O`DONNELL: Katie Porter, gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on the eve of Robert Mueller`s appearance on Capitol Hill, all the preparations and planning now give way to what could be the most consequential testimony in years. And late word on who will accompany Mueller at the witness table. What will this man reveal about his work, his report? What will he say about how Attorney General Barr got out ahead of him? What more will we learn about the Russian influence campaign in our last presidential election as we head toward another.
And then there is the presidency that`s been under criminal investigation and the man who may not like what he hears tomorrow. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this Tuesday night.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News head quarters here in New York. Day 915 of the Trump administration. We are now just hours away from the swearing in of the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
A few more numbers here at the outset. The career public servant is 15 days away from his 75 birthday. Tomorrow will be his 89th appearance before Congress. And the estimates are that only three percent to 10 percent of Americans have actually read his report which weighed in at 448 pages. It was devastating, yes, but it was dense, and written for the attention span perhaps of an earlier time in our country.
The stakes are extremely high and especially for the Democrats who are hoping this testimony in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees will ignite public outrage somehow and public interest in the investigations into the President. There`s also a lot riding on this for the President and members of his party. Trump attacked Mueller constantly, wrongly labeled him a Democrat. Made up conflicts. He charged the whole effort was politically motivated if not made up of whole cloth. That effort continue today when the President again took aim at the investigation and the hearing as he spoke to a group of teenagers in D.C.
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DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No collusion. No obstruction. Oh, that`s not good enough, let`s do more $40 million interview 500 people. They got nothing. They did everything. The collusion, no collusion. They have no collusion.
Then I have an Article Two, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president, but I don`t even talk about that. Because they did a report, and there was no obstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: More on that Article Two in a bit. Tonight our NBC News Colleague Hallie Jackson reports that sources describe Trump as annoyed, but get this, not overly enraged on the eve of Mueller`s testimony. They say while he sees the prospect of Democrats overreaching on impeachment post Mueller as a political win for him, he is, "irritated that he still has to deal with the special counsel over two years after this investigation started."
We`ve learned that Mueller has been preparing thoroughly for questions from lawmakers. No surprise there, as he did when he was summoned to testify as FBI director. The man who served as Mueller`s chief of staff at the bureau and who was his deputy in the Special Counsel Office, Aaron Zebly will be seated next to him during tomorrow`s Judiciary hearing. He would be sworn in at the second hearing.
Mueller`s request for Zebly caused a stir among Republicans who raised objections as did Trump who posted this not long ago tonight. "Just got back only to hear of a last minute change allowing a never Trumper attorney to help Robert Mueller with his testimony before Congress tomorrow. What a disgrace to our system. Never heard of this before. Very unfair. Should not be allowed. A rigged witch hunt."
Robert Mueller spokesman says Zebley`s presence was discussed with the committees more than a week ago.
Mueller`s morning testimony before judiciary is expected to focus on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice in seeking to control the Russia inquiry.
Earlier today former FBI Director James Comey whose own investigation preceded the special counsel`s was interviewed live here by our colleague Nicole Wallace. She asked him why Mueller declined to charge Trump even after citing instances of possible or suspected obstruction.
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JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: He reasoned that as a prosecutor working at the Department of Justice he can`t bring charges against a sitting president. And if he can`t charge a sitting president, it would be unfair in writing to accuse the President of a crime because there couldn`t be any adjudication and opportunity for vindication by that president. So what he would do is try to be fair to the President and principled and simply lay out the evidence he had gathered so that a future prosecutor when the man is no longer a sitting president could take a look at it. That confused a lot of people, because then the attorney general grabbed it and said there`s no there, there and ended the case.
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WILLIAMS: Mueller`s afternoon hearing is before the Intelligence Committee. It`s likely to center on the finding that Russia interfered with our election. Comey says it is critical that the public be made fully aware of the Kremlin`s efforts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: The facts that were found whether or not there are criminal charges are deeply troubling. There were a lot of contacts between the Russians who are bent on interfering and the Trump campaign that was keen to benefit from that interference. That`s important. Those facts are important for people to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: House Democrats met again today preparing for tomorrow. They say their questions will be coordinated and in order and not random. This evening the Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York described what he hopes will come out of the hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK, CHMN. HOUSE JUDICIARY CMTE.: Mueller investigation revealed a lot of conduct by the President which the American people should be aware of. The President and the attorney general have systemically lied to the American people about what was in that report. I know they have said no obstruction, no collusion. He was totally exonerated. All those three times are not true. It`s important that the American people understand what was in that report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Thanks to our team we also learned today Nadler is targeting another key witness in this investigation. Our own Mike Memoli who`d be with us in a moment reporting tonight the chairman is preparing to compel testimony from one Don McGahn, former White House counsel. He can speak to possible obstruction and then some as he was one of the de facto narrators of the Mueller report.
With that, here for our lead off discussion on a Tuesday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Reporter for "The Washington Post," Mimi Rocah, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, now a Distinguished Fellow in Criminal Justice at Pace University School of Law, Tim O`Brien, Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion, he happens to be the author of "Trump Nation, The Art of Being the Donald," and as we mentioned, NBC News Correspondent Mike Memoli.
Mike, you`ve spent the day and night up there on the Hill. Talk to us about preparation and strategy heading into this tomorrow.
MIKE MEMOLI. NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brian. I spent part of my evening outside that hearing room in the office building where Democrats held what was supposed to be a two-hour, ended up closer to three-hour mock hearing. Trying to when one member called it a feisty session. I think an indication of some of the fireworks that they expect to come not necessarily from the witness table but from their Republican colleagues.
As you indicated, there`s more optimism that this is going to be a hearing that is beneficial to them politically than substantively. They know Robert Mueller is unlikely to go beyond what we call the four corners of that report. The Justice Department has encouraged Mueller to do just that as well.
So what they`re going to do is use in a way we don`t often see from Democrats, each of their two dozen members sequentially try to spin a narrative, to bring as they say the Mueller report to life. To focus on discreet themes that they believe will be important to helping inform the public, better understand what they might believe to be. Many of those members on the desk their belief to be an impeachable offense.
On the part of Republicans, they say that this is not going to be the typical minority bomb throwing, in fact, unlike what Democrats are saying. They intend to fully use their five minutes each in questions to ask as many questions of Robert Mueller as possible. They know he`s not likely to give more one word answers than long answers himself. And they want to be able to make sure that for any points if you want to call that Democrats put on the board in raising some of the issues that Mueller`s report clearly lays out that Republicans get a little bit of a response and potentially muddy the waters and speak to the President`s defense.
And on the Intelligence Committee side, of course, Democrats want to explore those Russian connections. And the Republicans on that committee a bit more coy, but Devin Nunez, the author of that infamous Nunez memo, we expect a lot of the questions there. We`ll get to the heart of what was initially a Russia investigation, ultimately the Mueller investigation and what he believes the tainted and political motives that were -- at the roots of the investigation.
WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, help us further set this up. Each party in this tomorrow has an equal chance of grand standing and screwing it up. We remind folks it was the Democrats who thought it was a good idea to bring in a bucket of chicken on the day the attorney general didn`t show, so there`s that. There`s also your beat, the White House, the sources telling our people with a straight face the President is not enraged and we`ve noticed there`s nothing on there`s nothing on the President`s schedule until a scheduled 4:00 p.m. departure, so what could go wrong?
ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Absolutely nothing, Brian. One thing we`re sure of is the President is going to be watching this incredibly closely tomorrow. This is what he always does, and he does what one senior White House official told me is sort of reaction shop. Where he then he watches then he calls an aides and he calls friends and said, you know, what do you think? How do you think its going? How do you think it`s playing?
And what`s been interesting in calling around to try to understand the frame of sort of Trump world. Going into this is there is not as much anxiety as you might expect. There`s sort of an understanding that the President will be watching this, and there`s frankly nothing they can do if he chooses to tweet or weigh in or stop on the South Lawn on his way to Marine One, and that is just a reality, but there`s not -- you know, a tremendous war room effort, the campaign is not having young aides showing up at 4:00 a.m. to get caffeinated and prepare for the hearing that begins at 8:30 a.m., that they`re going to be watching it. It`s going to be on TV. They`re going to respond in kind.
But as of now I think because this has dragged out over, you know, two years basically, the anxiety that we saw in some of the early revelations of what would ultimately become the Mueller report. At the end of the day the President was not charged, and there is a sense or not relief, but they think at least as of now and especially if the President doesn`t do something to undermine himself, which again is always a possibility, that this may not be as bad as one might of thought say six months ago.
WILLIAMS: That`s why we always ask what could go wrong.
Hey Mimi, what do you make of Mueller`s desire to have a second share? Someone with whom he shared FBI experience, a law firm in Washington, and special counsel experience, someone he`s comfortable with?
MIMI ROCAH, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: I think it makes total sense and it kind of goes to the way that prosecutors and agents work and Mueller has worked his whole life. I mean yes, he is sort of, you know, larger than life at this point. But he`s always been part of a team. He may be the leader of that team, but that is how the special counsel team worked. That is how every prosecution and investigative team works.
So it makes sense to me that he would want to have that person there, not because he needs the crutch, but because first of all, people -- you can`t delve into the amount of information that they did without dividing it up somewhat. And so there are going to be things that Mueller is more, you know, sort of versed in and things that his deputy is more versed in. You have to divide up to conquer sort of the amount of material.
And again, I think -- and this goes to sort of one of the things that I hope gets accomplished tomorrow. That Mueller does away with the witch hunt idea, right? That people who don`t know how the FBI works, who maybe don`t know all about Mueller sort of go back -- step back from this and say, "Look, this is a man with integrity, and we can trust what he`s telling us, because he has managed to preserve that."
And I think, again, having a team there even though or be it a small team, reinforces it, this isn`t about one person, one prosecutor, one supposed fake conflict that Trump wants to, you know, talk about. It`s about the Department of Justice, if you will, at the time, which special counsel`s office, you know, how they work as a team together.
WILLIAMS: Tim, it strikes me, and I ask you as the expert on Donald Trump here. Trump may be the recipient of the fact that this report was dense. Might as well have been written in old English, it was written for another era that is not apparent to us in 2019. He was the recipient of having a pliant attorney general who threw a body block between him and the Mueller report. What are the stakes for Donald Trump the viewer watching tomorrow?
TIM O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, you know, this is what he pays close attention to, its political theater and he`s very aware of how powerful it is. This is really one of those moments in which you can`t underestimate the power of television. Most Americans haven`t read this report, so to the extent that Bob Mueller in front of these, you know, interlocutors is telling people how to think about it, and is redefining how people think about it, is really, really important because Bill Barr got out in front of this process before anybody else.
He was -- you know, it`s almost a lesson in how unrestrained power functions. He realized that there was a narrative that had to be told in a spun. He told it before anyone else did. He held on to the report for a weekend. And he essentially gave the President talking points that were then adopted, you know, for about a month and a half before the report was released. No collusion. No obstruction of justice.
WILLIAMS: Total vindication.
O`BRIEN: Total exoneration.
O`BRIEN: Even though the report said, Mueller says in the report the President is not exonerated. He very clearly thinks I think from a close read of that report that the President obstructed justice and collusion wasn`t on the table. They were looking whether or not there was a criminal conspiracy.
Having said all that, I also hope that Bill Barr rises -- I mean Robert Mueller rises the occasion. I don`t expect him to. I think one of the unfortunate elements of all of this is he didn`t run a very aggressive investigation or as aggressive as he could have. And then he let Bill Barr sort of run circles around him in terms of shaping this. It clearly bothered him. He wrote a letter to Barr complaining about it. He held one short press conference trying to redefine what the report was about.
This is his last chance. To the extent that Bob Mueller really wants to see justice done and wants to see the fruits of a two-year examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the President`s role in all that, come to light richly and fully tomorrow is his opportunity to do that.
WILLIAMS: And what would it, Ashley Parker, tomorrow, what would need to be said to have Republicans kind of stand up and be counted? Anything?
PARKER: Well, I think what both sides are looking for in very different ways is a viral moment. Someone of Bob Mueller`s stature and gravitas and, you know, long tenure in public service saying something, bringing that report to light in either -- and, you know, saying what Democrats would love him to say which is basically that we`re Donald Trump had not the President of the United States, and of course, we would have brought charges. But Barr in that, and as of now it seems unlikely that something that stark will happen, although you can be sure both sides will be trying to get that.
Going back to Tim`s point briefly, one of these things that President Trump understood both with the Mueller report and just in general, it was that at a certain point it became a P.R war and it became about controlling the narrative, and President Trump did that masterfully. I mean, we`re talking now about these little short hands and quips, witch hunt, no collusion, no obstruction that he coined and that have entered the vernacular, and we`re comparing it to, as you said, 448-page report that reads as if it was written for a different time and a different audience. And so the challenge will be for either side to get Bob Mueller to respond in something that can sort of go toe to toe or quip for quip or hold the public`s attention in the way you can be assured that President Trump will come out and do to try to reframe or remessage if things do not go his way.
WILLIAMS: All right. Mimi, I went to high school, you went to Harvard. Article Two of the constitution, is it A, possible that it was Bill Barr who explained the President`s seemingly magical powers as found in Article II? And what does Article Two say in a consumer friendly way?
ROCAH: I mean, Article Two does lay out executive powers and they are broad, but it also has limitations in it. For example, they have to be done in a way to faithfully execute the laws. You can`t do things that are illegal. You have to uphold both the spirit and the actual law and you can be impeached for as we all now know the phrase, "high crimes and misdemeanors."
I think what happened here and the reason Trump was, you know, saying this, you know, I`m on a monarch, essentially, I can do whatever I want, is because Barr and maybe Giuliani at some point explained to him their view of why there`s no obstruction in the Mueller report, you know. No, no, that firing the FBI director and all that, that`s OK because you`re allowed to do that, that`s an executive power. And Trump probably was, I don`t know, half listening or heard what he wanted to hear which was, "Oh, I can do anything I want. I can fire anybody here," yes. And so, he turned this into this, you know, "I can do whatever I want whenever I want."
Of course it`s not true, but it goes to the heart of, you know, what is really fundamentally wrong with this presidency, I think, which is he does feel entitled to do whatever he wants to do. And, you know, we have to sort of get through this.
If I can add one thing, I totally agree with everything everyone has been saying about Trump being this master of, you know, the little catch phrases and everything. But every trial lawyer knows that you shouldn`t over promise your case, over promise your evidence. And Bill Barr and Donald Trump have done that. The no obstruction, no collusion is a myth. And it`s worked so far because there were no facts to counter it. What could happen tomorrow is the whole myth could come crashing down when Mueller actually explains and people actually hear the facts. So that`s what I`m hoping will come out of tomorrow.
WILLIAMS: Tim O`Brien briefly, and then one more to Mike. The power of magical thinking. This is a president who didn`t bring knowledge of the presidency. I think that`s fair to say, to the presidency.
O`BRIEN: Right, right. He`s redefining what it means to learn on the job. Remember like he discovered probably a month into it, he thought that because he was the President of the United States he couldn`t have conflicts of interest, therefore he didn`t have to divest himself of these financial or business holdings.
WILLIAMS: Who knew healthcare was hard.
O`BRIEN: Who knew healthcare was hard. Who knew the China have this long in the last U.S. history? Who knew that Article Two made you all powerful? He`s going to interpret everything he learns on the go as empowering him to do whatever he wants to do. That`s not going to be a new phenomenon. The problem we`re seeing in this is there`s no countervailing force. There`s no one in the GOP specifically who is saying, "Oh, no, Mr. President, you`re demeaning the office. No, Mr. President, you`re redefining the office in the wrong direction." And we as a party and we as a country should hold this institution in a different regard.
WILLIAMS: Mike Memoli, you get the final 30 seconds. Can the House really compel Don McGahn to come in should people hold their breath on this or not?
MEMOLI: This is going to be a real fight. What Democrats are hoping tomorrow is that Mueller helps them make the case legally for why it`s so critical to bring him in. McGahn is perhaps the most critical witness in the obstruction case. The-- here in contradiction here though, Brian, is that in the courts, you may need an impeachment process already underway to pierce that executive privilege which the White House says bars McGahn from testifying and short Democrats think that politically they need McGahn to help make the case for impeachment inquiry. So you have sort of a chicken and egg situation. Democrats believe that the courts are in a state of mind now where they understand that this is not typical times and that McGahn`s testimony is critical here and that they can bring him in. But this may take weeks, months even into next year.
WILLIAMS: A consequential front for tonight on a consequential night. Our thanks to Ashley Parker, to Mimi Rocah, to Tim O`Brien and to Mike Memoli.
And coming up for us, he may not be in the hearing room tomorrow, but he`s already made his presence known. Attorney General Barr already got out in front of the Mueller report before the rest of us could see it, took a huge body blow for his boss.
And later, it`s how the Mueller report started, what Russia did to us and could do again. Will we hear about that again tomorrow as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on this Tuesday night?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn`t heard that before, and I mainly listen to conservative news, and I hadn`t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump had been exonerated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That right there from that woman in Michigan in the Congressman Amash`s district nightly -- nicely lays out the stakes for the Democrats tomorrow. Again, estimates are three percent to 10 percent of Americans have actually read all or part of the Mueller report. Our own Ken Dilanian wrote this today about the Democrats plan, "They say they intend to guide the former FBI director into presenting a movie version of his dense and lawyerly tome, bringing to life what they consider a deeply disturbing story of a president who welcomed help from a foreign adversary and then tried mightily to cover it up."
With us for more tonight, Rick Wilson, a veteran Florida man, a veteran Republican strategist whose views about our 45th President are contained in the title of his book, "Everything Trump Touches Dies." And Bill Kristol, classically trained Republican, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, director these days of Defending Democracy Together, which shows you where his thinking is and the Editor-at-large of the appropriately named Bulwark.
Gentlemen, welcome to you both. As I said, Rick, you have the good sense to live in America in a place not named Washington, New York or Los Angeles. Those of us who follow you on social media enjoy the Florida sunsets and the doggies and the pool. So, with that in mind, and that woman in mind from the Amash district in Michigan, what are the chances that anything uttered tomorrow is going to change the collective mind of this country?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, the collective mind of this country, a lot of folks in the center and on the left were sort of disheartened after the Barr strategy succeeded and Bill Barr brilliantly boxed Robert Mueller and brilliantly recast a deeming report as exoneration, and Trump and his mechanism ran with it. His media mechanism ran with it. And so, tomorrow you get a chance to have Bob Mueller unfiltered.
I don`t think that we should set enormously high expectations. He`s going to be a very by the book guy. And I think we should have a real filter that the Republican guys are going to try to set their asses on fire and run around the stage to distract people from the weight and the gravity of this testimony, but, you know, that show tomorrow is going to be one that is going to hold America pretty transfixed. It`s going to get a ton of media coverage, and you`re going to be able to weigh and assess it by how damaging it is by Donald Trump`s, you know, the degree to which he loses his damn mind on Twitter.
WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol, when historians look back at the role of the Attorney General in playing Mr. Mueller in effect, getting out ahead, taking that body blow, will it be said that he might have saved the Trump presidency from Trump?
BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That`s a good question. Maybe. You know, thinking about this over the last 48 hours and so and thinking about the testimony, it seems that we use the metaphor, the movie, the movie script tomorrow, like a show.
KRISTOL: Why are movies interesting? Movies are interesting because you don`t know what`s going to happen, the suspense. I think Nancy Pelosi in effect taking impeachment off the table, and what we have thought about is when the whole thing began to fizzle. At the end of the day, it`s interesting if Mueller says a few things and he doesn`t say in the report or he says a few things more vividly than in the report, or some more to see Mueller than read the report. But what`s at stake? If it`s ultimately to learn a little more, well, then it`s another report.
I`m not criticizing Nancy Pelosi. Maybe she`s right on the substance that there isn`t stuff there to impeach the President, maybe she`s right politically or public spirited point of view that it would be bad to have a totally partisan impeachment, maybe she`s right politically. From the Democrats point of view, that is imprudent to do a partisan impeachment and Trump will say he`s exonerated by the Senate. Whatever the merits, though, I think once Pelosi basically decided if she has finally decided, I`m not sure we know that, but so far decided not to let these be impeachment hearings as supposed to Bob Mueller testifies so you get to see him in person, I think that took out in a sense the possibility of the real -- think how much for you to do this, think how much coverage that would have been over the last two months and over this the next month or two.
KRISTOL: If this was part of an impeachment process leading to possible articles of impeachment and votes, people really would be transfix. Now I think people are curious.
WILLIAMS: Rick Wilson, it`s been months since I quoted Carl Bernstein. He always says Republicans were the heroes of Watergate. What is the chance we will see one or two profiles encouraged among the Republicans on these committees tomorrow?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, there is a chance this so vanishingly small that entirely new branches of mathematics would have to be invented to describe it. Not one of those Republicans on that panel is going to come out there and be a hero. They`re going to go out and they`re going to do every possible thing they can to feed the Fox News machine, so that they can go out tomorrow night and scream deep sake conspiracy and go into this lurid fantasies that there was some sort of plan to hurt poor old Donald Trump and to smear him with this Russia collusion story.
When, in fact, it was Donald Trump having people around him and having people in his campaign, they`re giving the Russians polling information, and a constant communication with them hundreds of times that brought the attention of the FBI and the federal government. But they`re going to do everything they can to distract and they`re going to do everything they can to defend Donald Trump because they are no longer members of a coherent political party. They`re members of Donald Trump`s praetorian guard.
WILLIAMS: Two classically trained Republicans have agreed to stay with us over this break.
And coming up, Trump repeats his 2016 campaign refrain at an event again today. Will it work for him this time around?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: They come out with Donald Trump has built almost no wall. What a lie that is. And we`re building 50 miles here, 50 miles there. All in the right locations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: You may recall he mentioned the wall during the campaign once or twice. These days Donald Trump is adding something of a caveat to this message. Just last night he wrote, "When an old wall at the Southern Border, that is crumbling and falling over, built in an important section to keep out problems, is replaced with a brand new 30 foot high steel and concrete wall, the media says no new wall has been built. Fake news. Building lots of wall."
Our favorite Trump fact checker Daniel Dale points out, "Since spring as he has continued to not add any miles, he has shifted to explicitly arguing that replacement barriers should count as new wall."
Back with us again, Rick Wilson, the coiner of the phrase freedom ditch, and Bill Kristol.
Bill, if he can`t run on the wall, what do you think this campaign serious question, will fun on for reelection?
KRISTOL: How horrible the Democrats are, how anti-American they are. It will be a rare case for an incumbent resident instead of running on his achievements more in America or President Obama, he`s taking us back from the brink of financial collapse.
I mean Trump will do a little bit of that. He`s moving from make America great to, what is it, keep America great. So there`s a little -- but he ultimately is going to run a negative obviously and divisive campaign, and just try to make the Democrats so scary that people reluctantly decided they can live with Trump another four years, unusual for the incumbent.
WILLIAMS: Rick, it`s clear that he has made the squad and quotes the face of the Democratic Party for now. At some point he`s going to have to shift and criticize an actual Democratic nominee. As you point out to folks on social media, you made your bones and a healthy living running against Democrats, learning how they think, how they work. Tell us the mistakes you see the Democrats making right now.
WILSON: Well, right now they`re fighting an election in 35 states where the election is already over and not focusing on the 15 states whey they really need to play. This is only a game of the Electoral College and the states that are in the Electoral College matrix where they have to win, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, those states are not as woke as the blue coastal states where these candidates seem to be playing the heart of their message.
And they`re also making a fundamental error right now in that every reelection for a president is a referendum on the incumbent. They are not -- they think that policy is going to save them or it`s going to drag them over the finish line when making the case against Donald Trump as the incumbent is the essential urgent mission of this campaign.
And they`re also things are going to do. They`re going to fall into the culture war traps that he`s setting for them every day, and they`re going to do the things that his media game -- he is a master of the reality TV show called the presidency. And so they need to be very cautious to not fall into that and keep this on a referendum on Trump, fought in the Electoral College dates that goes after his behavior, his affect, the policies he`s pursuing that are causing damage and harm to America`s -- you know, our national soul and our reputation and the people that he claimed he was going to represent in terms of the things like the trade war and economic harm that he`s doing to the country by engaging in this enormous spending binge, this enormous trade war.
WILLIAMS: In 30 seconds or less, Bill Kristol, do you think they`re guilty of being a circular firing squad at times?
KRISTOL: Yes. But they --
WILLIAMS: It`s early yet.
KRISTOL: It`s early. Yes, I actually think they`re in pretty good shape. I mean just step back and look at the numbers. I think this 2020 for me so far looks more like 2018 than 2016. 2018 the Democrats won the national popular vote by about nine points. And I don`t see a lot of people switching back to Trump if the Democrats can end up with a decent nominee and, as Rick says, keep the focus on Trump.
I just talked to someone who`s doing focus groups recently and all these brilliant divisiveness he`s doing of Ilhan Omar trying to make them the face of the party and awful lot of swing voters. Even swing Trump voters are saying, you know, I don`t like her much either, I don`t agree with her, but why is he attacking her all the time, why is he attacking these four congresswomen all the time. It`s awfully divisive. So I think that there`s not as much stomach for that, there`s not as much support for that among the swing voters and even some of the Trump voters as Donald Trump thinks.
WILLIAMS: Great stuff tonight from two genuine experts. Rick Wilson and Bill Kristol, our thanks gentlemen for coming on. You always improve the place when you`re here.
And coming up for us, sweeping and systematic, that`s how Mueller describe Russia`s interference in our last presidential election. It that wasn`t a wake up call, is Mueller capable of delivering one tomorrow?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: The indictments alleged and the other activities in our report describe efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: He`s right. And if it didn`t get your attention, there`s hopes for tomorrow. That is the issue Robert Mueller may be most eager to discuss tomorrow morning.
Interference in our election. Volume one of his report lays out in striking detail the past Russian meddling saying Russia interfered as you heard sweeping in systematic fashion. His report says quote, "The Special Counsel`s investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer intrusion operations against entities, employees and volunteers working on the Clinton campaign and then released stolen documents."
Couldn`t make it more plain.
Here with us to talk about it, Malcolm Nance, veteran of Naval Intelligence, Special Ops, Homeland Security. Some 35 years in the field of counter-intelligism (ph) -- and again counter in terrorism and intelligence.
Malcolm, how can it be late already? We`re back in tomorrow morning. He`s also the author of "The Plot to Destroy Democracy. How Putin and His Spies are Undermining America and Dismantling the West".
Malcolm, what do you hope to hear tomorrow, and the second part of my question is can minds still be changed tomorrow?
MALCOLM NANCE, "PLOT TO DESTROY DEMOCRACY", AUTHOR: I think minds can still be changed. I think if Robert Mueller comes out and forcefully tells the American public that the United States was attacked, that there was no hoax, and that we are still under a sustained attack as Christopher Wray the FBI director said just yesterday, then that will become one of the overriding metanarratives that Donald Trump has been covering up for the last three years
You know Brian, today is the three year plus one day anniversary of when WikiLeaks released all of the Hillary Clinton e-mails. And I -- I don`t think it`s any -- I don`t think it`s any coincidence that tomorrow will be, you know, plus one day of that anniversary where he can speak forcefully about section one of this report with full throated voice and not have to worry about the politics of it.
WILLIAMS: I want to play for you in exchange from today. This is Senator Lindsey Graham and FBI Director Wray. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Are the Russians still trying to interfere in our election system?
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections through --
GRAHAM: Is it fair to say that everything we`ve done against Russia has not deterred them enough? All the sanctions, all the talk, they`re still at it?
WRAY: Well, my view is until they stop, they haven`t been deterred enough.
GRAHAM: And they`re still doing it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Malcolm, with that exchange in mind, why has it been so tough for the President, for his loyalists for those around him to get on board with this? Is it an innate kind of primal fear that the end of the story might mean an illegitimate election?
NANCE: You know, it will -- if the Congress is going to determine whether the story ends properly, whether it`s an illegitimate election and they have the powers to do that. We haven`t really seen any real effort for them to do that.
They want to expose the information related to the Mueller report, but as you saw in that exchange with Lindsey Graham and Chris Wray, Lindsey Graham has been one of the major facilitators of Donald Trump`s metanarrative that this is all a hoax.
You know, in Russia where they study us in great detail, a deep scholarly levels in a way we don`t just -- we don`t study them, their intelligence community must be laughing at that exchange. Because they know that Donald Trump has Lindsey Graham in his pocket. And Lindsey Graham has now amplified every message that they want to create this framework in which the FBI is an illegitimate organization.
And trust me within 24 hours, his questioning would seemed reasonable which you would expect from the United States senator will turn into a hysteria supporting Donald Trump and calling all of this a lie. This is where United States National Security is fundamentally damaged. No matter what our protectors at the FBI, the National Counterintelligence Division and the CIA and other organizations do, we have been subverted from within.
WILLIAMS: Malcolm, I`ve got about a minute left. You were the first person to tell me that even the anti-vaccine effort is being helped along by a Russian campaign on social media, that it`s based on the theory that a sick enemy, and an enemy fighting strife over social and public health issues is easier to have your way with. Isn`t that correct?
NANCE: That`s correct. And you know, again, a lot of what we are seeing, and I know it sounds like to some people like this is hyperbole. We are literally watching themes, operations and activities which were extremely common in the cold war, which every person in U.S. media and most thinking adults would have read in the paper coming from the Soviet Union, and thought well, that`s absolutely ridiculous. Or, I can believe that they`re evil enough to do that.
But for some bizarre strange reason now, one-third of the U.S. population`s opinion has been co-opted to be in line with that of the Russian federation which is just the Soviet Union without communism, right?
So that being said, these same themes which were created in the `80s, the Soviets created the theme that the AIDS virus was a CIA plot, they do the same thing with anti-vaccination themes, anti-minority themes, and megaphoning anything which damages American democracy.
WILLIAMS: Incredible stuff, all of it. Malcolm Nance, always a pleasure to have you on. Thank you very much. Another break for us.
Coming up tomorrow is Robert Mueller`s 89th appearance before Congress. He has said he wants it to be his last.
WILLIAMS: A quick reminder. I`m back on the air tomorrow morning in this studio with Nicolle Wallace and our entire team, 8:30 am Eastern Time, to cover Robert Mueller`s historic testimony before two committees of the House. Again, tomorrow morning 8:30 am on this very network.
Coming up, our greatest ally will now be presided over by a man who was the choice of 92,000 people.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight. Our closest ally, the United Kingdom, is facing its greatest challenge perhaps since the Second World War, and by all accounts according to polls most Brits feel they have precisely the wrong man for that job.
Boris Johnson will officially become prime minister tomorrow. To Americans who don`t follow British politics, he`s the one with the hair. It`s simple and easy to refer to him as the Donald Trump of the UK, but it`s way more than that.
While both men were born in New York, Johnson went on to the exclusive Eaton School and then on to Oxford, trained in the classics before deciding to be a populist. He was a journalist and later mayor of London.
He famously told reporters Donald Trump was out of his mind. Now they`re good friends. Trump calls him a good man.
Boris Johnson has gone all in on Brexit, almost without regard to the colossal stakes and costs. He`s willing to leave the EU by November, but it`s unlikely cooler heads in parliament will allow that.
Here is British Journalist James Butler in the New York Times, "Mr. Johnson, whose laziness is proverbial and opportunism legendary, is a man well-practiced in deceit, a pander willing to tickle the prejudices of his audience for an easy gain. His personal life is incontinent, his public record inconsequential, and his premiership could bring about the end of Britain itself."
You may wonder how a guy like this could become prime minister. There was no election. His name was not on any ballot, except for the vote among dues-paying members of the Conservative Party in the UK. Because of the way British politics works, 92,000 party members voted for him. That was all it took, 0.13 percent of the population of a nation of 66 million. And thus, he`s the new prime minister.
Perhaps Ivanka Trump, adviser to the President of the United States, spoke for all Americans this morning when she congratulated BoJo for becoming prime minister of the United Kingston. Hear here.
That is our broadcast on a Tuesday night. Until we see you bright and early tomorrow morning, thank you so much for being here with us. Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END