tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC May 5, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
>> were you lying to us at the time, or were you in the dark? why can't you just answer yes or no whether you in the dark? >> did the president file a fraudulent personal financial disclosure last year when he filed a report that did not include a loan from michael cohen? >> i don't know. >> that's tonight's "last word." congressman eric swalwell's reacts to president trump's statements today on the mueller investigation. that's next on "the 11th hour" with brian williams, which starts now. breaking tonight from "the new york times," donald trump knew about michael cohen's payment to stormy daniels well before his denial last month on air force one. one of the reporters who broke this story is standing by with details. plus new from "the wall street journal" tonight, michael cohen secured access to as much as $774,000 during the trump presidential campaign. all of it revealed just hours after the president said rudy giuliani would get his facts straight. "the 11th hour" on a friday night begins now.
good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. i'm steve kornacki in for brian williams. day 470 of the trump administration. we have breaking news from "the new york times" about when trump had knowledge of the six-figure hush money payment to stormy daniels. one of the authors of that story, matt apuzzo, will join us in just a moment. he and his colleagues writing tonight, quote, president trump knew about a six-figure payment that michael d. cohen, his personal lawyer, made to a pornographic film actress several months before he denied any knowledge of it to reporters aboard air force one in april according to two people familiar with the arrangement. it was not immediately clear when mr. trump learned of the payment, which mr. cohen made in october 2016 at a time when news media outlets were poised to pay her for her story about an alleged affair with mr. trump in 2006. but three people close to the matter said mr. trump knew that mr. cohen had succeeded in keeping the allegations from
becoming public at the time the president denied it. the president has spent the last several hours speaking out, in particular going into damage control mode trying to clean up comments that rudy giuliani made this week about trump reimbursing michael cohen. >> i'll tell you what. rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago. but he really has his heart into it. he's working hard. he's learning the subject matter, and he's going to be issuing a statement too. but he is a great guy. he knows it's a witch hunt. that's what he knows. he'll get his facts straight. i will tell you this. when rudy made the statements -- rudy's great, but rudy had just started and he wasn't totally familiar with every -- you know, with everything. and rudy -- we love rudy. he's a special guy. what he really understands is that this is a witch hunt. when he made certain statements, he just started yesterday, so that's it. >> just in case you need a refresher about what set all of this off in the first place,
here is what giuliani said on fox news earlier this week about that payment. >> having something to do with paying some stormy daniels woman $130,000, i mean which is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. that money was not campaign money. no campaign finance violation. >> they funneled it through a law firm? >> funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it. >> oh, i didn't know. he did? >> yeah. >> do you know the president didn't know about this? i believe that's what michael had said. >> he didn't know about the specifics of it as far as i know, but he did know about the general arrangement, that michael would take care of things like this. imagine if that came out on october 15th, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with hillary clinton. >> right. so to make it go away, they made this -- >> cohen didn't even ask. cohen made it go away. he did his job. >> now, today giuliani issued this statement to, quote, clarify his views.
it reads in part, there is no campaign violation. the payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president's family. it would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not. my references to timing were not describing my understanding of the president's knowledge, but instead my understanding of these matters. just last night stormy daniels' lawyer says he has proof this was about the campaign. giuliani's statement does not address his assertion that trump reimbursed michael cohen for the hush money payment. in trump's twitter account yesterday featured a detailed explanation of how he repaid cohen. today the president was asked about his inconsistent narrative concerning daniels. >> mr. president, why did you change your story on stormy daniels? >> we're not changing any stories. all i'm telling you is that this country is right now running so smooth. and to be bringing up that kind of crap and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time, that's all you want to talk about.
excuse me -- >> you said on air force one that you didn't know anything about the payments. >> excuse me. excuse me. no, but you have to -- excuse me. you take a look at what i said. you go back and take a look. you'll see what i said. >> you said no when i asked you if you knew about the payment. >> excuse me. you take a look at what i said. >> speaking of taking a look, here is is what the president said on air force one back on april 5th, which "the new york times" referred to in its report tonight. >> did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no, no. >> then why did michael cohen make it if there was no truth to the allegations? >> you'll have to ask michael cohen. michael's my attorney, and you'll have to ask michael. >> do you know where he got the money to make that payment? >> no, i don't know. >> meanwhile, there is new reporting tonight from "the wall street journal" about michael cohen and how he obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars during the election. the "journal" reports that public records show that cohen, quote, gained access to as much as $774,000 through two
financial transactions during the 2016 presidential campaign as he sought to fix problems for his boss. those transactions could factor into a broad investigation of mr. cohen's business affairs being conducted by manhattan federal prosecutors and the federal bureau of investigation, who are examining whether mr. cohen violated any laws in his efforts to raise cash and conceal negative information about mr. trump, according to people familiar with the matter. those include transactions tied to his credit line and his ownership of real estate and taxi medallions, the people said. president trump also had a lot to say about the other huge legal issue looming over his administration, the russia investigation and whether he'll agree to talk to special counsel robert mueller. rudy giuliani has been negotiating with mueller about that potential interview. last night giuliani wouldn't say whether trump wanted to do it, telling nbc news, quote, on the advice of his counsel, he is keeping a closed mouth and an open mind. well, today donald trump decided to open his mouth. >> have you changed your mind at
all about being willing to sit with robert mueller? >> well, the problem with sitting is this. you have a group of investigators, and they say that i am not a target, and i'm not a target. i would love to speak. i would love to. nobody wants to speak more than me. in fact, against my lawyers, because most lawyers, they never speak on anything. i would love to speak because we've done nothing wrong. there was no collusion with the russians. there was nothing. there was no obstruction, but i have to find that we're going to be treated fairly. >> are you -- >> wait, wait. i have to find that we're going to be treated fairly. if i thought it was fair, i would override my lawyers. >> four reporters shared that byline on tonight's breaking "new york times" report. one of them is two-time pulitzer winner matt apuzzo. he's kind enough to join us by phone. thank you for taking a few minutes. let me be very clear for viewers. at the top of the show, you are reporting that prior to that
scene on air force one from last month, from april, that before that, donald trump knew about the $130,000 payment. he knew specifically it was going to stormy daniels, and he knew the reason it was going to her, is that correct? >> correct. and, look, when you line up the timelines, that is what everybody assumed had been the case frankly when "the wall street journal" first reported about these payments. you know, i believe it was all the way back in january. you know, the fact that he knew about it was never really in question until he came out publicly and said, i had no idea, which really raised more questions than it did answers because how can you enter into a legal settlement, how can you enter into a binding settlement and a nondisclosure arrangement and have your lawyer make cash payments to somebody without your knowledge of it?
so i mean by saying that, both the president and then subsequently rudy giuliani only muddied the waters. so, you know, by our reporting here tonight, it almost just sort of takes us back a couple weeks to where we knew -- to where we were before the president went out and said, i had no idea. >> so that window of time now between october 2016, the end of the campaign when this deal was sealed, and donald trump in that april denial from donald trump we just showed, do we know with any specificity in there when he did find out? >> so what we don't know is like we don't have a date for when he knew. certainly we know that the payment was made in late october. the settlement was agreed in late october, and certainly by any reading on the rules of legal ethics, michael cohen, the president's personal lawyer, would not have been able to ethically enter into a
settlement that the president had no idea about and certainly advancing payments on behalf of a client is not something that is normally allowed. so we don't have a date that it was set on, but everybody we're talking to tonight is saying, look, you know, mea culpa. like we're trying to set the -- we're trying to get the timeline straight. we're trying to smooth this over. it's been a tumultuous 48 hours at the white house and in this duly reconstituted legal team that really debuted in quite a chaotic fashion. >> thank you, matt apuzzo. one of the reporters on that "new york times" story that's breaking tonight that we're leading our show with. thank you for taking a few minutes and joining us. appreciate that. now to our leadoff panel for this friday night, josh gerstein is a reporter for politico, covering the white house. amber phillips, a political reporter for the fix at "the washington post," and danny cevallos, a criminal defense attorney and msnbc legal analyst.
let me start with the lawyer first because i want to get to the legal significance, if there is any, of what "the new york times" is reporting tonight. you have matt apuzzo saying that basically everybody kind of always assumed this. trump threw a curveball with his comments in the last few weeks but this takes us back to what we've always assumed. that's court of public opinion. in terms of the court of law, does this reporting tonight from "the new york times" do anything significantly? >> it does in the sense that now you have trump knowing that there was a payment made. at least it appears that way now. and if he did know, to what degree does he have the requisite intent under potential campaign finance law? but that really is a smaller part of the potential issues that are raised. for michael cohen, there are a number of attorney ethics issues involved. i have to say that this is the kind of situation that if michael cohen was not acting as an attorney, if instead he was just a consultant, there would have been many fewer layers for trump and cohen to worry about because it's by virtue of saying
that he was providing legal services that you have an entire new body of professional responsibility law or rules, i should say, that apply to any kind of legal services. then you have tax issues. what were the tax implications of these payments? if donald trump knew about them at the time. i think i see what trump's trying to do. i think his view of the world is this and giuliani's view is this. we retreat back. we concede that -- we stay away from campaign finance law. we say there was a big pool of money. michael cohen did whatever he wanted with it. i saw no evil. i heard no evil. that's it. >> amber phillips, in terms of rudy giuliani, then, in that statement he issued today trying to clarify, he says, some of the comments he made earlier this week on fox news, what are the open questions that remain after this attempt at a clarification? >> yeah. well, you're absolutely right. i think in the intro, you put clarification or tried to clarify in quotes.
when he put that statement out and the president sort of led up into it by suggesting giuliani got his facts wrong and there would be some change in the substance of what giuliani said earlier in the week about this payment, nothing changed in terms of the substance. the open question is still we know that donald trump knew about this payment and paid it. the open question is still whether that had any intent to help him win the campaign. just because giuliani goes out there and the president goes out there and says this had nothing to do with the campaign, you know, i wanted to protect my wife and family from these lies, doesn't mean that's true. that of course is still for the courts to decide. giuliani nor the president didn't clear that up today. >> it's interesting, josh. this is proceeding on two parallel tracks here, one legal, one political. you've got the question here of does the story politically actually surprise many americans given all of the scandals about donald trump not just in the campaign but his entire public career? does this do anything politically to change opinions
of donald trump? then you've got the legal question here too of does this turn into something more than just a potential campaign finance violation? >> yeah. i don't think it does probably change many minds on the political front in terms of what people think of the president. but i think folks should also keep in mind there are other shoes to drop here on the legal front, especially with this issue of michael cohen's records, his e-mails, his electronic files from his office being gone through by prosecutors. that's part of this whole dynamic the white house legal team has been trying to get ahead of here. those records are being turned over now to cohen's legal team. they're going through them, and they're learning what prosecutors know or are about to learn about this stormy daniels payment, and it's very important that what the white house and the president say publicly not be immediately contradicted by records that are either in the hands of prosecutors or about to be in their hands. and i think when you see them scurrying quite quickly to fix up this mess that took place in
the last 48 hours, that's part of what's going on. >> we're talking so much here about what donald trump knew, when he knew it about this payment. the other party to that payment from the trump side, of course, michael cohen, who actually made the payment to stormy daniels in 2016, donny deutsch from "morning joe" fame caught up with michael cohen, donald trump's attorney, earlier this week. he had this to say about that encounter. >> i spoke with michael cohen yesterday, and his quote about giuliani was he doesn't know what he's talking about. he also said that, look, there are two people that know exactly what happened -- myself and the president, and you'll be hearing my side of the story. and he was obviously very frustrated at what had come out yesterday. >> that sounds, danny, like an ominous sign if you're on donald trump's side of this thing. >> it does. i was actually on that same segment, and when i heard that the first -- the clause that i seized upon was "we will hear michael cohen's side of the story." who will actually hear that side of the story? will it be federal investigators? will it be at trial?
why does michael cohen believe, if he's telling donny deutsch this, that he's going to have the opportunity to tell his side of the story? because i can tell you when we won't hear it, and that's in the near future. because if he's getting any kind of good advice, michael cohen -- and you have not heard a word from michael cohen in some time. he's clearly following his counsel's advice and doing the prudent thing, which is keeping quiet. so the notion that we might hear from him is an ominous one indeed if you are trump. >> amber, let's talk about the politics of this for a minute because as this story has sort of taken center stage in american media, political, cultural life, whatever you want to call it, something funny has happened with the president's approval rating. we can put this up on the screen. with donald trump, these things are all relative. what you see there is his average approval rating has climbed over the last several weeks to 44%. by historical standards, that's not much to write home about. by donald trump's standards, that's the highest he's been in more than a year.
so for donald trump actually as this story has swirled in the last few weeks, his numbers have climbed a little bit. amber, i have to say it did make me think back a little bit 20 years ago to 1998 and bill clinton where you had the legal story swirling of bill clinton. did he perjure himself? did he suborn perjury on this issue of an affair with monica lewinsky? and as that legal investigation overtook everything, politically his stock actually rose. is there a chance that on some maybe smaller scale, that's happening here? >> yeah, it's certainly possible. and i believe after the impeachment proceedings in the house, clinton's poll numbers went up to the highest he had been at that moment in his presidency. the economy is also doing really well. donald trump, you know, is kind of illustrating this tug and pull of his talking about or his highlighting the russia investigation versus some of the accomplishments happening under his administration helping him or hurting him. when he went to dallas today and talked to some of his supporters, he spent one or two -- a couple lines talking
about the tax bill and the unemployment rate, but spent the chunk of his time in the headlines we all wrote from that was him talking about the russia investigation and literally pulling out sheets of paper and reading them from the news to sort of proclaim his innocence and continue to say this is a witch hunt. we know from polls that his supporters support him on that. we also know that support is declining, though still a majority of americans think that the mueller investigation should continue. but support is kind of declining for that too. it's to be determined if trump's, you know, very consistent claims that this is a witch hunt helps or hurts him. but at the same time, he's talking about that stuff in the absence of being able to brag about some of these economic accomplishments. >> josh, every day in the trump era is a busy day in the newsroom, but a particularly busy friday night. i do want to get to you on one other piece of potentially big news today. you were in a courtroom in
virginia where paul manafort is trying to get those bank fraud charges tossed out against him, and a federal judge who is hearing that case today didn't issue a ruling, but he made some comments about the mueller investigation that had the president bragging in dallas today. tell us what happened in that courtroom and what it could mean potentially. >> well, the judge gave manafort's prosecutors a real grilling about their authority to pursue this case. you have to remember there's two cases pending against manafort, and the one that's in virginia has to do with bank and tax fraud charges, basically allegations that he didn't pay all his taxes and that he lied on getting some loans. and the judge really went after the prosecutors in terms of what was the connection to russia, to the central mandate of the mueller investigation? he talked about what's the budget of the special counsel's office? is it $10 million a year? he said, is the real purpose here to get the president, to try to get manafort to sing? and the judge said, hopefully if he does sing, he won't compose, meaning that he won't just fabricate things to try to get
on the good side of the prosecutors. so it was a pretty tough morning for the prosecutors. but i will say that my sense was that while the judge raked him over the coals, that he may eventually come around and say these are not really issues he's going to decide in the context of this case and may let the case go forward despite whatever concerns he has about mueller's appointment and how this case fits into that. >> he has certainly succeeded in introducing a little more suspense into those proceedings. we'll be following closely what happens next there. josh gerstein, amber phillips, danny cevallos, thank you for joining us. still ahead tonight, we're going to get reaction to all of this from a member of the house intel committee. congress man swalwell standing by. plus the president serves up red meat to the crowd at the nra convention in dallas. and trump says he and john kelly have a fantastic relationship. does anyone believe that, though? "the 11th hour," it is just getting started on a busy friday night. the company.
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all we hear about is this phony russia witch hunt. that's all we hear about. [ audience booing ] just when i'm walking on the stage, a highly respected judge in virginia made statements. it says -- "wall street journal." it says, judge questions mueller's authority to prosecute manafort. now, paul manafort's a nice guy, but, you know, he worked for me for a very short period of time. literally for like, what, a couple of months. little period of time. >> that was some of president trump's speech to the nra this afternoon in dallas.
the president is using those comments from a judge who questioned mueller's authority to prosecute manafort to slam the russia investigation as a witch hunt. as we reported, president trump said today that he would love to be interviewed by mueller, but only if he's treated fairly. the president saying, quote, if i thought it was fair, i would override my lawyers. meanwhile, we are also following new reporting from "the new york times" tonight that says that president trump knew about the hush money payment to stormy daniels several months before he denied knowledge of it on air force one. joined now by congressman eric swalwell, democrat from california, sits on both the house intelligence and judiciary committees. congressman, let me ask you about this reporting from "the new york times" tonight about the president and when he knew about the nature of this stormy daniels payment. let me ask you this way. do you see the significance of that as a political story in terms of what the president said publicly and what that says about the president's word, or do you see the significance there more as a legal thing? >> good evening, steve.
first let me just say my heart is with the people of hawaii this evening who are undergoing an earthquake and a volcano. i hope we show them the same aloha spirit of care and love that they would show all of us. as to your question, you know, i don't think most americans care what the president did in his private life, but it does show he's willing to operate in such a shadowy way and that it does look like this payment occurred during the election. and this may shed light on other activities he was doing as it related to russia. that's really what i care most about. a foreign adversary attacked our democracy. there are a lot of questions about what the president, his family, his campaign, and people in his businesses were doing with the russians. so if he's willing to lie to the american people about what he did with this payoff, i think we can assume that he may be lying to us about what happened with the russians prior and after the election. >> let me get your reaction too to the other news we were talking about last segment and that is the judge -- one of the judges in the manafort case in virginia today, in federal court, hearing manafort and his request to have those charges
tossed. he cast a lot of skepticism toward the mueller investigation, basically saying that he thought mueller's team was using manafort, wasn't really interested in manafort and crimes there, but was using manafort as a way to try to get the president on impeachment or something else. now, he didn't issue a ruling. still plenty of suspense about where this is going. i'm curious about your reaction. certainly today the president is claiming this represents some form of vindication for him. >> yeah. you know, steve, i've been a prosecutor before. i've felt the heat from a judge. the government's got to prove its case. you know, that's the job of the judge and ultimately a jury to make sure that they can prove each part beyond a reasonable doubt. but this case, as i see it, is bigger than paul manafort. it's obtained more than -- i think almost half a dozen guilty pleas including the president's former national security adviser, michael flynn. so of course they have to prove the case. they're not above the law. and, you know, i expect that the judge, you know, will rule, you know, according to the law.
but i see that there's a lot of evidence relating to paul manafort and whether the president had knowledge or candidate trump had knowledge of paul manafort's dealings with the russians and whether that made him more qualified for the job because there's so many people who were on the team that had prior relationships with the russians that would have been disqualifying in most campaigns, but it looks like to this candidate that helped them get the job. >> the president today talked about a lot of subjects in dallas but the setting was the convention for the nra. he did talk about guns. you made news this week on the subject of guns. i want to read from an op-ed that you wrote in that appeared in "usa today." ban assault weapons, buy them back. go after resisters. this is your call, not just to have a buyback. it says reinstating the federal assault weapons ban that was in effect from '94 to '04 would prohibit manufacture and sales but it would not affect weapons already possessed. this would leave millions of assault weapons in our
communities for decades to come. instead we should ban possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons. we should buy back such weapons from all who choose to abide by the law, and we should criminally prosecute any who choose to defy it by keeping their weapons. the ban would not apply to law enforcement agencies or shooting clubs. that piece there, though, about criminally prosecuting those who would defy this ban, members of your party, leaders of your party for years have taken pains to tell gun owners that confiscation is not on the agenda. what would you say to those who say you're trying to put it on the agenda? >> yeah, i'd say that a child's right to learn without fear and to come home after school and to live is greater than any other right. i don't accept the premise that an assault weapon is covered by the second amendment, and i'm convinced that if we are truly going to make our community safer, we should get these weapons off the street. and i want to compensate folks for doing that or allow them to use their weapons at a hunting club or a shooting range.
but if we leave 15 million assault weapons on the street and we continue to do nothing, we should expect more mass shootings, and i just don't think we should accept that. i think we should go big on this issue and even invest in getting the guns off the streets. >> congressman eric swalwell, democrat from california, thanks for the time. >> my pleasure, steve. coming up, for a certain type of democrat, the best thing they might have going for them right now is actually donald trump. we're going to explain that at the big board when "the 11th hour" continues. we came here for the friends. and we got to know the friends of our friends. then our old friends from middle school, our mom, our ex and our boss joined forces to wish us happy birthday. then we discovered our uncle use to play in a band. and realized he was young once too. and we found others just like us.
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think about it. you win. you have this great win. now you take a breath. you relax. all of a sudden, two years is up. they're fighting like hell, and you're complacent. we cannot get complacent. we have to win the midterms. >> that was the president today in dallas talking about the midterms there. you heard it there. of course the white house party usually has a tough time in midterms. donald trump says republicans got to win. well, guess what, folks. that means it is time. the midterms, they really are upon us. the general election is in november, but the candidates who are on the ballot in november, they're starting to pick them now in primary day, a big koun one is coming up this tuesday. there's primaries in four different states, but we want to use the upcoming tuesday primaries to focus on a very particular type of democrat, the most endangered, the most
vulnerable, the most at-risk democrat on the ballot in 2018. i want to talk about why they're in danger and what tuesday means for them. so here's what i'm talking about. the united states senate, democrats actually think they have a potential path to get the majority there if there's a wave this year. the biggest obstacle they have, though, right here. you're looking at it. there are ten, count them ten democratic senators who come from trump states. states that went for trump in 2016. from nelson in florida all the way out to tester in montana. these democrats are up in states that trump won. who is style states politically. can they survive there? that's a big question for democrats. tuesday is going to take the action to two states that are particularly key -- indiana, west virginia. manchin, donnelly. two democrats trying to hold on in states that we say these are trump states. this is the mother of all trump states. in west virginia, joe manchin.
donald trump won this state by 42 points in 2016. joe manchin, a democrat, has got to get those same voters to re-elect him, a democrat, to the senate this november. that is the biggest pro-trump state in the country. manchin is trying to hang on there. republicans are going to pick a candidate to oppose him on tuesday. that's the one with don blankenship. the former coal mining executive who went to jail because of safety violations there. that's on tuesday. also indiana. republican primary there. who is go to challenge joe donnelly again? this was basically a 20-point trump state in 2016. those same voters. donnelly has got to convince a lot of them to re-elect him in 2018. so that is a tall order for donnelly and for manchin. but what is the one thing that democrats like this might have going for them in 2018? this is kind of weird, but the answer is donald trump because the pattern, history tells us this. senators like donnelly and manchin, who are in hostile states in midterms, voted for a president of the other party, there's something about the nature of midterm elections,
those voters are a lot more willing in this climate to re-elect them. check this out. go back a generation. go back to '94. senators in the same position, manchin and donnelly are in this year. this is the won/loss record. they're all in hostile states, all in states that a president of the other party just carried. won, won, won, won. add these all together. we get 21 victories. 21 of those senators since '94 survived. only three lost. a 21-3 record. so that's the silver lining for democrats. having donald trump as president. maybe those voters in west virginia a little more willing to vote for a democrat for the senate. maybe the same in indiana than say if hillary clinton were president. by the way, the exceptions here, the only ones who lost, those were years when the president was very popular. bush a year after 9/11 in '02, over 60%. clinton in '98, the impeachment backlash. trump, he's in the 40s right now. it's one of the ironies of politics. for the democratic party, it was a devastating day when donald trump got elected president.
for donnelly, for manchin, for all these other democrats who are up, that election of donald trump in 2016 might be the thing that saves them in 2018. keep that in mind as these play out. a reminder, going to be back here. i will be here for full primary coverage this tuesday night, all night long here on msnbc. going to try to make a fun event out of this. join me if you like elections, join me if you like numbers, if you like some excitement. kanye west to korea to nuclear war, donald trump covered a lot of ground during that speech in front of the nra. "the 11th hour" back after this. [phone ringing]
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under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as i'm your president. >> donald trump there again at the nra convention in dallas today where he covered a wide range of topics from the expected to the very unexpected. >> african-american unemployment has reached another all-time in history record low. kanye west must have some power because you probably saw i doubled my african-american poll numbers. remember they said there's no way -- electoral college. there's no way to 270 for me. there is no way to 270. and they were right. but 306 was okay. we're really doing well with north korea. you know what gets you nuclear war? weakness gets you nuclear war. john kerry. [ audience booing ]
not the best negotiator we've ever seen. he never walked away from the table except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg. we're going to take people into our country, but they're going to come in based on merit, not based on picking somebody out of a bin. >> and with us tonight, jonathan allen, nbc news national political reporter. his book "shattered: inside hillary clinton's doomed campaign" is available now in paperback. here with me in new york, mike pesca, author and host of the "slate" podcast "the gist." thanks to both of you for being with us. jonathan, in terms of the content and the message of this speech today, it is to a gun rights group, the nra. so many other topics covered. did anything surprise you about the message the president brought to dallas there today? >> i think we've become very accustomed to the president giving long and eclectic speeches. i actually thought there was a theme here, though. he's standing in front of the nra after the parkland shooting,
after all the discussion, after he raised some eyebrows with what sounded to gun rights owners like some happy talk about possible gun control legislation and the big white house, you know, sort of to-do with all the senators in his office. and, you know, with the theme i saw emerging here with the nra feeling, as he said, under siege is him sending a message of how hard he's going to fight for his loyalists and how much he relishes the battle against his enemies and their enemies. so whether you're talking about kanye west, this guy that now loves president trump. trump loves him back as we hear. you talk about senator tester, you know, who went after ronny jackson. trump now defending jackson by going after tester. you know, you see this theme sort of emerging in what he's saying. and of course more than anybody else, paul manafort, who he fired from his campaign but is now praising even as manafort faces the greatest political test -- greatest legal test of anybody in politics in recent memory.
>> mike, i wonder if this is a way here to understand sort of the nature of trump's support because it's interesting to me. the normal republican politician who goes to the nra convention hits every item on the nra check list about guns, about background checks, all of these issues, gets a very, i'm sure, polite reception from the crowd. yet trump goes in there and he's riffing on names in the news and throwing out insults at people, and probably forged a closer bond with that audience than ted cruz, for instance, would have. >> he did have some stats loaded in his teleprompter. john lott, the nra's favorite criminologist stat about mass shootings is probably wrong. he talked about knife crimes in london. this is where the nra is. this is who trump is. but the nra has changed a little bit too. dana lash, their spokesman, they're pretty much culture warriors that happen to own guns. they're talking about our assault on liberties and always talking about how the media is against us. these are themes trump is talking about too.
so there's been a convergence of the nra and trump. i got to say, i don't know how kanye west will play with the nra. i think killer mike is probably more than rapper du jour, but i do think he just instinctively knows where the red meat is. it's also the only thing he can say. he hits those familiar talking points. the election. it's been what, 560-how many days since the election, so he's always going to go to that, and they get it on a gut level. they don't need to hear anything about trigger locks or anything in depth about gun policy. they know he stands with them, and he's fine with that. >> mike is making an interesting point there. in the old days, the nra was sort of understood as there were democrats, and there still are, but there were a lot more democrats, i think, who sought that nra seal, and republicans, and really, yes, it was trump's speech, but this could have been any group that trump was speaking in front of today, a republican base group. >> that's absolutely right, steve.
it used to be that the membership of the nra was bipartisan and, you know, unified ideologically by guns, but that's not really the case anymore. certainly some members of the nra are democrats, but at the leadership level, at the events you go to when you go to the conservative political action committee and, you know, the nra folks are there, this is a group that is entirely republican at this point and has merged, you know, as was being said a minute ago, has essentially merged as a piece of the culture war. >> by the way, speaking of democrats in the nra -- i guarantee jon tester has shot more guns in his life than trump has shot off his mouth. >> we mentioned joe manchin earlier. it was joe manchin in a campaign ad who shot a copy of the cap and trade bill. president obama. i think he might still go for that nra seal of approval. jonathan, mike, you're sticking with us. coming up, if you believe the president and his chief of staff, things are going great between them.
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. president's trump relationship with these chief of staff, john kelly appears to be op the rocks this week after report of financials of kelly calling trump an idiot. kelly was eyeing the exits. on our way to texas this morningism trump and kelly made a point of prizing one another. >> i want to just tell you something, general kelly is doing a fantastic job. there's been so false reporting will be our relationship. we have a great relationship. he's doing a great job as chief of staff. i could not be more happy. so i just want to tell you that. "the new york times" has falsely reported. they've said things that are absolutely false. so, i just want to tell you that. general you may have something to say. >> i'll just say it's an
absolute privilege to work for a president that has gotten the economy going. we're about to have a breakthrough, i believe on north korea. the jobs reporting today. everything is going well. attacking the opioid crises. it's nothing more than brilliant than what say been established in the past few months. >> mike, the big question here, is that a president rallying around his chief of staff or is that what they call the dread of confidence? >> we can play tapes like david shulkin. he'll never say your fired to him. i think kelly is like all of the generals who do it out of sense of duty. with kelly i believe his person politics are aligned more with the politics. looid like to ask you and john, i am a news computer on these issues. for months we got the reck wx wn or out stories. explain holme what the huge
benefit to the public is? maybe john can explain this to me. are these the top stories that i need to know that this guy might be out? >> let's ask john about that. this is the chief of staff we're talking about here. does that add significance to reporting like this? >> it does. i think you report these thing, tensions, palace dramas when they're there because sometimes they do effect personalities and policy. the public does have some interest in what's going on. if it didn't donald trump wouldn't continue to play the apprentice with his staff. >> what about the particular role of kelly here? donald trump and certainly other folks have been expendable to him. is there anything about what we know what role kelly plays in the white house that makes trin trump's mindless expendable?
>> there is a degree he doesn't seem expendable to trump. he clearly respects him, he calls him general kelly. i think he clearly respects the order or somewhat better order brought notice white house under kelly. the orr thing is anybody who would want that job right now probably shouldn't have it. i think trump understands that. there are a lot of people in the trump or bit who have been trying to push kelly out for a long time because they don't like the fact they don't have access to the president anymore they used to have. it's not that hard to find someone whose a trump insider who thinks kelly is about to be gone because that's they're witchful thinking. >> mike, do you have a new perspective now? >> i would report it but it does seem to me just as a news consumer of all the thing to pay attention to, i'd put this on my back burner and want to know
about the fact that a million dollars apartment was bought in trump's tower. >> thank you both for joining us. there's this for all of you sport's fans, mike's latest book coming out later this mono. "upon further review" the greatest what ifs in sport's history. one of the chapters was written by yours truly. coming up we'll look ahead to the exciting two minutes of sports. this weekend, a preview is up next when the "11th hour" comes right back. (vo) what if this didn't
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now...where were we? and the last thing before we go tonight. saturday brings us the kentucky derby. the 144th to be exact. known as the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. the a prk reports the trainers believe this year 20 horse field is one of the deepest we have seen. five favorites starting at seventh position there's justify for you racing fans. he's known to break what's known as the apollo curse. at the 14th post there is mendelssohn, based in ireland. fakes him the favorite. magnum moon. so far unbeaten this racing season. last winning the arkansas derby in april. he'll start from the number 16 post. at the number five post, a horse
name audible. going off 6-1. local boat a kentucky bred who will have to work the outside. me, i like lock long shots. i like a good underdog, it is the horse named bravazo. he's at post number 13, unlucky one. real shot sitting there at 67-1. i like his breeding and trainer. try not to remember i gave you that pick wen he finishes dead last. that's our broadcast for tonight thank for being with us. brian will be back on monday. good night from msnbc headquarters. hi everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. rudy giuliani's turn in the center ring of donald trump's three-ring legal surface hit a