LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: The breaking tonight, "The New York Times", on the board with another exclusive, there may be a whistle-blower amount to emerge from inside the intelligence community with potentially more evidence of Trump`s use of foreign policy toward his own political gain.
The Democrats made it rain over parts of Washington late today. Dropping subpoenas on White House Chief of Staff Mulvany, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo.
In political news, Mitt Romney being hailed as a profile in courage because he dared speak out against the President.
And it turns out Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack. Emerging today, having kept the press in the dark, saying he cannot wait to get back out there on the trail. All of it as another week comes to a close and THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this Friday night.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Today just as day 988 of the Trump administration was coming to a close, the Democrats subpoenaed the White House in their impeachment inquiry. And then late tonight, the "New York Times" dropped another one. A story that says, we may hear from a second whistle-blower from inside the intelligence community on the topic of Trump and Ukraine. The President is not going to like that.
Michael Schmidt and Adam Goldman write quote, "The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistle-blower whose complain that Mr. Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate, to get his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general, to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower".
This as Democrats ramp up their impeachment inquiry as we watchful Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings along with the chairs of intel and foreign affairs subpoenaed the White House for documents related to the President`s dealings with Ukraine.
Tonight, they write, quote "We deeply regret that President Trump has put us and the nation in this position. But his actions have left us no choice but to issue this subpoena. Democrats gave acting Chief of Staff Nick Mulvany until October 18 to hand over documents.
Also today, House Democrats asked that Mike Pence turn over any documents that he might about the President`s attempts to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. This as NBC News is reporting that weeks before the whistle- blowers complaint became public quote, "The CIA`s top lawyer made what she considered to be a criminal referral to the Justice Department about the whistle-blower`s allegations that President Donald Trump abused his office in pressuring the Ukrainian president. U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.
And the "Wall Street Journal" spoke to Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who said he was told by an American diplomat this is back in August, that release of military aid to Ukraine that was approved by Congress, let`s not forget, was contingent on an investigation that Trump wanted. The Journal reports it this way, quote, "Alarmed by that information, Senator Johnson said he raised the issue with Mr. Trump the next day, August 31st in a phone call days before the Senator was to meet with Ukraine`s president. In the call, Mr. Trump flatly rejected the notion that he direct aides to make military aid to Ukraine contingent on a new probe by Kyiv, Mr. Johnson said.
Earlier today, before the parting for Maryland, the President talked about the Senate kind of as his ace in the hole.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We have a great relationship in the Senate. I have a 95% approval rating in the Republican Party. I believe the Senate and I haven`t spoken to that many senators. But I believe the senators look at this as a hoax, it`s a witch hunt, it`s a disgrace.
So I think in the Senate, I think they feel that the Republican Party has been treated very, very badly.
WILLIAMS: Not all Senate Republicans are backing the President. Mitt Romney posted this today and we quote, "By all appearances, the President`s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling". Of course, note difference between a tweet and a vote on the Senate floor. They`re extraordinary.
Of course, many are still processing those text messages from former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker that he provided to lawmakers that could spell real trouble for the President the more and more we read through them. Peter Baker of the "New York Times" sums up the importance of those text messages this way. The portrait that emerged from the texts on Mr. Volker`s own testimony depicted a team scrambling to satisfy a deeply suspicious president and his relentless personal lawyer Mr. Guliani who saw the United States relationship with Ukraine as predicated on its willingness to look into former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats.
As we keep saying, it`s a lot. And here to lead off the discussion on a Friday night, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today", John Allen, NBC News national political reporter. Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade, and the aforementioned Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the "New York Times."
Peter, I hate to begin on a Friday night with a process question but i must. What will happen to everything underway if indeed a second whistle- blower comes up and has to be processed and spoken to and heard from on the Hill and perhaps has even more pointed evidence than the first?
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WH CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, very interesting, because this would serve to validate to some sentence the first whistle-blower as a witness to what happened. The President, of course, has spent a lot of time trying to discredit whistle-blower saying, his information is only second hand. As hear say, never mind the fact that actually most of the things in the whistle-blower complaint that we`ve now all seen has been actually verified by the White House itself and the rough transcript they released over the phone with President Zelensky. And in other information has been released.
But having a second whistle-blower -- or having a second person saying, yes, this troubled me and here`s the information that I have about what we learned at the time. I think obviously would embolden the Democrats to keep pushing forward. They`re already moving at a break neck speed. They only have one witness so far, Kurt Volker as you pointed out earlier, to look how much they`ve gotten just out of that one moment of testimony.
At this point, you know, there`s, you know, a pretty good lesson that a Clinton administration person told me the other day, says, when you get caught up in one of these presidential scandals, the facts only tend to get worse, not better.
WILLIAMS: So Susan Page, Mueller report comes and goes and then we get this which it was we said at the time was so much better understandable of people, this was about a phone call using plain language that people could get. Well, look what`s happened in the last 48 hours. This is as dense and complicated as portions of the Mueller report. And the end, we see the President`s strategy kind of say something patently outrageous and then today double down on it still.
SUSAN PAGE, WH BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: You know, such a contrast I think in so many ways with the whole two-year experience with the Mueller investigation and its report. And one difference is, you know, the President -- President Trump spend two or three years saying no collusion with Russia. No collusion. No obstruction. And although some disagreed that was actually what the Mueller report concluded, it pretty much carried the day.
Now we have the president basically saying, yes, I colluded. Yes, I spoke to Ukraine. I was right to do so. I was talking about corruption. And this is, this is something quite turn (ph) and this what has made -- has propelled this story with such velocity, you know, we haven`t even hit the two-week mark yet on the Ukraine story and that we`re at a point where I think the President`s impeachment now seems increasingly likely. He said that himself today to reporters at the White House. That he thinks the Democrats have the votes in the House to impeach him. Although, as you used the clip earlier that showed him counting on the Republican controlled Senate to keep him in office.
WILLIAMS: Yes, exactly that. Hey Barb, what does it take for a CIA, in house lawyer to refer a criminal complaint up the ladder to DOJ?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I have to believe that this CIA general counsel was very alarmed by what she saw to take such serious steps as to alert the Department of Justice that a crime may have occurred by the President of the United States. I think that if I were in those shoes, looking at that, it would take a very, very high level of allegedly purportedly criminal behavior before I would make that call. And so it suggests to me that she had very serious concerns about these allegations.
WILLIAMS: Jon Allen. Critique for us the Democrats, the job they have done thus far.
JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Well Brian, I think you`ve got to take this in parts. I mean as far as bringing forward this complaint, I think they`ve done a pretty good job in making sure that the public is getting the basic news. It`s not that difficult to understand what`s going on here. In part because the President and the White House released the rough transcript that shows the President combining these two things. Basically saying, if you want the money, Ukraine, I`d also like the see this investigation into Joe Biden.
It is not a situation where you`ve got necessarily the greatest stars out front. But it is a situation where they have done a lot of this behind closed doors and you don`t have 35 lawmakers giving five-minute question periods like you`ve had in some of the previous hearings. So to that sentence, they are letting the facts get out there first. They are letting this pick up its own steam. They are letting the administration and the President sort of stumble over themselves. And to that degree, I think they`ve done what they need to do.
WILLIAMS: Susan Page, I want to just go back to your last mention of Republicans in the Senate. And I took paints a few minutes ago to point out, tweeting is the cheap seats. Anybody can say anything on Twitter. But casting a vote on the Senate floor and really standing up for your convictions is something else. But Susan, let`s say some of these Republicans in dicey races, come back after this recess, after some dicey town hall meetings. Are we going to see they will to go their leader with some kind of situational courage breaking out and say, boss, I don`t know if i can be with you? This isn`t selling across the land.
PAGE: Situational courage sounds like an oxymoron to me. But perhaps others can judge that. You know, I don`t actually see signs of that, if it`s always possible, we don`t know how this will unfold. But so far, I think until Republican voters abandon President Trump. Republican elected officials by and large are not going to abandon President Trump. They already are not offering what seems like a very robust defense of what President Trump is alleged to have done. But they are attacking his attackers. Or in some cases, just trying to avoid saying anything at all.
WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, I read from our friends over at "Time" magazine. And I this is about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Nearly two dozen officials told Time in recent days, Pompeo has become increasingly loud and bullying and appears frequently distracted and impatient during State Department policy meetings. What`s that about you think?
BAKER: Well look, he`s under a lot of pressure obviously. He had to admit that he was on that telephone call with President Zelensky even though he hadn`t admit to -- admitted to it earlier. That raised a lot of questions. What was the Secretary of State doing on that call? Why had not he acknowledged it earlier? What was his role in supervising or coordinating with Rudy Giuliani and with the State Department officials who are working with Rudy Giuliani including Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland and so on?
And so these are all questions that remain unanswered and you can imagine the Congress, the House Democrats are going to want to ask him about that. They`ve already clashed with him about the, you know, the requests for testimony and documents. He said they were trying to brutalize State Department employees but they have made clear, they don`t plan to accept no for an answer. So there`s a real, you know, collision here between executive and legislative branch with Mike Pompeo right there in the middle of it.
WILLIAMS: Hey Barb, last night on this broadcast we quoted a superb legal thinker a longtime fed named Barbara McQuade, I want to read it back to you. This habit of committing crimes in plain sight is intriguing. Trump is practically daring us to call him out for soliciting foreign influence into our election which is a crime. I accept the dare. This is a crime.
Barb, you`ve always been careful to keep politics out of law. But as a matter of law and tactics, what do you think the Democrats could do that you don`t see them doing right now?
MCQUADE: Well I think, they just need to stay on course. One of the things, a mistake they made with regard to the Mueller report, the Mueller investigation, moving so very slowly. And I think lost all momentum in terms of calling witnesses and subpoenaing records and allowing the Trump administration to really stonewall and refuse to comply with those subpoenas. I think that keeping the pressure on demanding witnesses, demanding documents, and not taking no for an answer when they get stone walled, go to court and demand those things, because just as we saw in U.S. versus Nixon, that any sort of privilege will yield when we`re looking at criminal investigations.
So I think they need to be relentless to get to the facts here.
WILLIAMS: Jon, by our unofficial count, Rudy Giuliani is 5 for 5. If you`re counting up his appearances, over five week nights on various Fox News evening shows, tonight was his fifth. We`ve prepared for you a modest sampler of this week in Rudy. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: They barge Joe Biden`s office. Wake up, Democrats.
I prosecuted corruption. Democrats and Republicans. I can smell this.
Why do you think they`re silencing me? Because I`m not making any points?
Take a little Valium. Calm down. Little babies calm down.
We call them witch hunter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whistle-blower.
GIULIANI: The anonymous --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whistle-blower.
GIULIANI: I know, I keep thinking witch hunter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, do you have any more attacks I like to say --
GIULIANI: I do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good.
GIULIANI: Many more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, OK. There`s another subpoena.
GIULIANI: I also have video recordings.
Go look at my tweets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you getting a feeling that all of this is becoming a blur to the American people?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Americans in general can`t follow most of this. OK --
GIULIANI: Of course they can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- I can follow it.
GIULIANI: I want to give you another example of what we can do with this lawsuit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s your mission?
GIULIANI: To disrupt the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Al right, Rudy. Great to see you tonight.
GIULIANI: Oh my god, they`re such phonies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Jon Allen, you can start basically anywhere. What`s going on here? What are we seeing and how long will it go on?
ALLEN: Well, I mean Rudy Giuliani is clearly flailing. He`s in the midst of, you know, what you would say is a massive scheme between elements of the federal government and the President`s personal lawyer to get a foreign government to involve itself in an American election. He`s talking about corruption by Joe Biden. Joe Biden of course is not homed office if the President was interested in getting rid of corruption in the American government, it`s an odd place to start with somebody who doesn`t actually hold an office.
Rudy Giuliani has been traveling the world, coordinating oddly with the State Department. We`ve got reports of him, you know, dropping off dossiers at the State Department, potentially. He goes on television talking about how he`s being silenced which is a very odd place to talk about being silenced. I`m not sure what he`s trying to do other than rally, some support to himself in a public relations sense. I know the Yankees were on television tonight. It might be time for him to take in some television instead of going on.
WILLIAMS: He did go to the Yankee game tonight, hasten to add along with Alan Dershowitz there in his usual seats.
Hey Peter, of what we know that`s going to happen next week, anything you can share with us? Obviously at this pace, you want to get a good laugh out of the guy upstairs telling your plans for tomorrow. It was just yesterday, after all, the President invited China to look into Joe Biden.
BAKER: Yes, Brian, I can`t tell you what`s going to happen an hour from now. I mean, one of the things we learn so far is Susan said, the velocity of this particular matter has been so extraordinary. Even for the Trump era, that just when you think you`ve got your hands on it, something else comes up. I think next week, one of the things people are going to look for will be testimony by Marie Yovanovitch, she was the ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted by the Trump administration. The President called her bad news in his phone call with the President of Ukraine. Doesn`t seem to know much about her except he said he was told bad things about her. He can`t name her.
But he was told she was anti-Trump and that was enough to get her removed. She`s a career public servant, a career -- well respected by people in the Russian community, work for presidents of both parties. And it will be very interesting to see what she had to say. With her ouster relate to objecting to or in some way, you know, forestalling Rudy Giuliani`s, you know, mission to the Ukraine to try to put pressure on the government there.
We don`t know. We`d like to hear her say it. She`ll do behind close door with the like with Kurt Volker, I presume, we`ll get some information pretty quick after she`s done.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks to the front four on a Friday night as we bring this week to a close. Susan Page, Jonathan Allen, Barbara McQuade and Peter Baker. Much obliged.
Coming up for us, this latest case against the President started with a phone call. Something everyone could understand. As we said, it`s got suddenly complex tonight, we have something of an explainer.
And Joe Biden appears before a tiny back drop and calls Trump a coward. Or as we call hit the week in political news, as THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Friday night.
WILLIAMS: The "Wall Street Journal" has more on the saga of the currently overwhelming the Trump administration. With the report of theirs headline, In Months Before Trump Call, Ukraine Officials Sweated White House Pressure. On the subject of delaying that military aid, quote, "Some Ukrainian officials surmised that there may have been a technical budgetary reason for the holdup. Others thought it could be that the U.S. is halting foreign aid in general. And some though it was a personal decision of Mr. Trump".
Text messages the House Intel Committee released last month indicate the latter was the case. In texts with the aforementioned Kurt Volker our former point man with Ukraine about trying to set up that meeting between Trump and the President of Ukraine, our U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, a Trump donor and appointee writes quote, "I think POTUS really wants the deliverable, noting that a meeting without some sort of concession from Ukraine would be unlikely. That meeting did not take place.
The acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, career diplomat, raised his concerns about that to Sondland. He questioned the reasons for the holdup in the aid. Asking Sondland in a text quote, "Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?
For more, we welcome to the broadcast P.J. Crowley serving is a veteran in State Department serving as assistant secretary for public affairs and spokesman there under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also happens to be the author of Red Line: American Foreign Policy and a time of Fractured Politics and Failing State.
Mr. Crowley, thank you ever so much for coming on. You know the phrase, if you see something, say something. Have you been on that trip, would you have said something?
P.J. CROWLEY, FMR ASSISTANT SECRETARY, STATE DEPARTMENT: Of course. I mean I think what we have here is among other things a process failure. You talk about elude the processing your question to Peter at the beginning of the show. You know, national security policy depends on a reliable process where a President is presented with options that have potential benefits, and pit falls.
In this particular case, you are-- you know, what surprised me about the text most of all is that, this is not a whimsical comment by the President on a call with the President of Ukraine. This was in fact the White House policy. Yes, we try to leverage, yu know, military aid to Ukraine in return for a political favor. And there are plenty of meetings leading up to the call and there was plenty of action in the aftermath that tried to get what the President wanted.
WILLIAMS: I don`t mean for this question to sound trite, but how does it feel to you to see all this, an unsavory side of a place you proudly worked in for a long time, aired in public in this way?
CROWLEY: Well, I mean, if you want to see the glass as half full, then you`re looking at people like Bill Taylor, your Marie Yovanovitch who were trying to serve the national interest. If you see the glass as potentially entirely empty, you`re seeing a President to -- yes, every President wants to get reelected. But Presidents normally get reelected by advancing the national interests.
In this case, Mr. Trump has turned, you know, this upside down and he`s converted foreign policy in the service of his re-election campaign. You know, that`s very distressing. And I think we`re going to see as you indicated, you know, more voices expressing their concerns about this.
WILLIAMS: Secretary Pompeo has accused the Democrats of bullying his people. Do you think that is masking a deep down fear that his people and in this case, meaning a lot of career folks who are loyal to the United States and not any current State Department or President, are going to go before Congress and tell the truth?
CROWLEY: Well, I think this is the height of hypocrisy. You know, I mean on the one hand, you say Trump/Pompeo says, well I won`t let Congress bully, you know, my people. On the other hand we now know he was on the call, you know, where the President of the United States trashes his own ambassador, you know, to the President of Ukraine. You know, and evidently, the President -- or the secretary of state he offered no objection.
You know, Brian, a year ago, you know, there was an op-ed in the "New York Times", you know, where a White House insider was saying, you know, there are adults in the room who are trying to, you know, to create boundaries and to how far the President can stray. A year later, I think what we`re seeing is that there are no adults in the room. And the fact that a potentially illegal activity can become the policy of the United States of America through some sort of process I think just tells us how not only has the process broken down. But now the President of the United States cannot differentiate the national interests from his personal interests.
WILLIAMS: Well, it`s exactly why we asked for you on this broadcast tonight to hear you say that. P.J. Crowley, thank you so much for stopping by THE 11TH HOUR this evening.
And coming up for us, Robert Mueller warned us about it. And the new threat to our elections is indeed here. We`ll talk about that with an expert after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WILL HURD (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, TEXAS: Our committee issued a report in inside on saying that Russian active measures are growing with frequency and intensity and these groups posed a significant threats to United States and our allies in upcoming elections. Would you agree with that?
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Yes. In fact, one of other areas that we have to look at are many more companies -- not companies -- many more countries are developing the capability to replicate what the Russians have done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The New York Times reports that indeed Iranian hackers have targeted the Trump re-election campaign. "Microsoft said hackers with apparent backing from Iran`s government had made more than 2,700 attempts to identify the e-mail accounts of current and former United States government officials, journalists covering political campaigns, and accounts associated with the Presidential campaign. It was not clear what information if any had been taken in the attack on the Trump campaign."
Tonight the campaign says it has no indication that any infrastructure was hit. With us tonight, the man to see on these matters, Malcolm Nance, he`s a veteran of Naval Intelligence, Special Ops and Homeland Security with 35 years working in counterterrorism and intelligence, and is our analyst in this area. His fourth coming book, one of many relevant to this discussion is "The Plot to Betray America: How Team Trump Embraced Our Enemies, Compromised Our Security, And How We Can Fix It. Malcolm, what is the lesson in this?
MALCOLM NANCE, TERRORISM ANALYST, MSNBC: The lesson in this is that the 2016 election opened the flood gates for all types of non-state and state actors to try to influence the United States elections. And with the President and many of his followers not believing that there is an intrinsic cyber threat in this world that will attempt to influence our electoral process, everyone is going to try it.
WILLIAMS: So a sub lesson of that, I`m guessing, in a democracy, when we have a boisterous debate on this or any other network, and Moscow Mitch is a name that is hatched because of the Senate Majority Leaders` unwillingness for the longest time to get funding approved to harden our elections, people can hear us when we say that. People can see our coverage in a free society. And as they say, a malign actor would be foolish not to try it.
NANCE: You know, 10 years ago, the United States had a mindset in which the defense of the nation on all sides was paramount. And that no one would ever be allowed to come after the United States on any platform anywhere in the world, even if we weren`t the greatest in cyber, you know, cyber hygiene. That has since changed. As you say, the world can hear us. When the world believes the United States will no longer defend itself, you know, malignant players such as Iran, North Korea, China, you know, could be anybody as far was as Zimbabwe, understand that America`s information sphere can be weaponized against itself and that you can go after individuals or organizations or entire countries and have the ability to change their mindset, or to act their mindset.
So apparently, Iran is touching base on this and are trying to get the basic steps to rudimentarily hack certain people or individuals around a campaign and perhaps influence it or carry out a false flag operation, making it look like someone else is trying to influence it.
WILLIAMS: Dan Coats once said, and I`ll paraphrase, what kept him up at night was the rumored Russian ability to turn off the power in New England in the middle of winter. Tell the folks watching tonight at the risk of scaring them to death before bed on a Friday evening, how bad could it get? What could someone do?
NANCE: It could get very bad. And you know, granted, this report in the New York Times was about very rudimentary things, right? About spearfishing, people clicking on the wrong link and downloading malware into their computer. But that`s the first step in going after turning off a hydroelectric plan or shorting out a substation and plunging a million people into darkness.
These are infrastructure attacks which are very hard to do because we have such a large civilian infrastructure which is not protected at a governmental level the way many other countries around the world are. So, you know, when you turn off power, you kill people. You know, respirators go off until the batteries come on or until a, you know, generators come on. It can be very difficult. People lose their air conditioning.
So, these are the sorts of things that are at the far end of the black operations and cyber warfare. Iran, for example, destroyed every computer in Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company a few years ago, using malicious malware and knocking down their systems. That was not as bad as if they say, shut off, you know, Wichita, Kansas from having any electricity. All of these are within the realm of that. And if we are not defending ourselves, our opponents will figure out ways to use it.
WILLIAMS: What`s your 60-second answer to the question, can our election integrity be saved?
NANCE: I would love to answer that in a positive, Brian. But our election integrity can be saved if we start to believe that we have a problem. 40 percent of this nation do not believe at all that there was an attempt to corrupt the American election which influenced the election of Donald Trump. If you don`t believe you`re under attack, even though the bullets are flying around you, then you will not take precautions and this nation will be perpetually in danger. The American experiment will remain in danger if we don`t take precautions, and that starts with belief.
WILLIAMS: Malcolm Nance, thank you for joining us on a Friday night. We appreciate it very much.
And coming up for us as we continue, as some Republicans speak out, we have two reporters taking to -- talking to sources, forgive me, on the inside of GOP strategy sessions. We`ll talk about that when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of this talk of the President about corruption comes from the most corrupt President we`ve had in modern history. He`s the definition of corruption. He`s indicted himself by his own statements.
This is not about me. It`s not about my son. There`s not a shred of evidence there`s been anything done that has been wrong.
This guy, like all bullies, is a coward. He does not want to run against me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: After the story had spooled out for one week, that`s the most forceful response we have heard yet from presidential candidate Joe Biden. His campaign has been plagued by Trump`s accusations of conflict of interest. Straight up malfeasance relating to Joe Biden, his son`s dealings in Ukraine when Biden was Vice President. Claims that we want to be sure to point out are unsubstantiated.
The Washington Post reporting this week and we quote. "Some of Joe Biden`s supporters are voicing growing concern that his campaign is not prepared to weather the dual political rip currents suddenly reshaping the 2020 race, an onslaught of attacks on his family from President Trump and a tightened contest for the Democratic nomination.
Well, with us to talk about it tonight, we welcome back to the broadcast Jackie Alemany, Political Reporter for The Washington Post, Author of the papers morning newsletter Power Up. And Melanie Zanona is back with us. She covers Congress for POLITICO. Welcome to you both.
Jackie, you can`t argue Trump got to tell Biden`s story this week. He just took it over. And that was the response five days deep into the story with Trump arguing corruption, straight up corruption every day. And you talk to Democrats and they whisper the same thing. It feels like stronger together part 2. A corporate campaign, a dread naught, about as nimble as a battleship. What are you hearing?
JACQUELINE ALEMANY, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s exactly right, Brian. And my colleague Matt Viser who`s been following the Biden campaign closely wrote that sharp piece that you just excerpted. Where advisers expressed concern that the Biden campaign is not equipped to handle the amount of disinformation that the Trump campaign has been pushing out. Not just on Twitter, not just from the President`s mouth but also on ads, a big ad by -- around the country. Along with Republican allies, conservative radio and a lot of these conspiracy theories and disinformation that`s being peddled on the right wing media that has been breaking into the main stream media.
And a lot of Democrats are concerned that Biden has waited too long to come out forcefully. You know, at the same time, the Democrats also you know, this has raised questions for them about whether or not Biden has sort of, these allegations of improprieties plague him. Michael Bennett came out and said last week that at the end of the day, you know, he doesn`t believe that vice presidents or, you know, people who are serving in office should have foreign interests. And so it sort of raised this question.
There might not be any impropriety. These allegations are baseless that the President has been pushing forward but there is the appearance of impropriety. And I`ve spoken with a few people who spoken with the President recently and the President believes that regardless that this has, you know, triggered an impeachment inquiry for him, he believes that it`s finished Joe Biden`s campaign and going to plague him a la Hillary Clinton for the rest of the 2020 primary.
WILLIAMS: Yes, tough words but it`s tough out there generally. Hey, Melanie, Maggie and Annie over at The New York Times, I was reminded, wrote this piece last June but it bears repeating a bit. "Late at night, using his old personal cell phone number, President Trump has been calling former advisers who have not heard from him in years. Eager to discuss his standing in the polls against top Democrats in the field, especially," wait for it, "Joe Biden, whom he describes in those conversations as too old and not as popular as people think. Mr. Biden seems to have gotten into the President`s head, at least for now."
Melanie, is there still evidence of a certain amount of obsession, good or bad?
MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes, absolutely. He`s been in these calls with foreign leaders as recently as this summer bringing up the Bidens and asking them to investigate. And what I think is really crucial to point out is that today the President has really tried to frame this debate as, he is just trying to root out corruption. He said it had nothing to do with politics. That he doesn`t even view Joe Biden as a rival. He said I don`t even think he has a shot.
I think someone else is going to get the Democratic nomination, so there can`t possibly be any impropriety here because he doesn`t view Biden as a political rival. But that`s just absolutely nonsense. Joe Biden has obviously consumed a lot of his thoughts and his times, there is reporting that he absolutely thinks that Biden could be the biggest threat to his candidacy. And I think the one thing Joe Biden can do here is try on make that argument to voters and say he views me as the biggest threat. And I think that`s part of Biden`s argument to voters right now. It`s sort of the electability question of I`m the best one to beat Biden -- to beat the President in the general election.
WILLIAMS: Both of our guests have agreed to stay with us as we just fit in a break here.
And coming up, some good news for the Sanders camp after a difficult week. More on that when we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello everybody. We are in Las Vegas. I just got out of the hospital a few hours ago and I`m feeling so much better. I just want to thank all of you for the love and warm wishes that you sent to me. See you soon on the campaign trail.
JANE O`MEARA SANDERS, BERNIE SANDERS` WIFE: Thank you all so much. It really made a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So here`s the state of play. Bernie Sanders`s doctor today confirming the Senator suffered a heart attack earlier this week while campaigning in Las Vegas. Actually, after keeping the media in the dark for three days, the campaign in its press release tried to call it a myocardial infarction. But that`s a heart attack.
Bernie Sanders is 78 years old. And after first asking to sit down during a campaign event the other night for Q&A, that was very rare. He was then taken to the hospital with chest pains. Doctors quickly inserted two stents to clear up the blockage. He was released today. Plans to return home to Vermont soon, says he`ll be at the Democratic debate later this month.
Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren who has been surging in the polls, also surging in fundraising. She announced today she rake in almost $25 million in the third quarter. That puts her just behind Sanders and ahead of Joe Biden.
Jackie and Melanie remain with us. Jackie, what the -- I don`t know if you have recent reporting since his release from the hospital. This puts the Biden campaign in a -- the -- I`m sorry, Bernie campaign in a very tough spot.
ALEMANY: Yes. Well, I just want to say, it`s really positive thing that that he`s out of the hospital.
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. We offer a full recovery from this.
ALEMANY: I`m wishing Sanders and the campaign the best. But, you know, this could be problematic for him especially as the polls are tightening. That being said, there is a septuagenarian candidates that are in the top tier. Joe Biden, President Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren is 70 years old as well. That being said, we saw Republicans weaponized health problems in the past election in 2016 after Secretary Clinton collapsed on the trail at one point in the general, I believe it was during a 9/11 remembrance event. Conspiracy theories on the internet went wild.
This is something that could be a problem for Senator Sanders. He has kept up a grueling schedule for someone in his age. In beds (ph), they always talk about how to struggle to keep up with him, you know, and never takes a day off. But when you look at Elizabeth Warren, who is creeping up in fund-raising and in the polls, and finally surpassing Sanders in the polls, you wonder if voters will look at the two of them, who are ideologically pretty similar and decide to make the calculus that, you know, maybe were better with someone a bit younger.
We also haven`t seen the way that the President is going to potentially attack Sanders for this health problem. You know, it would be a surprise if we saw it on Twitter crap up over the weekend.
WILLIAMS: Yes, that`s true. Melanie, let`s continue to talk about these Democrats. First of all, our executive producer Colleen King is obsessed with the vinyl backdrop banner behind Biden today. They did make $15 million in the last quarter. Call Joe`s house of vinyl and ask for the 10- foot version, that`s almost not enough to complete the picture right there. Go big or go home.
So, anyway, hopefully there will be a conference call and a staff meeting on the Biden campaign about that particular backdrop. I`m saying all that in jest, obviously, the Biden campaign, and not to pound this home, has within their grasp the ability to get better at all of the kind of weak points that Democrats have been whispering and shouting about this week. Rapid reaction, get out in front of your own family story and tell it when you`re being accused of corruption by the leader of the free world for five straight days, all of it. They should have the professionals around to remedy that.
ZANONA: Right. And this also comes as Warren is rising in the polls, and she posted a massive fundraising haul in the third quarter. And so this is not looking good for Biden, it`s raising serious questions about whether he is going to be equipped to balance both now a sort of general election battle, as he tries do combat these onslaught of GOP attacks when it comes to the Ukraine scandal. And he also has to keep his eyes on the price which is the primary debate.
And so I think the challenge for Biden is going to be trying to strike that balance between the two. Not having the fundraising is obviously a huge problem for him. That`s why some of his allies are actually considering launching a super pac that would independently sort of defend Biden. And meanwhile the DNC is not lifting a finger to help Biden with some of these attacks related to Ukraine partly because they don`t want to be seen as violating their pledge to stay neutral in the primary. But you have the GOP with a massive war chest. Trump has $125 million that he has just raked in. So this is a problem for the Biden campaign.
WILLIAMS: I want to thank you both. Again, it`s always at the end of a long week on Friday night after your hard work for joining us on this broadcast. Jackie Alemany and Melanie Zanona, we appreciate it very much guys (ph) for putting up with my version of the plague.
Coming up, a rare history lesson from the White House today, when we continue.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, it doesn`t happen every day. It happened today. We learned a little American history from the President today. He was speaking in the East Room at the White House to young black leadership conference. And here`s what he told some of the young black leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: African-Americans built this nation. You built this nation. You know, you`re just starting to get real credit for that, OK? I don`t know if you know that. You just starting to get -- you built the nation. We all built it, but you were such a massive part of it. Bigger than you were given credit for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The President`s comments, no doubt a great relief to scholars, museums, and African-American history departments, in colleges and universities across our country especially meaningful given that the people`s house was in part built by slave labor, often called America`s original sin.
That is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Have a good weekend and good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END