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Pres. guilty TRANSCRIPT; 2/5/20, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Guests: Nancy Cook, Joe Donnelly, Bill Kristol

  LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And we have a footnote tonight, yes, John Kennedy when he was in the United States Senate use two different desks. As senators move up in seniority the move desk and so yes. Doug Jones, what`s that? One of John Kennedy`s desks in the Senate, his first desk. Elizabeth Warren now uses John F. Kennedy`s last desk in the Senate.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight the judgment of the Senate has been recorded, not guilty on both articles of impeachment. And now this political chapter is over, accompanied by a whole new round of speculation and predictions about what might be yet to come. It was straight party line except for one man. Mitt Romney stood up and voted Guilty after emotional remarks explaining why he had decided to become the first senator in history to cast a vote to convict against a president in His own party. Now he`s already facing the wrath and the backlash.

And then there`s the Iowa vote. That was on Monday. Remember, we still don`t have all the results. Two nights later, thanks to a meltdown debacle screw-up. And in the meantime the men who think they finished one and two go after each other on this day three. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on this Wednesday Night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 1,112 of the Trump administration, which leaves 272 days until the 2020 Presidential Election. A major chapter in the political life of our nation came to an end today. The President was found not guilty by a slim majority of the 100 senators who stood in judgment in his impeachment trial.

On both articles the vote was party line except for one. Mitt Romney of Utah stood up and said guilty. And by doing so became the first senator ever to cast an impeachment vote against a president of his own party. In emotional remarks prior to casting his vote and anticipating the backlash that has quickly surrounded him, Romney talked about how he Arrived at his vote.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): As a senator juror I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am.

I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.


WILLIAMS: According to "The Washington Post," and we quote, "Following Romney`s speech Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, walked off the Senate floor in tears and remained speechless for several seconds. "He literally restored my faith in the institution," Schatz said."

The President`s son slammed Romney for his vote earlier this evening.


DONALD TRUMP JR., ORGANIZATION EXECUTIVE VP: He flip-flopped for political expediency on every major conservative issue that he says he believes in now that he`s in Utah again. He has come to Donald Trump for his endorsement, for money when he was running. He blew his chance. Bigly.

He`s not brave. He`s a coward.


WILLIAMS: The second impeachment charge, obstruction of Congress, went down directly along party lines 53-47. The Senate leaders both spoke before the vote.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MINORITY LEADER: You cannot be on the side of this President and be on the side of truth.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MAJORITY LEADER: Leaders in the opposite party increasingly argue that if our institution don`t produce the outcomes they like our institutions themselves must be broken.


WILLIAMS: As you may know, for days Trump allies have been promising a bipartisan acquittal, expecting Democrats to crossover and join them. This afternoon three Democrats from states Trump won in `16 all voted with their party to convict Trump.

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who voted to acquit, is coming under fire for saying Trump had learned his lesson. Tonight she walked back even that wording.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: There were so many of us who are Republicans in the Senate who were very critical of the call. The call was wrong.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Did he give you any assurance that he would not do something like that again, accept foreign help in anything related to someone that might be running with him? Did you talk to him about it at all?

COLLINS: I`ve had no conversations with him throughout the trial.

MACCALLUM: So why do you have that feeling that he has changed, that he learned a lesson?

COLLINS: Well, I may not be correct on that. It`s more aspirational on my part.


WILLIAMS: Trump has yet to comment publicly on his acquittal but did say he would be making a public statement tomorrow, 12:00 p.m., from the White House.

And his administration did issue a statement claiming trial, "ended in the full vindication and exoneration of President Donald J. Trump."

Today`s vote was far from the final word on all of this. Minutes after it took place, Republican senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson sent a letter to the Secret Service director requesting information on Hunter Biden`s travel records while Joe Biden was vice president.

And about John Bolton and hearing from him before we read it in his book, today House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, was asked about a potential subpoena.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, just to put a finer point on it, you said it`s likely that your committee or some combination of committees will subpoena John Bolton. That`s what you`re saying?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When would this happen?

NADLER: I don`t know.


WILLIAMS: Here for our lead-off discussion on a Wednesday night, three of the last people standing in Washington, D.C., Annie Karni, White House Reporter with "The New York Times," Nancy Cook, White House Reporter for POLITICO, and Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon, former Chief Counsel to the House Intel Committee. Good evening and welcome to you all.

Annie, I`d like to begin with you. With the chief justice and with the U.S. Senate having begged off of this, does a new era in fact begin tonight for this President?

ANNIE KARNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It certainly does. And I think we saw part of it yesterday. I think we`re going to see Trump unbound. If you thought that unbound was what we`ve seen already I think that this is a new chapter.

People I`ve talked over the Past few days pointed me to four factors that are making them feel extremely confident as they look down toward the heart of this re-election campaign. One is the expected acquittal that is now a reality. Two is the Iowa caucus mess that makes the Democrats look like a party in disarray and casts doubt over the whole election process. Three was a chance to look presidential at the state of the union. And four was the Gallup Poll that came out a few days ago that showed his approval rating at an all-time high.

So, they are feeling very confident. They`re going to go -- they`re having another boatload of surrogates hit New Hampshire starting on Sunday. Trump has a rally there Monday night ahead of the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

They are -- Susan Collins is right that it`s aspirational. I think they just learned that the party of grievance is going to be saying we told you so.

WILLIAMS: And Nancy indeed having established all of that, including those four points, how did today differ from the White House plans?

NANCY COOK, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think the White House was caught very much by surprise by Mitt Romney`s speech. They weren`t really given a heads-up ahead of time. And so they had been planning and talking among themselves for several days about what a victory lap speech would look like this afternoon.

And you know, but the President first wanted to see the vote tally. And I think they were surprised by Romney`s speech and then I think they had also really been hoping in recent days that a moderate Democrat in a state that Trump won like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia would potentially vote to acquit Trump. And that also did not happen.

And so although they walked away today very victorious and Trump was acquitted and I think that they feel very confident after last night`s state of the union address, I think there were a few surprises this afternoon that they weren`t necessarily expecting.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, I`m eager to get you on the record on what we have just watched unfold. It was striking today to hear McConnell criticize Democratic Attacks on our institutions. How are those institutions tonight, do you think, Jeremy?

JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well I think in the national security realm I think people are worried. Because one of the signals that came out of this acquittal today is basically a green light to our adversaries. You can attack our institutions, our elections, our democracy and get away with it. In fact, the President may even invite it in.

And I think one of the messages that comes out of the acquittal is that the President feels emboldened. He did nothing wrong, it was a perfect phone call in his eyes. And this decision validates that. So I think we can expect him to invite additional foreign interference. I think Russia will feel emboldened. The President has already invited China to interfere in our elections. And there are a lot of other countries out there that say hey, we can make a deal with Donald Trump. Maybe we`ll get something in Return if we help him out in 2020.

WILLIAMS: Annie Karni, what happens to Mitt Romney now?

KARNI: Well, he made it very clear that he`s not sure but preparing for the worst. We`ve already seen the attacks begin. Ronna McDaniel, his niece, the chairwoman of the RNC came out really early with a statement attacking him. The RNC sent out a memo showing that Donald Trump is more popular than Mitt Romney in Utah. Donald Trump Jr. has been bashing him.

Some White House advisers have been warning Trump that he should just move on, take the Acquittal, not focus on Romney, move past the impeachment news cycle. Judging by the past, I think that is wishful thinking.

He may be alienated from his own party. But Mitt Romney as he said in a series of interviews, his line is that the worst thing that could happen to you in politics already happened to him. He lost the presidential race. He`s a wealthy man. He`s an older man.

My sense of him, just observing him and reporting on people around him is that if he does become a one-term senator that won`t be the end of his life. And he`s not up for four more years. So he has a long time to see what -- how it shakes out for him.

WILLIAMS: Indeed. Nancy, I want to play for you some of Romney with Chris Wallace.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: You realize this is war. Donald Trump will never forgive you for this.

ROMNEY: There`s a hymn that is sung in my church. It`s an old Protestant hymn, which is "do what is right, let the consequence follow." I know in my heart that I`m doing what`s right. I understand there`s going to be enormous consequence. And I don`t have a choice in that regard.


WILLIAMS: Nancy, that is kind of similar talk to heads on a pike.

COOK: Yes. It`s interesting. I do think that, you know, the President came out on twitter shortly after Romney gave his address and already early this Evening there was a video that went up on the President`s Twitter account mocking Romney. I was told that that was not produced this afternoon but obviously it had been something that people in the White House had been anticipating for a while.

And I think the President is supposed to deliver these impeachment remarks tomorrow, noon in the east room at the White House. And I think what will be really interesting is whether the President follows the advice of some of advisers and lets the state of the union speak for itself and the acquit speak for itself and just moves on and gives a forward-looking speech. Or if he lets his own sense of personal grievance which he so often display shine through and goes after Romney in that particular venue.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, our President is the first to come from the realm of reality television. It`s been well established. He likes a reveal kind of a staple of reality television. What did we just witness in your conjuring during the state of the union?

BASH: Well, there were a couple of Moments there, Brian, that I think will be remembered. One of them was sort of that moving moment when a soldier was reunited with his family.

But I`ve got to say, upon Reflection and talking to some people today, that in some ways rubbed some people the wrong way because in the essence not only were we using the troops as a political prop but it was sort of a dicey and difficult moment for that family and for those kids. I mean, they haven`t seen the dad in nine months. And I would have wished that that moment would have been private. And then we would have lauded the family and their service in public.

I also thought, Brian, frankly that giving Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom was inappropriate. I mean, he`s not Rosa Parks. Imagine what Republicans would have said if a Democratic president would have given the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the state of the union to someone like Michael Moore. As much as we like Michael Moore, appreciate his humor and some of the points he makes, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, I mean, come on.

WILLIAMS: On that note, to Annie Karni, to Nancy Cook, to Jeremy Bash our thanks after a long day in Washington on this Wednesday night for joining us.

Coming up for us, what it`s really like to cast a politically dangerous vote. We`ll ask someone who`s been there and done that, former Indiana Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly is standing by to talk with us.

And later, any day now we should have the full results of the Iowa caucuses. Steve Kornacki is here with us with the numbers we do have in, including some new ones, as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on this Wednesday night.



SEN. DOUG JONES, (D) ALABAMA: There will be so many who will simply look at what I`m doing today and say it is a profile in courage. It is not. It is simply a matter of right and wrong. Doing right is not a courageous act. It is simply following your oath.


WILLIAMS: Senator Doug Jones from the deep red state of Alabama in the deep south cast a very tough vote today to convict on both articles of impeachment. He faces a tough election fight back home. Two other Democrats cast similarly tough votes, Joe Manchin, West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona. Trump carried Alabama by 28 Points, West Virginia by 42 points, Arizona by 4.

With us to talk about it tonight, former U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, Democrat of Indiana, Trump carried his state by 19 Points. That left Donnelly vulnerable to a challenge by Mike Braun, who is now in the U.S. Senate. Donnelly served in the House and the Senate and is co-founder of the One Country Project, which aims to create new opportunities for Americans living in rural communities.

Senator, having voted no on Kavanaugh as you did from the state that gave us Mike Pence, your reaction to what Mitt Romney stood up and did today.

JOE DONNELLY, (D) INDIANA FMR. U.S. SENATOR: That`s the essence of what a United States senator is supposed to be, that you take an oath to support and defend the constitution. You don`t take an oath to support and defend a party or a president but the constitution of the United States.

And so when people said were you stunned by what Mitt Romney did? I was not because you feel that weight. You feel that responsibility. And I know what kind of incredible person Mitt Romney is.

WILLIAMS: How about Doug Jones? Same question.

DONNELLY: The best of the best. He`s a close friend. And when I saw the votes he made, I actually thought that`s what Senator Jones was going to do because, you know, he focuses so intently on doing the right thing. And in his mind it was really, really clear that there was a shameful abuse of power. And so Doug did what his oath required him to do.

WILLIAMS: How did we go from just in your time in Washington the state of the union that was jokingly called date night where members were asked to invite and sit with others from the other side of the aisle from the opposite party, from that, fast forward to last night and shouts of "four more years" prior to the state of the union?

DONNELLY: It`s really breathtaking to watch. Some years ago when I was in the House I sat on the other side where the Republican sat with some of my Republican friends, and in fact we all had a good laugh when we stood up to cheer President Obama and they said look at all the Republicans cheering him. But that was how it was. And to see the incredible divisiveness is disheartening.

And so what we have to do is go back to focusing on our jobs, on our oaths, which is not to worry about party or to worry about a president. Nobody works for a president. You work with a president to do the best for the nation.

WILLIAMS: James Carville, self-described old warrior, 75 years old now, was with us during our daytime coverage yesterday. And I want to play for you some of what he said and gauge your reaction.


JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that this is not going particularly well so far. And why is Tom Perez still the chairman of the Democratic National Committee? I have no idea. This party needs to wake up.

There`s only one moral Imperative in this country right now, and that is to beat Donald Trump. That`s the only moral imperative. It`s the only thing I want to hear. And until we understand that -- we win every argument, Brian. We win the argument on anything. We don`t win the elections because we talk about stuff that is not relevant.


WILLIAMS: Senator, what do you make of that?

DONNELLY: He`s exactly right. The whole idea of the One Country Project in rural communities is the wonderful, wonderful people throughout our country are focused on jobs and the opportunity to send their kids to good schools and to know that there`s food on the table and that they can retire with dignity. And when we talk about those issues, when Democrats continue to talk about them like talking about the fact that the President`s for years been trying to eliminate pre-existing conditions, Democrats do really, really well. When we go off the rails and spend all our times talking about cultural issues, we really struggle.

WILLIAMS: Do you see a Democrat out there in the field right now who can beat Donald Trump?

DONNELLY: I do. I think that in fact most all of them can as long as they`re focused like a laser on the things that people want to talk about. When we`re in Michigan we need to talk about jobs and we need to talk about the future. When we`re in places like Florida, we need to talk about climate change, about the environment. These are the things that Donald Trump can`t touch us on, is the opportunity to make sure that tariffs go away, so we don`t have our farmers in a place where bankruptcies are going up 20 percent, that we don`t have the debt exploding. When we talk about these meat and potato things, about the fact that if you have cancer, we were the party that brought you the opportunity to have health care and Donald Trump is trying to take it away.

WILLIAMS: Hillary Clinton goes into Coal Country, says we`re going to close your mine but don`t worry, we`re going to get you green jobs, which of course never materialized. Donald Trump, make of this what you will, runs on a pro-coal platform, carries Joe Manchin`s state of West Virginia by 42 Points. Are you teaching Democrats how to speak American?

DONNELLY: I hope that`s what we`re trying to do, is to tell them look, you cannot talk about changing their lives without providing hope and a plan and aspiration and a chance for success. That coal miner at the end of the day has children at the table who are counting on him or her to come through for them. And so as you say, and it`s a great way to put it, Brian, we need to talk American to all the Americans, not just those on, you know, either coast.

WILLIAMS: Former Indiana Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly, thank you, Senator, for joining us tonight and taking our questions.

Coming up for us, we are ever closer to knowing all the results from Iowa. They voted back on Monday. Steve Kornacki updates the Democrats` delayed vote count with some actual new vote counts when we come back.



PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And the key to defeating Donald Trump is to deny him the ability to change the subject. Putting up some equal but opposite version of him is a recipe for failure because folks are going to go for the original. We need to do something completely different.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: Is Senator Sanders equal but opposite? Is that what you`re saying?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I would certainly say that if you`re asking me for why we don`t need somebody who has the same kind of sizzle as President Trump I think we need a different approach.


WILLIAMS: Small portion of Stephanie Ruhle`s interview with Pete Buttigieg this evening, which you can catch in its entirety 9:00 a.m. on this network Eastern Time tomorrow. The former mayor of South Bend is hanging on to a slim lead over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses. That was Monday.

Of course the picture is still murky since we are still looking at partial results on a Wednesday night. We are learning more about the reporting app that seems to be the root of the problem. File this under no expletive deleted, Sherlock. Experts who examined it tell NBC News it "suffered from technical and design flaws and appeared to have been rushed into use."

Our National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki is back on duty, remains on duty watching the numbers. I just passed Steve in the hallway. He was rather excited at a new tranche of numbers just in to us. Steve?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATL. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Here it is, Brian. I was told it was on the way when I saw you in the hallway, and here it is. We`re now up to 96 percent reporting in Iowa, only a few precincts left to come in. But there is some sudden last-minute suspense in this. I want to explain this to you. You know how complicated these caucuses are. But let me take you through where we stand now and why there suddenly is some suspense.

So this is what you`ve been seeing. Buttigieg leading Sanders. It is seven- tens of a percent here, 26.4 to 25.7. When we say he`s leading, what are we talking about? We`re talking about these numbers right here, 549 for Buttigieg, 533 for Sanders. What are these? These are what they call state delegate equivalents. You probably heard that term once or twice over the last few days. That`s the unit of measurement they use to determine the winner of the Iowa caucuses. They use that as the basis for distributing national convention delegates. State delegate equivalents.

Now, the margin for Buttigieg right now over Sanders is 16 of those. OK? That has come down over the course of the evening. It now sits at 16. Why there is last-minute suspense has to do with this? Not something you`re going to see on this map of Iowa. Something you`re going to see down here in the lower right-hand corner. We only put this in here for sort of emergency use if it came to this. These are the satellite caucuses. You heard about this on Tuesday. They were taking place during the day, various locations around Iowa, in some cases around the world. Folks who could not make it out to the caucuses scheduled for their precinct in the evening.

We are starting to get -- we`ve gotten the results from two of these now. What they did is basically there`s -- it`s so complicated. There are four congressional districts in Iowa. If you went to a satellite caucus in the first district, all the satellite caucuses there were merged together. In the second district they were merged together, the third district and the fourth district. And now we have the results.

Here`s what I want to show you. Take a look, for instance, at the second district. These are the satellite caucus results. Sanders won this thing in a runaway, 53 percent, Warren 21 percent. Look whose name you`re not seeing here. Pete Buttigieg got zero. And Sanders got 53 percent. Look at what happened in the other congressional district where we have satellite caucus results, even more dramatic. Sanders got 75 percent, Buttigieg got 5 percent.

So the upshot of this is what? Let`s go back to those -- and there are two that have not reported. The upshot of this is what? We have the state delegate equivalent total I`m telling you about. The gap is 16. From those two I just showed you, Sanders was able to make up eight. OK? There are two to come in. If the same exact thing happens in those, that 16 obviously comes down to single digits. But Sanders could do even better because the number of state delegate equivalents for those satellite caucuses depends on turnout. We`re not going to know the number till they tell us.

There`s a possibility here the number could be anywhere between 12 and 20 at a very high end that Sanders is able to net here. So the possibility exists. Sort of an outside possibility here but you can`t rule it out looking at those numbers we saw in the first two, that Sanders could catch Buttigieg in that state delegate equivalent count in those congressional district satellite caucuses.

There are other precincts still to come in the state. It`s hard to see a clear advantage for Sanders or Buttigeig in those. We have to wait and see. But basically, that`s the wild card. We`re waiting on satellite caucus results from two congressional districts. So something where Sanders has been showing a clear advantage over Buttigieg in the early returns and it`s just an unexpected wild card at the last minute here, Brian.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: This could not have been made more complicated, as you have struggled to point out. What`s the chance someone is going to suggest in the future maybe one Iowan one vote?

KORNACKI: Here is the problem with that. If you`re an Iowan and you love this national media attention, the reason it`s this extraordinarily complicated and it`s not as simple as you describe is that would be a primary election. That would be you show up, you cast a ballot, you count one person one vote. And New Hampshire State law, which has been on the books for decades now, says they have to have the first primary in the country. They empower their secretary of state. He can move the date a week before the primary if he needs to.

So Iowa has had this sort of no aggression pact with New Hampshire for generations now where Iowa holds something different than a primary, a caucus with all of this convoluted stuff going on in New Hampshire. And they each get to say they`re first in the nation in something.

WILLIAMS: Maybe they can call it a toaster oven and still allow people to vote. Steve Kornacki, thank you for the hours you have piled up and the courageous efforts to explain what is happening in Iowa.

Coming up, would you believe we are six days out from the aforementioned first primary in the nation of the 2020 season? Two of our road warriors join us from New Hampshire with the very latest when we come right back.



JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do believe it`s a risk to be just straight up with you for this party to nominate someone who`s never held an office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana.


WILLIAMS: After experienced what he called a gut punch in Iowa, Joe Biden is fighting back in New Hampshire with six days to go until the first in the nation primary. Former Vice President seems to be splitting his sights on two Democratic opponents who saw strong results coming out of Iowa, we think. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. The latest RealClear Politics polling average in New Hampshire has Biden well behind Sanders from the neighboring state of Vermont and only slightly ahead of Buttigieg. Senators Warren and Klobuchar not far behind.

With us tonight two of our NBC News road warriors, Shaquille Brewster is following the Sanders campaign. Mike Memoli, remains covering Joe Biden. Both gentlemen with us from Manchester, New Hampshire tonight.

Shaq, long before you were born, a great man wrote "I know it`s late. I know you`re weary. I know your plans don`t include me." Having established that, how frustrated is the Sanders campaign, especially as Steve Kornacki reports they`re still finding votes under hay bails in Iowa?

SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: That`s exactly right, Brian. And there`s a growing sense of frustration among the Sanders campaign. And that frustration shifted from private conversations that I`ve had with aides and advisers into the public realm after the Iowa Democratic Party seemingly misallocated some votes earlier this afternoon.

They misallocated some votes from Senator Sanders to some of the candidates that weren`t even viable in this race. And the Sanders campaign really blasted them on Twitter about that, saying because it had the appearance of expanding the lead Mayor Pete Buttigieg had. That was fixed. That error has been corrected. And that`s not -- that was not part of the results that Steve showed earlier today. But it goes into the sense of frustration that you`re hearing from the Sanders campaign.

And the reason why this connects to New Hampshire is because the campaign is making this argument. Don`t focus on the delegate equivalents in Iowa. That`s of course how we call the race. They want people to focus on the popular vote, the raw vote data, because in New Hampshire it`s a primary system, so people go into their voting booth, they make a selection and walk out. They feel like they`re in a really strong position here in New Hampshire. They`ve been knocking on doors. They`ve spent about $5 million in television ads. They feel like their ground game will really deliver it for them, especially when you look at the average of polls that you just mentioned.

So the Sanders campaign is growing frustrated about Iowa. They want that to be over. They just want to come out of Iowa with the good finish because they want to ride some momentum into New Hampshire where they think they are on much stronger footing and having good finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, they feel that really leads them into having really good momentum going in the rest of the primary. Brian?

WILLIAMS: And Mike Memoli, about the campaign you`re covering, there is a devastating postmortem that went up in the "New York Times" about what went wrong with the Biden effort in Iowa. Even though he had what was generally considered a good and emotional outing at a CNN town hall tonight, there`s a tracking poll out showing Buttigieg inching up, Biden inching down. That`s the opposite of momentum coming into New Hampshire. How frustrated are they, Mike?

MIKE MEMOLI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brian, all that confusion in Iowa, and the questions from the Biden campaign about whether to even challenge those results and question the integrity of the caucus process has proven to be a little bit of a diversion from two very difficult conversations that are now under way in earnest within the Biden campaign.

One about the state of their organization, whether they have really built the kind of effective campaign that you need to have in order to win the nomination. Fingers are starting to be pointed as you can begin to see in that "Times" article. The second question has to do with the Vice President`s own performance on the trail frankly, whether or not he has shown the kind of fight that is necessary to convince those voters that your argument about electability and taking on Donald Trump is one that you can actually meet.

We saw him at least begin to address that second question today in Somersworth. You played him sound of him attacking Mayor Pete Buttigieg, questioning whether he`s ready to take on the job. It also translated into him showing a little bit of humility saying he`s not going to sugarcoat the results that they`re trying to build a comeback narrative with Biden acknowledging that gut punch, saying he wants to have New Hampshire help him with that comeback.

It`s also interesting, Brian, I think to see him now engaging in that conversation with Bernie Sanders much more explicitly where it`s a conversation he`s wanted to have with voters all along, but today raising the threat of President Trump attaching the socialist label to every Democrat up and down the ballot. Biden saying today Democrats need to get real about taking on Donald Trump and that Bernie Sanders as the nominee puts a lot of Democrats in congressional seats all across this country in a very difficult position.

WILLIAMS: But, Mike, even those glancing kind of drive-by attacks from Biden today were by and large on teleprompter. And you still see the former Vice President glancing up to read them, which is one of the knocks on him, that he has not just come forward, made himself available to speak English.

MEMOLI: The Biden campaign says there`s no better retail politician than Joe Biden. And the New Hampshire primary is all about retail politics. He could be spending this week going in and out of diners, going in and out of town hall meetings, talking to voters. And instead, Brian, Joe Biden is not appearing in public tomorrow, at least according to his public schedule. And he`s very likely not to appear in public on Friday as well.

That`s because they`re getting him ready for that debate on Friday night. But it`s a very real question about whether or not that`s an effective use of his time and addressing that other question about showing he`s in it to win it.

WILLIAMS: And, Shaq, in 30 seconds or less, Biden is eager to get to South Carolina. They believe that`s the heart of their campaign effort. Sanders, would you say, eager for South Carolina to come on after New Hampshire?

BREWSTER: I think he`s very happy about the fact that Nevada and South Carolina are so close together and then he can look forward to super Tuesday. This campaign is not spending money in South -- excuse me, is not spending money on the television air waves in South Carolina just yet.

If you look at the greater country, they`re already spending ads -- spending money on ads in California and in Texas, for example. So it`s very clear they want to blow past South Carolina. They do send their surrogates there. They do have staff there on the ground. But it`s very clear where their focus and where their priority is.

WILLIAMS: Two gentlemen with miles to go before they sleep. Shaquille Brewster, Mike Memoli, thank you for making time for us here tonight.

Coming up for us, where Congress and the bitterly divided political parties go from here. There has got to be a morning after when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R-PA): Look, it is not appropriate for any candidate for federal office certainly, including a sitting president to ask for assistance from a foreign country, that`s not appropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The question is it appropriate for a president to be - - to ask a foreign government --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I think we are going to have an investigation. It`s a nonpartisan investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, Senator, it`s a yes or no question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an answer that you get from a very serious investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any evidence at all that President Trump threatened to take aid away from the Ukraine unless they investigate Biden or do his political bidding? If the answer is yes I`ll be on your show very disappointed with our President.


WILLIAMS: All righty, then. That was then. In the end all those guys voted not guilty. Mitt Romney was the only Senate Republican to stand up and go the other way.

Here with us for more on this consequential night is our friend Bill Kristol, veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, editor-at-large of the Bulwark. Also happens to be director of Defending Democracy Together, a group advocating for a Republican Party that rejects what it calls "nativist and authoritarian impulses."

Bill, I`m going to start by quoting two great men. You first, "Proud to be an Old Republican: Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Dole, George w. Bush, McCain, Romney."  And Charlie Sykes up in Wisconsin, he wrote this today about Mitt Romney. "His vote won`t change the outcome, but it`s striking how one man alone can dramatically change the mood, the tone, and the moral character of this final vote."

And I was recalling tonight, I`ve asked you a good number of times right here if Mitt Romney had it in him. And we`ve speculated about that. What`s your answer tonight?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: The answer tonight is yes. I always thought he would actually vote to convict. I think that`s what he believed. And he did it. And I`ve been struck also over the last however many hours since he voted, seven, eight hours, how moved people seem to be by this. I mean, and it`s only one vote. It doesn`t change the outcome. He`s probably pretty safe there in Utah and he`s, you know, may not run for re-election five years from now, four years from now, whatever.

But I think people are -- they want to believe that some politicians sometimes do the right thing, act on principle, don`t simply go with the party or with the pressure on them, are willing to withstand that pressure. And he also was eloquent and, you know, intelligent in explaining his vote. So it was an unusual moment, and I think it will have some ripple effect.

WILLIAMS: Every journalist like an F7 key on the keyboard is using, you know, some version of newly emboldened President Donald Trump. Do you buy into that? Do you mean -- do you believe that that is the direct outgrowth of what happened today?

KRISTOL: Yes. And I think incidentally -- well, it`s on the flip side of the Romney thing. The Romney -- just one last word on Romney, I think to the degree to which -- look, I don`t think it`s going to save the Republican Party in the short term. I think people like me, we`ve got to try to help the Democrats nominate someone electable and reasonable. And that`s the best thing that can happen for the country on November 3rd. So Romney doesn`t change that.

But we do want to have two healthy parties in this country. And Romney`s vote, it`s one senator out of what, 53 senators, 197 or something congressmen, is -- still kind of gives a little bit of a flicker of light. On another matter, I think people have been underestimated. I mean people say Trump`s emboldened but they need to think concretely what does that mean. And I think it`s dangerous and worrisome.

Look at these stories right away that they were calling the -- in Iowa trying to mess up the phones a little bit. That`s a tiny, tiny little tip of the iceberg with the games they can play on the Democratic primary side. But what about using government, you know, resources and assets to influence the election campaign domestically and abroad? Does anyone think Trump isn`t going to think of doing that? Are there people in the administration who are going to say no, sir, you can`t really just announce, you know, 10 new -- divert money to competitive states and do so without getting congressional approval and so forth. God knows about foreign policy and stuff.

So no, I think it`s a dangerous -- honestly just for the country, we`ve had people push things on the edge, Nixon especially, in election years, but I think for the country it`s a sort of dangerous next eight, nine months.

WILLIAMS: A friend of mine from back home in New Jersey said today he wants Romney to run as the Democratic nominee. Absent that possibility, handicap for us what you`re seeing on the other side. And the name that has come up nowhere in our coverage today or tonight, Mike Bloomberg of New York.

KRISTOL: So Iowa`s a big deal. And the media is being the media. We`re kind of obsessed with the media story. Hey, where are the results, you know, and they kind of squid that up. But look, it`s still -- people will know the results by Friday, by Saturday. They know them now basically. And voters will know them in New Hampshire. Donors will know them.

So the notion that it doesn`t have fundamental big consequences because the results were muddied for the first 24 hours will turn out silly I think. And there are big consequences. Joe Biden was the front-runner, was thought to be the front-runner. He ran fourth and not even a close fourth. He is no longer the front-runner. That`s a big deal. Sanders is a front-runner, maybe the front-runner. Buttigieg is now the main moderate opponent of Sanders. Warren sort of hanging in there.

But if Sanders beats Warren again in New Hampshire, he kind of becomes presumably the progressive candidate. Buttigieg has a shot to be the alternative to Sanders. I think he could do very well. He`s moving up in New Hampshire. So that could become sort of like Iowa. I think Buttigieg and Sanders, you know, sort of tied for -- close to tied for the top. We`ll see what Buttigieg can do with that in South Carolina.

And then Bloomberg`s lurking if Buttigieg doesn`t -- you know, can`t solidify as kind of the alternative. I think too many people here, though - - I mean I respect Bloomberg and I think he has a shot. And I think people have discounted Buttigieg too much. You know, we`ve seen occasionally -- I think you look at a field of 73-year-old president, 77-year-old people running against him, literally, right? Sanders, Biden and Bloomberg. And I think an awful lot of voters might look at Pete Buttigieg and say it would be nice if he were five years older, kind of nice if he`d mayor of a slightly bigger city. But, you know what, he looks like a sensible guy. And we do need to have a generational change.

Look at the Congress, Mitch McConnell, let`s see, 74, 75, Nancy Pelosi, 79. Fine people but it`s a little crazy honestly. So I think Buttigieg is -- people are still underrating what he did with that showing in Iowa. It does remind me a little of Jimmy Carter in `76, you know, who was able to come from nowhere to become the nominee and the president.

WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol, it`s always a pleasure. Thank you. It`s a Consequential day, another one as we said.

Coming up, a great ride and a long life have come to an end when we continue.


WILLIAMS: There he is. Last thing before we go tonight, the long life of an icon has come to an end. Kirk Douglas has died at the age of 103. His life followed the arc of the American dream. His film chronicled so much of humankind. Our look back tonight from NBC News correspondent Cynthia McFadden.


CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: For decades, he was one of America`s leading men. Handsome, charismatic, strong. Douglas`s energy and intensity lit up the screen.

Born in 1916 in upstate New York, the son of immigrant Russian Jews. He was married twice and had four sons. The oldest, Michael, became a star himself. His career spanned five decades. Acting, producing, even directing. A stroke seriously impairing his ability to speak.

Two months after that stroke, Kirk Douglas stood before his peers at the Oscars and received a lifetime achievement award. Most expected him to say only thank you and step down. Instead his speech would be one of the most dramatic moments of academy award history.

KIRK DOUGLAS: I see my four sons. They are proud of the old man.

MCFADDEN: His wife of 65 years survives him.

Cynthia McFadden, NBC News, New York.


WILLIAMS: And that is our broadcast on this Wednesday night. Thank you for being here with us. 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