BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the Trump administration in new hot water over the President`s Scotland land resort as an overnight home for traveling service members over the President`s attempt to change the weather forecast over the new reports just tonight that the CIA has lost a great source in Russia, someone who is ordered extracted taken out of there and now the questions begin as to why.
And the President cancels the invitation to the Taliban to visit Camp David days before 9/11. Just the thought of it was too much even for some loyal Republicans.
And did the President just criminalize the people of the Bahamas? Hurricane victims who are boarding ships and planes with nothing left hoping our country will take them in temporarily. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on a Monday night.
Good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters in New York. Here we go. As we start a new week with day 963 of the Trump administration. A number of stories to catch you up o, some of them on the move still tonight. The President spent his evening at a rally in North Carolina, more on the special election coming up there in just a moment.
It`s Monday and yet this has the makings of yet another chaotic week. Over the weekend, the President uninvited the Taliban from Camp David via Twitter. He apparently wanted a meeting with the president of Afghanistan that would bring peace to Afghanistan. The President let us know about his decision late Saturday night on social media when he revealed that all parties, "were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday." But after "an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great, great soldiers and 11 other people, I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations." Today Trump appeared to rule out any future peace talks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`re dead. They`re dead. As far as I`m concerned, they`re dead.
They thought they had to kill people in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating position. When they did that, they killed 12 people. One happened to be a great American soldier. A wonderful young man from Puerto Rico, family is from Puerto Rico. And you can`t do that. You can`t do that with me. So they`re dead as far as I`m concerned.
And we`ve hit the Taliban harder in the last four days than they`ve been hit in over 10 years. So that`s the way it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Tonight, we also learn North Korea has fired off two more projectiles. Earlier today, the "Associated Press" reported Pyongyang, "offered to resume nuclear dip diplomacy with the United States but warned its dealings with Washington may end without new U.S. proposals."
And there is more. New reporting about an apparent arrangement to send U.S. military flight crews to overnight at Trump`s golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland. "The New York Times" reports, "Back in 2014 Trump entered a partnership with a struggling local airport there to increase air traffic and boost tourism in the region. The next year as Mr. Trump began running for President the Pentagon decided to ramp up its use of that same airport to refuel Air Force flights and give the local airport authority the job of helping to find accommodations for flight crews who had to remain overnight."
One Trump post from 2014, in fact, quote a Scottish T.V. network saying that Donald Trump promises to make Prestwick Airport really successful."
But this morning, Trump tried to tamp down any of these growing questions on this writing, "I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport which I do not own and have nothing to do with near Turnberry resort, which I do own, and filling up with fuel with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry. Nothing to do with me." He followed that with, "I had nothing to do with the decision of our great Vice President Mike Pence to stay overnight at one of the Trump-owned resorts in Doonbeg, Ireland."
Still, later, there was this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I haven`t found out other than when a plane stops at a massive international airport and gets fuel, I don`t own the airport. When pilots stay -- I own a lot of different places. Soon you`ll find that out. When I -- because I`ll be at some point prior to the election, I`m going to be giving out a financial report of me and it will be extremely complete. I`m going to give out -- I`m going to give out my financial condition, and you`ll be extremely shocked that the numbers are many, many times what you think. I don`t need to have somebody take a room overnight at a hotel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Tonight, POLITICO is reporting Air Force crews have stayed overnight at the resort at least four times, two more than previously reported. Now Congress, as you might imagine, and the Air Force, are investigating. A lot of defense types and analysts have argued, including on this broadcast by way of reminding us we have air bases all over the world for just this sort of thing.
There are also new developments tonight concerning the President`s false claim that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian. It`s now grown into a full-scale controversy for the White House lasting longer than the storm, itself. Late Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration contradicted its own scientist days after the National Weather Service, a part storm, a part NOAA, in Birmingham, issued a correction saying, "Alabama will not see any impacts from Dorian" in direct response to erroneous warning from the President.
Well, tonight "The New York Times" reports Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency`s Birmingham office contradicted Trump`s claim. The "Times" puts it this way, "That threat led to an unusual unsigned statement later that Friday by the agency disavowing the National Weather Service`s position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew accusations from the scientific community that the National Weather Service, which is part of NOAA," which is all part of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes. NOAA`s statement on Friday is now being examined by the Commerce Department`s Office of Inspector General."
Late today, a Commerce Department spokesperson told NBC News, and we quote, "The New York Times" story is false. Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian.
Meanwhile, "The Washington Post" also reporting that NOAA`s chief scientist will investigate why the agency backed the President over its own storm experts on Dorian.
And all that brings us to what may be an even more alarming development tonight. We told you it was a busy evening. "The New York Times" confirming that a CIA informant of ours who had sent secrets back to America for decades was abruptly pulled out of Russia. The paper writes, "The Moscow inform informant was instrumental to the CIA`s most explosive conclusion about Russia`s interference campaign that President Vladimir Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself. As the American government`s best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the CIA`s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump`s election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. The informant, according to people familiar with the matter was outside of Mr. Putin`s inner circle but saw him regularly and had access to high-level Kremlin decision-making, easily making the source one of the agency`s most valuable assets."
Here now for our leadoff discussion as we start a new week on a Monday night, Shannon Pettypiece, veteran journalist who is now Senior White House Reporter for NBC News Digital, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for "The Washington Post," moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS. We welcome to our broadcast Brett McGurk, he`s the former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat Isis, these days an NBC News Senior Foreign Affairs Analyst. Also with us, Ken Dilanian, NBC News Intelligence and National Security Reporter.
Ken, I`d like to begin with you as you were out front on this story today. To be fair, there have been three basic buckets of reporting on this story thus far, CNN, "The New York Times," and your slice of this. Tell the good people watching what happened when you drove to a suburban home in your own car based on a positive lead that this was the residence of this gentleman we`re talking about who`d been pulled from Moscow.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTEL. & NATL. SECURITY REPORTER: And to be clear, Brian, I`m not reporting tonight that this is, in fact, the asset that is mentioned in "The New York Times" and CNN that we have not confirmed that to our reporting satisfaction. But what I can say is that I went to the house of a former senior Russian government official who had access to Vladimir Putin and who is now living in the Washington, D.C., area, clearly under U.S. government protection.
And one of the reasons I know that is because five minutes after I knocked on his door, he wasn`t home, I went back to my car, I was approached in rapid fashion by a couple of young men in an SUV. It was pretty clear they were U.S. government agents alarmed by the idea that a random stranger was approaching this person`s house. They were kind of asking me what I was doing there. I was trying to get information out of them.
And subsequently having spoken to a number of sources about this, we have been asked by the U.S. government not to name this person who is living in the open in his true name in the Washington, D.C., area, and not to divulge the details that led us to go out there, but I can just tell you that the CIA doesn`t have very many high-level sources inside the Kremlin. And there are sources of mine who believe that this is the same person. This is the asset.
And a lot of people, Brian, are wondering tonight, first of all, how it is this person can be so easily findable and why we would be reporting about this. The answer to the first question is -- my understanding is this is not a secret to the Russians. They knew that this person was a spy and had been exfiltrated. And there isn`t much of a danger, there isn`t much a track record of Russians assassinating former spies now under CIA protection.
What the agency is now worried about is we`re all putting a spotlight on it so that ups the ante, ups the danger for this person. And that`s why our understanding is he`s being moved away from this location. And that`s as for our reporting on it, Brian, we negotiated with the U.S. government about exactly what we would say here and at their request we`re not naming this person or divulging details about his location for the very reason that they say that now his life may be in danger.
WILLIAMS: And we are not alone among news organizations in knowing his identity and more about him. We should point that out as well.
Hey, Ken, the headline, obviously, tonight, is a Russian who was at or near the Putin circle, CNN reporting close enough to Putin to have taken photographs of documents on Putin`s desk, was extracted by the United States with whom he was sharing secrets, is now living in the United States. Answer me this, why are we talking about it? What does this all possibly have to do with Donald Trump being president?
DILANIAN: Well that`s a great question, Brian. I think there is some disagreement about that aspect of it because CNN is reporting that one of the reasons this person was exfiltrated is because of concerns about Donald Trump`s indiscipline with classified information and particularly his encounter in the Oval Office with the Russian ambassador and other Russian officials where he disclosed code word classified information not about this Russian source but another program implicating a third country.
However, we are being told by U.S. government officials that "The New York Times" in their story suggests that that really wasn`t much of a factor here. That this source had essentially aged out. Had, you know, had been in some jeopardy for some time, even during the Obama administration, and they had recommended that he leave Russia. He declined at that time, but then early in 2017 it became clear that he was in trouble.
I mean, if you spy long enough and take enough risks for the CIA, as a Russian official, the chance of discovery increases and they decided to bring him out and it`s a good-news story, Brian, in the sense that this key source who provided so much important information about that Russian election interference effort got out safely and is now apparently under the protection of the U.S. government.
WILLIAMS: Indeed, good news.
Brett, I`m going to go ahead and guess that given your life`s work, you regard all of this business as a damaging revelation. It being out already, what are we to take away from it?
BRETT MCGURK, FMR. SPECIAL PRES. ENVOY FOR THE GLOBAL COALITION TO DEFEAT ISIS: Well, yes, I mean, where you stand is where you sit. I`m on a panel here with some pretty intrepid reporters who are doing their jobs. I served three administrations of, you know, pretty senior levels including overseas and we rely on these really brave informants who are betraying their country on our behalf to help us protect our national security interests.
And when you read intelligence in the morning, you know, it says a source is trusted and reliable, and if you see that, you know what you`re reading is something you can trust. You never ask about who that source is or anything like that. I have no firsthand knowledge about this case. I would never comment on any intelligence matters, but I really -- it is really discomforting for me to see this kind of information discussed in the public realm.
I know "The New York Times" article had just popped tonight. James Clapper, the former head of director of National Intelligence who knows about these things, spent his whole life in the Intelligence Community, said, "You know, revelations about this extraction is going to make it far more difficult for us to recruit informants in Russia." And it`s already extremely difficult.
So this will have an impact, and, you know, I don`t -- a huge defender of the First Amendment. I think information is important, man, having this kind of information out there, I am sure that the Kremlin is watching this and that this individual has friends and family, you know, people back in Russia, and they`re, you know, they`re hearing about this, too. So it`s going to have damage.
WILLIAMS: And, Brett, while I have you, later on this week, the lower end of Manhattan will be lit up by two beams of blue light heading skyward to stand for the World Trade Center towers. That being the case, September 11th being on the way, what would your reaction have been if we were coming on the air tonight to report the House guests at Camp David had been members of the Taliban leadership?
MCGURK: You know, it`s one of the -- look, I`ve been a lot in a lot of National Security Council meetings. I served two years on the Trump administration. This is one of the craziest ideas I`ve ever heard, to have a Taliban come to Camp David to culminate an agreement that wasn`t really even concluded because the Taliban and the Afghan government had never talked. And the Taliban is still committed to overthrowing the Afghan government when we leave.
So it`s a really half-baked crazy idea that apparently the President thought he could work his magic and get these two parties together. That was totally wishful thinking. And really, it`s just outrageous to think about the Taliban who harbors Al-Qaeda to be coming anywhere near Washington let alone Camp David. It`s a crazy story, and I`m glad it`s not happening.
WILLIAMS: And Shannon, is it now by design that we learn about now- canceled meetings via Twitter? What do we have in common with a huge percentage of the standing Washington government, is this also the way they learned?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SR. WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That`s the way White House staffers learn about things. Over and over again, you know, interactions with Kim Jong-un, interactions with Iran, we`re learning about them on Twitter. Some major -- I mean, there`s been instances I have been told about in the past where obviously the Pentagon was caught off guard. I believe it was the time when the President announced troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. A lot of people in the Pentagon were caught off guard by that.
And, of course, though, this speaks to this pattern of the President having a strategy of calling off meetings last minute or walking out of a room, walking out of negotiations with Kim Jong-un, walking out of talks with the Democrats on immigration. And here, again, a very public canceling of this meeting which, of course, the President could have just done privately. This could have been just kept between the U.S. and Afghan negotiators and the Taliban, but he made this public display of it and it`s almost become a bargaining tactic or negotiating tactic that he seems to use where he walks away from the table which is something he did as a businessman and thinks that`s going to help get them back.
So if people had initially predicted in the start of this administration that there would be governing by tweet, that has certainly come to fruition, not just on foreign policy but announcing key Cabinet members, a defense secretary being announced on Twitter, firings on Twitter. So, yes, that is the way not only we are all learning about it but people in the administration and the White House are learning about it as well.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Robert Costa, who`s on the inside to say, "Mr. President, Taliban, Camp David, 9/11 week, not a good look for so many reasons?"
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Almost everyone on the inside has a more conventional approach to foreign policy in national security and there are rising tensions inside of this White House and the broader administration about the President`s conduct and decision-making. When you think about the national security apparatus at the CIA, the state department, the NSC, and even top officials in the Cabinet, they`re telling this President not to pursue some of these more unconventional ambitions, yet the President is pushing back against them and they all are taking a more formal position, a more mainstream position when it comes to issues like Russia.
You know I was just on the road with Vice President Pence for a week in Europe and he was articulating a hawkish position on Russia just days after, President Trump was thinking about inviting Vladimir Putin to the next G7 meeting.
And when it comes to Afghanistan, he`s surrounded by Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, far more hawkish in their approach, yet the President continues to move forward on his own. Some say he`s isolated.
WILLIAMS: Bob, the version in the movie is somebody always threatens to resign during one of these. Did any of that go on, do you think, behind the scenes?
COSTA: On Afghanistan, it`s seen as one of the signature campaign promises so most people who signed up for this administration knew coming in that the President was not going to be adding troops to Afghanistan. They don`t sometimes like the process, but they are in this administration. They want to be close to power. And they believe that the President can be persuaded to somehow back away from some of these ideas.
WILLIAMS: Shannon, not to turn you into Gail Sheehy, but you`ve been present for so many Donald Trump rallies. How did tonight measure against the baseline, keeping in mind, he`s got a full plate and he`s been on the south end of a lot of news stories lately.
PETTYPIECE: It was notable that he did not address any of these big controversies. He did not talk about the Alabama storm controversy which he spent a full week on Twitter discussing. He did not talk about Afghanistan even though he`s said there are these misreporting -- misreports out there. He didn`t talk about any of the investigations that are now coming back to life with Congress back in session, investigations into an impeachment and his visit -- and Vice President visiting his properties and the whole issue around the emoluments clause. None of those were there.
If you just watched his rally tonight, you would have no clue that any of those things were going on. And I believe that was intentional and to keep the message on why he was here, which is try to help a Republican win a special election and try and pick up the House seat. So I think he was doing his best as he can to keep on message and talking about the economy and creating fears about crime and socialism that would come from a Democrat taking over this House seat.
So he was focused and on message, of course, on message with a caveat because he certainly deviated into rifts on Bill Belichick and incandescent light bulbs and his standard rally-type spontaneity but kept all of these controversies off the table.
WILLIAMS: He seemed surprised that his "Go Patriots" did not get a bigger response in North Carolina. We are in your debt to the four of you for starting off our conversation. To Brett, thank you, and welcome, by the way. To Ken, Shannon, and Robert, our thanks.
Coming up here tonight, the President promised the best is yet to come. What a newly returned Congress is saying about that.
And later, an update on another city in the middle of a safe drinking water crisis. The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is here, as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on this Monday night overlooking the West Wing.
WILLIAMS: Your United States Congress has returned to work and House Democrats are getting back to their investigations into Donald Trump. One hundred thirty-four House Democrats have publicly backed an impeachment inquiry. That`s now over half of their 235-member caucus.
Today, House Judiciary Committee laid out specific procedures for hearings moving forward as part of what one describes as an ongoing impeachment investigation. Now, the committee plans to vote on these procedures Thursday.
Earlier, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler gave his reasons for moving forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK, JUDICIARY CMTE. CHAIRMAN: The inquiry`s getting more serious and it`s time to have very specific procedures to enable counsel to question witnesses.
At some point, we`ll introduce articles of impeachment and have the committee vote for those articles of impeachment. And then it`s up to the House to do I because with the articles they did reported into the floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Jerry Nadler sporting new glass frames but also a terrible head cold. The "Times" reports that Democrats want to expand the impeachment inquiry beyond the Russia investigation to Trump`s role in hush payments, reports of discussions of pardons and whether his properties illegally profited from government business.
We have secretly asked Shannon Pettypiece and Robert Costa to stick around for just one more conversation.
Shannon, on the short list of things I never thought I`d say, Saturday night the President tweeted out a cat video that was kind of a Meta gaslight of his own Alabama forecast. You don`t see this a lot, a cat chasing a laser pointer. Sure, that`s old hat, but not against the backdrop of the NOAA graphic in the Oval Office as tweeted by the President.
I`ll just say that. I`ll put that out there. Is there any view inside the traveling Trump White House that this latest story we`re covering, Scotland, Mike Pence`s choice to stay at a Trump resort, way far away from the venue where the talks were taking place, that this kind of thing, recent, understandable by the public, may have true consequences?
PETTYPIECE: I think it`s all a risk that it could have true consequences. I think most people don`t know sort of what`s going to -- what`s going to sort of catch fire, what could catch on, what could turn into a bigger story than it actually is. I mean, the fear here is that, you know, there`s been concern about these emoluments issue for a while and people staying at the Trump hotel in Washington, but maybe as Democrats or investigators or reporters start digging deeper into these other properties, that there`s more threads that could be pulled, that could start to unravel something bigger. That`s the risk, if there is anything there, that there`s a concern that that`s out there.
And, of course, anyone who`s working on the Trump campaign or trying to get this President re-elected doesn`t want those type of risks out there. Because this one, in particular, I think, you know, has a -- there`s a lot, I think that the President can get away with on his base. But on the issue of looking like double dealing or back dealing or back dealing, it fits in with this "drain the swamp" mentality that his supporters have. And when they see things of nepotism or corruption, I think there`s always a bit of concern that that will counter this "drain the swamp" narrative and take away this perception of a President who`s there working for them fighting against the corruption in Washington that people put the President in the office to stop.
WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, where the House Democrats are concerned, it appears to me we have two polls. On one hand, we`ve got Jerry Nadler with a head cold. On the other end, we`ve got the Speaker of the House. It also seems to me impeachment comes in two flavors, regular/classic or diet. This seems to be the close to diet impeachment we`re ever going to see and that seems to be exactly the way the speaker wants it.
COSTA: There`s not really a different of opinion between Chairman Nadler and Speaker Pelosi. I was talking to House Democrats over recess and in the last week, and their whole perspective is Speaker Pelosi wants to drag this out a little bit longer because she wants to see the investigations and the probes on the Trump properties. She wants to see people brought up to Capitol Hill.
Her argument to her top alleys is not that she doesn`t want to impeach President Trump. It`s that she wants to see the process play out so the case can be made. You still have House Democrats adjusting to the post- Mueller report world. And they`re starting to build the facts in the public narrative about what the President has done in terms of his administration, spending money, whether the Trump hotel in Washington or Trump properties elsewhere. And that story isn`t fully known. The "Post," the "Times," and other have reported on it, NBC News, but it`s not at the threshold of the Mueller report. So Speaker Pelosi is telling her lieutenants, tell that story, report that story, probe that story.
WILLIAMS: Isn`t it notable, Bob, the House Democrats are going to go back and retell the Michael Cohen hush money, porn star, Playboy bunny story, retell that in the public square?
COSTA: Part of it, Brian, you have committees in motion on a lot of these fronts. They know that they`re not as politically viable as they would have hoped months ago when the Mueller report was still TBD. They didn`t know how it was going to play out. So they`re going to check the boxes, shall we say, in the coming weeks in some of these investigations.
But when you talk to the top House Democrats, they believe the tax cut argument, it`s faded a bit since 2017-2018. They need a new case. Race, Mueller report, all important issues but now this emoluments clause, you have the Trump properties. It`s more visceral to them in how they think about 2020 and building the case against the President.
WILLIAMS: Thank you guys for taking our added questions and indulging me one cat with a laser pointer. Shannon Pettypiece, Robert Costa, our thanks to two of our returning veterans.
And coming up, who`s surging, who`s slipping a bit in the latest polling? We are days away, after all, from the next Democratic debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s like did you ever really sort of feel where you don`t even have to treat people nicely? You don`t have any choice. You have to vote for me.
I can leave right now. I can say, North Carolina, I`ve had it with you, I`m leaving right now. And you know what, you got to go out and vote. What are you going to do? Put one of these crazy people running our country again?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: I think we`ve established politics can be a cruel business. POLITICO is reporting today that pretty much every one of Joe Biden`s rivals are planning their road to the nomination around his campaign`s inevitable, as they see it, collapse.
For more on the number, hopefully a sunnier note, we go to Steve Kornacki, our National Political Correspondent, who is an optimist, I happen to know, and is also standing by at the big board. Hey, Steve.
STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC NEWS: Hey, Brian. Yes. Well, look, if the Democrats, his rivals, at least, are waiting for Biden to collapse in this race, that has not happened yet. But we got a batch of new polls from the four early states. Remember, they go Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina. They`re all standalone events that are going to lead this off.
This is a CBS/YouGov poll out in the last day or so. So start in Iowa. Biden is still in the lead in this poll in the leadoff state. But you can see, look at that, Bernie Sanders right behind him. Only a couple points behind him. Elizabeth Warren within striking distance.
Nobody else, by the way, you see here, in double digits that massive Democratic field. Really the only three candidates popping in Iowa in this poll, Biden, Sanders, Warren. Then you go next, New Hampshire, it`s eight- day, you know, eight days from Iowa to New Hampshire.
Here, they have Elizabeth Warren, remember, next door neighbor, Massachusetts, that Boston media market goes into southern New Hampshire. They got Warren at 27. Look at this for a three-way race. Biden with 26 and Sanders with 25. Again, nobody else in double digits.
Then you go Nevada, again, Biden not in first in this poll in Nevada. It`s Sanders, very tight with Biden, Warren in striking distance. Nobody else popping. You have to go all the way to South Carolina. This is where fortunes change for Joe Biden in this poll. Way out in front here, Biden is, in South Carolina. We`ve seen this in a number of polls.
What`s the big difference? South Carolina of all these four states, easily the largest African-American population. About 60 percent of the electorate in South Carolina will be black in the Democratic primary. That is a group who Biden`s been strongest with. This is Biden`s strongest early state.
You just see, though, when you look at these four, you go back to the beginning, this is the danger scenario for Biden. He`s not losing yet in Iowa, but if he were to lose to a Sanders or to a Warren, especially, and then you go to New Hampshire, Sanders, Warren, are both positioned right there to benefit from any kind of surge they`d get from Iowa and then they could easily, you see in this poll, at least, follow it up in Nevada.
If Biden were to go one for three or maybe one for three in those early ones, would that firewall hold for him in South Carolina? That`s the question. That`s the troubling scenario if you`re Biden`s campaign and that`s -- especially if you`re Warren or Sanders, that`s what you`re hopeful about right now.
WILLIAMS: And Steve, give the folks a quick preview of what will bring us together in this studio tomorrow night. Political types call it North Carolina 9.
KORNACKI: It is the final unfinished piece of business from the 2018 midterm but also a test for 2020. North Carolina`s 9th district starts in the suburbs of Charlotte, goes across parts of southern North Carolina. Again, this is a district, go back 2012, Mitt Romney won it by a dozen points. 2016, Donald Trump won this district by 12 points.
This is a Republican district and a competitive race. Democrats think they have a shot of competing and winning here. Republicans, obviously, with Trump having that rally there tonight, they badly want to win this one. This is a big day. If Democrats are able to win this kind of a district right now about a year from election day 2020, that would signal big problems for this White House heading into 2020.
WILLIAMS: See you tomorrow night, Steve. Always a pleasure. Thank you so much for stopping by tonight.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, just a few miles from this studio tonight, people in New Jersey`s largest city still can`t drink the water coming into their homes. A lot of them. We`ll have the latest on the water crisis affecting thousands. The Mayor of Newark, New Jersey standing by to talk to us next.
WILLIAMS: As we`ve been covering for weeks here, thousands of people in Newark, New Jersey, remain without safe drinking water, as workers scramble to replace lead service lines. More on those in just a moment. The city along with Essex County announced a $120 million bond that is expected to greatly speed up this process.
The estimates are that it will take two or three years to replace the 18,000 service lines. That means the pipes from the street into your house. In the meantime, many thousands of people still left to depend on bottled water.
We are so happy to have with us tonight the two-term mayor of the largest city and the most densely populated state in our union, Ras Baraka. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for coming in.
MAYOR RAS BARAKA (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Thank you for having me.
WILLIAMS: If I`ve had a frustration as a native New Jerseyan in covering this, it`s been that I wanted somebody to step up and own it. Not blame, not responsibility for it, because that`s a lot of people. Someone to own this crisis and be the advocate for the old lady tonight in a high-rise --
WILLIAMS: -- who`s low income. Who you know could use bottled water tomorrow and doesn`t want to bother anybody. And so she`s going to go without.
BARAKA: Well, first of all, people in high-rises don`t have lead service lines. That`s number one. Number two, I`m from Newark and we have taken this thing on, head-on. I live there. My mother lives there. My brothers live there. My cousins, my aunts, my nephew, my wife who`s pregnant, we all have lead service lines. We all use filters.
I use a pitcher filter in my house that I got from the water department when they were passing them out, going door to door, and as people went to the places to pick up these filters. So we gave out 39,000 filters at the very beginning. We changed over 800 lead service lines. We bonded $75 million ourself, and got the state to subsidize that bond so residents only had to pay 10 percent.
But with this new money that we just raised, the oldest city in America raised $120 million to replace every single lead service line, not just in Newark but also in Belleville and Hillside. We`re going to change their lead service lines as well. I mean, going to do it in about 24 months. Twenty-four to 30 minutes given weather and other eventualities.
WILLIAMS: I know you`ve grown to hate comparisons to Flint, Michigan but here`s one area where there`s commonality. The water source in Flint was clean.
WILLIAMS: The water source in Newark -- Newark used to brag about the cleanest water anywhere on the planet.
BARAKA: That`s right.
WILLIAMS: It`s the chemical formulation that water companies have used forever that changed, that takes the lead lining from inside the pipe, sends it into homes. You`ll concede that and Flint are alike.
BARAKA: Absolutely. The only difference is Flint changed their water source on purpose and they did not put a corrosion control in the water because it was too costly. Our corrosion control stopped working and we immediately upon DEP recommendation and approval put a new corrosion control in the water, the orthophosphate zinc, orthophosphate.
While we tested the zinc orthophosphate, the state was actually having an impact, is when we actually tested three filters. That`s when we found out that two filters out of 39,000 did not work. So we, out of an abundance of caution, decided to give out water until we figure this out. And the great news is in about a couple days, we`ll be able to tell people whether the filters are working or not. And I`m very optimistic about that.
WILLIAMS: A big difference with Flint, and I`ll be candid, is if you look at the landscape, Flint gave the left a big Republican target.
WILLIAMS: In Newark, it`s a field of blue. All you can see is blue, from the mayor to the governor to Senator Menendez. Oh, look, we got a U.S. senator who lives in Newark, who`s a former mayor of Newark.
WILLIAMS: So a lot of folks wonder if this isn`t a greater crisis than the incumbent Democrats aren`t making it out to be.
BARAKA: Well, there is lead service lines all over the state of New Jersey, about 300,000 --
WILLIAMS: In old cities all over our country.
BARAKA: -- and millions of lead service lines across -- and there are people that are getting exceedances all over the state and all over the country as well. I think what we did in Newark, it was a heavy lift, there`s a problem there. We put our foot to the pedal. And that story has not been told. The fact that we changed the law to make it possible that we could use public money to change people`s private lines because they own the lead service line.
BARAKA: Not the city. That we raised $75 million. Now in additional to $120 million to do the same thing.
WILLIAMS: The bond means homeowners are not out that money anymore.
BARAKA: Right. They don`t have to pay anything at all. It`s free to get their lead service line changed and we just passed a law to make it mandatory to get your lead service line -- we`re in the process of passing a law, I should say, to get it changed so we do not have to get your signature on a piece of paper in order to go onto your property. We can actually go to your property and change your lead service line without your permission, if necessary. The council is entertaining that law right now as we speak.
We took a pipe out of the ground and sent it to the EPA. The EPA are the one who told us that the corrosion control is not working. There`s nobody who came into Newark testing our water. We tested our own water. We told people that we had lead exceedances. We told people that the filters didn`t work. We told people all of these that things are happening is because we told everybody it`s happening and we sent mailings to everybody at the same time.
So the characterization that the city didn`t care about what was going on is just not factual. I mean, how can I not care? My wife`s in my house. She`s using water with a lead service line, right? My mother, I had to take a filter to her home when they were passing out filters to help her put it on her faucet, right? My cousin, my aunts. Everyone live in the city is affected by this. So I take it very deeply personal that this is a crisis, a problem for all of us and we are trying to deal with it as much as we can.
The thing that bothers me is this characterization that the entire city is, like, succumbed to this lead problem. And that`s just really not true, right? There are 18,000 homes that had lead service lines. There are 14,000 of those homes are in the Pequannock area that, in fact, affected by this. People with lead service lines in the other part of the city where the corrosion control is actually working --
WILLIAMS: That never changed the mix, right.
BARAKA: Right, that`s actually working. And so they don`t have the problem that we have. But we`re going to change their lead service lines, too. Because I believe the ultimate fix to change the lead service lines, right? I didn`t put the lead service lines --
BARAKA: -- in the home but I`m going to take them out.
WILLIAMS: OK. Mayor`s agreed to stick with us having been nice enough to make the trip across the Hudson River to be with us. We`ll fit in a break. Our conversation will continue after this.
WILLIAMS: We are back, joined by the two-term Democratic Mayor of the great city of Newark, New Jersey, Ras Baraka. Thanks very much again for being here. Do you agree with the governor who says clean drinking water is a right and not a privilege?
BARAKA: Absolutely is a right. I mean, I don`t think people should be -- should have to wait in line to get bottled water. I don`t think any of that is right. We`ve been delivering water and allowing people to come pick up water. We want to get away from that as soon as we possibly can. I hate it and I wish we didn`t have to do it. Prayerfully the filters we`re going to give good news and we can move away from that.
WILLIAMS: When the governor came on this broadcast, he said that folks in the lead district, for lack of a better term, are told don`t drink it, don`t cook with it. It`s fine to bathe in it.
WILLIAMS: And I don`t know your family, but I am picturing your blessed little infant baby girl or baby coming home from the hospital, and I am guessing as a fellow parent that you`re not going to bathe that brand-new baby and pour water over the head of that baby that we know to be from an unfiltered lead line.
BARAKA: Sure. I mean, if you go on the CDC website, it tells you that you can -- it`s perfectly fine to bathe. It`s perfectly fine to wash your dishes. It`s perfectly fine to wash your clothes.
WILLIAMS: Are you OK with that?
BARAKA: Yes, I`m fine with it. I mean, it`s on the CDC website, the EPA website. They tell you specifically what to do and what not to do. But ultimately, the best thing for us to do is to remove, because I know there are people in their homes who won`t be OK.
BARAKA: That they`re scared to death.
BARAKA: The information that`s out here is all over the place. They don`t know what to believe and what to think, right? So you have people in the city who saying they don`t want the bathe with the water. The problem with that, it poses a public health issue, because we want you to use the water, because if you don`t use the water, the disinfectants come out of the water.
WILLIAMS: You need it to be drawn (ph) through the pipes.
BARAKA: That`s right. And so we want you to use the water because it helps us begin to fix the problem. So that`s why we want to move these lead service lines as quickly as possible because I know people in the city have doubt in their mind, have doubt in government. They have doubt in EPA. They have doubt in the CDC. At this point, they have doubt in what I`m saying, right? So, what we want to do is remove the lead service line and that will remove all doubt from people`s minds.
WILLIAMS: Thank you for coming in.
BARAKA: Thank you for having me. Yes.
WILLIAMS: Mayor Baraka of the great city of Newark, New Jersey. Coming up, we check in on another very close neighbor.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is about our neighbors just 50 miles to the east of the Florida coast, the Bahamas, staggered by Hurricane Dorian. Tonight the health minister there tells NBC News the official death toll is 50, and that is a number guaranteed to rise.
So many Americans feel helpless watching. So many are giving what they can to charities like the Red Cross, and many were sad to hear our President today when he said the people who`ve lost everything in this storm won`t be allowed in our country without what he called totally proper documentation. His theory goes that there are people who didn`t belong in the Bahamas, using the storm perhaps somehow as a vehicle just to come here.
And we`re already seeing the cost of good intentions. There are pallets of disaster aid going unused because the people are gone, including this, items like eggs. Someone meant well, but now they`re rotting in the hot sun in a ghost town.
Just today in the Bahamas, our own Cal Perry went out to a section of Abaco known forever by the locals as The Mudd where the damage was breathtaking, and he filed this report for us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is the neighborhood The Mudd that we`re hearing so much about, where so many undocumented Haitians lived, around 7,000. Devastation is clear. The standing water everywhere. And it gives you an idea of why it`s difficult to find a death toll. You physically cannot get to these areas.
Things you find in this storm are amazing. I mean, a generator that was picked up and flung. These crates came from the port a quarter of a mile away. The storm picked them up and slammed them on top of these houses. You see the members of this church walking around, and everybody`s got masks, because the smell as the winds shift becomes awful. It becomes overwhelming.
The army is trying to work in this area behind me, but it gives you a sense of just how incredibly difficult it is to access these areas. The other problem here is that we`ve had one disaster, and this country is now trying to avoid another one. The disease of whatever bodies may be in this water is going to be a significant issue, which is why aid groups are trying to get into these areas, these inaccessible area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It`s a tough story to tell. Cal Perry in the part of Abaco they call The Mudd. Large numbers of people still haven`t been heard from while at the same time Bahamians are leaving every day, there is just not enough left in parts of the Bahamas to support all the lives of the people who are from there and have lived there all their lives.
That is our broadcast for this Monday night as we start a new week. Thank you so very 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