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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  January 24, 2017 8:00pm-8:31pm PST

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noet there's something happening here ♪ >> when you get lyrics in a big movie like that, i think they might stick in people's heads. we continue into the 11th hour now with brian williams. that is next. tonight truth and consequences. an aggressive trump agenda as americans and news media grapple with the word "lie" where it pertains to their president.
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and the breaking news about trump's plan to build that wall. "the 11th hour" begins now. well, good evening again from our headquarters here in new york. at his second full presser earlier today, sean spicer found himself in an uncomfortable position again. spicer faced question after question, including from our own hallie jackson and kristen welker. >> does the president believe that millions voted illegally in this election? and when evidence do you have of widespread voter fraud in this election if that's the case? >> the president does believe that. he has stated that before. he stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign.
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he continues to have that believe based on study and evidence -- >> speaker ryan today said there's no evidence, the national association of secretaries of state say they don't agree with the president's assessment. what evidence do you have? >> as i said, i think the president has believed that for a while based on study and information he has. >> reporter: if 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, that an doesn't he want to restore america's faith in their ballot system? wouldn't he want an investigation of this? >> as i've noted, he believed that -- >> i'm not questioning his belief. >> we'll work -- >> why not investigate something that -- >> maybe we will. >> the biggest scandal in american electoral history, 3 million to 5 million people voting illegally? >> we'll see where we go from here. >> do you believe there is widespread -- >> how can he be comfortable
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with his win -- >> he's very comfortable with his win. >> only four days ago did he get the power of the presidency to be able to do something about it. so why not definitively say he will investigate if he believes there was massive voter fraud? >> the comment he made was 3 to 5 million people could have voted illegally. based on the studies that he's seen. but he's very clear that he won the election based on the 306 electoral votes that he got. we're here on day two. i think let's not prejudge what we may or may not do in the future. >> reporter: i want to be clear on this investigation because it seems like you potentially opened the door for one -- >> which investigation? >> possibly investigating this voter fraud? >> no, i did not. >> reporter: you said it's possible. >> anything's possible. >> sean spicer offered no evidence and when pressed on those studies he cited one from
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pew research but the author responded on twitter saying there's "zero evidence of fraud." today it was suggested there could be a conspiracy theorist in the oval office. additi additionally, one of the nation's oldest and most respected newspapers accused the president of lying. the new york city was the on major newspaper we could find calling the claim a lie on their front page this morning. and a second times piece appeared online this morning again calling this a lie. something to get used to. and the president today was not getting much air cover from fellow republicans including the speaker of the house. >> i've already commented on that. i've seen no evidence to that effect and i've made that very, very clear. >> going forward, do you worry it's going to be hard to work with a president who believes certain things -- >> i'm a policy guy. i'm going to focus on policy. i'm not going to get into the puts and takes of these things. >> i have no doubt that voter fraud exists.
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i can't really help you very much on what the president says he believes. i don't have any evidence of that. but i think this is a huge distraction from a what we ought to be focusing on, which is getting the president his cabinet so he can get to work for the american people. >> this is not about voting anymore, it is about him. and the more he does this, the more troubling it will be for his presidency. >> reporter: why do you think he's doing this? >> i have no idea. i can't analyze this. one of things need to happen quickly. he needs to share with us the information he has or he needs to recant this. if you're just passing on conspiracy theories, stop it. >> in a bipartisan act can we all agree with senator cornyn that is a huge distraction. let's bring in our panel tonight. margaret, from bloomberg news, you saw her in the briefing room and the express on her face.
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long-time talk radio host charlie sykes and michael waldron is with us, you can tell why he's here. margaret, first to you. i saw you first nodding no and then your face lit up when sean said from the podium that maybe we will investigate this. is there anything at work here beyond what has -- the psyc psychoanalysis that's already been attached to this president? >> brian, i really need to work on my poker face. i was hoping jonathan's head from the a.p. was mostly obstructing it. dual lily noted. this is the second time in the span of two days in the house when a debate over numbers has proved difficult for sean spicer to express. sean's done a really good job of
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getting around the room, asking a diversity of questions and it's a strategic problem they need to figure out, the com shop and president's top advisers. because obviously, if there really was a rampant voter fraud epidemic and the president believed that that were true, whether or not he won the election, it would be behoove the federal government to launch an investigation immediately. they don't want the justice department probably using the predicate of an investigation into voter fraud to make it harder to vote. you can kind of see where that's going. but in terms of the messaging, this does appeal to a chunk of his base. in terms of that sort of middle ground, not the voters he's never going to win over, not the voters he's got but the other americans who are waiting to see how this settles, stuff like
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this is a distraction. >> charlie, i have always said about you we've had a lot of guests on the air during this campaign season, a lot of people where you're sitting at the desk who have changed. they've changed before our eyes who they are and what they believe in. you are a very loyal republican from the midwestern u.s. and during that montage at the top of the broadcast, i was watching you, too, and you were nodding no. you find this highly disturbing. >> first of all, yes, it's a distraction and it's a lie about the numbers. this is really not about the numbers anymore and it not about voter fraud. it's about the whole concept of reality, about truth and about whether or not this administration is in fact going to be an alternative reality administration. we have a president who is deeply engaged with some of these conspiracy theories. so i'm not sure there's a strategy here. it more like an obsession that they cannot stop. you have a president of the united states that calls alex jones from info wars after the election.
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and the fact that sean spicer apparently is not able to push back, he seems to think that it's a legitimate argument to say the president believes it, as if somehow what the president believes makes it factual, which is does not. this is a real problem for this administration and i've got to imagine there are people in the white house who are just tearing their hair out right now by the way in which this story is stepping on the president's agenda. >> michael waldman, some background to fill in for you. you are a veteran of the clinton white house staff, the speech writing shop there. the brennan center is named and set up in the memory of the great justice brennan. eisenhower always called him the biggest surprise of his presidency. but you guys among other things study voter fraud. if you knew of 50,000, 10,000, 5,000 cases, i assume you would
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have long ago gotten up on your soap box and waved your arms and told us about this. >> our study and every study by every scholar and news media and everybody who's looked at it has found that you are more likely in this country to be hit by lightning than to hit in-person voter impersonation. the idea that 3 to 5 million people were illegally voting two months ago and nobody noticed is transapparently ludicrous. this is not nearly as silly as who had more people on the mall over the weekend. this is the highest official in the land, someone sworn to uphold the stugconstitution, including the right to vote which is in the constitution, peddling fake news and i've
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looked at the history of this investigation and i can't think of anything like it. the great czech playwright and dissident said we can lie about anything and those facts don't matter. as your guest said, that's in some ways among the most disturbing things at all. >> i watched the guests all evening with great interest because here's the story that's developing. starting in last night's "washington post" the notion of turf wars on day two and three of this white house. "vanity fair" reminding that jared kushner was observing shabbat and was not working that day, that people have been alarmed at the sharpness of kushner's elbows, the man who
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donald trump said if he can't get to peace in the middle east, no one can. and another man saying his friend the president was inundated by work and used to dealing in colloquialisms. the president came out again today if not ordered today certainly with a mind to say what he did. >> you have to remember this is a combination of a really old team -- not really old but an old team that goes back several months and a fairly new team in terms of the rnc operation and then there's the family team, which is probably the strongest bond of all. the palace intrigue observations are completely obvious. but also really interesting to watch play out. when you look at the seating chart for the presidential adviser swearing in this past sunday, it was those four people who really matter and may be
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jostling against one another at different levels, steve bannon, reince priebus, kellyanne conway and jared kushner sharing that road together. so the strategies, who's in the room, what they know. this is all stuff if you're in a reporter and you're covering the white house you really want to understand. >> how long can it be until we hear or read the name david gergen, the fixer? it would be his fifth president, lifelong republican, also worked for bill clinton, he's a patriot, he has stature and standing. do you think a pro from dover will eventually be called in? >> i don't know. is there going to be a grown up in the white house? is there room for a grown up in the white house? you mentioned this is day four. do you realize how much stuff
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this white house is doing? zit a packed agenda. >> it is a packed agenda and yet what we're talking about is is this an administration we will ever be able to believe about anything? there's a reason why you take care of your credibility, because there will be a time when it will matter that the president of the united states' word be believed. and they are squandering this. they are not on stepping on and destroying their own agenda, this is a week in which he is fulfilling many of his central campaign promises and yet what are they doing? this is completely self-inflicted. he won the election. why are we even talking about this unless you have this white house that's completely out of control. it's not steve bannon. it donald trump. would donald trump listen to david gergen? does he listen to anyone? >> michael, put on your veteran of a white house staff hat. what jumps out at you when you look at how this place is operating or not? >> david gergen, i worked with him and he would be an addition
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to any white house. bringing in and layering on another person doesn't really solve those things. this isn't the first time a president has had those things but not that early. l.b.j. had the credibility issue over vietnam. nixon laid about water, bill clinton got impeached. there are laws and consequences that seem like they will eventually and maybe pretty quickly affect this president. i also think what's striking in part is we're not just learning this from tell-all books. we're reading in realtime three days in all these people leaking at each other. usually democrats tend to have more chaotic white houses at the beginning because the president wants to be the center of the action and democrats very frequently doesn't pick a strong chief of staff. and republicans are more
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comfortable usually with a corporate model and a strong chief of staff and one or two other people. the democrats get there eventually. here you've got donald trump having run basically a fairly small family office in this company, this was not a massive far-flung manufacturing enterprise or something now having four or five power centers and it does seem to me that the centrifugal forces are pretty forces and could make it hard. he's issued -- maybe tomorrow issues an executive order on building a wall. that doesn't mean the wall gets built tomorrow. that's a piece of paper. that's symbolism. that's a good day in the media. if you really want to do something in government, it requires relentless, organized follow through. it's hard to imagine that that's going to be what we see out of this white house. >> that is exactly what we're going to talk about in our next segment. for now our thanks to the three of you.
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we'll take our first break. and when we come back, what the president is going to say tomorrow, what he's going to sign tomorrow pertaining to the border wall and how much can he say or do here without congress when "the 11th hour" continues.
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executive order tomorrow pertaining to that wall that became a rallying cry for his entire campaign. in the last two hours, trump announced on twitter "big day planned on national security tomorrow, among many other things, we will build the wall." so many questions for white house correspondent kristen welker, who has been able to join us by telephone. kristen, apparently this is a field trip, he's going over to homeland security, his second outing. we know what happened at cia. what can he announce tomorrow that doesn't instantly require congress? >> well, that's not clear at this hour, brian. what we do know is that trip is going to take place in the afternoon. he will be visiting the department of homeland security and he's expected to sign an executive order directing federal funds to be shifted towards starting the process of building that border wall and then that's where the questions become very thorny. is this a symbolic move?
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we know he will need appropriations, and will likely need more appropriations from congress and that will require congressional approval. so this could be more about the optics and more about following through with a campaign promise and sending a message to voters that he is moving forward with that key campaign promise he made. we'll know all of the details tomorrow. just to remind our viewers, he took a hardline stance on immigration, this is how he launched his campaign, the border wall is one of his most controversial policy positions but it's also one of the policy positions that helped fuel his early rise during the republican primary. and this comes before -- a few weeks before, in fact, he's going to be meeting with the leader of mexico, who has said he's not going to pay for this wall. and tonight a senior administration official tells me mexico will absolutely be reimbursing for the border wall. so there are a lot of questions
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that are still unanswered. we know when he visits the department of home land security tomorrow afternoon, he plans to sign this executive order. >> kristen welker, we'll let you get some rest. we'll see you tomorrow. i was saying this is a test tube environment tomorrow, a single event, a single visit, can they have message discipline. >> this is his big issue. he's able to deliver or at least appear to deliver. can he go for a few hours without attacking some reporter or raising some other fantastic -- >> reliving the inauguration. >> exactly. all of those things. this would be a day he could own the news cycle by focusing on this and play very strongly to his base. >> the anger for what happened at langley is still spilling out. >> unfortunately, he was tone deaf to the setting there. you don't stand in front of that sacred wall and make that kind
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of a speech. then the question comes down is he capable of being disciplined? has he learned from the last few days? have the grown-ups in the room, have they told him, mr. president, this is your message, do not screw it up. you'll get a very good indication tomorrow. >> i'm probably in trouble with gergen now. the dust-up of the inaugural crowd came roaring up against today. we'll show you how when "the 11th hour" continues. companies in the country. after expanding our fiber network coast to coast. these are the places we call home. we are centurylink. we believe in the power of the digital world. the power to connect. and that's what drives us everyday.
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>> there's that photograph again. the last thing before we go here tonight, here's what can happen when the president uses falsehoods and orders his spokesman to use falsehoods from the white house briefing room. it gets used by opponents as democrats showed today in confirmation for hhs and omb nominees. >> i wanted to start where senator cotton was when he was introducing you, which he referred to you as a bold truth teller. i have behind me two pictures that were taken at about the same time of day in 2009 and 2017. which crowd is larger, the 2009 crowd or the 2017 crowd?
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>> senator, if you allow me to give the disclaimer i'm not sure how this ties to omb, i'll be happy to answer your question. it does' peer on the crowd on the left-hand side is bigger than the crowd on the right-hand side. >> what if he tells you to say something other than the truth? do you resign at that point? >> i don't imagine the president of the united states would beg you to lie. >> he told sean spicer to go out there and say things that were demonstrably untrue. >> i'm not privy to the conversations between the president and mr. spicer. i'm not sure if that conversation took place or not. >> and this was just the second full workday in office for the new administration. that's going to do it for our edition of "the 11th hour" tonight. "hardball with chris matthews" begins right now.
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>> pick a number, any number. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews. donald trump showed in the past wild statement that grabs the attention away. on first day as president he seems to be trumping a good story. he meeting with business leaders and congressional leaders, with drawing from tpp partnership and going ahead with the keystone pipeline, insisting it be built with u.s. steel. instead of oxygen in the briefing room at 1600 pennsylvania avenue is taking up by theal


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