tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC August 2, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
those experts because it's a very complex war. and it's not going to be won just by the military alone. >> former marine lieutenant colonel, amy mcgrath now a capped for congress gets tonight's last word. lieutenant colonel amy mcgrath gets tonight's last word. thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight, trump's new chief of staff sends a message to jeff sessions about his job security after the a.g. endured days of public humiliation from the president, and it's all about russia. speaking of which, as congress wins a big one, the president had no choice but to sign those new sanctions against putin's russia. even though it was not twel viezed, it was not shown off, and it was signed unprotest. and the growing number of american who's are embarrassed that donald trump is our
president. the devastating poll numbers just out as "the 11th hour" gets under way. it's already wednesday night. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 195 of the trump administration, and while it's early yet in 11th hour terms, our two lead stories thus far tonight have to do with the new white house chief of staff, general john kelly, u.s. marine corps retired, and the normalizing impact he is already having in a west wing that has functioned of late more like the wild west. first tonight, a report from the associated press that says kelly has reached out to a cabinet member who was recently publicly humiliated by the president to tell him that he's safe. jonathan la mere broke the story. jonathan standing by to talk to us. it goes like this, quote, kelly in one of his first acts in his new post called attorney general jeff sessions to reassure him that his position was safe despite the recent onslaught of
criticism he has taken from president donald trump. the second report tonight is from politico. it's about kelly cracking down on the flow of information to the president. quoting here, kelly has told aides that anyone briefing the president needs to show him the information first. the trump west wing tradition of aides dropping off articles on the president's desk and then waiting for him to react with a screaming phone call or a hastily scheduled staff meeting must stop. the non-kelly news at the white house was made in the briefing room today. a new immigration plan widely considered to have no future in congress, that would cut by one-half the number of people we allow in legally and would create a merit-based system of entry awarding points for things like age and job skill and ability to speak english. and in announcing this plan, a white house staffer became a bigger story than the plan itself. we're about to show you the senior adviser to the president, stephen miller. this exchange begins after "the
new york times'" glenn thrush asked miller for stats to back up this new approach. >> i think it's very clear that -- >> how many -- >> if i could just answer -- if i could just answer your question, i named the studies, glenn. glenn, glen,nen, i named the st. >> i asked for a statistic. >> carve out in the bill that says the "new york times" can hire all the -- did see how you feel about low-wage substitution. i want to be serious. do you really at cnn not know the difference between green card policy and illegal immigration? you really don't know that? >> he came to this country in 1962 right before the cuban missile crisis and obtained a green card. but this whole notion of, well, they have to learn english before they get to the united states, are we just going to bring in people from great britain and australia? >> jim, actually, i have to honestly say i am shocked at
your statement that you think that only people from great britain and australia would know english. it's actually -- it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind -- no, this is an amazing moment. this is an amazing moment that you think only people from great britain or australia would speak english is so insulting to millions of hard working immigrants who do speak english from all over the world. >> that's about the way it went. if mr. miller looks familiar, this is his second overheated on-camera performance. his first was back in february, asserting his boss' unquestioned powers. >> do you feel like you and your staff there, that you're in control of events at the white house? >> i think to say that we're in control would be a substantial understatement. we have a president who has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration. i'm prepared to go on any show, anywhere, any time, repeat and say the president of the united states is correct, 100%.
the end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned. >> more on mr. miller later. and about mr. miller's boss, let's switch to numbers. donald trump's approval rating hit a new low according to new polling by quinnipiac. it found 33% of americans now approve of the job he's doing. 61% disapprove. on the upside first, 55% of americans think trump is intelligent. 57% think he's a strong person. but then there's this as they say. 54% of respondents are embarrassed he's the president. 59% say he does not care about average americans. 62% say he's not honest. 63% say he doesn't share their values. another 63% say he does not have good leadership skills.
and 71% say he is not levelheaded. there's more. seven in ten americans say the president should stop tweeting. most americans believe the president has tried to either derail or obstruct the russia investigation. most americans but not most republicans believe russia hacked our election. all of this is happening, let's not forget, against the very real world backdrop of north korea. testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and at the same time testing the patience of the u.s. and its neighbors. the situation could turn cataclysmic at any time. next we want you to hear the president's national security adviser, general h.r. mcmaster. in an interview he conducted with our own hugh hewitt. mcmaster is talking about the possibility of a u.s. military confrontation with north korea. we're going to play this as it aired on this network in the 4:00 hour this afternoon, including the reaction to it in
realti realtime, in the moment, by our 4:00 p.m. host, nicolle wallace, who let's not forget was communications director in the bush 43 white house. >> look at the need for that regime in they have nuclear weapons. it's intolerable from the president's perspective. so of course we have to provide all options to do that, and that includes a military option. now, would we like to resolve it short of what would be a very costly war in terms of the suffering of mainly the south korean people, the ability of that north korean regime to hold the south hostage, to conventional fires, capabilities, seoul being so close. we're cognizant of all that. so what we have to do is everything we can to pressure this regime, to pressure kim jong-un and those around him such that they conclude it is in their interest to denuclearize. >> eli stokols, i'm going to say
something that may be too provocative for sort of the times we're in. but the last time i heard a white house national security adviser talk about a gathering threat like that in public was when we were talking about the threat posed by iraq when we thought they possessed weapons of massive destruction. that's shocking language from a sitting national security adviser. >> that was nicolle wallace in this very studio in the 4:00 p.m. hour today. with that, let's bring in tonight's starring panel, white house reporter for the associated press, jonathan lemire who broke that story tonight about the attorney general. the aforementioned white house reporter for the wall tree journal eli stokols. and white house correspondent for bloomberg, shannon pettypiece returns to our broadcast. okay, mr. lemrkts ire, we endeavor around here to give high marks when and where they're deserved. last night's guests thought the secretary of state's statecraft
on north korea was pitch perfect. today people are looking at this as a normalizing factor. this is what white house chief of staff is supposed to do, make everything smooth out. in this case, reassuring a cabinet member that despite a public humiliation from the boss, he's going to be okay. >> that's right. we should start by taking a step back and recognize how unprecedented this was for a president to criticize a sitting member of his cabinet. >> there is that. >> repeatedly, on a daily basis. he called him beleaguered. he called him weak. he suggested if he could do it all over again, he wouldn't offer him the job because he recused himself from the russia investigation. that's all publicly. privately he told aides he used about firing him. but over the weekend we learned and we've reported tonight that the new chief of staff reached out to the attorney general, suggested that while the president is still miffed about some of this, still perhaps thinks that you are not as loyal as you should have been, your job is safe, that we are not looking for you to resign. the president is not looking to fire you.
also within the white house, there is a growing recognition that the attacks on the attorney general were politically risky. jeff sessions is still very popular among the conservative base that helped elect this president. we saw last week a number of senators rush to his defense. a number of influential members of the conservative media rushed to his defense. >> and he's been an activist cabinet member. >> that's exactly right. there are people who believe that he has been the cabinet member who was been most successful on delivering on campaign promises. this is kelly saying let's try to move beyond this and get back to work. >> to eli stokols, who we note has cosmopolitan tendencies, let's be fair. about mr. miller and about the new chief of staff, kelly, how is kelly likely to view that appearance in the briefing room today as opposed to how the boss is likely to view that appearance? >> i think that's the question.
i mean i think what he was doing out there was sort of mollifying that base. the bright bart reader who looks at this and sees the attacks on sessions and says, wait a second. what are you doing? we like that guy. it's probably a win for their base. the president probably likes the combativeness when he sits back there and sees, you know, stephen miller going at members of the press, the mainstream media. he probably likes that. but you can see from what the new chief of staff is trying to do, john kelly is reaching out to democratic leaders. he's trying to sort of pacify situations, cool tensions, and he's trying to figure out how to stabilize this administration. and he recognizes that you've got to do more if you're going to be successful than just please your own base, than just rile up your base and harden divisions. and i don't think stephen miller did that. i think he continued to sort of, you know, inflame passions, excite the president, excite the base, and they got to get beyond just doing that if they're going
to be successful in the administration. i think, you know, trying to sort of ease tensions is smart, but i think anybody who is sitting there and saying, okay, everything is fixed. new sheriff's in town. i mean donald trump is who donald trump is, right? just because kelly says something to sessions doesn't mean that donald trump won't get agitated and lash out again. just because mike pence is going around europe reassuring allies that we stand with them and -- >> looking like a president. >> -- defend them against russia, i don't know how anybody can really take that completely seriously because everybody knows that you have a very volatile commander in chief in that oval office. and nobody knows what he's going to do. and mike pence can say whatever he wants in europe, and john kelly can say and act and do things that a normal chief of staff would do to sort of stabilize that west wing. but, again, this all comes down to donald trump and his ability to sort of rein in those impulses. >> so, shannon, then we have the matter of our lead stories there preceding you of these numbers, these poll numbers. you'll note, as you have noted,
that donald trump doesn't talk about the polls anymore. they were a staple of his rally speeches during the campaign. the question to you is do you think these numbers are baked into the cake to mix my metaphors that he is going to be underwater, but this is about damage control and moving forward and trying to cobble together some semblance of an agenda? >> and of course poll numbers don't really necessarily matter at this point because the election is, you know, 3 1/2 years away. so i mean you can make the case, you know, what do these polling numbers matter right now. but they do matter to someone whose election is not 3 1/2 years away, and that's members of congress, particularly the number of republicans in the senate who are up for re-election in 2018, and every member in the house who is up for re-election in 2018. so while the trump administration may be able to say, oh, we'll do a base play. who cares about polls at this point? they desperately need to get
congress on their side. and at this point, congress is almost in mutiny. the senate won't come to -- they want the senate to talk about health care. mcconnell is say, no, moving on. they unanimously supported this russia sanctions bill that the white house lobbied against. so they don't have a congress on their side, and they forget they're one of multiple branches of government here. they need a congress to get through this legislative agenda. so when i see these poll numbers, i know that every member of the house and those members of the senate who are up for re-election are seeing these too, and they have to make a very quick calculation. do i distance -- how far at this point -- not do i distance myself from the president, but how far do i distance myself from them when my re-election is coming around in really about a year from now. >> jonathan, all of this is so new. all the behavior we're seeing from the podium and looking at the podium, jim acosta over at
cnn. i'm not sure people could hear the point he was making. he is the son of a man who came here not speaking a word of english, just pre-castro cuba. he feels this issue innately. do you think the appearance of mr. miller before the usual daily briefing was intended to be a kind of shiny object distraction given the thakt that no one gives this immigration measure any future at all on the hill. >> it seems that way. this is yet another pivot to the base by this administration. there's enough opposition to this bill in the senate. this has very little chance of actually passing. they put stephen miller up there today. he calls it historic legislation, the most important thing any president has done on immigration in decades, even though he recognizes this is probably doa when it goes to the senate. he even lectures jim acosta as to when the famous poem on the statue of liberty was actually inscribed, he makes a point of saying that wasn't there initially. that was added later. i think this is about politics. this is about the president
trying to score points with his base and not just on immigration, which is an issue that he actually has yet to do much on, but also continuing his fight with the media. who are the two reporters that stephen miller picked fights with today, that he had verbal clashes with? "the new york times" and cnn. this is again who the president wants to hit. he'd much prefer to be having that conversation than some of the others about policy. >> we also looked at a world atlas and found no sign of great britain, but more on that later. eli, are you surprised at mcmaster? this interview he's given hugh hewitt is really watchable and very interesting. it will air this weekend. he has been rumored to be on the outs now and again. >> yeah, he's been frustrated and i think there's a lot of intentions internally over what to do with the afghanistan policy not to mention north korea looking at a menu of options, none of which look very palatable. it's very difficult. it's very serious. there's been some folks on the nsc who were there as flynn
disciples who mcmaster has just this week started to clean out. but you never really know if he's going to actually get firm control of the nsc or whether or not there are going to be people in there who sort of continue to keep the nsc gridlocked over what to do on these serious things. i think you can hear in that interview the gravity of the situation with north korea. we've yet to hear really the president, other people in the administration, speak with the same level of gravity about that threat. >> shannon, when you're donald trump and you need to feel the love, you go back to the base, which for him tomorrow means a second trip in rapid success to west virginia, which means for us, 24 hours from now we will likely be talking about what he had to say to a lathered up crowd in the base tomorrow night. >> the people around the president know if you want to get him back on his footing, get him to a rally. he loves doing these rallies. he is good in these rallies.
he's in his comfort zone. it gets him feeling more confident, and they wanted to do more of these. and i think they are going to continue doing more of these. now, to my point about 2018 as well, too, getting into next year, and i know that seems like a ways off. but getting into next year, 2018 too, i think we'll see him doing more of these rallies as well, out for those members in the districts that are popular, and other members saying, hey, no, don't come to my neighborhood to do a rally. he's not going to be doing a rally in the suburbs of philadelphia probably for any members up for reelection. the boy scouts one was interesting in youngstown. he was certainly fired up there. we'll be watching tomorrow night. >> we should be specific. while in west virginia, it will be a non-boy scout crowd. our great thanks to our first panel tonight. coming up after our first break, there's been a tipping point between trump and
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welcome back to "the 11th hour." we've become accustomed to this. when he signs a measure of some sort, of any kind, the president is fond of holding it up and showing it off, but not today. he was forced really to sign the new sanctions on russia because they were passed by an overwhelming veto-proof majority in congress. so while we didn't get to see him sign it, the white house did release two statements about today's bill signing. in one of them, the president criticized the bill arguing quote, it remains seriously flawed particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate. congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking. by limiting the executive's
flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the united states to strike good deals for the american people and will drive china, russia, and north korea much closer together. the statement went on to mention, i built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. that is a big part of the reason i was elected. as president, i can make far better deals with foreign countries than congress. lots to discuss there. with us to do that, mike mcfaul, former u.s. ambassador to russia during the obama administration, now an nbc news analyst, and msnbc jill wine-banks, one of the special prosecutors during watergate among other notable cases. ambassador, how far from normal is what we just reported? >> well, it just shows that the president is not in charge of his own foreign policy. you know, this was done to him because of the uncertainty about what he was trying to do with russia. and for him then to make those
statements just makes him look weaker in the eyes of the russians first and foremost. that's the piece i don't think he understands. in fact, brian, the prime minister of russia just tweeted. i want to read it to you so i good et it right. prime minister medvedev just tweeted, the trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to congress in the most humiliating way. that's the russian reaction. that suggests they no longer have any faith that trump can do anything with them. >> how is trump likely to react to that? and the second part of my question is explain to folks what these sanctions do as a practical matter. >> well, as a practical matter, they mostly codify the sanctions that are already there. there's a few places in term of the energy sector where it makes it harder for american companies to work with russian companies
in exploration, but it's mostly codifying, making it difficult for the president to withdraw these sanctions in a negotiation. and it is true that when sanctions are done by law, they become very sticky. they last for a long, long time. in terms of the president, i hope he will understand that just saying nice things about president putin, saying that he wants to get along is not a strategy. it's not a policy. and now they've given up on him, i think. i think he needs to now think hard about what is the right approach, and i think it has to be a stronger approach, a tougher approach, not one of appeasement. >> jill, what must it be like to be mueller right now in realtime? he's got this elaborate investigation into alleged russia ties, to see that this behavior is happening, this odd behavior on russia unlike any other american president of the modern era. this congress relationship that
mike just talked about with the president, what must that look like to the special counsel? >> i think it's not just what it looks like to the special counsel. it's what it looks like to all americans. this is not normal behavior, and i don't think that anything that mueller does can allow it to be normalized because it is a danger to american foreign policy. we need to have the president working with the congress and not have congress fearful of what he might do and then taking preemptive action. so it's a very dangerous position for america to be in. >> jill, i'm guessing you either know or know of many of your fellow prominent attorneys who have been hired and put on the mueller team. in many cases, they are lawyers like mueller. they kind of have gone in and out of public service and private sector. what did you make of our lead story last night that they have added this expert in foreign
bribery? >> i think it's a very excellent choice because i have been saying from the beginning, follow the money much like in watergate. that's where you can find out a lot of things that are wrong. and having someone who knows the foreign corrupt practices act and knows about foreign bribery, knows about conflicts of interest would be a very good addition. someone who knows how to dig into the finances. and i'm sure there are a lot of fbi agents aboard who know how to do the forensic accounting that needs to be done to find out exactly what might be motivating donald trump to have this favorable opinion of the russians. >> ambassador, quick last word. are you surprised that medvedev is trolling the president of the united states? >> that's a first. i got to tell you. and it is not his normal style. i know mr. medvedev pretty well. this is obviously a snignal tha the russians consider that trump
is not a reliable partner. and, again, he did this to himself by not articulating a policy, a coherent policy. congress stepped in. his hands now are tied. >> our great thanks tonight to ambassador mike mcfaul and to jill wine-banks, memorialized forever in one of our promos that won't stop airing. another break for us. coming up, two phone calls the president says he received did not exist. that's ahead when "the 11th hour" continues.
do you see any circumstances where it's appropriate to lie from the podium? >> absolutely not. i don't think it's appropriate to lie from the podium or any other place. >> white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders defending the white house from the podium today. her statement comes ease we try to sort out the misleading stamths and half truths coming from the trump administration, to be candid, and it came just moments after this exchange with a white house correspondent. >> why did the president say that he received a phone call from the leader of the boy scouts and the president of mexico when he did not. did he lie? >> no. on mexico he was referencing a conversation they had had at the g20 summit. in terms of the boy scouts, multiple members of the boy scout leadership, following his speech there that day, congratulated him, praised him. >> he specifically said he recei received a phone call from the
president of mexico. >> they were direct conversations. they were not phone calls. >> so he lied. >> i wouldn't say a lie. that's a pretty bold accusation. >> we are joined to talk about all this by msnbc host and business correspondent ali velshi. charlie sykes joins us from his home state of wisconsin. and we welcome to the broadcast, christina bellantoni from "the los angeles times." let's not forget the enormous population in california on the west coast. christina, how do we square all of this? i was thinking tonight perhaps with the exception of nixon during the height of it all, when he plainly was in duress and maybe not making sense, we learn years later there was heavy drinking and prayers in the hallway and talking to the paintings and kissinger, whichever came first. how do we square the notion of not being able to trust the word
of the president, of the president's spokesperson? >> well, there's a lot of different layers to this. we know from watching president trump when he was a candidate that he had a loose relationship with the truth in many different ways. sometimes it was stretching the truth. sometimes it was little facts were wrong. sometimes things were outright falsehoods. and, you know, the very concept of lying is interesting because it implies intent. so there are many cases where the president might say something where you're not sure he's actually intending to tell a lie or if he's maybe attempting to mislead or maybe he's not informed, or maybe he read something that was fake news and is passing that on to his supporters at a campaign rally. there were a lot of different layers of that, and i think that also transcends to the press secretary because she's going to, we hope, fill in the press corps and the american people based on what the president is
telling her. it's possible he's not telling her the truth. it's also possible she's not informed at all. she has to make assumptions. then there's the whole concept of maybe what she doesn't know will help her from that podium, right, if you have plausible deniability on something. it's multiple layers, but it's a very strange place for this white house six months in to have such a bizarre relationship with the truth. >> charlie, if you and i were to walk through kenosha or wausau in that great state through which i drove through two summers ago and conduct our own quinnipiac survey, what would the answer be to the question, do the voters care about what we've been discussing? >> well, of course, that's the most troubling aspect of all of this. i actually want to cut sarah huckabee sanders a little bit of slack here because imagine being the press secretary to someone like donald trump. let's cut through all of this. donald trump is not nixon. he is not normal.
it's not anything we've ever dealt with before. the man is a chronic, consistent, pathological liar, and we knew that during the campaign. and we can't normalize what we're seeing here. you know, either he is consciously lying, or he is indifferent to the truth, or simply he is counting on those people in those communities not to care whether or not the truth matters. all of those are deeply disturbing. maybe anthony scaramucci dodged a bullet here because how do you stand up and explain the president's comments when he lies so casually not just about big things, not just strategically or tactically, but trivial things that are easily proven? and this is not going to be changed no matter what you do at the white house. it's not going to be changed by changing the staffing. this is who donald trump is, and he was this as a candidate. he was elected, you know, after being exposed as a chronic liar, and i think there's a certain amount of hubris.
i think he thinks he can get away with it. >> two points. one, scaramucci's press plan that he was going to roll out has leaked and it contains a lot of good things and great kind of best practices behavior. >> better relations with the media. >> imagine that. but secondly, with the exception of the trump base, this has made for a nation of on the spot fact checkers. it's the oddest thing. >> it's kind of remarkable, particularly in the area that i concentrate on in economics because this has been a week in which the president has made outlandish claims about the stock market and economic growth, and he tacks it on to the end of other announcements that he's making or other speeches that he's making. so we get into this live fact-checking situation, and it often doesn't surprise the upside. if someone's loose with the facts, sometimes they're loose on both sides. in this case, it's almost when it comes to the economy, almost always an exaggeration. >> christina, i note that instead of coming to the home of what 40 million people in the state of california, the
president is instead going back to west virginia tomorrow night to talk to the base. >> yeah. well, you know, california did not vote for him or he did not win here in california last november. and even though he has a golf resort out here, we've seen him spend quite a bit of time in florida, new jersey, there is a golf resort here in southern california that he has avoided. there's some thorny subjects there. we do expect to maybe see him in california. what's really interesting is this state has positioned itself to really be the foil to what the trump administration is doing on everything from the environment, health care, immigration issues, and, you know, as a border state, you've seen some of its large mayors, some of the large big city mayors saying they're going to resist the president. it's just a strange place for the largest state to be in, where you're seeing such a pushback on the administration's policies. our new attorney general, javier becerra is out there talking about immigration, health care,
every single day, ways they're going to combat the trump administration. >> charlie, where do you think the poll numbers we had at the top of the broadcast will be in six months? i realize time and space have been compacted. i might as well be talking about ten years from now. >> who knows where we're going here. but what is really extraordinary is you think here is a president who has a 33% approval rating at a time when the stock market is over -- the dow is over 22,000. if the economy was not this strong, what would his numbers be? usually there's a correlation between people the economy is doing relatively well and the president's approval numbers. but this has got to be a warning sign, the fact that there's some erosion of the republican base, he's underwater among white non-college educated voters. there is a sense that there's a bit of trump fatigue setting in even among his base. so who knows how low that possibly can go? >> our great thanks for this conversation tonight with charlie, ali, and christina.
welcome back. i want to show you what the president said on twitter just yesterday. he said, quote, stock market could hit all-time high again. 22,000 today. was 18,000 only six months ago on election day. mainstream media seldom mentions. we're back, and we're mentioning it. ali velshi has hung around with us because he covers such things and more. so who gets the credit -- this is the big question -- for a dow at 22,000, and does it matter that the dow -- are we concentrating on the right target, the dow jones industrial average is at 22,000. >> the first question, who gets credit, and i have said this for
many, many years, that presidents get too much blame and too much credit for the stock market. so i'm not generally one to assign blame or credit. but if we want to play this game that donald trump is playing, the dow closed at 6,200 on march 6th, 2009, right after the financial crisis, right after president obama had taken office. it has gained a lot of points since then. 16,000 of those points were in the obama administration. so we're at 22,000 now. i guess it was 18 when president trump took over. he gets some credit for that. there's no question. but this dow has been in largely a straight line up since 2009. so that's the way the stock market was going in the first place. number two, there are some stocks like industrial stocks, infrastructure stocks, banking stocks that surged after the election on the hopes that a trump administration would be favorable to those companies. that situation continues even if much legislation hasn't been passed. >> like bechtel build big
things. >> caterpillar, companies like that. that's where donald trump can take some credit. but the second question is more important. 52% of americans own stock, which means 48% don't. and the stock market has decoupled from the rest of the economy. so the stock market is really good news for people who are invested in the stock market. for those of you who are, congratulations, it's a great place to be. but many aren't. so over a decade ago, economic reporters like me started understanding that you don't use the dow as proxy for the economy in a society where you have high unemployment or even when you have low unemployment like we do. wages haven't yet pushed up. where you've got great inequality in society. so that's where we are. i certainly don't want to belittle the importance of a dow that is up. the s&p is up. the nasdaq is up. really people have investments in that, and they're doing well, but it's not the same thing as the economy. and i don't know who gets credit or blame, but it's been on a straight line up since 2009.
this is a live picture. we're showing it to you basically because we can. this is thanks to nasa. this is from the international space station, a little more than 200 miles up traveling at 17,000 miles an hour and approaching australia at this hour. just a reminder of how really inconsequential we all are. anyway, on with the inconsequential news. hours after president trump today came out in support of cutting legal immigration to this country by about 50%, stephen miller got into this heated exchange with cnn's jim acosta, the son notably of a cuban immigrant. the topic was the new colossus,
a poem that hangs inside the pedestal that holds up the statue of liberty. one of the first sites immigrants have seen as they arrived at ellis island. here is that exchange. >> what the president is proposing here does not sound like it's in keeping with american tradition when it comes to immigration. the statue of liberty says give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses. it doesn't say anything about speaking english or being able to be a computer programmer. >> the statue of liberty is symbol of liberty lighting the world. the poem that you're referring to was added later. it's not actually a part of the original statue of liberty. >> with us tonight, best selling author and presidential historian michael beschloss, who also happens to have a truly great twitter feed every day and gave us at least one idea for our broadcast last night, but don't tell anybody. and pulitzer prize winning biographer and historian, john meacham. gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us.
we should note to our audience, both of these gentlemen are friends. the three of us together are friends. so if i convey a certain happiness in these segments every once in a while, it is genuine. >> we will do the same. >> yes. thank you, michael. john, were you in on this conspiracy, the poem clearly added later? does all that huddled masses stuff, have we been needing to do that all these years? >> my question is can i get up on that space station? is there a shuttle available at this point? the poem was added later. this strikes me a little bit as a history by google argument from the white house. emma lazarus wrote the poem to raise money for the statue of liberty. it was put on about 20 years later, and has been infused as a symbol of liberty and immigration. i don't think you can celebrate liberty without celebrating immigration. we are in fact a nation almost entirely of immigrants. i think what today shows us is
that there is a perennially ambivalent relationship with immigration in the american experience that begins with -- and let's go ahead and mention our first dead president, john adams, who passed the alien act. james madison said of the alien act in the late 1790s that it's a monster that will forever disgrace its parents. so this has been a struggle we've had throughout. >> michael, when has truth been doubted before the way it's been doubted under this administration by enormous segments of this society? >> i think never in the history of the presidency. i think we're pretty fair to say that. and even what we saw with mr. miller was an example of that. you know, his saying that the poem doesn't count because it was put on later, you know, it's sort of like the bill of rights was ratified four years after the constitution, so bill of rights isn't very important either. you know, we're in a world -- that's probably the least of it. one of the biggest weapons of
the presidency has always been the fact that americans believe in what a president says, and the same thing is true around the world. that's what dwight eisenhower said. he said that's why it is so important that everything i say in public and private has to be the literal truth. in 1962, for instance, in the middle of the cuban missile crisis, john kennedy sent an envoy to see charles de gaulle, the president of france, you know, with pictures to demonstrate that cruise chauv had indeed slipped missiles into cuba. and de gaulle said, i don't need to see the pictures. i trust the president of the united states. i wonder if a french leader or another leader would have the same reaction tonight. >> john, if you put it all together, legislative failures being forced to sign the russia sanctions veto-proof vote in congress, and where his polling is, is this a lame duck
president? >> well, as you said a moment ago, the time has become so compressed. you know, the democrats are leading on the generic ballot in the house race, and that's a moment where lawmakers always get nervous. the approval rating is falling. i think to go to michael's point, the great question here is to what extent are facts going to topple the trump myth, which is the relationship he has with, you know, roughly a third, maybe a little bit more than that of the country that believes -- still believes that he is the vessel of the change they need. and, you know, i think we're in this odd post-truth era. i'll take eisenhower from michael and raise you an fdr, who said on washington's birthday in '42, just as the war was really beginning for america, that the news is going
to get worse and worse before it gets better and better, and the american people to have it straight from the shoulder. the american people deserve to have it straight from the shoulder, and we are not getting that by any measure from this white house. >> michael, a last word. are we every day forgetting what we often don't like to remember, and that is how an emergency and exigency can change a presidency, the conversation, and our country in an instant? >> that's exactly right, for better and for worse. and the scary part of this is that i hate to bring this back to stephen miller. that's the same guy who went on all those sunday shows in february and said the powers of the president are very considerable in national security and will not be questioned. that's not exactly something that fills us with hope. >> gentlemen, i can't thank you enough. let's do this again. michael beschloss, john meacham, terrific conversation tonight. thank you both very much for coming on. another break for us.
tonight, an update on senator john mccain as promised. he is connected to one of the most interesting numbers in that new quinnipiac poll. the republican lion, john mccain's favorability is 74% among democrats. that's of course in the days since his iconic thumbs down vote on the obamacare repeal. senator mccain is back home in
arizona for cancer treatment. we know he's feeling a bit more like himself these days because he says he hates the healthy diet that his wife and daughter have him on. he says he'll be back at work in the senate in september, and he explained the walk-on drama of his no vote because pence dragged me into the vice president's office to listen to the president telling me to vote the other way. and i guess we all know how that turned out. that is our broadcast for tonight. thank you so much for being here with us. good night for all of us from nbc news headquarters here in new york. tonight on "all in" -- >> this competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak english. >> a downward spiral continues, and a presidency in crisis plays the hits. >> the notion that you think this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting. >> tonight new record low poll