MTP Daily, Transcript 7/13/2017

Corey Lewandowski, Bill Cassidy, Shane Harris, Ruth Marcus

Date: July 13, 2017
Guest: Corey Lewandowski, Bill Cassidy, Shane Harris, Ruth Marcus


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: All right, thank you to my panel. I`m
Stephanie Ruhle in for Nichole Wallace.

MTP DAILY starts right now. Good evening, Charles.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Awe, Ruhle, look who is ruling the 4:00 hour.

RUHLE: Trying.

TODD: Nice work. Thank you, ma`am. Nice to see you.

If it`s Thursday, here`s the question would President Trump have taken that
meeting with the Russian lawyer?

(voice-over): Tonight, the president defends his son.


they have information and you take the information.


TODD: But wait until you hear what Mr. President Trump`s former campaign
manager has to say.


anybody, did something with a foreign government that materially impacted
the outcome of this election, that person should be held accountable to the
fullest extent of the law.


TODD: I sit down with the first person to run the Trump campaign, Corey

Plus, the Senate`s latest shot at Trumpcare.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This bill is better than the
other bill. I don`t know if it`ll get 50 votes.


TODD: Is it enough to bring in the holdouts?

And why all of Washington should be obsessed with what the first President
Bush told his family about how to behave at the top of the political world.

This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and welcome

Tonight, you`re going to hear my exclusive with Corey Lewandowski. And as
you just saw in that clip, you`re going to want to stick around.

Lewandowski was Trump`s campaign manager when Donald Trump Jr., Paul
Manafort and Jared Kushner had that bombshell meeting with that Russian
lawyer who they were told was giving them or perhaps had information as
part of a Russian government effort to support the Trump campaign and,
quote, “incriminate Hillary Clinton.”

Today, President Trump spoke to reporters publicly on camera for the first
time about the controversy after he met with the French president in Paris.


standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It`s called
opposition research or even research into your opponent.

I`ve had many people – I have only been in politics for two years, but
I`ve had many people call up, oh, gee, we have information on this factor
or this person or, frankly, Hillary. That`s very standard in politics.

Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it`s very standard
where they have information and you take the information.


TODD: Did you catch that last line there, folks? The U.S. president
perhaps seemed to acknowledge that he would have knowingly used info from a
Russian government backed effort to incriminate his opponent if it was
delivered to him. That is not an insignificant piece of information if
you`re an investigator.

Also, by dismissing the Russian meeting as standard opposition research,
he`s arguably inviting foreign intervention in future elections or at least
it could be an unintended consequence. Let that sink in for a moment.

Here`s more of the president`s defense today in Paris.


meeting. Zero happened from the meeting. And honestly, I think the press
made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do.


TODD: By the way, it is significant. While the president criticized the
press, notice he backed off. He didn`t go full fake news or any of that

But the president`s argument is that nothing came out of it. But if
something had, so what? Is that a preemptive defense if another shoe
drops? We`ll leave that to others to decide.

Then, the president turned his attention to the Russian lawyer who his team
met with.


or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General
Lynch. Now, maybe that`s wrong. I just heard that a little while ago, but
I was a little surprised to hear that. So, she was here because of Lynch.


TODD: I have no idea if this piece of information is true, but what if it
is? But the point is this. If there was nothing wrong with taking the
meeting, why is that detail even relevant?

Mr. Trump also wanted to make it known that the other people in the
meeting, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his campaign chief at the time,
Paul Manafort, either left early or weren`t paying attention.

What`s interesting, he never used either – never mentioned either
gentlemen by name. But he did note, supposedly, what they were doing at
the meeting that others have testified to.

Now, it`s worth noting, we only found out about this meeting because Jared
Kushner`s lawyers amended a security clearance form. A person close to
Kushner confirms to NBC News that he updated the list of foreign contacts
three times.

And he has added more than 100 names to his foreign contact list to update
those forms for his security clearance. By the way, “The New York Times”
did first report that news.

I`m joined now by Corey Lewandowski who was actually Mr. Trump`s campaign
manager at that period of time when Donald Trump had that meeting. Mr.
Lewandowski, welcome to the show, sir.


TODD: All right. You were the campaign manager there. You weren`t in the
meeting. Do you know why?

LEWANDOWSKI: You know, I don`t know the reason I wasn`t invited to the
meeting. As you know, I wasn`t on the e-mail chain. I wasn`t even made
aware of the meeting.

[17:05:06] And what I do remember, on that particular day, was that was a
day that Donald Trump was doing a rally in the state of Florida.

So, I traveled with the president that day. We overnighted that day down
in Mar-a-Lago.

And then, we get up the next day and actually did some fund raising in
Florida before we went on to do some more events.

So, look, you have to remember, at that time in the campaign, the campaign
had basically been divide between myself and then the chairman of the
campaign, Paul Manafort. And we each had our own responsibilities at that

Paul`s job, at that time, because the nomination had basically been wrapped
up, was to look at budgeting issues and policy issues. My job was –

TODD: Was there delegate fight?

LEWANDOWSKI: No, we – well, officially, yes. But, basically, that was a
number of days after the New York nomination. And, clearly, it was the –
what they called the (INAUDIBLE) primary. Donald Trump had won most all of
those states that day so statistically he had enough.

But Paul was in charge, at that point, of policy issues and finances. And
I was in charge of the schedule and the rallies and the political side of

TODD: Explain the role of Donald Trump Jr. in the campaign. Like, how
involved was he?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, not – you have to remember, you`ve got a family that,
for the first time in their lives, they`re going through a campaign. So,
it`s very rare.

Most of the time, when individuals are running for president of the United
States, they had sought a previous office.

And so, the family had been used to the campaign life. And this family,
what had – what they had come to find out was things are very different
from the business world.

And so, on a regular basis, the family, and by that, I mean the grown
children, Ivanka, Don, Eric, were briefed by senior campaign officials,
myself, Paul Manafort, on what was taking place.

They also served very candidly and very openly and very well on behalf of
their father as full-time surrogates. They would be on the road. They`d
be travelling. They`d be talking to people.

Don spent a lot of time in Iowa. He spent a lot of time with hunters and
fisherman and people that he has a close connection with.

Erik would also be out in the business community. Ivanka the same.

TODD: All right. As surrogates, were they involved behind the scenes in
the campaign? Did you feel as if – I mean, was it clear, you know, when
you were campaign manager, were you calling the shots or did the family
also, sort of, have a – is it – was it, sort of, almost like a travel
council type of thing with the family?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, it would be a relationship that developed over time.
You have to remember, when the campaign started, and just think of the
launch date in June of 2015, there weren`t a lot of people around to have a
council of. So, I was calling the shots.

As the campaign progressed and we were winning in New Hampshire, in South
Carolina, in Nevada, the family became more and more involved, particularly
around the delegates` fight. So, they were out.

And when you have a multi-state operation taking place at the same time,
the family is more involved. So, they were involved in fully understanding
what the role of the campaign was going to do, helping them understand what
the schedule their father was going to be, some policy initiatives. They
were part of those discussions.

TODD: Did you or the campaign lawyer ever brief the kids on the idea that,
hey, people are going to come at you, maybe foreign governments are coming?
Was there any – was that conversation ever had that you are aware of that
just be careful, be alert? People may try to curry favor with your father.

Because, you know, there`s been a letter that`s been circulated that George
H. W. Bush sent around to his kids and family. Hey, people may come to you
either looking for favors or trying to do something. Be careful.

LEWANDOWSKI: I never had that conversation. I was never privy to if that
conversation took place. That would have been between the campaign
council, potentially, and the family members. So, I can`t speak to if that
took place. That would be a question for the campaign council.

But in my understanding, there was never a formal memo that was put out
that said, be careful of duplicitous individuals.

TODD: Now, help me out here. The president seemed to say, today, nothing
came of this meeting but so what if it had? Is that the sort of mind-set
that was on the campaign? That, hey, whoever wants to help, I don`t want
to know where they got the info. But we`re going to use the info.

LEWANDOWSKI: I think what the president is talking about is that when
you`re in the middle of a campaign fight, and you have individuals – and,
look, this happens all the time. They called – people would call with
great ideas and bad ideas and they just want someone to share that
information with.

And what I think happened, in this particular instance, was a former
colleague or friend of Don Jr. said, hey, I know someone who`s going to be
in New York City. Would you take a courtesy meeting with this person and
hear what they have to say? And Don obviously took that meeting.

TODD: Yes, but it was spelled out. Just so you know, they`re representing
the Russian government`s efforts in to help your father get elected.

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, Chuck, you have to remember in June of 2016, nobody
thought of Russia.

TODD: But this is – it doesn`t matter. It`s a foreign government. That
did not ring an alarm bell? Why do you think that didn`t sound an alarm

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, again, I wasn`t on the e-mail chain. I didn`t know
about the meeting. But what I do know is this. Our own central
intelligence agency did not brief the Obama administration until August of
2015 that it looks like Russia was trying to metal in the elections.

So, this notion that a person who is Russian decent – does not work for
the Russian government but is of Russian decent.

TODD: This e-mail said she was representing the Russian government.

[17:10:03] LEWANDOWSKI: But what we`ve now found out is she had no formal
role with the Russian government. She`s of Russian decent. She`s an
attorney. So, she had no role with the Russian government whatsoever.

TODD: What don`t know that.

LEWANDOWSKI: We don`t know she did. We don`t know she – what we do know
is she was a private citizen.

TODD: She was represented, though – it was represented that she was going
to be somebody connected to the Russian government. And that`s why Don Jr.
took the meeting, no?

LEWANDOWSKI: I think Don Jr. took the meeting because he wanted to
understand that if there was information out there that was potentially
damaging to Hillary Clinton, that said that Russians are giving money to
the Democratic National Committee or other sources to impact the outcome of
this election and it`s illegal, he wants to know about it. Look, I think
you get offered meetings all the time. I don`t even work for the

TODD: Would you have taken this meeting?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I don`t know. And I`ll tell you why. I get – today,
every day, people will call me. Corey, I`ve got an idea to save a trillion
dollars if you can just get this to the president. Can I sit down with you
for five minutes, 10 minutes?

The difference is – and this just happened to me two days ago. A former
colleague from the campaign called and said, hey, Corey, can you sit down
with this individual? He`s going to be in Washington D.C. for 15 minutes.
I said, sure. I don`t know the individual. We had a nice conversation.

If you came back to me two months from now and said, hey, this guy is a bad
hombre as we call them, I wouldn`t have known. It was a friend – it was a
favor of a friend and that`s all it was.

TODD: So, you might have taken a meeting.

LEWANDOWSKI: I think if it was a friend that I had respected and known and
had a personal relationship with, and they said to me, Corey, would you
please sit down with someone who is going to be in New York for a brief
period to discuss some information that might be helpful to the campaign,
I`d sure think about it.

TODD: Let me as you this. There`s been – there was another report in
“The Wall Street Journal” about a Republican consultant named Peter Smith
who`s now deceased. And he implied that he had both a connection. He was
wanting to look for Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and look in the dark Web.
And he implied that he had a connection to Mike Flynn and Mike Flynn, Jr.

What role did Mike Flynn Jr. play on the campaign? Was it voluntary? Was
he with his dad? What can you tell me about that?

LEWANDOWSKI: I spent a lot of time traveling on the campaign. I know
General Flynn well. May have potentially met his son on one occasion. I
had never seen him in the campaign office.

To the best of my knowledge, when I was on the campaign, he never traveled
on the campaign plane. So, any role that he would have played, that I`m
aware of, would have been a support staff to his father but no official
capacity on the campaign.

TODD: And how often would a surrogate like General Flynn or others come to
you and say, hey, I think I have some – I might have some access to some
good oppo? Was that a regular thing that might happen? Was General Flynn
one of those folks?

LEWANDOWSKI: No, I mean, it didn`t really work like that. And, remember,
as – let me be – let me be very clear about this. During the primary
campaign, we did not do opposition research on our opponents. We never
pitched an oppo story and there was no media outlet that could ever tell
you, I picked up the phone and called the – and tried to pitch a negative
story on our opponents.

TODD: You had a candidate that would say the oppo.

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, but no –

TODD: He didn`t have to – I mean, you had a candidate that was
comfortable just saying it. He didn`t have to have somebody else do it.

LEWANDOWSKI: Chuck, it`s a complete dichotomy of what every other campaign
has done. So, for the general election, right, you have to remember, at
that point, the Republican National Committee had a massive opposition file
on Hillary Clinton.

All of this information was already well-known, for the most part. They
had a massive dossier that they put together because this is what they do
at the RNC.

And as such, any information that the campaign would have wanted to use,
primarily against Hillary Clinton, was contained on a flash drive
somewhere, I would guess.

TODD: So, why have a meeting with this – why have a meeting looking for
more Hillary Clinton opposition from a foreign source?

LEWANDOWSKI: That meeting took place prior to the RNC sharing the
information with the Hillary Clinton – because we were not – you
remember, the RNC was a neutral entity. Not until we secured enough
delegates, but until he actually received the nomination at the convention
in July which is a different metric, a different standard than they had for
Mitt Romney.

When Mitt Romney received enough delegates, he just decided he was the
presumptive nominee and took over the party. Donald Trump had to wait
until he was officially nominated at the convention in July. This meeting
took place a month before that.

TODD: So, are you implying that you guys had nothing and so you were
trying to hurry up and find as much information as you could and this is
what this was about?

LEWANDOWSKI: Yes. What I`m saying is we didn`t do any opposition
research, and I know this is going to stun people, on our primary

TODD: Right.

LEWANDOWSKI: We didn`t need to do that.

And so, as we now are almost the presumptive nominee – in our minds, we`re
the presumptive nominee. The RNC has not determined that. So, we`re now
trying to gather information. This is literally days after we have secured
enough delegates to officially be the nominee.

So, my guess is people are trying to gather information, as much
information as they can, and find out what is real and what is not real on
Hillary Clinton. And this was one of those individuals who thought that
they could share information.

Clearly, it was no information to share.

TODD: So, the meeting happens June 9th. The setup for the meeting takes
place basically a week earlier. On June 7th, you were traveling with the
president. You were down in Florida. He talks about making a speech.
He`s going to make a speech the following Monday to tick through Hillary
Clinton`s crimes. Now, he never makes that speech. Where did that come

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, the president has said things on many occasions to a
list of responses from his opponents and from the media so that they cover
this. And the president is a master at –

[17:15:03] TODD: So, he had no intention of giving a speech on Hillary
Clinton when he said it?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, here`s what I can tell you. I can tell you that when
the president made that statement, it was the first time I had been aware
that the president was going to make a speech the following Monday which is
not uncommon. And we would, of course –

TODD: Not uncommon in Trump world.

LEWANDOWSKI: – have accommodated his requirements if that`s what he
wanted us to do.

But when he made that statement, it wasn`t that we were forward thinking a
week out and we had this planned. It`s not like the announcement that took
us six weeks to plan.

When the president made that statement, it was the first time I had heard
it and we had not done – we had not started the process of planning for
him to make a major speech the next Monday.

TODD: Given now this is now stretching in – this first contact took place
while you were campaign manager. Have you been contacted by the special

LEWANDOWSKI: I have not been.

TODD: Have you been contacted by is the Senate or House Intelligence

LEWANDOWSKI: Chuck, I have nothing to hide. And let me say this. Let me
be very clear. I have never colluded, cooperated or contacted any Russians
that I`m aware of. Nobody contacted me that I`m aware of and asked to help
solicit or fix a presidential campaign.

But let me be clear as I can be. If anybody, and I mean anybody, did
something with a foreign government that materially impacted the outcome of
this election, that person should be held accountable to the fullest extent
of the law, whoever that person is. Because we cannot have individuals who
are meddling with foreign governments to potentially impact the outcome of
an election.

TODD: Why isn`t the president as definitive as you were just now?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, the president has been very – here`s the – here`s the
thing. It`s very clear. This campaign did not – I spent 18 months next
to the president`s side, seven days a week, 18 hours a day. Never, and I
mean never, did he raise the issue of Russia to me, Russian investigation,
Russian cooperation, Russian coordination.

Chuck, we ran a five-person campaign for a presidential race on a fracture
of a budget of everybody else and we didn`t even get the credit for that
until we started growing.

And so, this notion that we were colluding with the Russians but couldn`t
remember the proper mailing address of our campaign in Pennsylvania, it`s
just preposterous. I mean, you have to remember how lean and small this

And as a person who was at the top of this campaign for a significant
period of time, never ever, ever, ever, ever was Russia mentioned. And
never was there any coordinated, cooperation or collaboration.

TODD: Are you confident that people in the president`s orbit, he has even
talked about it, that maybe some satellites, whether it`s a Roger Stone,
people that worked for him at one time but didn`t before. Are you
confident they had nothing to do with, say, WikiLeaks or any of this stuff
before it happened?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I don`t know what these guys. You know what I know?
What I know is that some of the individuals that you`re referring to are
the master of writing the post memo.

So, if and happens, they write a memo after it happens. They submit it and
say, I predicted this two weeks ago. Right? This is how these guys have
operated in Washington, D.C. for 30 years. Most of them have no real

And what we do know is those that claim to have a back-door access to
Assange and all these other people, when questioned by the FBI, you know
what they said? Well, I didn`t really have that. I was just talking about
that as if maybe I have it. Because this is what they do to perpetuate
themselves –

TODD: You`re referring now to Roger Stone.


TODD: And, obviously, he`s no fan of yours. He makes that clear.

LEWANDOWSKI: These individuals who claim things that are factually
inaccurate and this is how they get themselves in trouble. Because they go
out and say, well, I`ve got a back door and I know how this happens and
expect this to happen.

And then, when questioned under oath under the penalty of perjury, they
say, oh, well, I really didn`t have a back door. I really didn`t know what
I was talking about. That`s not surprising.

TODD: All right. Corey Lewandowski, I`ll leave it there. If asked,
you`ll testify on anything that`s asked?

LEWANDOWSKI: 100 percent.

TODD: All right, we`ll leave it there.


TODD: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

That`s a lot to unpack. We`re going to unpack that later in the show
because we`ll have more on what we know and what we don`t know right now
about the latest twists in the Trump-Russia story later this hour.

But next, we`re going to turn to the other big story today in Washington.
Republican leaders unveiled their revised healthcare plan with zero room
for error. Are the changes enough to win over the party`s skeptics? We`ll
dive into that. That`s just ahead.



TODD: Welcome back.

Time for another try. Just hours ago, Senate Republicans introduced a
revised version of their health care bill. It includes a number of changes
aimed at showing up support from both moderate and conservative members.

Here`s what`s new. A version of an amendment by Senator Ted Cruz that
would allow for cheaper but much skimpier insurance plans in the individual
market, if the insurer also offers a plan compliant with Obamacare
standards, there are $45 billion to fight the opioid addiction issue. $70
billion more for states to reduce premiums. That`s $182 billion extra in
this bill for that fund.

Now, people could use health savings accounts to pay for premiums. That`s
another addition. And there`s a few different Obamacare taxes on the
wealthy that actually would be extended.

Now, the new bill does keep the original Medicaid cuts in place or slower
growth of Medicaid growth. If you want to go back on that, we`ll debate
that later, which could be an issue for a number of the Senate`s moderates
and, of course, especially from states with Republican governors who want
to expand.

Reaction has been fast and furious. Here it is.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The bill they put forward keeps the majority
of the Obamacare taxes, keeps the majority – the vast majority of the
Obamacare regulations, keeps the majority of the Obamacare subsidies, and
creates a brand-new insurance bail-out fund.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: President Obama, in my view, made a major
mistake when he passed the Affordable Care Act without a single Republican
vote. I don`t want to see us make the same mistake.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Who would say, with health care being such
an issue to people back home, they don`t want to move to a bill to debate
it or offer amendments? I just can`t imagine it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If this is the bill, are you on board?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Yes. I think today was a very important day.
It was a productive step in the right direction.


TODD: A lot of Republicans who were on the fence before today say they`re
waiting for a CBO score on the bill which we expect to see very early next
week, perhaps Monday.

Mitch McConnell needs at least 50 out of 52 senators to support this bill.
We`ll talk with one of those Republicans in 60 seconds.



SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS, MINORITY WHIP: Lindsey and I have talked
about this and Bill too. I mean, what we are waiting for is for Mitch
McConnell to decide to let this be a bipartisan, rational process that`s
transparent so everybody in America knows what the choices are.

So far, it`s always been behind closed doors. But if these Republican
senators want to sit down and make this health care system stronger and
better, count me in.


TODD: Welcome back.

That was the Senate`s Democratic whip saying he`s spoken with two
Republicans about working on health care. Well, those two Republicans,
they`re Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator Bill Cassidy
of Louisiana. They introduced their own separate health care proposal
today, just as the Senate leadership unveiled their new Republican bill.

So, joining me now is Senator Cassidy. Senator, welcome back to the show.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: Thank you for having me.

TODD: So, are you competing against leadership with this bill? Explain
why you and Senator Graham put this out today? And then, I`m curious, what
happened to Senator Collins?

[17:25:07] CASSIDY: So, this is an amendment to the underlying bill. It
would keep the – for example, the revenue that comes from the
pharmaceutical companies and the health insurance industry that they agreed
to pay in the negotiations for Obamacare, it would keep that money.
Increase the amount of money available for states.

And then, block grant the cash to the states to take care of patients. It
doesn`t replace this bill. It adds to it.

Susan Collins, of course I don`t speak for her, although we`ve worked so
closely together, but she has concerns. I think this might address some of
those concerns.

Again, not being able to speak for her, but block granting the extra
dollars to the states may address her concerns.

TODD: All right. So, let`s – help me with an example here. You`re a
state that has expanded Medicaid. Let`s take your state of Louisiana and
you`re obviously – you expanded a little later than most states. You had
a Democratic governor than some of these others when it happened.

So, what does this mean for Louisiana? Does this mean you get to keep your
Medicaid expansion? You get to keep your rate of growth? Explain what
your amendment would do.

CASSIDY: So, our amendment would give our state the dollars that it`s
currently receiving, minus the amount for the individual mandate penalties
and the employer mandate penalties. It would give the state that money,
and it could continue the expansion if it wished. It could –

TODD: What, with federal dollars or not with federal dollars?

CASSIDY: It would take the federal dollars it`s currently receiving. It
would then receive it as a block grant. The state would then continue a
maintenance of effort, putting up its share, if you will, and take that sum
total to come up with a solution that`s pick particular for Louisiana.

TODD: But would the federal government continue to increase its share or
no –

CASSIDY: There would be an –

TODD: – over time with that block grant money?

CASSIDY: There would be an inflation rate built into the amount of money
the state received. But the state would also be given additional

We know, from experience, the federal government sometimes puts states into
straightjackets, gives them a lot of money, but the straight jacket makes
it – makes the money used inefficiently.

This would allow the state to, kind of, come up with solutions adaptable,
better use of the dollars, more bang for the buck.

TODD: Why didn`t your bill get off the ground? Why was this – is it –
did your bill have to be the bipartisan vehicle? And is that why, and
since this is going to be a reconciliation process, it doesn`t work?

CASSIDY: So, our Patient Freedom Act that I did with Senator Collins, so
many aspects of it are in this bill. In fact, Ted Cruz`s amendment
allowing people to buy insurance from Health Savings Accounts was in the
Patient Freedom Act.

Other aspects of this, for example, what Senator Graham and I are doing now
in which we would, effectively, block grant the dollars, albeit in a
different way but nonetheless in a similar way, is part of the Patient
Freedom Act.

So, I think more and more components of the Patient Freedom Act are being
incorporated. Would I wish that it would have been bipartisan? Yes. Is
there evidence that Democrats made a political decision not to cooperate?
Absolutely articles to that affect.

So, I`m doing the best I can.

TODD: Well, in fairness, if Senator Mitch McConnell decides to do
something via reconciliation, isn`t that also a way of saying, Democrats,
you`re not invited to the party, we don`t need you?

CASSIDY: It could be. But I will still say, if two to three to four
Democrats walked into Mitch McConnell`s office and said, we`re willing to
deal. This is what we want. It would happen. It would happen.

If they had come to Susan Collins and me and said, listen, we are willing
to get on your bill. We want this or we want that. That would have given
such momentum.

TODD: Well, Dick Durbin – Dick Durbin just said he would. Have you sat
down with Dick Durbin? The three of you, Graham, Cassidy, Durbin? Does it
become the Graham Cassidy Durbin bill?

CASSIDY: Cassidy sat down with Durbin. As you mentioned, Durbin spoke to
that. And without giving away a confidential conversation, obviously it
still was Cassidy Collins or it`s now Graham Cassidy. Unfortunately, not
Senator Durbin.

TODD: Do you think if Senator McConnell took reconciliation off the table
and allowed it to be, you know, force the 60 vote, do you think you would
have more Democrats that would be willing to work with you?

CASSIDY: That political article that was written a couple weeks ago in
which it basically quotes Chuck Schumer, saying that he was going to keep
everybody in line.

Debbie Stabenow saying, every time I wanted to do the right thing, I was
told don`t do so.

Someone else saying, I couldn`t speak with Republicans unless given
permission. That indicates kind of a solid front.

Again, I`m frustrated by that. This should be an American solution, not a
Democrat or Republican. I`ve done my best and I`m still going to do my

TODD: Where are you on this bill if your amendment doesn`t pass?

CASSIDY: I have started reading the bill. It`s – I`m on page, like,
eight, because I`m flipping back through the Obamacare bill. I`ll know
hopefully by the end of the weekend how this bill affects my state and the
patients whom I represent and whether it fulfills President Trump`s
campaign promises.

TODD: So, what was your biggest concern with the last bill that you hope
this bill fixes?

CASSIDY: There was a provision that stuck it to Louisiana, a big $1.8
billion just hit to us like no other state. That was not good.

You can`t have your state singled out for almost punitive –

TODD: Is this because you didn`t expand Medicaid in time, right? Is that
what you`re referring to?

CASSIDY: Correct. It was a severe disadvantage. So we lost in one way then
we lost in the other way. That has been addressed. Now, I just have to look
at the other features.

TODD: I`ve got to ask you though on that specific feature. So, somebody
could say, okay, now you`re voting for it because it`s better for
Louisiana. Does this come across as okay now they`re finding a way to make
you happy with that and make Capito (ph) happy with opioid funding, make
Portman happy with that (inaudible)? Is that what this is looking like
right now?

CASSIDY: Not to me. First, I haven`t committed to voting for it, number
one. Number two, it was like putting a gun to Louisiana`s fiscal head and
pulling the trigger. It is just a prize for admission that you don`t put a
fiscal gun to my state`s head and pull the trigger, period. On the other
hand, I also want to point out the opioid funding is important to Capito
(ph), important to Portman, is important to Cassidy.

TODD: Sure.

CASSIDY: People are dying from opioids across the nation. So I think that`s
actually a positive thing that we`re addressing national needs in this

TODD: What`s your sense about voting for this bill to just simply proceed.
I know not every Republican senator is ready to do that. Are you?

CASSIDY: I would like to – when Nancy Pelosi said we have to pass this
bill to know what`s in it, I want to read the bill to make a decision about
voting to go forward. And so I want – if you have the opposite of Speaker
Pelosi at the time, I want to know the bill. So those kind of questions I`m
deferring my answer until I`ve read the bill.

TODD: And in the CBO scoring, what`s going to matter to you more, number of
people covered, premiums? What specifically are you going to be looking for
in the new CBO score?

CASSIDY: Yes. President Trump ran saying he wanted to continue coverage
care for pre-existing conditions, eliminate mandates, lower premiums. We
are eliminating mandates. How it addresses those other three are important.
Their methodology weighs heavily upon the individual mandate and so the
fact that we eliminate mandates, the American people want those gone means
that the CBO score will not be as good in coverage numbers. So I want to
look at how they discuss their methodology and then make my own decision as
to the adequacy of coverage.

TODD: All right. Senator Cassidy, Republican from Louisiana. You`ve been
all over this issue. Appreciate you coming on and sharing your views as
always, sir.

CASSIDY: Thank you.

TODD: You got it. Coming up, health care, the Russia connection, lots for
the panel to dig into. That`s just ahead.


TODD: Still ahead, will Donald Trump Jr. testify before congress on his
meeting with a Russian lawyer? And will the revised health care bill gain
traction with its Republican detractors? We`ll discuss all of that with our
panel coming up next.



COMMENTATOR: Let me be as clear as I can be, if anybody, and I mean
anybody, did something with a foreign government that materially impacted
the outcome of this election, that person should be held accountable to the
fullest extent of the law, whoever that person is, because we cannot have
individuals who are meddling with foreign governments to potentially impact
the outcome of the election.


TODD: Welcome back. Panel is here. Shane Harris, senior national security
writer at the Wall Street Journal. Ruth Marcus, columnist at the Washington
Post. Robert Traynham, vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center,
former advisor to George W. Bush, and of course MSNBC political analyst.


TODD: Welcome all. Shane, I`m going to start with you. You are doing as
much digging on this. Let`s start with Corey. First, I want to get
something. There`s still some confusion about where Donald Trump was on
June 9th.


TODD: He said we`re down in Florida on June 9th. He still believes they
were. He`s checking his records. Our records indicate they were in New York
on June 9th. There was a June 7th Florida speech, and he was in Florida, we
believe two days later.

Look, we can give Corey the benefit of the doubt a little bit. He`s
traveling. He`s the one traveling all the time. He was not in that meeting.
That`s for sure. That is something that everybody agrees to. So we`re
trying to clear up that date, confusion there. What did you learn here?
What do you think is going on?

HARRIS: What I was struck by is his saying that he might have taken the
meeting. He holds out the possibility maybe I would do that. You get
opposition research all the time. But they said, we weren`t trying to do
opposition research on Hillary Clinton, so I don`t know how you square
those two things.

To read that letter though, with the explicit over tour that it is making
from a Russian government connected source, if somebody had sent me that e-
mail as a reporter, I would have thought it might be fraudulent. It hit so
many of the notes that are being alleged in this conspiracy. To see that
message come across and say well, maybe I`ll take the meeting, I found that
really quite–

TODD: Let me say that it would have felt hoax (ph).

HARRIS: Yes, exactly. It looks too perfect.

TODD: Ruth, in fairness, we didn`t know how big Russia was truly doing at
that point in time publicly. Is it possible they saw this more innocently
than we think?

the U.S. intelligence community had not come forward, and let`s give the
Trump campaign the benefit of the doubt. They were not aware of incipient
Russian effort to help.

However, at that time, the Trump campaign like everybody else in America
knew who Russia was, knew that Russia is not just some other country like a
good friend, like the United Kingdom or France just to take a random one.
This is Russia, okay. Remember during the fund-raising scandal, there was a
big back in `96 with the Democrats.

TODD: Yes. Chinese money.

MARCUS: Chinese money and it was why is it a problem to do this at a
Buddhist temple and they wrote on it because it`s a temple, you idiot.
That`s kind of how I feel about this one, because it`s the Russians. Any
reasonable campaign, whether or not we knew anything about Russia in
advance, would not have taken that meeting. And I have to say, I was
shocked that Corey Lewandowski said he might have taken that meeting. No
reason for him to need to go there.

TODD: Robert, the other thing that intrigued me is Corey is pretty
confident of everything that happened on that campaign.


TODD: Through June 20th.


TODD: Which is his last day on the payroll.


TODD: Ironically, in that period, he may have been relieved he ended up not
CC`d on that e-mail.

TRAYNHAM: Absolutely.

TODD: That period, that is when the entire Trump children`s orbit was
trying to get rid of Corey–

TRAYNHAM: That`s right.

TODD: – and bring on Manafort full time.

TRAYNHAM: In a strange way, he`s probably thanking Donald Trump Jr. and
Coleman – Manafort for not–

TODD: For pushing him out.

TRAYNHAM: – pushing him out. But, can I go back for a second? I want to
start with a positive. I thought Corey Lewandowski did a very good job of
speaking very declaratively about things that he knew, and he seemed to be
very genuine and very sincere. There was no halting in his voice. He
appeared to be very sincere.

I also think he`s got two people that he`s trying to serve. One is the
president still. I still think they`re very close. I still think the
president probably would be watching this program or recording of this

TODD: Right.

TRAYNHAM: And I probably – and I think Lewandowski wants to say, Mr.
President, I defended you. But you also was, I thought, very declarative by
saying, no matter who it is should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of
the law, which I believe means everyone including maybe even the president.


TRAYNHAM: So I think he did a very good job of threading the needle there.

MARCUS: Well, he may have threaded the needle, but I thought he misstated
the law. The notion that the test is whether you engaged in conduct that
materially impacted the outcome of the election, that kind of sounds like
law, but it`s actually not the law. That is not the test.

HARRIS: There`s something less than that that might also be very serious.

MARCUS: Indeed.

HARRIS: It becomes grounds for impeachment or a political –

TODD: I want to go to the president`s statement today. What was intriguing
to me about it was less what he said. It was the tone. It was not defiant.
It was not blustery. It was sort of like, yes, we know this one looks bad,
but it`s still not what you think it is.

TRAYNHAM: It`s not – it`s very unnatural for his tweets.

TODD: Un-Trump.

TRAYNHAM: Right. It`s uncharacteristic for him and strange. He seemed very
calmed, very relaxed. A friend of mine said, I went traveling with him, e-
mailed back and said, he`s fatigued. It`s a lot of jet lag. OK, maybe
that`s what it is.

TODD: By the way, it could legitimately be so. He just came back from a
trip and now you`re going back.

TRAYNHAM: That`s right. Correct. So it could be that or perhaps maybe even
his gut is telling him, oh, my goodness, this is a big deal.

TODD: Yes, or he`s been humbled a little bit. But the other thing I would
point out, Ruth, he went out of his way to put distance between Donald
Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. What did you make of that?

MARCUS: Well, he said one was playing with his phone, right, and one walked
out of the room pretty quickly.

TODD: Right. Information that I believe it`s the lawyer that has said that
to us.

MARCUS: Right.

TODD: The Russian lawyer in the interview with Keir Simmons. That`s not
necessarily verified information, but suddenly the president is using it as
his own.

MARCUS: And the other is a good boy.

TODD: Yes.

MARCUS: A good boy who happens to be like the same age as the president of
France who he`s meeting with.

TODD: (inaudible).

MARCUS: OK. Well, that`s the big difference. My husband does that to me

TODD: Oh, great. God, I am going to get a lot of tweets on that.

HARRIS: When you see all the various camps in here separating from each
other, right, and the question of course has been who was it that actually
leaked this e-mail? Was it somebody in Kushner`s camp? Was it someone else?
The way that everyone is sort of pushing each other off into their corners
here, that really struck me about the way this has played out this week, is
you don`t see any kind of rallying of the troops or the forces.

Everyone has their piece of the story and is sticking to it. The president
did not come out swinging on this one. It involves his son. I`m sure he`s
very sensitive to that. But that e-mail is so explicit. What could you
really say about it?

MARCUS: I`m sorry. I think you guys are being way too nice to the
president. I think sure he didn`t sound Trumpian and blustery, but most
people who read this understood that this is a very bad idea to have this
meeting. This is a really disturbing thing. I agree exactly with what Shane
said. It was so inculpatory. So incriminating that you would have made it
off if that was what you did and –

TODD: It`s almost like saying, just so you know, if you take this meeting,
you are saying, yes, we know, Russia is helping. Almost felt that way.

MARCUS: I know I`m imaging a president that`s different than the one that
we had, but this meeting was inappropriate, and that`s what should be said.

TODD: We`ll make that the last word of this segment. When we come back,
we`re going to talk a little health care. But up next, some timely
presidential father-son advice.


TODD: Welcome back. Tonight I`m obsessed with family ties. The White House
and the proper way to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest or
actual conflict of interest. Awhile back, “The New York Times” republished
a letter from George H.W. Bush as he ran for president in 1988. The letter
is addressed to his son, George W. Bush, about how Bush family members
should conduct themselves during the presidential campaign.

In the letter, the future president warns that as November draws near,
Bushes will find they have a lot of new friends. He then goes on, they`ll
ask for things. Do you know anyone at commerce? Can you call Joe Doakes at
state? Listen more from Bush. My plea is this, please do not contact any
federal agency or department on anything.

A call from a Bush will get returned, but there is a great likelihood that
it will be leaked, maybe deliberately misrepresented. If there is a
legitimate inquiry, call my office. It is certainly appropriate to contact
your own government, but let`s do it through my office so no one can accuse
any of the family of trying to use influence.

No matter where you stand on the presidency of George Bush the elder, it`s
hard not to take note of the grace, foresight, and simple decency of that
letter. Let`s hope this letter is read in every corner of Washington. We`ll
be right back.


TODD: Time for “The Lid.” Shane Harris, Ruth Marcus, Robert Traynham. All
right. I think, Ruth, you put it best. Washington – everyone in Washington
tries to pretend it`s normal. And our normalcy moment of the day has to do
with the health care.


TODD: Yes, with what`s going on in health care.

MARCUS: I`m normal.

TODD: It`s not being done in the normal ways of Washington but at least
it`s an issue and not espionage.


HARRIS: We`ll take it.

TODD: Robert, Rand Paul is still a no. Susan Collins, very skeptical.
Capito, skeptical.


TODD: None of us know how Dean Heller can ever support this bill
considering what he said the first time. But Cassidy looked like he felt
like he had some –

MARCUS: Portman is still a little skeptical.

TODD: Capito and Portman, I think, are going to be a team on this.

TRAYNHAM: But the question is, is this new bill dead on arrival? And it
appears that it is as of right now.

TODD: You think it is.

TRAYNHAM: I think so.

TODD: Wow.

TRAYNHAM: Yes. I think this is yet another attempt to appeal to the base
but also appeal to the moderates in the party but not going anywhere.

TODD: What do you say, Ruth?

MARCUS: It`s not over until it`s over. I never underestimate Mitch
McConnell. And you know you`re playing with very small margins. But that
also means you can – you need to get very small numbers. So, you only need
to be able to count to 50. It is not looking good.

I find it just incredible and not normal at all that we`re talking about an
amendment from Senator Cassidy that I don`t understand, that I haven`t seen
in writing, that would met, you know, really remarkably change the contours
of the legislation at this late date. And, you know, this is not a minor
piece of legislation. This is all that hearing stuff.

TODD: Yes, all that hearing stuff.

MARCUS: And CBO scores of the Cruz amendment and everything. So I think
you`re right. I hope you`re right. I`m not sleeping until that`s done.

HARRIS: Until the groundhog day maybe with the CBO score coming next week,
right? That provides people their out that they want. I agree with you
about McConnell, like magic Mitch, see what he can pull out of the hat. But
it does feel like they are trading over degrees here. That is what
lawmakers do. That is how they legislate, so maybe they pull it off.

TODD: I think their most – the CBO part – the CBO analysis that I think
that they can`t debunk the easiest is the idea of will premiums go up or


TODD: Right. And they`ll fight about coverage. Premiums go up and down. The
last two CBO scores, one for the house and one for the senate bill. All
noted. While they go down at first particularly for older folks, they are
going to go up and up fast. If this CBO score does the same thing, then I
think you`re right, it is dead.

MARCUS: The attack on CBO, the way to argue against CBO is not to argue
whether they`re right or wrong on this and that, but simply the attack,
it`s credibility.

TODD: Yes, that`s what they`re trying to do, I think.


TODD: Although I don`t think Senator Cassidy, he was –

MARCUS: No, no, I`m not –

TODD: He was (inaudible) on one specific –

MARCUS: Right. Senator Cassidy was not doing that. But I think for the
proponents of this bill in order to get it over the finish line, they are
going to have to try to convince some of those people that CBO is not a
credible score. In which case you have to say, OK, you got a better one, or
are we just kind of throwing up legislation and hoping for the best.

TODD: Yes. I think the cost – the premium issue is what`s going to drive
Flake, Portman, Cassidy, Capito at the end of day.

HARRIS: Right. And this has been the complaint of the bill from Republicans
all along, right, is that you can get health insurance but nobody can
afford it.

TODD: Right.

HARRIS: (inaudible) once you have it.

MARCUS: The interesting thing is nobody wants to be the third vote.

TODD: I know.

MARCUS: To peel off, you have to get a bunch.

TODD: It will not go down by one vote. It`s going down by 15 or pass. Thank
you, guys. After the break, in our “In Case You Missed It,” an op-ed that
really missed it.


TODD: In case you missed it, two of President Trump`s top advisers wrote a
fascinating op-ed today in “The New York Times.” It was praising the
president, quote, vision for America abroad. Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster
essentially chief domestic guy, chief national security guy in the Trump
White House touted all the meetings Trump had with world leaders last week
in Europe.

There was the meeting they wrote about with 12 leaders from the three C`s
nations. The dinner with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Another meeting with President Joko Widodo of
Indonesia also talked about in the op-ed. But in case they missed it,
didn`t they forget someone? Someone kind of relevant? President of a
country that is kind of big, semi-important in today`s geopolitical

Yes, the president`s meeting with that guy, Vladimir Putin of Russia. And
not just any meeting. A meeting that lasted for over two hours. Somehow, I
don`t think McMaster and Cohn just forgot to mention Putin or Russia in the
entire op-ed. It`s pretty hard to forget. But somehow, every part of the
trip was mentioned, except that 2-1/2 hours. That`s all we have for


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