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Trump ramps up attacks on Dem. Congresswomen. TRANSCRIPT: 7/19/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Susan Page, David Maraniss, Philip Elliott, Debra Haaland, TimAlberta, Mike Massimino

JOY RIED, MSNBC HOST:  Yes, absolutely, Jim Kavanaugh, thank you very much, really appreciate you joining us.

And please be sure to join me tomorrow and every weekend morning from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern for my show, "A.M. JOY."  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight Donald Trump now defends the crowd and their chant about the congresswoman, "send her back," as the story line of racism and racist language consumes the entire week now following him into the weekend.

Also tonight, the likely story line next week as Robert Mueller prepares to testify, members of Congress prepare to question him.  The former Mueller colleague here tonight with us with a preview.

And look back at when America was on top of the world.  After sending three young men out of this world and then watching those first foot steps on the moon.  We`ll talk about it tonight with a space walker who is back here with us on earth as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Friday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters on a Friday night.  Make of it what you will, but today was day 911 of the Trump administration and the President`s own story line of racism and nativism followed him into the weekend after a solid week at the top of this and other broadcasts.  Remember it was just yesterday after all the President said he was not happy with the "send her back" chant that welled up at his rally North Carolina this past week aimed at Congresswoman Omar of Minnesota.  The President said he disagreed with it, he said he started talking quickly after the chant started up because he didn`t like hearing it.  Well, the clock showed he let 13 seconds go by while it reach the crescendo.

Then by today he had reconsidered his opinion of the crowd.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  President Trump, you said you were unhappy with the chant, however, the chant was just repeating what you said in your tweet, do you take that tweet back?

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You know what I`m unhappy with?  I`m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country.  I`m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti- Semitic things.  I`m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman in this case, a different congresswoman can call our country and our people garbage.  That`s what I`m unhappy with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So you`re not unhappy about the chant.

TRUMP:  Those people in North Carolina, that stadium was packed.  It was a record crowd.  And I could have filled it 10 times, as you know.  Those are incredible people.  Those are incredible patriots.


WILLIAMS:  The Oval Office today with the two surviving Apollo 11 astronauts looking on uncomfortably.  Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times" pointed today, "Not a whole lot has been learned on this front since 2016.  The President has a history of back tracking over massive controversy he creates.  He then sees coverage about retreating and gets mad and reinforces the original controversy."

It`s only been five days since President Trump said four Democratic congresswomen should go back and fix the places they originally came from.

From there it was off to a whirlwind of a week of rhetoric excessive even for this president.


TRUMP:  And all I`m saying that if they`re not happy here, they can leave. They can leave.  They can leave.  And you know what, I`m sure that there will be many people that won`t miss them.

It`s up to them.  Go wherever they want or they can stay.  But they should love our country, they shouldn`t hate our country.

Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-semitic screeds.

CROWD:  Send her back.  Send her back.  Send her back.  Send her back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When your supporters last night were chanting, "send her back," why didn`t you stop them?  Why didn`t you ask them to stop saying that?

TRUMP:  Well, number one, I think I did.  I started speaking very quickly.  It really was a loud -- I disagree with it, by the way.  But it was quite a chant.  And I felt a little bit badly about it.  But I will say this, I did and I started speaking very quickly.  But it started up rather fast as you probably noticed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The chant, "send her home," is that racist to you?

TRUMP:  Say it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The chant, "send her home."

TRUMP:  No, you know what`s racist to me, when somebody goes out and says the horrible things about our country, the people of our country that are anti-semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate, that to me is really a very dangerous thing.


WILLIAMS:  Most Republicans stood by the President this week after he created this fire storm over his remarks.  On Tuesday, only four Republicans and one Independent, Justin Amash of Michigan joined the Democrats crossing over to vote for a resolution to condemn the President`s original comments.

David Graham of "The Atlantic" noted today it`s been one month since President Trump officially announced his re-election campaign.  He writes, "If the past month has shown anything, it`s that Trump, instead of campaigning on his administration`s signature accomplishments, cutting regulation, appointing conservative judges, presiding over steady economic growth, seems intent on reprising his 2016 run, a campaign largely build on fear, resentment, and division."

At this point, let`s bring in our leadoff guests for our discussion on a Friday night.  Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today.  Philip Elliott, politics correspondent for "Time" magazine.  And David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning report, presidential biographer, veteran of "The Washington Post."  Good evening and welcome to all of you.

Susan, here we are as Americans, some of us amazed all over again this week.  Though, you see this week as having crossed a very distinct line.  How so?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Well, you know, of course President Trump has been provocative from the first time he announced that he planned to run for President.  So that`s not new.  But I do think the use of the chant, "send her back," and his comments that these members of Congress, three of them native born, the fourth a naturalized citizen should go back to where they originally came from.  It`s a racist trope, it`s a familiar phrase in American history.

And to have a President of the United States use such a clearly racist appeal is something we`ve never seen in modern times.  And he added to that today, by the way, by saying it was unacceptable for these members of Congress to criticize the United States at least while he was President, that that shouldn`t be allowed.  And of course, both of these, the acceptance of immigration -- acceptance of immigrants as part of our nation and the -- our belief in free speech and ability to criticize our leaders, these are fundamental American principles.

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  I don`t know much, but I know ability, the right to criticize our government was right up there among the framers` first tenants.

David Maraniss, I want to try to do your writing justice here.  You wrote a very personal piece about this for "The Washington Post."  It reads in part, "The spectacle of men and women at President Trump`s rally in North Carolina on Wednesday chanting send me back depressed me so much that I could only watch for 10 seconds before turning the channel to a baseball game mental relief.  To see the President intentionally provoke hateful cheers against Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee, U.S. citizen and elected member of Congress was a reminder to me that America has been through this too many times in too many ways."  David, expand on your thoughts.

DAVID MARANISS, THE WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE EDITOR:  Well, I spent most of my career sort of writing about what it means to be an American and all of these hateful ways of turning on people who are just descending from the powers that be.

And you know I was so depressed this week.  It was such a hideous performance.  And for him to call them incredible patriots made me think about who are real patriot is.  And just last week, I attended a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery of Brigadier General James Shelton who had fought in Vietnam, who had spent his entire career in the army.  Proud of an institution that was perhaps the most integrated of all American institutions.

And at that beautiful funeral in Arlington, one of his sons, an army colonel told the story of a family on a vacation when they were kids.  There were eight kids in big Jim Shelton`s family. They stopped at a service station.  Jim went in and came out in a rage.  And all the kids were afraid that he was mad at them.  And it turned out there was racist language written all over the bathroom walls.  And General Shelton marched into the service station, got the attendant, told him to get a bucket, some rags and water and go in there and wipe off the "n" word from that wall.

And his son said it was a lesson for all of us kids.  And I think that`s a lesson for all of America.  It`s what I want to talk about.  You know, the pseudo patriots at that rally versus a real patriot, Jim Shelton.

WILLIAMS:  Phil, is it possible that equally perversely the Democrats have received because we`re living in a political world, we have to ask this, a kind of political boost from this?

PHILIP ELLIOTT, TIME MAGAZINE POLITICS CORRESPONDENT:  Oh, entirely.  Remember when the democrats woke up on Sunday morning they were a party divided.  The so-called squad had been slighted by speaker Nancy Pelosi in an interview she gave to "The New York Times".  This week could have been entirely about Democratic infighting.  Instead the President tweeted -- what he has tweeted on Sunday morning and immediately brought the Democratic Party together instead of being fractured and divided over who was actually in charge.  They all rallied together, they got unified, they got the back of one of their own, someone they don`t necessarily -- who has brought them a lot of trouble since she came here with past rhetoric and current rhetoric.

And in doing so, Democrats, however briefly, have become united again and standing in opposition to President Donald Trump.  There is one thing that the entire Democratic caucus agrees on is that they have got to be a check on this President.  They disagree on whether that`s impeachment, whether it`s censure, whether it`s resolution of disapproval, but they all agree that they have to at least have a united front on defending their own.  And in this way really Speaker Pelosi should be sending President Trump a thank you basket of some Big Macs and diet coke.

WILLIAMS:  Susan, the President has retreated to the comfort of one of his golf courses at the same he has retreated back to the rhetoric that this started with on Sunday night on Twitter.  Is it passe to ask what has happened to the nation`s business this week-long news cycle while we`ve been talking about this?

PAGE:  Well, you know, Brian, I think it`s fair to say the nation has no big problems to address so we should naturally spend our time on this.  Obviously just kidding, we`ve got a debt ceiling debate going on.  That`s really serious.  We have a situation at the border that really cries out for some far-reaching immigration reform.  And those things have seem to be very hard to even get attention to, you know, in the wake of kind of the controversy we`ve seen.  It`s about to, you know, about to complete a week long controversy over these statements by the President.

I would just perhaps disagree a bit with my friend, reluctantly, with my friend Phil in saying that I don`t think it is all clear what the political -- I think there is a big moral component to this.  But I don`t think it`s entirely clear what the political impact is going to be.  You know, there is -- it is -- while the President`s comments have I think distressed many Democrats, Independents, it has also been met with support by many Republican voters and with not very much protest from, pretty muted protest from congressional Republicans.  So, I think we need to wait and see how this kind of sorts out in the most cold-hearted political calculations.

WILLIAMS:  Phil, let me keep going with this where the republicans are concerned.  We saw the silence, Phil, this week based on what the President had said.  If it gets worse, will we then see perhaps a profile encouraged here and there?

ELLIOTT:  Possibly. I mean, you take a look at the people who have spoken out against them.  They are the ones who have nothing to lose.  They are -- two of them are retiring and a third maybe.  This is a President who has complete hold over his Republican Party at the moment.  This is his party.  This is his rhetoric.

Anyone standing up and opposing the President to this point has been seen as a loser.  You take a look at the people who were speaking out against the President during his first two years in Congress, during the last -- first two years in president, the last two years in Congress, they`re not here anymore.  They either were drummed out of Washington or face the primary.

It`s -- and the biggest rule in politics here in Washington is you are constantly trying to preserve your own power.  And going against a President polling in the 1990s amongst -- in some polls among Republicans is just bad politics for you.

WILLIAMS:  David Maraniss, as we come up on this week and the Mueller appearance, tell us why you think this is a huge test for the Republican Party.

MARANISS:  Well, everyone is focussed on what the Democrats will ask at that hearing.  And I think that`s important.  But I think what might really happen at that day is when the Republicans try to challenge Mueller it can implode in their faces.  And I don`t think that they`re ready for that.  And that`s what I`m looking towards happening.  He`s not impregnable.  But the modes of attack that they`re going to take at him don`t seem to have any valid validity.

And so I think that the more they push on him, the more he`ll come across as a Jimmy Stewart character, Gary Cooper.  And it`s just not going to work for the Republicans.  So I think that`s the real thing to look for next week.

WILLIAMS:  With so many heat advisories across the country, we are tempted to tell the audience if you choose to stay inside this week, we`ve got two recent works by two out of the three guests.  "The Matriarch" by Susan Page, available wherever fine books are sold and "The Good American Family" by Mr. Maraniss, and anything Phil has ever written.  And with that, our thanks to Susan Page, to Phil Elliot, and David Maraniss for starting us off at the end of this week.

And coming up, what this week was like for another freshman member of Congress serving along side the four targeted by the President of the United States.

And later, could the unsealed documents in the Stormy Daniels hush money case spell trouble still for Hope Hicks?  THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on this hot Friday night.


TRUMP:  I`m unhappy when a congresswoman goes and said, "I`m going to be the President`s nightmare."  She`s going to be the President`s nightmare.  She`s lucky to be where she is.  Let me tell you.

And the things that she has said are a disgrace to our country.


WILLIAMS:  The President again choosing to go after Congresswoman Omar of Minnesota today, one of the four Democratic congress women he attacked this week.

At an event in Indianapolis today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the President`s original comments on Sunday.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA, HOUSE SPEAKER:  We have heart broken that the President had to say on Sunday and frankly I don`t want to pay much more attention to what he had to say on any subject.  But we could not ignore that.  So, we had our motion to condemn.


WILLIAMS:  With us to talk about all of it from her home district in Albuquerque, New Mexico is another member of the freshmen class in the House Democratic Congresswoman Debra Haaland.

Congresswoman, what was it like in plain English seeing your four sister members of Congress, these fellow members of Congress under this kind of withering attack this week?

REP. DEBRA HAALAND, (D) NEW MEXICO:  Oh, it`s just been horrible.  You know, it`s just extremely hurtful.  It`s hurtful to them, of course.  But it`s hurtful to all of us because we came into this Congress.  We all got elected in November.  We had a number of, you know, freshman orientations that we attended together.  We`ve had opportunities to get to know each other.  And you know, it`s hurtful.

And it`s not -- you know, it doesn`t surprise any of us, however, because the President, you know, long before he was president, we could tell that he was a misogynous.  And that is, you know, he`s attacking women.  It`s no different from, you know, when he was on his campaign.  So it is extremely hurtful.

We`re all, you know, we have jobs to do, though, in Congress.  We`re all members representing our respective districts, working very hard to make sure that we fight for the people in those districts.  And so although, you know, it stops us in our tracks, we keep moving.  We keep working.  We keep making sure that we`re doing the work of the people.

WILLIAMS:  Congresswoman, as the daughter of a Native American, in a way that makes you the most American member of Congress, but precisely the way our system is supposed to work, you`re supposed to be no more American than Congresswoman Omar in this country.

HAALAND:  And that`s correct, Brian.  And I`ll just let you in on one quick thing.  Native Americans weren`t actually citizens of this country until 1924.  And so, by an act of Congress.

So, look, yes I am indigenous to this country, I`m a 35th generation New Mexican.  My ancestors migrated to this area of New Mexico in the late 1200s.  However, I was raised by my pueblo mother to respect everyone, to welcome everyone into our home.

This is a country, the United States of America that we share with everyone.  And I certainly would never take it upon myself to tell someone that they needed to leave.  That`s not up to me and it`s not up to the President.

WILLIAMS:  Congresswoman, what do your Republican colleagues say to you these days?

HAALAND:  You know, I am with my Republican colleagues in committee, on the floor.  I -- you see, you know, not surprisingly, they don`t ever bring any of this up to me.  And so it`s not something that we ever talk about.  However, I feel very strongly that the silence is deafening, right?

If you`re not calling the President out for his racist and bigoted comments, for him insighting the most horrible chants coming out of a rally that he had this past week, I mean, if you`re not calling him out for those things, then you obviously are OK with what he is saying and what he`s doing.  And I just think that the people in this country who are going to vote in the next election, they will remember that.  And I hope they do.

WILLIAMS:  From her home district, the first district in New Mexico, the Albuquerque area, Congresswoman Debra Haaland, thank you so much.  We hope you will come on our broadcast again with us.

HAALAND:  Thank you.

WILLIAMS:  We appreciate it.

HAALAND:  Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us, the live televised event our President says he won`t be watching next week when we come back.



TRUMP:  You know what, at some point, they have to stop playing games, because they`re just playing games.  No, I won`t be watching Mueller.


WILLIAMS:  Ahead of Robert Mueller`s testimony next week, there is new fallout from his investigation for one of Donald Trump`s closest advisers.  House Democrats would like Hope Hicks to come explain apparent inconsistencies in her testimony regarding hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.  New court documents appear to suggest that Hope Hicks may have been directly and completely involved detailing phone calls and text messages between Hope Hicks, Donald Trump, and Trump`s former lawyer Michael Cohen.  Something she denied in her testimony to Congress.  A reminder, Cohen is behind bars for his role in this.

In his letter to Hicks, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler writes, "As I reminded you at the outset of your interview, anything other than complete candor can have very serious consequences.  Accordingly, I would expect you to clarify this matter before the Committee in very short order- but no later than August 15."  Hicks said she told the truth.

Back with us tonight a, Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney, former senior FBI official who served as counselor to Robert Mueller, also happens to be host of the MSNBC podcast "The Oath."

OK, Chuck, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you.  A double question for you, number one, is Hope Hicks in real trouble?  Does she face real jeopardy?  And number two because you`re a good lawyer, I know you have found some room that her attorneys may use as a spacious way of getting around this.

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well, I think the answer to number two may answer number one.  One of the questions she was asked, Brian, is whether she was present for these conversations regarding hush money payments to Trump`s paralawyers.  Now, you know, when a teacher calls attendance in the classroom and you say present that means you are there in the classroom.

And I -- so I think the question was imprecise.  What the question should have been to Ms. Hicks was whether or not you were physically present?  Did you participate in the conversation?  Were you on the phone?  Did you listen in on it?  Did you hear about it afterwards?  You have to ask the question in 30 different ways.

It`s not unusual for questions at a congressional hearing to be imprecise.  But if they are imprecise and they were imprecise, it`s very, very difficult to make a criminal case.  And so I think that answers question number one.

She needs to go back and clarify her testimony, but yet as of right now I don`t yet see legal jeopardy for her previous answers.

WILLIAMS:  OK. Eljiah Cummings who is the chairman of the Oversight Committee wrote this to the Southern District of New York in affect, the justice department office in Manhattan.  If prosecutors identified evidence of criminal conduct by Donald Trump while serving as president and did not bring charges as they would for any other individual -- this would be the second time the president has not been held accountable for his actions due to his position.

The Office of the President should not be used as a shield for criminal conduct.  Chuck, this brings us back to that pesky ruling at DOJ saying a sitting president can`t get indicted.  Who should the chairman see about his complaint?  What can be done?

ROSENBERG:  Well, frankly, Brian, rulings because this was issued twice by the Department of Justice, once under a Republican president in 1973 and once under a Democratic president in 2000.  Who should the chairman see?  He should see the Speaker of the House because the House has the authority to bring an impeachment.  And so if the justice department cannot proceed because of policy and that appears to be the case, the House certainly can.  Nothing procludes that.

WILLIAMS:  Please preview for us the testimony of one Robert Mueller.  I have seen what I think is everyone of his public utterances.  He is a man of few tells, zero flowery language.  He gives taciturn a new meaning.  The only thing I ever seen is his jaw tends to flare when he is angry.  That will be interesting if we see that coming on.

ROSENBERG:  Right.  He can certainly be frustrated at this.  But I don`t think any member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, regardless of their agenda will push Bob Mueller in a direction in which he does not want to be pushed.  I had the privilege of working for the man.  I have seen him testify.  I have seen him prepare for it.  He`s extraordinarily calibrated, careful, as you pointed out, taciturn.

And when he told the world that he was not going to go beyond his report, they ought to take him at his word.  He will not go beyond his report.  So, members will have to ask very precise, very careful questions.  They can even ask him to read portions of the report because he can open up to almost any page and find something damning.  But don`t expect Bob Mueller to go off in multiple directions and beyond the four corners of what he wrote.

WILLIAMS:  What he`s going to do with the question when the president says no collusion, no obstruction is he telling the truth?  Is he correct?  What will he do with an answer like that?

ROSENBERG:  Well, he wrote about that in volume one of the report.  He said we didn`t analyze collusion.  Collusion is not a legal term.  We looked at it from a conspiracy or coordination standpoint and we found numerous contacts, scores of contacts between Americans and Russians.  Not enough to bring criminal charges meaning they were unwitting or unknowing.  But you could very easily from volume one of the report, Brian, layout a web of coordination just not criminal conspiracy.

WILLIAMS:  Chuck, something tells me we will be seeing each other next week and talking again about this very same subject.  Our thanks for joining us on a Friday night to Chuck Rosenberg.

And coming up for us, it was the president who used the phrase American carnage during that inaugural speech.  Now it`s the title of a book that describes the extent of the damage to the Republican Party.  The author will be here with us in a moment



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.


WILLIAMS:  It was easily the darkest inaugural address ever delivered.  And that right there was the tone that Donald Trump set on day one.  American carnage also happens to be the title of a new book.  On the political climate that allowed for a trump victory, Tim Alberta, the author who joins us in just a moment writes, "His was a canopy of discontent under which the grudging masses could congregate to air their grievances about a nation they no longer recognized and a government they no longer trusted.  These voters were far less likely to respond to policy arguments than they were to emotional appeals aimed at their long-simmering sense of grievance, displacement and marginalization."

Here with us tonight is the aforementioned, Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent for POLITICO magazine.  The book officially "American Carnage: On The Front Lines Of The Republican Civil War And The Rise Of President Trump."

Tim, you may not want to hear this, but your book in my view has a lot to do with the Mueller report in that there is so much in here you hope for people to really read it, all of it and get through it.  It is so dense.  And you`re reporting is so original.  Let me start with a very basic question.  How is it a cultural Democrat from New York was able to walk in and take the keys of the Republican Party and drive away?  What do the old timers say allowed that?

TIM ALBERTA, AUTHOR "AMERICAN CARNAGE":  Brian, it`s a really good question.  And I think it actually goes back to one of the passages you were just reading which is to say that Trump I think was quite presiant in identifying that at a core visceral gut level, these cultural issues were really driving the Republican base much more than were the policy issues.

So, in other words, in 2010, we all remember the tea party wave came crashing over Washington and we heard so much about debt and deficit and spending and Obama was bankrupting the country.  And I was covering Congress at the time, I was covering Republicans and covering these tea party conservatives coming to Washington.

And I always felt this sense of dissidence because as much as I would hear them talk about that, when I would spend time with them and I would go back to their districts and talk to some of the voters, it always seemed to me that there was this cultural churn beneath the surface that was really much more I guess galvanizing in moving these voters and certainly animating their opposition, not just to Barack Obama, but to the Republican Party`s leadership which they perceive to be feeble and weak, and afraid to fight back against the Obama and against the cultural left, the forces of secularism what have you.

And so I think what Trump was able to identify better than any other Republican frankly was that many of the voters on the right sure to some degree care about tax cuts, they care about deregulation, they care about conservative justices, no question.  But, they really were looking for somebody who was willing to fight for their way of life, somebody who is willing to sort of step in the arena and throw haymakers at a time when the Republican Party writ large was viewed as weak and unwilling to fight.

WILLIAMS:  Just one of the stories on one of the pages of the book is one of your conversations with John Boehner on our current politics.  And it just knock this out.  It reads, at t some point we`re going to have to realize we`re Americans first and Democrats and Republicans and conservatives and liberals second.  The country is more important than what each of the parties believe in, he says.  It`s going to take an intervening event for Americans to realize that.  The author interjects.  An intervening event?  "Something cataclysmic," Boehner responds, gazing upward.

You have any idea what he had in mind Tim?

ALBERTA:  Well, yes.  I do, sadly.  And this conversation came against the back drop of talking about, you know, 9/11, Brian.  And in my book focuses on this period of history from 2008 to 2018 for a number of reasons.  It`s a very sort of neat 10-year window that we can look at the Trump rise and the change within the Republican Party.  And -- but much of this I think does probably go back to the post 9/11 environment, because that was really the last time in which you saw the country unified, not just politically but culturally, as well.

There was a real sense of societal cohesion.  And I think what Boehner and I were discussing -- I`ve had this conversation with other Republicans as well.  Marco Rubio in fact raised this same point to me unsolicited when we were talking for the book.  They said essentially, look if 9/11 happened today, do any of us think that the response would be anything close to what we saw back in 2001?

And sadly, I think the answer is no.  I think that the country has become so deeply polarized not just along political lines but along those sort of cultural fault lines.  And we have become, you know, self-selected into these idealogical echo chambers and the geographic clustering of the electorate.  There are so many dynamics obviously Brian that we can examine the political change through.

But all of it adds up to a country that it sort of at war with itself.  And that is manifest itself at any number of different ways.  But Trump clearly exploited some of that uneasiness, some of that tension that was simmering within the party and within the culture itself.

WILLIAMS:  Another story in this book, we got to share with our viewers is about Mark Meadows, Republican North Carolina he of the freedom caucus.  Here it is, when word leaked to GOP leadership that Meadows had been involved in the plotting against Boehner in 2013, even though he ultimately did not oppose him, the brand new lawmaker requested a meeting with the speaker.  Quote, "He`s on the couch sitting across from me in my chair and suddenly he slides off the couch, down on to his knees and puts his hands together in front of his chest," Boehner recalls, he says, "Mr. Speaker, will you please forgive me?"  Boehner`s chief of staff Mike Sommers, who witnessed the encounter said it was the strangest behavior I`ve ever seen in Congress.

Tim, we`re running out of time, but I got to ask you, this is just -- is this a new era of fealty or is this just the story line we`re seeing a lot of these days?

ALBERTA:  Well, Brian, look, if the book captures one thing I hope it`s that you have real characters in the Republican Party circa 2019 and Meadows is one of them.  In fact I compare Meadows at one point in the book to Frank Underwood, the character from "House Of Cards."  And readers can digest that on their own time.

But look, the party of 2019, the Donald Trump Republican Party that we see today is so fundamentally dissimilar from the George W. Bush party a decade ago that it is almost unrecognizable.  It almost feel surreal, it like we are so far through the looking glass that we cannot remember the days of compassionate conservative and the pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform.  And a big priority of refugee resettlement and AIDS relief to Africa and all of these commitments that George W. Bush had made to try to soften the image of the Republican Party.

Donald Trump obviously has done a 180.  And what`s more surprising than that, Brian, is that there has been so little resistance from within the GOP to this new direction that Trump has taken the party.

WILLIAMS:  The book is "American Carnage".  Its author Tim Alberta has been our guest here tonight from Washington.  Tim, best of luck with it.  Thank you very much for coming on.

ALBERTA:  Thank you.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up, what it was we were getting ready for 50 years ago tonight.  We will talk about it with a genuine space man who is standing by here on earth to talk with us.



NEIL ARMSTRONG, ASTRONAUT:  It`s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.


WILLIAMS:  That was the moment watched live by more people around the world than any before it and perhaps since.  In the moment because of that radio breakup, Walter Cronkite, famously missed the exact quote and asked for clarification on the air.  Armstrong insisted that while he may not have pronounced every syllable, the quote was, that`s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

Neil Armstrong, the introverted Purdue engineer, the reluctant American hero left us seven years ago.  The two surviving members of the Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins were in the Oval Office today, both men are chasing 90 years of age.

With us to talk about the mission, the legacy is a genuine space man, it happens to be the title of his book, Veteran NASA Astronaut, Mike Massimino has spent a total of 571 hours and 47 minutes in space, completing four space walks totaling, you going to seat here and take this, 30 hours and 4 minutes of tethered time.  He is a Ph.D. and engineer by trade that went on two missions to repair an upgrade, the Hubble Space Telescope.  As we said, his book is called "Spaceman: An Astronaut`s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe".

It is great to see you again.

MIKE MASSIMINO, VETERAN NASA ASTRONAUT:  Brian, great to see you.  Thank you for having me.

WILLIAMS:  Thanks so much for coming in.

MASSIMINO:  Oh my pleasure to be here.  Thank you.

WILLIAMS:  I was the ripe old age of 10.  You were six.

MASSIMINO:  Six nearly seven.

WILLIAMS:  I remember my mother in tears.  I remember watching it on a small black and white television set.  What does the legacy of Apollo 11 mean to a guy like you?

MASSIMINO:  It brings back very pure emotional memories of that time for me.  And I knew it was an important event.  But to me it was something really special.  For me it did -- I think it defined what I thought about the world, who I wanted to be when I grew up.  That`s what I meant to be.  And I knew it was important to a lot of people.  But I also knew to me it seemed a little bit more than -- it would meant a little bit more than it meant to others.

And I think it`s the greatest achievement we ever had.  I remember as a little kid, six years old thinking, this is the most important thing that happened in 500 years and it`s the most important thing that`s going to happen for the next 500 years.  And 500 years from now kids that were in school like we were back then 500 years some of the will be learning about what happened 50 years ago tomorrow.

WILLIAMS:  Last night on this broadcast I talked about the courage of all of this, an aspect I don`t think gets enough attention.  The courage of knowing that while there was a button to push on the dashboard of the limb, there was no guarantee they were coming back.


WILLIAMS:  No guarantee.


WILLIAMS:  Those rockets had never fired off the surface of the moon --

MASSIMINO:  Yes, that`s right.

WILLIAMS:  -- before.  So my question for you is, an engineer by trade, an MIT, Columbia type with an intellect we can all stand back and be amazed at.  Where did you learn courage?  The claustrophobia of the -- you got into a spacecraft that had exploded before.

MASSIMINO:  Yes, yes.

WILLIAMS:  Where did you learn all that?  You weren`t a jet jockey like so many of these other guys.

MASSIMINO:  No, I wasn`t, Brian.  It was a new experience to me.  A lot of my friends were military test pilots.  I had done things, fought in combat and they were used to I think these things more than I was.  So this was all new to me.

I think what got me through those things was having that dream of wanting to go to space and seeing that there was a real purpose in it.  And I think that that passion can -- and the meaningfulness in what you`re doing can take you a long way to let you take those risks.

And I think that in my case, what I really felt about the space program is that what we were doing was that important that it was worth the risks that we were taking.  And the other thing was kind of strange, I never thought how I would react to some of these things but when you`re in those situations and it`s risky or you might get scared, you realize that getting scared is not going to help and that is not going to -- if you`re trying to solve a problem, if you`re in a dangerous situation, it`s not going to help you to be nervous or scared.  And so for some reason, it disappears.

I don`t know why that happened.  I never would have expected that to happen.  But that`s what happened to me when I was nervous about something or should have been nervous about something.  It kind of went away somehow.

WILLIAMS:  I want to tell folks that in citing both Tom Hanks and John Glenn, your book perhaps because of your own wiring does the best job of talking about what it`s like up there.  What trying to sleep your first night is like.  What trying no at to erp your first two days up there is like.


WILLIAMS:  When people come up and ask you, what do you -- how do you answer the what it`s like question?

MASSIMINO:  It`s a mixture of things.  I think there`s a bit of stress involved because you want to do your job well.  There`s the uncertainty of how it`s going to go.  Are you going to be -- is it going to -- the danger is going to get to you?  Is it going to be a bad day or good day when you launch?  How is the mission going to go?

So you`ve got the stressful part of it, but it`s also very magical.  And getting a chance to do that for me was a dream come true.  And what you see out there, looking at our planet, the beauty of it, it looks like a complete paradise.  And getting out in space walking with whole sky open, so I was like going out to the playground, you know, looking outside from - - in the window, it`s pretty day outside.  And you go outside and the whole sky opens up.  That`s what it was like going into space.  The whole universe kind of opens up to you.  And I really felt like a spaceman being out there.  It`s just these wonderful experiences.

And I also enjoyed a lot of the technical part of it, of the planning and the preparation of how we were going to do things and figuring things out.  That was a lot of the pleasure in the job as well.

WILLIAMS:  Our spaceman has agreed to stay with us for one break.

When we come back, what may be next for the space program?  And whatever happened to infinity and beyond?  When we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:   Beautiful view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Isn`t that something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Magnificent sight out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Magnificent desolation.


WILLIAMS:  Again, radio breakup for the first words of Buzz Aldrin.  Magnificent desolation were his first words on the surface of the moon.  Veteran spaceman Mike Massimino is back with us here in the studio.  I don`t know that you know that even in cable you have vast power.  I can make this the surface of the moon.


WILLIAMS:  That put us on the surface of the moon for this conversation.

MASSIMINO:  Let`s do it.  There we go.  That is awesome.  Look at that.

WILLIAMS:  We are in the sea of tranquility right now.

MASSIMINO:  Very nice.  Beautiful.

WILLIAMS:  I`ve got to ask you about what`s next.  People talk about Mars like it`s Elmira, New York.  Mars is a six-month trip.  Communications take 20 minutes point to point.  It`s so far away.  What do you think?

MASSIMINO:  Yes, that`s what -- one thing is the voyage of six months, but after you are on your way there, the closest we have with the control center -- lower orbit it`s a second or so you going to get a response.  On the moon when they had a problem, when they needed something, they would tell you whatever -- usually when we have a problem, they got to -- they would get a response within a few seconds.


MASSIMINO:  You go to Mars you`re going to, as you say, you`re going to say Houston, we have a problem and 20 minutes later you`re going to get some guy say, what was that?  Say again.

WILLIAMS:  Exactly.

MASSIMINO:  You`re on your own when you`re out there.  It`s a much different way to operate.  And we have not been back to the moon since 1972.  We haven`t gone any further with people than the moon.  And going to Mars is quite a leap.  It`s something we talk about doing 10 to 15 years in the future, and we still haven`t been able to get there yet, so.

WILLIAMS:  This is the era of independent companies in this race back up into space for --


WILLIAMS:  -- revenue paying tax passengers --


WILLIAMS:  -- a lot of it.  And there`s something that because it`s not under the direct aegis of NASA feels a little corporate to us, until I remember the Rockwell logo --


WILLIAMS:  -- on the command module.  It was private companies stitched together by NASA back then.

MASSIMINO:  That`s right, yes, lots of them.  I think the difference I was seeing now is a slightly different model.  As opposed to direct contract with each one of these contracts is NASA paying the bill, the taxpayer --


MASSIMINO:  -- more or less paying for everything.  What we have now is that these private contractors, these private companies have a little more skin in the game.  So for example, NASA is going to be flying astronauts I think very soon, hopefully by the end of the year with Boeing and with SpaceX and those spaceships are made by those companies under contract with NASA.  But they have a little more skin in the game than in the previous contract model.

So NASA is still paying for a lot of it, but those companies are also putting their own dollar into it as well.  Then there`s some companies that are pretty much independent from that like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, Bezos` company.  They`re using their own funding to come up with their spaceships to do the exploration, the selling of the tickets, the -- whatever they want to do, they`re kind of doing it on their own.  But still even in that case, I think they`ve gotten a big help from what the government has done over these past decades.

WILLIAMS: For a kid from Long Island, you did pretty well.

MASSIMINO:  Yes.  Well, thanks, Brian.  Thank you very much, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  We`re overly glad that you`d be back here.

MASSIMINO:  It`s really great to see you and thanks for having me.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you very much.  Mike Massimino, our guest tonight.

With that, that is our broadcast for this Friday night from the sea of tranquility.  Thank you for being here with us.  Have a good weekend and goodnight from what actually is, 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