Show: MTP DAILY Date: November 16, 2016 Guest: Thomas Mack McLarty, Anita McBride, Karine Jean-Pierre, Yamiche Alcindor, Juan Zarate,
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Wednesday. The Trump transition team is facing a steep climb on the road to running the White House.
(voice-over): Tonight, Trump transition trouble? Purges, night fights and delays. Is this any way to run a transition?
Plus, what`s the way forward for Democrats and new demands for answers in Russia`s role in the DNC hat.
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ADMIRAL MICHAEL ROGERS, UNITED STATES NAVY, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: This was a conscious effort by a nation to attempt to achieve a specific effect.
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TODD: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here at election headquarters. Yes, I`m still calling it that. It`s eight days later, and why not, here in New York City and welcome to MTP DAILY.
Sixty-five days until Trump takes the oath of office and his transition appears to be a bit of a mess. We`ve had leaks from inside the transition describing it as a knife fight and a Stalinous (ph) purge of certain allies. We`ve seen a delay in basic paperwork, gumming up the works, abrupt resignations, constant shake-ups, including today.
Just days after Trump defended his use of lobbyists inside the transition, Mike Pence ordered the removal of all of them, probably to the cheers of some of Trump supporters.
But despite this apparent chaos, Trump and his closest allies insist that things are running more -- a bit more smoothly than it appears behind the scenes. In fact, here`s Trump adviser, Kellyanne Conway, addressing reports of turmoil.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- in Washington. That it`s not been going well for the president-elect. People are getting fired and hired.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I just don`t see it that way. It doesn`t -- it`s just not that way. Those are false.
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TODD: And Trump himself spoke out of sorts or tweeted out about pushing back against reports of chaos, saying, very organized process taking place as I decide on cabinet and many other positions.
But even if you ignore all the headline chaos, there is still one big sign that Trump`s transition is behind. They haven`t named the national security adviser.
Here`s why that matters. Defense secretary and the secretary of state both unofficially report to the White House national security adviser. No secretary of state would ever admit that. No secretary of defense would ever admit that. No national -- previously national security adviser would say that that`s the way it works. But every White House, essentially, works this way.
And if you`re to be -- if you`re in the running to be Trump`s secretary of state or defense, you don`t say yes to the job until you find out who that national security adviser is. That`s how influential and important that position is. Really, more so than any of the other national security positions right now.
And the fact that he hasn`t named one is one of two things. Either General Flynn is a done deal and they`re just waiting for some reason or they`re looking for somebody, some alternative to him and they have yet to found one -- find one.
Trump`s transition looks especially messy, compared to Obama`s 2008 transition which was tense but exceedingly smooth. The financial crisis, at the time, became a rallying point for him. And Obama came in with a group of people that he seemed to have designated as ready to govern.
Trump doesn`t seem to have that large group of people that he comes in with. He`s got a smaller team. And it`s not surprising, considering the kind of campaign he ran. Trump ran against Washington insiders and against the elites in his own party. So, why would they be lining up now, even though some of them are lining up for jobs, why would he want to start putting them in those places?
But now, he is facing the daunting task of putting together a government where he needs both Washington insiders and Republican leaders on board.
But let`s be fair to Trump, in this case. This is not the first time a transition has been rocky. Bill Clinton`s 1992 transition was one of the rockiest in modern times. It was disorganized. It was chaotic. It was slow. It was plagued by planning staff blues (ph), bad vetting, controversies. All that confusion carried over into the new White House and created a really, sort of, tumultuous for 60 days.
And look at this. Normally, the election winner jumps at the opportunity to hold a press conference to bask in the post-election glow of victory and tout their transition plans. Obama waited just three days to hold his. Bush 43 also waited just three days after the final decision.
But it Bill Clinton nine days and that is significantly longer than everyone so far, including Donald Trump. But he is yet to hold a press conference and we`re at eight days and counting. If he does one tomorrow, he will do it in the same amount of time, post-election as Bill Clinton did back in 1992.
But, of course, it`s tough to MEET THE PRESS if you don`t have a good story to tell yet. Let`s talk about this. We`re going to dive into the transition issue with two people who know how this process works inside and out.
Anita McBride is an executive and residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. Her White House experience with Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 and Bush 43 stands two decades and three presidential transitions.
And Thomas Mack McLarty was chief of staff to President Clinton during that 92 transition and he knows full well probably the stress that Reince Priebus and those folks in Trump Tower are experiencing right now. By the way, Mack McLarty is -- they`re both on the advisory board at the Non- Partisan Center for Presidential Transition.
Thank you both. Mack, let me start with you. Look, you guys came in. It was the first time in 12 years that a Democrat had taken over a White House. It was the first time that a transition had took place in a 24- seven media environment at the time. So, you were being watched in ways that previous transitions hadn`t been.
Donald Trump is dealing with this times a hundred. What is your observation?
THOMAS MACK MCLARTY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Chuck, a couple of observations. First, it`s good to be with you and always good to be with Anita. Number one, I think there were some lessons learned in the 1992 transition. You`ve already noted them.
But I would say this. We put an emphasis on the cabinet. Warren Christopher led the transition. I came in a bit later. We had a very good cabinet. Richard Neustadt said it was the most loyal, affective cabinet in modern history which we took a lot of pride in.
We were late getting the White House staff in place, as you noted. But I would say, Chuck, we were focused on the deficit reduction plan and the economic plan. And we got that passed along with family medical leave and had a strong first year.
You`ve got to remember, President Clinton came to office with only 43 percent of the vote. The big difference, though, now in transition that Mr. Trump has an advantage, after 911, there`s no longer the perception of measuring the drapes in a transition. That was a real impediment for us.
And that really changed and I would agree that the transition from President George W. Bush to president-elect Barack Obama was a seamless, smooth one and it served the country well.
That`s why the Trump transition should be moving forward in a very different way, in my opinion.
TODD: Anita, do you agree with Mack there that there is a -- that you don`t -- it doesn`t sound like he is giving them many excuses here for the delay. That he thinks that, hey, with all the new rules in place and the pre-election planning that is now allowed to be done without media criticizing you. That they`ve dropped the ball here?
ANITA MCBRIDE, EXECUTIVE AND RESIDENCE, CENTER FOR CONGRESSIONAL AND PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, I wouldn`t say, necessarily, they dropped the ball. But I do agree with Mack that there are procedures that -- codified procedures in place to make it a lot easier for them.
And they have had access to a lot of terrific information that I think people at the transition have a sense of what they`re getting into.
But one of the things that happened here today now with the MOU, the memorandum of understanding, was signed. I think that will accelerate the process now for making some of the announcements and the decisions that they have to make.
Let`s remember one thing, though, too. It has just been one week since the election. The first announcement of the chief of staff, as Mack says, making the White House staff decisions are really important to, sort of, bringing some structure to the -- to the chaos of a transition.
But I think, you know, what -- today was a good move for them, to sign that MOU. And now, really, I`m sure they`re feeling the pressure to keep moving forward.
TODD: You know, Mack, the importance of a national security adviser. I talked about it earlier. You tell me, but I assume any perspective secretary of state or secretary of defense, that`s their first question back at you is, well, who`s the national security adviser?
MCLARTY: Chuck, you`re absolutely right. I listened carefully to your opening comments. And in President Clinton`s case, both Tony Lake and Sandy Burger had been the chief foreign policy advisers on the campaign. So, that was a natural transition to that national security team.
And Warren Christopher had, if you recall, the vice president`s vetting. So, he was -- already had an established relationship with president-elect Clinton and, of course, was named secretary of state. Those are key.
And, Chuck, they`re even more important now in this this period of time, where we have terrorism unrest around the world. That`s just absolutely essential.
But to be fair, and you noted it, transitions are a very demanding time. And that`s why to get a jump on them in this day and time is so critical.
TODD: Anita, there seems to be some score settling.
TODD: Obviously, that happens. And no one -- and, by the way, I`m sure you guys will claim you`ve never settled any scores. Look, it`s politics. Scores get settled all the time. But is it interfering with the transition, so you think here, Anita?
MCBRIDE: Well, here`s one of the things that I know, and Mack I think would agree with this, the people around the president are help -- or president-elect helping to make these decisions have to be people that they have absolute confidence and trust in. That the discretion to do a job like this.
So, I think that there`s always a bit of palace intrigue around any political environment, any White House, any transition. Things have to settle down.
I think that, at the end of the day, you know, the awesome burden of taking on the responsibility of leading the country and the solemn duty you have to the American people to make this work is what has to guide people. And I want to be confident in anybody coming into this job recognizes that.
TODD: Mack, walk me through the vetting process. Obviously, Rudy Giuliani is going to be in the midst of one. That`s been getting a lot of media vets, having to do with his financial stakes, different financial interests he`s done in the private sector.
You know, you have -- you`ve got to do a vet to prepare for the Senate confirmation vet. Walk us through that a little bit.
MCLARTY: Well, it`s a -- it`s a demanding and thorough process. And, Chuck, you have to remember, sometimes when you interview or choose someone, you vetted them and then you may get down the vetting process and have to change and reverse course. So, it`s a pretty complicated process and demanding process in a very short period of time.
Usually, it -- and I would think the Trump organization is set up this way. You have groups of people who are focused on various cabinet positions that do that vetting. And you really have to have a really intense focused effort, and frankly a lot of person power to do it. That`s how it works. You don`t always get it right.
I think we got our cabinet, save one, where there was a vetting mistake on the attorney general. A very critical position. We got our cabinet in place I think quicker than any other presidency had done in many years. The Republicans were quite cooperative, with Senate confirmation I might add.
TODD: You know, Anita, walk me through when you do reach out to people who were opponents. Because you -- to fill a government, to fill basically the top three slots at every agency, you know, you`re not going to have enough loyalists that were members of your campaign. He is going to have to hire some Cruz people and some -- you know, some Rubio people. Things like that.
What was -- what was your litmus test for bringing in a former opponent?
MCBRIDE: Well, I think -- and we have had examples even beyond going into former opponents say that you`re hiring people from the other party. And we`ve seen that President Clinton did that with his secretary of defense, with --
TODD: Bill Cohen.
MCBRIDE: -- Bill Cohen, at one point.
TODD: Norman Mineta, I think, with George W. Bush.
MCBRIDE: Norman Mineta with George W. Bush. And that was a very effective secretary of transportation through the most critical time at 911.
So, I think that you are reaching out because people who have worked for each of those candidates are very talented people. And you -- you know, you want to put together a team -- as Abraham did, right, a team of rivals. You can do it. You can make it work.
But at the -- at the end of the day, all of the management of this comes out of the White House. A strong chief of staff, an executive decision maker in the president. You could -- you could manage this. And it is important to bring in the best talent. It should be a meritocracy when making these decisions.
TODD: And finally, and Mack and Anita, this is for both of you. Watching, last night, Donald Trump sort of slip the press a little bit. And it`s not uncommon for president-elects to do this. They`re not -- they`re not yet comfortable -- you know, especially first spouses, comfortable with the idea that the press is always going to be with them and it is not something that they enjoy. But it is a necessity. How hard is it to convince the principal that, hey, welcome to this job. You ran for it. Mack and then Anita.
MCLARTY: Well, it is -- you make the right point. Of course, where Donald Trump is different, even though he`s been a media celebrity, he has not been an elected official. So, Bill Clinton, George Bush had been governors, so they were somewhat accustomed to that coverage.
But, Chuck, as you well know, it`s nothing like being president of the United States and having the national press coverage. Quite different. And the international aspect is quite different than being a governor.
TODD: Anita, I mean, you know, you have these conversations like, hey, this is what it`s like. Sorry.
MCBRIDE: Sure. I echo exactly what Mack said. No one can completely prepare you for what this is like 24-seven. And, you know, every president of the United States doesn`t get a break from it. They get a change of scenery. No vacations now.
TODD: No, that`s for sure.
MCBRIDE: From the media.
TODD: No, we`re annoying like that, aren`t we?
Anyway, Anita McBride, Mack McLarty, two pros. Thanks for coming on and sharing your experience with our viewers. Appreciate it.
MCBRIDE: Thanks. Thanks so much.
MCLARTY: Thank you.
TODD: You`ve got it coming up. The Democrats lost last week because rural voters came out and to vote against them. And urban voters didn`t turn out to vote for them. A pretty bad combination. How do Democrats regroup? We`ll talk to one after this. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. It was leadership election day in the Senate. For the Republicans, Mitch McConnell is staying on for a second term as majority leader. And his leadership team stays exactly the same. The only change is Colorado`s Cory Gardner will be the new head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Turning to the Democratic side. Well, there`s some shuffling at the top. New York`s Chuck Schumer is officially the Democratic leader, Senator minority leader, replacing retiring Democrat Harry Reid. Dick Durbin stays on as minority whip. Washington`s Patty Murray gets a new title of assistant Democratic leader. Number three in the leadership now.
That`s not all. Take a look at some of those other new names in leadership. Everybody gets a title in the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders, Joe Manchin, Jamie Baldwin. Democrats are upholding the liberal and moderate wings of the party into leadership.
And if you were counting along with those graphics, yes, there are now 10 Democratic senators in the leadership out 48 caucus members. More than 20 percent of the caucus has a leadership title. We`ll see if that is a solution for them.
Coming up, we`ll be speaking with someone who doesn`t have a leadership title anymore, Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester.
TODD: Welcome back to MTP DAILY. It wasn`t a singular thing that lost the election for Democrats last week. It was really more of a one-two punch. Rural America turned out big for Trump. That we know. Combine that with a decline in Democratic turnout in urban areas and you`ve got a big W for Republicans up and down the ballot.
Check this out. Rural counties produced 500,000 more votes in 2016 than 2012. Even though some of those counties have actually lost population since the last census.
And in urban counties where the Obama coalition resides, people didn`t turn out to vote. Almost 2 1/2 million fewer people voted in those counties in 2016 than in 2012. Those turnout numbers didn`t just dupe Clinton, they also cost Democrats control of the Senate. And Democrats on the Hill are now trying to figure out how to bridge the gap before the mid-terms in the Senate.
Democrats will have 25 seats to defend. More than half of their conference. Republicans are only going to have to defend eight seats in 2016. Republican Senate candidates had to make the sometimes tough call of whether or not to embrace Trump or run against him. And the candidates who chose to distance themselves from him, Ayotte, Heck, Kirk, they lost.
Democrats didn`t think they had to make that call. But, in hind sight, maybe some of them would have benefited from leaving some distance between themselves and Hillary Clinton, especially in the more rural states. And now, they`re left to determine if they missed an opportunity.
I have to start with a panel here. Senator Tester is not yet here. We don`t know where he is. Democrat from Montana. But we`re waiting on him. Not yet shown up for this.
But let me bring in the panel. Yamiche Alcindor is a national reporter for "The New York Times", and MSNBC Contributor Elise Jordan and NBC News political analyst, and Karine Jean-Pierre, Senior Adviser and Spokesperson for MoveOn.org.
Karine, let me start with you. When you see those numbers, just the raw numbers there from (INAUDIBLE) polling. It`s clear. The Democratic coalition didn`t show up. They weren`t motivated.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR AND SPOKESPERSON, MOVEON.ORG: It`s pretty sobering. Look, I want to echo what the president said two days ago about how a lot of it -- it`s not about demographics. It`s about getting out there and talking to all voters, right. He made a really good point when he talked about how he won Iowa. And he said he spent 86 days in Iowa and he went into -- you know, he went into people`s homes and had the conversation.
And that`s the thing that Democrats need to revisit, right? Which is how do you talk to all voters? And it`s important, yes, we have to -- we have to speak to the white rural America, but also we can`t -- we can`t forget the gains that we`ve made with the rising electorate, African-Americans, Latinos and the millennials.
So, that`s one thing that Democrats really have to seriously dig in and figure out how to do.
TODD: You know, Elise, I feel like Barack Obama had the attitude in 2007 is, OK, nobody thinks white America is going to vote for a black man so I`m going to prove them wrong. And I`m going to go all over Iowa and watch. And when Iowa accepts me, that will get rid of that mythology.
Hillary Clinton`s campaign just assumed, those voters are never going to be for me so why try? Well, clearly, we know why you try.
ELISE JORDAN, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: Well, and it`s -- I mean, looking at the results today, a week later, and then the breakdown of where Trump visited over the past several months and where Clinton visited, he just -- he outcampaigned her.
TODD: Crazy like -- and we all thought he wasn`t because he was just doing this rally by rally. But he did.
JORDAN: And it turns out that rallies really were -- actually did generate votes for him. And so, I think what Republicans are watching right now is how the Democrats are going to attack. Are they going to go further to the left and say, oh, that was our problem? That, for Republicans, would be a plus because I think what this election showed was that looking -- people are looking more towards the center.
And I think that it was more of a conservative election this go around. And I think, quite frankly, hurt Hillary Clinton that she didn`t go for more of those rural voters.
TODD: Well, you know, and I did get the sense when -- and when you referred to President Obama`s comments, you know, some people said, oh, he`s throwing shade at Hillary Clinton. I think he was also sending a message to the Democratic Party, like, whoa, whoa, whoa, guys.
TODD: Don`t just go all over here. Like, right now, everybody seems to be on the Keith Ellison bandwagon, just support him and let`s go there. The problem is in both directions.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": The problem is in both directions. And, as you said, I take in some issue with the idea of this being an electorate that showed us that everybody was kind of more to the center. Because some of the things that Donald Trump is doing is going after -- or went after Hillary Clinton from the left. Because I -- his talk about trade policies, his talk about putting America back to work is really speaking to the middle-class people and working class people.
So, that was something that I think this electorate taught us was that people really want, kind of, their personal lives and are looking to the government in a way to really fix some of the problems that are still holding over since 2008 and 2007. And I think that that`s something that I think I had got from this election is this idea that both parties have, I think, a mixture of their ideas is probably what the average American is looking for.
TODD: You know, one thing that I feel like, if you just compare the two parties Senate campaigns to Senate campaigns. And I was going to spend more time on this with Jon Tester and if he comes, I will. But I can`t remember what the Democratic talking points were in their Senate campaigns that -- outside of, my opponent hasn`t said anything about Donald Trump.
JEAN-PIERRE: Right. And I think it goes back to you just can`t be against something, right? You have to give voters something to vote for. And that`s another place where Democrats are going to have to work really hard is what is our messaging?
And, you know, I think that there`s been a lot about, oh, jobs and economy and that needs to be our message. And I think that`s exactly right. But not just for the white rural America. I think if you have a messaging that works on the economy and on jobs, that will work across the board.
TODD: Well, here`s what ought to scare Democrats is what if somebody creates the working -- has a colorblind working class vote? I mean, there`s plenty of working class Latinos and working class African-Americans who were mad at the system but don`t trust the Republicans right now due to race issues. If that every gets -- I mean, that should be the motivator for Democrats to get this right. Right, Elise?
JORDAN: Well, and also, I think that Republicans are a little bit out on a limb right now because Donald Trump is not necessarily a Republican president. He just had a hostile takeover with a party right now.
TODD: A third-party candidacy who got the Republican nomination.
JORDAN: Right. So, what exactly is he going to carve out and how is he going to do it? And O think that`s what Democrats really should figure (ph).
TODD: And the other thing is do Democrats work with him where they can or not? There`s already a debate. And I`ve seen some online who sit there, some progressives, saying, don`t help them at all. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, stop even flirting with infrastructure.
ALCINDOR: I have talked to some people who are very frustrated with this idea that Democrats, and even President Obama, said to have an open mind because they saw Republicans as such an obstructers. They`re such people who shut down the government when they didn`t get what they wanted.
But I think that it would probably serve the Democratic base well -- as well as the -- as well as the people that they`re trying to get to support them to at least look like they`re working with some of the common goals that they can have.
So, if Americans are saying if they want to do -- they want trade policies to be changed, it`s probably not in the best interest of Democrats to be -- to obstruct that.
TODD: What are move on -- what are your members saying? I bet you if you put a poll, they would say, don`t work with them at all, right?
JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely. Look, here`s my fear and this is like taking off the Democratic strategist hat for a second. I am afraid of an unprecedented, unknown Donald Trump, right? In the sense of, we know what he said on the campaign. But god knows how far is he going to take that?
What we do know is that one of the two people he actually put into his administration is a white nationalist. And that`s just a fact. I know people want to disagree and they bring up the ivy league and, you know, working in Hollywood. But that doesn`t negate the fact that once he took over Breitbart, it became a white nationalism. It became, like, this dumpster fire for racism, bigotry, sexism. And that is the fear that I have. Because this is the guy, like, --
TODD: This would be -- would this be your argument to Chuck Schumer to say, don`t work with him even on infrastructure because if you do, you`re giving -- you`re giving more aid and comfort to that guy. Is that what you`re concerned about?
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, because we`re going to -- my fear is that we`re normalizing him, right?
TODD: But let me --
JEAN-PIERRE: We`ve already normalized Donald Trump, but we`re normalizing --
TODD: The voters did.
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, that`s true.
TODD: I mean, I hate to -- I`ve heard the same but haven`t the voters normalized him?
JEAN-PIERRE: But normalizing Steve Bannon is the point that I`m trying to make. He`s the one who`s going to actually be whispering in his ear that he will listen to. Like, Reince Priebus, he`s not going to listen to Reince Priebus. He`s going to listen to Steve Bannon.
TODD: Elise, what`s your take on this?
JORDAN: Well, I think the danger in that is that Steve Bannon has figured out and has targeted and successfully pitched his vision of a populous right. And that`s anti-globalist, it`s anti-free trade, it`s political correctness, it`s a vision that resonated with the majority -- well, the popular vote maybe not so much. But with -- it allowed Donald Trump to get elected. It helped propel him into office.
TODD: But Bannon wanted to be chief of staff and Trump and Kushner said no. Did you -- does that make you feel any better?
JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, his name came first in the press release.
TODD: But he was clearly -- I`m just curious.
JEAN-PIERRE: I worked in a White House and Steve Bannon is in the best place for him to push and to get --
TODD: You think he`s more powerful?
JORDAN: I agree.
ALCINDOR: And then they have the time to play with ideas and figure out --
TODD: Without the work.
ALCINDOR: -- what to do and have fun and not have to make the trains run on time.
JORDAN: That`s exactly right.
ALCINDOR: Being chief of staff, you show up at 3:00 a.m. and leave at 11:00 p.m.
JEAN-PIERRE: And he`s just going to be the whisperer in Donald Trump`s ear.
ALCINDOR: So, I think the influence that he`s going to have is going to be really telling. And I think we`re going to know very quickly if -- and I kind of, in some ways, have to agree this idea of if his white nationalist ideas start really permeating, Donald Trump`s brainers are permeating the way the White House is running, we`ll know very quickly how much power he has.
JORDAN: Well, and I think that Donald Trump`s presidency will ultimately be defined by the relationship between Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. I mean, granted, unless one of them gets fired really quickly.
TODD: Who is it that truly is steering the ship?
TODD: Yes, that`s right. And I think the jury is out until we see who`s got that.
All right, you guys are sticking around.
Still ahead, ah, to Russia with something. Now that Donald Trump has been elected, what kind of resets can we expect with Russia? (INAUDIBLE.) We`ll be right back.
TODD: Still no word from Senator Jon Tester`s office. We`re checking in to figure what happened there. Our apologies to you, the viewer, for not being able to bring that interview to you, but we will find out what happened. We will have more "MTP Daily" though right after the break, but first, here`s Hampton Pearson with the CNBC Market Wrap.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC REPORTER: Thanks, Chuck. The Dow seven session winning streak ends as the average pulls back from record levels falling 55 points. The S&P sinks three. The Nasdaq climbs by 19 points. Shares of home improvement retailer Lowe`s sank nearly 3 percent.
The company is reporting revenue and earnings that fell short of estimates. It has also cut its 2016 profit guidance. A different story at Target. Share surging 6 percent after results came in better than expected. Thanks to strong back to school sales. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: Welcome back. One question people are asking after Donald Trump`s election is what`s going to happen between the U.S. and Russia. Trump said he is ready to have a "strong" relationship with Russia but some leading foreign policy voices in his own party don`t agree. Senator Lindsey Graham said, "Trump wants to reset with Russia. Maybe he can do it. But here`s my view about Russia: They`re a bad actor in the world and they need to be reined in."
Senator John McCain also blasted Trump for any attempt to reset saying, "Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States. We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America`s allies, and attempted to undermine America`s elections.
Other than that, John McCain is all for this. Listening to the strong words from the current NSA Director Michael Rogers on Tuesday about Russia and the WikiLeaks hacks.
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MICHAEL ROGERS, NSA DIRECTOR: This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily.
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TODD: Juan Zarate is NBC`s national security analyst. So Juan, that is Michael Rogers. Perhaps nobody is more dialed in to intelligence around the world than the person who has had of NSA.
JUAN ZARATE, NBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That`s right.
TODD: He`s essentially saying, this was a delivered thing done by a nation state, didn`t say Russia by name.
TODD: But is that who he is referring to?
ZARATE: Absolutely. He is the head of cyber security. So he is worried about all elements of cyber security. Chuck, remember this is not the first time that the intelligence community has concluded this. This hack actually leads back to the Kremlin and to senior decision making at the highest levels in Moscow. Now, president-elect Trump seemed to dismiss some of those conclusions but there has been definitive statements from the U.S. government based on cyber forensics, based on intelligence analysis, that this came out of the Kremlin and this was directed from the highest levels.
TODD: I think the question is going to be will a president Trump order his administration to investigate this?
ZARATE: Yes. I think that is first-order question. Not just to investigate it, Chuck, but also to respond.
ZARATE: This is a serious breech of national security. Serious breech in which the Russians who have been engaged in hybrid warfare against a lot of their neighbors decided to use this very same tactics against the United States. That is incredibly serious. If you think about it.
TODD: Did it in Georgia. They did it in.
ZARATE: Did in Ukraine.
ZARATE: They tried it in Baltic.
TODD: And now they did it in the United States.
ZARATE: Right. And they use the combination of cyber capabilities along with information warfare which they used with great effect to influence politics in variety of other countries. And they tried to do it here in the United States. I think it really is an important question for the president and our national security establishment. Not just in the context of Russia.
ZARATE: . but how we deal with China, Iran, other countries that are trying to use the very same tools against us.
TODD: All right. So, one would assume congress under any -- this is what congress should do. You investigate something like this. This is what congressional investigations at their best are about. Looking into controversies like this especially when the executive branch may or may not be involved. That`s what you want your legislature brings to do.
These are republican senate and republican house, and they perhaps could be investigating something that could implicate somebody in a Trump administration if there is a link. How confident are you that the senate republicans are going to investigate?
ZARATE: Well, I haven`t spoken to anybody on the hill about this but there is no doubt that everyone that I know and that has dealt with foreign policy, national security, homeland security, intelligence community take this incredibly seriously and knows that this is a breech that involve the DNC and Russia today.
It could involve China and RNC tomorrow. Could involve our banks the next day from Iran which is a subject of some attention. And so there has to be some inquiry into not just what happened but also how the Russians have tried to and may continue to try to influence. This is not just one point in time, Chuck.
The Russians are viewing this as a long-term campaign to influence for their own purposes and to undermine U.S. interests. That involves some serious inquiry and we got to know how are we going to respond.
TODD: Well, there have been some concerns, I now Richard Engel has brought it up, he admitted and somewhat speculated that basically Russia`s next move is going to start dumping stuff on Trump.
So that the whole thing was they provided chaos to shake up Obama and Clinton and now maybe you think he got his way, but now he is going to try to mire and muck things up for Trump. And the whole goal is just to keep the United States busy.
ZARATE: Yes, and that very well could be their strategy. I mean, they have done this before in other countries where they used information warfare, they used leaks, they used cyber hacking to actually influence the political debates within countries and to influence elections. Again, as I said, they have the capability to do this for a long time.
This is not just a one episode period for the Russians. They are thinking about this in the long-term. And so that scenario, I don`t know if it`s true or not, but that scenario could be something that they are thinking about.
TODD: And so at this point, if the senate and the house committees on these, the various committees that have authority on this, perhaps formulations.
ZARATE: There would be a lot, by the way.
ZARATEL: Homeland security, intelligence.
TODD: If they don`t hold a hearing, that would be a partisan decision at this point. Because you have involved the democrats and there has been some question about Trump`s or anybody connected to Trump`s knowledge. By not doing it, are they taking a partisan stand or they may look like they are?
ZARATE: I think they want -- definitely you want to avoid the appearance on anything this serious in the context of national security. National security as you know, Chuck, has been a venue of bipartisanship.
TODD: So they have no choice but to investigate this whether they -- not matter what -- whether they fear the outcome or not.
ZARATE: Yes. And I think it`s not just this particular hack. We got to keep in mind that this is also with respect to Russia, long-term, what is Russia trying to achieve with it`s tools, information warfare, cyber. What is China trying to do? What is Iran trying to do?
So even if people didn`t want to go down the rabbit hole of what the Russian are doing, you got to look at what`s happening in the space because it`s a very real vulnerability for the country and we`ve seen episode after episode where this is a vulnerability for society.
TODD: What`s an effective punishment on Putin? Part of me thought that`s what the Panama Paper work. I know some people think that too. What would make him change his behavior?
ZARATE: I think there are three things. One is we do have sanctions we can apply to not just him and his cronies, but to elements of the business network that he relies upon. Panama Paper exposed the fact that he uses cut outs. We haven`t used the existing executive orders to go after elements of that business empire. That could be done. We can play a symmetric warfare too, Chuck. We can play information warfare.
TODD: Someone argued we invented it.
ZARATE: Yes, and we have been meek and mild at times, but if push comes to shove, we need to push back. And there are other things we can do. In the context of the Ukraine. He cares a lot about what happened to Ukraine. We have not sent weapons to the government.
That would be a signal that we are taking some of these seriously and he has crossed a line. The reality is we do have tools to push back. Question is do we have the political will to do it?
TODD: Juan Zarate, nice to see you. Thank you for coming in.
ZARATE: Nice to see you too. Thank you.
TODD: Up next, why I`m obsessed with what democrats are not doing post election so far. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight I`m obsessed with the incredible shrinking presence of Hillary Clinton. It is if she just disappeared. The Clintons who for better or worse have dominated much of the air supply in the democratic party for the past 30 years have kind of evaporated in the past week.
It`s not just that there is very little public criticism of Clinton in Washington circle. It is also that there is not really anyone rallying around her either. You are not sort of seeing either response post election, not a heavy amount of blame nor any rallying around her popular vote. Clinton`s name has been mentioned a few times in both positive and negative ways.
Democratic congressional campaign committee had aligned in its post election assessment today saying Hillary Clinton underperformed across the house battlefield. But that was not very critical which directly impact the democrats` ability to win house districts. Senators Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer pointed at Clinton`s popular vote win as a reason to reexamine electoral college.
But it`s all very quiet, subdued, muted even. This election wasn`t a wholesale rejection of a candidate like McGovern, Mondale or Dukakis. But even thought she didn`t get wiped out in the electoral map, it seems like the Clintons are quietly being wiped off the map in democratic politics.
But instead of being done in a very public way, sort of an excommunication with Dukakis or Carter, it`s just quiet. No rallying, no nothing. Just hoping if you don`t say the name, it`s like beetle juice. It just never appears. We`ll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TODD: Time for "The Lid." We will talk a little transition. Panel is back; Yamiche, Elise, Karine. We are still waiting for Jon Tester but we think he is not going to show up for this hour. Again, we apologize for that. We hope to get a good explanation from his office to figure out what happened there.
Let`s talk transition. We are going transition in Trump world, transition in democratic leadership world as well. The newest name, secretary of state name that my colleague and former republican congressman Joe Scarborough floated was Nikki Haley for secretary of state. It would be the first time a sitting governor became secretary of state since Martin Van Buren. Yamiche, how about that?
ALCINDOR: In some of these cases, you just think maybe they were all just going to echo Donald Trump kind of coming into a position where he did not have experience and saying, hey, if I can do this, a lot of other people can do this. That`s what it feels like his transition is going to be. Rudy Giuliani could be secretary of state.
Also, idea that people are going around, that you look at their back and think, are you sure this is the right fit? But I should say with Nikki Haley they do are and desperately need someone other than white men. The idea that they have her name up there is something that say that maybe this administration won`t be overwhelmingly white which is what a lot of his campaign was.
TODD: You know, Elise, it is interesting. A bunch of people who thought as 2020 presidential candidates are suddenly seem to be showing up at Trump Tower, Ted Cruz. Rick Santorum put out a statement saying he wasn`t interested in the job. Okay. Sometimes you put that out. It`s interesting to me that suddenly they`re going, well, maybe I ought to get a job.
JORDAN: It looks like they`re paying court to the king right now. Except Ben Carson has said, he is not qualified to be president or run a cabinet. That we know that now.
TODD: Unbelievable. He wasn`t qualified to run a federal agency. So why did he run for president?
JORDAN: The direct mail scheme?
ALCINDOR: He`s sometimes dreadfully honest. He`s just honest.
TODD: Karine, what kind of cabinet picks could Trump make that would make you move on going, boy, that`s pretty smart. That`s pretty populist of him. Like Nikki Haley. Getting her involved in there. He ought to put some of their best faces forward.
JEAN-PIERRE: Chuck, that`s a smart question to ask. It`s so funny. We`re hearing the leaks and the bit of chaos of the transition. But Donald Trump said it himself a couple hours ago. He knows who the finalists are. Because the office of presidency has now been turned into like "The Apprentice" or something like that.
I think we have to take his word from it. Look, if this continues, his cabinet and his administration will be filled with lobbyists and establishment republicans, as we know this was an anti-establishment election, and white supremacists. I mean, that`s the way I see this is going right now, if it all holds.
TODD: Elise, I do think you see the tension of -- I don`t think he does want lobbyists. But they don`t have a lot of people to fill the jobs. I think he wants some outsiders but they don`t have the resume to do the job. I mean -- by the way, Barack Obama ran into this. When he made a bunch of pledges and then he realized, I am stuck with a whole bunch of ex-Clinton people because they have the experience.
JORDAN: I think Trump right now is running up against the donor community that tends to be more neo conservative in the republican party. And they`re trying to push a lot of their candidates such as you hear Senator Tom Cotton quoted floated for secretary of defense. Where did that come from? John Bolton, the ultimate established donor favorite.
TODD: Bolton and Cotton couldn`t have a more opposite foreign policy vision than Donald Trump. It doesn`t make sense.
JORDAN: Exactly. Why would Trump be considering individuals who are really the antithesis of what he believes and the more populist platform that he ran against?
TODD: Yamiche, I get the sense especially with the lobbyist thing. I know they said Trump defended it. He was uncomfortable defending the lobbyist question on "60 Minutes." Almost as if like, what? Like you almost wonder he said, get rid of this lobbyist. I said drain the swamp. I don`t want to look bad.
ALCINDOR: Part of it is because he doesn`t want to lose credibility so quickly with the people who elected him. If he starts filling the whole White House with the same people that someone like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio would have picked, then he will look bad and really bad even before inauguration day.
TODD: Yes. All right. Let`s talk about, speaking of transition. Is there going to be a house democratic transition? Karine?
JEAN-PIERRE: We saw the letter from Nancy Pelosi today that is basically laid out that she, I guess she got a good percentage of her colleagues to support her. So I think it will move in that direction. I have to say, it is not unexpected to see I don`t think, you know, to see Chuck Schumer taking over for democrats on the senate side. On the house side, you know, most likely will be Pelosi.
I think there are some positives there. When we saw Chuck Schumer, we did see Elizabeth Warren the next day and we did see Bernie Sanders and Bernie Sanders is going to be doing outreach beyond the budget which I think is actually important. At the end of the day, the democrats on the hill will need to be the back bone and be in the front line for the resistance, right?
They`ll be the ones who really have to reach out to the grassroots out there and really listen to the people. It is going to be on them.
TODD: You know, Elise, I`m just wondering. The democrats in the house and the senate will be led by a Californian and a New Yorker. Not an Ohioan. Not a Floridian. Not an Iowan. Does that just reinforce the out of touch?
JORDAN: I think they`re completely out of touch and Pelosi represents what voters, what the back lash was.
TODD: Don`t forget she`s conservative in her district. She usually gets challenged from the left. Okay.
JORDAN: But she`s a status quo Washington politician. She is the kind of politician to grassroots voters, to rural voters, people outside of our camps of knowing who is a dem, who is a republican.
TODD: She`s been demonized in advertising for a long time.
JORDAN: She`s a career relic.
ALCINDOR: The interesting thing really is that someone from New York voted for Donald Trump to be able to get people in Michigan and Wisconsin to resonate with him. That`s what mid-western people. They saw themselves in this billionaire New Yorker.
TODD: She grew up in the mid-west and she was the New Yorker. I never thought New York would be the center of the political universe. Yamiche, Elise, Karine, thank you much. After the break, an amazing number that shows you just how divided this country is. Stay tuned.
TODD: I`ve been waiting all day to show this stuff with you. In case you missed it, Florida, Florida, Florida holds a lot of special meaning to us here in the "Meet the Press" family. And when it comes to presidential politics, Florida is as competitive as it gets. A key battleground in the past seven presidential elections. Just how razor thin is the margin?
Ready for this? Since 1992, there have been about 50 million votes cast in Florida in presidential elections. When you add them all up. All the republican votes, all the democratic votes, it is separated by 11,296. Fifty million votes cast separated by 11,000. No other state even the other battlegrounds comes nearly as close.
We crunched the number and found two other states in the battlegrounds where the difference since 1992 is over the same amount of time is less than 100,000 votes. Virginia and Ohio. But seriously, Florida, 11,000 votes since 1992 in seven presidential elections. Think about what that says just about how divided the battleground states really are and by the way, Ohio maintains its nation-leading streak. The Buckeye State has voted for the presidential winner every year since 1964, the only state, and longest current active streak.
That`s all for tonight. "WITH ALL DUE RESPECT" starts now.
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