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Pres. Erdogan to visit Pres. Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 11/12/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Carol Leonnig, A.B. Stoddard, Christopher Dickey

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Yes, sir.  That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.  I want to tell you MSNBC special coverage of these hearings tomorrow begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.  I will be at the table with Brian Williams and Nicole Wallace, my colleagues.  We`ll have a lot coverage.  I`m going to get out of the way right now.  It is "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight Congress raises the curtain on impeachment hearings with the first live televised proceedings just hours away.  As just tonight we`re learning about next week`s witness list, and it`s fair to say the testimony will be relentless as the Democrats keep their eye on the calendar.

Tonight we`ll go over some of the evidence we will hear from tomorrow`s first witnesses and the reporting on the Trump White House from just today, including the latest name the President allegedly wanted to get rid of.

And fresh from being handed what he wanted by our President, tomorrow, the leader of Turkey visits the people`s house against the wishes of many lawmakers who still care about that sort of thing as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway this Tuesday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 1,027 of the Trump administration.  And we`re now just hours away from the start of the first impeachment hearings in a generation.  The nation has been here three times in our history and the modern era with Nixon and Clinton.  It`s a sad fact of life, but traditionally if impeachment touches your presidency, it goes right to the top of your obituary and stays there forever.

Tomorrow morning Democrats will take their closed door investigation public as they begin to lay out a story of bribery and extortion as they see it, a President using military aid to secure an investigation of his political rival.

Tomorrow`s witnesses will be Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor.  Both of their closed door depositions were released just last week.

You recall it was Kent who told lawmakers Trump, "wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to a microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton."  While it was Taylor who testifies, "That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President of Ukraine committed to pursue the investigation.

The hearing will take place before the House Intelligence Committee.  Chairman Adam Schiff and Ranking Member Devin Nunes, the top Republican, will lead the questioning, which will also include civilian lawyers this time.  More on that later on.

Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan a defender of Trump at all costs and on all fronts was added to the Intel Committee just last week and is expected to provide a vigorous defense during tomorrows hearing.


REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  The facts on the President side.  The truth is on his side.  Those four facts will not change, have not change, will never change.


WILLIAMS:  So that`s his view.  And meantime, Trump resorted to familiar attacks during a speech today here in New York at the economic club.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Democrats in Washington would rather pursue outrageous hoaxes and delusional witch hunts which are going absolutely no where.  Don`t worry about it.


WILLIAMS:  Democrats on the House Intel Committee announced eight additional witnesses to testify publically on through next week.  Tuesday the committee will hear from four people.  They include Ambassador Kurt Volker and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  Wednesday three more including Ambassador Gordon Sondland.  The week closes out Thursday with Dr. Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council official who worked under John Bolton.

There`s also news tonight about the man responsible for bringing the whistleblower`s complaint to Congress in the first place.  "New York Times" reporting Trump has considered firing the Intelligence Community`s Inspector General Michael Atkinson because of this action.  "The President has said he does not understand why Mr. Atkinson shared the complaint.  He has said he believes Mr. Atkinson, whom he appointed in 2017, has been disloyal."

And there`s new reporting tonight from "The Washington Post" about the two associates of Rudy Giuliani that our friends at SNL quickly branded the two shreks.  "The Post" reports that one on the left, Lev Parnas, says that he and his business partner on the right there, Igor Fruman, told Trump at an April 2018 dinner that our U.S. ambassador to Ukraine back then, Marie Yovanovitch, was unfriendly to the President and should be fired.

Please note here, this is the stuff of U.S. foreign policy.  Both Parnas and Fruman who allegedly held Giuliani setup  meetings with Ukrainian officials have been charged by federal prosecutors with campaign finance violations.

Today Attorney General William Barr who has tried hard to give the appearance of keeping his distance from all impeachment-related issues was asked about Rudy Giuliani`s ties to Ukraine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Can you comment whether Rudy Giuliani`s interactions or behavior in the Ukraine is appropriate?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I`m not going to talk about what`s going on inside the beltway, some of the shenanigans that are going on these days.


WILLIAMS:  As all of this unfolds, Erdogan of Turkey gets to visit the White House tomorrow fresh from launching the military offensive into Kurdish lands that was green light by the President.

Tonight NBC News reports former National Security Adviser John Bolton apparently told a private audience at an event, "he believes there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump`s position on Turkey because none of his advisers are aligned with the President on the issue."

That should be enough to get our panel started tonight.  All three returning veterans, Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer Prize-winning Investigative Reporter for "The Washington Post," Robert Costa, National Political reporter in-- for "The Washington Post" and moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS, and Shannon Pettypiece, veteran journalist, Senior White House Reporter for NBC News Digital.  Good evening and welcome to you all.

Robert Costa, I`d like to begin with you and your beat, which is spending time on Capitol Hill.  Do people in Congress seem to comprehend the gravity of what starts tomorrow?  Or is this going to be more of a rolling gravity situation, if you will?

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  At the Capitol today, walking around the halls of the senate by the trains over at the House of Representatives.  It`s clear that lawmakers in both parties understand the gravity of this moment.  An impeachment process, the President of the United States, his presidency on the line.

The challenge for both parties is how is this going to play nationally as we go into a re-election year for President Trump.  Democrats believe this is the critical phase, the public phase to tie all this testimony that reporters have poured over and let the average citizen who is out there working hard at a job with their family to now digest this information in a way that`s understandable about a country they may not follow on foreign policy in an incremental way, Ukraine.

WILLIAMS:  Carol, this may be unanswerable, but if it`s answerable, there`s no one better than you to take the question.  What might we hear for the first time tomorrow that we don`t know is coming up that we haven`t heard here to for/

CAROL LEONNIG, THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER:  I think really what`s important that you`re going to hear tomorrow, Brian, is a more cohesive version.

Aligned with what Bob outlined so well just now, is you are going to hear basically chapter one of what the House Democrats believe is their best evidence for impeaching the President and establishing a huge evidential sort of brick about why the President abused his public office, his presidential powers for his personal gain.  In most public offices, that would be reason to charge someone with extortion or bribery.  And what the Democrats are going to lay out is chapter one, and that is State Department officials who were hearing from people inside the White House and completely flummoxed that the President was essentially holding over the head of Ukraine $400 million in military aid, not releasing it unless they were willing to do an investigation that would help him and harm Democrats.

WILLIAMS:  Shannon Pettypiece, is there a de facto hotline from Republicans in the House and Senate to the White House that could be used to set up a kind of telephonic war room, at least some kind of real-time response to what we see starting tomorrow?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SR. WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Well, if there was more coordination and organization within the White House that certainly could be possible.  But as I have reported and we have talked about before, the White House has really been struggling to come up with a strategy for how to handle impeachment.  But the White House has been talking with their allies in Congress for a while now about trying to come up with a strategy.  And what the best messaging should be for tomorrow.

And one thing the White House is hoping will come out of this is the ability to distance the President from these witnesses.  So no matter how damning their testimony is and how salacious maybe the things they say will be, Republican members will say, well, did you have any conversation with the President directly about this?  Well, no.  This was things that they had heard is what the Republicans on this committee are going to push for.

So to say that these witnesses had no direct information about what the President was thinking or any direct conversations with the President on this, at least that`s the hope out of this.  But of course the White House, they have a whole day of counter programming scheduled to try and counter this.

As you mentioned the Turkish President is there, which at any other day would probably be the lead headline story given the controversy around this visit and Turkey and Congress working on sanctions.  There`s a possibility some members from the Senate will be at the White House tomorrow simultaneously with this Turkish visit.  Possibly a meeting between some of the big Turkey hawks on the Hill.

And Erdogan, you know, potentially that could be in the works.  And of course the Trump campaign and may be a silver lining in all this.  They`re going to have about 20 staffers working rapid response on this.  And they`re hoping this will be a big fund-raising day for them tomorrow as they have seen for other days like the Mueller testimony, like the big impeachment House vote that appear to be harmful for the President but are really used by the campaign to rally his base and raise a ton of money.

WILLIAMS:  All right, Robert.  Shannon opened the door to this.  I want to show you what happened when our cameras went after some prominent Republican senators asking them if they`ll be watching tomorrow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you plan on watching the hearing tomorrow?




SE. JOHN BARRASSO, (R) WYOMING:  No, not at all.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MAJORITY LEADER:  Tomorrow I`m going to be paying attention what we`re doing in the Senate.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA:  I don`t have time to watch that tomorrow.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS:  No, I`ve got other things to do.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA:  No, I will not be watching.  I think this whole thing is a sham.


WILLIAMS:  So, Bob, people are going to be picking up their laundry and resorting their sock drawers anything but watching the hearing.  Number one, do you believe those answers were honest?  And number two, is this any way for possible perspective jurors to behave?

COSTA:  Well, Brian, while the cameras were chasing around those Republican senators today, I was 10 steps down the hallway waiting for them to get out of the range of the cameras and pulling them aside.  And while they say that publically, they`re not going to watch the impeachment proceedings on Wednesday, let me tell you, if you look at my notebook today, almost all of them will keep close track of it.

But when I asked them how are they going to engage with it?  How will they respond?  They say they want to frame this as a partisan exercise.  And they felt more uncomfortable about the Mueller investigation because Mr. Mueller was a nonpartisan figure.  But now they see with Chairman Schiff in the House an opportunity in Republicans` view to say this is all partisan.

And Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky on the record told me he can`t wait to move to dismiss this entire impeachment once it comes to the Senate, should it come to the Senate with a motion to dismiss.  So there`s -- the partisan soldiers, the Trump soldiers, whether it`s Devin Nunes in the House, or Mark Meadows or Jim Jordan, they`re getting ready so as Senator Paul and Senator Graham in the Senate to make this political warfare not an engagement of the substance which is what Democrats want to do on Wednesday to make it about something -- a word I kept hearing from Democrats today, solemn.  This is a solemn moment.

WILLIAMS:  So Shannon, in addition to Rudy Giuliani, we have these two gentlemen who were swept up at Dulles Airport.  "Washington Post" headline on this "At donor dinner, Giuliani associate said he discussed Ukraine with Trump according to people familiar with his account."  That`s access when you get to talk to the boss, isn`t it?

PETTYPIECE:  Right.  And there have been pictures going around of these men with the President.  I`ll say they are sort of a black box at this point to the White House.  The President`s lawyers, the White House aids, the top advisers, they don`t know what these guys are going to say. There is no, you know, mutual defense agreement between these two and the President.

Like we saw with the Mueller investigation, where really the White House and the President`s lawyers were working with a lot of witnesses and had access to the same documents and records as they do.  The White House has nothing.  So this is really a blind spot.  Among a number of blind spots they have at this point that they are trying to navigate as this story keeps evolving.

And the few people I have gotten to talk to about this, they really don`t know where this story is going.  There`s a hope that there is sort of a sideshow to this.  But within this whole process, there`s always that thread you can pull where things start to unravel and many of the people close to the President don`t know if this could be one of those threats.

WILLIAMS:  Carol Leonnig, you were one of a foreperson buy line today.  Here`s the headline.  White House inflighting flares amid impeachment inquiry.  And of course, part of the theme of the piece, is how counter productive, how unusual this is.  You and I both know a boat load of former Clinton White House aides who will all tell you it was imperative that everyone was on the same page while that was going on.

LEONNIG:  It`s actually one of the most vulnerable making elements of this White House at this very moment, Brian, because here they are staring down some really bad facts.  And as Shannon points out, some facts they don`t know so it`s a murky shimmery object that they`re not sure how to box with.  And yet, there is so much infighting.  There is the White House chief of staff at war with the White House counsel.  Usually they`re in concert.

In this case they`re staring at each other like maybe one of them can get the other one`s job.  There is the debate between also Mulvaney and Bolton.  John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser telling basically Mulvaney when he tried to join on to their lawsuit about testimony, stand back, get away from my lawsuit.  There is this sort of stunning division within the White House and among the key people who are witnesses.

You know, I was interested in something Shannon said earlier about the Republicans trying to argue, hey, did you talk to the President?  Do you know what the President said?  Because apparently you don`t.

Well, there are two people here in the White House, former and current, who have talked to the President about this.  And they don`t like each other, and they don`t agree.  And that is a problem for Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS:  Certainly.  I`m glad to hear everybody getting along.

A quick programing to our viewers, we`ll have live coverage of the public hearing all day tomorrow beginning 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on this network in this very studio in fact.  And we just might mention that again at the end of the broadcast.

So, we appreciate our big three starting us off tonight.  Carol Leonnig, Robert Costa, Shannon Pettypiece, our thanks.  Really appreciate it.

Coming up tonight, two of the most important players for tomorrow`s hearing are not elected to office, but they will be grilling the witnesses.  A look at two of the lawyers in charge of making the case for and against this President.

And later, Nikki Haley surprises a lot of people and now sounds like the rest of her crowd in her party.  She has decided to go all in for Donald Trump.  THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on this Tuesday night looking at the West Wing.



DANIEL GOLDMAN, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY:  Congress absolutely has oversight power, but it does not have oversight power during and over a pending investigation.


WILLIAMS:  Let`s talk about a guy, specifically that guy.  Viewers of the hearing starting tomorrow are going to see something different.  Members of Congress are going to have limited participation, perhaps saving them from themselves, and civilian lawyers will take on more of the questioning and interrogation.  And viewers of this broadcast may recognize that familiar face, Daniel Goldman, is a former assistant attorney for the district of New York who appeared regularly here as a legal analyst and that pending investigation he mentioned is now over.

Goldman is now working for the Democratic majority in the Intelligence Committee.  And about him "The Washington Post" reports tonight "Goldman is slotted to question each witness for 45 minutes, followed by five-minute question sessions for each lawmaker.  Steven R. Castor, general counsel for the House Oversight Committee will be the Republicans point man.  By assigning a big chunk of the questioning to a committee lawyer and in Goldman`s case, an accomplished former prosecutor, party leaders are acknowledging just how serious the stakes are."

Well, let`s ask someone who has been in the game for more on what to watch tomorrow and that`s Barbara McQuade, veteran federal prosecutor, former U.S. attorney for the eastern district of the great state of Michigan.

Barbara, how is it better to have civilian lawyers in these kinds of roles, if indeed it is?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  I think it`s much better for a couple of reasons.  One is, you know, you often see in these hearings some political grand standing that goes on.  Politicians are just looking for the sound byte to say something outrageous to get their image on the news later that day.

Whereas someone like Dan Goldman is in there just to do the job.  He`s not looking for -- to score political points.  He doesn`t have any sort of re- election coming up.  He`s not looking to raise money.  So he is there just to ask the questions.

The other is he`s trained and experienced in asking the questions.  It isn`t just the questions.  It`s listening to the answers in the same way you do, Brian.  To experience of knowing to listen and to ask follow ups.  To have a line of questioning that builds on itself as it continues to go.

And the final thing is we often see in these hearings five minute alternating questioning between different parties, which makes it very difficult to build a sustained line of questioning.  By giving Dan Goldman 45 minutes, he can do a lot of good work during that time and elicit a lot of important testimony.

WILLIAMS:  If you were chief counsel for the House Intel Committee, how would you recommend they focus their questions, the answers to which, after all, have to become part of this story they want to tell.

MCQUADE:  Well, one of the things they have the advantage of is having taken the depositions of all of these witnesses already behind closed doors.  I think I would scrutinize those transcripts and look for what is the most compelling information these people have for us.  And then allow the words to come out of their mouths.

I wouldn`t want to give a long leading question only to have the answer that comes out of say, Ambassador William Taylor`s mouth to be yes or no.  I want the words to come out of his mouth.

And so setting up the questions and so that when the things come out like there -- I came to believe that there was a request for election interference and that the price for that was military aid.  You want those words to come out of the mouth of William Taylor and not out of Dan Goldman.  So, I`m sure he has been very busy structuring his questions in such a way as to elicit those words out of the witnesses` mouths.

WILLIAMS:  And Barb, finally if I can teleport you all the way east to Washington, the Roger Stone trial, coverage of which has been limited by everything else we`re paying attention to these days.  Stone declined to take the stand, but Rick Gates did, and did he do any damage?

MCQUADE:  I think he did.  One of the things that came out of this, you know, in addition to the testimony against Roger Stone, which to me is a strong case because so much of it relies on the documents compared to the testimony that he gave.  But one of the things that we learned today was some of the information had previously been redacted from the Mueller report and that was when Rick Gates relayed the story of this car ride he had with President Trump where President Trump was getting a briefing from Roger Stone about the release of e-mails from WikiLeaks.

It was sort of confirmed something that we have long suspected but now has been confirmed by what was behind those redaction bars in the Mueller report, is that President Trump did have advanced information about those WikiLeaks e-mails.  When he said in his written testimony to Robert Mueller that he did not recall, I think it makes us all the more suspicious about whether that answer was true.  Although, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to ever prove what someone does or does not recall.

WILLIAMS:  Something we say once a week around here.  And that is, it`s all there for the reading in the Mueller report.  And in fact, some of those black lines have now been unmasked as our audience just heard.

Barbara McQuade, it is always a pleasure.  Thank you very much for your time tonight.

MCQUADE:  Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us, next Tuesday marks 21 years since the House last held an impeachment hearing.

Up next, the similarities and the differences in how Congress has tried to hold a President accountable when we continue.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Programs regularly scheduled for this time will not be seen today in order that we might bring you the following NBC News Special Report.

Watergate Senate hearings.  Live coverage of Senator Ervin, Senate select committee hearings into the Watergate affair.


WILLIAMS: I`ll try to speak exactly that way tomorrow morning.  That`s how the very first week of nationally televised impeachment hearings got underway on NBC News back in 1973.  Forty-six years after Nixon and Watergate on the eve of Trump`s public impeachment hearing, there are plenty of comparisons to be made and a lot of people willing to make them.

But as our Steve Kornacki put it today, "The hope among Democrats is that the hearings will feature televised testimony so compelling that public opinion breaks decisively toward impeachment, thereby scrambling the politics on Capitol Hill.  But as tantalizing as the comparison is for Democrats, there`s reason to doubt that the coming Ukraine hearings will lead to a similar shift in public opinion".

Let`s talk about that.  Here with us to do that, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist for The Washington Post, and A.B. Stoddard, Columnist and Associate Editor at RealClearPolitics.  Good evening and welcome to you both.  Eugene, talk about public opinion, how quickly or how slowly it may change and of course starting with the phone in my hand, nothing today is as it was.  No story, partisanship, it`s all different.

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  It is all different.  And, so, basically we don`t know how this is going to play out.  We don`t know what`s going to happen to public opinion.  You know, my guess is that something has to happen in these hearings.  There has to be a moment, probably, or a series of moments that clarify the allegations, the evidence, that really bring it home to people for there to be a sudden shift in public opinion.

Then again, it could be a gradual thing.  It could be that the fact of these weeks of public testimony and people listening to them have a sort of an effective accretion on public opinion.  We just don`t know.  This is a different world from the world during Watergate.  You know, communications are different.  Partisanship, I mean, things were pretty partisan back then, but they`re awfully partisan now.

People -- you know, the tribes are in their corners.  But I have a feeling that there will be surprises.  And obviously I don`t know what those surprises are.

WILLIAMS:  A.B., there`s public opinion and there`s Republican opinion.  What will it take to change the latter?  And while you`re at it, run through for me something I watched you do brilliantly at 4:00 Eastern time this afternoon.  Big name Republicans who suddenly have been implicated in all of this.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS:  Right.  I think that the daily storm focuses on these little things, lots of tweets from the President diverting the messaging and smashing the newest talking point for Jim Jordan and the other defenders in the Congress.  But the broad picture is how much this was a conspiracy, meaning that people were conspiring like Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland and others at the behest of the President of the United States.

But in their complicity, they were involved in conspiracy and that includes, Bill Barr, the Attorney General, the Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pence, the Vice President, Rick Perry, the former Energy Secretary and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State.  And that is how much -- how deepen brothers goes and that`s why Republican senators do not know what revelations will be made far beyond the hearings of this week before they have to vote in a trial.

WILLIAMS:  Eugene, the charge among the Republicans, they`re making it about fairness.  Why can`t this be the rules of a courtroom?  Why can`t there can a call witnesses, rebuttal and all of that?  And it`s a simple and appealing argument.  Is there an equally simple and appealing comeback from the Democrats?

ROBINSON:  Well, they can say this doesn`t look like a trial because it`s not a trial.  The trial takes place, if it does indeed take place, in the Senate.  This is more analogous to -- in a preliminary proceeding, the grand jury proceeding or something like that, a proceeding in which there is a decision as to whether or not to file charges against President Trump, the defendant in this case.

Now, does that cut through the argument that Republicans are making?  Probably for the, you know, for the deepest red Republicans, it may not.  But that is, in fact, the case.  This is not, in fact, a trial.  It is being conducted under rules that were basically written by Republicans and, you know, when they had the majority in the House.  And there is no set play book for how to do this impeachment.  Democrats make the argument that they`re bending over backwards to try to be fair to the President.

WILLIAMS:  Let`s hold it right there and we`ll ask both of our guests to stay with us.

Coming up, the Nikki Haley of 2016 sure sounds a lot different from today`s Nikki Haley.  We`ll talk about her, and we`ll talk about that when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Secretary of State at the time, Rex Tillerson and his Chief of Staff, John Kelly.  You said that you told the President that he had these two folks working against them.  How surprised were you that the President decided to keep both them onboard even after you told him?

NIKKI HALEY, FMR. U.N. AMBASSADOR:  Well, they`re gone.  So, I told him in due time and he figured it out on his own and the rest he was able to figure out.


WILLIAMS:  Washington Post Columnist Kathleen Parker`s latest piece is called, "Nikki Haley had it all.  Then she wrote a book and blew it."  In the book and in interviews on her current book tour, the former U.N. Ambassador and two-term South Carolina Governor, has clearly decided to go all in for Donald Trump, and that certainly hasn`t always been the case.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did you ever have any doubt about the fitness of this President to serve?

HALEY:  I never did.

Donald Trump is everything I taught my children not to do in kindergarten.

Any question about his truthfulness, his ability to tell the truth.

I taught my two little ones, you don`t lie and make things up.

I never had any concern on whether he could handle the job, ever.

A man.


HALEY:  Who has filed for bankruptcy four times.

In every instance that I dealt with him, he was truthful.  He listened.

A man that chooses not to disavow the KKK, that is not a part of our party, that`s not who we want us president.  We will not allow that in our country.

He was great to work with.


WILLIAMS:  Interesting little match up there.

Still with us, our Eugene Robinson and A.B. Stoddard.  A.B., you get to go first on this one.  What do you think we`re watching?  What do you think has happened there?

STODDARD:  Well, we knew when she left that she was very shrewd and very good at becoming the first person to leave on her own terms and the Trump administration leaving herself many options for the future and that she was quite ambitious and had earned herself, you know, a very good reputation.  Had been good at the job of ambassador when people said she didn`t have the chops to do it.  And then she went into private life and we learned she was writing this book, but the timing of this and the full-throated, full-bore into the Trump -- on to the Trump train, it is -- it has definitely surprised a lot of people.

And the idea that on this book tour and in her book, she would hang out, people like Rex Tillerson and General Kelly and she said she was offended that they were trying to do things like General Kelly had to stop the President early on in the administration from pulling our troops out of South Korea.  I mean, what did she want him to do?  So it`s an amazing -- I was offended actually by the fact that she was willing to throw people under the bus like that.  And the voters will decide, you know, when she`s in a primary some day.  But she has definitely decided that you need to be onboard with the Trump family, who she`s close with and the Trump train, if you want a future in this party.

WILLIAMS:  Eugene, Haley and Romney, Romney and Haley were the fevered dream date of the last ever Trumper Republicans out there and this removes half of that equation now.

ROBINSON:  It sure does.  It is not going to be a popular stance with the never Trumpers, that`s for sure.  But clearly she`s made a calculation, I think.  She`s very ambitious.  She obviously wants to be president.  She seems to think she can be president.

But if she is -- she seems to think that is she is going to have success in the Republican Party, she`s got to stay on as close to Donald Trump as white on rice.  I mean, she`s got to be right there with him.  There can`t be any daylight because the Republican Party is essentially the Trumpian party now.  But that`s the base of the party.  That`s the calculation she`s making.

You know, the danger, obviously, is that once Trump is gone, the Trumpiness changes, mutates, dissipates.  It`s not so much blind allegiance to him when he`s gone as just a sort of -- perhaps an ideological shift in the party this way or that way.  But it`s not all about him personally once he`s gone.  If that`s the case, then this is a bad move on her part.

WILLIAMS:  A.B., I note Mike Bloomberg flew to Arkansas to come in under the filing deadline in that state.  A, wait until he learns that Americans like to see their presidential candidates on commercial flights and preferably in coach.  B, what impact is he going to have on this race?  We presume he is getting in because of why else would he be signing that piece of paper in Arkansas today.

STODDARD:  He`s getting in because he thinks that the field does not have the right candidates to beat President Trump.  If he really believes that Joe Biden should be the nominee, he could back him financially.  Joe Biden`s campaign needs the money.  And so this going to siphon off votes from him at some point in the process, but he can never be the nominee because he`s not going to get any kind of adequate support from African- American voters or the non-college white voters.

He`s going to get some people who are more centrist in the Elizabeth Warren coalition, educated white liberals.  And he has done passionate, generous outreach and work on the issue of climate and guns.  That will speak to some progressives, but I doubt it`s enough to get him in the game.  And as I said, I think in the end if he thinks Biden is the person that could beat Trump or he did months ago, I think he just, you know, hinders him and helps the party choose a more progressive candidate that would be a better nominee for President Trump to face-off against next year.

WILLIAMS:  The always truthful and forthright A.B. Stoddard and Eugene Robinson.  Thank you, friends, both of you for coming on tonight.

Coming up for us, Trump`s attempt to counter programming tomorrow.  It involves a White House visit from a certain world leader.


WILLIAMS:  As tomorrow`s impeachment hearings get underway, there will be an iron-fisted leader in the White House named Erdogan.  Tomorrow, Donald Trump is hosting the President of Turkey at the White House.  His visit comes just weeks after Turkey invaded Kurdish held territory in northern Syria.

There is bipartisan opposition to tomorrow`s meeting.  A group of House lawmakers sent the President a later saying, Erdogan`s decision to invade Syria has had disastrous consequences for our national security.  And adding, "We believe that now is a particularly inappropriate time for President Erdogan to visit the United States, and we urge you to rescind the invitation".

Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming also sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter on Monday regarding that 2017 attack on a peaceful demonstration in Washington.  You may remember this scene.  The Turkish security guys were brutal.  She also posted, "Secretary Mike Pompeo must ensure any Erdogan thugs who attacked American protesters during Erdogan`s last visit are denied entry into the U.S., and expel any who are here.  We will not tolerate violence against peaceful protesters.  This is America".

Well, back with us again tonight is Christopher Dickey, a Veteran Foreign Correspondent, Journalist, Author.  He is now the Paris-based World News Editor for The Daily Beast.  Chris, what message is Donald Trump sending to the rest of the world by inviting this guy here right now?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, WORLD NEWS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST:  First of all, it`s a distraction from the impeachment proceedings.  Although, I`m not sure that he timed it so carefully as to do that.  The main thing he`s doing is showing that he`s going to have good relations with Erdogan, with Turkey even though he almost blew it in September and October.

You know, all this started -- and NBC did a great report on all this -- all this, in many ways, started at the U.N. General Assembly when Trump snubbed Erdogan completely.  He saw a dozen other leaders, couldn`t find the time to see Erdogan.  Erdogan insisted on having a phone call, and in that phone call said I`m going to invade northern Syria and you can`t do anything about it.  And Trump said, OK.  And he`s been trying to make up for that disastrous decision ever since.

WILLIAMS:  There you are in Europe where we just marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Give us a status report on what Trump and the Trump presidency has done to the Atlantic Alliance and what has become of the U.S.-Russia relationship.

DICKEY:  Well, you have to remember that the Atlantic Alliance originally was formed to confront the Soviet Union.  And we`re now in a position where Vladimir Putin is trying to revive if not the Soviet Union at least the Old Russian Empire and presents himself as a major threat over the long term to the security of Europe.  But his buddy Donald Trump is doing everything he can to dismantle the North Atlantic Alliance to the extent where President Macron here in France told The Economist last week, you know, look, the NATO Alliance is brain dead.  We can`t go on without better leadership from the United States.  We`re going to have to start learning defend for ourselves better.

When Macron said something similar to that last year, Trump threw a fit.  And so we had this completely erratic series of signals that are sent that are not gradually, rapidly corroding the whole nature of the North Atlantic Alliance and making it difficult for Europe to defend against Russia.

WILLIAMS:  You have been kind enough to join us.  Time never works out well on your end.  It`s coming up on 6:00 a.m. on what we note is tomorrow November 13th here in the states.  That means where you are it is now the fourth anniversary of the Bataclan attack, a moment we covered here on the air with your help as a live breaking news event.  Talk about the legacy of what happened that night.

DICKEY:  I think -- I went down to the Bataclan yesterday -- well, your day still -- I went down to the Bataclan yesterday and to some of the other sites that were hit, and it was remarkable how peaceful they were and how in many ways you would never know that anything like that happened.  But of course there are permanent scars here.  The good news is that the French have been very effective since 2016 in stopping terrorist attacks.  They seem to have gotten a handle on it.

What we don`t know is what`s going to happen as we start to have more and more people returning from the ISIS battlefront in Syria and Iraq.  ISIS fighters who may well want to bring the war back home.  The French and Europe generally have tried to keep them at arm`s length, keep them imprisoned in the Middle East, but Erdogan is now shipping them back, trying to ship them back to Europe, and the Kurds of course, who were betrayed by Donald Trump, can`t really hold on to them that much longer.

WILLIAMS:  Our thanks as always to Chris Dickey high above the morning traffic on the Champs-Elysees.  Thank you, friend, for joining us as always.

Coming up, the work that lies ahead and the story that will be told beginning tomorrow morning.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight, a reminder of the stakes tomorrow.  The first impeachment hearings in a generation, the third impeachment hearings of the modern political era, and a reminder of where we`ve been.  Perhaps you`re old enough to remember the Mueller investigation, we mentioned it a time or two on this broadcast.

Robert Swan Mueller III was revered by those who served under him, spoken of almost exclusively in heroic terms.  He has now left the public eye, having left Americans with an image of something perhaps less than that.  The Mueller report was withering, indeed damning in its findings, but it was written for another era, another time, and American attention span and civic mindedness that we haven`t seen around here in generations.

Because Mueller was so by the book, the book that resulted was actually read by very few.  The President`s bombast and the boost he received from his attorney general worked to, in effect, prejudge the Mueller conclusions and it ended up diminishing the Mueller report.  And that brings us to tomorrow.

To hear the Democrats tell it, now they have a story they can tell, one that people can understand.  A phone call.  An extortion plot, they say.  An American President holding back military aid for dirt on his opponent.  Tomorrow they get to start telling that story.  Tomorrow`s witnesses, State Department Veterans Bill Taylor and George Kent.  Then on Friday, we hear from former Ambassador Yovanovitch.  Then next week it truly becomes relentless.

Tuesday Jennifer Williams, who works for Pence, and then Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, then former Ambassador Volker and former White House Aide Tim Morrison.  Next Wednesday, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the big Trump donor, Laura Cooper from the Pentagon.  David Hale from state.  And the next day we hear from Dr. Fiona Hill.

Importantly, our coverage tomorrow begins at 9:00 a.m.  Nicolle Wallace and I will join you from this very studio with all our journalists and contributors and a special guest or two.  We hope you`ll join us for our day-long coverage.  And as we get into these hearings, this will be the broadcast to turn to each night for a review of that day`s testimony along with smart analysis.

So for this night, that`s our broadcast on a Tuesday evening.  Thank you so much for being here with us.  And good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.


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