Show: MTP DAILY Date: November 28, 2016 Guest: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Bill Nelson, Ben Ginsberg, Karine Jean-Pierre, Susan Page, James Lankford, Susan Page, Karine Jean-Pierre, Ben Ginsberg, Pete Williams, Hampton Pearson
KRISTEN WELKER, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight, the recount drama. We are sorting out the rhetoric and the reality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We deserve to have peace of mind.
WELKER: Plus, the president-elect tough talk on Cuba and how the Fidel Castro is already shaping up to be a tricky early test of the Trump presidency. And we are following breaking developments on the attack at Ohio State University.
This is MTP DAILY and it start right now.
(on camera): And good evening. Hope you had a great holiday, everyone. I`m Kristen Welker in Washington in for Chuck Todd.
The integrity of the U.S. election is suddenly under fire from the losers and the winner. The president-elect, are you ready for a recount? Well, how about three?
In Wisconsin, election officials are now racing against the clock to begin the dramatic task of recounting 3 million votes in less than two weeks. Sparked by a petition from green party candidate, Jill Stein. Stein has just filed a recount petition in Pennsylvania, too, and she says she`s going to file in Michigan as well.
So, why those three? Well, if you want to cut to the heart of it, if Clinton had won them, she`d be president right now.
Stein and her allies allege Russia may have hacked the voting machines. But do they have hard evidence? Well, not really.
We should note that Clinton`s lawyers are now involved in the Wisconsin recount. President-elect Donald Trump is calling the recall a scam.
But making matters worse, even more confounding is Trump is alleging vote rigging in the election he won, claiming that millions of people voted illegally. He doesn`t have hard evidence for that either.
The White House is aggressively defending the result. A senior official telling me, in part, we believe our elections were free and fair from the cyber security perspective.
And individual states are pushing back as well. At a press conference today, Wisconsin`s election authority took shots at both green party candidate Jill Stein and President-elect Donald Trump. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people who have requested this recount have expressed concern about the possibility that machines were hacked. Have you seen anything to justify that concern?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
MARK THOMSEN, ELECTION COMMISSIONER, WISCONSIN: I think it most unfortunate that the president-elect is claiming that there is huge problems with our system and that`s feeding what I call this conspiracy theory. I`ve never seen this kind of attack on poll workers and how this system works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: Meanwhile, there is a country to govern amid the tweet storm among the election results. Trump is facing a revolt from inside his own transition team over Mitt Romney`s candidacy for the job secretary of state.
The revolt was led yesterday by his former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and sheered today by other transition officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, FORMER MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I`m reflecting what the grass roots are saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
CONWAY: They feel betrayed to think that you can get a Romney back in there after everything he did. We don`t even know if he voted for Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What Kellyanne I think is relaying there are the messages that she is getting. They`re messages that I`m getting. And many people who felt like the comments that Mitt Romney made were not helpful to the party as a whole.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do I know about Mitt Romney? I know that he is a self-serving ego maniac who puts himself first, who has a chip on his shoulder, that thinks he should be president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: Well, we have a lot to chew on, that`s for sure. We begin with NBC`s Hallie Jackson, my fellow road warrior. Halle, good to see you.
Let`s start with this tweet storm over the weekend that led into Sunday night. Let me read you some of the top --
HALLIE JACKSON, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Sure.
WELKER: -- two tweets that are getting all of the buzz. Donald Trump tweeting, in addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally. That tweet sort of stopped the news cycle. I was reporting on it and had to change my entire piece for the evening.
And then this, Halle. Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California. So, why isn`t the media reporting on this?
Serious bias, big problem. You`ve been doing fact checking all day long so what have you found?
JACKSON: And so is our NBC political unit, Kristen, along with (INAUDIBLE) fact checkers. I just actually did an interview with somebody from the (INAUDIBLE) Center for Justice.
And the consensus is there is simply not evidence to substantiate these claims. The Trump transition team, president-elect`s transition team, would, sort of, beg to differ.
And, in fact, sent over some 45 pages of documentation that they say backs up some of these claims. But many of what -- much of what they sent has been debunked. Has been debunked by us. Has been debunked by other fact checkers as well. So, it`s still kind of has you ask, hey, where`s the beef, if you will.
The concern from some, too, including folks that I just spoke with is if you have the president-elect who is now working to, essentially, delegitimize the election he won, what does that mean when it comes to, for example, voting rights` laws down the road? Not to mention this sort of baffling to some premise that the person who won the election would now be calling the very election that they won unfair.
WELKER: Mark Murray coined the term sore loser earlier today, Hallie. Does he run the risk of making himself, at this very moment where he is empowered, he is building his administration, look like he`s a sore loser. Did he undercut the power that he has just gained?
[17:05:11] JACKSON: Or maybe more a sore winner, if you look at it that way. You know, I think that there is a concern, particularly in some corners, that that could happen.
But, again, you kind of got to see how this -- you look at why he`s tweeting about this, right? Let`s go back to why this came up. And it was -- it seemed to be in response to seeming irritation from this recount from Jill Stein and the green party in Wisconsin and now Pennsylvania, potentially Michigan as well.
And concern from the president-elect and, sort of, lashing out against that. So, some real question marks here that I don`t think have been sufficiently answered, particularly not by the president-elect who has not made a public statement about this in person, other than what he`s put online.
WELKER: And now, let`s talk about some of the intrigues around being secretary of state. There is this internal battle between Rudy Giuliani, the camp that wants him, Mitt Romney. And then, you have David Petraeus meeting with president-elect Trump today.
What do you make of all of that and is the internal fighting real?
JACKSON: So, let me take the second part of your question first and the answer I think is yes. I think you are seeing factions within the transition team. Not unusual, right?
Because we saw factions, frankly, during Donald Trump`s campaign for the last year and a half. So, this is not a particularly different way of doing business for the president-elect.
What I do think you`re seeing are some factions lining up behind. In one camp, Rudy Giuliani. Somebody who has been there, has been loyal from the very beginning.
A more, perhaps, unorthodox choice than somebody like Mitt Romney who has his own supporters inside the Trump orbit. You`ve got people, though, giving the sort of -- the infighting that you`re seeing.
You`re seeing a little bit of daylight for somebody like a General Petraeus to, perhaps, have opportunity. He was at Trump Tower just within the last hour or so, I think. And talked about how he had what he believed was a very good conversation with the president-elect. Donald Trump tweeting that he was impressed by the former CIA chief.
You`ve also got an opportunity for people like Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee who is coming to Trump Tower tomorrow, I am told, in talks for this position. And even Ambassador John Bolton who (INAUDIBLE) tells me is still in the mix.
WELKER: All right, Halle Jackson. I know you are continuing to track all of the developments in Trump Tower. Thank you. Appreciate it.
JACKSON: Thank you.
WELKER: All right. We want to bring you, now, Republican senator from Oklahoma, James Lankford. Thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate it.
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: Yes, glad to.
WELKER: So, let me just start right there with this discussion of the election results. Do you trust the election results? Do you have any reason to doubt them?
LANKFORD: I don`t have any reason to doubt them. And so, as I watch it, there`s always some limited voter fraud in some areas but it`s usually very small in number and very limited.
WELKER: So, just to put a fine point on it. Is President-elect Trump wrong? And is it irresponsible to question the election results in the way that he is by essentially saying he believes millions of votes were illegal?
LANKFORD: I don`t know of any source that`s out there that would say millions of votes are illegal or that the Russians hacked into systems and changed the votes. I don`t know of either one of those. I haven`t seen any evidence for either one.
WELKER: And what the green party is essentially saying is there is a group of computer scientists who have found some voter irregularities in those three states where President-elect Trump`s margin of victory is very narrow.
So, let`s just take a look at it. Let`s make sure that there isn`t some type of discrepancy here. Is there not a small difference between what the green party is saying and what President-elect is saying. And why not just look at the results just to make sure everything was on the up and up?
LANKFORD: That`s very different than doing a recount. Going into a system and saying we`re going to look for computer anomalies, that doesn`t demand a recount. That demands going into the software and to be able to evaluate it.
When you do a recount, you`re physically counting votes again and walking through the process, not looking for computer anomalies that may be there. All these systems are actually offline as well. These are not systems that are hooked up to the Internet. They`re stand-alone systems. And each state goes through and would be able to validate this.
This perpetual rumor that the only way Donald Trump could have won is if the Russians interfered has been an ongoing dialogue for a while. And I just don`t see any evidence of that.
WELKER: Well, and the White House says the same thing. They don`t see any evidence.
At the same time, the green party would argue, look, the Russians, according to U.S. intelligence officials, did hack into Democrats` e-mails throughout the process. They were at the root of those WikiLeaks which a lot of people would believe did have some type of impact on the electoral process.
So, given that broader context, do they not have a right to just take a look to just check it out?
LANKFORD: They have a right to take a look. They have raised the money to be able to do it independently. And they`re certainly doing that, at this point.
I would say it`s very different to say they`ve hacked into an e-mail server than they hacked into a stand-alone computer or a stand-alone voting machine on it. That`s a very different hack and it`s a very different system. And that`s just not something we`ve seen any evidence of anywhere.
WELKER: Let me ask you about the other big story that we`re tracking today which is this internal fighting over Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney for secretary of state. Mitt Romney obviously endorsed you back in 2012 when you ran for reelection in Congress.
[17:10:09] And I wonder, do you think he would be a good candidate for secretary of state, given that he came out came out so strongly against candidate Trump during the election?
LANKFORD: Yes, that`s up to Donald Trump, himself. He`s the only one that really can determine that. He`s going to look at who`s best qualified.
And what the team has looked at is -- obviously, every president wants to have people around that are loyal but every president also wants to put the best possible people that are up there.
So, he`s got to look at both those factors and make (ph) it work through the process. But I`ll wait and see who he does the pick on.
But he`s got -- he`s got a lot of good options in front of him. He can choose any one of them that he chooses to do as the president.
WELKER: Well, do you think one quality outweighs the other? I mean, Kellyanne Conway, over the weekend, was talking a lot of about loyalty. You have to envision the advisor Congressman Chris Collins calling Romney a self-serving ego maniac earlier today.
Do you share that assessment and Kellyanne Conway`s concerns about loyalty?
LANKFORD: No, he`s going to have determine loyalty. Obviously, the two of them know it`s been very different. The statements that Mitt Romney made during the campaign were combative and pretty harsh.
But as we saw through at the end of it, Ted Cruz turned around at the end of it and was going to help. They had pretty harsh words as well.
And Ted Cruz has already been in which has been well publicized to be able to advise the team as they`re transitioning into good ideas and policy issues.
And so, they`ve been able to mend those fences and be able to reengage. And we`re going to work together as the Senate and the White House in the days ahead.
So, those things, you can mend fences on and be able to press on. But you`ve got to be aligned, philosophically, at the end of the day. Loyalty is important. But who is the best qualified for the nation is the primary consideration.
WELKER: All right. Senator Lankford, thank you so much for your perspective. We really appreciate it.
LANKFORD: You bet. Glad to be with you.
WELKER: And I want to bring in our panel now. We have an all-star panel. Ben Ginsberg is a Republican election super lawyer and NBC Political Analyst. Karine Jean-Pierre is senior adviser and spokesperson for moveon.org. And Susan Page is a Washington bureau chief at "USA Today."
Thanks to all of you for being here. There certainly is a lot to get to.
Susan, let`s talk about this recount that is underway. Because you have the green party and now the Clinton campaign joining this effort. And then, you have Donald Trump`s allegations.
Just starting with this recount, do you think anything changes?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": It would be unprecedented for a recount to swing as many votes as would be needed to change the results in any one of these states. And to swing the results in all three of those states seems quite improbable.
And, in fact, even Jill Stein says she doesn`t think that`s going to -- going to happen. But she just says she wants an accurate count.
So, I think it is unlikely this changes anything. But I can understand the frustration that a lot of Clinton supporters feel over the narrow margins in these three states that cost her the presidency.
WELKER: Karine, I thought it was interesting because you heard the Senator Lankford there saying, essentially, he couldn`t defend what Donald Trump is saying. He can`t defend what the green party is doing.
Do you think that Donald Trump`s reaction undercuts him at this very moment where he`s building this transition, this critical moment for him?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER AND SPOKESPERSON, MOVEON.ORG: Yes, I do. I think it undercuts him. I think you guys used the word like a -- like it`s a sore -- a sore winner. I think it totally goes into that.
And also, it undermines his own case against it by falsely stating voting fraud. And also, it`s an attack on our democracy and it`s a full on assault. And I think that`s a very dangerous thing to be doing when why not give confidence to American people on our voting system, especially in this much-divided election that we saw for the last, you know, 18 months?
WELKER: So, what`s your take and do you think that Jill Stein is sort of going down a false narrative by talking about Russians hacking?
BEN GINSBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: Yes, I do. I mean, look, there is now a North Carolina governor`s race going on. Hillary Clinton`s lawyer is representing the Democrat who`s ahead by about 8,500 votes, significantly less than the margin in any of those three states.
Marc Elias said to Pat McCrory, you should accept defeat and concede. He has not said that to Jill Stein. And, in fact, the Clinton campaign has gone into the three states hoping that Jill Stein comes up with something.
So, there`s a bit of -- they`re -- they should be listening to what Hillary Clinton said on election night.
WELKER: Some people are saying, if President-elect Trump thinks that the election system was rigged, that there were so many illegal votes, shouldn`t he be supporting the recount effort? I think -- doesn`t he sort of undo his argument?
GINSBERG: He was specific on three states each of which he lost. It is an unusual tactic to challenge the results of an election you`ve won but perhaps we give him a mulligan on that.
Let`s talk about secretary of state. I can`t get enough of this. I think it`s just fascinating. You have all of these internal feuds going on.
Susan, where do you think the deliberations are? I mean, it`s impossible to know what`s going on within Trump`s mind. But who do you think is emerging as the front-runner right now? And Kellyanne Conway coming out over the weekend and saying she has real questions about Romney`s loyalty.
PAGE: So, I think first we should say that it`s not unusual for there to be doing a lot of talking, especially for --
[17:15:00] WELKER: Right. Right.
PAGE: -- a prize like secretary of state. Eight years ago, we saw that for Barack Obama when he was elected.
But I`ve got to say, we`ve never seen the kind of public lobbying by people very close to the president-elect as we`ve seen with Kellyanne Conway and Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee and others, weighing in that the list of office holders that you showed coming in against Mitt Romney as a perspective secretary of state.
Clearly, there`s a divide within the inner councils for Donald Trump. And I do think that creates an opening for someone like Bob Corker, the Senator from Tennessee, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to walk through if Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani end up knocking each other out.
WELKER: What about Petraeus? He was meeting with President-elect Trump today. He has some problems still.
PAGE: Yes, he has some problems along the lines of handling of classified information. This was, of course, a big issue that Donald Trump hammered Hillary Clinton for during the campaign.
So, it`s not impossible, I think, that Petraeus gets the top job, but it would create this problem -- or at least a problem of optics of appointing someone to a senior job for -- who was guilty of mishandling classified information just as he said Hillary Clinton did.
WELKER: Karine, what do you think? Do you think that this internal fighting is being overplayed or do you think that that`s actually what`s going on?
PIER-PIERRE: I think it`s totally being overplayed. I don`t think Kellyanne Conway goes on T.V. without Trump knowing, right? I think he sent her out there. She is in charge of the messaging.
And I think it`s all a ploy to distract from the real story which is the conflict of interest with his businesses. And I -- that -- I just don`t -- I just don`t believe it. I don`t buy it.
The thing that I -- that I like to -- that I call it is the Petraeus and Corker and I forget the third person right now. I think they`re wild card contestants, right? Because --
PIER-PIERRE: Yes, because we have to step into Trump`s world right now which is a reality T.V. game show world. You have contestant number one who is Mitt Romney who said he was -- who said Donald Trump was unfit to be president and America`s future was in danger because of Donald Trump.
And then, you have Rudy Giuliani who is a die-hard Trump loyalist.
WELKER: Then let me put the same question to you that I put to Senator Lankford which is can someone who has been so critical of the president- elect when he was a candidate serve as secretary of state? That is the most important position, one of them, in the cabinet.
GINSBERG: That`s the team of rivals` concept. The phrase we overuse a great deal. Donald Trump gets to choose who he thinks the best secretary of state is. The people who were loyalists to him in his campaign get to give him their unvarnished opinions. It`s the public part of it that`s a little bit unusual.
But it is Donald Trump`s choice. And secretary of state, as many people have said, is perhaps the most significant choice that you get to make.
WELKER: And I guess the question is -- and I`ve been talking to Republicans who say they like Mitt Romney a lot. They supported him. They supported what he said during the primary.
At the same time, they just don`t know if that`s a disqualifier for that position, given that you`re so close to the president and you`re making such critical decisions.
GINSBERG: Yes. And, again, that`s Donald Trump`s decision to make. And, remember, Mitt Romney got into this mix because Donald Trump asked him to come up to Bedminster to talk with him in a very public way.
PAGE: You know, it`s not only that he was very critical of Donald Trump, the most scathing critical of anybody in the Republican establishment.
They also have very different world views. You look at their views of Russia, and it`s hard to imagine two people with two people with more different -- more disparate views on Russia and the world.
WELKER: All right, stay there. We have a lot more to discuss. Ben, Karine and Susan, thank you.
And up next, we will have an update on the election results in Michigan as Trump opponents hire a recount there.
Plus, new details about this morning`s attack at Ohio State University. Keith Williams joins me next with the very latest.
WELKER: And welcome back to MTP DAILY.
Believe it or not, we`ve got an update in the electoral college vote to tell you about. Nearly three weeks after election day, Donald Trump wins Michigan and the state`s 16 electoral votes. That brings Trump`s total to 306 compared to Clinton`s 228.
The presidential race in New Hampshire with its four electoral votes is still too close to call. Michigan certified the results this afternoon. Trump won the state by a margin of 10,704 votes. He`s the first Republican to carry Michigan in a presidential election since 1988.
We`ll be right back with the very latest on that attack today at Ohio state university. Stay with us.
WELKER: Welcome back.
Officials are searching for a motive behind what they believe is a deliberate attack this morning on the campus of the Ohio State University.
Police say just before 10:00 a.m. Eastern time, the man identified as Adbul Razak Ali Artan drove his car over the curb on the campus, striking several people. He then left the vehicle and cut people with a butcher`s knife which police say they have recovered.
Just a minute later, a university police officer shot and killed Artan. Officials say he was the only person in the car. A total of 11 people were hospitalized. One is listed in critical condition. None of the injuries are considered life-threatening.
Joining me now with the very latest is NBC News` justice correspondent, Pete Williams, who`s been tracking this story all day long.
So, Pete, what the latest here? What do we know about the suspect?
PETE WILLIAMS, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, we know quite a bit now, Kristen. He was born in Somalia. He came to the United States with his family in 2014. They had fled Somalia in 2007. He went to live in Islamabad, Pakistan.
And then, seven years later, they came here to the U.S. flying into New York`s JFK airport before eventually, at least for him and some of his family members, settling in Columbus.
He attended a community college and graduated this spring with an associate`s degree. And then, enrolled at the OSU and was a freshman student there -- first year student.
He`s 18 years old. Born in 1998. He was a lawful permanent resident.
And authorities, as you say, are now looking for the motive. They`re searching the apartment where he lived. They`re looking through his social media. They`re interviewing family members and friends, trying to figure out what led to this attack.
They say, shortly before the attack, this morning, there was a post on a Facebook page that he had in which he talked about attacks on Muslims around the world. It was a rant about that.
And he said that it led to a boiling point. I can`t take it anymore. But exactly what the motive was here, whether that had anything to do with this, whether he was inspired by ISIS or Al Qaeda or some other propaganda is all to be determined in the days to come.
WELKER: And, Pete, as you are speaking, we are looking at live pictures of the suspect`s car being taken away from the campus.
WILLIAMS: Well, that`s not the -- let`s be clear about this. As we understand it, that is the car that he drove.
WILLIAMS: But officials say that is not his car. It apparently belonged to a family member. And one of the questions here is, was -- were other people involved in the attack?
[17:25:00] The campus police have said they have surveillance video that tracks this car as it comes to the attack. And, at no point, was there anyone else in the car.
So, they believe that he carried out this attack today by himself. But were other people involved? Did they know about this in advance? Did they help him plan it? That`s all under investigation.
WELKER: All right. Pete Williams, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
WELKER: And still ahead, what`s next for America`s relationship with Cuba? I`ll talk with two lawmakers with very different takes on what should be ahead. Stay with us.
WELKER: More MTP DAILY just ahead. But first, Hampton Pearson has the CNBC Market Wrap.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: Thanks, Kristen.
Stocks begin to leap with declines. The Dow sinking 54 points. The S&P sheds 11. The NASDAQ off by 30 points.
It may be cyber Monday but investors aren`t snapping up shares of online retailer Amazon, the stock slipping nearly two percent today. Wal-Mart and Target also finishing lower.
And American Airlines launched its first regularly scheduled flight from Miami to Havana today. It took off just after 7:30 a.m. The event coincides with the period of mourning for Fidel Castro.
That`s it for CNBC for some business worldwide.
KRISTEN WELKER, MEET THE PRESS HOST: Welcome back to MTP daily, Fidel Castro had an outsized influence on American politics for more than half a century. Today in Havana the first public ceremony to honor their controversial former leader, the revolutionary turned dictator who died on Friday at the age of 90. In an honest coincidence today, it`s also the first day of regularly scheduled commercial flights between the U.S. and Havana. Part of the normalization move made under the Obama administration. But just as that plane was taking off, Trump tweeted about potentially reversing the plan to open Cuba, said quote, if Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban-American people, and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate the deal. By the end of the presidential campaign, Trump was steadfastly opposed to President Obama`s Cuba policy. Here is Trump in Little Havana just days before the election receiving an endorsement from a Cuban exile group. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT ELECT: Organizations of the Cuban resistance have struggled for decades to depose the Castro regime. But it`s at hand. It`s at hand, to free the Cuban people and to restore truth and justice to the daily life of its citizens. The United States should not prop up the Cuban regime economically and politically as Obama has done, and as Hillary Clinton plans to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: The Trump senior advisors were divided on the new administration immediate Cuba plans on the Sunday shows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNINDENTIFIED MALE: If he doesn`t get whatever it is that he wants, what he reverse President Obama`s opening to Cuba?
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. I mean, he already said that that would be the case.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Is he willing to shut down this diplomatic reproach -- reproach one for the -- on behalf of these political prisoners? Does he want to completely shut it down, or does he still want to keep that open?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s for discussion. That`s certainly on the table. And this is what -- look, this is what leaders do, leaders listen, they learn, they take the counsel of many people.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WELKER: Joining me now is Florida`s congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, she`s the congressional representative for much of the Miami area, and a Cuban native. Thank you so much congresswoman for joining me.
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you.
WELKER: . appreciate it. So let`s talk about what should happen next with Cuba. You have said -- let me read part of your statement, not until -- are closed, elections are held, political prisoners are freed, can the U.S. and its embargo against Cuba. The question though becomes should President-elect Donald Trump, once he does take office in on his first day begin to reverse the actions -- the executive actions that president Obama has taken?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, we certainly hope that President-elect Trump, then will be President Trump, will hold true to his promise. He came to our community as you pointed out in your package and he said. He will roll back and he`s tweeted on it, he said it. He said in interviews. So, what President-elect Trump has seen in these sweet hard deals is just concessions to the Castro regime. It does not help the Cuban people at all. It`s been one sided. We got nothing out of the deal.
WELKER: Let me ask you what it actually looks like though, because some people and some Cubans are saying, wait a minute, there are some changes underway that are making a positive change. For example, direct mail, passenger air service, the embassy in Cuba, removing Cuba from the state sponsor of terror, so of those, should all of that just get scrapped?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, there`s a difference in the list that you just put. Most of those issues were the problems of the Castro regime. We have no problems with direct mail. We have no problems with having computer access. We have no problem with internet for the Cuban people. It`s the Cuban regime that has withheld all of that from the people of Cuba. And since the Obama love notes to Raul Castro, what has happened? More repression, more arbitrary arrests, massive exodus of Cubans leaving the island, they didn`t get the Obama memo about a worker`s paradise. In fact, as we speak, there are dissidents in jail and in home arrest because the Castro regime is so fearful of them coming out to the streets to say anything against the dictatorship. That`s how insecure it is.
WELKER: But what about the fact that you do have flights beginning between these two countries. You do have restrictions lifted on some imports. I mean, aren`t those steps in the right direction? Is there a way to do both, as you say to get a better deal, but to keep some of those changes in place?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Of course, and I think that`s what President-elect Trump had said that he`s willing to take a look at. And what he said directly to Raul Castro, he challenged him, which is something that President Obama has never done. He said we want political reforms. We want religious reforms. We want freedom for the Cuban people. Now just think of all of these concessions that made for Raul Castro, we got nothing out of it and the Cuban people have been mired in misery, not because of U.S. policy, but because of the failed Castro regime and the Marxist Leninist policy that they`ve imposed on the people. We have not kept the Cuban people unfree, it is the Castro regime that has done so. So we shouldn`t be the ones to be blamed for the misery that is going on in Cuba. People want to be fed, and they want to be able to vote.
WELKER: As you have heard -- as you heard the Obama administration make this argument, the president himself, what has happened for the past 50 years hasn`t worked, so we`ve got to try something new to break out of that endless cycle. What do you make of that argument, and the fact that if you look at the polls in Miami-Dade County among Cuban-Americans, 54 percent say that the U.S. should end the Cuban embargo, 32 percent said no. What do you make of that?
ROS-LEHTINEN: OK. First of all, with the Cuban embargo that`s something that President-elect Trump nor President Obama can do away with. That is up to the United States congress, and we have a good coalition.
(CROSSTALK) WELKER: Should the embargo be lifted?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Of course not, until these conditions are met. Freedom for political prisoners, is that not a good condition to have? Free elections? Why should the Cuban people not be able to really have a president, because they have a dictator now. And free expression and a free press. Why are the Cuban people not allowed to have that? It`s not our policy that keeps them in that way, it`s the failed policy of the Castro regime. We should not be blamed for all the faults of a communist dictatorship. We have been the best friends of the Cuban people. That`s why they`re coming in droves to my district. That`s why people literally die to come to these shores of freedom. They love the United States.
WELKER: Let me play you something from Senator Marco Rubio, and get your reaction on the other side, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARCO RUBIO, U.S. SENATOR: Everything should be guided by our goal. Our goal is not to punish, our goal is to figure out what can we do through U.S. policy to number one, look out for the national interest to the United States. And number two, to help create an environment where we are creating the potential for a transition to a Democratic order in Cuba at some point in the near future.
WELKER: So just the bottomline, I know you agree, but how do you make it happen without giving some.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, first of all.
WELKER: .concessions on the United States side which is what the Obama administration is doing.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, you`re right, that`s all the Obama administration has done. It hasn`t produced any change. The Cuban people are not any freer. Now, I believe what Marco -- of Politico always say, Cuba will change when Cuba says that it will change and does change. It is not up to the United States to impose a freedom or dictatorship on other people, but we can lay the ground work to help the Cuban people free themselves of this tyranny. One thing we can do is help for the political prisoners. Where is the president`s voice. Instead of sending condolences to the Castro family, why not send condolences to the victims of political prisoners? We never stand alongside the victims of the tyranny. One thing we can do is help for the political prisoners, where`s the president voice instead of sending condolences to the Castro family. Why not send condolences to the many victims of executions. Victims of political prisoners. We never stand alongside the victims of the tyranny. We stand alongside the regime. And we`re better than that.
WELKER: All right. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, thank you so much for.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you.
WELKER: . joining us with your perspective. Really appreciate it. And joining me now is Florida senator, Bill Nelson. Thank you senator for being here, really appreciate it.
BILL NELSON, U.S. SENATOR: Thanks Kristen.
WELKER: Hopefully, you can hear the congresswoman. I just want to get your reaction to two points that she just made in her concluding remarks. One, she responded to that statement that President Obama put out. Let me just remind our viewers what the president said over the weekend. He said history will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and the world around him. A lot of people thought he wasn`t tough enough. What was your take?
NELSON: I think he was commenting condolences to the Castro family, but then the rest of his statement he went on to talk about the Cuban people and their welfare.
WELKER: What about what the congresswoman said in terms of she believes the United States has given too many concessions in the executive actions that the president has taken. And as you know, a number of your constituents likely share her view. What do you say to your constituents who say, yes, Donald Trump, once he gets into office should reverse all of those actions that President Obama took.
NELSON: Iliana is a friend of mine. The two of us agree on the embargo not being changed until we see the establishment of freedoms and the lifting of this oppression on human rights. We agree on that. I think where the difference in my approach is that the increased travel, especially for Cuban-Americans, the increase remittances back to their families, and the ability to sell communication equipment, I think is all going to benefit the Cuban people. We`ve already seen little private enterprises start as a result of a lot of those remittances coming back. And so, this to me seems to be getting us into the 21st century, while at the same time holding a hard line, and I`ve been anti-Castro for decades, holding a hard line until they start letting up on these abuses that we`re going to keep the rest of the embargo in place.
WELKER: Well, you recently tweeted that the U.S. should press hard, this is you saying, against Raul Castro to provide basic rights and freedoms. But you also say that President-elect Trump should continue President Obama`s policies once he`s in office. Is that pushing a hard enough line? How do you actually get the Cuban government to make any changes under those circumstances?
NELSON: Well, is what I`ve just said, if you keep the travel going, if you keep the remittances going, if you send in communication equipment, you`re going to be benefiting the Cuban people, and that in itself is going to -- if Castro wants to -- or if Raul wants to get rid of the rest of the embargo, then he`s got to deal to lift all of this repression of his people.
WELKER: Well, Congressman Ros-Lehtinen was just saying said, so far it hasn`t worked. She`s not satisfied with the level of change that she is seeing from his end, are you -- I mean, do there need to be more pressure points?
NELSON: These are little steps in the beginning of a long journey. What you`re already seeing is some private enterprise. The more we have Americans down there, the more this communication is going to be. This has been an island that is been walled off from the rest of the world because of the grip -- the iron grip of a dictator. Now, let`s open it up, let`s get in to the 21st century and use the carrot and stick of the economic embargo to get them to start lessening off all of this repression on their people.
WELKER: And just finally, senator, before I let you go, I wonder what you make of the comments that we have heard so far from President-elect Donald Trump about Cuba. It`s not entirely clear what he plans to do on day one. Do you expect him to on his first day in office try to reverse the executive actions put in place by President Obama?
NELSON: I don`t know the answer to that, Kristen, because we heard two of his top people say opposite things on the Sunday shows. Reince Priebus said one thing, Kellyanne Conway said another thing. So, I think we`ve got to find out what Trump is going to do.
WELKER: All right. Senator Nelson, thank you so much for being here, really appreciates it.
NELSON: Thanks, Kristen.
WELKER: And still ahead, Democrats call for an investigation into President-elect Trump potential conflicts of interest, as new details about the scope of his business dealings emerge. Stay with us for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can tell you from President-elect Trump`s side, that he very much enjoyed speaking with President Obama, talking about the serious issues that face this country and the world. They get along nicely, they disagree on many things, that`s not going to change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: And today, the White House confirms President Obama and President- elect Trump are keeping connected. A White House spokesman said the two have talked a handful of times, most recently when the president-elect called this weekend and the two spoke for 45 minutes. President Obama said he`s keeping the lines of communication open to ensure a smooth transition. We`re back with more MTP daily right after this.
WELKER: It`s time now for The Lid. Congressional Democrats today making a move to try to investigate President-elect Donald Trump`s potential conflicts of interest. All 17 Democrats on the house oversight committee signed a letter to Chairman Jason Chaffetz today. They wrote, quote, you acted with unprecedented urgency to hold emergency hearings and issue multiple unilateral subpoenas to investigate Secretary Clinton before the election. We ask that you show the same sense of urgency right now. The panel is back, Ben, Karine, and Susan. Thanks guys for sticking around. Ben, let me start with you. Do you anticipate that there will be some type of investigation? Should there be, and how should President-elect Trump deal with?
BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: I think when you`re a minority, you do stunts like this. I would not suspect that right now because there`s absolutely no evidence there`s going to be investigations.
WELKER: Let`s play a sound bite from President-elect Trump, Karine, when he was speaking to New York Times, and he was asked about his business entanglements. His answer was fascinating. I will play it and get your reaction on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I assumed that you would have to set up some type of trust, or whatever, and you don`t. And I was actually a little bit surprised to see it. So in theory, I don`t have to do anything. But I would like to do something. I would like to try to formalize something, because I don`t care about my business.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WELKER: Karine, in theory, he doesn`t have to do anything. Do you think that`s the case, or should he be acting more quickly?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I think he should definitely be acting more quickly. And just a couple of days ago, we saw New York Times do a blow-by-blow kind of analysis of the conflicts of interest with his business, which is unprecedented and very dangerous. And as we`re talking about Cuba, and moving -- when -- how`s he`s going to move forward with Cuba, the problem that he has with every foreign policy decision that he`s going to make is going to be tainted because of his 20 -- you know, I think he does business with 20 countries and his conflict of interest. So I think it`s incredibly problematic. And, you know, if he does business with India, if he does business with China, it`s all going to be questioned because of the conflicts of interest.
WELKER: And we`re showing a map right now of all the various places where he has business holdings. Susan, talk about -- because Karine makes such a great point, does this not complicate almost every single decision he makes, if he doesn`t deal with it? But he`s got so many entanglements. It`s challenging
SUSAN PAGE, THE USA TODAY: You know, it`s complicating, it`s unprecedented, and it`s hard to figure out how he handles it. Because it`s not as though that he has a business that he could put in a blind trust or investments he could just sell off. He has a brand in more than 20 countries, including big countries with which we do a lot of business, like the Philippines, and Indonesia, and India. And even if he extracts himself from running these companies, we expect his children to be running them. So very close to him. And so it`s not clear to me how this gets sorted out, although I do agree with Ben, I think it`s unlikely this Republican congress. (CROSSTALK)
WELKER: Ben, jump in on that point.
GINSBERG: Let me disagree a little bit on the timing part.
GINSBERG: The election was three weeks ago. It is complicated. He doesn`t take the office for -- until January 20th. This is something that you take the time to get right. This is the way lawyers make their money. There are, I`m sure, solutions to these problems. And there are a lot of very talented lawyers looking at it. The office of government ethics in the federal government needs to pass on various arrangements. And what you don`t want to do as a new president is hand a weapon to your enemies on every decision you make. So I think they`re well aware of that. And they`re dealing with it.
JEAN-PIERRE: Can I just add, because I think the other troubling part of it is, too, is his children`s. Like, what role -- there`s been talk about, you know, will they be part of the administration, or will they won`t? And Jared`s been spoken about, as well. And so, to me, that`s also concerning, especially if you`re talking about a blind trust.
WELKER: Susan, you think about Jared and he has been probably his closest adviser who hasn`t been in the spotlight. A lot of people would be surprised if he doesn`t play some role, if Ivanka doesn`t play some role. How should he navigate that? And obviously, those are jobs number one and two for his White House counsel.
PAGE: Yeah. This -- big questions, obviously, Jared Kushner is somebody he trusts, he`s son-in-law, very influential adviser. Could run up against the law that prevents presidents from employing close relatives. The law that was passed in the aftermath of the Kennedy administration, when Robert Kennedy was attorney general. And his daughter, I think, even more problematic in a way, because we expect her to continue to be involved with her businesses. So there is a potential here for real conflicts of interest. You know, Donald Trump is right when he says, the conflict of interest law does not apply to him, but that does not mean he won`t have conflicts of interest. It just means that the law is not going to be the guidepost on what he has to do about it.
WELKER: We`re almost out of time. I want to get to a new tweet that Senator Tim Kaine just sent out. He said, Trump`s claim of voter fraud in Virginia is shameful. Hillary Clinton won Virginia by five plus points, and the popular vote by more than 2 million. Don`t insult our voters. Ben, what do you make of that tweet, given that they`re now joining this recount effort.
GINSBERG: I think Tim Kaine should be talking to the Clinton campaign, who`s getting into the recounts, if he wants to speak with authority on that subject.
WELKER: And, Karine, of course the Clinton campaign says, hey, we didn`t instigate this, but we should have a lawyer at the table if there`s going to be a recount. But this is about the popular vote, right?
WELKER: This is what.
JEAN-PIERRE: That`s really getting under Trump`s skin. We were just talking about this earlier, because he is being told, hey, you don`t have a mandate, because, yeah, you may have won the electoral college votes, but not the popular.
WELKER: Susan, final word?
PAGE: Two point two million votes, the biggest for a loser -- biggest margin for a loser in the electoral college since 1876.
WELKER: And so it continues. All right, Susan, Karine and Ben. Great conversation. Thanks so much for being here. And after a quick break, a leadership vote for the history books. Stay tuned, we`ll explain.
WELKER: And finally tonight, in case you missed it, an historic first is on the horizon on Capitol Hill. House Democratic leadership elections are Wednesday, and of course, the focus is on the Nancy Pelosi challenge, but it`s the voice for the vice chair of the Democratic caucus that will make history. California congresswoman, Linda Sanchez and Barbara Lee are the two members vying for the job. That means that no matter who wins, a woman of color will be elected to a Democratic leadership position for the very first time. Pretty remarkable. And that is all for tonight. With All Due Respect, starts right now.
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