintelligence work of the FBI.

WILLIAMS:  OK, Chuck I haven`t talk to you either since we learn that Mueller will indeed testify.  It will be an event, it`s going to be on live television of course give us, given your knowledge of the man, give us a kind of viewer`s guide, a preview.  What do you think we`ll see?

ROSENBERG:  Sure.  Well, the first thing you`ll see is what Mueller told you, you would see if he were made to testify.  And that is he will not stray beyond the report.  That report is extraordinarily compelling, by the way.

And so point number two, Brian, is that even if he sticks strictly to the report, and I expect that he will, what`s in it tells one heck of a story.  Not just on Russian interference which is in volume one of the report, but also on the President`s obstruction of justice in volume two.

And so look, I get the fact that most people would rather see the movie than read the book, although the book is compelling, this will be the movie version.  And Bob Mueller will stick to the script.  I hate to mix metaphors on you there.  But he will stick to the script, he will stay within the four corners of the report.  But it tells a heck of a tale.

WILLIAMS:  And Chuck, this calls for a judgment on your part.  But if they ask him straight up, head on, the President`s going out there saying no obstruction, no collusion, is it true?  Is -- should he be able to say that, do you think they`ll get a sound bite from Mueller or a tortured answer from Mueller?

ROSENBERG:  Yes, more likely the latter.  You know, look, on one level I hope this doesn`t reduce the sound bites or to gaffes or to quips or to, you know, an eye roll, because the report is 428 pages.  Not a moment.  It`s really, you know, a tapestry.

That said, the way Mueller described it and has described it publicly and in the report, is that if we could have exonerated the President on obstruction of justice, we would have done so.  We could not.  And so I expect you`ll hear something like that formulation when he testifies.  But those are really important words, Brian.  And people should listen for them.

WILLIAMS:  Much obliged to our big three for contributing so much tonight.  Shannon Pettypiece, Frank Figliuzzi, Chuck Rosenberg, thank you all three of you for coming on tonight.

And coming up for us, the President`s invite to meet cute with the North Korean dictator at the DMZ.  We`ll run the whole idea of it past a retired four star general.

And later as the dust settles after two days of debates, where the various Democratic candidates go or don`t go from here.  As THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on this Friday night.


WILLIAMS:  That group photo of the President between the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

As we mentioned President Trump suggested he would be willing to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un during a visit to South Korea this weekend.  This bears repeating, the President put it this way.  "After some very important meetings including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea with President Moon. While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the border DMZ just to shake his hand and say hello?!"

I suppose we could pass him a note during homeroom or wait by his locker.  President Trump was asked about this post earlier today in Japan.


TRUMP:  All I did was put out a feeler if he`d like to meet.  He sent me a very beautiful birthday card, and I just -- what I did is -- and he -- I guess he got my return letter because it`s in the newspapers, him reading the return letter.

But I just put out.  I thought of out this morning, will be at the area, we may go to the DMZ or the border, as they call it that.  That by the way, when you talk about a wall, when you talk about a border, that`s what they call a border.  Nobody goes through that border.  Just about nobody.


WILLIAMS:  The White House declined to comment about any potential meeting beyond the President`s comments there.

Our own Josh Lederman who is traveling with the President in Japan points out, "If the meeting were to transpire, it would be the first time a U.S. and North Korean leader have met in the DMZ, which despite its name is the most heavily fortified border in the world."

A lot to talk to about.  We have the man to talk about it, retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey.  A retired four-star, a heavily decorated combat veteran of Vietnam U.S. ground commander in the Gulf War and a veteran of the region under discussion here tonight.

General, hard to know where to begin, number one, the President may not realize he has people for that if he wants to extend an invitation.  What - - if you`re our allies in the region, if you`re Japan, if you`re South Korea, how do you view an invitation to meet a guy not just a guy, but Kim Jong-un at the DMZ via Twitter?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.):  You know, the North Koreans have a small cadre of intelligence people who speak and read English, who read all our publications and watch our T.V.  They have to go in and brief Kim Jong- un on their conclusions.  I`ll bet they don`t have a clue what to tell him.  And if you have it wrong with Kim Jong-un, you might get shot.

This is a bizarre situation.  Kim Jong-un is -- got a 100,000 people in the Gulag.  He`s shot dead in public execution several hundred of his senior people.  He may have as many as 60 nuclear weapons right now continuously produces raw material.

It is hard to imagine what he`s doing.  And more importantly, to me, his actions have left the Japanese, the South Koreans, the Australians, the people who our allies in the region trying to sort out where will they be in five years?  Are we leaving?  Are we abandoning our defense alliance?  It`s a very dangerous situation for U.S. foreign policy.

WILLIAMS:  And more than that, we have these two leaders swooning over each other`s letterhead and letters to each other.  We have our President making this public invitation.  And what point have you made so many times.  The North Koreans and their leader crave relevance.  This makes them relevant in the eyes of the world.

MCCAFFREY:  Sure.  Yes.  President Trump`s actually going to and genuflecting to North Korea, I mean getting nothing in return, giving it more attention.

By the way, Brian, I wouldn`t agree that Kim Jong-un is swooning over Mr. Trump.  He may not be able to believe his good fortune, but he probably is confused as to what`s going on.

But clearly blandishments, ego stroking of Kim Jong-un won`t have any impact whatsoever on his decision making.  The best that could come out of this is another gesture of public diplomacy, of friendship, of photo op.  I think Mr. Trump spends a lot of time in the moment enjoying the moment, the attention.

WILLIAMS:  I`m going to play for you a clip from a U.S. veteran, Mayor Pete, a man you`ve spoken about in very complementary terms.  Here`s something he said last night about the damage extent around the world.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D) SOUTH BEND, INDIANA:  We have no idea which are our most important allies he will have pissed off most between now and then.  What we know is that our relationship with the entire world needs to change and it starts by modeling American values at home.


WILLIAMS:  General, in there he raises a serious point.  Do you think that the strains that we have currently with our oldest friends in the world can be put back?  Will be OK in the long scope of history post Donald Trump whenever that is?

MCCAFFREY:  I assume so.  Look, most allied nations, the Germans, the French, the Brits, the Japanese, the South Koreans, they have hundreds of thousands of students and businessmen here.  They understand American values.  They have great respect for the power and the discipline of the U.S. Armed Forces.  So, in the long run, maybe this will be OK, but there`s no question that we have, you know, the President has praised and complimented and identified with Duterte in the Philippines, a murderer`s thug, with Erdogan, with Putin, with Kim Jung-un, it`s a bizarre situation, at the same time turning on these life-long allies.

American security is fundamentally based on NATO, and our alliances such as South Korea, Japan and Australia.  In bottom (ph), he`s called into question the value of being our ally.  So, it`s hard to imagine that there isn`t a lot of short-term damage, and they`re watching the 2020 election and saying, do we have this guy for another four years?  So that`s an active question in U.S. national security.

WILLIAMS:  Chilling no to end on, General Barry McCaffrey.  Thank you so much for joining us.  It`s always a pleasure to have you.

MCCAFFREY:  Good to be with you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up, a look at the second night of the two nights of Democratic debates when we come right back.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I heard and I listened to, and I respect Senator Harris.  But, you know, we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can`t do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights.

I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on racial justice including busing, I never, never, never, ever opposed voluntary busing.


WILLIAMS:  Joe Biden back on the campaign trail attempting to clarify his commitment to civil rights there.  The former vice president has come under fire for his relationship with two segregationist senators for opposing busing as a way to desegregate schools most pointedly by California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris in what became an instantly indelible moment from last night`s debate.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I do not believe you are a racist.  And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.  But I also believe, and it`s personal, and I was actually very -- it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.

And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.  And you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of this second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day, and that little girl was me.


WILLIAMS:  Here with us tonight, Jackie Alemany, Political Reporter for the Washington Post, Author of the papers morning newsletter "Power Up," usually comes out at the same time we`re powering down, and A.B. Stoddard, Columnist and Associate Editor at RealClearPolitics.  Welcome to you both.

AB, there`s that cruel phrase and a cruel business about politics.  If you`re explaining, you`re losing.  Joe Biden spent the day explaining.  Where would you put the Joe Biden campaign right about now?

A.B. STODDARD, COLUMNIST/ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS:  I do not think it`s a fatal blow because it is still early.  But, Brian, he had a bad night, and I did not think his cleanup today was effective.  It fell very flat.

He did explained his long record of protecting civil rights and working passionately to defend them, but his other explanation about busing and his kind of trying to use the Obama years to kind of get mad and get fired up was not really well-received in the room.  And it just is -- it`s -- he`s not using his strength.  He seemed overwhelmed by the Democratic Party of 2019 last night.

He seemed defensive.  His strength is his electability.  It`s why he`s polling more than 50 percent in a 23-person field with nonwhite voters.  People believe he could step in one day one or yesterday and do the job better even if he napped for four years with a staff that would be better for this country than Donald Trump`s presidency.

He didn`t say that last night.  He`s not telling the voters this is no time for on-the-job training which is how Speaker Pelosi got elected to her speakership a second time.  So unless he tells voters, "This is what I have over these other new young folks with their different ideas," he`s going to look like he looked last night, insecure and overwhelmed.

WILLIAMS:  Beautifully said.  Jackie, you wrote beautifully about what we witnessed last night.  That Senator Harris not only took the torch from Joe Biden, she stole his thunder right there on the stage as we watched.

Can he succeed if he doesn`t come at a new way of owning the past?  I suppose he runs the risk of running out of ways to say you had to be there.

JACQUELINE ALEMANY, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Yes.  I think he is in a tough position, right, because he doesn`t want to be constantly apologizing for all his past positions.  But at the same time, he was a stark contrast to someone like Mayor Pete who just embraced accountability and responsibility.  And it was pretty refreshing at least according to some of the focus groups that I was listening to throughout the night.

But, again, you know, it`s so difficult to make predictions right now.  But it seems that Joe Biden really does seem to lack a vision.  He spent the day talking about busing, not talking about a criminal justice reform platform or his vision for what he wants the presidency to look like.

And I think if he especially is going to be running on this idea of electability, he needs to, you know, come up with a more salient vision for what, you know, a Biden 2020 White House is going to look like.

WILLIAMS:  And A.B., you put it so well, the Democratic Party of 2019.  I always say Steve Jobs told us we should -- everyone needs to have an opinion.  We want to hear from everyone.  Well, be careful what you wish for, because now we hear from everyone and that whole trend has risen in the latter half of Joe Biden`s political career.

It`s tough out there in a way it wasn`t tough when Joe Biden`s political career was coming up.

STODDARD:  Right.  I mean, it is a totally different party, a totally different country.  And the way to not be apologizing for the past but as you say, it was different back then, to explain in the arc of my 50 years in public service or whatever it is, 48, you know, things have changed.  I`ve changed with the times in this way.

I see your point that in some ways you can`t understand our perspective back then.  There`s a way to sort of have this conversation like I say, playing to his strengths.  And he wasn`t doing it last night and he wasn`t really doing it today.

What he brings to the table is that -- is sort of stability and expertise, and experience, and relationships around the world, and a perfectly presidential staff of people ready to step in and do this all.  He`s actually really sort of done this job.  And that`s not what he`s selling the people of a very different Democratic Party.

And so I do think, it`s very significant, the support that he has.  Like I said, among nonwhite voters who just want to beat Donald Trump who are looking for a pragmatic, you know, swallow your medicine nomination here.  They don`t want to mess around.  But he should have made that case.

He should be on that stage saying, "Look, I understand.  It`s a new generation.  Of course I`ll pick a vice president that will be of the next generation in the future, but right now we need this time out.  We need to fix some things, and I`m uniquely positioned for that."  And it`s just not a case that he`s making.

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  Someone said in the moment last night on the stage last night, Senator Harris was all candle power.  Jackie and A.B. have agreed to stay with us, a quick break.

And then coming up, the elephant in the room last night in that arena was actually on the other side of the world, in Osaka, Japan.  President Trump`s reaction to his competition and how we know about it.  That when we continue.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The American people understand that Trump is a phony, that Trump is a pathological liar, and a racist, and that he lied to the American people.

BIDEN:  Donald Trump thinks Wall Street built America.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  One of the worst things about President Trump that he has done to this country is he`s torn apart the moral fabric of who we are.

HARRIS:  Where was that question when the Republicans and Donald Trump passed a tax bill, the benefits the top 1 percent and the biggest corporation in this country?


WILLIAMS:  For those who watched both nights along with us, very different dynamic as you saw on night two of this first round of debates.  By a Washington Post count, Democrats mentioned Trump nearly twice as many times.

Our friend Ashley Parker over at the Post summed it up this way, "During the second night on Thursday, Trump was the boogeyman that everyone named, a charlatan and a fraud, a fabulist, a child abuser, a hater of immigrants, a separator of families, a supporter of white supremacist and in the words of former Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, the worst president in American history."

Jackie Alemany and A.B. Stoddard remains with us.  Jackie, about socialism, the s-word, I want to run this from President Trump.  He summed up what he saw on stage from the Democrats.  We`ll discuss it with you on the other side.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  I`ve been watching the debates a little bit in between meetings, and I wasn`t impressed.  But when you look at the socialism and look at what it can do, that`s what you`re talking about there.  And that`s become like the socialist party.

In fact, I heard there`s a rumor that Democrats are going to change the name of the party from the Democrat Party to the Socialist Party.  I`m hearing that.


WILLIAMS:  Of course, you have Bernie Sanders out there giving speeches about the gifts of socialism.  This is a whole strategy we`re looking, playing out and some of the Democrats are walking right into it.

ALEMANY:  That`s exactly right.  But we`re going to see this strategy used on people even like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who are self-described pragmatists.  I`ve spoken with a bunch of Trump campaign officials over the past few months as they`ve been gearing up to launch the President`s campaign.

And this is what they`re going to try to do time and time again, show the Democratic Party of 2020 is beholden to the progressive wing, to the AOCs, to the Green New Deal.

And that was illustrated through things like Joe Biden for example flip- flopping on a Hyde Amendment, but also in a moment like last night when every single candidate raised their hand when asked if their healthcare plan would cover undocumented immigrants, which goes further than what exist today under Obamacare.

You could practically hear that campaign attack ad at being made, and the President tweeted about it immediately.  But that`s why I think Kamala Harris was actually so effective last night because I think that she was able to sort of transcend this idea of ideology, and this tension between the progressive wing and bipartisan pragmatist through her force of personality.  And the way that she was able to really weave together attacks and her narrative and present herself I think as a direct contrast to the President himself rather than as a faker of the left or, you know, the more moderate Democratic Party.

WILLIAMS:  And A. B., Jackie just mentioned the President himself.  Why do you think there was night one reticence about using his name?  Democrats are angry at him.

STODDARD:  Right.  It is the most unifying argument in what I think is a divided party to talk about defeating President Trump.  And it`s obviously effective the -- when it`s used.  You saw it last night.

I don`t blame the Democrats in the first round for resisting it, because they were on stage with Cory Booker who has been basically saying that defeating Trump is only the beginning.  The party has to stand for things, you know, the solutions to the problems that the country faces beyond the presidency of President Trump.

And so I think that, you know, they can`t really win, right?  If they don`t attack Trump, people say what`s going on?  And at the same time, if they spend too much time just speaking about him, they`re a party with no ideas.

So, I do think they were trying, at least the contenders in the first group, to make the case that they`re about other things and they thought long and hard about what ails the country.

I do want to say on the socialism thing, the President could not be happier with the last two nights as Jackie points out.  All hands in the air on coverage for healthcare, coverage for illegal immigrants.


STODDARD:  This kind of thing about socialism.  And Kamala Harris is embarrassing retreat on whether she thought she heard that she`d give up her own private insurance.

She ran into this bus.  I saw it January 29th in a Jake Tapper town hall.  He even pushed it.  There was -- she said yes, get rid of the insurers.  She caught heat for it in the days that followed.

The idea that she would wake up this morning and said that that`s not what she was for is because overnight everyone was concerned that the star of the two nights of debates had trapped herself by saying we would get rid of private insurance that most Americans have and like.

And so I do think they`re making it a choice for the President instead of a referendum, and that`s exactly what Donald Trump wants.

WILLIAMS:  Jackie Alemany and A.B. Stoddard, two of the bylines we ask our viewers to look for.  Thank you both so much for coming on with us tonight.

And coming up, the two big decisions from the Supreme Court this week and a third case they have agreed to take on as an intern runs to the curb to the camera crew with another ruling as THE 11TH HOUR continues.


WILLIAMS:  It was a very busy week of news out of the Supreme Court.  It has not gotten near as much attention as it should.

Just today, the court agreed to hear a case over the termination of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program started by Obama.

On Thursday, the court Delta blow the Trump administration in a narrow ruling that put on hold plans to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census.  They also ruled that federal courts can`t stop partisan gerrymandering from state legislatures.

A mixed bag with us tonight, the aforementioned Josh Gerstein, Senior Legal Affairs Contributor for Politico.  Josh, thank you very much.

On DACA for starters, what`s the 45-second version?  Why is it taking so long, if they hear it on October that could be a wait until a year from now for an opinion?

JOSH GERSTEIN, SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICO:  That`s potentially true, Brian.  I mean, what`s fascinating about the DACA case is sort of the pacing of it and the way the Supreme Court seems to have tried to dodge a political bullet here, but may end up catching one in the end.

It`s been a year and a half since the Trump administration began asking the Supreme Court to weigh in and rescue their plan to cancel the DACA program which would end protection for almost 700,000 people who either entered the US illegally or stayed in the country, illegally came in as children.  So that has been a year and a half in the making.

And finally today, the Supreme Court said, we`ll wait into -- to this dispute, the convention among court watchers has been that court didn`t want to take this issue away and take it into their realm, when they thought the political branches might worked it out.  And that now, they finally given up on that.

But the side effect of the schedule they`ve set for this case is that, it`s going to be briefed, and then argued and decided really at the height of the presidential campaign, when the political stakes for it, really couldn`t be more acute.

WILLIAMS:  And cruising around the web today, I saw a lot of your colleagues covering the court, are writing news analysis pieces in some form or fashion, saying Chief Justice John Roberts is the new swing vote for better or worse.  Do you concur and why would that be important?

GERSTEIN:  I do concur but I don`t think it`s totally new.  I mean, it`s been about seven years in the making since the first Obamacare decision.  There were other decisions around that time where it seemed like we were referring to Roberts as wobbly Roberts sometimes.  Not that he was really a consistent swing justice.  But there were indications that he was not as reliable a conservative as many conservatives would have liked.  And then we saw another Obamacare ruling the year after that, and a few other decisions.

And then, finally, just in the last couple of days, this citizenship decision for the citizenship question on the census, where Roberts sided with the court`s four liberals.  And that really was disappointing to many conservatives, although whether it`s the most significant decision sort of in the long-term can be debated.

But there`s no question that there is a sense of buyers` remorse among some on the right about John Roberts at this point.

WILLIAMS:  You know, Earl Warren as you know, wanted the whole court when the court spoke on big matters.  And this will get really interesting, this Roberts theory, if we go into matters involving President Trump.

GERSTEIN:  Oh yes, that`s totally true.  And remember, Roberts has already had it out, kind of, with President Trump.  But you may remember that when Trump was going after what he called Obama judges, there was really no need for it.  But Chief Justice John Roberts put out a statement saying, you know, there are no Obama judges, there are no Trump judges.

And it was a kind of direct brushback to the President that I can`t recall ever seeing in public from a president -- from a chief justice in the modern era.

So, there`s a little bit of bad blood here already between the two men.  It will be interesting to see how these things play out over the next term.

WILLIAMS:  Again, to our viewers, here`s another important byline to look for.  Josh Gerstein, thank, Josh, so much always --

GERSTEIN:  Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  -- for coming on our broadcast.

And coming up for us, marking not one, but two 50th anniversaries this summer.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight is the effort to mark two very different 50th anniversaries, one of them from a time when we were at our very best.  The other, not so much.

First off, remembering the summer of `69 by exactly re-creating the place that gave us with what is possibly the crowning achievement of American science, technology, and bravery, the Apollo 11 Moon Mission.

Mission Control in Houston already a national historic landmark has now been totally redone, as an exact replica of how it was during the moon mission, minus all the white guys in white shirts smoking cigarettes who sat at each workstation.

Curators found the old ashtrays and coffee cups on eBay some of them, and even fished some old cigarette box and gum wrappers and dial phones to piece together what it was like back when that room seemed like the center of the world.  Back when the people in that room guided our first other worldly steps 50 years ago this summer.

And then, there was today`s 50th anniversary gathering in the Greenwich Village section of New York City to commemorate the Stonewall riots.

Stonewall was a guy bar that was owned by a mobster back in the summer of `69.  Police raids were common back then.  And what made this police raid different was the patrons and the crowd fought back that night and then they kept fighting back.  They had no way of knowing that a messy and violent brawl on a summer night would be looked back upon as history, taking a stand as part of a decades` long struggle.

Indeed, we are an entirely different society today.  But 30 states still lack protections against discriminatory practices.  And so the work of Stonewall goes on.  It was indeed dangerous and difficult work in the streets of this city, half a century ago this summer.

And that is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week.  Have a good weekend.  Thank you 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