Dems subpoena Mnuchin. TRANSCRIPT: 5/13/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests:
Richard Stengel, Bill Pascrell, Mara Gay, Christine Quinn
Transcript:

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  No, he`s right.  And I mean the polling does

not give you a lot of clarity on this one.  I`d have to say, right.  Ben

Weiss, Susan Del Percio, Rashad Robinson, thank you for being with us. 

That`s all for tonight.  We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS

DAILY.

 

And “THE BEAT” starts right now.  Yasmin is in for Ari tonight.  Good

evening to you, Yasmin.

 

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Steve.  Have a good rest of

your night.

 

I`m Yasmin Vossoughian, everybody, in for Ari Melber.  Big show tonight to

say the least.  I`m going to talk to a Democratic congressman telling

Trump`s Treasury secretary hand over Trump`s tax returns or you could face

jail time.

 

And the stock market tanking as Trump`s trade war with China escalates. 

The DOW dropping over 600 points, its biggest single-day fall since

January, a possible gut punch to the world economy that could weaken

Trump`s political standing here at home.

 

And tonight, Trump faces a crush of investigations and talk of potential

contempt votes for his attorney general, his Treasury secretary, and his

former White House counsel.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Should Don McGahn be held in contempt of Congress?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t know anything about

what`s going on.  I can tell you that there has never been anybody so

transparent as the Trump administration.

 

And it was no collusion and no obstruction and we`re wasting a lot of time

with that stuff.  But the Mueller report came out.  It was a very good

report for us.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  And a date for Mueller to testify is not set.  The Democrats

say it`s going to happen.  And tomorrow, a judge is expected to decide

whether Trump can stop his accounting firm from turning over records to

Congress.

 

And there`s so much more.  “The New York Times” compiling a list of 29

probes related to Trump from the feds looking into hush money payments and

Roger Stone to state and local investigations going after the Trump

Foundation.  And as mentioned, Congress from possible obstruction of

justice to security clearances, increasingly angered by Trump blocking

requests for information.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  These

additional acts of obstruction, a president having obstructed the Justice

Department investigation, now obstructing Congress does add weight to

impeachment.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So that is the dynamic tonight, right there.  Democrats

talking impeachment as Trump appears to play with fire on trade, which may

be why this Watergate-era quote from “Time Magazine” is blowing up on

social media tonight.

 

Quoting the Nixon strategy for fighting possible impeachment which called

for “The president`s aides to answer every attack.  Always emphasizing that

one, economic problems are far more important to most Americans than the

Watergate affair.”  Now, that article, by the way, was published just four

days before Nixon resigned.

 

Joining me now to talk all about this, William Cohan, a special

correspondent for “Vanity Fair.”  He is a former investment banker and has

written best-selling books about Wall Street.  Mara Gay, member of the “New

York Times” editorial board.  And former RNC chair, Michael Steele.

 

William, I`m going to start with you on this one.  I`m considering that you

were a former investment banker and you were part of Wall Street.

 

WILLIAM COHAN, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR:  Oh, boy.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So usually answer this question for me, the DOW closing 600

points down, dropping 600 points.  Is this just a fluctuation in the market

sore or is this a predictor of a more long-term downturn?

 

COHAN:  Well, you know, I think it can be both.  Trump is Mr. High Data

President.  In other words, things that he does have a big effect one way

or another, big swings one way or another.

 

Don`t forget, after he was elected, everybody thought the market was going

to collapse.  And instead, it went from 17,000 to 26,000 when it hit its

peak earlier, a couple of weeks ago.  And now it`s fallen off again because

his rhetoric has heated up again.

 

You`ve issues with the Mueller report.  You`ve got issues with Congress, as

you just outlined.  So there are definitely problems in the real economy,

driven by – I don`t want to get too technical, but people mispricing risks

and the fed keeping interest rates too low for too long.

 

Just when Jerome Powell last fall started to raise interest rates, what

happened?  Trump jawboned him down, convinced him not to raise interest

rates, and once again the risk of being this price, people taking too much

risk as they did prior to the financial crisis in 2008.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Michael, we know that the president has made promises on

being tough on China.  Is he willing to take a hit on the economy?  His

calling card to 2020, what he can hang his hat on when it comes to the

elections in 2020 in order to look tough on China?

 

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, RNC:  I think by his calculation, he

doesn`t believe he will take a hit.  As he is saying to a lot of his core

supporters, I still have your back, you know.  All these things that are

going on are all part of the grander plan if you will.

 

And, in fact, the president was even quoted as pretty much saying this

isn`t a party.  You`re not going to have to pay for this.  The tax that

this tariff represents is not something you will be burdened with, farmers,

manufacturers, retailers, when the truth is far from that.

 

And I think that`s something the president is going to have to reconcile. 

But in his world view right now, he`s got China a little bit on the ropes. 

He is still mainlining his base with his rhetoric.  And to William`s point,

churning the markets.

 

He likes where things are right now.  It`s positioning him for his upcoming

G7 Summit meeting with Putin and folks like that.  So he feels good.  The

rest of us are nervous as hell –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  He feels good.

 

STEELE:  – but he feels good.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  And this actually – this conversation came up with Dan, our

EP on the show, which is this, does the president thrive, Mara in chaos? 

He is blocking investigation after investigation.  He is encouraging the

attorney general to block subpoenas.

 

Steve Mnuchin has blocked a subpoena.  He is making sure his tax returns

are not released, encouraging his son not to go forward with that subpoena

that has been issued towards him.  And now you have China and the tariff

talks.  Is he thriving right now because of this chaos?

 

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  I don`t know that he

is thriving.  I would question that.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But off of what Michael just said, he likes where he`s at.

 

GAY:  I mean, listen, this is a president whose instinct is to go on the

offense.  He doesn`t like to be cornered into a box.  Even if he is

cornered, he acts as though he`s not.

 

I mean certainly, he likes chaos.  He thrives on chaos because if you – if

he sits still long enough, he is probably afraid that people are going the

actually see him for who he is.

 

And so the reality is that he is facing 20 plus investigations and that his

administration is still extremely beleaguered.  I think his chances at

reelection are – it`s going to be an uphill climb for him.

 

And I think the trade is a smart issue.  The problem is the markets don`t

like instability.  And there are a lot of unintended consequences with

trade.

 

So something that might help one part of the base may not help another. 

One state gets help, another state gets hurt.  And I think, you know,

frankly that this sense of populism that voters are interested and can just

as easily be captured by the Democratic Party by folks like Elizabeth

Warren and Bernie Sanders.

 

So I don`t think that that`s ground that the president owns.  I think he is

at least on topic for once.  So I`m sure some people around him are

relieved.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Let`s bring back this Nixon strategy from 1974, this quote

from “Time Magazine”, and it called for the president`s aides to answer

every attack, always emphasizing that economic problems are far more

important to most Americans than the Watergate affair.  Michael, why is he

risking the economy when he has so many investigations right now out there?

 

STEELE:  Well, I think probably because as we`ve seen with the president,

that is the ultimate distraction.  To distract from those 20-plus

investigations that are going on out there.  You look at how the president

from the very beginning started the Mueller investigation, started with the

mantra of no collusion.

 

No one had talked about collusion.  This was his invention.  This was his

creation to kind of put this in play.  There is no legal document saying

this is what we`re going to look at.

 

So the president takes the impending narrative of doom, this investigation

represents, the success of the economy, and he manipulates those as he

would in a particular situation to get the biggest bang in the moment for

what he`s trying to achieve.

 

Right now, this idea of the economy being what it is and doing what it`s

doing doesn`t bother him.  It doesn`t bother him as much because it helps

him in other spaces.  And as long as he has that pipeline to his base, and

they`re still 80, 90 percent behind what he is saying and what he is doing,

he is going to feel much more comfortable than if that number drops to 70

percent or 60 percent.  Then, he has to worry.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But when you have prices being increased on a good that

you`re buying on a daily basis, that your base is buying on a daily basis,

William, when you have farmers that are suffering whose products are not

being bought by China, that is going to create a problem with your base

eventually.  That`s going to have effects across the country.

 

COHAN:  It`s already started, right.  We know that people – I mean he can

say all he wants that the Chinese are going to have to pay for these

tariffs.  But, in fact, it`s the American consumers who are going to have

to pay for these tariffs one way or another.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Which Larry Kudlow agreed with on “Fox News” over the

weekend.

 

COHAN:  Reluctantly.  You could see the pain on his face as he had to admit

that and then he quickly tried to take it back but –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  I mean to a certain extent, you question whether or not

they`re actually buying what they are selling, whether Larry Kudlow is

buying what he is selling or the president is actually buying what he`s

selling or if he`s just speaking to his base because he wants to be tough

on China.

 

COHAN:  We`re dealing with a very Orwellian president, if I may.  I mean

things – I mean the Mueller report was great for us.  The economy is doing

great.  The Chinese are going to pay for the tariffs.  Mexico is going to

build the wall.  I mean the farmers are doing great.

 

STEELE:  It`s always someone else.

 

COHAN:  It`s always something else.  It`s not me.  It`s other people.  But

you know what?  It`s all catching up with him.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Is it, though?

 

COHAN:  See, personally –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  That was like silence.

 

COHAN:  I don`t know.  Personally, I think it is.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Silence, wow.  Go ahead.

 

COHAN:  I don`t know.  (CROSSTALK).

 

STEELE:  I don`t think it is.  I don`t think it is catching up.  You know

why?  Because at the end of every scenario that you`ve outlined there, and

even at the end of the investigations that you listed, you get a big, from

the public, so what?

 

You know why?  Because there are no consequences so far.  What have been

the consequences to this president for anything he said, anything he`s

done?  I mean, so, you raised tariffs 60 percent or 20 percent, whatever. 

It doesn`t matter.

 

So you have a Charlottesville moment.  What`s the consequence?  As long as

there are no consequences for what he says or what he does, he continues to

perform as he does.

 

GAY:  I think that you make a really good point.  However, I would say that

the circumstances under which president Trump won election in the first

place in 2016 were extraordinary for a number of reasons.  And one of those

reasons was because the majority of the country that did not vote for him,

many of those Democrats and others did not actually believe that he could

win.

 

And I think this time around, given the turnout we saw in the midterms,

it`s going to be much harder for the president to win reelection because

there are a lot of people who are going to come to the polls that did not

come to the polls last time.  And his base has a ceiling.  His base has a

ceiling and he is advantaged by an electoral college map, no doubt.  But I

think he actually is in a much weaker position.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Let`s talk about quickly – we only have two minutes or so

left but let`s quickly talk about some of these investigations that I

listed at nauseam at the top of the show.  There is 80 plus document

requests at this point.  The president is blocking every request that he

can.

 

And it seems as if the strategy from the White House`s point of view is to

run out the clock here, William, will they succeed in doing this?

 

COHAN:  It`s not going work.  It`s not going to work.  He can run out – he

can spend more time getting this information to Congress, the people who

need it.  But the fact of the matter is Congress is an equal part – a

branch of this government, they are entitled to this information.  They are

going to get the information.

 

If you or I did not provide our tax returns if the –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But how long is it going to take is the question?  That`s the

real question.  Is this going to bleed into 2020?  Is it going to bleed

past 2020?

 

COHAN:  It could.  I hope it does bleed into the 2020 electoral protest.

 

STEELE:  It will bleed to 2024 at this point because there are no

consequences.  You and I –

 

COHAN:  Well, there are going to be consequences.  There are going to be

consequences.

 

STEELE:  If we ignored a subpoena from the United States Congress, do you

know what we would be doing right now?

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  You`re put in jail.

 

COHAN:  Right, we would be in jail.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Jail.

 

STEELE:  We would not be on this show.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Right.

 

STEELE:  But the problem is –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Maybe you would be though.

 

STEELE:  Boy, do I have a story to tell.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  We`re going inside the prison with Michael Steele.

 

STEELE:  But again, the Congress has to step into that role.

 

COHAN:  Yes.

 

STEELE:  And exact a price.  If they are in a coequal branch of government,

what is the price they`re willing –

 

COHAN:  Michael, they`re doing that.  I think they`re in the process of

doing that.  They`re being deliberative and they`re showing themselves to

start doing that process that they`ve been holding back.  I mean don`t

forget, they just got elected last November, right?  They just got the

power last November.

 

The Mueller report came out, what, a month ago.  I think they`re beginning

to do –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So Mara, is it time that Nancy Pelosi jump ship here and she

goes straight for impeachment?  I mean is that the type of thing, Michael

Steele, that you`re talking about for consequences to these actions?

 

GAY:  I mean I actually think – I believe that the Democrats are on the

road to what looks to be impeachment.  And the clever part –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But what does that even mean here, on the road that looks to

be impeachment?

 

GAY:  What it means is that they`re building a case.  They`re building a

very deliberate, smart –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  A paper trail?

 

GAY:  Not just a paper trail.  They`re building a case against the

president.  And at some point, they will get to the moment where they can

make the decision to pull that trigger or not.  But all the pieces are

there, all the ducks are in a row.

 

And that`s the way you do this.  And Nancy Pelosi understands that.  I mean

she has the experience to know how to get this done the right way.

 

STEELE:  Yes, a different narrative.  They need a new narrative between now

and September.  After that, impeachment falls off the table, in my view.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  William Cohan, Michael Steele, thank you, both.  Mara, you`re

going to stick around for me.

 

All right.  Coming up, everybody.  Why Trump`s own economic advisers don`t

even agree with him on his trade war with China?  Plus, the subpoena fight

to get Trump`s tax returns.  We`re going talk to a lawmaker who says the

Treasury secretary could face jail if he doesn`t turn them over.

 

Also later, the president`s new praise for an authoritarian leader who is

cracking down on immigrants and freedom of the press.

 

And Bernie Sanders and AOC team up on the Green New Deal as Joe Biden seeks

a middle ground on climate change.

 

I`m Yasmin VOSSOUGHIAN and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.  We`ll be

right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Welcome back.  Breaking news, everybody.  Trump`s tough talk

against China backfiring.  China striking back today by raising tariffs on

$60 billion of American goods.

 

And here is the result.  The markets free-falling on Trump trade fears. 

The DOW tumbling more than 600 points today.  Trump`s own economic adviser

forced to admit that Trump is wrong when he says that Americans won`t be

paying for a trade war.  Watch this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER:  In fact, both sides will pay. 

Both sides will pay in these things.  And, of course, it depends –

 

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS SUNDAY:  Well, if it`s a tariff on goods

coming into the country, the Chinese aren`t paying.

 

KUDLOW:  No but the Chinese will suffer GDP losses and so forth.

 

WALLACE:  They may suffer consequences but it`s U.S. businesses and U.S.

consumers who pay, correct?

 

KUDLOW:  Yes, to some extent.  I don`t disagree with that.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  And Republicans in Congress now also forced to support

policies they once opposed.  Senator Lindsey Graham roasted on “SNL” for it

over the weekend.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

Let`s try Lindsey Graham.  After opposing tariffs for decades, why do you

suddenly support them from President Trump

 

Chuck, listen, when you have a president who`s a financial genius and a

business Jesus like Donald Trump, you just got to trust him.  This man has

lost 100 times more money than I`ve ever made.

 

So you`ve done a complete 180 on the president even after calling him a

jackass during the campaign.

 

GRAHAM:  Chuck, listen, I`m a man of convictions and principles unless he

can help me and land a–

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  A billion dollars over the decade according to his 1990s tax

returns.  Joining me now, John Harwood, CNBC`s editor at large.  John,

welcome to you.  Thank you so much for joining us on this.

 

JOHN HARWOOD, EDITOR AT LARGE, CNBC:  You bet.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  What is happening here, John, because you have the president

persisting on China, and then you have Kudlow basically saying, look, the

Americans are going to see the brunt of all of this, trying to explain his

way out of this.  What`s the endgame here for the president, do you think?

 

HARWOOD:  It`s not clear he has an endgame.  And we`re in this comical

position where one of his advisers goes on television and says one plus one

equals two, and that amounts to a break with Donald Trump.

 

Everybody knows that consumers pay for those Chinese tariffs.  It`s not

China paying money into the U.S. Treasury.  It may hurt them but it also

hurts Americans.  And that`s the risk for President Trump.

 

Everybody agrees that confronting China, challenging China`s trade

practices is a good idea from the standpoint of the American economy, but

not the way this president is going about it in a very erratic manner,

sometimes talking about, well, we`re close to a deal.  And then other

times, throwing down tariffs, making it difficult for the Chinese to come

along with them.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So how does the president, John, stand tough on China to

fulfill these campaign promises that he put out there in the first place? 

Because we all know that there are issues when it comes to trade with

China.  How does he stand tough on China but still look out for the

American consumer?

 

HARWOOD:  Well, you could do it if you were going to have a more

comprehensive strategy and engage our allies in helping the United States

pressure China but that`s not what this president has done.  He has been

attacking our allies on trade as well.

 

But I think this is a situation where the president risks dampening the

economy that`s been a big benefit to him.  And anything that weakens the

president economically, that weakens how people feel about their own

pocketbooks is politically dangerous for him for the reasons that your

guests talked about in the previous segment, which is that the Democrats

may be on a slow roll to impeachment right now.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So let`s go with that for a moment.  Because the president

has persistently hanged his – he can hang his hat on the economy up until

this point.

 

He has talked about the GDP growth.  We had 3.2 percent GDP growth a couple

of weeks or so ago.  But if the economy begins to weaken because of these

trade negotiations, could the Democrats look at this as a moment to pursue

impeachment proceedings?

 

HARWOOD:  Well, I think Democrats are likely to head in that direction in

any event, but the resistance to that course becomes weaker the more people

feel anxious about the economy.  Anything that drives down the president`s

approval, drives down the feeling of security that Americans have

economically is something that hurts the president.

 

And, you know, this is a president whose approval ratings, to begin with,

are in the mid-40s.  They`re not particularly strong.  And the weaker they

get, the more difficulty that he`s got.

 

Our economy has been slowing down even before we knew that these additional

tariffs were going to be put on.  Yes, it was strong in the first quarter,

but most economists think it`s going to be slower in 2019 than it was in

2018.

 

A trade war is something that it doesn`t turn around the economy overnight,

but it could be something that further weakens and further decelerates that

growth and conceivably could even help tip us into recession.  We`re not

there yet, but this is something that is definitely not helpful to the

economy, to the markets, or to the president.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  All right, John Harwood, good seeing you, John.  Thank you.

 

HARWOOD:  You bet.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Coming up, everybody, in 30 seconds, Trump praises another

authoritarian leader today.  We look at that pattern next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REPORTER:  Are you concerned about democratic backsliding in Hungary after

this prime minister?

 

TRUMP:  Well, people have a lot of respect for this prime minister.  He is

a respected man.  And I know he is a tough man but he is a respected man,

and he has done the right thing, according to many people on immigration.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  A respected man.  So President Trump today responding to

questions about his support for the far-right leader of Hungary, whose

regime has cracked down on immigrants and dramatically reduced freedom of

the press.  This is just the latest example of what some critics allege is

Trump`s embrace of global autocrats, praising their policies and their

pageantry.

 

“The Washington Post” reporting that Trump is essentially taking over the

traditional July 4th celebration, arranging to speak at the Lincoln

Memorial.  The “Post” says it`s all part of Trump`s multi-year effort to

host a national celebration for himself and for his supporters.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I do want to say that I was your guest and one of the greatest

parades I`ve ever seen.  To a large extent because of what I witnessed, we

may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania

Avenue.

 

I don`t know.  We`re going to have to try and top it.  But we had planes

going over, we had a lot of military might, and it was really a beautiful

thing to see.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  And while Democrats push oversight of this administration,

they`re “bringing their letter openers to a gunfight”, according to a

column by Charles Blow in “The New York Times.”  Blow writes this, Trump

may well become the first American king, lawless and unaccountable by an

overall political paralysis.

 

I`m joined by Nick Confessore, political reporter for “The New York Times”

and Richard Stengel who is undersecretary of state in the Obama

administration and the former managing editor of “Time Magazine”.

 

Richard, I`m going to start with you on this one.  Why is Donald Trump so

enamored with global autocrats?

 

RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE:  Well, it seems like he is

starting a kind of autocrat`s club of which he is the president.  He is

both the cause and a symptom of this turn to the right for nationalism.

 

And, in fact, Steve Bannon, of all people, said that Viktor Orban was Trump

before Trump.  Remember, Viktor Orban, who President Obama wouldn`t meet

with said when there was the immigration crisis, and immigrants from Syria,

Muslims were crossing Hungary, he said, “I`m going to put up a wall.”  He

put up the barbed fence.

 

He said Europe must remain Christian.  Our country must remain Christian. 

He has said publicly he wants to be an illiberal democracy, which is a

euphemism for a dictatorship.  We shouldn`t be meeting with a man like

that.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So you bring up Orban.  Here`s an “NPR” headline.  Outlets

strive for independence in Hungary where most media back the government.

 

Nick, here`s what it says.  Orban`s government and its allies have

systematically taken control of roughly 90 percent of the media outlets

here.  The network of outlets is churning out narratives praising Orban for

holding back migrant invaders and vilifying his government`s critics.

 

NICK CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Apparently.  And

it sounds like “Fox News” to me.  It`s essentially the president has a lot

in common with Orban in terms of what he wants or expects or relishes most

in politics.

 

He wants strength, authority, respect, and no naysayers.  And Orban has

done in Hungary what can`t quite be done here in the U.S. but there is a

connective tissue on policy here obviously.  And as Rick said, has to do

with immigration, and hardline policies, and hatred of the press.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Let`s talk about accountability, Richard.  How do Democrats

hold the president accountable when it comes to meetings, especially with

autocrats like this, especially when you have meetings with Putin going on,

when you have meetings with Kim Jong-Un?  None of which have been

documented.

 

The president has gone so far as to rip up notes that were taken by a

translator with Vladimir Putin so that the press wouldn`t get ahold of it,

so the public wouldn`t necessarily understand the exchanges that were going

on between these two leaders.  How can you have checks and balances in that

type of system?

 

STENGEL:  It`s hard.  It`s a very good question.  I mean the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee sent a note to the president before he met with Viktor

Orban saying you must ask him about the decline of democracy in Hungary and

express alarm about that.  Obviously, Trump either didn`t get the memo or

he certainly he doesn`t believe it.

 

I mean – but I wonder, I mean these notes – the Federal Records Act

mandates the keeping of notes in this kind of meetings.  They could be

subpoenaed.  They could be requested by these committees and –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So why is the president just able to have these meetings

without notes being taken?

 

STENGEL:  Well, we don`t know that there are no notes being taken.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But there is nothing being made public, nonetheless.

 

STENGEL:  No.  And that`s what I mean.  So they can subpoena notes that may

or may not have been taken, that may or may not become public.  I mean I

think – and that happened in the Obama administration.  That happened in

many other administrations.

 

By the way, of course, in every traditional administration, there are note

takers, there are translators that then is then circulated to the NSC and

other people at the state department.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So does that need to change?

 

CONFESSORE:  Well, if the president has systematically dismantled the state

department bureaucracy.  The apparatus of statecraft.  What has filled the

void is the White House and a network of private lobbyists with ties to

Trump who work on behalf of foreign governments like Viktor Orban and

parties in Albania and elsewhere.  And they are hired to fill the vacuum

and lobby for things.

 

And, in fact, this visit today was the product of weeks and months of

lobbying by paid personnel, Americans working for Orban.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Richard, what about Trump, the president calling for

investigations into his political opponents?

 

STENGEL:  Well, that`s just – I mean that`s authoritarian textbook 101.  I

mean that`s the kind of thing Viktor Orban does.  That`s the kind of thing

Stalin did this.

 

I mean this is the most – that is the most abject manipulation of our

system that there actually is, for a president of the United States to call

for the Justice Department to investigate his opponents.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So we have persistently asked for checks and balances from

the Democrats.  What about the checks and balances that need to come from

the president`s own party, Nick, from the Republicans?

 

CONFESSORE:  Well, you know, it`s actually –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Would that not be a stronger message to be sent when you have

checks and balances coming from your own party versus the opposing party?

 

CONFESSORE:  It certainly would be but what we`ve seen on issues like

trade, for example, that the party is unwilling to challenge the president,

even on their own cherished first principles.  He is starting a trade war

with China and slopping terrorists.  This is a party that is fundamentally

a free trade party and there is barely a whisper of dissent in the Senate

on these issues and its President Trump`s party now.

 

RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER MANAGING EDITOR, TIME MAGAZINE:  And didn`t you

have a guest on earlier saying that he had talked to every Republican that

he talked to in the Senate, not a single one objected to the use of Trump`s

use of the term that a coup had been organized against him.  The fact that

the Republican Party – there`s not a single Republican to say that`s

extreme.  Look, it may not be great what happened but it`s not a coup

d`etat.  That doesn`t happen in the United States.

 

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC ANCHOR:  So not to circle back to the

conversation that I`ve been having the rest of the show, but it goes back

to the economy.  If the economy stumbles, Nick, could the president lose

support from the Republicans that he has so long had the support for the

last two years from the Mitch McConnell`s of the world who understand that

the base loves the economy that the President has claimed responsibility

for building.

 

CONFESSORE:  I`m not sure, actually.  Look, in 2018, the economy was a very

good and the president`s party was routed and destroyed.  I think we`re

entering an era now where the economy is not a good indicator of partisan

politics.  Partisans will disregard good economic results from the

opposition when it suits them and people aren`t voting that way anymore.

 

What they`re tied to is the narrative being spun about the opposition and

the president is a very good spinner of narrative.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  All right, Richard Stengel, thank you.  Nick, stick with me. 

All right, ahead everybody, Bernie Sanders and AOC rally for the Green You

Deal tonight as Joe Biden gets hit for a reported middle ground on climate

change.  But first I`m going to talk to a Democrat who says if Trump`s

Treasury Secretary doesn`t hand over Trump`s tax returns, he could face

jail.  We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  And we`re back with Democrats threatening jail for Trump`s

Treasury Secretary if he does not fork over Trump`s tax returns. 

Congressman Bill Pascrell has been leading the fight for Trump`s taxes.  He

serves on the House Ways and Means Committee which just hit Treasury

Secretary of Mnuchin with the subpoena.  The deadline to comply, this

Friday.

 

Now, in recent days, The Times getting a hold of Trump`s tax info from the

80s and 90s revealing over $1 billion in business losses.  With me now

Congressman Bill Pascrell.  Thank you so much for being with us,

Congressman.  I very much appreciate it.  Good to see you.

 

REP. BILL PASCRELL (D-NJ):  Good to see you.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Is Mnuchin going to comply with the subpoena?

 

PASCRELL:  I doubt it.  I doubt it.  You have a total shutdown of any

responses that are tangible to the article one branch of government.  So

there is a law, 6103.  Everyone is picking up that word anyway.  And there

are the second part of the tax code that I`d like to refer to is 7214 which

defines the penalties if you don`t listen to what the law says, if you

don`t follow the law.

 

The law says you shall hand it over to the proper authorities when

requested.  That`s what the law says.  You didn`t write it.  I didn`t write

it.  But that is the law of the tax – that is the law of the land.  It is

the tax code of America.  If they ask you, they ask me, this is what we

have to comply with.  If you don`t like the law, change it.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So the last time someone didn`t comply with – someone was

holding contempt of Congress and they were put in jail was back in the

1930s.  If Mnuchin does not comply here with the subpoena, how far are you

willing to go?

 

PASCRELL:  Well, we`re not only talking about Mnuchin and Rettig, who is

the head if the IRS who has become – we don`t hear anything from a Rettig. 

He`s not following him through his job.  But you know, Richie Neal, our

Chairman sent both of them this subpoena.  They have to come up at the

paperwork on his taxes.  We`re not asking the President to give us his

taxes.  We asked the IRS which is what the law says.  And we`re going to

follow through on this.

 

Now, if they say no, then Mr. Neal is going to have to make the decision

he`s listened to counsel so far, no reason to believe he will not after

that his next step and how far it can take this in terms of the penalties. 

The law is clear.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So what are the next steps –

 

PASCRELL:  Will the Justice Department follow the law, your guess is as

good as mine.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Well, Congressman, to you.  What are these next steps sound

like?  You heard Michael Steele I`m sure at the top of the show saying that

the Trump administration needs to be held accountable.  What are the next

steps look like for you if they do not comply?

 

PASCRELL:  I believe that the Justice Department should first find the two

persons that we`re talking about Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Rettig and I would

increase the penalties as – and by the way, if they say no all the way,

then I put them in jail all the way.  That`s the law of the land.

 

I don`t want to act as judge and jury here which the Trump administration

has done many times on.  But I`ll tell you what the law is.  The law is on

our side and I can`t wait.  Mr. Trump has proven that he`s in the list of

androgen, he`s in the list the Putin, he`s in that same list with

(INAUDIBLE), and with Duterte as well. 

 

And what they believe is that there is a king here.  They believe they`re

kings of their country.  We don`t have Kings in America.  And when the

Trump base –and I said this the other night.  When the Trump base

understands that they`ve been had and they`ve been taken to the wash and

that everybody needs to pay their fair share of taxes, we now see from 20

years ago that the president wasn`t paying its fair share of taxes.

 

And I`m telling you, I get darn angry when I know in my town people don`t

pay their property taxes and that means I have to pay more, same on a

federal level.  If they don`t pay their taxes, they don`t pay their fair

share, I throw the book at him.  That`s what I would do and let the courts

decide whether innocent or guilty.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So as you just said, there is evidence suggesting the

president has abused this country`s tax laws.  What specific evidence,

Congressman, are you referring to?

 

PASCRELL:  I`m referring to what we`ve already known in the reports by the

New York Times last year and the Washington Post which were certainly

defined and no question in my mind that the there is evidence there at

least to ask the questions.  First of all, the president is the president

of the United States but he`s not over — he`s not above the law.  I`m not

and you`re not.  We pay our fair share of taxes.

 

I don`t know what the President does.  That`s why in the last five decades

every president has provided his – the documents about what his taxes, not

just a 1040 but the paperwork that follows with it.  This president has

more business deals in foreign countries.  That may be a road map or may

not be a road map to doing what he pleases to do in foreign countries

putting our country at risk, putting him in jeopardy, compromising him.

 

If he`s compromised when we negotiate or discuss anything or negotiate with

other countries, then we are in very deep, deep trouble.  Let me tell you

something.  If they say no on Friday and if they ignore this as has been

done in the past, then we do have a constitutional crisis.  And I`ll tell

you, I only speak for myself.  By Friday night, I`d be willing to begin

impeachment process and I haven`t said that in two-and-a-half years.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  For who?  For who?  Impeachment process for who?

 

PASCRELL:  Mr. Mnuchin – Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Rettig.  We`ll start there. 

I said we`ll start there.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  All right, so if you do get access to the President`s tax

returns at one point or another before 2020, and you find that the

president has abused the tax laws in this country, you find that his

organization has abused the tax laws in this country, what`s your plan from

there?

 

PASCRELL:  Which seem to me that impeachment is proper and we should

discuss it, and let the evidence on the table and have the House vote and

then hopefully go to the Senate and they`ll make up their mind as well.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  All right, Congressman Pascrell, thank you so much.  I

appreciate you joining me tonight.

 

PASCRELL:  You`re welcome.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  All right, coming up everybody, climate change becomes the

big new debate in the Democratic Party with Bernie Sanders throwing down

the gauntlet to Joe Biden.  That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Tonight, Bernie Sanders and AOC headlining a rally on the

Green New Deal in D.C.  Sanders` appearance with AOC tonight coming as he

criticizes Joe Biden`s positions on climate change.  Reuters reporting that

Biden`s team is seeking a middle ground solution.  The Biden campaign

saying their plan was mischaracterized but we can see an early litmus test

emerging on this policy issue.  Take a listen.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT):  Joe talks about a middle road for climate

change.  Well, I think you know, that climate change is an existential

threat to our planet.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  And Governor Inslee saying we cannot go back to the past. 

AOC calling the Biden plan a deal breaker, Sen. Gillibrand saying we need

solutions that are bold.  Climate change is just one of many issues

dividing the moderate and progressive candidates in the race as contenders

also debate Medicare-for-all and what to do about tech giants like

Facebook.

 

Nick Confessore and Mara Gay are back with me, and I want to bring in Vice

Chair of the New York State Democratic Party Christine Quinn.  Weigh in for

me on this Bernie and AOC team that we – that we`ve seen in the public

sphere in the last couple of days or so.  What are your thoughts on them

combining their powers, their forces?

 

CHRISTINE QUINN, VICE CHAIR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY:  Well, look,

they`re a powerful team.  There`s no question, right?  I mean, they both

have an enormous number of followers, they are far reached.  Their

supporters are unbelievably loyal to them.  So the two of them teaming up

which is kind of reteaming up because remember, she was part of his first

presidential campaign, I think it packs a real punch.

 

And the Green New Deal is attracting a lot of support so this will only

help with that and I –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Do you think it`ll do him well in the run up to 2020?  Do you

think AOC packs power to teaming up with Bernie Sanders?

 

QUINN:  AOC packs power.  There`s no question about that.  Now whether –

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Well, voting power.

 

QUINN:  Well, look, whether or not she is endorsing Bernie Sanders is a

different question.  And I think if she is smart which she is smart, she`s

going to think long and hard about how she uses her endorsement to move the

issues she cares about the furthest.

 

So look, I think this is good for her most important issue, the Green New

Deal and she`s using everything she can and every way she has to help that,

but she is going to be one of the top must get endorsements in the

presidential race and really all New York City and state races for quite

some time.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Nick, let`s talk about the climate change discussion that

we`ve been having where you have Biden coming out with this middle ground

climate change policy and then you have basically AOC saying it`s a deal

breaker.  He`s saying Bernie is saying it`s not far enough.  First of all,

is there a middle ground for climate change and does this indicate how far

left the party has gone?

 

CONFESSORE:  This whole thing is absurd.  You have three rival candidates

who were attacking a plan that has not been seen – that no one knows

what`s in it, which just shows the change that Biden has wrought on this

race.  He`s the first candidate to enter who has enough power of his own

and popularity of his own to not be badgered and pushed into adopting

things.

 

The Green New Deal is not a litmus test in any voter is mine except for a

small handful.  It is something that activists are pushing as they should,

as they have a right to do.  We have not seen by Biden`s plan yet and

there`s no evidence that he`s failed some kind of a test on climate.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So are they feeling threatened by Biden right now, Mara?

 

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Absolutely.  I mean,

listen.  They want to talk about something that`s bad for Joe Biden

theoretical – in some theoretical universe of left-wing activists, and

that`s why everyone is piling on.  I mean, that`s kind of ruled I don`t

know, 12 in politics right, is that you go for the biggest guy in the room,

and that`s what we`re seeing happen right now.  But there`s a lot of runway

to get.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Christina, it also seems like there`s a fight for the middle,

right?  There`s a fight for the progressive left amongst the Bernie Sanders

and the Elizabeth Warren`s of the world, and then there`s beginning to –

there`s a fight for the middle emerging which is the Biden, which is the

Kamala Harris, which is the Cory Booker.  We even heard Kamala Harris walk

back her stance on Medicare for all which she was pushing just a couple of

weeks ago.  Let`s take a listen to that and then I want you to weigh in.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN:  Will you support the Bernie Sanders bill which

essentially –

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA):  I support Medicare for all but I really do need

to clear up what happened on that stage.  It was in the context of saying

let`s get rid of all the bureaucracy, let`s get all of the ways –

 

TAPPER:  Oh, not the insurance companies?

 

HARRIS:  No.  That`s not what I meant.  I know it was interpreted that way. 

What I meant is let`s get rid of the bureaucracy.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  So, is that what she actually meant or is she walking it

back?  Is she walking back her support for Medicare for all and for what

Bernie Sanders is putting out there?

 

QUINN:  Look, I can`t tell you what was in her head when she spoke.  I can

tell you it`s not a good look.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But is she trying to walk towards the middle?

 

QUINN:  I think she`s trying to walk something back that she either on

purpose got caught in and then realized oops it wasn`t such a good thing,

or by accident in the heat of a moment got caught in.  But that kind of

having to – you know, say to a reporter hang on, let me be clear, I am now

walking something back is not a good look for a candidate, nonetheless

somebody like Senator Harris who`s really being looked at and being looked

at in the context of you know, things like Iowa, who`s going to be number

three.

 

So I think she needs to be careful moving forward.  And look, is there a

fight for the left, is there a fight for the middle?  There`s a fight for

every single person who`s a registered Democrat.  They`re fighting for

everyone.  There`s 20 candidates.  Everybody is fighting to get a slice of

anything.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But Mara, the question is what is the smarter political

calculus, what is the smarter political path.  Is it to be on the

progressive left or is it to be the center?  Because the question is when

you`re going up against a candidate like Donald Trump, the incumbent

president, they are going to be fighting for these swing voters, the people

that voted for Trump but weren`t necessarily on board with him but felt

like he was the better choice than Hillary Clinton.

 

GAY:  You know, I`m actually – I`m not sure that`s the only pathway.  I

mean, I think that the bigger question to my mind is who can motivate the

Democratic base, the voters that actually didn`t show up to the polls in

2016?  The number of voters in this country who is undecided is extremely

small.  And so you really need to – if you`re a Democrat, you need to

motivate the base to come out.

 

And of course, you should fight for every vote and of course, you need to

go into states like Michigan which I believe is a Democratic state at

heart.  And you need to go into states like Pennsylvania.  You know, in

Michigan, I think it was 20,000, 30,000 votes that Trump won.  That`s an

unacceptable result for the Clinton campaign.

 

Those states can be won.  And I think that`s what you focus on.  You focus

those swing states, not necessarily the Trump voter right, and then you

focus on the base.  And whoever can get there will win.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But isn`t there a different tactic when it comes to the

primary election, Nick, versus when you`re in the general?

 

CONFESSORE:  Absolutely.  And look, half of Democratic primary voters are

moderate, half of them are over 40.  And I think that if you`re amiss in

this campaign and are saying to yourself who can I peel off votes from to

get ahead in this pack, is it the Biden folks or the Bernie folks.  It`s

probably the Biden folks because you`re betting that that that Sanders has

a pretty unique relationship with his voters.  He has a lock on a lot of

them, and they are not going to switch up.  You`re better off trying to

grab some of the people who right now are for Biden.  It`s a very long

campaign.

 

QUINN:  Now, it`s interesting.  I agree with everything that`s been said,

but it`s interesting to me as you look at polls and I talk to voters. 

People say this is important to me, that`s important to me.  We see in the

polls.  But overwhelmingly people say in polls and to me personally what`s

most important is that we win and I`ll take somebody who isn`t 100 percent

on all of my issues.

 

And that`s a kind of resounding refrain that I think is different than most

Democratic primaries at this point in the process.

 

GAY:  And I think that makes people in the Democratic Party more likely to

be moderate.  And I don`t know if that`s the right answer, but that seems

to be the way this is playing out.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  Let`s quickly talk about Elizabeth Warren visiting this

district in West Virginia that primarily voted for Trump.  I mean, she was

told I believe, by the police chief in the area and what she was visiting

that she was in Trump country.  She was waiting into Trump waters there. 

But she –

 

QUINN:  How wonderfully public servant he is.  He serves and protects the

Republicans who are for Trump.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  But this – there is an opioid epidemic happening in the area

in which she visited and she went there specifically, Nick, to talk about

the opioid crisis and it resonated it seemed.  There`s a lot of voters in

that area.  Sure was maybe just a couple hundred people that showed up to

this West Virginia town where she spoke, but her message about the opioid

epidemic, addressing them personally on a very personal level –  I believe

the police chief in this town actually lost his own brother to opioids if I

remember correctly.  She addressed the issue very personally and it

resonated.

 

Do you think that this is – I mean of course it`s a smart tactic because

the opioid epidemic it inadvertently affects everybody across the country. 

But is this a smart tactic politically to go into Trump country and address

people on a very personal level like the opioid epidemic?

 

CONFESSORE:  You can`t win votes they don`t ask for and you can`t win in

places you don`t go to.  So it`s smart in that sense.  But I think she is

making the argument and taking the strategy that if I go to these places

that are theoretically hostile to left ideas, explain my ideas in person,

say here`s why I think it can work for you, she can attract some votes, she

can win some hearts and minds.

 

And it`s always about politics, it`s always how strong the candidate is,

how strong the ideas are.  But I think she realizes that`s her way to win

if she can do that in the long term as the nominee.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  And it speaks to what Mara was just saying which is showing

up.

 

QUINN:  Right.  And it also shows she`s tough.  People can say that no one

likes you here, it could be dangerous, this, that, and the other thing, and

she doesn`t care.  She cares about people who are dying from opioid

addiction and that`s a good thing from a female candidate.

 

GAY:  I mean, you`ve got to get the numbers down just to be tactical for a

moment.  You have to get – even if you lose, if you`re a candidate and you

lose a county, you still want to lose by less than you – than you know, a

blowout.  And that`s part of the strategy here as well.

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  All right, Nick Confessore, Mara Gay, Christine Quinn, thank

you guys all.  I appreciate it.  We`ll be right back, everybody.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VOSSOUGHIAN:  That does it for me.  Ari will be back tomorrow and I`ll see

you back here tomorrow morning on “FIRST LOOK” at 5:00 Eastern.

 

END

 

 

 

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BE UPDATED.

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