tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC January 12, 2017 11:00pm-11:31pm PST
much, but i really -- i don't like them, i love them. and it's -- it's a mutual thing. we've had each other's backs and i'll be there for anything he wants. >> msnbc's live coverage continues into "the 11th hour" with brian williams. that's next. tonight, how smart is it for the president-elect to antagonize his own intelligence community as we learn more and more about what happened behind closed doors with donald trump? also, stacked up like jets over o'hare, three confirmation hearings for three major nominees. and tonight, a look at how some of trump's selections split with the boss. and an emotional moment that brought an emotional man to tears. the honor the president bestowed today on the man he calls his brother. "the 11th hour" begins now.
good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york. tomorrow puts us just one week away from the inauguration of donald trump. and the news from washington today moved quickly, and the pieces of the new administration are falling into place quickly. there were more confirmation hearings for the incoming trump cabinet. today, three concurrent hearings for the nominees to run the pentagon, the cia, the department of housing and urban development. but a lot of the news of this day still had to do with donald trump's fight with the intelligence community that will soon serve him as chief client. late today, nbc news learned from multiple high level intelligence sources that after his formal briefing with intelligence chiefs at trump tower last friday, fbi director james comey took donald trump aside and spoke with him one on one about the existence of unverified allegations concerning trump's ties to, and
activities in russia. vice president joe biden speaking in a one on one interview with andrea mitchell today confirmed the existence of that two-page addendum document at the center of it all. >> was it a mistake for the intelligence community to even include that unverified opposition research, disinformation material, the two-page addendum, even to include it in the briefing papers? >> we asked that question, and their argument was that this is something that the press already had, not just here in the united states but other places, that it would be -- they would be -- they didn't use the word "derelict," but it was their obligation to inform the president-elect that it was out there so it didn't come out of the blue and have any impact on the conduct of our foreign policy. i've been in the intelligence
community in the united states senate, chairman of the foreign relations committee, thought i was awfully well informed. i got here and i found out there was even more to be informed about. so in one sense it's understandable that mr. trump doesn't understand the intelligence community. the hope is he has people around him that understands it's the crown july of everything we do, in terms of our intelligence and foreign policy decisions. i hope they make him understand that denigrating the intelligence system makes us more vulnerable. today, senators were given their briefing on russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. here is senator lindsey graham's reaction. >> as to whether or not the russians did it, i've come to conclude after this briefing
that a person of reasonable intelligence, who does not conclude that the russians did it, really doesn't want to believe the russians did it. >> as we indicated on this broadcast last night, keep your eyes on lindsey graham in the coming weeks and months. this morning, donald trump said this on twitter about his discussion with national intelligence director james clapper that we reported on here tonight -- >> it's worth looking again at that one portion of james clapper's statement from last night. it reads -- >> we turn now on this thursday night to our panel, white house correspondent for politico, ely stopples is here with us. nbc political analyst nicolle
wallace, whose title keeps continuing to expand. and vet ral broadcaster and the host of the tavis smiley show, tavis smiley joins us. ely, there's what's called the lead-all, the what have we learned. if the weekended tonight, is there any way to sum up what we've learned? >> it would take longer than any one article. that's part of what works in trump's favor. there's all this stuff out there that overwhelms the system. all the questions that are important about the russian story are unanswered. trump has tried to go hard at the news and brush them aside. but the question if anybody -- well, lindsay graham said if russia did this, the only way to not believe it is if you don't want to believe it. then you have to ask yourself what did trump know about this? were there contacts that were made? all those important national security questions are still out there to be answered. there's just been so much noise, trump has tried to push everybody past that.
>> nicole, as communications director for president bush 43, were you present at security briefings for the president? were there briefings of a level you were not allowed to be there for? >> of course. when joe biden just described is absolutely right. there are things you know, and i imagine he saw the most human intel, which is the most valuable and protected kind of intel out of anyone in congress. but he's absolutely right. you get to the white house and you would presume that's what the president-elect has started to see. so of course there were things i didn't see, and i was the communications director for a president engaged in two wars, and when the wmd report came out. i mean, i saw a lot, but there was plenty i did not see. but you were aware of what the president carried by having seen it himself.
and you always knew when the president had just come from the pdb. george w. bush started his day that way. you always knew if it was something that had sort of shaken him. one thing that strikes me about what we've learned, we learned that trump runs one play. he used it to demolish to dust 16 opponents in the republican primary. he used it to defeat hillary clinton. he's using it actively to defeat the press. it is not going to work against the intelligence community. they are exactly what joe biden describes. they are the crown jewel of the federal government, and they are almost a nation unto themselves. they have diplomatic relationships with countries that we may not be that friendly with in a public way, but they share important stuff with the u.s. intelligence community because they are a treasure. >> tavis, we don't get to talk nearly often enough, but we'll always have election night '08 when you and i were together in a studio about 100 feet from
here. with that in mind, what do you make of what we know so far about this new president who could not be more different from the man you were here to witness get elected in '08? >> i will never forget that night, brian. it was an honor to be with you then as it is tonight. let me marry something you said in your lead. you used the word antagonize in your open. none of this surprises me quite frankly. we have to cover this. it is a worthy story. but anybody with eyes wide open or partly open could see it's coming. what am i saying? as long as donald trump is the protagonist in this story line, all the rest of us are going to be the antagonist, including the intelligence community. it just seems to me this is the narrative we saw coming. none of us should be shocked by this.
this is the story line we're going to get for the next four years. so as long as he's the lead character, as long as he is the protagonist in this story, this is how he engages all the rest of us today it's the intelligence community, who knows who it will be tomorrow. but a leopard doesn't change its spots. donald trump is who he is and we better get used to these story lines. >> i don't know whether to congratulate you on the title "white house correspondent" or not, but i'm sure you spend a good deal of your time wondering what's this going to be like? >> you're going to be putting your helmet on every day. >> no, you are. >> i think what's wild and what we're talking about right now, in is a president-elect who has done everything he can throughout his campaign to delegitimize the institution of the press. it's the same play he runs all the time. there are dramatic, important consequences to his actions, and there are reports intelligence officers are considering mass resignations at this point. there are consequences between
the benefit for donald trump for this entire country, and for his presidency, his credibility as commander in chief. he needs to have a strong intelligence community, and that intelligence community needs to also maintain credibility, even if he's weakening the credibility, we're in this place where we have fake intelligence just like we have fake news and the public will believe whatever intelligence donald trump says is right or wrong. you know, when you muddle everything, and it's so subjective and given to the whims of one person, that's harmful to our democracy. >> nicole, as a patriot, we learned during the presidency of 43, there's a home team which you don't have to be on, but we know what the away team is capable of doing. no intelligence briefing should ever come to light. that is by definition our most valued stuff. isn't that one of the tragedies at the heart of all this? >> the truth is, it often does. but there's a process. i mean, there's the pdb about
9/11 and al qaeda. when there's a public interest to declassify it. what's so striking is we sat through the confirmation hearings with general mattis and pompeo today. i've been awake a long time, sorry. and you just can't fathom those guys operating the way you just described. so they're not going to consume or traffic or tolerate, you know. mattis, who is known as this intellectual force of nature the world over, i can't imagine him tolerating this. so i think there's one scenario where they're around him and able to change him. but there's another far more terrifying and perhaps more likely scenario where he's a leopard who can't change his spots. >> we're going to watch lindsey graham again on this trump tweet yesterday that compared u.s. intelligence, if they leaked this in any way, to nazi germany. here's what senator graham said.
>> i don't think it's helpful for the commander in chief to question the competency, loyalty of those who are risking their lives to defend the nation. and the last thing i will say about anything working in the american intelligence community is to compare them to nazi germany. i can only imagine what we would have said if a democrat had said that. >> tavis, as i keep saying, the firewall for the democrats in congress are two men named lindsey graham and john mccain, and to come off what you just said, welcome to the new normal. >> yeah, what strikes me about that new normal, brian, is that something is wrong. and we're going to see what this looks like just a few weeks, a few months, god help us, a few years down the road. something is wrong when the new occupant of the oval office
seems to have less respect for that office and for the institutions that serve it than the american people do. when the occupant in the oval office doesn't respect that institution, that office, the way the people do, something is wrong. donald trump seems to be lacking -- i say this with as much respect as i can, but he seems to be lacking a moral and intellectual certitude that one has to have to be the commander in chief. again, this is the new normal. as long as he's the lead character, we have to move around the way he behaves. but this is going to be a rough and long night for the next four years if this is the story line, and the narrative that he wants to write. >> it's all about that pendulum. nicole's old boss was accused of having too much of that cert feud. we'll take our first break. coming up, donald trump says one thing, but his cabinet nominees say something else. again and again. coming up, how some high-level nominees differ with the boss already.
welcome back. as we follow the confirmation hearings for president-elect donald trump's team, his nominees to run the defense department, the cia, the department of housing and urban development appeared before three separate senate committees, all at the same time. as you listen to how his selections have answered questions this week, some obvious differences are apparent between their answers and what the president-elect has said on these same topics.
>> nato in my opinion is obsolete, because it's not covering terrorism. obsolete for that reason. >> nato, from my perspective, having served once as a nato supreme allied commander, is the most successful military alliance probably in modern world history, maybe ever. >> donald j. trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. >> i have no belief and do not support the idea that muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the united states. >> you have china, pakistan, you have so many countries, russia, you have so many countries right now that have them. now, wouldn't you rather, in a certain sense have japan have nuclear weapons when north korea has nuclear weapons? >> we cannot back away in our commitment to see a reduction in
the number of these planets on the planet. >> this wikileaks is like a treasure trove. >> i've never believed that wikileaks is a credible source of information. >> nicole, because you have worked in the white house for a president who made cabinet selections, what should we make of that? >> well, we dug in a little bit earlier today, and these nominees were in contact with the presidential transition. you have to presume that there were some questions about what they would say if asked about these topics. you know, again, the best and the most hopeful read is she's surrounding himself with people with different views, the more likely and troubling is that he is going to steam roll him and his views on nato. he feels like there's a kernel of something true about the financial commitments, and he's going to undermine the efforts of lindsey graham and john mccain, who we keep talking
about. john mccain today in the hearing asked general mattis about the slaughter of 10,000 people, and he talked about meeting the mother of one of those soldiers slaughtered. john mccain is going to be having a conversation with the defense secretary that john mccain had with that department during the iraq war. he knows what he's talking about. if donald trump doesn't get behind his secretary of defense, when his secretary of defense differs from him, it's going to be rough sailing. >> ely, there's the trump base, and they're in the mood to break some furniture, and there's the clinton base that is concerned with some of the things they're hearing from donald trump. but this is mollifying them to a more traditional line. >> i think there are these different worlds. democrats might be, you know, a little relieved to hear some of the things that mattis said
today. but the trump voters and the main stream republicans, there's a lot of friction there. i think one of the things that you think about the things that trump says on the stump, what he's saying because he thinks it will be what will get him the right reaction in that moment. beyond that moment, it's all very fluid. it all changes. you have trump's own top advisers saying don't take him literally. don't listen to his words, look into his heart. what is that? but that's where we are. so you have that world, and then you have this more grownup world on capitol hill, where there are serious questions being dealt with seriously. the huge unknown of this presidency is he is going to bring in good people around him. you hear trump voters say he's going to bring in good people.
that was one of the rationalizations for voting for him. he has brought in some people who are experienced and knowledgeable. the question is how they work together and who steam rolls who, or if there is a give and take that turns into a functional administration. >> so tavis, you look at the polling right now. about the most highly regarded person in public life is the first lady. the president leaves office with very high approval numbers. the president-elect is under water at 37%. he's below 50%. that's uncommonly low from that standing. if you're on the team writing an inauguration address, how do you heal what is a fractured nation? >> i think this nation feigned itself last year with the election of donald trump. when you talk about mr. trump, the truth is what he determines it to be. it's difficult to see this administration singing as a chorus. one might find some solace in what they heard in these members
from his administration, but they are not the choir director, he is. so mr. trump is the commander in chief with the final word. if the truth is what he determines it to be, in a nation that is divided, we have a problem. i would make very quickly two points. number one, i think there is a distinction at this point, although i don't take any joy in saying this, there is a distinction between the american government and the american people. this is not a government that i approve of, at least mott in the way it's presently being run. there's a distinction between the government and the people. i think mr. trump and those around him will have to learn when you sign on in public service, you have to be welcoming of a public critique. the questions start about how you juxtapose with what he's saying versus what they are saying.
again, this narrative is going to get hard to follow. >> tavis smiley always brings the english language with it. tavis, thank you. ely, nicole, thank you all very much. our next break. when we come back, what vice president joe biden now has in common with a pope, other than being a fellow catholic, when "the 11th hour" continues. oh, look... ...another anti-wrinkle cream in no hurry to make anything happen. neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair works... ...in one week. with the... fastest retinol formula. ...to visibly reduce wrinkles. neutrogena®.
last thing before we go here tonight. it's tough to surprise someone who has just about seen it all, especially someone who has a secret service detail and a fleet of aides who work for him. but by all accounts today, president obama managed to surprise joe biden. biden was led into a farewell event in his honor at the white house, but that wasn't the big surprise. that came when the president called for help at the lectern. >> for the final time as president, i am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor. the presidential medal of freedom. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, i am proud to award the presidential
medal of freedom with distinction to my brother, joseph robinette biden, jr. [ applause ] >> joseph robinette biden, jr., of scranton, p.a., is a sent mental guy. the medal placed around his neck, the presidential medal of freedom with distinction, given to the pope, to ronald reagan, and to colin powell. and now to vice president joe biden. and now that is our broadcast on a thursday night. thank you for being here with us. "hardball" with chris matthews begins right now.
let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. like the historic conplikt in the middle east, we open war between president-elect donald trump and the intelligence agencies continues. he calls them nazis. they feel the need to share unsupported stories about him. the president-elect's dispute has driven a wedge between the u.s. intelligence community and the incoming trump administration. and yet, as trump indicated in his defiant press conference yesterday, he's still to the ready to call a truce. multiple times trump said intelligence officials were responsible for leaking