Show: MTP DAILY Date: December 2, 2016 Guest: Michael Steele, Ruth Marcus, Dan Balz, David Ignatius, Aditi Roy, Michael Kranish
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Friday.
Words matter or do they? Tonight, but seriously, folks, why Donald Trump says you shouldn`t take Donald Trump at his word. Except when you should.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was a euphemism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: The general selection. First Flynn. Then Mattis. Are there more generals to come? How many generals can fit in the Trump cabinet?
And did President-elect Trump ever plan to pick Mitt Romney for state or was it all payback to humiliate a former foe?
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
It`s Friday. Good evening. I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and welcome to MTP DAILY.
There are certain things presidents say that you never forget. Read my lips, no new taxes. If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Or how about this one? I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
Folks, a huge way we, the media, ethics, watchdogs, oversight bodies, Congress and voters hold presidents accountable is based on what they say.
Yet, right now, we are being told those rules do not apply any more. We are being told not to take the president literally. I`m not making this up. Literally, don`t take him, the words he says, seriously.
So, how`s Trump`s former -- that`s how Trump`s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, speaking at a post-election panel at Harvard said yesterday. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: This is the problem with the media, you guys took everything Donald Trump said so literally. And the problem with that, is the American people didn`t. And they understood it.
They understood that sometimes when you have a conversation with people, whether it`s around the dinner table or it`s at the bar or it`s where -- wherever it is, you might say something and maybe don`t have all the facts to back it up, but that`s how the American people live.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TODD: Folks, it`s not just Corey or Trump supporters, the President-elect himself is basically telling us not to take him at his word. In fact, he did it yesterday when he toured a Carrier plant in Indiana to tout an agreement to save roughly a thousand jobs there.
Trump said he was spurred to act because a factory worker told "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS" that Trump made a promise while campaigning in Indiana. Well, here`s that promise from April.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m going to bring jobs back. We are bringing jobs back to our country. We`re not going to let Carrier leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: That`s a pretty clear statement. And if you take Trump at his word. But yesterday, Trump warned us, don`t do that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And then, they played my statement and I said, Carrier will never leave, but that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like other all companies from here on in. I actually said, I didn`t make it when they played it, I said I did make it but I didn`t mean it quite that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: OK. So, how do you decipher President-elect Donald Trump? Some Trump supporters, like billionaire Peter Thiel, say they have the answer.
And as far as we can tell, that answer may actually have first been coined right here on MTP DAILY back in August when we interviewed Republican strategist Brad Todd. And just so you know, no relation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD TODD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The voters take Donald Trump seriously as a candidate but don`t take him literally. The press takes Donald Trump literally but they don`t take him seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Anyway, we thought we`d give Brad a little credit there. Everybody`s been saying Peter Thiel. He actually did it last August.
Ask yourself, though, how do you take a president seriously if you don`t take him literally? He`s going to command a nuclear arsenal in 48 days.
So, with that logic, how do you interrupt anything Trump says? Does that mean we shouldn`t take him at his word when tells "The New York Times" that he disavows white nationalists or when he says stuff like this about racists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They don`t do it. That`s terrible. I`m going to bring this country together.
LESLIE STAHL, HOST, CBS "60 MINUTES": They are harassing Latinos, Muslims.
TRUMP: I am so saddened to hear that and I say stop it. If it -- if it helps. I will say this and I`ll say it right to the camera, stop it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Look, this is a problem that`s going to frame the Trump presidency and by extension the future of American politics. Seriously, literally and figuratively.
Let`s dive right into this topic tonight with tonight`s panel because we have a great one. Dan Balz is "Washington Post" chief correspondent. Ruth Marcus is columnist for "The Washington Post." And Michael Steele is an MSNBC Political Analyst, former RNC chairman and a subscriber to "The Washington Post."
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, RNC: Ha ha.
RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Appreciate it.
STEELE: I still get the ink on my fingers. Good. This even goes to there is a comedian, a Muslim comedian who just wrote up something for BuzzFeed.
Apparently, he was sitting next to Eric Trump and he asked him about the Muslim ban. And he asked him about the Muslim ban and even Eric Trump, he`s quoting him, he`s a comedian, saying, oh, you know, don`t take all of that literally.
Dan Balz, this is a challenge for all of us at this table.
[17:05:02] DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Of course, it is. I mean, we are in a business in which we seek the truth. And we try to hold people accountable for things they say they will do or don`t do.
And I don`t know how we begin to judge. I mean, I think that all we can do is continue to go with the standards that we`ve applied for many, many years which is if somebody says something, particularly the president of the United States, we assume he or she means it.
TODD: By the way, we didn`t always take him literally when said things. When he called Obama the founder of ISIS, plenty of people, including somebody who`s our colleague here at MSNBC off and on, Hugh Hewitt.
Here is an excerpt of a member of the media -- conservative media here, Hugh Hewitt, not to taking him literally but seriously. Listen to this Q and A with Donald Trump.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: He is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS, OK? He`s the founder.
HUGH HEWITT, HOST, THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW: I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum. He lost the (INAUDIBLE.)
TRUMP: No, I meant he`s the founder of ISIS.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TODD: So, Ruth, that`s the thing.
MARCUS: I need to collect myself here.
TODD: By the way, three days later, he said, what are you talking about? I never meant it that way.
MARCUS: Well, that`s why I actually love this Carrier exchange because it was this moment where Donald Trump`s first instinct was to say, I never said that. And then, he was confronted with the tape of Donald Trump saying that.
And so, his second instinct was to say, well, OK, I said it but it was a euphemism. Look it up, Mr. President-elect, not a euphemism kind of just wasn`t really being serious.
And now, he`s managed to do it. And so, I guess he can tell us that no harm there.
But it is going to be a constant, constant challenge for us in the news media. We`re use to -- you know, we`ve had presidents before who said things that aren`t exactly true.
Ronald Reagan was famous for telling stories that might not have been exact. You know, they might have been a little more Hollywood than they were facts.
But this is different and it also comes at a time when we`ve this explosion of fake news and we`ve got people getting our news in silos. So, it`s at a very dangerous time. We need to do our jobs.
TODD: But, Michael, I mean, we went -- there was a -- people had a lot of fun reading the Pakistani readout --
STEELE: Yes. Yes.
TODD: But this is a case where the Pakistani prime minister is taking the words literally in diplomacy. Words are taken literally.
STEELE: They matter.
TODD: They do matter.
STEELE: Yes, they do.
TODD: This is going to be the collision here that he`s got to deal with.
STEELE: And it`s going to be a serious one because Donald Trump is going to say something off the cuff that some world leader is going to take seriously and literally. And it could be a real problem on an international level.
But you touched on something at the end of that clip that I think is the most important. On matters that really cut to the bone for a lot of Americans, race, for example, would he believe you? Can we believe you now when you say that you are -- you`re not these things and that you support these other things or you don`t support that?
You can`t pick and choose here and that`s the problem. Donald Trump is trying to pick and choose when he wants to be serious about something and not serious about something.
It`ll be a problem on the foreign -- international stage and it will clearly be a problem here on the domestic stage. Not just for the media but for a lot of his supporters out there who are going to get whip-sawed between today`s opinion --
STEELE: -- and tomorrow`s fact.
MARCUS: And, you know, this is the man who told us that he knew how to be presidential and when to be presidential. And that readout of the call with Pakistan was really appalling.
Maybe it just -- he needs to come with a warning, do not take our president literally or seriously. Speak to a grown-up lower down the food chain.
BALZ: I think one of the problems is he`s used to speaking in that readout of the Pakistani call. It`s the way Donald Trump speaks about all kind of things.
TODD: Absolutely. By the way, when you talk with him. Dan, you`re great. I think you`re fantastic. And then, literally, over here. Hate the media. Can`t stand them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
TODD: We`ve all had these experiences with him personally and did he it with the Pakistani prime minister.
BALZ: But as Ruth suggests and Michael suggests, you can`t do that as president of the United States. I mean, you are in a different position and you have to -- you have to be able to make that pivot alone.
MARCUS: Is there somebody who is going to tell him that?
STEELE: Well, (INAUDIBLE) there are people inside who are telling him that now. And the problem is does he take it and internalize it in a way that it manifests itself in the next conversation he has or the next public gathering that he has. And so far, the answer to that is, no, maybe not so much.
MARCUS: It really doesn`t seem like his people are telling him that because they`re just parroting back what he says at these forums.
TODD: Yes. I have to play for you another clip. It just came -- this is one of his paid supporters, I guess, that appears on another channel. But listen to what Scottie Nell Hughes, who is, like I said, a paid person by CNN to be a Trump supporter. Listen to what she said about facts.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES: There`s no such think, unfortunately, anymore of facts. And so, Mr. Trump`s tweet amongst a certain crowd, a large -- a large part of the population are truth.
[17:10:05] When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some fact -- and his -- amongst him and his supporters and people believe they have facts to back that up.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TODD: Listen to that construction there at the end. People believe that they have facts to back it up.
STEELE: And, therefore, I will say it whether or not I can materialize those facts.
BALZ: Well, I was getting e-mails and calls long before Donald Trump made this accusation about illegal voting and I`m sure you did, too.
TODD: Oh, yes.
BALZ: That the reason she was ahead in the popular vote was because millions of illegal undocumented workers had voted.
MARCUS: And -- but when you get the toxic intersection of that stuff bubbling up in this fake news set of venues, and then the president-elect amplifying it, that`s when you`re in the danger zone.
BALZ: You asked if somebody is around him who can stop it or will tell him no. At the Harvard conference this week on the campaign, Corey Lewandowski was asked about one of the -- I can`t remember whether it was Judge Curiel or another episode where Trump kind of went off the rails. And he said that he had advised Trump not to do that and Trump went out and did it anyway.
STEELE: That`s my (ph) point.
TODD: It does seem as if the only effective way to put the small chain governor on him is to be a supporter of that criticizes him in public. That`s what it seems like Newt Gingrich has decided to --
TODD: play that role.
STEELE: Right. Yes. And, you know, Newt figures, OK, I`ll spend, 15, 20 hours in the dog House.
STEELE: But I`ll be --
TODD: He might listen.
STEELE: He might listen. That`s exactly right.
TODD: It does.
TODD: You feel like Kellyanne Conway did that during the campaign ever once in a while, seemed to want to send him a message via an appearance on a Sunday show.
MARCUS: But we`re laughing here, and I`m sounding more perturbed than usual, but it`s not a laughing matter. It`s a really serious matter that Donald Trump is going to be the president of the United States.
It`s really incumbent on all of us as Americans to want him to be the best Donald Trump and the best president he can be. I might disagree with him on a lot of things but he cannot conduct himself in this immature and undisciplined way.
TODD: I guess my question is, when are others -- you know, others in a -- are others in the -- in the -- in the political supporters of his -- I`m not saying I`m sure Democrats aren`t going to do this with him. But are Republicans going to say, cut it out?
STEELE: Well, yes. They`ll have to because let`s take infrastructure, for example. If the president really wants to push through a trillion dollar infrastructure bill, the House may be reticent. The Senate may be reticent. They are going to expect some kind of accommodation.
And if he gets over his skis (ph) on the facts about the situation, it then puts them in a bigger box. It then binds them with the base that maybe what the president is wanting. It binds them with their donors and other supporters who may not.
So, yes, you`ve got to be very careful. Look, when you`ve got all three, the White House, the Senate and the House, this is the -- this is the ballet dance of ballet dances.
You`ve got to
TODD: The Republican Party, one of the reasons why they`re in charge of the House and the Senate is they got to run an ad that used PolitiFact as award for Barack Obama for "Lie of the Year" when it came (INAUDIBLE.)
And they ran -- in 2012, they ran some of those ads, I think. Or excuse me, 2014 they ran those ads and they ran them again in 2016. Dan Balz?
BALZ: Yes, but we are in a different place with Donald Trump. I mean, that`s one of the things we`ve seen for as long as he was a candidate. And now that he`s president-elect, he operates under different rules and he gets away with things that others haven`t.
I agree with Ruth. I mean, we have to stay vigilant. And I think, in some ways, the more people press him, the more he`ll dig in and resist.
TODD: Yes, let me ask this, though. How much of this is them baiting us? Bannon in his ear, going, yes, go ahead and keep doing it. The press will go crazy. They`ll start looking like schoolmarms and acting like schoolmarms.
And, you know, we`re running around going, poor Pinocchio`s pants are on fire. And, you know, middle America is going, well, the media is always complaining. And then it becomes worse.
MARCUS: Maybe but what`s our alternative?
And I think it`s -- I just want to emphasize that it`s not just the post- truth situation that`s going on. But when you watched that rally in Cincinnati yesterday, where he does everything that -- and because it`s not just that Bannon is spinning him up or others are spinning him up, it`s that he has a great time doing it.
So, you could see him enjoying himself. So, it went back to the whole schmear that he used to do.
MARCUS: Yes, sorry. I can`t --
MARCUS: Hostile press. And he didn`t look so unhappy when they did the Hillary lock her up chant. And going back through the polls in the wake of everything else.
TODD: He didn`t look happy but he didn`t do anything about it.
STEELE: No, he did not.
TODD: That was a moment that I thought a very gigantic missed opportunity.
TODD: Saying now, now, now, campaigns over. And he didn`t do that.
MARCUS: But he raised it. It`s not just that he didn`t do it.
TODD: I know.
MARCUS: He brought the subject up.
STEELE: But the thing that he wants to keep those little vinyas (ph), those little moments out there. So, he does not mind when he hears the occasional lock her up, because it tells him that, yes, my reality T.V. audience is still with me on these things.
[17:15:07] BALZ: Well, we can`t forget. I mean, he is -- he is an outsider anti-establishment candidate.
BALZ: And all of this -- all of this that he does, which is to stir up his base of support, is aimed to put the establishment on notice on the defensive.
And, as you suggest, if everybody becomes a school marm about it, he`ll be quite happy with that.
TODD: (INAUDIBLE) establishment. People that care about facts have bias.
MARCUS: He told us on election night he wanted to bind the wounds of division. Could somebody bring back that Donald Trump we saw for 20 seconds?
TODD: I will just leave with this for folks that I hope are watching for information and not affirmation which is to quote our friend Matthew Doubt (ph). He made a wonderful tweet. Too many on social media go to it for affirmation and not information.
And where he is an affirmation guy --
TODD: -- and his people, right now, are affirmation consumers.
You guys are staying around the hour which I`m happy about.
Coming up though is how many generals can you fit into one cabinet? The Trump cabinet that is.
And up next, we have these recounts going. How are they going? Do they matter? We`ll be back.
TODD: Welcome back. We got a quick update for you on a couple of election recounts. First, even though they`ve already certified their results, it appears Michigan is going to go ahead with their presidential recount. That was, of course, requested by green party candidate, Jill Stein.
State officials today did not approve an attempt from Trump`s team to block the Jill Stein backed recount effort. If there is no court action, then the recount is scheduled to begin sometime between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning of next week.
And in North Carolina, it seems like we`re going to have to have to wait a little longer to find out officially who won the governor`s race.
According to our NBC affiliate, election officials in Durham County say they need more time to finish a state ordered recount of more than 90,000 ballots. They`re asking for the deadline to be finished (ph) in that recount and have it pushed back until Wednesday.
By the way, Roy Cooper, the Democrat in that race, has a 10,000-vote lead. The largest recount overturn was a 6,000-vote margin. We`ll be right back with the potential problem as Donald Trump stocks his cabinet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to appoint mad dog Mattis as our secretary of defense. They say he`s the closest thing to General George Patton that we have and it`s about time. It`s about time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Well, Donald Trump made a surprise personnel announcement, at least a surprise according to his own team, confirming weeks of speculation on secretary of defense. Retired Marine General James Mattis, nick name mad dog, is a four -- retired four-star general. He retired in 2013.
Mattis led U.S. Central Command, CENTOM, which oversees all military operations in the Middle East and southwest Asia. Because he`s only three years out of uniform, Mattis will need a congressional labor to serve as defense secretary. And, by the way, that`s both the House and the Senate. This is not just a Senate deal on this one.
And Mattis isn`t the only general who President-elect Trump is surrounding himself with these days. He already named retired Lieutenant General and fierce loyalist, Mike Flynn, to be his national security advisor.
And then, of course, retired General David Petraeus is in the running, apparently, for secretary of state. And so is retired General John Kelly.
Folks, even though Trump said, during the campaign, that he knows more about ISIS than the generals, he certainly seems to be leaning on a lot of them during this transition. The question is, is there a point of too many generals, as far as Congress is concerned?
Let me bring in my next guest, "Washington Post" columnist and associate editor, David Ignatius who understands why we have these laws.
But let`s go into that because what makes our democracy different from so many others is how we do -- where we allow the military to be in our governing system and where we don`t
So, explain the civilian control idea.
DAVID IGNATIUS, COLUMIST AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": We, since our founding, have been wary of giving too much power to any executive. It was a fear that a general in Washington becoming president would have too much power.
Interestingly, one of the people who frightened many political officials as a too political too powerful general is General Patton. During World War II, General Douglas MacArthur, another favorite of Donald Trump`s was seen as way too political a general, interfering with civilian control.
We`re now, it appears, assuming that General Mattis gets the waiver, going to have a very prominent retired Marine general as secretary of defense. First time since George Marshall after World War II.
It`s going to test the system. Civilian control is in part to bring outside eyes. It`s to bring outside management control and discipline.
Running the Pentagon is probably the hardest management job, I think, in the country. And it requires a set of skills that`s different from being a military commander.
TODD: Well, and there`s one other reason here. And it`s -- when you basically -- if you`re a four-star general, you`ve lived your whole adult life in a bubble. Being in the military, you are in your own bubble. It`s a different bubble. It`s not a bubble you or I live in.
IGNATIUS: You have servants. You have valet.
TODD: That`s right. You live in this bubble.
And there`s another part of civilian control is being in touch with where the American people are, where that`s something you don`t want the generals -- I mean, the whole point is to keep that separation. And you don`t -- that is another aspect to this.
IGNATIUS: Well, I think that`s a powerful point. We, unfortunately, in this country since the end of the draft, have had a military tribe. It`s almost a separate part of our culture.
Military moms and dads have kids who become soldiers and officers. We, as a country, feel guilty about it. We stop and applaud when we see people in uniform walking through airports or train stations.
But that, I think, reinforces the separateness. I think one important thing that General Mattis, I`ve heard him express concern about this, will want to do is bring the military into American life more, something I`ve heard from him, from Mike Mullen, a former chairman.
TODD: I love this idea of the selective service, make everybody eligible. If you`re going to do it, if you`re -- it`s not just men. Make men and women and maybe there`s something to that.
IGNATIUS: One thing that General Mattis, I want to say soon to be secretary Mattis, will bring to the country is an appreciation of the warrior culture. I have not met, in, you know, decades of traveling with American military officers, somebody who embodies the traditional precepts of military command in quite the way Mattis does. He remind me of World War II commanders, a Chester Nimitz or a Raymond Spreewitz (ph). He`s not -- he`s not a recent general.
TODD: Well, to be nicknamed the warrior monk, I mean, it tells me that -- my guess is there`s no general you`ve enjoyed having an off-the-record conversation with. You meaning David Ignatius, then the warrior monk, General Mattis, because he is so well read and so intellectually curious.
[17:25:01] IGNATIUS: They are rich conversations. He`s probing. He`s reflective. He`s always willing to criticize conventional wisdom, political wisdom.
One really good thing about General Mattis that I would just note and is not widely understood. He is -- had been willing to fire subordinates. The military too often has a log rolling and get along, go along culture. Bob Gates` great strength as secretary of defense was that he fired people.
TODD: Two generals.
IGNATIUS: And people were afraid of him. Exactly.
TODD: President Obama --
IGNATIUS: And a service secretary.
IGNATIUS: And Mattis is the kind of guy who`s done that. He did it on the way to Iraq and he might do it again. And that will help him run the Pentagon.
TODD: All right. I`m with you. I think, politically, Mattis likely to have support both sides of the aisle. This waiver shouldn`t be a problem unless he does go with a general at state.
Doesn`t this complicate --
TODD: Mattis` issue? Because if you have General Petraeus, General Flynn, General Mattis, I have to say, if you`re a civilian, aren`t you thinking, geez, boy, what do you think their solution always going to be? A military solution. That`s the fear.
IGNATIUS: Well, I think a too militarized government is not good for the country. And General Petraeus I think is a genuinely talented person.
Again, I`ve watched him close up lead. And Donald Trump said, you know, we don`t win enough and I want winners. The brand name for winning in combat in our generation is David Petraeus.
But it is true that having too many four-star generals at the top of an administration is going to make people worry.
TODD: And let me hit you with one final, I guess, issue which is what is it like? So, you have a -- the chairman of the Joints Chiefs, General Dunford and General Flynn both -- well, at least with Dunford. Mattis was his commanding officer.
IGNATIUS: He was.
TODD: At one time.
IGNATIUS: General Dunford was fighting General Dunford under mad dog Mattis.
TODD: But was is -- I mean, the chairman of Joints Chiefs is supposed to be -- basically, you`re chief military adviser. Is he going to give that (INAUDIBLE) military advice to somebody he used to take orders from?
IGNATIUS: Well, the relationship between the chairman and the sec def always is collegial. You get fights with the White House.
I think I`d worried more about the national security adviser and the White House. And we`ve had national security advisers, Tom Donnell unnotably, who got into some real fights with the Pentagon when he -- when he said it`s important to have political civilian control. That will be harder for General Flynn as the national security adviser.
You know, the interesting thing to me is the way in which Donald Trump has reached out to skill sets that he doesn`t have.
TODD: Yes. Got to give him credit on that one.
IGNATIUS: And he has chosen, in General Mattis, one of the more generally eccentric figures in Washington. That`s interesting.
TODD: Well, it is.
IGNATIUS: Well-read monkish acidic (ph) figure.
TODD: I have to say, I do think he`s going to be -- Pentagon press conferences are going to be hip again. Let`s put it that way. I know I can`t wait for it.
David Ignatius, always a pleasure, sir.
IGNATIUS: Thank you very much.
TODD: Still ahead was Tuesday`s meeting between President-elect Trump and Mitt Romney just dinner and a show? Or is Trump still seriously thinking about secretary of state Willard Mitt Romney? Stay tuned.
TODD: Here this Sunday we are talking transition on Meet the Press, a sit down with the vice president-elect Mike Pence right here in the studio to discuss the carrier deal, Trump`s cabinet picks, and of course the campaign promise to drain the swamp, to define what that means, a lot more on MTP as well.
Also more on MTP Daily, but first, here`s Aditi Roy with the CNBC Friday Market Wrap.
ADITI ROY, GENERAL ASSIGNMENT REPORTER FOR CNBC: Hey, thanks so much, Chuck. Stocks ended the week mostly flat. The Dow fell 21 points, the S&P gained a fraction of a point, and the Nasdaq added four points.
The Labor Department says hiring is solid. The economy added 178,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate falling to its lowest number in nine years from 4.9 to 4.6 percent. But experts say the drop is mostly because many jobless people have stopped looking for work.
The latest payroll report has done little to change the prediction that federal reserve will hike interest rates on December 14th. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: There is nothing like the secretary of state side show. As well as Trump has done in filling his cabinet. A fairly speedy rate. The secretary of state search is something else. Apparently he is expanding the search for secretary of state. Again. But the former republican nominee and rival Mitt Romney isn`t completely out of the running, apparently just yet. Here is what Trump had to say about Mitt Romney last night on Fox News.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got along very well. He was very, very nice. Very nice in terms of his remarks afterwards and I think it was very good. We have some terrific people and terrific people to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: But, yesterday, at Trump`s victory rally in Ohio, chants of no Romney erupted from the back of the crowd. Trump`s campaign manager, of course, has been bashing Romney for days. But that was just before a much talked about dinner and what was arguably some public grumbling you could call it from Mitt Romney when he made it his mission to tank Trump`s candidacy at one time and Trump has invited him to very publicly eat his words wit the potential that Romney could get nothing in return. So to try to answer this question of why is Mitt Romney doing this, joining me now is someone who has done extensive research on both men.
Michael Kranish, political reporter for The Washington Post, coauthor of "Trump Revealed", and of course 2012`s "The Real Romney." You have written a book about both men but particularly spent so much time covering Mitt Romney. Why is Mitt Romney interested in working for Donald Trump?
MICHAEL KRANISH, POLITICAL REPORTER FOR THE WASHINGTON POST, AUTHOR: Well, Mitt Romney has basically lost the last two times he ran for president and Donald Trump was successful. So in Mitt Romney`s eyes, he still wants to serve. The last thing he did was be governor of Massachusetts, a small state, and he still does want to be out there.
This is a job that he`s -- you know, he`s not a great candidate. He didn`t connect with people like Donald Trump was. So being appointed or nominated to a position is much more attractive. And this is one of the most important jobs there is in government.
TODD: There is not nothing like failed former Massachusetts politician who become presidential nominee to become secretary of state.
KRANISH: Not for John Kerry.
TODD: This idea, though, that did Romney truly believe -- taking Trump at his word that he is being seriously considered or does he think he is being played when he watches the campaign manager publicly, apparently with permission, bash him?
KRANISH: Well, you know, the thing they have in common is they are both salesmen and spent their life making deals. And so they both probably think they can make a deal with each other and sell themselves to each other. So they do have a common background.
If you`re trying to put together a dating app and create a romance here, you would find that they both have fathers who are very successful. They want to emulate now to their fathers. They`re both very successful businessman.
Of course, Trump was not successful for a time and now has been. So, they do have a commonality of background. For all the harsh words in the campaign, you look at them and say, they have an awful lot in common, they can get along.
TODD: It`s funny, the dad issue. I swear, there wasn`t a successful president in my lifetime that didn`t have a daddy issue. I think that somehow, that drives them, whether a missing father or to outdo a successful father.
Let me ask you this. So Romney works so hard to defeat him. Not just saying what he said during the primary. He basically helped Evan McMullin, this, you know, unknown candidate, get on the ballot in a handful of states and do well enough in Utah with Romney donors giving him money that could have cost Trump the election. It was more than just saying things. It was doing things.
KRANISH: So from Trump`s standpoint, he is quashing one of the most vocal critics that he has had, Mitt Romney. But nothing else happened. He can say basically say, look, I won and as you said, Romney had to come and kiss the ring, you know.
For Mitt Romney, he sort of been through this before. He ran against Ted Kennedy for the U.S. senate back in Massachusetts. He lost that race. They had a very vitriolic relationship, very harsh, and yet some years later, Mitt Romney was very supportive -- excuse me, Ted Kennedy was very supportive of Mitt Romney`s health care initiative in Massachusetts. TODD: He`s in the photo.
KRANISH: When Mitt Romney came to that press conference and gave the support -- Ted Kennedy was there giving that support, Ted Kennedy said, you know, this will be good for climate change because hell just froze over.
KRANISH: So saying that, he is saying, look, we thought this would never happen but here I am supporting Mitt Romney, so it`s sort of the same thing.
TODD: Let me ask you about Donald Trump. There`s another theory out here that Trump has been frustrated about the lack of respect he got over the years, whether it`s from major business leaders or from major political leaders. And this is the ultimate, I told you so tour.
And so he has said major CEOs that would never give him the time of day suddenly coming to kiss the ring. Mitt Romney coming to kiss the ring. And that Trump is enjoying this moment. How much of that do you buy?
KRANISH: Well, you know, he did the reality show, "The Apprentice." A lot of people have made comparison. They are trooping people into Trump Tower or Trump`s properties to have them come before and like you say, kiss the ring.
So that is part of Trump`s persona. He is a showman. This is what he does. He is about the theater of it all. So for him, this seems natural, to people who watched other presidential transition, it seems very unnatural.
TODD: If Mitt Romney doesn`t get this, look, obviously, he is looking for a second act. If not this, what is it?
KRANISH: So if he doesn`t get this maybe make him a special envoy to solve a particular problem or something that they could find for him. Or maybe Mitt Romney just says, look, you know, we had a good meeting and I respect the fact that he did what I couldn`t do and that is he won the presidency.
So I think if he doesn`t get it, he`ll still play some kind of a role and maybe they will still talk, but the vitriol of the campaign from their perspective would be over.
TODD: Do you think he`ll regret giving up the platform to be a credible critic?
KRANISH: Well, for Mitt Romney`s perspective, if Trump had lost, Mitt Romney saw himself as an elder statesman. He come in and fix the party.
TODD: May have been the leader of the party.
KRANISH: Right. That can happen. So he is looking now at the possibilities. He is 69 years old. He is not going to run for president again. So he has to look at where his future is in this party of which Donald Trump is now the leader. TODD: All right. So he doesn`t get it, does he think this has been a successful moment for him?
KRANISH: It certainly been embarrassing for him. He`s not going to win an office again unless he nominated to one. So for him, maybe he sees it as I can`t lose. I`ve got to basically make myself viable again. So it`s a little bit of rehabilitation for himself in that he can now say, look, I get along with Donald Trump, I respect what he did, and he is the leader of us all.
TODD: Michael Kranish, who has written a book on Mitt Romney and on Donald Trump. Nice to see you.
KRANISH: Thanks for having me.
TODD: Coming up, one technicolor example of how trying to make things so much simpler has made them so much more complicated.
TODD: Welcome back. I got to admit I`m really looking forward to this weekend. Why? It`s no surprise. I`m obsessed right now about the college football playoffs. This weekend, we are going to find out who the final four teams are with this new system year two that makes figuring out who is number one apparently so much easier.
It used to be that we watched the bowl games and then what? I`ll tell you what. We waited for a bunch of self-important sports writers invested with too much power to tell us who they thought was the number one team. That`s what -- well, guess what. Very unsatisfying. So now we have the college football playoffs.
Just add water to three easy steps to deciding a national champion. Is that works? This year, if Colorado beats Washington tonight, a two loss team is going to get into this final four. Should it be Washington? But they lost - - excuse me, should it be Colorado? They lost it to Michigan.
Should it be Michigan? But they didn`t win the big ten title. Should it be Penn state who beat big ten champ Ohio state? Should it be Colorado who lost to Michigan but was beating Michigan when their star quarterback was hurt? See how easy this new system is?
Simply put, just pick the two loss team that beat the big ten champ and didn`t lose to another two loss team even though they didn`t win the big ten title because they were winning before losing to a team that may or may not get in despite not winning their conference. Can we just have the rose bowl back? We will be right back.
TODD: Welcome back. As democrats look for new leadership, one big name is taking his name out of the running for DNC chair. Howard Dean said this afternoon that he is now no longer going to seek an attempt to reclaim the chairmanship. But he promised to fully support the next chairman. He didn`t say who.
Three other candidates who want the job are each making their case to state party leaders at a future of the party forum that is actually going on right now. Here is a quick taste.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shrunk our map as to where we can win. We cannot be a party that is trying not to lose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This needs to be the very last election cycle in which the presidential candidate takes over the DNC.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more turning over the checkbook to a presidential campaign. That is absolutely absurd that is what we do every time.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Time for The Lid. The panel is back. Dan Balz, Ruth Marcus, Michael Steele. Michael, I`ll start with you. It`s always funny, Michael.
TODD: You`ve been there! Give me a break, right? MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yeah.
TODD: Oh, my God. What is the reality of that?
STEELE: The reality is when the presidential nominee becomes the guy! Trust me, that checkbook belongs to him or her.
TODD: Very quickly. I want to move on to the Harvard conference. Dan, you are in the middle of something crazy! But very quickly, Ruth. Keith Ellison, is his candidacy toast? The ADL came out noting some remarks he made about Israeli six years ago. He struggled to explain them. There has been some other folks and they are very upset at Schumer for supporting him. Is pressure building to suddenly stop Ellison movement? RUTH MARCUS, JOURNALIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: It sure feels that way. You know, the last thing that the party needs is to have a chairman at the time when you need to rebuild the party that is going to be helping tear apart, you know, a big constituency of it. TODD: Yeah.
DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT AT WASHINGTON POST: Chuck, I talked to somebody up at Harvard yesterday who was heading out to this meeting and who said that he thinks that the eventual winner will be somebody who is actually not yet formally declared.
TODD: Thank you for saying that!
MARCUS: That and secretary of state.
TODD: I`m with you. I would say this of those three up there. Keep an eye on Jimmy Harrison of South Carolina. That if there somebody that does come from the state party lineup because he has also somebody that has worked in Washington too so a little -- he`s got a little bit of a foot in both places.
Harvard, Dan. I don`t know what to say. I can just say as somebody who used to devour the Harvard stuff and couldn`t wait to read the transcripts as a 22-year-old. Love every 96, 2000. You always learn so much.
It`s always people at the height of their game and journalists at the height of their game. And you feel like, boy, there is something to learn. You tell me. I didn`t learn a thing! I just saw a lot of screaming. BALZ: Well, I`ve been going to these off and on for, I don`t know, since 88 I think. And I`ve never seen one like what we went through yesterday. I co- moderated the session on the general election with Andrea Mitchell and.
TODD: The fight. The infamous fight. Let me play it. Let me play this, get everybody react on it.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PALMIERI, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR HILLARY CLINTON`S 2016 CAMPAIGN: If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I`m glad to have lost.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacist had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?
PALMIERI: It did. Kellyanne, it did.
CONWAY: Really? And that`s how you lost?
PALMIERI: It did.
CONWAY: Do you think you could have just had a decent message for the white working class voters?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: What did you do at that point?
BALZ: There were three of us. Look, we knew this was going to be a tough session. This was obviously a rough, raw campaign. And you know that on both sides, there are still things that haven`t -- I don`t know what the right word is -- healed, been solved. But it`s not just that it hasn`t healed on the side of the Clinton people.
TODD: No. BALZ: There is grievance on the side of the Trump people as well. And so we knew it was going to be hot. It got hotter than we thought. There were times we need just kind of have to let people air it out. We tried at certain points to cool it down. But it was what it was. It was a reflection of the campaign we just went through.
TODD: That`s true. I just don`t know what historians are going to take away from it. Even in Bush-Gore, I remember -- I`ll be honest, it was one of the most fruitful and honest post-election things I`ve ever seen. And it was wonderfully done. There was no bitterness.
MARCUS: Usually there is a degree of respect that one side has for the other as professionals.
TODD: That`s true.
MARCUS: And, you know, whether you`re unhappy with the recount or happy with the recount, you haven`t -- the campaign itself was not the kind of vicious episode, vicious saga that this one was. And so this was a long time coming.
STEELE: It was personal. This was a continuation of what we`ve seen throughout the last few years of our politics. It`s now personal. I don`t like you. I don`t like what you stand for. I don`t like what you believe in. It`s very personal. So when you get them in that situation, you called my candidate a racist. Well, your candidate is a racist.
MARCUS: Calling me racist, right? Yeah. STEELE: Yeah, you`re saying that I ran -- and it devolves into what we`ve seen -- and I guarantee you around Thanksgiving tables, I know some friends who like they had to cut off conversation at Thanksgiving on politics, because it was still so raw, to your point, and personal. TODD: I guess the part of this was, it seems like nobody -- nobody at this -- there were some of the media conversation that I saw, nobody is showing humility up there.
TODD: Not the losers, not the winners, and not whoever was representing our industry up there.
BALZ: Frankly, I think that the Clinton people, and who were devastated by this defeat, and felt, I suppose, that they let Secretary Clinton down, but also in one way or another they had failed to do what they were supposed to do. I think in part at this conference, as you know, these have become less candid over the years and more scripted.
BALZ: So they lacked some of the values.
TODD: Too public, I hate to say it as a journalist, but it`s become too public to get the candor in there.
BALZ: It has. But for the Clinton people, I think they were probably overly protective, understandably so, of Hillary Clinton as a candidate.
TODD: That`s an important point. I don`t think they`ve come to grips -- that`s not true, they can`t come to grips publicly with it. This is about her. I`ve had conversations individually that all have basically said,I think there`s nothing we could do about her. MARCUS: Jen Palmieri was re-litigating the degree to which it was fair for all of us to focus on e-mails. As I have for, you know, a really long time now. And she said she was sorry that she had legitimated that story. Come on, I think that`s not the right answer.
TODD: No, it`s not. Well, I have to say, I normally look forward to -- I don`t want any part of that podcast, any part of that transcript. I hope that goes.
TODD: I lived it at this point. Thank you, guys. When we come back, catching a big break. A big fat tax break, that is, if you wind up in the president`s cabinet. I`ll explain.
TODD: In case you missed it, working a government job, even a high-profile secretary cabinet post doesn`t pay the big box. We all know that. It certainly doesn`t bring in the kind of pay, check that folks like Steven Mnuchin or Wilbur Ross are used to getting. But if you are a big billionaire CEO, choosing to spend time in public service, there is a silver lining for you. It comes in the form of a special task break.
If you are an executive branch employee forced to sell stock because of conflicts of interest rules, there is an interesting tax loophole that you can advantage of that allows you to defer paying capital gains on that stock, that`s the money the government comes calling for when you make money on a stock sale.
The IRS doesn`t get a dime of those proceeds if you reinvest in certain government securities or mutual funds. The tax man does come calling eventually. You have to pay your original cap gains bill if you ever sell those reinvested assets. It`s a tax deferral, not a tax dismissal. But for the super rich, it could be a super nice perk.
First, it`s always better to pay taxes later rather than now, a dollar or $100 million is going to be worth less over time. So, the longer you wait to pay uncle Sam, the better the deal is for you. Plus, if you`ve got a lot of say Goldman Sachs stock or Exxon stock, because that`s part of your compensation package, this gives you the ability to diversify your assets.
And if you have so much money that you can hang to those diversified replacement assets until you die, the capital gains tax never kicks in. The provision was designed with the idea that wealthy people shouldn`t suffer financial loss for choosing to go into government or being forced to divest.
So call it a champagne problem with a solution that for some can buy a lot more champagne eventually. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back on Monday with more MTP Daily. Of course, if it`s Sunday, catch Meet the Press on your local NBC station. Mike Pence, should be interesting. With All Due Respect, congrats guys, final show, great run, starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END