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Trump Lawyer argues Bolton TRANSCRIPT: 1/28/20, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Guests: Ron Klain

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 1,104 of the Trump administration, which leaves us 280 days to go until the 2020 presidential election. This afternoon Trump`s lawyers concluded their defense arguments during our live coverage here. This is the eve, of course, of the next phase -- questions from senators themselves conveyed through the Chief Justice.

With a massive drama playing out on the Republican side where tonight their leader, Mitch McConnell, told his colleagues on the Republican side there are not yet enough votes to block the Democrats` demands for testimony and documents.

Earlier on this network, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered up his own vote count.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I think there are 10 to 12 Republicans who are in play, and these are 10 to 12 people who have never said a negative word about witnesses and documents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: More on that in a bit. The reports of McConnell`s vote deficit surfaced after his closed meeting with Republican senators that was held shortly after Trump`s lawyers wrapped up their case for his acquittal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, WHITE HOUSE LEGAL TEAM: There is no violation of law. There`s no violation of the constitution. There is a disagreement on policy decisions. That is not what the Framers intended. And if you lower the bar that way, danger, danger, danger.

PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE LEGAL TEAM: Overturning the last election and massively interfering with the upcoming one would cause serious and lasting damage to the people of the United States and to our great country. The Senate cannot allow this to happen.

SEKULOW: With regard to what John Bolton has said, which referenced a number of individuals. I don`t know what you`d call that. I`d call it inadmissible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: John Bolton is the man of the hour of course. The former national security adviser is at the top of the Democrats` witness list. The calls for his testimony have grown even louder following "The New York Times" reporting on what`s in his forthcoming book and the allegation that Trump told him he wanted to freeze that aid to Ukraine until Ukraine came through with an investigation into all things Biden. That directly contradicts Trump and his legal team.

Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, has said he wants to hear from Bolton. Today another Republican senator seemed to agree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R) ALASKA: Mr. Bolton probably has some things that would be helpful for us, and we`ll figure out how we might be able to learn that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Bolton got a vote of confidence from a character witness today. Former co-worker at the White House, the ex-chief of staff, retired General John Kelly. During a speech Monday evening in Sarasota, Florida, Kelly told the audience, "If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton. Every single time I was with him, he always gave the President the unvarnished truth."

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is also speaking out about Bolton. You`ll recall impeachment witness Fiona Hill is the one that testified that Bolton had called Rudy, "A hand grenade who is going to blow everybody up." Here`s what Giuliani just told CBS News about Bolton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDOLF GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S PERSONAL LAWYER: He never said to me, I`ve got a problem with what you are doing in Ukraine. Never once. Never winked, never sent me a little note. He is a personal friend, I thought. So, here`s the only conclusion I can come to, and it`s a harsh one, and I feel very bad about it. He`s a backstabber.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: While Democrats pushed for Bolton and others, Republicans argue they ought to be able to summon their own witnesses in that case. Some have even floated a one-for-one witness exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: If we do call witnesses, we`re just not going to call one witness. We`re going to call a bunch of witnesses.

Hunter Biden was not called in the House. To those who say it`s not relevant, I could not disagree with you more.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R) UTAH: I think the idea that`s been expressed in the media about having each side be able to choose a witness or maybe more than one witness on a prepared basis has some merit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Late today Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut said, that`s out of the question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D) CONNECTICUT: This isn`t major league baseball, right? We`re not trading draft picks for prospects.

The idea that you`re going to trade one witness for another is preposterous, especially because what the Senate Republicans are trying to do here is essentially turn the Senate into an accomplice of the President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Tonight POLITICO is reporting the White House is warning Republican senators that if they don`t stand firm against impeachment witnesses, the trial could drag on for months and jeopardize already skittish incumbents` re-election chances. But the number in a new Quinnipiac poll today was devastating. Seventy-five percent of registered voter respondents say they support hearing from witnesses. That includes 49 percent of Republicans surveyed.

Amid all this, the President held his first rally since the start of the impeachment trial. He was down in Wildwood, New Jersey, tonight along the southern shore of that great state, and a big show of support for Jeff Van Drew.

Mr. Van Drew was a Democratic congressman who voted against impeachment, later switched, became a Republican, now has an enormous target on his back. There were the familiar attacks on Democrats and on the investigations that have clouded the Trump presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the congressional Democrats are obsessed with demented hoaxes, crazy witch hunts, and deranged partisan crusades. The American people are disgusted by the Washington Democrat witch -- and you see it. You see it. Which is worse? The impeachment hoax or the witch hunts from Russia?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: On that note and here for our leadoff discussion on a Monday night, Kimberly Atkins, Senior Washington Correspondent for WBUR, Boston`s NPR News Station, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Reporter for "The Washington Post," and Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at CIA and the Pentagon and former Chief Counsel to the House Intel Committee. Good evening to you all and welcome.

Ashley, I`d like to begin with you and your beat. Is there self-awareness inside the white house for the danger John Bolton poses not just for the next couple of days, elongating, extending the process, but poses to the presidency?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: There both is and there isn`t. When those bombshell disclosures in his book, the manuscript that was given to the White House first came out on Sunday, there was a growing send of unease and anxiety and frustration. You had the President`s lawyers telling allies and senators on Capitol Hill that they didn`t know about this far in advance, that they too were frustrated, that they might have gone with a different strategy and there were sort of frenzied discussions Sunday night and Monday morning about if, in fact, they should change their strategy.

But I go back to something a senior Republican official told me for a story I was reporting, and this is something that everyone, despite the understanding of what Bolton`s manuscript potentially means, takes solace in. And they sort of likened these new disclosures to a boat on choppy waters and said, look, it may be unpleasant, but it`s not -- it`s very unlikely to be fatal. So, yes, will there be some seasickness? Will it not be fun? Sure. But chances are no one is going to die, and by that they mean they still believe that the fundamentals don`t change, and the President will be acquitted.

WILLIAMS: Kimberly, tonight in South Jersey, the President ran through his familiar greatest hits. Mexico`s paying for the wall. He referred to his predecessor as Barack Hussein Obama. He talked about draining the swamp. But a kind of a new look since impeachment, relatively little on impeachment. Does that indicate anything to you as someone who covers this place?

KIMBERLY ATKINS, WBUR SR. NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, this is something that he`s clearly not happy about. He`s not happy that he is a President who is currently being impeached, whose impeachment trial is ongoing. That`s the last thing that he`s going to want to talk about except to the extent that he wants to use his political adversaries from that impeachment to blast and insult them. He tends to do that more on Twitter.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

ATKINS: We see him talking about the impeachment managers and other people and even some Republicans if he doesn`t think they`re expressing enough fealty toward him.

But this is where he wants to be. The campaign trail is sort of where he has always taken solace. He likes being up in front of that crowd, and he`s going to keep delivering those greatest hits as he goes into 2020 because he thinks that`s the same message that is going to protect him with the voters, and that`s also what`s protecting him with senators, Republican senators. You know, he used to say that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and he wouldn`t lose any votes. It appears he can stand on Fifth Avenue and say, I did a quid pro quo, and for the most part he`s not going to lose the solid Republican support that he has in the Senate right now.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, let`s talk about the Democrats. Where does their muscle come from to be able to speak with some strength against the idea of what`s been called a hostage exchange, a witness-for-witness swap? And is there strength coming from the notion that at the end of the day, Republicans will stop and do a gut check before voting to call either Biden or Adam Schiff across the aisle to do a deposition and testify?

JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think the strength of their argument really comes from the concept of relevance. We`re in a trial. We`re trying to determine what evidence is relevant to determine the President`s guilt or innocence on the charges of high crimes and misdemeanors. And they can try to call all manner of individuals who don`t have firsthand knowledge or even secondhand knowledge of whether the President used his office to shake down the President of Ukraine or whether he withheld military assistance as Ukraine fought Russia.

Now, they can try to call someone like Hunter Biden, but again this trial is not about whether or not adult children of politicians leveraged their parent`s last name because if that were the case, we`d be calling Eric Trump and Donald junior and a whole host of other Trumps who do that very same thing. And I don`t think that`s what Senate Republicans want, and frankly I don`t think it`s relevant to the ultimate question of guilt or innocence by President Trump.

WILLIAMS: Ashley, as no one needs to remind you, so much of this is through the looking glass. You had Lindsey Graham, former champion of Ukraine and a guy who very much looked up to a guy like Bolton. Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul today were floating out the notion that Bolton wants to get rich, that that`s Bolton`s real motivation. Do you think that look, do you think that kind of talk is going to really stick?

PARKER: Well, I will point out it`s not just from Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul. You had the Republican National Committee the other day sending out talking points, slamming John Bolton, who while people have criticized him as out for himself and a wily infighter, has been a lifelong Republican who I believe has served in every single Republican administration since Ronald Reagan. You had Fox News, home of John Bolton, going out and attacking him.

And so I think it may potentially stick when you have the President`s allies and loyalists entering this echo chamber where someone is not toeing the exact line that they want him or her to do and they`re not falling in line with the President, there`s just an onslaught of an attack in a way that I think would stun people. As you said, Lindsey Graham is someone who shares John Bolton`s world view. But when he is under that sort of assault, I think it will resonate at least with, again, Trump`s core supporters.

WILLIAMS: Kimberly Atkins, you mentioned the President`s Twitter account. We did some checking. At 9:25 tonight, he said this, "No matter how many witnesses you give the Democrats, no matter how much information is given, like the quickly produced transcripts, it will never be enough for them. They will always scream unfair. The impeachment hoax is just another political con job."

One point of order and one question. We never got the transcript. That`s a summary.

ATKINS: Yes.

WILLIAMS: It says on it this is not a transcript of the call. The question, does this show a little mindfulness of Mitch McConnell`s situation perhaps?

ATKINS: I think so. I think it absolutely does.

Look, without question there is the potential that John Bolton, if he does testify, that his testimony will be very bad for the President. It could be potentially devastating in helping the Democrats put together the final pieces that the President used his influence to try to get political dirt on an opponent.

Now, on the other side, we don`t know what he might say about that might be harmful to the Democrats` case either. But it`s clear from the President`s Twitter account that he is aware of this. He`s aware of the peril that he is in.

Now I think that Mitch McConnell is certainly signaling and rallying the troops. I don`t buy that he thinks that he doesn`t have enough support to block these witnesses, but he certainly wants over the next 24 to 48 hours to be in lockstep with the White House as he announced he would be at the beginning of the trial and to pressure as many people to stay in line as possible. The White House signaling that they don`t want this drawn-out fight, which after sitting for a week in this trial, I don`t think the Republican -- most Republican senators want either.

So, I think they are trying to line up their messaging and get that in a row. But I think between now and Friday is a political eternity. We don`t know what happens, and I think there will be -- there`s still a lot of unknowns.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, let`s talk about Mitch McConnell. He chose to seat his entire Republican caucus in a relatively small room for the task, probably hoping to instill in them a sense of history and loyalty. What do you think his next move is, and if witnesses go through, aren`t we looking at a brave new world and a much longer procedure here?

BASH: Yes, I think we were at an inflection point in this proceeding, and I think it`s really borne out for three reasons. One is the Bolton revelations. Second, it`s because of the strength of the House managers` fact-based case. And third, I think it`s based on the extraordinary weakness of the law-based case that the President`s lawyers put forward.

I just want to address for a moment my old professor Alan Dershowitz`s argument that it`s got to be enumerated crime in order to be a high crime and misdemeanor. Imagine this, Brian, if the President had called the President of Ukraine and said, if you don`t build me Trump Tower in Kiev, you`re not going to have a productive relationship with the United States. I think we`d all agree that was corruption plain and simple, and abuse of office, a high crime.

This case is so much worse because what he was demanding was not just build me a hotel, sort of basic corruption. He was saying interfere in a U.S. election. That affects all 300-plus million Americans. It affects the very foundations of our democracy. So I think Mitch McConnell`s got his hands full tonight as do other Republican senators, looking at down the barrel of a possible set of witness testimony from John Bolton and others.

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, the Secretary of State made a curious choice of all the reporters to get aggressive with. He chose Mary Louise Kelly of NPR, who happens, as we pointed out, on top of her Harvard degree, to have earned a masters in Cambridge on European history. So after that dustup and the ramifications are still going on, NPR`s reporter was banned on the Secretary of State`s last overseas flight. The President in the East Room today with Bibi Netanyahu, so an impeached President hosting and a prime minister under indictment, chose to give a shout-out to his Secretary of State. We`ll play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The great Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. That was very impressive Mike. That reporter couldn`t have done too good a job on you yesterday. I think you did a good job on her actually. That`s good. Thank you, Mike.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, Maggie Haberman immediately tweeted, "Should help get suburban women back." What do you think?

PARKER: I mean this is the challenge for President Trump. What he said there, it reminds me to start with of something not that dissimilar that we see him say in his raucous rallies, where he sort of encourages the crowd or a security crew to rough up a protester. And he sort of took that dismissive, you know, bordering on violent attitude into the sanctity of the West Wing to praise how Mike Pompeo treated a reporter. And this is one of the things you do hear from those sort of swing voters, suburban women voters, is that there`s a lot of stuff that President Trump does that they don`t approve of and they don`t like and they`re not comfortable with, and it is sort of laying the groundwork for if Democrats can put up a strong, formidable challenger -- and that very much remains a real open question -- that there are some people who not just for that one moment, but for the totality of all of those moments from the campaign on to these past three years, may just say, you know what, I don`t like that, and I`m willing to try something new.

WILLIAMS: To my partner here in New York, Kimberly Atkins tonight, to Ashley Parker and Jeremy Bash down in Washington, our thanks to all of you for being with us and starting us off.

Coming up for us, after days of sitting in silence, the senators themselves are about to get in this game, albeit indirectly, this being the Senate after all.

And later, six more days until Iowa voters have their early say, and one of Trump`s opponents is under intensifying scrutiny. "The 11th Hour" is just getting started on this particular Tuesday night in view of the Capitol dome.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: During the question period of the Clinton trial, senators were thoughtful and brief with their questions, and the managers and counsel were succinct in their answers. I hope we can follow both of these examples during this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Senators who have so far been forced to observe this trial will get their chance to participate tomorrow. Democrats and Republicans will take turns questioning the House managers and the President`s lawyers. However, they still won`t get a chance to speak. Everything will be written down on these cards, the same way it was done during the Clinton impeachment. Questions will be read aloud by the chief justice, answered by those managers and lawyers.

To talk about this, we`re happy to have Ron Klain back with us. Among his many titles, former chief of staff to Senate Judiciary, former chief of staff to Al Gore during the Clinton impeachment, and former chief of staff to Joe Biden, whose campaign he`s been informally advising these days.

So, Ron, what are the rules? How does this work, and let`s be real about it. are these questions drawn up by Democrats` counsel as part of a choreographed concert, or do senators really say, here`s the one I came up with, where does it fit in our presentation?

RON KLAIN, FMR. CHIEF COUNSEL TO SENATE JUDICIARY CMTE.: Well, so what are the rules? The rules are kind of as you stated, Brian. The senators are given these little cards. It kind of looks like a 1970s talk show on television where the senators have to hand write down their questions and sign them, indicate with a check mark who the questions are for, and then the chief justice gets a big pile of these cards. He takes turns, one Democratic card, one Republican card. And he gives each set of lawyers five minutes to answer the question.

Over the course of the day, there will be about 30 questions from the Democrats, about 30 questions from the Republicans.

Now, who`s writing these questions? Some of them are indeed from the senators. I`m sure there`s some coordination between the White House lawyers and the Republican senators, perhaps between the House managers and the Democratic senators. But, look, as you said a minute ago, these senators, they`re used to talking. They`ve been sitting for four long days of listening. I think they have no shortage of questions they want to put to both sides.

WILLIAMS: Excellent point. Let`s talk about the fix Mitch McConnell is in. I think it probably took a lot for him to say they don`t have the votes to stop witnesses and documents as of earlier this evening. He could put up with two defections. Let`s say Gardner and Collins said, boss, we`ve just got to go against you. He could say, you`re fine. I`ve got your back.

Three makes it really rough. Four is very bad, so four may grab five and six to make that less hurtful. Where are you expecting to go?

KLAIN: So I used to work for the leadership staff in the Senate. There are many reasons why you boast you`re going to win a vote even if you don`t have the votes. There are few reasons to brag you`re going to lose a vote. That`s a rare thing for a leader to do.

And I think there`s a couple reasons why Senator McConnell may be doing it. The first is there`s no question that Democrats around the country are lighting up the Senate switchboard demanding witnesses. This may be a bit of a call to Trump`s base to try to phone in and pressure Republican senators to vote against witnesses.

I think he`s also setting up a big signal flare to the White House. The votes aren`t here. If you want a short trial, if you`re expecting this somehow to end before the state of the union next week, it`s not going to happen. So I think McConnell is trying to send some signals to the outside world. That`s why he made this announcement in public, not in a private Senate caucus. So this message is much more for the politics and the dynamics of it that I think it really is for managing the Senate.

WILLIAMS: And part of that subset question, do you agree that it`s -- being number four really hurts, so number four would rather come in with his or her friends, five and six?

KLAIN: Yes, look, I think there`s a couple ways this could play out. I agree this is not going to play out on a 51-49 vote. If there are five Republican senators who are going to cross the line, there are probably 10 and they probably are meeting caucusing together.

I also think this is a bit of an appeal perhaps for some sort of negotiated solution. Can the Republicans agree among themselves just exactly how many witnesses they want? Will they accept just two or three and where will the votes be? You know McConnell is trying to game this out through a combination of inside game and outside game. And -- but I don`t think it`s going to be a 51-49 vote.

WILLIAMS: So Feinstein gave an interview that sounded squishy on impeachment today. California was about to secede from the union. She dialed back the quotes crisis averted, they think. But to name three, Jones, Manchin, Sinema, could be squishy on some aspects of this. We should be asking you, is Schumer going to be able to hang on to all 47?

KLAIN: Well, look, I think that that`s a question really to ask after the end of the trial. And Senator Jones, for example, he`s in a very tough race, but he`s been strong out publicly saying that there need to be witnesses. There need to be a full trial.

So I think it`s hard to know how these bubble Democrats play out. We know how the process plays out and what kinds of testimony is heard, what kind of procedure is used.

WILLIAMS: Do you promise you`ll come back on with us and tell us what the hell is going on?

KLAIN: Anytime, Brian. Thank you very much for having me.

WILLIAMS: Ron Klain, our thanks as always.

And coming up for us, the conditional terms of the President`s defense team when "The 11th Hour" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: Even if a president, any president, were to demand a quid pro quo as a condition to sending aid to a foreign country -- obviously a highly disputed matter in this case -- that would not by itself constitute an abuse of power. Let me repeat. Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: About that right there, "The Washington Post" reports a number of Senate Republicans are seizing on that argument from one of the President`s impeachment lawyers, "Alan Dershowitz said it was not impeachable, said Senator Roy Blunt, top ally of the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And I don`t disagree with that".

"The Post" goes on to report, "The new talking point stands in stark contrast to a key argument Trump`s most ardent defenders in Congress and his own legal team", has been making, "that a quid pro quo never happened. As recently as Tuesday, Trump`s defense team was calling into question the notion that the President pressured Ukraine for a probe at all".

Back with us tonight to sort this out, Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence. Frank, I was watching Chris Matthews tonight, who got briefly angry at what he sees as the new need for journalism. We have to stop every night every time we encounter this and say, not true, wrong, not true. What is going on out there?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is what happens when people have sold their soul to something that isn`t going to resonate with the American people. So lawyers call this arguing in the alternative. What we`ve heard Dershowitz say today absolutely undermines everything we`ve heard the President say before. No quid pro quo. No quid pro quo.

What we heard today was, well, this guy John Bolton`s manuscript is concerning us. He`s going to say there was a quid pro quo, so guess what? You know, even if there was a quid pro quo, it wouldn`t be impeachable. My question is what would be impeachable? Give me something that would be impeachable. And I`m convinced today that the defense team for the President wouldn`t even come up with anything.

WILLIAMS: And join us in watching this little bit from Mr. Sekulow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP`S PERSONAL LAWYER: In his summation on Thursday night, Manager Schiff complained that the President chose not to go with the determination of his intelligence agencies regarding foreign interference and instead decided that he would listen to people that he trusted, and he would inquire about the Ukraine issue himself. Mr. Schiff did not like the fact that the President did not apparently blindly trust some of the advice he was being given by the intelligence agencies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: That was from Saturday`s argument. It stood out to us. The snide way of asking this is, when you raised your hand and took your FBI oath, did you mention Rudy, Lev, and Igor? What`s going on there?

FIGLIUZZI: Yes. So for this old counterintelligence guy, this has been a disturbing period of time for me to try to get through. We heard first in the House impeachment hearings this regurgitation of Russian intelligence propaganda on the floor of the House, and now the circle is complete. We`ve heard it now on the floor of the Senate from the President`s own defense team.

And I can tell you back at the Kremlin, back at Russian intelligence headquarters, when the guy in charge of Russian propaganda is having his performance appraisal with his boss, he`s going to say, hey, boss, I`ve got a quarter million people following fabricated Russian Facebook accounts. I`ve had our propaganda spit out on the floor of the House of Representatives, and now I`ve had it regurgitated on the floor of the U.S. Senate. This guy gets a bonus.

WILLIAMS: There`s something else, and my bias on this is I`m a cold war baby, son of a World War II era veteran, and this really got my attention. I`m going to quote from "The Kansas City Star". This is about Radio Sputnik. "A Kansas City area radio station can broadcast Russian state- owned media programming, the type that U.S. Intelligence called a propaganda machine, for six hours a day through a lease agreement struck by a local radio operator".

This is an American station owner or chain of stations, presumably knowingly agreeing to plug a wire into their programming for a local Kansas City audience that is Radio Sputnik. This gets your attention.

FIGLIUZZI: It`s got my attention, and it should get the American people`s attention. This is Russian propaganda now broadcast in the heartland of the United States. And you say, well, do they really know what`s happening? This owner of this station was forced to file a Foreign Agents Registration Act. He knows darn well what`s going on.

And so now this is information warfare coming to the middle of America, and Americans have a choice to make. They either need to be far more sophisticated at tuning out what is going to be a barrage of propaganda, or they need to become numb and forget what they stand for as Americans.

WILLIAMS: Is there a role for municipal types, a mayor, a Member of Congress, local protesters?

FIGLIUZZI: I think, you know, we`ve moved from thinking government was the solution. So ordinarily you`d say, well, the FCC --

WILLIAMS: Yes.

FIGLIUZZI: -- the FBI, the DOJ. It`s time for local citizens to say, we don`t want this station here. We don`t want to listen to it. We don`t want Russian propaganda here. We want you out.

WILLIAMS: And one more you weren`t expecting on your dance card tonight. Just around dinnertime tonight, we learned 50 traumatic brain injuries suffered by American men and women in uniform during the rocket attack, the back and forth volley with Iran. This is a whole new big number. This is the signature wound of our last two wars.

FIGLIUZZI: Well, we just finished talking about Russian propaganda. The question we have to ask ourselves is, is this White House giving us propaganda about injured U.S. service members? Why did it take so long? I understand fog of war. I understand they need to quantify the injuries. This has taken way too long for the truth to come out, and the credibility of our entire system is at stake.

WILLIAMS: I hate what we have to discuss, but you`re the best at it. Thank you very much.

FIGLIUZZI: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Frank Figliuzzi here with us tonight.

Coming up, why is Fox News so concerned about whether the Democrats are being mean to Bernie Sanders? We`ll take on that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Sanders in fact has the least baggage of any Democrat in this race. At this point, he`s the most credible change candidate in the Democratic Party. And in 2020, that could make him the most formidable challenger. Republicans are starting to think that victory is assured, and that`s a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie Sanders is now the odds-on favorite. Bernie is going to run the table come Super Tuesday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So what`s going on there? Self-described socialist Bernie Sanders is winning praise from both the President and the President`s favored cable channel because as they see it, as this theory goes, he`s the beatable candidate among the viable candidates. But with six days to go until Iowa, some are sounding the alarm. The headline of Jonathan Chait`s piece in New York magazine reads, "Running Bernie Sanders against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity".

Over at "The Atlantic," Trump critic David Frum puts it more directly. "Bernie can`t win." Neither man has exactly been bathing in the warmth of Bernie nation these past couple of hours.

With us tonight from Iowa, two of our very best. Shaquille Brewster is an NBC News Political Reporter, and Katy Tur returns to our late-night airwaves. She is of course a decorated veteran of the `16 campaign who lived to tell about it, lived to write about it and is the host of her own show each afternoon here on this network.

Shaq, we`ll begin with you. What do you think is going on here, and does team Bernie have self-awareness that all this talk is going on surrounding that?

SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, POLITICAL REPORTER, NBC NEWS: I think they do. And you know what? You`re really seeing from the Sanders campaign and from his supporters are they are trying to just brush this aside. They feel like they`re in this moment, a unique moment for this campaign.

When you look at the polling, they feel they`re surging, they`re rising, they feel good about the position that they`re in. But they also acknowledge that they know they are making some people nervous. And that was the tone that you heard from Senator Sanders the last time he was in this state.

Remember, he`s been in Washington, D.C. the past two days sitting in on that impeachment trial. But when we heard from him at a big rally in Sioux City on Sunday night, he said, hey, all of a sudden President Trump is tweeting about me. You have the Republican establishment sending out press releases about me, and you even have some in the Democratic establishment getting nervous. He celebrated that and he live in that moment and that`s what you`re hearing from the Sanders campaign and the aides on the ground.

They feel the energy right now. They feel like they really are surging and they like the attention that they`re getting because it shows that people are watching as opposed to not watching, which that`s how they felt a couple days ago -- or a couple weeks ago, excuse me, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Katy Tur, in the `16 campaign that you covered, we kept hearing Trump praising Bernie, and we chalked it up to the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But what are they saying this time around, and do they buy into any of this reverse Fox News, oh, he`s the guy we fear the most psychology?

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST, "MSNBC LIVE": Well, let me say this. I was just having a conversation with somebody who is quite close to the President and involved in the campaign, and they were having a debate about who they thought was harder to run against. Was it Joe Biden, or was it Bernie Sanders? They said both had their pros and cons.

But on the subject of Sanders, this person admitted that Sanders has very loyal support. He has very dedicated support. He has the kind of support that Donald Trump has. They admitted that there is some crossover support there from 2016. They believe, though, that that crossover support is not as strong as it was back then. So there is some awareness that Bernie Sanders has some momentum.

I`d also point out that on Fox News last year, Bernie Sanders had an extraordinarily popular town hall where he surprised many of the Fox News hosts with his health care answers and what the crowd at the town hall answered in response to health care questions. 2.5 million people watched that town hall, so Bernie Sanders is something of an unknown quantity to how he would actually stand up to Donald Trump given what happened in 2016. But, again, they are still worried about Biden, and you can see that from the way the President continues to attack him.

WILLIAMS: Katy, miracle of the Jet Age, I was still amazed to learn you spent the evening following at least one U.S. Senator around who was in the jury when they gaveled it to a close today, made it out to Des Moines. I believe it was Amy Klobuchar. What`s it like to watch someone literally make up for lost time?

TUR: You know, I got the heads-up from the campaign a little bit earlier today that they were going to make this stop, and we were planning on staying in the Des Moines area relatively close to here. And we picked up our sticks and we started driving to Council Bluffs, which is about two hours away, to meet her there. And we did pull her aside as she just got out of the car when she -- just after she landed. And she told me that, listen, she understands this is not ideal for her to be stuck in Washington. She understands that potentially having witnesses called is not ideal for her because it means she`ll be stuck in Washington for the caucus, and who knows, maybe even the New Hampshire primary. But she said it`s her job, and she has to do it.

Took a bit of a swipe at Buttigieg when she was saying that it`s her job, she can`t just go home and watch cartoons. But inside this bar, which was, you know, called to attention four hours earlier, she had 150 people or so packed into this bar, waiting for her. And she came in to cheers. She opened with a lot of impeachment talk, which got a really good response from the crowd. We keep hearing that nobody wants to hear about impeachment. Well, she talked about impeachment, and they did want to hear it.

And then she made the case for her candidacy, and there were folks that walked out of there that said they were on the fence about her, and they believe that they are going to caucus for her on Monday. It shows you the value of having that face-to-face interaction. She`s somebody who stands to really benefit from it because she did not have the funding to organize a ground game here as early as the other candidates. She`s playing catch-up. So this face time is really necessary for her. It`s probably why she is the only one of the senators that made the haul out here at the last minute.

WILLIAMS: And Shaq, you know, Joe Biden is there every day, a very simple slogan. Vote Biden, beat Trump. No messing around. It`s four words. It`s easy to see and memorize. But it really does matter that some of these senators in this race have to sit as jurors in that Senate Chamber, and they must be going just as crazy as Klobuchar was.

BREWSTER: That`s exactly right, and they`re not hiding the fact that they want to be in Iowa and not in Washington, D.C. They go straight to the cameras every time and say, I would like to be in Iowa right now. And what you see with many of these campaigns, despite the fact of not having the principal out here, you`re not having the top candidate out here, you`re having their surrogates flood the zone and flood the field campaigning on behalf of these candidates.

So, for example, today, actor Kendrick Sampson was at a Bernie field office talking to people who were knocking on doors, people who were making those phone calls saying the work that you`re doing is important especially because the senator is not here. Tomorrow Jane Sanders, Bernie Sanders` wife will be back in the state. You have Michael Moore, Ben and Jerry. You have these people all going out for Senator Sanders, crisscrossing the state, drawing their own crowds.

I was there last weekend when you had Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez pulling in about 800 people to a rally that didn`t even have Senator Sanders there. That`s an advantage that Senator Sanders has, and that`s what these senators are trying to do even if they can`t make it here and they can`t have that time on the campaign trail. They`re trying to show that their energy is still there and sending the team of surrogates out in their place as they sit silently in Washington, D.C.

WILLIAMS: A couple of points here. Des Moines is so empty at this hour. I can hear Shaquille`s words bouncing off the buildings, but I see one woman has just walked up behind him. Number two, if you guys don`t have the Maid- Rite loose meat sandwich, while you`re there, you`re missing out on the best meal of your lives.

I know it`s late. I know you`re weary. I know it`s cold. Thanks to two of our best, Shaquille Brewster, Katy Tur. See you back here. Thank you very much.

Coming up for us as we continue, a trimmed down version of week one of the trial we have witnessed thus far against Donald Trump.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They said should you move this to the Meadowlands? I said no. I want to be in South Jersey. We want to be with our friends.

But we could have filled up the Meadowlands arena two or three times. Maybe we`ll do it during the summer. Should we do it during the summer?

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WILLIAMS: President Trump tonight whipping up the crowd in the red part of a blue state, putting the wild back in Wildwood, New Jersey. Alas, the aircraft we all pay for brought him right back to Washington afterwards, the site of his ongoing impeachment trial.

Tonight puts us, as we mentioned, at the eve of a new phase in all of these. Questions from the senators. The opening arguments are now closed. Democrats took 21 of their allotted 24 hours. The Republicans took only 10 hours out of their allotted 24. We will close tonight with something of a summation of the case, a two-minute drill comprised of the key arguments on the defense and the prosecution.

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REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), HOUSE MANAGER: President Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to a strategic partner at war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At war, time matters.

SCHIFF: To secure foreign help with his re-election, in other words, to cheat.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: In a perfect call, the President would not threaten the well being of a highly respected American ambassador and say that she was going to go through some things.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Giuliani and his agents could now apply direct pressure to the Ukrainian government.

REP. VAL DEMMINGS (D), HOUSE MANAGER: Mr. Giuliani was no rogue agent. He was acting at the direction of the President.

SCHIFF: If the President was fighting corruption, if he wanted Europeans to pay more, why would he hide it from us?

JEFFRIES: The President used his awesome power to help himself and not the American people.

NADLER: The constitution is not a suicide pact. It does not leave us stuck with Presidents who abuse their power.

SCHIFF: And you know you can`t trust this President to do what`s right for this country. If you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: The counsel for the President have 24 hours to make the presentation of their case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like war, impeachment is hell.

PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: They basically said, let`s cancel an election over a meeting with the Ukraine.

MICHAEL PURPURA, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY COUNSEL: The Ukrainians were not even aware that the security assistance was paused.

JANE RASKIN, TRUMP LAWYER: Mr. Giuliani is just a minor player, that shiny object designed to distract you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why was Hunter Biden on this board?

SEKULOW: Do we have like a Biden-free zone? You`re going to impeach a President of the United States for asking a question?

DERSHOWITZ: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.

KEN STARR, FORMER UNITED STATES SOLICITOR GENERAL: Impeachments should be evaluated in terms of offenses against established law.

SEKULOW: Have a removal of a duly elected President based on a policy disagreement? If you lower the bar that way, danger, danger, danger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The two-minute version of where we`ve been going and to tomorrow`s new phase. Nicolle Wallace and I are back on the air with all of it noon eastern time.

For now, for us that`s our broadcast on a Tuesday night. Thank you so much for being here with us. Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.

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