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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  February 20, 2020 8:00pm-9:00pm PST

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i've got a big hearing aid bill that i got through while donald trump was president, got it through on a bipartisan basis. and next year people are going to be able to buy hearing aids over the counter, save them millions of dollars. i don't want to be president just to yell at people. i want to be president to change things. that's why i'm going there. >> presidential candidate senator elizabeth warren, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. we really appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> elizabeth warren gets tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight blockbuster reporting from "the new york times" and others that russia is already interfering in our next presidential election and trying to tip the scales for trump's re-election. further, they report the president fired his intelligence chief for telling congress about it. plus roger stone, trump's political adviser for decades, receives his sentence and a stern lecture from a federal
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judge, but his smile upon leaving court might have been a preview of the kind words he then received from his friend of over three decades, donald trump. and about the democrats. they held a two-hour knife fight last night while insisting it was a debate. the question that awaits them 24 hours later, will they attack the incumbent president with some of that same energy as "the 11th hour" gets under way on this thursday night. well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 1,127 of the trump administration, leaving 257 days to go until the 2020 presidential election. and we begin tonight with sad word that funeral services are pending this evening after the death of outrage earlier today, outrage officially died of exhaustion though buoyed at the very end by the one bright spot,
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the realization that its close relative apathy survives and is thriving. we are obviously take something poetic license here to underscore the gravity of the story that broke late in the day. first from "the new york times," later confirmed by nbc news, "the washington post," and others, the headline is "the russians are in the midst of tampering with our next presidential election. more than that, "the times" reports the effort is to tip the result to donald trump. the campaign, they say, will include tinkering with this year's democratic primaries, getting americans themselves to spread mistruths and divisions, and casting doubt upon close elections and recounts. the worst part of this reporting may be the reaction of the president upon learning that congress had been told about all this. and here we quote from "the new york times." intelligence officials warned house lawmakers last week that russia was interfering in the
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2020 campaign to try to get president trump re-elected. a disclosure to congress that angered mr. trump, who complained that democrats would use it against him. the day after the february 13th briefing to lawmakers, mr. trump berated joseph maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place. more on the outgoing part in a moment. the report continues, trump cited the presence in the briefing of representative adam schiff, the california democrat who led the impeachment proceedings against him, as a particular irritant. "the washington post" first reported the oval office confrontation between trump and maguire. in the wake of all that, trump yesterday indeed fired the acting dni maguire, removing any hope of getting the job on a permanent basis, and installed richard grenell as the new acting dni. grenell is the current u.s. ambassador to germany. it's a job he plans on keeping
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while serving as acting dni. he's been a vocal supporter of the president, happens to have no intelligence experience. earlier on this network, former obama cia director john brennan expressed his concerns about the new man. >> it's going to be somebody who is this loyalist to trump, who is going to oversee the 17 intelligence committee agencies. is he going to filter information? is he going to shape it? it is something i think a lot of professionals in the intelligence community now are looking at with a very, very worried expression. >> tonight a trump official is telling nbc news grenell will not serve as acting director of national intelligence for long and that the president, who backed this up with a tweet moments ago, will nominate a new director soon, possibly within days. this all comes a day after the white house ousted a top pentagon official, john rood, who pushed back on efforts to withhold aid to ukraine, and they have reassign san diego
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senior national security aide victoria coats, the target of a whisper campaign, accusing her of being the anonymous author behind that scathing "new york times" op-ed of old. the white house has denied that rumor. earlier this week, though, trump claimed to know the identity of anonymous. >> i know who it is. >> who is it? >> i can't tell you that. i know all about anonymous. >> on another front, trump's longtime friend and adviser roger stone was sentenced in federal court today just blocks from the white house. judge amy berman jackson gave stone three years and four months. he was convicted last year of lying to congress and threatening a witness in connection with his efforts for trump's 2016 effort. stone is the sixth trump associate to be convicted in a case stemming from robert mueller's investigation. today's sentencing follows intervention in the case from none other than the attorney general william barr. he got involved in the case after his boss complained publicly to his 70 million or so
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followers about the recommended sentence. during the hearing, the judge told stone he, quote, was not prosecuted for standing up for the president. he was prosecuted for covering up for the president. and the president, for his part, had this reaction to the sentence. >> and i'm following this very closely, and i want to see it play out to its fullest because roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion. what happened to him is unbelievable. they say he lied, but other people lie too. >> and now to the only thought that that all conjures. tonight some trump advisers are telling nbc news if the president indeed decides to pardon roger stone, they want him to wait until after the election so he doesn't risk turning off undecided voters in swing states. all of it a dramatic departure from the way our government has conducted itself on matters of national security and justice,
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which the democrats mostly avoided in last night's debate. let's bring out our front four tonight. and because of tonight's news, we're going to extend our conversation here a bit. peter baker, chief white house correspondent for "the new york times," who spent four years as moscow bureau chief for "the washington post." philip rucker, pulitzer prize-winning white house bureau chief for "the washington post," co-author along with his "post" colleague carol leonnig of "the new york times" best-selling book "a very stable genius." shannon pettypiece, senior white house reporter at nbc news digital. and frank figliuzzi, former fbi assistant director, notably for counterintelligence. and, frank, it's because of your life's work that i'd like to begin with you. you read the journalism out tonight. what is being alleged about the russian effort, and it sure reads like this is ball game, frank. >> robert mueller, special counsel, told us when he testified on the hill, brian, it's happening right now. he said it in his written report
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after his special counsel inquiry. the last actual dni, director of national intelligence, that we had, dan coats, put it in an annual report. said this is the new battlefield, and yet the trump administration has done absolutely nothing. and now the trump administration reportedly is on notice, and the lawmakers that we put in office are on notice. they can no longer use the defense they used previously. you didn't tell the president. he didn't know. why did you start an investigation without telling him? that defense is gone. now so my position is there's likely federal law being broken here. how? well, we indicted a couple of dozen russians for doing the interference in 2016. there's crimes being committed. there's social media fraud, cyber fraud, hacking. something is going on to aid the democratic primaries reportedly, and so if the lawmakers and the
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president do nothing about it, having been on notice, they are essentially aiding and abetting russia. it's time for them to step up and do something. >> peter baker, here's a couple more breathtaking quotes from your newspaper. the russians have made more creative use of facebook and other social media. rather than impersonating americans as they did in 2016, russian operatives are working to get americans to repeat disinformation to get around social media companies' rules that prohibit inauthentic speech, the officials said. and the russians are working for servers located in the united states rather than abroad, knowing that american intelligence agencies are prohibited from operating inside the country. the fbi and the department of homeland security can, with aid from the intelligence agencies. peter, do you have any evidence that washington has, as a community, absorbed the clear and present danger to our next presidential election? and forgive the snark, how will
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we know when they do? >> what's striking about it is rather than being seen as a threat to national security, it's seen as yet another partisan issue. this intelligence, this warning, this concern about what's happening from an exterior entity is filtered through the political battles that we have been so engaged in these last three years rather than coming together, the two parties are seeing it through the lens of who gets an advantage. president trump complained about this being briefed to the house because he thought that the democrats would weaponize it. that's the term he used, weaponize it. of course the republicans on the hill who heard this briefing, some of them questioned the authenticity of it, saying that in fact perhaps it was overwrought or overstretched and in fact this is not what's really going on. that's a real problem for a country to respond to an external threat when its internal divisions are so stark that it can't even agree on what that threat is. >> shannon pettypiece, the word
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"acting" is back in the news. it's the now first word in every big job title. imagine how psyched the germans are tonight. most prosperous economy in europe to learn that our ambassador in europe is going to be spending his free time as acting dni in charge of overseeing our 17 intelligence agencies. >> though likely not for long. at least that's what our reporting is indicating, that the administration is actively looking to try and find someone to be a permanent nominee, and they could have a nominee that they can send over to the senate within days. but of course we have heard this again. for example, homeland security has an acting director of homeland security, and it was months ago that administration officials were telling me that they were just days away from getting a permanent nominee that they could give to the senate. but one thing the white house is trying to do, because rick grenell has gotten a lot of criticism because of his lack of experience in the intelligence community, they are trying to send out a message there that
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this is only something temporary. we're still trying to look for someone, you know, on a perso l permanent basis. and there's a sense that we've gotten, and now the reporting from, you know, my colleagues at nbc and from of course "the washington post" and "the new york times," that this departure of maguire, the previous acting dni, was expedited a bit because of that oval office briefing, which could mean that the white house was caught a bit flat footed trying to find someone to replace him because, of course, as my colleagues are reporting, this briefing that was given to the members of congress is something that pushed maguire out sooner than expected. so i will see -- we're being told within days, but we've heard a lot of things are happening within days. >> phil rucker, as part of your huge body of reporting on this president, people have borrowed from the catholic church to use the term "original sin." what they mean is this angry
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reaction that we're reporting on again tonight. the president lashed out at the hint, the whiff of a story and its dissemination that may speak to any sort of illegitimate massey about a hoped for second term. >> the threat of russian interference has haunted donald trump since before he even took office. it was during his transition after the 2016 election when he really retaliated against the intelligence community for the assessment, the conclusion of all the u.s. intelligence agencies that russia had, in fact, interfered illegally in the 2016 election and that they had done so to try to help boost trump's candidacy. trump felt that that finding, that assessment from the intelligence community, somehow delegitimized his election or threatened to do so, was a knock against him, was a sign that maybe he didn't win entirely based on his own charisma and his own strength as a candidate,
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which he has believed. and so he refused to believe that intelligence conclusion. he was asked repeatedly in the early months of his presidency if he would acknowledge and affirm what his own intel agency said, and he would never really fully do so. and then we of course remember that summit he had with vladimir putin in helsinki, finland, where he took the russian president at his word, a very strong denial as trump put it that russia had interfered in the election. and so this issue has dogged trump. it's haunted him. and to this day he is still trying to rewrite that historical narrative about the 2016 election even as we now learn that russia is actively trying to interfere in the 2020 election. >> again, as we said, our front four have all gladly agreed to stay with us. we'll get in a break here and continue our conversation. when we do, more on this evening's breaking news, including republican reaction the last time the russians
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dipped in to our election. plus we'll talk to the lead prosecutor on the roik investigation. later, to veteran political reporters on where this 2020 race stands on this day after the bloodbath in las vegas as "the 11th hour" is just getting started on this consequential thursday night. [cymbals clanging] [knocking] room for seven. and much, much more. the first-ever glb. lease the glb 250 suv for just $419 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer. and then what happened? where's our family from? was he my age?
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welcome bafnlck. "the new york times" reporting that trump's allies on the house intel committee, his fellow republicans, challenged intelligence officials' conclusions that russia is already, right now, again
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interfering in our presidential election, this time with the aim of helping donald trump. "the times" reports republicas d argued with straight faces trump has been rough on russia and strengthened european security. you may remember that intelligence officials also pushed back from republicans back in 2016. in his book "the apprentice", "washington post" reporter greg miller writes that before the 2016 election -- and this was an incredible scene -- then cia director john brennan briefed mitch mcconnell about russia's efforts to help donald trump. miller wrote it this way. "as brennan moved through his talking points, the kentucky senator expressed no alarm about what russia might be doing in the u.s. election and instead accused the cia director of playing politics. you're trying to screw the republican candidate, mcconnell said." on that note, back with us tonight, peter baker, philip
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rucker, shannon pettypiece, and frank figliuzzi. and, frank, again a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. we have some really good people among our viewership. they work hard, play by the rules, love their country. when they go to vote, just the once unless their caucus-goers in iowa or nevada, they like to think that's going to count, that there won't be any shenanigans. they like to think that that is their act and theirs alone. who do they see about this news we are repeating tonight and how overwhelming and depressing it is? >> clearly the answers are not going to come from washington on this and from this administration. the intel agencies are going to do everything they can, but they have handcuffs on because of this administration. so it has to come -- the solutions have to come locally, brian. what i tell people when i speak to them in groups or one-on-one is you need to demand answers from your local registrar of voters, your state, county,
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municipal registrar of voters. are there going to be paper backups or not? are we relying entirely on four private companies that make all the machinery for voting in this country with one company holding a 60% market share of all voting equipment? we need paper backup. those private companies that make that equipment, you know what they tell you when you buy their equipment? we have great stuff, but you should really use a paper backup. so demand answers and get the answers you need. call your elected representatives. write them. the answers are going to come locally on this. but you know what? we're on notice now. after 9/11 we had a terrible terrorism attack and tragedy. we instituted an entire agency, dhs. we had a color-coded system to warn us of the threat risk that was coming. we're at that high threat risk right now, but we don't have that whole of government approach. it has to happen with us and at the local level. >> that's useful, frank, and thank you. peter baker, mr. figliuzzi says
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nothing casually, and he just dismissed all of washington, d.c. as a possible solution in this. let's think about the kind of centrist national security, as we used to call them, republicans like blunt, like portm portman, like collins. are you expecting anything from them? will tonight be any different for them having read this journalism than yesterday was, than tomorrow will be? >> well, that's a great question. look, the republicans of course have been in this very awkward position in which their traditional skepticism of russia, something that has been a foundation of the party going back decades, has been challenged by the leader of their party. the leader of their party, of course, has spoken of putin in very friendly terms and never challenged him in a personal way whenever the two of them are together. president trump will tell you he has a very tough policy on russia, and it is true. the administration has taken a number of actions that would be considered to be tough on russia, including sanctions,
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including expelling diplomats and so forth, arming the ukrainians. but the message comes from the top, and the top has always said -- this president has always said that he wants to be friends with vladimir putin, and he has always found ways of giving vladimir putin the greatest credit and deference when issues of dispute come up. the republicans have largely gone along with this but not always. they have at times stood up to him and said, no, this is not right. they passed sanctions in 2017 over president trump's threaten to veto it. they have told the president he needs to be a little tougher on russia. but i don't know that they're going to bring with him in a public way on this. what you may hear them say is expresses of concern about interference in the election by anybody, but they won't target the president for not standing up enough at this point. i think that that's something that is not where the party is right now. >> shannon pettypiece, let's talk about the pall this will now cast as it was designed to
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do over the entire political season we will cover on this network and from this studio. i can't tonight give you the results of iowa. wish i could. we don't have 'em. no one's saying it's russia. just some form of american incompetence. the democrats say they may give us same-day results from nevada, and then we get into really meaningful primaries. and in "the times" reporting, they say the russians are going to try to muck up the democratic primary season. so talk about the pall this will cast. >> well, i mean to your point, we are certainly capable of messing up and meddling our own elections without any help from the russians, but it's this interesting irony here where president trump was worried that democrats would use this information about russia trying to assist him in his re-election bid to hurt him. and yet what he has done is assisted democrats in that
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effort by essentially firing or pushing out his director of national intelligence over a briefing on this to make it look like he's trying to hide intelligence and cover up intelligence and dampen down any possibility that russia could interfere in the 2020 election. so the president's really only exacerbating the negative perception that this brings from his actions like we have seen him do throughout his administration. so, you know, not helping himself in this situation and then, yes, looking to the democratic field because, you know, one of the warnings that trump's advisers have given him, i know, over the years is, well, maybe they helped you -- the russians in 2016 -- but they might not always be on your side, and maybe they're going to meddle in things in the way you don't want. so if there was some disinformation campaign out there by the democrats, that could put up a nominee that wouldn't necessarily be the person the trump campaign would like to face off against. so that's the broader threat in all the different threads this
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administration needs to be thinking about. >> phil rucker, finally the roger stone sentencing today. the federal judge in the case spoke forcefully and strongly to the defendant, but then we heard from the president. aga again, in your vast body of reporting on this president, how should we take the words he says in public when we're wondering what the outcome might be, in this case a potential pardon? >> yeah. well, the state of play at this hour, brian, is wait and see. it appears that the president -- and he's admitted as much -- is very open to issuing a pardon for roger stone, who he considers a longtime friend, political supporter, his former strategist for many years. and he believes stone was wronged by what the president likes to call the deep state conspiracy against him in the russia investigation. we should keep in mind that stone was actually convicted,
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guilty by a jury of his peers. so this is not -- he's not, you know, being sentenced to prison by any intelligence officials. that said, the president is considering the pardon. he wants to wait a little bit until this process unfolds. we need to wait for the judge to do a couple other actions before stone actually spends his first night in jail, and i think we'll see at that point whether the president's going to issue a pardon. but he certainly seems willing to do so, and if he did announce it tomorrow morning, it would not surprise anybody. >> and while we still have you, thanks to journalists zeke miller and maggie haberman for passing along presidential pool reporter katie rogers tonight. trump says representative doug collins is under consideration to be his nominee as permanent director of national intelligence. zeke miller adds if this happened, it would avoid a bitter primary in the georgia senate race. and so it goes. our thanks again on this
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consequential thursday night to peter baker, to philip rucker, to shannon pettypiece, to frank figliuzzi. coming up for us after another break, the former lead prosecutor in the mueller effort responds to tonight's breaking news that russia is at it again. where's the truck? what? parked it right there. male voice: what did i tell you, boys? tonight we eat like kings! (chuckling) you're a genius, gordon! brake! hit the brake! uh, which one's the brake? (crash, bottles smashing) stop! stop! sto-o-op! (brakes squealing) what's happening? what? there's a half of cheesesteak back there. with geico, the savings keep on going. just like this sequel. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. raccoon: i got the cheesesteak! ♪ do you recall, not long ago ♪ we would walk on the sidewalk ♪ ♪ all around the wind blows ♪ we would only hold on to let go ♪ ♪ blow a kiss into the sun ♪ we need someone to lean on
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is this -- in your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the russians to get involved in our election, or did you find evidence to suggest they'll try
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to do this again? >> it wasn't a single attempt. they're doing it as we sit here. >> we might have listened to him back then. and back with us tonight is the man who was among his lead prosecutors during the russia investigation, working under bob mueller. he is these days a distinguished senior fellow at the nyu school of law. we welcome andrew weissmann back to this studio. i have to ask you about tonight's lead story. it is beyond disheartening. they're already in the game, virtually unfettered, with the added advantage of screwing with the election arcania of the democratic primaries. as i asked frank figliuzzi, who do we see about this, and why isn't this ball game? >> so it is something that we've known a lot about, and i think the main issue is how the country is going to react to this. at some point people need to react to this as citizens and not as partisans. i lived and you lived through
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9/11. we witnessed the world trade center being attacked and the pentagon being attacked. and no one sat there and said is it affected democrats or republicans. we reacted to it because it was a foreign adversary who attacked our country. we're under attack now, and by the way, this is not the robert mueller report that says so. this is a senate intel report that was bipartisan. and some point people have to not just say who is it helping or hurting, whether it's helping or hurting a democrat or republican, because it's hurting our country. so i think that's the fundamental issue is that people have to not look at this through a partisan lens any more than you would have thought of 9/11 as a partisan attack or pearl harbor for that matter. >> what could we have been doing, in your view, and knowing the insides of this as you do, that we clear haven't been doing? >> so there are two indictments that were brought by the special counsel's office that lay out in
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considerable detail how the russians both hacked and did something called active measures, and that gives a roadmap for ways in which we know that the russians will act and have acted. and part of that involves the intel community, and there's certain things you wouldn't discuss on public tv because you don't want your adversaries to know how you're going to thwart their activities. and part of it deals with things that involve our tech companies and really making sure that companies like google and facebook and yahoo! are working with the government to make sure that they are not unwittingly being used to attack our country. >> a formidable federal judge spoke some forceful words in a courtroom today in sentencing roger stone. in reporting it, we get to the last sentence, and that is the ongoing question slash likelihood of a pardon from the
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president. what of her words today would survive a presidential pardon? >> so i think there's a lot that she said. i think one of the things that i took away was that she really took on the issue that this was a political prosecution, and she said, you know, this defendant was not prosecuted because he supported the president. this is a defendant who was prosecuted because he was covering up for the president. and i think that does make it harder for somebody who is thinking of pardoning somebody. i think that most americans like to think that the pardon power is something that's going to be used to promote equal justice and that the people who get that pardon are the most deserving people, not people who have the best access to the president. i think that's just a question of equality, you know, before the law. so i think that -- that's something that i think her words hopefully will have some effect. >> you've made the positive decision to spend a good deal of your professional life working
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for uncle sam, as we used to say the home team. how is your outlook these days? >> i thought one thing that was really interesting today for the department of justice, which obviously it's been very hard for a lot of us, but i think one thing that was fascinating today is that the career prosecutor who was assigned to stand up in court after the four prosecutors withdrew or resigned actually, when push came to shove, was asked by the judge, what is your position on a whole variety of issues? do you support the barr memo that went in, or do you support the original memo? and time after time, he said, oh, no, i support the original memo, the one that was withdrawn actually stated the law and the facts correctly. so, you know, kudos to him when directly asked by the judge over and over again, was there anything wrong that those career people did, he stood up for them.
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>> andrew weissmann, thank you very much for spending time with us again. >> my pleasure. coming up for us, 24 hours now post-debate, one candidate's campaign is more than $5 million richer, almost enough to pay for the broken bones onstage last night when we come back. ire bus. i'd make it available in dozens... make that thousands of configurations. it would keep an eye on my fleet... ...and an eye out for danger. with active brake assist. if i built a van, i'd make it available in diesel and gas. introducing the all-new sprinter starting at $33,790. mercedes-benz. vans. born to run. the business of family time... ...and downtime. ...and you time. ...and forgetting what time it is...altogether.
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common side effects include headache and tiredness. with hep c behind me, i feel free... ...fearless... ...because i am cured. talk to your doctor about mavyret. this is a guy who's now dropped $400 million to buy that spot on the stage and whose basic argument is that he should be president because he can spend another $400 million. you know, if that's what democracy is about, then we're in real trouble. >> elizabeth warren says on the upside, her campaign has raised over $5 million just since last night's debate with bloomberg among others. back with us tonight, robert costa, national political reporter for "the washington post," moderator of washington week on pbs.
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and errin haines is here with us in our new york studio, ten-year veteran of the associated press, editor at large for the 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom focused on gender, politics, and policy that launches this summer. so happy to have you. i'd like to begin with this question. how did last night, in your view, change this race if at all? >> well, i think we've seen it pay off for elizabeth warren quite literally, right? i mean she's raised $5 million because she came out within the first two minutes. you saw that hand go up, right? >> she sure did. >> by 9:04, she was taking it straight to mike bloomberg. but it wasn't just him. it was every single candidate on the stage. she wanted to make the case to her supporters, who frankly she's been telling on the campaign trail she was a firefighter. and last night she went from persister to pugilist on that stage, and i think it really worked out for her. >> robert costa, the underside of that is blue on blue friendly fire. two hours of it on a day where thanks to your newspaper and
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"the new york times," we have journalism tonight reminding everyone of the center challenge that the democrats face. >> democrats, look at what happened in 2018 in the midterm elections and they saw suburban gains across the map. and they're hoping if it's mayor bloomberg or senator warren or senator klobuchar or mayor buttigieg, the democratic establishment types in my notebook, they say that's the way to re-election. but the sanders allies say he's leading the polls right now, and if he can gather together a populist movement across the country, he's the one. and that's the divide and that's the question that hasn't really been answered by these debates and this democratic primary process. what's the real path, as you say, to answer the ultimate question for them, how to beat president trump. >> let's put up the monmouth poll numbers that have to do with california. monmouth, of course, a great new jersey name focusing all the way west to california. and, errin, there's sanders at
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24%. the non-sanders fans in the party point to the middle numbers as being the true core of the party. where do you come out? do you just look at a number like that and saber bernie is arunning away with it in california, period, full stop? >> no candidate as run away with it. we haven't had any decisive victories in any of these early states yet. i think what does matter, you see folks bunched up. the number i look at is undecided voters. every time i'm on the ground, there's a significant number of people who are still undecided right up until the 11th hour. they are going into the ballot box making a choice which, for as long as those of us who are obsessed with us have been paying attention to this election, i think we're surprised that people maybe don't have their minds made up yet about a candidate. but i think there is so much kind of anxiety, especially among democrats about who is the best candidate, you know, who is positioned to beat president trump in november. they want to make the right decision, and sometimes the fact that they still have so many
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candidates in the race, it paralyzes them, you know, to actually make a decision. so, you know, while i think that senator sanders certainly has momentum, i mean after winning these early contests, he's looking very strong headed into nevada this weekend and will probably do well in south carolina, i mean we have to say that he is the current front-runner. but without these decisive victories, winning by, you know -- nobody has won by more than 30% in any of these contests yet. so without that, you know, i still think it is -- this race is very much up for grabs. >> and, robert costa, half a dozen democrats onstage last night. at this stage of the game, they're allowed to be in it for themselves. they're all in it for themselves, knowing it's like "survivor." one person ultimately gets to go forward. does the field, in your view, narrow after nevada, and if not, certainly do you think it will narrow after south carolina? >> south carolina is essentially
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coupled with super tuesday in early march, which is just a few days after south carolina on february 29th. and you see in south carolina a reckoning for former vice president joe biden. he's been leading polls there all year. his team believes that could give him a bounce into super tuesday and let him assert himself as the moderate who could take on sanders for the long haul. but if he does not perform well in south carolina, that gives an enormous opening to senator warren or mayor buttigieg or mayor bloomberg to come into super tuesday, 14 states, and say that vice president biden didn't win over many african-american voters in the way he wanted to in south carolina. and as much as california is the prize for many of these contenders on super tuesday, it's also states like arkansas and north carolina and alabama where you also have, like south carolina, majority african-american voters in the democratic electorate. and that's going to be the test. that's going to winnow this race down, and almost every source i talked to in these campaigns, they believe this race likely becomes a two-person or
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three-person race by early march. >> i always say campaigns run on twitter, catering and jet fuel. the third of those, jet fuel, seems to get extra expensive after super tuesday. our thanks to our two friends. to errin haines for being here with us in the studio and to robert costa from washington. thank you. we'll be seeing a lot of you as the campaign goes on. coming up, the revealing new profile of the nation's first president, that guy, from a decidedly different angle, not unlike this picture. brokerage accounts, your cash is automatically invested at a rate that's at least 20 times more than other advisory firms. personalized advice. unmatched value. at fidelity, you can have both. anna could only imagine a comfortable night's sleep without frequent heartburn waking her up. now, that dream... . her reality. nexium 24hr stops acid before it starts, for all-day, all-night protection. can you imagine 24 hours without heartburn? in august 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon,
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this is what george washington warned about when he said farewell after leaving the presidency. he warned out about foreign interference, and he warned about the rise of factions or parties that would subordinate the national interest to partisan interest. >> few people are better read in american history, and steve schmidt said that on this network just tonight.
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here's what george washington had to say back in 1796, and we quote. the spirit of party opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. he goes on to warn, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government. our next guest has been digging deep into the founders' fears of a decaying democracy. historian alexis coe is the author of "you never forget your first," a biography of george washington. it's a great pleasure to have you. there is a military industrial complex of history-making that sprung up around george washington, of which you are not a part. >> uh-uh. >> tell the good people watching how you differ, and go ahead and warn them what they're going to learn about g.w., the man not
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the bridge, when they buy your book. >> i didn't set out to write a biography on george washington. i'm a political historian, and i usually read two or three biographies. in conversation at the end, i have a great understanding of the man as has been our presidential history thus far. with washington, i didn't feel like i understood him at the end. everyone would start out and say, oh, he's too marbled to be real. i'm going to humbly endeavor to break him out, and then proceed in the exact same manner. and a part of it was there was a event ration, a reverence for the subject, and there was also a defensiveness. it seemed to go through stages, sort of ticking boxes. when i checked the primary sources, just sort of checked a lot of claims that seemed sort of hinky to me, i found that they didn't exist or were misinterpreted or were things people were repeating over and over again over the years. they were citing secondary sources. so when i endeavored to write a
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biography on our founder and to join this very crowded book shop, i sort of did away with everything i knew and tried to open my eyes to his entire world and what concerned him. and that's what i feel like i stayed really close to. on a daily basis, what was george washington thinking about, writing about in his letters, not what i want him to be doing, but what is he really looking at? >> you, along the way, share your homework. you will along the way stop and say to the viewer, in effect, this is where this account will differ from the lionization industry. one of my favorite quotes, many favor washington's most iconic image, his rigid and gloomy face on the $1 bill, but most prefer a painting that shows his whole body because his thighs drive them wild. the thigh men as i came to think of these kinds of biographers over the years, are a decidedly side matters crowd. and it does matter that his
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biographers have been white and male. >> almost exclusively. i'm the first woman historian in over 100 years and the third woman in sum total, journalist and a novelist wrote about him before. it just simply shows -- you know, if they had talked about a woman's thighs, we would be up in arms, and i think we need to apply those rules to everyone. it seemed really odd that they spent so much time on his body if it wasn't furthering our understanding of washington, breaking him out of this marble mold. so the thighs were sort of odd. just the general performance of his body. don't get me wrong, his body was incredible, but what it went through and what he made his body endure, that's what i'm interested in. his thighs are nice, but, you know, so were hamilton's. >> give people just a whiff, the idea of what the death scene is like if you're not familiar with american history and what passed for medicine in that era, here's a behind. there's nothing a good bleeding
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or a blistering can't fix. >> the worst thing that could happen to you in early america if you were sick is for them to call a doctor. the person was usually not exclusively a doctor. they did other things. several doctors were called, but the most immediate person was an overseer. and this is also washington's -- i don't want to say it's his fault, but it's sort of peak washington because they want to bleed him, and he insists he should be bled more. he can take it over and over again. and just everyone does the worst things to him. molasses so that he practically chokes. they give him diuretics, spanish flies. you name it, they did it to him. >> and we found out how that ended. this is a challenge to all the romantics about american history watching tonight, and i think that's what the author intended. to the historian and author alexis coe, our thanks. again, the book is called -- and i don't get the reference -- you never forget your first. thanks very much for joining us.
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>> thank you. coming up, move over siskel, move over ebert. we'll explain when we come back. it's about that guy. [ indistinct talking ]
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yeah, like a regular person. no. still half bike/half man, just the opposite. oh, so the legs on the bottom and motorcycle on the top? yeah. yeah, i could see that. for those who were born to ride, there's progressive. last thing before we go tonight, donald trump has come out against foreign influence, at least when it comes to the academy awards. this is from his rally tonight. let's just say he wasn't a fan of "parasite" or brad pitt it
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turns out. >> by the way, how bad were the academy awards this year? did you see? and the winner is a movie from south korea. what the hell was that all about? we got enough problems with south korea, with trade. on top of it they give them the best movie of the year. was it good? i don't know. you know, i'm looking for like -- let's get "gone with the wind." can we get like "gone with the wind" back, please? "sunset boulevard." so many great movies. the winner is, from south korea -- i thought it was best foreign film, right? best foreign movie. no, it was the -- did this ever happen before? and then you have brad pitt. i was never a big fan of his. he got up and said a little wise guy statement. little wise guy. he's a little wise guy. >> the distributor of "parasite," the superb south korean film with subtitles, which won for best picture and
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then some, responded to trump's attack with this. understandable. he can't read. that's our broadcast on this thursday night. thank you so much for being here with us. good night from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. wow, what a day it has been. today -- tonight really we have learned that just one week ago the top intelligence official in the u.s. government working on protecting our elections from foreign interference, that official one week ago today briefed the intelligence committee that russia right now is interfering again in our elections, interfering in the 2020 election to try to re-elect president trump. the official specifically told the intelligence committee last week something about this influence effort that we have not heard before, which is that russia's intention this time around is not only to interfere in


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