tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC January 4, 2018 1:00am-2:00am PST
>> i don't know. you have to ask them. this is not first time he's joked about nuclear war on twitter. >> that's true. thanks for joining you us. that's it for this eengs. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. breaking tonight, fire and fury. open warfare. president trump versus steve bannon. trump says his one time strategist lost his mind. bannon calling don junior and jared meeting with russians treasonous, an explosive new account of what's happening inside the west wing and the reaction, total melt down. "the 11th hour" begins right now. good evening once again from our nbc news het quarters here in new york. i'm nicolle wallace sitting in for brian williams. day 349 of the trump
administration, a day in which donald trump and steve bannon face-off in a war of harsh words and accusations. bannon one of the architects of trump's populous agenda during last year's campaign went onto serve as chief white house strategist before being dismissed in august of 2017. he's leveling stunning charges in a new book by michael wolf called "fire and fury." the author's account based on more than 200 interviews and a visit to the white house. among them is this quote from bannon about that trump tower meeting between donald trump, jr., jared kushner, paul manafort and several foreign russian nationals promising dirt on hillary clinton. quote, the three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside trump tower in the conference room on the 25th floor with no lawyers. they didn't have any lawyers.
even if you thought this was not treasonous, unpatriotic or bad -- and i happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the fbi immediately. the chance that don junior did not walk these up to his father's office to up the 26th floor is zero. and he later adds, coat, they're going to crack don junior like an egg on national tv. president trump denied having knowledge of the meeting until it came to light a year later. and a russian lawyer tells nbc news that she and her cohearts did not meet or see then candidate trump. here's how white house press secretary sarah huckabee-sanders responded. >> did the president and donald trump, jr. commit treason? >> i think that is ridiculous acquisition and we've addressed here before. i refer you back to comments mr. bannon made previously where he called collusion with russia about this president a total farce. so i think i would look back at that.
>> michael wolf also writes about steve bannon's relationship with jared kushner. quote, bannon did all he could to rollover priebus and kushner in an effort to prosecute the war for trumpism, bannonism. kushner on one of the steepest learning curves in the history of politics and also exhibiting a painfully naivety was advocating doing nothing fast and everything in moderation. and wolf also describes how bannon viewed trump as he campaigned for the white house. quote, donald trump was a setup, and early in the 2016 race trump became the breitbart podem. indeed bannon began to suggest to people that he like ales had been at fox, was the true force behind his candidate. today the president responded with this statement. quote, steve bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. when he was fired he not only
lost his job, he lost his mind. steve was a staffer who worked for me after i had already won the nomination by defeating 17 candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the republican party. steve pretends to be at war with the media which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the white house leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. it is the only thing he does well. steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue who he helped write a phony book. jeremy peters, political reporter for "the new york times," ashley parker, white
house reporter for "the washington post," and robert costa, national political reporter for "the washington post" and moderator of washington week on pbs. ashley parker, let me start with you because you and i started this conversation earlier today. and i want to ask you two things. one, what other details have emerged since we last talked and what is the white house's current posture on someone who was it is beyond dispute steve bannon was for a very long period of time not only an ideological soulmate of this president but someone donald trump didn't dare reject to reporting as the chief of staff. reince priebus was given an extraordinary title in that he was named basically an equal to then chief of staff reince priebus? >> i'll answer your second question first, which is basically steve who? don't know the guy, can't really remember the guy, was he ever
really in the white house that much, and the answer of course is he was. he was an integral player during the campaign and in president trump's white house until he was forced out. one of the things i find interesting is something "the post" has reported is today bannon lost the financial backing of rebecca mercer, who was one of his biggest patrons, sort of the dollars behind one of his projects. and so today we saw the great palace intrigue we all love to soak up the gossip on. but for steve bannon he lost his chief paten in terms of donald trump and financial support in terms the mercers provide. again, this could all change. no one is perpetually excommunicated from the president's circle. people come and go, but right now it's not a great day for steve bannon.
>> and jeremy peters, could you pick up on that thread? do you have any sense what motivated -- and it's important to point out that the white house defense today was to release visitor logs, which simply in my mind bolstered much of what was in here, at least the quantity of it. in 17, what sounded like in many occasions, day long trips to the west wing of the white house, you could certainly paint an accurate picture of the atmosphere. and in a lot of these books oftentimes it's the scene that's depicted more than any individual antidote that's the most devastating. but i wonder, jeremy, did you pick up any sense of what motivated steve bannon to put so much of had to have been at one point off-the-record conversations on the record in this book? >> nicolle, this has always been the tension on bannon's mind. on the one hand there is the doubt he harbors about trump's leadership, the people trump
surrounds himself with and their qualifications, that includes first and foremost trump's children and his son-in-law, jared kushner. and on the other hand you have bannon's belief in the trump movement and the ideas that trump ran on, and this notion that the people trump represented finally had a voice. and so reconciling those two conflicting impulses was always very difficult for steve. and his frustrations spilled out in a rather impulsive way himself -- an impulsive way for steve here by mouthing off to reporter and saying some very indiscreet things that ended up making the man who is leading the movement that steve sees himself as kind of a shepherd of, look very bad. >> robert costa, this is clearly a divorce between steve bannon and trump.
and i want to know who gets what. i mean who gets the shawn hannity relationship? who gets editorial control, political control over breitbart and the other levers of communicating with what has been a powerful, really the most fiery part of the republican party, the republican base has been completely altered by the enthusiasm and excitement for trump that was created by steve bannon. >> nicolle, this was always a political marriage of convenience. the president when he was a candidate was searching for an ideological core that could connect this movement he had about the country. and together in the final months of the campaign they did marry those two things together and found a way to win electoral college and the white house. the real challenge for bannon is what is his goal for 2018? we're seeing tonight many
candidates across the republican party express some concern about his comments, distancing themselves from steve bannon. we saw the president assert his own political capital within the republican party. bannon will have to reevaluate in the coming weeks what is his aim this year politically? what is his project especially if he's not as closely aligned with the white house? >> ashley parker, some of the biggest and most dramatic headlines were around steve bannon's observations about the different players that we've all mentioned now. jared kushner, hope hicks and others as it pertains to the russia investigation. and what in michael wolf's book is precisely accurate, what is as described and what is not. it was pointed out to me to the degree any of it is relevant to the russia probe, bob mueller likely already knows the answer, or if he is first learning of any of these observations, he soon will. let me read you some of what's
in here on the topic of russia. this is quote from bannon. in the book he says, quote, if he fires mueller it just brings the impeachment quicker. why not? let's do it. let's get it on. why not? what am i going to do? am i going to go in and save him? he's donald trump. ashley, any reaction from the white house today in that analysis? >> the white house as we saw privately and publicly in today's press briefing has participated it as patently false and untrue. i think that's an overly broad assessment of the book. it's certainly convenient for them. i will say i haven't read the entire book and i don't have first-hand reporting on every detail of the book. but my sense it deeply tracks
with what i've reported and "the post" has reported. they're not forced to grapple with those russia allegations, which are perhaps beyond again the juicy gossip, the most problematic part of this. >> we should point out that we have not verified everything in this book either, but jeremy, if you could pick up the things that are being described in here are being deemed by reporters, like all of your news organizations, have covered this white house in realtime. and the suggestion is that they by and large corroborate are or consistent with much of the russia reporting. and i want to read another excerpt. this is wolf on the increasing involvement of white house staff in dealing with russia and the statements on the trump tower meeting. because this goes directly to that second tract. everybody believes robert
mueller to be investigating not just potential collusion but also whether or not obstruction of justice took place. and he writes most problematic of all hope hicks and steven miller and everyone the ivanka side were connected to acs in the russia investigation or to deflect or indeed cover it up. miller had at least typed kushner's version to fire comey. hicks had joined with kushner and his wife to draft on air force one the trump directed press release about don junior and kushner's meeting with the russians in trump tower. i don't need to tell you because your paper did a lot of this reporting, that story fell apart almost immediately and bob mueller's investigators turned over to the white house a list of six names. some of them believed to be individuals who may have been tied to these specific events. so i wonder what you're hearing today from folks close to bannon about whether he intended to throw staffers under the bus or whether he intended to suggest maybe the president wasn't well served by his own aides. >> well, that's just the thing.
there is no overarching strategy here. and for somebody who has crafted an image of himself in the public eye as a master strategist, this was not a very masterful move, to throw the leader of the movement that you aspire to be an heir to, under the bus. but the reason, nicolle, this is so problematic for trump, the reason it riled him up to the point that he saw the need to issue as scathing a statement as i think any of us have ever seen us issue about a former aide of his is that this cuts right to the heart of two very sensitive issues for trump. first, its his children. when you go after his family, that is line you do not cross.
second, the russia investigation. trump is deeply unnerved by the fact this is clouding his administration. and in bannon's remarks he seams to give legitimacy to the claim that don junior told his father about this meeting with the russians. and of course that is something trump has vigorously denied and insisted is in fact fake news, a phony made up story. >> robert costa, let me get your insight on the tone and tenor and ferocity of the statement. the tone was dialled back. i think both of your newspapers have reported this, that there was an original version that was much harsher and that was the president's desire. what do you make of the president's statement, essentially calling steve bannon crazy and again seeking to diminish the role of someone who was at one time one of the most powerful white house aides? >> based on my reporting it was totally in character, but also
his voice inside of the white house today the president was furious. people close to him say he wanted to be personally involved in the response to the revelations and remarks made by bannon in the book. and the president believes if you look back to his experience in the 1980s and tabloids in new york city, his experience as a real estate investor, he wants to be out there publicly fighting, not walking away from a fight but engaging. and if it's bloody and messy, most politicians try to walk away from the scene, trump, he dives into it. and you have these two major personalities in bannon and trump, who worked together uneasy as times but a close relationship now just spilling out in public. and people in the white house think it could only now get messier because of the nature of both men. >> i i have to add the president's silence on twitter is deafening.
we'll see how long that lasts. thank you so much for starting us off. still ahead tonight, what this book reveals that could be an asset for the special counsel's investigation. plus a new lawsuit filed by paul manafort against robert mueller and the department of justice. and later this feud between jared, ivanka, and steve bannon who reportedly called ivanka, quote, dumb as a brick. "the 11th hour" getting started on a wednesday night. cannot live without it.
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because your tweet earlier today inspired the first part of our show at 4:00. you tweeted the rivally and dysfunction inside team trump has always been robert mueller's biggest asset. if they can't maintain a united front for the book, just think what the proscatorial powers are able to do? it doesn't matter much, does it, if every word in here is true or not. because every interest of bob mueller and his inquiry to either collusion or obstruction of justice, those people will have to go and be under oath at the risk of perjuring themselves and tell the truth. >> that's right. if you look at steve bannon and saying the meeting in trump tower, it's almost certain that don junior took her up stairs to meet with donald trump, sr., whether that happened or not he's going to want to talk with him. when you see the spokesman saying he believes that meeting is obstruction of justice,
that's someone bob mueller is going to want to talk to. if he hasn't already. and when you look at the rivalries, the fact you have people on the president's team talking about each other, disparaging each other, disparaging the president, they clearly are not all pulling in the same direction. michael wolff, all he was doing was going around asking questions. he has none of the investigative techniques that bob mueller and his team will have to find out what really happened. jeremy bash, let me bring you in on three pretty big schemes. money laundering -- well let's just start there. one of the bannon quotes that got a lot of attention and people are still talking about is this one. steve bannon seemed to
understand the severity of staffing choices by robert mueller, warning there was one clear direction they would take. saying, quote, you've got the lebron james of money laundering investigations on you, ivanka. you realize where this is going. this is all about money laundering. their task of fleecing trump, it's as plain as a hair on your face. they're going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me. your thoughts? >> first of all, is this the bomb cyclone or is that something else? >> that's tomorrow. this is the cyclone before the cyclone. >> on this issue of money laundering, to your point i think it's fascinating that steve bannon who obviously was privy to a large number of conversations with both candidate trump, president-elect trump and then president trump focused a lot of his comments here at least in this account on the issue of money laundering and the financial ties between
the trump organization and the kushner organization and the russian federation. noting that the key point of vulnerability for all of them are the financial ties, and i think it points up to this larger issue, which is that, yes, we know mueller is investigating russian propaganda, russian hacking and russian agents of influence, but there's this fourth pillar to the mueller investigation, which is long-standing ties between donald trump and the russia federation, to find out where russia might have leverage on the current president of the united states. >> according to this book trump's decision to fire james comey changed the tone in the white house interest the worst, saying, quote, the president seemed to find himself inkrejual las eby comey and mueller. in the instance of comey and mueller beyond all the dodging and weaving, there really wasn't anybody other than the president's family who didn't
very pointedly blame the president himself. you could out loud judge his acumen and the advice he was getting. he's not only crazy declared tom barrack to a friend, he's stuped much i should point out we have not independently verified that quote as coming from the president's friend, tom barrack. but there is a lot of reporting in the book that people did not hold donald trump intelligence in very high regard. >> yeah, that's certainly true. you see members of his cabinet saying it, members of his staff saying it. and with respect to this decision, look, this decision to fire comey, donald trump we don't know if he entered the white house with any criminality. whether he was involved in it or not, that's still being investigated, but we do know he brought criminal liability on himself through his actions, nut
just to fire jim comey but to intervene in that investigation, to ask jim comey to back off, ask members of the intelligence community, to get the fbi to back off. there's this pattern that led to him becoming under investigation for obstruction of justice that he brought completely on himself apparently against the advice of steve bannon as he very clearly wants to let us know. >> where bannon is going to be most credible as you referenced earlier is on the decisions the president made as president in his removal of jim comey from the leadership of the fbi when comey was investigating the president. because, of course, in june 2016 during the time of the trump tower meeting bannon was not formally part of the campaign. he didn't come on into later. some trump defenders might argue bannon's views of the trump tower meeting are all second
hand, i think they're all still relevant. >> and he was one of the constant people in conflict with jared kushner, so that is spilling out into the open. all right, you guys aren't going anywhere. we could keep you for six hours tonight. coming up, paul manafort indicted and now unleashed, filing a lawsuit today against mueller and the justice department. details on that when "the 11th hour" continues. he water, in thr you ready for this? she doesn't like it... you gotta get in there okay, okay careful not to get it in her eyes i know what a bath is... smile honey this thing is like... first kid here we go second kid you coming in mommy? ahh not a chance! by their second kid, every parent is an expert and more likely to choose luvs than first time parents. luvs with nightlockplus absorbs wetness faster than huggies snug and dry. for outstanding overnight protection at a fraction of the cost.
a new attempt today to discredit the russia investigation. paul manafort is suing the department of justice and special counsel robert mueller. the former trump campaign chairman was indicted in october for money laundering among other charges. the lawsuit claims the doj granted mr. mueller carte blanche to investigate things beyond the scope of the special counsel investigation. in a statement the doj spokesman tells nbc news, quote, the lawsuit is frivolous, but the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants. we're back with jeremy bash and matthew miller. jeremy, take this on for us. paul manafort seeing the justice department and robert mueller for going outside of the scope of what he was supposed to investigate, is that going to hold any water legally? >> zero. it's completely baseless. the rob rosenstein said it was onlimited by time and subject. i believe there was a quote that
said bob mueller had the authority to investigate all -- >> and matt, in modern political history every special prosecutor, every special counsel has ended up indicting and charging people for crimes that are often very much unrelated from the original. one was charged with perjury, president clinton was -- i mean people lie, people commit other crimes during a process of any investigation. >> in fact, rob rosenstein when he testified before the house judiciary committee a couple of weeks ago said he had talked with bob mueller several times about what his mandate encompasses and to the extent of there was any uncertainty, rob rosenstein has given him authorization to do what he is doing. i think jeremy is right, it's
completely baseless. >> nbc news and "the washington post" both reporting that president trump's lawyers have sent a cease and desist letter to steve bannon. it appears this is based on a disparaging agreement that steve bannon may have had or allegedly had during his time on the campaign. i want to ask you, one, if this is something that can be enforced or, to, if that can include a special counsel investigation like bob mueller is doing, or if it's possible to hold anyone who is a white house staffer, someone whose salary is paid by a u.s. taxpayer to such agreement? >> let me start by saying what a
snowflake. can you imagine the president you worked for or i worked for ever threatening to sue a former aide because of something that happened while in the white house? i mean this a presidential tantrum, not the threat of a lawsuit, i think. whatever steve bannon talked about during the campaign, perhaps that could be enforced, although i still question whether he would file a lawsuit. that could lead to the president himself being deposed. when you work for the government as steve bannon did, all those conversations are not conversations trump owns. those are conversations that steve bannon had, information steve bannon had when he was working for the public, when he was working for american taxpayer. it certainly wouldn't be covered by that nondisclosure agreement. ask anything he said whether during the campaign or in the white house, certainly bob mueller would be able to get to either through an interview or if he needed to with a grand jury subpoena. >> one of the most extraordinary
things in my view is someone who worked in the white house where lots of books were written, people very critical of george w. bush personally, people critical of george w. bush's foreign policy. i never had the experience, though, of -- when i was a communications director, i knew a lot of the contacts and conversations that were going on, especially in times of crisis. of having either a reporter that was waved into the west wing 17 times sit in and sort of observe and hang out for that much unfiltered off-the-record time for someone who wasn't a press person. nor did i ever witness an occasion that on a day when a book like this came out, white house staffers were frantic to find out what had been written about them. i wonder if you put the roots of that in sort of this "game of thrones" nature of this theme, or if you think there are also people who are worried about whether or not there are new threads, new strands of a
potential investigation revealed in this book. >> and even if half of the political dysfunction accounted in this book is true and accurate, it's very disturbing. it paints a very disturbing portrait for the country. they're charged with enforcing the laws, and if they can't organize themselves into a publicity formation a book, god help us when we're under attack. >> thank you so much. coming up jared kushner, ivanka trump, and steve bannon. "the 11th hour" back after this.
"fire and fury" is giving us a glimpse into the remarkably toxic relationship between president trump son-in-law and steve bannon. joining us now steve schmidt my colleague from the bush white house and mccain presidential campaign. eugene, let me just throw this out there. so i have read just about every presidential memoire to everything written during the bush years and a lot what was written during the clinton years, memoirs and tell all. >> i don't know if we'll ever read anything like that again except about this administration. first of all, it's not really any administration in which the president who has no experience in government immediately appoints both his daughter who has no experience in government and his son-in-law who has no
experience in government to high positions inside the west wing. and lo and behold they have no idea what they're doing. l and behold they don't know anything about anything. and the thing that's really striking to me about the excerpts of the wolff book that we heard so far is just how, you know, dysfunctional -- and dysfunctional is being generous, i think -- this white house is. and how little it knows what it needs to know to be an effective executive branch of the united states of america. it's just appalling. >> steve schmidt, on the topic of dysfunction. a former national security official from the last republican administration, the one in which you and i worked,
suggested that people often compare disastrous campaigns or white houses to the titanic, and they suggest efforts to pa legislation as moving the chairs around. he says this is the first political operation where you could suggest it's like the titanic but instead of moving the chairs around they're eating each other. it's basically cannibalism aboard the titanic as its sinking. can you speak the fact these are people who do not trust each other, and are so brazen and disrespectful not just to the president they serve but to the office of the presidency? >> well, the year has been every day a debasement of the office of the president of the united states by this president, by his staff with the consistency of the lying, the misinformation,
the lying spewed out to the american people. but what we see in this book, did tom barak say this or that, we'll find out in the next few days. but certainly the larger issue is it paints a portrait of dysfunction and chaos that just beggars the imagination. these people work in proximity to an office where life and death decisions are made. and the tor trt that's painted in this book, and we know. we know from a president painting conspiracies attacking the justice department with his deep state talk or whether it's attacking the spirit of the first amendment or blustering about nuclear weapons and nuclear war with north korea, what we see increasingly is a president who is under pressure, out of his depth, ignorant, unprepared and fundamentally unfit for the office. and this is apparent to everybody.
it's apparent to the members of congress. but they don't say it publicly. they say it to journalists. they say it privately in the bars, but it is dangerous unfitness. i think it's something out of this book and these other actions on the third day of the new year are increasingly going to become part of the political narrative in 2018. because though it may be uncomfortable, it's increasingly clear the question of this president's fan fest of unfitness for this office is no longer something we can avoid discussing for the sake of politeness. >> eugene, can you respond to that? >> he's absolutely right. nicolle, how many times have i written -- this man is clearly not fit to the be president of
the united states. you can question his mental stability. you can certainly question -- he certainly has no knowledge of the job, but his ability to learn, his ability to ingest information and to digest it and to make sense of it is called deeply into question by this book and which just confirms what we've heard all along. we can't get him to read, we can't get him to focus. he doesn't put things toorlgt, you have to do intelligence briefings with pictures to get him to pay attention. i mean this is the president of the united states, and this is a serious issue that we need to talk about. >> let me -- i was going to say the three of us have all been on the air together covering bob corker, a rare republican who has taken the truth serum when they announce retirement. and he was saying donald trump lacks competency for the office. let me read from the book. from "fire and fury ", quote, trump didn't read, he didn't
even skim. some believe for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate. let me read you one more. "on the difficulties of educating trump, the unique problem here was partly how to get information to someone who would not or could not read and who at best listened only selectively." actually, let me read one more. for anything in the classroom or being lectured to, professor was one had his bad words. and he was proud to never going to class, never taking a textbook, he got up and left the room. let me put the last three presidents up for comparison. you had a constitutional scholar in former president obama. and you could say a lot of things about him, god knows republicans did, but you could never suggest he wasn't intensely intellectually curious.
and whatever folks thought of george w. bush, he was a voracious consumer of literature. i followed the north korean crisis in my mind, which he had all of us read. bush had an insatiable curiosity for history and the crises he was facing. and for president clinton and whatever you think of his failures, someone who had insatiable appetite for information and the human condition and history. so how do you deal? >> well, the indemnity for all of history will be their unwillingness to confront. that when you have behavior and comportment like that which is described in the book in the west wing of the white house, it creates danger for every american in this country. we've seen actual human beings lose their lives in puerto rico because of the ineptitude of the federal government's response
led by this administration. but the american republic is in a moment of danger because, though, the country's founders foresaw threats from outside what they never anticipated was a congress unwilling to exercise its duty under article 1 of the constitution, to be an a coequal branch and check the powers of the president. so when we look at the six or seven hot spots around the world that are boiling tonight, we look at his assaults on institutions in this country, we look at him through the prism of someone who acts more erratically, the more cornered he feels. what this book is a validation of what we already know, that he's ignorant, that he's undisciplined, that he's incurious, that he's erratic. and those qualities in the office that is possessed by the most powerful man in the world, the president of the united states, could have deadly
consequences. and our political class in country has a real lack of imagination, i think, about the magnitude of the type of tragedy that can be caused by someone as reckless, incoherent, and incompetent as this entire administration has been. >> wow, steve schmidt and eugene robinson aren't going anywhere.
you gene, i want to get your thoughts on, if this is a breakup between donald trump and steve bannon, who gets what? who inherits the hannity relationship? who inherits breitbart? who inherits the trump base? >> well, okay, so, the president gets the hannity relationship. >> okay. like the records, right? let's split them up. >> hannity goes to trump. breitbart eventually, i think, goes to bannon, i mean, that's where the allegiance is. and the base, what's left of the base, is confused. mostly, i think, with trump, because they still have faith in him, but i don't think they're ready to -- i don't think en masse they will completely reject bannon at this point. we'll have to see. i -- you know, it will be interesting to see. will he now continue to go around the country trying to put up his candidates for, in republican primaries? maybe he will.
it will be harder if he doesn't have the cash behind him. >> gene, you are always right. we just picked this up from breitbart news tonight. take a listen. let's talk about it on the other side. >> first of all, i think trump made a huge mistake, steve, bashing you like he did today on twitter. that was devastating to me. i hope in the future you can forgive him for that when we come to 2020, because i'm sure he's going to need your help. >> the president of the united states is a great man. you know i support him day in and day out. going over the country, giving the trump miracle speech. i don't think you have to worry about that, but i appreciate the kind words. >> so, eugene, you accurately predicted the breakup record division of assets, and breitbart still loves steve bannon. >> i guess i'd be a good divorce lawyer. >> but to your larger point, the trump base loved the bannon stuff. i've been out interviewing them, they loved the idea of getting out of nafta, they wanted economic and national security
isolationism. that's not really reflected in the tax bill, it's not really reflected by the advisers who remain around donald trump. >> no, it's not. and look, there's -- this anti-establishment feeling that's out there, and this feeling that the establishment republican party isn't speaking to the issues that the base wants to hear about, as you said, is still there, it's not going away, it will stlit and fester and intensify and it will need an outlet. and it doesn't look like the president is in a position to sort of deliver on that stuff in any sort of meaningful way, because, again, he came up with this tax bill, which isn't exactly popular. >> steve, let me get you to weight in on this idea of the trump base. who do they belong to? do they belong to steve bannon or do they belong to donald trump, if this continues to be a messy breakup? >> well, some of them will stay with steve bannon.
this was always a marriage of convenience. you know, look. the president has the lowest approval numbers of any president this early in his term. some of the lowest numbers in the history of polling for any president. as we move into a 2020 election cycle, you know, if he's at 32%, 33% of the support, and 6% goes with steve bannon, it pulls donald trump potentially into the 20s, which is absolutely disabling for any conceivable chance of re-election. not to mention, when you look at the terrain for 2018, you know, there are very, very ominous warnings for the republican majority in washington, d.c., because, you know, upwards of about 70% of the country is just unalterably opposed to what they're seeing in the white house. >> steve, eugene, two of the wisest and smartest guys doing this, thank you so much for spending time with us. "the 11th hour" will be right back.
that's our broadcast tonight. thank you so much for watching. i'll see you back here at 4:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow. good night from nbc news headquarters in new york. threatened with legal action. trump lawyers sent steve bannon a cease and desist letter over comments he made about the president and family in new book. massive storm. millions of americans bracing for snow, ice and freezing temperatures. manafort suing over russia probe. argues it is operating outside of the law. good morning, everyone. it's thursday, january 4. i'm ayman mohyeldin. alongside yasmin vossoug