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Trump has praised Kim Jong Un and Putin. TRANSCRIPT: 10/15/2018, The 11th Hour w Brian Williams.

Guests: A.B. Stoddard

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: October 15, 2018 Guest: A.B. Stoddard

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, President Trump says rogue killers could be to blame for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, as NBC News learns that Saudi Arabia`s government is now discussing a plan to admit that he was killed in that Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Plus, Elizabeth Warren comes forward with DNA evidence that she has a tiny percentage of Native American heritage. But will it do anything to stop the President from using the nickname that gets laughs out on the trail.

And good news, the President says, "Don`t worry about climate change, it`s going to change back."

THE 11TH HOUR on a Monday night begins now.

Well, good evening once again on a Monday night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 634 of the Trump administration, and the President is trying to keep the focus on his administrations Hurricane Michael recovery effort, while capitalizing on his successes last week, as the midterms approach. Yet, international outrage over the disappearance of a Saudi columnist for "The Washington Post" has become the latest crisis for this White House.

Jamal Khashoggi also pronounce Khashoggi has been missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey nearly two weeks ago. He was never seen alive again. Turkish authorities say they are convinced he was murdered there. The Saudis have denied that allegation.

Tonight, NBC News is reporting Saudi Arabia`s government now is discussing a plan to admit that he was killed in the consulate, according to three people with knowledge of the situation, and we, "According to two of the individuals, the Saudis are putting together an explanation that would absolve Crown Prince MBS, Mohammed bin Salman, the putative leader of Saudi Arabia, of responsibility by giving him plausible deniability to say he didn`t order the killing and didn`t know about it. One of those people said he was told by those close to the Saudi leadership that the kingdom will claim that rogue operatives killed Khashoggi during an interrogation or a rendition attempt that went horribly awry."

"The Washington Post" reports Turkish authorities have now searched the Saudi authorities have now searched the Saudi consulate and that Khashoggi`s family is calling for an independent investigation.

This morning President Trump talked about a phone call he had with the father of the crown prince who happens to be the king, and he seemed willing to advance that story about rogue killers.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of what took place with regard to, as he said, his Saudi Arabian citizen.

The king firmly denies any knowledge of it. He didn`t really know, maybe - - I don`t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?


WILLIAMS: Later in the day, the President was asked about reports that Khashoggi may have been killed during an interrogation that somehow went wrong.


TRUMP: We`re going to have to see what they say, and we`re working very close with Saudi Arabia, and with Turkey, and they`re working together to figure out what happened. And they want to know what happened also.


WILLIAMS: In the meantime, the President has dispatched his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to Saudi Arabia, to meet with the king. You may recall the Trump administration wasted no time forging close ties to the kingdom, and to the crown prince.

The President`s first overseas trip as President was to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Trump`s son-in-law, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner has helped to engineer this alliance as part of his vast portfolio. And Trump has been particularly cautious when it comes to any discussion of penalizing the Saudis over this matter.

This was the President last night on "60 minutes."


LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTE HOST: Jared, your son-in-law, got on the phone and asked the prince did he deny it?

TRUMP: They deny it. They deny it every way you can imagine.

STAHL: Would you consider imposing sanctions as a bipartisan group of senators had proposed?

TRUMP: Well, it depends on the sanctions is. I`ll tell you what I don`t want to do, Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all this -- I don`t want to hurt jobs. I don`t want to lose an order like that.


WILLIAMS: More on that defense order in just a moment. President Trump`s embrace of leaders with questionable human rights records, or full-on dictators, is now well known and well documented. Critics say his latest crisis involving the Saudis is another reminder of that.

Last night Trump was asked about his relationships with two other leaders, Russia`s Vladimir Putin, and before that, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, with whom Trump said he`s fallen in love.


STAHL: He presides over a cruel kingdom of oppression, gulags, starvation. A reports that he had his half brother assassinated. Slave labor, public executions, this is a guy you love?

TRUMP: I know all these things, I mean, I`m not a baby, I know all these things.

STAHL: I know, but why do you love that guy?

TRUMP: Look, look, I get along with him, OK?

STAHL: But you said you love him.

TRUMP: OK. That`s just a figure of speech.

STAHL: Just like -- no, it`s like an embrace.

TRUMP: Well, let it be an embrace, let it be whatever it is to get the job done.

STAHL: Yes, but he is a bad guy. Do you agree that Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations, in poisonings?

TRUMP: Probably he is, yes. Probably. I mean, I don`t --

STAHL: Probably?

TRUMP: Probably. But I rely on them. It`s not in our country.


WILLIAMS: And for the record, about that $110 billion arms deal the President keeps talking about, keeps quoting as his basis for not wanting for harsh on the Saudis, tonight, "The Washington Post" writes the $110 billion figure is not real and unlikely to come to fruition. He quotes a defense expert that it`s fake.

And about the President`s claim that the Saudis would go elsewhere to Russia or China to buy their planes and weapons, the same expert says, "It would take decades to transition from U.S. and U.K. aircraft, for example, to Russian or Chinese aircraft."

"The Post" points out some of this $110 billion figure could be included in memos of intent, not actual arms purchases. And some of them dating back to the Obama administration.

Now, on that note, let`s bring in our leadoff panel on a Monday night. Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence. A.B. Stoddard is back with us, Columnist and Associate Editor at Real clear Politics. And Robert Costa returns, National political Reporter for "The Washington Post" and Moderator of the all important this days Washington Week on PBS. We welcome all of you back to the broadcast.

Frank, is -- does this feel like they`re going to tell a story, something like, OK, you`ve got us, we wanted to ask the guy a couple of questions, maybe it was going to be a rendition, we were going to fly him out of there to ask those questions. Things got a little rough. We used outside contractors, and I can`t speak for what happened after that. Is that what we`re looking at here?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSIST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: Boy, Brian, you could be writing the script for the Saudis right now, because I think that`s exactly where we`re headed in some form of twisted bizarre, face safe-saving measure for the Saudis. But this has all the earmarks of the dreaded Saudi internal intelligence service, the Al-Mabahith. They torture people, they dismember people, they kill people. Their motto is a homeland not protected is one we don`t deserve to live in. And they take that to the extreme, where if you`re not with our program, you don`t deserve to live. That`s what this looks like.

In terms of an interrogation gone wrong, you don`t bring 15 people to an interview. And you certainly don`t bring a bone saw, which is what are the reports that we are hearing. This looks like it was intended to be a death squad. And it looks like they served out their purpose.

The Saudis know what happened. The Turks know what happened. The only person claiming he doesn`t know what happened is our President.

WILLIAMS: So Frank, about our President, buried in "The New York Times" a couple days back, a kind of an indication, a marker, or a warning that the Saudis may switch to blaming this on rogue elements. Next, we hear of rogue elements, they`re coming from our President having hung up the phone with the king. Do you think anyone in the intelligence community in this country actually briefed the President of rogue elements being a possible cause here?

FIGLIUZZI: I think that`s unlikely. I don`t even know for sure that he`s received a fulsome briefing or asked for one. But I know this, our intelligence agencies are really good. And then when you combine them with the allies and what the Turkish government has, they know what`s done on here, and certainly someone at the White House has been told the truth.

Look, without going into top secret details, you know that consulates and diplomatic establishments around the world are covered in all sources -- manner of sources, technical, human, and otherwise. And so the truth is there. We`re talking about shading it. We`re talking about face saving. We`re talking about an economic reason to not take a moral stance here. But the truth is there, and everything is pointing to an actual murder.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, let`s talk about the other aspect of this, and this is the all-consuming presidency of Donald Trump. We watched in great detail the Kavanaugh matter, the President has taken some of that politically. You`ll forgive the phrase "out for a spin," and then this. And he almost wears his frustration on his sleeve at having to get bogged down by this, having to admit the coverage sure indicates this is a growing, unraveling, international scandal or crisis.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It is. But inside the White House, talking to top Republicans and advisers to President Trump, they believe that the gender and culture wars have been reignited by the Kavanaugh confirmation. And this kind of curveball on foreign policy, a real crisis about human rights, decisions must be made about sanctions, about whether to move forward in a negative way with the Saudi government.

This is something Republicans in power trying to protect their Congressional majorities aren`t eager to discuss on the campaign trail in the closing weeks. But as so much in politics you cannot control the story, and the story now is Jamal Khashoggi. And despite Jared Kushner and President Trump having warm relations with the saudis, this is something that is really going to become a campaign trail issue. This is the October surprise, perhaps not, the Kavanaugh confirmation.

WILLIAMS: A.B., I have something to play for you. And it is a video example of how the President believes denials depending on who is doing the denying. We`ll discuss it on the other side.


TRUMP: Manafort has totally denied it. He denied it.

Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That`s all I can say. He denies it. And by the way, he totally denies it.

I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.


WILLIAMS: So what do you make of that? How unusual is the White House dealing with this crisis in terms of just Republican Presidents we have known?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOC. EDITOR AND COLUMNIST: Well, the President made it very clear last night in his interview with Leslie Stahl that American values are not going to stand in the way of his relationships with Chairman Kim and President Putin and the Saudi royal family with whom the President has done business in the past, going back decades actually. He basically said, let it be what it is, if that gets the job done, when she was pressing him about the Kim regime and what goes on inside North Korea.

And he basically has admitted that there are no means, there are only ends. And so he`s not going to get bogged down. He has a great wrap that he has about this $110 billion and he wants Americans to believe he`s producing oodles of jobs.

This idea that severe punishment is something he floated out there to quiet Republican senators who are worried about this and want to impose sanctions on the Saudi kingdom. He said severe punishment, but at the same time is completely taken off the table. Not only the idea of sanctions, but this weapons deal, as well. There is no punishment. There are no consequences. and he`s made that clear.

And he -- he doesn`t -- I mean, sending Mike Pompeo may seem like the symbolic gesture that means something, but it`s just a way of kind of buying time, telling Marco Rubio and other senators who are upset about this, that he`s acted. But he`s really hoping this would blow over, that the cover story will take flight and be enough, and he wants to move on.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, I think we have the exchange about General Mattis from the interview last night. If we do, let`s play that. We`ll play that and we`ll talk about it on the other side.


STAHL: Is it true General Mattis said to you the reason for NATO and the reason for all these alliances is to prevent World War III?

TRUMP: No, it`s not true. Frankly, I like General Mattis. I think I know more about it than he does. And I know more about it from the standpoint of fairness, that I can tell you.

STAHL: Is he going to leave?

TRUMP: Well, I don`t know. He hasn`t told me that. I have a very good relationship with him.

STAHL: Do you want him to leave?

TRUMP: It could be that he is. I think he`s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth. But General Mattis is a good guy, we got along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves.


WILLIAMS: Just two facts for the record before answer, Robert, General Mattis joined the Marine Corps in 1969 and is a former commander of allied forces under the NATO umbrella. So what did you make of that exchange?

COSTA: It`s so revealing, Brian. Looking back two years ago, talking to people in the Trump transition, they said that President-elect Trump was obsessed with Mattis, called him "mad dog Mattis. He love the nickname "mad dog" and they said to him behind the scenes, President Trump, know he has this nickname "mad dog." He`s really in their words of globalist, this is someone who`s in the elite of the American military, he believes in global institutions, global alliances. He`s not some mad dog person.

He actually doesn`t even like the nickname "mad dog", they told President. But he said "No, no, he`s `mad dog Mattis," and he`s going to be my Secretary of Defense." And their relationship has slowly fray over the past two years and that exchange about World War III. That comes from the Bob Woodward book "Fear," where you have Mattis telling the President, the North Korean alliance matters -- excuse me, the South Korean alliance matters with the U.S. to prevent a war -- some kind of major conflict with North Korea.

WILLIAMS: A.B., Mattis enroute to Vietnam, was asked by reporters about his party affiliation. Says she`s never registered with any party. He`s been called the human guard rail for this administration and probably for good reason. What if something happens to Mattis, what if the President makes a change?

I`m tempted to snarly (ph) ask if Jeff Flake will complain or object to that? What happens --

STODDARD: Oh, I think the President made it very clear as Leslie Stahl was sort of provoking him about the Woodward reporting, that he is not pleased, and that he`s done with General Mattis. And everyone in Washington is talking about the fact that General Mattis is likely to step down in December, say it`s been his two years. You`ll hear Republicans say two years is a long time.

President Obama did have four or five Secretaries of Defense. And he might pick a good week, a quiet week to go and say it`s all been great. And a lot of speculation about how Senator Lindsey Graham, General Jack Keen was another name floated, but that Senator Graham would be interested in the job. And I think we`re not looking a longer 10-year for General Mattis. And that, I think it will upset a lot of people. But the President has made it clear he`s moved on.

WILLIAMS: Frank Figliuzzi, one last quick word from you, would this be a good time for the President to place his full faith and trust in U.S. intelligence?

FIGLIUZZI: Boy, if only he would, Brian, right? We`ve been saying for several months now that the day would come when all the denigration and erosion of the U.S. Intelligence Services, the President`s refusal to listen to the briefings, he`s still saying last night on "60 minutes," Putin probably may be killing people.

Now, his intelligence sources are telling him it`s definite, Putin is a cold blooded killer. But here is the problem, he needs to take that hard evidence and confront the Saudis with it right now. He won`t do it, because even if he wanted to, the Saudis would come back and say, "Wait a minute, is this the same intelligence services and agencies that you denigrate, that you don`t trust in, is that who provided you this intelligence?" It`s burned him and it`s burned the agencies.

WILLIAMS: With that, our thanks to our three returning veterans, Frank Figliuzzi, A.B. Stoddard, Robert Costa. Greatly appreciate you joining us tonight.

And coming up, the President again says the real problem, the real election meddlers are China. All this talk of Russia is "ridiculous."

And later, just what is Elizabeth Warren up to? Is she testing the waters to run against Trump by getting her DNA tested first?

THE 11TH HOUR just getting under way on a Monday night.



STAHL: Do you believe that the Russians interfered in the 2016 campaign? Election?

TRUMP: Well, they meddled. But I think China meddled, too. And I think other country. And do you want to know something --

STAHL: Why do you say China meddled, too? Why don`t you just say the Russians meddled?

TRUMP: Because I think China meddled also. And I think frankly China is a bigger problem.

STAHL: This is amazing. You`re diverting the whole Russian thing --

TRUMP: I`m not doing anything.

STAHL: You are. You are.

TRUMP: I`m saying Russia, but I`m also saying China.


WILLIAMS: President Trump telling "60 Minutes" China is a bigger problem than Russia when it comes to election meddling. In fact, blaming China is the new thing that members of the Trump administration are doing from the President on down. The President himself talking about it at the U.N.

And on October 4th, Mike Pence said China is interfering in U.S. politics to undermine President Trump. In a speech at the Hudson Institute, Pence said an intelligence official told him that Russia`s influence campaign pales in comparison to what China is doing across America.

China has forcefully denied accusations of election meddling. On Sunday, their Ambassador to the U.N. appeared on the President`s favorite news network to respond to Pence.


CUI TIANKAI, CHINA AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I have to say all these accusations are groundless. One of the fundamental principles in china`s foreign policy is non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. And we have been consistent in this position. We have a very good track record.


WILLIAMS: Well, let`s talk about this with a smart friend of ours, who is in this part of the world with us to talk about it. It is Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon.

Jeremy, if you wouldn`t mind starting us off with a fact check. Does Chinese meddling equal or exceed in terms of a clear and present danger what the Russians have already done to our elections?

JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: No. I mean, Brian, China is a sophisticated cyber actor. I mean, they do engage in hacking, they do engage in theft and espionage. But to my knowledge, there`s no evidence to date that they have engaged in the kind of propaganda or political warfare to try to tip the scales of an election in the way that Russia did in 2016.

And the fact that the Vice President said an intelligence official told him so, that`s not the way the intelligence community works. The intelligence community doesn`t work by having some official come forward and whisper something in the ear of the President about to go on 60 minutes or the Vice President about to give a speech. The community works by propounding specific, articulable intelligence community assessments through written products to a president`s daily brief, and through formal declarations of assessment and recommendations.

WILLIAMS: Because some talking points can have just the slightest underpinnings, I want to show you what the President said on Twitter and what he was remarking about. This is September 26th.

"Regrettably, we have found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration." This is -- I`m sorry, I was reading the wrong thing. "China is actually placing propaganda ads in "The Des Moines register" and other papers made to look like news. That`s because we are beating them on trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over."

Jeremy, he was so alarmed at this insert. For years, overseas governments have purchase inserts, sections of newspapers, sometimes trying to make the editorial and the graphics look like it`s plausibly a news product. But this has going on for a long time because someone brought it to his attention, lesser things have talking points been pinned on, I guess, is what I`m saying.

BASH: Yes, anybody who has actually read a broad cheap newspaper, an open and magazine can say on the top it says special advertising section. And those are usually 3,000 word essays about how great it is to invest in Thailand or how important Brazil is to the western hemisphere`s economy. I mean, these are efforts by P.R. firms to promote the interests of foreign governments. That happens all the time.

That`s all together different than Russia engaging in false personas and hacking, in meddling, in creating fake accounts and engaging in social media, with the specific intent, remember that`s what the intelligence community assessment said, with specific intent of tipping the scales in favor of President Trump.

WILLIAMS: Yes, some fair of what we`re watching is a strong man campaign being raised.

A brief change in subject, and that is --

BASH: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- to Michael Cohen. the reporting tonight in "Vanity Fair" of Emily Jane Fox, and I "Despite having no formal cooperation agreement with the government, Cohen has willing hi assisted and provided information critical to several ongoing investigations, according to two sources familiar with the situation. In a string of meetings that have exceeded more than 50 hours in some, Cohen has said to friends that he has regrets about his work on behalf of Trump and his capacity as Trump organization employee. What you see now is a return to who he was before all of this, one long time friend of his told me. He`s an open book, and he`s adamant to make it right."

So give me an idea, Jeremy, of how concerned a Trump legal team, a Trump staff would be to read that.

BASH: Yes. Emily Jane Fox really challenge Michael Cohen. And his friends are telling her that he has sat down for more than 50 hours of interviews with both the special counsel and the southern district of New York. I mean, that`s a lot of time, Brian. I mean, for someone to unload for 50 hours means that, in my view, prosecutors are not just looking at what happened at the 2016 election, not just looking at say the Trump tower meeting, they are going far beyond that.

They were looking at the Trump organization, it`s finances, who funded Trump`s real estate projects, and what engagement there has been historically between Donald Trump, the Trump organization, and perhaps Russian financiers around Vladimir Putin.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for explaining all these topics, Jeremy Bash, as always. Great to have you on the broadcast.

BASH: Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS: And coming up, something of a change in President Trump`s approval ratings just three weeks before the midterms. Steve Kornacki at the big board with the numbers when we come back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to give a victory speech on the evening of Election Day, which is coming up very quickly. A vote for Morsy (ph) is a vote for me. A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me. And a vote for Cindy is a vote for me. And a vote for Steve is a vote for me. Remember this, a vote for David is a vote for me and our agenda to make America great again.

I`m not on the ballot, but in a certain way I`m on the ballot. So please go out and vote.


WILLIAMS: So you get the feeling there that a vote for those candidates are a vote for him. President Trump making it clear the midterm elections are, in his view, a referendum on his presidency, which in truth is how midterms kind of work.

We are just 22 days away. His popularity numbers appear to be moving slightly. Are any other numbers on the move? Who can we ask about that kind of thing? How about our National Political corresponded Steve Kornacki, who is at the big board with us tonight. Steve.

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brian. Yes, there are some mixed and confusing signals I think a little bit when it comes to the state of the midterms, basically three weeks out.

You mentioned the President`s approval rating. Here`s Gallup with their latest check in. They have him at 44 percent. Now, remember, all year we`ve been saying that basically if Trump, the closer he can be to the mid 40s, to 45 or ideally for Republicans higher than that, the better chance Republicans are going to have of holding the House.

So here`s gallop with his best number for them in a while 44 percent. Not the only poll that`s been showing an uptick. If you average together every Trump approval rating poll out there right now. He`s at 43.5 percent.

And yes, that is a jump of about 2.5 points just in the last couple of weeks. Again, that`s significant. Low 40s, Democrats like their chances. Mid 40s, Republicans start to like their chances. It can make a big difference.

Numbers have been all over the place. The Senate has looked like it`s trending to the Republicans. The generic ballot for the House has looked strong for Democrats lately. We now throw in the variable of Trump`s approval rating.

One possibility here, we`re getting a lot of polls from different House races. One possibility is there`s almost two different tracks developing here. And let me show what I mean. Two different types of congressional districts that are competitive here.

Here`s one of them. This is what we talk about all the time, the suburbs. This is suburban Philadelphia, Bucks County, a little bit of Montgomery County. Republican incumbent here, Hillary Clinton carried this district in 2016.

And look, this is a poll within the last couple of days. The Democratic challenger up by seven points. It could be that the Democratic energy, maybe post Kavanaugh, maybe there`s a -- boost for Democrats, but this is just what Democrats want to be seeing right here. But we say the numbers are complicated. Take a look at the other kind of district.

This is a Democratic held district right now. Minnesota 8th, this is iron range, Donald Trump carried this district in 2016. It went from Obama to Trump. Democrats hold the seat in the House right now, but look at this. Republicans running 15 points ahead here.

This would be a Republican gain. So it`s possible, it`s a complicated House picture. Maybe it is in the suburban areas, Republican seats, districts that Clinton won in `16, Democrats may be doing even better now than they were a week ago.

But maybe that Trump base in rural parts of the country could be shoring up, too. It presents a more complicated and I think at this point muddled picture, Brian, of where the battle for the House stands it, Democrats have the advantage right now, but that Republican support could be shoring up a little bit right now.

WILLIAMS: Fascinating stuff. As always Steve is going to move from the big board to the desk. After this break, we`re going to talk more midterms.

And coming up, Elizabeth Warren releases DNA results to prove Donald Trump wrong, while National Democrats would like to know if she`s up to more than that. More on all of it when we come right back.



TRUMP: I`m going to get one of those little kits, and in the middle of the debate, when she proclaims that she`s of Indian heritage, because her mother says she has high cheekbones, we will take that little kit, and say -- but we have to do it gently, because we`re in the Me Too generation, so we have to be very gentle.

And we will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn`t hit her and injure her arm, and we will say, I will give you $1 million to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you`re an Indian.


WILLIAMS: Doesn`t appear President Trump is going to make good on that pledge. Senator Elizabeth Warren released a web video today, announcing the results of a DNA test. It concluded the existence of Native American ancestor, likely in the range of six to ten generations ago.

And on Twitter, she encouraged the President to send the check to the National Indigenous Women`s Resource Center. After first denying he put up the million dollars, Donald Trump later clarified his terms for the donation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your reaction in Senator Elizabeth Warren releasing the result of the DNA test?

TRUMP: No, I have -- who cares?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you said you`d give $1 million to charity.

TRUMP: I didn`t say that. I think you better read it again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Warren released some of her DNA results that show a strong likelihood that she does have Native American roots.

TRUMP: How much, 1/1,000?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you owe her an apology?

TRUMP: No, I don`t have to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the money that --

TRUMP: Do I owe her? She owes a country an apology.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the money you told her you would --

TRUMP: You mean if she gets the nomination in a debate, where I was going to have her tested? I`ll only do it if I can test her personally, OK? That will not be something I enjoy doing.


WILLIAMS: That escalated quickly. The early reporting and confusing math concerning warren`s DNA test led to an epic correction tonight by "The Boston Globe." This is actually their second correction of the evening for math.

And this kind of says all you need to know about this story today. Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential sixth to 10th generation relative. The generational range based on the ancestor that the report identified suggests she`s between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.

With us to talk about the whole mess, Kimberly Atkins Washington Bureau Chief for Hub Rivaled (ph) Boston Herald, and Massachusetts native Steve Kornacki is here with us in the studio. He also happens to be the author of the new book "The Red and the Blue, the 1990s and the birth of political tribalism." After seeing him on Bill Maher Friday night, I didn`t know if he would still be willing to hang out with us normal folks here in the studio. We`re happy to see you.

Kim, what is going on here? Why do you reckon she went and did this, and is this done from a position of strength or weakness, do you think?

KIMBERLY ATKINS, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON HERALD: It really depends on who you ask. I mean, this clearly seems to be Elizabeth Warren clearing a potential obstacle in her way to a 2020 presidential bid by taking off the table or trying to take off the table one of the things the President likes to bring upmost, which is her claim of Native American ancestry.

The President usually does it with the use of a racial slur. But this is her hitting back, coming up with evidence, the strength of which is up for debate. But in turning it back on the President saying here, here`s the charity. You said you would pay a million dollars. Here`s the proof and here`s the charity that you can send it to, to try to take the offensive.

Some Democrats think that this is great, that this puts her out front and makes her a front-runner in what will be a very big pool of candidates on the Democratic side. Others are very vocally and quietly saying, why is she doing this, three weeks before the midterms when Democrats need to be laser focused at taking the house and making -- at least making a bid to take the Senate.

So, it`s been divisive within the party, and we see the President reacting about how we expected him to.

WILLIAMS: Steve Kornacki, I want to show you a tweet by our colleague Joe Scarborough, who I remind everyone was a Republican member of Congress. Memo to Democrats, please do your part in keeping the most divisive figures in your party out of the news for 22 days. It just can`t be that hard.

Now, I don`t know who he was talking about, but I can imagine, this is the kind of thing, though, that the party is watching every day.

KORNACKI: It is. It also says something to I think about clearly Elizabeth Warren. Her mind is -- I`m sure, part of it`s on 2018, but it`s also clearly on 2020. And I think one of the things that`s interesting about this is this tells us something about her own reading of the Democratic base.

And what the Democratic base is going to want in terms of a posture towards Donald Trump. It doesn`t want somebody who`s going to listen to Donald Trump saying the things he said about her claims of Native American ancestry and turn the other cheek and not just sort of let that speak for itself.

Her reading of the Democratic base is the idea that they want somebody who`s going to try to go right back at him, and that`s the kind of campaign that they`re looking for. So I think it`s interesting in terms of strategy that that`s what she`s wanting.

I think what Kimberly is saying is right, too, in terms of -- I don`t think this resolves it in any way. You`ve got the Cherokee Nation out there tonight going after Elizabeth Warren saying she shouldn`t have done this. They`ll have certainly have plenty of people who say, this just credit to Donald Trump.

But I think this issue is not one that if she goes forward and runs, and if she gets traction on the Democratic side, I think it`s an issue that you`ll still be hearing about in 2020 probably.

WILLIAMS: Kim, let`s speak a little English because the word we`re dancing around, Pocahontas, is used by the President on live television and it rallies all over the country, and it`s a lifeline and derision line. And those nicknames he used all during the campaign, from little Marco, to low energy Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush reducing an entire political career to something we remembered after he`s gone. Crooked Hillary, this kind of thing, so this is what they`re up against. The likes of which, as he likes to say, we have never seen an American politics before. What`s her re-election status for starters, in the bay state?

ATKINS: Yes. Well, I mean I think she is generally believed to be cruising very easily to re-election. I think that`s why she feels confident and to be looking past.


ATKINS: 2018 and right to 2020, even though generally speaking, Massachusetts voters really dislike when current office holders that are voted into office by other people of the bay state start looking nationally, they tend to turn on them quick.

You can ask John Kerry, you can ask Mitt Romney. You can ask the host of other say they generally don`t like that. But Elizabeth Warren feels strong enough to do that. And with respect to going up against the President who is Petty and name Cally and rally likes to whack at opponents in the way that you described, this is part of this Democratic debate that`s happening, right?

How hard do you go after a President? Does there need to be a new Democratic Party who will "Kick them when they go low" as former Attorney General Eric Holder said. He meant that in the figurative sense, which means be tougher, be willing to go up against people.

Elizabeth Warren calls Donald Trump a bully. She tends to stand right back up to him when he criticizes her. She uses Twitter as prolifically as he does. So she`s the kind of candidate perhaps that can do that. But not everybody agrees that that`s the right approach.

WILLIAMS: Kimberly and Steve have agreed to stay with us over a break.

And coming up, when we continue, the President`s somewhat puzzling thoughts on climate change, on not liking the media, and making sure we`re clear on his job title.


TRUMP: Hey, it`s OK.

LESLEY STAHL, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CBS NEWS: All right, I`ll get in another fight with you.

TRUMP: It`s OK. In he meantime, I`m president and you`re not.




STAHL: Do you still think that climate change is a hoax?

TRUMP: Look, I think something is happening, something is changing, and it will change back again. I don`t think it`s a hoax. I think there`s probably a difference, but I don`t know that it`s man made. I`m not denying climate change. But it could very well go back. We`re talking about over millions of years.

STAHL: Well, that`s denying it.


WILLIAMS: The President has said before he doesn`t believe human beings are responsible for climate change. But millions will no doubt be cheered after learning that it`s going to change back again. Our guests remain with us.

Kimberly Atkins, Steve Kornacki. Steve, is he, based on where his base is, and make independence, is he trying to have something both ways here?

KORNACKI: It`s interesting, because this sort of illustrates when he starts giving interviews like they start to makes comments like this, he start obviously stirring up all sorts of controversy, arousing all sorts of backlash from the Democratic side.

But we showed those poll numbers earlier that increase in his job approval rating over the last several weeks. And I think one of the things that might be driving that in part is by his standard, I stress, but his standard. He has been quieter over the last several weeks.

There`s been a lot of drama in American politics and the White House and certainly Trump himself I think participating in this. He was a little bit more selective in how he sort of interceded in the Kavanaugh fight. He yielded to Mitch McConnell into the Senate Republicans.

I think a lot more than, we`re used to seeing him do. Certainly he made those comments at the rally. He made some comments on Twitter. But folks on the Republican side, remember the final -- I`d say two weeks of the 2016 campaign, they remember as among other things, the most disciplined, in terms of message, that Donald Trump was as a candidate.

And it was on those final two weeks that he made up that critical ground and just enough to win. And they`re hoping that something that may be in first drive of this campaign he`ll replicate.

WILLIAMS: For just a couple of seconds. I want to show you this polling list that got some traction over the weekend. Preferred Democratic 2020 candidates and there are the numbers. There are the would-be candidates.

My question to you is same amount of time before the `08 election. Would Barack Obama, name recognition-wise have cracked this list?

KORNACKI: Yes. Actually so in October 2006, it was the same poll. CNN took it, Hillary Clinton was in first place with 28 percent. Barack Obama was second with 17 percent. They put Al Gore`s name in there. He wasn`t running, he was at 13 percent.

So Obama, the strength of that convention speech in Boston in 2004, made him almost overnight, this sort of dream alternative for a lot of Democrats. And that is one of the things they got him in the race. Because he`d assumed his first year to the Senate, 2008 would be too soon.

But he started getting poll numbers like this right around this point. And he`s started to have second thoughts, said maybe 2008 is the right time and the rest is history.

WILLIAMS: Kim, I want to show you the exchange from "60 Minutes" last night about Dr. Ford. And we`ll talk about it on the other side.


STAHL: You mimicked Professor Blasey Ford. You mimicked her.

TRUMP: That I not made that speech, we would not have not won. I was just saying she didn`t seem to know anything.

STAHL: But you seemed to be saying that she lied.

TRUMP: You know what, I`m not going to into it, because we won. It doesn`t matter. Well, we won.


WILLIAMS: So Kim, to coin a phrase. Mimicry in pursuit of victory is no vice?

ATKINS: Yeah. I mean he`s clearly saying the ends justified the means. And in this case, clearly mocking someone who made, with what even Republicans said was a credible claim, even though in the end, made various excuses as to why they believe part of her claim but not other parts and voted for Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh anyway, that it`s OK, that the ends justify the means.

President Trump has a tendency to look at everything in terms of a political fight. Looks at everything through a political lens, even when he criticized Secretary of Defense James Mattis and said well, he`s really a Democrat.

In this case, he sees the accusers against Brett Kavanaugh as a sort of political enemy. And he saw it as a fight that needed to be won. And now that he`s won it, he claims victory and he really doesn`t see what price might have been paid in getting there.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, you guys, for working a longer shift over a commercial break than normal. Really appreciate it, as always. Kimberly Atkins, Steve Kornacki, two of our friends on this broadcast, our thanks.

Coming up, remembering a man who did one big thing and then a little bit of everything for millions of people.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, takes us back to the Philippines Sea, 1945 during World War II. Japanese torpedoes struck and sank our heavy cruiser "Indianapolis." there were almost 1,200 men onboard, 300 went down still inside the vessel, while on the surface, sharks went to work on the men who lived.

In the end out of about 1200, only 316 survived, just 14 are still with us today. The story of "The Indianapolis" retold in books and military history, even in the movie, "Jaws," has always haunted, because it remains the largest-single loss of life in the history of the U.S. navy.

And because it went down in 12 minutes and because it was over 3 days until the wartime navy knew the ship was gone, its location was an enduring mystery until last summer. It was discovered over three miles down, in 18,000 feet of water, markings and furnishings still visible. The ship`s bell still visible.

"The Indianapolis" was found thanks to Paul Allen, the restless and curious and creative soul, who has a young man, co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, back in the idea of a microcomputer, anything smaller than a guest room, was brand-new.

Those two changed computing forever. They became fabulously wealthy. Paul Allen, who died today, was estimated to be worth north of $20 billion. And along the way, he gave away and invested billions and billions more.

He helps to transform Seattle into the city it is today. He owned the Seahawks in the NFL and the Portland trail blazers in the NBA. He opened centers to study the brain and cells and artificial intelligence. He supported conservation and explored the oceans and was a leader in the race back to space.

He was a genuine guitar hero, who could shred with the best of them and collected and preserved guitars, particularly from his hero, Jimi Hendrix.

For most folks, perhaps the mission to find "The Indianapolis" won`t even make the list of the top ten things c did. But everyone gets to choose their favorite thing he did because that`s the kind of life he led while on earth. Paul Allen died of non-Hodgkin`s lymphoma. He was just 65 years old.

That is our broadcast for this Monday night. Thank you so much for being here with us. Good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.