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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  May 25, 2018 1:00am-2:00am PDT

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this as the president continues to peddle his conspiracy theory about an alleged spy. plus north korea tonight says it will talk to the u.s. at any time, even after donald trump's dramatic cancellation of his summit meeting with kim jong-un. today's twin developments leaving the white house on defense and in disarray as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a thursday night. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. i'm nicolle wallace in for brian williams tonight. day 490 of the trump administration. summit collapse. the president scrapped his june 12th talks with north korean leader kim jong-un. tonight, north korea has responded. more on that story ahead. but we begin with the classified meetings with members of congress, intelligence, and law enforcement officials about the fbi's use of an informant in the russia investigation. president trump set the stage for those meetings with his wholly unsubstantiated
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allegation that a mole was planted in his campaign for political purposes. originally only republicans were scheduled to attend, but after furious backlash, invitations were extended to democrats as well. congressman adam schiff, top democrat on the house intel committee, made these remarks afterward. >> nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the fbi or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols. >> the meetings also included white house officials. chief of staff john kelly and the white house lawyer assigned to the russia investigation, emmet flood. the white house said the two men made remarks at the beginning of the gathering and then left the room. but mark warner, the ranking
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democrat on the senate's intel committee, tweeted this after ward. quote, for the record, the president's chief of staff and his attorney in an ongoing criminal investigation into the president's campaign had no business showing up to a classified intelligence briefing. rudy giuliani, president trump's personal attorney in the russia probe, offering his daily update on the negotiations for a sit-down interview for the president with robert mueller. he told politico today, quote, briefings about the fbi informant could help grease the wheels for an interview and added that the cancellation of the north korea summit, quote, gives us more time to spend with the president and make a decision, maybe a final one in the next couple weeks whether the interview is a go or a no go. meanwhile several recent reports have indicated that mueller is closely scrutinizing longtime trump political adviser roger stone's role in the 2016 l. tonight the "wall street journal" reports newly discovered e-mails show stone privately sought dirt on hillary clinton from wikileaks founder julianne assange during the campaign. the journal says stone urged a radio host who knew assange to ask him for e-mails related to
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mrs. clinton's alleged role in disrupting a purported libyan peace deal in 2011. writing, quote, any state or h.r.c e-mail from august 10th to august 30th, particularly on august 20th, 2011. the paper adds, among other matters, prosecutors have asked mr. stone's claimed contact with wikileaks during the campaign according to a witness familiar with the investigation. let's bring in our leadoff panel for a thursday night. former u.s. attorney joyce vance, who has spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. jeremy bash, former chief of staff at the cia and the pentagon. and john heilemann, co-author of "game change" and "double down" and co-host of the circus on showtime. take me through what you think the enduring damage may be tonight to the fbi and the justice department as they seek to maintain some independence
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from a president with complete and utter disregard for all the norms that have previously kept white houses from doing things like sending the chief of staff and the president's lawyer to a meeting like this. >> i think there's a short to medium range question and a long-range question. the short to medium range question it seems to me is quite clear. the president will feel as though, regardless of what was said in that meeting, the president will regard this as a victory. he demanded something no president has ever demanded before, that no president has ever thought he had the right to demand before, that no one on either party would have conceived as something a president could do and you didn't get a lot of what he wanted. but he got a talking point and he got something to help reinforce the narrative that he wants to drive in the political sphere. i think we've had over the course of days now, we've had discussions about whether that was something that rod rosenstein was right to trade in
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order to keep his job basically and in order to be able to protect the mueller inquiry for a little while longer. i continue to say i don't know the answer to that. but was something lost? was something given up to this president in the short and medium term? 100%. then there's the longer term question which again i don't know the answer to. but i do think when you break important precedents like this. when you do damage to institutional norms, constitutional norms of this kind, you risk other presidents of other administrations on either side of the aisle for administrations to come, decades to um can, generations to come being able to point at the
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precedent and say it's not a precedent anymore. i'm going to go ahead and do that thing. and whether or not after trump, whether that's before 2020, whether that's in 2020, whether it's in 2024, at some point there's going to come a day after donald trump, and whether the institutional norm is able to regenerate on this front or not, none of us know. but it's in more jeopardy now over the long run than it was 24 hours ago. >> so, jeremy bash, the body of the institution has been attacked and has been weakened. but it's been attacked and weakened on a lie, based on a lie. there is no evidence that there was a spy or a mole in the trump campaign. so he's got all of these respected professionals at the justice department, people who have served previous presidents, previous attorneys general, carrying out what appears to be a charade. that his chief of staff and his attorney in the russia probe at the white house end of it attended. am i missing something? >> no, nicole. spygate, we hardly knew ya. it turned out basically to be a
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bust. i think we look at two things here. but structurally as you pointed out, it was also very problem atible for two reasons. one it was first designed as a gop only meeting. only later did democrats have to kind of fight their way into the meeting to restore the principle of bipartisan oversight of foreign counterintelligence investigations, which we've always done. in my experience working up there, we've always had bipartisan meetings of this type. and then finally the big, i think, institutional issue is the presence of emmet flood, the counsel for the president on the russia matter, there for no reason at all, only to send a subtle -- really not so subtle signal that the president is watching, that he is going to become the beneficiary of any information that's shared with congress, and that basically they are not going to respect the integrity of this investigation in any way, shape, or form. >> so, joyce, take me inside -- you know, even as a non-lawyer, i understood the foul that was investigating the investigators. this addition of emmet flood to this meeting and the white house chief of staff seem to be
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supervising the investigation into the investigators. am i wrong on that front? >> no, you're absolutely right. the best way i can think of to talk about it is to imagine that you're a federal prosecutor and you're investigating a fortune 500 company. and you're having a meeting to brief investigators or some other folks on the evidence. and all of a sudden, the ceo for this company doesn't show up, but his lawyer, his general counsel shows up accompanied by his chief executive assistant. and they act as though they're entitled to sit in on this meeting and hear all of the evidence that you're accumulating in the investigation that looks into their company and their boss. and it's laughable, right? you don't have to have gone to law school to look at that and to say it's ludicrous. we don't want subjects of investigations to know the
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details of the investigation before it's completed. this is really what we had here today, and it's a travesty that the chief executive officer of this country, the president, was willing to sacrifice the integrity of the justice system to try to get a leg up, to try to get a window in on an investigation that's really looking at his conduct. >> he was not only willing, he was eager. he was eager to do this. and just very quickly, i will say, you know, it started out it was supposed to be a republican only meeting. there was uproar to make it bipartisan. it didn't become fully bipartisan because we had two separate meetings. but on top of that, it was almost like the president said, okay, fine, you can bring some
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democrats up. now here's my countermove. i'm going to send my lawyer up there. you democrats are going to horn in from the senate side. fine. i'm going to send emmet flood up there just to give you the finger. >> jeremy bash, let me read you adam schiff's statement. he said, emmet flood's presence and statement at the outset of both meetings today was completely inappropriate. his presence only underscores what rudy giuliani says. the president's legal team expects to use information gleaned improperly from the justice department or the president's allies in congress to their legal advantage. now, emmet flood is different from rudy giuliani in that he has been someone held in high regard. he was held in high regard in the bush 43 white house. he assisted them through some legal crises. the u.s. attorney scandal and others. but he seems to be falling into this pattern of once highly regarded men and women who come into the trump orbit and are tainted by their actions and their disregard for the norms and the boundaries between the justice department and the white house. >> yeah, and i know emmet flood. i worked with him when i was chief counsel. and as you noted, he was white house counsel. and we interacted many times. and i do respect his intellect, but i have to say his judgment was way off here because not only is it like the fortune 500 ceo that joyce referenced, not only is it like potentially a mafia boss trying to barge their way into an investigation of their conduct, but this is
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>> since you're fired up, jeremy, i'm going to stay with you here. let me ask you to respond to the second part of that, which is rudy giuliani telegraphing what he hopes to do with the information they learn, that the president's legal team expects to use information gleaned improperly from the justice department or the president's allies in congress to their legal advantage. adam schiff isn't making that up. that's what rudy giuliani has said he wanted. >> yeah, and that's totally ridiculous because of course during an investigation, you would never show the target or the subject of your investigation the evidence you have. there is a stage later on during trial, during discovery, when you will reveal to a defendant, a criminal defendant, information that you have about the case as joyce and others who have prosecutes these cases can explain in detail. but never, never in an investigative stage, would you invite the subject in and say,
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here's what we've got. >> and, joyce, you tweeted just that. i want to ask you the question i started the show with with john heilemann. what was lost today? and what is the hope for, you know, somebody like bob mueller who is keeping his head down and doing his work getting the last word when we just see boundary after boundary crossed, when people who are concerned about donald trump's conduct don't see a lot of evidence of any checks on anything that he's doing, on any of the on lit railed norms, on any of the trespassing and trampling on the way things are supposed to be when you're under investigation by the justice department, a counterintelligence investigation, even more serious in that serious national security questions. what was lost today, and what is the hope for regaining it or salvaging it through the mueller investigation or any other
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avenue? >> so i'm getting even more depressed listening to you recite the litany. >> no, you're supposed to bring us back up. >> but here's the real conundrum that we face and jeremy knows this too from the administration that we served in together and earlier ones. the criminal justice system in this country largely is able to work because people trust it. and when citizens, people who are litigants, criminal defendants, victims in the system, when they no longer believe that they can trust that we have a system where no man is above the rule of law and every man is treated fairly in the courts, then the system erodes along with the confidence of people in it.
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we're fortunate that we have bob mueller running the special counsel investigation. that was a very wise choice that rod rosenstein made because mueller -- and it's important to remember that mueller is a republican, a career republican. but he served under republican and democratic presidents. he was that highly thought of. his integrity has always been unquestioned. mueller's doing what prosecutors do.
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stone on the circus a couple weeks ago freaking out in an interview with me, apparently knowing that some of this information that we're now reading about what's coming and understanding the jeopardy he's in, when we see michael cohen's taxi partner deciding to flip on him and getting the deal of a lifetime for apparently some very -- for what must be incredibly incriminating information for him to have got the kind of bargain that he got, when you see the net closing in and then you see the behavior of the people around whom the net seems to be closing, the panic of it, the flailing, i don't know if that's a cause for hope or not, but it's a different way to look at this week. the institutions and norms have been harmed. there's no doubt about it. but in the long narrative of this, i think this is one of these weeks where we will look back on this through a slightly different prism, and see some of the key dra mattis persona in a
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you state of ever increasing hysteria. >> thank you so much for starting us off. coming up, james comey once joked the president's obsession with him is like a breakup trump just can't get over. today the president was at it again calling comey a rotten apple. and speaking of breakups, trump dumps his summit with kim jong-un before the dictate core could cancel on him first. "the 11th hour" just getting started on a thursday night.
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i think a thing that i've done for the country, the firing of james comey is going to go down as a very good thing. fbi is great. i know so many people in the fbi. the fbi is a fantastic institution. but some of the people at the top were rotten apples. james comey was one of them. i've done a great service for this country by getting rid of him by firing him. >> we'll see. that was president trump today firing another shot in his fight to discredit the russia investigation. and in his seemingly never ending war against the fbi director he fired. republican strategist steve schmidt characterized the president's actions this way to us earlier today. >> what's increasingly clear whether the target is james comey, whether it's director mueller, the special counsel, the reality is, is this president will burn everything to the ground to protect himself, to protect himself from this investigation moving closer
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to the oval office. >> joining us now, jeremy peters, political reporter for "the new york times," and jonathan allen, nbc news national political reporter. it's a pleasure to have you both. do you agree with that? he's going to burn everything to the ground that threatens him? he's making some progress. >> steve, as usual, has totally understated. but i think, you know, it's interesting. i spoke to some veterans of the watergate era this week about these issues. richard ben-veniste who worked in the special counsel's office back then, and john dean, who was the white house counsel to president nixon. both of them said there's a real concern here that the president is weaponizing the tools of
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government to undermine the mueller investigation for his own benefit. you know, dean actually said there are echos of watergate here. you know, i think there's a lot of deep, deep concern among institutionalists, and i don't mean this in an establishment way. i just mean people who care about the institutions of our government, about what's going on with president trump right now. >> i've heard some of their analysis. i mean where are they today? you know, if you've talked to them this week, where do they think the president has delivered us with this fake scandal, this manufactured tale of a spy which was never true?
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there was a counterintelligence investigation under way because there were people in the trump campaign who were so close to russians that they were under surveillance ostensibly to protect the company, to protect the campaign, and they kept that secret. so there was absolutely no political overlay. what is their level of concern with the latest twists and turns in all this? >> i think there's a lot of concern. it's interesting because each individual act may be legal in and of itself, you know, you can look at it as a lawyer would, and they're both lawyers. you can look at it and say this particular act may be legal, but it also could be part of a chain of obstruction of justice later. and so regardless of the legality, i think the disruption of norms here is of enormous concern to people who have watched our government teeter on the brink of crisis before. >> and obstruction of justice is the thing that even the president's allies worry he may have stumbled into inadvertently with his m.o. thats had a businessman, he was not a by the book kind of guy, shall we say. and the defense of donald trump
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from his pals goes like this. he was too loose-lipped and unorganized to have colluded with the russians, but on obstruction, yeah, he could have some exposure. >> i think there's been a brewing effort for a long time now, one that we haven't seen because it hasn't come to fruition until now to push rosenstein out, to discredit the investigation and the investigators even more so than was happening earlier on in the process when trump was trashing comey on a daily basis and threatening to fire jeff sessions, yes. so this has been, i know from talking to people close to the situation, a long time coming. the guardrails have finally come off. >> right. >> now that rudy giuliani is there. now that dowd is gone. now that cobb is gone. and the attitude of cooperation is totally out the window. so this is what you're seeing. you're seeing this pent up aggression finally unleashed. >> let me ask you about the -- i mean are you surprised -- talk about no guard rails. i mean emmet flood is an establishment republican attorney. are you surprised that someone like emmet flood doesn't have the power or the moxie or the instinct to walk into the president's office and say, hey, lighten up on the comey trashing. he is a central witness in the mueller investigation, into you and obstruction of justice.
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>> but ultimately the president is his own chief communications officer, chief strategist, chief legal counsel, and this is just how he's going to behave. there is nothing any adviser can do to stop the president from behaving the way he is. and that's why so many of them have quit. going back to what john was saying earlier about the institutions being trashed here, president trump will stop at nothing to discredit the institutions that are meant to keep leaders honest. that includes not only law enforcement but congress and their investigative power, the media most especially, which he's come at us -- >> guns ablazing. >> incredible venom and dishonesty. and you know what other institution is in real peril here? the republican party because they have sat by complicit in all of this, most of them. coming up, the summit with north korea, is it off, or is it on?
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based on the recent statement of north korea, i have decided to terminate the planned summit in singapore on june 12th. while many things can happen and
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a great opportunity lies ahead potentially, i believe that this is a tremendous setback for north korea and, indeed, a setback for the world. >> president trump has officially canceled the highly anticipated june 12th summit between the united states and north korea. in a letter to kim jong-un, trump blamed the cancellation on tremendous anger and open hostility in a recent statement from north korea but left the door open to a future summit. meanwhile tonight, we've seen a huge shift in tone from north
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korea. the country's vice foreign minister said through state media that the north is ready to talk to the u.s. at any time. here to talk more about it, bill richardson, former new mexico governor, former u.s. ambassador to the u.n., and he has successfully negotiated the release of americans held in north korea. thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you, nicolle. >> so obviously you know the nature of the north korean regime better than anybody, and no matter who the american president is, we root for the home team. but former cia director john brennan said to me about a week ago that he was worried that the president was setting himself up to be duped by kim jong-un. do you think the president got outmaneuvered? >> well, clearly this is part of the president's negotiating strategy. you know, when he doesn't like something, he opts out like with
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the paris climate talks, the trans-pacific partnership, the iran issue. and now i think he felt that maybe he was being outmaneuvered, so the best thing to do is get out. but i do think the north koreans overplayed their hands, although i can tell you i've dealt with them. this is typical. they bluster. they flex their muscles. they don't show up at meetings. they insult. they insulted the vice president. so what you have is because they don't think like we do.
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they think in their little own cocoon, and i don't know if the president's people have experience dealing with them. obviously i think there have been some mistakes because too many of the administration people are speaking with different voices. i think secretary pompeo, he's been there twice. he established an intelligence channel with the koreans. he should be speaking out. he should be the only one. but then you've got the vice president. you've got john bolton talking about the libya model where gadhafi ended up dead after they put his nuclear weapons out. i'm sure kim jong-un got a little nervous about that. so this is a setback. this is not good. but the door is open.
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i think the north koreans, the statement you just referred to, he's a senior guy. he's been their nuclear negotiator. so, you know, hopefully it will be put back together. but this is a setback. >> you put your finger on something that nbc and "the washington post" and multiple news organizations have reported out tonight, sort of the different stakeholders on the american side. how do you get the national security team to sing off a single song sheet when the guy at the top is incapable of it? >> well, that's the problem. the president shoots from the hip. he tweets. he goes off on press conferences. then you've got, you know, probably competing advisers competing for his ear. you've got the secretary of state, who has actually met kim jong-un twice. he's been there.
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he's negotiated. he established the intelligence channel. then you've got john bolton who, you know, purportedly has been very skeptical of these negotiations for a long time. but the fact that they both publicly said, well, that pompeo has said, we can negotiate with this guy, but then he's contradicted even by the vice president, talking about the libya model. and then john bolton. and then the north koreans react. you know, i'm not defending the north koreans, here they release three americans about a week ago. they detonated the nuclear site. i think this morning they destroyed it. they think that they're reaching out in a positive way. and then they're saying, well, what about the u.s.? what are you guys doing? well, you're talking about the libya model.
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they don't operate like we do. i've been there, negotiated releases of prisoners. they keep you waiting for a week. they keep you in a safehouse there, not talking to you, frustrating you. that's how they are. and that's what they did to the president. but i think they overplayed their hand. >> bill richardson, we're so grateful to have your insights on a night like tonight. thank you for spending some time but the president, fearing the north koreans might beat him to the punch, wanted to be the first one to kabsle multiple officials told nbc news. there was no hint of this yesterday, a person briefed on the summit preparations said, calling trump's decision high risk, high reward. for more, let's bring in jackie calmes, white house editor for "the los angeles times," and peter baker. jackie, let me start with you. you broadened the lens for us and shared some thoughts about how the president miscalculated by telegraphing just how vital this potential achievement was to him politically, personally, to his ego in terms of a peace prize. can i put to you the same question i put to the ambassador? is it possible as director brennan said that the president
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has been duped? >> it's certainly possible. i think maybe less than duped, he's just been -- he took the bait. he wanted something so badly. i sort of think of him as the instant gratification president, which goes hand in hand with his being the reality tv president. and he was so enamored of doing something that, as he's said several times, many times, that no other sitting president has done, which is to sit down with one of the rulers of north korea.
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well, any president could have had the meeting. it's what comes out of the meeting that's important. and those meetings, you don't go -- you know, we can stipulate, you know, as critical as we may be of president trump and how this is playing out, we'll stipulate that north korea bears a lot of blame. but this is how they roll. they're dupe list tuesday, but with just abruptly accepting the invitation to a summit in march on the say-so of south korean emissaries without any spade work by his own american diplomats. so less than being duped, he simply bumbled into this and maybe out of it. >> peter, jackie brings us back to an important moment when the president sort of brought all this into public view, it was without the -- i don't want to call it hand-holding, but it was without coordination with his then security adviser h.r. mcmaster. there's reporting today in multiple news organizations that there was some disconnect among the national security team. what are the prospects at this moment for getting this back on track, and do you believe that to be the goal?
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>> yeah, it's a great question. look, i think one thing we've learned with this president is nothing is permanent. nothing is final. the fact that the summit is off today doesn't mean it won't be back on tomorrow or some later date. the president clearly was signaling that today both in his comments and his letter. he clearly still thinks this is a possibility, and you can see him, you know, coming around to finding a way to put it back on the schedule at some point. the trick is putting it back on the schedule is going to be harder than putting it on in the first place because he's going to have to explain what would actually convince him to change his mind again. it would look bad to simply say, sure, let's give it another try if he didn't get something more reassuring than that.
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and as jackie just said, as ambassador richardson just said, the north koreans are mercurial. they're unpredictable. they're prus treating and aggravating. it's hard to imagine what they could give him as a reassurance. it's a very tenuous moment, and it's hard to see where it goes next. we have to sneak in a quick break, but we'll all be right back. tripadvisor. visit i'm alex trebek, here to tell you about the colonial penn program. if you're age 50 to 85, and looking to buy life insurance on a fixed budget, remember the three p's. what are the three p's? the three p's of life insurance on a fixed budget are price, price, and price. a price you can afford, a price that can't increase, and a price that fits your budget. i'm 54. alex, what's my price? you can get coverage for $9.95 a month. i'm 65 and take medications. what's my price?
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on what day is it finally going to reveal itself to everybody in washington there is no strategy? he doesn't know anything about anything. he is unread. he is unstudied. he is unprepared. he knows not the first thing about the threat, the history that the north korean regime provides. >> that was our friend steve schmidt earlier this afternoon on our hour. jackie and peter are still with us. peter baker, talk about the challenge that folks like mike pompeo and john bolton and secretary mattis have in navigating parts of the world that really do require a little bit more context, a little bit more knowledge of the history of the leaders that came before. how do they navigate around that in this white house? >> yeah, no, it's a great question. look, most of these people have not had the kind of experience
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dealing with north korea that ambassador richardson has had, that ambassador chris hill had under bush, that a number of others have had. john bolton has known it from his perch as a u.n. ambassador and certainly played a role in the bush administration, and that actually soured him on the idea of negotiations with north korea. he came away with his experiences thinking that the north koreans are not genuine. you can't trust them, when they're going to simply string you along with false promises and try to cheat behind your back. so he came into this experience as the national security adviser for trump pretty jaundiced about the whole thing. he didn't believe this diplomatic outreach was going to go anywhere in the first place. he in fact said before becoming national security adviser that the only negotiation president trump should have should be discussing the logistics of how north korea gives up its nuclear weapons, puts it on a boat basically to send to the united states. so, you know, he was not open to the idea that this is really going to be a success to begin with. and no doubt he's told the president, see, this is what you get when you try to deal with them. >> and let me bring you back to
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the point that you started to make earlier, jackie. the idea that he wanted this so badly and that hurt him strategically, is that toothpaste that can ever go back into the tube? can you step back? can you change your posture and act like a less eager, you know, high school girl, or has he already shown his hand? has he already revealed that his entire midterm strategy hinged on presenting himself to the country as a great deal maker and letting the republicans in the house and senate ride his coattails? i mean how do you put back in the tube all of the strategic things he gave away by telegraphing his almost desperation for a peace prize and a deal? >> well, i don't think he can anymore, not just because of this but because he's now got 15, 16 months behind him, and we've seen too many times that his sort of being unpredictable
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and his making his diplomacy personal. it's all about him and kim. you saw in his letter today talking about the wonderful dialogue he thought they were just starting to have, and maybe they could, you know, get it on again. i know it's cable, but i better be careful. >> the only high school girl i was talking about was me. too high schoolgirls everywhere, i got your back. >> i just think it's really hard. the worst part is, you know, kim jong-un has won just by the fact that this summit was agreed to at all. it didn't even have to come off for kim to have won. and he's gotten the ultimate diplomatic recognition from the president of the united states. and you don't bestow that just easily. and trump was too easy. and the second thing kim has won is that by his agreeing to this
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diplomacy with president trump and the fact that trump himself was the one that pulled the plug on the summit has relieved the pressure that china was bringing to bear on north korea. china is north korea's most important and only patron to speak of, and some of that pressure is now going to be lifted. and also japan and south korea just come out of this, with, you know, their heads have exploded the way they've been treated by president trump in all of this. they've been embarrassed in their countries. you can't undo that. you can't unsee that. >> you remind us of something we haven't mentioned yet. they were all cut unaware and allegedly learned about this in the press. coming up, what political figure does historian jon meacham think donald trump is most like. hint -- he and donald trump were both advised by roy cohn. the answer is next. "the 11th hour" back after this.
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i don't think people should be staying in locker rooms, but i think it's good. you have to stand proudly for the national anthem. or you shouldn't be playing. you shouldn't be there. maybe you shouldn't be in the country. >> that was the president of the united states this morning condemning peaceful silent protests by members of the nfl players, suggesting that maybe they shouldn't be in this country at all. here's what jim messina, a former obama campaign manager, said to me about those comments this afternoon. >> this is the moment he became senator joseph mccarthy. literally saying, you can't be in my country if you don't do it the way i want you to do it. it is the craziest thing. >> here to talk about whether it's all that crazy at all, john mecham. his brand new book is "the soul of america: the battle for our better angels." how is that battle going, my
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friend? who is winning? >> it is a pitched and difficult battle. but we're going to win the war. we're going to win the war. we always do. >> who won this battle, did this battle go to donald trump, who seems to have successfully intimidated the nfl owners into banning peaceful silent protests what has to happen is conversations like this and we have to keep reminding ourselves that the country's always gotten stronger the more we've embraced diversity. that's not a partisan point, it's not a liberal establishment point. it's simply the case. that as we've become a country that more generously interpreted the jeffersonian argument that we're all created equal, we've grown stronger. conservatives should appreciate that, because it's historically true. and it is based on strength in our relative position in the world. and liberals should appreciate it, because it answers the great impulse of the ages, which is, if you want to guarantee fair play for yourself, you have to guarantee it for others, as well. >> let me ask you to pick up on
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jim messina's comment about joseph mccarthy. do you see parallels? >> oh, i think it's the most -- it's the clearest analogy we have. mccarthy was never president, but it took four years, mccarthy, roy cone, who is also trump's lawyer, actually said that mccarthy bought anti-communism the way other people might buy a car. trump rode the birther conspiracy to prominence, mccarthy rode anti-communism to prominence. there were early voices, far too lonely, making the case against them. one of the things that many members of congress and members of the senate are going to have to ask themselves down the years is, why weren't they margaret chase smith, the republican senator from maine, who stood up in 1950 and said that this, as president bush would say in a different context, this will not stand. giving a speech called the declaration of conscience. she got -- only got six senators
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to join her in that, in 1950, by 1954, the senate would central mccarthy. but it took four years. and mccarthy understood the media of the age. he understood how to manipulate wire service reporters to get headlines. he would announce things right before deadlines so they couldn't check them. there were huge debates in the newsrooms of america about, do you simply report something that a united states senator says, even if it is self-evidently not true? so, yeah, as mark twain is repulted to have said, mystery may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. >> six senators -- we don't have five, four, three, two -- we have one standing up to trumpism, one or two, jeff flake, john mccain, i can't think of anymore.
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we have worse off in the fight against trumpism, aren't we? >> we are, but it is early. if i'm right, that this is the cycle, that it does take longer than many of us think it should or hope it would, mccarthyism took 48 months to die out. watergate took 26 months, from the time of the break-in from nixson's resignation. when people talk about the great moment where they told nixon he had to go, that was august 7th. that was after the supreme court ruled that nixon had to hand over the tapes, it was after the smoking gun tape where nixon was actually heard orchestrating the coverup, so, let's not sentimentalize the past. these are politicians, they're imperfect, they're flawed. and what we have to do, it seems to me, is create a climate of opinion that because politicians far more often mirror what's out there as opposed to molding it, if we can get opinion where it needs to be, and they start to mirror it, then our long national nightmare may be coming to a close. >> john meachum screaming at the
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top of his lungs. i needed that. a quick break for us. more of "the 11th hour" after this.
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but i'm not standing still... and with godaddy, i've made my ideas real. ♪ ♪ i made my own way, now it's time to make yours. ♪ ♪ everything is working, working, just like it should ♪
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that's our broadcast for tonight. thank you so much for staying up with us. i'll see you back here tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. eastern. i'm nicolle wallace in for brian williams. good night from all of us at nbc news headquarters here in new york.
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this morning fallout after president trump pulls the plug on his summit with kim jong un, officials tell nbc news trump wanted to be the one to cancel first before north korea beat him to the punch. plus, two sets of lawmakers attend separate classified briefings on the russia probe and the white house creates controversy by sending their own officials to the meetings. and disgraced movie mogul harvey weinstein is expected to surrender to authorities to face criminal charges in connection with sexual misconduct allegations. >>


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