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Pres. Trump headed to London for NATO Summit. TRANSCRIPT: 12/2/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Kimberly Atkins

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  -- and that`s why our scholarship program is focused on girls` education.  If you can`t afford to give this year, please consider helping pass the word about the K.I.N.D fund on social media.

Maggie (ph) told us that her new desk has inspired her to work even harder on her dream of becoming a nurse.  Tomorrow on Giving Tuesday, if you give a desk or scholarship, you will also be giving kids like Maggie a dream.

That is "Tonight`s Last Word."  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST:  Tonight, the President`s in London while the impeachment process rolls on here in the land he just left.  Tonight, our look at what the White House will and won`t be doing this week.

Plus, why Attorney General Barr might denounce an upcoming report from his own Justice Department.  Perhaps because it might clear some of the same people the President has been attacking nonstop.

And Senator John, no relation, Kennedy, goes deep on the Russian talking about points for a second week in a row, all evidence to the contrary and despite all the warnings that he`s just doing Putin`s work free of charge.  "The 11th Hour" on a Monday night begins now.

As we start a new post-Thanksgiving week, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 1,047 of the Trump administration.  This new week brings a new phase of the Democrats` drive toward impeachment.  It`s been 70 days now since Speaker Pelosi first opened the inquiry into Trump`s conduct toward Ukraine once the link to investigating the Bidens had been publicly established.  Tonight, one House committee prepares to give way to another.

Members of the Intelligence Committee will send their report over to the House Judiciary Committee.  That committee will in turn hold its first impeachment hearing on Wednesday morning.  Four law professors are expected to testify about the historical and constitutional basis for impeachment hearings without anyone present from the Trump White House.

Late yesterday White House lawyers told Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York, "we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing."  Nadler has now given the White House until 6th of December, this Friday, to decide whether it will take part in any aspect of this impeachment process.

Earlier on this network, the chair of the Intelligence Committee, California Democrat Adam Schiff, said his colleagues will continue to investigate issue subpoenas if need be and he confirmed the Intel Committee report will, in fact, be made public tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA, INTELLIGENCE CMTE. CHAIRMAN:  It`s a long document.  Members started reading it today.  They`ll be reading it throughout the day tomorrow.  And essentially, it outlines in considerable detail a scheme that began actually well before the recall of Ambassador Yovanovitch, and was designed to further two political objectives of the President.

We don`t intend to be static.  If we learn new information that will build on what we know already, we will file a supplemental report with the Judiciary Committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  Adam Schiff tonight with Rachel Maddow.

Meanwhile, new reporting from "The Washington Post" says Democrats are weighing whether to expand articles of impeachment to include obstruction of justice or other high crimes as outlined originally in the Mueller report.

Late this afternoon, Republican members of House Intel Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees tried to get a jump on the news of the week by releasing their own 123-page minority report in effect that contends, no impeachable offenses have been established.

The President who is now in London for this week`s NATO summit said he read the Republicans` document on the way and wrote, "Great job!  Radical left has no case.  Can we go to the Supreme Court to stop?"

Before leaving the White House this morning, the President slammed Democrats for moving forward with impeachment hearings while he`s out of the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The Democrats, the radical left Democrats, the do-nothing Democrats decided when I`m going to NATO -- this was set up a year ago -- that when I`m going to NATO, that was the exact time this is one of the most important journeys that we make as president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  Then there is this from President Zelensky of Ukraine.  In a new "Time" magazine article titled "I don`t trust anyone at all."  He says regarding his July 25 phone call with Donald Trump, "I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo.  That`s not my thing.  I don`t want us to look like beggars.  But you have to understand, we`re at war.  If you`re our strategic partner, then you can`t go blocking anything for us.  I think that`s just about fairness."

Trump quickly put his own spin on that quote, writing, "The President of Ukraine has just again announced that President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine and our interactions or calls."  And later, "Thank you to President Zelensky.  Case over."

There was also news tonight regarding those two indicted associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Lev and Igor, remember them?  They are accused of funneling foreign money to U.S. political candidates.  Lev, for his part was in court here in New York on this snowy day.  NBC News reports his lawyer told the court he is willing to speak with congressional impeachment investigators.

The feds also say they`ve seized thousands of pieces of evidence from the two men as well as other defendants.  And it appears likely they may soon file additional charges in this case.

One more item tonight as the impeachment gathers momentum.  A new controversy may be developing over the upcoming Justice Department`s internal inspector general report on the FBI`s Russia investigation.

Tonight "The Washington Post" reports Attorney General Bill Barr is disputing a key finding in the report that the FBI had enough information July 2016 to open an inquiry into members of the Trump campaign.

With all that in mind, here with us for our lead-off discussion on a Monday night, Kimberly Atkins, Senior Washington Correspondent for WBUR, Boston`s NPR News station, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for "The Washington Post" and Moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS, and Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence.  Good evening and welcome to you all.

Bob Costa, for a scene setter, I would like to start with you specifically, the state of the play in the building you cover, the U.S. Capitol as members of said Congress filter in after their Thanksgiving break.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  So far most Democrats that I`m speaking with at "The Washington Post" feel pretty comfortable with the process.  Some of them more progressive members in their age are wishing that this impeachment probe could be a little bit wider in scope.  And they`re making that clear to the leadership that maybe they should go after things beyond Ukraine.  But the leadership is telling them essentially this is what it`s going to be, we`re trying to move this to a Senate trial through Judiciary Committee as soon as possible.

And the thing that comes up again and again in my reporting, Brian, is Speaker Pelosi is in control.  She has Chairman Schiff and Chairman Nadler for the most part working day to day with her and on the same page trying to wrap this up as soon as possible so it can move on to the Senate.

WILLIAMS:  Kim, as our friend Frank Figliuzzi has speculated and reminded us, it looks like this Lev matter in court today has been the subject of a whole lot of surveillance, kind of a kaleidoscopic 360 degree view if it involves both electronics and the electronic devices themselves and so on.  Kim, what does this do, not just to Rudy Giuliani, but Rudy`s coveted role as the President`s, "T.V. lawyer?"

KIMBERLY ATKINS, WBUR SR. NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yes.  I mean, we will have to see what this information is.  Lev Parnas has indicated through his attorney that he is willing to participate and cooperate with the impeachment probe.  And we`ve seen today from the GOP`s prebuttal of the report that`s coming out of the Intelligence Committee tomorrow that there`s already an effort to try to distance the President from Rudolph Giuliani.  It seems clear that Republicans, even though they`re saying that nothing was wrong, that they see that whatever was possibly wrong probably had to do with Rudolph Giuliani.

And if Parnas has information and evidence among this potential trove from his court case that links Trump directly to whatever Giuliani was doing, what was described by the 12 witnesses we saw as carrying out this you counter -- this shadow diplomacy in an effort to pressure Ukraine, that will be a big problem and it blows a big hole in the Republicans` defense of this.  So he is emerging as a key player not just in his own criminal trial but in the impeachment matter.

WILLIAMS:  So Frank, let`s just say you`re one of the leaders of the NATO nations arriving in London.  And over the course of this day you`ve watched Zelensky give an interview and say one thing, and then Trump in effect misquotes him and tweet another.  What are you thinking about with your brief one-on-one meeting with the American President of what this may mean?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSIST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:  Well, for one thing, this is about the degree to which our allies can trust us.  And trust has got to be a major obstacle right now in our allied relationships.  So imagine a situation where anything that comes out of our President`s mouth might get changed in the next minute, might get change that night in a tweet, and can`t be relied upon by our most trusted allies.  In fact, just recently he`s gone from saying, you know, NATO needs to -- the NATO allies need to pay up more, they`re not paying their fair share.  And, of course, you just played a clip where he said his travel to NATO and it is among the most important trips a president can take.

So, which is it?  We don`t know how to read him.  They don`t know how to read him.  And it simply makes us vulnerable and compromises our stature in the world.

WILLIAMS:  Robert Costa, walk us through two things, the timetable of impeachment, what their target date is to have a floor vote in the House, and question number two, how much are they tempted to turn this into a Christmas tree and attach high crimes and misdemeanors as they see it, that go back to the Mueller report and maybe as they see it did not get a through enough airing in the public square?

COSTA:  There is a lot of temptation now from Democrats who are more on the left side of the spectrum to expand this entire process.  They feel like they`re on a track right now following the public hearings where they`re digging into this administration.  And they feel like many of these officials are opening up in a new way that they haven`t seen in two and a half years.  At the same time they know that there`s so much of President Trump`s conduct that they would like to bring under the spotlight.

But to move this through in time to have a trial that gets through the Senate and doesn`t dominate the early part of the 2020 while the Democratic presidential candidates where trying to gather steam, they know they have to move forward.  So the consensus that I`m seeing in my reporting is that Democrats will move this impeachment process between now and the Christmas and Hanukkah holiday and the New Year, maybe it trips into the New Year.  But they`re going to eventually move probably by the latest mid-January inside of the House.  And Speaker Pelosi will continue to encourage investigations of President Trump and his administration on other fronts.  But let the impeachment process really rides on the Ukraine issue more than anything else.

WILLIAMS:  Kimberly, you`re a lawyer and I`m not.  So, I`ll put it this way, the case that holds the keys to whether Don McGahn can, or would, or should come and testify before the House got a boost at the federal judge level today.  What do you think the chances are that we will see Don McGahn raise his right hand and get sworn in?  And/or is this is a game of beat the clock still and it`s going to run out of time?

ATKINS:  I think there will be an attempt to run out the clock as much as possible on that sense, so I wouldn`t count on seeing Don McGahn or any other former White House official anytime soon while that makes its way to the Supreme Court.  But what this does do is add even more pressure from some Democrats in the House to what Bob was talking about, this idea that, hey, there is more information to be gathered.

Some Democrats want all the facts.  They want to make more of an effort to press these officials to come forward and testify.  And they`re saying that there is time for them to do that.  But again, Speaker Pelosi is moving forward.  But this is just one of many factors that could be causing some division among Democrats about how exactly to proceed and what to include in the formal impeachment inquiry.

WILLIAMS:  And Frank, I need you in closing to address two different things, the I.G. report at the FBI and Susan Page.  On the I.G. report, there are veterans of the organization no doubt looking forward to it because they know it will clear them, their names, and their behavior as government employees.  What if the attorney general comes out and says, we`re going to diminish the report.  I can`t change it, but I can talk it down.  I can take a notch out of it.

Number two, the matter of the Strzok and Page, the two people whose story we have heard the President in flowery terms kind of relitigated his rallies.

FIGLIUZZI:  So look, we`ve all been worried about this attorney general and his consistent ability to ignore facts.  If it`s true, if this reporting is true that he is going to side against his own inspector general and side with the President, he will, again, be choosing to ignore a neutral fact finder and come up with his own set of alternative truth.  The problem with that is, that`s not what the attorney general is supposed to do.  And in fact, he will disgrace his office if he chooses to ignore the facts developed by his own inspector general.

And I have to tell you, Brian, the only person more pleased tonight that the attorney general of the United States might be at odds with his own department other than the President of the United States is the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.  There could not be a more destructive attorney general than if Vladimir Putin had appointed Barr himself.

With regard to Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer, look, she exercised incredibly poor judgment.  We all know the facts.  She used FBI devices to text Peter Strzok, the FBI senior official that she was having an affair with.  They texted personal political opinions.  They should not have done that.  Strzok was fired.  Lisa page left the FBI.

But what we`re seeing right now is the President using it to attack this person who was a public servant, decided to make this her career and attack her simply because she was doing her job.  And if the I.G. report comes out and says they did nothing wrong, we would not be in a different place today with the special counsel and all that he found, if Lisa Page was or was not in the mixed, if that`s the case, Trump needs to shut that down.  But he`s going to continue to attack this woman simply because she did her job.

WILLIAMS:  Lisa Page, indeed.  I stand corrected.  A lot to talk about and the week is just getting started.  Our thanks to Kimberly Atkins, to Robert Costa, to Frank Figliuzzi for starting us off tonight.  Greatly appreciate it gang.

Coming up for us, our next guest, the author of a new book on the subject of impeachment says the President`s impeachment strategy shows he fears the truth and just might lack a good defense for his words and actions.

And later, why the U.K.`s Prime Minister is trying to keep his distance from Donald Trump during this week`s NATO meeting as "The 11th Hour" is just getting started on this Monday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS:  To the surprise of no one who was able to fog up a mirror, the Trump White House will not participate in this week`s Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment.

Today Bob Bauer, who served as White House Counsel under President Obama wrote an op-ed in "The New York Times" titled "Trump is the Founders` Worst Nightmare."  He writes this about the President`s defense tragedy thus far.  "President Trump has made full use of the demagogic playbook.  He has refused all cooperation with the House.  He lies repeatedly about the facts, holds public rallies to spread these falsehoods and attacks the credibility, motives, and even patriotism of witnesses.  His mode of "argument" is purely assaultive.  This is the crux of the Trump defense, and not an argument built on facts in support of a constitutional theory of the case."

Let`s talk about all of it tonight with Neal Katyal, veteran of the Justice Department, former Acting Solicitor General for our government during the Obama administration, a man who has argued 39 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and just happens to be the author of a new book not yet one week old.  It is called "Impeach, The Case Against Donald Trump."

Counselor, it raises an interesting question.  Aside from sound and fury in a jacketless Jim Jordan in the hallway, when will the Republicans, when will the President`s team need a fact-based rejoinder strategy, defense?

NEAL KATYAL, FMR ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL:  I think they`re going to soon.  I mean, right now their defense has been attack the process, attack the process, claim it`s unfair, which is floundering on its own terms, that argument.  But there haven`t been defending the President on the facts.  The House today tried with this 123-page report the essence of which is, while the President was trying to investigate corruption, he was worried about the Ukraine being very corrupt and that`s why he did what he did, which makes no sense.

If you think about it, Brian, if the President was worried that the Ukrainians are corrupt, why in the world does he calling the Ukrainians and asking them to investigate a United States citizen, Joe Biden?  The whole thing, you know, and this is just their latest factual defense, it had several others, all of them have flopped.  And so, I do think that as the pressure is build -- the pressure is going to build on them because the President clearly did something wrong.

I mean, and not just wrong, I mean, grievously wrong.  He tried to cheat in the 2020 election.  He tried to get a leg up by getting another government to go and get dirt on his chief political rival, Joe Biden.  That is something and this is why I wrote the book, from the standpoint of the Founders, there wasn`t a better example of an impeachable offense, a high crime and misdemeanor than this.

WILLIAMS:  On Wednesday morning, with all the kind of momentum that came from the Intelligence Committee Hearings, we`ll be in the studio, 10:00 a.m.  We will go on the air for the opening gavel of the House Judiciary Committee.  And no disrespect to legal academicians, we will hear from Canon four legal academicians, if not necessarily T.V. forward how traditional a start is this in a hearing like this?

KATYAL:  Very traditional, Brian.  I don`t think that it`s going to capture the public`s, you know, imagination and attention just because it is kind of dry constitutional law work.  I mean, even I and I taught Constitutional Law for 20 years, I tend to think that this is going to be, you know, not the most exciting thing.  They`re going to have three people who are going to say, hey, this is an impeachable offense, they`re Democratic witnesses.  One will be a Republican witness saying it`s not an impeachable offense.  Good luck to that person.  I can`t really fathom the argument, but good luck.

And then, I think it moves to really the ultimate question, what`s the House going to do?  What are those articles of impeachment going to look like if they`re drafted?  How many are they?  Are they going to include the Mueller stuff?

And today, we had a twist in that because people like me have been saying, look, Ukraine`s really simple, stripped down, go, fight, bring that forward as fast as you can.  But a judge in D.C. today in a Don McGahn case said, well -- that McGahn has to testify and testify now, and because the House may need his information for impeachment.  And yes, that decision of the Trump administration`s going to try and put it on hold by going up to this U.S. Supreme Court.  But it maybe the case that not just McGahn, but other people like Pompeo and Bolton may have to testify sooner rather than later.  And if that`s so, then that could change to the dynamics.

And so, I think the House Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday is important, not for what the witnesses say, but what`s the House saying?  What`s the Democratic strategy looking like on Wednesday, two days after this ruling in D.C. by this judge tonight?

WILLIAMS:  And just as legal strategy by the guy, again, who has written this book on the subject, if Bolton comes through late, if Pompeo decides or is compelled to appear late, do you just throw them on as witnesses in a Senate trial on the Senate floor?

KATYAL:  I do.  I think you do.  I think, you know, the American public deserves to know what happened.  And obviously, as a trial lawyer, one is going to be reluctant to call a witness when you don`t know what they`re going to say.  But look, I think these witnesses are really important.  The President has tried by using a fake executive privilege claims to block them from even testifying and telling the truth to the American people, and blocked them from providing any records or information.  I mean, that itself is unprecedented and impeachable offense alone.

And I think the American people -- this is a crime against the American people for them not to know what these officials know.  And if it exonerates the President, great, but I suspect the reason why he`s bending over backwards doing all this gymnastics for privilege and secrecy is because he`s afraid of the truth.

WILLIAMS:  Counselor, we appreciate it as we do every appearance of yours.  Here is the book in my hand.  That`s the author we`ve been talking to.  Neal Katyal, our thanks.

And coming up for us, why would a well-educated Republican U.S. senator say things that Vladimir Putin says, as recently as tonight?  We`ll attempt to explain this enduring political mystery of at least the last couple of weeks when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  I haven`t been briefed, but I can see -- I don`t need to be briefed to see and read.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Just over a week ago during an appearance on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Louisiana Republican Senator John, no relation, Kennedy got a lot of attention when he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

KENNEDY:  I don`t know nor do you, nor do any of us.  Ms. Hill --

WALLACE:  Well, I mean, let me just interrupt to say 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  The very next night after making those remarks, Kennedy was on CNN trying to clean things up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.  If you`ll look at the articles I talked about, you will see that there isn`t a lot of evidence that Ukraine did tried to meddle in the election in 2016.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  See, there it was again at the end.  And then just yesterday during an interview on "Meet The Press," this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY:  Russia was very aggressive and they`re much more sophisticated.  But the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko --

CHUCK TODD, NBC`S MEET THE PRESS HOST:  Yes.

KENNEDY:  -- actively worked for Secretary Clinton.  Now, if I`m wrong and if all the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Actively worked for secretary -- I mean, my goodness, wait a minute.  Senator Kennedy, you now have like President of Ukraine saying he actively worked for the Democratic nominee for president.  I mean, come on.  I mean, I got to put up -- you realize the only other person selling this argument outside the United States is this man, Vladimir Putin.  You have done exactly what the Russian operation is trying to get American politicians to do.  Are you at all concerned that you`ve been duped?

KENNEDY:  No.  Because you -- Just read the articles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  Just today, POLITICO wrote an article, reminded us that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which, like Senator Kennedy, is under Republican control, looked into the Ukraine conspiracy theory and found no evidence that they meddled in our 2016 election.  And while The New York Times reported the Senate had been briefed that Russia had engaged in a years-long campaign to frame Ukraine as being responsible for the meddling in our election, Kennedy said, as you heard him, he wasn`t briefed.  And then just tonight he`s gone and done it again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY:  I don`t think this is fake news.  I think these pieces were all well researched.  It is clear to me that Ukraine did meddle in the U.S. election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  And let`s please remember what Dr. Fiona Hill told us just days ago about the conspiracy theory that Ukraine somehow meddled in our election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. FIONA HILL, FMR. RUSSIA ADVISER, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL:  This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  With us tonight a journalist who has chronicled especially Republican politics for years, A.B. Stoddard, Columnist and Associate Editor at RealClearPolitics.  A.B., I`ve been wanting to talk to you about this very case.  Here is a guy, a member of the United States Senate, and, look, he can turn up the Mayberry (ph) and he can turn it on and off.  He is not a country lawyer.  He is educated at Vanderbilt, UVA Law School, and Oxford, about as much as I`m a country doctor.  Is this straight-up supplicancy to Donald Trump?  Does he view this as a game?  What do you think is going on here?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS:  Look, I think that there`s a pattern here that`s quite obvious.  The senator was informed or his top staff was informed along with all other senators.  We learned Friday, November 22nd in The New York Times that this very Russian disinformation campaign was being, you know, fed and promulgated about Ukrainian`s meddling, that it was as Dr. Hill said the day before this reporting came clear in her testimony on Capitol Hill is beyond dispute that it was a conspiracy and it had no backing to it, that it was the goal of the Russians to feed it into our politics and media.

And after the briefing from intelligence officials to the senators and then her testimony and then the reporting where we learned about the briefings, he then went on Chris Wallace`s show on Sunday, the 24th, to talk the way you just showed the clip.  He then retreated I think maybe a relative must have teased him or something.  And it has to be that President Trump did not like him walking it back with Chris Cuomo of CNN.  For he, therefore, chose intentionally to go on "Meet The Press" yesterday with Chuck Todd and do it all over again.

He got the affectionate tweet from the President for doing it, so did Congressman Doug Collins FNC (ph), Fox News Sunday yesterday to say wonderful things about how the President`s done nothing wrong and Adam Schiff must come and testify.  He also got an affectionate tweet.  I truly think it`s a pattern.  We have no other reason to believe that Senator Kennedy wants us to become a satellite of the Russian federation.  He is servicing a Russian propaganda operation for the furtherance of his political position.

There`s no way he`s a mole or a spy or a defector.  This is to keep Trump happy.  He`s weighted to this conspiracy theory, and when people, you know, push back on it, it makes him upset.

WILLIAMS:  Another reason I wanted to have you on the air tonight.  Explain the list you have brought along, the list you have written about, who`s on it, and why.

STODDARD:  So I think that everyone is watching the House Republicans who have shut down any discussion about the damning and compelling testimony about the President and the Ukraine matter that led to his impeachment saying it`s pretty much a joke and everything he`s done was terrific.  So people are turning to the Senate Republicans and saying there`s no way that any of them are going to find fault with what the President has done either to them that won`t be impeachable.  I don`t think that`s the case.  I don`t think that just because they can sort of feed their tribal urges that they will.  And I think there`s about 12 of them give or take.  It is still a long shot, but three are retiring, three I would say are sort of in the rebel category, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski maybe joined by Richard Burr, who has led the most bipartisan investigation in the Congress into this matter that you noted earlier that -- into Russia and the entire meddling episode.

He has seen all the evidence.  He`s in his last term.  He`s in Sam Ervin`s seat, the Watergate committee chairman from North Carolina.  I think that he`s going to be with heavy heart pondering all of these and what it means to the system.  Then there are six people who are up for re-election, some of them in very tight races, states Hillary Clinton won.  Add that all together, it`s about 12 people.  We might end up with four.  But I believe -- maybe two.

But I believe that a partisan acquittal of President Trump is something that they must weigh.  And what that would mean to the President as he continues to meddle in next year`s election, what it would mean to his use of congressionally appropriated and approved funds for his political projects, I think it`s really the end of the meaning of the Congress if the executive can engage in the kind conduct that the President has.  And I think the Republican senators that I`ve mentioned in these groups know that.

WILLIAMS:  Wow, you`ve given us a lot to think about and talk about.  Luckily for us, A.B. has agreed to stay with us over this break.

When we come back, how one Democratic presidential candidate earned a nickname from the President tonight right away.  And here`s a hint.  It wasn`t cheap.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS:  So the Trump campaign is revoking press credentials for Bloomberg News employees this comes after Bloomberg News said it would not invest to gate Mike Bloomberg or his Democratic rivals.  Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale released a statement that read in part, "Since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign event.  We will determine whether to engage with individual reporters or answer inquiries from Bloomberg news on a case-by-case basis".

The editor and chief over at Bloomberg responded with a statement that reads, "The accusation of bias couldn`t be further from the truth.  We`ve covered Donald Trump fairly in an unbiased way since he became a candidate in 2015 and we`ll continue to do so despite the restrictions imposed by the Trump campaign".

Back with us for our conversation, A.B. Stoddard.  A.B., I brought along an opinion poll that I saw tonight and it strikes me that from the GetGo, what is it take in a couple dozen million dollars and some name recognition.  Bloomberg is in fifth nationally, even though we don`t have a national election.  But with one weekend relegating Harris, Yang, not to mention Booker, Klobuchar, Gabbard, Steyer and on and on behind him in the stack, talk about the effect of Bloomberg in this race as you see it.

STODDARD:  Well, he spent a lot of money on this initial blitz of ads and I think that, you know, they`re everywhere and it`s hard not to notice them.  He has the name ID as you said and all the money, this huge empire that he`s built and a lot of success.  If this starts, this momentum keeps up, he -- you know, that will be a surprise and that will be a huge challenge to President Trump.  What he`s also done, because there was so much backlash when he first got in the race sort of privately a lot of, like, you know, the chewing of teeth over this, is commit to spending $100 million in the swing states for the eventual nominee to try to sort of make peace for his late entrance, insulting everyone who`s in the race by saying they can`t beat Trump.

So he is trying to sort of unify the party.  It will be very interesting to see at if this momentum keeps up and he breaks through this late in the game as Iowa, you know, as we know, is 60 something days away.

WILLIAMS:  So as we`ve mentioned, a lot of the national polls have the Democrats in some form or fashion leading Donald Trump.  Can you name, however, a single swing state where there`s a Democrat making the guy who runs the Trump campaign sweat?

STODDARD:  I think Arizona is making them nervous.  Certainly North Carolina is just a place where Democrats are spending a lot of money and energizing voters.  I think that Pennsylvania -- the Trump campaign has almost written off.  They`re looking more at Wisconsin and Michigan.  So they`re still nervous, of course.  They`ve spent money in Georgia, in Florida, and Texas.  But Arizona is one they`re worried is going to slip into the blue column for sure.

WILLIAMS:  If you had to make a bumper sticker that would help bring over disaffected women voters from Republicans to the Democratic Party, we saw so much of that in 2018, what would your message be on behalf of the Democrats?

STODDARD:  You know, I`m not good at bumper stickers but I think the theme should be really about our system, and about democracy, and about fairness and truth.  I think they`re very alarmed by the erosion of democracy and our process and our civic fabric.

And I think that that`s something we saw in the midterms and in a lot of the energy they`re bringing towards volunteering and donating and stuff.  And I think that`s something the Democrats should stick with as they sort of gets through impeachment and beyond, that they`re trying to restore the integrity of government.

WILLIAMS:  A.B. Stoddard, what a pleasure it always is having you on.  Thank you so very much.

STODDARD:  Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  We`ll talk again very soon, I`m quite sure.

And coming up, the President goes to London to meet with NATO just nine days before the most consequential British election in generations.  What could go wrong?

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM:  We have very close relationships and friendships with the United States at every level of government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, it`s interesting.

JOHNSON:  But what we don`t do traditionally as loving allies and friends, what we don`t do traditionally is get involved in each other`s election campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  A gentle, veiled warning from a leader who has been a key Trump ally but who is these days away from -- nine days away from an election that could upend his political career.  U.K. voters will decide Prime Minister Boris Johnson`s fate, December 12th.

Tonight, Bo-Jo is likely hoping Donald Trump decides not to weigh in on any hot-button issues while he`s in London for NATO meetings.  The New York Times describes the stakes this way.  "Mr. Trump has roiled British politics on previous visits with inflammatory statements on terrorism, as well as Brexit, trade, and other sensitive issues.  He is a wild card who could jolt are the election with a single tweet."

Our own Carol Lee is in London tonight where it is already Tuesday morning.  And Carol, the central question here, how can the President get the welcome everyone knows he believes he deserves from Bo-Jo and then building this invisible wall of separation between the two guys for the duration of these meetings?.

CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Well, I think it`s going to be very tricky for Donald Trump just because, you know, this President is someone who likes to weigh in on issues that he feels strongly about.

He`s a strong supporter of Boris Johnson and yet you have the 10 Downing Street basically saying, you know, no thanks, no meeting, no formal meeting between the two leaders that will happen here, which is highly unusual just in the sense that usually when a host country is -- someone is hosting a summit like this, the host leader will meet with the President of the United States, and that`s not happening.

They`re saying there may be a pull aside between the two, but there`s really this kind of balancing act where the prime minister wants to keep a little distance.  Trump is very unpopular in the U.K. and he`s, as you said, got an election coming up.  And so, I think the best they`re hoping for is that Trump comes in and leaves and there`s nothing that major -- no major damage is done.

WILLIAMS:  It gives nothing away to say the President`s DVR is an extension of the President himself.  It gives nothing away to say that on a good day, on his best day, he is more than preoccupied with Fox News, yes, but television coverage overall.  There`s going to be a lot going on at home while he`s on this trip.  How do you reckon they balance both?

LEE:  Yes, it`s really going to be a split screen like we haven`t seen before.  You`re going to have the President trying to go through the motions of NATO while also seething over this impeachment inquiry and all that that`s happening there back in Washington.

And you know, we have seen this happen before with the Mueller investigation but not really at this level.  The closest I can think of to compare is when Michael Cohen testified before the Congress while the President was in Vietnam for a summit there.  This is different though.  This is U.S. lawmakers actively taking steps to potentially remove him from office and that`s a cloud that`s hanging over this.

So, while he`s trying to project himself as a leader who is not a lame duck, who can still try to get things done and has this sort of swagger on the world stage, and this really questions that and throws a cloud over it.

WILLIAMS:  Carol Lee, we realize your work day has yet to begin.  We further realize it is not yet 5:00 a.m. in the great city you are in.

LEE:  It is early.

WILLIAMS:  All this by way of saying we so appreciate you giving us a preview of the NATO meeting.

LEE:  Sure.

WILLIAMS:  Great to have you our own Carol Lee --

LEE:  Anytime.

WILLIAMS:  -- from our London bureau.

LEE:  Thank you.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us, if you ever for a moment wondered what would happen if you were called upon to be great, please stay tuned for this next story.

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WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go here tonight, it will be interesting indeed to see if our President during his visit to London this week takes time to salute the civilians who rushed a terrorist using whatever weapons they could find and acted in complete disregard for their own safety in the attack that killed two young people.

Just in case the President doesn`t talk about it, we thought we might here tonight.  As you no doubt know by now, a terrorist went on a rampage on the banks of the River Thames on a beautiful Friday afternoon in London.  He was armed with two knives tied to his hands and a suicide vest later learned to be a convincing fake.

The terrorist was at a Cambridge University conference on prison education, and as an ex-con himself, he was still wearing an electronic device following his early release.  He went on the attack stabbing several people.

He was immediately surrounded by civilians, some had chairs, one had a fire extinguisher, then a chef from Poland who have been working at the event went and grabbed a tusk from a narwhal whale from a display in the building and entered physical combat with the attacker with that tusk despite being stabbed five times himself.  Yet another man grabbed one of the assassin`s knives and ran away with it.

Minutes after the 999 called, the British equivalent of 911, police responded and, again, presented with a bloody scene of flailing violent man in a realistic suicide vest, they shot and killed the terrorist.  It was clear that the civilians had prevented a wider massacre by fighting back, allowing others to escape by engaging in hand to hand combat, nothing short of that.

So just stop and think about how you would have reacted and thank goodness these civilians didn`t stop or think.  They acted.  Perhaps remembering the sentiment, if not the direct quote, from Nelson Mandela, courage is not the absence of fear, rather the triumph over it.

That is our broadcast on this back to work Monday night as we start this new week.  Thank you so very much for being here with us 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