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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  November 9, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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have been stretched to their limit in california with deadly fires in northern and southern california. they have to choose between saving lives and saving property and in some cases they're not able to save either one. more than 250,000 people have more than 250,000 people have been ordered to evacuate, including the entire town of malibu. hundreds of homes have been destroyed. everyone is hoping for a break in the wind to allow firefighters to try to establish some control over this deadly situation. that's tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight president trump lands in paris after an angry day lashing out at reporters, senators, local election officials, and the president of france just after touching down in france. he also said he doesn't know matt whitaker, his new acting attorney general. problem with that is a month ago he told fox news not only does he know him but he's a great guy. "the wall street journal"
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story just out saying trump played a central role paying off two women from his past. one of the reporters on the story standing by to talk with us. michelle obama speaking out candidly about this president in advance of her new book, all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a friday night. >> good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 659 of this trump administration and the president tries to turn his attention to the world stage as his selection to run the justice department acting attorney general matt whitaker is coming under increasing fire. demands are growing for whitaker to recuse himself, pull himself out of the russia investigation portion of doj just as jeff sessions did before him because whitaker appears to have prejudged both the investigation and one robert mueller. and new reporting indicates that his previous business ties have
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attracted now the attention of the fbi. before leaving for paris, trump was asked about the concerns over whitaker. >> well, matt whitaker, i don't know matt whitaker, but i didn't know matt whitaker. >> matt whitaker, who again, i didn't fellow. okay? >> i don't know matt whitaker. >> so if you're counting at home, that was four denials which makes the following more interesting. >> he was very, very highly thought of and still is highly thought of, but this only comes up because anybody that works for me, they do a number on them. but matt whitaker is a very smart man. he is a very respected man in the law enforcement community, very respected at the top of the line. >> and further, hearing the president say today i don't know matt whitaker makes this even more interesting. >> but i can tell you, matt whitaker is a great guy. i mean, i know matt whitaker.
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>> today the white house tried to clarify matters on this front saying trump, quote, had met whitaker but didn't know him well. the new acting attorney general also received high praise from deputy attorney general rod rosenstein who was in line for that job. >> i worked with matt whitaker. i think he's a superb choice for attorney general. he certainly understands the work. understands the priorities of the department and i think he's going to do a superb job. >> while everyone is on their own figuring out the motivation of that comment, back to whitaker and how he might affect the mueller investigation. phil rucker of "the washington post" is standing by to join us looking at the bind trump is in over this appointment. here's how they described the situation, quote, with the white house scrambling to manage public expectation of whitaker's background and resistance to be his leadership within the justice department, trump sought to douse speculation that he had installed the partisan loyalist to curtail the probe of russian interference in the 2016
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presidential campaign. today trump was asked about whitaker and mueller. >> did you talk with matt whitaker at all about the probe? >> i didn't speak to matt whitaker about it. [ inaudible question ] >> i haven't ruled out anything. i haven't even thought about it. >> did you ask matt whitaker to be involved in the russia probe? >> it's up to him. >> do you want him to rein in robert mueller? >> what a stupid question that is. what a stupid question. but i watch you a lot. you ask a lot of stupid questions. >> that was our president on the south lawn today. the president may call the question stupid, but the u.s. court of appeals in d.c. has some form of the same question. today they asked for a report from the doj and mueller's team about the impact, if any, matt whitaker's appointment might have on the russia investigation.
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and as we mentioned earlier, the business practices of a company that whitaker once advised have now attracted the scrutiny of federal investigators. "wall street journal" reports tonight that the fbi, quote, is conducting a criminal investigation of a florida company accused of scamming millions from customers during the period that matthew whitaker served as a paid advisory board member. according to an alleged victim who was contacted by the fbi and other people familiar with the matter, mr. whitaker as head of the justice det oversees the fbi in his new job. west says the feds are not only looking at that company but whether whitaker played a role in trying to silence the firm's critics. let's bring you two brand-new pieces of reporting as we bring in our lead-off panel on a friday night. philip rucker, pulitzer prize winning bureau chief for "the washington post." tam ral keith white house reporter forenpr and mimi rocah, former u.s. assistant attorney for the southern district of new york, now a distinguished fellow in
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criminal justice at the pace university school of law. two things have happened. number one, at 4:55 a.m. paris time your president hopped on his phone and typed out matthew g. whitaker is a highly respected former u.s. attorney from iowa, he was chosen by jeff sessions to be his chief of staff. i did not note mr. whitaker. likewise, as chief, i did not know mr. whitaker except primarily as he traveled with ag sessions, no social contact. he goes on to say mr. whitaker very highly thought of by joni ernst, terry brand stead, former iowa governor. leonard leo and many more. i feel certain he would make an outstanding acting attorney general. fda fast forward to other piece of news, "new york times." since we've been sitting here, goldman, sheer and smith report president trump first noticed matthew g. whitaker on cnn in the summer of 2017 and liked
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what he saw. partisan defender who insisted there was no collusion between russia and the trump campaign. so that july, the white house counsel, don mcgahn ii interviewed mr. whitaker about joining the president's team as legal attack dog against the special counsel robert mueller. so phil rucker, he came up the organic way, the boss saw him on cable saying things the boss liked. what do you make of what appeared to be an attempt to zarngs himself, i don't know this guy. and now tonight at 4:55:00 a.m. all the way across the atlantic an attempt to defend the guy. >> yeah, this is classic donald trump, right? as soon as one of his associates gets in hot water embroiled in controversy, trump will try to distance himself we saw it with paul manafort, the campaign chairman who he hardly knew, the personal lawyer michael cohen. we see it again here with whitaker.
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but the truthing is trump knew whitaker very well. he had severe meetings with him in the oval office according to our reporting because, and get this, trump didn't want to get briefings from attorney general jeff sessions because he didn't want to talk to sessions. so he would get those briefings from matt whitaker. he's very familiar with matt whitaker. he's trying to distance himself in case there's any sort of controversy. >> whitaker has been cleared into the white house dozens of times. a lot of people noted the president just didn't look right today, that he looked angry, he looked tired, that it's been a heck of a week. on that note, he goes over to represent the united states in france. what was it like? what's it been like talking to people on the inside? >> this has been a week where tuesday night it looked like a pretty decent night or not the most terrible night ever for the president. he was able to put a positive spin on it, on the midterm election as the week has gone on
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and on and on it has looked more and more like the blue wave that he claimed didn't come. and that has to be weighing on him, among other things. the questions do keep coming. ooze battling with the press as per usual. but in particular little tough ways. and then he's headed over to this event to mark the armistice, but where he's going to be with a bunch of different world leaders. he's not a particularly happy traveler either. >> we're getting that impression after two years of this. mimi, i know mr. whitaker had been a u.s. attorney, but how can a white house counsel in good faith put rigor aside, the organic vetting and recruitment process that would result in someone being named not just chief of staff at doj but acting
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ag and find this guy based on a television recommendation from the president and install him if this "new york times" report bears out? >> that's not how we should be picking our attorney generals. anyone. whoever the president, whatever your party. >> i was just worried it was me. okay, good. >> we say this quite often. this is not normal. this is not normal. and it's not good and it's not right because the position of the attorney general -- the reporting you just said suggested he interviewed to be part of trump's legal team, which i take to mean maybe a lawyer as part of the russia investigation, and now here he is as attorney general. those are two very different things, very different jobs with different goals and different responsibilities. whitaker himself is reported to have said that he auditioned in this job basically on tv.
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most of us who are former federal prosecutors and former fbi agent who are on television are doing it because we want to speak out about the rule of law and help people understand what is normal and what should be going on with the department of justice. he seems to have had a different purpose and he's entitled to his own personal and political views, obviously and he can even talk about them on television. but what smells so bad here is that it just seems from all the circumstances that it is because those views that he prejudged about this investigation and about mueller that trump picked him. and that's just wrong. >> so your door opens the reporting to the career staff at the department of justice. every cabinet agency has them. they have worked for democrats as president. they've worked for republicans. they are the people who make cabinet agencies go. they tend to care very deeply about the institution, especially if your job is justice and you are a lawyer and you've taken that oath. your reporting is that that's where there are troubles inside doj? >> there are. there's a resistance brewing
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inside the justice department according to our reporting about whitaker. for a couple of reasons. one, to the point mimi was speaking of, he seems to have a conflict of interest with the russia probe given his past statements, given his connection, for example, to sam clovis who is a political friend and ally from iowa but happens to be a witness in the mueller probe. the other piece of this, though, people in the justice department don't feel he's qualified for this job, that he simply doesn't have sort of the qualifications and experience to be the attorney general. he's not been before senate confirmation, there's a question out there about the constitutionality of even having him as the acting attorney general given that he's not been senate confirmed. he was a staffer at the justice department. the third point is, there's infighting at the justice department and there's a sense he was not loyal to jeff sessions when he was jeff sessions' chief of staff. there are bad feelings in the building about that. he had been gunning, for example, for rod rosenstein's
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job as the deputy attorney general in recent weeks which created a bad atmosphere at the department. >> tim, this border on the superficial, but that's my intent to talk about that angle of this president. he uses a 1950s phrase central casting, which was a thing in hollywood to talk about people he is drawn to. he has not drawn to the diminutive. he's drawn to the opposite of that, looks and bearing tend to matter to him in ways that allow him to overlook a lot of substance. so here is this guy, whitaker, who looks like he could start at right guard with any number of nfl teams. >> and he was a star football player in college. so he is very much out of central casting. this is a president who goes for people who have a certain look and he's someone who goes with his gut. he really moves and makes decisions about personnel based
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on whether he likes someone, whether he has a rapport with them. just look at ronny jackson who he nominated for va secretary before that nomination blew up. that was very much about a personal rapport and less about qualifications to lead a really big organization. in this case it's an acting position. it's not clear how long whitaker will stay in that acting position or who the president will be able to find to replace him. >> mimi, tamra is right. someone every night on this broadcast has said, don't overlook the word "acting." however, in this acting capacity, he could have broad reach into the mueller investigation. i want to play one of our judiciary experts ben wittes talked about how mueller has prefortified his case and his surroundings in such a threat. >> bob mueller has been very strategically smart in spreading
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pieces of the investigation around different parts of the department. >> you can't fire your way out of this problem if you're the president. >> i also want to read something that ben wittes went on to write about this very topic. if trump imagines these investigations as a cancer on his presidency, they are a cancer that has already metastasized. that gets your attention, doesn't it? >> it does, but i think -- i totally agree with what ben said. the fact that pieces of this have been spun off to the eastern district of virginia, to the southern district of new york and we don't even know, there may be other pieces of it. but the fact that whitaker is in the position he's in, even if temporary, he now oversees all of that. yes, he has much more ability, i think, to possibly control and limit mueller's investigation because there's more direct reporting and oversight, but no one should think for a minute
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the u.s. attorney's offices out there, even independent ones like the southern district of new york, they report to the acting attorney general as well. so that is, to me, part of what's been so kind of calculated and dangerous about this situation. he didn't fire mueller, which would have set off alarm bells and even bigger demonstrations in the street. when he did was more subtle and makes it less clear about how much damage he can do. he put someone in a position who has oversight and we don't know yet what's going to happen with that, but it should set off alarm bells. >> our thanks to phillip rucker, tamara keith, mimi rocah. coming up for us, a new trump tower meeting contradicts the president's many denials can of hush money payments. one of the reporters who broke the story joins us next. later, florida, georgia, arizona, still counting votes
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three days after the midterms. and now trump is once again throwing around the words "corruption" and "fraud" or as we call it, friday night at "the 11th hour." please stay with us. it's all ahead. today is the day you're going to get motivated... get stronger... get closer. start listening today to the world's largest selection of audiobooks on audible. and now, get more. for just $14.95 a month, you'll get a credit a month good for any audiobook, plus two audible originals exclusive titles you can't find anywhere else. if you don't like a book, you can exchange it any time, no questions asked. automatically roll your credits over to the next month if you don't use them. with the free audible app,
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the most compelling stories. [ready forngs ] christmas? no, it's way too early to be annoyed by christmas. you just need some holiday spirit! that's it! this feud just went mobile. with xfinity xfi you get the best wifi experience at home. and with xfinity mobile, you get the best wireless coverage for your phone.'re about to find out! you don't even know where i live...
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hello! see the grinch in theaters by saying "get grinch tickets" into your xfinity x1 voice remote. a guy just dropped this off. he-he-he-he. a new and important piece of reporting from "the wall street journal" today says president trump played a central role in those hush money payments to former playboy model karen mcdougal and adult film actress stormy daniels. "the journal" has new details about trump's involvement in
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trying to prevent both women's stories of alledgedly affairs with him becoming public. quote, "the wall street journal" found that he was in every step of the agreements. he directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer michael cohen and others. the u.s. attorney's office in manhattan has gathered evidence of mr. trump's participation in the transactions. in august, trump's former attorney michael cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations. kobe admitted he arranged it with two women. presumably stormy daniels and karen mcdougal. "the journal" also reports cohen has, quote, met with investigators for mr. mueller and with federal prosecutors in new york seeking to provide information that could mitigate his punishment. his sentencing hearing, by the way, is december 12th. in april you will recall president trump told reporters on board air force one that he did not know about the payments to stormy daniels. >> did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy
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daniels? then why did michael cohen make it if there was no truth to the allegations? >> you have to ask michael cohen. michael's been my attorney and you'll have to ask michael. >> do you know where he got the money to make that payment? no, i don't know. >> then in august after michael cohen implicated the president, trump said he learned about both payments later on. >> did you know about the payments? >> later on i knew. later on. but you have to understand, what he did -- they weren't taken out of campaign finance. that's a big thing. did they come out of the campaign? they didn't come out of the campaign. they came from me. >> with us again this evening is rebecca davis o'brien, reporter for the "wall street journal" who covers white collar crime and is one of five by lines on this "wall street journal" story today. also still with us is mimi rocah. rebecca, welcome back. mimi's old shop, the southern
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district of new york is, for lay people, the feds in new york. i want to come at this a way that may make you answer it. what is now clear to you that the sdny, the feds in new york have on either cohen or trump or both? >> as we reported today, even before michael cohen pleaded guilty in august, the federal prosecutors in new york had prepared an 80-page draft federal indictment of mr. cohen. that was in the process of being edited before he pleaded. but that material drew from the search of his home, hotel, and office, and also drew from witness testimony from david pecker and allen weisselberg as we've written before in the "journal." since that plea, michael cohen has been providing them information. we now know that -- a lot of what we wrote about today,ive including these meetings and mr. trump's knowledge of these and his role in these
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arrangements with the women stemmed from months of investigations and now michael cohen is presumably going in there and backing up a lot of that. >> mimi, just a side note here because you know your way around a keyboard and the feds offices in new york. 80 pages gets your attention. that's kind of impressive. >> yes. i mean, that's speaking indictment for sure. not just laying out the charges and the bare facts. we don't know how much of that, you know, conduct or charges since that was about michael cohen, how much of that included trump. but it's an important fact because it shows a lot of what's come out already when michael cohen pled guilty, when he made that incriminating statement about trump in court saying he directed me. trump and his allies came out and said michael cohen is a liar he's just trying to help himself. now we know even before cohen pled guilty, the southern district of new york had evidence that trump was involved in these hush money payments.
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that's very important. it's always helpful to have someone who's an insider who comes in later and tells you and walks you through it. sounds like there's more detail and a lot of it is corroborated what they knew before by michael cohen. but the point is that the evidence against trump, assuming everything in this story is true, and i'm sure it was reported accurately, but meaning everything that's been sort of told to them is accurate, you know, he's an unindicted coconspirator, trump, in the crime that michael cohen pled to. >> does this violate any law specifically, unindicted coconspirator is a hefty choice of words. >> yes unindict co-conspirator in the violation of campaign finances. >> rebecca, to folks who maybe haven't followed every player, who is this david pecker fellow, and why would it occur to you if you're donald trump or michael cohen and you needed to take
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care of a personal matter, why would it occur to you to go through one david pecker? >> david pecker is the chairman of american media, which is the publisher. >> they own -- >> they own "the national enquirer." >> yes, heard of them. >> now every time i pass the "national enquirer," it has a different meaning to me. he has been a friend of donald trump's and michael cohen's actually for decades. they had previously done -- a business relationship that goes back. we've written about this before. in august 2015 as we have written about in our story today, michael cohen arranges a meeting for picker and trump in donald trump's office. at this time donald trump has risen to the top of most polls and he meets with pecker in his office and says how can you help me with my campaign, and david picker has a few tricks up his sleeve and says one thing i can do sk called catch and kill, we
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can figure out who these women are that are going to come forward and we can buy them and you know, dispose of them basically. >> wow. >> so that's how politics works these days. congratulations on being part of this byline story that moved the agenda today. our thanks to rebecca davis and mimi rocah. appreciate it. coming up for us, claims of election fraud coming from the white house as midterm ballots are still being counted. steve kornacki, believe it or not is back at the big board to walk us through the latest developments having had nourishment, when we come back. (roger) being a good father is important to me so being diagnosed with advanced non-small cell lung cancer made me think of all the things that i wanted to teach my kids. (avo) another tru story with keytruda. (roger) my doctor said i could start on keytruda so i did. with each scan things just got better. (avo) in a clinical study, keytruda offered patients a longer life than chemotherapy. and it could be your first treatment. keytruda is for adults with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread...
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try them today. all of a sudden they're finding votes out of nowhere. and rick scott, who won by -- you know, it was close, but he won by a comfortable margin. every couple of hours it goes down a little bit. >> prior to departing for paris today, the president incorrectly weighing in on the florida senate race. he continued his attacks throughout his transatlantic fight. he was busy, must not have liked the movie, you be leashing a flurry of unsubstantiated allegations about so-called corruption. meantime the vote count continues. while he has had time off for good behavior and to take on good nourishment, steve kornacki is still at the big board with the midterm that will not end and the very latest numbers. >> hey, brian. that's right. we still got votes coming in. and the reason in arizona we can
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start a couple different states to talk about. let's start in arizona on that senate race right there. the reason the votes are still coming in is arizona is a very heavy mail-in ballot state. so they've just collected and they've had all these votes that were sent in in the run-up to the election and they are just slowly processing them. there's a whole procedure where they get the ballot, they have to try to verify the identity of the person who sent it. so it takes time. this does happen in arizona elections. but what has happened is that kirstjen sin ma in the last 24 hours or so, the way the count has gone, she's caught martha mcsally and now leads by 20,000 votes statewide. there are still a lot of votes to be counted in arizona. we can show you where they are and tell you something about them, though. the bulk of the outstanding vote is in maricopa county. it accounts for more than half of the population in the state. about 70,000 votes from maricopa
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county yet to come are from a particular collection of ballots, these are ballots that were sent in before election day. they're heavily the ones that have been counted in the last day. they seem to be favoring sinema. 70,000 ballots from here likely to favor sinema more than mcsally. and then after that there's going to be about 195,000 that are counted from a second collection of ballots. these are ballots that people brought into the polling place on election day. they had them at home, they filled them out. they brought them in on election day. these are likely republicans to favor mcsally more than sinema, though the extent of how much they'll favor her, that's unclear. there are also about 60,000 from down here in pima county, tucson. this a blue area of the state where sin ma has been running up the score against mcsally and then there are about 50,000 sorted from the rest of the state. so if you add all of this together, you've got well over 300,000 ballots still to be counted. but the bottom line is sinema has taken the lead and should do
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very well with these 0,000, should do very well with these 60,000. could hold her own with those 195,000. it is tough for mcsally already down 20,000 potentially to make this up. but it's going to take threw the weekend into next week. the other big drama on the senate front is now in the state of florida. you see the margin here, 14,000 votes and change. bill nelson behind rick scott. the counting will continue with provisional ballots between now and tomorrow around the state. we expect that will knock a little bit off this margin for scott. nelson will draw closer. the margin here will be within looks like that 0.25% threshold. which means it will not just go to a recount, but a manual recount. they'll take out the ballots. they'll inspect them by land. the counties have until tomorrow to report their final results. assuming it stays under.258%,
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you will get that manual recount. but if scott is going into that ahead by 5,000, 10,000 votes, that's a lot for nelson to overcome. quickly, the other final issue that has emerged here in florida is in broward county. giant county. 2 million people, heavily democratic. it does appear very possible here that the design of the ballot in broad keep the where the senate race was off to the left hand side in the far corner, there were far fewer votes cast in the senate race than in any other race on the ballot. democrats think potentially that might have cost them some crucial votes out of broward county. >> the house, the number as of now, democrats have turned over 30 and there are 11 outstanding races we just don't have an answer yet going into the weekend? >> you can see the second district of new mexico here, that one we're waiting on a call. the most fascinating one is in maine, the congressional district that donald trump won and got the electoral vote in 2016.
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the two candidates, neither one of them hit 50%. and maine does instant runoff voting which means that the other candidates on the ballot, the voters selected a second choice. they're going to do an instant runoff there in the coming days. they say instant, it takes a few days to do it. but that might be the most fascinating race on the board. >> still not safe to go back to life as usual. thank you so much for your service all this week and being at the big board for us. tonight coming up, no other way to put it. the president today was angry in no particular order at the midterms, the white house press corps and the president of france and he let them all know it. another friday in the new normal when we come back. 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,
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when you're in the white house, this is a very sacred place to be. this is a very special place. you have to treat the white house with respect. i have to treat the presidency with respect. >> just moments after that lecture on respect, president
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trump went on to do something we're now somewhat used to. he attacked the free press. when asked a question he didn't like this morning it, trump resorted to name calling. as many have pointed out, in just these last three days in addition to jim acosta of cnn who the president mocked again today, some of the president's most vicious verbal attacks have been directed at black female journalists. >> on the campaign trail you called yourself a nationalist. >> some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. >> that's such a racist question. >> sit down, please. sit down. i didn't call you. i didn't call you. >> do you want him to rein in robert mueller? >> what a stupid question that is. what a stupid question. but i watch you a lot. you ask a lot of stupid questions. >> the same thing with april ryan. i watch her get up. i mean, you talk about somebody that's a loser. she doesn't know what the hell she's doing. >> with us tonight to talk about
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about all of it, mara gay a member of the new york editorial board and we convinced phil rucker to stick around for a few more minutes to have this discussion. mara, these are three terrific reporters, two of them have been on this broadcast. the one the president called stupid today did pretty well at harvard, i understand. what are we watching going on here? >> we're watching a couple things. politically, obviously, race-baiting. racism is something that trump feels very comfortable with. he feels that it's a way for him to connect with the deepest red of his base. that's a sad statement about where we are in american politics. but i also think it's more of an effort to undermine the free press. he didn't just choose any black women to go after. he chose, as you said, people who are part of a free press. so the exercise is to undermine
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the press by having them be, you know, we're us and we're good americans and they're the enemy. so the best way in the united states unfortunately to call someone an other, if you want to other-ize someone, 300 years later, is to show they are black in this country. that's where we are. i just want to point out too, i mean, michelle obama touched on this. but not only are our press freedoms undermined, but these individual reporters, what they go through is hellish and the kind of threats, the kind of -- >> we don't talk about. >> absolutely. i've gotten some myself. but i can't even imagine being on the front lines like they are. he's really putting them in harm's way. >> phil, having traveled with that merry band in another era, the white house press corps is usually pretty tight.
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you know april and yamiche and abby. you've worked with these women. these are women of esteem being taken down publicly. >> yeah, abbey philip was a colleague of mine at "the washington post" until she joined cnn. we covered this white house together. she asks smart questions. i've never known her to ask a stupid question. as you mentioned, she went to harvard. she's an intelligent, professional journalist and it's a rile shame what will we see happening here. one of the most interesting things the president said at that press availability this morning was he gave that lecture about the white house being a sacred place and how you have to respect the white house and the office of the presidency. people who have observed trump a long time will say he likes to project and that he'll project on to others the criticisms that he faces himself. and you have to wonder how can he expect everybody else to respect the white house when he's tweeting horseface and calling the press the enemy of the people, day in and day out doing things that cut away at
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the presidential decorum. >> and going after people's intelligence which we're just not used to hearing in adult life. >> it's an appeal -- i would call it fascist politics. let's call it what it is. it's projection and an appeal to emotion. it's not an appeal to reason. we all know that those were not stupid questions. in fact, those were the most important questions of the day. >> right. dmooe r. >> so rather than actually win the argument on reason, which he can't do at this point, he's appealing to people's emotions and exploiting our worst divisions. and that is -- it's like the opposite of the better angels. it's really dangerous, is what it is. >> somewhere you just made john meacham smile for the sub title of his book. mara and phillip have agreed to stay with us over this break. as we go to this break, i want to show you an image, the cover of this week's "new yorker" magazine.
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it's important to our conversation. it's a great piece of art, especially for those who've been knocking and are now ready to come in the door. more on this when we come back.
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ribeye burgers are back, america. try them today. former first lady michelle obama's memoir is set to be released next week. in it she takes the current president to task for misogyny and for, among other things, the birther conspiracy that he promoted against her husband. she writes in part, quote, the whole birther thing was crazy and mean spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia, hardly concealed. she goes on. what if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to washington? what if that person went looking for our girls? donald trump with his loud and reckless innuendoes was putting my family's safety at risk. and for this i'd never forgive him. asked to respond today, trump said this. >> i guess she wrote a book. she got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always insist you come up with
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controversial -- i'll give you a little controversy back. i'll never forgive him for what he did to our united states military. >> mara gay and phil rucker are still with us. mara, there is that obvious that i think sets michelle obama apart from our other first ladies but i choose to dwell on something else, princeton undergrad, harvard law school. we've never had anyone with her basis of education in that job. and i tend to think that side of michelle obama, the effective whip-smart communicator is the one this president and others are about to see. she's going on a tour of venues, the likes of which bruce and u2, jay-z and beyonce play. >> absolutely. you know, it's just this split screen, right? between the white house as it is right now under donald trump, which depending on his mood, could be circa 1938, circa 1955,
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and then you have michelle obama and you're right back to a vision of america that's more inclusive, that's more forward thinking. i'm thinking as a political writer, you know, can her tour and her book help keep people energized after the midterms? and i think that would be a already great use of her pretty prodigious talents. >> phil, i want to read you a quote from the memoir, her distaste of the current political climate. i've lain awake fuming over what has come to pass. it's been distressing to see how the behavior and the political agenda of the current president have caused many americans to doubt themselves and to doubt and fear one another. i sometimes wonder where the bottom might be. all of us have family and friends who have said some form of that exact quote to us. a lot of us this week. >> and she's giving voice to it.
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in many ways she's sort of the monthcology shulzed monthcology shulgsz moral conscience that doesn't approve of this president. we remember the convention speech she gave in 2016 where she said when he goes low, we go high. that was a calling for a lot of democrats in that campaign, and i think her book is going to be powerful for that half of the country. trump's going to have to figure out how to navigate this. she is a very popular figure. she's not a politician. she's not her husband. she's not hillary clinton. she will not be easily demonized or given a nickname and diminished. she's probably the most powerful and popular political figure out in public life right now. >> mara, in 45 seconds of brilliance, do you think he will find a carve out of his usual communication skills or will he
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in fact, make the mistake of treating her like everybody else? >> i think it'll be the latter. i almost flinch to think about what it's going to look like, but at the same time i do have faith in americans that most people can see through that. you know, we need voices out there, not so much, you know, democrats. that's not really the important part but just people aretology speak truth to power and to common morality and to humanity that we're losing every day having this man in the white house. >> let that be our closing quote for this conversation. tamara gay and to phillip rucker, both friends of this broadcast. coming up for us, a report tonight on a night bordering on hell for over a quarter million people in southern california.
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so you can time your premium due date to work with your budget. so call now for free information. and you'll also get this free beneficiary planner, and it's yours just for calling. so call now. the last thing before we go tonight, yet another unfolding disaster in southern california. last night we reported on the mass shooting in thousand oaks. california. today, some of the folks there didn't have the opportunity or the time to mourn or to pause because of the evacuations due to the approaching massive
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amount of fire. now measured in the tens of thousands of acres, easily 150 homes gone. it has a quarter million californians on the move. it's led to the closing of the 101 freeway and the evacuation of the city of malibu and then some. nbc's gadi schwartz filed this report earlier tonight. >> reporter: the wall of flames came in the dead of night, two fast moving fire storms within miles of each other. firefighters unable to stop their advance, instead focusing on evacuations. >> we have to make sure. >> the fire department says get out. you're going to get trapped. the fire is on us. >> reporter: 101 freeway, one of the most traveled in america, shut down in both directions as flames jumped the road making a run for the coast. this is a very eerie site. very seldom do sisi the freeway completely empty. it's been shut down in both directions as fire has breached the freeway and is burning towards the ocean. >> oh, my god >> reporter: in
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the community of weslake vil, neighbors watched fires rip through their canyons. >> reporter: were you able to get everything out? >> just my papers. >> reporter: she says she's worried her home of 35 years might be lost. are you scared? >> yes. absolutely. well, we're safe, okay? we're safe. >> reporter: others evacuated with everything they could, including horses. >> fire was all around me. i couldn't see anything except smoke and fire. >> reporter: right now, we're seeing people who waited for the last possible minute to get out while the flames just get so close. on the ridges above firefighters work to beat back flames that felt like a blast furnace. just like that the fire comes up the ridge. we're falling back for safety. >> evacuate the area. >> reporter: in malibu, panic as an impending plume of smoke threatened more destruction. the entire oceanside city ordered to evacuate, causing traffic jams before the flames moved in. >> it feels like the garden of eden just turned into the gates of hell.
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>> rainn wilson, kim and kanye west, forced to evacuate. and caitlin yenner's home reportedly burned to the ground. and where west world is filmed. while another brush fire broke out in griffith park. >> you see the potential for this fire. >> reporter: forcing the closure of the l.a. zoo and evacuation of animals. the fire uncontained. >> as we move forward, you know, we have predictions, but we don't know what mother nature is going to give us. >> communities now praying for relief from more tragedy and loss. gadi schwartz, nbc news, weslake vil, california. >> spare a thought for the first responders. we are thinking of our friends, family and fellow citizens in southern california tonight. that is our broadcast on a friday evening and for this week. thank you so much for being here with us. have a good weekend and good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york.
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tonight on "all in." >> whoa. i didn't know what happened. >> bombshell reporting from "the wall street journal."om >> when it comes time for the financing, which will be -- -- >> tonight the new report that the president of the united ew states himself directed a criminal conspiracy to help get himself elected. >> we'll have to pay -- no, no, no, i got -- >> i can tell you, matt whitaker is a great guy, i know matt whitaker.ak >> the president caught pretending he doesn't know the man he appointed to oversee the mueller probe. h >> i know matt whitaker. >> i don't know him. >> and growing bipartisan fears over what matt whitaker is up to.


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