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The president vs. the camera lens. TRANSCRIPT: 7/15/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Errin Haines Whack, Lanhee Chen

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, Donald Trump, like the pollings (ph) of all racist troves (ph) seems to have done what the Democrats themselves have failed at, uniting the opposition party after Trump told four duly elected members of the United States Congress to go where they came from.

The incumbent President also makes clear that themes like division, fear and race will be at the forefront of his 2020 reelection effort.  He says he`s not concerned because a lot of people agree with him and a lot of people love it.

And that sound you heard rising up from our Republican elected representatives in Washington and beyond really wasn`t much at all.  While this may seem like new territory for America, Donald Trump`s Republican Party is mostly staying in line as "The 11th Hour" gets underway on a Monday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  This was day 907 of the Trump administration and the President is defiant and unapologetic following his attack on four elected members of Congress.  All are Democrats.  All are women of color. All are U.S. citizens.  On Sunday, he appeared to go after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib when he posted, "So interesting to see progressive Democratic congresswomen who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe.  Now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation earth how our government is to be run.  Why don`t they go back and fix the totally crime infested places from which they came.  Then come back and show us how it`s done."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump`s outbursts, "reaffirms his plan to Make America Great Again has always been about making America white again."

Then this morning the President went there again, "When will the radical left congresswoman apologize to our country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President for the foul language they have used and the terrible things they have said.  So many people are angry at them and their horrible and disgusting actions."

Peter Baker analyzed the outbursts for "The New York Times," "His assumption that the House Democrats must have been born in another country or that they did not belong here if they were fits as an us against them political strategy that has been at the heart of Mr. Trump`s presidency from the start.  Heading into next year`s election, he appears to be drawing a deep line between the white native born America of his memory and the ethnically diverse increasingly foreign born country he is presiding over, challenging voters in 2020 to declare which side of the line they are on."

Well, during a Made in America event at the White House today, the President armed with notes including his own special spelling of Al-Qaeda went there again.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  All I`m saying that if they are not happy here, they can leave.  They can leave and you know what?  I`m sure that there will be many people that won`t miss them.

I look at Omar, I don`t know, I never met her.  I hear the way she talks about Al-Qaeda.  Al-Qaeda killed many Americans.  But these are people --

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Are you OK with people thinking your tweets are racist, Mr. President.

TRUMP:  Quiet, quiet.  Quiet.  Quiet.

O`DONNELL:  Are you okay with people --

TRUMP:  Quiet.

O`DONNELL:  -- thinking your tweets are racist, sir?

TRUMP:  Quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?

TRUMP:  It doesn`t concern me because many people agree with me.  These are people that hate our country.  Hey, John, they hate our country.  They hate it, I think, with a passion.  Now it`s possible I`m wrong.  The voter will decide.


WILLIAMS:  So that was on the White House lawn and hours later the four members of Congress spoke on Capitol Hill.


REP. RASHIDAI TLAIB, (D) MICHIGAN:  The recent tweets and words from the President are simply a continuation of his racist and xenophobic playbook.

REP. ILAHN OMAR, (D) MINNESOTA:  He`s launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States of House of Representatives all of whom are women of color.  This is the agenda of white nationalists.  This is his plan to pit us against one another.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) NEW YORK:  All of this is a distraction.  It`s a distraction from what`s most important and from our core values as American citizens.

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY. (D) MASSACHUSETTS:  I encourage the American people and all of us in this room and beyond to not take the bait.  This is a disruptive, distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people.


WILLIAMS:  The President couldn`t resist live tweeting that event.  "The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four progressives but now they are forced to embrace them.  That means they are endorsing socialism, hate of Israel and the USA.  Not good for the Democrats."

With that and here for our lead off discussion on a Monday night, Ashley Parker, Politzer Prize-winning White House reporter for ""The Washington Post," Annie Karni, White House reporter for "The New York Times," and Errin Haines Whack is back with us, national writer covering race and ethnicity for the Associated Press.  Good evening and welcome to the three of you.

Ashley, I`d like to begin with you.  This has now dominated, give or take 48 hours worth of news cycles.  How are they feeling about this deep in Trump land?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Well, a couple ways.  It`s first worth noting that in talking to people inside the White House today, one thing they said was this does not feel like the aftermath of Charlottesville.  It is not that sort of core shaking issue inside the building.

There is some frustration, but a lot of the frustration is kind of two- fold.  One is that they were enjoying the Democrats fighting and feuding with each other and felt like the President stepped in and gave Speaker Pelosi an off ramp and helped her unify her caucus.  And they were also frustrated that they felt like the President, he went -- i mean, he clearly went too far but they sort of felt like had he not gone too far and had he not seeded the moral high ground.  There was actually a compelling argument they could have made using some of those Democratic lawmakers` comments on Israel to do what the President tried to do in that final tweet and paint them as sort of socialists and, you know, far too left and kind of paint Democrats with that broad brush stroke.

And again, they felt like by making this comment that was racist, which is not a word they use, he seeded the moral high ground and then today was basically what was supposed to be cleanup, he walked out there with those notes that was intentional.  They wanted the President and the President himself wanted to expand on and clarify his comments but after he did those sort of eight to 10 minutes on the South Lawn, some aide said that wasn`t quite the cleanup and the explanation they were hoping for.

WILLIAMS:  And Annie Karni, speaking of the cleanup in aisle two, I`m going to play two things for you and our audience.  We`ll talk about them on the other side.  First is mark short on the North Lawn of the White House, the second is the Secretary of the Treasury from today.


MARC SHORT, PENCE`S CHIEF OF STAFF:  I don`t think that the President`s intent anyway is racism.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  How is it not racist to tell women of color to go back to their countries, when most of them were born here, and they`re all U.S. citizens?

SHORT:  Kristen, he has an Asian woman of color in his Cabinet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you find the President`s tweets racist?  And what do you make of white nationalists praising those tweets?

STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY:  Again, I think the President -- I don`t find them racist.  The President just went on and clarified his comments.  I think he speaks for himself on that and he was very clear.  But again, we`re focused on cryptocurrencies.


WILLIAMS:  So, Annie, just to review there, the President has an Asian woman of color in his Cabinet, and the Treasury Secretary would much rather focus on cryptocurrencies.  Tell us about your reporting regarding Trump staff.  And as a subset of that question, is this another one of those times we`re going to learn that Jared and Ivanka were on vacation?

ANNIE KARNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Now, well, I asked Ivanka specifically for comment today and she declined to comment, which is notable again for comparing this to Charlottesville, which was almost two years ago next month, it will be two years.  She at that time put out a statement condemning white supremacy out right which was a notable break from what her father had failed to do.  This time she`s silent.  No tweets, no statement declined to comment when I asked her today.

But what we saw from aids today was -- privately I talked to more than half a dozen current and former White House officials who that said it was a hard statement to defend what Trump had said.  They understood why it was being seen as racist if they wouldn`t call it such.  But, like Ashley said, not the kind of soul searching we saw after Charlottesville where we saw Gary Cohen who was at the time to Trump`s top economic advisor actually publicly condemn the remarks and draft a resignation letter that he ultimately didn`t send to the President but he was close to actually making a move because of what the President had done.  Nothing like that happened in the White House today.  No aids condemned what Trump said.

Mark Short tried to offer a defense there pointing to Elaine Chao, you know, pointing to one person is never a strong defense in the face of the charge of racism.  But I think what Mark Short was trying to do there was not to steer the conversation away from a global conversation about whether or not Trump is racist and say he was speaking specifically about Omar and other members of the Democratic Party who are seen as progressive and problematic for their specific views.

And then what we saw with Steve Mnuchin there who notably was an aid who defended Trump after Charlottesville was a hard no, he`s not racist but we want to talk about other things.  Mnuchin was kind of caught in the -- caught today because he had this briefing on cryptocurrency and he couldn`t avoid a question on Trump`s tweets.

So this was another example of these racist flare ups put aids in a very awkward position where they are forced to defend the President even when they privately wish he hadn`t said what he said.

WILLIAMS:  And Errin, for you, I have two reactions that aired on cable television tonight, which we`ll discuss on the other side.


KHIZR KHAN, GOLD STAR FATHER:  Donald Trump is at it again as he was in 2016.  He has nothing to offer therefore he is going to create division and hate for political experience he purpose.  I am saddened but not surprised.

NEAL KATYAL, FMR. ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL:  I get calls every day saying go back, Mohammed lover.  This is something that lots of Americans experience every single day and that`s why I think this is getting a residence in the way others do.


WILLIAMS:  Errin, I talked at the top of the broadcast about old tropes, which come to think of it is probably exactly redundant.  They`re tropes because they have been around for awhile.  These are no less hurtful or damaging or familiar to millions of Americans and that`s why they had instant resonance, correct?

ERRIN HAINES WHACK, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NATL. WRITER AND ETHNICITY:  That`s correct, Brian.  Good evening.  It`s good to be with you.

And what I will tell you is that I spent my day talking to several Americans who, you know, have gone throughout their lives hearing from people go back to where you came from, Muslim Americans, Latino Americans.  In fact, I would venture to say that probably, you know, these four congresswomen who were targeted by the President were probably not the first time that they heard go back to where you came from although, you know, certainly they probably didn`t expect to hear that from the President of the United States, but this is certainly an old trope that is now, you know, reappearing in the national conversation because of the President`s tweet.

And listen, this is also not new for this President as we know, I mean, he entered the modern, you know, his modern political career began with him questioning our President Barack Obama`s citizenship.  His campaign launched, you know, with him talking about Mexicans as rapists.  And, you know, we saw him going to a racial playbook that was effective for him in 2016 and 2018 and it certainly seems to be something that he is going to be going to headed into 2020 because we know that it is something that works.  As he said today in the Rose Garden, you know, there are many people that love what I said and I think that that is certainly true.

He is right about that.  There are people who are definitely in agreement with his remarks and not just evidenced by his retweets but by the support that he continues to have.

And so, you know, just as he has targeted folks like California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, you know, in previous election, I think that he`s already identified Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Tlaib, and Omar as folks that he can target to, you know, really energize his base headed into the next election.

WILLIAMS:  And Ashley, here we are back in the studio when we were last here on the air Friday night, we were showing the imagery of Mike Pence and assorted U.S. senators separated by just a few feet from caged humans behind a chain linked fence.  More people than could ever sleep on that amount of floor space and people who voiced various complaints to our colleagues who were pool reporters for the event.  Here we are tonight, Donald Trump is using the old go back to where you came from.  I heard someone tonight speaking cynically saying at least this stream lines the upcoming election choice.  This leaves no question who you`re voting to reelect or not.

PARKER:  Well, this certainly offers a very clear glimpse into the sort of campaign that President Trump is planning to run for reelection, which is as far as we`ve seen sort of stoking racial animist across the nation and it`s fascinating because you talk to his campaign, you talk to people in his world, advisors and they claim they are trying to expand the map into places like Oregon and New Mexico.  They are -- they claim they are actually serious about building coalitions to make inner roads and inner cities and African-American communities and Hispanic communities.  But then you look at, not just where the President is traveling, but what he is saying and what he is doing and it is very clear so far at least he is running on a base enthusiasm and retention strategy which in a lot of ways does involve this red meat, these controversial statements and these racist statements.

And one thing that people don`t entirely understand is if you`ve gone to a Trump rally and you`ve interviewed supporters in his base, they are 100 percent with him.  And they are the sort of people who would probably vote for him if he hadn`t come out and sent these racist tweets.  And so it doesn`t necessarily make sense when you realize to win a reelection, you have to get to 50 plus one, but that is right now the strategy that the President is running.

WILLIAMS:  Errin, how do we think that inner city approach is going to work?

WHACK:  Well, you know, I do think that, you know, again, I would say that racism is on the ballot especially for Democrats and Democrats of color in particular.  You know, President Trump`s rhetoric and some of the policies that we`ve seen, you know, with regard to race that are affecting communities of color are galvanizing a lot of these communities.  And so, I think that while yes, it certainly is something that`s going to energize his base, it also has the potential to energize a lot of Democrats who want to reject this version of America and say that, you know, this is not who we are and, you know, will be possibly coming out to vote against this as much as they are voting for anything headed into next year.

WILLIAMS:  And Annie, let`s try to be clear and transparent here.  We try to call out shining objects whenever we can.  This was more than that but what this has done tonight is knock the story about changing the asylum rules at our southern border out of the top tier of news stories we`re covering tonight.  Sometimes things are what they look like directly and they don`t require reflection.  Is this, Annie, what it appears to be, that they are going to double down on a strategy of fear?

KARNI:  I think that`s right.  Donald Trump is -- it`s more than a dog whistle.  He has made clear what kind of campaign he wants to run.  I heard from -- I heard a mix today that from inside the White House there was some disappointment that he had stepped on this inter party feud between Nancy Pelosi and the so-called "squad."  But there was another group of people associated with the campaign who said, you know, this is helpful having Pelosi and Democrats defending the far left of their party is right where Trump wants them because it`s going to be a race against socialism pinning them all to these policies of Omar and Ocasio-Cortez and Democrats who are not even on the ballot.  This is who Trump wants.

These four women of color progressives are who Trump wants the Democratic Party to be associated with.  These are women who the campaign was distributing a poll that was done that showed Omar`s favorability among voters that Trump is trying to appeal to very low and states the matter like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  So this is a decisive fight that he wants, that he thinks is a winning strategy and he is in the thick of an election season right now.

WILLIAMS:  Can`t thank our big three enough for helping us start off the broadcast in a new week tonight.  To Ashley Parker, to Annie Karni, to Errin Haines Whack, thank you-all for coming on.

And coming up for us, how Republicans have chosen to respond to divisive words from the man at the top of the ticket.

And later, prosecutors reveal what they found inside the house of the former Trump Powell turned sex offender and why it argues against him getting out on bail as "The 11th Hour" overlooking the West Wing.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA:  We all know AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communist.  They hate Israel, they hate our own country.  They are calling the guards along our border, the Border Patrol agents, concentration camp guards.

They accuse people who support Israel of doing it for the Benjamin`s.  They are anti-semitic, they`re anti America.  Don`t get that.  Aim higher. We don`t need to know anything about them personally.  Talk about their policies.


WILLIAMS:  So, one man`s opinion there.  That`s one way to look at this incendiary material from the President this weekend.  Another way is this, from the other senator from South Carolina also a Republican, Tim Scott, he called what the President spewed, "unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language.  No matter our political disagreements aiming for the lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further."  That was after Scott agreed with Trump that the Democrats are pro socialism.

While most Republicans remain silent, not all of them, over two dozen republicans including nine other senators spoke up today to condemn the President`s remarks.  And after first taking a pass on the subject and saying nothing, now Mitt Romney has weighed in.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R) UTAH:  The President of the United States has a noble and unique role to unite the country and to draw on all people regardless of race, their color and their national origin and that regard the President failed with his comments yesterday and again with the comments today.  I believe it`s really incumbent upon the President to bring us together and that`s the responsibility that I think he should take very seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Chuck Schumer is calling the tweets and comments racist, would you agree with Chuck Schumer on that point?

ROMNEY:  I think Senator Tim Scott indicated that he believed that the comments were racially offensive.  I think that`s an appropriate characterization.


WILLIAMS:  And we may hear from Mitch McConnell tomorrow, so there is that. Here with more the political reaction to all of it, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for "The Washington Pos."  And Lanhee Chen is back with us, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution and former presidential campaigned advisor to both, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney.

Phil, I`d like to begin with you.  Why these four as they say in the airline business, the President has his choice in targets every day.  He`s got scores of millions of followers on social media.  Why these four women?

PHILIP RUCKER, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF:  It`s a good question, Brian.  I think these four women were chosen as targets for him in a way because they have been targets in the media now for many months certainly on Fox News among, you know, the various commentators that the President tends to take his advice from.  But they have also been in the news for the last week or two regarding their fight with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker.  So they have been elevated in the national discourse and therefore I think sees the attention of the President, you know.

But they also have something else in common, which is that they`re all four women, they`re all four and brown and black women of color and they are freshman in the House who have come here with an elected mandate from the 2018 midterms to not only hold the President accountable but to try to enact some progressive change that their constituents wanted.  They are from very blue democratically heavy districts of course.  But nonetheless, they feel like they have come to Congress with a mandate and its indirect conflict with the agenda of this president.

WILLIAMS:  And Lanhee Chen I have a quote for you, this is from Politico regards your political party.  "Much of the congressional GOP is still navigating the episode gingerly, trying to break with Trump`s rhetoric while avoiding blow back from the President.  It`s a familiar quandary made more difficult than most of the daily controversies of the Trump presidency given the inflammatory nature of his latest statements."

Lanhee, to put it bluntly, as a party of supplicants and sec offense just the way it`s going to be.

LANHEE CHEN, FORMER POLICY DIRECTOR ROMNEY-RYAN CAMPAIGN:  Well, as long as I think the President has the level of approval as he does from the Republican base, you`re going to continue to see a very difficult tight rope act.  And frankly, it`s something if you think back to the campaign, there were a number of comments the President made during the campaign, comments about Judge Curiel, you may recall the judge who was presiding over the Trump University case, the Access Hollywood incident.

And in those situations, you had a lot of Republicans break but that was before even the President`s approval rating was and is what it is today particularly among Republicans.  So I think that political dynamic is driving this entire thing.  As unsightly is that is, the politics of this, Brian, ultimately are what explain the responses.  And even those Republicans who do speak out, it has a lot to do with where they are coming from, what they`re background is, what states they represent.

If you think about Republicans that have been vocal of the President in the past, they`re either retired or they have completely turned in a different direction.  So I would expect to see this kind of difficulty among a lot of Republicans in criticizing the President going forward.

WILLIAMS:  Well, let me ask you about the sheer politics of this, however hateful millions of Americans found his words, is this really a strategy to try to pick up independence and disaffected Democrats?  Is this going to pick off anyone in the not column?

CHEN:  No, and I don`t think that`s what this is about.  I think frankly they -- a lot of people in the Trump camp see this as an opportunity to drive, continue to drive base enthusiasm to continue and make sure that those people are getting out to vote to create that energy because the worst thing in the world would be for that base to be somehow lethargic when it comes to 2020 election.  So I think, it clearly is not a strategy driven at independent voters, it`s a strategy driven at continuing to animate that base.  And by the way, it`s tied to the immigration dialogue.  It`s tied to other things which the President has seized on in recent weeks.  So no, I don`t think it`s a strategy for independent voters, I think it`s a strategy for base mobilization.

WILLIAMS:  Phil Rucker, in the category of uncomfortable smiles, no one has McConnell and McCarthy beat.  I raise this because we note on the White House schedule, there is a 4:00 Republican Congressional leadership meeting with the President.  What`s that going to be like?

RUCKER:  Yes.  To be a fly on that wall.  We`ll see what that meeting is like.  I mean, look, the President is going to have to explain himself I think and explain these comments.  We`ve notably not heard from Mitch McConnell, the highest ranking Republican on Capitol Hill.  He has been silent.

By the way, most of those Republicans who commented today about this were silent for the first 24 hours after the tweet.


RUCKER:  It was not until the media paid so much attention to this story this morning, last night that some of these lawmakers started to speak out about it including Mitt Romney.

But look, the meeting tomorrow with the Republican leadership of Congress, you know, the President has an agenda he wants to try to get something done on.  He has really done nothing legislatively for the last several months you might say all the way back to criminal justice reform at the end of last year.  There is a debt ceiling issue that they are contending with right now and he`s going to want to focus on that but this is a huge distraction.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, let`s be sure that we just heard from Mitt Romney there.  Mitt Romney had a first chance to address this. He was approached by a local political reporter at the airport in Boston.  He took a pass and walked away.  And after some reflection, after increased verbiage by the president, we just tonight Mitt Romney`s reaction.  Both of these gentlemen will stay with us over the break.

Coming from for us, more on the consequences of this president`s rather stunning statements this weekend. Both intended and unintended when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to get House members on the record about where they stand on what President Trump has said.  Tonight House Democrats introduced a resolution condemned President Trump`s racist comments directed at members of Congress.

Amber Phillips of the Washington Post pointing out this resolution leaves Republican lawmakers in a tough spot as you might imagine.  They will be forced to choose between what for them are a couple of politically bad options, vote for the resolution in what will be seen as unequivocal rebuke of Trump`s word or vote against it in what could be seen as a tacit approval of the sentiments he expressed in those tweets.

We asked Phil Rucker and Lanhee Chen to stay with us.  And Phil, I`d like to go to you.  We just learned this vote is called for 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.  Obviously because they watch Chris Matthews.  My question to you is with cynicism taking as deep a hold as it has in our society, will this look like theater or will this look real?

PHIL RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF:  I think Brian a little bit of both.  In a way it`s a real vote because this is the House Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats in the House trying to do something beyond issuing statements decrying the president, they`re trying to take some sort of action to vote, to use their power in the majority of the House to chancestise this president on a formal way.

On the other hand, it is thither (ph) and so far as an effort as Amber Phillips laid out in the piece you read from to get House Republicans on the record on this issue.  It`s a very difficult vote for the Republicans to make.  I believe the Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy this evening indicated that he did not think this vote would be productive.  So you`re going to see some opposition there.  But the reality is the Democrats control the floor and if they want to bring this up for a vote, they certainly can.

WILLIAMS:  And Lanhee, a serious question, if I was with the Trump campaign and out difference (ph) and respect for your political experience and resume and advanced degrees came to you and said we want you to head the minority out reach for 2020, serious question what would you do and where would you start?

LANHEE CHEN, FORMER POLICY DIRECTOR ROMNEY-RYAN CAMPAIGN:  Well, look, I think that they`re -- I probably would start with the economic message.  I think that`s probably where they have to go.  The president has been out there saying for example that he`s done a lot for Latino unemployment rates, for African American unemployment rates.  I just don`t know if that breaks through frankly in this environment we`re in.

You know, and this is interesting because all of this is coming on the heels of what was being covered extensively last week as this intra-party fight on the Democratic side of the aisle.  You had very four members of Congress running up against Speaker Pelosi and that conflicts at the center of the news cycle last week it gave Republicans and the president a potential opportunity and now, you know, we`re in a very different place right now.  So I think it`s a tough job.  It`s one that would not envy and, you know, I`m not sure, be successful as a strategy.

WILLIAMS:  Thanks to you guys for always being terrific guests.  Philip Rucker, Lanhee Chen, greatly appreciate you coming on, on this Monday night.

Coming up for us, Jeffrey Epstein, he hears from his accusers in court as prosecutors describe evidence they say proves he needs to stay behind bars.  That story with a veteran federal prosecutor after this.



DAVID BOIES, ACCUSER`S ATTORNEY:  Certainly anybody that keeps thousands of pictures of nude and semi-nude children in his home is somebody that I think could present a danger to the community.


WILLIAMS:  David Boies, one of two lawyers there that`s because two of Jeffrey Epstein`s accusers were in court today to plead with the judge to deny bail to the man who may now be the best known sex offender in our country.  One accuser today told the judge she was sexually abused by Epstein starting at the age of 14 and that "he`s a scary person to have walking the streets".

Their pleas came as prosecutors offered new evidence to support their case that Epstein should remain behind bars and should not see the light of day.  According to court records, just this morning the government became aware that in a locked safe in the defendant`s mansion there were piles of cash, dozens of diamonds and a passport appearing to be issued from a foreign country.

The passport said to be registered to a fake name despite showing Epstein`s photo and listing his residence as Saudi Arabia.  Epstein is accused of paying underaged girls for sex and paying his victims to go out and recruit other girls that in turn were then assaulted.

He pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.  His lawyers say he`s willing to post as much as $100 million if a judge will only let him await trial in this, his mansion, his townhouse on the upper east side of Manhattan.

With us here tonight to talk about it, a returning veteran to our broadcast, Cynthia Alksne.  She also happens to be a former federal prosecutor.  Cynthia, any clues to tell you where this judge is going to go?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Oh sure.  I mean, every bit of evidence that came out today suggests that this man should not get bail.  And there were some other interesting clues besides what`s obvious, right.  You know, fake passport, lots of money, planes, tampering with witnesses, strong case, big incentive.  I mean, they could be a long list.

Then there was a -- a couple of interesting exchanges with the defense attorneys, for instance, at one point, one of the defense attorneys said, well, it`s not like he`s an out of control rapist and the judge said how do you know?  That wasn`t a good sign.

At one point the defense attorney said, well, you know, he`s been able to control himself.  He`s been disciplined for the last couple of years.  OK, first of all, it`s a dumb argument, because it`s an admission that he wasn`t disciplined before and that he requires discipline number one.

And number two, the judge immediately said, you know, the data kind of goes the other way.  The data is the longer you`ve been away from jail or from intervention through law enforcement, the more likely you are to commit more crimes.  So, a couple of times the defense attorneys tried to push the limit and the judge pushed back.

WILLIAMS:  I keep thinking of this guy`s life and how he lived it right up until he didn`t.  He was arrested landing at a New York City area airport on his jet coming from Paris.  Is it possible that the last moments of freedom he had walking the earth were getting on a private jet presumably after a dinner in Paris to fly back to this country and that will be it.  The rest of his days will be lived out behind bars?

ALKSNE:  I think it`s more than possible.  I think it`s probable.  Because the law really does demand that this man stay in jail awaiting trial.  And the case is just getting stronger according to the prosecutors, because the longer he`s on jail, it gives these victims a chance really to excel and feel safe.  And more victims can come forward.

And in fact the prosecutors said more were coming forward.  The evidence is getting stronger.  The New Mexico attorney general is investigating and we will -- my -- you know, we are going to make a decision about it at some point whether or not that`s child pornography in his safe which would suggest a superseding indictment and even more time.  And who knows what else is in that safe if those are blackmail CDs, if those are child pornography CDs.

So, it`s just going to snowball and snowball.  I think it`s probable he never sees the light of day and I have to say I don`t care or cry for him.

WILLIAMS:  Reading the press coverage of this guy`s life, we`ve all seen the boldface names that have become intertwined with him.  People he has flown around the world.  People he has hosted at his ranch in New Mexico at his island down in the Caribbean, at his place in New York.  How in a case like this as it progresses will those people come to have real worries that the boldface names will become unfurled in this proceeding.  Will there be an effort to separate them out?

ALKSNE:  Well, it looks like in the next couple of perhaps days, we`re going to have 2,000 pages of discovery material from a civil case.  And from what we understand, there are going to be some boldface names in that discovery as it`s released.  Likely that whoever has been involved with this man, the truth is going to end upcoming out as it should, no matter who it is.

You know, I`m a lifelong Democrat.  If there are Democrats in there, let it come out.  If there are Republicans in there, let it come out.  This should not be about politics.  This is -- if anybody abused those girls, it ought to come out and they ought to be prosecuted and I`m for it.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, here here, I think most thinking individuals would agree with that.  Cynthia, we`ve had you on I guess this is the first off topic time we have asked you to come on.  It`s normally been about the central topic of our times specifically the Mueller report, the investigation, we`ve been led to believe his testimony will now be next week if you were on that committee, if you were the staff director for one of those two committees, what`s the one question and how would you put it to him?

ALKSNE:  Well, I think the one question is did you believe the President of the United States obstructed justice?  And I think we need to know that if he -- and -- but having said that, I`m not sure we`re going to get much out of him.  I mean he`s very much -- this is the four corners of the document.  He is going to be not an easy person to question, because he really believes that that report ought to be all he has to say.  I hope they continue to pressure him.  I do think he has an obligation to tell us the answer to that question.  I don`t know if he will.

But let me say on this topic on the Epstein topic, this is how I started as a prosecutor in the sex crimes division and I feel like the obligation of the United States government to these victims is overwhelming and they have been failed and we really need this time around to get it right.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, it is profound and considering the age they were when their lives were ruined or so alleged in this case.  It`s remarkable and it`s sweep.

Cynthia Alksne --

ALKSNE:  Yes.  Let`s hope they are not ruined Brian.  Let`s hope they`re not ruin, let`s hope they heal.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, I just don`t know how one is strong enough to heal from these wounds.  Cynthia Alksne, thank you, always a pleasure to have you on.  We appreciate it.

Coming up for us, new polling numbers tonight on things like electability.  Who might be able to beat Donald Trump and who has fallen the farthest among the voters back home when we come back.



JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It`s now shamefulness and incredibly damaging.


BIDEN:  Look, we`ve led the world by the power of our example.  When presidents say they`re the face of America, like it or not, they`re the face of America.  And the idea that Donald Trump says and does the things he does is just absolutely despicable. 


WILLIAMS:  That`s former vice president in an interview set to air on "Morning Joe" just a few hours from now.  Act surprised when you see it.  He is one of many Democratic contenders reacting to the President`s comments on the so-called squad, the four women in the House.  According to the latest polling, Joe Biden is still the President`s biggest looming threat.  But there are others.

A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows if the election were held today Biden would outperform Trump by nine points, 51 percent to 42.  Senator Bernie Sanders beats Trump by seven, 50-43.  Senator Elizabeth Warren beats Trump by five and then it gets more narrow.  Kamala Harris has a one-point edge over the President.  That of course falls to the poll`s margin of error.

In the Democratic raise for the nomination, Biden leads with 26 percent of the vote, Warren second at 19, Harris, Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg round out the top five.  As for the rest of the Democratic field, Andrew Yang, Beto O`Rourke snagged 2 percent then it falls off a cliff from there.  The rest of the pack lagging far behind.  Some of the names in this race fail to register at all.

Again, these are national polls.  Even though we don`t have a national election, we have more like 50 state elections.  But, there are also new and telling numbers out tonight from a key primary state.  In a survey of likely New Hampshire Democratic voters, Joe Biden has the lead right now at this moment in time with nearly 21 percent support.  But he is in a statistical tie with Kamala Harris in second place and Warren in third.  Buttigieg follows with 11.5.  And Bernie Sanders of neighboring Vermont has dropped to fifth place in this poll of Democratic voters in neighboring New Hampshire.  Of note, in this very same poll back in April, Bernie Sanders came in second.  Not anymore.

Another break for us.  Coming up, the digital age scored another victory just today.  This one actually took place on the White House grounds.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight, an analogue man in the digital age.  It`s been said that Donald Trump for all his 14 years in reality television, a show that came out of this building, that he is not used to media scrutiny.  And think about it, nothing aired on "Apprentice" unless he wanted it to.  Much of the tabloid coverage he received for years here in New York were stories he gave the tabloids.

And remember, he ran a family company, not a public company so there was only minimal scrutiny.  And now, the scrutiny he is under goes way beyond fact checking his every aside.  It turns out that while he was still in civilian life, the pixel became a thing and the age of digital photography arrived.  And in a few notable cases, this president who is so television camera aware has been less than resolute about hiding his notes from high resolution still cameras.

There was his listening session after the Parkland School shooting, I hear you was clearly visible in the penmanship of Hope Hicks.  There was the note last summer that there was no collusion, in case you hadn`t heard.  A few weeks back after an aborted meeting with the Democrats, we could read they want to impeach me and the Dems have no accomplishments just for starters.

Other apparent analogue people in the Trump circle include John Bolten who got the unintended attention of military families a few weeks back with 5,000 troops to Colombia.  Chris Kobach of Kansas badly wanted to run Homeland Security, he showed up at a transition meeting with his plan for a rapid build of almost 2,000 miles of wall as part of the Kobach`s strategic plan.

Then just today while millions of Americans continue to come to grips with the fact that we have a president who talks like this, there were his talking points compiled and composited from fleeting still photos starting with his unique spelling for al-Qaeda and some people.

And on through lines like calling the four Congress women anti-Semitic and anti-American accusing them of socialism, saying they can leave if they`re not happy here.  Making things especially perilous is the President`s preferred use of a sharpy for notations, because as he is learning it leaves a big bold line and most of the time, there is somebody watching.

That is our broadcast for tonight.  Thank you so much for being here with us as we start a new week.  And 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