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Trump plans "Salute to America". TRANSCRIPT: 7/1/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Gordon Chang, Juana Summers, Ken Thomas

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  That is tonight`s LAST WORD, "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Tonight, Donald Trump offers new praise for the dictator he sought out in North Korea while back home he plans a Fourth of July complete with military tanks along the Washington mall.

House Judiciary Chair, Jerry Nadler, shares details with MSNBC tonight about Robert Mueller`s upcoming testimony.

And new numbers show us how a debate performance can propel or deflate a candidacy.  THE 11TH HOUR on a Monday night starts right now.

Good evening once again from our NBC News head quarters here in New York.  I`m Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams.  Day 893 of the Trump administration.  The President is now touting his unprecedented meeting with North Korea`s dictator and issuing new warning to Iran as he plans a Fourth of July celebration featuring tanks and a display of the nation`s military hardware.  More on that Fourth of July event in a moment.

But just a few hours ago, Donald Trump sent out this message about his impromptu weekend summit with Kim Jong-un in the Korean peninsula`s demilitarized zone.  "It was great being with Kim Jong-un this weekend.  We had a great meeting. He looks really well and very healthy.  I look forward to seeing him again soon.  In the meantime our teams will be meeting to work on some solutions to very long-term and persistent problems.  No rush, but I am sure we will ultimately get there."

"The New York Times" reports the administration is weighing whether to accept a deal that would limit North Korea`s nuclear arsenal.  "The concept would amount to a nuclear freeze, one that essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials said they would never stand for."

Trump`s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who did not accompany his boss to the Kim Jong-un meeting because he was on a diplomatic mission to Mongolia, responded to "The Times" reporting the denial, "Neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to settle for a nuclear freeze by North Korea."

Meanwhile, Trump is also wasting no time in comparing his strategy for dealing with North Korea to the previous administrations, claiming the Obama officials had sought meetings with the North Korean dictator but were rebuffed.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  President Obama wanted to meet, and Chairman Kim would not meet him.  The Obama administration was begging for a meeting.  They were begging for meetings constantly.  And Chairman Kim would not meet with him.


VELSHI:  Obama`s former National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, had something to say about that, writing, "At the risk of stating the obvious, this is horse" -- exploitable (ph), although, so we didn`t the term expletive.

As we mentioned Trump is escalating threats towards Iran. Today Tehran said it has exceeded the stack pile limit for low enriched uranium allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and World Powers.  A deal that Trump the U.S. out of.  Now that alone won`t give Iran enough material to produce a single nuclear weapon, but it does move the country in that direction.  Late today, Trump was asked about this latest development.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, any message to Iran?

TRUMP:  No, no message to Iran.  They know what they`re doing.  They know what they are playing with, and I think they`re playing with fire.


VELSHI:  Moments after that, Trump was asked about his planned salute to America on independence later this week in Washington.  Now you may recall that he attempted to mount a military parade for two years but those plans had to be scrapped.  "The New York Times" write that the President, "believes that the inclusion of tanks and other weapons in the July 4th celebration would help to transform the capital city`s event into the kind of military celebration he has long wanted.  After watching Bastille Day  parade in 2017 in Paris, Mr. Trump said, "we may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue."

This afternoon he announced that the nation`s fire power will be on display in the Capitol on Thursday.

A Republican National Committee spokeswoman confirmed to NBC News that the party has already received a block of free tickets but refuse to say how many.  Several of those tickets have already gone to top donors.

All right, here for a leadoff discussion on a Monday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House reporter for the "The Washington Post."  Gordon Chang, Columnist for The Daily Beast author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea takes on the world."  And Annie Karni, White House reporter with "The New York Times."  Welcome to all three of you.

Gordon, I want to start with you about this tweet that the President sent out talking about Kim Jong-un and how healthy he looks and how really, really well he is.  What is that tweet an answer to?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD":  This is really strange.  It`s an answer to certain observers who were there yesterday and thought -- and heard Kim wheeze.  You remember Kim walked from what the North Koreans call the monkey house down to the military demarcation line and then over it to the South Korean house.  They said he was really winded and I think what President Trump was doing is responding to that narrative which has been carried on one of the other cable networks.

VELSHI:  Ashley, Donald Trump appeared this weekend, or at least he said that this weekend he advanced U.S. interests.  What`s the word from White House staff on what actually happened?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Well, one thing that`s been tricky is when they`ve been pressed publicly, frankly, and privately, other than the fact that yes, it was sort of had the drama and the showmanship the President loves and it was historic in the fact that he became the first sitting U.S. President to walk into North Korea they can`t tangibly tell you what this actually means for U.S. policy towards North Korea, any deal or relationship with North Korea, what has changed.  You know, what sort of the new deliverable or goal is from the summit that fell apart in Hanoi or the meeting in Singapore.  There frankly just is not a clear answer.

VELSHI:  But Annie, the President was very dismissive of media efforts to question him about the meeting with Kim Jong-un.  Let`s just play a little of what he had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You`ve made this very public invitation to Kim Jong-un.

TRUMP:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will it be a bad sign if he doesn`t show up?

TRUMP:  No.  Of course I thought of that, because I know, if he didn`t everybody was going to say, "Oh, he was stood up by Chairman Kim."

We`ve made tremendous strides.  Only the fake news says that they weren`t.

A lot of progress has been made.  I watched some of the news -- fake news, so many fake news.  And they say, "Well, what`s been done?"  Well, it`s like the difference between day and night.

They have no appreciation for what`s been done.  None.


VELSHI:  Annie, what`s the big deal with the President?  Why did he so badly want this meeting and the picture and the walk into North Korea more than he seems to want to have some substantive agreement?

ANNIE KARNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Well, he likes firsts and he likes to be in the history books and he will now be in the history books for being the first American president to step over that line and set foot in that soil.  But, you now, in these rebuttals to what he calls the fake news media, like he is -- I would say showed on tell, like Ashley said, it`s not he continues to say we are getting it wrong, huge strides have been made, but there`s no clear agenda that the White House is telling us was achieved.

And one piece of the puzzle that Donald Trump consistently overlooks is the wins that he`s giving to Kim Jong-un by giving him the platform of meeting three times now with the American president as equals.  That handshake was all over the North Korean media.  It was a huge propaganda win for Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump liked the photos and the pageantry as well, but he never really addresses that by meeting him, he`s elevating Kim Jong-un to be an equal as the leader of the free world and he doesn`t seem to see that or acknowledge that part of the puzzle.

VELSHI:  Gordon, let`s address that a little bit.  A former national security aide, the national security council aide to both Presidents Bush and Obama, Sue Mi Terry whom you know was quoted in "The New York Times" as saying, "The Kim-Trump relationship has become a lubricant of diplomacy but an impediment because Kim refuses to deal with U.S. officials below Trump`s level."  Said Ms. Terry.

CHANG:  Yes, she`s right about that.  Because, you know, after the historic Singapore summit in June last year they did set up working teams and the North Koreans decided not to have those discussions because they thought that he get a much better deal if they talked to President Trump directly.  And that`s been a consistent theme of the North Koreans.

But the one thing that President Trump has done is who is not in that room, and that issue is the Chinese.  The Chinese has been a maligned influence and they`ve always been involved in our discussions with the North Koreans.  What Trump has done is he has pushed the Chinese to the side.  They tried to get back into it.  That was one of the themes at the Osaka G-20.  Trump didn`t take the bait.

And so, you know, there is a good side and a bad side to this personal diplomacy.  And we`re just going to have to see how it works out over the months ahead.

VELSHI:  To the extent that the President is still embroiled in the trade war with China, which depending on what hour you`re looking at it is getting worse or getting better, does that meeting with Kim Jong-un play into that?

CHANG:  I think that it does, because Xi Jinping has been trying to sort of dangle cooperation on North Korea in front of Trump to get concessions on trade.  This is consistent Chinese foreign policy.  They`ve been doing this for about a decade and a half.  It`s worked up until now.

And so, these issues of trade in North Korea and maybe even the issue of Hong Kong are all going get mixed together and they`re going get solved or not solved together.

VELSHI:  OK.  All right.  Ashley, I want to talk to you about an introduction the President made while he was overseas where he introduced the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his daughter Ivanka Trump to a gathering of U.S. troops.  Let`s take a listen together.


TRUMP:  Come up Mike.  And you know who else I have?  Has anyone ever heard of Ivanka?  All right come up, Ivanka.  Come on.  She`s going steal the show.  What a beautiful couple.  Mike.  Beauty and the beast.


VELSHI:  Ashley, you covered a lot of unusual things at the White House.  A lot of weird things.  That was a little bit weird.

PARKER:  Sure.  I mean, sort of the beauty and the beast on the one hand it`s a weird way to refer to your daughter.  At the same time it`s kind of a Trumpian flourish.  I think the more stark thing was that the President was elevating his daughter, who is a senior White House adviser, but sort of on to the same footing as the Secretary of State.

And this entire trip was notable for the ways in which Ivanka was intentionally elevated, was front and center, was, you know, playing a role in some ways almost of the first lady, a first lady would traditionally play, being in conversations with world leaders, being in the meeting with the North Koreans, and this is the President, you know, making a very clear decision to do this intentionally, deliberately.  It`s sending a signal to the world that if you are a foreign government and you want to deal with the President and this White House, maybe the best way is not through the National Security Adviser or the Secretary of State, but it`s through the President`s children and most notably his daughter.

VELSHI:  Annie, two interesting message -- and by the way we saw -- some of these pictures have indicated Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in prominent role this is weekend.  She was caught in a conversation which has now made -- it`s been shared around the internet several times because it sort of illustrated what Ashley is talking about, the first daughter, implying herself into various important global discussions.  Let`s watch that.


PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY:  As soon as you charge them with that economic aspect of it though, a lot of people start listening who wouldn`t otherwise listen.

IVANKA TRUMP, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT:  Start listening.  And the same with the defense side of it --

MAY:  Yes.

I TRUMP:  -- in terms of the whole sort of business that`s been very male dominant.  So --


VELSHI:  Again, unusual, Annie, that Ivanka Trump seems perhaps a little bit out of her depth in some of these conversations and these world leaders are sort of struggling to figure out what to do with her.

KARNI:  The body language in that clip is really interesting to watch.  You see La Guard (ph) not making eye contact with her while she`s speaking.  They look like they`re being polite because it`s the President`s daughter who he`s elevated.  But also it seems awkward in that they don`t know, you know, she`s a family member, she`s a White House adviser, is she a diplomat?  What is her actual job?  It`s still a question that remains unclear two and a half years into the administration.

One thing I`ve noticed about -- these generate a lot of criticism because it looks like Ivanka is trying to insert herself into a place where she has no place with world leaders.

And one thing I`ve noticed about the criticism of her is that at the beginning of this administration when there was hope that Ivanka and Jared were the secret liberal saviors of the world.  The progressives and liberals started to brand her as "complicit" when it turned out that she wasn`t changing the President`s views on things.  She didn`t get him to stay in the Paris accord and other things.  She didn`t seem to have any overt influence on him.  So she was "complicit."

Now the hashtag that was trending out to this weekend was, "unwanted Ivanka," which was poking fun at her for trying to insert herself into situations where she has no place.  And it sort of signifies to me that how her role -- people just assume she`s all in for Trump and now just dislike her because they think she has no right to be there and hasn`t earned her place.  But it`s interesting to see how the criticism has shifted over the past two and a half years.

VELSHI:  Gordon, earlier before I introduced all of you I was looking for some sound of the President commenting on what July 4th is going to look like in Washington.  Let`s play that.


TRUMP:  We`re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C.  It will be like no other.  It will be special.  And I hope a lot of people and it`s going to be about this country.  And it`s a salute to America.

I`m going to be here, and I`m going to say a few words.  And we`re going to have planes going overhead.  The best fighter jets in the world and other planes too.  And we`re going to have some tanks stationed outside.  Got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks, so we have to put them in certain areas.  But we have brand new Sherman tanks, and we have the brand new Abrams tanks and we have some incredible equipment, military equipment on display, brand new, and we are very proud of it.


VELSHI:  Maybe mistaken.  I don`t know that we have brand new Sherman tanks.  But Gordon, the President -- this is part of the President`s tough guy image.  He propellers that image.  He likes the military, he likes talking about the military, propels that image to world leaders, until he`s in the room with a world leader or next to a world leader.

With Mohammed bin Salman it was all smiles and handshakes.  With Vladimir Putin, when telling him not to interfere in the election it was smiles and winks.  With Kim Jong-un it was, as you saw, big smiles and hand shakes.  Two sides to this President.

CHANG:  They are.  And one thing about this military parade, the Chinese and the North Koreans do military parades.  They take years to practice.  And clearly ours are not going measure up to what the Chinese and North Korean routinely do.  They`re going to be chortling in Beijing and Pyongyang after they see.

And I`m happy we are into military parades but this is going to what people in Asia are going to be talking about.  They say, "Oh, Americans are not as synchronized as the Chinese and the North Koreans."  This is going to be awful for us.

VELSHI:  Ashley, what do you make of it?  What`s going on with this military parade?  It`s been -- or not the parade, but this military show of force?  This has clearly been something on the President`s mind since he was at that Bastille Day parade in 2017.  He`s wanted this to happen.

PARKER:  And frankly even a bit earlier I believe there were some reporting that he wanted some of these military elements at his inaugurations.  So he is actually been thinking about this since before he took office.

Look, the President is someone who likes pageantry.  He likes parades, to kind of put it simply and bluntly.  And he likes shows of military force.  I mean, you mentioned before that he was cozy with Putin and Chairman Kim and other -- the Saudi leader.  And he -- if you look at him generally, he does have a penchant for cozying up to strong men, and those are typically the people where an American president goes and tries to send over American diplomacy and American values abroad.  That`s not what the President does, but he always has this fascination with the strong men.  And with that comes the military and he`s trying create that back in the United States.  It`s right to say it`s one part again, this fascination with strength and strong leaders who we views is very tough and they`re often authoritarian.

And part of it again is this former reality T.V. star, this showman who just likes the flair and the pageantry and the ceremony and the pomp of parades.

VELSHI:  Ashley Parker, thank you.  Gordon Chang, Annie Karni.  Thanks to all three of you for helping us get started on a Monday night.

Coming up, the change in 2020 landscape, we now have evidence that Kamala Harris` debate performance struck a chord.  New numbers have her surging.  And we`ll show you the polling coming up next.

Later, Jared Kushner once described Russia`s meddling in 2016 as a coup a couple of Facebook adds, but a new report explains that that is far from the truth.  THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on a Monday night.


VELSHI:  Brand new polling today from CNN today chose Senator Kamala Harris surging after her debate performance last week.  Joe Biden is still leading the Democratic field with 22 percent, but he`s down 10 points since May while Harris is up nine points.  Senator Elizabeth Warren also up eight points.

The new poll reveals 41 percent of Democratic voters think Kamala Harris did the best job in the debate.  That`s well ahead of her competitors.  Warren at 13 percent, Biden at 10 percent.

And "The New York Times" reports Republicans view Harris as a threat.  "After her breakout performance in the Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday night, Trump campaign aids and allies acknowledge that Ms. Harris, a black former prosecutor from the donor-laden state of California, could prove to be a vexing adversary.

Back with us tonight, two reporters on the 2020 campaign beat, Juana Summers of the Associated Press and Ken Thomas of "The Wall Street Journal."  Welcome to both of you.  Thank you for being with us.

Juana, let`s start with you.  Obviously there was going to be some movement after those debates.  The polling seems to reflect what people were watching in that debate.  A sense that on the first night, Elizabeth Warren did well, on the second night, Kamala Harris really had a sort of a strong moment versus Joe Biden.  And that Joe Biden didn`t deliver the performance of his life.

JUANA SUMMERS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Sure, I think that`s right.  I think I cover the Harris campaign and from speaking to her aides in the aftermath of the debate it`s very clear that they felt like she had a strong performance. It`s something that they`ve been counting on and kind of telegraphing for weeks that based on all of her experience, you know, as a prosecutor as well as a member of Congress who has really stood out because of her ability to question Trump administration officials and appointees, they expected this to go quite well for her.

I think you`re seeing some of that bear out in that CNN poll.  And I think they`re particularly looking forward to continuing to draw contrasts out with the other candidates, including former vice president Joe Biden.  I think that the biggest moment certainly of the debate was that moment where she pressed the former vice president on the issue of bussing and they kind of had this five-minute long back and forth.  I think they`re going to be looking for more opportunities to draw sharp contrasts like that and have her weave in her contrast.  Not just talking about her political differences, but she also used that moment for her personal story too.

VELSHI:  Ken, you were in the room that night when Joe Biden first, for better, for worse, stepped in it by talking about his ability to work with people with whom he doesn`t share political views and talked about those two segregation of senators, Democratic senators from the south.  At some point, now that he knows what Kamala Harris` attack looks like, can Joe Biden figured out a way to not have be the contrast drawn between them, race?

KEN THOMAS, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Well, the first debate means that the second debate for Joe Biden will be extremely important.  He`ll have to be well prepared to defend off these attacks.  But it shows, you know, the challenge that he has had.  He has a very long record and when he`s not talking about Trump, when he`s not able to talk about the future and he has to defend his record, he`s in a difficult place, and his polling, you know, shows that, you know, with the decline that he`s having.

I would say in the poll, though, it does still show Biden, you know, at 43 percent in terms of someone who voters think could defeat Trump, so he still seems to have, you know, an edge against the field at large.  But, you know, this shows just how fluid this race is and should be for the next few months.

VELSHI:  Juana, Joe Biden continues to poll very well amongst African- Americans with big leads over the rest of his candidates, even those who are African-Americans.  That may just be by virtue of the fact that Joe Biden`s name was very well known in America.  But his campaign would like America to know that he has the strength of African-Americans because of the positions that he`s held over the years and the work he`s done as a senator and as vice president.  Is this something that can continue to -- that Harris and others can continue to chip away at or was that just a strong moment for Harris to show that she can take on a front runner?

SUMMERS:  Sure.  So I think it`s important to note that for former Vice President Biden, he`s someone who was the vice president to the country`s first elected black president, but he has relationships in the African- American community and among African-American political leaders in particular that he has cultivated for decades.  So I think that they hope that that could mean a strong showing among black voters.

The big question that I have when I look at this in terms of whether it`s a former vice president, Kamala Harris, or any others in the field, is at what levels do black voters turn out?  We have seen in past selections that the black vote can be particularly decisive.  So as all of these candidates are looking to make a run for the black vote, particularly in South Carolina where African-American voters are so influential, that turnout question is just going to be vital.

VELSHI:  Ken, the polling indicated a big surge for Kamala Harris has also indicated a big surge for Elizabeth Warren, up eight points, sort of placing her above -- both of them ahead of Bernie Sanders and -- both within striking distance of Joe Biden.  What do you make of Elizabeth Warren`s performance on night one?

THOMAS:  Yes, she`s had a steady climb in the last six to eight weeks and it`s been based on her policy rollouts.  She`s really been able to hone in on that as something that sets her apart.  And she basically had the debate stage to herself.  You know, the four other leading contenders were on the other night and she didn`t really do anything to hurt herself.  She, I thought, stood out particularly in the first 30 to 45 minutes of the debate.  And so I think that, you know, the poll numbers bore that out.

I think what we`ll see now, you know, we`re going to have fundraising numbers coming in this week, and it will be interesting to see how she was able to raise money over the last three months.  She`s not taking money from, you know, traditional fundraisers.  She hasn`t been doing those types of events.

And how she stacks up against Bernie Sanders on fundraising, you know, could be another one of those tests to see, you know, where liberals in the party want to go and whether Warren can continue this momentum she`s had.

VELSHI:  Thanks to both of you, Ken Thomas and Juana Summers.

Coming up, new details on the dire conditions at migrant facilities, this time straight from a government report.  The reporter who broke to story joins us when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


VELSHI:  New NBC News reporting today reveals that as far back as May, conditions at an El Paso, Texas border station were so bad that border agents were arming themselves against possible riots.

Our own Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report, "In an internal report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security`s Office of Inspector General, had obtained by NBC News, inspectors noted during a May 7th tour of a border station in the El Paso sector that only four showers were available for 756 migrants.  More than half of the immigrants were being held outside and immigrants inside were being kept in cells, maxed out at more than five times their capacity."

On Friday, acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan said reports of poor conditions for migrants at a border station in the El Paso sector were "unsubstantiated."

Meanwhile, the Associated Press has obtained video of a 12-year-old migrant girl who spoke about conditions inside a border patrol station in Clint, Texas.  We should note, the video was made by a lawyer for the child and NBC News has not had a chance to have access to that child.

The Associated Press said that girl`s face is not visible on the video to protect her privacy and to not jeopardized her immigration case.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation):  Can you tell me what it was like inside the detention center?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation):  They gave us little food.  Some children did not bathe, they didn`t bathe them.  They treated us badly where we were.  They were mean to us.


VELSHI:  They treated us badly where we were.  They were mean to us.

With us to talk about it all, the aforementioned Julia Ainsley, NBC News National Security and Justice Reporter who is tenacious in her reporting of these stories.

Kevin McAleenan said these reports are unsubstantiated, Julia, but this isn`t reporting that you got from a random source.  This is a government report, the inspector general of that department issued the report.

JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER:  That`s right, Ali.  So on May 7th, the inspector general sent investigators to different border stations in the El Paso sector that`s the same sector where that little girl was kept.  And they found conditions that we are now hearing about, things like that overcrowding, four showers for 756 immigrants.

They even said that the conditions were so bad that customs and border protection agents started to arm themselves in areas where they are not supposed to have arms because they were worried about riots.  They thought that it could rise to that level of unrest.

We`re talking about people who can`t lie down to sleep, people who have to say outside because there is no room for them.  This had gotten to a dire situation.

One detail I thought that was particularly telling is that two civilians who work to this border station that was detailed in the report actually had to go outside and buy food for over a thousand people every day because there was not a system to feed the number of people kept inside this facility.

So all of this matters because it`s coming from the government`s watchdog, the people who are sanctioned to do this kind of investigating, not from lawyers.  If you`re going to cast aside what the lawyers have said, like acting Secretary McAleenan did, you have to at least pay attention to what your own government investigators are finding and really, it was a very similar condition.

So Kevin McAleenan said on Friday was, we can`t believe all the reports from the Clint, Texas facility, because it was by lawyers and it was unsubstantiated.  He went on to say that all children are given a shower as quickly as they can.  Well, when you only have four showers for --

VELSHI:  That`s going to be awhile.

AINSLEY:  -- nearly 800 people, that`s going to be awhile. And Clint is within the El Paso border sector.  And so, it`s clear that they`ve had this information for some time, and yes, they did raise a red flag about overcrowding.  They petitioned Congress for more money that did come through last week, but there were basic issues here just -- that could have been satisfied to alleviate some of the human suffering like more showers, like food that could be brought into these places.

VELSHI:  But how were putting people -- I mean, the numbers that you talk about, people being stuffed five to a cell, five times the capacity of a cell, just give that to me in numbers.  What were examples of a cell?

I think you, earlier, you and I talked about a cell that was meant to 30 people.

AINSLEY:  Yes, and held 155 adult men.  There was a cell meant for 8 people that held 44 women.  These are not conditions that can be shared by these large groups.  They have one sink for all of them to use, one sink and one toilet.

VELSHI:  So, those, possibly -- there are health issues that are going develop out of all of that.

AINSLEY:  Absolutely.  And so, when the DHS and Customs and Border Protection says we`re doing the best we can, but we need these other agencies like ICE or like Health and Human Services to expand because simply we were not cut out for this population, that`s true.

These facilities were not built for the population.  But they are undeniable health concerns.  They were quarantining people for the flu, for lice, for measles and chickenpox.  These were big concerns that really went on for some time.

Again, this visit was on May 7th and here we are almost two months later still dealing with a lot of the same problems.

VELSHI:  Julia, our job as journalists is to bear witness and do hold power to account.  And your reporting helps us do that.  Julia Ainsley, thank you.

Coming up, Trump says Russia meddling didn`t tip the scales in his favor, but what if Russia propaganda changed voters` minds?  We`re back after this.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  That had nothing to do, by the way, with Russia, because everybody said it didn`t affect the vote. You heard that many times, didn`t affect the vote.

The Russians had no impact on our votes, whatsoever.

Here`s the good news, it didn`t affect one vote.

Everybody also agrees, by the way, it didn`t change the election.


TRUMP:  It didn`t change it at all.


VELSHI:  President Trump has long maintained that Russian meddling in the United States election had nothing to do with his victory, but a new study may indicate other wise.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee found "exposure to Russian propaganda may have helped change American minds in favor of Trump."  "And the activity of Russian Twitter trolls was a better predictor of Donald Trump`s polling numbers than his own Twitter activity."

As to whether it affected the outcome of the election, the lead researcher tells NBC News, "The answer is that we still don`t know, but we can`t rule it out."

Back with us tonight, former US Attorney Joyce Vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor, and Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent.  He`s also a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Author of "Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News."

Clint, let me start with you, because you`ve written a book about this.  You have long maintained that the effect of the interference by the Internet Research Agency, that`s the troll farm in St. Petersburg and other organizations controlled by or influenced by the Kremlin, would have had an impact in our election.  And thinking about it in as black and white a sense of, were votes changed, sort of misses the larger impact.

CLINT WATTS, AUTHOR, "MESSING WITH THE ENEMY":  That`s right.  What we forget in total -- and this study does one part, it talks to one part of it, but Russia really did three things that any other American political campaign could not do on their own.

One, they hacked and released information which drove the media narrative, the mainstream media narrative around the election.  The second thing they did is they could time the release of that hacked material.

If you look back, just one example, the Access Hollywood tape came out that was really damaging to Donald Trump, within less than an hour WikiLeaks started dropping some of those e-mails out in the open, which really changed the narrative for the day.

And then many times as this study points out, you see amplification, that`s the third thing the internet research aims they can do.  They amplify that social media content to such extent it distorted the reality.  And particularly for about the two-thirds of those accounts that they made to look like and talk like conservatives, that was the key audience they were engaging.  That`s the Trump supporting audience.

So I found it remarkable that they`re noting actually that it seemed to correlate with improvement in Trump`s polling numbers, but actually didn`t necessarily damage Clinton.  That`s most likely because those accounts were designed to go after the Trump supporting audience itself.

VELSHI:  Joyce, the President was with Vladimir Putin the other day.  It was put to him by reporters that has he or will he tell Vladimir Putin not to interfere in the 2020 election.  Let`s play that back for our audience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

TRUMP:  Yes, of course I will.  Don`t meddle in the election President, don`t meddle in the election.


VELSHI:  That friendly exchange, very friendly, in the same fashion, he`s having friendly exchanges with Mohammed bin Salman and with Kim Jong-un in the last few days.  It doesn`t really get to the heart of something that most Americans are very concerned about.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER US ATTORNEY:  That`s not the way you treat a foreign power that has attacks your country, that has attacked your elections. And, you know, I never grow numb to this image.  It`s horrifying to see the President laughing this attack off as sort of a joke.

This new research is interesting.  As Clint points out, it sheds light on the situation.  The people who wrote it, who did the research are very clear in saying it doesn`t draw that ultimate conclusion about elections, but we know who thought that this would work on American voters, that`s Russia.

Russia did invested resources that used this Internet Research Agency, a building in St. Petersburg where people posing as Americans tried to win over the hearts and minds of conservative voters.  We don`t know if it worked in the election.  We do know that it worked in polling, that when Twitter was the most active, 2016 election polls shifted towards President Trump.

VELSHI:  How heavily should we lean on this data, Joyce, because there`s a difference between causation and correlation?  How do we know what do with this information?

VANCE:  We need to be really careful about this data, I think.  It would be easy to take it too far.  And so what this data tells us is that there needs to be some more study done if at some point data will lend itself to an interpretation of whether the election was influenced.

But this study looks only at Twitter, so we have to think about whether Twitter is qualitatively different from other social media.  It looks only at the influence on polling.  It doesn`t look at whether voting was influenced.  It is very predictive.  I think it certainly indicates what we know, which is that social media can shape peoples` views, but we should be careful not to jump too far with this data.

VELSHI:  Joyce and Clint have agreed to stay with us.

Coming up, what Chairman Nadler says we can expect when Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill.  THE 11TH HOUR is back after this break.



REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIR:  The President and the attorney general have conducted a campaign of lies and misrepresentations.  The President keeps saying the report found no collusion and no obstruction.  The report did not find no collusion, the report did not find no obstruction.  It`s a simple lie, and we will have to -- we will ask him to clarify both of those.


VELSHI:  Congress is preparing to question former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in just 16 days.  Democrats aren`t the only ones who are going to have some tough questions.  Politico is reporting today, "President Trump`s GOP allies in Congress are salivating at the chance to bruise Mueller`s representation and cast doubt on the integrity of his work."

Back with us, Joyce Vance and Clint Watts.  Clint, that wouldn`t be knew.  They have been trying to tarnish Bob Mueller`s reputation and one would assume what Bob Mueller`s reputation in history that it`s -- it can`t be tarnish but, boy, they`re going to try.

WATTS:  Yes.  It`s a really kind of confusing way to look at this.  I heard one of the questions.  I think it was a Congressman Jordan was talking about why didn`t this wrap up sooner around me.  And this could really play into Robert Mueller`s hands if he wants to take it that direction, be a little bit counter-aggressive.

Well, maybe it was because the president couldn`t answer questions or wouldn`t actually sit down for an interview, or because Attorney General Sessions was fired and an interim was put in place and then another attorney general.

I mean, depending on how Robert Mueller answers these questions, he could make them look very foolish.  I think that really comes down to what do we expect from Mueller when he goes there that day.  Will he be very by-the- book, will he stick to the 448-page report?  Or will he start to push back and --

VELSHI:  Well, you`re a former FBI.  You know about Robert Mueller.  He`s by the book all the time.

WATTS:  He is.  But I do think back to -- remember Rod Rosenstein when he went into one of those hearings, he was very by-the-book guy as well.  But he got pushed very, very hard there, a couple of times.  And he actually pushed back.

And I respected him for that.  And I hope that, you know, as a former FBI director, he realizes this is not like any hearing he`s gone into before.  And that if he just push that way, if they`re trying to push him into false pretenses, is probably around the dossier, we know that`s going to come up.

I hope he does punch back at him at little because I think it has extra credibility.  And the way they conducted this was very much by the book and they were restrained.  You could see that in the report.

Joyce can speak to it better than I can from a lawyer`s perspective.  They were restrained in terms of what they could do and they didn`t get to pursue this as far as they wanted to.

VELSHI:  Joyce, Robert Mueller said, in the one time we`ve heard him speaks, since the end of the report, that his testimony is his report, that`s his final word.  It was very clear, he was signaling he had not see himself going before Congress.

Now he`s going to go before Congress.  What`s going to be different?

VANCE:  Mueller is going to have to confront two different realities.  One is this restrained Mueller that we`ve seen throughout the investigation, the Bob Mueller who says my testimony is the report. And there are good institutional reasons, good prudential reasons for prosecutors to stay out of the spotlight.

It helps them for one thing avoid from prejudicing the outcome of prosecutions down the road, but this matter is a case unlike any other. It`s the president of the United States, a man who but for, you know, OLC but for DOJ policy that says that a sitting president can`t be indicted, probably would be by now.

And Mueller may have to find a little bit of a break in his armor and let in a little bit more sunshine and talk with Congress a little bit about what animated the concerns around the report, what led them to use the processes that they did.  It`s I think anybody`s guess whether he`ll be willing to do that, if he`s pushed.

But the reality is Mueller simply outlining the findings of his report will be a pretty spectacular piece of progress for Democrats and nothing for Republicans to look forward to given the conclusions of the report that the President committed obstruction.  And that although they couldn`t charge a conspiracy, there was an awful lot of evidence of coordination, even collusion between the campaign and the Russian government.

VELSHI:  Clint, that`s an interesting point Joyce makes. If Mueller does nothing more than he said he was going to do and reads parts of the report or reads them in his words, that alone with the number of eyes who will be watching this testimony may serve an important purpose for America.

WATTS:  It`s absolutely correct because 30 percent, 40 percent of this country believes only what the President`s version of the story is.  They`ve not read the Mueller report, they are not necessarily getting a good balance perspective of what was in their, particularly the second part on obstruction. And they don`t really understand what it is.

The other thing is despite what the Republicans have tried to do the other past year really discrediting Robert Mueller.  I think for most Americans and particularly for conservatives around the country, they remember him as the FBI director that came in after 9/11 that was asked to stay by President Obama, a Democratic president, asking a Republican appointee to stay extra time to serve this country.

And I think when they see him, they see how he conducts himself, it will actually have a lasting impact on their impression about what this investigation really produced and maybe what we should do going forward.

VELSHI:  Well, we`ll be watching it together, and I`m sure with your help and input.  Clint Watts, Joyce Vance, thank you both for being with me tonight.

Coming up, escalating clashes between protesters and police on the other side of the world when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


VELSHI:  The last thing before we go tonight, the violent protests that erupted in the streets of the Hong Kong after a day of peaceful protest.  Riot police retook the legislative building there after demonstrators broke in spraying graffiti on the walls and raising the flag used in the city before China retook control from the United Kingdom 22 years ago.

At issue is a proposed law that would allow supported criminals to be extradited from Hong Kong to the Chinese Mainland.  NBC News Chief Global Correspondent Bill Neely is in Hong Kong for us tonight.


BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT:  Tonight, mayhem in Hong Kong, riot police firing tear gas scattering thousands of protesters.  They had stormed the main government building, demanding the end of the law tightening China`s grip on the city.

This isn`t just a Hong Kong crisis, this is the biggest popular challenge to China`s President Xi since he came to power seven years ago.

Before the violence, hundreds of thousands marched peacefully today, the fourth mass protest against China`s hand-picked leader here.  They want her fired.


TRUMP:  We`ve never seen protests like that, it`s very sad to see.


NEELY:  And China is shaken, blaming foreign agitators for the trouble, already challenge from the outside on trade by the US, and now from within by its own people.


VELSHI:  Our thanks to Bill Neely for that report.  I`ll be back here tomorrow 1:00 pm Eastern.  I`ll be speaking with Ken Cuccinelli, the Trump administration`s acting director for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

That is our broadcast for tonight.  Thank you for being with us and goodnight from NBC News Headquarters in New York.

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