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Kelly to Trump: Don't hire a "Yes Man." TRANSCRIPT: 10/28/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Anita Kumar, Jonathan Swan, Tim O`Brien, Barry Mccaffrey

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  People will use their First Amendment rights to tell Donald Trump what they think of him if they ever get the chance and that is the life sentence that Donald Trump can never escape.  That is tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  There`s late word tonight that tomorrow could be another devastating day for the Trump White House because another insider, a Ukraine expert, a decorated Iraq war veteran, a man who listened to the phone call to Ukraine, is ready to testify about what he heard and saw and the impropriety he witnessed.

The picture had already darkened for Trump just today as the House speaker announced they will vote on an impeachment resolution this week starting the process of getting everything out into the open and that includes public hearings.

Tonight, we`ll talk about the military raid that took out the world`s most- wanted terrorist, immediately followed by stories about the President`s announcement.  The words he chose.  The stories he told.

And we`ll check in on the fight for the California Coast tonight.  It`s brutal.  It`s hand to hand.  And nature is winning as of right now.  As THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on this Monday night.

As we start a new week, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 1,012 of the Trump administration.  And just tonight from "The New York Times," we have learned that there`s every indication tomorrow will be another very bad day for this President and those around him and it`s the result of another insider choosing to come forward to tell the truth about what they saw and heard on the inside.

NBC News has obtained tomorrow`s opening statement from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman who will be testifying behind closed doors.  As his title may indicate, he is active duty U.S. Army, a Ukraine specialist specializing in that country and the region, inside the White House at the National Security Council. He is an immigrant of this country and a decorated veteran of the Iraq war.

He makes clear in his opening statement he is coming forward for duty and honor and country.  He describes the July 25th phone call writing, "I listened in on the call in the situation room with colleagues from the NSC and the office of the Vice President.  As the transcript is in the public record, we are all aware of what was said.  I was concerned by the call.  I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government support of Ukraine."

Vindman goes on to say, as he will in his opening statement tomorrow, "I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.  This would all undermine U.S. national security.  Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC`s lead counsel."

Vindman goes on to say he`s not the whistle-blower but he also details other discussions he witnessed in the White House.

Another White House official, Timothy Morrison, who serves as the NSC`s Russia and Europe director, is expected to say similar things about that call.  He`s coming up on Thursday of this week.  Today, we also learned the House is planning to vote Thursday on a Democratic resolution laying out the next steps in the impeachment inquiry.  NBC News reports the language of the resolution has not been released but it`s expected to detail procedures going forward, not formalize it.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff released a statement today that the resolution establishes the format for open hearings.  That means we could soon see public testimony in this impeachment investigation.  It also means, importantly, we could soon read all those depositions that have been given in private.

Today, the President`s former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman failed to appear for his deposition in the inquiry despite having been subpoenaed.  The White House wants to stop his testimony.  And on Friday, Kupperman filed a lawsuit asking in effect for air cover.  It asked a judge to rule on whether or not he had to testify.

Here is Chairman Schiff`s take on that.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA, INTELLIGENCE CMTE. CHAIRMAN:  I think we can infer from the White House opposition to Dr. Kupperman`s testimony that they believe that his testimony would be incriminating of the President.  But we move forward and we will obviously consider as we inform Dr. Kupperman`s counsel, his failure to appear as evidence that may warrant the contempt proceeding against him.


WILLIAMS:  So that`s in the House.  What about the Senate?  As all of this moves full speed ahead, Robert Costa and Phil Rucker of "The Washington Post" report Senate Republicans are getting anxious.  They write, "In hushed conversations over the past week, GOP senators lamented that the fast-expanding probe is fraying their party which remains completely in Trump`s grip.  They voiced exasperation at the expectation that they defend the President against the troublesome picture that has been painted with neither convincing arguments from the White House nor confidence that something worse won`t soon be discovered.  "It feels like a horror movie," said one veteran Republican senator."

Meanwhile, the President today was in Chicago taking up that U.S. military raid on Baghdadi that was announced over the weekend.  Here`s some of what he had to say when announcing the death of Baghdadi Sunday morning.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.

He died like a dog.  He died like a coward.  He was whimpering, screaming, and crying.  And, frankly, I think it`s something that should be brought out so that his followers and all of these young kids that want to leave various countries, including the United States, they should see how he died.  He didn`t die a hero.  He died a coward.  Crying, whimpering, screaming, and bringing three kids with him to die.


WILLIAMS:  This afternoon, Trump declassified a photo of the military dog that the outfit says chased al-Baghdadi into that tunnel where he detonated a suicide vest as you heard the President reference, apparently with three of his children around him.

Peter Baker of "The New York Times" shares a byline on a report that reads, "Mr. Trump was clearly eager to claim credit for the raid even as it became clear that military commanders had to rush the operation to execute it while sufficient American troops were still in place.  While he used the occasion to defend his withdrawal decision, critics said the raid actually reinforced the need for an American military presence in the region."

All of that brings us to right now, our leadoff discussion on a Monday night, Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon, notably former chief counsel to House Intel, Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor for POLITICO, Jonathan Swan, National Political Reporter for Axios, and Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for the "Washington Post" and Moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS.

Robert, I`d like to begin with you.  You and Phil Rucker, 6:00 a.m. dropped this story on the growing concern, that sickening feeling especially among Republicans in the Senate, especially among the vulnerable Republicans in the Senate.  We`ll look at what`s going to happen tomorrow, a guy who the President would be fond of calling central casting, a lieutenant colonel, active duty, U.S. army, decorated veteran, specialist within the NSC.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Brian, the political moves by House Republicans over the past week have gotten the headlines.  Storming in the impeachment hearing room, you have Matt Gaetz, the congressman from Florida, Mark Meadows from North Carolina all rallying to the President`s side.  Yet when Phil Rucker and I were reporting on the Senate GOP over the past week, a totally different scene and that`s alarming to this White House.

Each senator, as they walked from the train up to their office to the vote, they would tell us, sorry, can`t comment.  I`m not going to be a juror in this possible Senate trial.  And you have a lot of unease behind the scenes among those Senate Republicans because they don`t know the facts.  Every day`s a new day.  Bringing another ambassador, another national security official, who is not singing in unison with the White House when it comes to the President`s conduct.

WILLIAMS:  And Jeremy Bash, witnesses who are active duty or retired military also bring a bearing and an ethos that a lot of civilians don`t have.  Chiefly, chain of command.  This guy is prepared to testify that twice he kicked it up the line to the chief counsel in the NSC.  He is the kind of witness, it appears, who could do some thorough damage.

JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF:  Well, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is a soldier, a wounded Iraq War veteran, combat veteran, someone who clearly is not a partisan actor and doesn`t really even have a policy ax to grind.  He`s there at the National Security Council on detail from the United States Department of Defense.  His primary duty of loyalty is to the country, to the Constitution, so he can be trusted to tell it straight.

And I`m kind of interested to see how the Republicans will try to characterize him as a member of the deep state or Democrat or someone who`s not patriotic or someone who doesn`t like Donald Trump.  Donald Trump selected him to be on the prestigious NSC staff.  I think his testimony tomorrow is going to carry a lot of weight and a lot of credibility.  And what he said was that the President acted improperly and that it violated principle tenets of national security.

WILLIAMS:  Jeremy, you just raised the mob movie parlance of how are they going to come after him?  And I`m glad you did.  I`m going to run a clip from something we noticed.

Laura Ingraham on Fox News just over the last hour, I`m going to play this for you, it appears to be an opening salvo in character assassination and perhaps you can let us know what they`re talking about here on the other side.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST:  Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the White House apparently against the President`s interests and usually they spoke in English.  Isn`t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?

JOHN YOO, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I find that astounding, and, you know, some people might call that espionage.


WILLIAMS:  Jeremy Bash, there you have it.  What are they getting at?

BASH:  I think they`re alleging that a U.S. army colonel is a traitor and the fact he and his family emigrated from the former Soviet Union, they know more than anybody about the evils of the Russian federation.  And he`s probably a very anti-Russian hawk and his views are probably at odds with the way Trump has pursued foreign policy against Russia so here we have the followers of Donald Trump doing what I think is absolutely despicable which is claiming that not only is he against Trump, but he`s un-American.  And I don`t think Republicans, Democrats, anybody who cares about our country are going to stand for that.

WILLIAMS:  So Anita Kumar, there it was and presumably they will get more air support out of Fox News.  The Republican talking point has been about procedure, basement room, secret proceedings, but that suddenly has a shelf life.  And they`re going to lose the ability to argue that as these hearings and transcripts come forward.  So is there a day-to-day defense strategy for this hour tomorrow night when we learn more of what it is this gentleman has to say?

ANITA KUMAR, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Brian, you`re exactly right.  We`ve seen for the last month that there hasn`t really been a strategy.  The sole strategy has been whatever the President wants to say at that exact moment several times a day.  You know, people in the White House, people close to the President, close to the campaign, don`t really know what that one cohesive strategy is.  They just, as you mentioned, recently, have been talking a lot about policy and how there`s been no House vote and how everything has been behind closed doors.

And so that`s been what they`ve sort of been rallying around and they were taken aback today by the speaker`s announcement that there actually would be a vote.  And you saw just a couple comments about it but not a whole lot from Republicans close to the President because they don`t really know what to say yet.  They want to see how this vote goes.  They want to see what comes out.  They`re going to have to kind of shift gears here and figure out something else to say.

WILLIAMS:  Jonathan Swan, let`s talk about a little bit of irony here.  This is a President who, indeed, loves the phrase, kind of dated as it is, central casting.  This is a President who likes to physically mime the characteristics of military bearing.  This is a guy with a title from the NSC who would normally appeal in all kinds of credible ways in normal times to a Lindsey Graham and, yet, here we are, these people with terrific resumes, with jobs on the inside, are coming forward one after one.

JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Yes.  And, look, you might see, you know, you played that clip from earlier, you might see some House members attack this army veteran.  I don`t expect based on my conversations with Republican senators that you`re going to see much of that in the Senate.

I would echo what Bob Costa was saying earlier on, Republican Senate as a whole, I`m not speaking for all of them, but the vast majority are deeply, deeply uncomfortable with the substance of what`s happened here.  And that`s why you saw that very timid resolution last week.

The back story to that was Lindsey Graham wanted to put out a fairly bombastic letter to Nancy Pelosi that would basically have been a middle finger, sign of solidarity, we`re not going to go down this impeachment route.  He got blown right back at the Republican lunch when he pitched it.  They thought it was a stupid idea because it would create an instant enemies list for Trump, anyone who didn`t sign it would be on the enemies list.

Number two, if they didn`t get enough signatures, it would be a sign of weakness.  So, ultimately he works with Mitch McConnell and they come with this very watered down document, which is basically a process argument.  So I think tomorrow is really important because of who he is, that he`s a veteran, that -- as Jeremy laid out, a wounded veteran from Iraq.  Going to be very difficult to paint him as a partisan hack and his concerns are going to carry more weight than some of the other testimony that we`ve heard so far.

WILLIAMS:  Robert Costa, what is your knowledge of what went into the idea to bring everything up in the House on a vote, at least for a base line benchmark resolution?

COSTA:  There`s a push by House Democrats to bring more witnesses to the table.  They`re building a case relatively quickly, privately as they make this behind the closed door investigation, but Speaker Pelosi wants to get more witnesses to the table.  And to do that, she needs to break down the White House`s argument and get more witnesses beyond these national security officials to testify.  And to do that, she`s saying to Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, we`re moving forward with a formal vote and so now when we make a request, if we subpoena an official, they better come up.

And just one quick note, Brian, on Ms. Ingraham`s point, is this -- as a reporter, I wonder, is this really the line the Republicans are going to take, conservative critics, of this impeachment inquiry, that someone who`s an immigrant and has served this country is now a questionable person without any kind of evidence to the -- to make this case?  Does this mean now immigrants can`t serve in the Cabinet?  Arnold Schwarzenegger, we have to worry if he`s loyal to Austria, if he`s governor of California.  On a logical level, I don`t see how as a reporter this argument holds that Ms. Ingraham made tonight on Fox News.

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  And just to put it in brackets, that was former Deputy Attorney General John Yoo who said out loud, "I find that astounding and some people might call that espionage."

So, Anita Kumar, let`s talk about those Senate Republicans for a moment.  A lot of them are in a box.  Some of them are in a vice.  Again, this is a tellable (ph) story.  Mueller came and went.  No one reads the report, but give people a phone call with understandable white hats and black hats and language and this is a story the Democrats hope they can tell.

KUMAR:  Right.  They`re very uncomfortable with this as you said.  And, you know, the resolution that Jonathan mentioned that even though it was watered down, you had some people onboard with that and they`re saying, well, there`s no need for that now because the House is going to vote and that it was all about the vote for them.  So, yes, I mean, they have to sort of figure out what to do.  They`re trying to keep their heads down but the President really won`t let them.  He is pushing them to support him even though he`s come out and said exactly what the Democrats are saying which is he made this call.

We`ve heard -- seen at least a partial transcript.  We`ve heard from the acting chief of staff.  And so, all of it sort of been out there.  We`re going to hear more when this becomes public.  And each day that grows, you know, each day that goes on it grow a little bit harder for them to talk about this and figure out what to say.  It`s going to be even more difficult when these things become public.

WILLIAMS:  Jeremy Bash, I`m reminded that this weekend happened.  Please contrast your memories of the Osama bin Laden raid and its announcement with what we witnessed this weekend.  I`m reminded the President thanked the Russians first and I`m reminded the Russians were aware of the raid before our speaker of the House.

BASH:  Well, first, on May 1st, 2011, when bin Laden was killed, President Obama`s statement I remember was very restrained.  In fact, I was in the White House situation room that night when he directed the whole team, you know, we`re not spiking the football, we`re not doing any end zone dances, we`re just going to be very clear with the American people about what this was.

And we`re going to set it in a broader strategic context, I think if you contrast that with the President`s remarks yesterday, which by in large were OK, but there were some clear moments there where he wanted to do a big victory dance, he wanted to hot dog it a little bit, he want to amp the rhetoric in a way that I think is sort of unbecoming of commander in chief who just conducted a very significant counterterrorism raid, he appropriately lavished praise on intelligence and military professionals who conducted the complex operation.  But the rest of it was sort of unnecessary.  And I think could potentially undermine the ability to get allies in to fight with us agonists Isis which is now on the resurgent (ph) because of President Trump`s policies.

WILLIAMS:  Jonathan Swan, the President wanted to remind everyone that in his view, Baghdadi was bigger than bin Laden.  To paraphrase, bin Laden was only important because he knocked down those buildings.  He had to insist on that.  He had to insist that this raid was bigger, more consequential, more important.  What value from this military action, and let`s be gross, in terms of news cycles, will this White House receive?

SWAN:  Well, if history is any guide, you`re just going to look at what happened to Obama.  He received a momentary but significant bump in his polling.  I think it was around six points, but then it went straight back down.  So it 46, I think, I think up to 52 approval back to 46.

A lot`s changed since then.  And the two situations are a little different.  One is Osama bin Laden was this enormous figure in American life and culture that had loomed over America for so long.  Baghdadi has not been that even though Isis has obviously been a sinister threat that`s very well known.  So there`s a difference in the figures.  But also, our politics have polarized even further and hardened even further since then and Trump just has the most fixed stable approval rating.  It`s probably one of the most stable elements in the known universe.  It hovers between sort of 40 and 44.

I`d be shocked if this has a huge effect.  I mean, obviously, could be proven wrong.  But I think if it does, it will be fairly temporary.

WILLIAMS:  Interesting reaction tonight.  Thank you, all, for helping us start off a new week and this Monday night broadcast.  Jeremy Bash, Anita Kumar, Jonathan Swan, Robert Costa, we greatly appreciate it.

Coming up for us, more on the effort in Congress to keep up this momentum, continue the parade of witnesses, move it all to open hearings, tell a story to the American people as told by those around this President.

And later, we`ll get a highly decorated retired U.S. army general`s take on the President`s graphic retelling of that Baghdadi raid.  THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on this Halloween week Monday night.


WILLIAMS:  Tomorrow, Congress will hear for the first time from someone who was actually listening in on the call between Trump and the President of Ukraine.  Here is more from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman`s opening statement scheduled for delivery tomorrow morning, "I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine which was harmful to U.S. government policy."

Vindman is also expected to tell the committee, "I am not the whistleblower who brought this issue to the CIA and the committee`s attention.  I do not know who the whistleblower is and I would not feel comfortable to speculate as to the identity of the whistleblower.  I have never had direct contact or communications with the President."

Well, with us tonight to carry on our conversation, Mimi Rocah, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, now a Distinguished Fellow in Criminal Justice at the Pace University School of Law and Tim O`Brien, Executive Editor of "Bloomberg Opinion" and author of "Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald."  Good evening and welcome to you both.

Counselor, is this what you would call in the law a star witness?

MIMI ROCAH, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY:  Absolutely.  You know, this is the kind of witness that prosecutors would dream about.  For a couple of reasons, one, as you pointed out, he`s a firsthand witness.  He was on the call.  So, you know, amongst other things, he can be questioned about what were those ellipses in the summary.


ROCAH:  You know, are there -- is there more?  I mean, I don`t want to put raise expectations because this call is damning as it is, but there are factual questions that he now gets to be asked.  Two, the Republicans can`t make this argument which I think was a ridiculous argument, anyway, but they can`t make it with him of, well, he doesn`t have any firsthand knowledge.  You don`t need firsthand knowledge when we get to hear the call.  We need to know everything surrounding the call.

And finally, he`s -- I mean, leave it to Fox News.

WILLIAMS:  Active duty military.

ROCAH:  But he`s active duty military.  I mean, you know, I put on mobsters and criminals and murderers, and guess what, juries believe them when they`re corroborated by other witnesses and other evidence.  We`re going to have that here, too.  But we also have a person notwithstanding the allegations on Fox News tonight of impeccable character and that`s a pretty good witness to have.

WILLIAMS:  And, Tim, I opened the story in our first segment tonight, there`s the old Peggy Lee song, "Is that all there is?" for the resistance.  Once the Mueller report was out, there was a huge letdown that it hadn`t moved the needle.  People thought there must be a more rigorous process to come.  It has arrived, and the guy whose life you`ve written about did love the expression, "central casting."  This guy might be central casting.

TIM O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION EXECUTVE EDITOR:  And I think Bill Taylor was central casting.


O`BRIEN:  And I think what you have here is brick by brick, this evidentiary wall is being built around this, and it`s not a complex case.  There were a lot of complexities to what Bob Mueller was investigating.  This is very clear.  It involves strong arming a foreign entity to interfere with the U.S. election and the President was also coaxing that same individual to dig up dirt on a political opponent.

And the President`s in the middle of it.  He`s not an outside actor.  It`s possible he orchestrated much of it.  And you have people attesting to what occurred who I think have reputations that aren`t easily dismissed.  Although I think you`re going to see it`s a classic tactic in the Trump world to try to just blow apart people`s reputations.

I mean, it happened in two seconds tonight with Vindman.  Already on Fox, they`re sort of insinuating because he`s of Ukraine descent, therefore, there must be espionage involved.

And it`s, you know, it`s horrendous because these are people who are patriots, they`re public servants.  Bill Taylor is a lifelong military attache and a diplomat.  Vindman is a career military officer, national security specialist.  And at the drop of the hat rather than focus on the facts of the matter the President and his allies will try to corrupt these people`s reputation.

But I don`t think what occurred here is complex and it`s an easy story to tell the American public.  And that`s one of the virtues of these event.

WILLIAMS:  Mimi Rocah, whatever happened to the White House counsel`s letter from Cipollone saying, forget it, no cooperation from us, because it appears now tonight to have been an unserious document.

ROCAH:  Well, absolutely.  When it came out, I think, you know, many of us, and you don`t even have to be a lawyer to realize that it was not a legal document.  But first of all, you had witnesses who said, you know what, no, we`re going to go ahead and honor this, what we consider a lawful subpoena because it is.  And then you have the judge on Friday, a federal judge, who really just ripped that letter to shreds. 

I mean, she didn`t just rule against the White House and the Department of Justice, she basically all but said they are obstructing justice.  I mean, it wasn`t a legal finding as to criminal liability, but she said -- she used the word, stonewalling.  The White House and the Department of Justice are stonewalling.  And she held that against them.

So, you know, that`s why we`ve seen time after time now witnesses coming forward and doing their duty and honoring the subpoena.  I just want to pick up on one quick thing that Tim said which is important.  People can attack each witness individually.  They have and they will.  But when you have, as we`re talking about now, one after the other --

WILLIAMS:   They give air cover to the next person to come in.


ROCAH:  Exactly.  It`s the brick-by-brick match -- I mean, this is how we build cases, how prosecutors build cases and that`s what they`re doing here.  And it`s going to be really hard to just dismiss all 10 of them even if you can knock down one by one a little bit.

WILLIAMS:  Both of these guests have agreed to stay with us over the break.

Coming up, the ominous warning John Kelly says he gave this President before leaving his employee at the White House.  And the unusual response to Kelly`s words from the White House, when we come back.



JOHN KELLY, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:   When I thought you were wrong, I never hesitated to tell you that, well, that other people were trying to manipulate, whatever.  But I said, whatever you do, we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place, I said, whatever you do, don`t hire a yes man.  Someone that`s going to tell you -- won`t tell you the truth.  Don`t do that.  Because if you do, I believe you`ll be impeached.


WILLIAMS:  Now, keep in mind for a moment, John Kelly is a retired four- star general in the United States Marine Corps.  After Donald Trump heard that quote from Kelly this weekend, he fired back, "John Kelly never said that.  He never said anything like that.  If he would have said that, I would have thrown him out of the office."

But it was Trump`s Press Secretary`s quote that may get her considered for nomination to the supplicant hall of fame.  Stephanie Grisham said this, "I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President."

Still with us tonight, Mimi Rocah and Tim O`Brien.  Tim, is that the guardrail theory of Donald Trump, and does it require self-knowledge to not hire a yes person to be next to you?

TIM O`BRIEN, "TRUMPNATION", AUTHOR:  You know, the thing is, you know, the statement from John Kelly actually shows how little he understands Trump because it doesn`t matter in the White House or around Trump if you`re a yes man or a yes woman or a no man or a no woman.  Trump doesn`t take advice from anybody.  At the end of the day, one of the reasons he`s a dangerous executive is because he`s ungovernable and he`s ungovernable because he doesn`t listen to anyone else.  So I think that`s the first problem.

The second problem is, remember Kelly`s own tenure, a week after he got the job, he was sitting next to Trump at Bedminster when Trump said he was going to unleash fire and fury on North Korea.  And Kelly had to sit there stone-faced.  It was during Kelly`s tenure as Chief of Staff that the President routinely obstructed justice.  That was documented fully by Bob Mueller.  So he clearly didn`t rein in the President from being outlandish publicly or from engaging in impeachable acts as President.  So I just think it`s a fallacy to think that anyone can be put around him who can actually regulate him.

At the end of the day, the people he keeps around are the people like Stephanie Grisham who have this sort of Maoist approach and will just write peons to the great leader and not actually challenge him on strategy or policy or anything else.  And any good adult, any competent adult, running an organization, whether it`s a business or the government is someone who takes advice from other people, consults other people, understands they don`t have all the answers.  That has never been Donald Trump.  That`s why he didn`t have a successful business and it`s why he has had a haphazard presidency.  He runs a cult of personality.  He doesn`t really manage an organization.

WILLIAMS:  Mimi Rocah, are we three days away from reading that Rudolph Giuliani was my attorney for a very short period of time, another way of asking, a question I`d like to ask of you every week, how much legal jeopardy does Rudy face right now tonight?

ROCAH:  Shockingly, his legal jeopardy keeps growing every week so we should keep asking that question.  Look, I think that Giuliani is -- I don`t like to predict indictments.


ROCAH:  But all arrows point that way with Giuliani in the southern district of New York.  They`ve talked about, you know, this mountain of evidence that they have on --

WILLIAMS:  Would indicate electronic.

ROCAH:  And they have specifically mentioned some kind of electronic surveillance.  I`m not saying they had a wiretap on Giuliani, but it very well could be that he was intercepted in some way.  It sounds like they have some cooperators.  I think, you know, we`re going to find that out.

And, remember, Giuliani, you know, had this voicemail that he left for a reporter and in an unguarded moment when he didn`t know people were listening, so it`s like our own wiretap on Giuliani, he said to whoever he was talking to, we had to force them to do it.  Talking about Ukraine investigating the Bidens and all these things that we`re all debating.  I mean, he admit -- that`s it.  I know Mulvaney admitted it also in a different way, but this is Giuliani when he didn`t know -- he wasn`t trying to rationalize it and say it`s OK, he was really giving up the game there.  So I think he`s -- he is, yes, in serious trouble.

WILLIAMS:  The times we`re living in in 2019.  Our thanks to the both of you.  Both of our returning veterans, Mimi Rocah and Tim O`Brien for stopping by tonight.

Coming up, a retired Four-Star U.S. Army General takes us along the way on the takedown of Baghdadi.  What he made of the military operation and the announcement of it, whether the President`s rhetoric could cause additional problems for U.S. troops operating overseas.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.  He died after running into a dead-end tunnel.  Whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.  He died in a vicious and violent way as a coward running and crying.  He died like a dog.  He died like a coward.

Our dog was there actually.  Our canine as they call, I call it a dog.  A beautiful dog.  A talented dog.  Was injured and brought back.  I would say where`s al-Baghdadi?  I want al-Baghdadi.  But he died in a ruthless, vicious manner, and it was brutal, but it was over.


WILLIAMS:  Max Boot of The Washington Post summed up the President`s remarks in an op-ed this way writing, "President Trump has a preternatural ability to turn any occasion, no matter how solemn and important into a ridiculous risible spectacle.  He did it again Sunday in announcing the death of al-Baghdadi when he began to ad-lib of what happened near Idlib, Syria.  He treated the world to his usual blend of braggadocio and bluster, dishonest and distasteful in equal measure."

We`re happy to have back with us again retired Four-Star U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, decorated combat veteran from Vietnam.  A former battlefield ground commander in the Persian Gulf and these days among our military analysts.  General, before we take up the topic of Donald Trump, I wanted to give you an opportunity to talk about your reaction to the death of Baghdadi and this military mission.

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.):  Well, I think it was a significant blow to ISIS.  This fellow had tremendous spiritual impact on their organization.  He had taken them international with various branches in Africa and Afghanistan and elsewhere.  So I think taking him out was -- will pull apart that compartmented organization for some period of time.  Maybe there will be a succession struggle also.

So I think it was an incredible raid by JSOC, Joint Special Operational Command, run by an Air Force Three-Star Scott Howell out of Fort Bragg, an air, ground, sea, trained element, incredible technology, hand-selected people.  They are so good, it is mind-boggling.  There are parallel universe of capability.  To get in there, get them on the ground, bring him out, take two main detainees with him.  Just a remarkable successful operation.

WILLIAMS:  And now to Donald Trump, his choice of words, the announcement, the way it was announced, his choice to take questions.  I heard both the head of DOD and the head of JCS say they don`t know where he`s getting these details about how he was crying and whimpering.  What did you make of that aspect of this?

MCCAFFREY:  Well, look, you know, I`ve been watching national security issues for a long time now.  I`d be astonished if he didn`t make that up whole cloth.  He thought he was adding, you know, deterrents to the whole operation by making fun of this guy.  A coward, whimpering.  It`s possible, I suppose, those three poor children who were with him may have been crying and whimpering as they were in a giant gunfight with a trained attack dog after them.

But, you know, Baghdadi, no way.  These are violent, desperate, men fighting for their lives who are the cruelest people on the face of the earth.  That never happened, in my judgment.

WILLIAMS:  What do you make of the analysis that we could not have done this without the Kurds and yet at the same time, this issue was carried out despite the President`s action vis-a-vis the Kurds?

MCCAFFREY:  Well, that was a remarkably impulsive piece of bad judgment by the President of the United States to unilaterally essentially tell the Turks, yes, you can take out the Kurdish frontier people, you can dump 2.5 million refugees, Arabs, back into Syria, and we won`t oppose you.  You know, what he should have done, obviously, was tell them, look, I`m going to move 500 more U.S. troops up there and the Turks would have never crossed the border.  The Turks have also been, arguably, supportive of ISIS operatives in the past.  You know, they let thousands of European Jihadists come through Turkey and get into the fight in Syria.

So, the President`s, you know, laudatory comments about Russia were astonishing.  His laudatory comments about Turkey.  I think the Kurds were 95 percent of the fight against the caliphate.  They took it down.  They paid a huge price.  And we abandoned them.  And that lesson has been absorbed by many other allies and enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere.

WILLIAMS:  A question I asked earlier in the broadcast, how unnatural was it for you to hear the first thanks went out to the Russians and it turns out the Russians knew about the raid before Pelosi and Schumer?

MCCAFFREY:  Well, you know, it`s like the world turned upside down.  The Russians are a second-tier power with a ton of nuclear weapons and oil in the ground.  Their, you know, their health system is terrible.  Their economy is terrible.  They don`t have much strategic import.  Putin is very clever.  He`s batting way above his weight class.  He`s a huge threat to anybody who lives in the periphery of Russia, whether it`s Georgia, or Poland, or the Baltic States or the Ukraine.  He seized Crimea.

He`s had his forces attack U.S. military forces in Syria.  This guy`s a thug, a dictator.  So why Mr. Trump would be laudatory in trying to cement relations with the Russians is very bizarre.

WILLIAMS:  General Barry McCaffrey, always a pleasure having you.  Thank you very much for coming on especially tonight.

And another break for us.  Coming up, we`ll take you to the fight, nothing less than this, to save portions of the California coastline.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We`re going to need a lot more engines in here if we`re going to protect this community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have several hundred teenage kids that have no way of getting out.


WILLIAMS:  A state-wide emergency now in California tonight where first responders are battling to get not one but two massive fires under control.  Just outside of the heart of L.A., a thousand firefighters went to work when this fire broke out on the west side of the city.  The fire had been named the Getty because it broke out near the fame Getty museum.  Smoke and flames briefly forcing the 405 to shut down, forcing 20,000 more evacuations.  In Sonoma County, fire has been raging in wine country for going on seven days now, doubling in size just this past weekend.

Here is what this looks like from space courtesy of a NASA satellite.  Remember, the Santa Ana`s blow from northeast to northwest.  They blow that smoke out over the water.  Think of it this way, 4,100 firefighters on the ground.

And let`s not forget the air crews dropping water and fire retardant only when the winds allow them to fly.  In many cases it comes down to one firefighter in a valiant effort to protect one home.  The job requires enormous bravery and skill and stamina.  Some wear portable respirator devices but many don`t.  They`re getting very little rest.  Wild land firefighting is about as tiring as any occupation anywhere on earth.

Each year in California, a good many firefighters lose their own homes to these fires, which is added to the stress of the job having to leave their families to go to work in the first place.  Right now, they are all involved in a race against the clock with the prospect of the return of those Santa Ana winds tomorrow.  To complicate matters and everyone`s lives, PG&E, the power company there is warning of more blackouts affecting over 600, 000 additional customers especially since there is evidence that a power line caused the big fire in northern California that`s burning right now.  And even given the hardship these blackouts cause, the power company is shutting down indiscriminate blocks of customers.  Keep all those folks on your thoughts and prayers.

Coming up for us, for a brief, shining moment today, something everyone could feel good about.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go here tonight, can we hear it for good dogs?  At a time when there is politics in everything.  During a weekend when politics slopped over into the World Series, it was nice to just feel good about a good dog, even though the dog ended up playing a minor role in the politics of that Baghdadi raid as well.

Trump tweeted out the first picture of the dog that helped to get Baghdadi over the weekend.  And while the President did let us know he is aware they`re called k-9s in the trades, they`re still not releasing the name of the dog.  Why is that, you might wonder.

And so to remind us, retired Three-Star Army General Mark Hertling send this explanation out on his superb Twitter feed, "For those joking about the classified dog`s name, there`s actually a secure reason for it.  Knowing the dog`s name, you can determine the handler.  Knowing the handler, you can determine the unit.  Knowing the unit, tells which Delta unit was part of the raid".

The General went on to note, by the way, about half the pushback he got to that post was from people with fake names on Twitter.  Other saw comedic opportunity in the news of this hero dog, "All fun and games until it turns out the hero dog spent time on the phone with the Ukrainian ambassador".  And this, "I`m a national security reporter for Dog Magazine and this is the moment I`ve been waiting for".

Back to our yet unnamed good dog who is recovering from a minor injury and has been invited to the White House upon recovery, if we can all agree that a world without Baghdadi is a better place, if we can all applaud the skill and diligence and raw bravery of our special operators, then let us salute the brave service of a great service dog.

And that`s our broadcast for a Monday night. Thank you so much for being here with us and good night from our headquarters here in New York.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                                                     END