MTP Daily, Transcript 12/8/2016

Guests: Bob Shrum, Shane Smith, John Stanton, Tom Barrack, Jay Barbree

Show: MTP DAILY Date: December 8, 2016 Guest: Bob Shrum, Shane Smith, John Stanton, Tom Barrack, Jay Barbree

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Thursday.

Donald Trump seems ready to govern from the right. Or is he?

(voice-over): Tonight, persuading Donald Trump. Do you do it with force or flattery? How to influence a president Trump style.

Plus, is there growing concern among military elite about Trump`s pick for the national security adviser?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we need to look at what went on between John Glenn and his son.


TODD: And remembering John Glenn, the first man to orbit the earth and a four-term U.S. Senator from the most important swing state in the country.


JOHN GLENN, ASTRONAUT: I`m very high on this country and what it can do and what it can stand for, even with our problems now.


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

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

In just a moment, we`re going to pay tribute to an American hero, an aviation icon and U.S. Senator. John Glenn, who passed away today at the age of 95, is a true icon of American history in so many ways.

Glenn`s decades of service to this country took him around the world as a marine fighter pilot, took him around this planet in space. First man to orbit the earth, first American to do so, excuse me.

And, of course, to Washington as a senator representing the great state of Ohio, his home state. So, you won`t want to miss our remembrances of him later in the show.

But we`re going to begin tonight with, of course, the presidential transition and a question of influence. Politics is war. And right now, everyone from world leaders to local unions seems to be probing Trump for weaknesses and trying to figure out, one, how is he going to govern? Two, what influences him? And three, how do you manage, or, dare I say, coax or manipulate him to your position?

So, pay attention, because there are some answers to all of these questions in Trump`s cabinet. Trump didn`t campaign, for instance, like a sort of post-Bush 43 conservative audio log. But his cabinet is starting to look like much of it was hand-picked, say, by a Ted Cruz type of president, or more likely Mike Pence.

Bottom line, this is a cabinet that is reflective of a Republican Party and conservative movement of the post-Bush era pre-Trump. His pick for EPA, Scott Pruitt, somebody who doesn`t believe man is responsible for climate change. By the way, he`s in the midst of suing the agency that he`s now been tapped to run.

How about national security advisor? We told you a little bit about the Michael Flynn tweets and troubles. Well, his tweets about conspiracy theories border on demented, according to a fellow general. We`ll have more on that later in the show.

Labor secretary, the frontrunner, Andrew Puzder, is an outspoken critic of raising the minimum wage. HHS, Tom Price, House conservative who`s been trying to get rid of Obamacare for years.

HUD, Ben Carson, obviously, very much somebody who`s a small government guy, not one to be in favor of some of the programs that HUD is known for. A.G., how about Jeff sessions? He helped write Trump`s immigration plan.

Then, there`s immigration, Betsy DeVos, a conservative activist who`s somebody, of course, no big fan of public schoolteacher unions, teacher unions, and is a big fan of school vouchers.

Bottom line is you add it all up, and it`s pretty clear who`s guiding, managing and influencing Trump, at least in those positions, at least in positions that are heavy on rule-making and policy.

But this gets to a bigger question. How did he do it? How did they do it? How did Pence do it? And how do you get to Trump? We`ve seen folks try to steer Trump by flattering him. Think President Obama or Vladimir Putin.

We`ve seen folks try to perform what some Trump supporters now call the walk of shame to get back at his good graces.

Getting to Trump Tower now. After you`ve said something really nasty about him before, think Mitt Romney or Rick Perry.

And we`ve seen folks purposely try to antagonize him, like maybe the Carrier union chief who said Trump lied his you know what off about the deal that saved approximately 800 jobs from going to Mexico.

So, what works and what doesn`t? I`m joined now by NBC`s resident Trump whisperer of sort, Katy Tur, who`s been covering Trump since day one. She`s in Des Moines, Iowa, where Trump will continuing his thank you tour.

So, Katy, what have you seen? What works and what doesn`t in your 18 months of covering him?

KATY TUR, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, he does like people who are loyal to him. He does like people who flatter him. But he also does not like pushovers. And for those who may have been surprised that he chose Nikki Haley for her position for the U.N., considering how critical she was of him during the primaries.

You should take that into account, in the sense that Nikki Haley, although she was critical, she stood up for herself. And she was confident in where she stood. And she went to Donald Trump and they spoke. And he`s open to taking people, as long as they come to him.

[17:05:11] On the other side of that, you have, up in New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte who waffled back and forth between whether to support Trump or not. She didn`t show a strong position either way. So, she wasn`t someone who was taken seriously for a cabinet position.

Mitt Romney. That is the question. Is he somebody that Donald Trump would actually want to have in his folds? Romney was extraordinarily critical. Not just critical in a professional way, but critical of Donald Trump`s character. Critical of mocking him for his businesses and really outspoken, antagonizing him on Twitter.

Of all the people that were out there that were trying to take Trump down within the Republican Party, Mitt Romney was at the forefront of it. He was the leader of the never Trump movement.

So, is he able to bury the hatchet with Donald Trump? That`s a big question. And if he goes there hat in hand and says, please, you know, give me a role or here`s how I can help you, I`m not entirely sure that Donald Trump would be open to that, given all of the back history they have. He does have a long memory.

And he also likes people who are firm in their beliefs. If Mitt Romney stood his ground a little bit more, even during this transition process and had Donald Trump come to him, maybe that would have been a different story.

But Trump, as you know, Chuck, is mercurial and he`s someone who`s very open to flattery. And if you flatter him, he can certainly change his mind about you pretty quickly.

TODD: Well, Katy, I`m going to -- we`re going to go even further into the whispering category of Trump world. Somebody who knows him very well. Katy Tur covering Donald Trump for us in Iowa. Thanks very much.

Let me bring in Tom Barrack. He`s a long-time friend of Donald Trumps. He`s also an advisor and a fund raiser. He was, by the way, deputy secretary of the interior under Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Barrack, welcome to the show, sir.


TODD: So, let me start with something I left out and I thought Katy Tur did a good job of putting this in and I think you can explain this. And that is, Donald -- one thing Donald Trump doesn`t like is a waffler or a pushover, even if he -- that he would prefer someone he disagrees with if they show strength than somebody when won`t express their opinion on front of him. Is that a fair statement?

BARRACK: No, absolutely. Look, I think an easy way to look at it is the similarities to Ronald Reagan. And Ronald Reagan, when he came to office, was a bit of an anomaly, right? He was -- he was a Californian. Everybody hated it. He was an actor. Nobody understood it.

He went to Eureka College. Nobody had heard of it. And when he was making his first picks, George Schultz, Richard Allen, James Baker, people were saying, well, I wonder what that`s all about? Because Reagan didn`t have the history of being able to adjudicate those kind of decisions.

But it was a very good judge of character. Trump is exactly the same way. If you look at a developer or a builder, they have a vision. But they`re not really the architect. They don`t know how to draw. They`re not the plumber. They`re not the -- stringing the hardware. They`re not the carpenter. They`re not laying the concrete.

So, I think what works with Trump is reality. It`s not flattery and it`s not being abusive. And he`s a loyalist but he`s a realist. So, if you look at his choices, it`s very difficult, right, to find a pool of mechanics, of people who can actually work consensus in a conciliatory system. You have to find somebody who has been at the system.

And it`s not really picking points of view. A cabinet secretary is not dictating his own point of view. He`s --

TODD: Let me pause you there. It`s funny you say that. I was going to ask you that question. You view this -- you think this should be viewed as he`s hiring executers for his vision.

So, just because Tom -- so, I`m just going to take Tom for an example. He`s somebody that would like to do a lot more to Medicare than candidate Donald Trump said he wanted to do.

Who should voters believe is in charge of Medicare policy, Tom Price or Donald Trump?

BARRACK: Congress. You have 535 men and women who are taking a vision which the president formed for them. And through consensus, they`re going to come up to a conciliatory pattern, and these men and women in the cabinet are going to execute. And they`re going to execute through a bureaucracy.

So, it doesn`t happen that way. We don`t have a dictatorship. And these positions in the cabinet, really, one of the frustrations for business people to go into the cabinet is it doesn`t have that kind of power.

You have to go to the lowest common denominator. You have cabinet counsels. You have to get other cabinet secretaries to agree on your points of view. You have to get Congress to implement a plan in legislation and you have to execute.

So, I think we need to give all these people a chance. It`ll come to the lowest common denominator. I think it won`t be too far right. It won`t be too far left.

This president will move that aircraft carrier slowly because he`s a curator. He`s not a steward. You`ve seen that with Carrier and Softbank and Boeing. Some of these things that people say, well, is he just picking industries or what is he doing?

[17:10:12] TODD: But let me ask you this. What`s the worst way to handle Donald Trump? What is the -- you know, you go in. If you were to -- you know, I`m not saying Mitt Romney. I don`t want to get into conversation. Maybe he did actually call you for advice on how to talk to Trump.

But let me ask you this. What kind of advice -- what`s the worst way to handle Donald Trump if you`re trying to persuade him?

BARRACK: I think the worst way -- although, you know, some of the -- some of the people before him said flattery is the way to go. I think it`s the worst way.

If I was advising Mitt Romney, who is very capable and very confident and could have been a great pick, I would go in and say, hey, look, number one, it is war. So, what I said about you, I meant at the time. It wasn`t that I didn`t mean it. I`m sorry that it happened now.

I`m sorry because I would really like this job. Not because I thought anything other than you. And by the way, you need me because I can tie together for you pieces of a constituency that you don`t have. But it`s not that I love you, Donald Trump. I think --

TODD: Go to the pragmatist. Go to the realist and the pragmatist of him.

BARRACK: Exactly.

TODD: Interesting. Tom Barrack, long-time friend. You`re heading up the inaugural committee with some other folks. I appreciate you taking some time.

BARRACK: Good to help in this.

TODD: All right.

BARRACK: I`m a party planner in chief. Thank you.

TODD: There you go. All right. Well, plan a big one. All right, thanks very much.

Let me bring in my panel. Katie Packer, an MSNBC contributor. She worked for one the many anti-Trump super pacs during the campaign and was involved, by the way, in the 2000 transition. Chris Cillizza, himself, an a MSNBC contributor, "Washington Post" political reporter, and founder of The Fix blog. And John Stanton, a D.C. Bureau chief for BuzzFeed News. But you`re --


TODD: -- going. You are getting back on the ground reporting. Screw management, right?

Katie Packer, I`m going to start with you. Nobody screams never Trump like Katie Packer, right? First of all, --

KATIE PACKER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: He`s our president now.

TODD: What do you make of what we`re seeing here and the different ways people are trying to get back into Trump`s good graces?

PACKER: Well, I do think -- you know, I hear all this talk of Mitt Romney coming in, you know, hat in hand. I don`t see that. I don`t see Mitt Romney actively lobbying, necessarily, for this job.

He`s talking to President-elect Trump. He`s offering his advice and counsel. I`m sure that he would be interested in a position like this, because he`s a guy that would be captivated by that task.

But I do think that you`re seeing these candidates for all of these different offices. You`re seeing Mike Pence and Reince Priebus` fingerprints all over this. And I do think -- I sort of shun the comparisons of Reagan and Trump.

But I do think one thing that you can compare is that Reagan focused on a few things that were really, really important to him. And he didn`t, you know, stick his hands in every element of government. And I see this in Donald Trump.

STANTON: Well, I think --

TODD: You`re nodding on that. Same, yes.

STANTON: -- I think, for -- if you`re trying to do business in Washington right now, I think the biggest thing you`re going to do is try to keep yourself and your issue out of his gaze, right?


STANTON: Because if he doesn`t (INAUDIBLE) then you could probably get a lot done in this town over the next four years because --

TODD: Stay out of his radar.

STANTON: -- don`t get -- yes. Don`t get him interested in you, unless you`re going to get him interested in you and it`s going to help you.

So, if you can get him angry about the thing that`s hurting you, maybe that helps you or get him super excited about it. But if you can`t do one of those two things, --

TODD: Stay away.

STANTON: -- stay away because if he gets interested, it could really end up hurting you.

TODD: That might be the best piece of advice any lobbyist in this term just got.


TODD: Yes, keep your head down.

CILLIZZA: I just think he views himself -- and we`ve heard this from his son and all sorts of people in the campaign. He sort of views himself as the president of brand USA, at this point, right?

Like, he is the face of it, right. He`s going to go out and sell it. He`s going to, to John`s point, pick places here and there where he wants. But he does not view himself as, like, this -- the guy who is the CFO of brand USA.

TODD: Yes.

CILLIZZA: We`ve heard that. That`s why, I think, Paul Ryan was willing to say, OK, I`m for it under the theory. This guy, he wants to go out and sell, like, America. We`re making America great again. Do some high- profile appearances.

TODD: Yes.

CILLIZZA: But he doesn`t necessarily want to be the guy who`s in the weeds. Being, like, OK, if we tweet here, would you get -- so that you can move a conservative agenda that he sort of broadly stamps and puts his face and name on. I think that`s the hope of many within the Republican establishment. He is -- Katy used the word mercurial.

TODD: Yes.

CILLIZZA: I mean, I think that`s always the danger of you saying, he`s going to do X.

TODD: Yes.

CILLIZZA: Well, I mean, maybe today.

TODD: I want to -- I want to, though, unpack something, Barrack said about, hey, don`t focus on the -- on the ideologies of these pictures that were --


TODD: -- implemented (ph). I -- you had a skeptical gaze, Katie, you and I. But he is not wrong on cabinet secretaries don`t get to make a lot of policy. They implement policy.

PACKER: They don`t make a lot of big policy.

TODD: Right. They (INAUDIBLE.) That`s right.

PACKER: And certainly you`re going to see price implementing a plan -- you know, a large plan with regard to health care.

TODD: Right.

PACKER: But I worked for a former secretary of energy, and there are a hundred decisions every single day --

TODD: Little things that you can --

PACKER: -- that the secretary handles at that level and below. He doesn`t go running to the White House every single minute for every decision.

So, there are going to be things that are impacted and most conservatives are thrilled by that. People like Andy Puzder and Betsy DeVos are going to make (INAUDIBLE) that they like.

[17:15:12] TODD: That`s what they want. They want control of the bureaucracy. They don`t care if Trump dumps on them every once in a while, big picture, do they?

CILLIZZA: I thought it was -- no, I don`t think they do at all. I thought it was fascinating that what Tom Barrack said, was essentially, like, he`s not -- he`s going to go bottom up. Who is in charge of the policy? Congress, right?

What you`ve seen --

TODD: I was stunned by that answer. I was just going to say, I was stunned by that answer.

CILLIZZA: George w. Bush and certainly Barack Obama is the idea of -- and I don`t mean this in a pejorative way. The concentration of power in the White House, not in the cabinet, not in Congress. The presidency getting stronger, stronger, stronger, stronger.

TODD: Right.

CILLIZZA: If what Tom Barrack says is what Donald Trump is, that`s a totally different model which is a sort of bottom up Congress. Then, the secretaries and the cabinet implement it. And then, the president is sort of there.

I mean that`s a different model than we`ve seen.

TODD: Last word on it.

STANTON: I would (INAUDIBLE.) I would agree with that only so long as they let him do what he wants. The second that Paul Ryan says, no, he`s going to bring in -- he`s going to Wisconsin and have 50,000 screaming people demanding he get thrown out.

CILLIZZA: And tweeting -- and then tweeting. I mean, we know that -- that`s the thing, mercurial. The guy values unpredictability.

TODD: Good point. I think everybody is figuring it out.


TODD: Anyway, we`ll see here. This is an interesting discussion. You guys are sticking around.

Coming up, Hillary Clinton heads to the Hill. We`ll have the highlights from her comments at the Harry Reid portrait unveiling, up ahead.

Plus, Godspeed, John Glenn. Remembering the former astronaut, senator and American hero. Stay with us.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving after the election. But after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, I thought it would be a good idea to come out.


TODD: That was Hillary Clinton on Capitol Hill today. She was in town for Senator Harry Reid`s farewell and official portrait unveiling. But a lighter tone turned serious when she addressed what she called a threat to our democracy.


CLINTON: The epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year, it`s now clear that so-called fake news can have real world consequences. This isn`t about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk. It`s imperative that leaders in both the private sector and the public sector step up to protect our democracy and innocent lives.


TODD: By the way, Clinton also spoke about John Glenn. We`ll have that and many more merit memories of this American hero, just ahead.



TODD: Welcome back.

Tonight, we`re paying tribute to an American legend. Former astronaut and former United States Senator John Glenn has died at the age of 95.

In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. And with that flight found his way into American hearts and dreams.


GLENN: (INAUDIBLE) I feel fine. The capsule is turning around. Oh, that view is tremendous.


TODD: Everybody on pins and needles on that one. He returned the flight to a hero`s welcome. And a few months later appeared on "MEET THE PRESS" for the first time to share his experience.


GLENN: Well, I can`t even begin to pinpoint what we may run into or what may prove of most benefit. But I think man`s participation in this guarantees one thing. If we can see things, perceive them, analyze them, relate them back to our experiences here, this is the main thing that man brings to the program. He can see things, new things that now are completely unforeseen or unknown.

This, to me, is probably what`s going to be the biggest advantage of having a man in the space program, are things we don`t even foresee right now.


TODD: Well, how about that. Glenn left NASA and the U.S. Marine Corps until the mid-60s and worked in business before entering politics in the early 1970s to represent his beloved Ohio.

In 1970, he ran successfully for the U.S. Senate but lost in the Democratic primary to Howard Metzenbaum. Four years later, he tried again and was successful. He ended up serving with Howard Metzenbaum for decades.

He did, sort of, seek the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1976, meaning he was in the shortlist. But Jimmy Carter decided to choose Walter Mondale.

Glenn did take another stab at national office in 1984, running for the presidential nomination. He was unsuccessful in that bid. But he wasn`t made cynical by the loss.


GLENN: It`s better to have tried and failed then to have failed to try. I guess that`s the way I look at it.


TODD: He continued to represent Ohio in the United States Senate until 1999 where he chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee and sat on foreign relations. He appeared on "MEET THE PRESS" 12 times, sitting down with Tim Russert for the last time in 2003.


GLENN: It`s just so beautiful up there. You get can`t help but look out and you get teary-eyed almost just looking out and appreciating the beauty of where we live here. And you can`t help but wonder why, when you fly over places like the Middle East, that we have so many manmade problems in that area that have gone on for centuries. Why we can`t get together on this beautiful home that we call earth and really solve some of these problems here.

TIM BUSTER, HOST, "MEET THE PRESS": As they say in the movies, 32 years ago, Godspeed.


TODD: By the way, of course, you saw in that one in uniform. He was the first American to orbit the earth. And, of course, he`s now the oldest American to ever have been up in space, when he went up in the space shuttle there. That one interview was after that.

And, by the way, just moments ago, Hillary Clinton spoke about Glenn at the unveiling of Harry Reid`s portrait on Capitol Hill.


CLINTON: Senator John Glenn, a friend to many of us and a genuine American hero, passed away today. And I know the tributes will be flowing. I`m sure the Congressional record will be filled with pages of appreciation and recognition of this extraordinary American`s life.


TODD: President-elect Donald Trump tweeted about John Glenn saying this. Today, we lost a great pioneer of air and space in John Glenn. He was a hero and inspired generations of future explorers. He will be missed.

John Glenn received the presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2012.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The first American to orbit the earth. John Glenn became a hero, in every sense of the word. But he didn`t stop there serving his country. As a senator, he found new ways to make a difference.


[17:25:06] TODD: We`re going to explore John Glenn`s life in two ways. First, we`re going to focus on his space career and his legacy there. And then, we`re going to talk about his political legacy.

Let me bring in my good friend, Jay Barbree, who, of course, has covered the space program for NBC News for more than 58 years. Frankly, he pioneered our coverage of the space program. He joins me now on phone and he is somebody that can call John Glenn not just a friend but a close friend.

Jay, I can`t imagine what you`re feeling today.

JAY BARBREE, FORMER ANCHOR, NBC NEWS (via telephone): It`s a -- it`s a bad day, Chuck. And we expected it. I talked to John the last time just a few weeks ago, and he was bedridden at that time, losing his eyesight. But he still had high spirits. And we had been expecting it now for a few days since he`s been back in the hospital.

But, I got to tell you, there was no bigger hero than John Glenn and there was no better person. He really was a small-town boy. And I`ll be honest with you, Chuck. You know, he reminded me a lot of you, because you`re that type of guy that you talk to anyone, anyplace, you fit in. It doesn`t matter because you don`t consider yourself above anyone else or -- and that`s the way John was. He always was there.

And to do what he did, to go into orbit on February the 20th, 1962 on a rocket that had been blown up just as often as it was going. And to take that risk that he did, he caught us up, to a certain extent, back with the Russians in the space race.

And you mentioned the fact that, you know, he was a senator for 24 years. But I never called John Glenn senator. I think when I interviewed him for NBC, I might have called him senator once down in Miami. I was interviewing him when he was running for president.

But, anyway, he was just the greatest guy.

TODD: But let me as you this. You know and you were covering it, it mattered to NASA who the person was who was going to orbit the earth. Obviously, John Glenn had this skill. But there was, obviously, something else that the space program knew. Boy, he`s representing mankind. He`s representing America. Why`d they pick John Glenn?

BARBREE: Well, you nailed it. He was in line at the time. And they -- see, because we were going to fly -- he was going to fly like flight number three but it was going to be a suborbital flight, like Alan Shephard and Dusk Gruesome (ph) flew.

But then, because we had already -- they had already orbited -- Russia had already orbited and then the Gregorian in April of 1961, they turned around then, late 1961, early 1962, I forget exactly which. And they orbited, teed off (ph) for 24 hours.

And so, NASA just says, we`ve got to get -- we`ve got to get up there in orbit. We`ve got to start catching up. And we really caught up with the Gemini program. And John wanted to go to the moon. He looked forward to it. He continued his training after he flew. But he became good friends with JFK, President Kennedy and the Kennedy family.

Anyway, John Kennedy gave NASA orders not to let him fly anymore because he didn`t want to the kill a national hero. Well, they did one thing.

TODD: Wow.

BARBREE: They didn`t tell John about it. And, finally, you know, he figured it out, Chuck. And he got out. As you know, he got into politics.

TODD: Yes, he did.

BARBREE: But he came back. He came back to fly in 1998 on the shuttle Discovery at the age of 77. And by gollies, when he got off of that shuttle, I was standing there, and everybody was carrying on about, oh, he`s 77 years old. And he`ll be --

TODD: Yes.

BARBREE: -- chair bound for at least a week. They`re going to have to roll him off in a wheel chair. And he come snapping off of that --

TODD: Of course he did.

BARBREE: -- shuttle beating the crew. And he looked at me and winked. And I shot him a salute. You know, I was never so proud of a person in all my life.

TODD: Jay Barbree, I could go on and on. But I`m going to leave it there on that. But I know a lot of folks are going to be looking forward to more remembrances that you have of John Glenn over the next few days.

Good to talk to you, Jay.

BARBREE: You, too, Chuck. Take care, Buddy.

TODD: Thank you very much. Thanks for making me blush a little bit there.

Joining me now is a long-time strategist, Bob Shrum, who I`m asking him to handle John Glenn, the political side of his legacy. Obviously, an American hero. But, Bob, there`s a -- let`s lay it out. The greatest political resume anybody could come up with to run for president -- to be president. It didn`t happen.

Take me back 1to 1976. That`s the one that`s always been the head scratcher to me.

[17:30:03] Jimmy Carter could have picked John Glenn or Walter Mondale, and he picked Walter Mondale and John Glenn. Walk me through that.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, I don`t know the details of that. I think it was a very close question. I think he could easily have picked John Glenn, instead he picked Walter Mondale. And I suspect that a lot of it was the chemistry. Who was he most comfortable with? Because he and Mondale obviously hit it off very well and I suspect Glenn lost out in that competition by a matter of inches.

TODD: What was interesting about Glenn`s political career, is I think that, you know, he -- what made him the perfect American hero in space isn`t necessarily the perfect skill set for politics. Or maybe it didn`t work for him.

SHRUM: Yeah, Chuck, I think that`s a really powerful insight. I said to somebody earlier when they had described him as a great politician, I said, he wasn`t a great politician, he was a great public servant. And the fact that he eschewed a lot of the normal political stuff.

I mean, when I worked for him in his 1992 reelection, the last reelection he ran in and he won, the worst thing you could say to him was, you are to say this because it`s politically smart, the only way you could get him to say something was to say, it`s the right thing to do.

He also had this kind of incredible decency and sense of fair play. You mentioned earlier this kind of really tough primary he had with Howard Metzenbaum, the other democratic--

TODD: Right.

SHRUM: -- senator from Ohio. So, in 1988, Howard Metzenbaum is running for reelection. We`re doing that campaign as well. And he is accused by his opponent of being in favor of child pornography. John Glenn was outraged. He called up, he said he wanted to make an ad. He made an ad. It was stunning. It was a 30-second ad. It was stunning, totally rebuked the charge.

And Metzenbaum went on to win 57-41, as I recall. I mean, that was the kind of person Glenn was. He didn`t hold grudges. And he really thought people are to be treated fairly. It`s one reason I think he had such enormous respect in the senate. People thought he was--

TODD: Yeah.

SHRUM: -- always gonna give an honest answer. He was always gonna say what he thought. Get a commitment to working people, the kind of folks he came from, but he wasn`t an ideologue.

TODD: Look--

SHRUM: He was a very rare breed.

TODD: I was just going to say though, I`m going to get a lot of e-mails. How come there aren`t more people like John Glenn in the United States senate? How come there aren`t more people like John Glenn in politics? Does politics just make it hard for people with sort of John Glenn`s temperament to sort of do what it takes? To get as muddy as it takes maybe?

SHRUM: Yeah, sure. I mean, it rewards contrivance, it rewards calculation. That wasn`t what John like. That wasn`t what he was comfortable with. But I could ask you a question. Why aren`t there are more people like John Glenn on earth?

TODD: Right. Now, if John Glenn is gonna be hovering above us for quite some time and watching at all. Anyway, Bob Shrum, appreciate remembrances on this as well. We`ll have a lot more on MTP Daily right after this.


TODD: Still ahead on MTP Daily, what retired General Barry McCaffrey had to say about Donald Trump`s choice for national security adviser, General Mike Flynn. Put it this way, it was not kind. We`ll be right back.



JOHN BOEHNER, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES: Sanity didn`t prevail in the presidential primaries. And we`re not in that cycle. We`re not in that zone.

SHANE SMITH, FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE VICE: What cycle are we in now?

BOEHNER: Craziness. Come on, it`s crazy.

SMITH: And what`s gonna happen?

BOEHNER: People are wondering what in the hell happened to America?


TODD: Obviously, that was former house speaker, John Boehner, with some blunt words about our state of politics in 2016. Wednesday, he told reported that he -- thanks God he`s not in the middle of today`s political climate -- it`s a new documentary from VICE which sought up the perspectives of the key figures leading up to what they say are now are our new modern politics, and that it started at the top.


OBAMA: I could not be prouder of the work that my administration has done. But there is no doubt that one of the central goals that I`ve had, which was to make the politics in Washington work better, to reduce the knee jerk partisanship, to elevate the debate, I haven`t accomplished that.


TODD: Shane Smith is the founder of the VICE and host of its documentary series on HBO, his latest project. "VICE Special Report: A House Divided" debuts on HBO this Friday at 10:00 p.m. eastern. Shane joins me now. Shane, welcome to the program, sir.

SMITH: Thanks for having me.

TODD: So, make the case. You are -- is it fair to say you`re using this documentary to make the case at all this new hyper-partisan era, you say began in 2009?


SMITH: Well, it didn`t begin in 2009, but it got a lot worse in 2009, I think. You know, we chronicle, we sort of have an autopsy of what happened from stimulus to Obamacare to sort of the last four years which was just, you know, a partisan slugfest. And now we`re inheriting that situation where it`s worse than ever before.

TODD: What -- how much of this only seems worse because of the media environment we live in where everything is hyper covered, right? We cover every incremental piece, and I think sometimes we`re drowning the public in incrementalism. Where -- if we had the same level of media coverage, say, during the `50s, from the McCarthy era and all these other things, would we say the same thing?

SMITH: I think that`s an important point and one of the only points that President Obama and Speaker Boehner agreed on is that the press aspect of it has blown everything out of proportion. That said, I think if you look at, you know, the congress that has been -- you know, the last four years, for example, has been the least amount or the least effective in history.

So I think that there is a combination of both, media for sure, social media, new news platforms, et cetera, have blown this out of proportion. They`re moving farther to the right and farther to the left. But also if you look at the historical output of legislative, it`s not going well.

TODD: Do either Boehner or Obama take any personal responsibility for the climate?

SMITH: I think they both do. I think, you know, Boehner feels bad and, you know, I think was surprised that he was ousted by his own party because of the tea party, and I think President Obama realizes that this was not one of the best parts of his administration.

TODD: What did you learn from this that you didn`t know going in?

SMITH: I didn`t realize how bad it was. I think if you talk to Speaker Boehner, you know, he`s sort of the mechanic of Washington. He wanted to get things done. And, you know, previous to this, he was seen as a real partisan guy, really, you know, a right wing guy. But he was ousted for being too bipartisan, for actually meeting with the president at all.

And then you realize just how bad it is that the speaker, who is supposed to bridge consensus with the president, wasn`t even allowed to meet the president, otherwise risk getting ousted. And I think that was surprising, the level of partisanship, and how, you know, vitriolic it is to the point where you can`t even meet the other side.

TODD: Look, when I get the question of what can be done to sort of fix this, you know, we all get to the point that there is about a hundred different things that needed to change to have the grand fix. It`s like, you know, fixing up a house. It`s not one thing, it`s a lot of things.

That said, what was the most viable piece of advice Boehner and Obama gave to sort of this -- to the current leadership that`s going to be inheriting all this to try to cut it down, that they think is a realistic way to try to curb some of the hyper-partisanship?

SMITH: I think in the end of the documentary, Obama reflects upon the last eight years and says, look, I might be progressive in my policy, but I`m conservative as an institutionalist, and these institutions have weathered a lot of storms, and people can get frustrated with, you know, the slowness of the political process.

And that frustration can lead to maybe trying to have systemic change. You know, he was very worried about this, that, you know, revolutions, quote, unquote, never end up where we think they`re going to. So I think that was a very cautionary tale of let`s look at our institutions and let`s have faith in our institutions. And, you know, that was my big, big takeaway from my time with the president.

TODD: And I have to say hearing him describe himself as an institutionalist is fascinating. I don`t know if he would have done that eight years ago. Anyway, Shane Smith, you made me want to watch this even more.

SMITH: Oh, thank you very much.

TODD: I appreciate it and thank you for coming on the show. Again, "VICE Special Report: A House Divided" debuts tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. on that little channel called HBO. I think you`ve heard of it, anyway. Shane, once again, thanks.

Just ahead in The Lid, General Barry McCaffrey`s concerns about Mike Flynn as the pick to be Donald Trump`s national security advisor. Stay tuned.


TODD: Welcome back. Presidential appointments for national security advisor do not require senate confirmation, and Donald Trump has already made his choice, it`s retired lieutenant, General Michael Flynn. Flynn was a Trump loyalist, is a Trump loyalist.

And before he retired, he was a highly respected intelligence officer who ran the defense intelligence agency. But he has come under fire for some inflammatory tweets about Muslims, and along with his son, sharing fake news stories. And it has got MSNBC military analyst Barry McCaffrey extraordinarily nervous. Take a look.


BARRY MCCAFFREY, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER UNITED STATES ARMY OFFICER: I`m now extremely uneasy about some of these tweets which don`t sound so much as if they`re political skulduggery, but instead border on being demented.

I think we need to aggressively examine what was going on with General Flynn and his son dealing with these transparent nearly demented tweets that were going on. I think it needs closer scrutiny.


TODD: Barry McCaffrey is somebody who I`ve noticed chooses his words very carefully. We`re going to dig into this next in The Lid.


TODD: Welcome back to MTP Daily. Time for The Lid. Back with me, Katie Packer, Chris Cillizza, John Stanton. Barry McCaffrey, any retired general doesn`t rag on other generals. You don`t do that. It`s sort of just like, military guys, there`s rivalries and they might -- but to do it that way, you don`t do it unless you feel compelled to do so. Something`s going on here.

CILLIZZA: It seems like it`s a lone wolf strike. Like it suggests that there`s some level of coordination. I`m sure he may have pinged a few other people saying, I`m going to do this.

Yeah, I mean, I think if you look and say, okay, who is the most controversial pick, and I think you have to grade on a curve, that a controversial EPA director is different than a controversial national security adviser or secretary of defense or attorney general. Just all cabinet positions aren`t created equal.

Flynn is clearly, in my mind, I guess, Sessions is in that mix, but Flynn is clearly the one if you had to pick today, you would say, that`s the guy who is flagging in this early going of this.

Now, as we were talking about off air, does not need to be confirmed in a way that virtually all these other positions we were talking about, but that also means, it can just be like, and out, and in, right? This is very much, you serve at the will of the boss.

TODD: The two big offices in the west wing after the president. One is chief of staff, one is a national security adviser. That`s not an accident.

PACKER: And this is not--

CILLIZZA: Look who held the job, too. In terms of powerful people with big- -

TODD: Yeah, Condi Rice, Hadley.

PACKER: And it`s a job that doesn`t just speak to the president, but it actually coordinates all of the national security advice that`s coming to the president. And it`s sort of remarkable, when you look at the accolades that Mattis got from across the aisle from people serving in the armed forces and it`s very different from the kind of response that Flynn has received.

STANTON: This could also if Flynn were to be gotten rid of in some manner or he will step down or if Trump were to push him out. It`s just you can get a little bit closer to where they are going to start doing confirmation that could actually end up helping him get Sessions through.

CILLIZZA: Of course, I gave you this guy.

STANTON: You sacrificed him, you get Sessions through, who really, really wants--

TODD: By the way, this is a very Trumpian way of doing business.

CILLIZZA: Compromise.


TODD: He`s a deal maker, which is, you know, always be willing to give something up, that you really aren`t as married to, but don`t let them think you are.

PACKER: He`s not family member.


CILLIZZA: That`s the key to understanding him. What`s the thing that he prides himself on in everything? Art of the deal, deal making, compromise. So he will trade 5-1/2 for what he believes is 6.

TODD: Before we go, speaking of deal making, Donald Trump once made a deal with Mark Burnett years and years ago. And it came to be apprentice. And guess what? "Variety" is reporting this hour that Donald Trump is going to remain a, I believe, it`s an executive producer title on "Celebrity Apprentice" when it debuts in January.

CILLIZZA: Right under Burnett in the credits, above Arnold Schwarzenegger.

PACKER: You can`t write it.


CILLIZZA: It`s true.

TODD: You know, Donald Trump being connected to "The Apprentice" is not news to the American public. In many ways, it maybe why it may have given him the persona he needed to win this election. Is there a limit that he can go here that will alienate some of his own supporters on this one?



STANTON: No, not on this.

TODD: They love this stuff, don`t they?

PACKER: Why not? I mean, this is the least controversial thing that`s happened.


CILLIZZA: Yeah, we`re through the looking glass. Look, no one with this resume and this approach to politics has ever been elected to this office. Not even close. The Reagan comparison is -- Ronald Reagan was the governor of California.

PACKER: Right.

TODD: Right.

PACKER: Exactly.

CILLIZZA: I mean, he had a job other than acting, that was in politics. And you say, oh, well, this is a similar thing. We are -- whether it`s his conflicts of interest, you know, the diversifying of his business. I mean, this is the reality stuff. The family and what they`re involvement be. I mean, we are in a different place than we ever have been before.

TODD: Likelihood that we see Donald Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger together on the "Celebrity Apprentice" before January 20th?

STANTON: 100 percent.

CILLIZZA: He`s going to -- walking in at the beginning, right?

PACKER: Probably not.

TODD: You don`t think so!

CILLIZZA: I do not.

TODD: You`re in the "no" category. His name`s on the credits.

PACKER: There`s time limits.

CILLIZZA: I`m just not willing to rule anything out. You know what I mean?

TODD: Wow, that`s something we`ve all learned. When it comes to Donald Trump, don`t rule anything out. All right. Katie, Chris, John, thanks very much.

Hillary Clinton`s popular vote count is approaching a big milestone. We`ll tell you about it after the break.


TODD: Well, in case you missed it, we`re still counting votes from last month`s presidential election, and Hillary Clinton`s vote total does keep increasing. In fact, she`s closing in on Barack Obama`s vote total from 2012.

According to the tireless work of our pal, Dave Wasserman at the Cook Political Report, Clinton currently has about 65.5 million votes nationwide. That`s around 400,000 votes than Barack Obama received in his reelection bid. Clinton maybe nearing Obama`s 2012 vote total number nationally, but as you know, she got her votes in the wrong places to earn a ticket to the White House.

She garnered thousands of fewer votes than Obama in swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If she ran at Obama`s place in just those three states, she`d be president-elect right now, and this popular vote business wouldn`t matter to anybody.

Folks, when it comes down to the popular vote, it`s just like real estate, it`s all about location, location, location. That`s all for tonight. Chris Matthews picks up our coverage right now.