tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC November 13, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PST
call for a new election." sure, how about 2016? >> stephen colbert gets tonight's "last word." "the 1 1th hour with brian extraordinary call for a senior white house staffer to be fired saying she no longer deserves the honor of serving there. and tonight, reports of an even bigger shakeup sparked by a president described as furious and brooding in a cocoon of bitterness. on the russia investigation front, fevered speculation over what might be the next indictments. and will written answers to mueller's questions from this white house even matter in the end? plus the president dismissing reports that he's getting played by north korea. an update on those troops at our southern border guarding against that caravan. and trump on the defensive over his lonely weekend visit to france. as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a tuesday night.
well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 663 of this trump administration, and talk of a power struggle amid an imminent white house shakeup is getting louder and more frequent now. now we're hearing about a new force behind the push for personnel changes, and that would be her. first lady melania trump. today her office publicly called for the firing of deputy national security adviser mira ricardel, seen here at the white house as recently as this afternoon at an event. stephanie grisham, first lady's communications director issued this statement about ricardel. "it is the position of the office of the first lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this white house," grisham said. nbc news has detailed reporting tonight about this latest
development and other rifts within the white house. "ricardel has gotten into several disputes with the east wing." also over the first lady's trip to africa in october. more on that later. tonight the white house told our colleague, hallie jackson, that ricardel has never met the first lady and made no indication that ricardel has left the administration. nbc news also reports tonight chief of staff john kelly may soon leave the white house. you may have heard this before a time or two, but now this has changed. "questions about his future in the white house recently became more serious after his repeated clashes with national security adviser john bolton and his deputy, the aforementioned mira ricardel. kelly has also gotten on the wrong side of melania trump over staffing issues and travel requests. some of the disputes with the east wing have escalated to the president. seven people familiar with the clashes said. there have been instances where the east wing staff were not treated as equals to the
male-dominated decision makers in chief of staff kelly's office, one white house official said." just last month, melania trump spoke to abc news on the aforementioned africa trip about how she views some staffers working for her husband, the president. >> sources have told us, sources in the white house, that you are the gatekeeper. that you tell him who he can trust and who he can't trust. is that true? >> yes, i give him honest advice. >> has he had people you didn't trust working for him? >> yes. >> did you let him know? >> i let him know. >> and what did he do? >> some people, they don't work there anymore. >> interesting. an update on the story we first reported here last night via the "washington post," that trump plans to soon replace his homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen. a close ally of general kelly's. early last week, the president started dropping hints that a shakeup was possible. >> administrations make changes
usually after midterms, and probably we'll be right in that category, too. i think it's very customary. >> any timeline? >> no timeline. >> you've got a lot of white house staff. some have been talking about leaving. general kelly has been rumored to -- >> people leave. people leave. >> nancy cook of politico who's ing by tonight to join us as the co-author of a report that paints the white house as increasingly on the edge and a staff in turmoiled. "bottled up hostility in president donald trump's administration flowed to the surface today during a remarkable 12-hour period following an awkward midterm detente and tense trip to paris over which the president is still seething. it's like an episode of "maury" one former trump aide observed to politico as the spectacle unfolded. the only thing that's missing is a paternity test." and the "washington post" and the "l.a. times" describe a dark and contentious mood in the white house over the past several days.
former cia director john brennan, who is now national security analyst for our network, told our colleague nicolle wallace what these accounts may be signaling about this president. >> it may be that he is behind the scenes and really concerned about where things are going and that is a dangerous time because if he feels that he is being increasingly cornered, how is that going to manifest itself? it's a white house, administration, in disarray. this reflects this underlying tension that's just eating away at our government. >> with that, let's bring in our lead-off panel on a tuesday night. peter baker, chief white house correspondent for "the new york times." the aforementioned nancy cook, white house reporter for politico, and jeremy peters, political reporter also with the "new york times." peter baker, i have been looking forward to our conversation tonight because there's no other way to put it, you and i are old enough to remember first lady nancy reagan getting sideways with reagan chief of staff don regan.
former ceo of merrill lynch. don regan was soon former chief of staff. so there's precedent for this, but how unusual is this and why? >> don regan was chief of staff during iran-contra. nancy reagan felt he had ill served her husband. the thing that really did him in was when he hung up on her at one point in a testy fury. one thing that must be true in any white house is you don't hang up on the first lady. obviously, we have a situation where another first lady is pretty peeved at an aide to her husband. for her to make a statement the way she did today on the record out loud, that's something even nancy reagan didn't do. when nancy reagan chopped off don regan's head she didn't do it in a public statement issued by her press conference. it wasn't done in such an overt outward way. i've never seen -- i don't think either of us has ever seen any first lady openly say what melania trump did today about a person working for her husband.
it's an unprecedented situation. obviously means you have to imagine mira ricardel is on the way out because how can a husband continue to employ somebody after a first lady says something like that in a public statement? >> yeah, i had to read it twice and three times to fully understand the gravity of what i was reading. nancy, there's some reporting out tonight this official under john bolton is very process bound and process oriented, that there might have been a dustup over the first lady's trip to africa, dispute over seats that should have gone to national security types instead of media types. seats are very finite on those trips, as you know. what else are the people inside the west wing saying to you? >> well, she has really been a contentious figure since she joined the white house. and i'm always a little bit reluctant to report too much about women who are hard nosed and behave hard nosed in those situations. but there is a ton of reporting to really back that up. she has clashed repeatedly with
defense secretary mattis. and even during the transition she was serving on the pentagon transition team and tried to block a number of mattis's picks after she, herself, could not get a job at the d.o.d. she's really been sort of an attack dog for national security adviser john bolton. sort of going after mattis, going after people in the white house. there are reports of her screaming at people. so she has, you know, really been aggressive and also created a lot of enemies in the white house. as we've seen, she's created an enemy in melania trump and i think that makes it untenable for her to stay long. the remarkable thing about today was there was so much personnel news coming out that it almost seems a matter of who's going to get fired first. will it be mira ricardel? will it be, you know, the department of homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen? it's almost like we're waiting to see what will happen over the next 12 hours. >> jeremy, to that exact point, one hopes there is a whiteboard in the office of presidential
personnel where there may be suggestions of people to fill all these jobs. let's just take homeland security, let's take chief of staff. cabinet-level appointments have to be -- have to go through the senate. and that can be very tricky. >> that's exactly right, brian. and i think that if you were to look at some of the people who've been talked about as potentially being on a short list for, say, homeland security, like kris kobach who just lost the governor's race in kansas, it's difficult to imagine he gets easy senate approval. now, it would likely be easier than in the current senate because there are now more conservative members who've been elected that have replaced moderates like in tennessee and missouri. but nonetheless, the president is not going to have carte blanche to get whoever he wants through the senate. there's likely to be a considerable degree of scrutiny
that the senate continues to place on him even though it's more firmly in republican hands. >> peter baker, i wanted to read you a trip that -- a quote, rather, about the trip to france that is totally in line with the reporting from "the new york times." this happens to be from rucker and dawsey at the "washington post". "the president was frustrated about the trip and itching to make some changes, said one white house official. this is a week where things could get really dicey." i was thinking about the quote and thinking about what week of the trump presidency haven't we been worried that things are going to get dicey? >> i was going to say we have a name for that at the white house. it's called tuesday. we've gone from dicey week to dicey week all along. there's no question in the days since the midterms, there's a feeling of even greater turmoil inside the white house. uncertainty about where things are headed. potential clashes and conflict in washington. more generally we have obviously now the ascendance of a new democratic majority in the house
that will take office in january. we have these fights over the recounts in florida, we have the firing of an attorney general and installation of an appointment that seems like-minded with the president about the russia probe. so many things feel like on the edge right now. as nancy said, you know, at this point the personnel question isn't even so much who gets fired first. even maybe who gets to stay. we should probably be looking at the other direction around, it might be easier. even if these people don't leave and john kelly has been on the way out for a year, kirstjen nielsen has been on the way out for many months according to our reporting and everything else, is the question of, you know, how do you do your job if it seems like you might be out, on the way out at any moment? how do you approve process and policy if you're looking over the -- >> please tell siri we're trying to talk. >> hey, sorry. >> nancy, to your -- sorry, i used her name. now she's been engaged in the conversation.
the west wing, to your previous point, has been always full of people, both genders, sharp elbows, hard noses, people don't suffer fools, people don't scare easily. but you've written that this departure of a bolton deputy may have more weight than a departure of, say, a chief of staff. walk us through that flowchart and the reasoning. >> well, i just think the point i made earlier is just we have known that kelly has been on his way out for a long time. you know, his frustration level with both the white house and with president trump has been well known. i thought that the news today about mira ricardel and this clash she'd had with the first lady and the first lady's public statement which was so extraordinary really said so much more because it really means that this is one of the first potential missteps for john bolton as national security adviser. he's going to lose basically his attack dog in the white house.
someone who really helps him carry out the bureaucratic infighting that he's known for, and, you know, without having this right-hand person, that will be a huge blow to bolton. as there are a number of foreign policy questions coming up, you know, later this month, the president is supposed to go to argentina for the g20. that will be a key moment that bolton will want to be part of. president is supposed to meet with president putin and president xi at that meeting. so this is just a huge loss to bolton internally. >> jeremy, one is tempted to ask what could go wrong? argentina, meetings with both xi jinping and putin. also as the weather, the nip arrives in the winter air, one thinks of mar-a-lago where as you well know the president goes for kind of the advice and comfort of old friends and allies. often having the effect of hardening his views and
narrowing his focus, if that's possible. >> that's exactly right. and bringing out what are often his most self-destructive impulses. i think, you know, right now you're looking at a president who is not just struggling under the weight of the various geopolitical catastrophes facing this administration, but you also have the political considerations at home and that's that these midterm elections did not go as well as president trump thought they did when he went to bed last tuesday night and tweeted out what a wonderful evening it had been, good night, everybody, thank you very much. so here you have this situation in florida and that's where i am right now. covering this recount. and the president is personally aggrieved by this. he feels like the recount is a personal attack on him, he's told people, because he thinks he helped drag rick scott and ron desantis, the republicans running for senate and governor, over the finish line. as he does with most things, he makes them about himself.
so you have somebody who's already in a sour mood about the various other problems he's dealing with on the global stage, and you reinforce that with a very narrow majority he's going to have in the senate and a house of representatives that's flipped and talking about impeaching him. it's not a very happy place to be in. >> hey, peter, give me 30 seconds of your wisdom on the press corps. secret service is normally only supposed to pull a journalist's hard pass if you're determined to be a threat to the president physically. jim acosta over at cnn famously has had his hard pass pulled. the network is suing a number of people, but the white house, the press secretary, and others. do you think this may have merit? >> well, look, you know, he's been effectively prevented from doing his job. at least doing his job as well as he had done it before. if you're not on the grounds, if you don't have the permission to go in and go as you need to go for hits and briefings and events, that is a substantial impediment to doing your job and they say, well, you can get a day pass and go in on any given day but don't want to have to be
subject to the whims of the white house staff and whether they'll put you in for a day pass. in fact, he tried to put in for one last week after the hard pass, permanent pass, was pulled. they wouldn't give it to him. you know, there's a real case to be made here. i mean, the 1st amendment, i get why people are upset at reporters who question the president sometimes in a way that might seem rude, but there's not a rudeness exception to the 1st amendment. and i think at this point, you know, you saw the white house shift its rationale today. it first said it was suspending his credential because he was placing his hands on an intern. now they dropped that, saying basically it was because he was trying to monopolize the questioning. if you don't want him to monopolize the questioning, don't call on him. they're the ones who called on him in the first place. we'll see where the lawsuit goes. it's got a lot of people watching it. >> a trio of mostly polite practitioners of the 1st amendment starting us off tonight. peter baker, nancy cook, jeremy peters, our thanks as always. really appreciate it.
and coming up, if and when the president's legal team submits written answers to questions, will it really matter to the mueller team in the end? and later, the president and pentagon will ask a retired four-star general about troops at our southern border and the president's relationship with all things military these days. we're just getting started on a tuesday evening. your digestive system has billions of bacteria but life can throw them off balance. re-align yourself with align probiotic. and try new align gummies with prebiotics and probiotics to help support digestive health.
and with xfinity mobile, you get the best wireless coverage for your phone. ...you're about to find out! you don't even know where i live... hello! see the grinch in theaters by saying "get grinch tickets" into your xfinity x1 voice remote. a guy just dropped this off. he-he-he-he. fevered speculation and predictions earlier this week that more mueller indictments could be on the way. in the meantime, a source tells nbc news today that the president's legal team is almost finished with written answers to
questions from the special counsel, and they could be submitted as early as this week. the source added "the answers will pertain only to the matters related to russian interference in the election, not obstruction of justice. quote, "the source says the president's legal team considers questions about obstruction to be related to the firing of fbi director james comey and, therefore, to infringe on the president's power to hire and fire under article 2 of the constitution." just yesterday, roger stone associate jerome corsi told nbc news he expects to be indicted by mueller's team for perjury in the near future. earlier today, corsi abruptly canceled an interview at this building with nbc news after his lawyer held a scheduled phone call with the mueller folks. corsi's lawyer, david gray, texted this to us. "on advice of counsel, dr. corsi is canceling today's interview." the message read, "no further comment, things have changed". gray told nbc news in a
follow-up conversation, "i got to play this a certain way." let's play it our way. with us to talk about it, chuck rosenberg, lifelong veteran of the intersection between law and criminal justice. former senior fbi official, former u.s. attorney and former counsel to then fbi director robert mueller. so, chuck, first things first here. help me understand why with a fevered pitch we report with a straight face on these written answers to questions from mueller? we know the president right now isn't on the second floor of the residence with a legal pad. we know these are being prepared by his lawyers. why do we care and will they be treated with any seriousness? >> i'm not sure we should care, brian. to paraphrase forrest gump, life is not like a box of chocolates, you know exactly what you're going to get. you're going to get a heavily lawyered useless pile of
garbage. it's not helpful to mueller, it's not helpful to the investigation. you know exactly what you're going to get. >> why are we going through the motions? why would they ask for and accept with a straight face such a pile of paper? >> yeah. the only thing i can think of is the mueller team feels it has to give the president an opportunity to tell his side of the story in some way. maybe they decided they're not going to subpoena him, maybe they decided they can't subpoena him, so they're giving him this opportunity. remember, too, all this reporting is coming from the white house side. not from the mueller side. so i'm not even sure we can trust it. >> now to this corsi fellow here in new york, his lawyer insists on calling him dr. corsi because dr. corsi has a harvard ph.d., we note. while also noting he's a conspiracy theorist. he has done work with and associated with alex jones from 9/11 conspiracies to birther conspiracies. what role do you think -- what do you think is going on in his
life for him to have been almost outside this building in a parked car and canceled this interview? >> well, first brian, very few people tell their friends that they expect to be indicted. i don't think i've ever woken up expecting to be indicted. i'm sure you haven't, either. so my guess is that his lawyer has been in contact with mueller's team and has conveyed to his client, to dr. corsi that this is coming down the road. why did he cancel? well, there's a chance, i guess, that they've decided to cooperate. we've heard from a whole bunch of people, manafort, flynn, you know, others who have said there's no -- cohen, of course, who said i'm not going to cooperate under any circumstance. cohen even said "i'm going to take a bullet for the president." and they've all ended up cooperating. maybe dr. corsi is doing the same thing. >> i guess i can take away my modifier and call him a full-on birther. he just posed with the cover of
his book which was "where's the birth certificate after all?" hey, chuck, while i have you, because i hang on your every word, i saw you on television earlier today talking about the story the mueller team can often tell through these voluminous indictments that read differently to someone like you than they do a layperson like me. you cited off the top of your head paragraph 44 in the now-famous indictment of 12 russians. we scurried, went to work, of course, you were right. tell the folks watching what's interesting about paragraph 44. >> i remembered the number, brian, because that's the number hank aaron wore. >> there you go. >> paragraph 44 in the indictment of the russian military intelligence officials spoke about the fact that they had coordinated, conspired, with u.s. persons, plural, and so why that's important is because we know from the mueller team, from that indictment, that there are
americans involved in this conspiracy. we don't know who they are, but we have a good guess and my guess is that roger stone is one of them. >> and what will that do, what will that mean? >> well, it means other charges should be coming. it means that roger stone, if i'm right, should expect to be charged. or he should expect to have to plead guilty like others before him. this was a signal from the mueller team in an earlier indictment that russians had conspired with americans. that americans knew about the stolen and hacked e-mails and had participated in some way. does it go all the way to the president and to the white house? we don't know. but we know americans were involved. that's the import of paragraph 44. >> chuck rosenberg, if i didn't show you my autographed hank aaron baseball the last time you were in my office, then you're welcome to come back. i'm convinced you can get power by holding it in your hands. thank you so very much for coming on the broadcast with us, again tonight. and coming up -- >> my pleasure. >> -- the freshman class of lawmakers arrived on the hill
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republicans, started arriving on capitol hill for freshman orientation. no kidding, they were given tote bags and school supplies. even as the newcomers got their briefing books, toured their new digs, several key races remain uncalled. and the political maneuvering is ratcheting up, especially in florida and georgia. for the latest on where things stand, our national political correspondent, steve kornacki, who volunteered to come in and explain all this tonight. we're not holding him against his will on the late shift. he's with us at the big board. hey, steve. >> hey, brian. i don't want to be anywhere else. we still got votes coming in. these races are changing as we speak. let's start in florida. the news in florida today that machine recount is under way across the state. and that includes critically in broward county. the margin statewide, of course, just over 12,000 votes for rick scott right now. this is the big question mark. they are now running the ballots through the machine. presumably we've been talking about those 26,000 ballots where they didn't register a vote in the senate race originally. the question there was that a