tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC February 28, 2019 11:00pm-12:00am PST
are denying the very existence of racism and that is a grave crime against the truth of life in america and american history. if mark meadows isn't a racist, no one is. of racism and that is a grave crime against the truth of life in america and american history. if mark meadows isn't a racist, no one is. even george wallace eventually apologized for his racist tactics of governor of alabama before he died. tonight america awaits mark meadows' apology. that's tonight's last world. the 11th hour with brian williams starts right now. >> tonight president trump back at home but hardly out of the woods. in fact quite the opposite. having left vietnam after a summit with north korea, arriving back in washington where a former friend turned
enemy has been dominating the headlines. this was day three of testimony for trump's former lawyer michael cohen who's been rewarded with an invitation to come back with more testimony. then tonight came another bombshell, trump ordered officials to give jared kushner a security clearance, something both the president and his daughter had publicly denied for his part kushner is in the middle east tonight as the 11th hour gets underway on a thursday evening. >> good evening once again from our nbc headquarter in new york. day 770 of the trump administration. and the president has arrived back from a summit in vietnam. just in time for new reporting on trump's role in getting a security clearance on his son-in-law and adviser, jared kushner is right now in the middle east trying to bring about peace in the middle east. four "new york times" journalists share the by line, one of them is joining us in a moment.
they ordered his commander in chief to grant his son-in-law jared kushner a top secret security clearance last year. over ruling concerns flag by intelligence officials and the white house's top lawyer. trump's decision in may so so troubled senior administration officials that at least one, the white house chief of staff at the time, john kelly, wrote an internal memo about how he had been ordered to give mr. kushner the clearance. the white house counsel at the time don mcgahn also wrote a memo outlining the concerns that has been raised and how mcgahn recommended that he not be given a top secret clearance. the times also reports the memos contradict remarks the president made during an oval office interview just last month. >> you tell general kelly or anyone else in the white house to overrule security officials -- >> no. i don't think i have the
authority to do that. but i wouldn't do it. jared is a good -- i was never involved with his security. i know that he just from reading, i know there was issues back and forth about security for numerous people, actually. but i don't want to get involved in that stuff. >> then there's this. the president's daughter ivanka also directly denied her father's involvement in security clearances during an interview with abc news earlier this month. >> the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance. >> so no special treatment. >> no. >> this new "new york times" reporting also says a senior administration official confirms nbc news reporting earlier this year that two security officials had rejected top secret clearance for kushner but were
overruled by a supervisor. tonight the white house press secretary responded by saying we don't comment on security clearances. the president also facing the fallout from three days of congressional testimony by his personal -- former personal lawyer michael cohen. today was cohen's last day on the hill for now. he appeared before house intel in a closed-door meeting late this afternoon we learned he'll be back before that committee march 6th, that's next wednesday and a transcript of his testimony will be made public after that. committee chairman adam schiff gave this assessment of cohen's testimony today. >> he was fully cooperative and answered all of our questions. none of the questions we had for him went unanswered. >> earlier on this network, committee member and texas democrat went a bit further laying out the legal implications of what cohen said while under oath. >> based on what he described i think there's a good chance that the southern district of new
york investigation will i think implicate president trump or his family members, his direct family members and i also think that the investigation could go on quite longer possibly, that's my impression, than the special counsel's investigation. >> and then tonight, speaking with rachel maddow, cohen's lawyer went even further hinting that something consequential came up on the hearing today on the russia front. >> today new information was developed that really could be game changing. this new information is the reason that he's coming back next wednesday. it's not core to the russia investigation, but mr. trump has missed the big picture. there is plenty of evidence of a conspiracy to collude with russia. but this is about lying and obstruction evidence. >> that same committee also turning its attention to an associate of trump and cohen.
late today it announced that felix sater who worked with cohen on the trump tower moscow deal will testify at a public hearing march 14th. our panel standing by to join us, but first we want to go to one of the four reporters on this multiple sourced, multiple by line breaking story. washington correspondent mike schmitt joins us tonight by telephone. this was troubling enough. this development with jared kushner's security clearance application that senior aides were hiding contemporaneous evidence in realtime about the case that can't be a good sign. >> no. there was deep concern about this and how the process was playing out. and these folks wanted to
document how the president had overridden what the intelligence community was saying, what his own white house lawyer, the white house counsel, don mcgahn who recommended that kushner not get this. but the president controls security clearances. it's something he derives as the head of the executive branch and he ignored that and did what he wanted. >> remind us why he had been flagged in the first place. why did they come back from the full field investigation and say this guy shouldn't qualify for this? >> so there was a wide range of issues, kushner has very complicated finances in different holdings and different things with different investments including with foreign companies. he had these contacts including with russians that had not been disclosed during the transition and he was also in that famous meeting during the campaign at trump tower where the russians offered the dirt on hillary clinton and there was things we don't know about that were flagged. but there's a wide range of issues that at the end of the day the intelligence community,
the cia specifically, did not believe he should have the highest level of clearance. they were not comfortable with that. and they told the white house that. >> we often talk about your bucket metaphor for all the different areas of this investigation. is this likely to open a new one or was there already an active bucket or sub bucket looking into security clearances? >> this is probably a pail in a bucket. in this case it is the issues that these contacts with russia that has been looked at by mueller, mueller has examined those, has questioned them about it, has questioned kushner about what he knew about flynn's contacts and such, i don't think that the actual security clearance granting is a criminal issue. it is simply something the president can give. it's something derived from the executive branch not governed or overseen by anyone else outside of it. so criminally, there's no indication that this is a problem.
>> mike schmitt of the "new york times." thank you for joining us by telephone tonight. with that, let's bring in our leadoff panel for another busy thursday night. former chief counsel to house intel, josh gerstein, jessica roth is back with us as well, former federal prosecutor with the southern district of new york, now a professor at the school of law here in new york. welcome to you all. jeremy, i'd like to begin with you. as we know yours is the top security clearance at least here at least in this conversation. how serious a story is this to you also as a subset, how serious is it that this guy is in the middle east tonight conducting diplomacy for our country? >> yeah, i think the big story, brian, is we have an envoy for
the united states, jared kushner, meeting with foreign heads of state and heads of government and he does not have access to intelligence because he's not eligible for that sensitive information intelligence. and that's a huge problem because he can't do his job and defend america. but the story tonight is also very concerning which is that the president of the united states overroad the unanimous recommendation of the leadership, those who are sworn to uphold and protect our nation's secret, our nation's security, and he ordered his staff to override those recommendations and give his own son-in-law access to some of the most sensitive secret in the government. it goes against everything the intelligence community stands for and show you the extent to which the president was able to run rough shot to his get his family in the door. >> the president could have said to the world this is my guy and
i need him to have this because he's got a function. instead, here we are running recordings of the president and his daughter with direct denials. but to my question to mike schmitt, this is another thing and every day there's another thing and it makes you really doubt all the reporting that you and i have been told that mueller's wrapping up. >> well, there does seem to be a lot of unresolved business conducted to the mueller probe. we know there was that redacted material in the recent filings in the manafort case -- >> just a few hundred pages. >> just a good portion of it. and so there is this un -- lots of unresolved matter. we also know there's the outstanding grand jury subpoena to the foreign owned company. that's a huge unfinished area of business, if you will, when those documents come, that would be fodder for his investigation. the roger stone case is still
just getting underway. so there's lots that still seems to be central to the mueller probe that we don't know how it ends yet. it's possible there will be a grand finale times soon. so perhaps soon those will all be unsealed and they will relate to mueller. we just don't know. we know that mueller is putting in place, if you will, the structure to turn over important parts of the case if he decides to wrap up. so he's brought in prosecutors from different u.s. attorneys offices, not just the southern district of new york, but prosecutors of the d.c. office, virginia, so if he does decide to wrap it up because he's decided he's done with the main part of his mission, then they will be in place.
>> josh, while we wait, we can at least listen to former u.s. attorney chris christy who said this tonight about the president and this particular kushner case. >> what he's done at times, which has been unfortunate is lie about things that he hasn't needed to lie about. that's worse in many respects whether it's the stormy daniels payment or whether it's this instance. it doesn't serve him well. >> josh, the former new jersey governor may have a point there. >> yeah, it's curious to me that the president often seems to lie about things that he doesn't need to lie about as the former governor is saying. and then he will claim authority for things that he doesn't have authority to do. so here he said he couldn't get involved in somebody's clearance security case and he went ahead and did that anyway for his son-in-law. and on another thing like the
wall, he'll claim he has authority, which it's very dubious. his statements seem to be all over the map and it seems like sometimes he's covering up things he doesn't need to cover up. >> jeremy bash, what happened with his first filing? is it alleged he wasn't all in in filling out the form. the form takes you back and pretty much asks you to empty out what we used to call a roll la index, you have to take it seriously for the reasons we're discussing tonight. >> it requires you to disclose your foreign connections where there's an ongoing relationship or some sort of bond of affection or loyalty. it requires you to disclose your foreign government relationships of course if you look at the trump tower meeting, that was
obviously a russian government delegation and it would have been important for jared kushner to disclose every aspect of that meeting, the people he met with and the time and sequence of that meeting. all of these things are required. the form is about 100 pages long. it is pretty in-depth. it requires you to go back seven, in some places ten years, and disclose everything about your family members, your associates, your business and financial relationships, anything that could be a basis for foreign leverage over you. either he disclosed it incorrectly, incompletely or there was concerning information on there. >> our guests have agreed to stick with us. we're going to take a break and we'll come back and continue our conversation after this. and coming up -- after michael cohen's week on the hill, there's one trump associate whose name keeps coming up and congress would like to speak to him next. and president trump choosing to take the word of an authoritarian leader, this time
i was with allen weisselberg. i believe is allen weisselberg. allen weisselberg. that's signed by allen weisselberg. >> there are other people that we should be meeting with. >> allen weisselberg. >> his name might have come up a few times yesterday. this man is the long time chief financial officer of the trump organization dating back generations to when donald trump's father ran the place. today committee chairman was asked about the committee's next moves. >> you said you were going to be following up with some people. are they people like allen weisselberg -- >> all you have to do is follow the transcript.
we'll figure out who we want to talk to and we'll bring them in. >> from the trump family? >> just follow the transcript. >> in watergate it was follow the transcript. now we're following the transcript. here in new york, if you follow the transcript, how much more legal peril are they in. >> i don't think they're in anymore peril -- >> they're going to be called to testify. >> yes. and i'm assuming that the prosecutors in the southern district of new york are familiar already with everything that was said yesterday by michael cohen. he's testified yesterday he's been in contact contact with the southern district prosecutors. i'm assuming they know everything we heard yesterday and much, much more. so i think the big question is, what do they know from alan weisselberg already. he was given limited immunity to perhaps testify in the grand
jury but there's much more information that he has to offer and if i were in the southern district now, i would be quite concerned about him being called as a witness in an open session before congress before i had the chance to debrief him. >> we keep seeing the worry about russia and mueller but whether they are buckets or pails, they just keep opening up all over the horizon. >> they do. and i do think that some of the more damaging and potentially troublesome testimony from cohen during his lengthy appearance on capitol hill yesterday was more of the garden variety type stuff. even the campaign finance violations that we've all heard that cohen has admitted to regarding stormy daniels and karen mcdougal and significant if the law was broken.
but actually very hard cases to prosecute in federal court. it requires specific intent not just that the lobby broken, but you're going to need memos and some kind of indication that trump knew it was illegal despite the fact he had lawyers who were participating in this process. i think much simpler potential charges and more problematic for the white house and the trump organization are these claims that cohen made of regularly inflating financial statements, being given for insurance purposes, bank purposes, for applications for financing, for various real estate projects and for also for tax purposes. all those things not just federal crimes, but remember if they were done in new york city or done regarding trump properties in new jersey or california, subject to potential prosecution in those jurisdictions by state authorities and those people are not covered by this justice
department memo that says you can't indict the president. if you want to talk about a worst-case scenario or a bad scenario for the president, it might be time to be thinking about what those prosecutors are going to do not just to someone like paul manafort but possibly to the president himself. >> jessica you were agreeing. >> i agree. i think those cases are much easier to prove. they're likely to be backed up by evidence. it's pretty hard to explain why you submitted a financial statement that shows you net worth to be one thing and to someone else for another purpose. those are going to be easier cases to make. we don't have an airtight case yet but certainly what michael cohen talked about yesterday does show the kinds of things that prosecutors in the southern district of new york and in new york state would be pursuing and where they could possibly have the easiest road. >> speaking of garden variety. at least something that sounds
so simple, when you hear the chairman say follow the transcript, it's right there in front of us, is there anything or moment that either watching yesterday in realtime or reading it back today jumps out at you? >> i think the significance of yesterday was that they gave the multitude committees road maps. while it's true that the prosecutors in the mueller investigation and in the southern district of new york probably knew all of this information, having spent time with many witnesses, having reviewed many documents, having spent time with michael cohen, i think this is if window into a way the house democrats are going to proceed here, they're going to look at the hush money campaign violations, these are acts that he committed as president, they're going to look at the wikileaks channel and look at the broader issue of what the president knew about the trump moscow tower deal. i think there's a lot more investigating to come. >> very much obliged to our big three tonight. got extra work out of everybody. our thanks for being on and
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today empty handed. white house cut the summit short with north korea's leader kim jong-un after a breakdown in negotiations over nuclear weapons and sanctions relief. but it was perhaps trump's decision to let kim jong-un off the hook for the torture and death of a captured american student that caused the most backlash. >> i don't believe he knew about it. he felt badly about it. he knew the case very well. but he knew it later. and you got a lot of people, a big country, a lot of people. and in those prisons and those camps you have a lot of people. and some really bad things happened to otto. he tells me he didn't know about it. >> otto warmbier was arrested in north korea. he was brutalized for 17 months.
he returned to the u.s. in a coma. he died days later. he was 22 years old. his parents called his death murder and rightfully so. back with us again tonight to talk about all of this, nick kristof welcome, thank you for coming back. a dual question, is there any chance in hell didn't know about otto warmbier when he was in their possession and how do you process the way this summit ended? >> so look otto warmbier was taken as a hostage, he wasn't taken because he had taken this poster, he was taken as a hostage and that is a decision that kim jong-un was clearly involved in. the nature of his death i think is more complicated. i think we don't know how that happened and kim jong-un may not have been intentional. but he was absolutely -- kim jong-un knew he was being sentenced to 15 years, that he
was being taken and that's what caused his death. and to see an american president emerge as a spokesman for north korea's dictatorship is painful. >> i'm glad you mentioned that. we have a sampling of times bent over backwards to give authoritarian leaders the right side of the argument. >> they think it's russia. i have president putin, he just said it's not russia. i will say this, i don't see any reason why it would be. i have great confidence in my intelligence people but i will tell you that president putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. >> i spoke with the king. i spoke with the crown prince yesterday and he strongly said that he had nothing to do with this. this was at a lower level.
>> and some really bad things happened to otto. but he tells me he didn't know about it. and i will take him at his word. >> what do you think that's about? >> in the case of putin, i think there may be something more going on. >> i might have read something about that. >> but in the case of the others, this has happened time and again, place and again. even the second tier people, president duterte in the philippines and i think there is a sense of admiration and awe for these strong member, these leaders who provide a model that perhaps in some sense president trump aspires to and coupled with that a cavalier kind of dismissal of human rights. so when they get to saudi arabia, what counts is not the fact that he murdered a "washington post" columnist or
is torturing women's rights activists, but there's an opportunity for some sales there. i think we see that around the globe. >> one of the reasons i was so happy to have you on tonight, happy is not the right word, is to tell folks what they need to know about india, pakistan which has heated up so violently this week. it's an army with its own country. india of course has the larger army, pakistan led by a new man, a former cricket player, india's president is in the throws of re-election and there at the top of the map is kashmir. what's going on. >> the real risk of nuclear war in the last week did not involve north korea. it involved india and pakistan. and there was an incident in
which a pakistani terror group paramilitary in india in kashmir. that started hostilities that began escalating and india is facing an election soon. so the prime minister was under great pressure. he then had air strikes on pakistan. we have two countries with nuclear weapons pointed at each other. when people do war games, they quickly escalate into actually using those warheads. but today there's actually progress. the prime minister of pakistan, the cricket player you mentioned, he has promised to release the indian pilot who was shot down and i think that that is actually going to be a way to
deescalate this. i think a lot of people were concerned that this was just going to escalate and escalate and could be very, very scary and i think now we can foresee a path out of this. but with a caveat that it is still absolutely outrageous for pakistan to provide a base for groups like this that engage in these kind of terrorist activities and i hope pakistan does try to rectify that broader problem. >> sometimes it's surprising to realize that the only ones ever detonated were by the u.s. >> i hope that record continues to request. >> thank you so much. always good to have you on. nick kristof from the "new york times." coming up, the one thing michael cohen said yesterday during seven hours of testimony that president trump says is actually true when we come back.
let's see. how do we put this? the summit ended with no warning, the press corps scrambled, equipment had to be broken down. flights has been changed. bags had to be packed. the president walked onto air force one. he arrived in washington to a news cycle by a former friend who lowered the boom on donald trump. just yesterday michael cohen accused the president of committing crimes. trump told reporters he tried to watch as much of the testimony he could. he said his former lawyer lied a lot but not about everything. >> he lied a lot but it was very interesting because he didn't lie about one thing. he said no collusion with the russian hoax. and i said i wonder why he didn't lie about that too. and i was actually impress that had he didn't say, well, i think there was collusion for this reason or that. he didn't say that. he said no collusion. and i was a little impressed by
that frankly. he could have gone all out. he only went about 95%. >> susan glasser of the new yorker sums up a week, quote, rarely has a president been so publicly humiliated in different settings by such different actors in such a short span of time. with us tonight, two of our returning veterans, eugene robinson and rick wilson the author of the book "everything trump touches dies." just released with new material in paperback as well. his titles on social media include the under secretary of understatement on twitter and the prime minister of periscope. >> where will we rank this one. >> this one is a dumpster fire. >> oh, good. >> he predicted and wanted a
summit that was going to cover up the michael cohen problem this week, it was going to paper over the whole thing and almost from the moment he landed in vietnam, finally, he ended up behind the eightball with this guy. you knew it was going to go south the first day when they leaked that they were going to give up the inventory of north korea's nuclear weapons. if we're not going to know where their weapons are, why are we negotiating. this humiliated the president. he'll do anything to try to get a pr deal and so of course it fell apart. at the same time it fell apart, you know why, he was distracted by michael cohen who was opening up all these new venues for investigation and every time he said weisselberg, you could almost hear trump just clinching ten thousand miles away.
so it was a terrible, horrible, no good week for donald trump and it's irredeemable bad. tomorrow marks the end of another great infrastructure week. >> that's right. i want to show you latest headline of your latest column and it doesn't get better next week. michael cohen's revelation advance trump's inevitable reckoning. there were so many new tranches that came off of that. >> and it's hard to keep track of all of them. the knowledge of criminal activity that he couldn't tell us anything about. do you know anything about insurance fraud, well, yes, as a matter of fact. it is a -- and then these hints, about russia, i didn't know. i don't have any solid evidence that proves collusion, however, there was a whispered conversation between donald trump and donald trump jr. there are, you know, other hints of -- well, of course the phone
call involving roger stone and wikileaks. so he did in fact advance our knowledge of collusion. he didn't, you know -- we don't have the smoking gun there yet. but a whole lot more smoke. >> rick, i want to talk to you about your political party, at least the party you started your life in, and cpac, the wood stock of conservatism going on in washington. i want to show a tweet on the screen that went up tonight and talk about the new -- the democrat appearing in cpac videos and speeches, the most by far, alexandria ocasio-cortez. more than any 2020 democrat. and oliver north narrated nra video just ended with the footage of her dancing outside her office with the color
drained to make it look more ominous. i have noticed that on fox news every night she is already president of the united states. >> absolutely. >> and i've had colleagues of yours say that they couldn't have created her in a laboratory to make a better kind of opponent for the republican party. >> hillary clinton is getting a little long in the tooth as the chief villain of the trump republican party. so she plays this role almost to the hilt. >> what is it about her? >> she's young, she's got a edge to her, she's great in social media. she exists in the same policy bubble that trump does. cpac used to be about how they were going to pursue individual liberty and limited government and now it's -- tonight was the big dance party for turning point usa and what used to be the -- has turned into advertise diamond and silk owning the libs
on the stage. and now it's sort of -- >> i hate not -- >> it has to be quick. >> alexandria ocasio-cortez is also latina. and part of the conservative movement now is making people afraid of a latino invasion -- >> did she come on the caravan? >> both gentlemen are staying with us. we'll be right back.
look, bottom line, i think he wants to get something done but this wasn't the right time. >> still with us, eugene robinson and rick wilson. rick, he is a character. he has killed relatives with anti-aircraft fire. >> starved millions of his people, yes. >> where does this come from? >> look, donald trump is dictator curious. this is a guy who loves these kinds of authoritarians. these thugs, these war lord types because he envisions how he would love to lead. and i'm not saying he wants to kill his relatives with an anti-aircraft gun. >> that was nick kristof's theory. >> this is a guy who has a long relationship with loving the strong man, loving the tough guy.
i guess it's projection in some ways but it really shows us again and again. who does he trust? kim jong-un. vladimir putin. the tough guys in the world. who does he not trust? the american intelligence agencies. he doesn't trust the press. he doesn't trust the institutions around him. he doesn't trust anybody that doesn't suck up to him. so when kim jong-un learned to play donald trump's ego and vanity, it got him to the point where he got him back there a second time so he could prank him a second time in front of the world. >> eugene, you think about and write about big thoughts. it seems to me one of the last serious vestiges of the city where you live, washington, d.c., is that foreign policy establishment from cia to state to pentagon and beyond, that still cares deeply about this. >> it does. >> we had donald trump playing with house money, conducting diplomacy for this country yesterday. his son-in-law is trying to achieve middle east peace, conducting diplomacy in the middle east right now. >> yeah. >> tonight.
>> well, what's left of that establishment, yes, cares deeply about our foreign policy, cares deeply about america's place in the world, knows history. >> they've kept the peace. >> exactly. and -- but this president is trying to destroy, disrupt, dismantle that foreign policy establishment. and he's had an impact on it. there is no question. >> sure. >> rex tillerson's time at the state department, while i think tillerson was a pretty good guy, but he was a disaster at the state department. he didn't fill a lot of slots. it just wasn't happening. president trump in his whole national security apparatus in the white house has never functioned the way a national security apparatus -- you saw it
in the summit. when i see the headlines on the chyron saying "summit collapses." in order to collapse, it has to have been a thing. it was never a thing. it was never the scaffolding and preparation done to make it an actual summit. so of course it collapsed. you know? there was nothing there. can the world's leading military and economic power try to conduct a foreign policy without substance? that's what we're finding out. >> rick, last word. this is why india/pakistan is keeping people up at night. >> yes. >> because of the lack of rigor in areas like this. >> we have dismantled a lot of america's moral status in the world and our ability to go out and influence behavior of countries that we have alliances and relationships with is diminished because we've killed off most of the state department. we've got a president who insists on doing everything principal to principle and he's not very good at it, as we saw this week, so that's why people are breathing a little sigh of relief that india and pakistan seem to be backing away, but god forbid the guy tweets about it. who knows what's going to happen after that. >> two of our favorites on the broadcast here on a thursday night. we're really grateful to have them. eugene robinson, rick wilson, gentlemen, thank you. and coming up, the emotional moment that was all but lost because it came at the end of a
last thing before we go tonight, the emotional moment from yesterday that was almost lost in the news of michael cohen's testimony because it came at the end of seven hours of testimony. the committee chairman, democratic congressman elijah cummings of maryland, started out by thanking michael cohen. it quickly became emotional and it ended with a call to a return to normal in our country. >> and i'm hoping that all of us can get back to this democracy that we want and that we should be passing on to our children so that they can do better than what we did. and so you wonder whether people believe you. i don't know. i don't know whether they believe you.
but the fact is that you've come, you have your head down, and this has got to be one of the hardest things that you could do. i know that this has been hard, i know that you face a lot, i know that you are worried about your family, but this is a part of your destiny. and hopefully this portion of your destiny will lead to a better, a better, a better michael cohen, a better donald trump, a better united states of america -- >> yeah. >> -- and a better world. and i mean that from the depth of my heart. when we're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019, what did we do? to make sure we kept our democracy intact. did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?