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Julian Castro (D-TX) is facing criticism. TRANSCRIPT: 9/13/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Andrew Desiderio, Katie Benner, Christopher Dickey

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO:  We had what America really is.  And I think that is what, what that resonated most.  And the fact that you can see young people tuning in and children tuning in and saying, "This is a country that I identify with," that alone says what the Democratic Party really is in the progressive movement.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Maria Teresa Kumar who was at the debate last night gets the last word tonight.  E.J. Dionne, thank you for joining us.  That is "Tonight`s Last Word."  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, the Justice Department claiming House Democrats shouldn`t get access to secret Mueller grand jury materials in part because they can`t say whether what they`re now doing is actual impeachment or not.

Plus, Andrew McCabe asking that same Justice Department, his former employer if indeed a grand jury failed to indict him.  And so far the DOJ is not talking about that. 

And in his search for a fourth national security adviser, how is the business of national security, and how does the world view the American President these days?   As THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Friday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 967 of the Trump administration.  And just tonight, there`s a new problem with the way House Democrats are going after and trying to use what are normally secret grand jury materials from the Mueller investigation.  The Democrats argue they need them for an impeachment inquiry.  The Justice Department, though, is pushing back saying the Democrats haven`t made it at all clear that this is an impeachment inquiry.  This question is now before a federal judge.

And in court papers, Trump`s DOJ specifically mentions the messaging by the Democrats have been all over the place, specifically, they say, "the speaker of the House says the investigation is not a true impeachment proceeding."  They add, "The committee`s own description of its investigation makes clear that it is too far removed from any potential judicial proceeding."

The filing even cites news media reports on the Democrats` conflicting descriptions of what they are doing here.  It includes two stories from Andrew Desiderio, who joins us in just a moment.  In fact, we at this humble broadcast have noted this same thing earlier this week.  And we aired the following as proof that no two Democrats are saying the same thing on impeachment.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA):  For anyone that was confused, we are in the midst of an investigation.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY):  We are holding hearings for the purpose of investigating the possibility of voting articles of impeachment against the President.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  I think Chairman Nadler has described the proceedings well.

NADLER:  What we`re doing tomorrow is adopting procedures enabling us to do it more effectively.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It`s a bit technical inside baseball maybe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Essentially the impeachment inquiry has already begun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  People can call this whatever they want to call it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don`t want to get caught in semantics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you support moving forward with articles of impeachment against the President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I mean we should move forward on things leading up to that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The only vote that is ultimately going to matter is whether we vote to impeach him


WILLIAMS:  Today`s move by the Justice Department comes one day after the House Judiciary Committee voted to ramp up, as you heard Chairman Nadler allude to, its investigation of Donald Trump involving more hearings, more aggressive tactics when it comes to handling witnesses.

Tonight, Jerry Nadler spoke out about the latest effort to thwart the investigation.


NADLER:  We`ve been very clear for the last several months in court filings, in public statements, and in proceedings in the committee that we are, in fact, conducting an investigation, preparing to decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment in the House.

This is another instance of the Trump administration trying to cover up and hide from Congress and from the American people, in this case from Congress because the American people wouldn`t see the grand jury information, all kinds of information.


WILLIAMS:  Meanwhile, the "I" word, impeachment, appears to be very much on the President`s mind of late.  Just this morning he asked, "How do you impeach a president who has helped create perhaps the greatest economy in the history of our country?  Done more than any president in the first two and a half years despite phony and fraudulent witch hunt illegally led against him?  You don`t impeach presidents for doing a good, great job."

And it came up last night when he spoke to a gathering of House Democrats in Baltimore.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I told Nancy Pelosi, "You have to do something other than try and impeach somebody that didn`t do anything wrong.  You have to."  I said, it`s hard to impeach somebody who didn`t do anything wrong.  The Mueller report is out.  There`s no collusion after two and a half years.


WILLIAMS:  The President also got a big assist today from his loyal House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, who criticized Democrats for their handling of the investigation of this President.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA):  The leadership doesn`t even know what the committee is doing, let alone the conference itself.  They can`t determine whether they`re working on impeachment or not.

The Democrats are making it an issue and I think it`s a wrong issue for them to even talk about.


WILLIAMS:  Then there`s this as all of this unfold.  "The Washington Post" is reporting that House Judiciary Committee is negotiating to bring ex- Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the Hill to testify before them.  The Mueller report detailed how Trump had pummeled Sessions and tried to pressure him to reverse his recusal from the Russia matter.  According to "The Post," Sessions` lawyer says the only way his client is going to testify is under subpoena.

The Judiciary Committee also schedule to go to court next month to try to force former White House Counsel, Don McGahn to come before them in a hearing.  And former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski is scheduled to give public testimony before that same committee on September 17th to answer questions about possible obstruction of justice.

All this leading us to our lead-off discussion on a Friday night.  And for that we welcome Annie Karni, White House Reporter with "The New York Times," Jonathan Allen, NBC News National Political Reporter and Andrew Desiderio, Congressional Reporter for POLITICO.

Returning veterans all Andrew because your name was invoked, I`d begin with you.  What does this filing, what does this dustup with justice mean for those House Democrats?

ANDREW DESIDERIO, POLITICO, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER:  Right.  This is exactly what House Democrats have told me all week that they feared, the idea that essentially the inconsistent impeachment messaging could undermine their central claim to the grand jury information that was gathered as part of the Mueller investigation.  What the White House and the Justice Department have been able to do as a result of this filing is to take advantage of the fact that House Democrats have not, you know, identified a unified front on this issue saying, no, they aren`t engage in a formal impeachment inquiry and therefore, they do not have a right to this Mueller grand jury information.

Earlier in the week it was more like political misfire, now it has the potential to become a tactical misfire and that it could hurt them in court.

WILLIAMS:  Annie, I loved reading your contributions, by the way, on the live blog last night during the debate.


WILLIAMS:  Really enjoyed it around here.

On tonight`s topic, the President seems to think that impeachment is a clear and present danger.

KARNI:  He does.  And just to be clear, in his speech in Baltimore last night, he touched on impeachment.  He touched on about everything he ever talks about.  He gave a 68-minute rambling speech that was sort of supposed to be counter programming to the Democratic debate that was going on at the exact same time.  So I don`t think it stood out in the vast array of topics he likes to touch on.  It was almost a laugh line for him.

But we saw the tweet this morning saying "You can`t impeach a President who`s dining great job."

One thing that struck me is impeachment didn`t come up once at the debate last night among the presidential candidates when being out front on impeachment used to be a real way to stand out in that field.  There was no discussion of it in the debate that were lot of people tried to target Trump instead of targeting each other.  That stood out.

But, again, this confusion on what the House Democrats are actually doing, are they conducting an impeachment inquiry or are they conducting a probe to figure out whether they will impeach him does seem to be standing exactly in their way.

And what surprises me is, they know the Justice Department is going to take every chance they can to block any handing them over any grand jury information, anything.  That`s what this administration`s position has been on everything.  Did anyone there not foresee that they would use this messaging issue to block this?

WILLIAMS:  And Jon, what Andrew`s reporting gets to, of course, is that impeachment is a term of art.  It is a legal trigger.  In other words, yes, we will break the seal on this confidential grand jury material if you are speaking with the authority of the House of Representatives and you`re going to impeach this guy.

Jon, what has been behind the muddled messaging on this topic?  Jerry Nadler, again tonight as he did in mid-summer, appeared on CNN then came to this building to appear on this broadcast on this network tonight to say, in effect, "Oh, we`re so impeachy, you wouldn`t believe it."

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Yes.  Impeachy as though it were a flavor that you could draw from -- if Jerry Nadler were doing that, it would be the impeachiest.  I think that what`s behind it, Brian, is Nancy Pelosi`s desire to keep control of the House of Representatives in the next Congress.  There`s an electoral push there, and electoral desire.

She wants to make sure that she`s not losing House members.  She doesn`t want to go too fast.  She doesn`t want to force top votes on her members.  For many of them it would be difficult to have a vote on impeachment.  It would pit the liberal base in their districts against more moderate swing voters that they need to win.  And so I think that`s what we`ve been seeing for months and months and months.

Now, as a practical matter, you know, this question of impeachment and the courts and whether or not Democrats are moving forward, the courts have ruled on this in the past in terms of grand jury testimony.  There is -- going back to the Nixon period and Watergate, the House`s power to impeach and its power to investigating toward impeachment is something that is absolutely recognized by the courts as a reason to go and unseal that grand jury testimony for the Congress to go look at it.  And so if that was to be overturned, that would be a reversal of what core (ph) president has been before.

I talked to a number of lawyers about this, folks who have gone back in the Justice Department as far as the Johnson administration, so predating that Nixon era.  That doesn`t in between court wouldn`t change its mind based on what it`s seeing today, but it`s no wonder, as Annie said, that the Justice Department under Trump is making this argument.  And who knows how far it goes along in the court.  Maybe some of the justices that the President has appointed to the Supreme Court will end up having a different view than the court has had in the past.  But that impeachment power and the ability to investigate is one that is recognized, and the idea that you would have to impeach the President before you could investigating whether to impeach him or have the tools to investigate is probably at least a legally tenuous one.

WILLIAMS:  So, Andrew, the Democrats have to hope that that same holding applies to them?

DESIDERIO:  That`s exactly right.  And I think what this reflects is the competing political priorities within the House Democratic caucus right now.  Speakers Pelosi, as we`ve talked about before, Brian, she really has to balance two sides of her caucus, one, the more progressive flank that wants to have a more aggressive posture toward the President and wants to make it seem like they are on a path to impeachment.  The second flank is the more moderate flank of the Democratic Party, the more vulnerable members in 2020 whom Nancy Pelosi needs to ensure that they win their re- elections because many of their victories in 2018 were key to Democrats winning over the -- winning back control of the House rather.  So this is super important to her.

And those moderate members do not want to embrace impeachment for many reasons.  Number one, being it`s probably not popular in their districts.  And b, they have Republican-leaning districts.

WILLIAMS:  Jon, you`re just back from Houston.  You were there to cover last night`s debate.  Consensus was the biggest moment kind of back fired a bit on a former Secretary Castro who went after Joe Biden.  It appeared to all of us on memory.  It appeared to all of us it was something he had in his back pocket and ready to go.  Before we talk about it, here`s both men reacting to that today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Your campaign has called what Secretary Castro called -- said to you last night is a low blow, a cheap shot.  He said it wasn`t personal.  How do you view what he said to you in your exchange?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don`t view it as anything.  I think he just got his facts wrong.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We`re up there to debate.  And that`s what I was doing.  I pointed out that Vice President Biden`s plan would leave out 10 million people.  I think that`s significant.  And, you know, so I would point that out again.


WILLIAMS:  Jon Allen, question to you, was real damage done last night and/or is this just something for us, for the chattering classes to chatter about?

ALLEN:  It will be interesting to see, Brian.  I think most voters probably aren`t into the weeds of the policy and certainly don`t -- probably don`t care a whole lot about the personality pieces of this.  But there are important dynamics going on here about the differences between these healthcare plans.  And I think there are some things the voters care about in terms of, you know, which candidates are attacking, which ones might be trying to get in cheap shots, and also whether the vice president, you know, is having somewhat difficulties that some of his rivals are suggesting.

You know, I watched it happen live.  I went back over the transcript.  You know, I think, it looked like these two were talking past each other a little bit.  The point that Castro makes about the vice president`s healthcare plan that would require some people to buy in and, therefore, there would be fewer people insured under his plan is an accurate distinction between the Biden plan and the Castro plan and the Biden plan and many of the other plans.

And Biden`s point that some of the other healthcare plans would be extremely costly because they won`t cover everybody is also a second point.

I think we ought to wait and see what voters` reactions are to this before we judge who`s going to be hurt by it and who might be helped.  I would say this, if you`re Julian Castro and you`re polling at two percent or three percent, somewhere along those lines, the likelihood that this is going to be devastating to you beyond, you know, stocking away a little bit of what you have seems pretty small compared to the possibility that you might bring in some attention, bring in some money and maybe attract a few people to your campaign.

WILLIAMS:  Annie Karni, couple of things, you mention the President`s, what, 68 minutes speech in Baltimore last night, at the end of this broadcast, tonight we have a, as best we could, a compilation of the greatest hits contained there in.  I said at the top of the broadcast he spoke to House Democrats.  That would be interesting.  In reality, he spoke to House Republicans.

We heard the usual attacks on the usual suspects among the Democrats.  But Annie, when you talk to people in that West Wing, anyone connected to the campaign, when they`re being honest, he`s got to have an opponent at some point.  Is there one they fear more?

KARNI:  I mean, it hasn`t changed along with his status.  Biden is still among the people I talked to that are connected to the campaign seen as the most difficult challenge for them to take on.  It would be the candidate who is the hardest to make the socialist argument against, and they think that is a good and winning message for them.  It`s a candidate who could eat at Trump`s numbers with working -- white working class voters in the Midwest and the rust belt (ph) and states that he has to win and states he won in 2016.

That being said, they still feel pretty confident about him.  They think he`s a very good candidate.  If they`re being honest looking at the field, they think Elizabeth Warren is the strongest natural talent on that stage.  But they think that she -- that Biden, because he can appeal to some of Trump`s voters, would be the toughest matchup head to head.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you to the three of you for helping along our conversation at the end of another long week.  To Annie Karni, to Jon Allen, to Andrew Desiderio, we greatly appreciate it.

And coming up for us, as we continue on this Friday night, the mystery surrounding the case of Andrew McCabe, former number two at the FBI.  Will he or won`t he be indicted?

And later, the President searched for a fourth national security adviser as the job is vacant again.  Where does that leave us in terms of North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, the Taliban for starters, as "The 11th Hour" is just getting started on this Friday night.


WILLIAMS:  Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wants to know if he`s going to be indicted.  And he wants the Justice Department in turn to show its cards.  We learned yesterday it seemed the government would pursue criminal charges.  McCabe is accused of lying to internal investigators.  It`s the kind of thing that would typically be handled administratively.

But in this case, a grand jury was reconvened, leading most to believe an indictment was coming.  But that didn`t happen.  In a letter to the DOJ, McCabe`s own attorneys write, "we heard rumors from reporters that the grand jury considering charges against Mr. McCabe had declined to vote an indictment.  We believe that if the grand jury has in fact voted," and here they use a legal term we`ll explain in a minute, "not a true bill, the justice manual compels you not to resubmit the case to the same or a different grand jury."

As the "Wall Street Journal" headline puts it tonight, it`s a sign that the case may be in jeopardy.

Former U.S. attorney, Harry Litman, a frequent guest of ours, offers this context, "A grand jury`s refusal to return an indictment is something that happens maybe once every five years in a given office.  If it occurred here, given the magnitude visibility of the McCabe case, it is a stunning and humiliating rebuke for overreaching and playing politics."

Well, joining us tonight, Katie Benner, Justice Department Reporter for "The New York Times," and Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor herself.

Cynthia, please start us off with a definition of not a true bill.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Not a true bill would be when if you went into the grand jury room and you asked the members of the grand jury for an indictment, and they said, "No, we`re not going to do it."  I mean, it just doesn`t happen that you don`t get a not a true bill.

It -- I probably have indicted a thousand cases, maybe 2,000, I don`t know, you just -- that`s something that you do so routinely.  And I`ve never had that happen to me.  And here`s why.  Because the grand jury room -- let me just bring it to life for you for a minute.  It`s like a sixth grade classroom.  And you have the members of the grand jury in there, 23.

And you -- when you have long investigation like this one, that`s 18 months long, you`re in and out in front of this grand jury.  You get -- basically get to know them.  They know your witnesses.  You know what they`re thinking.  They ask questions.  You understand what`s happening.

And at the end of the grand jury, what you do is you say to them, "OK.  I`m going to really quickly summarize the evidence for you.  And then I`m going to explain the law to you," and you do that, and then you say, "Does anybody have any questions."

And if the question is, what happens if we don`t believe, you know, witnesses A, B, and C?  And what happens if we don`t think you met the standard?  Then you know you`re -- you should not submit the indictment.  I mean, you don`t get a no true bill if you`re paying attention and you`re doing your job, because you understand what`s happening in the grand jury room with the most simple of people skills.  So I would find it shocking if that he got no true bill.  It would be horrifyingly embarrassing for the prosecutors.

WILLIAMS:  OK, Katie, given that terrific and vivid example of what it`s like inside the grand jury room, remind all the good folks watching tonight what this case is about and why McCabe might have gone public in such a public way.

KATIE BENNER, JUSTICE REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES":  Of course.  So you have to go back in time to the Russia investigation.  Andrew McCabe was the number two FBI official.  He was overseeing that investigation.  And certainly that`s something that made President Trump extremely unhappy.

During the course of the investigation, during the course of the Hillary Clinton investigation as well, which McCabe was deeply involved in, Andrew McCabe authorized people to speak to the press in interviews with the FBI when that was investigated, he was found to have lacked candor about that.  He did not immediately say, "Yes, I did that."  He wasn`t forthcoming.

Keep in mind, as the number two FBI official he is more than able to authorize people to speak to the press.  But that lack of candor was something that he was criticized for by the inspector general.

In an unusual twist, he was then -- that was kicked over and turned into a criminal prosecution.  As you mentioned at the top of the show, that very rarely happens.  Usually it`s dealt with administratively.  Different people have shown all sorts of examples where an FBI or a DOJ employee has been found to have committed sexual assault, sexual harassment and lied about it, and they were not criminally prosecuted.  This is something Andrew McCabe doing something that he`s allowed to do, having lack of candor about it and then being criminally prosecuted for it, it`s highly unusual.

WILLIAMS:  Katie, you have applied your byline to another very news piece just tonight in the "New York Times."  There`s the headline, "Justice Department to honor team that worked on Kavanaugh confirmation process."  Here`s the quote, "The Justice Department will present one of its most prestigious awards to the lawyers who worked on the highly contentious Supreme Court nomination process of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.  Next to Attorney General William Barr will present the Attorney General`s Award for Distinguished Service to those who worked, "to support the nomination" of the judge, according to an e-mail reviewed by "The New York Times."

Katie, who normally gets these awards at DOJ?

BENNER:  So normally a prosecutor would get these awards, an FBI agent, somebody who`s really helped with a case that has been a landmark case for the Justice Department.  And these awards are extremely revered.

I think what`s interesting here and a way to tie what`s happening with this awards ceremony next month and what we`re seeing with the Andrew McCabe case is people have been worrying that the Justice Department has become extremely politicized, that the Justice Department is working in order to please President Trump.  Now, whether or not that`s a true, neither of these things do a very good job of dissuading people from that notion.

WILLIAMS:  Cynthia, as a DOJ veteran, is this just another norm to fall?

ALKSNE:  You know what?  It just makes you sick to your stomach.  I don`t know what to say.  I love the Justice Department and it`s just not the Justice Department that I love anymore.

And Katie is so much nicer than I am.  People are worried about it becoming politicized.  It is completely politicized.  It is -- this Andrew McCabe prosecution is completely politicized.  Tonight`s response on the grand jury, evidence that should be -- with the House is completely politicized.  Barr going to Trump`s, you know, spending $30,000 is completely politicized.

There`s nothing normal about this Justice Department, and I don`t know if we can get it back.  I get so depressed when I think about what`s happened to the Justice Department and ponder what -- how I used to love to just look at that statute of Robert Kennedy and be so proud to be there.  And now it`s a disgrace.

WILLIAMS:  Both Katie and Cynthia have agreed to stay with us over this break.

And coming up when our conversation continues, a lawsuit against the President resurrected, given new life today.  It`s about something Cynthia just referenced, more on that when we come back.



BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST:  Are you guys benefiting financial from the President holding office?

DONALD TRUMP JR, DONALD TRUMP`S SON:  It`s ridiculous.  I mean, first of all, he`s not involved at all with those things.  You know, they thought someone bought a cheeseburger at the Trump Hotel.  It`s asinine and you`ve seen that.

You`ve seen where the emoluments suits have gone.  They`re just trying, the amount of incoming, you know, he`s taken, but really the family and the business, anything in a desperate attempt to stop him.


WILLIAMS:  President`s favorite morning program, those comments from the President`s eldest son came at the same time a federal appeals court revived a lawsuit involving the President and his aforementioned properties.

The suit filed by the group called CREW, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, claims that Trump is illegally profiting from foreign officials who do business at his DC hotel.  Second Circuit of the federal government court today said the complaint is valid and rejected a previous court ruling to dismiss the case.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was at Trump`s DC hotel today, couldn`t resist taking a shot at the media.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE:  I look around.  This is such a beautiful hotel.  The guy who owns it is going to be successful somewhere along the way.  That was for the Washington Post in case they`re in the back.


WILLIAMS:  OK.  All of this also comes as we learn more details about those military stopovers at Trump`s hotel in Scotland.  Politico reporting today, the US Air Force has lodged crews at President Donald Trump`s Scotland resort up to 40 times since 2015, a figure that is far higher than previously known.

All of this is also the subject of an ongoing congressional investigation.  Katie Benner, Cynthia Alksne remained with us.  Before we resume our conversation, let`s listen to the executive director of CREW on this topic of emoluments.


BOOK BOOKBINDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS:  The emoluments clauses of the constitution were not household names.  This was not something that most people knew about because presidents just followed them.

Presidents didn`t try to keep global businesses going while they were serving.  They didn`t take money from the federal government and the states, and foreign governments while in office.  They just followed the law.

WILLIAMS:  OK, Cynthia.  So, we have all learned a lesson in this.  Emoluments are not an ingredient in hand cream.  They are, in fact, aspects of very basic constitutional law.  The question to you becomes, why are these cases proving so hard to prove?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, they aren`t being hard to prove.  We aren`t even getting to that point.  The cases are being hung up on the question of standing, on who gets to do the challenge.  So the second circuit case was dismissed and now one of two things will happen to it.  Either it will go back to begin the discovery process, which I have to say, will be fascinating.

I would do anything to get to help in that where they`ll find out who`s spending what money in different hotels and restaurants, and that discovery process would be fascinating.  Or, the White House could stall and take it up to the full second circuit, which seems, you know, on brand for them as my children would say.  That`s on brand, they stall everything.

So those are the two options for the second circuit case.  But there`s two more cases out there also on this standing issue about who gets to sue.  They have conflicting results, and so what`s likely to happen at some point is this the supreme court will decide who really gets to sue when the President is taking all this money from foreign people through his businesses.

WILLIAMS:  Katie, as you`ve pointed out time and time again, completed uncharted territory as Mr. Bookbinder just said.  The department you cover, the attorney general has already booked the Trump Hotel for the annual holiday party for DOJ.  You`ve compared this to kind of the legal version of Russia, if you`re listening, because this is happening in plain sight, correct?

BENNER:  Yes, absolutely.  And so the process that Cynthia just described is the process that we believe in, right?  It`s our court process.  And hopefully with this amount of deliberation, this much careful effort, this much back and forth, will come to a final decision that we can work with as a standard going forward that we can agree upon and we think is fair.

Now, the problem here, too, is that President Trump and his family move more quickly than courts do.  They move more quickly than law enforcement does.  And so, what we`re seeing is we`re seeing them set in norm.  We`re seeing them set what is acceptable.  They are changing what the public will bear and what the public will accept.  We see that in Pompeo`s joke.

And so by the time the courts do finally rule, no matter how the ruling comes out, of course it will be impactful and, of course, will be very important.  But it`s hard to deny that we as a public and as a country will not have changed in a way that significantly could impact how much we care about that ruling.

WILLIAMS:  Cynthia, what an important point Katie just made.  The first family moves faster than law enforcement.

ALKSNE:  Right.  Well, that`s a problem is they have figured out that the name of the game is stall, and it`s working for them.  I mean, it`s working in these cases.  It`s working and not turning over tax returns.  It`s working in improperly claiming executive privilege.  It`s working in not turning over documents from the Department of Defense about these staying - - the stays over in Scotland.

It works for them because our system of justice moves slowly.  And at some point, we will -- it`s all going to come but it may be long after he is president, by the time we get all this information.

So what`s going to have to happen is once we get it and we realize he`s broken all the norms, Congress is going to have to pass, actually do their job and pass laws that say, that frame exactly what the President can and can`t do, because the emolument clauses, there are two emolument clauses in the constitution and they are a little -- it`s not that they`re vague, but they don`t spell it out in a way that can be quickly enforced by the Trumps, the Trumps of the world.

And so, we`re going to need actual, you know, very specific language in statutes that tells us exactly what the President can and cannot do in terms of a business, while he or she, I hope soon, is the president of the United States.

WILLIAMS:  OK.  Of course, when I hear Congress, I`m legally bound to invoke the phrase what could go wrong?  Our thanks to these two guests tonight for both the journalism and the law of what we`re watching before us.  To Katie Benner, so Cynthia Alksne, thank you both for joining us on a Friday Night.

And coming up for our broadcast tonight, from a canceled meeting with the Taliban, to an ousting of another national security advisor, a recap of Trump`s chaotic week on the world stage from a guy who covers the world stage.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President, are you considering Secretary Pompeo to also be the national security advisor?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  You know, I think he`s fantastic but I actually spoke to Mike Pompeo about that.  He likes the idea of having somebody in there with him, and I do too.  We have 15 candidates.  Everybody wants it baldly, as you can imagine.  And we`ll, probably next week sometime, make that decision.

It`s a great job.  It`s great because it`s a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump.  And it`s very easy actually to work with him.  You know why it`s easy, because I make all the decisions.


WILLIAMS:  All right.  The President now needs to find a fourth national security advisor.  The third person to hold that job, John Bolton, who the President once called Mike Bolton, as Trump prepares to meet world leaders at the UN General Assembly next week.  The US is facing several foreign policy challenges.

For example, Taliban leaders were due to arrive as house guests at Camp David before the President nixed that idea.  The President continues to send conflicting messages on tariffs with China.  Now he says, he`s open to an interim trade deal of some sort.

He also seems open to another meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, even as the Treasury Department imposes new sanctions to punish North Korean computer hackers.

So to sort it all out, with us tonight, Christopher Dickey, a veteran foreign correspondent, journalist, author.  He is the Paris-based World News Editor for the Daily Beast who happens to be with us here in New York tonight.  And just in case people don`t recognize you, I have something prepared for people as we normally see you.  There is the Champs-Elysees, Christopher Dickey, tonight we`re getting the New York.  Christopher Dickey, what a treat to have you here.


WILLIAMS:  I have to start on the darkest note.  Tell the good people watching at home what you said to me about democracy on the break.

DICKEY:  Oh, I think in the United States, I think in Great Britain and across Europe, to some extent, we`re seeing the death of democracy.  We`re seeing the rise of what it`s calling itself populism, claims to speak in the name of the people, but in fact, is destroying the basic institutions of republican, smaller republican government.

WILLIAMS:  When the history books are written, a, that is one of the more chilling things said at this table, b, when the history books are written, how much credit or blame will Mr. Putin get?

DICKEY:  Well, either he`s very lucky or very skilled in manipulating the situation or both.  I think both.  I think he`s benefited from characters like Boris Johnson.  I don`t think Boris Johnson is necessarily working for Putin.

I think he`s definitely befitted from the election of Donald Trump.  He`s benefited from the crisis of migration and other issues that have created a sense of really great misgivings in Europe.

And he`s basically taking revenge.  Because, you have to remember about Putin that he feels and has always felt that the Western intelligence services were undermining his authority and interfering with his efforts to rebuild the Russian empire.  And so this is his revenge.

He saw the weakness and the Western systems and he went after them.  And the first and biggest target, well not the first but the biggest target was the United States.  He used on us techniques that he`d used in the Baltic Republics and other places.  And they were very successful.

WILLIAMS:  The UK right now is a mess.  If it`s not a mess, it will due until the mess gets here.  Will we look back on Brexit as the first probing of the Russians to see if they could not affect a democracy and the Atlantic alliance?

DICKEY:  Yes.  I think they didn`t have to do that much work on Brexit.  They did try to influence the Brexit situation, but I don`t think that they had really prepared for it that much because nobody really had seen it coming.

I mean, when David Cameron called for this referendum, although he said he would do it, it was one of those things that people think, no, he`s not really going to do it.  I was sure he was going to do it.

Then he does it, and he was sure that everybody would vote let`s stay in Europe, but at least most people would know.  The result comes out and it`s based on all kinds of things, the resentment of rural population, fears of migration, this kind of thing.  And the Russians tried to feed that.  But where they really went to work was on the United States.  That we see very clearly from the Mueller report.

There`s this whole idea now that somehow the Mueller report was some fabrication that it was irrelevant.  It`s very clear, it`s very detailed, it`s very unequivocal.  The Russians set out to have a profound effect on the elections in 2016.  I don`t think they thought that Trump would win, but they thought they could undermine the authority and the credibility, the legitimacy of Hillary Clinton by the kinds of games that they played.  And then when they saw that Trump could win, of course they put as much effort as they could into supporting him.

WILLIAMS:  Before we send you back to the Champs-Elysees, at the conclusion of your brief trip home, if I begged you to end on a hopeful note, maybe in a post-Merkel Germany maybe in Europe, where would it be?  Where do you find hope?

DICKEY:  Well, I think their frustrations in everyone of the countries, I think that Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, where I live.  I think that he is trying to do the right thing.

I think he`s a democrat, although his authority is very powerful.  But I think that he understands the kinds of things we`re discussing.  Merkel also, although she is on her way out, she`s a lame duck.  She still a powerful influence for democracy.

We saw in Spain, people have been hanging onto democratic institutions in a country that still remembers fascism for what it really was.  And I think there are signs of resistance, many signs of resistance.  People, a lot of people thought that the European parliamentary elections a few months ago would be swept by these far-right parties.  And that didn`t happen.

In fact, the parties that are on the rise are the Green Parties in Europe.  Because in Europe, unlike in the United States, the environment, climate change, those are huge and vital issues for voters at many levels, particularly for the young people of Europe, and they just basically don`t want to inherit a world where they`ll be burned alive.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you for always getting up insanely early to talk to us along the Champs-Elysees.  Safe travels.

DICKEY:  Thank you.

WILLIAMS:  Great to see you.

DICKEY:  Always a pleasure.

WILLIAMS:  Christopher Dickey here with us in New York.

Coming up, as the President promises hundreds of miles of new border wall, new warnings about national security risks, real risks created by using military money to pay for it, when we come back.


TRUMP:  That wall is being built, that is being built rapidly.  And we hope to have as much as 500 miles of wall built by the end of next year, 500 miles.  That`s a lot.  That`s about what we want.


WILLIAMS:  The President boasting about his yet to be built wall.  Of course, building it brings with it heavy consequences, as you may remember the administration is taking $3.6 billion with a "b" from the Pentagon to pay for the barriers.  These funds have been earmarked for nearly 220 different projects on US military bases here and around the world.

NBC News obtained a report compiled by the US Air Force that lays out numerous ways this move of money impacts national security.  One example that stood out to us, "Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, the entry control point at the main gate "degrading and not properly configured to provide proper protection for pedestrian and vehicle passage."

If not, funded, the main gate remains vulnerable to hostile penetration in the midst of contingency operations and an increased terrorist threat.  Then there`s this.

Then there`s this, at Eielsen Air Force Base, boiler failure -- excuse me, a boiler failure at a facility that provides all electrical power and steam heat for the base is imminent, with temperatures as low as 65 degrees below zero.  A failure would be devastating to facilities and the missions housed by them within hours."

Congressional officials warned many of these projects could be set back at year or more.  It`s also clear the US military in its own way is trying to protect its own funding and facilities, especially where it affects readiness, which of course is job one for the Pentagon.

Another break for us and coming up, an event that got drowned out by 10 democrats last night.  When we come back, what a prominent Republican had to say last evening that you may not have heard.


WILLIAMS:  The last thing before we go is about last night.  While we were here watching and covering the reaction to the Democratic debate in Houston, the President slipped into the city he associates with vermin, Baltimore, Maryland, which he famously called a rat and rodent infested mess.

He spoke at a gathering of House Republicans in a Marriott Ballroom for 68 minutes and he covered it all.  Light bulbs, paper straws, cows, stairs, and again last night he was literally tilting at winds mills.


TRUMP:  Hillary wanted windmills.  They make noise.  They kill all the birds.  The energy is intermittent.  If you happen to be watching the Democratic debate and the wind isn`t blowing, you`re not going to see that they, "Charlie, what the hell happened to this debate?"

Pocahontas, Sleepy Joe, Buttigieg, Buttigieg, they said think of it as boot and then edge, edge, because nobody can pronounce this guy`s name.  Buttigieg, Buttigieg, Buttigieg, I`ve had him up to here.

And President Xi of China, he is tough.  Oh boy, he`s a furious kind of a guy.  I had a big meeting today and Chuck Grassley was there and Joni Ernst, and John Coon, and Mike Pounce.

Hillary should make two stops and she say, "I got to rest for a couple of weeks.  Let me rest for a couple of weeks."  No, she didn`t like stairs.

Green New Deal, that`s a beauty.  No more cows, no more planes.  I guess no more people, right, because Kevin is just like a cow.  He`s just smaller.  I had to pick someone for that one, Kevin, and I just looked at that beautiful political face of yours.

And then they talk about plastic straws.  I said, what about the plate?  What about the wrapper that is made out of a much tougher plastic?  People said, what`s with the light bulb?  I said, "Here`s a story, the bulb that we`re being forced to use, number one to me most importantly, the light is no good.  I always look orange and so do you."

A great guy got on in Texas, and he`s wearing this big cowboy hat.  This beautiful hat, I wish we could wear them.  Nobody would ever look at my hair and criticize it with that hat.  I`ve never taken it.

You are a terrific group and I know almost all of you.  I like most of you.  I know all of you.  And, Kevin, Kevin is just like a cow.  He`s just smaller.  And everybody I want to thank you.  This was an incredible evening.


WILLIAMS:  Our President of the United States condensed from last night in Baltimore to play a softy air for this last broadcast of the week.  Hoping your weekend is a good one.

That is our Friday night broadcast.  Thank you so much for being here with us.  Goodnight from our MSNBC headquarters in New York.


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