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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  May 31, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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those are the three criteria and going to be hugely important along with an overwhelming question you identified, so important, ali, of the chief justice and his concern about institutional legitimacy. >> jeffrey rosen, my pleasure to see you tonight. thank qulu fyou for quoijoining. that is tonight's "last word." "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts right now. tonight, donald trump on the defensive getting still more cover from his attorney general as his justice department defies a court order concerning contact with the russians. plus, as democrats debate their next move, a look at the ways congress could move forward in biuilding their case. ahead for us tonight, some perspective on an eventful week that saw robert mueller break his silence with decidedly mixed results and saw the president attack a modern day american war hero. also an update tonight on the latest mass shooting if america. the staggering death toll this evening in virginia beach, all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on this friday night.
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well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 862 of the trump administration and just quickly here, we'll update this at the bottom of the hour, we have 12 dead now in virginia beach after a mass shooting by a longtime co-worker. four people hospitalized including a police officer. the gunman is also dead. first off, let's begin our broadcast here tonight with those new developments that are still on this friday evening emerging from the mueller investigation. this week, we heard robert mueller say he closed down his office but his investigation launched several others which are still ongoing including the one involving mike flynn who was briefly trump's first national security adviser. you'll recall he took a plea and copped to lying to investigators about his conversations with a former russian ambassador to the u.s., sergey kislyak. those conversations took place december 2016 during the transition. earlier this month, a federal
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judge ordered the justice department to make public various materials related to that case. that included transcripts of any audio recordings of flynn including his conversations with kisly kisly kislyak. today, the justice department defied part of that order and refused to hand over flynn's discussion with kislyak. the russian ambassador. prosecutors also failed to release a redacted version of sections of the mueller report related to flynn that the same judge had ordered be made public. justice department did provide one item the judge requested. a transcript of a voicemail left by trump's former attorney for michael flynn's lawyer. much of that information was already revealed in mueller's report, but there's some new material and some context in this new transcript. we will read it out for you in just a moment. also, today, we heard more from attorney general bill barr and his critiques of the special counsel's work. his friend of several decades.
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in his cbs news interview this week on a trip to alaska, barr, again, made it clear that he's standing by this president who appointed him. >> one of the ironies today is that people are saying that it's president trump that's shredding our institutions. i really see no evidence of that. from my perspective, the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and, you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that's where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring. my experience with the president is we have a good professional working relationship. i don't think to tweets for -- i don't look at them as directives or as official communications with the department. >> it was just days ago when mueller broke his silence. barr was asked about the outgoing special counsel's comments about not being able to
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clear the president. >> he said that he couldn't exonerate the president. you looked at that evidence and you did. i mean, what's the fundamental difference between your view and his? >> we analyze the law and the facts and a group of us spent a lot of time doing that. and determined that both as a matter of law, many of the instances would not amount to obstruction. we didn't agree with the legal analysis. a lot of the legal analysis in the report. it did not reflect the views of the department. it was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers. and so we applied what we thought was the right law. >> the attorney general's now conducting what he describes as a review of the origins of the russia investigation and trump has granted his request for wide authority to de classiclassify
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information. barr has testified he believes the trump campaign was spied upon. something most legal professionals know, instead, as federal court-ordered surveillance. today he was asked about that new investigation. >> what have you seen? what evidence? what makes you think i need to take a look at this ? >> i had a lot of questions about what was going on. i assumed i would get answers when i went in. i have not gotten answers that are satisfactory and, in fact, have probably more questions and some of the facts that i've learned don't hang together, things are just not jiving. >> in the meantime, in the days since, mueller's handling of the russia investigation has become even more politicized now that it's over. a "new york times" analysis entitled "mueller played by the rules. trump made new ones." describes the special counsel's dilemma. "mueller's refusal to pass
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judgment on whether the president broke the law is one example of how the special counsel operated by rules ill fitted for the trump era. he said nothing and the president said everything. mueller handled the part of his investigation involving the president's conduct in office with extreme care. yet, mr. trump portrayed the mueller investigation as out of control. at that point, let's bring in our leadoff discussion group for a friday night. susan page, washington bureau chief for "usa today" and author of the bestselling new book "the barbara bush biography called "the matriarch." elliot williams, former federal prosecutor. also was counsel to the senate judiciary committee. eric tucker back with us as well. justice department reporter for the associated press who notably has covered the mueller investigation from the start. good evening, and welcome to you all. susan, what do you make of william barr, his words, his behavior, his loyalty to this man who has just appointed him? >> well, this is the attorney
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general that president trump wanted from the start and didn't have. and he has now. an attorney general woho's willing to make his case. you know, if he thought the mueller investigation was over with robert mueller's announcement that he was stepping down and closing up shop, that is not the case. the mueller investigation is going to be open for some time. democrats who want to explore more thoroughly what they found and also, apparently, by the attorney general who's going to look back at the origins of that investigation. this story is not sneerly ov ln yet. >> elliot, when barr said mueller could have reached a decision on wrongdoing, that in looking at the same case, he could not, help viewers through this. how are people to understand the disagreement between these two equally titanic figures in the current law? >> and it's clearly a disagreement, and it's a profound one. here's the thing, well, there's a few problems going on here. number one, barr never had to
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make a conclusion as to obstruction of justice. mueller clearly made the decision not to go there. barr could have left the findings in the report as they were and passed it on to congress. i think a problem, though, exists in the fact that barr for three decades has sort of -- has written and spoken about the primacy of the executive branch and not wanting to defer to congress as a branch of government, even when it comes to adjudicating the president's conduct. so i don't think he wanted to send it to congress. you know, so this is almost par barr for the course, for lack of a better way to put it. no, i think that's really it. it's -- you know, we've accepted as a matter of fact that because of the fact that mueller did not make a determination then barr ought to have, right? but i also think playing into this is the role of the justice department guidance, and, you know, barr accepts thereat t s
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justice department -- to be clear for your viewers, a sitting president can't be dwoo indicted, right. >> so if a sitting president couldn't be indicted and mueller didn't make a finding as to the president's criminality, necessarily, the body that would have to adjudicate that would be congress. right? so if -- because assuming that barr accepts the validity of the guidance that his own department put out. you know, it's confusing but he's created a bit of a muddle here and he should have just sent it to congress. that is the body that can adjudicate whether a president has engaged in wrongdoing, and i think he probably, you know, in the -- in his desire to have the buck stop with him, as mueller's boss and head of the justice department made that determination and i just don't think he had to go there. >> eric tucker, take us over to the flynn case. when was the last time as someone who covers this line of work you remember the feds saying straight-up no to a federal judge's make-public order? >> it was a fascinating court filing because there wasn't actually that much of a reason
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that was given for why the justice department was not going to comply with that order. so it was striking and, of course, this is a judge who has made clear that he expects the parties who were before him to listen to him and abide by his ort e orders. but by the flip side, it's not that surprising the justice department took hthis position because they didn't confirm the existence of the flynn wiretap to begin with, so the idea they would put onto the public docket a full transcript of this wiretap seemed unusual. >> hey, elliot, there was a song in the time of our parents and grandparents called "is that all there is?" for people on the left side of the docket who are looking at the mueller effort in the rearview mirror, wondering is that all there is, remind us as a percentage of what is known, as a percentage of this case, of the outgrowth cases, the spinoffs, that are still out there, what do you reckon percentage we don't know yet? >> well then i'll quote someone
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on the right side of the ledger, donald rumsfeld, there were probably a number of known unknowns. we know several cases were spun up, some of which were sealed and so on. look, as we learned today, there's information that's alluded to or written about in the report that we just haven't seen yet. now, this particular -- the voicemail that came up today between john dowd, the president's attorney and one of the attorneys for flynn, you know, it's alluded to and quoted in the report, but the extent of it and the full language we haven't seen yet. i'm sure there's plenty of that that is going to trickle out. none of this, i think, is good for the president. i think -- some of it's not criminally chargeable, much of it may not be criminally chargeable, but it is at best embarrassing information for the president of the united states. and speaks to a pattern of wrongdoing. even the information today, you know, so getting back to this john dowd voicemail -- >> can i interrupt you with a dramatic reading especially for those who grew up in the new
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york area listening to gambino recordings -- >> yes. >> -- in the fish club, people should listen to this this way. this is a voicemail left by john dowd and you'll forgive me because there's stuttering written in as part of this. "hey, rob, this is john again, maybe i'm sympathetic, i understand your situation but let me see if i can't state it in starker terms. if you have -- and it wouldn't surprise me if you've gone on to make a deal with -- and work with the government. uh, i understand that you can't join the joint defense. so that's one thing. if on the other hand we have -- there's information that implicates the president, then we've got a national security issue or maybe a national security issue. i don't know. some issue. we've got to -- we got to deal with not only for the president, but for the country. so, uh, you know, then, then, you know, we need some kind of heads up. just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can without you having to give up any confidential information.
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so, um, if it's the former, then, you know, remember what we've always said about the president and his feelings toward flynn and that still remains, but, well, in any event, um, let me know, i appreciate you listening and taking the time. thanks, pal." elliot, what did we just hear? what does all that mean? >> oh, my goodness, that was a beautiful reading, by the way, brian. >> thank you very much, i worked on it most of the day. >> with you do mafioso very well. a couple things going on, number one, share with me the secrets of your client. national security, they're hiding behind national security. when in reality, what they were trying to do was get their story straight. and this is something we've seen from the administration more than -- look, we saw it this week with tariffs and immigration. we're using these natural -- pardon me, national security matters as an explanation for trying to get ffgs out theinfor there, number one? number two. i took a look at the mueller report again those. this an example of conduct they thought was ultimately obstructive but couldn't find or
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trace the president's intent to it partly because many of the communications between the president and dowd that could have established the president's intent that he intended to commit a crime, attorney/client conversations, right? or they couldn't -- neal said they couldn't prove intent. the fact that you couldn't -- the fact that you couldn't prove that he intended to obstruct justice doesn't mean it's not an obstructive act. that's one of the things that mueller made a note of in the report, you know, when citing this particular thing. and then also, finally, the last point, i know i'm rambling a little bit, they dangle a pardon and, again, the president's pardon power is pretty absolute, but i don't think the framers when granting the president clemency power intended for a president of the united states to be pardoning, floating pardons to people merely to sort of assure their silence or assure their testimony. so there's a lot going on and it just speaks to poor judgment at a minimum, and at a maximum, criminal conduct by the president of the united states. >> susan page, i got one for
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you. this is former democratic congresswoman from maryland donna edwards in the "washington post" today about how democrats need to repackage mueller report for tv. "it's time for the democratic leaders to repackage mueller's findings in a form that will be more readily digested by the american people. the current approach of investigations is no fewer than six committees, multiple subpoenas, innumerable court proceedings and white house delay tactics, just creates more confusion. it's no surprise that few americans are talking about the report over the water cooler. the only voice that breaks through with a consistent, if mostly untrue message, is president trump's." susan, do you agree with that holding and do you think any democrats will act on that? >> well, you know, democrats -- some democrats hope by having robert mueller testify before their committees that he would be the voice that would prove to be very compelling for americans who maybe didn't tune in on all
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the details of the report, didn't bother to read the report. that he would tell the story in a way that would engage more americans in his findings. but it's clear that robert mueller does not intend to be that voice. he thinks that he's done the job that he was assigned to do and has announced to the -- for the world to hear that he has nothing else to say and if you call him up there, he's just going to repeat what is written in the report. so democrats have this debate going on now, you know, there's no question there's going to be investigations that will continue into president trump and the question is, will that include an impeachment inquiry that may pull them all together as former congresswoman edwards suggested -- suggests. that is a -- that is a decision i think that is not yet made. it's one that's going to be in the end up to speaker nancy pelosi and she is clearly not there yet. she clearly sees the risks to democrats of impeachment and the risk to the country as greater
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than -- than -- is -- ought to convey, ought to be the determinative thing. she is not yet ready to move toward impeachment, although an increasing number of her members are. >> absolutely. hey, eric, among the list of known unknowns, we have the gates sentencing hanging out there, we we'got the stone tria. also at the same time, by the way the attorney general is investigating portions of the justice department, what can morale be like inside that institution you cover every day? >> well, it's a big institution, and so there are a lot of people who work there who actually are not affected by the day-to-day drama and turmoil caused by the russia investigation and the leadership changes. i think there's uncertainty especially within the fbi as to what exactly is inspiring or instigating this justice department-led initiative of the origins of the russia investigation because the attorney general has not been especially clear as to what he's troubled by and so people are sort of left to surmise what it
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is that happened that he thinks is is so problematic. and so for people who worked on that investigation, people who care about counterintelligence, i think people are trying to really ascertain what it is that that investigation is meant to accomplish and meant to do. obviously, there's a parallel inspector general investigation, so there is confusion within -- certainly within the fbi as to why this is necessary. we had an op-ped a couple days ago from director comey where he has repeatedly said i don't understand what the attorney general's talking about when he says there might have been spying but i don't mean it in a pejorative way so i think there's a lot to be sort of settled out and sorted out that does affect morale for sure. >> a holiday-shortened week that just feels longer than any other week. big thanks to our big three on a friday night. susan page, elliot williams, eric tucker, really appreciate the three of you starting us off this evening. still to come for us, still more democrats call on speaker pelosi to begin those impeachment proceedings. we'll ask a former general
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counsel to the house of representatives how that might work. and later, a presidential threat of tariffs on mexico, it sparks a selloff on wall street and reports of division in the west wing. "the 11th hour" is just getting started on this friday night. ♪ play it cool and escape heartburn fast with new tums chewy bites cooling sensation. ♪ tum tum tum tums
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you're connected to wifi, saving on data. when you're not, you pay for data one gig at a time. use a little, pay a little. use a lot, just switch to unlimited. it's a new kind of network. call, visit or go to so here's where we are. as of tonight, 53 house members support opening an impeachment inquiry. there they all are. they include one lone republican. justin amash of michigan. house democratic leadership still resisting this slide
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toward impeachment saying there would need to be a groundswell of bipartisan american support. earlier today, house judiciary chairman jerry fad her sponadle about impeachment during a new york radio interview. >> again, you can't impeach the president until the people support it and you -- also, it's a political act. you don't want to divide the country so half the country is bitter for the next 30 yoears saying we won the election, you stole it. if there is justification, which i think there certainly is, you then have to develop the awareness in the country and the -- and the agreement basically before you can take the real step of an impeachment. >> here's politico's take. 11 1 of the 24 democrats on nadler's judiciary committee which has jurisdiction over impeachment already demanded democrats begin proceedings to remove the president and that number has risen sharply in recent weeks. nadler said he intends to confer
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with them and other democrats next week to determine whether an impeachment inquiry would be an appropriate step." for me, we welcome to this broadcast stan brand, a veteran attorney who was chief counsel to the united states house of representatives under then-speaker of the democrat, tip o'neill, of the great city of boston, mass. counselor, great to see you. it's been a long time. thank quyou very much for comin on. if you were invited by the speaker of the house to come speak to the caucus, what would your warning to the democratis s be? >> well, my warning would be that the bar for impeachment is obviously high. the framers plaed it high for a reason because while they sea h certainly concerned about checking abuse of power by the president, they placed a bunch of obstacles in the way. in fact, the constitutional convention when governor morris heard the term, maladministration of being the basis of impeachment, he offered
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an amendment to substitute treason, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanors because he thought that bar was too low. so it's a quasi-judicial process that occurs in a political branch, but it is a long involved one that requires a lot of hard work and a lot of preparation. >> you've worked with both mueller and barr over the course of your career. barr was certainly a member of the firmiment of the gop washington legal establishment. how surprised have you been at his behavior thus far? >> somewhat surprised on certain grounds. not on others. i think in some ways he's hued to institutional positions that the department of justice has taken over time. in others, he seems to have broken new ground and been, perhaps, more active and more defensive than i would have expected. although, remember, and this goes not just for him, but for
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every attorney general, they're appointed by the president and they're subject to, you know, serve at the pleasure of the president. so he's not the first attorney general to march in step with the president. >> do you concur with this argument just in the last couple of days that mr. mueller is, perhaps, a man out of time and adheres to a set ofognized by td had mueller spoken first, how would the world have changed? >> i don't know that it would have changed. you know, to me, bob mueller represents the best of the tradition of the rule of law. someone who understands that the prosecutor speaks only through public indictments and charges. in this case because of the special circumstances of a regulation that nominated him special counsel which required him to make a report, he made
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such a report. but i think he harkens back to the old school which says that prosecutors don't talk about their cases except through their indictments or through their court proceedings. >> and here we are living, of course, in a different age starting with the president on down. and about the attorney general, i guess most of the guests who come on this broadcast have complained that he's acting like a man with one client when he is -- his job is supposed to be representing us all. do you concur? >> well, he has -- he has in a sense dual loyalties. i mean, that's -- that's the way the constitution sets it up. as i say for him or any other attorney general. article 2 permits the president to appoint cabinet members. he's appointed by the cabinet, by the president. he serves at the pleasure of the president. he's certainly bound and controlled to a large extent by
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the statutes that congress has drafted and by the precedents within the department of justice that control his activity. so he is -- he is as all attorneys general are, walking a fine line. >> stanley brand, former counsel to the house of representatives. thank you very much for being on tonight. coming up for us, the one thing that can create havoc on wall street and in the west wing at the same time, on the same day. that would be the threat of tariffs against mexico delivered via twitter. more on that story when we come right back. we come right back the way you triumph over adversity. and live your lives. that's why we redesigned humira. we wanted to make the experience better for you. now there's less pain immediately following injection. we've reduced the size of the needle and removed the citrate buffers. and it has the same effectiveness you
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for any of you kids watching, if when you grow up you want to rattle the financial markets, threaten tariffs against mexico and sure enough, the dow closed down over 350 points after donald trump threatened a 5% tariff on all mexican goods on june 10th unless mexico slows the growth, the flow of migrants crossing our southern border. president said the tariffs would rise monthly to as high as 25% until the problem is solved. nbc news reporting today trump's tariff threat was opposed by treasury secretary steve mnuchin and u.s. trade representative robert lighthizer. for more, our go-to guy on economics, ali velshi, co-host of "velshi & ruhle."
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for good measure, he anchored the hour before this one. we heard a rumor he was trying to get home. jonathan allen, happens to be nbc news national political reporter is also joining our conversation tonight. gentlemen, before we begin, here is the president's trade adviser peter that vanavarro on cnbc on topic. >> why raise american consumers' prices on all thereat stuff coming from mexico? >> so this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the trump tariffs. china, flexior example, bears t murder in lower exports, lower prices for their products, lower profit s for their companies. the government of the china has the burden of those tariffs in the form of lower tax revenues and lower rate of growth. >> but so is the american consumer. >> no. >> importers pay for it. >> no. the governments of china and mexico will pay for it and the producers in mexico and china pay for this.
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>> ali velshi, just once and for all, who pays for tariffs? >> buyers of products. >> okay. >> end of story. the buyer of the product, the producer, the importer fof a product from mexico or china pays for it, bicycle, air conditioner, fruit, vegetables, unless they hd had a very rich year, they're passing it on to you, the buyer. tariffs on, mexico has them, china has them, the consumer pays for them. the government doesn't pay for them. buyers of products pay for tell. >> why wouldn't a nice man like that speaking with the white house on the lawn -- >> this is what the white house is using to sell this idea. there are valid reasons to have tariffs. some are you make the price of goods that are more expensive, goods made in other countries forcing people to buy goods that are made in their own country. that might be a goal but the idea is the price goes up and that's what changes consumer behavior. this white house is trying to convince people when you put tariffs on, some other government pays some kind of tax
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and nobody actually suffers any pain for it. >> so, john allen, while mr. navarro may have put on the bill barr cloak of invisibility today, is there other dissent within said west wing? >> there is, as our colleagues at nbc have been reporting, steve mnuchin, the treasury secretary outside the west wing but very close to it, is dissenting on this. this policy is coming as we learned today that the deportation -- i'm sorry, the detention centers at the border are overflowing. 76 people to cells that are intended for 12 and the president's reaction to this driven by stephen miller, his senior policy adviser for immigration. the response to thereat is to squeeze the mexican economy in ways that are likely to produce more immigration, not less, and slap american consumers with tariffs. it's the kind of policy you would expect to come from possibly a public relations aide. the experts on public policy here, the treasury secretary, the trade representative,
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they're the ones that were fighting back on this. they lost that argument. and now they got to march out and as they did today, at least through their spokespeople, they got to march out and say they're on team trump. >> so, john, what's the chance this is a twitter boredom shiny object sop to the base, here we are, after all, talking about the possibility of tariffs over a border where we do a billion dollars a day, give or take. >> you certainly can't rule out the possibility the president trump would reverse a policy on twitter that he put out on twitter at any time. you know, i mean, and brian, to your point, and i appreciate you giving kids that are up at 11:00 tonight lessons on how -- >> public service. >> -- to destroy the stock market and take care of some other things all at once. it's certainly possible that that would happen, but this president has tried very pumucho message to his base on policy regarding mexico and other countries, particularly when it comes to trade and basically when it comes to anybody outside
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our country, so we see these policies discussed. people say there's no way he's going to go forward with that then he goes forward with it, whether it was the travel ban, whether it was the wall across -- along the border or in this case, you know, a tariff policy thereat a lot that a lot people inside his own administration doesn't believe there's one that makes any sense. >> ali, will we ever see in your considered judgment these tariffs? >> look at the stock market response today, down 300 points, that's smaller than it would have been if investors believed it would happen. some investors before they heard -- >> doubt into the market? >> i think you got doubt baked in because mexico is not a place where goods get on a ship and come to a port in america and you put duty on that, those goods and you buy them. mexico is fully intertwined with america in terms of trade because of the free trade agreement. so a car, because -- because o. a car part will go from the united states to mexico, get put
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into a part which will come back to the united states that might be put into a dashboard that will then go to canada and go back into the united states. this is not a ship of goods coming in, put 5%, 10%, 15% on it. we are completely intertwined with mexico in manufacturing, in agriculture, in automotives. so this -- there are a lot of people saying this is very laha to do and very damaging and going to be very expensive. john allen says, it's going to hurt the mexican economy, which is never good for if folks don't like people coming across the border. that's never good. so there are a lot of reasons why this doesn't seem all that plausible. then you hear that mnuchin and lighthizer were not onboard on this kind of stuff. so there are certainly some people who say this was a twitter trade war, twitter tariff, and it might end as a twitter tariff. >> i've been told the network is going to allow you to go home. thank you very much. jonathan, stick around ali vels hirks, jonathan allen, two longtime friends around here. thank you, gentlemen, very much for contributing on a friday
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night. coming up for us, after a consequential week like we just had, what we might need is a pulitzer prize winning historian to help us sort it all out. we will talk with such a man when we come back. when we come back. your daily dashboard from fidelity. a visual snapshot of your investments. key portfolio events. all in one place. because when it's decision time... you need decision tech. only from fidelity. you need decision tech. sarah's last tuition payment, sent off. feeling good? oh yeah.
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if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. >> he said, essentially, you're innocent. i'm innocent of all charges. i think mueller is a true never trumper. he's somebody that dislikes donald trump. >> bob mueller identified some episodes. he -- he did not reach a conclusion. he provided both sides of the issue. and he -- his conclusion was he wasn't exonerating president but wasn't finding a crime, either. >> just some of what he witnessed. it is, perhaps, no accident the president chose to close out this week by letting us know on
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twitter he'll soon be officially announcing his, quote, second-term presidential run. this week has called on all of trump's message-shaping skills unencumbered by the facts. with us, presidential historian john meacham, co-author of the recent book "impeachment and american history and "songs of paer america." jon, we try to talk to you once a week. i've been thinking about you a lot this week because it strikes me that robert mueller is the kind of person historians love. this guy of probity and rectitude. the bearing of a xpy flrfxpynx.
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calvin coolidge talked more than this guy. historians might have to record he might have been bested by a guy, a president, by the way, who adheres to no such rules of behavior? >> it's funny, basically, our public life has become a bar fight, and who knew it would be the "star wars" cantina bar fight. it's unquestionably mueller comes from an entirely different ethos than the incumbent president. he comes from the world of george h.w. bush from dean atchison, sort of the a y, as y say, figures you can absolutely imagine having two martinis at lunch then deciding to project power across the world. and that world had its limitations, but it had a compelling sense of public duty. and essentially lly what we sas week was the former director of the fbi, a man who's given his life to protect the country, arguing in an antiquated way,
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and it's tragically antiquated, let me be very clear there, that he thought people should read liz his 400-page report and he -- basically i said this with our colleague, ari melber, this week, he brought a knife to a going fight and ari improved the line, he basically brought a book to a twitter fight. i think when we look back at this presidency, this moment in our history, this is going to be, this exchange, this standoff between robert mueller and trump will be one of those iconic moments where you can see how passion and ideology have taken over from reason and probity. >> how will we know if nancy pelosi's standard, ironclad support for impeachment, is reached? do you have any other lever to pull other than us looking at public polling?
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>> the only -- when i heard that, i thought of potter stewart's great definition of pornography, justice stewart, said you know it when you see it. by setting that standard, what is inherently a political process. the former general counsel you just had on made this point exactly right. impeachment is not a judicial process. it has the trappings. the senate is a trial. the chief justice comes down and sits. but the rules are very different. and i think what speaker pelosi's doing, and i personally as a citizen disagree with it, respectfully, is she believes that if she were to proceed with this politically, that ultimately it would probably strengthen trump because he would be able to run because he's -- you're not going to get, what, 12, 15, republican senators to vote to convict the guy. that's just not possible. so he would run as if he had been exonerated. there was a famous local politician in my hometown in
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east tennessee who was indicted, stood trial, and won, ran for re-election. he was the police commissioner, by the way. ran for re-election on the grounds that he had been declared innocent by a court of law. have you ever been declared innocent by a court of law? and that was the platform which propelled him forward. and i suspect that speaker pelosi is there. if i were a member of congress, i would at least support opening house judiciary committee hearings so you could give mueller's reading assignment to the country a bit more of a chance. >> and -- >> where you could adjudicate this. >> and i'm still not done. i want to circle back to mueller because you mentioned atchison, you mentioned 41. let me also throw into the dna pile, he has some of the blood of chesty puller, the great marine, because let's not forget the 74-year-old man who stood at that lectern this week has a
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bullet wound in him from the north vietnamese and that makes him of different wiring. the question is, will he be content with this as the afteraction report on all of his hard work, on two years of his life that he thought was going to be private life? is. >> well, i thought it was extraordinary thereat he said anything at all, and once he did, he basically also told us he never wanted to speak again. that does seem characteristic. there is this -- there is -- there was once upon a time in political life where reticence was a virtue. that seems like thermopoly now, so far away. my own view of this is if we were writing this, this is -- you have two contrasting scenes, two contrasting people. as you say, you have a wounded marine veteran who's given his life to public service, who's making a sober statement about what his report said thereat he,
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to a fault, perhaps, followed justice department guidelines. that's at the justice department. classically, you'd say on the other side of pennsylvania avenue, donald trump was tweeting. and that's where we are. and it's not just about them. i understand the focus on mueller. obviously. but we have to figure out a way, the 51% of the country that tends to drive things, needs to decide is that level of behavior in the presidency what we want to endure? and are you willing to set a precedent where a president gets away with the things that mueller laid out? and bill -- the attorney general can dismiss it all he wants, but the facts are there. i -- i think it's a really interesting question about if not now, when? if you don't proceed to impeach him or at least to have hearings
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and raise the question, not just about his fitness for office. this isn't about that. this is about his overt attempts to obstruct justice. if you're not going to do it now, lord knows what you'd have to knows what you have to do to get a majority of the house of representatives to proceed. it's a troubling moment. >> john you left us thinking again in large part because it occurs to me sitting here talking to you you've written or read every book on the shelf behind you john meacham the great historian thank you for coming on ob at the end of the long holiday shortened week he can. another break in store. back with more news but still ahead something to look for in the skies this weekend depending on where you live. we'll explain. feel the clarity of non-drowsy claritin
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now briefly the update we promised you. it's with a terrible tragic numbness that we report the latest terrible and absolutely tragic mass shooting in this country.
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it happened just after 40 eastern time this afternoon in virginia beach. it happened at that city's municipal building complex. the gunman was apparently a disgruntled, emotionally disturbed longtime town employee who was apparently well-known to the people he was shooting at. as of right now there are 12 dead, four hospitalized. police arrived and engaged the gunman. he wounded a police officer before being shot and killed. here was the mayor of virginia beach tonight. >> today is virginia beach's darkest hour. a senseless crime happened and imposed tremendous grief upon the people of virginia beach, the commonwealth and this country. >> according to the gun violence archive, in brings the number of mass shootings thus far in our country in the year 2019 to 150.
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last thing before we go tonight is one of those stories that suddenly makes our world seem quite small. this story actually has a practical application. if you live anywhere from the upper midwest to the great lakes to the new york area, clear east to new england, you may see more dramatic than normal sunsets the next few days. you may see less sun than you
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normally would on a clear day during the first week of june. and the reason for in is remarkable. in the canadian province of alberta massive wildfires are ranging, almost a million acres on fire. almost a dozen majors fires in all. 10,000 canadians are evacuate the and on the run. there is enough smoke to turn day into night in the affected areas. but here is where we come in and the satellite imagery of in is stunning. from montana east to maine as far south as north carolina for days the smoke has been flowing down over the united states. in the new york area for example, if you know what to look for, it is noticeable. it keeps the sky from becomings deep blue marble on a sunny day and instead gives the sky a faint gray sheen. it's more pronounced the nargter north you go. very nounsed at sunset.
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spare a thought for are the canadians and the those in the firefighter and on the run and suffering the effects of mass of unhealthiy air. it reminds us we are all in this together. on that note that's our broadcast for this friday night and this week. thank you so very much for being here with us. guided from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. e. thanks to at whom for joining us this hour. following a number of stories from around the country tonight including this terrible developing news out of virginia beach. virginia beach is a fairly big coastal city at the southeastern tip of variety on the beach obviously. on the border with north carolina. it's got a population of over 400,000 people. it's a good size city. in afternoon just past 4:00 p.m. a suspect described as a longtime city employee, a current employee walked into


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