tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC February 10, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
russia front, the president doesn't release the democratic memo after the republican one went public. plus, the number three at the justice department suddenly out. and signs of donald trump's frustration over chief of staff john kelly and reports kelly is willing to resign. all of it always "the 11th hour" gets underway on a friday night. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. i'm ali velshi in for brian williams. day 386 of the trump administration and we have two breaking stories out of the white house. first, the president says at this time he is unable to release the classified memo on
the russia investigations drafted by house intelligence committee democrats as a rebuttal to a republican memo that was released. we'll have much more on that ahead. also tonight, first reported by the "washington post" and confirmed by nbc news, a second white house staffer has resigned amid allegations of domestic abuse. the post reports, quote, a white house speech writer resigned friday after his former wife claimed that he was violent and emotionally abusive during their turbulent two and a half year marriage, allegations that he vehemently denied, saying she was the one who victimized him. the abrupt departure of david sorenson, who worked under stephen miller, came as the "washington post" was reporting on a story about abuse claims by his ex-wife, jessica corbett. corbett told the post that she described his behavior to the fbi last fall as the bureau was conducting a background check of sorensen. she said that during her marriage to sorensen, he ran a car over her foot, put out a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall and grasped her menacingly by her hair.
this latest report comes as the west wing raises questions about domestic abuse allegations against a top white house aide. rob porter, a former staff secretary, resigned after two ex-wives accused him of physical and verbal abuse. porter denies the allegations calling them, quote, false, outrageous and part of a coordinated smear campaign. in the oval office, the president seemed to come to the defense of his former top aide. >> we wish him well. he worked very hard. i found out about it recently, and i was surprised by it. but we certainly wish him well. it's an obviously tough time for him. he did a very good job when he was in the white house, and we hope he has a wonderful career
and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him, but it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly he's also very sad. now, he also, as you probably know, he says he's innocent, and i think you have to remember that. he said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent. so you'll have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. he did a very good job while he was at the white house. >> the president did not mention either of the women who accused rob porter of abuse. what you also didn't hear was any mention of the growing controversy over who knew what and when about the accusations against porter. porter's second wife says she alerted the fbi during a background check interview for his security clearance. >> i was completely honest with what my experience of the marriage, including telling them instances of abuse or police contact. >> an administration staffer tells nbc news the fbi told the white house counsel's office about those abuse allegations a year ago. and there have been questions about when exactly john kelly
was made aware of what the fbi had learned. tonight kelly confirmed he had known for months about an investigation. >> in november i got an update on some of the investigations. and the update was that there was some things that needed to be looked into. literally that was it. >> can you clarify to us exactly -- there has been a lot of reporting about the timeline and when you found out about things. can you just clarify that? >> tuesday night. tuesday night. >> tuesday night? >> that the accusations were true. 40 minutes later he was gone. >> tuesday night was the same night the white house released a statement from kelly calling porter, quote, a man of true integrity. now, multiple sources close to the president tell nbc news that trump is frustrated with his chief of staff from his handling
of the porter allegations and has been speculating about possible replacements. let's bring in our lead-off panel on a friday night. tamara keith, fred rucker, and jill colvin, white house reporter for the associated press. welcome, all three of you. thank you for being with us. let's start with you. you got two pieces out tonight, one saying the white house staffer john kelly's account of the timeline of rob porter's exit was untrue, and another separate piece about the chaos that seems to be engulfing the white house. the first piece seems to underscore the other. what's going on? >> well, ali, what we have here is the fourth day of building mounting crisis for this white house, the likes of which we've not seen since the early months of the presidency, and we have conflicting accounts. the stories keep shifting and
changing. there is a lot of internal finger pointing. much of that blame pointed at chief of staff john kelly, but also communications director hope hicks and others in the white house who have been trying to manage this situation. and what we don't have so far is any sort of transparency from the white house. we don't know the answers to some key questions, still. we don't have a clear sense of the timeline, especially as it relates to what kelly knew and when and how he took his actions, and we heard in our reporting this morning that at the senior staff meeting, a private meeting of about a dozen or so top aides, kelly, you know, encouraged them to communicate what they believed to be a false version of events, of how quickly kelly took action. what we know from the public record and from sort of behind the scenes reporting previously in the previous days is that kelly was defending porter internally, he defended him publicly and was trying to get him to keep his job. >> jill, there are mounting calls for kelly's resignation from people on the outside who don't think this was handled well. we heard reports earlier this evening that john kelly seemed willing to resign but then he denied that to nbc news. what do we know about john
kelly, trump's satisfaction with him and what may happen next? >> i think there is a little bit of a distinction of kelly formally offering his resignation, and kelly making clear that if the president is unhappy with him, then he would be willing to resign, which is really kind of a sentiment that's shared by most senior staffers who serve at the pleasure of the president. what we know right now is the president is not happy with john kelly and the fact he was not looped into this and didn't know about it and wasn't told about this until wednesday. this is a president who very frequently calls up his friends, calls up outside advisers, asks questions about how they feel his staffers are doing. but this has reached kind of a more serious level and he's been throwing out a couple of names, a couple people have been reported, mick mulvaney is one that seems to come up again and again, and that he's kind of weighing the possibility of a future without john kelly. nonetheless, i just want to stress the fact that john kelly is such an integral part of this white house, and that at this
point, still as of tonight, it still seems like it would be a stretch or at least very -- people would be surprised if the president actually decided to pull the trigger and get rid of kelly at this point. >> so this is interesting, tamara. what jill is talking about is something that people in the white house want john kelly to be, what people in the public were hoping john kelly would be, a stabilizing force. but increasingly, over the last several months, we've seen things that have gone wrong that kelly has been at the front of or involved with. and there's some people who are saying maybe he's not -- maybe he's a little more temporate than people think. maybe he's a lot like donald trump but with a little bit of discipline. maybe he's not the answer. >> the reputation of conventional wisdom in washington is that john kelly was the, quote, adult in the room or the stabilizing force. he came in saying that he was coming in to manage the staff, not the president. well, this week managing the staff has not been going particularly well. and the thing with the chief of staff is that they don't want to be the one getting the headlines. they don't want to be the one
getting the attention. i was talking to leon panetta, former chief of staff, and someone who knows kelly well about this. and he said there are consequences for chiefs of staff who steal the headlines and not in a good way. remember that just this week, kelly said some pretty crude and insensitive things about immigrants known as dreamers, basically implying that they were lazy. >> jill, let me ask you about some of the president's comments. he did break his silence about rob porter and he said some things that we aired at the top of the show about the fact that rob porter has denied the allegations. i want to take everybody back to november 21st when donald trump first talked about the allegations against roy moore. this is what he had to say. >> well, he denies it. look, he denies it. i mean -- if you look at what is really going on and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it.
he says it didn't happen, and, you know, you have to listen to him also. you're talking about -- he said 40 years ago this did not happen. >> similar structure of the comment that he used about rob porter today, saying he strongly denies it. you have to listen to him. this is a pattern for the president. >> it is, indeed, a pattern from the president where he again and again likes to put the focus on the denials, the claims of innocent by various men who are accused of wrongdoing, whether it be this allegation of spousal abuse or allegations of sexual misconduct. we also have to keep in mind that the president is also somebody who has been repeatedly accused of misdeeds himself and, therefore, comes into this from a position of somebody who has repeatedly had to go on the record, repeatedly denied allegations against him, and
even privately really seems to want to take stock into what these people -- including porter, who had been such a trusted aide, someone who constantly traveled with him, was constantly in the oval office, and really taking stock in those denials. >> philip, sam nunberg, a former trump adviser, was on today. he was talking about rob porter as it related to the president. let's listen. >> he wasn't really served well by his staff. i don't think he had any idea about this. i don't think an issue about an fbi clearance for rob porter was taken to him, nor should it have been. >> so this is interesting, phil. when the president feels under pressure or he feels cheated or out of the limelight or in the limelight for the wrong reasons, he tends to tweet, he tends to lash out, he tends to identify other people as having failed him. what do you think is going to happen? >> well, ali, tomorrow is saturday, and we know saturday morning is when some of these
tweet storms come, so i guess we'll stay tuned. i heard there might be rain in d.c. which means golfing might not be an option, so more likely to have tweets then. talking to people today who have been in touch with the president, he's been venting privately. he's not taken to twitter to lash out at either the media or any of his aides or to comment on this matter, but he's been very bothered by it, very frustrated, quite angry, and i would expect for that tone to continue through the weekend. >> tamara, let me ask you about hope hicks. the president released a statement earlier today amidst reports that he was frustrated not just with john kelly but with hope hicks and the handling of the situation in which he said, hope is absolutely fantastic. she was with the campaign from the beginning and i couldn't ask for anything more. hope is smart, very talented and respected for all. where do you think hope hicks stands in this whole thing? >> here's the other thing about hope hicks. she's loyal. she's been absolutely loyal to president trump in a way many of his other aides have not been, and the president values that sort of loyalty. it's a unique relationship
that's there that he has not had with other aides because she really, truly has been there since the very beginning. and the other thing about hope hicks, she doesn't generally, except this week, and she certainly didn't seek it out, she doesn't seek attention. she doesn't want to be in the limelight. she hangs back. she almost never goes on the record. and that is one of those things that makes her valuable to the president in a way that to people on the outside, it doesn't always entirely compute. >> she's the white house director of communications and most americans wouldn't know what her voice sounds like, so you're right, she doesn't seek it out. thank you, tamara keith, jill rucker, phil colvin. the white house decision not to be classified the democratic memo at this time. and number three at the justice department suddenly announces her exit as her boss, rod rosenstein, faces increased scrutiny amid the russia investigation. "the 11th hour" just getting started on a friday night. is ready for take-off.
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we have two major developments tonight tied to the russia investigation. president trump is declining to release the democrats' response to a controversial house intel memo accusing the department of justice of misconduct. in a letter sent to the white house, white house counsel don mcgahn says after the review, quote, the department has identified portions of a february 5 memorandum, the nature of which it believes would create especially significant concerns for the
national security and law enforcement interests. although the president is inclined to declassify the february 5th memorandum, because the memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time. something adam schiff pointed out tonight, quote, the white house ignored their concerns and approved the publication of the republican memo with no redactions even though the action was described by the agencies as extraordinarily reckless and omitting material facts. after promising to treat the democratic response precisely the same way, the white house now seeks to have the democratic memo sent back to committee and revised by the same majority that produced the flawed nunes memo to begin with. that news coming hours after nbc
news confirmed that this woman, the third highest ranking official at the department of justice, is quitting after just nine months on the job. rachel brand was confirmed as associate attorney general in may. the "new york times" broke that story tonight, adding this important context. quote, ms. brand's profile had risen in part because she is next in line to the attorney general, rod rosenstein, who is he overseeing the special investigation inquiry into the 2016 election. mr. trump, who has called it a witch hunt, is considering firing rod rosenstein. such a move could have put her in the line of extension, left her in the cross hairs of the president. when asked if it was his intent to fire rosenstein, this was trump's response exactly a week ago. >> i think it's terrible, if you want to know the truth.
i think it's a disgrace what is going on in this country. i think it's a disgrace. you look at that and you see that and so many other things, what's going on, a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that. >> are you going to fire rod rosenstein? do you still have confidence in him? >> you figure that one out. >> you figure that one out, which asked about rod rosenstein. i can't really interpret the first part of that comment by the president because it didn't make a lot of sense. joining me, jonathan allen and former u.s. attorney joyce vance who spent 25 years as a former federal prosecutor. thank you for joining us on a
friday night. let's start with this memo, joyce. there are some legitimate national security concerns tied to these memos but the white house seemed to dispense of those concerns in its decision to release the nunes memo, the republican memo unredacted. now they seem concerned about the response. >> right. you know, it's so important to contemplate what this memo really represents. because the larger issue involved here is a national security issue. the fisa court is the place that the justice department and law enforcement goes when they're dealing with matters that is a significant risk to our national security. you know, the fbi and the intelligence community, they've done an amazing job since 9/11 of not letting the bad guys get through, whether that's terrorism or whether that's a challenge like the one the russians face to us with these sorts of spying operations. i have enough prosecutor dna in me that i don't want to see anything compromised, the integrity of that process. but like you say, once this has been politicized and part of this memo, sort of cherry-picked republican part of the information has been released, then there is a certain amount of need for at least some balanced information in a non-classified, non-damaging
setting so the american people get the full truth and not just the information this president thinks it's in his self-interest to release. >> but this was always the worry, right, that while the department of justice and the democrats and the fbi, who all happen to be on the same side on this issue, have a story to tell, because we're dealing with classified information, joyce, it was going to hamstring them a little bit in getting a response out. >> you know, it's almost impossible to tell that side of the story here. we worry so much about compromising sources or methods, and so a great example of that is here, when a source has been compromised and publicly sort of, you know, berated back and forth and paraded in the political process, what does that mean for our future ability to get other sources to provide information? so there is a real risk here. >> people will feel unsafe that this information will be made
public. john, do these memos ultimately affect the mueller investigation? we've had a lot of republicans and democrats saying actually it's a different fight. >> at some level this is the skirmish at the very edge of a war. and the partisans have to fight it and we're seeing pettiness in it in terms of trying to release some information that contains sources and methods but not necessarily other information. the broader picture is none of this has anything to do with the mueller investigation. that's not just what democrats are saying, that's what house speaker paul ryan has said. in terms of the question whether this is going to help cloud the picture for the president, the the answer is no. >> but to what degree does it serve the president's interest in diminishing the authority or the legitimacy of the fbi and the department of justice in the eyes of the american people? >> if robert mueller or others come to the conclusion the president or the people around
him broke laws, then his effort is going to be and has been to get his base to believe that those issues are not credible and not fair. we've seen this exodus from the justice department and from the fbi during the course of the president's administration. that's only getting worse, and it's no longer the people that were holdovers from obama. >> to that point, joyce, let's talk about rachel brand, the number three in the department of justice who is leaving for a very significant private sector job. i don't think anyone in the country would have doubted that she would have gotten any job she wanted. but what do you make of her departure after nine months? >> it's hard to know what to make of it, but nine months is an extremely short tenure. rachel brand is very talented, very highly regarded, and so having her leave after such a short time in office will undoubtedly be a real hit to the morale of the career prosecutors and the career doj employees who have come to depend on her leadership and her good judgment in a difficult time. it's not a good thing for the justice department to lose important people like this.
>> richard sent out a tweet. rachel brand is getting out of there. she's way too smart to be in the third position at the doj. massacre. what do you think of that, jonathan? do you think there is any chance she's getting out of the line of fire? >> yeah, one night early, she's outrunning the massacre. yeah, rod rosenstein doesn't have any confidence from the president. you went from obama holdovers who the president didn't like to career officials who the president didn't like. now you're getting with rachel brand, a republican appointee of the president of the united states, who is getting out of town. she is somebody well regarded enough that president obama appointed her to a board. but she was general counsel on the campaign. we've seen a shift where the president is going after people and there's nobody left on his team.
>> jonathan allen, thanks so much for being with us. joyce vance, always a pleasure to see you. coming up, the unprecedented way the president gets his briefing, and could it be putting people at risk? "the 11th hour" will be back after this. i accept i don't bike the miles i used to. i even accept i have a higher risk of stroke due to afib, a type of irregular heartbeat not caused by a heart valve problem. but no matter where i ride, i go for my best. so if there's something better than warfarin, i'll go for that too. eliquis. eliquis reduced the risk of stroke better than warfarin, plus had less major bleeding than warfarin. eliquis had both. don't stop taking eliquis unless your doctor tells you to, as stopping increases your risk of having a stroke. eliquis can cause serious and in rare cases fatal bleeding. don't take eliquis if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. while taking eliquis, you may bruise more easily... and it may take longer than usual for any bleeding to stop. seek immediate medical care
president trump is breaking a longstanding tradition of his last seven predecessors that could mess up productivity. breaking with tradition, trump skips president's written intelligence report and relies on oral briefings. trump as opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the oval office rather than getting a written review each day. according to three people familiar with his briefings, reading a densely intelligent book is not trump's preferred style of learning, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. with us to talk about it is a
person of knowledge about the situation, former battlefield commander in the persian gulf, now an msnbc military analyst. general, good to see you, by the way. it might be a thing if this was a president that never talked about war, but this is a president that tweets about war and threatens war and talks about a bigger nuclear button and talks about ripping up treaties and things like that, so it would probably of some concern to those in the armed services or families of those people who are pretty much americans at large that the president may not be getting his full briefing on a daily basis as one might expect. >> well, look, ali, if you've had a lifelong experience in the foreign service or the armed forces, the first thing do you as a senior person in washington when you get up in the morning is you read the classified intel. you simply have to get the diplomatic cables and the
ambassadors and the key countries. you have to list to not morning intel update. it's hard work if you're smart and experienced to stay abreast of these complex situations. but i think it is unsettling -- and by the way, the reporting out of the white house is saying that in the white house briefing he tends to interrupt it with radical comments. i think it will not serve him well. it's too bad he's fallen into this sort of undisciplined habit. >> let me tell what you the "washington post" is reporting. administration officials defended trump's reliance on oral sessions and said he gets full intelligence briefings, noting that presidents have historically sought to receive the information in different as we. michael anton, a spokesman, says trump appreciates the hard work of his briefers and of the entire intelligence community and looks forward every day to give and take of his intelligence briefings. we have to take his word on that one, general, but there is something that most people, certainly most universities and
colleges and high schools, feel he's a little bit more rigorous about reading your homework ahead of time and then coming in with questions you gleaned from having read the material. >> sure, of course. if you try and understand physics or french literature or foreign policy, you simply have to do your homework. by the way, i worked for president bill clinton who i have watched him throw foreign service officers out of the oval office, telling him i already read your briefing book, tell me your sort of qualitative assessment. you can't digest what's going on in the world unless you sit down and do some hard work for an hour or two. that's really what i think the country expects of the senior officials and national security apparatus. not just the president, but the whole team of them in congress and the executive branch. >> general, let me ask you about the olympics and north korea. today's olympic ceremony in pyeongchang, the south korean
prime minister, the japanese prime minister and vice president pence were all sitting in very, very close proximity to kim jong-un's sister who you can see above pence in the picture here, kim yo-jong. apparently no contacts, no comments, no handshakes between them. what do you make of that? >> well, of course, a lot of this is a charade, to be honest. everybody is relieved temporarily the north koreans are reaching out. they're trying to get a dialogue. they have three directives, get the u.s. out of south korea, realign the peninsula and be recognized as a nuclear power. that's what they're doing. so chiming in at the olympics isn't for one second going to deter them from the path they're on. having said that, the economic sanctions, the leverage on china, the presence of powerful allied forces, including south korea with 700,000 troops, all are still in place. but i think there is three generations of this family that
provoke, they then negotiate, they get a reward and then they provoke again. i worry about miscalculation by the north koreans getting us into a shooting war. >> general, always good to see you. thank you so much for joining us, general barry mccaffrey. up next, it's one of the president's go-to brags but it may be nothing more. we look at the gains erased in just a few days on the markets. "the 11th hour" back after this. n meaning to talk to you, uh oh. well, you know, you're getting older. um, you might be experiencing some, ah, sensations. ah, it happened to your dad..uh with.. oh, look the tow trucks here! can't wait to be rescued? esurance roadside assistance lets you know when help will arrive. that's insurance for the modern world. esurance. an allstate company. click or call. you have any questions, uh.. i'm good. awesome. especially when inside another amazing machine. your an amazing machine.
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added more than $7 trillion in new wealth since my election. >> the president spent most of january touting record stock market levels. today the dow closed more than 300 points higher after a volatile day of trading, but it still posted its worst week in two years. the dow gave up all of its gains from 2018 just this week. on wednesday president trump responded to sudden drops in the market writing on twitter, quote, in the old days when good news was reported, the stock market would go up. today when good news is reported, the stock market goes down. big mistake, and we have so much great news about the economy. my old friend ron insana, news contributor spent some time on this this week. we'll get to why people should not worry too much about this and what they think of their own
accounts. we've said for a long time, live by the sword, die by the sword. presidents shouldn't comment on the stock market moves. but president trump has been talking this market up a lot. he had been very quiet about it except for that tweet this week. >> there are things the president shouldn't talk about. the president should not talk about the direction of interest rates set by an independent federal reserve, and when you're talking about the stock market and taking credit for it, you are risked for getting blamed, or worse, if you have a bear market or something serious take place on wall street. it is a live by the sword, die by the sword type of thing. the president gets some credit for the market. >> the economy has grown again. >> we got a tax reform bill that's going to boost corporate profits and they're already at record levels. >> which does help stock investors.
>> one thing about the stack market and the bottom market is the fact that not only is the tax reform bill going to increase the budget deficit, but so will this budget deficit signed by the house and the president. we're going to start to see $1 trillion a year deficits at a time when the feds are raising rates, when the feds are no longer buying bonds like it has over the last 100 years, and that's an environment that could be a deficit for the economy. and when the feds had to do what they did, it's no longer in a position to do what it did and can't even try with deficits this large. >> when the president said it was good news and had good reactions, we know when strong unemployment reports come in and employment goes up and wages go up, we know the stock market doesn't always reacts to that because great news for wage earners is not always great news for investors. >> if we're at a time when the economy domestically and
globally begins to overheat and the federal reserve has to raise rates more aggressively because they fear the onslaught of legislation. japan and china may be talking about that soon. if global interest rates start to rise, which they've already begun to do, that impairs stock prices and two things create bear markets and stocks over the course of history. rising interest rates and the onset of war. we're getting rising interest rates, and some of that, which we saw last week, caused some huge unwind in certain trades. >> anyone who has gone out to get a mortgage has realized in the last few weeks we've seen mortgage rates go up. that's how it affects people. for those people looking at their 401(k)s this week, they're still up 14% from one year ago, they're still up 290% from march 2009 when this bear market began, and this type of thing we saw this week, a correction, we've seen nine times in the
last nine years. >> and even more times in the course of both of our careers. so we've seen 10% corrections there. typically they take a couple months and they take a couple months to work out in terms of moving sideways and reclaiming all-time highs. this one happened in a concentrated period of time because it was a very large and concentrated bet on rising stock prices and very low volatility. when that trade got unwound this week, we saw it in a number of days. >> and that's jarring to people. >> absolutely and we have to remember that 1,000 points is different than 98 points. >> we used to say don't look at the stock, look at the percentage. >> we had 4% yesterday on the down side. that's rare. so that does get your attention and we've had 10% correction in the space of a week. that's faster than normal. it might resolve itself faster than normal. we still have to watch this week to see that this market has stabilized. >> ron, thank you for joining us. if you think the market has crazy since the start of the year, wait until you get a reminder of all the breaking
news stories since january 1st. we're back after this. ♪ if you wear a denture, you not only want a clean feeling every day, you want your denture to be stain free. did you know there's a specialty cleanser that's gentle enough for everyday use and cleans better than regular toothpaste? try polident cleanser. it has a four in one cleaning system that kills ten times more odor causing bacteria than regular toothpaste, deep cleans where brushing may miss, helps remove tough stains, and maintains the original color of your dentures when used daily. for a cleaner, fresher, brighter denture, use polident every day. if yor crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough, it may be time for a change. ask your doctor about entyvio, the only biologic developed and approved just for uc and crohn's. entyvio works at the site of inflammation in the gi tract
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as has often been said on this show, donald trump can tweak space and time. a reminder of the past six weeks in the "washington post," we decided to take a closer look at what's already happened in 2018, only 40 days in. >> among wolf's most explosive revelations is this quote from bannon, about that trump tower meeting, the chance that don jr. did not walk these to the 24th floor.
>> he just stated that the nuclear button is on his desk at all times. will someone from his depleted and food-starved regime please inform him that i too have a nuclear button. >> the racist remarks attributed to the commander in chief. >> mr. president, are you a racist? >> he has incredibly good genes. >> a government shutdown threatens to take effect on the one-year anniversary of donald trump's inauguration. the times broke the story that donald trump ordered robert mueller fired but backed off. there is also reporting from the "new york times." the paper says, quote, mr. rosenstein was also asked by the president last month whether he was, quote, on my team. that highly controversial secret memo about the russia inquiry which has pitted the white house against the fbi will indeed be released. >> someone said treasonous. yeah, i guess, why not?
>> some context there. he was talking about the state of the union. treason is a capital offense. it's punishable by imprisonment or death. staff secretary rob porter left his position after two of his ex-wives accused him of physical and verbal abuse. >> pulitzer prize-winning author and historian john meacham is with us tonight. he's also a msnbc contributor. john, it really is dizzying, the pace at which this news cycle moves because of the president of the united states. have you seen something like this, or have you studied? when last in america did we have such a thing? >> we haven't. there's been, obviously, extraordinarily difficult periods before 50 years ago, 1968 we had a series of calamitous tragedies, the year that began with ted, the assassination of dr. king, ted
kennedy, the riots at the democratic national convention. so it's not as though this is entirely a different kind of experience, but one of the things that separates the ordinary pace of history from this is that history is usually a series of events that come at you. almost all of this is a series of controversies and flash fires and flash floods that the president has caused. and so we have this remarkable moment of a narcissistic president who in many ways has taken over the consciousness of the country. >> is american government going to be the same post-trump or is he changing anything immutably. >> i'm sorry, i'm afraid i can't hear you. >> do you have me?
that's a problem if we lose john meacham, because my knowledge of american history is compared to this compared to that. i was going to ask him how donald trump was going to be remembered in 20 years. let's see if i can connect back with john meacham in a second. all right. we're going to just hang on and try to reconnect with john meacham while we figure out why we've lost him. let's go to a commercial. i'll come back after we try and reconnect with him. next time, i want you on my bowling team. [ laughs ] rodney. bowling. classic.
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all right, we got john meacham back. you got me now? absolutely, i think president putin cut us off there for a second. >> we started to talk about president trump and that's what happened. let's talk about the concept that the president brought up in the state of the union about the wanting more unity and considering bipartisanship and then this concept of calling those who didn't clap for him treasonous. he's attacked the institutions of the media, the courts, the law enforcement, the fbi, the department of justice and now democrats. again, it's partisan. is this going further than you've seen in american history? >> it is because ordinarily presidents who want to be remembered fondly, which is to say almost every president by the nature of the job, are presidents who reach out beyond their base. the folks we think back on are those who did things that were really remarkable and were not simply telling people who already agreed with them what
they wanted to hear. there's a wonderful set of data from the pew polling organization that measures relative levels of partisanship. there was a 12-point gap between what republicans and democrats thought about a range of issues in 1994, 12 points. today it's 36%. so our levels of partisanship have tripled and i think it's only going to head up in part because we have a president who believes in governing for his base and not reaching out to those with whom he might have to compromise. >> in the year plus that the president's been president, have you seen growth or have you seen him go the other way? >> i think one of the things that's absolutely clear is that donald trump has changed the presidency, but the presidency has self-evidently not changed donald trump. i think that what we saw in the campaign is what we've gotten.
certainly culturally. and i don't think, you know, a lot of us have sat around and talked about there would be a pivot or there would be a crisis or once he gets behind the desk or whatever it will be different. it hasn't been different. and in a way this is kind of an historical issue. many presidents, once they get there, they believe that whatever they've been has clearly worked in life because they're the president of the united states. so that's why it's so important to get the right person on the front end because it's very rare for presidents to change in the maelstrom of power. >> john, good to talk to you as uls. thank you for joining us. sorry for the technical problem there. >> thanks. >> the last thing we do before we go tonight is take a look at the week ahead. on monday the white house is slighted to release the infrastructure program, something badly needed for roads, rails across the country. it's one of the rare things that has bipartisan support. it's anyone's guess how this
white house infrastructure week will go because we've seen this white house try it before. you're forgiven if you can't remember. it was last summer, june 5th to be exact, the white house kicked off infrastructure week classic edition. before 7 a.m. that day, the president went on a tweet storm blasting his own department of justice for failing to enact his original travel ban. by tuesday reports jeff sessions had offered his resignation. skip to thursday. james comey had the attention of the nation as he testified on capitol hill about his claims the president asked for his loyalty. by friday while standing in the rose garden with the president of romania, we got this reaction from the president to comey's testimony. >> no collusion, no obstruction. he's a leaker. >> things got even worse just over a month later for this white house on the issue of infrastructure. august 15th, flanked by cabinet officials to discuss infrastructure, the president instead offered these now infamous comments on the neo nazi rally that had just taken place three days prior in
charlottesville, virginia. >> i think there's blame on both sides. you look at both sides, i think there's blame on both sides and i have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either. but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. >> those comments led the white house to pull the plug on its own infrastructure advisory panel because of scrutiny people business leaders, would face for joining. thanks to heidi pryzbyla, we have this headline, "accideskeps on president trump's infrastructure plan has been president trump." so staying on message isn't this president's only obstacle when it comes to fixing this nation's roads, bridges and electrical grids. big thinking takes big bucks and
that may not be in the offing either. that's our broadcast tonight. thank you for being with us. brian is back monday. good night from nbc news headquarters in new york. hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. donald trump needs a bigger bus, one that fits all of the west wing staffers that have been thrown under it in the last four days in the rob porters domestic abuse scandal. this is a white house incapable of getting its story straight and delivers credibility and consistency to the press.