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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 5/18/21

Guests: Neal Katyal, Richard Haass, Don Calloway, Bill Kristol, Carol Leonnig


New York Attorney General is joining the Manhattan district attorney`s office in a criminal investigation of the Trump Organization. GOP House leaders oppose Capitol riot commission. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to put legislation to create a commission to probe the January 6 attack on the Capitol on the Senate floor for a vote. As conflict grows deadlier in the Middle East, President Biden is facing pressure at home to take a more public stance on ending the escalating conflict. Death toll rises and humanitarian crisis deepens in Gaza. World leaders urge ceasefire in Middle East conflict. Carol Leonnig details COVID`s impact on Secret Service in her new book.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: So there could be more on it at the federal level. Kirk Burkhalter, and Marq Claxton, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

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

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again, day 119 of the Biden administration and the breaking news we are covering tonight is about the former president. The New York state attorney general has now joined the Manhattan prosecutors` criminal investigation into Donald Trump`s businesses.

Tonight the New York AG issued a statement that reads, "We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA." Much more on this development, and what it might mean just ahead.

Also tonight, nearly five months after the deadly capital riot an insurrection led by a pro-Trump mob, Republican House leaders are now openly opposing a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot. Tonight on the eve of the House vote to create the 9/11 style commission, the leadership sent members of their party letter telling them to vote no. The main objection cited was, "the legislation establishes a commission to only investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6." An easy answer here would seem to be well, yes, it was the only violent insurrection at the Capitol that we know of in the modern era.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy set the stage for this earlier today when he came out with his own statement against the commission noting its scope was too narrow and should include other acts of political violence. Earlier tonight he defended his position during an appearance on Fox News.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Remember, on Good Friday, an officer was killed at the Capitol. We don`t need to investigate that. What about all the riots that have led up throughout the summer that the unrest from BLM, Antifa and others, no, you can`t investigate that. This is driven solely by politics and Nancy Pelosi, but we should not be a part of that.


WILLIAMS: McCarthy`s what about ism and his objections come after several Republicans including their top member on the House Homeland Security Committee, indeed endorsed the formation of the Commission. This morning Speaker Pelosi was blunt in her reaction.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA HOUSE SPEAKER: Disappointing, but not surprising, that the cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side, not to want to find the truth.


WILLIAMS: Even if this bill passes along party lines in the House that will need 60 votes, meaning 10 Republicans would have to cross the aisle in order for it to clear the Senate. Far from certain that those votes are there even though the Senate majority leader is determined to bring the bill to the floor.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MAJORITY LEADER: I will put the January 6 commission legislation on the floor of the Senate for a vote, period. Republicans can let their constituents know, are they on the side of truth? Or do they want to cover up for the insurrectionists and for Donald Trump?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: I`m safe in characterizing our conference as willing to listen to their arguments about whether such a commission is needed. And we are undecided about the way forward at this point. We want to read the fine print.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, Axios reporting tonight that McConnell told his fellow Republicans during a closed door caucus lunch today that he can support the one six commission in its current form. As all of this unfolds on the hill, president is facing growing calls to make a more public and forceful demand for a ceasefire in Israel, fighting between Hamas and the Israeli military has continued into its ninth day and shows no immediate sign of letting up. Hundreds of people have been killed now and there is a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The AP reporting that Biden and White House officials have urged Netanyahu to, "wind down" military operations. NBC News has confirmed the New York Times reporting that the President took a tougher stance with Netanyahu during their private phone call yesterday. But that`s not likely to satisfy Biden`s critics who want him to ditch the strategy of what the White House has called quiet but intense diplomacy in favor of public backing of a ceasefire.


SEN. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I hope that the administration might lean in heavier but whether they do or whether they don`t. I`m on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee and I`m going to say loudly that there ought to be a ceasefire.


WILLIAMS: Today, a senior adviser to Netanyahu had this response to the possibility of an immediate ceasefire.


MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: We`re acting to defend our people. If we do a premature cessation of violence that then just plays into Hamas hands, that works for them, they can have a timeout to regroup, recharge their batteries, and we`ll have missiles on Tel Aviv again next week that`s not a solution. We have to come out of this with a sustained period of peace and quiet. That`s good for Israelis, and frankly, that`s good for Palestinians too.


WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning Senior Washington Correspondent for The Washington Post, A.B. Stoddard, Veteran Washington Journalist, Associate Editor and Columnist for Real Clear Politics, and Neal Katyal is back, Department of Justice Veteran, former Acting Solicitor General during the Obama administration. He has argued dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

And indeed, Counselor, we must begin with you, given tonight`s breaking news. What does this change, this development mean that the Trump Organization is now under a criminal investigation? What must have been discovered or unearthed to lead to this categorical change?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: A lot, Brian. So cray, cray is back. I think for the last 120 plus days, we forgotten about the constant lurches in the news cycle every day and night with Donald Trump. But it`s back now with this official letter. This letter is not like ordinary politics. It`s not some statement from Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden, or Kamala Harris. It`s not even a Supreme Court loss of which Trump had many or simplifying of which Trump is paid money. This is a letter talking about jail time.

And just to give you a sense, how significant it is, if you`re going the Trump Organization website, and pardon me, I`ve never had a demonstrative on before but this is a picture of the Trump organization`s website right now. And you will see the very first thing are story of Donald Trump, and then leadership, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. are the two people listed.

So now look, I suppose Donald Trump can pull a Ted Cruz and blame his kids here or something like that. But absent that what this letter is saying is that prosecutors believe that there is a strong reason to think that the Trump Organization committed various crimes. And remember, the prosecutors here have Trump`s tax returns, Trump fought a battle to the Supreme Court, which he lost nine to zero to keep this from the New York prosecutors, but they`ve gotten very bad news for him.

WILLIAMS: So Neal, let me take a second whack at this. This is New York City and State. Are there any limits on their scope or powers? Can they prosecute for good reason anybody for anything at any time?

KATYAL: Well, they`ve got to be crimes, of course. But I think the fact that the New York Attorney General, the state prosecutors involved is very significant for two reasons. Number one, before this, this was largely fought by the Manhattan DA Cy Vance, who`s actually retiring. So there`s a question about what would happen to that investigation after he leaves this fall.

But second, more importantly, the New York prosecutors, the state prosecutors have a suite of powers called the Martin Act, which is just about the most extensive anti-fraud criminal law of any state in the country. And it gives them sweeping powers. And so what this means in practical terms, is that prosecutors are going to do everything they can, with their new powers to flip various people in the Trump Organization. We`ve already had many reports that the CFO, Allen Weisselberg has been the subject of those kinds of flips. They`ve even gone after his family and kids. And indeed, Jennifer Weisselberg, at one point said, "They, the Trump Organization, control people, by compensating you with homes and things, it`s not easy to walk away when they provide your home." And so already someone`s come forward and said, this is operating a little bit more like that -- like what a mob organization or something like that looks like. We`ve heard this, you know, bandied about in the newspapers by commentators and the like, but it`s a really different thing. When you have criminal prosecutors say, look, we think there`s something serious here and we`re warning you.

WILLIAMS: A.B. Stoddard, let`s talk about a simpler time. Earlier today before we understood the Trump Organization was under criminal investigation when it looked like the biggest worry the former president had was this 1/6 Commission. I`m tempted to say, he tweeted a statement but he can`t do that. I guess he`s faxing these but here it is. Anyway, Republicans in the House and Senate should not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission. It is just more partisan unfairness and unless the -- here`s the what about ism, murders, riots and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago and New York are also going to be studied. This discussion should be ended immediately. Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter and stop being used by the radical left. Hopefully Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening.

A.B., McConnell at least must get tired of being told to genuflect. What`s Trump`s worry on this matter?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Oh, President Trump -- former President Trump on January 6, at the end of that day, remember he said we will remember this day forever. Since then he has learned that this would be a very uncomfortable thing to go through if he is called to testify and that Kevin McCarthy is a fact witness. He had this very dramatic phone call with the president that day begging him to step in, quell the violence, stop the siege, send reinforcements, and then -- because it was such a negative conversation with Kevin McCarthy literally shouted. He relayed this to other members, many of them and they are the ones who spoke about it in the subsequent days. He is not a very shrewd leader. He throws his rank and file under the bus. He did that on the Marjorie Taylor Greene committee vote when he first backs Liz Cheney on February one. And he thought that dispatching Liz Cheney last week would take care of this. Now he has thrown John Katko under the bus, someone who negotiated this 1/6 Commission with his permission and with his demand. And once they were met by the Democrats, he panicked. So now a vote of puncheons has turned into, you know, we`re recommending, we`re not whipping, but we`re recommending and we`re watching you that you vote against this, a bunch of Republicans in the House are going to vote for it because he doesn`t lead and they`re not following.

The problem for McCarthy tonight is once again, when he throws his own members on the bus under the bus, he still gets thrown under the bus by President Trump. Someone he hoped if he hung with would help them become speaker next year. We all know how well Donald Trump is. So it`s going to be a very interesting day tomorrow. But this is a mess. And largely as Kevin McCarthy is making, he doesn`t want to testify about that phone call, even though he`s told many people about it. And it`s now part of the history and obviously, he`s doing his best to protect Trump from the commission as well.

WILLIAMS: Phil, A.B. raises such a good point. It is possible to want something so badly that you prevent yourself from getting it. We`re not stupid. We heard McCarthy at one point say that Donald Trump bears responsibility for what happened on 1/6. We`ve seen the trip to Mar-a-Lago. We can imagine the communications between the two. We see how beholden the Republican leader is to the thrall of Donald Trump. And now the problem for McCarthy is he`s going to lose members of his own caucus, correct?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: It certainly appears that way, Brian. You know, a number of House Republicans are likely to support this January 6 Commission, including the House Republican, as A.B. was just mentioning, who was tapped by McCarthy to negotiate on behalf of the Republicans in setting up the compromise language for how that commission would be governed and how it would take shape.

Let`s keep in mind that this is only June, not June, it`s actually May of 2021. There are now 18 months before the midterm elections. That is a long time for Kevin McCarthy to play this stance with Donald Trump before he`ll find out if he becomes the House Speaker. And, you know, it`s a very treacherous thing that the House Republican leadership is doing here and in trying to please former President Trump and trying to not get crosswise with him and discovering through the statements that the former president is putting out that the loyalty doesn`t always go both ways. And so it`s tricky here. But I would expect the number of House Republicans will vote for this commission. And we`re also hearing by the way that a number of Republican senators are likely to vote for it, first and foremost being Mitt Romney.

WILLIAMS: But Neal Katyal, back to you, and sorry for ping ponging, but another legal question. People may be asking, how can New York State reach into another jurisdiction, Trump is a Florida man now having left New York behind? How does that work?

KATYAL: It works pretty simple. Because the Constitution itself has a clause in it that says, if you commit a crime and you go to another state, that other state is obligated to turn you over. And in 1793, Congress passed a law affecting that. So, you know, Governor DeSantis, I know has been kind of auditioning and trying to be Trump`s guy. And Trump has even floated the idea that Governor DeSantis will be his vice president in 2024, which, you know, is beyond me why that`s attractive to anyone that`s kind of like being the drummer`s for spinal tap or something like that. But in any event, that`s what DeSantis is, you know, is kind of signaling. It won`t work. If the governor tries to protect Donald Trump from a prosecution we don`t have a formal prosecution yet of him. But if there is one, if the governor tries, it will be stopped in court every day of the week.

WILLIAMS: A.B., question about the party. Early to bed republicans are going to wake up in the morning and see that the Trump Organization is under criminal investigation. And Donald Trump is still going to be their North Star come Wednesday morning. How long can the party exist without ideas, thoughts, policies, initiatives of its own?

STODDARD: Well, they`re not actually as unified as the commentary would lead you to believe from the last week that Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and Mitt Romney are alone on a leaky boat. I think they are. But it`s interesting, as Phil mentioned, to hear from Senator Mike Rounds, that they need a 1/6 Commission, and that other extremist groups who`ve rioted in other places had nothing to do with attempted coup on our government on January 6.

So I think that there is of course people running for president who secretly, if you hear that sound tonight, is the sound of exalting by Josh Hawley and Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo and Ted Cruz and others, who are hoping, of course that the former president gets indicted so they can run for president and he doesn`t think foot the 2024 field.

But over on the House side, if you`re in a red district, and your base doesn`t believe in the insurrection, and believes only in Donald Trump, you cannot support the Commission on the House floor tomorrow, and you will continue to defend him through any kind of trials, investigations, et cetera.

WILLIAMS: I guess it`s possible. Senator Hawley celebrates with a fist pump. Phil, fell one last question on an overseas matter that we`re about to examine in our next segment. How much movement is there inside the West Wing on this question of Israel, I get the feeling that policy is moving and migrating?

RUCKER: It certainly feels that way, Brian. If you look at the public statements that President Biden has been making the last few days but more importantly, look at the reporting that`s come out tonight, from the New York Times and elsewhere, about President Biden adopting a tougher tone in his private conversations with Bibi Netanyahu, to try to signal to the Israelis that it`s time to stop here. He has not actually called for the ceasefire publicly that other Democrats in his coalition would like Biden to do, but he seems to be inching in that direction. And I imagine over the next couple of days, we`ll see further movement. It`s a real political puzzle for the president, because keep in mind, Biden, when he was in the Senate, for decades, has dealt with this issue of Middle East politics and Israel. And he has a very traditional democratic view of that. But the power that the momentum within the democratic coalition, within the progressive base has been moving more and more to the side of the Palestinians, and Biden is grappling with that in real time, as Democratic Congress members who have big voices in Washington, are trying to liken this to the Black Lives Matter movement and the racial justice protests we have here in the United States. So we`re seeing President Biden`s start to respond to some of that pressure within his left flank.

WILLIAMS: It`s indeed busy for a Tuesday night in May, but these three guests got us to the finish line. Our thanks to Phil Rucker, A.B. Stoddard, Neal Katyal, greatly appreciate the conversation tonight and the answers.

Coming up, for us the explosive situation we`ve been discussing in the Middle East. Here at home, the president feeling the pressure from his own party among others. Veteran diplomat Richard Haass standing by to tell us what he thinks our country should do next.

And later, they attack police, stormed the Capitol, threatened the speaker, chanted hang Mike Pence. But tonight, one member of Congress claims it`s the Capitol rioters who are being abused, all of it as THE 11TH HOUR getting underway on this aforementioned busy Tuesday night.


WILLIAMS: Yet another tense day and night in the Middle East. France is now supporting a resolution at the U.N. Security Council calling for an end to the fighting between Israeli and Palestinian militants.

Back with us tonight Richard Haass, Veteran Diplomat under Multiple U.S. presidents, longtime president of the Council on Foreign Relations, author of multiple books, his most recent work, The World: A Brief Introduction, is now available in paperback.

Richard, we`re thrilled to have you with us. We`re sorry about the subject matter. And here we go. I mean, not to diminish any of the suffering or loss of life when I say this, but there is a sameness to this cycle as there has been in the past. The rockets look the same, though there`s over 3000 of them. The Israelis then hit back with what they swear our precision strikes that we`ve seen them level and tire high rises and kill innocent families. What is different is a new generation has come up, asking different questions, wondering why Gaza appears to be a prison for 2 million souls who if they`re lucky, get electric power four hours a day. The new generation does not have that reflexive Israel at all costs policy that so many before them had. I know you are sensing this and I`m wondering how this new attitude will affect the disposition of this fighting?

RICHARD HAASS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS PRESIDENT: Brian, it`s good to be with you. You`re exactly right. We`ve seen this before. And what will happen is at some point there`ll be a ceasefire, by which point Israel will diminish Hamas` military capabilities, build some of its leaders, killed a lot of innocent people. And what will happen is Hamas will gradually rearm and even more worrisome I would think from Israel`s point of view is one way you we`re talking about, the alienation of a younger generation that doesn`t see Israel as the necessary country to protect Jews a sanctuary of produce after the Holocaust, but rather sees Israel more as Goliath than then David.

And I would think even, you know, justice warring for Israel is what`s happening internally. That the there`s 2 million Israelis who are not Jewish, there`s 2 million Israelis who are Arabs. And what we`re seeing is a growing alienation, almost the civil rights like movement, or radicalization, though Hamas is now emerging more and more as the spokesperson of the group that represent Palestinians wherever they live. And we`re seeing a growing alienation or growing rupture within Israeli society. And that is really dangerous for the Jewish state.

WILLIAMS: Richard, what should in your view, what should the U.S. do? It was striking to see the resolution brought up by France before the Security Council, do we have leverage that we`ve almost forgotten, we`ve had right on down to the Iron Dome missile defense system that is keeping most of the ground population in Israel safe?

HAASS: I think the United States should support a resolution better yet I would introduce a resolution. And that way we have much more influence over the text. It would be both symbolically and I think diplomatically smart. I would not ban any arm sales to Israel because Israel faces all sorts of threats, Brian, from Hamas, from Hezbollah, from Iran. What I would do, though, is quietly reach some understandings with the Israelis, about a ceasefire, about how Americans supplied arms would be used. I`d also rather than launch any new peace process I would press the Israeli government hard to not take steps that would close off options down the road if and when the pieces for a diplomatic process would line up. No annexation, to stop some of the settlement expansion, stopped some of the seizures, essentially to try to protect possibility for the future, understanding that we`re not in a position now to move ahead diplomatically.

WILLIAMS: And, Richard, how does the free world of civilized nations answer for the conditions prior to this, but certainly now, post these airstrikes inside Gaza?

HAASS: Again, it puts us in a position of looking somewhat hypocritical. How can we be a voice for human rights and protection of individuals around the world when we were not acting with the dispatch we ought to. Again, Hamas though does the Palestinian people know favor, Brian, when it does, indeed, the Palestinians have been cursed over the decades by a leadership that`s either unable or unwilling to make peace. So now we have a terrible situation where we have an Israeli government that is not willing to meet the Palestinians halfway, and the Palestinians who are not willing to meet the Israelis halfway. It exactly explains why they`re -- where you began this report. Why from time to time the violence breaks out, things then come to a ceasefire, but there`s no forward movement.

WILLIAMS: It is a mess. There are a few more thoughtful voices in the world on this mess, however, then our guest tonight, Richard Haass. Richard, we always appreciate when you come on and take our questions, thank you very much.

HAASS: Thank you, sir.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us as we continue, one party is now actively trying to stop an investigation into what we watched on 1/6. What are the Republicans so afraid of? It turns out quite a bit, including a retiree in Florida.



REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): I`m very puzzled by leader McCarthy`s now reversal and opposition to the commission. I wonder what Mr. McCarthy is afraid of. Is he afraid of subpoenas? Is he afraid of the truth? His opposition is troubling evidence that he`s putting his self-interest which is strangely tethered to Trump interest above country, above duty, above the truth, above his own oath.


WILLIAMS: You may remember her, the Pennsylvania Democratic Congresswoman Madeline Dean as one of the House managers from the second impeachment we have to itemize them now. That`s the one where Trump was charged with inciting an insurrection. The same storming of the Capitol his devout loyalists Kevin McCarthy now does not want investigated.

Back with us tonight two returning favorites. Don Calloway, he`s the democratic strategist, member of the advisory board for the National Voter Protection Action Fund also happens to be CEO and Founder of Pine Street Strategies, a DC based lobbying firm, and there`s Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker, Politico, veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, editor-at-large over at the Bulwark and Bill because of your prior association with this party, you get to go first.

First of all, there`s the lying that as Michael Corleone would say, insults our intelligence. There`s two members from Georgia for starters, MTG saying it`s the rioters have been abused. Congressman Clyde saying those rioters looked much more like everyday tourists to him.

But now on top of that Republicans, as I said earlier, are going to wake up tomorrow morning to a former president, his organization now under criminal investigation, is it going to start to matter to all these people who wake up every day and obey a retiree in Florida?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT LARGE: You know, I keep it for four months, I would say for years, to be honest. I`ve kept thinking, Well, finally, it`s going to matter why didn`t think it that much. I kind of stopped when I realized the reality, which was it wasn`t going to matter. I don`t know they might be 30 votes tomorrow for the commission, which if for the sake of the country, we need to have this commission.

But for Kevin McCarthy and for most Republicans, the less said about January 6, the better. Anything that said we`ll expose what Donald Trump didn`t do on the sixth, what he did in the run up to the sixth, what other Republicans did the phone call between McCarthy and Trump. It can`t be good for them.

And I mean, Kevin McCarthy is the person I think, who said and what was it 2015 that he was happy about the Benghazi investigation was done some damage Hillary Clinton`s approval ratings when she was getting ready to run for president. So it`s all politics. And for McCarthy, it`s all about winning the House and keeping Trump on board, and without offending too many people.

I mean, the degree to which Liz Cheney who had been swallowed hard and handle hungry Trump for a year, and then said no, no more after November 3rd, and after January 6th, the degree to which she has turned out to be an outlier. One of a few honorable Republicans, not unfortunately, a voice that they`re listening to at this point, at least, is really striking. And I`m afraid we`ll see that`s where we might get about 30 votes, I think for the commission, but that`s a small number out of what are their children 10 House Republicans.

WILLIAMS: Don, something else I`ve said earlier, we`ve all known people who have wanted something so badly and have been so craven and willing to do anything to get it that in the end, the tragedy is the Charlie Brown effect comes in it is robbed of them. What do you think McCarthy is afraid of? If some of his peers look into just how and why it was that our capital was overtaken, and looted on that day in January?

DON CALLOWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, elections are one in the middle, you know, I`m going to be vote Democrat, a whole lot of people are going to vote Republicans. I would imagine that Kevin McCarthy is afraid of losing that four to 6 percent, who identify as independence and who vote with their wallets, who vote based upon how they personally feel on election day, or whether or not they feel like they have been fairly taxed over the course of last year, or frankly, how the economy is going.

I imagine that that`s what he`s worried about losing and certainly an insurrection investigation would show that Republicans in power from the president`s office on down knew about this certainly turned a blind eye at best, or helped encourage it at worst, and you lose that middle percentage who probably could vote in either given away depending upon which was the last best ad they saw or again how their wallets feel on that given day.

But at the end of the day and investigation into the insurrection that has real prosecutorial competence will show absolute fault by negligence or by intentionality on the part of members of the Republican leadership.

WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol, we`re down to a limited time because the breaking news tonight. Bill, you`ve made the point before that, quote, unquote, traditional tax cut conservatives in the Republican Party have found their own way to hold their nose and vote Republican on a ticket featuring Donald Trump. Do you see anything moving that kind of quiet part of the base?

KRISTOL: Nothing has changed yet I`m afraid. You know, it`s interesting Don mentioned Trump and the Republicans how close they are. Donald Trump`s White House political director, Brian Jack now works for Kevin McCarthy. I mean, the notion that Trump is some kind of outlier, that you know, they keep them at arm`s length they do want publicly to but the fact is Trump and his operatives are working hand, you know, hand in glove with the House Republican congressional committee, with a Senatorial Committee, with all the candidates scattered around the country.

So it is Trump`s party not just says they`re scared or Trump and Mar-a- Lago, but they were Trump loyalists now throughout the ranks. They`ve done much more of that than people realized, I think, which is another reason why there`s not much willingness to cross him.

WILLIAMS: Don, we`re out of time. I owe you one for your next appearance when I expect to yet another HBCU sweater or sweatshirt. We appreciate the representation around here. Don Calloway, Bill Kristol, gentlemen, thank you both. We`ll do this again.

Coming up. The motto of the United States Secret Service is quote, worthy of trust and confidence. Carol Leonnig`s new bestseller just out today raises plenty of questions about that motto. The book has been out for one day. It`s number one on Amazon. What does that tell you? The author will join us next.


WILLIAMS: Our friend Carol Leonnig is out with a stunning new book on the many serious problems inside the U.S. Secret Service. The ones they have faced secretly over the years including during the past administration. In Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service." Carol details the concern among Joe Biden`s team members about agents who had become loyal to Donald Trump. She writes this quote, given all the ways the Secret Service had enabled Trump in the last year from enabling his authoritarian march across Lafayette Square to the murmured support in the ranks for overturning Biden`s election, it was understandable that the President Elect and his aides had doubts. So serious was this concern about Trump`s corrosive hold on the Secret Service that Biden transition advisors urge that the agency swap out all members of the Trump presidential detail before Biden`s inauguration.

With us for more as the author of Zero Fail, that would be our friend Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter with The Washington Post. I`m duty on to point out one of Carol`s Pulitzers was awarded to her for her coverage of the Secret Service back in 2015.

Carol magnificent book, magnificent work. Is the holding about the modern era of the Trump administration, the reaction to 1/6, that may be the bro culture which you catalog inside the U.S. Secret Service and which is has been with them as long as they`ve been around. And the MAGA culture meshed a little bit too easily together.

CAROL LEONNIG, AUTHOR "ZERO FAIL": You know, you said that pretty well. You want to go on the book tour with me. I feel like that.

WILLIAMS: I`m good.

LEONNIG: (INAUDIBLE) a lot Brian. There is a culture of alpha male in this DNA of this agency, which basically resists admitting weakness, admitting failure, and it airs on the side of covering up what`s really going on behind the scenes, including serial screw ups, and mistakes and security gaps and misconduct.

And in this instance, under Donald Trump right when the Secret Service needed help the most to recover and rebuild. This president deployed this, you know, noble agency with a wonderful reputation as a political tool for his own gain. And that is the way he treated most government agencies in the executive, something that would help him personally, and especially help him get reelected.

So it is not a shock to agents in that wonderful agency that many members of the President`s detail were judged on their loyalty and they became very loyal to President Trump to the point that they supported his forcible removal of peaceable protesters outside the White House at Lafayette Square on June 1, when people were protesting the death of George Floyd.

And the leadership of the Secret Service supported allowing a senior executive who used to run the President`s detail to become a political adviser and Deputy White House Chief of Staff in Donald Trump`s White House, the person who was in charge of getting his political message out, helping him in his campaign, staging his image, and also this clearing of the White House that you are seeing on the camera now.

WILLLIAMS: Your book, the reporting is so powerful, the director of the Secret Service has said in a statement tonight, the American people can rest assured that the U.S. Secret Service is an apolitical and nonpartisan agency. Our focus is not on politics, but on uncompromising excellence, and continual improvement protecting national and world leaders, and the security of our nation`s financial system.

Two things are true, I think the American people have unquestioned faith in this organization, and what they do, and I know it is true that the Secret Service certainly enjoys the first word in their title. And that is being secret largely all these years, their budgets are constantly blacked out on Capitol Hill, as constantly as they have been approved over the years.

But with that statement from the director, having been read, the question to you is, can the American people based on all you know and have found out, rest assured tonight, that the top of our government is protected to the very best of our ability as a nation?

LEONNIG: I`m really depressed to tell you they cannot. And I want to stress something Brian tonight, which is I wrote this book because I`m ringing an alarm bell for the agents who risked their careers, their jobs, to tell these truths that the agency leadership did not want told, which is basically that they are relying on law more than ever before in protecting the president. Their mission is too large.

We all think that their number one mission is protecting the president. That`s the most important thing they do. But they have a ton of other assignments and not enough tools to do them. They had a jumper, get into the White House and sit on the ground, uninterrupted for 15 minutes, jiggle adore on the east side of the mansion, and was allowed to wander around so long, because the alarms, the fence sensors, the radios, the cameras were all on the fritz and allow this person to wander around, a person without a plan didn`t have an assassination strategy. But what if they did? And that is not enough.

You know, America should not be satisfied with that. And we does -- we owe the agents who dedicate their lives to this who give and sacrifice so much of their own personal lives for this mission. We owe them more we deserve. They deserve to have the tools they need to do this job and deliver on this zero fail mission. That`s why I wrote the book because agents as dedicated as they are, are afraid of catastrophe. And they think a president will be shot. If not on their watch on the next guy`s watch. It`s a matter of time.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, it`s all in here from souped up golf carts to what happened in the sexual escapades and Cartagena. We`re going to take a quick break. Here are the author staying with us. Coming up we`ll talk about a largely avoidable risk some agents had to take because of the past presidents poor judgment.


WILLIAMS: We are back. Carol Leonnig is with us. She wrote this book about the US secret service that we could easily discuss every night for a year and not get to all of it.

Carol, I`m just going to put some pictures on the screen that are by now burned into everyone`s memory. A COVID positive President of the United States chooses to take a victory lap and wave to his people as he put it outside Walter Reed inside the rather cramped still an airless SUV. His agents were forced to ride with him looking for all the world like they were going to be exposed to plutonium. Talk briefly about the rallies, the denialism and the COVID positive president who put his agents at risk.

LEONNIG: Brian, as the president realized internally and privately that his poll numbers were sinking, that the American people were distrustful of the way he had handled a crisis like no other. He got more and more desperate about getting out on the road and campaigning, despite the fact that COVID was spiking in many of the places red states where he wanted to travel.

Unfortunately, 300 Secret Service officers and agents attracted COVID or were exposed to a cover a coworker who was infected so that they had to be quarantined as a result of those summer rallies that the President insisted on.

This moment that you were showing now in October, was sort of the creme de la creme of the President`s indifference to how COVID spreads and the people that serve him and could be hurt.

Now I want to stress the two agents in that car, the driver and his detail leader are wearing a lot of medical gear. So their chances are relatively small of contracting it in that car. But there are a lot of steps on the way to that car from the hospital bed. And it was a question for many agents I interviewed. Why this risk? Why do this for 10 minutes of a joy ride to make the President feels strong, to make him feel like he was showing people that he was hale and hearty? Wasn`t there a safer way to do this then expose all sorts of employees, including agents along the way?

WILLIAMS: There is news in here on the Kennedy assassination that people haven`t heard before. There`s news in here from the Clinton administration that people haven`t heard and detail the unfolding of the 9/11 attacks and the reaction to it inside the bush White House traveling and stationary is every bit as gripping as it was in real time.

Once again, the book is "Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service." As I said it came out today. It`s already number one on Amazon, the Pulitzer Prize winning author Carol Leonnig has been our guest tonight. Thanks so much, Carol, for coming on.

LEONNIG: Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Appreciate it. Coming up for us, the young man who believes what New York State really needs is a governor named Giuliani.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will faithfully discharge the duties --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that I will faithfully discharge the duties --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- of the office of Mayor of the City of New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the office of Mayor of the City of New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the best of my --


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight that was Rudy Giuliani`s inauguration as New York City Mayor 27 years and one reputation ago. No one remembers the speech. Only the behavior of his son Andrew, parents watching, cut the lads some slack. We figured who are we to judge.

But then Saturday Night Live, including the essential Chris Farley decided, let`s go ahead and judge.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my grandfather came here with $20 in his pocket. He dreamed life could be better for himself and his children.

Today to dream of a city that can be better than it is. Everyone wants to come to New York artistic fashion and cultural institutions are the best in the world.


WILLIAMS: Well, fast forward till now, Andrew is all grown up and he`s decided to run for governor of New York as one does when one`s father is under federal investigation. He`s been trying to get free media attention. Naturally he did an interview with Russian television last week, again, as one does.

He`s also made a campaign ad in which he does the Josh Hawley raised fist thing in a near empty Time Square at night. And today he formally announced his candidacy. And here`s a preview. It didn`t go well.


ANDREW GIULIANI, SON OF FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI: OK, well, my fellow New Yorkers, it`s a great honor to be with you all here today to announce my fifth, my candidacy to become the 57th governor of our great state of New York.

Which one is that? Is that Miss Manhattan or is that lady? That`s Lady Liberty over there. So, any community that has a charter school will get a charter school. I do believe that people should be vaccinated. I am not vaccinated, but I continually get tested. With the antibodies you can`t transmit. New York is truly that shining state on the hill.


WILLIAMS: With thanks to our friends at the recount, that was just day one of the Giuliani for governor campaign, and that was our broadcast for a Tuesday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.