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Bloomberg officially enters 2020 race. TRANSCRIPT: 11/25/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Jack Jacobs, Mara Gay, Azi Paybarah

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR:  We thank you for your analysis tonight, Charlie Cook.

COOK:  Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI:  That is tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams begins right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, a federal judge has declared, "Presidents are not kings."  And she has ruled that former White House Counsel Dan McGahn should be allowed to testify before Congress.  The next court up, we`ll hear the appeal and other officials we`ll if they too should consider speaking up.

Plus, things just got worst today for Rudy Giuliani.  The feds looking at him for possible money laundering and obstruction of justice while his former associates are spilling details about his efforts to make big money in Ukraine.

And a United States senator from a deep red state literally repeats Russian propaganda on live television after being told by our own nations top experts that it`s Russian propaganda.  As THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on a Monday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  This new holiday shortened week got underway with day 1,040 of the Trump administration.  Late today, a federal judge issued a ruling that may make it tougher for the Trump side to keep their people out of courtrooms and hearing rooms.  This is the case of former White House counsel Don McGahn, a critical witnesses, he`s quoted or sited nearly 160 times in the final draft of the Mueller report.  He indeed is one of the unwitting narrators of the Mueller report.

Well, tonight Judge Jackson of the federal district court in D.C. ruled that Don McGahn must comply with a subpoena from House Judiciary and testify about Trump`s efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation.  She writes the Justice Department, "claim to unreviewable absolute testimonial impunity is baseless, and as such, cannot be sustained.  Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that presidents are not kings."

You may recall the House Judiciary Committee went to court in August to enforce its subpoena which the President promptly blocked.  McGahn has returned to his old law firm of now of Jones Day in D.C.  He`s been out of the White House since early 2017.  His attorney says he`ll testify unless a stay is granted.

Tonight the Justice Department alerted us it will appear the ruling while trying also to block its enforcement.  Yet the ruling sends a clear message to other current and former officials who are high value witnesses but have not testified and that would include Mulvaney and Bolton.

Tonight, House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, says he`s open to hearing more witnesses, but adds his committee plans to submit its report on the investigation to judiciary sometime next week that it could include an article of impeachment based on obstruction of Congress.

Amid all of these developments, there is new reporting from "The Washington Post" that an internal review over at the White House has unearthed e-mails between the Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Budget officials about finding possible legal reasons for withholding that aid to Ukraine that was approved by Congress.  Now these were in August after Trump`s July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian President.

There was also new reporting on the criminal investigation surrounding those two associates of Rudy Giuliani, Lev and Igor.  "The Wall Street Journal" and "The Washington Post" are reporting that federal prosecutors are exploring a wider range of potential crimes here than we previously knew about.  Including but not limited to money laundering, obstruction of justice, wire fraud and failure to register as a foreign agent as part of its investigation.  They`re also reporting the feds are scrutinizing Giuliani`s consulting business and looking at donations made to approach Trump`s super pac.

Tonight, Giuliani`s own lawyer says he`s client has not receive any subpoena request and adds that he has done nothing wrong.  This weekend, Giuliani was back on cable and he was asked about his recent contact with his client and friend Donald Trump.


RUDOLF GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S PERSONAL LAWYER:  I do not discuss my conversations with my client.  You can assume that I talk to him early and often and have a very, very good relationship with him and all of these comments which are totally insulting.  I mean, I`ve seen things written like he`s going to throw me under the bus.


GIULIANI:  When they say that, I say, he isn`t, but I have insurance.


GILIANI:  It`s ridiculous.  We`re good friends.  He knows what I did is in order to defend him.  Not to dig up dirt on Biden.  This goes back a year ago before Biden hadn`t even decided to run for president.


WILLIAMS:  Shortly after that he sent out this message about that insurance comment.  And we quote, "Truth alert, the statement I made several times of having an insurance policy, if thrown under the bus, is sarcastic and relates to the files in my safe about the Biden family`s four decade monetizing of his office.  If I disappear, I will appear immediately along with my RICO chart."

This afternoon Trump was asked about his thoughts on his lawyers words.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you make about Rudy Giuliani saying he has insurance?

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Oh, I don`t know.  Rudy is a great guy.

I think maybe the press isn`t treating Rudy very well and I think that`s unfair.  But Rudy was a great mayor and a great crime fighter.


WILLIAMS:  Here for our lead off discussion on a Monday night, Barbara McQuade, veteran federal prosecutor, former U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Michigan, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House reporter for "The Washington Post," and Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times" and co-author most recently of the new book "Impeachment, An American History."  Good evening and welcome to you all.

Counselor, Barbara, I`ve got to start with you, how big, how consequential or not is tonight`s court ruling?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  The ruling with regard to the McGahn testimony I think is very significant.  It doesn`t really come as a surprise.  But it`s a very important step because what it says is that witnesses cannot hide behind this concept of absolute immunity.  The judge says it doesn`t exist and these witnesses do have to testify including Don McGahn.

Now, as a practical matter the Department of Justice says it will appeal this decision to, I think they have the ability to sort of run out the clock on this opinion with regard to McGahn.  But it could be used to empower other witnesses to testify in the impeachment proceeding.  If the House Committee could wave it around, it may not be binding on any other witness, but it`s certainly persuasive authority that suggests they have to testify when called.

WILLIAMS:  Ashley Parker, let`s talk about Rudy Giuliani.  We heard the President about his good friend and great crime fighter from this very city.  Has his change -- has there been a change in Rudy`s standing that you`ve been able to detect on the inside?  Has the distancing begun among all others, but the President perhaps?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Well, the distancing has begun frankly a little while ago.  Rudy Giuliani is someone who in the President`s orbit has very few allies except the President himself.  There has long been frustration about what Rudy would go out and say on T.V., say to reporters, accidentally text to reporters.  Pocket text to reporters.

There was frustration, I was just talking to people inside the White House today about they blame Rudy Giuliani for getting the President specifically spun up about Biden, Ukraine, and Burisma.  And so, again, you saw the President`s comments.  He was supportive.  Rudy has one key ally that is the President.  And as we have seen in the past, the President is loyal until suddenly he is not.  So that is a tricky spot for Giuliani to be in.  But it is one so far he managed to navigate and, again, it`s safe and is fine until the President decides that something has changed.

WILLIAMS:  Peter Baker, I`d like to read you a quote that you already well.  Speaker of the House Pelosi, this was back in March.  It`s a standard she held on to until the Ukraine story broke.  It was recognized by the Democrats as something easily understandable, easily explainable perhaps, of course, when compared to the Mueller report.  And in March Nancy Pelosi said, "Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there`s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan I don`t think we should go down that path."

Peter, the question to you, have they met that standard?  Is anyone whispering to the contrary among Democrats who may have impeachment remorse at this point?

PETER BAKER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, I think Democrats think that the first two have been satisfied, compelling and overwhelming.  It`s the third one that hasn`t, bipartisan, that`s definitely not the case.

If they thought that these public hearings they just wrapped up after two weeks would change the dynamics, would change the Republican mind, not many but at least a few, it didn`t workout.  You know, the evidence laid out a pretty strong pattern of behavior.  I think a lot of people walked out of there saying that the facts of the case aren`t really that much a dispute but it didn`t turn the politics of it.  And this is a political process as much as it is any kind of legal process, it`s invested in the hands of the elected officials.  And the Republicans have decided to stand strongly behind President Trump.  They either don`t see a problem with his phone call and the other pressure on Ukraine or they do see a problem with it but don`t think it`s impeachment especially heading into an election year when the voters are about to decide anyway.

And it seems to have slipped away at this point. So is there buyers remorse? Among some democrats there`s nervousness I think. The idea of a party line impeachment vote is not unheard of. We saw that 21 years ago with President Clinton but it doesn`t get them to where they want to go and leaves him with the likelihood of an acquittal in the senate.

And so any chance that Democrats have turned some of the Republicans seems to have slipped away at this point.  So is there buyer`s remorse is what you`re saying, among some Democrats there is some nervousness, I think.  The idea of a party line impeachment vote, you know, is not heard off.  We saw that 21 years ago with President Clinton, but doesn`t get them to where they want to go and leave the President with the likelihood of an acquittal in the Senate that he then waves around the campaign trail for the rest of next year saying I was (INAUDIBLE).

WILLIAMS:  So, Barbara, again, the question is legal and it goes to you, is there no way the Democrats can compel the testimony of a Mulvaney or of a Bolton.

MCQUADE:  Well, I think with this new court opinion that they have today, they do have stronger legal authority than they had yesterday.  But I think there`s nothing to stop Bolton or Mulvaney from filliing their own lawsuit.  This case would not be binding on that.

And then having multiple cases going up to the Court of Appeals which actually could be strategically less beneficial to the Democrats.  They`ve got a very good opinion than the one they got today that will be appealed and perhaps all the way to the Supreme Court and they`ll get very good rulings.  Their likelihood of getting a ruling, a good ruling there, I think is stronger than what they might get elsewhere.

Now, if Mulvaney and Bolton are inclined to testify, they may be able to use this opinion as cover.  One strategy, I might be inclined to use if no one asks me.  But if I were advising the House Committee here, is they`ve got sufficient evidence to go forward with impeachment.  Go ahead and impeach, have the vote.  And then when you get to the trial in front of the Senate, at that point if you need to pull out all the stops, perhaps at that stage, you could add the testimony of Mulvaney and Bolton to see if that makes a difference with Republicans.

WILLIAMS:  And Barb, in your view, since we talk about the destruction or the attack on our institutions here, so often on so many broadcasts, largely as a former fed when you look at the courts, have they held?

MCQUADE:  I think they have.  We`ve seen some delays.  One of the things I think we`ve seen is the -- how excruciatingly slow the courts can be.  And so Trump has been able to sort of slow walk some of these things.  But ultimately the decisions have come down very consistently in favor of the rule of law.  And so like the decision that we saw today, not a surprise, I feel reasonably confident that at the Court of Appeals we would get the same ruling.  And I think the real test will become -- if these cases go to the Supreme Court where we now have Trump appointed justices and that will be the real test to see whether our institutions hold, but so far so good.

WILLIAMS:  Peter Baker we learned the deputy chief of staff is departing the West Wing.  He is a long time veteran of the Trump administration.  We learned from your colleague Maggie Haberman tonight on social media that he does a lot of the true work and a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes in the West Wing.  Does his now about to be former boss Mulvaney, do you think survive Ukraine?

BAKER:  Yes, it`s a great question.  Look, Mick Mulvaney was seen to be kind of on thin ice even before the Ukraine thing happened.  There has been -- he was at odds with John Bolton, he was at odds with Pat Cipollone, the White House council.  He and the President do not, you know, always see eye to eye.  The Ukraine thing obviously became an even bigger problem for Mulvaney when he went out to the briefing room and admitted in front of all the reporters that there was in fact a condition on military aid to Ukraine on them conducting investigations of Democratic supposed conspiracy theory of 2016.  And then he tried to take it back.

You know, so the question for him at the moment is, you know, does he do more damage to the President on the outside?  I think as long as he is seen as somebody who has insurance, to use a phrase, that makes him a little more, you know, solid in his current position but I don`t think it means he necessarily it has the kind of, you know, authority to do the job.  Remember, he is 11.5 months into the job as an acting chief of staff.  Now, you know, as he points out and repeatedly pointed out everybody in the White House is an acting position because the President tends to get rid of people on a whim but still, not to have the full title suggests obviously that he never had the full confidence of the President.  That makes it harder to do your job when you`re chief of staff.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, Ashley, you couldn`t see us but we last saw you when we admired your superb work as co-moderators of the Atlanta debate.  And this next question has to do with 2020.  Given your immersion in the middle of the Democratic field and your observations of same, what do you think Bloomberg is going to do to that dynamic?  Just taking the stage we saw in Atlanta?

PARKER:  Well, it`s a great question.  And part of what he does is just the fact of Mayor Bloomberg`s entry into the race is an indictment of the Democratic field and of the Democratic front runners and that`s something that people in Trump`s orbit are acutely aware of.  You know, I was talking to someone today who said they thought that Bloomberg could be in many ways formidable.  In some ways they think he taps into what Trump taps into.

On the other hand they also make the argument that he is a billionaire.  He has name recognition.  He comes out of New York.  He has a lot of his own money to spend.  But they say he doesn`t have that movement that Trump has.  That ability to show up in a small town, in a rural area and to just pack an arena and get the crowd into a frenzy.

So I think it remains to be seen what he will actually do, but I think the fact of him has already injected a little more fraughtness and uncertainty into something that was already fairly fraught in a bit uncertain for Democratic voters and for Trump world that`s watching quite closely.

WILLIAMS:  Also, Ashley, I`m not asking for an opinion but this new ethos of getting into the race late and saying look we`re going to be all about super Tuesday.  My apologies to Iowa, to New Hampshire, et al, that is not a way to engender deep feelings in Iowa and New Hampshire among other places.

PARKER:  It`s not a traditional way to win the nomination of a major party.  I remember when Rudolph Giuliani entered and his big strategy was to wait until Florida.  It has not been successful in the past.  In these early states you have a lot of activists who care passionately for good reason.  It doesn`t mean it can`t be done and certainly having Mayor Bloomberg`s money -- if anyone could do it, that sort of money is going to help.  But it`s really an interesting test kind of for democracy and also just for this early nominating process and the importance or lack of importance potentially of this first four states.

WILLIAMS:  Much obliged to our big three on the Monday night of this holiday shortened new week.  To our in house counsel, Barb McQuade, to Ashley Parker, to Peter Baker, thank you gang for showing up and helping us out.

Coming up tonight, the members of the President`s party who know better but would still rather pass along Russian talking points if it means not crossing Trump.  And later, a party switching data terminal inventing news organization owning New York billionaire gets into the Democratic race.  What could go wrong?  THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on this back to work Monday night with the arrival of the official White House Christmas tree.


WILLIAMS:  Welcome back.  And just for some context here, the following is a member of the United States Senate, Republican Senator John, no relation, Kennedy of Louisiana on Fox News yesterday morning.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST:  Senator Kennedy, who do you believe was responsible for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their e- mails?  Was it Russia or Ukraine?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, (R) LOUISIANA:  I don`t know, nor do you, nor do any of us.

WALLACE:  The entire Intelligence Community says it was Russia.

KENNEDY:  Right.  But it could also be Ukraine.  I`m not saying that I know one way or the other.


WILLIAMS:  This from John Harwood over CNBC and we quote, "Here`s a Republican senator disseminating Russian intelligence propaganda fabricated to harm the United States.  He`s doing it because it helps him politically."

And Sherrilyn Ifill over at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund writes this, "The next question should rightly be why did you and seven other Republican senators travel to Russia on the fourth of July 2018?  What was the purpose of the trip?  With whom did you meet?  Are there notes memorializing the conversations you and the other senators had with Russian officials?"

The senator is repeating Russian propaganda.  Just last week former NSC aid and foremost Russian expert Dr. Fiona Hill labeled the notion of Ukraine meddling in the 2016 election a fictional narrative.  And the "Times" report about how members of the U.S. Senate have been briefed that Russia has engaged in a year`s long campaign to frame Ukraine as responsible for 2016 meddling.

Earlier today former FBI special agent, Clint Watts, a frequent guest on this broadcast, he`ll be back tomorrow night, said he was among those who briefed Senator Kennedy on Russian election interference in 2017 and he added this.


CLINT WATTS, FMR. FBI SPECIAL AGENT:  We have very dangerous ground at this point because the whole idea of Ukraine was inserted into our country by Russia who just attacked us.  They are doubling down on their victory.  They`re advancing it right inside our country again.  And how is it happening this time?  It`s not because people are falling for it, it`s because people are willingly advancing that conspiracy.


WILLIAMS:  OK.  Then just tonight on CNN, Senator John, no relation, Kennedy appeared to want to clean this all up.


KENNEDY:  I was answering one of his questions and he interjected a statement and asked me to react to it.

What I heard Chris say was he made the statement that only Russia had tried to interfere in the election.  And I answered the question.  That`s not what he said.  I went back and looked at the transcript.  He said, only Russia tried to hack the DNC computer.  Now Chris is right, I was wrong.  The only evidence I have and I think it`s overwhelming is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer.


WILLIAMS:  So, that sounded there like a correction but then minutes later he was back to hinting that it might have been Ukraine.


KENNEDY:  If you`ll look at the articles I talked about you`ll see that there`s a lot of evidence that Ukraine did try to meddle in the election in 2016.


WILLIAMS:  There`s our jumping on point for this next conversation.  And with us for more tonight, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for "The Washington Post."

Philip as our mothers would say, Senator Kennedy knows better.  Why do you think he`s doing this?

PHILIP RUCKER, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF:  You know, Brian, I think the answer is President Trump in the White House.  He, the President, rather has propagated a number of these conspiracy theories that have been unproven and, in fact, disproven by U.S. intelligence agencies as well as by Dr. Fiona hill, his former national security expert on Russia but the President has continued to advance the notion that Ukraine was behind some sort of conspiracy to undermine his campaign in 2016 and interfere in the election.  And he has done so in part because he, you know, has taken President Putin`s word as he said in Helsinki in 2018 when he appeared at that news conference with President Putin and, you know, said publicly that he believed Putin`s "very strong denials" that Russia was behind the election interference.  That`s just is not true according to the conclusion of all of the American intelligence agencies.

WILLIAMS:  So, Phil, you`ve got a U.S. senator and he has a lot of company in the Senate and the House --


WILLIAMS:  -- using talking points in effect translated from the original Russian.  If, in fact, there are no Republican votes to convict and or remove in the U.S. Senate, is there any other mechanism for good government types in the Republican Party to get a message over to the White House that what`s at the heart of this is just not cool?

RUCKER:  You know, that`s a really important question because as it stands there does not appear to be any Republican votes to convict President Trump although we have yet to even have the vote in the House and the Senate trial has not begun.  But there`s certainly a number of republican senators including Mitt Romney of Utah and others that have spoken out that they believe the President`s conduct has been inappropriate and wrong and troubling and certainly would be in agreement with what you just said, that it is not cool to be advancing Russian state security propaganda as Senator Kennedy has done.

And you know, there might be a way to condemn the President.  There might be some sort of vote that they could take or some sort of formal statement that the Senate could issue about the President`s behavior even if they stop short of convicting him and removing him from office.

WILLIAMS:  Mr. Nunes is back in the news and not just for his presentation in the hearing room.  This is a story that puts him more centrally into the Ukraine drama amid his threats to sue news organizations.  Last time he was caught up in the news he recused himself back when he was chair of the committee.  No such moves are evident to us at least early on.  Now has there been a kind of hardening of the mind set and or attitude that you`re aware of?

RUCKER:  There certainly seems to be a hardening of the mind set on that committee when it comes to the Democrats and the Republicans with the Republicans becoming even more fierce in their defense of President Trump even as the allegations coming forth in that hearing room have been so troubling and damaging.

You know, Ranking Member Nunes, the top Republican on the panel, he has yet to fully answer questions pertaining to his trip to Ukraine and his involvement, his meetings that he had which came out in the reporting over the last few days.  We`ll see if he does so when Congress returns after Thanksgiving.  But clearly, he is in the middle of the controversy right now as he has been, frankly, from the beginning of the Trump presidency.  Remember it was Nunes who rushed over to the White House at night to deal with some matters pertaining to the early stages of the Russia investigation and ever since he has been a fierce defender of President Trump.

WILLIAMS:  Phil Rucker, "Washington Post," it`s always a pleasure having you on.  Thanks, Phil.

RUCKER:  Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us here tonight the controversy that prompted the President to fire his Navy secretary.  We will ask a Medal of Honor recipient in this studio about the message this may send through the ranks.


WILLIAMS:  The now former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer is speaking out tonight about his sudden departure this weekend.  The controversy centers on U.S.  Navy Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher.  He was found guilty of posing for a photo with the corpse of an ISIS fighter. 

Gallagher was then demoted but the President reversed that decision.  The Navy was still pushing for a review to determine whether Gallagher should lose his status, hard earned as a Navy SEAL and the gold trident pen that seals get to display on their dress uniforms.  But Trump went online to say the Navy would not be taking away his trident pen.

Over the weekend the Navy secretary was said to be thinking about re- signing over this whole thing.  By Sunday night he was forced to resign.  Defense Secretary Esper said he had just learned that Spencer was trying to workout a deal with the White House.  Let the review proceed.  Let it go through and he made sure that Gallagher would retire as a Navy SEAL.

On CBS News this evening Spencer was asked about the President`s involvement in this case.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What were the ramifications of intervening in that review process?

RICHARD SPENCER, FMR NAVY SECRETARY:  Well, right now, we`re not going to do it is what the Secretary Esper says.  What message does that send to the troops?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well what message does it send?

SPENCER:  That you can get away with things.  We have to have good order and discipline.  It`s the backbone of what we do.


WILLIAMS:  Today our Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the President ordered him to let Gallagher retire without losing his status as a Navy SEAL.

Here with us tonight to talk about all of it, retired U.S. Army Colonel Jack Jacobs, a heavily decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War and one of only 71 living recipients of the Medal of Honor.

I know the most you usually discuss Navy is in the context of beat Navy, but thank you for coming on to talk about another branch of the service tonight.

Colonel, first question is this, does the President fundamentally perhaps get something wrong about the ethos and culture of the military?

COL. JACK JACOBS, U.S. ARMY RET:  Well, he gets everything about it and he does understand the chain of command and how important it is to order and discipline.  Jumping the chain of command demonstrates to all ranks, but particularly the lower ranks.  Not that you can get away with things, but that, there -- you can separate authority and responsibility which by the way you should never do.  That if you are responsible for something and you have the authority for it, that you have to go up the chain of command to make sure that things happen.

It has the most pernicious effect on the intellectual and leadership development of the lower ranks.  Because they are going to take over one of these days.  And if they learn that, the chain of command is not in violet, then we`re going to be in really bad shape when they grow up to take command.

WILLIAMS:  You have the great privilege of teaching up at west point and young men and women who the day of their graduation are second lieutenants in the U.S. Army with a five year minimum service requirement.  How do you teach this to them if they`re seeing this behavior in the adults around them?

JACOBS:  Well it makes it extremely difficult.  I mean you can`t unsee this.  You can`t forget it if you`re a young person.  You`re always influenced by what happens when you`re young.  And when you get into a situation where you have to put into practice the things that you learn back when you were young.  They better been the right lesson.  This is the wrong lesson.  And both commanders, non-commission officers, instructors of the service academies and an ROTC have to redouble their efforts to make sure that kids understand the importance of the chain of command.

WILLIAMS:  I want to show you from over this weekend of the Nay SEAL in question Gallagher, part of what he said on Fox News in part going after the CO of the Navy SEALS.


EDDIE GALLAGHER, NAVY SEAL:  This is all about ego and retaliation that says nothing to do with good order and discipline.  What the admiral is doing showing complete insubordination is not the good example of good order and discipline.


WILLIAMS:  He just called -- he just accused Admiral Collin Green of insubordination.  You don`t hear that every day of the week.

JACOBS:  No and now that the President is insinuated itself into the process it`s not going to matter that he did in fact say that.  That Admiral Green in fact is a emasculated too heavy a word, but it certainly makes him less influential and one might expect that Admiral Green may, in fact, leave himself.

WILLIAMS:  I`d be remiss to not ask you about things like combat stress.  After the tempo of deployments in the nations longest ever war that has yet to quit.  The things that happen to our men and women over there in an urban fighting environment again with the tempo of going out day after day with the goal of looking for contact.

JACOBS:  I think urban warfare is the most difficult of all kinds of warfare.  I fought in the field, and I fought in urban areas and found built up areas much more difficult than being out in the field.  The combat tempo in which you`re in contact with the enemy continuously or almost continuously makes it extremely difficult.  But there`s one thing to keep in mind.  You can always tell the difference between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do.  We`ve all done the wrong thing from time to time, but we knew it was the wrong thing when we did it.  We have to teach young people not that they have to identify the difference between right and wrong, they know what the right thing to do is the wrong thing to do.  But to do the right thing when they have the opportunity to do the wrong thing.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you Colonel.

JACOBS:  Yes sir.

WILLIAMS:  Happy Thanksgiving.

JACOBS:  And to you.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you very Colonel Jack Jacobs here with us in New York.

Coming up, La Guardia got an airport named after him.  But no New York city mayor has ever been awarded the White House.  Then again this is the first one to spend 30 million on the first day in the race.  We`ll look at Mike Bloomberg`s chances when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did somebody say billionaire?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No, Mayor Bloomberg, how did you get in here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I tipped the doorman $30 million.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Does this mean you`re officially running for President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well I don`t know maybe, maybe not.  I`ll be hard to beat.  I like to see those Trump supporters come up with the conspiracy theory about a Jewish billionaire with his own media company.  Good luck making that stick.


WILLIAMS:  (INAUDIBLE) and your Mike Bloomberg has stepped into the battle and the air war is already under way.  Former mayor of New York, happens to be a billionaire.  So why not?  Bloomberg made a 30 plus million dollar ad buy.  The largest in history and far surpasses the rest of the 2020 field.  Look at those numbers underneath those names.  Bloomberg is skipping early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire and instead focussing on Super Tuesday.  It was in one of those states the Commonwealth of Virginia that he defended his campaign spending today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you trying to buy the presidency?

MIKE BLOOMBERG, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Look, for years I`ve been using my resources for the things that matter to me.  I was lucky enough to build a successful company.  It has been very successful and I used all of it to give back to help America.


WILLIAMS:  Two of the New York Times best are here with us in the same studio tonight to talk with us on this topic.  Mara Gay is a member of the New York Times editorial book, editorial board.  Her most recent work about the former New York City mayor is headlined Bloomberg Apologizes for Stop and Frisk at Just the Right Time.  Things workout sometimes in life, don`t they?

Also here with us Azi Paybarah, he writes the New York Today column for the Times and is a veteran New York metro reporter who`s been covering Bloomberg since `03.  Fun fact, since `09, he has lived with the honor of having been called a disgrace by then mayor Bloomberg at a press conference when he upset the mayor with a question about extending term limits.

To both of you, thanks for hanging out with us late at night on a Monday.


WILLIAMS:  Mara, when you were last in that chair, on live television on this broadcast, your answer about Mayor Bloomberg blew me away because I -- hear to for didn`t know how you felt about him.  Repeat that for our viewers and couch (ph) in terms of how you now view this race.

GAY:  Sure.  I think Mayor Bloomberg is interesting because she has an impact on Americans that`s far beyond running a single city, though it is the largest city in the country.  He`s changed the face of health -- in public health, not just the United States but around the world thinking about his campaign against smoking, for example, in private bars and restaurants.  His campaigned against obesity as well.  And then of course his campaigns against illegal guns and then to protect others from guns in general.  And he spent an extraordinary amount of his personal fortune and he is self-made.

Not just on his own races but on truly the causes that matter to him that includes climate and other things.  And I think, you know, essentially what you have is a very interesting foil to the President of the United States who talks a lot and a big game about how he is self-made and a billionaire, but really Bloomberg in this way is the real deal.  And I wouldn`t count him out.  I think what`s attracting him to this race is the fact that no one Democrat has emerged.  And also the fact that you`re dealing with someone in Michael Bloomberg who`s been told it was impossible before.

He was never supposed to be mayor.  And -- you know, one and only reasons that he was mayor is because of September 11th.  And the city really in a crisis looking toward steady leadership, toward steady financial leadership as well.  And that created an opening for Michael Bloomberg to step on to the stage.  And frankly I think he is an example.  Love him, hate him, no one is really in different about Bloomberg.  But it`s an example of somebody who is kind of an average guy in some ways.  An average Joe stepping up to the plate and, you know, becoming an extraordinary American figure.

WILLIAMS:  Wow.  OK Azi, does his running as a centrist predispose -- pre - - what`s the word I`m looking for.  Presuppose a Biden collapse?

AZI PAYBARAH, METRO REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  I think it presupposes that no strong person emerges immediately out of the first two primaries.  Now Bloomberg is doing something that may seem familiar to people that followed Donald Trump`s campaign.  He ran within a party as an outsider, Michael Bloomberg was a Democrat for a long time enrolled in the Republican Party to run for mayor.  Won that in part because the New York City Republican Party was pretty much aligned with him personally.  They were fiscally conservative and socially liberal and that campaign wasn`t too difficult once you have all of that money.

Now he`s running as someone who is in the party but really of the party.  He`s basically running as a person who is not going to follow the sort of current side guys in the Democratic primary of trying to outflank everyone to their left.  And he`s basically running a general election campaign in the primary someone as an outsider and when you have as much money as he does, you can sort of message that directly to voters in a way that says I`m going to talk candidly and directly.  And people are becoming -- are coming to expect that more in a day and age where in Facebook feed and Twitter and Tik Tok are ways that people see their candidates.

WILLIAMS:  Mara, African-American vote.

GAY:  I think that not just -- I think the mayor needs to not just apologize for stop and frisk.  First of all, black voters have complicated needs just like other voters.


GAY:  And secondly, I think that Michael Bloomberg needs to show that he gets it.  That he can relate to African-Americans, not just in a criminal justice context and after I wrote that column last week about the Bloomberg apology, I heard a lot of feedback from people that said they wanted to see more.  Is he -- Where does he stand on reparations?  For slavery but also for stop and frisk.

Is there a criminal justice policy that he can come out with that is sincere?  How do we as a country make up for hundreds of years of oppression and inequality?  And what is his plan to address concerns in the black community?  And I think the number one thing on the minds of black voters is beating Donald Trump.

So anybody can win black voters who can show that they are in a position to beat Donald Trump.  But to Michael Bloomberg, who did run a city that is majority minority, I would say don`t just apologize and move on, show us a little bit more.

WILLIAMS:  Azi, two things, how is it going to run against the notion that he is the Mary Poppins of the nanny state and he`s coming for your Dr. Pepper.  There is a reason (INAUDIBLE).


WILLIAMS:  Eventually had two big gulps walking around the state.  And number two, as mayor he used to leave for Bermuda on Friday nights and leave the job to the deputy mayor and say to the news media, I`ll see you Monday.  Don`t ask any questions.  How is he going to take to the confines of the modern day run for President?

PAYBARAH:  I don`t know what confines currently exist.  I mean we -- the biggest difference about when Michael Bloomberg first ran for office and today arguably it`s 2016 when a lot of conventional wisdom is thrown out the window.

WILLIAMS:  How about everyone has a camera crew in there.

PAYBARAH:  Everyone has a camera crew in there.  We have a current elected -- we have a current President who criticized his predecessor for golfing a lot and then himself turns around and golfs a lot.

So I think the idea of this notion that he is somehow restrained by this conventional wisdom of what the office dictates I think is sort of receding.  Now Michael Bloomberg has given people the impression that he woke up very early and work non-stop, he worked on Saturdays, was out parades, was kissing babies, was out on New Year`s day visiting the first born of the year.


PAYBARAH:  And he gave New Yorkers and a lot of people the impression that he was managing hands on very directly.  And if he took off on a weekend, he a phone call away and the largely the expectation was that he was working no matter where he was, he is working remotely.  And that is an argument that his predecessor Bill de Blasio who was not always been very charitable to him, who was not always been receding to criticize him has adopted something along those lines of saying that he has time when he works and time when he doesn`t.  And his were time isn`t always confine to where he is physically.

WILLIAMS:  Azi and Mara, thank you both so much.  What a fascinating conversation.  I`d love to have you both back if you`ll agree as we get later on.

GAY:  We could talk Bloomberg all day.

WILLIAMS:  That`s fantastic stuff.  Thank you both.

PAYBARAH:  Thanks.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up, dog day afternoon in D.C. today.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  Our dog was very actually -- our K-9 as they call -- I call it a dog, a beautiful dog, a talented dog -- was injured and brought back.


WILLIAMS:  So, they call them K-9 in the trades.  Today, Conan, the Special Forces dog from the raid on Baghdadi made its debut to the national media.  Conan behaved perfectly even seeing that he crack a smile early on, but you could tell the President`s dog briefing had been all about the dog`s war fighting prowess.


TRUMP:  They were going to put a muzzle on the dog.  And I thought that was a good idea but then it gets even more violent, John.  So I had a choice.  But no, the dog is incredible.

Conan say tough cookie and nobody`s going to mess with Conan.


WILLIAMS:  And at this point let`s just say Trump is not a dog guy.  He has said so himself and then there are his past comments and comparisons.


TRUMP:  He quit like a dog.

She cheated like a dog.

He died like a dog.

I`m sweating like a dog.

I`m watching Marco sweating like a dog.

She lied like a dog on her e-mails.

He was fired like a dog.

Thrown out of the Navy like a dog.

They throw you out like a dog.

He choked like a dog.  He choked.

He choked, just like a dog.

He didn`t like it when I said he choked like a dog.  He choked like a dog and I said it.  I said it.


WILLIAMS:  So, that`s Trump on the dog topic.  Whatever your feelings about Mike Pence, dogs, they say, can sense us dog people and the Pences are veteran dog people.  So, Conan was loving all over the Vice President today.  and all kidding aside when we talk about this era of disinformation, we seriously aren`t sure, really sure, of the dog`s gender even though I`m sure if we studied the video, we can probably come close.

The problem is this, the President used male dog nouns to describe the dog.  Then a source close to Conan told the media was a girl, then the White House went back to insisting it was a boy which caused a few jaded types to say this wouldn`t be the first time a truth was changed, so as not to contradict the boss.

In any case, congrats and well done to Conan and his or her human and undisclosed handler and platoon mates, a job well done.

We`re back with more right after this.


WILLIAMS:  Look at the time, that is our broadcast for the Monday night as we start the holiday shortened week.  Thank you so much for being with us, however, and good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.

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