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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  October 24, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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i wish i had more protection. i wish this stuff didn't happen. i can't explain it to you. yeah, i'm mad at him. if i die tomorrow and i get an opportunity, i'll say, what did you guys work me over like that? >> bill o'reilly gets tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. >> tonight, arizona republican senator jeff flake announces he won't run again and in doing so condemns the president and his party, vowing silence can equal complicity. he says it's time to stand up. and a second attack on the president by tennessee's bob corker who again invoked a adult day care and found himself victim of five presidential tweets. all that and news tonight on the purported and at times pornographic dossier detailing trump's trip to russia specifically who paid for it. the 11th hour on a busy tuesday night begins now.
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lot to talk about. our friends are all here. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters in new york. we've never seen a day quite like day 278 of trump administration. adds one republican who has advised several past presidents put it in the washington post tonight, this is the ice beginning to crack. crack, you might have heard, late today east coast time was arizona republican jeff flake on the senate floor announcing he will not run for reelection. and in the process calling out the president, what he stands for, and what's become of his republican party. >> we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. they are not normal. reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as
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telling it like it is, when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified. and when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. it is dangerous to a democracy. i have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, mr. president, i will not be complicit or silent. i have decided that i would be better able to represent the people of arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself of the political consideration that consumed far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles. >> senator flake was even more blunt in an op-ed in the washington post out tonight. the headline simply reads, enough. he writes, how many more disgraceful public feuds with gold star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced? how many more times will we see
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moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off? how many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it? a source close to former white house chief strategist and current trump ally steve bannon says his reaction to flake's retirement announcement was, quote, another day, another scalp. reaction at the white house was a bit more understated. >> i haven't spoken with him directly since the announcement by senator flake, but i think that based on previous statements and certainly based on the lack of support that he has from the people of arizona, it's probably a good move. >> making today even more extraordinary, flake was not the first senator from trump's own party to criticize him. senator bob corker was also not running for reelection has been engaged in this back and forth with the president for the better part of two months now.
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he said trump is debasing our nation. >> in the campaign, at the beginning of the administration you supported the president. do you regret that now? >> well, what do you think? look -- i think people -- look, i think there were many people, i was one of those, that hoped that, you know, he would rise to the occasion as president and aspire to lead our nation instead of dividing it. and, you know, it's obvious his, his political model and governing model is to divide. you know, it's a sad place from my perspective for a nation, and i think the worst of it is going to be just the whole debasing, if you will, of our nation. i think that will be the contribution that hurts our nation most. >> do you think the president is debasing the nation? >> i don't think there is any question, but that's the case just in the way that he conducts himself and goes to such a low level, just, i do.
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>> the associated press reports this about senators flake and corker tonight. quote, away from the cameras, trump took credit for helping force the two departures. according to a white house official and an outside advisor who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations. here is how the white house is publicly responding to the indictments from both of these senators. >> we have two republican senators now just today senators corker and flake, calling the president's behavior unacceptable and dangerous, saying that he regularly tells untruths. senator flake just called on his fellow republicans to end what he called come accompliciplicit accommodation. what is the white house's response coming from two republican senators? >> i think that we support the american people on this one. i think that the people both in tennessee and arizona supported this president. and i don't think that their numbers are in the favor of either of those two senators in their states. and so i think this is probably the right decision.
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when he gets hit, he's going to hit back and i think senator corker knows that and he's maybe trying to get a headline or two on his way out the door. >> because the secret to life is timing, all of this came on the day of the gop unity lunch on capitol hill. just as the president was under attack from two sitting senators, three if you include john mccain's comments this week, quoting the post again, quote, at the closed door lunch trump received a standing ovation from republican senators. yet for months many of these lawmakers have seegted at the president's actions and language as flake and corker did publicly and concluding that trump is an unstable presence in american political life. how is that for a quote? our lead off panel with us tonight, philip rucker, white house bureau chief for the washington post who coauthored the piece we just quoted from. heidi, white house reporter for usa today. and eli, white house reporter for the "wall street journal," all three we're happy to say nbc political analysts.
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well, phil, where does this rank in the 278 days we've been at this? where will this day go down in the history of the trump administration in your view? >> well, it was an extraordinary day in washington and this will be one of history's moments that we remember from this trump era because senator flake did not just attack the president in sort of the tit for tat we're used to in political campaigns. this was a searing indictment of his character and his office. this was not a policy disagreement. not a feud. it was much bigger than that. what flake delivered from the floor of the senate even though he's a republican i think is the most sweeping indictment we've heard from any public official in this country, democrats included, through these first nine months of the trump presidency. it was a big moment. >> eli, same question. was this another way of putting it, was this a thing or was this a tuesday in the trump administration?
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>> i think, you know, i'm not sure yet. but i think my hunch is it's more likely to shape up as just having been a tuesday. this president is always fighting with the mainstream media and with establishment republicans increasingly, and so the country is used to it. i think those of us who listen carefully to what senators flake and corker said today have to take that seriously and history will probably remember this day. but as far as how it impacts average people going about their lives, it's just sort of part of the din of noise and acrimony that always surrounds this white house. and, you know, people know this about donald trump, that he fights back as sarah huckabee sanders said. and yes, this may imperil his legislative agenda, but that agenda -- they already haven't done anything. the tax reform is a question. some people in the white house put it at less than 50% if they're talking privately about that actually getting done. and i think a lot of intelligent observers of this white house have noticed that what an mates
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trump is the small stuff. it's the nfl feud, these sorts of fights. it galvanizes his supporters. it's enough for them that he's just there aggravating the people that they don't like. whether that's enough for republicans to get reelected, if they don't pass anything, remains to be seen next year. but for donald trump and his base, which is still there with him, this seems to be enough. and that's the biggest reason why so far none of the republicans save for those who are hanging it up, have spoken out like this. >> that's critical. heidi, over at the pentagon when they talk about aircraft with defense measures, they sometimes mean aircraft that can fire flares out to their sides and behind them to confuse incoming missiles. that said, we saw you at the briefing there today. what do you make of the white house's defense measures these days? >> well, the whole briefing was really dominated by just a back
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and forth of the president's false statements that he makes and putting sarah sanders on the spot. but the one thing that she said was definitely true today, which is that this was a win for the president because if you look at who might replace these senators, for example in tennessee, and now in arizona, they are people who are pledging allegiance to the president. and what is really striking, brian, is that there does not seem to be any kind of guiding ideology that drives these people who are being recruited, these bannon ites other than total loyalty to the president. these are some people who like marcia black burn in tennessee who had been kind of establishment republicans, and yet are now kind of being co-opted into this bannon wing of the party. so, i think they were right. she was right to say that this is a victory for the president. in some ways it's a reflection of the support in this party for
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his brand of conservatism versus this dying breed that is kind of in a death rattle right now. i think the question is how many republicans follow suit. i kind of disagree that this is actually a breaking of the ice if you're talking about the senate being the ice block because you saw in the same day the standing ovation for trump. i think a lot of these senators smell the scent of tax cuts. you're not going to see a mass movement until -- unless that experiment is completed, which probably won't happen until the end of this year, early next year. >> wow. so, philip, heidi just used the words "dying breed." here's senator flake, a committed conservative. i don't know anyone who would disagree with that. a big red r from a big red state out west. and this was the stuff of moment for him and those who believe the way he does. but then we hear bannon calls it
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a scalp. then we hear trump sees it as a victory. is this the way we're going on these two tracks until otherwise noted? >> i think it might be. and the reason for that is if you look at what the three senators, republican senators who have come out against trump have in common, john mccain, jeff flake of arizona, and corker of tennessee, they all three have nothing to lose. mccain is not up for reelection for another five years from now. he's battling a critical illness. he may not face reelection. corker and flake are not running for reelection. they really have nothing to lose right now. they feel like they can speak their minds, speak their conscience and lead their party. but it is unclear whether there are any other senators in that republican conference who are going to be willing to follow them and to speak up publicly the way they have. >> eli, you talked about the math. the math is really going to become important no matter what the administration measure is.
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we know the advantage they have over democrats in the chamber, but, you know, look at flake. look at corker. look at john mccain. and others who have been angry with this administration. they're going to need all those numbers, or democratic cross overs which are going to become less likely. >> right. the biggest driving force that might get something to the finish line to the president's desk is just this political desperation that republicans feel to pass something. it may not be tax reform, it may just be some sort of tax cut. >> some non-gorsuch measure before the end of 2017. >> we'll see how that plays out. the but the politics of this are very interesting for republicans. i talked to some so-called establishment conservatives who watched this trump thing play out. they're not huge fans of donald trump, we'll just say. and they were really emboldened and excited to hear corker and flake early on today, but that gave way very quickly to this disturbing recognition that these people are leaving. and that there aren't people at
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this point willing to say these things and stay in the fight. they look at this party and they see bannon and the trump-styled candidates, those sorts of people filling this growing vacuum, and the old republican party, the gop, you know, that may be a thing of the past. >> heidi, about the party, do you see this -- i heard a lot of commentary today that this party is splitting in half. >> i think that we are not going to see this happen. i think it will happen, but i think we're not going to see it happen until the tax cut experiment is completed. and then i think you're definitely going to see bannon fulfill his promise of recruiting candidates to try and take out not only additional senators like jeff flake, but also the leadership. i mean, he has people like roy moore say publicly that it is going to be their goal to take out senator mitch mcconnell when they get there. so, i think that he is claiming victory, whether that is appropriate or not in terms of
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his role of these, quote-unquote, scalpings. he's nevertheless using it to build momentum to create fear within the chamber. and, yes, to, you know, put up a bunch of primary challenges, particularly if they don't get tax cuts done because somebody is going to take the fall and it's going to be the establishment republicans, not his boy in the white house, trump. >> so, philip, last word, will it be like the tea party in that a lot of people, newcomers to washington, will come to town wanting to burn the house down? >> i think so. and it's interesting you mention the tea party because that was seven years ago. >> yeah. >> we've now gone on for almost a decade where the republican party has been at war with itself, this divide in the party. right now the anti-establishment forces are under the banner of trumpism, but before trump came along, there was the tea party. and i think this dynamic is going to continue for several years into the future. >> jeff flake was the tea party
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guy before the tea party was even a thing. and now -- >> that's right. >> in less than a decade, he's a rhino. you see this party's shift to the right. trump may be, as we've talked about, he may be driving the train. he may be just a passenger on this train. but that's where the party is going. and flake and corker are the casualties. >> hardly have time to get programs presented up in. thank you for making our lead off. coming up as we approach our first break, more on the president's fight with a respective republican senator, the other one, that is, retiring senator bob corker, went out of his way today to talk about the president in front of just about every camera crew he encountered. that and much more as "the 11th hour" continues on another busy tuesday night. look at this... a silicon valley server farm. the vault to man's greatest wonders... selfies, cat videos and winking emojis. speaking of tech wonders,
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i think at the end of the day when his term is over, i think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth telling, just the name calling, the things -- i think tdebasemet of our nation is what he'll be remembered most for and that's regretful. you would think he would aspire to be the president of the united states and act like a president of the united states. but, you know, that's just not going to be the case apparently. >> the good news from today may have been that the president did not attack a gold star widow. he did attack a fellow republican and the chairman of the senate foreign relations
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committee, bob corker of tennessee. president trump woke up this mor morning, grabbed his phone, called corker lightweight and said he couldn't manage to get elected dog catcher. he said, same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #alert the day care staff. political report, the state of play this way. senate republicans would prefer that the ongoing corker-trump spat fade away, particularly as they barrel into an ambitious tax reform push that they want to complete by year's end. influential gop senators say succeeding on a tax overhaul is paramount, particularly with the collapse of obamacare repeal efforts earlier in trump's first year in office. but can you imagine corker and trump at that same lunch today? we'll hear more from mike murphy, republican strategist worked for john mccain's first campaign in fwou. and robert costa, national post
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political reporter moderator of washington week on pbs and an msnbc political analyst. mike, i'd like to start with you. what happened to your party today? and do you believe your party is cleaving in two? >> well, i'll tell you, nothing is a stronger truth serum than politics than not facing a primary. so, you had both corker now, who is retiring, and jeff flake kind of smashed the chains. and they're speaking with a lot of candor and both these guys are conservatives, too. these are not moderate conservative fight. it is about the president's character. what makes this particularly important, i think, is that they are saying in public what most republican senators are saying in private. so, these are not rare opinions here. the question is will this hairline crack start to grow inside the party, particularly as we face a year from now, what could be pretty tough midterm elections. >> that's the question, mike. are you looking for incumbents who don't plan to leave the
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senate? are you looking for profiles and courage to lineup behind these guys? >> well, i've been in politics too long for that, brian. but i'll tell you this. if we have a rough midterm, putting aside the legislative challenge of the president declaring, you know, twitter war on two votes he may need, if we have a rough midterm, particularly in the house, then you've got a bunch of senators who are up in 2020 who may get corker itis. and say wait a minute, i'd rather finish my term with freedom and candor against this president for a couple years. you could also have mitt romney potentially win the senate seat if oren hatch retires and romney decides to run. all of a sudden you have a caucus that could be six, seven, eight of these people, not just corker, flake and mccain right now. >> robert costa, i want to show you a moment from sean hannity tonight. we'll talk about it on the other side. >> for all you never trumper senators that are headed for the exits, people like corker and flake, you know what, guess what, you guys, you know, take
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your other colleagues with you. mitch mcconnell, good-bye. ben sass, gun. john cornyn, good-bye. lisa murkowski, susan collins. >> so, there you have it, robert. that's the climate right now. sean hannity's wish list of big name senators he wishes were out of the chamber. >> that is the wish list, but as a reporter you have to look at this map and wonder if there could be some unpredictable situations if the bannon wing of the republican party continues to get, as they claim today, their political scalps because if they force senator hatch or prompt him to retire in utah, you could see mitt romney run. people i know who are close to him are encouraging him to get in the race should senator hatch step away. senator wicker faces a challenge. he faced a challenge from chris mcdaniel who is likely to run. republicans want to make sure wicker stays there. trump said he could fight to keep wicker in the seat. in tennessee it doesn't look
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like it's going to be any kind of far-right candidate. it will be congresswoman black burn who has fans in both the establishment gop and in the hard line wing of the gop. how this all plays out, brian, remains to be seen. >> so, robert, in your opinion, was today a turning point of any kind, or a tuesday in october? >> oh, a major turning point because senator corker was then echoed and amplified by senator flake, and this was a rally cry from the traditional block of the republican party who have venerated the values and political style of president reagan ever since reagan was in office. they have championed that form of republicanism ever since, and they have seen it fall apart since george w. bush left office in january of 2009. >> so, mike murphy, if you were advising, let's take that graphic, sean hannity's hit list. if you were advising any of them what to do, what to say, how do
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you label this bannon thing that's emerging? that's emerging? is it kind of a national
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trump is treason. you should be talking about treason. >> he might have thought that was a celebration as the flags did say trump on them, but those were russian flags being thrown at the american president in the capitol this morning as protester shouted, quote, the president has cob expired with agents of the russian government. as investigation interference and the elections continues, "the washington post" reports, quote, the hillary clinton campaign and the democratic national committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about donald trump's connections to russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the kremlin, people familiar with the matter said. nbc news tonight has confirmed this report. let's talk about with our friend
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jeremy bash, former chief of staff at cia and the pentagon. jeremy you spent enough time in politics to live to tell about it. you were on the gore legal team for the recount. i forgot how that ended up. >> it was a tie. >> because you did live to tell about it, what's your experience in something like opposition research. we've never seen a dossier, at least i haven't, quite like this. but what do you make of this story? and i ask because sarah huckabee sanders already on twitter has said, the real russia scandal, question mark, clinton campaign paid for the fake russia dossier then lied about it and covered it up. this may be a preview of something we may read on twitter tomorrow morning. >> yeah, i'm going to go out on a limb and say in six hours and 20 minutes the president eats going to reach over to his night stand and have a couple tweets for us. it's going to shock everybody
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glvgs opposition research is paid for by the opposition. the steele dossier that was compiled by a former secret intelligence operative, christopher steele, was at first funded by democrats -- excuse me, republicans, who were trying to understand the vulnerabilities of the trump campaign. and then, of course, funded by democrats. i'm not sure this story tells us a lot more than we previously knew. the key issue is during the campaign it was designed to figure out whether they were vulnerabilities to trump and his political efforts, but now that he's president, the steele dossier is relevant because it shows what vulnerabilities he has adds our commander in chief which is more serious. ways the russians could coerce him, ways russia has leverage over him, and that all americans, republicans and
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democrats, should be worried about. >> when people hear about the uranium story, when it's applied to past administrations, to democrats, and this was today's headline on the uranium story. can you give us the brief version? >> the word isn't uranium, it's russia, it's an effort by republicans and people who don't want the focus to be on the connection between the trump campaign and the russian federation, the meetings between don jr. and jared kushner and paul manafort and represents of the russian government who were supporting the trump campaign. it's a story people are trying to show that the clinton team or the abomination also had dealings with the russian federation, i don't think it's going to go very far biden because they're not in power, trump is. >> michael cohen, longtime donald trump personal attorney was up on capitol hill today.
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remind our audience the questions, the house and senate intel committees would like to ask a guy with his longtime association with trump and thus his exposure here. >> michael cohen is a critical fact witness because as the general council for the trump organization for many years, he engineered and led the effort to develop trump business ties between the organization that trump led and the russian federation. one of the more infamous cases he was leading the negotiations to build trump tower in moscow, and that wasn't something in the ancient past, in 2007 or 2008 when the trump organization was getting a lot of capital from russia. it was actually during the presidential campaign, weeks before the iowa caucuses in december 2015 when president trump's campaign was in full swing, that's when he was negotiating with russians to build trump tower. it is another piece of the leverage that the ruckus federation and people close to
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vladimir putin probably had over trump, ask this is something michael cohen will be talking about to investigators about not just on capitol hill, but i suspect, also in front of a grand jury. >> thank you for taking our questions, more importantly for explaining it all to the good folks watching tonight. jeremy bash from washington. we appreciate it. coming up, we'll talk to a longtime fellow member of the fake media who went in search of real america. that and more when "the 11th hour continues.
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the speech today on the senate floor by ren senator jeff flake of arizona was either one for the history books or no big deal depending on which cable network you watched tonight. the partisan and cultural bubbles we live in have the echo chamber effect of shielding us
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from the lives and ideas of others, either across the country or across the street from us. our next guest is a self-described lifelong democrat who was living in a liberal bubble until he went out to spend a year in search of the other side. ken stern, former ceo of national public radio, and echlgtd written republican like me, how i left the liberal bubble and learned to love the right. welcome, thank you for coming on. i said america begins with the vehicles people guy bye and drive. in america, the top three selling vehicles are the ford f-150, number one, number two, chevy silverado, number three, dodge ram. having said that, you left the land of priuss to venture out into america. what did you find in the land where pickup trucks are the
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vehicle of choice? >> i left my crowded streets of washington, d.c. where you couldn't even fit a ram or a ford pickup truck. and i spent a year traveling from churches to pig hunting. and i met lots of people who i admired, lots of people who led interesting lives, lots of people who voted for people i would never have voted for, and i shared lots of ideas with, lots of ways to help each other. and i met people who weren't all that different from me, and i think that was the revelation which was we're divided by red and blue, but all in all we're actually a country of moderate people if you get to know each other. >> now that you're back and you've had time in the rear view mirror to write this book and organize your thoughts, how does your foray and your research educate what we witnessed in the news today? the president fighting with
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corker, jeff flake joining corker saying we're not running for re-election, we're out of here and that gives us the freedom to criticize our president of the same party. >> i spent time in lots of places, pikeville, kentucky, talking with folks who won't pay attention to this day-to-day. they're decision to go for trump, about their political clan, because it's all about tribes, has to do with unhappiness with the establishment. could have voted for trump or sanders because they were the most unlike the people who they knew hasn't served them well. these fights reinforces for them that trump isn't like the establishment. it maybe helps them. he's their mary and berry if you remember the washington mayor. whatever "the washington post" said about him didn't matter to his supporters. >> your book went deep on guns.
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was there a bro might, a takeaway a lesson you learned about firearms in this country that you wouldn't have known in metropolitan washington? >> i learned a lot. organized this by saying, life long determination fairly certain i was right about everything, but i can't be right about everything. i'm right own gun control, how can you be against gun control. i came at it not against gun control, but knowing that's not the answer. the interesting fact, spending time at gun shows, pig hunting, is gun homicide rates have fallen by 50% over the past 25 years. the biggest change in criminology has nothing to do with gun control laws. lots of things unrelated to gun control. if we want to solve murders here, we have a murder rate like
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equatorial guinea. we need to focus on better policing, the pulling levers project from boston, those are the things that will solve it. we're arguing about things that don't address the problem. >> there are bubbles dealing with everything. the coffee bubble is starbucks versus duncan. the self-driving car bubble is the kind of technical class believing who wouldn't want to be driven around versus people who, frankly, are wired like me. i enjoy my american-made suv which runs on gasoline, and i also don't want to see those long line truckers put out of work. how do we make bubble-to-bubble cross currents and outreach. >> let's start with the fact the admission about ourselves as human beings. we like tribes. do you remember the old tom ler
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son song? the protestant hates the catholics. that's all been replaced. >> not the first time this song's been quoted on this show. >> party affiliations are about that. parties aren't that different on the issues. they gravitate towards the middle. it's about identity and who you are and about winning. we have to get past that. we have to convince ourselves that the other side is not all that different from us. >> interesting stuff. i wish you luck with the book. thank you very much for coming on our broadcast. ken stern here with us tonight. coming up, what it's going to take to get the lights back on in puerto rico among other things. we're back with more after this. each year sarah climbs 58,007 steps.
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last thing before we go here tonight, life in puerto rico, over a month now since the storm. short answer is this, life is no better for hundreds of thousands of american citizens there. power remains out for an estimated 80% of the customers across the island. it's more than replacing poles and stringing cable and throwing a switch. puerto rico is going about replacing its grid, 2,400 miles of big transmission lines, 30,000 miles of the smaller
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distribution lines, 300 power substations, a huge job by any measure. it got our attention when a small company with two full-time employees at the time of the storm got a federal contract for $300 million to help rebuild. white fish energy is because white fish, montana, notable because that's the hometown of our interior secretary, ryan zinke who knows the ceo of the energy company back in montana. both the company and the secretary are denying the fix was in, but congress is now interested nonetheless. the company uses a lot of contract workers and now has close to 300 people in puerto rico. they've done some smaller power line jobs in arizona, nothing like this. they said they were hired in large part because of their expertise in mountainous regions, but their contract is one of the biggest award and some florida and regional utilities say it's business that
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would normally go to them via mutual aid. on the ground, our fellow citizens just want roads and bridges and lights and water and food and medical care. the way other american citizens get after a big storm laid waste to their paradise. that is your broadcast on tuesday night. thank you very much for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. the big news out of washington today is the announced resignation of republican senator jeff flake of arizona, who has become one of the most outspoken critics of president trump within his own party. senator flake's 17-minute senate speech today denouncing trumpism in his own party was one of those washington moments, one of those washington spectacles that absolutely stopped people in their tracks today. that said, strategically it came with one major asterisk on it.


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