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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  April 4, 2017 11:00pm-11:31pm PDT

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>> the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. gets tonight's last word. "the 11th hour," with brian williams, starts right now. ♪ >> tonight devastating new numbers in the wake of confusion and distraction in the trump white house, including the percentage of americans who now say they are embarrassed to have donald trump as president. susan rice becomes the newest target of the trump effort to run down all the ways in which the president's unproven wire tap claim could have been right. and the first daughter's first interview as a federal employee and questions about how much she's willing to stand up to the boss. "the 11th hour begins now." ♪ >> good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york. day 75, which means we are three-quarters of the way now through that mything first 100
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days of the still young trump administration. tonight marks one month since the unforced error by the president of the united states that has driven the white house and the media to distraction and miss direction. it's been a month since the president's 6:00 a.m. accusation on twitter that his predecessor is a felon, that barack obama somehow wire tapped trump tower. the white house has burned through -- excuse me -- several different theories from fisa warrants -- remember those -- to it must have been the british to whatever it was that congressman nunes showed the president to their latest target, susan rice, president obama's national security adviser and former u.n. ambassador. a republican senator tonight called her typhoid mary because of her role in the benghazi case, a contributor on fox news tonight accused her of surveilleding the trump campaign from the start. susan rice appeared on this network today to answer to her republican critics who say she
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used sensitive intelligence to monitor the trump campaign. >> the allegation is that somehow obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes. that's absolutely false. >> did you seek the names of people involved in -- to mask the names of people involved in the trump transition, the trump campaign, people surrounding the president-elect in order to spy on them, in order to expose them? >> absolutely not for any political purposes to spy, to expose anything. let me -- >> did you leak the name of mike flynn? >> i leaked nothing to nobody, never have and never would. >> andrea, to talk about the contents of a classified report, to talk about the individuals on the foreign side who were the targets of the report itself or any americans who may have been collected upon incidentally is to disclose classified information. i'm not going to do that. >> all of this, the accusation on twitter 30 days ago, the
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herculean effort to somehow prove it true and the preoccupation of it all appears to be extracting a cost in terms of the president's job approval. a quinnipiac poll just out shows trump's approval now at 35%. the pollsters point out it is lower than barack obama at any time in his two-term presidency. among men, a demographic group that voted overwhelmingly his way, 51% now disapprove of the job this president is doing. among white voters, another critical demographic for trump, 48% disapproval. among women disapproval stands at 63%. among independents, trump disapproval rating is now at 57%. and among non-white voters disapproval now stands at 77%. let's bring in our panel for this evening, "washington post" national political reporter robert costa. yahoo! news and finance anchor
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biana gold-riga. we welcome to our broadcast glen thrush, "new york times" white house correspondent. as we welcome you all. glen, we'll begin with you as it is your first outing with us, and we appreciate it. is this really the ability of the president to take back a comment, and in service to that the entire white house staff and effort, despite his famous distaste for cratering poll numbers? >> yeah, i mean this is -- i think you hit the nail on the head when you called it an unforced error. we have spent an entire month discussing this. you talk about dragging the white house staff into this, he has always dragged a lot of members of congress. i think congressman nunes, it is my personal believe he will not be able to pursue this investigation as chairman of the committee. they're going to have to replace him at some point in time, or else the committee's product will be so disreputable no one
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will pay any attention to it. so, you know, the sense that i get -- and i spent some time with some republicans tonight, talking with them -- is that this guy is in a position as weak as any first-term president anyone can remember at this point in time in his presidency. george w. bush was in much better shape. you know, the thing that we left out here is in a demonstrable way his first legislative task in terms of the healthcare overhaul cratered and he is attemptingo sort of salvage it this evening with a plan -- you know, the original plan that was proposed, that went down a couple of weeks ago was at 17%, and he's -- seems to be considering scrapping the mandate that health insurance companies cover people with preexisting conditions, which is just a gift to democrats. so long story short here, we are dealing with a president at the moment where these 35% poll
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approval ratings, despite his contention that the polls are rigged, seems to be fairly appropriate. >> robert costa, the piece on which you share the byline tonight in "the washington post," trump remains the center of attention but he is increasingly isolated politically. the only people who watch poll numbers more than the president and the media are republican members of congress right now. their eyes are firmly on that 35%. who are his friends, and we're especially reminded they're heading into another recess to go home and hear about it from the folks who sent them. >> i spent the day, brian, and part of the evening at the capitol talking to house republicans as they vote and senate republicans as well, and their point of view is privately that the president is unpopular and that he may not be able to carry this healthcare legislation, revived as it is through the congress. but they feel like they've made a promise to base republican
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voters to do something, that's why they're returning to it this week. but they're really looking to the president more to try to jump start things on infrastructure, on tax reform, but they're not clear abo what exactly the whi house wants. for now, congress is really in the driver's seat when it comes to shaping this policy, in particular on healthcare, about the details as glen was saying correctly. they're really making demand from the freedom caucus and other coalitions about what they want. >> so, biana, 30 days out of a 75-day presidency have had this giant preoccupation. >> and it doesn't seem to be going away. another week, another conspiracy theory, as you mentioned at the top of the show. first it was british intel skbrejens. at worst you would think maybe susan rice wasn't as forthcoming as she could have been given the previous interview she gave, but from what we know she did nothing illegal. it is a bit disingenuous to be going after all of these people
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and accusing others when in fact what we do know is this tweet was sent before we knew any of this. everyone else went scrambling to look for any sort of validation for what he tweeted, and yet nothing can be confirmed. nothing will validate what he has accused his predecessor of doing. >> glen, to be biana's point, let's test your knowledge of the job of national security advisor, which first of all in the post 9/11 world, republican or democrat, is a miserable, up-all-night job. you feel the weight of the world is on your shoulders. so there's susan rice, whose job is to go through intelligence. she comes across someone who may be called u.s. person number three. she asks to know the identity of that person, not to leave the room. she has to get nsa approval to unmask, to identify that person. and, again, nothing leaves the room. this is, is it not being conflated with leaking somehow? >> of course it is.
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another thing about it is the other misapprehension or sort of willful distortion of the fact is that she somehow created a new set of reports that was then disseminated with, for instance, general flynn's name to other people. we have no evidence of that. it would be counter to nsc procedure. but, look, the bottom line is from a tactical perspective, drawing susan rice into this, who performed so abysmally on the sunday shows, on the benghazi issue and wasn't, you know -- again, i'm not doing sort of a performance review. she is not, i would say, sort of doing this kind of public relations work is not probably her strong suit. pulling susan rice into this is smart tactical politics for the republica republicans and the white house. in terms of the long-term narrative it is not going to do a darn bit of good. ultimately the question sean spicer was asked in the briefing the other day by a colleague of mine, and i think it gets to the point, do you care more about unmasking general flynn -- by the way, if general flynn hadn't
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been unmasked would he still be on the job, do we want him on the job, or, sean, do you care more about russian hacking of the election, and he wafld on that. ultimately that will be the question. the rice stuff is a side show, but in terms of tactical day-to-day politics it is probably not a bad idea for the white house. >> robert, your colleagues at the associated press across town at the white house used the word "embattled defenders" to describe the white house staff tonight. today the social media director at the white house went after andrea mitchell as being a pr operative of the democratic paerlt. they trotted out a nickname, lion susan rice, shades of the 7th grade behavior from the campaign. so, again, all of it forces a mentality and takes attention away -- there were events today at the white house. there were initiatives talked about. here is what we're talking about. >> that's correct. and there's no one better than andrea mitchell as we know. i think what you're seeing is a
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real new feeling on the right. this is not just at the white house, but it trickles into the broader conservative world. this susan rice news about some activities she may have done while she was serving in a national security role, they see this as a smoking gun in many quarters of the american right. if you went on twitter today and social media, it was a war of activity on susan rice. i think this is not going to go away because top people in the white house such as the social media director and other confidantes of the president see this as an issue that in their eyes validates their arguments they're making about the obama administration. >> i mentioned, i referred to the typhoid mary quote. i want to show you where that came from. this is arkansas republican senator tom cotton. we probably last used a clip of him during the district visits when voters were going crazy about repeal and replace.
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it was tom cotton in a very boisterous auditorium in arkansas. here was tom cotton on the subject of susan rice today. >> susan rice is the typhoid mary of the obama administration foreign policy. every time something went wrong, she seemed to turn up ihe midd of it. >> so, bianna, that is one of the talking points to your earlier point, this is the latest kind of deflect and replace. meantime, we have actual foreign policy going on around the world. we have tragedies. we have potential crises. the question i think is asked fairly, if this was an unforced error, a problem of their own making, what about the problem of what's going on around the world? >> that's right. it is all fine while we're talking about this with an economy that's relatively healthy, but we did see the first international crisis with the tragedy we saw unfold in syria and we saw how this administration responded to
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that, offering few words and saying it is really on russia and iran to figure out what is going on in syria. this is a huge blemish for the obama administration, yet this administration seems to say, okay, our previous administration is to blame and we're not going to do anything about it either. that's not the way we should be conducting ourselves either. >> we want to thank the members of our panel tonight, robert costa, bianna gold riga and glen thrush. thank you for joining our conversation late at night. coming up after our first break, i will speak with a member of the house intelligence committee who says people could end up in jail because of this russia investigation. that's when "the 11th hour" continues.
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welcome back to the broadcast. joining us from capitol hill, california democratic congresswoman jackie spear, who sits importantly on the house intelligence committee. congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. let's take first things first. last americans heard about your committee it was imploding. your colleague from california, the ranking member on the democratic side, has correctly said you represent 50% of the entire investigation going on into russian ties. do you believe the investigation you're doing can be salvaged? >> that's a good question, brian. i would say that a lot depends on the willingness of the republicans to do an in-depth investigation of the trump campaign and their relationship with russians who were
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attempting to undermine o democracy. the extent tohich they want to go on a path that takes us somewhere else, then, of course, the investigation becomes i think pointless. >> your democratic colleague on the committee, joaquin castro, said a short time on the air that he wouldn't be surprised if when this is all done some people go to jail. do you share that? >> i think that in all likelihood there will be people that go to jail. i don't know that they will go to jail because of treason. they may go to jail because of tax evasion, but i wouldn't be surprised if that's one of the results. i think what's most important though, brian, is the fact that the russians were successful in undermining our election, and they got away with it. and we need to make sure that moving forward that this never happens again. >> have you yet been shared the evidence that was the subject of the trip your chairman made down
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to the white house grounds, the trip he made 24 hours later to share something with the president? do you yet know what that was specifically? >> we're told that we are going to receive access to those documents. we're also told that those documents contain information for the most part that have just masked names and are unrelated to russia, but that may not be conclusive. and i'm hopeful we will see that in short order. we have been given access to the information that the cia relied on in terms of making their final conclusions that the ruians did, in fact, intervene in our elections. >> and, finally, to the case of susan rice, we established earlier in our broadcast there is a difference between unmasking and leaking. do you believe this is one of those shiny objects we talk about that there is an effort to
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conflate the two and direct attention suddenly to susan rice? >> i think that's exactly what is happening here. this is the president, which he is -- you know, he is the leaker in chief, and he is also the expert in deflecting. and the result is that we keep running down these rabbit holes that are unrelated to what our challenge really is. and there's a concerted effort to conflate the two, and i think susan rice has now spoken out very clearly, she has never, ever leaked anything. and the fact that she was national security adviser put her in a position where from time to time because she was advising the president on security issues that she might, in fact, have asked for the unmasking of a name. when that happens, it is only unmasked for that specific purpose and to that specific individual. no one else in the administration or any other agency has access to it.
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>> so you're of the camp that she was doing exactly her job? >> she was doing her job, and i bet if we went back in time and looked at other national security advisers we would see a similar pattern. >> congresswoman jackie speier, democrat, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for the invitation. >> as we continue, horror in syria as a chemical attack claims dozens of lives. a foreign policy challenge for a president with a lot to say on the subject of syria in the past, and somehow it all goes back to twitter.
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. welcome back to "the 11th hour." tonight syria's leader bashar al assad is facing worldwide condemnation again, accused of using chemical weapons in his nation's six-year long civil war. it is being called the worst chemical attack in syria in years and the third allegation of chemicals weapons use in the past month. a heads up for some disturbing images. nothing but disturbing images these days coming out of there. this video comes from a rebel held area of western syria near aleppo. adults and children, you see them washing them down, trying to get the chemical effects off of them. many of the children struggling to breathe. it is hard to watch, showing the clear signs of a chemical attack. one relief agency tells nbc news the death toll was 83 in this
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one attack. 25 of them children. another 350 on the injured list. in the chaos after these attacks, clinics are often targeted. a camera owned by a social media activist was rolling when one such air strike hit. [speaking foreign language]. >> that is what it is like. amazingly, we are told that man we saw on camera survived it. the message from the doctors and the medics treating the injured is clear. >> it is disaster. all the world are watching us, killed by them and they are supporting assad. >> the gas attacks are continuing every day and no one is doing anything to stop these gas attacks. >> the syrian government is denying any involvement. a statement from president trump today reads in part, these
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heinous actions by the bashar al-assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irrelevant resolution. let's bring into our conversation tonight former ambassador chris hill. four-time ambassador representing the united states in iraq and south korea among other postings. he is a career diplomat, state department veteran, having served three u.s. presidents. now days he is dean of the iversity of denver school of internationa studies. that's where he joins us tonight. ambassador, i'm going to take you on a brief tour of the world. it is easy to know where to begin, and that's syria. it complicates things, this new presidency, this new administration. the urge today to relitigate the last administration, what do you make of what you see? >> well, frankly, i mean i think -- i think it is kind of hard to take that somehow this is president obama's fault from three-and-a-half years ago. certainly what he said about red
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lines and the failure to back them up i think has become a met for for being weak. i think to pin this particular incident on him is a little far fetched. i mean there are many other statements from the trump campaign and now the trump presidency that would suggest a kind of indifference to the situation in syria. there's also been a kind of failure from what we can tell to really do what they said they might be able to do, which is somehow engage the russians and work with them successfully in coming up with a resolution. i don't see a lot of diplomatic effort, let alone effort on the ground to stop this hideous fighting. by all accounts, i mean we have a long way to go before we learn the, you know, details of this investigation. this looks a whole lot like the syrian government dropping chemical weapons on children. >> and what would you do if you were handed cart blanche. if you were secretary hill
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instead of secretary tillerson, what would you do vis-a-vis syria? >> i would advise we have to strike them. there has been an up tick in the last month in the use of what appear to be the use of banned weapons. so i would advocate some approach to, you know, hit their -- hit their forces. and then i would -- i would work very hard to make sure everyone knows why we're doing it, including the russians. so -- and, by the way, i would go to the u.n., which i suspect the trump administration is doing. but i think most of all it requires a response. this is outrageous. civilized people cannot just stand by and say this is someone else's fault from three-and-a-half years ago. >> speaking of making a dangerous world more dangerous, the north koreans, tonight our time, shot off another ballistic missile, a generic war head apparently, but part of this round of testing.
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secretary of state tillerson fired off a response remarkable in its brevity. this was it. north korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. the united states has spoken enough about north korea. we have no further comment. ambassador, your comment? >> well, i guess everyone has his own style. one hopes that this is kind of one of those sort of strong, quiet types who have something that they are planning to do, but it is really hard to tell. i'm sure the south koreans and others are sort of wondering what is meant by this. you know, diplomacy shouldn't be a mystery game. i mean you should give clear signals to people. so let's see what he has in mind, but i find that a little hard to read right now. >> i am selfishly worried about the 27,000, 28,000 americans in uniform who are within artillery


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