MTP Daily, Transcript 6/29/2017
Show: MTP DAILY
Date: June 29, 2017
Guest: Nicholas Burns, Shane Harris, Daniella Gibbs Leger, Susan Collins,
Tom Carper, Bill Cassidy, John Bel Edwards
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: So, thanks, Nicole.
If it`s Thursday, a new Twitter storm casts clouds over Republican health
(voice-over) Tonight, could a tweet by President Trump hurt his chances of
getting a repeal of Obamacare?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What we`re trying to
do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this,
obviously, doesn`t help do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Despite the tweet, does Mitch McConnell have enough legislative
magic to get health care done in the Senate?
Plus, are we about to see the Rex Tillerson Rexit (ph) strategy from the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you satisfied with your staffing?
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: No, I would like to go faster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: If Tillerson isn`t allowed to run his own State Department, could he
be asking, what`s the point of staying?
And later, reflecting on some words of wisdom from the women of the White
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, U.S. FIRST LADY: We have to find a better way to talk to
each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good Thursday evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and
welcome to MTP DAILY.
Republicans are in some desperate need of leadership on the issue of health
care. And, today, the president dropped a truly massive, inappropriate and
unpresidential mess into the party`s lap at exactly the wrong time.
By now, you`ve probably seen the tweets, or presidential statements as the
White House calls them, that I`m talking about. As members of his own
party have pointed out, the president`s statements about two of my
colleagues here on MSNBC are beneath the office he holds. They are
shameless and undignified.
But the White House does not seem to see it that way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, U.S. WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: When the
president gets hit, he`s going to hit back harder which is what he did here
KRISTEN WELKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Doesn`t he have to
meet a higher standard than cable news (INAUDIBLE) or doesn`t he have to
meet the higher standards?
SANDERS: Look, I don`t think you can expect someone to be personally
attacked day after day, minute by minute, and sit back. Look, the American
people elected a fighter. They didn`t elect somebody to sit back and do
nothing. That`s – they knew what they were getting when they voted for
Donald Trump and he won overwhelmingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: I`m able to not respond to Twitter a lot when people attack me.
Anyway, folks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scrambling for a
way to get his party behind a revised health care bill by tomorrow, as a
growing chorus of Republicans publicly pressure him to start negotiating
And at this 11th hour for the party, the president goes rogue. Despite
Senator McConnell, to his credit, repeatedly pleading with him not to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I`ve been
pretty candid with him and with all of you that I`m not a great fan of
daily tweets. I think it would be helpful to have less drama emanating
from the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: GOP leadership is still holding out hope that they can cobble
together some kind of compromise bill on health care within their own party
before they leave town tomorrow.
Senator John McCain says that`s now as likely as pigs flying.
But if there isn`t a deal by tomorrow, Republicans like Lindsey Graham and
Shelley Moore Capito say their party will have no choice but to start
negotiating with Democrats.
Moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says he`s already started talking
with at least three moderate Senate Republicans, Collins, Capito and
Heller, about a possible deal.
Which begs the question, what does the art of that deal look like? First,
you`ve got to ask if Democrats are even prepared to deal. Their caucus is
severely divided on this issue.
The growing progressive left led by Senator Bernie Sanders does want single
payor and wants to start campaigning on single payer. The leadership led
by senator Chuck Schumer, there aren`t – he`s not quite there yet on
Next, you`ve got to ask where the compromise would come from, considering
the ultimate goal of Democrats would be universal coverage and the ultimate
goal of Republicans, at this point, is to figure out how to get to tax
And come hell or high water, the White House says, it will move on to tax
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY COHN, U.S. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR: We were going to get
to tax reform if this passes or it doesn`t pass. We are on a tax reform
agenda when we come back in September. When the August recess is over, we
will be 100 percent engaged in tax reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So, now, we got to ask, what is next? I`m joined now by Republican
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who today met with Vice President Pence on
the issue of health care.
Senator Collins, always good to talk with you.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: What do we know – do you know anything new about any potential
changes that are going to get filed tomorrow by Senator McConnell?
COLLINS: The only change that I expect will be in the bill is $45 billion
to help treat people with an opioid or heroin addiction. That obviously is
an improvement in the earlier draft but it doesn`t go nearly far enough.
Now, there may be a host of other changes. We really don`t know, at this
point. No draft has been handed out. No outline has been provided to us.
TODD: Now, I know you had a meeting with Vice President Pence. Look, this
has got to be – he`s got to be pleading with you, as a Republican, I`m
[17:05:04] And I – and I know the two of you maybe don`t necessarily see
eye to eye on what the substance of the bill would be. But how close are
you and Vice President Pence when it comes to the substance?
COLLINS: He – the vice president listened very carefully to my concerns.
I went through my concerns about the cut in Medicaid, what the impact would
be on some of the most vulnerable citizens, our rural hospitals, our
We talked, also, about the increase in deductibles that would make
insurance unaffordable to a lot of low and middle-income citizens in our
And we talked in general about the coverage issue. I`ve made it very
clear, I cannot support a bill that is going to add 22 million people to
the 28 million that are already uninsured.
He was very much in a listening mode. He was receptive to what I said in
many ways, but he certainly didn`t make any commitments.
TODD: Now, you have made it clear, you can`t accept 22 million. Is there
any number that you accept, as far as this bill is concerned? Is it 10, is
it 15? Is it 5? I mean, what is that line for you that it becomes, like,
all right, I`m willing to try this reform?
COLLINS: Well, the goal that I had, along with Senator Bill Cassidy, when
we introduced our bill was to actually expand coverage, because even under
the ACA, we have 28 million Americans without coverage. So, I actually
think our goal ought to be in the other direction.
Now, I recognize when you do away with the individual mandate that there
are going to be some people who will choose not to have insurance. I think
you could diminish that number greatly if you had a system where people
were automatically enrolled –
TODD: I love this idea.
COLLINS: – and you had to opt out.
TODD: I love this idea of automatic enrollment. Why is there no – I
guess, why is there no critical mass on this in your party?
COLLINS: Well, people are now finally starting to look at that idea and
we`ve had a couple of scholars who have written papers on how you might do
auto enrollment. So, I think it was a new idea. But I do believe that
it`s starting to get attention.
TODD: Let me ask you one other idea. Are we to the point – I feel as if
one thing about this debate is people are learning more about Medicaid.
That it isn`t just a safety net for the poor. This is a lifeline for many
people, of all ages, of a lot of different incomes.
Should this be the insurance plan for rural America? If we can`t get
private insurance companies to feel comfortable being in the private sector
in rural America, for some – you know, because they don`t feel as if
they`ll get enough customers, is Medicaid the answer?
COLLINS: Medicaid is part of the answer, but I still prefer to rely on the
private market place.
But what we have under the Affordable Care Act is a very fragile insurance
market where premiums are skyrocketing and insurers are fleeing and people
can`t buy any insurance, even with a subsidy.
And that`s why, ultimately, the Democrats are going to have to come to the
table and negotiate. Because otherwise, it`s going to be under the ACA,
Obamacare, that the markets collapse.
TODD: So, where does this go next? You know, you`ve been involved with
plenty of gangs. I was joking with Tom Carper that he`s also a gang
There is this, still a group of center-left and center-right senators.
You`ve hijacked the Senate before. And I mean that in a – in a way where
you feel as if leadership isn`t listening and you guys say, enough is
You`re not there yet. When are you getting there?
COLLINS: We have to wait to see what Mitch McConnell comes up with. The
leader is putting together this package. It may be unveiled tomorrow.
But then, it has to go to the Congressional Budget Office to be assessed
and scored next week and that`s when we`ll know the impact on coverage and
costs and can make final decisions.
If that isn`t going to fly, then I think you`ll see this bipartisan group
finally come together. I can`t tell you how many secret conversations I`ve
had with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle –
COLLINS: – who have told me that they are going to be willing to
negotiate down the road.
TODD: Obviously, nothing like a presidential tweet storm to add a cloud to
this health care debate, which is not easy. You tweeted – you put out a
release. You said, this has to stop. We all have a job. Three branches
of government and media. We don`t have to get along, but we must show
respect and civility.
[17:10:07] Did you bring this up with the vice president?
COLLINS: I did not. Our conversation was strictly on health care. There
was another senator present for it and I thought it was not appropriate for
me to get into the tweet issue with him.
TODD: Can you – how do you – you`ve been offended by his tweets in the
past. You`ve been offended by his behavior before. I took your tweet as,
sort of, you almost were throwing up your hands.
What is your advice to parents? What is your advice to parents, at this
point when it comes to the president?
COLLINS: This is one of the things that bothers me the most. I believe
that the president of the United States ought to be modeling the best of
He should be an example for children. He should be an example for all of
us. He should not be contributing to the tremendous divide and
polarization that we have in our country.
It`s one thing when he was the candidate. All of us say things that are a
little bit over the top when we`re running for office. But once you`re a
public official, particularly if you`re president of the United States of
America, the greatest country on earth, you have a special obligation to be
And that`s why I was really disappointed and dismayed by the president`s
TODD: Is there a point, though, where you look at it and he – and say
that he`s damaging the office?
COLLINS: I worry about how the president is seen in the eyes of the world.
And I hope that he will – he did stop the kind of personal tweets for a
while. And I hope that he will really reconsider – in fact, I`d prefer
that he not do any tweets. I think that we would be better off.
TODD: And if he doesn`t, when is your tipping point? When are you done?
When do you say, I just – I`m done with this?
COLLINS: Well, I respect the fact that he`s president and I`m going to
continue to negotiate with him on issues that I really care about. He`s
president of the United States.
I hope that the reaction, which has been overwhelming to this latest tweet,
will cause him to reconsider. I will have to see what happens.
TODD: Senator Susan Collins, never shy about expressing your opinion. I
appreciate that. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views.
COLLINS: Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: All right, coming up, I want to look at the health care debate from
the state level. I`m joined now by Governor John Bell Edwards, a Democrat
Governor, good to see you, sir.
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: Thank you, Chuck. Good to be with
TODD: All right. So, explain, you`ve got a senator, my guess is you guys
are more eye to eye on this, even though he`s a member of the other side of
the party, Bill Cassidy, a Republican. You heard Susan Collins talking
about his plan here.
Make your case to Mitch McConnell about why you need more Medicaid funding,
EDWARDS: Well, we certainly don`t need the cut that they proposed. I
think it`s three quarters of $1 trillion to pay for a tax cut.
But I will tell you, on Saturday, we will have our first anniversary of the
Medicaid expansion in Louisiana. We are now covering $430,000 working poor
people, people who have never had health care coverage in their lives, and
And we are saving money. But, more importantly, we are literally saving
lives with – because of the access to preventative care, where we are
diagnosing illnesses and diseases earlier and treating them, where there`s
cancer, hypertension, diabetes.
Thirty thousand individuals have had access to mental illness treatment
that didn`t visit before. We`ve had 8,000 with access to treatment for
addictive disorders which help us – helps us with the opioid problem.
So, it`s incredibly important that we not interrupt that, because we are
finally turning the corner in Louisiana. Our uninsured rate went from 24
percent to right around 10 percent, and we`re delivering better health
outcomes again for working people in Louisiana.
TODD: Can you afford it?
EDWARDS: The plan that –
TODD: Can the state afford it?
EDWARDS: Absolutely not. First of all, they talked about facing out
Medicaid expansion. But I will tell you, by 2022 at the latest, it`ll be
over in Louisiana under their plan.
The other thing is, the way they proposed to commute the base, so that they
can figure out what the per capita cap would be for our state going
forward, is particularly punitive to Louisiana, because we only have four
quarters of Medicaid expansion. And yet they want eight quarters of
expenditures to compute the base.
[17:15:00] There`s no other state in the nation that facea –
EDWARDS: – that kind of a problem. And Senator Cassidy is aware of that.
I know that he is working – he is one of the more reasonable, sensible
voices in the Senate on this issue. And we look forward to his leadership.
TODD: Now, I want to go back to – but can the state – you talk about the
advances of Medicaid. But obviously the problem here is paying for it over
time, right? How do you propose we pay for all of this Medicaid expansion?
EDWARDS: Well, first of all, are you talking about the federal government
or are you talking about the state? Because when we –
TODD: Both. Yes.
EDWARDS: It`s – well, when we expanded Medicaid in Louisiana, we knew
that the largest share of that would be 10 cents on the dollar. And so,
our expansion plan accounts for that and we can certainly pay our share.
We cannot pay – once it goes down to 85 cents, 80 cents on the dollar, our
plan no longer works.
Now, the simple argument about why the United States can afford this is
because what they`re planning to do with the savings realized from these
draconian cuts to Medicaid is to give a tax cut of about the exact amount
of the cuts to the Medicaid program.
So, I believe we can afford it. I believe we can afford it. And if we`re
going to fight the opioid epidemic, if we`re going to make sure that our
labor force is healthy enough to be productive and go to work, we`ve got to
invest in our people.
These are working poor people who were caught. Their employers don`t offer
insurance. They don`t have enough money to buy it. And yet, they make too
much to qualify for Medicaid in the traditional population.
And one of the things I want to point out to you, Chuck, this isn`t just
the expansion population. These cuts will hurt the elderly. They will
hurt the disabled. They will hurt children. And it is unacceptable.
This bill is a non-starter. We need a bipartisan approach and we need to
involve governors. I look forward to working with Senator Cassidy and with
the Trump administration.
But we need to start over because this is a non-starter.
TODD: Well, all right. So, let`s say – and it does look like that if
this fails, this latest Republican effort, that there is a – sort of, a
growing consensus, at least the middle of the Senate, to have some sort of
bipartisan talks here.
But make your case to Democrats who say, why should Democrats help the
Republicans in this? You know, they didn`t help the Democrats make
Obamacare, some fixes that were necessary when you had the time.
And there`s going to be a lot of Democrats who say, you know what? Hey,
you broke it. You own it. Not going to help.
Make your case to Chuck Schumer that he should let Democrats work with
Republicans on this.
EDWARDS: Well, this isn`t about getting the politics right. This is about
getting the policy right. There are too many Americans, too many
Louisianans whose lives are literally in the balance here.
I know that Medicaid expansion in Louisiana is saving lives. I know if we
lose it, people will die. We need to get this right.
And it`s time that people come together and that we find the center again
in the United States. I heard – I heard someone say this morning, on
MSNBC in fact, that it`s – wouldn`t it be great if we had 30 Republicans
and 30 Democrats in the Senate come together and fashion a truly bipartisan
approach to this that worked, as opposed to people just saying, we`re not
going to work together?
Because this isn`t only about health care. This is coming to define the
relationships that senators have with one another on every single issue.
And it is making Congress completely dysfunctional, and it`s costing the
United States of America too much.
TODD: All right. Governor Edwards, I will leave it there. Democrat from
EDWARDS: Thank you.
TODD: I appreciate it. I`ll probably be talking to you soon as the health
care debate –
EDWARDS: Thank you.
TODD: – continues to heat up.
Coming up, our roundtable weighs in on how the president`s latest Twitter
distraction is hitting the health care battle.
TODD: Welcome back.
As we mentioned at the top of the show, President Trump`s latest tweet
storm cast a bit of a cloud over the ongoing health care debate. In fact,
I sat down earlier with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy and Democrat Tom
Carper to discuss how the president`s actions are making it difficult for
work to get done in D.C.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM CARPER (D), DELAWARE: I look at it and I just shake – kind of
shake my head. It`s got to be harder for him to recruit people to come and
work for him. They`re having a terrible time filling positions. I was
told by John Barrasso, a Senator from –
CARPER: – Wyoming, that they have – it`s like, we`re not getting names.
And out of 600 (INAUDIBLE) positions, I think we`ve got 100 names. And
it`s because people, in part don`t want to work for this fellow.
TODD: Enough is enough? When is enough?
CARPER: He`s hurting himself and his administration.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: I liken it to when I have a patient in
the Intensive Care Unit. I`m focused on that patient. I walk around all
day long thinking about what I can do better. If I focus on the president,
whichever – those tweets were not good. They`re reprehensible.
On the other hand, if I focus on the patient, the patients have got a
better likelihood of getting better. If I focus on that family sitting
around the kitchen table unable to afford premiums, frustrated with the
process and frustrated with their inability to pay their premium, then I`m
doing something good for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: You can see much more of my interview with two senators, one from
each side of the aisle, talking together with each about this health care
debate. We`re going to delve deeper into that on Sunday on “MEET THE
We`ll be back in 60 seconds with a little more MTP DAILY.
TODD: Welcome back.
Let`s get right to our panel. Joining me tonight, Shane Harris, Senior
Writer on National Security at “The Wall Street Journal.” Radio host, Hugh
Hewitt, of course, now – also now hosts a show right here on MSNBC on
Saturdays at 8:00 a.m. And Daniella Gibbs Legerfrom the Center for
American Progress. Welcome, all.
Hugh, I`ll start with you. Mitch McConnell had a hard enough job today.
How much harder did President Trump make it?
HUGH HEWITT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: He made it much harder. What the
president tweeted was wrong. It was cruel. It`s an admission against
interests that you are weak and being beaten and that it`s under your head.
And I heard Senator Collins say to you just moments ago, she wished he
would stop tweeting. Jake Tapper and Andrea Mitchell got awards last week
from that Los Angeles Press Club. And Jake gave a speech about truth and
The president can tweet about truth. He can mix it up. They haven`t
proved collusion. They haven`t proved obstruction. But the decency part
has got to infuse his public communications. That`s important for a
president to maintain that level.
So, he heard everything this week. I hope he rethinks that policy.
DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: He`s not going to. I
mean, this is who he is.
Like, he has showed himself over and over again to be this person who has
no filter, who does not respect the office of the presidency in the same
way all of us do and that other journalists do.
So, I don`t think this is going to change.
TODD: And what`s interesting, I had a conversation with Malcolm Gladwell.
And he actually says, look, this does check – he gets away with – there`s
no penalty for him on this or there hasn`t been yet. Because the
offensiveness is also authentic. And there`s such a craving for
authenticity, it`s why his folks defend it.
[17:25:03] SHANE HARRIS, SENIOR WRITER ON NATIONAL SECURITY, “THE WALL
STREET JOURNAL”: Right, I think this is what people most crave about him
and have always loved about him. Is that he says what`s on his mind.
And, frankly, he gives permission to a lot of people who would like to say
these kinds of things.
TODD: That`s the – that`s the damaging part of all of this.
TODD: The permission slip.
HARRIS: The permission and enabling of it. If there were a moment where I
think all of official Washington was going to rise up and say, enough with
the tweets, this may be the one where everyone can get behind it. No one`s
TODD: But he can`t bring (ph) it down. I mean, what – he hasn`t done it
yet. And it`s basically he doesn`t have a penalty, right? Don`t you think
he has to be – he has to – look, behavior doesn`t change until you`re
TODD: And he`s not faced a penalty.
HEWITT: Here`s a penalty. He was winning on the collusion message. He
was winning, that there is no collusion in evidence. He was winning that
there is no obstruction in evidence. He was winning on the fact that the
media has been unfair.
And he undid it in a moment of unreflective cruelty, because they got under
his skin. And, look, it`s a tough show. I`ve been on with Mika and Joe.
It`s tough. They`re professional colleagues. I like them and they`re
friends. But it`s a tough knockabout show.
But presidents can`t get into that when they`re winning. He had many a
message won and now it`s backwards.
TODD: Well, let`s talk about health care here. I have to say I feel it –
everything got frozen in place, you know?
And, by the way, Susan Collins sounds like – she`s, like, if you`re just -
- you`re not buying me off with opioid money, right? And Hugh, you and I
had this conversation. You weren`t going to be bought off with opioid
TODD: I would like to see a block grant to rural hospitals and opioid
treatment that is an endowment to the states so we don`t have cornhusker
kickbacks or Louisiana purchases. A 50-state program to fix this problem
of rural health care and opioid epidemics.
But that, we`ll wait and see. I`m not – I`m not done with Mitch McConnell
yet. I think there`s stuff going on.
LEGER: Oh, I`m sure there`s stuff going on. I`m sure there`s lots of
backroom deals happening. I mean, we`ll see.
In order to get the votes that they need, they have to appease two very
different wings of the party. So, I`m just not sure how they get there.
HARRIS: Well, this is Trump, the master negotiator, where you want to see
him enter in, right? I mean, if there were ever a moment for him to come
in and make a deal, this would seem to be the one. And what better deal
could there be?
But, you know, this is – I`m with you. I don`t count Mitch McConnell out.
And for all we know, he planned it all along. But this is not the outcome
that he wanted.
TODD: But at the – it`s funny you bring this up. At the moment, you need
presidential leadership, this is actually – this is what made it so bad
today. The timing.
TODD: It was defensive (ph). But the timing, right when you need him at
his most persuasive, he`s now toxic.
HEWITT: Yes, you need him on the phone to Susan Collins today.
TODD: She`s not taking that call.
LEGER: I know. What is he – what is he going to say to her? Right.
TODD: What does he say to Lisa Murkowski? What does he say to Shelley
HEWITT: He can`t. And so, someone else, McConnell has to do that or
Reince Priebus is probably going (INAUDIBLE.)
TODD: Well, obviously, Mike Pence is trying to do it.
HEWITT: And Mike Pence is doing it.
TODD: What I thought it was interesting, she said, oh, he didn`t have
anything to say. She was listening.
LEGER: Yes. No, I think that`s right. They need – they need to listen
to people like Susan Collins.
And, look, with the president, I don`t know how – President Trump is
different from every other president that we`ve had. And so, yes, you`re
right, that, in this moment, it would make sense for the president to step
up in a leadership role.
But it`s not clear to me that he understands this bill, that he knows
what`s in this bill. And so, I`m not exactly sure –
HEWITT: You know what`s frustrating to me? He could have tweeted this
morning and said, I promise you Neil Gorsuch is the most conservative
member of the court. He is Scalia times two. And do a victory lap. He
won this week (INAUDIBLE.) But he didn`t do it. And so, I get – it`s
TODD: All right. Quickly, though, how many Democrats will help?
HARRIS: Well, I mean, –
TODD: That`s what I`m curious about. Let`s say this all falls apart and
McConnell gives the permission slip to Cassidy, Collins, et al. All right,
go find it. Go find a bipartisan deal.
HARRIS: No. (INAUDIBLE) there`s a moment where the Democrats have to say,
OK, you`ve been begging to come to the table. Come. Now is the time. We
have left seats for you at the table. And if you say no to that, you know,
the you just look like you`re obstructing.
But, you know, I guess I wouldn`t – I don`t like making predictions about
anything anymore in this administration, particularly when Donald Trump is
going to come out and shoot himself in both feet, right when they`re trying
to close that.
TODD: Why do I smell an August what I call a new doc fix. Which is that
they won`t agree on any big idea, but there`ll be a bipartisan deal to
basically prop up the insurance markets in rural America. I`m just saying,
isn`t that coming? Isn`t that (INAUDIBLE)?
LEGER: I think that`s – I think that`s possibly where they`re headed.
HEWITT: The trouble is that it`s a forest fire. Nevada, 14 of 17 counties
learned today there will not be one insurer joining Missouri, Ohio and Iowa
as places where there (INAUDIBLE.)
TODD: Well, right. I mean, that`s –
LEGER: The kind of fix is (INAUDIBLE.)
TODD: – the point. There are people that believe there are fixes to
essentially – and look, people will say, it`s a band-aid. But there is a
band-aid you can do there.
HEWITT: I don`t – the House is the other part of this. I don`t see any
of this gang of the Senate getting together that`s going to sell the
TODD: That`s an important point, Daniella. The House isn`t going to act
on a bipartisan basis on this, are they?
LEGER: No, I agree with that. But the Senate can`t – I don`t think they
can focus on that right now. They`ve got to figure out how they get
something through to the House.
TODD: It`s a high-wire act. It`s interesting.
All right, guys, you`re sticking around.
We should note that a spokesman for MSNBC did put out this statement in
response to the president`s tweets. It`s a sad day for America when the
president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal
attacks instead of doing his job. That is a statement from MSNBC.
Still ahead, could secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, quit the State
Department sometime soon? In other words, are we looking at a possible
Rexit? That`s next.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR, “MEET THE PRESS DAILY” SHOW HOST:
Welcome back. Tomorrow, Congressman Jason Chaffetz`s last day as the
representative for Utah`s third district expires tomorrow. He`s packing up
his Capitol Hill office, tweeting out this photo of the bed he says he
slept on during his time on the hill. In fact, I sat down with Congressman
Chaffetz about his decision to leave Washington and the problems he sees
with today`s political culture.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
JASON CHAFFETZ, REPRESENTATIVE FOR UTAH`S 3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: You
need members who can answer their own questions, talk on camera, who can
actually stand up in town halls and answer difficult questions, and be able
to stand up on principle and say, this is why I believe this. And if that
person isn`t able to do that in your own district, then get rid of him. I
mean it`s something like 98 percent of the people get re-elected. Are you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Wait until you hear what he has to say about his decision to leave
congress. I`ll have much more of this interview that I did with him, an
exit interview, if you will, with Jason Chaffetz this Monday on a special
edition of “MTP Daily.” Still ahead, some sage advice for President Trump
and his recent rhetoric. First, Hampton Pearson with the “CNBC Market
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Chuck. Tech
stocks take another plunge, pulling the broader market lower. The Dow
falling 167 points, the S&P sliding by 21, the Nasdaq dropping 90 points.
The tech sector resumed its downward trend, falling 1.8 percent. Apple shed
Elsewhere, the Commerce Department says the U.S. overall economy grew at an
annualized rate of 1.4 percent in the first quarter. Slightly more people
filed for unemployment benefits last week. Weekly jobless claims rose to
244,000, just above what analysts had been expecting. That is it from CNBC,
first in business worldwide.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr, Secretary, are you satisfied with the pace of
staffing for senior positions at the State Department?
REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: No, I would like to go
faster. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: That`s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, openly airing a bit of
frustration with the sluggish staffing rate in the department. The comment
comes after a blistering report from Politico detailing a Tillerson blow-up
at a top White House aide in Reince Priebus` office. Tillerson unloaded on
a gentleman by the name of Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential
personnel office, to appeal in proposed nominees to senior state department
post and for questioning Tillerson`s judgment.
White House officials including Jared Kushner were reportedly stunned as
the typically even-keeled Tillerson raised his voice. Vetting for the
administration has been difficult as many Democrats or Republican critics
of the president had been passed over for positions, but Tillerson himself
has raised eyebrows for staffing decisions as well. Tillerson proposed
cutting 2,300 jobs from the roughly 75,000 employee department.
Meanwhile, the White House is dealing with their own frustration that
Tillerson has either not acted on or turned down their own numerous
recommendations. Former Ambassador Nick Burns served as undersecretary of
state for political affairs under President George W. Bush so has a
knowledge of that building. Ambassador Burns, thanks for coming on.
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Thank
TODD: So, look, you`re – I`m not asking you to talk about gossip in State
Department circles, but it has been an open secret that there is this
tension right now between secretary of state and the White House and of
course, now it sort of – they`re not even pretending it`s not there.
They`re openly talking about it.
The secretary himself talked about this issue. Ambassador, I have no doubt
in my mind, every secretary of state has promised that they`re going to
have autonomy, and the reality is different. Is this naivete in Tillerson`s
part or over-promising on the White House`s part?
BURNS: Well, I think it`s a – he`s had a very tough job. And it`s maybe
one of the toughest positions that a secretary of state has been in for a
long time because you have this unique American president who is uniquely
unpopular overseas, who`s created all sorts of problems with American
allies like Germany, the NATO countries, and then you have a highly
ideological White House and a divided White House.
And what we should be doing in the world, and Secretary Tillerson, who`s a
very smart, experienced person, who is aligned strategically with General
McMaster and Secretary Mattis, they`ve got to contest with some people
without a lot of foreign policy experience, who want to take the United
States in an insular direction. And I think those battles have to be
wearing on the secretary.
That`s the primary problem that he`s got, but he also has an ideological
White House that doesn`t want to have the mainstream, very experienced
people in the Republican Party even be considered for a job. There are all
sorts of good Republicans out there who ought to be in this administration,
but can`t be.
TODD: Look, I`ve heard similar stories from the Defense Department, similar
frustrations Secretary Mattis has had. We know of similar frustrations for
General McMaster, but they`ve navigated it. I wonder how much of this is
political in experience on Secretary Tillerson`s part.
BURNS: Well, it`s hard to say. He is new to Washington. He`s never been in
a government job before. He`s accustomed to being the chairman of Exxon
Mobil and having his, you know, having his word be the way the company goes
forward. Washington`s a completely different place. The other challenge
here, Chuck, is you don`t have any senior leadership at the State
You have the deputy secretary of state appointed, one undersecretary of
five, no assistant secretaries reported. And we`re in with the end of June,
we`ve never had a situation like this. And, OMB is calling, President Trump
is calling for a one-third budget cut that would decimate American
And as I have been on the hill and I`ve testified on the budget issue, it`s
hard to find a single Republican on the hill who believes we should cut the
State Department and AIB (ph) budget by 31 percent. It doesn`t make sense
in the modern world to do that to ourselves. So, he has a lot of
challenges. I wish him well, because he`s a very impressive person.
TODD: Well, let me ask you this. If he asked you to join, would you?
BURNS: I would not, as you know, Chuck, I was a career foreign service
BURNS: I don`t have faith in President Trump. I don`t think I could serve
in President Trump`s administration, I could not, for that reason.
TODD: At what point is it better for both of them to part ways? I mean,
does there become a point where if Secretary Tillerson isn`t going to get
the people he wants, he was promised some level of autonomy, I`m sure he
asked for it based on advice he got from the Bob Gates and Condi Rices of
the world who were encouraging him to take this post. Is it better for him
to walk away or fight?
BURNS: I don`t think so because I think, Chuck, you know, even though we`re
six months into this administration, it – there`s a lot of, a lot of
months and years ahead for this first term. It should be apparent to the
president that the successes he`s had in foreign policy have been produced
by Tillerson, Mattis, and McMaster. And the disasters he`s had, the
immigration order and certainly the decision not to reaffirm Article 5, all
the things that have gone wrong, have been produced by the other
ideological, insular reactionary faction in the White House.
And so, you have these three experienced people in McMaster, Mattis, and
Tillerson, and I hope that the president will understand at some point,
they can produce some successes for this administration. And I think the
career people, my brethren, in the foreign civil service, they want to work
for people with dignity and honor, who have a sense that America should
lead in the world. That`s the Tillerson, Mattis, McMaster part of this
TODD: All right. Ambassador Burns, I will leave it there. Appreciate you
coming on and sharing your views. Always a pleasure.
BURNS: Thank you.
TODD: Up ahead in “The Lid,” we have some breaking news from one of our
panelists. Big story from “Wall Street Journal” by Shane Harris just hit
and it involves Mike Flynn and Russia.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, in light of President Trump`s tweet this
morning about two of my colleagues, I`m obsessed with some of the things
those closest to the president have said about coarse rhetoric. Here`s
Melania Trump on cyber bullying.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Technology has changed our
universe. But like anything that is powerful, it can have a bad side. We
have seen this already. As adults, many of us are able to handle mean
words, even lies. Children and teenagers can be fragile. They are hurt when
they are made fun of or made to feel less in looks or intelligence. We have
to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to
respect each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And here`s Ivanka Trump.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF THE PRESIDENT: There is a level of viciousness
that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this
experience. Some of the distractions and some of the ferocity was – I was
a little blindsided by on a personal level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Mr. President, maybe you`d do well to listen to the women in your
life. We`ll be right back.
TODD: It`s time for “The Lid.” Just in the last few minutes, our panelists
here, “The Wall Street Journal`s” Shane Harris, had a big story just
published that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have been
aware of an effort to obtain e-mails allegedly hacked by the Russians from
Hillary Clinton`s server during the campaign.
We`re going to let Shane explain this a little bit more. The panel is back.
Shane, Hugh Hewitt, Daniella Gibbs Leger. No offense, guys. I`m going to
give Shane the floor here. Explain this story that involves those e-mails,
an attempt of e-mails, Michael Flynn, his son, and a gentleman who is now
SHANE HARRIS, SENIOR WRITER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Right, that`s
right. His name is Peter W. Smith. He was 81 when he passed away about a
month ago. A longtime Chicago businessman and a pretty well known GOP
operative in some circles. He mounted a private effort over beginning on
Labor Day of last year during the campaign to obtain from hackers e-mails
that he believed had been on Hillary Clinton`s private server and that were
stolen by hackers.
He went out and made contact with a number of groups he claimed including
some in Russia, e-mails and conversations with associates. Mr. Smith
portrayed Michael Flynn as somebody who was aware of this effort and
implied that he was an ally in that. We interviewed people who talked to
Smith at the time who said that he told them he had been talking to General
Flynn about this.
Important to remember that at time this is happening, Mike Flynn was the
senior national security advisor to Donald Trump on the campaign. This
effort really began in earnest on the part of Mr. Smith about a month after
Donald Trump famously at that floor to campaign rally said Russia, if
you`re listening, could you please go find the 30,000 e-mails that Hillary
Clinton claimed she deleted from her server. That`s what Smith was looking
TODD: All right. What do you think? Did he find the e-mails?
HARRIS: We don`t believe that he – we can`t say for sure. He said he found
e-mails and that he was unable to guarantee that they were 100 percent
authentic. He was worried they might have been manipulated and falsified.
Ultimately, he decided that because he could not guarantee with 100 percent
certainty that they were legitimate, he wanted the hackers that he was in
touch with to send them to WikiLeaks instead.
So, that was his advice to them. He worried that if they were to put these
out under his name given his long history with the Clintons and a lot of
sort of scandals that he had been involved and publicized, it would be
painted as a head job if they were not real.
TODD: There is a lot to the Russia story that always gets conflated between
Hillary Clinton`s server, the John Podesta e-mails, the DNC. Those are all
TODD: Any evidence that this gentleman was involved with those hacks?
TODD: He both – neither the Podesta hack or the DNC?
HARRIS: No, there is certainly evidence that he talked about that he was
very closely following those hacks, but he believed that the private server
that Hillary Clinton had in her house, that the 33,000 e-mails she claimed
that she deleted because they were personal in nature, he thought no,
somebody had to have hacked them. The server was weakly protected. She was
an obvious target. He thought they were out there to be found.
TODD: One interesting denial in here, the story is very interesting, a
Trump campaign official said that Mr. Smith didn`t work for the campaign
and that if Mr. Flynn coordinated with him in any way, it would have been
in his capacity as a private individual. White House (inaudible) comment.
It was an interesting caveat, Hugh Hewitt. It looked like an over denial.
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST WITH THE SALEM RADIO NETWORK, NBC NEWS
POLITICAL ANAYLST: As I said in the last segment, I think the collusion
story was dead until Shane Smith`s excellent story came along. And then all
of a sudden, the Mueller team will be sending out preservation orders to
everyone mentioned in this so that they can find out if indeed there was a
bridge between General Flynn and Mr. Smith.
The bridge that was encouraged by Mr. Flynn and encouraged by his bosses at
the campaign. There is no evidence of collusion yet, but there is a new
path to investigate because of Shane`s most excellent story.
TODD: You know, Daniella, no Hillary Clinton e-mails did show up. And so
I`ve always assumed if they did exist, we would have seen them.
DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND STRATEGY
AT AMERICAN PROGRESS: Correct.
TODD: And so I don`t know if they do exist. My assumption is they don`t,
those in Clinton`s server.
GIBBS LEGER: I think that`s right. I also agree with you. I think this
opens up a whole new lane of investigation for Mueller and you`re right.
It`s not connected to the other three different distinct hacks we have been
talking about but again it sort of muddies this whole water. It`s all sort
TODD: Nobody wants – but there`s always been a line that was John Brennan
said, he said, sometimes people go down a treasonous path and they don`t
know that they went down there. The fact is this was one example of
somebody, Hugh Hewitt, you know, were there rogue operators that Donald
Trump didn`t know were out there but people close to Donald Trump did? That
is always to me than the vulnerability here.
HEWITT: There is a malignant character called Christopher (ph) at the heart
HEWITT: And Christopher`s (ph) connections will be up on a map in any
prosecution that comes forward. I would like to point out and Mueller is a
very trustworthy individual. He`s not going to go after the president if
there`s no connection there. But if people were cooperating with
Christopher (ph), he is going to go after those people because it`s
TODD: Michael Flynn right now, that seems to be he didn`t comment in your
story. There`s all sorts of rumors. How cooperative is he being with the
GIBBS LEGER: Right. If I`m him, I think I`m being very cooperative since
all roads seem to point to me.
TODD: More importantly though, you introduced his son now as suddenly a
part of this investigation, Shane.
HARRIS: That`s right. And some of these e-mails that we saw Mr. Smith
portrayed Michael Flynn`s son, Michael G. Flynn, as somebody he was in
contact with and there was one person they tried to recruit into this
effort, and Mr. Smith said, I want to introduce you to Michael G. Flynn. So
it`s part of this kind of inducement to get people to come on board with
this hunt. He was implying that there was this open line of communication
both to General Flynn and to his son who was running Flynn`s consultant.
HEWITT: I have a quick question.
HEWITT: How was Mr. Smith at 81 a month before his death? Was he in top of
HARRIS: Yeah. Incredibly lucid and very proud of the work that he had done,
very willing to talk about it, very open, so yeah.
TODD: The truth gets stranger all the time. Anyway, guys, thank you very
much, I appreciate it. You did a lot of work today. Audience will find out
about that later. After the break, the defense proposal that had house
members applauding today.
TODD: This may be the ultimate in case you missed it. America is now one
step closer to ending a pattern of seemingly endless wars. I`m not kidding.
Today, the House Appropriations Committee had Republicans adopted an
amendment in the 2018 defense spending bill that would repeal the
authorization for use of military force also known as AUMF.
After 9/11, congress voted to give the president almost unchecked power to
take military action against any nation, organization, or person involved
in 9/11 attack. No organization was ever named. Basically, it was a very
broad catch all aimed at fighting terrorism in any name or form that it is.
The AUMF has now been used more than 30 times to justify troop deployments,
the war against ISIS, and detentions in Guantanamo Bay.
Back in 2001, the one vote against the AUMF was Representative Barbara Lee,
Democrat in California. And today, it was Barbara Lee`s amendment, a
Democrat, and a Republican controlled committee that got this amendment
passed. She was the author of the amendment to repeal it. One of many over
the years but this one gained traction moving ahead with a voice vote in
This afternoon, Congresswoman Lee tweeted, “GOP and Dems agree: A floor
debate and vote on endless war is long overdue.” At least there`s some
agreement on something this week. What that really means is, this is not
necessarily saying it`s been repealed, it just means you might actually see
debate on the house floor about it. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back
tomorrow with more “MTP Daily.”
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