MTP Daily, Transcript 6/16/2017
Show: MTP DAILY
Date: June 16, 2017
Guest: Deirdre Bosa, Ralph Northam Al Sharpton, Pete Williams, Amy
Klobuchar, Steve McMahon, Ramesh Ponnuru
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC: That does it for this hour. I`m Nicole Wallace.
“MTP DAILY” starts right now. Hi, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicole. Are you – are you ready for Mark
(ph) on Sunday? Are you going to be good to him?
WALLACE: Oh, yes, it`s Father`s Day.
TODD: You better be nice.
WALLACE: Happy Father`s Day.
TODD: That`s only one day here you have to be nice to Mark. Remember
that. Thank you, Nicole.
If it`s Friday, did President Trump sound the fire alarm again at the White
(voice-over): Tonight, President Trump`s latest Twitter rant. Did he just
confirm that he`s under investigation for obstruction of justice? Plus,
dazed and recused? The president attacks his deputy attorney general.
Will Rod Rosenstein be the next to step aside?
And the cure for cat scratch fever. Why I`m obsessed with rocker Ted
Nugent`s new political pitch.
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good Friday evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and
welcome to MTP DAILY.
The special counsel`s investigation is, indeed, expanding. And, in
response, the president has basically declared war on his own Justice
Department or it looked that way this morning.
Right now, everyone in Washington is waiting to see if Deputy Attorney
General Rod Rosenstein either recuses himself, resigns or gets fired. This
comes after the president seemingly targeted Rosenstein personally today
for the fallout after – it was Rosenstein, of course, who officially
appointed Bob Mueller as a special counsel in reaction to the Comey ouster.
The president today tweeted, I am being investigated for firing the FBI
director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt.
First off, the president appeared to be publicly confirming that he`s under
an investigation, possibly a criminal one, for obstruction of justice.
But, a source close to the president`s outside counsel then told us that
when the president says, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI
director,” he doesn`t really mean he`s being investigated for firing the
This source, who has asked to remain anonymous, says the president was not
confirming an investigation. Instead, he was simply referencing “The
Washington Post” story, which the president`s legal team has bashed for
relying on anonymous sources. In other words, his legal team was basically
leaking to say, don`t believe the president`s words.
Second, for Mr. Trump to pin the Comey firing on Rosenstein is arguably a
bit absurd. Rosenstein told Congress that President Trump had already
decided to fire Comey when he asked for Rosenstein`s input. And you don`t
have topic that Rosenstein`s word for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, ANCHOR, NBC NEWS: You met with the deputy attorney general,
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right.
HOLT: Did you ask for a recommendation?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I did is I was going to
fire Comey. My decision. Regardless of recommendation, I was going to
fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Third, the entire episode raises the very serious question about
whether or not the president is laying the groundwork to fire Rosenstein or
get him to recuse himself from the Russia probe or, perhaps, he feels the
need to resign.
Rosenstein is the only one with the direct authority to fire the special
counsel. But we know, based on his testimony, that he doesn`t want to do
He also oversees the special counsel`s budget. If Rosenstein, by the way,
feels the need to step aside, and he may have to, because he was in the
room with the president when he was pondering the firing of Comey, then the
authority of overseeing the special counsel would fall to Associate
Attorney General Rachel Brand, who served in the Justice Department under
President Bush. She`s also served on an advisory board under President
But, folks, what the heck is going on inside the White House right now?
Honestly, when we woke up this morning, we didn`t know if the lead story
today would be, say, about the White House`s new Cuba policy, their stance
on the so-called dreamers, the feel-good unity of the Congressional
It`s as if the president is telling us, whoa, whoa, whoa, you know what you
should talk about, Russia, keep your eye on the ball, since he spent his
morning tweeting about this. About half of the president`s tweets, since
yesterday, have focused on the investigation. He slammed the probe,
Congress, Hillary Clinton, and he`s now seemingly blaming his own
Department of Justice for what he`s calling a witch hunt.
Yes, it`s extraordinarily confusing. I`m joined now by NBC Justice
Correspondent, Pete Williams. Pete, let`s start with a simple question
here. What`s the status of Rod Rosenstein?
PETE WILLIAMS, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, I can`t imagine that
he`s going to resign. I`d be very surprised if he`s fired. But I think
you`re right, at some point, he has to consider whether he`s going to
recuse himself and he has said so publicly for the last couple of weeks.
He has said, you know, if the time comes, then I will certainly consider
And the problem, of course, as you noted, is that he has a definite role in
the firing of James Comey. He wrote that memo at the president`s request.
The president initially said he relied on. He was in the meeting with the
president the day before Comey was fired.
[17:05:04] So, if it comes to that, then he`s certainly prepared to do it.
He`s talked about doing it.
The other thing I`d say about the president`s tweet there is that it`s
factually wrong to say that he`s being investigated by Rod Rosenstein. Rod
Rosenstein isn`t investigating anything to do with the president, because
that`s the special counsel`s job.
TODD: It was also odd – the tweet was odder this morning, because Rod
Rosenstein put out one of the most cryptic statements we`ve seen from any
governor official in some time.
He put out this release last night. Americans should exercise caution
before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous officials,
particularly when they do not identify the country, let alone the branch or
agency of government with which the alleged sources supposedly are
affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations.
The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm
or deny such allegations.
What was he responding to?
WILLIAMS: Well, a couple of things. What I`m told by people at the
Justice Department is, number one, this was his decision to do this. One
official told me today, this is 100 percent Rod. In other words, nobody
put him up to this.
He had – we know he`s been bugged by a couple of things that he says are
wrong from the day he came into office. There was a story that he
threatened to resign over the way his handling of – his role in the Comey
firing was reported by the White House. He says that`s not true.
There was a story that he had met with Comey and turned Comey down on
additional resources for the Russia investigation. He says that`s not
true. And, by the way, so does Comey say that`s not true.
And then, you add the other stories, the two “Washington Post” stories
today about the obstruction investigation, looking at Jared Kushner`s
finances. And Rosenstein just, sort of, thought enough is enough.
And I think the message was intended to, A, express his own frustration.
And, B, to be a message to the Justice Department and the FBI, stop
TODD: But what`s this message? It didn`t say anything. It didn`t talk
about – it`s, like – it didn`t talk about that these leaks are illegal.
And, in some cases, they`re not illegal at all.
WILLIAMS: Correct. If there`s no Grand Jury investigation, for example.
But I think it was intended to – here`s the issue. It was intended to be
a message to DOJ and FBI employees, stop doing this. Maybe he was
thinking, you know, this just annoys the White House. I don`t know about
But the other problem is I don`t think he knows whether these – where
these leaks are coming from, because he doesn`t know what the special
counsel is doing. By his own testimony this week before Congress, he`s
talked to Mueller once and that`s when he was appointed. He doesn`t know
the scope of Mueller`s investigation is. And I confirmed today that he
hasn`t talked to Mueller since his testimony on Tuesday. So, he doesn`t
TODD: Does the special counsel have an obligation to let the president
know if, indeed, he is under investigation for obstruction of justice?
WILLIAMS: No, any more than a U.S. attorney would have an obligation to
tell anyone they`re under investigation.
I also think, maybe, it`s a little too grand a word to use, investigation,
at this point. Because that, sort of, implies that they already know that
somebody did something bad and they`re trying to build a case against them.
I suspect on this obstruction thing, for example, they just want to know
what happened. They want to talk to these people that they`ve heard the
president has talked to about this. They want to simply try to get the
facts. Call that an investigation if you want to but just realize that
it`s not the way we normally think of them as.
And of course, we all know, ultimately, it can`t lead to a criminal
TODD: Well, that`s what I mean. That`s what I mean. When is there ever a
legal requirement to let somebody know their status, if they`re in – being
potentially – or is it just wait until the papers are served, if papers
WILLIAMS: No, there`s no legal requirement.
Now, the U.S. attorney`s manual says that if you`re going to nail somebody,
you should give them the opportunity to try to talk you out of it and say
why this is a bad idea. And it happens all the time.
And you can send them a target letter and say, you know, you`re the target
of the Grand Jury. We`re about to make your life miserable. Tell us why
we shouldn`t do it.
But why would the government do that? Because, remember, the way the
Justice Department thinks of itself is not as trying to win a game, but
trying to get justice. And so, their goal is not to bring cases that don`t
have any merit.
If you think they`re wrong, try to talk them out of it. It doesn`t – it
very seldom works. Sometimes it does. But there`s no obligation to do
TODD: By the way, you brought up a Grand Jury. There`s no evidence that a
TODD: – Grand Jury has been handled here. Right?
WILLIAMS: Good point.
WILLIAMS: Absolutely not.
TODD: All right.
WILLIAMS: No evidence that they`re – and I – by the way, I don`t think
they ever would impanel a Grand Jury. if they need to issue subpoenas, as
the FBI already has, they`d use existing grand juries.
TODD: Pete Williams, boy, your beat gets more interesting by the day.
WILLIAMS: It`s a living.
TODD: Yes, it is. Thank you, sir.
I`m joined now by Senator Amy Klobuchar. She`s a Democrat from Minnesota.
She`s also a member of the Senate Democratic leadership and a member of the
Judiciary Committee which, by the way, very quietly went under the radar.
They just opened its own investigation into the president`s firing of
Director James Comey.
Senator Klobuchar, thanks for coming on.
[17:10:00] SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well,
thank you, Chuck. It`s great to be on.
TODD: I want to get a little bit more on this decision. I – Senator
Grassley did this. He`s come under some criticism by Republicans to do
What`s going on behind the scenes here? Is it – was it the letter from
Dianne Feinstein that got Grassley to do this? What happened? Can you
take us behind the scenes?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes. One of the things that is clear is the Judiciary
Committee has the primary jurisdiction here, when it comes to oversight of
the Justice Department and the FBI.
And yet, despite repeated requests from individual members of the
committee, we still haven`t had attorney general Sessions come before the
committee and in an unprecedented move, he appeared before intelligence.
That wasn`t – that has happened before with attorney generals, but what
happened here was he went there first.
And so, I think we are glad or I am glad, I should say, the intelligence
community is doing their thorough job and they called Attorney General
But Attorney General Sessions must come before judiciary. One, for
oversight purposes to explain the Comey firing. But, two, there`s a lot of
other things going on there. You`ve got to refugee order. You`ve got the
change in some of the immigration policy. The criminal justice policy.
The voting commission.
We simply can`t have a Justice Department and an attorney general that
doesn`t come before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
TODD: Now, there`s been some indication, at least that on the Republican
side of your committee, they`d like to have this probe expanded to get into
the role Loretta Lynch may or may not have played in the e-mail
investigation into Hillary Clinton.
Are you comfortable that the scope of this investigation should include
Director Comey`s interactions, both with the attorney general of this
administration and the attorney general of the last administration?
KLOBUCHAR: You know, I think what we`re looking for right now is a hearing
and having Director Comey come before us, getting his memos. And,
obviously, in a public hearing, people are free to ask whatever questions
that they can. We don`t limit the questions of members in judiciary.
I, myself, I`m going to focus on what happened with the firing and with
Attorney General Sessions, not only the policy issues I mentioned. But
also, what were his discussions with the Russian ambassador, right after
the president and Putin had met?
And President Obama had said he wasn`t going to get rid of the sanctions.
And here, you have a few days later, Jeff Sessions suddenly meeting with
the Russian ambassador.
And those questions actually were not asked –
TODD: Is that the timeline? Is that the – right. Wait, Jeff Sessions?
TODD: We know Mike Flynn. But you`ve got a Jeff Sessions meeting as well?
KLOBUCHAR: No. Remember, this is why the Judiciary Committee is so key.
My colleague, Al Franken, had asked then Senator Sessions about whether or
not he had met with the Russians. He said he hadn`t. Then the meeting
came out. Right? Remember the meeting he had –
TODD: But it was the September meeting –
KLOBUCHAR: – with the Russian.
TODD: – in his office. Yes.
KLOBUCHAR: Right. That`s right. And it was only a few days after
Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama had met at the International Conference.
TODD: I got you. It`s that one. I was conflating.
KLOBUCHAR: And Barack Obama –
TODD: Yes. I got you.
KLOBUCHAR: There are so many meetings, Chuck, it`s hard. But the point
is, no one has actually asked about – in detail about the substance of
that meeting and I am very curious about that.
TODD: All right. Did he –
KLOBUCHAR: And there`s many reasons he should come before the Judiciary
TODD: When you heard, though, former Director Comey talk about his
interactions with the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, back then, and he
seemed to be troubled by different things. Did that bother you at all?
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, well, I think that my colleagues will be asking about that.
Loretta Lynch`s spokesperson issued a statement, saying that she simply
wanted to make clear when she said it should be referred or they all agreed
it should be referred to as a matter. She said that that was because she
didn`t want to make it look like they were going to make a decision on this
right before a campaign.
The point is, that did bother Jim Comey. I know him from law school. He`s
by the book. And I`m sure my colleagues will ask questions about that and
they have a right to.
TODD: Do you think Rod Rosenstein has to recuse himself?
KLOBUCHAR: No, I do not. I think Rod Rosenstein is a cautious prosecutor,
someone who`s been doing this through many administrations. And he`s going
to make that decision if that happens. I don`t know all the facts
involved. What I do know is what he told us we could tell you and the
public right after that briefing we had in a classified setting.
I specifically asked him and he said we could publicly explain what he told
us. And that is that he had been told that the president was going to fire
Comey before he wrote that memo. So, that memo was not the reason for the
firing. And despite the fact that we were led to think that at point.
TODD: And you believe that is enough –
KLOBUCHAR: We believe the firing was what the president said.
TODD: And you believe that that –
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I don`t know that, Chuck.
TODD: – keeps him – that that alone – but if that is the way – if
that`s – that that means he can still supervise the special counsel, even
if he`s called in as a witness?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes. I could never say that for certain because I don`t know
all the facts.
But what I do know is the most disturbing tweet I`d ever seen, and there
have been a lot of them, was the four between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. from the
[17:15:07] But the one at the very end, where he said that the man who was
– who told him to fire Comey was the same man who was investigating him.
Number one, we know for certain that he decided to fire Comey before that
memo was written. And number two, it is not Rod Rosenstein that is making
This investigation is being conducted independently by Bob Mueller who`s
the independent prosecutor. And when we get into all of these details, we
sometimes forget, this is about a foreign power trying to influence
TODD: If Rod Rosenstein does recuse himself, Rachel Brand would be the
next person up to supervise the special counsel. You voted to confirm
Rosenstein, but you voted against the confirmation of brand. Why?
KLOBUCHAR: I was concerned about her – the hearing that we had, she
answered very few questions. She actually – she and Rosenstein appeared
together and Rosenstein answered most of the questions. I directly asked
her some questions.
I had a pleasant meeting with her in my office but I was concerned about
her in this job and she now has a job and I respect that. And I think
you`ve got to take the words of Lindsey Graham. And the words of Lindsey
Graham this week was if the president were to fire Mueller or Rosenstein,
that would be a disaster.
Mueller has not even started to do his job. And I would hope that Rachel
Brand, who does have legal experience here, would understand that and even
if for some reason this went into her hands, would do the right thing for
the Justice Department.
TODD: All right, Senator Amy Klobuchar, I`m going to leave it there. A
Democrat from Minnesota. Thanks for coming on. Appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Chuck.
Coming up, resign, recuse, fired. What is next for the acting attorney –
well, the acting – the deputy attorney general who oversees this
investigation? We`ll have more in a minute. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Welcome back to MTP DAILY.
We have an update on the condition of House majority whip, Steve Scalise,
who was, of course, shot earlier this week during the Republican
Congressional baseball team practice. The doctors at MedStar Washington
Hospital say the Congressman`s condition remains critical.
The good news is his vital signs have stabilized. They say they`re
encouraged by Scalise`s improvement over the last 36 hours, compared to his
status when he reached the hospital, which they characterized as at
imminent risk of death.
The good news is that that`s no longer the case. Congressman Scalise will
require additional surgeries and will certainly be in the hospital for a
considerable period of time.
Meanwhile, some good news about special agent Crystal Griner who was shot
while protecting the lawmakers from that gunman. She`s now in good
condition. Doesn`t mean she`s out of the hospital yet. But that also
another good sign.
[17:20:00] So, relatively speaking, some improved news today on that front.
We`ll be back in 60 seconds.
TODD: Welcome back.
The panel is here. “National Review`s” Ramesh Ponnuru, Democratic
Strategist Steve McMahon, and “USA Today” senior politics reporter and
MSNBC Political Analyst Heidi Przybyla. Welcome all.
I go back to something – we are not kidding. This morning in our morning
meeting – this morning, when I was up at my usual early time, deciding
which direction are we going to – how much Cuba should we do today? And
the president did his – did the budget meeting for us. And he said, no,
no, no. Pay no attention to what I`m doing today. Refocus on – he cannot
get this out of his head. Obviously, something triggered this.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What is the one thing that we
know angers this president almost more than anything else? A leak. And
that is how I interpreted this was that he was angry that someone – and he
thought it was the FBI, who heads the FBI? Rosenstein. Leaked out that he
is, in fact, under investigation. And so, of course he tweeted out.
But this is creating, as in so many cases in this whole episode, a pattern
of the president essentially going after any individual who is in a
position of power over this investigation. You saw it with Mueller, you
saw it previously where he was angry at Sessions, because he didn`t recuse
himself – and there is –
TODD: That he did recuse himself. He`s still upset about that.
PRZYBYLA: I apologize, that he did recuse himself.
TODD: Yes. And Comey, you forgot that.
TODD: And we know what he did there.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And it`s not really easy to do what
he did today. He actually was able to get two lies into 140 characters. I
mean, think about that for a second. By saying that he was being
investigated by the man who ordered him to fire Comey. Neither of which
was true, by the way.
TODD: Well, we don`t know about the investigation.
MCMAHON: But we do know –
TODD: But we do know it`s not Rosenstein.
MCMAHON: We do know it`s not Rosenstein. And we also know that Rosenstein
didn`t tell him to fire Comey.
So, it is interesting. It absolutely drives him crazy.
Last week was infrastructure week. Does anybody remember that? Today, you
know, he made news on this Cuba thing, rolling back –
TODD: And DACA.
MCMAHON: And DACA.
TODD: DACA is a different story in a – in a – way that was a semi-
MCMAHON: And what are we talking about? We`re not talking about either of
those things nor are we talking about infrastructure?
RAMESH PONNURU, SENIOR EDITOR, “NATIONAL REVIEW”: Well, it`s driving the
news today not only because he`s lashing out and he`s not talking about the
other events of the day, but also because it`s mysterious. And it`s not
entirely clear what exactly he means.
TODD: Yes, and what triggered it?
PONNURU: Yes, I do think that there is a legitimate complaint about the
leaks. I don`t see what the whistle blowing justification for this leak
is. I mean, I think some leaks you can justify that way. At this point, I
don`t really see the public interest in it.
But you`ve got to stop and think, presumably, if you`re the president of
the United States, does my complaining about this serve any interest of the
public`s or of my own? And here, it`s hard to see how it does.
PRYZYBYLA: I actually disagree. There is a huge public interest in this
leak. And that was that prior to this, the news was that the president
might fire Mueller.
So, if you get the information out there that Mueller is investigating the
president, that makes it much harder for the president to go ahead and do
MCMAHON: Doesn`t it, though, seem really obviously, though. Given the
fact pattern, that Mueller had to be investigating the president for
obstruction of justice because it would be negligent not to. I mean, you
have – you have, like, bread comes everywhere. And if you follow any –
TODD: Oh, by the way, and if you take Pete`s (ph) words, I thought that
was a very – you know, it`s, like, an investigate – if you want to
investigate something doesn`t mean it`s a formal investigation where you`re
going to impanel a Grand Jury. There is a difference.
But I think you`re right. There`s enough bread crumbs out there.
MCMAHON: You have to.
TODD: I need to understand the motivation behind this.
MCMAHON: You absolutely have to.
TODD: How do you not, right?
PONNURU: Well, and that`s why most people who read that story believed it.
It was plausible that that`s what would be happening. It`s what people
expected to happen.
MCMAHON: My wife who worked with Bob Mueller for years over at the U.S.
attorney`s office said, of course he`s investigating. Why is this even
news? It`s obvious. It`s obvious to anyone.
And remember this. You know, Donald Trump, with great bravado, said he`ll
go under oath and he`ll testify and do all of this. It wasn`t anything
that occurred in white water or even with Monica Lewinsky that brought down
Bill Clinton in the – in the impeachment. It was – it was what he did
under oath with – in a deposition.
[17:25:00] And Donald Trump lies. And he lies routinely, repeatedly and he
can`t help himself. He will be –
TODD: It`s a perjury charge.
MCMAHON: It`s perjury.
TODD: If he`s not careful, right? You wanted –
PONNURU: Although nobody can actually be trapped into perjury. You have
to decide to do it yourself.
MCMAHON: Do you have any doubt that he will?
TODD: It`s a perjury trap if you – if you don`t know how to tell the
PONNURU: I think Mueller, obviously, has to conduct himself in a way that
he`s walking the line and so there`s no excuse for firing him. I think he
needs to make contingency plans for the investigation to proceed, if he
does get fired.
I don`t think it`s right for the – for Mueller to be taking steps to try
to reduce the likelihood that he`s going to be fired.
TODD: But in terms –
I was just going to say, we don`t know that.
PRZYBYLA: We don`t know where that came from. We don`t know where that
TODD: We don`t know that.
But let me bring up the Rod Rosenstein situation. Obviously, the
president`s very angry at him. He may be simply angry because he`s the guy
that appointed the special counsel. OK.
We know that Jeff Sessions, he`s upset that he recused himself. Which gave
the authority to Rod Rosenstein. Which, then in turn, led to this. Which
then leads to the mysterious Rod Rosenstein statement from last night.
First of all, how long can he go without recusing himself, at this point?
PRZYBYLA: Well, that`s a big question because at the epicenter of this
investigation is now obstruction of justice over the Comey –
TODD: If at the epicenter, I was just going to say there is –
PRZYBYLA: If that is a big part of this investigation now is over
obstruction of justice and Rosenstein would be central to that, given that
he is the one who wrote the letter and that there is a dispute over what
the genesis of that was. Whether it came from him or whether the president
ordered him to do it. He would seem to be possibly central to that
MCMAHON: If he becomes a witness, an actual witness, and I presume he
would have to recuse himself. But, right now, he`s not conducting the
investigation. He`s supervising the individual who is. And so, I don`t
think there`s any reason for him to recuse himself currently.
And unless he becomes a witness, I don`t think there will be, at any point,
any reason for him to recuse himself.
TODD: Ramesh, what`s this do to the White House if everybody`s – it seems
like anybody who the president touched on Comey, and perhaps Flynn because
then that becomes related to the Comey firing, has felt the need to get a
Vice president Pence we know has an outside counsel. We know Jared Kushner
has an outside counsel. Who – I mean, is that where this is heading
inside that west wing?
PONNURU: Well, you`d think that anybody, even peripherally involved here,
would be well advised to lawyer up. That`s the way these things work. And
if you don`t get good legal representation, you can end up facing some
pretty serious consequences.
That is going to – you know, this is going to be just occupying the minds
of people when other things could be about how to drive the president`s
agenda. That`s one of the reasons why Trump resents the investigation.
TODD: By the way, that – it ends up building trust issues. Because then,
everybody`s looking over their shoulder. You know, how do you – wait,
wait, wait, wait, you went to the special counsel. Wait, are you cutting a
deal? Oh, wait, what`s going on here? And then, that only creates more
PRZYBYLA: I talked to sources within the White House who say that, on a
certain level, people are willfully ignorant of what`s going on. People
who are in positions who should know things don`t because they don`t want
to know them. They – they are –
TODD: Stay away from that meeting, yes.
PRZYBYLA: You know, walling themselves off. And then, there`s this layer
of people, like Mike Pence, who are in the inner circle and who, under
these circumstances – not under normal circumstances but under these
circumstances, he had to.
TODD: Of course he did.
MCMAHON: And these are people who, most of whom, with the exception of the
Goldman Sachs crew, they don`t have the kind of money it`s going to take to
write these checks month after month after month to these lawyers. I think
George Stephanopoulos came out of the White House with about $6,000 in
legal fees. And that`s about what –
TODD: He`s doing OK now.
MCMAHON: He`s doing OK now but that`s what a lot of these people are going
to be looking at.
TODD: And these are young folks that don`t have that –
MCMAHON: That`s exactly right.
TODD: – kind of money.
All right, you guys are sticking around. We`re going to talk about
something that`s not Russia, I think, in the e-block. I promise.
Coming up though, Democrats are starting out with a big advantage in the
Virginia general election. Can they hold onto it all the way to November?
And if it`s Sunday, I will be focusing on the Russian investigation. I`m
going to talk to the president`s – one of the president`s outside legal
counsels, Jay Sekulow.
Plus, Senators Marco Rubio in an exclusive interview with Angus King, both
on the Intel Committee. This Sunday on “MEET THE PRESS.” Check those
local stations. And, yes, they`re on the air on normal times. Don`t miss
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR, “MEET THE PRESS DAILY” SHOW HOST:
A lot more “MTP Daily” ahead, including the special election that could be
a game changer for the Democrats and it`s not the one you think it is. But
first, a programming note. Tomorrow night, on the 45th anniversary of the
Watergate break-in, MSNBC will bring you a special presentation of “All The
President`s Men Revisited.”
The documentary narrated by Robert Redford offers a comprehensive look of
the Watergate scandal, weaving firsthand accounts from those at the center
of the storm with the scenes from Redford`s movie, “All The President`s
Men.” It`s an enjoyable way to remember and sort of relive some of that
history for some of you and perhaps it`s history you need to know. That`s
tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. eastern, only on MSNBC.
We`ll be right back. But first, here`s Deirdre Bosa with the Friday Market
Wrap. What do we got?
DEIRDRE BOSA, TECHNOLOGY REPORTER FOR CNBC: Happy Friday, thanks, Chuck.
Stocks ending today mixed. The Dow rose 24 points, the S&P gained just a
fraction, and the Nasdaq lost 13. The big news of the day, Amazon is
expanding its presence in brick-and-mortar retail.
The e-commerce giant will buy supermarket chain whole foods for more than
$13 billion in cash. And new home construction was slow for a third
straight month. The commerce department reports housing starts fell 5.5
percent in May, while building permits fell nearly 5 percent. And that`s it
from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: Welcome back. The race is set in what may be one of the most
competitive races this November. It`s the fight to be the next governor of
Virginia. We get this every off off year, every four years, thanks to the
term limit, one-year term limit, one-term term limit in Virginia. After the
primaries earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam will go head
to head with former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie.
Both are moderates candidates within their party who will do their best to
paint each other as extremists of their party. Democrats are riding high on
data from primary. There were about 200,000 more Democratic ballots cast
than Republican ballots. It`s early, but the general election strategy for
both parties seems clear. Tie the opposing candidate to each party`s
Democrats are portraying Gillespie as a close ally of President Trump in a
state where the president is not so popular. Republicans are labeling
Northam as the most liberal Democratic nominee in Virginia history. They
even purchased a domain name, tooliberalralph.com.
Well, joining me now is the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Virginia
and current lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam. Mr. Lieutenant Governor,
first congratulations on your primary win. That`s a big deal.
RALPH NORTHAM, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Thank you, Chuck. Happy
Friday to you and your viewers.
TODD: Yeah, thank you very much. So let me start with the portrayal that
the Gillespie campaign wants to make of you. They say you`re the most
liberal nominee for governor in the history of Virginia. Do you accept that
label, number one? And number two, are they right?
NORTHAM: Well, Chuck, as you know, I grew up in rural Virginia over on the
eastern shore and attended Virginia Military Institute in Lexington,
Virginia. I don`t know how many liberals come out of VMI, but I`m not sure
why there`s confusion.
But, you know, the most important thing is we`re promoting economic
opportunity for all Virginians here, no matter who you are, no matter where
you are, and we`ve been very successful and will continue to do that over
the next four years.
TODD: You voted, you know, one of the things that gives you the perception
among many Democrats that you`re moderate and not a part of the progressive
side of things is that you supported George W. Bush not once, but twice.
What made George W. Bush a better presidential candidate in your mind than
John Kerry in 2004?
NORTHAM: Well, you know, I had served in the United States army, I served
during desert storm, taking care of wounded soldiers, and at that time of
my life, I was starting my medical practice in Norfolk as a pediatric
neurologist. I was doing a lot of volunteer work for pediatric hospice. I
was underperformed (ph) politically.
And knowing what I know now about George Bush`s policies and principles and
values, it was a wrong vote. The one thing I would say, when I was asked, I
didn`t dance around the question, I told the truth. And, you know,
Virginians are looking for a leader that will look them in the eyes and
tell them the truth. And that`s what I bring to the table.
TODD: Speaking of that, let me ask you this, because what adds to this
evidence of, you know, of where you are on the party scale. In 2009, it was
reported that Republicans were courting you to switch parties, right after
you got elected to the state senate. What was that about and how serious
did you consider it?
NORTHAM: Well, it was really more about power sharing with the finance
committee. There were some things that I was working on for my district to
include our children`s hospital and the medical school. I had never
considered switching parties.
That was a tweet that went out by one of the Republicans, I guess, that had
wishful thinking. But, you know, I have fought for Virginia`s progressive
democratic values for 10 years. I`m proud to be a Democrat and I believe
that when we elect Democrats in Virginia, good things happen.
TODD: You know, during your primary debate with Tom Perriello, at one point
you seemed to say, hey, this race isn`t about Donald Trump. And in a
general election campaign, I have a feeling we`re going to hear a lot about
Donald Trump. Is it or isn`t it?
NORTHAM: Well, Donald Trump, in my opinion and a lot of Virginians opinion
is a dangerous man. You know, Mr. Gillespie is nothing more than one of his
lobbyists. He`s a Washingtonian with a Virginia address.
You know, we`re going to be very careful to continue to our promote our
economy. We`re going to do it with workforce development and inclusivity
here in Virginia. And the hatred and the bigotry that`s coming out of
Washington, we`re not going to tolerate it here in Virginia.
TODD: Is that a fair hit on Ed Gillespie? I mean, he basically almost lost
the Republican nomination, because he wasn`t close – perceived as close
enough to President Trump.
NORTHAM: Well, you know, his tax plan is a disaster. It just gives tax cuts
to the rich on the backs of the working class in Virginia. He supports Mr.
Trump`s now new medical plan that puts 23 million Americans at risk,
especially those with pre-existing conditions.
He agrees with Mr. Trump that he should have separated from the Paris
Agreement, putting a lot of detriment and just bad things for environment
in Virginia. So, you know, he`s just cut from the same cloth as Mr. Trump,
and again, that`s not what we stand for in our Democratic Party in Virginia
and we`re going to do everything we can to keep that influence from coming
TODD: You have been very tough on President Trump the individual. Is there
anything in his agenda that as a governor of Virginia, you would want to
work with him on, not against him?
NORTHAM: Well, obviously, he wants to build our military up. And we build a
lot of warships and submarines right here in the commonwealth of Virginia.
He also says that he`s going to get rid of sequestration. Sequestration
hurt our economy a couple years ago. So, if he wants to end sequestration
and build up our military, you know I`ll work with him on those issues.
TODD: And another issue that comes up very much more in state races than it
does in national races and it`s come up off and on in Virginia. And I
didn`t ask you this before, but I`m curious, where are you on the death
NORTHAM: Well, I oppose the death penalty. I certainly support life in
prison without parole. At the same time, Chuck, we have to be very
cognizant and aware of the tragedies that the victims go through, so I`m
all about taking care of them as well, but I`m opposed to the death
TODD: Now, Tim Kaine was opposed to the death penalty personally, but he
implied that he would if necessary let one go through if somebody did
indeed get the death penalty, get sentenced to death. Where are you on
that? Would you – if somebody is sentenced to death, will you enforce the
NORTHAM: Absolutely. I`ll uphold the law of Virginia.
TODD: So you would, while you`re personally against, will you work to undo
it or just simply, you`re personally against but you`ll enact it if
NORTHAM: Well, that`s certainly something that the legislature will address
and you know, if the house and the senate vote to do away with the death
penalty, I would certainly sign that piece of legislation.
TODD: And finally, I want to ask about the tragedy this week in – that
happened in Virginia. What happened in Alexandria. Governor McAuliffe, when
he was there, he brought up the issue of guns.
TODD: And saying that that needed to be – this has been an important issue
to you. How much of a priority do you think gun control needs to be for the
NORTHAM: Well, certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks that
were shot and also to the police and first responders that took such
excellent care to these folks. But we for too long said that our prayers
and thoughts are with these families. But we really need to honor these
folks with action. So it`s time for us to come together in a bipartisan way
and support responsible gun ownership in Virginia and that`s what I plan to
do as the next governor.
TODD: What does that mean? What`s one concrete step you think you can do?
NORTHAM: Well, the first step, Chuck, is universal background checks. You
know, that`s what most Virginians agree on. It`s all about having a
conversation and say, look, let`s agree that we need to promote responsible
gun ownership, just like we promote a safe drive-in in on our highways in
That`s not asking too much. And so once we agree on that, let`s take the
next step to make our society safer so that people can live and work and
raise their children here in Virginia and not be worried about such
tragedies as we saw a couple days ago.
TODD: All right. Lieutenant governor, I appreciate your time. I hope to
have you on again, to get into more issues as well. Stay safe on the trail.
NORTHAM: Thanks a lot and you all have a great weekend.
TODD: You got it. Programming note by the way. We here at “MTP Daily” also
plan to see Republican Ed Gillespie right here. We talked during campaign
and we hope to have him on the program very soon as well. Up next, what
President Trump could learn from Ted Nugent.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed, of course, with the coarseness
of our politics. I`ve been obsessed about it for a long time. And with a
high-profile violator who has promised to actually do something about it.
And an even higher-profile violator who many of us wish will do the same.
At this point in his career, Ted Nugent is known more for some of his
hateful statements about President Obama and Hillary Clinton than any song
If there is a Hall of Fame for incendiary comments, Ted Nugent might get
his own wing. But yesterday on a radio talk show in the wake of this week`s
shooting here in Washington, Nugent said, enough already, it`s time to tone
things down. I`m not going to engage in that kind of hateful rhetoric
anymore, Nugent said. And then he went further. Take a listen.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN AND POLITICAL ACTVIST: I cannot and I will not and I
encourage even my friends/enemy on the left in the Democrat and liberal
world that we have got to be civil to each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Hear, hear. Good on you, Ted Nugent. Seriously, thank you. A lot of
us say, good on you. But there`s someone even more famous and more
prominent and more influential who could do well to follow Ted Nugent`s
lead. President Trump. Instead of attacking Hillary Clinton the day after
Steve Scalise was shot, would have been worthy of saying cooling down the
rhetoric just for that day.
Doing so would not only have been worthy of the dignity of the office but
it would have sent a signal to those on the left and right, that though we
may disagree in the end, we are all Americans and no one has a monopoly on
love for their country. That would have helped make America again, that`s
for sure. But again, even the timing of it, just as everybody in Capitol
Hill does want to do this. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Welcome back. Time for “The Lid.” Ramesh, Steve, Heidi. Okay. We got
some actual election next week, special election Georgia 6. Ramesh, impact
on the parties, impact on the agenda. Does Donald Trump have more at stake,
the future of health care? What`s at stake here between Handel and Ossoff?
RAMESH PONNURU, COLUMNIST AND SENIOR EDITOR FOR THE NATIONAL REVIEW
MAGAZINE: I do think that the obvious, Democrats will be buoyed if they win
that seat, which is a seat held by Newt Gingrich in the old days and was
held more recently by Tom Price, the president`s secretary of health and
human services. I think it plays into the health care debate.
I think there is no question that the unpopular, the Republican health care
bill has been a bigger issue for the Democrats there than any of this
Russia controversy has been. If Karen Handel the Republican loses, and Jon
Ossoff the Democrat wins, I think it is going to scare more Republicans off
the health care bill because they are going to think it`s political poison.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Interesting. Here`s an interesting
number. I know you love numbers. The president`s numbers have gone down in
that district from 54 percent favorable to 45 percent favorable today which
is still 10 or 11 points higher than it is nationwide. So, you know, I
think there`s a lot of pressure on Democrats to win this because if we do,
it puts us in a pretty good position to argue that the house is within
People will believe it. Donors will follow. But I also think, you know, if
you`re Republican, you`re looking at Donald Trump at 45. If you don`t win
that seat, how are you going to win the seats where Donald Trump is at 35?
And there are a lot more of those than there are 45.
TODD: It is interesting. I think 45 is sort of the new 50 in this case. I
think Obama proved that. I think Democrats held any seat where his approval
rating didn`t drop below 45 back in those 10 and 14 rates.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER FOR USA TODAY: There`s a lot of
benchmarks you can use, right? You can put out the approval rating and I
can put out the fact that there`s 24 seats out there as well where Hillary
Clinton won in Republicans are representing, or I can look at political
report partisan voter indexes which showed that there are 60 more districts
that will be more favorable to Democrats.
Look, Tom Price won this by 20, over 20 points a mere months ago. The fact
that even if it`s like – it is a cliff hanger, right? And there`s going to
be a very, very minor difference, whatever the outcome is, it`s going to be
very close. This is proof positive that Trump is starting to rub off on
these Republicans. That`s a problem. I don`t think any of us can say that
means the house goes or the house doesn`t go.
TODD: Oh, that I agree.
PRZYBYLA: It does mean that it`s going to be really close.
PONNURU: We should guard against having a misleading picture based on the
special elections of the strength of the two parties because you have the
special elections because there isn`t an incumbent.
TODD: Special elections are special for a reason. They`re special. It means
they`re not normal. Anyway, go ahead.
PONNURU: The Republican incumbent would have an opportunity to create an
identity. He will have or she will have an opportunity to vote against and
for the president. They will have ties to the community that are deeper
than a newcomer in an open seat. I think that Republicans are likely to do
better in race than Democrats (ph). Everybody knows that.
MCMAHON: All of that is correct. However, there is a reason for the saying
canary in the coal mine. Every indicator that Heidi just mentioned favors
the Democrats and so one of the things you have to do in an off-year is you
have to generate momentum for the on year.
And Democrats so far haven`t done as much of that by winning as they might
be able to do on Tuesday. That will be a big, big night for them because it
creates momentum that it`s hard to turn back.
PRZYBYLA: At the same time, I do think Ramesh is right, that the real
indication on this may be for health care just because if you look at the
way that Ossoff ran, it was mostly railing against health care and not
necessarily the president personally.
TODD: Yeah, he did not touch that.
PRZYBYLA: The implications of that at this very fragile moment where senate
Republicans don`t even want to tell us what`s in their bill and the
implications of how they could kind of back off from that.
TODD: Ramesh, I want you to comment on that really quick. Do you think
senate Republicans – this feels like a smart short term play but a
questionable long term play on keeping this so secret.
PONNURU: Well, regardless of the political implication, I think it`s just
hard to defend on the merits. This is an incredibly important piece of
legislation. And, you know, I just like Obamacare a great deal, but it did
go to the committee, it was debated openly for months. We were talking
about specific provisions. This right now is a black box and the question
is are they going to allow it to be debated for a sufficient time with
TODD: All right. I have to leave it there. My guess is he would just simply
MCMAHON: I would say it`s interesting that Mr. McConnell won`t let the
Republicans see what`s in it.
TODD: Ramesh, Steve, Heidi, that`s all I have, I`m sorry. I have to let you
go. After the break, Georgia 6 is not the only race on the ballot next
TODD: Well, in case you missed it, the Georgia 6 congressional race is not
the only special election that is happening this coming Tuesday. There is
another house seat left open by another of the president`s cabinet members.
Democrat Archie Parnell and Republican Ralph Norman are facing off to fill
the South Carolina seat that used to belong to the office of Management and
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
In case you missed it, everything you`re hearing about the Georgia race
will determine the future of health care in this country, then will decide
whether the president can be impeached, everything. I mean, everything is
at stake. Well, we know it is a bit of an exaggeration. But if the
Democrats don`t manage to pull of South Carolina 5 in a district that
President Trump carried by 18 points and Mick Mulvaney also won by more
than that, 20 points, then all those world changing things that you`re
hearing about may actually be true.
Bottom line, keep an eye on the South Carolina race on Tuesday and watch
the margins. Those will matter here, too. The big money and all the
attention is focused on Georgia. But it`s the South Carolina one that
actually would be the real game changer if something happened. And remember
conventional wisdom, we all thought we were spending Tuesday night on the
Virginia race refreshing those Democrat primary numbers.
Little did we know it was the Republican race that turned out to be the
squeaker. What if that`s what Tuesday is like? That`s all for tonight.
We`ll be back Monday with more “MTP Daily.” Of course, if it`s Sunday,
catch “Meet the Press” on your local NBC station. “For the Record” with
Greta starts right now. Go, Greta.
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