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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  September 4, 2018 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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you up that anything said from that distance in that situation is easily audible in a situation like that and i've seen many people engage in conversations in those circumstances many, many times. so i'm sorry that it turned out the way it did for you today and i really appreciate you joining us here tonight, fred. really, thank you very much. fred guttenberg. >> thank you for having me, lawrence. thank you. >> fred guttenberg gets tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight, the explosive allegations from bob woodward's new book, describing the white house in the midst of a nervous breakdown, an unhinged president off the rails and lacking in basic knowledge about the world. mr. trump tonight is on the counterattack and so is the white house. on foreign policy, tales of a president ordering an assassination and questioning war strategy toward north korea. we'll run it all by the former cia director john brennan with us here tonight. and chaos during the opening
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moments of the kavanaugh supreme court confirmation hearings. tonight, democrats are digging into over missing documents. all of it as the 11th hour gets under way on a tuesday evening. well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 593 of the trump administration and what a back to work tuesday it was. day one of the supreme court confirmation hearings, more on that in a moment. while that was going on, the first report surfaced about what's in bob woodward's new book. the advanced details are rather devastating. the book is called "fear: trump in the white house." woodward writes that he conducted and recorded, notably, hundreds of houses of interviews for the book while also reviewing notes, personal diaries, government documents. "the washington post" reports that woodward describes, quote, a nervous breakdown of the
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executive branch under his president and woodward depicts trump's anger and paranoia about the russian inquiry as unrelenting, paralyzing the west wing for entire days. among the most revealing details are the interactions between president trump and his first lead attorney in the russia investigation who you'll remember is john dowd. according to "the post" woodward writes dowd was convinced he would commit perjury if he ever talked to mueller. tried to prep the president for a pop sit-down. dowd peppered trump with questions provoking stumbles, contradictions and lies until the president eventually lost his cool. this thing's a gd hoax that started a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying i don't want to testify -- i don't really want to testify. "the post" says woodward accounts -- trump's testimony
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was a bad idea because of how it would make the president look. in march, john dowd reportedly told mueller, quote, i'm not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. you published that transcript because everything leaks in washington and the guys overseas are going to say i told you he was an idiot, i told you he was a gd dumbbell. what are you dealing with this idiot for? john, i understand, mueller replied. later dowd reportedly told the president, quote, don't testify, it's either that or an orange jumpsuit. i'll be a real good witness, trump told dowd according to woodward. you are not a good witness, mr. president. i'm afraid i just can't help you. the next day dowd handed in his resignation. woodward details interactions of top aides in the white house including former economic adviser and goldman sachs adviser gary cohn. stole a letter off trump's desk that the president was intending
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to sign to formally withdraw the u.s. from a trade agreement with south korea. kone later told an associate that he removed the letter to protect national security. woodward illustrates chief of staff john kelly's feelings about the president, quote, kelly said of trump he's an idiot. it's pointless to try to convince him of anything. he's gone off the rails. we're in crazy town. i don't even know why any of us are here. this is the worst job i've ever had. today kelly issued a response calling woodward's account, quote, bs. woodward did request interviews with president trump, which were not granted. after the manuscript was published in august, the president called woodward to say he wanted to talk. today, "the washington post" released a recording of that call. >> i don't mind -- >> sorry we missed the opportunity to talk for the book. >> well, i just smoke with kellyanne and she asked me if i got a call. i never got a call. i never got a message. who did you -- who did you ask about speaking to me?
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>> well, about six people, you know -- >> well, they don't tell me. >> senator, i talked to kellyanne about it 2 1/2 months ago. i've got to go talk to people and see them outside of the white house and outside of their offices and i've gained a lot of insight and documentation. you know, it's a tough look at the world and your administration and you. >> right. well, i assume that means it's going to be a negative book, but, you know, i'm sort of 50% used to that. that's all right. >> the president was aware the recording was underway, by the way. tonight, the president wrote that the book's quotes were made up frauds, a con on the public. he wondered if woodward was a democratic operative. on the russia front there is new reporting from "the new york times" on the negotiations between mueller and trump's legal team. "times" puts it this way, quote, mueller will accept written
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answers from president trump on questions about whether his campaign conspired with russia's election interference. mr. mueller's office told mr. trump's lawyers in a letter two people briefed on it said on tuesday on whether the president tried to obstruct the inquiry itself, mr. mueller and his investigators understood that issues of executive privilege could complicate their pursuit of a presidential interview and did not ask for written responses on that matter. tonight, nbc news is reporting that a person familiar with the matter says discussions are, quote, moving in a positive direction. that's certainly the line some trump surrogates took on television tonight. let's bring in our leadoff panel on a busy tuesday night. phillip rucker, pulitzer prize winning -- jeremy bash, former staff at the cia and the pentagon. a national security analyst for us. barbara mccade, former u.s. attorney for the eastern district of michigan.
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good evening and welcome to you all. phillip, i try gamely to prevent you from ever passing judgement on one of the stories that comes before us but you have read now and reported on this book. you report on this white house every day. do the two portraits match up? >> they absolutely do, brian, and what we have in woodward's book is a lot of new detail and color and scenes and episodes that fit in with the broader narrative that i think has been very clear now of this president, you know, really showing a lack of knowledge and information about the world. a lack of curiosity in alarming his advisers. what woodward details is again and again and again his military leaders, general dunford, for example, secretary mattis, the defense secretary, and others just being alarmed by this president, by decisions that he wants to make. for example, he said in a phone call to general mattis, the defense secretary, that he wanted to assassinate bashar al assad, the leader of syria and his people. and mattis when he hung up the
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phone had to tell his senior aide, no, we're not going to do any of that. we're going to be much more measured than that. there is an effort by all senior officials in the administration to be guardrail for what they believed would be very dangerous and unwise actions that the president wanted to do. >> i intend to act john brennan a question about that in just a minute's time. jeremy bash, in your lifetime did you ever think you'd read about or hear about a letter being swiped off the desk of the president of the united states lest he read it or even worse sign it? >> no, brian. what we see here is our system of government is heaving under enormous strain because we have a president whose cabinet does not trust his fundamental judgement. they believe he's unfit to make core decisions about national security, about life and death, and they not only are alarmed as was just referenced, but they actually believe that his actions are a direct threat to national security and they have
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to take unprecedented steps to prevent that from happening. >> barbara mcquaid, these portions about lawyers conducting a practice session with the president and then relating the results of that to mueller, does that, given your experience -- i know you weren't in the room for either instance. does that ring true to you? >> i don't know. you know, it's -- the idea that they would do a practice interview does ring true to me. i think that that's a common scenario to help someone understand what it might be like to go through that, but to then try to use that as an excuse to not conduct the interview does not seem like a winning argument. the law says that a grand jury is entitled to every man's evidence, is the way the long was phrased long ago, and that includes a president. just because you're bad at telling the truth doesn't mean you get out of it. >> phil, i want to read you this. one minute after 11 eastern time tonight sips we'nce we've been air, the president has written
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this. the already discredited woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling jeff sessions, a term we've asked our children not to use and a dumb souther. i said neither. never used those terms on anyone, including jeff and being a southerner is a great thing. he made this up to divide. imagine, phil, of the details of this book coming out amidst the supreme court hearing. >> well, it's a huge story, these book details, and i think it's going to continue to be a story for days if not weeks to come. the president should be careful what he's wishing for in taunting woodward because woodward has done meticulous reporting. as jim comey once said, lordy, there are tapes. there are a lot of tapes. woodward recorded hundreds of hours of his interviews. he's said in a statement tonight that he stands by his reporting. and, you know, i think the president in saying that he has never used that phrase before, he better be sure he's right. >> indeed.
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i saw that your colleague and fellow pulitzer winner david mayor us in who has known woodward for 41 years said minutes ago he would stake his life on the accuracy of woodward's work. jeremy bash, i often ask you how you think the white house is functioning inside during our conversations in all the days that pass here. we now learn in the woodward book that sometimes this, these machinations, would take up days at a time. >> yeah, this is an effort by aides, by colleagues to hatch a plan to thwart the president's direct orders. you saw in the context of an illegal order given to secretary of defense mattis about assassinating a foreign leader, which violates the 1974 executive order signed by president ford. we don't do that in our country. it's against our lou lah and our policy. it ranges from the illegal all the way to the dangerous of pulling troops off the korean peninsula. these require a lot of effort by staff, by cabinet officials, by
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national security professionals to prevent the president from doing grave harm to america's interests. >> so, jeremy, you have to limit the opportunities where he is able to do such a thing? >> i think you have to box him in, take documents off his desk, not tell him things, basically ignore his orders. we've seen that down the line. one of the things that chris wray, the fbi director, said over the summer at a conference that i attended, essentially we're ignoring the president when he says we should stop investigating the russia matter. >> barbara, some surrogates for the president appearing on cable news channels tonight were expressing relief over the direction the mueller talks are apparently headed. do you believe any of it regarding leaks out of the white house on the mueller talks? >> it certainly wouldn't be his first choice. written answers are certainly not preferable because you can't follow up with follow-up questions. you can't look at someone's tone or inflection or body lainguage
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to determine whether they're telling the truth. it dud be robert mueller has reached a point where he's decided that donald trump is not going to sit for an interview and robert mueller is not willing perhaps to litigate this matter and risk an adverse decision in the courts, though i think he would win that battle. maybe he perceives trump sit for an interview as his opportunity to tell his side of the story. if he wants to do that through written questions, maybe robert mueller takes those answers and moves on and believes he has all the evidence he needs already to do whatever he plans to do. >> barbara, let's speak english, written answers are not donald trump at a typewriter or at a legal pad, they're written by committees of well-comp saided attorneys. >> absolutely. i'm sure the person who would take a first draft wouldn't even be the president, it would be a lawyer. he would look to verify their accuracy and they would be fined tuned. that's why i think robert
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mueller would be less inclined to take those kinds of answers than sit face-to-face, look him in the eye and ask him questions and take verbal answers. >> phil rucker, to underscore what you have already underscored, a person close to woodward called me tonight to remind me of the express purpose that the fine print says that bob woodward has recordings of so many of the conversations that he engaged in for this book. as you put it, the president's kind of engaging in a high wire act. >> he sure is, brian. it's not just recordings. woodward's book details his method. he did interviews with firsthand witnesses and other participants in these meetings on deep background, which is a journalistism term for conducting the interview but not identifying the source by name in the book. so the book is written almost like a screenplay but it's all based on these rigorous interviews and also based on diary entries, memos he's obtained, in some cases
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government documents. that letter that gary cohn reportedly took off the president's desk, woodward prints a pdf copy of the letter in his book. he actually has that letter that was swiped from the president's desk. so there is a real reporting foundation here behind the narrative in the book. >> i was just going to say, much oblige to you and the big three for starting us off on a tuesday night. phil rucker, jeremy bash, barbara mcquaid. coming up, more revelations from woodward's new book including how defense secretary mattis reportedly described the president. former cia director john brennan in the wings to join us later next. later, fireworks from the very first moments of the kavanaugh hearings as democrats attempt to delay what may be the inevitable. the 11th hour just getting started on a back to work tuesday night. tuesday night. al? flonase sensimist relieves all your worst symptoms, including nasal congestion, which most pills don't. and all from a gentle mist
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this new book by bob woodward offers a depiction of how president trump's national security team was shaken by their boss on the foreign policy front. "washington post" details this moment from the book after syrian leader bashar al assad launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians last year, quote, in april 2017, trump called mattis, said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. let's expletive kill him. let's go in. let's kill the expletive lot of them, trump said, according to woodward. mattis told the president that he would get right on it, but after hanging up the phone he told a senior aide, we're not going to do any of that, we're going to be much more measured.
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woodward writes about a national security meeting january 19th in which trump, quote, disregarded the significance of the massive u.s. military presence on the korean peninsula. trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all. quote, we're doing this in order to prevent world war iii, defense secretary jim mattis told him. after trump left the meeting, woodward recounts mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates the president acted like and had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader. tonight, secretary mattis has released a statement on woodward's new book that reads in part, and we wrote, the contemptuous words about the president attributed to me in woodward's book were never uttered by me or in my presence. he goes on to say, while i general and enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely washington brand of literature and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility. well, here with us tonight, former director of the cia, john brennan. we're happy to say he's also an
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msnbc senior national security and intelligence analyst. thank you for coming in. your reaction to just the story about bashar al assad and is general mattis one of the people you regard as a human guardrail around this administration? >> absolutely. i think it just underscores how fortune we all are that somebody of jim mattis' experience, common sense, as well as his interest in making sure that this president, donald trump, does not do something that truly is dangerous for our national security. i think it also reveals just how inexperienced donald trump is and how impulsive he is. to say that he wants to kill somebody like that. as well as his utter disregard for the implications of doing something rash on the korean peninsula. again, it shows his impulsiveness, it shows his recklessness, and that's why i think people like jim mattis and john kelly and others are there
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to prevent donald trump from doing something that is truly going to hurt this country. >> here is gary cohn. well-known rich guy in new york, goldman sachs. he didn't come up through the intelligence channels. he wasn't trained as a national security adviser. the story goes he swiped a letter off the president's desk so he wouldn't read it or worse sign it and get us into trouble with south korea. >> yes. it makes you wonder how that letter got on to his desk if it didn't go through the appropriate vetting process. >> did the president miss the letter when it was gone? >> i don't know. what else might have been taken off his desk in an inappropriate way by gary cohn or others. again, think the shows that this is a white house that is very dysfunctional and individuals like gary cohn and others are trying to prevent mr. trump from doing things that could hurt all of us. >> after the north korean summit, we heard the president kind of question the need for the military exercises that are a huge built-in part of our forces serving overseas.
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i want to read you this other portion. this is via "the washington post" from the woodward book. one month into his presidency, trump asked general dunford for a plan for a pre-emptive military strike on north korea, which rattled the combat veteran. in the fall of 2017 as trump intensified a war of words with kim jong-un, dictating north korea's dictator little rocket man in a speech at the united nations, aides worried that the president might be provoking kim. but woodward writes, trump told porter, his staff secretary, that he saw the situation as a contest of wills. quote, this is all about leader versus leader, man versus man, me versus kim. what's missing from any of that in your experienced view? >> it's donald trump acting like a president, that's what's missing. i think donald trump has grown up in the private family real estate business of new york and he deals with issues the way he has dealt with them throughout
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the course of his business career, which is to try to intimidate, to try to bully and try to get his way. on the international stage, you do that at the nation's peril. people like joe dunford, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, you're not going to find a better military professional than joe and jim mattis and others. so these are individuals who understand the complexities of these issues and i think -- i'm sure that they shudder when they hear donald trump utter these impulsive comments and reactions and trying to bark orders. so i think what is coming out now in the woodward book is the danger that we face by having somebody in the oval office who not only is inexperienced and who is in over his head, but is prone to taking these impulsive and reckless actions were it not for individuals taking documents off his desk and listening to him on the phone but then disregarding his orders. how long can this go on? this should not be happening in the united states of america. it is.
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>> now that you have a little distance on the cia, your friends and colleagues of many years, who are perhaps tonight working in dangerous, hostile places, what's your view on how they are able to remain focused and keep true north at true north? >> well, i think a do a lot of the traditional blocking and tackling that has to go on from one administration to the next. i think they tend to be concerned about the utterances coming out of washington and not just from donald trump but others in this partisan environment that really makes them question the validity, the basis as well as the foresight of our national security policy. but they are the professionals who are going to do what they need to do in far away places and putting themselves and their families at great sacrifice and risk. but this is something that i know is concerning them. we are in turbulent times,
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without a doubt, and so individuals, whether they be in the law enforcement, intelligence or military communities, i think they would like all of this to be behind us so that we can move ahead and fulfill our global responsibilities. but unfortunately at least by all accounts that's coming out of not just the woodward book but other things, that the white house is in a fair amount of disarray. that donald trump is not going through what should be a very rigorous process to deal with these very complex and complicated issues. and not just act out of oichkt, which is what he has always done in his real estate background. >> i have more questions for former director brennan. he has agreed to stay with us. we'll take a quick break and continue on the other side. for your heart... or joints. but do you take something for your brain. with an ingredient originally discovered in jellyfish, prevagen has been shown in clinical trials to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life.
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the most personal technology, is technology with the power to change your life. life. to the fullest. we're back with director brennan with more details from this new woodward book and the president's reported thinking about our nation's longest war in afghanistan. the "washington post" highlights another portion of the book. this is a july 2017 nsc meeting where the president reportedly voiced his impatients with the status of theifies, quote, trump dressed down his generals and other advisers for 25 minutes, complaining that the united states was losing according to whoord. the soldiers on the ground could run things much better than you, trump told them. they could do a much better job. i don't know what the hell we're doing. he went on to ask, how many more
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deaths, how many more lost limbs, how much longer are we going to continue to be there? we continue to be joined by former cia director john brennan. that struck me as the most presidential thing. that is plausibly and conceivably what other presidents would say to other commanders complaining about the pace of the fight. except i'm guessing you have a difference with the way trump carried it out? >> yes. i've heard basically those questions with a different tone and thrust uttered by other presidents. these are the types of questions that presidents and national security members need to ask, how long are we going to commit troops, how long are we going to lose lives. what are the national security stakes that we have to protect. how can we, in fact, extricate ourselves from these long and drawn out wars. these are complicated issues. we don't want a withdrawal that will allow our adversaries to use afghanistan once again to launch another 9/11, but can we commit treasure and blood for
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years upon years and hope that, you know, one day in the future we're going to be able to get out. these are serious questions. again, these are issues that are very complex and complicated and you need to have the experienced people be able to tell donald trump exactly what we can do, what's in the realm of the possible and not to be impulsive, and not to berate his generals who are sitting around the table. >> i have an elective question that is about something you said today on twitter. we have established you and i are both north jersey kids, both long suffering new york giants fans, and you wrote this about colin kaepernick. colin kaepernick drew our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in america. he did so not to disrespect our flag but to give meaning to the words of the preamble of our constitution, in order to form a more perfect union. well done, colin. well done. i was curious about that. he, of course, has rocketed back
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into the news with the nike story. he remains at the center of the news. the president has now wound himself up in our calm day of the weekend, and that's sundays. expand on what you said about this young man. >> well, i issued a statement last september where i did take issue with a lot of the derogatory, negative statements about what colin kaepernick was doing. we do have issue in this country about racial injustice and we need to come to grips with them. i worked in the government for 33 years. in order to allow citizens to express themselves and to protest, and kneeling during the national anthem, i think, was a form of protest to bring attention to an issue that we should, in fact, be focussing on. but to have individuals like donald trump and others just be so dismissive of it, i take issue with that. so colin kaepernick stuck with his principles. he did it, i think in a respectful way. it wasn't to disrespect the flag or those soldiers and intelligence officers and others
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who have given their lives, no, it was to say we can do better in this country. we must do better. that's why the words, in order to form a more perfect union, came to mind. we should all be striving to do better and the continued problems of racial inequality and injustice in this country is something that is corroding, you know, some of the foundations of what this great country is all about. we need to be able to work together and i think colin kaepernick drew attention to it. i think what we need to do now is act upon it. i know a lot of people are, so, therefore, i felt when i saw a lot of people condemning and criticizing him and nike, i felt i would lend my voice and just say that it was a way to draw attention to a national issue that deserves the attention that he has given to it. >> "sports illustrated" again this week calls quarterback the most dangerous job in sports. in your humble opinion, should he be playing in the nfl? >> i think that there are some real questions about why he was not picked up by one of the
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teams. like you, i'm a football fan. i'm not a football expert. i will leave it to others to decide whether or not, in fact, there was some type of effort to deny him the opportunity to play. he should not have been denied the opportunity. maybe he wasn't able to play if he had competed for a, you know, position on one of those teams, but it seems as though he was denied that opportunity, and that's what racial injustice in this country is all about, being denied the opportunity that all americans deserve and should have. >> we promised our viewers foreign policy, we got sports as well. good to see you. thanks for coming by the studio. coming up, protests erupt, diplomats demand a delay and that's just the first two minutes of today's confirmation hearings. what to expect tomorrow when we come back. what to expect tomorr come back. my life is here... [telephone ring] ahoy-hoy. alexander graham bell here... no, no, my number is one, you must want two! two, i say!!
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as justice kennedy explained in texas versus johnson, one of his greatest opinions, judges do not make decisions to reach a preferred result, judges make decisions because the law and the constitution as we see them compel the results. >> brett kavanaugh didn't speak his first words today until about seven hours into the hearing, which featured endless and partisan opening statements from both sides, a bus load of arrests after protesters disrupted the proceedings at regular intervals, just as you see there, and a planned but surprise objection by the dems right at the top of the hearing, which sent it immediately and briefly off the rails. >> i welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of judge -- >> mr. chairman? >> brett kavanaugh. >> mr. chairman? >> to serve as associate justice.
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>> mr. chairman, i'd like to be recognize for a question before we proceed. mr. chairman, i'd like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. the committee received just last night, less than 15 hours ago. >> mr. chairman, regular order. >> 15,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or analyze. >> you're out of order, i'll proceed. >> mr. chairman, i move to adjourn. >> directly from judge kavanaugh -- >> mr. chairman, i move to adjourn. >> what is the rush? what are we trying to hide by not having the documents out front? what is the rush? what are we hiding by not letting those documents come out? >> so around spore attic excitement, that's about how it went. the documents in question related to the time kavanaugh spent working in the bush white house as staff secretary. the democratic strategy was laid out over the weekend on a conference call organized by majority leader chuck schumer.
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the president weighed in late in the day, quote, the brett kavanaugh hearings for the future justice of the supreme court are truly a display of how mean, angry and despicable the other side is. they will say anything and are only looking to inflex pain and embarrassment to one of the most highly renowned jurists to appear before congress. so sad to see. there is something else, a bad visual from today. this is fred guttenberg, whose daughter james was killed at parkland high school. he tried to shake hands with kavanaugh. kavanaugh turned and went away. a lot has been said and written about this already and will again tomorrow. later, white house description of how this went down didn't completely add up, by the way. other us for more, tom goldstein, veteran d.c. attorney who has personally argued 41 cases before the supreme court. he is the publisher of scotus blog about the court and taught at both stanford and harvard law schools to keep it fair.
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and norm eisen, author of the book "the last palace." an obama administration ethics lawyer and former ambassador to the czech republic. more on that in a moment. these days he is a senior fellow at the brookings institution. gentlemen, welcome to you both. tom, i have to ask, i get to watch these and report on these for a living. you're in the business, in the game. was today truly as without precedent as it seemed to be? >> it was. i've been attending these hearings for about a quarter century and it was explosive. it's generally the case there is a lot of decorum in the senate and these hearings even if there are ideological divisions, which have grown, it's still a rather quiet place, a bunch of lawyers arguing about the law. between the protesters, the 60 of them who stood up and ended up getting arrested and the democrats' insistence on continually erupting and making this procedural argument was something we've never seen. chuck grassley, who is a very,
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very kind chairman of the committee who really tries to let everybody have their say, was rattled at times. >> norm, this book, here's how i'm going to weave it into today's news, this book talks about you and your family and the czech republic of your family's roots, even the holocaust, but it gets back to the shining example of american democracy central to this tale. is that democracy, do you think, under any threat given what we see today, given this era that we're covering here every night? >> brian, i do think that we're seeing a threat. the same types of threats that the five people i write about in that book have seen over the past century, living in the house where i lived as united states ambassador in prague. like a giant ocean liner sailing over these choppy waters of democracy and we're seeing that here now. in some ways, the kavanaugh nomination and the hearing process are an example, they're
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a pivot point. it is a warning moment for our democracy because to make a sham of the advise and consent role of the senate -- i was working in the white house when we turned over elena kagan's documents. we turned over every page. late on friday night there is an extraordinary assertion of sweeping privileges, unfounded, 100,000 documents withheld. then as we heard senator harris say, just a few hours before the hearing began, tens of thousands of pages dumped on the committee. i think they may have gone too far and the american people see through this. that's why judge kavanaugh's the most unpopular supreme court nominee that we've seen in decades. >> i saw some polling today from abc news at 38%. tom, you've never made a partisan remark, at least in my presence, so be our umpire for folks watching today and
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tomorrow. is it partisan when the democrats say we're missing a chunk of this guy's life and jurisprudence. where are his writings from his time in the white house and why dump 42,000 pages on us the night before this thing? >> well, both sides have a point. on the republican side, you have the fact that he does have an enormous record, thousands of pages of judicial opinions. they have released a large amount of material from other times in his government service so there is a lot to look at and learn about judge kavanaugh and i think people do know a lot about him. the democrats do have a point as well, that is it is really unprecedented to withhold such a large portion of the material, to try to move it forward so quickly and also not have it evaluated by the national archives but a private lawyer working on behalf of the former bush administration. it just depends what you think the rule ought to be. if the rule should be we want a comprehensive look at the nominee, you're not getting one. on the other hand if what you're asking for is a really good
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understanding of what he has done in the judiciary and believes as a judge, you probably do have that. >> norm, when pete sousa, the celebrated obama white house photographer, releases a picture as he did today showing you as a much younger man with the president who was a much younger man, but reminding people on social media that you used to have regular ethics gatherings for white house staff. does it make you slightly whiftful or seriously worried that a new era is afoot. >> well, of course, those were glory days for all of us, brian. what a privilege for me to go to work in the white house every day and have the run of the place and have a president whose first instruction was, we want to do the right thing. you come to the oval office, you come in any time there is a problem when you need to see me, the door is open. and that goes to a point that i want to add to what tom said
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because this is not just a question of, well, there is republican documents, they have a large record and the diplomats want this. there is another factor here and it is an ethics factor. that is you have a president who never before in our almost 230-year history a president who is a named subject in a criminal investigation pick his own judge. a judge as far as we know has some of the most extreme views on presidential immunity of anyone sitting on the federal bench. part of the reason we need these documents is to assess that ethical judgement and it's so profound that today one of tom's brethren, perhaps america's most distinguished constitutional lawyer, larry tribe, and a former republican appeals court judge, tim lewis and i authorized a report saying this has reached a breaking point. just like those breaking points
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i write about in the book, this has reached a break point for our democracy. if there is one lesson of the century, when you accumulate enough of these breaking points, no one can do it, but when you accumulate enough, you can head into a democratic recession, deterioration and decline. this is a very dangerous moment for our country. >> by the way, that book norm eisen mentioned, this would be the book right here. he is the author of this. tom goldstein writes, the equivalent of a book per week on scotus blog that we highly recommend to everyone no our audience as we thank both gentlemen for coming on tonight. coming up, more warnings about what the president is saying and carrying out right there and plain sight. that and more when our modest broadcast continues. how can we say when you book direct at
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we were going to give a whole lig buildup and review of the day, but suffice it to say, we've invited two of our favorites after a long day to
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talk about all the many stories competing for our time and attention. with us tonight, eugene robinson, pulitzer prize winning columnist for the "washington post," david jolly, former member of congress on the republican side of the aisle from the great state of florida which we're thinking about tonight because they're getting the bad end of a storm but more on that later in our broadcast. so eugene, but i wanted to talk about the president's tweets. i guess it was oh, yesterday that have been almost normalize into the conversation with the pace of news about jeff sessions' role. he incorrectly talked about obama era investigations into two prominent republican members of congress. and was indicating that jeff sessions allowed this to happen. >> right, and so in a normal time, in a normal presidency, any other presidency, any other time, this would be a huge
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multidalt story. this would be outrageous that the president of the united states very clearly indicated that his view of the justice department is as a political weapon. to attack the other party and to protect his. that -- for a president to say that publicly would be an outrageous breach of norms and there would be hue and cry and that's, you know, we can -- today, you can hardly even remember that. it happened yesterday. but we're in this sort of you know, cuisinart of news that whirls and whirls. but we shouldn't forget that. that's an important thing because it's -- it's simply outrageous and unaccept credible. >> and to you, former member of congress jolly, michael capuano,
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ten-year incumbent representing the district that was jfk's and tip o'neill's tonight. upset doesn't. >> ayanna presley. >> the change is very real. here's what's important about what happened in massachusetts. fundamentally, in the united states government, the house of representatives is the only elected office in the federal government where your community has to elect you. you can be president of the united states or vice president gerald ford without being elected a united states senator can be appointed. we saw it today with jon kyl. kavanaugh can be appointed to the supreme court, cabinet officials. but communities get to the elect their representatives in the people's house. tonight they chose miss pressley over an capuano. change is real. >> eugene robinson, how much of
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what you just said in answer to the first question falls under the in plain sight theory that people kind of lose sight of and dismiss? >> all of it basically because we do lose sight of it. you know, with good reason we want to know what has happened behind the scenes. bob woodward gives us a glimpse what things are like. we can't see and hear the president, but just take his twitter feed. i could make a very good case i think and i'm not even a lawyer that you could use his twitter feed as the outline and a lot of the meat of the case of obstruction of justice. in a court. and maybe you could -- i don't know if you could win it, but you could make a good case. these transgressions happen so frequently and so often that i fear we will get outrage fatigue
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and don't pay attention to what we ought to be looking at. >> david jolly, up or down vote on kavanaugh based on what you know now, what would you do? >> he will pass because he has the numbers. i would vote no based on procedure. what is reflected is there's a fundamental lack of confidence in this president and his administration and republicans control the congress. >> to both of our friends, i pledge more time on a day less packed with news. but we love you both. eugene robinson, david jolly, thank you so much gentlemen. coming up, warnings posted in the gulf. a late live update when we come back. a late live update when we come back i can do more to lower my a1c. because my body can still make its own insulin. i take trulicity once a week to activate my body to release its own insulin, like it's supposed to. trulicity is not insulin. it works 24/7. it comes in an easy-to-use pen. and i may even lose a little weight.
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tonight, after ruining labor day weekend for millions in florida, please spare a thought tonight for those in the panhandle, southern alabama, southern mississippi, southeast louisiana as a big storm named gordon has
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just made landfall. hurricane and tropical storm warnings posted along the coast. big winds, big waves, heavy rain. and a storm surge all a reality now at least it's moving quickly. and it's by no means a large storm. it's a fraction of something like katrina, for example, but some folks down south tonight are getting all the storm they can handle. a program note, i'll be back with you in mere hours for tomorrow's start of the questioning of judge kavanaugh. live coverage begins at 8:00 a.m. eastern time. with thanks to my friends who stepped in and allowed me to step away for a bit, that is our broadcast for this post labor day tuesday night. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. us good nig fhtrom nbc news headquarters here in new york. i hope you had the day off. i hope you are tanned, rested and ready, because back at school. today's day one. here we go. former secretary of state,


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