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Pres. Trump says he welcomes a Senate trial. TRANSCRIPT: 11/22/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Melanie Zanona, James Stavridis, James Stavridis, Philip Elliott

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: "This is just the first round of disclosures. The evidence is only going to get worse for the administration as it`s stonewall strategy collapses in the face of court orders. This is what the court order, this is one of what he said are dozens of applications, more than a 100 documents. Jennifer Rubin and Tim Miller thank you for joining us. That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams" begins now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight just hours after our foremost Russia expert calmly and soberly warned Republicans not to promote a fake story being pushed out by Russia, the President does exactly that on national television.

Plus, John Bolton, the man who knows plenty of Trump secrets today hinting the White House wants to be silence him. He`s already hinted he may have a lot to say but he`s not talking yet. So just today a former fed is urging Bolton to take his cue from the heroic impeachment witnesses and woman up and as impeachment seems to be on the move and eventually headed to the Senate, increasing indications that Mike Pompeo already deeply involved in this Ukraine story may be heading home to Kansas to convince voters there to send him to the Senate instead. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on this Friday night.

Good evening once again from our NBC News Headquarters here in New York, day 1,037 of the Trump Administration, a marathon round of hearings and this impeachment now concluded, at least for now. We`ve now heard directly from 12 current and former government officials over 35 hours. The facts are no longer in dispute.

They testified that the President was, in effect, pressuring Ukraine into announcing investigations into the Bidens by withholding a promised White House meeting and vital military aid already approved by Congress.

Republicans have used these hearings to advance a theory that it was Ukraine somehow and not Russia that interfered in our 2016 election. That`s not true. The idea of blaming Ukraine for the election interference in the first place came from Vladimir Putin. He`s been at war with Ukraine, let`s not forget.

Russia expert Dr. Fiona Hill looked directly at members of the committee just yesterday and told them and a national viewing audience this was a false story being pushed by Russia.


FIONAL HILL, FORMER OFFICIAL IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL FOR RUSSIA: This is a fictional narrative that has been propagated by the Russia security services themselves.


WILLIAMS: And yet the President turned and hours later and promoted that false story about Ukraine just this morning on Fox News.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A lot of it has to do, they say, with Ukraine. It`s very interesting, very interesting they have the server, right, from the DNC, Democratic National Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who has the server?

TRUMP: The FBI went in and they told them get out of here, we`re not giving it to you. They gave the server to "CrowdStrike" or whatever it`s called, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?

TRUMP: That`s what the word is. That`s what I asked actually in my phone call. I asked it very point blank because we`re looking for corruption.


WILLIAMS: Just for the record here, "CrowdStrike" is not a Ukrainian company, it`s based in Sunnyvale, California and the FBI was not denied access to a server instead agents got detailed forensic information from "CrowdStrike". Also "The New York Times" now reports members of the Senate were well aware that Russia was purposely trying to frame Ukraine for the 2016 attack on our elections "In a briefing that closely aligned with Dr. Fiona Hill`s testimony, American Intelligence officials informed Senators and their aides in recent weeks that Russia had engaged in a year`s long campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow`s own hacking of our 2016 election".

Remember, please, that Ukraine and Russia have been at war. Remember the old add and of the mob, the enemy of my enemy is my friend in this case as the Russians see it that would be us. Aldo in his television interview with Fox News this morning, the President went after some of the witnesses at the hearing, some of them career Foreign Service officers, as others have pointed out all day, he got a lot wrong.


TRUMP: This guy Sondland, he was really the European Union Ambassador and all of a sudden he`s working on this.

GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EUROPEAN UNION: I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States.

TRUMP: Look, the Ambassador, the woman, she wouldn`t even put up she`s an Obama person.

MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S.AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I joined the Foreign Service during the Reagan Administration and subsequently served three other Republican Presidents.

TRUMP: And I will tell you this about Joe Biden, I never said it specifically on him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You heard the President of the United States ask the President of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Is that correct?



WILLAIMS: The President then went further in his renewed attempt to discredit Maria Yovanovitch, the Ambassador he recalled from Ukraine again today. He said she was no angel.


TRUMP: This Ambassador that everybody says is so wonderful she wouldn`t hang my picture in the Embassy, okay? She`s in charge of the Embassy. She wouldn`t hang it.


WILLIAMS: Team members for Yovanovitch strongly deny that story saying the official photographs of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State were put up as soon as they arrived from Washington.

Meanwhile, one key impeachment witness who has not testified and who has been keeping a low profile has reemerged. Former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton seen here tonight at the train station in Washington let everybody know this morning that he was, "Glad to be back on Twitter after more than two months. For the back story, stay tuned". He added we have now liberated the Twitter account previously suppressed unfairly in the aftermath of my resignation as National Security Adviser.

And since resigning, the White House refused to return access to my personal Twitter account out of fear of what I may say. The White House for the record denies revoking Bolton`s access saying it wouldn`t have had the technical means to do so. Tonight, Bolton was asked if he believed the administration was trying to keep him from testifying.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don`t what, you`ll have to ask the White House but I can say definitively we have regained control of the Twitter account. Twitter detached the White House software. Okay? Thank you.


WILLIAMS: As for what`s ahead, NBC News is reporting the House Judiciary Committee may take up articles of impeachment right after the Thanksgiving break and then the full House of Representatives could vote on those articles before the Christmas break. The President however is eager to assert that he`s not worried.


TRUMP: Tremendous things are happening I think we had a tremendous week with the hoax, the great hoax. They call it the impeachment hoax, and that`s really worked out incredibly well and we have tremendous support.


WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on a Friday night, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times" and Co-Author of the new book "Impeachment an American history," Melanie Zanona Congressional Reporter for "POLITICO" and Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor.

Joyce, a few questions for you right off the top tonight. Viewers of this network in primetime tonight know we`re dealing with something of a breaking news story; a tranche of documents has been freed up from the State Department via a court order. I`m wondering what you make of this? A number of them apparently show multiple contacts along the way between Secretary of State Pompeo and Rudolph Giuliani. Some are going to be looking here to see if this account for Pompeo`s lack of air support for his actual employees.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So this is about a hundred pages of documents that have been released. It it`s not the full amount of documents that were asked for. This is just the first tranche. They`ve been provided to an oversight organization.

It is sort of interesting Brian because Congress hasn`t been able to access these documents by subpoenaing a request to the White House but one piece of good news here is that the administration appears to still be honoring court orders.

It was a federal judge who ordered that these documents be turned over. There will be, I suspect, a lot of burning of the midnight oil tonight to read them. The early reporting is that there is a paper trail from Giuliani into the White House showing that the White House connected him to Pompeo to speak about Ukraine.

WILLIAMS: And Joyce, here we are, the start of our broadcast tonight, showing sworn testimony from witnesses, many of them long-time public servants versus what the President said in an almost one-hour-long live television broadcast, telephone call to Fox News. So that is rather unprecedented.

Another precedent being set here is this case would normally be a document case, but as a source on Capitol Hill said to me yesterday, they have to pivot and make this about in-person testimony instead. Do you think that`s going to change before the House reconvenes?

VANCE: It looks like that`s a strong possibility depending on how quickly these documents are forthcoming and what`s inside of them. You know, it just a fascinating point. We are, I think, going to squarely have to deal with the issue of whether the President of the United States believes what his own Intelligence Community his own intelligence service tells him about the Russians or whether he believes the Russian narrative?

And so these documents may provide a lot of rich evidence to help us understand precisely what was going on in the State Department and in the White House in this regard. So far Republicans on the Hill have been impervious to much of the evidence that developed this week. It will be interesting to see if they`ll remain impervious if it turns out the President was deliberately ignoring the conclusions of the Intelligence Community and adopting a line that was coming straight from Russia.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, and so much of this there is nothing in history to help us but at least procedurally, if past is pro log, where are we headed here in the near future?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think that this resembles in some way the Clinton impeachment not in terms of the substances the chart is obviously they - two different Presidents accused of two different types of things but in terms of the political dynamics. We seem to be heading toward a party line vote in the House that would impeach the President of the United States and a vote by the opposition party without any members or at least many members of the President`s own party joining in.

That`s exactly what happened in 1998. They sent it to the Senate for a trial, where the President of the United States in that case Bill Clinton was acquitted because again it was fell largely along party lines. That at the moment looks like would happen in this trial as well if it were to go in January.

So the main difference is that aside from the substance of the charges is that there is an election coming up afterwards. Bill Clinton was in his second term, he wasn`t going to run again. This time you`ve got a President heading toward a reelection campaign that would be decided in November. That`s the ultimate appeals court. In a way they will decide whether the House made the right decision if in fact the House does impeach or whether the Senate makes the right decision if in fact the Senate ends up acquitting.

WILLIAMS: Melanie, of course despite the gallant efforts of the Fox anchors this morning, the President just went on. In the end he spoke for just under an hour. Were you able to measure any possible Republican reaction to that on the Hill?

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Look, I`ve been talking to Republicans for the past two weeks about these hearings and it`s pretty clear that none of them are even close to coming in support of impeachment.

You know, I think one of the real reasons is we have seen a transformation of the GOP party since Trump took office. He`s had a firm grip on this party. There is no room for dissent in the GOP anymore. If you do, you get excommunicated. Look at Justin Amash; he`s one of the only Republicans who did support impeachment. And he ended up leaving the party he is now an independent.

A bunch of moderate Republicans also lost their reelection last year. So we are looking at a much more conservative party. Time and time again we`ve seen Republicans line up against the President, for the President, and I think we`re seeing the same thing happening with impeachment.

WILLIAMS: Hey Joyce, I want to read you a quote from Peggy Noonan a piece that came out this morning in "The Wall Street Journal". As to impeachment itself, the case has been so clearly made you wonder what exactly the Senate will be left doing. How will they hold a lengthy trial with a case this clear? Who exactly will be the President`s witnesses, those who`d testify he didn`t do what he appears to have done and would never do it? You want to tack a whack at that, Joyce?

VANCE: You know, I think Peggy has it just right. It`s almost impossible to contemplate what the President will do. And one thing that we know is that these absent firsthand witnesses, Pompeo, other cabinet secretaries, people who were close to the President, if they had anything to say that was helpful, they would have already been up to Capitol Hill to testify on his behalf.

That would be the republican talking points. Since we`re not hearing any of that, I think it`s a safe assumption that it won`t be forthcoming, there won`t be anyone who will be able to say, oh no, the President never said these sorts of things, never wanted to investigate the Bidens to use in the campaign, and it going to be I think a painful two weeks for the Republicans, which is to say that their strategy will likely involve distraction by chasing other bright shiny objects, maybe Joe Biden and by trying to put other sorts of issues in the spotlight.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, Glen Kirschner who is like Joyce, a former fed appearing on this network earlier today, said that Mr. Bolton should take his cue from some of the more heroic witnesses we`ve heard this week and woman up and come forward and testify. First of all, a dual question for you, are you convinced that his testimony would be as impactful as most seem to agree and where do you put the chance of him coming forward and raising his right hand?

BAKER: Yes, it`s a great question. You hear that a lot in Washington today, why isn`t John Bolton testifying? He clearly seemed to be on the outs with the White House. You showed the video of him in the train station earlier. That`s not a person who is currently on the train, if you will, for Trump.

Yet he has refused so far a request to testify. He`s not been subpoenaed but he basically seemed to be relying on a lawsuit that his former deputy, Charles Kupperman, has filed in federal court asking the court to decide whether Charles Kupperman should abide by House subpoena or by the White House order not to testify.

John Bolton is saying basically I`ll go along with that. It`s not clear 100 percent what he would say. What we do know from testimony so far is he did oppose this Ukraine pressure campaign. Fiona Hill testified he called it a metaphorical drug deal. They referred to Rudy Giuliani has a hand grenade that would blow up on all of us, that he told aides to report what they had heard to the White House lawyer. We presume from that therefore he has something to tell us about his feelings about this campaign.

Remember the difference between John Bolton and most of these aides who have testified so far are he was in the Oval Office every day. He`s the National Security Adviser, he didn`t have an arms length distance from the President like most of the witness that makes him both more valuable and in some ways even for the Democrats more unpredictable because they don`t know what he would say.

That also means that in terms of legal questions, his argument is that his legal position is different than say Fiona Hill`s because he did have these direct communications with the President which impact the idea of executive privilege more specifically than - aides were more to distance.

A lobby that would abide in that courts, lobby would say look they want John Bolton to come to testify. A court will hear this case involving his deputy on December 10th. The question is whether it will be too late.

WILLIAMS: Melanie, a couple of bromides come into direct collusion here, one is never underestimate the power of Mitch McConnell and the other is never underestimate the power of polling to push some votes in the U.S. Senate. Leads to a big question as to what kind of defense they would mount in the U.S. Senate and who they would call?

ZANONA: I think we`re actually starting to get our first clues about how the Senate GOP would defend the President. Yesterday Lindsey Graham requested documents about the Bidens, which shows they`re trying to look into the Bidens and Burisma as a way to sort of justify why the President was withholding aid? And why he was skeptical of Ukraine?

And the other thing is Senator Chuck Grassley today requested documents about the DNC. So this other debunked conspiracy theory as a way to sort of muddy the waters and just throw everything at the wall. But I can tell you there are some Republicans who are really uncomfortable with this scorched earth tactics.

They don`t want to go into this sort of political combat, they think it could be a distraction and they could get caught down some rabbit holes. So this is still up for debate but Republicans especially in the House are really pushing for the Senators to go on offense. They feel like the Senate is their home turf, they want the President`s name to be cleared.

And I think Chris Stewart, a Republican, yesterday put it very distinctly in terms of the GOP mindset. He said at the hearing the Senate has a chance to fix this, they have a chance to right these wrongs and that`s what we`re hearing from the President and a lot of his allies.

WILLIMAS: Much appreciate our big three rolling with the punches tonight and for that matter all week. Peter Baker, Melanie Zanona and Joyce Vance, thank you all for coming on tonight and coming up for us, what Senators are saying behind closed doors about a parade of lifelong public servants taking incoming fire from their boss at the White House?

And later, why someone is feeding President Trump an apparent fiction about the future of Mike Pompeo? All it has as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on this Friday night with the White House in view.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These Republicans were not happy with how Trump is being treated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a government can do this to the President of the United States, they can do it to you as well. You need to be scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somehow not scared. I just don`t think that the average American is scared that they`re going to lose their job for withholding military aid for Ukraine.


WILLIAMS: It was via Satire like that that one Ukrainian soldier on the front lines apparently learned that the U.S. had withheld vital military aid. According to a buzz feed report from Ukraine, and we "The news made him angry. The fighting was hot at the time and he and his fellow soldiers were stuck with mostly crappy, old gear. For Kyiv, it had a chilling effect it spread through the Ukrainian capital where stunned officials began questioning their longtime ally ally`s commitment. Their morale suffered and they felt vulnerable and abandoned by their biggest supporter". The Human impact of Trump`s actions which ultimately led to the ongoing impeachment inquiry was underscored by U.S. diplomat David Holmes during his testimony this week.


DAVID HOLMES, POLITICAL COUNSELOR U.S. EMBASSY IN UKRAINE: As we sit here today, Ukrainians are fighting a hot war on Ukrainian territory against Russian aggression. This week alone since I have been here in Washington, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two injured by Russian-led forces in Eastern Ukraine despite a declared cease-fire. I learned overnight that seven more were injured yesterday.


WILLIAMS: With us tonight we`re pleased to welcome back to the broadcast Admiral James Stavridis, an Applause Grade who have spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy retiring at rank of four star admiral Former Head of the U.S. Southern Command. Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, he was last on this broadcast to talk about his new book "Sailing true north, ten admirals and the voyage of character."

Admiral, thanks for coming on again tonight. What more can the Intel Community do if Dr. Fiona Hill looks at that committee and a national audience begging them not to pass along a story started by Russia that Ukraine somehow meddled in our election? The Intel Committee has now briefed the Senate please don`t pass along this Russia propaganda and yet our President did just that on a live television interview this morning.

ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS, U.S. NAVY (RET.): Indeed. Let start with Fiona Hill herself, Brian. When I was preparing to be the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, I kind of went on foot patrol around the circuit talking to experts. Everybody said to me this was seven or eight years ago as I was preparing for that four-year assignment, you got to talk to Dr. Fiona Hill.

So I`ve known her well over a decade. She is rock solid. She`s an immigrant to this country, was born in Northern England. She`s literally the daughter of a coal miner, a coal miner`s daughter the - PH.D from Harvard, a career civil servant who has come in and out of government. I would take her word over anybody`s in a situation like this.

I`ll tell you what, Brian, she doesn`t back up to anybody. She is someone who will speak the truth to power. That`s what you saw her do in her very powerful testimony.

WILLIAMS: As a man who has served in theaters where military aid becomes real, where weapons are used as the end product of policy, what do you tell a nation like Ukraine, having suffered losses of 14,000 and in the middle of this horrible, grinding conflict with an aggressor like Russia?

STAVRIDIS: Well, I would start by saying I`m sorry. I`m sorry that we even hinted at holding back military aid that we had promised and I am certain - and I`ve been to Ukraine many times, Brian, as Supreme Allied Commander I would go there. Why? They`re not members of NATO but they are partners with the United States and with NATO.

There are Ukrainian troops who served alongside our NATO troops in Afghanistan. There were Ukrainian sailors at sea helping us conduct counter piracy missions. They`ve been very strong allies, partners and friends to NATO and the United States. I think even the hint of withholding that aid deserves an apology to them.

And then, secondly, it helps us understand why these career civil servants, career military officers like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman are willing to jeopardize their entire career, step into the glare of publicity to speak truth to power and they do so because they know how desperately Ukraine needs and deserves that military assistance.

WILLIAMS: Admiral, what must our other allies think of us after a week like this in the public domain out in the open on live television?

STAVRIDIS: Well, let`s kind of do it from the inside out, Brian. First of all, what do all of us inside the United States think about this? And we`ve got to question this whole idea that we would take a vital foreign policy objective and undermine it with domestic political concern. That are truly concern us inside the country. Outside the country, our allies will question are we really here for them.

And let`s spin to the pacific for 30 seconds where we are saying to the Japanese and the Koreans, we`re going to require you to pay billions of dollars in addition to the billions you already pay to have U.S. military support. Are they going to be content with the idea that we`ll be reliable in that regard?

And then lastly, Brian, it`s what do our enemies think of this. And let me tell you, they are popping the champagne corks in Moscow right now, see that recent story about how they tried to frame Ukraine as the perpetrator on the 2016 election attacks. Boy, it`s a good week for Vladimir Putin, it a bad week for our allies.

WILLIAMS: Again as I keep saying if you`re Russia, you`re thinking the enemy of our enemy is our friend and that would be us. The admiral has agreed to stay with us over the break. When we come back, what else we learned from the President`s Twitter feed this week.


WILLIAMS: For now, the public hearing phase of these impeachment hearings has come to an end. Over the past two eventful weeks, we have heard impassioned testimony from career public servants many of them, who have spent decades serving their country and still considerate and honored to do so.


FIONA HILL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER ON RUSSIA: I take great pride in the fact that I`m a non-partisan foreign policy expert who has served under three Republican and Democratic presidents.

AMB: MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I come before you as an American citizen, who has devoted the majority of my life, 33 years, to service to the country that all of us love.

LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS: As a young man, I decided I want to spend my life serving this nation. It gave my family - that gave my family refuge from authoritarian oppression.

GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I represent the third generation of my family who have chosen a career in public service and sworn the oath of office that all US public servants do in defense of our Constitution.

AMB. WILLIAM TAYLOR, TOP UNITED STATES DIPLOMAT IN UKRAINE: It has been a privilege for me to serve our country and the American people for more than 50 years, starting as a cadet at West Point, as you have mentioned Mr. Chairman; then as an infantry officer for six years including with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam; then at the Department of Energy; then as a member of a Senate staff; then at NATO; then with the State Department here and abroad, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem and Ukraine.


WILLIAMS: Stay with us tonight as our guest, Admiral James Stavridis - Admiral, of course, you made the same decision as a young midshipman to put on the uniform of your country and spend decades in service to your country. What lesson did you learn all over again this week about public service?

ADMIRAL JAMES STAVRIDIS, NAVAL OFFICER, UNITED STATES: The one that matters the most is how deeply these people care about the country and their voice to me was absolutely impartial. They are here to speak truth to power, to deliver the facts to us as they see them. I`ll make another point; you mentioned a nice turn of phrase calling on John Bolton to `Woman Up.` I would say also maybe people ought to think `Immigrant Up` because the two most powerful witnesses to me, Fiona Hill and Colonel Vindman, Brian, were both born in another country and as Fareed Zakaria calls it are Americans by choice.

They came here, immigrated here; that`s a pretty powerful aspect of this that I think is somewhat underreported. Thanks for mentioning my service. My daughter, Julia, a proud navy nurse, is a fourth-generation military officer. And so, I think that we can count on people to come forward and be honest, and that`s what came across to me in these hearings.

WILLIAMS: Well, let`s talk about something that has your beloved branch of the service in the news this week and I`m going to quote what could not be a more confusing headline tonight, with all due apologies to the Reuters News Agency. It reads, Exclusive: U.S. Navy secretary backs SEAL`s expulsion review, despite Trump objection.

Admiral, I`m hoping you can explain this drama for an audience of civilians starting with how people should feel when they see the Trident pin on someone`s military uniform, what it means and similarly what it means to have that pin taken away?

STAVRIDIS: Yes. Navy SEAL - S.E.A.L stands for Sea, Air, Land. It`s a military operator, special forces, our most elite part of the US Navy. When they complete a grueling one-year course, they wear a very beautiful Trident pin, with the Trident of Neptune. It also has an eagle on it and a pistol. It is without question the most sought-after decoration in the US Navy. So to earn it, puts you in very elite company.

So, the story here is of a Navy Chief petty officer with 14 years in the Navy, a combat veteran with significant military awards on the battlefield. But, he was convicted of posing with the corpse. He was accused of even worse war crimes, acquitted of those. The Navy, appropriately in my view, has moved toward a process to remove his SEAL pin from him. That`s devastating to him. It`s kind of like any profession - would be like a doctor losing their medical license. It just takes away who you are.

So the headline, Brian, is the Navy has been proceeding down a path appropriately and the way we always would for anybody who is court- martialed and convicted, which Chief petty officer Gallagher was. We then look at whether he should retain that pin or not; that`s a process.

President Trump put out a tweet saying Chief Gallagher`s going to keep his pin. Secretary of the Navy is saying, in what I think is a real Profile in Courage, we`re going to continue with the process to see whether the Chief ought to retain that pin or not until we get a direct order from the President. In other words, the Secretary is saying, "We`re not going to respond to a tweet. If you want to do this, Mr. President, it`s within your rights to do so. Give me a direct order." That`s what the Secretary of the Navy is saying; that`s what that headline is all about.


WILLIAMS: On behalf of us civilians, thank you for that explanation. Admiral James Stavridis, you`re welcome around here any time. Thank you very much for coming back on the broadcast.

STAVRIDIS: Great to be with you on a Friday night and I used the break, Brian, to fact-check myself. And the coal miner`s daughter was not Dolly Parton; it`s Loretta Lynn. So, let`s get that one straight.

WILLIAMS: Thank you very much and the country music community thanks you as well. Admiral, appreciate it very much.


WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, grading the veracity of the story the President is passing along, it`s about why Mike Pompeo might head home to Kansas.


WILLIAMS: During that marathon interview on Fox News this morning, the President also found time to weigh in on the possibility of our Secretary of State going home to his adopted home of the last 25 - 20 years or so - these stories that Mike Pompeo is going to run for Senate in Kansas.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If I thought they had somebody out there that couldn`t win, and Mike would really - he loves what he`s doing - but if I thought they had somebody out there that - and he came to me and said, "Look, I`d rather stay where I am." But he loves Kansas, he loves the people of Kansas. If he thought there was a chance of losing that seat, I think he would do that and he would win in a landslide.


WILLIAMS: So, this comes as the President and his team are working to shore up support from Senate Republicans for this possible oncoming, the impeachment trial. Back at the Big Board for us tonight, because this after all involves politics, our national political correspondent Steve Kornacki. Hey, Steve, tell us what`s going on here.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It`s an interesting story, Brian, in Kansas. So, Trump making this noise about Pompeo; there`s been some speculation. He`s made a number of trips back to Kansas, of course. He represented a district in Congress before all this. So the issue here, when Trump says, "If I thought there was somebody who might not be able to win," who he`s probably talking about there is this guy, Kris Kobach, the controversial former Secretary of State in Kansas.

Remember last year, Kobach ran for Governor of Kansas, very red state. Kobach lost last year; he lost by five points to a Democrat in Kansas. There is some concern among Republicans - these are the four Republicans right now, who are already running for the US Senate in Kansas. There is some concern that Kobach could get the nomination and potentially put the seat at risk to a Democrat. So the possibility there that Trump seems to be encouraging is, "Hey, if that looks real, maybe Pompeo could come in, could clear this field out, could take on Kobach, win that nomination."

Of course, Kansas is a very red state generally. Trump won here by 21 points, of course. What Trump would be counting on there if it comes to it is the Republican base being so loyal to Trump in Kansas and elsewhere, if Trump gave his seal of approval to Pompeo, would that help Pompeo defeat Kobach and win the seat. So that`s the possibility there that`s kind of being dangled.

But also on that subject, you mentioned the more immediate concern of Trump when it comes to the Senate Republican senators in a potential impeachment trial and again, that loyalty to Trump of the Republican base potentially a factor there as well. Let`s take a look at the latest impeachment polling we have. Look dead even overall in the question; 47 support impeaching him; 47 oppose impeach and removing Trump.

The partisan breakdown though among Democrats, overwhelming support among Republicans, overwhelming opposition and that overwhelming opposition among Republicans, think about some of the swing state Republicans, Republicans who`ve got a run in swing states next year. Before that, take a look at this. Martha McSally in Arizona; she`s got to worry about the filing deadline for that election in Arizona, for the primary is April 6. So, there`s all that talk - would McSally in Arizona swing state, would she potentially turn on Trump in an impeachment trial? Well, if she does, there is time after that for a Republican to get in and challenge her in the primary, and you`ve seen what the Republican base thinks about the impeachment question.

Same issue there, Cory Gardner in Colorado, filing deadline not until March 17. Susan Collins in Maine, filing deadline not till March 16. Of course Thom Tillis in North Carolina, filing deadline is December 20, but he already has a couple of primary opponents. Again, if he turned on Trump in an impeachment trial, that primary would be right after probably an impeachment trial. So, that`s another dynamic, Brian, to keep an eye on.

WILLIAMS: Steve Kornacki at the Big Board on a Friday night after the week we`ve had; we owe you a great debt of thanks. Thank you very much.

KORNACKI: Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Next, coming for - we`re talking about the pulse of the US Senate; this same subject Steve was just talking about, where the votes may be as they get handed, potentially a colossal case.



TRUMP: The bottom line is, all of those witnesses, they`re all shifty shifts. Don`t forget, there was no due process. You can`t have lawyers. We couldn`t have any witnesses. We want to call the whistleblower, but you know who I want as the first witness because frankly I want a trial. You know I can - think I can have it, what everyone (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want a trial?

TRUMP: Oh, I would. Look, number one, they should never ever impeach.


WILLIAMS: the Senate trial the President says he wants could start after the first of the year. House Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff told the LA Times today, Committee has already begun working on its report. Though Schiff did not rule out more hearings, once the Intel Committee work is done, it then moves over to Jerry Nadler Judiciary Committee to decide if articles of impeachment should be drafted.

With us for more is a returning veteran around here, Phil Elliott, politics correspondent for Time Magazine. Hey, Phil, what does the President have to gain by there being a trial in the Senate?

PHILIP ELLIOTT, POLITICS CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, if the President has a trial in the Senate and it goes as expected, he will be able to say that he was acquitted and he`ll be able to accurately say that. For the president to be acquitted, he really only needs to hold this Party together. For him to be removed from office, that would require 20 Republican Senators defecting, an absolutely extraordinary number to imagine.

That - you could picture one or two maybe doing it, but then if you don`t get to 20, you`ve just washed a plank (ph). There will be political retribution; there`ll be reprisals from the White House. There may be reprisals from Mitch McConnell. Remember, all the power roulette lies in the Senate, as in the House, with what committees you`re on.

You mentioned Justin Amash earlier in the show defecting from the Republican Party. Well, he lost the party and he lost his committee assignments. If you don`t have committee assignments, it`s tough to make the case to constituents back home that you`re doing anything for them.

WILLIAMS: Wouldn`t it be just like politicians in the US Senate to come up with a subcategory of punishment like censure? We`re just hearing the first talk developing that maybe we`ll have a censure category between removal and acquittal.

ELLIOTT: Yes, that is always an option. The problem there is you`re still crossing the President in a way that`s publicly, that you`re contradicting what he`s - when he says the call was perfectly normal. It was a perfect call. That still requires crossing the President and crossing the President in an election year. Keep in mind, a lot of these Senators are running for re-election this year, impossibly difficult races in states where Donald Trump is going to be at the top of the ticket and his political machine is going to be channeling the forces of potentially millions of volunteers, tens of millions of dollars, and you - that`s going to be tough to counter, if that machine doesn`t also have coattails to bring you along.

WILLIAMS: I won`t ask you for names because I know you won`t tell us, but what do members of the Senate tell Phil Elliott that they don`t say in public perhaps?

ELLIOTT: They`re just sick of the questions - I`ll - because she did it on camera, Senator McSally earlier was asked about this when she was doing a field hearing in Arizona and she just the-- eye roll was epic. She was like, come on guys, and she - and then last week, I caught up with her again at the capital and it was every - she all but broke into a sprint to get to her next meeting. She held her schedule up over her head and says, I`ve got a busy schedule, I don`t have time for this.

They really don`t want to be dealing with this because this is a distraction that they don`t have control of. They don`t have all the facts; they don`t know what the President`s going to do. They right now have a - they`ve started to come up with a coordination plan with the Senate and with outside groups. But, veterans of Kavanaugh and Gorsuch hearings say, "It`s nothing compared to what they were doing for that."

It`s shocking to them that the President did more to get Supreme Court justices nominated than to potentially save his own job.

WILLIAMS: An amazing bit of reporting there about the Supreme Court hearings versus this one. This could be existential depending on how this goes. Phil Elliot, thank you for laying out the state of play in the US Senate for us tonight at is this Friday night at the end of this long week. We appreciate it. Coming up for us, the question we hear in some form just about every day around here, `What happened to Lindsey Graham?` We`ll have that story when we come back.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He`s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn`t represent my Party. He doesn`t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.

I think he`s a crook. I think he`s crazy. I think he`s unfit for office.


WILLIAMS: The last thing before we go tonight, the question it is - that is asked at least once a day by perfectly normal, polite-thinking people, "What happened to Lindsey Graham?" That Lindsey Graham right there, one third of the original three amigos of Graham, McCain and Lieberman, National Security Republican, law and order Republican, anti-Russia at all costs Republican, who for some reason has gone all-in. He has gone full supplicant in his loyalty to Donald Trump.

Lindsey Graham is now trying to start a Senate investigation of the Bidens and Ukraine, even after the Senate has been briefed that the whole idea of Ukraine meddling in our elections is a fiction that was developed by Putin of Russia, who did meddle in our election. Still, any excuse to raise the Bidens, attack the Bidens, injure Joe Biden as a candidate is just too tempting for Lindsey Graham. But, as we were reminded by The Huffington Post just today, Lindsey Graham didn`t always have negative feelings about Joe Biden. In fact, there was a time just four years ago, when talking about Joe Biden brought Lindsey Graham to tears.


GRAHAM: If you can`t admire Joe Biden as a person, that`s probably - you got a problem. You need to do some self-evaluation because what`s not to like? Here`s what I can tell you, that life can change just like that, don`t take it for granted, don`t take relationships for granted. I called him after Beau died, and he basically - he said, "Well, Beau was my soul." I`ve taught (ph) for a long time. He came to my ceremony and said some of the most incredibly heartfelt things that anybody could ever say to me and he`s the nicest person I think I`ve ever met in politics.


GRAHAM: He is as good a man as God ever created.


WILLIAM: That was the Lindsey Graham of 2015. Not long afterward he said this about the man who is now our President, the man to whom he has pledged his undying loyalty. "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed and we will deserve it." For his part tonight, Joe Biden said, "Lindsey Graham by bowing to Trump has done something not even the Ukrainians are willing to do. He added Lindsey Graham is about to do something he`ll regret for the rest of his life.

On that note, that is our broadcast for this November 22nd, 2019, the 56th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Thank you for being here with us. Have a good weekend. Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.


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