MTP Daily, Transcript 6/15/2017

Larry Sabato, Jeff Flake, Aditi Roy, Yamiche Alcindor, Jennifer Palmieri, Matthew Continetti

Date: June 15, 2017
Guest: Larry Sabato, Jeff Flake, Aditi Roy, Yamiche Alcindor, Jennifer
Palmieri, Matthew Continetti

NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: That does it for our hour. I`m Nicole
Wallace. “MTP DAILY” starts right now. Hi, Chuck.


WALLACE: you know, there`s a parade going on right now in Oakland.

TODD: A parade. A parade. Well, I`m glad to see it`s in Oakland. I`m
sorry the Warriors don`t like Oakland so well that they want to move to San

WALLACE: Well, you know, you are not a very good loser is all I`m saying.

TODD: I`m a terrible loser. I`m a terrible loser.

WALLACE: Terrible. It`s a guy thing. Geez, lose with grace.

TODD: Oh, yes, make it gender. Now I`m in trouble when I get home.

WALLACE: The (INAUDIBLE) always have next year.

TODD: Fair enough. Thank you, Nicole.

If it`s Thursday, it`s Mueller time.

(voice-over): Tonight, special counsel, Robert Mueller, now investigating
the president for possible obstruction of justice, as we learn more about
Mr. Trump`s questioning of all of the evidence.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: It`s not a witch-hunt, no. I mean, I
think that, you know, he`s got a job to do.

flirting with obstruction of justice.


TODD: Plus, Congressman Steve Scalise, still in critical condition after
yesterday`s shooting. A nation still shocked but briefly united.


have brought some unity to our long-divided country.


TODD: Senator Jeff Flake joins us live ahead of tonight`s Congressional
baseball game.

And what Virginia`s primaries this week tell us about which party may win
and about the national mood more than a year before the mid-terms.

This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd back here in Washington and
welcome to MTP DAILY.

We begin tonight by offering our prayers for the speedy recovery of
Republican Congressman Steve Scalise. He remains in critical condition
after yesterday`s horrific shooting while practicing with his colleagues
for tonight`s Congressional baseball game which will be played as

And we`re expecting to hear from Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond,
who is actually a very close friend of Scalise`s, in just a minute.
Congressman Richmond was just at the hospital where Scalise is being
treated. And we`re going to bring you his remarks as soon as we see him.

Folks, yesterday`s incident violently thrust the issues of our toxic
political climate into focus. And there is hope that this environment gets
getter but the prospects, frankly, are daunting. And the latest political
bombshell reverberating through the Washington Capital today is, perhaps,
strong evidence that our toxic politics might get worse before they can get

A former senior intelligence official tells NBC News that special counsel
Bob Mueller is indeed investigating President Trump for the possible crime
of obstruction of justice. This confirms reports in both “The Washington
Post” and “The Wall Street Journal.”

It also comes just one week after ousted Director James Comey testified he
was directed to drop a part of the investigation into Russia, specifically
the Michael Flynn part.

This official says Mueller wants to talk to additional folks, including the
director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the National Security
Agency chief admiral, Mike Rogers, and actually one of Rogers` former

NBC News and others have reported that Coats and Rogers refused the
president`s request to publicly clear him and his campaign of colluding
with Russia. But perhaps the bigger news if it`s even possible is that
President Trump reportedly questioned the intelligence community`s
assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

I`m going to pause here. We have Cedric Richmond and we want to get to him
and find out an update on Congressman Scalise. Let`s go there now.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), LOUISIANA: And just a little history on it. The
game has been in existence for over 100 years. And, in times of war, we
would not play. But for the most part, it`s – we`re well over 50 baseball
games. And if I`m correct, Democrats have the lead.

And since I`ve been here, it was Steve and I`s chance to go after each
other on the field. In fact, when he was handed majority whip, he handed
out Marucci bats to his entire whip team. Fancy, Louisiana made red bats.
Because the Republicans would never pitch to me in a game, I actually took
his fancy red bat to the plate with me because they were going to walk me

And I remember him screaming from the dugout that that bat was expensive
and it`s not to be used in a game. And I said, to beat Republicans, we
don`t need to use it.

But after yesterday`s incident, it really put a different spotlight on the
game. And it`s one of the areas where Republicans and Democrats come
together for a good cause, the Boys and Girls Club, the Literacy Project,
and now the Nationals Baseball Academy which is similar to the Urban Youth
Academy in New Orleans.

I will tell you that we will miss Steve on the field but Steve has a long
fight ahead of him. And the good thing is, I know Steve and I know that he
is a fighter. And whether that fight is for the next two weeks, two months
or two years, we know that he will fight all the way to the end.

[17:05:06] When we got the news of the shooting at the Republican baseball
practice, we were at our Democratic baseball practice. And I was there
with my three-year-old.

And Joe Barton who coaches the Republicans was at the Republican practice
with his 10-year-old. And it just reminds you that we signed up for this,
as elected officials, and we put ourselves out there so that we could do
what we call public service and contribute back to the country. But it
reminds you that our families didn`t.

So, as I thought about Steve`s wife, Jennifer, and his two children, it
reminds you that they didn`t sign up for this. But the other part tells us
is that we have a real mental health crisis in this country.

And whether it`s the rhetoric or all a bunch of other things, this is not
the country that – we know it`s not the country that we sacrificed to make
a more perfect union. This country is probably on the verge of going
backwards, in terms of peace and tranquility and all of those things. But,
nevertheless, we will continue with the game tonight.

TODD: All right, Cedric Richmond giving a very limited update I think on
the Congressman`s – on the Congressman`s fight here. Medically, totally
understandable, keeping a lot of that private, as you would understand and,
of course, talking about the history of the game, itself, there. Any other
additional information he provides, we will bring it to you as well.

Let`s go back to the other big news of today. And that was President Trump
reportedly went to the NSA and questioned the intelligence community`s
assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. And did so in a
phone call with the chief over at the NSA, Admiral Mike Rogers.

The call appeared to raise concerns at the NSA because it was documented in
a memo by Rogers` deputy director, Richard Ledgett. “The Wall Street
Journal” reports that, quote, “during the call, the president questioned
the veracity of the intelligence community`s judgment that Russia had
interfered with the election. And then, tried to persuade Mr. Rogers to
say there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russian

Obviously, none of that has happened publicly and Admiral Rogers hasn`t
done that. The reporting, of course, raises some serious questions.
Didn`t Mr. Trump want them to walk back the intelligence? We`re going to
speak with one of the reporters who broke this story in just a moment.

The president`s outside counsel responded to the news by weirdly not
denying the fact that there is an obstruction of justice investigation now
so they went after the leaks and not disputing the reporting itself. In
fact, the lawyer said this. The FBI leak of information regarding the
president is outrageous and inexcusable and illegal.

The president today lashed out against the special counsel. He called the
investigation a witch-hunt, again, and he seemed to attack Mueller`s team
by calling them, quote, “very bad and conflicted people.”

The president is also pushing this narrative, that part of the
investigation is somehow over. Quote, “They made up a phony collusion with
the Russians story, found zero proof. So, now they go for obstruction of
justice on the phony story. Nice.”

Folks, by all indications, in our own reporting, the investigation into
Trump Russia collusion has not been closed. If anything, it`s been
expanded. And guess what? They can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Just ask the guys who ran the investigation up until last month.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Do you believe Donald Trump colluded with

question I don`t think I should answer in open setting. That`s a question
that`ll be answered by the investigation, I think.


TODD: The big picture here for Trump is that this investigation is
metastasizing well beyond what Russia did. It now involves the president,
his campaign, his former campaign manager and his former national security
adviser. Investigators want to talk to Jared Kushner and the top
intelligence chiefs, and they`ve already got the public testimony from the
former FBI director.

And now that this is inside the White House, there`s a lot of folks that
work with the president that may find themselves called to testify to
Mueller`s investigation which means what? More lawyers and more people

Let`s return, though, to the big scoop in “The Wall Street Journal.” That
the president`s conversation with his NSA chief wasn`t just about trying to
convince Comey to back off. I`m joined now by Paul Sonne who covers
national security defense and foreign policy for “The Wall Street Journal.”
He was also a Moscow correspondent for them as well.

Paul, welcome to the show.


TODD: I want to talk specifically on this phone call. We knew earlier
that the president – other reporting that the president had asked both Dan
Coats, DNI, and Mike Rogers, at NSA, to see if they could convince Comey to
back down on Mike Flynn. But it looks like this conversation was more than
that. Explain.

[17:10:00] SONNE: We what we understand is after that clip from what we
just heard from James Comey, after he came out and said that the
investigation will determine whether or not there was any collusion between
the campaign and Russia.

We understand that Trump did, as you say, contact the director of National
Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Admiral Mike Rogers, the head of the National
Security Agency.

And in a phone call with Mike Rogers, he asked that Mike Rogers come out
and say that there`s no evidence so far of collusion between the campaign
and Russia.

But also during that conversation, he expressed skepticism over the
intelligence community`s assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016

TODD: I assume, if he had a basis of why he doesn`t believe it, it would
have been reported by you. I mean, was there a – do your sources not say
what – did the president have a rationale for why he questioned the
Intelligence Committee on this?

SONNE: From what we understand, and we have limited information on this,
is that he was, sort of, asking to be walked through again why it is that
the intelligence community unanimously –

TODD: Is so sure.

SONNE: – is so sure about this – the conclusion that they came to that
Russia did play a role in intervening in last year`s election.

And that, in addition to that, he was trying to convince Admiral Rogers to
come out and say publicly that there was no evidence, at the present time,
of collusion between his campaign and Russia. Something that he had
pressed with Jim Comey as well.

TODD: All right. So, we have Jim Comey meets with the president the first
time and decides he`s going to document every interaction. Obviously, NSA
head Mike Rogers felt the same way. He felt the need to document it.

So, is his deputy with him at the time, during this call with the

SONNE: Yes. So, from what we understand, he was privy to this call. This
is the NSA deputy, Rick Ledger, who`s a career NSA employee. And he wrote
memos documenting – or at least one memo, documenting that phone call
between the president and NSA head Mike Rogers.

And we understand that the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to get ahold
of that memo. Would like to have more information from Rick Ledger who is
the NSA deputy, he since retired, on what transpired during that meeting,
what the president asked Admiral Rogers to do, and what exactly was

TODD: This is quite a paper trail that`s already being developed, if
you`re looking to build an obstruction of justice case. There`s suddenly
Comey memos and now Rogers` memo.

SONNE: Right. So, what you would assume that Robert Mueller would do is
look not only at the memos of – that Jim Comey has already said that he
submitted to him, but also look more broadly about what was the – what was
the president asking other people in his administration to do and why?

TODD: There is one person in this, sort of, trio you never hear about. We
know the president apparently asked Dan Coats to do something. We know the
president asked Mike Rogers to do something.

It`s hard to believe that he didn`t also make a similar request to Mike
Pompeo, head of the CIA. Yet, Mike Pompeo has somehow stayed out of these
– out of this reporting.

SONNE: I believe it has been reported that Mike Pompeo was in the meeting
with Dan Coats. So, in the meeting with Dan Coats where that was
mentioned. I think the reporting said that everyone was asked to –

TODD: So, it`s inevitable – while they brought up – while there was a –
that Coats and Rogers – it`s inevitable that probably every – a similar
request was made of Pompeo. And, at some point, he`s going to be brought
forward as well.

SONNE: Well, I haven`t seen any reporting on that, but certainly we know
he was in the room with Dan Coats.

TODD: Well, all right. Paul Sonne with a – yet another advancement in
the story. Thanks very much.

SONNE: Thanks, Chuck.

TODD: Appreciate it. From “The Wall Street Journal.”

Folks, with the president under investigation for possible obstruction of
justice, it`s worth noting that Mr. Trump`s closing argument in the 2016
election was that his foe, Hillary Clinton, not him, was be the subject of
endless investigations.


under investigation for many years, probably concluding in a criminal
trial. The work of government would grind to a halt if she were ever
elected. She`ll be in court for her entire tenure.

Hillary has engaged in a criminal massive enterprise and coverups, like
probably nobody ever before. If she were to win, it would create an
unprecedented constitutional crisis. We could very well have a sitting
president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial.

Honestly, look, it is going to be virtually impossible for her to govern.

The investigations into her crimes will go on for a long, long time.


TODD: A little more breaking news here. NBC News has just confirmed that
Vice President Mike Pence has now hired his own outside counsel to handle
anything having to do with Russia.

Let`s bring in tonight`s panel. Jennifer Palmieri was the communications
director for the Obama White House and the Clinton campaign. Yamiche
Alcindor is a Reporter with “The New York Times” and is an MSNBC
Contributor. Matthew Continetti is the Editor-in-Chief with “The
Washington Free Beacon.”

I want to start, guys, with the president went on an unusual afternoon
tweet storm. Where usually there`s either the morning or there`s the
evening. But this afternoon and it is all Mueller related here.

[17:15:07] Tweet number one at 3:43 Eastern time. Why is it that Hillary
Clinton`s family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at but my
non-dealings are? 3:56. Crooked H destroyed phones with hammer, bleached
e-mails, and husband meet with A.G. days before she was cleared. And they
talk about obstruction.

Matthew Continetti, I want to give you guys a little bit of insight about
what I thought today was going to – what – how much focus on Russia. How
much focus on the tragedy that happened yesterday and this fight – that
Steve Scalise is clearly fighting for his life here. And the president
decided to make sure the focus went right back on Russia.

think “The Washington Post” decided.

TODD: No doubt. But the president decided to –

CONTINETTI: To follow Mueller`s leak.

TODD: Yes.

CONTINETTI: And to say that, yes, the president is under investigation.

TODD: Do you know it`s a Mueller leak?

CONTINETTI: Someone close to the investigation. I won`t –

TODD: Yes, fair enough. I did say that for all our favorite critics out

CONTINETTI: President Trump playing to form.

TODD: Yes.

CONTINETTI: In the art of the deal, you never let the critics get a shot
without firing back.

TODD: Yes.

CONTINETTI: And so, he`s firing back. We`re moving from a reality T.V.
presidency into a court T.V. presidency.

And so, all those shows on HLN, you know, about legal battles with
attorneys. And what`s unusual is this is the subject of the investigation,
inserting himself. But I think it is a picture of our future.

TODD: You know, Jen, a lot of folks on the right who are not yet –
they`re very skeptical of the president but are not yet to jump on – jump
on him.

CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Right. They`re not going to start the civil war.

TODD: That`s right. Are noting, hey, there`s nothing wrong with Donald
Trump borrowing a page from the Clinton playbook. And the White House
(INAUDIBLE), you know what? Aggressively go after the special counsel.
Make it a part – the more partisan the special counsel feels in the
atmosphere, the less some of the hits sting.

Is that a Clinton strategy? Is that a fair reading of what the Clinton
strategy was in the late 1990s?

PALMIERI: I think that it was – I think that it was true that it was
partisan but that`s because it was actually partisan because the underlying
matter wasn`t a matter of national security the way that this underlying
matter is which is about Russia trying to influence the election.

So – but I think that a difference between the Clinton strategy and this
strategy is, in my day, in the Clinton White House, people like me got out
of the way. And you did what lawyers said was in the best interest of
protecting the president and making sure that you were not putting them in
legal jeopardy.

And he has a lawyer that is – that lets the client drive the strategy and
is putting himself in more (INAUDIBLE) jeopardy.


YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think there`s – is he letting him
drive the strategy or is this what Donald Trump does? As someone who`s
watched him now for – as the nation has watched him, this is what you
expect Donald Trump to do when he feels backed into a corner. When he`s
thinking of himself as now being under investigation.

As – and when you`re thinking of the fact that when he fired James Comey,
James Comey had told him he wasn`t under investigation.

And then, by his own behavior, by his own actions, by the fact that he went
on T.V. and said that he fired James Comey because of this Russia thing,
that has now brought on another investigation with him personally. So, you
also, I think, have the president feeling the heat in a way that he`s
hadn`t before.

TODD: Matthew, we are at a point, though. Now, the vice president felt
like he had to get outside counsel. You assume Rod Rosenstein is going to
feel and Jeff Sessions may feel they need outside counsel if they`re
dealing – because they, you know –

PALMIERI: They probably already have it.

TODD: They may already have it. You`ve got to have anybody that may have
been in the room with the president when he was making these directives to
the NSA. It – this is – this is what – this is how an investigation
paralyzes a White House.

CONTINETTI: Why many Republicans didn`t want a special counsel appointed
in the first place. Because whether it`s in the Clinton presidency,
whether it`s the Reagan presidency, the George H.W. Bush presidency or the
George W. Bush presidency, once you have a prosecutor with very little
oversight and a lot of resources, these investigations take on a life of
their own.

And so, we face years of the president and his team being dogged by a
roving investigator.

PALMIERI: Although Trump`s doing his best to accelerate that process.

TODD: That`s what – I know, that`s the part – that`s the head scratcher.

PALMIERI: That is. I mean, even in the last week, it has accelerated. And
I thought the lawyer statement last week was really – was really reckless.

But now, you have – there`s three big developments, it seems, just, like,
in the last day. Obviously, the horrible shooting and that seems to have
sobered up the Hill just in general, and including Republicans. You have
news of obstruction of justice investigation.

And then, you see, you know, why do we know about the – what`s happened at
the NSA? Why do we know that the NSA turned President Trump`s request
down? These people from the cabinet are coming out to protect their own
reputations. And this seems to be – so, the new – you know, the – it
seems to be gathering (INAUDIBLE.)

TODD: In an odd way, Yamiche, the more the president seems to put pressure
on folks to help him, the more they seem to get – like, oh, I better
document everything.

[17:20:02] ALCINDOR: Yes. Because in some ways, you think that if he`s
putting pressure on people, that people understand that, at the end of the
day, Donald Trump is going to be loyal to himself. James Comey learned

People around him, Chris Christie. People that – people that were around
him at certain points for certain reasons and were then used up for all
they could be used up for and then kind of thrown out of the White House.

And I think that people understand that. It`s the reason why James Comey
started taking notes as soon as he met with him because his gut told him
that he wanted to document that.

PALMIERI: Except Mike Flynn. He continues to protect Mike Flynn.

TODD: All right. Jennifer, Yamiche, Matthew, stick around. Coming up,
amid all of the news this week, there was one story we haven`t had much
time to discuss. Those big primaries in Virginia and what they could tell
us about the national political movement. We`ll have that later in the


TODD: Coming up, after the day we all feared might come, will anything
really change? I`m going to talk to Senator Jeff Flake, the center
fielder, by the way, on the Congressional Republican baseball team.
(INAUDIBLE.) He was on the field when the shooting began and helped treat
Congressman Scalise before the ambulances arrived. We`ll more from him and
more MTP DAILY in 60 seconds.


TODD: Welcome back.

The shooting in Virginia yesterday morning eclipsed another big story out
of that state, the beginning of the general election for governor.

We saw a surprisingly competitive race on Tuesday night, but not on the
closely watched Democratic side. Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam
defeated former Congressman Tom Perriello by a pretty decent margin, 12
points, much larger than many expected.

Northam was the – call him the establishment candidate. Perriello was
backed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. He probably was the more
progressive of the two. The two were scheduled to hold a unity rally
yesterday but, of course, it was cancelled after the shooting.

As for the Republicans, their contest turned out to be much closer than
expected. Former RNC chairman, Ed Gillespie, barely survived the challenge
from Corey Stewart who, of course, ended up making the preservation of
confederate monuments a pillar of his campaign.

[17:25:01] By the way, Stewart was, of course, Trump`s Virginia state
chairman. For both the Democrats and the Republicans, at least for now,
the political center held.

But the big take away from this one, Virginia doesn`t look like a purple
state anymore. Just look at the turnout. Over 175,000 more ballots cast
on the Democratic side versus what we saw on the Republican side. And,
boy, some of the turnout in northern Virginia for Republicans had to be

We`re joined now by the expert on Virginia politics, Larry Sabato. Larry,
they wrote an expert on Virginia politics. And I know it is the expert
because you`re the director of the Center for Politics at University of
Virginia and keeper of the Sabato Crystal Ball. Mr. Sabato, good to see
you, sir.

to see you, Chuck. Thank you.

TODD: So, let`s start big picture here. It seems that the running theory
as to why Northam had an much easier time, and that race got called so
quickly and Gillespie didn`t, was essentially a whole bunch of call them
former Tom Davis constituents.

And a former moderate Republican Congressman from Fairfax County that,
basically, the remainder northern Virginia Republicans said, I`m picking a
Democratic ballot. Do you buy it?

SABATO: That was part – no, not really. That was part of it. But this
was much bigger than that. And, Chuck, you and I have been around politics
a long time. People underestimate, even in this era, the impact that local
officials can have on elections.

And Ralph Northam cleaned up. He had the entire Democratic delegation in
both Houses of general assembly and all but one Congressman. The governor,
the two U.S. Senators, they produced for him. It made a big difference.

Perriello ran a very aggressive and inspired race, in a lot of ways, very
creative. But his endorsements and his money came primarily from outside
the state. That was interesting but that doesn`t influence Virginia voters
very much.

TODD: Well, then what do you – what do you – explain – and that`s fine
on the Northam side. And I buy that, particularly when you look at the
African-American turnout in – for Northam on behalf of Northam,
particularly in Hampton Rhodes (ph).

But let`s talk about this Republican turnout and what it looked like. I
guess what was surprising to me was how close Gillespie and Stewart were in
northern Virginia. And, to me, that was the – that was the evidence that
said, huh. That means whatever Republicans were here, they weren`t as
moderate as we know they normally are.

SABATO: The Republican Party in Virginia, just like nationally, has moved
further and further to the right. And Virginia is, especially now, a
moderate state. You called it blue. I call it purple with a blue tinge.
It`s more blue in presidential elections but it still can be blue in state-
wide elections with the lower turnout.

Look, the Republican base now is owned, in part, probably large part, by
the Trumpians. The people who supported Trump. He carried the primary in
Virginia. And the rest of the Republicans, if they`re moderates, they
either don`t participate in party primaries anymore or they`re voting
Democratic in the fall.

TODD: Larry, I remember there was a bit of a debate about whether the
primary – whether the Republicans should pick their nominee via primary or
via convention. Convention didn`t work so hot the last time, so I think
there was a push for primary.

Had there been a convention, would we be talking about Republican nominee
Corey Stewart?

SABATO: It`s very, very possible because as conservative as the primary
electorate was on the Republican side, a convention would have been a
distilled group of very conservative individuals, probably with many of the
localities in their caucuses and conventions overwhelmed by people who like
Corey Stewart because of his confederate issue or his strong anti-
immigration stance, which, by the way, those stances are not popular at all
statewide in Virginia. They`re going to boomerang on Republicans in the

TODD: Here`s another thing that I think is – a lot of Virginians are
going to have to get used to, which is going to feel more nationalized than
any gubernatorial race we`ve seen in a while. Rather than national folks
covering local issues in the Virginia race because it`s the only game in
town, that the Virginia candidates are going to go national. Is that – is
that how you expect fall to play out?

SABATO: I think that will be a big part of it. There will be some state
issues. But, look, on the Democratic side, why wouldn`t you go national?
Donald Trump is in the mid-30s in Virginia. He is deeply unpopular with
the general electorate.

A Democrat would be crazy not to focus on Trump. Northam focused on Trump,
as did Perriello in the primary. It`s going to continue all the way to

TODD: And what`s that Gillespie – how does Gillespie walk this line?

SABATO: Well, I – you know, good luck to him. A lot of things can happen
between now and November. He`ll have tons of money because the Republican
Governors Association usually is much better funded than the Democratic

And, as you said, there`s no place else to go. New Jersey is a gimme for
the Democrats. So, I think the RGA will pump a lot of money into Virginia.

It will turn very negative which the Democratic primary was not. This is a
unified party. The Republicans are divided but not the Democrats.

That was fascinating, all that money on the Democratic side and they did
not go after each other. Anyway, Larry Sabato, the expert on Virginia
politics. Always good to see you, sir.

SABATO: Thank you, Chuck.

TODD: It`s just like the Ohio State University, we`ll call it the
University of Virginia, the Larry Sabato. Thank you.

SABATO: Okay, thanks.

TODD: Senator Jeff Flake who was on the field yesterday when the shooting
happened joins me in a few minutes from the Congressional Baseball Game.
We`re going to talk to him, so keep it here.


TODD: Welcome back to “MTP Daily.” Will anything really change after
yesterday`s horrific baseball practice shooting or will we continue down
the path of toxic politics where each side hunkers down in their separate
corners in an echo chamber of their own beliefs?

Since the shooting, members on both sides of the aisle are talking about
tempering of the red hot rhetoric we all grown accustomed to with some
Republicans pointing to the very top of their own party to help lead the


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will Republicans do you think and should Republicans
do you think expect more from President Trump in the days moving forward?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, of course, I would like to see the president stay
off Twitter. I think we have to step up, assume a leadership role, and get
away from the personalization of our politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do think when you look at the overall negative tone of
politics in this country, everybody shares the blame, including the
president of the united states and his campaign tone and some of the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would argue that the president is at least partially,
not in any way totally, but partially to blame for demons that have been


TODD: Just to remind you, all of those voices you heard were Republican
voices from Capitol Hill. Joining me now from Nationals Park, the site of
tonight`s Congressional Baseball Game, is Arizona Senator Jeff Flake who
was on the ball field when the shooting happened. Senator Flake, thanks for
coming on, sir.


TODD: I know you saw Congressman Scalise today. Share what you can, share
what you`re comfortable telling us about his condition and about his
status. I know that they want some privacy for the family.

FLAKE: I wasn`t there today at the hospital. Cheryl and I were there
yesterday evening and met with the family. But the condition as I
understand it today is as the doctors described it last night, significant
challenges ahead, but obviously he is doing the best he can and the doctors
are as well. He is in critical condition, but we all are praying that he
will pull through.

TODD: You have been – you tried to stand out as somebody who will tamp
down rhetoric, you have done it frankly for the last two years, possibly at
a political peril to yourself at times in your own state of Arizona.

Do you have – you always have hope, you`re a pretty optimistic guy, but be
realistic with me, how do you sustain the feelings that everybody does have
right now in that stadium, on Capitol Hill where there`s a sense of we`ve
got to sober up as two political parties?

FLAKE: You`re right. We have seen this kind of thing happen in the past. We
do better for a few weeks. But then we`re back to normal. I hope that the
new normal is not, you know, here to stay. I`ve got to think, and I
wouldn`t continue in this profession if I didn`t believe that we can do
better and will do better.

There will be a time I believe where most Americans will reject this kind
of politics and personal destruction, just the awful rhetoric that both
parties employ. I just got to think that there will be a rejection of it at
some point. I hope that`s now.

TODD: I have to say this morning and early this afternoon we heard from a
parade of Republicans, you just may have heard some of those clips, it was
Mark Sanford, John Thune, and they all had a similar notion, they would
like the president to do more.

Part of doing more is actually doing something less, tweeting. And within
an hour ago, sir, he went off on a tangent on the investigation. Why do you
think the president does not heed all of your calls? You all politely ask
him not to do this. Do you have to stop being polite?

FLAKE: No, I think that`s the only thing we can do, we got to lead by
example frankly. We`ve got to do the same, tone down the rhetoric in the
language that we use, and I do hope the president will do the same. We saw
a campaign where on all sides it was frankly pretty ugly and we`ve got to
change it. I hope the president will lead and I hope that we will in
congress as well.

I mean, there`s a lot that we can do. We just got to stop ascribing the
worst motives to our opponents and debate ideas. It sounds simple, we
always say that, but we`ve got to do it. We got to discipline ourselves. If
we will, I believe that the public will be with us and that they`ll demand
that of others. So, I hope that`s what we`ll do.

TODD: When you say you want the president to lead, is there some specific
you think he could do that would maybe be a positive jolt to the system?

FLAKE: Well, things that he could stop doing, you know, referring to others
in the other party as losers or using other language that just isn`t
becoming. It`s done on our side as well, and certainly the president`s
opponents use that kind of language as well going after him, and I think
they ought to stop that.

But, I think as president of the United States, you share or you have a
unique ability to reach the public and to say hey, this point forward,
we`re going to change and I`m going to change. I think that would be
welcomed and I think it would rub off all down the line. I hope that it

TODD: You know, when we originally scheduled this interview, we actually
scheduled it a few days ago, people might not know, but I want to point it
out there because we were going to talk Cuba. I know the president is going
to make some major changes in our relationship, U.S. official relationship
with Cuba travel, something you`re not for. Is there majority support in
the senate and house to push back against some of the president`s changes?

FLAKE: I can only speak for the senate. We have a bill to lift the travel
ban completely, to have no restrictions at all. That has 55 co-sponsors. If
it came to a vote on the senate floor, I am convinced we would be between
65 and 70 votes in favor of that.

If what the president is talking about diminishes the rights of Americans
to travel to Cuba and rolls back on the freedoms that they now enjoy to
travel to Cuba, I don`t think that`s good for Americans and it`s not good
for the Cuban people either.

So, I hope that what the president is rolling out and we`re hearing
different things, different assessment of what is actually in this package,
but if it diminishes the freedom that Americans have to travel to Cuba, it
will not be good for Americans or Cubans.

TODD: Is there though – is your issue that Mitch McConnell, John Thune,
and John Cornyn, do they want this enough that they`re willing to put it on
the floor?

FLAKE: I don`t know. I`m certainly going to try to use every vehicle I can,
usually that`s during the appropriations process where it is a more open

TODD: Right.

FLAKE: . to get a vote like this to the floor. So, we`ll try but I hope
that the administration will simply say hey, let`s do what works, what is
good for the population of Cubans that has enjoyed new freedoms,
particularly to be entrepreneurs because of more American travel and more
remittances to the island. That`s been a good thing for the freedom of
Cubans, not a bad thing.

TODD: All right. Senator Flake, go out there, have a good time. I know
everybody is going to be – you have a few more eyeballs on you guys today.

FLAKE: Pressure is really on.

TODD: Little more pressure.

FLAKE: Thousands of people.

TODD: I think there`s one person we`re all rooting for and it`s Steve


TODD: Anyway, senator, thanks very much.

FLAKE: You bet, we all are. Thank you.

TODD: You got it. We`ll be right back.


TODD: Up next, exploring the secrecy around the senate Republicans` health
care plan. First, here`s Aditi Roy with the “CNBC Market Wrap.”

good to see you. Stocks close lower on Wall Street after tech stocks took
another tumble dragging down the market. Investors are also still digesting
the FED decision to raise interest rates and unwind it`s 4.5-trillion
dollar balance sheet.

The Dow lost 14 points, the S&P shed 5 points, the Nasdaq fell 29. Snap
closed 4.92 percent lower at $17 a share its IPO price. Shares of Google`s
alphabet also fell after getting downgraded by analysts at Canaccord
Genuity. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.


TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with the secrecy surrounding the
effort by senate Republicans to put together a health care bill that is
intended to replace Obamacare. Here is what I`m talking about. This is a
recent headline from Axios. Senate GOP won`t release draft health care

Story went on to say Republicans don`t want Democrats or the media picking
apart the bill before it goes to the floor. And really since most bills are
the subject of public debate, it is not surprising to hear criticism of a
bill being written and debated in private.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The law that was written behind closed doors over there
in Harry Reid`s office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was done with the White House, small room of just a
few senators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leadership work behind closed doors, out of public view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Written behind closed doors without input from anyone in
an effort to jam it past not only the senate but the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no conversation and no one knows what`s in this
bill but one senator.


TODD: And then there`s this, “using the budget reconciliation process in
the senate for example, would limit debate to only 20 hours and restrict
the ability of senators to amend a proposal that is intended to steer one-
sixth of our economy in a new direction. It would be a disservice to the
American people and our nation.”

That was by Senator Orrin Hatch. By now, you probably figured out that all
of these folks are Republicans criticizing how Democrats put together
Obamacare. Look, hypocrisy is no stranger to either side of the aisle in
the Capitol Hill.

To be sure Democrats have the capacity to be engaged today in actions that
outraged them than yesterday, but perhaps Republicans owe us more than
secret meetings about an issue that effects millions simply because they
don`t want to hear a little criticism. I know, you`re shocked there`s
gambling going on here. We`ll be right back.


TODD: Time for “The Lid.” Our panel is back. Jennifer Palmieri, Yamiche
Alcindor, Matthew Continetti. Yamiche, you wrote a story today that I
thought was a very – it turned out to be more provocative than I think it
was intended to be if you just follow you on social media, but it was a
very sober look at sort of this is a challenge for the Sanders movement.

Challenge not only for Bernie Sanders politician and national political
leader, by the way, the most popular elected official in the country if you
just look at it by poll numbers, but it`s a real challenge for him because
here is somebody who ascribed to be a Bernie guy, a Bernie-clatter (ph) who
took matters into his own hands.

tough test mainly because very quickly there were conservatives going after
progressives saying look, this is the kind of decisions that you`re making,
the rhetoric that you`re using is really helping people and really
motivating people to then take this into their hands.

I should say of course Bernie Sanders and his followers are someone who
spent more than years with them now. They are very peaceful people. He`s
always been talking about a peaceful political revolution. His language is
still very, I would say, it`s very critical and very pointed.

TODD: Can be apocalyptic at times.

ALCINDOR: It can be apocalyptic at times.

TODD: Which is just like Trump.

ALCINDOR: When you think about the fact that he called.

TODD: Apocalyptic stuff.

ALCINDOR: . and he called just on Saturday, he called Trump one of the most
dangerous – perhaps the most dangerous and worst president in history.
That got a lot of angry progressives saying, why would you quote Bernie
saying that at this moment? Because he said it and because that is the
language that he uses.

Bernie Sanders of course he`s popular because of his policies. He`s also
popular because he`s off the cuff and people feel he says things very
plainly and very aggressively. There are now a lot of progressives I`ve
been talking to saying this is a moment where we have to figure out and say
what is our role.

doesn`t say lock her up.

TODD: No, no, no.

PALMIERI: It`s the darkest presidency we`ve had.

TODD: This is about Senator Sanders.


TODD: The Clinton campaign was not happy with how Bernie`s supporters and
Sanders would try to tell them to stop that language.

PALMIERI: Yes, we had.

TODD: Their campaign was not happy.

PALMIERI: We had a lot of virtual aggression at a minimum, and, you know,
just aggression. It`s not pleasant what it is. There was a lot of ugliness.
And I think when this happens in your – not necessarily your name, but
when it happens on the left, when violence is done and it`s done by
somebody who has political motivations, there is more of an impetus on you
to speak against it.

I think the president is driving a lot of violence and connecting that to
politics and that is a very dangerous thing. But when it happens this way,
I think it is incumbent on the left to be even more aggressive in calling
it out. Senator Sanders has to decide what that means for him, but I do
think that is an important moment.

TODD: How would you say he`s handled himself so far?

out and denounce and separate himself from the activity. You know, he`s not
having a very good time right now. His candidate lost in Montana. He has
this to deal with.

The Democrats are going to – if they win in Georgia next week, it`s a
candidate who he refuses to endorse for being too centrist. He`s kind of
conducting a war in the Democratic Party and this adds I think to his kind
of burden as he does it. For the most popular politician in America, he`s
not having a very good few weeks.

ALCINDOR: And I think that while Senator Sanders is, of course, he
shouldn`t be blamed for this. It`s kind of plain to say that of course not
– he`s not inside of this violence. He`s never even come close to saying
that you should be violent. But there is this language that I think has
happened on the left where they say we`re not as bad as the Trump

The Trump supporters are punching people. All we`re doing is harassing
people. All we`re doing is being really man to people. We`re not actually
physically hurting people. There is a middle point there where you say,
okay, you might not be as bad as the person you think is the worst, but you
also have to look in the mirror and say what is your role.

PALMIERI: Yea, that is like when President Clinton says about seeking
peace, it`s some people who have legitimate grievances, willing to put that
aside and seek peace. In the left, we have legitimate grievances
(inaudible) which we race to the bottom to behave just like Trump

TODD: You know, look, all it takes is a good thing if we can hear our
grievances with words. That is what separates us from the rest of the world
or it used to. Jennifer, Yamiche, Matthew, thank you very much. After the
break, a dubious distinction for the current governor of New Jersey.


TODD: Well, in case you missed it, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is
very close to making history tonight. And not for the right reason. New
poll from the Quinnipiac University shows his approval rating is at just 15
percent in New Jersey. Let me repeat that, 15, 1-5. That means he`s one of
the very few Republican elected statewide office holders that is less
popular than President Trump in their state.

We think maybe there is only one other, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
considering his own party threw him under the bus on taxes. President Trump
has an approval rating in New Jersey of just 28 percent, but it is nearly
twice as high as Christie`s. It`s an atrocious Christie number that got us
thinking this. How low can a governor`s approval rating go?

Quinnipiac claims this is their lowest number for any governor in any state
in more than 20 years. But Quinnipiac doesn`t poll in 50 states. We did
find one that is lower. It`s from a state you might guess, Illinois.
Governor Rod Blagojevich who was eventually removed from office and
convicted 14 years in prison on charges of corruption.

While he was in office, before he was impeached, Blagojevich hit as low as
7 percent in the poll from the Glengariff Group. So, there you go. Some
good news for Governor Christie there. At least you`re in double digits. If
you can think of another modern governor who somehow fits this bill, let us
know, we are happy to keep correcting and adding to that.

That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MTP

FOR THE RECORD wit Greta starts right now.


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