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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  July 19, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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worthy opponent. >> john mccain's best friend in the senate. gets tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams is next. breaking news we're covering tonight, senator john mccain diagnosed with brain cancer. the former p.o.w., two-time presidential candidate announces the news just days after surgery. also tonight, the stunner from donald trump, courtesy "the new york times." the president criticizes his attorney general and robert mueller and james comey and draws a red line on where the investigation better not go. one of the times" journalists who covered that interview joins us live as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a wednesday night. and good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york, day 181 of the trump administration brought a steady stream of late-breaking news, yet one of the late
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stories that broke tonight not about trump or the white house. it had to do with a huge figure in american politics. a short time ago, an senator john mccain's office revealed following surgery days ago, his doctored diagnosed the veteran arizona republican senator with brain cancer. we have much more on the senator's diagnosis, his prognosis and the battle ahead a bit later on in this broadcast tonight. we begin tonight with the lead story in terms of this administration. it comes yet again from one of this country's great newspapers after the president granted an interview to three journalists with "the new york times." there are many sub headlines, all of which revolve around russia, but the headline here appears to be the president saying he regrets hiring his attorney general. >> sessions gets the job. right after he gets the job, he recuses himself. >> was that a mistake?
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>> well, sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and i would have picked somebody else. >> he gave you no heads-up at all. >> zero. >> so jeff sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. i then have -- which frankly i think is very unfair to the president. how do you take a job and then recuse yourself? he would have recused himself before the job, i would have said thanks, jeff, but i'm not going to take you. it's extremely unfair and that's a mild word -- to the president. >> a spokesman for sessions contacts by the times" refused comment tonight. the president also said that recusal by jeff sessions cleared the way for a special counsel rather bob mueller. on mueller, quoting from the
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"times," "mr. trump said mr. mueller was run agoffice rife with conflicts of interest." he also "warned that investigators would cross a red line if they delve into trump family finances unrelated to russia." the president added "i don't think we're under investigation. i'm not under investigation. for what? i didn't do anything wrong." on fired fbi director james comey and that now famous and graphic dossier making allegations about trump's personal behavior in russia, there is this. "mr. trump said he believed mr. comey told him about the dossier to implicitly make clear he had something to hold over the president." quoting the president here "in my opinion he shared so that i would think he had it out there as leverage the times asked? yeah, i think so mr. trump said in retrospect. mr. comey also declined comment to the times". president also offered us his version that have chat he and vladimir putin had over dinner at the g-20 summit.
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"i went down just to say hello to melania. while i was there i said hello to putin. pleasantries more than anything else. it was not a long conversation but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. talked about things. it was very interesting. we talked about doochings. you'll recall the subject of adoption was the cover story for meeting donald trump jr. hosted at trump tower and speaking of the president's eldest son, the senate judiciary committee wants both him and paul manafort to testify at an open hearing next wednesday. the committee's also asking both for documents related to information from russians about hillary clinton. for his part, jared kushner will appear before the senate intelligence committee on monday though that would be in a closed session. after all that let us bring in tonight's starting panel, one of the three "new york times" journalist who's interviewed the president today, chief white house correspondent peter baker with us tonight. chief washington reporter for
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the "boston herald," kimberly atkins is back with us who as luck would have it is also an attorney if we need one. with us here in new york, we're thrilled to have the prernl historian and author doris kerns good win. peter as they say in sports this comes down to a pick 'em. what would you like to talk about firsts? maybe we should begin with his demeanor, tone and tenor of the president as you found him. >> it's very interesting. we saw him in the oval office just as he finished up a lunch with republican snorpz you remember he was trying very hard to get this health care bill back on track after it basically seemed to die just yesterday. he seemed to throw dirt on the grave yesterday but today he's trying to resurrect it. he came into the oval office and brought us in there. and he was in a very relaxed mood. he felt confident. he was in good spirits. he did not look like the weight of the world was on him despite the troubles he's had, and he was in a good mood. as soon as we brought up russia,
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of course, he had pretty pithy and striking things to say. >> not for the first time but so notably in the conversation you had with him, he seems to assign sinister motives. the most sinister to the people he encounters in his orbit. >> yeah, no, that's a very good point. what he suggested about james comey is really fascinating and goes far beyond what he has said previously. he said comey was not telling the truth about some of their encounters. he said that comey wasn't doing a good job at fbi director. today he basically said he was in effect you know, holding leverage over the president in the form of this dossier that had been compiled by the former british spy during last year's election. he said he thought comey brought it up with him, told him about it for the purpose of letting him know had he something on him in effect, bargaining the implication is for his job. now, you know, this is the first time we've heard him say that
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certainly in public anyway. and it adds a new complexion to that episode. >> and peter, more than that, i'm reading from your transcript, he says of comey, look at his testimony. his testimony is loaded up with lies, okay? so he's accusing comey of perjury. you and i have both noted that comey in terms of kind of his bearing and demeanor has been someone people have said could be mueller's son in terms of washington veterans over the years. we established that he kind of updated his view of the second pull aside meeting with putin at the dinner but he also updated his view of the meeting trump tower, don junior a year ago that is getting so much attention. >> yeah, he did. it's nas fascinating. he said we did talk about adoptions and he noted the irony of that coming up with his putin conversation given that it had been in theory at least the topic of conversation that don junior had with those rushes back in june of 2016. he said he didn't know about the
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meeting back then. he's only learned about it in the last few days as has been reported but it's interesting. we asked him, you know, your son confirmed this meeting hours before you gave a speech on the campaign trail last year promising to reveal corrupt dealings, that was his phrase was hillary clinton with the russians among others. does that mean you knew something? he said no, i didn't need anything. i already had more than enough bad things to say about hillary. other than her shooting someone in the back, wa could they have given me that i didn't have in my repertoire. >> kimberly, a question that puts to work both sides of your brain, journalist and attorney. are you surprised at the president's an apparent lack of understanding of mr. sessions adhere together law and deciding the best thing to do to properly execute his job as number one law enforcement official in this country was recusal and that
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some of these career law enforcement types feel they do absent party or ideology kind of answer to a higher power? >> yeah, no, it's not surprising at all given this president and he seems to be more concerned about defending himself and he also takes everything about this russian investigation extremely personally. he doesn't look at it in terms of the big picture what was the role of jeff sessions or even james comey in briefing him about that dossier. he looks at it in terms of who is after me and who is meant to protect me. he wanted jeff sessions to be his protector and stay in that place in order to do that. even though that is not what the attorney general is tasked to do. >> doris, i'll make up a phrase, you don't have to be doris kerns good win to know we've never seen anything like this before in substance in, characters. how about tempo? how about the fact that we most
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nights wait for journalists like peter and their breath ren at all these different news organizations to drop latest story that makes for the latest nightly drama. >> and what does it do to us as citizens that we can't even keep up with what's going on? you know, i think underlying all of the stuff we're hearing is what kind of a leader do we have who will publicly humiliate jeff session he's member of his team, who fires comey with a public letter. we wonder what does everybody else who works for him feel right now wondering will my loyalty to be him be done by his loyalty to me. little wonder people are not coming to the next level jobs down. what kind of leader is not willing to shoulder blame for the people who makes mistakes in his association who says let obamacare fail because i won't own it. that's the top of leadership. what kind of leadership doesn't know that words matter? when eisenhower had to admit he lied about the u2 incident claiming it was a weather plane
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instead of a spy plane, he said that was the worst thing that happened in his presidency. here these stories change every day. some are not true but yet he just goes on with the next thing. i don't know how we absorb all this as citizens. >> peter i have to ask a question about process before characters here. it's true that you were in the oval office, the only aide other than the president, the three of you from the times". was the young press aide with him since the campaign. hope hicks. >> yes, that's exactly right and an at one point toward the end ivanka trump showed up at the doorway with her 6-year-old daughter and her daughter runs in and gives her grandfather a hug and kiss and her grandfather, that is the president, you know, shows her off and says hey, she speaks great chinese. she show you chinese and she did. it was a very human moment. for the most part, it was just the five of us, the three reporters, the president and his aid hope hicks.
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>> did you ask him for it or did he bring you guys in for the interview which, of course stepped on everything else the white house did today and this week and secondly, was the press office aware you were there or did this go around the usual channels? >> well, we've been interested in doing an interview on this subject for a long time. we've talked to him about it. he's had conversations with our -- he had a conversation with our executive editor and said look, if you want to answer some of these questions, we've got questions to ask. i think that he was willing to answer them. you know, it's interesting. there were no lawyers there. there was no one guiding him in his conversation. he chose what to say, he didn't have to. i was struck by the stark tone he took about his attorney general. i don't think i've ever heard a president said that out loud in a public setting about his or her own attorney general. certainly some of them felt that. but this president is willing to say out loud what other
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presidents think and say to their own aides in private. >> kimberly, dual question. are you stunned to learn there was merely one young aide in the oval office and what does jeff session dozen now. >> ghimpb administration, no, it's not stunning. yes, it's unusual to not have other people in the room including lawyers given the ongoing probe. again this presidency is different than any other that we've seen and i can't imagine, look, the relationship between president trump and jeff sessions who was one of his earliest and most staunch supporters on the campaign trail has soured. after the appointment, since the appointment of bob mueller and his recusal to the point that there is a lot of friction in. and i think i wouldn't be surprised if jeff sessions were to step down especially given the fact that jeff sessions outside of this has been one of the people in his cabinet that is doing the most to carry out president trump's agenda. he's you know, doubling down on
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prosecutions, on drug offenses. just today, he announced a new initiative that has broad support from law enforcement on civil forfeitures. he's really doing this tough on crime you know, agenda that donald trump wants and donald trump is rewarding him by publicly rebuking him in this way. it's extraordinary. >> peter, this is made in america theme week at the white house. today was about health care and voting rights or suppression. does the president show awareness of the fact that like this is going to be our lead story and every lead story tonight when he calls you in for a conversation like this? >> well, you know, six months in, this has been the story of his administration time after type, they set a message strategy and then he decides to say what he decides to say. if you're a staff member working for a president like that, i think they've learned to roll with the flow. and you know, they recognize he
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is his own spokesman and wants to be the person defending and explaining himself and willing to do it even if it does step on other people's plans for what the message of the day should be. i think that -- i think he thinks we can walk and chew gum at the same time and we can pay attention to multiple things. you're right. it's going to suck a lot of oxygen out of the room on health care. maybe that was the goal. some of people look at these things and say he's trying to distract us from this or that. i'm not sure how calculated it is but it certainly did have the effect of taking attention away from the other big story of the day. >> to our viewers, peterer mentioned six months. to knows viewers watching live eastern time, that puts us exactly 45 minutes away from the six-month anniversary in office. doris kerns good win is staying with us for the hour. i need somebody smart in this room to answer these questions. to the hard working peter baker and kimberly atkins, thank you so much for being part of our leadoff panel.
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coming up the news breaking tonight on the diagnosis of senator john mccain. reaction live from capitol hill when we come back. each year sarah climbs 58,007 steps. that's the height of mount everest. because each day she chooses to take the stairs. at work, at home... even on the escalator. that can be hard on her lower body, so now she does it with dr. scholl's orthotics. clinically proven to relieve and prevent foot, knee or lower back pain, by reducing the shock and stress that travel up her body with every step she takes. so keep on climbing, sarah. you're killing it. dr. scholl's. born to move.
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welcome back toot 11th hour. let's tell this in sequence. going into tonight, the lead story on capitol hill had been the repeated failure of any gop health care plan. you may recall yuan mccain's name was first in the news this week because he's in arizona recovering from surgery and
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losing his vote was enough to postpone the vote before the other defections. today the senate -- the president urged the senate to go back at it. so there was a meeting of a number of senators on the hill in the capitol tonight but it took a heavy turn when they learned that one of their venerated senior colleagues had gotten a bad diagnosis. his surgery revealed a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. as his family discusses treatment options mccain's daughter megan released a statement tonight saying "it won't supplies to you learn in all of us the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father. he is the toughest person i know. the cruelest enemy could not break him. the aggressions of political life could not bend him. so he is meeting this challenge as he has every other. cancer may afflict him in many ways but it will not make him surrender. nothing ever has." garrett haake is on capitol hill tonight to start off our
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coverage. heavy emotional night there, garrett. >> it really was, brian. this news sort of rippled through capitol hill tonight affecting everyone who knows john mccain which is really everyone on capitol hill at this point. his staff found out late this afternoon. they were obviously shocked by the news. and then senator lindsey graham of south carolina was one of the next people to find out here on the hill. is he without a doubt john mccain's closest friend in washington, d.c. arguably his closest friend who isn't a blood relative. and it was lindsey graham who had to break the news to the other senators that were in this health care meeting tonight. he apparently was on the phone with john mccain when he walked in. then shared the news with the other 15 or 20 or so republican senators who were in the room. we're told they stopped what they were doing and had james lankford, the republican senator from oklahoma who used to be a pastor say a prayer right there in the meeting for john mccain and then tried to return to their business of discussing health care with this sort of hanging over the room. afterwards, lindsey graham spoke to reporters about his
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conversations with john mccain and where he goes from here. >> talked to john. said yeah, i'm going to have to stay here a little bit longer. take some treatments and i'll be back. and we talked about five minutes you know it's going to be a tough way forward but he says i've been through worse. and basically then we started talking about health care and the nda. literally it wasn't five minutes until he turned away from what i think most people would have a hard time absorbing and focused on what he loves the best. so pray. i don't know, god knows how this ends, not me. but i do know this. of this disease has never had a more worthy opponent. >> and brian, we've heard statements from people all across the ideological spectrum. john mccain is so widely respected up here. i would be remiss not to mention the politics of this which is
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john mccain was expected to be a fairly reliable vote on this bill. if he's not going to be back here anytime soon, that makes the paths to repeal and replace obamacare that much more difficult. >> thank you for staying late and reporting for us from there. with us by telephone now is our nbc news medical correspondent dr. john torres. doc, glioblastoma, when you say that, too.families across the country and in our audience already know of it as they say, it's not something you want but what can you tell us about diagnosis and prognosis? >> and brian, it's the same thing when you say glioblastoma to a group of doctors they go oh, wow, because that is the most aggressive malignant brain cancer. it also has the lowest survival rate. typically with glioblastomas the average survival rate is around 14 months. given his age, he's right in that group where they tend to survive 14 months to two years.
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this is a bad type of tumor to have in your brain. >> from what you can tell from perhaps what you've read, was he symptomatic? i know this checkup was said to be part of his normal scheduled checkup back home in arizona where they're fortunate to have a branch after the mayo clinicing. > it's hard to tell based on the information we do have, but if you piece history together, he had that one confirmation hearing that he was a little bit confused at and typically what happens is people go to their doctors and said either i'm confused or i've had some thought process issues, maybe i've had a headache, lightness of head or vomiting. then the doctor says let's get a kath scan. they find a mass inside the brain and they decide to go ahead and do surgery. in his case he had the surgery that removed the blood clot. they did laboratory studies on it. that connection makes sense the fact that again he went in for a clinic examination that he does all the time and because of that
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examination they found other things and went ahead and got the cat scan that started the process. >> dr. torres, thank you very much for joining us by telephone tonight on this late diagnosis. our friend peter bake of the times" agreed to stick around to talk about the subject. doris kerns good win remains with us. doris, you and i are now old enough to have talked about the departure of the world war ii generation from our public life and elected office. and then before you know it, here's john mccain, age 80 as we start talking about the departure of the vietnam combat veterans from roles and life. >> it's not a coincidence that is bipartisan has been diminished with the departure of these people who put mission and fought for our country. ym is a fighter as mr. trump says he's also a fighter. in the military you fight with honor. you have rules of engagement and decorum. the world war ii generation were part of what made bipartisanship
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work because they put loyalty to country first not to party. . and if we keep losing those people without some sort of national service without more military people going into congress, we've lost something very big. >> peter baker, we're reporting nothing final here tonight. you and i both know he will be back in the corridors of the senate during his treatment. he'll be back at work. god forbid he's been known to work with members of the other party. there is so much to say about john mccain, starting with as garrett was saying his wingman lindsey graham. they are part of a unit and they're a crucial part right now. people say had he need john mccain of this kind of republican almost resistance in waiting. >> yeah, it's interesting. it comes at a pretty crucial time on a lot of different issues, health care being one. tomorrow president trump will go to the pentagon where he's on the verge of trying to make a decision what to do in afghanistan. that's a topicing that senator mccain feels strongly about,
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senator graham feels strongly about. they're both very outspoken members of their caucus. i'm reminded of senator ted kennedy when in the first year of president obama's administration also, came down with a brain tumor and they're both alike in a lot of ways. they're both sort of iconic figures of american pol fiction. people very strong willed, strong points of view, strong ideologies, very opposite of each others and yet respected on both sides of the aisles even people who bitterly fought them over the years. this is one of these moments where the senate and washington at large arch you know stops for a moment and steaks stock. >> our final great thanks after a more boisterous than average day on his part to peter baker of "the new york times" and doris kerns good bin willing give us the long view of all of it. coming up, the danger when the votes americans have cast are somehow called into question as they were today.
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if any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they're worried about. and i ask the vice president, i asked the commission, what are they worried about? there's something. there always is. >> that was president trump today paying a visit to the
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first meeting of the advisory commission on election integrity better known as the commission on voter fraud. this came about via executive order signed by donald trump who has maintained he would have won the popular vote if it wasn't for millions of illegal baltz cast during the 2016 election. again, and to underscore, there is no evidence to back up that claim. you want to see a moment? this was a moment, on this very front today, on this very network, the head of the commission, the former secretary of state of kansas, was interviewed by katy tur and called into question in effect the outcome of this past election as a whole. >> you think that maybe hillary clinton did not win the popular vote? >> we may never know the answer to that question. >> how do you say we may never? you really believe that. >> what i'm saying is let's suppose that the commission determined that there were a certain number of votes cast by
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ineligible voters. you still won't know whether those people who were ineligible voted for trump or clinton or somebody else. >> joining us now our pulitzer prize winning columnist for the "washington post" post eugene robinson and long-time radio talk show host in his native state of wisconsin and about to be best selling author charlie sykes. gentlemen, good evening to you both. charlie, i know this is the kind of thing that ignites you. now they're messing with the laws of civics. and in a democratic society or most other societies, when the voters are told they needed to abide by the choice made at the polls to then question those results, that goes against the laws of civics. >> well, it does. and it doesn't mean you shouldn't be concerned about election integrity but what they're doing is undermining is the entire legitimacy of the election process. just remember this whole
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commission is designed to provide cover for one of the president's president trump's most egregious falsehoods which is this fiction that millions of votes were cast. the comment today by chris kovach who is a clown ought to be disqualifying because you know, ultimately if you cannot say acknowledge you know what the results of the election are, then why should anyone take this farce of a commission seriously at all. >> eugene, i want to put onto the screen part of your column today and read from it before i talk to you. heaven help us, look where we are. we have a president commander in chief of the armed forces, ostensibly the leader of the free world whose every word is suspect. president trump is inveterate liar. there's more. he dismisses problemable facts as fake news and invents faux facts of his own that bear no relationship to the truth. he simply cannot be trusted.
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eugene, do you want to revise and antidepressant your comments given "the new york times" reporting tonight? >> right. do you want to know what i really feel, brian? it just keeps coming and keeps coming. this the election commission is one of the weirdest and potentially most sinister initiatives of this crazy administration. i totally agree with charlie that the whole jen any sis of this thing, the whole reason is the president's tender ego that he just can't abide the fact that he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes to hillary clinton and so he wants to change that history somehow because he doesn't want to believe it. but the impact can be not only a general sort of mistrust of democracy, of the process of democracy which is totally dangerous in a democracy but
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also potentially the disenfranchi disenfranchisement of who knows how many voters if this commission decides on whatever basis that a bunch of people registered who shouldn't be or whatever the voter rolls need to be purged. i think it's a very have i dangerous thing. >> to be fair, katie went back at him and said does that also apply to all the votes cast for donald trump? and he said yes, meaning that the uncertainty. charlie, then the president on top of today's event on this subject, on health care invites three journalists from are the "new york times" in to the oval office accompanied only by a junior aide and gives us as we say in the news business, a fresh lead for tonight. >> yes, and an interview as bizarre as his presidency. i thought the most extraordinary part of that interview was the implied threat to robert mueller that there was a red line that
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if you cross this red line, well, then what? is he itching to fire the special prosecutor? you know, remind me again what the definition of obstruction of justice is? when you are clearly threatening, the prosecutor should not ask a certain question and not pursue certain leads, that was an extraordinary moment in american jurisprudence in general. but even by the standards of this president, it was just the naked threat, the tony soprano-like tone of this don't even ask this question. don't go there because you know where he's going. again, if the attorney general is paying attention and the attorney general you know, connects the dots and resigns, we really have a situation that's unprecedented even for those of us that lived through the saturday night massacre. >> brian, that interview, that part of the interview also was like being pulled over by a cop and saying, fine, officer,
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whatever you say, but whatever you do, don't look in the trunk, right? >> that was a bit of a tell. >> there's nothing in the trunk. >> don't look at the trump family business operations outside of russia. so most officers, i know, would immediately find a reason to look in the trunk. so we'll see. >> thank you both. gentlemen, we sure appreciate this conversation. we're all kind of running out of words at this point. aren't we. >> eugene robinson and charlie sykes. coming up, we'll look at this president's tone and tenor. the darkness of some of his public comments compared to what we've been used to in adult life in america as doris kerns goodwin returns to our conversation. at blue apron, we're building a better food system.
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this american carnage stops right here and stops right now. >> we'll just let obamacare fail. we're not going to own it. i'm not going to own it. >> it is bracing to hear some of that, some of the darker rhetoric from our nation's 45th president. it's not a matter of opinion to say it's a huge departure from what we are hearing from our past presidents and this office who tried to strike a more uplifting and inclusive tone. presidential historian and author doris kerns goodwin has agreed to stay here with us. what is that we're witnessing. > i was just reading fdr's inaugural. it's the exact opposite of everything he said. we're in a terrible time. he said there are dire facts here and yet he said we together can come through this and every dark hour the american people with leaders come through things together. when he says i alone can fix it and puts blame on everybody else but himself it's him standing
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alone. where is the country and the people he's depending upon? it's shocking when you hear it all put together like that. >> is it somehow a reflection of our times? how will this hold up when we look at it years from now? >> i don't know. i mean, sometimes i think it's just that he's never broken out of campaigning mode and maybe that's a reflection of our times that we go on for these campaigns so long. i mean, we keep waiting for that moment when he will realize he's president and has to change, that he can't tweet at any hour mean things he said about his campaign guys. he's now the president of the united states. he can't worry about how many crowds are at his inaugural. and destroy the whole moment of that -- he's president of the united states, for god's sake. yet, now he's arguing he has more bills he's passed than any president except maybe fdr. that isn't true but it doesn't matter. it's whether the bills have something to do with the welfare of the people and they have a standard of whether they're improving lives of people, not how much of you have. some of them are just changing a
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post office. the need to constantly be competitive to win at every level, you can't win in the presidency at every moment. his tempermental problem when he was asked about his temperament, he said i have the best temperament because i always win. no president always wins. that's what john mccain was able to do and every leader has been able to do. he doesn't think he's been through adversity. how is he prepared for this difficulty now. >> as no one needs to tell you, our presidents have used great language from that office to reassure us that the country will come back together after a civil war. to reassure us that we can be so bold as to go to europe and win a world war while fighting one in the pacific and then to tell us that thing in the sky, the moon, we can walk around on it if we try hard enough within ten years of trying. that's why this is so bracing. >> the magic of leadership is the ability to somehow have a contagious confidence that you feel in yourself and more importantly in the country and
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then the people begin to feel it. if you start talking about the american dream is dead, if you start talking about everything that's dark, that's contagious. people begin to feel that, too. where do we begin to work together on the problems? it's one thing to say we have problems and acknowledge them and then move forward together. there's no together in all this. >> as i thank you for staying up late with us and being here as we approach minutes away from the sixth month anniversary, will you please come back? >> i promise. >> thank you. doris kerns goodwin, what a needed voice in our coverage here tonight. another break for us. when we come back, a reality check on what has strayed from normal these days. david. what's going on? oh hey! ♪ that's it? yeah. ♪ everybody two seconds! ♪ "dear sebastian, after careful consideration of your application, it is
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we are moments away from president trump hitting the six-month mark of his presidency and since his inauguration,
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things in washington have been anything but as usual. there have been instances of secrecy, distortion of the truth, limited press access and a president with an extremely active twitter presence frequently using it to charge the news media are fake. it is human nature to change account definition of normal over time. and it falls upon us from time to time to point out just how far from normal we've gone. it's something veteran journalist mike allen done. he's the co-founder of the news organization axios, a veteran of time and "the new york times." he is rare rarely in new york or up this late. we have created a graphic just for you. you have made a list of the dumbing down of normal. i'm going to ask you to give us a dramatic reading of your own list tonight. >> yeah, you said this is going to be the trump version of good night moon. so by a quirk of the calendar,
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this is day 181. and brian, we get numb to the daily shocks. you were talking just a few minutes ago about repealing the laws of civics. icivics. i think sometimes we forget that the trump show is not something to binge watch and it's not entertainment. it's our government. this is for real. so it's not normal for the president of the united states to sign off on a story that his son is going to tell to make up for a meeting he probably shouldn't have taken. it's not normal for the president to hold a cabinet meeting that consists of, as the viewers saw here, the staff taking turns to gush over him. it's not normal for the president to undermine the west wing staff by asking people who wander in, what's their opinion of various people who might replace his chief of staff? it's not normal for the president of the united states to make a deal with the russian
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president for cyber security. the treasury secretary is out on the sunday shows, talking how great this is going to be. by that night on twitter, the president pulls the plug. not normal. it's not normal for the president to obsess about cable news coverage of himself and instantly react to those stories before checking on the specifics. it's not normal for the president to publicly criticize the mayor of london on the basis of flawed facts right after a terror attack that's killed several people. it's not normal for the president to attack, and this is purely hypothetical, tv news hosts by name, including a pers personal attack on a woman's appearance. it's not normal. >> sense your days as an eagle scout, sit a great thing to do and achieve, you have worked in the business of journalism. can we spend a moment talking about journalism as a calling and journalism's role thus far
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in these 181 days, how it's more important than ever? >> yeah, no question. the problem is, since november, especially as we travel the country, people don't know what to trust. that's one of the things that axios tries to do. we were six months old yesterday. we started two days before the inauguration. we talk to our journalists constantly. we want people to say axios is smart, i trust them. people just don't know what out there is worthy of their trust. and so they come to people like you and places like axios, and what's important is in the sea of noise out there, that there be places that they can see illumination, including from the great journalists that you have on night by night. and that people distinguish
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between that and -- >> our broadcast would be nothing without the journalist who are reporting these stories day and night and giving us our fresh lead just like tonight. what did you make of tonight's effort by the trio at "the new york times"? >> fantastic work, and what we hear time and again from trump voters, when they hear a segment like this, they'll say we didn't want normal. we wanted different. but we have to remind them and why the work of those "new york times" journalists is important, so important, nbc news, axios, is president trump is only going to be president for at most eight years, 7 1/2 more years. what about when it's not your guy who's in and all of the stop signs and guard rails of civic life have been blown through? then how will you feel about it? so trump voters, they wanted something different. they're getting that. but they also need to, and
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should want to know what else has happened. >> we should point out while you grew up in america, you are -- >> i was in california. that's not really. >> that's true. you mean a lot to the kind of news media structure in washington, so many people wake up in the morning and read mike allen, and i should get you on record on a tough diagnosis for someone we have come to know, that's john mccain. >> very touching for so many people who have watched senator mccain, who has been so tough for so long. somebody who is blunt, honest, always -- i can remember riding on the street talk express back in the 2000 campaign. and the -- everything was on the record. and senator mccain just talked. and he said what was on his mind and he was honest and sometimes it got him in trouble. one time i was on the street talk express and he was saying
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that he could tell if someone was gay. so i did a story in "the washington post" about senator mccain's super gadar, and he took it with great grace. his aides said we didn't make any news today. he just talked and said what was on his mind. that's so rare. now that everything is scripted, and i think that's why people find president trump refreshing and we talked to both his voters and people go into this white house. they're used to white houses that are so constipated, that these meetings are set sessions and they're all based on talking points. you walk into this white house and for better or worse, this president says what's on his mind and asks you and listens. so there are advantages to what we're saying, the important thing is to just remember it's not normal. >> mike allen covers it by day, we cover it by night. thank you for stopping by. coming up, an update on our
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last thing before we go, just a reminder, never bet against john mccain. as this coverage now turns to his illness, his prognosis, and the fight ahead, it's useful to remember the battles he's already fought and won. lieutenant commander john mccain, swas a naval aviator ovr north vietnam when he was shot down. violently ejecting at high speed, breaking both arms and a leg on the way out. he landed in the middle of a lake. he was captured and tortured for years. at one stage every two hours for four days. the bouts of torture were so horrific they caused him further permanent injury, leaving him unable to do things like combing his own hair to this day. he spent two years by himself in sol dare confinement. the guards stopped him from taking his own life. because he was the son of an
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admiral, he was offered early release and refused it. he came home in 1973 after 5 1/2 years in prison. he served his country his entire adult life. in his sixth term in the u.s. senate and is a cancer survivor already. as we said, this is hardly the first battle mccain has fought. he would be forgiven for wanting those 5 1/2 years of his life back, but that is not the way john mccain is put together. we're about to see the way john mccain is put together. that is our broadcast for tonight. thank you for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters in new york. news breaking in washington. there's news breaking outside of washington that relates to our politics. and there's also some serious and sad news breaking tonight. within the last hour we got news from the mayo clinic that arizona senator john mccain has a brain tumor.

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