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Trump confirms ICE raids TRANSCRIPT: 7/12/19, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams.

Guests: Guest: Emily Cochrane, Josh Gerstein, Julie K. Brown

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  I`m looking forward to seeing the whole thing.  Richard, good to see you as always.  Thank you for joining me.

You can watch Richard`s full report on assignment "On Assignment, Made in China" Sunday 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST:  Tonight the haunting images of an American vice president staring at caged men being held by the United States.  Reporters who were there tonight describing the sight of it, the smell, the migrant stories of being denied basic hygiene while sleeping on concrete.

Also the President loses another Cabinet secretary, Alex Acosta is out.  The latest fallout from the case of sexual predator and long-time friend of Trump, Jeffrey Epstein.

And is another cabinet member headed out this gets more serious with reports that Trump is mulling over the firing of our director of National Intelligence.

And the late word tonight Mueller`s testimony has been delayed a week but the Democrats claim it`s for a good reason.  All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Friday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 904 of the Trump administration.  It`s been an eventful, one, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned today after the latest fallout after his secret plea deal for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.  Tonight, federal prosecutors are accusing Epstein of witness tampering.

We`ve also just learned the congressional hearing for Robert Mueller, his testimony has been delayed.  Testimony was supposed to happen this coming Wednesday.  It`s now been postponed until July 24th.

So much more ahead on all of those topics but we begin tonight with this breaking news out of McAllen, Texas.  And the images just into us tonight are rather incredible.  They show Mike Pence, the Vice President, the man in black flanked by Lindsey Graham among others looking at men who are just feet away from them inside a chain linked cage and in plain English, it`s what -- if it looks like this when the feds know they are coming, what must it be like in other facilities.

And about these conditions, "Washington Post" reporter Josh Dawsey accompanied the vice presidential delegation.  He supplied some of his own imagery.  And most importantly, he supplied this description as the designated pool reporter on the scene filing news back for reporters in Washington and we quote.  "Almost 400 men were in caged fences with no cots.  The stench was horrendous.  The cages were so crowded that it would have been impossible for all of the men to lie on the concrete.

There were 384 single men in the portal who allegedly crossed the border illegally.  There were no mats or pillows, some of the men were sleeping on concrete.  When the men saw the press arrive, they began shouting and wanted to tell us they had been in there 40 days or longer.  The men said they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth.  It was sweltering hot.

Agents were guarding the ages wearing face masks.  Water was available outside the fences.  And agents said the men could leave and get water when the press wasn`t there.  Most of the men did not speak English and looked dirty.  They said they had been there for 40 days or more upon questioning from the pool.

We were pulled out of the portal within 90 seconds and a White House official said the secret service expressed opposition to the Vice President going in.  He briefly went into the room, "I was not surprised by what I saw" Pence said later at a news conference.  I knew we`d see a system that was overwhelmed."

Just this morning at the White House, the President was eager to preview the Vice President`s trip.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  So they are touring detention centers and that was my idea because I read a phony story in the "New York Times" today or the other day about the detention centers, about the conditions and I had people calling me up at the highest level from border patrol and ICE.  Almost crying about that phony story and they never saw anything.  They have phony sources. They don`t even have sources, they write whatever they want.


WILLIAMS:  Trump also confirmed that immigration and customs enforcement agents will carry out nationwide raids to round up undocumented migrants this weekend.


TRUMP:  It starts on Sunday and they`re going to take people out and they`re going to bring them back to their countries or they are going to take criminals out, put them in prison or put them in prison in the countries they came from.  We`re focused on criminals as much as we can.


WILLIAMS:  So there you have it.  And with us for an important lead off discussion on this summer Friday night, Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at CIA and the Pentagon, former Chief Counsel for the House Intel Committee.  Emily Cochrane, Congressional Reporter for "The New York Times" who is notably been covering the Trump administration`s border crisis all this while.  And General Barry McCaffrey, Retired U.S. Army Four-Star General heavily decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, a U.S. ground commander in the Gulf War among other distinguished titles in his lifetime.  Welcome to you all.

Jeremy Bash with all apologies to Malcolm Gladwell we have had what looked like and seemed like tipping points in this administration before.  Is this one in fact do you think?

JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF:  Those images are hard to watch, Brian.  I mean, we are a nation where we typically welcome refugees, welcome asylum seekers, welcome the huddles masses yearning to be free.  And here we`re keeping them in absolutely inhumane conditions.

And here is the point. They are purposely being held in inhumane conditions.  The Vice President of the United States is purposely bringing his press pool in there to show, to broadcast, to display for all to see that we separate families, that we keep people in inhumane conditions and we are preannouncing a law enforcement action not for any operational purposes but to scare people to go into hiding because this is all political.  This is all about sending a message.

WILLIAMS:  And Emily indeed, the question again, what is it like when they don`t know you`re coming or was this intended as a scare tactic?

EMILY COCHRANE, THE NEW YORK TIMES CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER:  Well, according to Josh Dawsey`s pool report, the Vice President`s office was clear that they wanted the visit to be as accurate as possible.  They didn`t want border patrol to sanitize the conditions in any way to show the accuracy.  Certainly, these images will resonate on Capitol Hill where there are already been divisive debates over how to fund customs and border patrol, how to fund border agents and ICE.

WILLIAMS:  General, I`m going to play for you an exchange after the visit.  This is between the journalist Josh Dawsey of "The Washington Post" who filed those gripping dispatches from inside the room and the Vice President.  We`ll talk about it on the other side.


JOSH DAWSEY, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Mr. Vice President, we just saw 384 men outside, we saw them briefly too sleeping on concretes, no pillows, no -- nowhere to basically stay or stand.  Some of them said they were thirsty.  Some of them said they hadn`t showered in 10, 20, 30 days.  Some of them were pretty despondent.  Does that meet this administration`s standard for how we take care of people?

MIKE PENCE, (R) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  In what you saw today was that the facility here in McAllen is overwhelmed.  I wouldn`t take the word of people that are being detained here in McAllen for how they are being treated.  But I`m very confident that they are being provided with shelter and water and food and access to health care and access to hygiene.


WILLIAMS:  So general, there you have it and it`s a tough question to you, what does this say about us around the world or is the answer to that, it says exactly what administration wants to say about us around the world?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.):  You know, Brain, I`ve spent a lot of time in that U.S., Mexican border and Mexico and Central America and I never seen a more shameful situation ever.

Part of it -- by the way, I don`t think is a dauber (ph) policy.  I think it`s incompetence on such a scale that we`re unwilling to look at that as the rational for what we`re seeing.  The numbers don`t work.  There is 58,000 people in customs and border patrol.  There is around 81,000 detainees either in ICE., CBP or Health and Human Services.

In May, a 144,000 people crossed the border.  This law enforcement agency, the Border Patrol of 18,000 agents is not going to be able to handle it.  So we got a policy that producing a humanitarian disaster.  They got to fix it.  They got to call their National Guard in the four Border States and take care of these poor people.

WILLIAMS:  General, you`ve also said this is systemic.  Look to the south.  Look at the trail of people.  Look at the problems in the nations where all of the men in that pin have come from.

MCCAFFREY:  Oh, yeah, no, the triangle in Central America is a disaster of violence injustice, corruption and competence.  Anybody in their right mind is going to try to get out of there and get to the United States.  So clearly, you need a system approach in which you`re trying to create conditions in Central America that make it more likely that they can survive in their homeland.  And then finally, we got to sort out what should rational policy be dealing with asylum seekers and economic migrants.

You know, there is 11 million of us here in this country who are here illegally, and they are part of the economy and they are by in large law- abiding.  So, what is it we`re trying to achieve?  And it didn`t start with Mr. Trump, either, I might add, you know, the Obama team deported 3 million people, so we have no rational policy dealing with this southern border.

WILLIAMS:  Indeed, Emily the Vice President mentioned Congress tonight in numerous remarks, numerous interviews.  What efforts are underway at a remedy?

COCHRANE:  So Congress just passed $4.6 billion in emergency aid for the southwestern border.  Speaker Pelosi has said that she plans to bring a couple pieces of legislation dealing with stricter oversight for Homeland Security and humanitarian aid for migrants to the floor.  Whether or not that makes it to the Senate remains to be scene.  And ultimately Congress does have to fund these agencies and departments through the next fiscal year.  The spending limit is September 30th and Congress will have to decide how they fund these agencies going forward.

WILLIAMS:  Emily, when you come back from that region, back to your life, presumably in Washington, what do you tell the people you know, the people around you about what strikes you down there?

COCHRANE:  I think what struck me the most from the few migrants that I was able to speak to was how much they wanted to still come to the United States, to be in this country, and that`s what brought them here in the first place.

WILLIAMS:  Jeremy Bash, how do you clean up a mess this large?

BASH:  Well, just to pull on the thread that General McCaffrey laid out for us, which is this incompetence or is this deliberate?  I certainly agree if there`s a lot of incompetence to go around.  But what concerns me is that when the President preannounces an ICE. raid, now remember, we`ve done immigration law enforcement raids before, they are normally kept secrete, number one, so that they`ll be effective.  And number two, to protect the law enforcement officers that may have to go into, say, in an MS-13 safe house.

Now, by preannouncing the President has not only endangered ICE officials but he has also tried to instill fear and scare people, scare families, scare people to think that they`re going to be separated from their children or from their parents or from their loved ones.  So this really has the hallmarks of the old soviet knock at the doors, the Stalinist tactics, the Gestapo tactics of trying to round people up in the middle of the night.  This is not law enforcement.  This is not operational.  This is pure politics designed to instill fear and designed to make the President seem like he`s doing something on immigration when he`s really not doing anything.

WILLIAMS:  General McCaffrey, your reaction to not only the raids this weekend but as Jeremy was talking about, this advanced billing.

MCCAFFREY:  Well, the advanced billing has just measured Trump, that`s what he does.  It all comes back to him staying in the spotlight.  Clearly, it`s a political act.

But look, Brian, you back off the whole issue.  There`s 11.4 million undocumented migrants in the U.S.  They are vital to our economy.  If by some magic non-sense we could round them all up and send them back where they came from, the economy would be a disaster.  They grow our food, they take care of our kids they do most of the construction work in the United States.

So again, you know, what is the objective of all this activity?  We do need to control our borders, no question about that.  A couple times and miles from Mexico, 5,000 miles to Canada, it ought to be a law enforcement presence.  But, you know, at the end of the day, we are simply not going to be able to stop people at the border and round up millions of people who are in the economy and send them back.  Both sides need to sit down in Congress and pass sensible laws.

WILLIAMS:  Can`t thank our guests enough, as we said it`s a consequential night with a lot of our news coming in late.  To Jeremy Bash, to Emily Cochrane, to General Barry McCaffrey, our thanks.

And coming up for us, as we said at the top of the broadcast, there has been a delay, we won`t hear from Robert Mueller this coming week but he`ll apparently spend more time testifying by sliding the date a week later.

Also tonight, the disturbing story of a sex offender formally in the Trump social circle, today the scandal cost a Cabinet member his job.  We`ll hear from the reporter who has helped break this story wide open publicly as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on this busy Friday night.


WILLIAMS:  Robert Mueller`s testimony on the Hill now delayed by a week.  He`ll testify in public on Wednesday, July 24th instead of the 17th.  He`ll first appear before the House Judiciary Committee for three hours starting at 8:30 a.m. and then give testimony to the Intelligence Committee.

Meanwhile, President Trump`s Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, announced his resignation today amid the on going controversy over the plea deal he brokered with sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Earlier today President Trump appeared with Acosta on the White House lawn as something of a parting gift as they spoke to reporters.


TRUMP:  He`s done a fantastic job.  He`s a friend of everybody in the administration.  And I got a call this morning early from Alex and I think he did a very good job yesterday under a lot of pressure.

I just want to let you know, this was him not me because I`m with them.  He was a -- he`s a tremendous talent.  He`s a Hispanic man.  He went to Harvard, a great student.

ALEX ACOSTA, LABOR SECRETARY:  I have seen coverage of this case that is over 12 years old that had input and vetting at multiple levels at the department of justice.  And as I look forward, I did not think it was right and fair for this administration`s Labor Department to have Epstein as the focus rather than the incredible economy that we have today.  And so I called the President this morning, I told him I thought the right thing was to step aside.


WILLIAMS:  So there you have it and with us to talk about it tonight, two pros, Jonathan Allen, our NBC News National Political Reporter and Josh Gerstein, , Senior Legal Affairs Contributor for Politico.

Dr. Allen, I`d like to begin with you let`s talk about this Hispanic man that went to Harvard. And I have a dual question for you, a, what business did he have standing in the briefing room of the Labor Department, standing behind the seal of a Cabinet agency using the imprimatur of the federal government to relitigate his handling of the case of a sexual predator?  B, what standing did he have, what business did he have serving as Labor Secretary to begin with?

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Well, number one, Brian, let me just say that Dr. Allen is my mother.

Number two, look, what we saw yesterday with Alex Acosta in this sort of ritual as we`ve become used to it of an audience of, one, humiliation press conference where people beg for their jobs from President Trump.  It was unusual in that, it was delivered standing behind that U.S. government seal.  This man trying to position himself to keep one job after all these questions have been raised about what he did in another job as a federal prosecutor representing the people of the United States of America and cutting what anybody would call a shady deal with a man whose now been accused of all of these sex trafficking related crimes dealing with underaged girls.  This is somebody whose reputation was obviously on the line.

It was completely unsustainable for him to remain in office, not just from the perspective of representing the American public at the Labor Department but more important to President Trump from the perspective of his campaign for reelection and his continuing administration.  Alex Acosta everywhere he went would have been asked about this from the questions you just asked.  And President Trump would have been asked about it everywhere he went.

WILLIAMS:  Josh, there`s no polite way to say this.  A lot of people have a lot to worry about in this Epstein case.

JOSH GERSTEIN, POLITICO SR. LEGAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR:  Oh yes, the circles that he traveled in included academia, science, philanthropy, the business world, he was one of these figures who liked to convene what he would probably salon type dinners, a boat in New York and in Palm Beach.  And it`s in that capacity that he ran across at different times, both President Trump and former President Bill Clinton as well as a lot of other figures, Allan Dershowitz among others.  And all those people are having their connection to Epstein scrutinize in greater detail now than ever in the past.

Although, I should say, Brian, that the outlines of this Epstein story and the connection to Acosta have been well established in the public record for at least five years.  There was a book written about it by anti- trafficking activist, Conchita Sarnoff, really five years ago or so.

The minute Acosta was nominated, I was surprised to hear his name even put forth as a potential nominee for Labor Secretary because I said I couldn`t believe that this administration would be interested in having this discussion.  We had a story up on 90 minutes after he was nominated.  So, so this information was out there and really no one in Washington has bathed themselves in glory or acquitted themselves particularly well in terms of the vetting process for a Cabinet nominee.  We`re not talking about an obscure position in the federal government here.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, John, considering the quote I saw from a member of Congress, which may be a very apt warning letting people know that the Mueller testimony may be a kin to a book on tape, what does the delay in the Mueller testimony mean to you, what should our audience know about it?

ALLEN:  It may be a very dull book on tape if it`s rendered in that way and certainly the way he gave his previous press conference.  Look, I think the delay means a couple things.  Number one, more members will get a crack at them.  Number two, it will be closer to the August recess and there are two pieces to that.  It means that the members of Congress aren`t going to be in Washington to talk to reporters about it for very long.  And the House is not going to be convening to take any action.

I mean, it was subsequent to it.  But it also means that those members are going to go back to town halls and to talk to their constituents and they`re going to get an immediate read on what the reaction of their constituents is.  And so if there is a big push for an impeachment right afterward, they`re going to hear about it quickly.

And then of course the third thing is, the President wanted to put a book end on this testimony with a rally he had one planned for later and still has one planned for later that night on July 17th and now does not have currently a rally planned for July 24th.  So, we may see one pop up on the calendar pretty quickly but they seem at the moment to have evaded giving him that opportunity.

WILLIAMS:  Josh, John makes a great point.  The last thing Congress is going to do is ruin their own summer vacation but it may be a case of be careful what you wish for if they go from hours of Mueller on live television on networks like this one right into town hall meetings with constituents wanting to know what they are doing about it.

GERSTEIN:  Yes, I mean, there is going to be considerable pressure at least on some members of Congress.  And you have to remember of course, the people that come to the town hall meetings are going to be the folks that are more engaged, that are more interested and probably more likely to pressure their members to move forward.  So I do think almost everything that`s done on this front leads to more of a drum beat for impeachment.

I still think we`re going to have to look at the opinion polls after this hearing and see, though, whether it really moved the needle in a significant way in terms of sort of the vast middle of America that is not caught up in the Mueller drama and the Trump drama on the day to day basis.

WILLIAMS:  Gentlemen, you`re both free to go to enjoy what`s left of your week.  John Allen, Josh Gerstein, we appreciate you coming on, on a Friday night.

GERSTEIN:  Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us, the latest on the Jeffrey Epstein case as even more of his accusers now come forward just as the feds asked them too.  The tenacious journalist who`s reporting help to initiate all of this will be with us here next when we continue.



MICHELLE LICATA, ALLEGED EPSTEIN VICTIM:  They found my name and number at his house that I had written down and they found me.  And so we had to have my mom`s permission.  So I had to tell her the story all over again. And I remember teller her, "I don`t want you to think of me as not your little girl anymore."  I was like, "Don`t think anything other than what you already know of me."


WILLIAMS:  That was Jeffrey Epstein`s first accuser to speak publicly to the Miami Herald.   She was interviewed by our next guest.  His alleged victims are sharing harrowing stories of abuse even as reports surface of at least a dozen more potential victims.

Remember, the feds asked for victims to come forward at the press conference.  Epstein was arrested in New York a week ago tomorrow night, he`s trying to convince a judge to let him out on bail and let him await trial at his Manhattan mansion.

New court documents from a hearing on that request reveal new accusations, this time of witness tampering.  Prosecutors say, "Within recent months, Epstein paid significant amounts of money to influence individuals who were close to him and who might be witnesses against him at a trial."

The reported payments $350,000 in all came within days of the Miami Herald series of reports detailing dozens of cases alleging Epstein sexually abused young girls in the early 2000s.

The series of reports also laid bare the secret plea deal brokered by then US attorney now former cabinet secretary Alex Acosta that gave Epstein just 13 months in jail and immunity from federal charges.

The President again today attempted to distance himself from his friend of many years.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  I wasn`t a big fan of Jeffrey Epstein that I can tell you.  And now if you look the remnants hurt this man and I hate to see it happen.


WILLIAMS:  Epstein has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.  We are so happy to have with us tonight Julie K. Brown, Investigative Reporter for the Miami Herald who has reported so extensively on the scandal.

Julie, let`s begin with the last element, and that`s the President.  When you hear him try to distance himself from Epstein, what do you want to tell the folks watching this broadcast and reading your work?

JULIE K. BROWN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD:  Well, I mean, he should have, I hope, that his people did the research ahead of time before they nominated him to find out about this case.  It had certainly been reported before that Epstein got some kind of an unusual lenient plea deal.  So it`s kind of baffling to me that the President seems like he doesn`t -- he didn`t get that memo so to speak that he was hiring someone who let essentially an accused pedophile, you know, escape some serious prison time.

WILLIAMS:  And, Julie, what about the President`s history with Epstein?  Does it hold water when he says he was never a fan?

BROWN:  Well, you know, the President has people that are -- you know, we know how he hires people and he`s fans of them, and then the next day or a month later he`s not a fan of theirs.  So it`s hard to say.  Maybe he wasn`t a fan at one point and he was at another point, I don`t think we really know the full story about his relationship with Mr. Epstein.

WILLIAMS:  And when Epstein asks to be confined to his New York mansion, East 71st Street, in a beautiful part of the city of New York while awaiting trial, is that evidence to you that he retains some of hootspa (ph) he has displayed in his private life for so many decades?

BROWN:  Yes.  And, you know, he is a master at manipulating the system using his power and money, and this proposal that he would give up his passport, ground his plane, hire some private security people to monitor him is somewhat laughable because that`s exactly the kind of thing that he did back in 2008, 2009 when he was, you know, in jail in Palm Beach.  And he managed to get them to approve his valet picking him up every day at the jail, and letting him go to an office he had set up in West Palm Beach.

So he is a master at trying to get people to do what he wants essentially. 

WILLIAMS:  You have talked to what is it almost 60 women alleged victims in this case.  For them, in their lives, as scared as they were talking, you were it.  You were in effect, their government, you were their confidant, you were their advocate.  You must have been happy at some level even though you`re a journalist and not a participant.

Seeing the feds, that press conference in New York, seeing them for the first time in all of this speaking up on behalf of the victims. 

BROWN:  Well, I really give all the credit to them.  They, you know, some time has passed.  At the time that Mr. Acosta was nominated, my first thought after the confirmation hearings or, you know, one of the question to him about this case, I thought what did these girls, who are now women, think about this.  And that`s what kind of drove me to try to see if I could track them down.

And, you know, they felt betrayed and it took a lot of courage, I think, for them to share their stories with me.  And I can`t thank them enough and I`m sure other victims who are now feeling a little bit more comfortable coming forward are doing so because of them.

WILLIAMS:  A recipient of the Polk Award, Julie K. Brown with Miami Herald, thank you so much for spending sometime on our broadcast.  We appreciate it.

And coming up for us on this Friday night, the President is playing with House money on this.  It gets critical now as he is considering another personnel change one that could directly impact the security of our country, more on that after this.


WILLIAMS:  So Alex Acosta out of the Trump cabinet.  He was number 13 to leave, there maybe another one on the way and this one is potentially big.

Axios was first to report today that "President Trump has told confidants he`s eager to remove Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, according to five sources who have discussed the matter directly with the President"

Source familiar with the matter tells NBC News indeed that in February, Trump spoke with John Bolton`s former Chief of Staff Fred Fleitz about replacing Coats.  Fleitz is a former CIA officer now heads a think tank.  The Anti-Defamation League says "has promulgated a number of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories over the years.  Chief among them is the allegation that the US government has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and that a number of political figures have actual ties to the group."

We have asked two gentlemen to come back on with us, Jeremy Bash and General Barry McCaffrey from earlier in the broadcast.

General, before the break, I used the phrase that the President is playing with house money.  Secretary of labor is one thing.  This job speaks to our national protection.  It speaks to our election protection in ways we could not have imagined even five years ago.  It speaks to public safety.  Talk about Dan Coats and the job of DNI.

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, RETIRED US ARMY:  Well, you know, our intelligence collection services are simply unbelievably good.  Electronic intercept, phone in, you meant.  It`s coordinated.  There are 17 different intelligence agencies.  The DNI is supposed to bring them together, to rationalize, to integrate.

Dan Coats is a public servant of tremendous dignity and good judgment, army vet, congressman, senator, ambassador to Germany, and he`s objective.

So I think -- and Jeremy, I know knows a lot about this, the biggest problem you can have is when you`re intelligence system tells you things they want you -- they think you want to know.

So I don`t know Mr. Fleitz.  General Dunford`s name is also floating around out there probably pretty good.  But I think Mr. Trump doesn`t like independent objective advice.

WILLIAMS:  Jeremy Bash, Dan Coats and your old boss, Leon Panetta, are falls apart kind of personality-wise.  I do believe Dan Coats was kind of unfairly dismissed as a kind of Chamber of Commerce, Republican from Indiana, look at what his challenge has been under this boss and the ramparts he is built up around this job.

So, Jeremy, same question, do you address what his loss would mean?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF:  I couldn`t agree more with General McCaffrey.  Dan Coats is a highly capable, highly honorable public servant.  And, of course, though he comes from the political side of the House having served as a Republican senator and Republican ambassador, he`s done the job in a non-political way, in a non-partisan way.

And really what he`s done is he`s kept the intelligence community off the so-called X.  He`s really kept them out of the line of fire for the most part from the President although the President has, of course, been launching broadsides about the "deep state".

And, of course, he`s been rejecting some of the fundamental conclusions of the intelligence community by in large the community has got its nose down is doing its job and is serving its purpose.  And Dan Coats has been able leading them.

I think a loss of Dan Coats would be a problem unless they replace him with a non-political career person like his current deputy Sue Gordon.  But if they bring in someone who is highly political, highly partisan, I think it`s a huge problem.

WILLIAMS:  General, this is a DNI who, let`s not forget.  Listen to the President take Putin`s word over his and let`s not forget a DNI who learned in public from Andrea Mitchell who, we both know that the President had invited Putin to the White House.  All of it he kind of kept in with dignity and kept going forward.

MCCAFFREY:  Yes, that`s almost a world turned upside down.  We are going to be in terrible danger if we can`t keep the intelligence services of the United States focused on objectively understanding the threat to our security.

A public servant like Dan Coats has done just that.  If they put a political angry and Islamophobe in there who selectively feeds information to the White House, the National Security apparatus, then I think we`re going be in great trouble.

But, you know, at the end of the day, Brian, this is all about the President.  This is not about Bolton or Mr. Fleitz or whoever.  We`ve had an erratic, impulsive, and unwise series of choices on national security.

I love Kim Jong-un.  There is no hurry about him producing -- continuing produces all material.  This aggressive stance with Iran, you put him in a box and don`t let him have a pass out.  So, I think we got a very troubling pattern of national security decision-making.

WILLIAMS:  Gentlemen, I can`t thank you both enough.  I`m going to ask if you both come on in the days ahead if I can put in graphic form, the vacancies in Department of Defense and we can talk about all of them and the way they leave us open in various ways.   Jeremy Bash, General Barry McCaffrey, our thanks on a Friday night.

And coming up, to our south, our attention goes, the storm that is not yet a hurricane, that is bringing more water to some places than Katrina did.  A long weekend is ahead for our friends in New Orleans and the rest of the great state of Louisiana.  We`ll get a late report in just a moment.



MATT LUPOLI, REPORTER, WDSU:  We`re standing on the levee at the end of Canal Boulevard and we`ve been watching as Lake Pontchartrain just continues to lap at the shoreline here.

In fact, you can see waves with white caps coming up over the edge.  The lake side is looking a little -- more like an ocean shoreline right now.  And much of the park between us and the lake is already under water.

People who live right on the edge of this park tell us, they`re used to seeing the water collect here but obviously, the concern is that it just keeps collecting.


WILLIAMS:  That`s our station down in New Orleans, WDSU.  This is an uneasy night for people living along the Gulf Coast as this Tropical Storm Barry heads toward coastal Louisiana.

There is a possibility that by the time the last drop of rain from this storm falls, some areas will receive something between 25 and 28 inches of rain, can you imagine?  Some of the rain falling at the rate of three to four inches an hour with a storm surge hitting the mouth of the Mississippi River.  The river is already at dangerous levels.

The city of New Orleans has issued a shelter in place order that went into effect at 8:00 pm local time.  This is kind of a new euphemism we all have to get used to.  It`s government speak for saying, stay home.

Parts of the city were already hit with flooding earlier this week days ahead of the storm`s arrival.

With more on what to expect in the hours ahead, we`re so happy to be joined by Chief Meteorologist for our NBC New York station, WNBC, Janice Huff.

And, Janice, you and I were talking earlier, I`ve heard meteorologists today say they would be happier if this thing was a hurricane, that would at least give it more energy and it would move faster out of the region.

JANICE HUFF, WNBC CHIEF METEOROLOGIST:  Yet, Brian, and that is the large issue with the storm is the speed of it, it`s not moving.  It`s barely moving at walking speed.  We`re talking west at 3 miles an hour, and you can walk faster than that in most cases.

The top winds now near the core at 65 miles an hour.  They`re starting to feel that along the coastal areas of Louisiana.  The center is 75 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana, so that`s an area that`s still in the brunt of the wind right now.

We can start to see those rain bands forming, which we haven`t seen in a while because there had been so much dry air on the north side of the system, sort of shutting it down.  Most of the energy and most of the rain was just south of that out in the gulf.  But now we`re starting to see some of those rain bands forming here.

Now, the good news, if there`s good news at all about this storm, which is not good news for most people in central Louisiana into Mississippi.  But for New Orleans, there is some good news in terms of rainfall.  The bulk of that heaviest rain talking upwards of 25 inches will be west of New Orleans.

The problem is, the not so good news is places like in between New Orleans all the way to Baton Rouge and to southwestern Mississippi the places like notches, these areas are going to be dealing with the worst rain and also the worst river flooding here and likely flash flooding.

The New Orleans could get some flash flooding.  That is possible for streets and highways.  But in terms of the inundation flooding now and breaching the levees and the hydrologist that forecast for the rivers, plea that may not happen now but it`s going to come very, very close.  So they`ll be watching that very carefully.

In the meantime, we`re looking at storm surge here.  And that`s what I was just saying.  So now they`re predicting storm surge to be about three to five feet around New Orleans.  If it stays below five feet, I`ve been hearing that that would be just fine, they won`t have to worry about the water coming over the levees, they worry about it going over five feet so we`ll have to keep watching that.

Of course, the greatest storm surge will be here on the shore areas towards Grand Isle.  And then to the north, Baton Rouge dealing with a very heavy rain, and this could be catastrophic in some cases.  You`re talking about two feet of rain in a -- over a duration of time.  This is going to take hours and hours and days.  It`ll be still in Central Louisiana, North Central Louisiana on Sunday.

So it`s going to take a very long time for this to even move out of the state of Louisiana.  And then when it does, it moves up the Mississippi River Valley, and then there could be heavy rain and flooding in parts of Mississippi.  And then, eventually into parts of maybe even Western Tennessee, parts of Southern Missouri, into the Ohio Valley, it`s going to take days before this even moves out of this area.  And it might even affect the weather here in the northeast by Thursday of next week, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  All right.  Janice Huff, thank you.  We`re thinking about everybody down there, one of the great parts of the world.  Appreciate you coming up tonight.

And coming up for us, there`s a way to talk about Donald Trump and there`s a way to talk to him, and there`s a penalty if you don`t.  We saw it in an action today, that when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight, is just once again a reminder of how the attorney general of the United States feels he has to talk when he`s around the President.  This was just yesterday following a loss for Trump, the abandonment of the legal effort to make a question about citizenship a part of the census.


WILLIAM BARR, US ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And congratulations on today`s executive order, which will ensure that we finally have an accurate understanding of how many citizens and non- citizens live in our country.

I applaud the President for recognizing in his executive order that including a question on the census is not the only way to obtain this vital information.

Congratulations, again, Mr. President, on taking this effective action


WILLIAMS:  Indeed.  While he was speaker of the House, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin made for an ideal Trump supplicant.  And while he was unwilling to be candid when the American people were paying his salary, now, he`s quoted in a new book about to come out called "American Carnage" where he is America has grown numb to the President and, "I`m telling you, he didn`t know anything about government.  I wanted to scold him all the time.  Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions.  All the time, he goes on, don`t call a woman a horse face.  Don`t cheat on your wife.  Don`t cheat on anything.  Be a good person.  Set a good example."

Well, today, Trump was asked about the former speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  So Paul Ryan was not a talent.  He wasn`t a leader.  Paul Ryan was a lame duck for a long time as speaker.  He was unable to raise money.  He lost control of the House.

The only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me because we got taxes cut, I got regulation cuts.  I did that mostly without him.

But for Paul Ryan to be complaining is pretty amazing.  I remember a day in Wisconsin, the state that I won, where I stood up and made a speech, and then I introduced him and they booed him off the stage, 10,000 people.  So for him to be going out and opening his mouth is pretty incredible but maybe he gets paid for that, who knows?


WILLIAMS:  And our regular, normalcy reminder, we`ve never seen anything like this ever in American public life, not even remotely close.

And with that, that is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week.  Thank you so very much for being here with us.  Have a good weekend and goodnight 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