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MTP Daily, Transcript 11/30/2016

Guests: Elijah Cummings, Eliana Johnson, Madeleine Albright, Stephen Hadley

Show: MTP DAILY Date: November 30, 2016 Guest: Elijah Cummings, Eliana Johnson, Madeleine Albright, Stephen Hadley

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: That`s going to do it for this hour. I`m Steve Kornacki and MTP DAILY starts right now.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Wednesday. The party that was practically predicting a permanent lock on the electoral college has suddenly discovered they can`t win anything. Tonight, are Democrats out of touch? House Democrats welcome back the same leadership that lost has lost 63 seat in six years.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I have a special spring in my step today.


TODD: Plus, fire sale or firestorm? The choices president-elect faces as a president with a vast business empire. And how the crisis in the Middle East are threatening the rest of world, including the United States.


FEMALE: We have a long-term approach to the region and not just do fire drills.


TODD: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

Good evening from Washington. I`m Chuck Todd and welcome to MTP DAILY.

It doesn`t get much lower than this for Democrats. A few weeks ago, Democrats were measuring the drapes not just in the White House, they thought that was in the bag. They were talking about the Senate, that was in reach, even the House at one point. They at least thought they would narrow it in a big way or shall we see Bigley. But now, Democrats are facing a unified Republican government after miserably misjudging the electorate or bundling the delivery of their own message or, frankly, coming up with one. After years of Trumpeting, their party strengthened with young voters and minorities, Democrats now find themselves out of touch with working class white voters in the Midwest. According to smart politics, for the first time in history, Democrats have now lost five consecutive presidential elections in these states, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. And by increasingly larger margins. Hillary Clinton lost West Virginia, once the strongest of Democratic strongholds by 42 points. Remember, Michael Dukakis carried West Virginia in 1988. And George H. W. Bush 400 electoral votes that year. Democrats also took a step back with young voters. Take Wisconsin in 2012. President Obama won voters under 25 by 16 points. This year, Donald Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton in that age group by two. Which brings us to today`s House leadership election. The 76-year-old congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, who`s led the caucus since 2003, was reelected as House minority leader, defeating Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, 134 to 63. Here`s Pelosi after the vote.


PELOSI: We have a responsibility and we embrace the opportunity that is presented. We know how to win elections. We have done it in the past. We will do it again.


TODD: It`s not just Pelosi. Congressman Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn will return to their respective leadership posts as well. New York`s Joe Crowley is the new caucus chair in California. Linda Sanchez joins his vice chair. The average age is House -- in the House Democratic leadership is now 66. For better or worse, though, the Democratic leadership does reflect the caucus. Roll call did this. They put this together. 57 percent of the 198-member Democratic caucus is 60 or older. And it`s not just an age problem but a regional one as well. Every single member of the House leadership is from a state that touches an ocean. Here is Congressman Tim Ryan after he lost to Pelosi imploring Democrats to talk economics.


REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: As Democrats, we need to talk about economics. It`s the issue that unites us. Many of you have heard me say this a million times in the last two weeks. And I believe it in my heart that if we`re going to win, as Democrats, we need an economic message that resonates in every corner of this country.


TODD: But the reaction from some inside the Democratic caucus was a lot more pointed. Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema said in a statement, this should be a time of critical reflection and clear-eyed change. Not a time to rubber stamp the failed strategy of the past. We owe better to the Democratic people. Folks, today was the day Democrats were supposed to begin picking up the pieces from this month`s election. And it looks like they are arranging them in the exact same order. Joining me now is Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings. He`s a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee. Congressman Cummings, you heard my last statement there, in particular. Why did the Democratic leadership in the House deserve reelection?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Because, Chuck, we are in a very difficult time with Donald Trump about to enter the White House. I think the things that Democrats have stood for are under fierce attack. And we need people who are seasoned and prepared to address those issues.

We`ve got protect the gains that were made under the Obama administration. And you`ve got to keep in mind, Chuck, that in Nancy Pelosi, she is a proven leader. She`s the one that was able to bring a very diverse caucus together and to bring to fruition Dodd Frank and the Affordable Care Act. And I could go on and on. [17:05:03] And so, I think what we did today was to say, OK, we are going to stick with the leadership that we have. Of course, with Mr. Crowley and Sanchez, we have younger leaders coming up in our caucus. But for now, when you`ve got a strategist who is second to none like a standing lawyer and Jim Clyburn, I think we had to stick with the folks that we have.


TODD: I hear you and I -- but there`s a lot of people that listen to what you said right now and just think, what part of losing 63 states since 2010, collectively, makes you comfortable that these folks know what they`re doing?

Nancy Pelosi is a terrific fund-raiser but that hasn`t translated to House victories. And Senator (INAUDIBLE) knows how to move a -- move a bill on the floor, but when you`re in the minority, there aren`t any bills to move on the floor.

CUMMINGS: I think, clearly, we have to do some reevaluating with regard to our message and how we get that message out. We do, I believe, have to have a 50-state strategy. And we must address those issues in a more forceful way with regard to economics. But nobody is going to convince me that the party that created the Consumer Protection Bureau and warned it against foreclosures and things of that nature and created the Affordable Care Act is not there for the enter -- for the economic interest of Americans. Whether they be in the rust belt or whether they be on the east, west coast or in the south. And so, we`ve got a -- we`ve got to get our message out and get it out there very clearly. And we have to come up with practical solutions. But, at the same time, we`ve got to hold on to the progress that we`ve made overall for the American people. And we`ve got to remind the American people what we`ve stood for and what we`ve fought against.

TODD: You know, one of the things I noticed in your leadership is not one member of the leadership comes from a district that`s tough. Comes from a swing district. Knows what it`s like to even, you know, be in a state that is governed by the other party other than Jim Clyburn. So, --

CUMMINGS: Chuck, you know. Chuck, come on now.

TODD: -- I`m just asking you why -- that is what some --

CUMMINGS: Chuck. Chuck. TODD: Look, ask a Kyrsten Sinema how these members have led the party in a direction that makes her feel comfortable running as a Democrat in Arizona.

CUMMINGS: Chuck, first of all, you know about the gerrymandering and you know what --

TODD: Sure. CUMMINGS: -- Republicans have done in these states. There are not a whole lot of swing districts. You know that. And the fact is that we have played in those districts but we`ve got to play even -- in more. We`ve got to do more to get into those districts and let the American people know what we stand for. And I have all the faith and confidence that we`ll be able to do that. And one other thing that you seem to be passing by. If we look at this election that just took place, a lot of what happened with regard to disappointment with the number of seats we may have gained or the fact that we hope to have gotten control of the Senate had to do a lot with the Trump-Clinton race. You know, here Hillary Clinton was being attacked from ever side. She had Comey. She had Mr. Comey going against her. She had WikiLeaks. She had a whole lot of forces going against her. And that had a trickle-down effect on some of these other races. So, you cannot blame all of that on Nancy Pelosi, Jim Clyburn and Steny Hoyer.

TODD: All right, but let me ask you this. Pete Sessions represents a district that Hillary Clinton carried. The Democrats didn`t have a candidate against him. This is in Texas. She overperformed all over the place in Texas. What -- this feels as if -- that`s just one example. But is this a case where the leadership doesn`t even understand the electorate right now?

CUMMINGS: We`ve got to -- again, as I said before, we`ve got to play everywhere. We`ve got to have a 50-state strategy. And I think we`ve got to -- we need to broaden our hearings. Get out there and let the American people know what we stand for.

But, again, we -- the Democrats clearly feel the pain of the American people. But we -- but there are other things that we have to do, too. And that is to help them keep more of the dollars they are making in their pocket. And we need to remind them that we`ve been doing everything in our power to make that happen, while we`ve gone against forces on the Republican side that have then been doing just the opposite.

TODD: Let me ask you one final question I`ve asked a lot of Democrats. And I know that there`s a split among some activists on this question. When do you support things that Trump is for and when don`t you, even if it`s stuff that you like?

[17:10:02] You know, there`s this argument that says, oppose him on everything because it`s good for the party, even if there are things you want -- you would like to support personally. Where are you on this?

CUMMINGS: I am -- I am doing those things -- I want to do those things that are good for the country. Putting party aside but addressing issues that are good for the country.

For example, in infrastructure, I want to be helpful to President Trump with regard to infrastructure. But I also want to make sure that we don`t create these private projects whereby we`re getting super-duper tax breaks to the rich. And, at the same time, having private companies end up owning the roads and then charging high tolls to my constituents. So, we have to -- you know, there are going to be things that we can work together on. We`re not going to do what Mr. McConnell did with regard to President Obama, saying that his number one goal was to make sure he didn`t serve a second term. Democrats have had the reputation of trying to work things through and work them out and to compromise when it`s -- when it`s appropriate. I guarantee, we will be reasonable. We will work with this president. But, on the other hand, if there are issues that go against the things that we believe in, we will have to go against him toe to toe.

TODD: All right. Congressman Elijah Cummings. Never shy and I appreciate that, sir. Coming up --

CUMMINGS: All right, good to be with you.

TODD: Always good talking with you, sir. Thanks for sharing your views. We`re going to bring in the panel. Chris Cillizza, MSNBC Contributor, reporter at "The Washington Post" and founder of the FIX blog. National political reporter for Politico, Eliana Johnson. Yes, there`s a new tag line for her. And "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC Political Analyst, Eugene Robinson. By the way, Eliana, congratulations, new gig. Always fun having a new gig. So, you know what? I`ll give you first dibs here. Democrats, everybody is talking about change and they did the same thing they do all the time which reelect the same three. It`s a testament to Nancy Pelosi`s iron clad grip on this conference.

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: You know, it would be one thing, I think, if the leadership demonstrated that they understood there needed to be some change.

I was really struck by Nancy Pelosi`s comment after the leadership election when she said, you know, Tim Ryan couldn`t even carry his district for Hillary Clinton. And I kind of thought to myself, isn`t that the point? I mean, she`s from a district that Donald Trump carried and yet he managed to get elected.

TODD: Yes, right. JOHNSON: And (INAUDIBLE) from a district that skews Democratic by 34 points. And she doesn`t even seem to understand Donald Trump`s appeal nor the appeal of having somebody, anybody in leadership who is from a district that Trump won but can nonetheless win as a Democrat.

TODD: Eugene. I`m not surprised she won.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. TODD: I guess I`m surprised Tim Ryan was alone. ROBINSON: Well, -- TODD: Nobody challenged Clyburn. Why wasn`t there a --

ROBINSON: -- remember, Clyburn is appointed though.

TODD: No, you`re right. There was no -- there was no competition.

ROBINSON: Right. So, where were the other challengers? I mean, -- TODD: It should (INAUDIBLE.) ROBINSON: -- if you decide that Nancy Pelosi has had her day and it`s time for new leadership, is the answer Tim Ryan? And or is there some other answer out there? And we never got to see, basically. And so, you know, I had a long talk with leader Pelosi on Monday. And, you know, the point she makes is, you know, I`ve been here in the wilderness before. I did lead us out of the wilderness once. I can do it again. Now, clearly, the leaders -- there were things about the electorate that the Democrats did not -- did not get, right? They did not foresee. That a lot of people didn`t foresee, including many pollsters. And so, It`s kind of back to the drawing board on that. You know, but the idea that there has to be an economic message.

TODD: Duh.

ROBINSON: Duh, right? I mean, duh, which Tim Ryan keeps saying. That`s the same thing leader Pelosi was saying, too. So, they got that right. I mean, they understand --

JOHNSON: I don`t think the way out of the wilderness is going to be by poo-pooing people -- Democrats who couldn`t carry their districts for Hillary Clinton. And that attitude, I think, really --

ROBINSON: Well, but that`s kind of Nancy Pelosi -- I mean, that`s way she plays.


TODD: She`s tough. She`s tough.

CILLIZZA: What has -- what has happened, though -- I think a lot of people who don`t follow it closely. What happened, 63 seats lost, right?

TODD: Yes. CILLIZZA: Where 62 of them are moderate and conservatives, right? (CROSSTALK) CILLIZZA: The shrinking -- (CROSSTALK) TODD: Exactly. CILLIZZA: -- the shrinking of the caucus, in a weird way, has made her much stronger -- TODD: Yes. CILLIZZA: -- because it`s much more liberal.

ROBINSON: The caucus actually did grow a little bit this time. Grew at six seats.

CILLIZZA: Six seats. Six seats. But the point is if you look at the broad swath of 2008 to 2016, they`ve lost one out of every five states that they held in 2008 now. About 19 percent of the seats. Most of those are the Gene Taylors of the world, Mississippi. Seats that are -- TODD: Demographically moving away from them. CILLIZZA: And the thing that`s hard is I think we can focus on Pelosi, rightly so. She`s the leader. But I think you do have to take it in a trio. Pelosi, Clyburn, Hoyer; 76 -- [17:15:00] TODD: Yes. CILLIZZA: -- Pelosi, 77 Hoyer, 76 Clyburn. Both -- I looked this up this morning because I couldn`t remember. Both Pelosi and Hoyer were elected in the 1980s. I mean, you`ve got people who have just been there a long time. Paul Ryan is 46. Scalise is 51. Jim McCartney is 51. I mean, --

TODD: I`m going to go to Eugene with this because, I mean, literally, the Pelosi-Hoyer feud started before you and I were born, OK?


TODD: And I feel like that because she doesn`t want to let him be leader. ROBINSON: Yes. TODD: And he doesn`t want to give her -- ROBINSON: Exactly. TODD: -- the satisfaction of actually leaving. ROBINSON: So, they`re both going to hold on. TODD: So, they hold on for dear life. And look what we have. Don`t you think this had something do with it?

ROBINSON: Yes, I do, actually. It certainly -- you know, and you can`t look at this one election in a vacuum, right? And so, yes, of course it has something to do with that long history of Nancy versus (INAUDIBLE.)

CILLIZZA: But what has happened in this time? I mean, just look at the problem that this has created. I`ve written about this a bunch and we`ve talked about it. TODD: Yes. CILLIZZA: Who is the obvious next up? Becerra? I don`t know. There is less buzz around Xavier Becerra than -- TODD: (INAUDIBLE) you know, he`s 58. He not the young gun anymore.

CILLIZZA: And that`s my Pelosi point. Debbie Wassermann Schultz, not happening. Kristen Hong got sick of waiting and ran for the Senate.

TODD: Yes. CILLIZZA: Steve Israel, former head of the House (INAUDIBLE) he`s out. ROBINSON: Yes. CILLIZZA: I mean, you see what happens when you keep staying and keep staying and keep staying.

TODD: And, by the way, Tim Ryan, you know where he`s headed?

CILLIZZA: He`s running for governor. TODD: He`s going to run for governor.

CILLIZZA: That`s why he did it because he`s not afraid of her.

TODD: Well, no, he did it -- he did it so that Republicans can`t run the ad that says Nancy Pelosi Democrat --

ROBINSON: Exactly. Exactly. TODD: -- which they would run (INAUDIBLE.)

ROBINSON: So, he`s going to run for governor. Look, part of this is a consequence of losing all those state legislative seats over so many years. So, you don`t have these rising stars coming --

TODD: Yes. ROBINSON: -- out of the states who are bubbling, who are ready to come into Congress, who would`ve by now have come into Congress. Who would be moving up the leadership. Who would be the, you know, the stars of tomorrow. I mean, there`s a generation that`s missing.

JOHNSON: At this point, you know, Donald Trump is a spry 70 year old, you know, compared to the few --

TODD: That`s true. JOHNSON: -- top leaders in that group.


CILLIZZA: (INAUDIBLE) new generation.

TODD: 70 is the new 17. (INAUDIBLE.)

Coming up, what`s in a name? Trump says he is cutting ties with his company. But can he really separate himself from the businesses that bear his name?


TODD: Welcome back. Donald Trump will be in Indiana tomorrow to announce a deal with the air conditioner company, Carrier, that will keep close to a thousand, perhaps even more than a thousand according to Carrier, more than 1,000 jobs in Indiana rather than move them to Mexico. Obviously, a big win for the incoming administration and the incoming president for Trump supporters and for the thousand or so rust belt residents aren`t about to be put out of work. They`re still going to be some that are. But, of course, the devil may be in the details. United Technologies, which owns Carrier, makes billions in revenue from the federal government. The Pentagon is their largest customer. We don`t know what was agreed upon. And, you know, we`ve got to wait for that. [17:20:09] But what did Donald Trump promise? Did he overpromise? What might be the unintended (ph) consequences of this deal? As the University of Michigan`s Justin Wolfers tweeted, every savvy CEO will now threaten to ship jobs to Mexico and demand a payment to stay. The point is, it may not be a sustainable economic strategy. But, politically, this is a win for Trump. Unadulterated win. Promise made, promise kept. We`ve got to give him credit for that. We just have to be on the out -- the lookout for the long-term consequences of this type of transactional governing. We`ll be right back with the future of a different business, trust. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) TODD: Trump. It`s a brand. It`s a business. And, of course, it`s about to be a president. And that could be a problem. Today, Mr. Trump announced his intention to leave his sprawling business after ethics` watch dogs, journalists and members of Congress have been sounding the alarm over the significant conflicts of interest at the president-elect`s multinational empire. And a word of -- conflict of interest does not mean anyone is guilty of anything. It`s just that. It`s a conflict of interest. It puts people in, potentially, an impossible situation to pick between one part of their life or another part of their life. But what does leaving the business actually mean? When`s he going to do it? Who`s going to run it? And how does that free him from conflicts of interest? All of these are questions we don`t know. And guess what? Trump might not either. Trump is giving himself two weeks to, seemingly, figure it out before he holds a news conference on the subject. One would assume that if they knew what they were going to do, we`d know today. They may not know yet. He doesn`t seem, though, to think this actually that big of a deal. Because in a series of tweets this morning, Trump said, quote, "While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important as president to no in no way have a conflict of business with my various businesses. Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations." Here`s the big question though. Politics and ethics are all about perception. How does Trump leave the companies that bear his name? By the way, all 268 of them. And also, how does he leave behind the conflicts that they pose? Divestment? Liquidation? A fire sale? Trump has to act now if he wants to avoid a firestorm of conflicts later. Let me bring in, again, our Chief Legal Correspondent, and my colleague, Ari Melber. So, Ari, I want to just dive in on the one issue of why is it handing the company over to his kids? And he`s essentially saying, I am no longer an officer at any of the 268 companies that bear my name. I have no fiduciary responsibility whatsoever. I don`t get paid for them whatsoever. Why is handing it to the kids not enough under that scenario?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, handing management over means he is still the owner and that`s what matters the most. And that he would stand to benefit or potentially lose a great deal of money any time big things are going on.

Just think about the financial crisis. That was a situation where all sorts of companies, including very strong companies, financial firms that would never have thought to have been in danger, were looking imminent bankruptcy days away.

So, he could have his kids or someone else even further away from him than his kids independently running it. And a chunk of his fortune or his own personal money on the line. We know he has personally guaranteed loans before. His entire future could still be hanging in the balance. And he`s be thinking about that, as well as the public interest of what`s happening to the government and the markets, if he`s -- if he`s the owner. And we spoke to several legal experts today who say the ownership is the issue, Chuck.

TODD: So, is it possible then -- so, you`re saying, if his kids become the owner and he`s no longer owner, then that wouldn`t say he was a cabinet secretary. Would that violate the conflict of interest law?

MELBER: If he put all of the ownership to somebody else, then I don`t think he would be as much in the cross hairs of conflict of interest because the future fate of that company, as a property interest, wouldn`t be his.

[17:25:09] What we have from the tweets, though, and I`ve interviewed several people about it today, is the mainstream interpretation is he`s talking about who runs the company, not who owns it. A divestment would mean selling the companies or, for starters, perhaps, selling the ones in direct business with the U.S. government like the post office hotel and other companies that are in direct business, perhaps, or negotiations with major foreign countries. It could be a process. But I don`t think he`s indicated anything like that. He is basically saying he`s going to own the stuff but spend less time on it. Well, guess what? You don`t need to be a lawyer to know the president is a busy job. He was going to spend less time on the companies either way. I would say, follow the ownership, not the meeting structure, not the other -- the other theater.

TODD: Ari Melber, our Chief Legal Correspondent at MSNBC. Always a pleasure, sir. Thank you.

MELBER: Thanks, Chuck. TODD: Let me bring in the panel. Chris Cillizza, Eliana Johnson, Eugene Robinson. Eliana, the Trump business is one of his children. I say this, like, he cares that much about it. He is -- you know, other than divestment, I don`t know how he`ll never let his mind wonder to it.

JOHNSON: Yes, I think that`s exactly -- yes, I can agree.

TODD: (INAUDIBLE) and I say this, good for him. He loves his business.

JOHNSON: That`s exactly right. And even if he does turn the ownership over to his children, I think that still, potentially, presents conflicts of interest given how closely he brought his children into the governing process. And how the chances (INAUDIBLE) that some of them may be directly involved in decision making.

I also think what we`ve seen so far is some foreign countries, without him even being asked, making decisions that benefit Trump businesses. And the only thing that would really dissolve these conflicts is for him to liquidate the assets of the Trump business. TODD: Right. JOHNSON: It`s, kind of, the only thing he can do.

TODD: Eugene, we were talking two months before the election.

ROBINSON: Yes. TODD: Six weeks before the election. There`s no way Hillary Clinton would be president and the Clinton Foundation has to be -- it has to be shut down or, like, completely handed over. No Clinton can be involved. ROBINSON: Completely handed over, exactly. TODD: No Clinton can be involved. And we were talking about a charity.

ROBINSON: Yes, right. A charity that saves millions of lives every year as opposed to a private business.

TODD: But foreign governments did write them checks not knowing whether --


ROBINSON: This is the problem that is not going go away.

TODD: Right. ROBINSON: And it`s a problem that the president-elect is going to have to manage and had better manage carefully because it can jump up and bite him. But he`s not going to divest. It would take years for him to divest in any case. If he -- if he said today, I`m going to sell everything, it would take him years to unravel the -- those 268 businesses.

TODD: There is no doubt, this is complicated.

ROBINSON: These real estate assets. Are you are selling -- you know, are you selling at the top or the bottom of the market? What country are you in? It`s not going to happen.

CILLIZZA: So much of what -- you talked about this. So much of it is not necessarily things he owns, but things that he has lent his name to for a sum of money. So, it`s hard. Do you tell people whose companies just have an affiliation with his name, you`re going to have to sell? They`re not going to sell.

TODD: No, and that introduces another problem that is the secure -- and, look, do Trump properties get treated like U.S. buildings? U.S. buildings overseas, U.S. government buildings, because they`re targets.

CILLIZZA: Like, this is -- (INAUDIBLE) wrote a great piece about this. Read it. Because he talked to security experts who said, look what they`ve done at Trump Tower. That`s one tower. That one building. But the Trump whatever in Singapore, how do they -- (CROSSTALK) TODD: And, by the way, some of these hotels overseas, Trump doesn`t own. He sold them. (INAUDIBLE.) That`s all.

ROBINSON: Exactly. And there are -- there are other places where there are actual partnerships. He may have a stake or whatever. And where I --

(CROSSTALK) TODD: Yes. ROBINSON: Where I used to live, like a day or two after the election, suddenly the permit for a new Trump tower downtown got untangled from the bureaucracy and came through. TODD: Really?

ROBINSON: So, then -- yes. Imagine that, right? It`s a miracle.

CILLIZZA: Well, that`s a coincidence on the timing, Eugene. ROBINSON: So, it`s going to be -- there`s going to be a big building with Donald Trump`s name on it in downtown Buenos Aires about seven or eight blocks from where the Israeli embassy got blown up for example. I mean, so, you know, these are -- these are places, often, that are soft targets.

TODD: And Republicans, you`ve seen them blindly say they know they made a (INAUDIBLE) they know they make a mistake in the first years of the Bush administration looking like they were just rubber stamping anything Bush did. And it lost -- congressional Republicans lost their independence.

And they want to get -- they want to keep their independence this time. Trump may not have a lot of friends in Congress on this one, as many as he thinks.

JOHNSON: I actually think it remains to be seen how much they want to keep their independence. They ended up rubber stamping a lot of things because 911 happened. And there was an instinct to rally around a wartime president.

But I`m not sure. I think the infrastructure package will be one huge test on where the freedom caucus stands on that.

And so, I think the ethics matters and some of the big spending will test, you know, how conservative are some of the ideological peers in this administration. CILLIZZA: First of this, he`s not a natural conservative.

TODD: Right.

CILLIZZA: . I mean, you know, he positioned himself.


CILLIZZA: . policy.

TODD: Right. And one wonders is that make it easier for some of these conservatives to say we should be ethical watchdog too. All right. Thank you for this. We`ll go on later in the show. Still ahead, the illusion of isolationism.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley explained why Donald Trump`s America first strategy and perhaps Barack Obama`s strategy of staying less involved in the middle east is leading the U.S. down a dangerous path. We`ll be right back.


TODD: Still ahead at MTP Daily. Powerhouse duo. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley joined me on the crisis they see that the Trump administration will be facing overseas. And how a return to isolationism is not their answer. But first, here`s Hampton Pearson for CNBC Market Wrap.

HAMPTON PEARSON, REPORTER, CNBC: Thanks, Chuck. It was a solid month on the markets. The Dow gained about two points today. For November, it`s up over 5 percent. The S&P fell for the month, is up more than 3 percent. The Nasdaq slid by 56 but gained 2.6 percent for the month of November.

OPEC announced it will cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day starting in January, oil surged over 9 percent to close at 49.21 a barrel on that news. And companies added 216,000 jobs this month, more than economists expected. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.


TODD: Welcome back to MTP Daily. As Donald Trump continues to mull his decision over who will be his secretary of state, there are still a lot of questions about what -- what is the Trump doctrine? What`s the Trump foreign policy going to look like?

Throughout the campaign, Trump was full of contradictions. On the one hand, he talked about America first. Basically a form of isolationism. It seemed like that`s where we were headed. Other times, he talked about aggressive intervention when it came to things like bombing the heck out of ISIS.

A new report from the Atlantic Council said it is necessary to make changes to U.S. strategy in the middle east and it concludes that isolationism specifically in that region is a dangerous illusion.

Joining me now are the co-chairs of the Atlantic Council`s middle east strategy task force. Former secretary of state under President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and President Bush 43`s former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Welcome to both of you.

This is framed as a bipartisan critique of essentially both the Obama foreign policy and what you think is where Trump`s foreign policy is headed. Secretary Albright, I`ll start with you. Is that a fair assessment?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, it`s bipartisan, but I wouldn`t say it is a critique. What it really is, is looking forward at a part of the world that has been dominated by outside powers that is creating -- has a crisis -- what we said, it`s a crisis of the middle east that is now coming out of the middle east and affecting U.S. national security interests.

And what we`ve been doing, we spent a lot of time on this is, really consulting with experts in the region, going to the region, and doing everything we can to understand what`s happening there. And approaching it with some humility and saying that we have to have a long-term approach to the region and not just do fire drills.

TODD: All right. Stephen Hadley, basically, I feel like the report is saying our intervention has not been good, therefore we need to intervene. I`m being a little facetious here. Your prescription is more intervention, not military intervention, but more involvement when the American public is going whoa. We want less.

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, one of the things we found and Madeline said damned if you do, damned if you don`t. What we heard in the middle east is in the Bush, you did too much. Under Obama, you did too little. Why can`t you Americans get it just right?

TODD: Who got it right? Have we ever -- I can make a case. We have never gotten middle east right.

HADLEY: What we are trying to do is look at the history under two administrations. What did we learn? Listen to the region in terms of what they wanted.

And we think we have come up to a formulation which involves us as outside powers helping to resolve the civil wars with unlimited intervention, not the kind of thing we did in 2003, and at the same time supporting efforts within the region to empower the people and to invest in the human capital that in the end of the day is the future of the middle east. That`s our prescription.

TODD: Donald Trump has the view, Stephen Hadley, of essentially why are we involved? Are we too involved? We don`t know who we are helping. Why are we fighting the Russians on this? Sounds a bad guy but so are the other people and what Syria matter that much anyway? How would you respond to that?

HADLEY: Donald Trump said we have been too slow to get rid of ISIS and al Qaeda, too slow to dismantle a khalifah (ph). We think that`s right. One of things we recommend is to expand and accelerate what we`re doing to go after ISIS, to go after al Qaeda.

One thing we do think is that will change the dynamics on the ground, give us leverage on the ground in the way that Secretary Kerry said, he did not have enough leverage to get a peace agreement. They also talked about checking what Iran is doing in the region, activity in the region.

We think that is way of putting the Americans into the picture and we will both check Iran and Russia. We will also, we think, increase the leverage to be able to negotiate some kind of settlement.

Donald Trump has said that the countries, our friends and allies ought to do more. Well, that`s an essence of our report, that the friends and allies in the region are prepared to do more, want to lead, we should help them lead and help them succeed. TODD: Let me go to a quick few other things today. John Brennan, CIA director, said it would be a mistake to rip up the Iran deal.

Just in general, Stephen Hadley, if you were here to give advice to President Trump, the climate deal, the Iran deal, deals that previous President Obama argues in the interview in the Rolling Stone, any deal that President Bush signed, I felt as if I had to continue it. Maybe I fought to change some of it, but continue it.

Is that your advice to President Trump?

HADLEY: One of the things we found early in the Bush administration, we said we don`t like the Kyoto agreement. Sort of ripped it up. Of course everybody said fine, what`s now? And we didn`t have anything to put in its place.

And I think even some of the critics of the Iran nuclear deal have come out and said, actually ripping it up is not the right starting point. The question is, can you keep Iran in the deal? Can you insist Iran, respects its terms? And can you still deal with Iranians disrupting activity in the region? What they`re doing in Yemen and Iraq and Syria?

That`s what I think many people say is, you know, we got to find a way to deal with Iran`s activity. That`s why in our report we talked about deterring and containing Iran even while we reach out to Iran where we can.

TODD: A question for you, Secretary Albright. Your advise to Mitt Romney about questions to ask. If he decides that he`s open to this job of secretary of state, explain the important relationship a secretary of state has to have with national security advisor.

And how in sync do they have to be for the relationship to work? I`m not getting into personalize but in this case, Mike Flynn, what would be your advice to Mitt Romney about what questions to ask and what to know about that relationship before accepting?

ALBRIGHT: Well, there is always the joke about the fact that the secretary of state and the national security adviser never got along unless Henry Kissinger had both jobs at the same time.

TODD: See, I knew it, that`s why I`m making you answer this question and not you.


ALBRIGHT: But I think it`s an essential relationship. It doesn`t mean that you have to agree on everything. In fact, I believe that a really good national security adviser welcomes what happens in a principal`s meeting where you will disagree. That`s what this is all about.

You don`t want a bunch of people around whether you are secretary of state or the national security adviser that all say yes, sir or yes, ma`am. I think -- and so the relationship is important. You can argue, but they are difficult.

The most important relationship however is the one with the president. You know, you have to be able to feel that you can call up or the president can call you in the middle of the night or, you know, that you can have private time with the president and that is the relationship that is essential. TODD: You didn`t run into that problem because Connie Rice already had a separate personal relationship with President George W. Bush.

HADLEY: Look, the most.

TODD: But I`m guessing Colin Powell, what kind of relationship.

HADLEY: The most successful secretaries of state are those I think who do have that personal relationship with the president, who understand that their effectiveness internationally will be dependent on how close their relationship is with the president. Because at the end of the day, it is the president is the strategist for any administration.

TODD: All right. Connie Rice is very close to President Bush. You are very close to President Clinton. That matters a lot.

ALBRIGHT: Absolutely. There is no question.

TODD: All right. I`m gonna end it here. I can keep going. We can go around the world. But this was great. Madeleine Albright and Stephen Hadley, always pleasure to have you both, thank you.

ALBRIGHT: Thanks, Chuck.

HADLEY: Nice to be here.

TODD: More importantly, I did go on with them. I taped that earlier this afternoon and there is more. We do a deep dive on Syria that you won`t want to miss. We will have that on our website. Up ahead, in The Lid, from foe to friend, Mitt Romney`s 180 on Donald Trump. Stay tuned.


TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with something that affects every one of you who is watching right now. It happens to me in the morning, it happens to me in the afternoon, and at night while I`m asleep, e-mail is up in the air and it`s happening right now.

E-mail, make it stop. Tonight, right now, no exaggeration. We will give you the number here. 39,990 unread e-mails. It`s an addiction, folks. People e- mail all the time even while being interviewed on T.V. Don`t believe me? Watch our morning show on this cable channel. They e-mail while they talk, anyway.

The thing that was supposed to make work easier has become a stone around our necks. So, what should I do? I can give up e-mail, but that`s not practical. I can try to respond. But you know what? What happens when you respond? More e-mail. I`m ready to declare e-mail bankruptcy. I`ve got all my e-mails and start fresh. That will work for about a day.

But is there a larger solution? Here`s a radical idea. A federal tax on every reply all e-mail. Every one of us seen our inbox choked with a parade of who cares reply all messages. If you tax something, you usually get less of it, right?

So if people were taxed for every person they reply all to, one of two things would happen. Either e-mail traffic would decrease dramatically or we would have enough money to rebuild infrastructure without touching or adding to the national debt. President-elect Trump, to help us from our e- mail nightmare, your move.



MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters.

He continues with a message of inclusion and bringing people together and his vision is something which obviously connected with the American people in a very powerful way.


TODD: Wow! What a difference eight months and a potential cabinet position can make. Time for The Lid. Gene? Look. Mitt Romney is a patriot. I get it, but I don`t get it.

ROBINSON: If I ran into that guy, I would say who are you and what have you done with Mitt Romney?

TODD: Or the other guy? I don`t know.

ROBINSON: It`s an evil twin. Look. I don`t get this. One of the things I don`t get about Mitt Romney thinking about becoming secretary of state, I said this before is, the two words, Muslim ban, right? Which Romney has strong principled objection to anything that has a whiff of that, right? And it became more.

TODD: He is a mormon.

ROBINSON: Exactly.

TODD: The republicans broke with Trump quick were mormons.

ROBINSON: This is a huge issue. So even if it is extreme vetting as a cover for what is de facto on Muslim ban or indeed if one assumes Trump intends to go through with anything along those lines. I don`t see how Mitt Romney could be a part of that.

TODD: I think I should -- I want to give credit to the right person. I think it was Matthew Dowd, a former Bush person over there at brand X. I think he tweeted something like, Mitt Romney looks like flip flopper again. Now, is he a patriot or a flip flopper? It depends on your point of view.

CILLIZZA: The only -- I`ve heard a lot of views but they basically go into two theory camps. One is, he is a tremendous human who is able to say, I might even think Donald Trump is a little bit dangerous and that`s why I`m doing this, to put myself in between him and the world, that one thing.

The other is, he is the most ambitious dude ever and from the race against Teddy Kennedy to the governor`s race to the presidential race, positions on abortion and all these things. That the consistent thing there is, his ambition wins out when running into principle.

I tend to think, I`m going to go on the former, I know him a little bit. I`m not willing to dismiss him as just like a, you know, ambitious to a fault but those are the only two options that`s make any sense. TODD: Are we being unfair here, Eliana?

JOHNSON: No, I don`t so. But I would say I think that given what we know about Mitt Romney, he is somebody who deserves the benefit of the doubt. And the explanation would be I think he is a patriot and somebody who has demonstrated himself to be a real public servant. I would guess that he wants -- he sees the opportunity to moderate some of Trump`s excesses. And if he thinks he can do so, he would like to do so.

CILLIZZA: What about that though -- what`s hardest to Gene`s point -- what`s hardest -- let`s say Donald Trump in these conversations, the Muslim ban, extreme vetting. If he says on Russia, yeah, you know, because I mean on Russia, Romney is.


ROBINSON: . question, you know.

CILLIZZA: . given what we know about Trump candidate and politician, it would be hard to assume if you`re Mitt Romney. Well, he did tell me at that dinner we had. Trump could change his mind. That`s what is difficult. What are you signing on to Mitt Romney has to be going into this with his eyes open about Trump.

JOHNSON: I think because Trump is not a details guy that the people who signed on with him like Mike Pence see a considerable chance to shape his views.

TODD: I`m with her. I think a lot of people think that.

JOHNSON: . is that secretary of state who, you know, historically who have not seen eye to eye with the president have not fared very well. So I think in this particular position.



ROBINSON: Russia for example, Russia and Syria. Trump is very clear. We should cooperate with Russia.

TODD: Yeah, 100 percent.

ROBINSON: . and get rid of ISIS. And Romney has entirely the opposite position. How do they reconcile that? TODD: That`s right. It feels like Romney is getting played. I don`t know. We`ll see. You guys are great, appreciate it. After the break, the billionaire`s boys and girls club. Mitt Romney if he gets picked, would be one of the unusual ones so far. He is not a billionaire. We`ll be right back.


TODD: Well, in case you missed it, we`re going to have a billionaire president, Donald Trump. And in case you missed it, Donald Trump does like fellow billionaires. Because in case you missed it, he named a billionaire as his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross. In case you missed it, he named a billionaire as education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Do you sense a theme?

In case you missed it, he named deputy commerce secretary, Todd Ricketts, who is a son of a billionaire. Named the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who reportedly made billions from vets during the financial crash. He is considering Mitt Romney for secretary of state who is just worth $250 million according to estimates.

Yes, this could be a cabinet one Mitt Romney, the guy with a car elevator, is just another guy with a car elevator. The point is, it`s fascinating. Trump is appointing people he is familiar with. The people he is familiar with, billionaires. We`ll see if these changes go forward.

That`s all for tonight. "WITH ALL DUE RESPECT" will start.