tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC January 17, 2017 11:00pm-11:31pm PST
break. >> thank you very much for "the 11th hour". >> msnbc's live coverage continues now into "the 11th hour" with brian williams. that's next. tonight, donald trump in washington ahead of his inauguration as vladimir putin comes to his defense. and accuses the white house of trying to delegitimize the president-elect. also tonight, president obama, hours away from his final news conference, facing outrage after commuting the sentence of a soldier who leaked classified documents. and the no-shows. more members of congress vowing to sit out the inauguration. tonight donald trump has responded. the "the 11th hour" begins now. and good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york. this certainly feels like the "the 11th hour." tomorrow morning puts us just two days from the inauguration of donald trump as the 45th president of the united states
and commander in chief of u.s. military forces. as the hours tick down, the president-elect got an assist today from someone who doesn't usually speak up for american politicians -- russian president vladimir putin. not surprisingly, though, in his defense of donald trump, putin also took a shot at the obama administration. >> translator: people who order such false statements that are now being spread to compromise the newly elected president of the usa, fabricate them and use them in their political struggle. those people are worse than prostitutes. they don't have any moral boundaries. we, russia, deal with such people on a regular basis, but the fact that it's been used against a newly elected president makes it a unique event. this hasn't happened before. it indicates a significant delve of degradation of the political elite. >> putin went on to say, i am not acquainted with mr. trump. i have never met him. i do not know what he will do in the international arena. so i have no reason to attack or
defend him, no matter what. putin cast doubt on the claims published by buzzfeed, central to how donald trump might have been compromised in russia. putin said, quote, i find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world, close quote. team trump has denied all allegations made in the dossier, which are also unverified by the media and the u.s. intelligence community, we should point out. meantime, trump's fight within, when with the u.s. intelligence community goes on. in a pair of tweets, trump suggested cia director john brennan could be behind the
leaks about the two-page dossier about trump and russia. speaking to the "wall street journal," the outgoing cia boss said he wasn't the leaker and hasn't even read the document. quoting directly now, first of all, this is not intelligence community information. i would have no interest in trying to give that dossier any additional air time. at the white house today, during his final briefing of the obama presidency, white house press secretary josh earnest responded bluntly to both vladimir putin and donald trump. >> putin made a specific allegation, a pretty explosive one. he's accusing the obama administration of trying to delegitimize the incoming trump administration. what's your response to vladimir putin? >> first of all, it sounds like he got his copy of the talking points. second -- >> from who? >> well, i don't know. it certainly sounds a lot like what the income administration's team is saying. it's not the first time that the president of russia has said things about the u.s. government that just don't withstand any scrutiny.
>> so it's not true? >> of course it's not true. the suggestion all along and it was repeated yesterday by the president-elect, was raising doubts about the integrity and the intentions of the men and women of the intelligence community and that's deeply miss guided. and to call into question the integrity of john brennan, who has served at the cia for three decades, has served in dangerous locations around the world to try to keep us safe. i'm offended by it. >> trump for his part tonight made a round trip to washington dc and back. the press pool was able to record some of his opening comments. >> i want to thank you all for being here. we have great respect for your countries. we have great respect for our world. we have a man that i wanted right from the beginning, rex tillerson, and these lights are bright, but he's around here someplace. where's our rex? wow, what a job.
miranda, thank you very much. thanks, rex. i think he's tougher than he thought. he goes into a country, takes the oil, goes into another country. it's tough dealing with these politicians, right? >> on that note, let's bring in our guests ready to join us, nbc news, intelligence, and national security reporter, ken dilanian is with us. also in d.c., katy tur, who has covered the trump transition, covered the entire trump campaign from the beginning for that matter, and nbc intelligence analyst, shawn henry, an fbi veteran who is, these days, president of crowd strike services. welcome to all of you. katy tur, you get to start us off. on top of everything, on top of the anger and some would say panic in europe over what donald trump has said about nato and the eu, chinese leader today gives a speech on free trade. sounds like an american president of another era. there is this from vladimir putin two days before the
inauguration, defending the president-elect. any response on any of this from the traveling transition effort? >> so far, there has not been a response from the traveling transition about vladimir putin's comments. but this is just another example of vladimir putin and donald trump essentially propping each other up. what we've seen throughout the campaign, what we've seen throughout this entire transition is donald trump not shy away from criticizing anybody that gets in his way, be it a member of the media, be it a member of the intelligence community, a rival, a republican supporter, republicans in the house. he does not hold back. the one person and the one country he holds back from criticizing is russia. remember, this is on the heels of him getting into a fight with a civil rights hero, civil rights icon. he could argue that he was counterpunching on john lewis,
saying that he needed to defend himself when john lewis did not call him a legitimate president. but in doing so, he trashed john lewis's community, his congressional district, saying that it was crime-ridden and a mess, when it is not. the point i'm making is that he's not doing a lot for outreach to bridge the gap between him and those who did not vote for him. those who might be wary of him. the communities that will have to work with him when he takes office. intelligence community being one of those aspects of it. and the question is, if donald trump, when he becomes the president, how is he going to go forward? how is he going to be able to work with the people that he has been so critical of? and what exactly is the relationship with russia going to be? because that's still very unclear at this point. >> ken dilanian, you've written a piece getting a lot of circulation. we'll sum up, your title is nine things trump has said since the election that might make putin smile.
three of them i highlighted. on nato, it's obsolete. on his relationship with putin, if putin likes donald trump, i consider that an asset. on the european union, i never thought it mattered. he goes on about putin. it's always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond. the ongoing hunt, what's at work here? >> well, brian, my sources are absolutely puzzled by this. it's an extraordinary thing. there's no precedent for it. you talk to russia scholars, there's never been an american mainstream presidential candidate this friendly to an adversarial russia. and there's just no good explanation for it. it's not necessarily in trump's political interest. the polls show that vladimir putin is not a particularly popular character. and you know, the spectacle of putin playing trump's defense lawyer at a news conference in moscow is almost funny, except when you dial it back and realize what trump said, as you
mentioned about nato and the eu, that's really gotten europeans rattled. but the other puzzling factor here, trump has put up a series of nominees who were up on the hill last week, articulating utterly mainstream republican positions towards russia, tough positions, that seem to be at odds with what trump is saying. so that raises the question here, what's going on? is this a negotiating strategy? is trump trying to soften putin up for future hard play? it's just a puzzle. >> and when people find out what line of work that you're in, that you're president of a firm that people call when their computers have been compromised, what do you tell people about the reach of russia into this country, into our intelligence, our computers and so forth?
>> well, russian intelligence services are among the best of the world in terms of their capability to access protected computer networks, the ability to pilfer data that they'll use to collect intelligence about ongoing u.s. operations. but more importantly, i think, looking at the corporate sector, the theft of intellectual property, research and development, and strategies that corporations are using so that they can have their companies be much more competitive on the global stage. so the russians are tremendous in that capability. i think what people need to understand is that this risk is real. that reach is long. and u.s. corporations need to protection themselves in a very pro-active way, because the government doesn't have the ability to completely block all traffic from these countries, particularly the malicious ones so the corporate world must do that in this regard, brian.
>> one of our intelligence veterans, malcolm nance, watched putin's remarks and said classic asset management, classic misdirect when he said why would we be gathering intelligence on a man like this, meaning trump. shawn, my second question for you has to do with your colleagues. this has been your life's work. how do you sum up the hit that members of the u.s. intelligence community have taken in the past few days and weeks? >> i think it's tremendous. when you look at criticism levied, these people are strong, they've got thick skins, but if there are statements that are made that question their credibility, that question their instincts, that question potentially their dedication to the country, it does a number of things. first of all, from a credibility perspective, it undermines the intelligence community credibility both in the united states with americans, it undermines it with our allies.
and it undermines it, i think more importantly, with our adversaries who use those statements to put out propaganda in their own nations. and then at home, the morale issue, it's so important that these people are sacrificing their lives, dedicating themselves to keeping america safe. and when they're challenged in a public forum, in a way that is -- appears to be critical, i think that really hurts. and it's not helpful, brian. >> katy tur, controversial story where you are the president has commuted the remaining sentence of chelsea manning, who as bradley manning gave the world really the biggest leak we've ever seen, referred to as a de facto co-founder of wikileaks, damaging secrets absolutely. a 35-year sentence. and tonight the white house communications director said she hopes people are viewing the irony that after donald trump said things like, how much do we love wikileaks, this has happened. but the reaction is interesting
across party lines. >> yeah. the republicans are coming out pretty strongly against this. and what many are asking is, where are they coming out strongly against this and not coming out as strongly against the president-elect who has refused to really condemn russia, when it comes to hacking, refused to take that allegation as seriously as maybe they are? why is paul ryan coming out and calling this commutation outrageous, but not saying it's outrageous that donald trump is not going to go after russia in a tough way for trying to affect the election, whether or not they were able to do so. so the reaction towards this commutation is getting pretty loud. but certainly on the republican side, they are facing their own set of criticism for why it's not as balanced towards what's going on within their own party. >> ken dilanian, 30 seconds, do you think this is the last we will hear of russia's leader between now, these two days left between now and the inauguration?
>> no way of knowing, brian. but, you know, he's certainly shown an interest in speaking for trump and propping up trump. maybe he'll see this has backfired in a sentence and is seen as not particularly helpful to trump. again, playing trump's defense lawyer at a news conference in moscow. but that remains to be seen. >> ken dilanian, our thanks. katy tur on capitol hill, where the fog that has socked in the east coast has made the u.s. capitol disappear behind you. and shawn henry, thank you for joining us as always. thanks to the three of you. coming up our first break and then the somber mood on civil rights. just days from the inauguration, why this run-up feels like no other, when "the 11th hour" continues.
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>> i think for him to have grandstanded, because i think he just grandstanded, john lewis, and then he got caught in a very bad lie. so as far as other people not going, that's okay, because we need seats so badly, i hope they'll give me their tickets. >> donald trump, new reaction tonight from the president-elect donald trump, about congress john lewis, labelling him an illegitimate president, deciding to skip the inauguration as well. dozens of democratic lawmakers are following lewis' lead and boycotting friday's ceremony. the number is north of 50 and approaching 60 tonight. they all cite a variety of reasons, many say it's his comments on women and race. some have announced alternative plans to volunteer back home in their congressional districts,
as a way of spending inauguration day instead. i want to bring in our guests tonight, the chairman for the center for african american studies at princeton university, here with us in the studio. and we hope hugh hewitt will be joining us from the west coast by telephone in a moment. professor, there's a dark mood surrounding this week for a lot of people. the approval rating of donald trump is at 40%, it's the lowest of recording polling. but then on this week, where our thoughts are supposed to be about dr. king, we start the discussion the way we did. >> yeah, i think it's important to understand that the way in which we started the discussion actually reflects what we experienced over the course of the general election. that donald trump, in some ways, traded in our fears. he tried to, in some ways, stoke
our prejudices. he did not, in some ways, call the nation to its better angels. in fact, he actually provided room for our darker sides to show. and so the fact that on mlk day, that you had this extraordinary exchange between the president-elect and a civil rights icon, one that was in some ways, overdetermined by the general election, it makes sense that it would reveal that donald trump really doesn't seem to be committed to governing all of america. he doesn't seem to be committed to making those who are really uncomfortable about the prospects of him being in the white house comfortable with that fact. and i can say this. you can disagree with john lewis, you don't have to diminish him. you can disagree with john lewis, but you don't have to diminish him. >> as i always say, he was beaten to within an inch of his life. and the black and white photos are there as evidence. thanks to your subtle lincoln quote, i'm reminded that there
are some soaring inaugural speeches and there have been some clunkers. some have been too short, some too long. people forget john f. kennedy didn't talk about a single domestic issue. that was the world we were in. it was all about your frontiers in the sky and overseas. what could donald trump say after he places his hand on the bible friday and has a chance to speak unfettered to obviously a domestic live television audience, but a global audience as well? >> you know, i have yet to try to successfully anticipate what would come out of his mouth or what could come out of his mouth. i think in the best of all possible worlds, it would be a wonderful instance, if he could reach for the best of american ideals, to kind of give content to the idea of making america great again. but i think at the end of the day, donald trump's narcissism will trump any -- any -- attempt to reach for higher ground. i'm actually calling for people
to turn the channel, to boycott the inauguration. if you're not going to be there, don't watch it. engage in some kind of civic activity. turn to your loved ones. because i think he should receive the lowest televised ratings in the history of modern presidential -- >> you would regard me as one of your loved ones and you would never walk into our house and tell people not to watch our first rate coverage of the day -- >> of course not. [ laughter ] >> thank you, professor. it is i want to bring in hugh hewitt, but the camera where he is has ceased to function. so we're falling back on the telephone. hugh, thank you for being with us. you've never been a trump apologist. you've been an honest broker throughout much of this crazy season. does the russia talk bother you as deeply as i think it might? >> well, i am very satisfied -- thank you, by the way, for putting up with the clunky
camera tonight in my studio. i was satisfied with general mattis's testimony as representative of the administration's overall arching position towards russia. and i was reassured by rex tillerson's commentary. i've been reassured by the entire transition and the quality of president-elect trump's appointees. i think his sense of humor is going to take some getting used to, as were his remarks tonight about rex tillerson. but i find it disappointing the professor would encourage people not to watch. i note, with interest, brian, there's not one democratic senator who is boycotting the inauguration, that's because they have to run at large in a state that is rural and urban, both cosmopolitan, poor and rich, all this in colors. senators represent large demographics. none of them are boycotting. they're all coming because it's
a civic pageant that dates back to april of 1789 when george washington took the first inaugural oath. through all of these years, it's got nothing to do with the occupant, and most importantly, there are four living presidents and his defeated rival on the stand, demonstrating to the world that we don't shoot our former presidents, we welcome them back to the party. so i'm disappointed people don't want to participate in the pageant, but it is effective messaging, i suppose. >> hugh, thank you. and professor, you have 15 seconds before a break. the lack of participation in a civic pageant? >> well, i think it's the obligation of certain folks, the president and others to engage in the peaceful transition of power, but i think for those of us who want a better america, those of us who want to imagine an america that's for all of us, we have the right to do exactly what we're going to do. >> thank you both, we'll have you both back. coming up, a look at where trump
trump comes into office at almost half of president obama's pre-inauguration rating which gallup put at 78%. that trump 40% is also lower than the post katrina rating of president george w. bush. in the weeks after the storm and his handling of the aftermath, an average approval rating of 43.7%. even with the supreme court case and the election debacle, bush 43 came into office just north of 60% approval rating. we also wanted to thank the many of you who enjoyed our hour-long special on the obama years, which aired last night and drew on 16 interviews we've conducted with the president over 12 years. because some dvrs didn't catch it, even though it aired in our usual time slot, we wanted to let you know, it will be re-airing this coming saturday evening at 8:00 eastern time, following our live coverage of the post inauguration marches here on msnbc.
and that does it for "the 11th hour" for this evening. thank you for being with us. "hardball" begins now. foreign and domestic, let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. tonight there are two loud voices heard across the country. one of russian president vladimir putin accusing the obama administration of undermining the legitimacy of incoming president donald trump. the other voice is that of congressman john lewis, openly denying trump's legitimacy. tonight we go to the heart of both developments to find out their meaning. i start with putin. is it possible the russian dictator has no real idea about the politics of a free country