Show: MTP DAILY Date: December 9, 2016 Guest: Pete Williams, Michael Beschloss, Anita Dunn, Kellyanne Conway, Aditi Roy, Alexander Smith
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: All right. That`s going to do it for this hour. I`m Steve Kornacki. "MTP DAILY" starts right now.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Friday.
Just how deep do Russia`s spy games go? Tonight, Russia`s role in the presidential election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA MONACO, WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR: The president has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: This, as another world power, is now expressing concern about the security of its election.
Plus, an NBC News exclusive. We`ll introduce you to a guy who got rich creating fake election news. And we will show you how he does it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see what people like and you give them. It`s really simple what we --
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TODD: And we`ll hear from top Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway, on whether Trump`s cabinet picks fit with Trump`s campaign promises.
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and welcome to MTP DAILY.
We`ve got a big show today. Kellyanne Conway will be here in a few minutes. And you don`t want to miss this NBC News exclusive on tracing the source of fake news, we actually embedded some of our digital reporters with them.
But first, just how deep did the Russian influence on the U.S. election go? It`s the question a lot of folks are asking including President Obama.
Today, the president ordered a full review of election related cyber- attacks. He wants U.S. intelligence agencies to deliver him a dossier (ph) of the evidence of the Russian government`s role and whether they were installing and using cyber-attacks and other means to intervene in the 2016 election. And he wants it to get at his desk before he leaves office.
His White House counterterrorism advisor, Lisa Monaco, today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONACO: The president directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process. It is and to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders to include the Congress.
He expects to get a report prior to him leaving office, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)?
MONACO: We`ll see what comes out of the report. But certainly there will be a report to a range of stakeholders to include Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Administration officials have told NBC News the president is concerned that Russia will go unpunished for the behavior unless he acts. That`s because, despite intelligence briefings, linking Russia to cyber because Donald Trump has repeatedly downplayed the possibility that Russia was as involved in the election as the intelligence community believes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She is saying Russia, Russia, Russia. But I don`t -- maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia. But it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Just this past October, the Obama administration accused the Russian government of waging a digital campaign to disrupt this election. In fact, 17 intelligence agencies already agree that Russia had its hand in these cyber breeches. The substance or scale of what exactly was achieved remains unclear. And how close was it to Putin?
The president`s announcement today comes as pressure is growing from Congress to get the real story on just how much influence Russia had in the election.
John McCain and Lindsay Graham said it`s time for a probe. Marco Rubio backed that up that sentiment on "MEET THE PRESS" a couple of weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: If you look at what happened during our election and the sort of things that were interjected into the election process, they are very similar to the sort of active measures that you`ve seen the Russians use in the past, in places like eastern Europe, to interfere with the elections of other countries.
TODD: Is it worthy of international scrutiny?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, a potential candidate, by the way, for secretary of state for Donald Trump, said he intends to hold hearings next year on alleged Russian hacking.
Remember, all of the people I just pointed out are Republican voices. Trump`s would be allies and some Republicans are joining together with Democrats to buck the president on this -- the president-elect on this soft tone that he has with Russia.
Twenty-seven senators, including 12 Republicans and 15 Democrats, signed a letter calling on Trump to stand against Russian aggression and support NATO and Ukrainian sovereignty.
Also today, "The New York Times" reports that with national elections coming up in Germany next year, the Germans fear they`re next. Just last year, according to the "Times," hackers infiltrated the German parliament`s computer network. The country`s intelligence agency concluded that the attack was most likely the work of their Russian counterparts.
[17:05:06] Just another piece of the seemingly growing puzzle of Russia`s involvement in a lot of western democracies these days.
Joining me now is NBC News justice correspondent, Pete Williams. And, Pete, explain what an agency -- you know, he wants this review. OK, what does this mean? Does this mean calling all the agencies and saying, tell me what you got and we`ll put together the report or does he wants 17 reports from these agencies and then we`ll put it together in one report?
PETE WILLIAMS, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, he wants the intelligence community to do this. And bear in mind that we found out about this today from Lisa Monaco, but we don`t know when this was starred. It could be already in the process. The officials haven`t told us that.
So, it could be that they`re well along the way on doing this because you can think if he wants it before he leaves office, they`ve got roughly a month to do it. So, presumably, they`ve already started on it.
But, presumably, this is going to be a single report summarizing what the intelligence community believes Russia was up to, in terms of the U.S. election.
TODD: This order, is there -- it is -- the implication, I guess, in the announcement or potential implication is that the Obama administration believes if they don`t do this review, Trump never will.
WILLIAMS: Well, I think that`s certainly a given, that given his skepticism about whether the Russians were involved at all which 180 degrees the other way from what the intelligence community has been saying.
And he repeated this, you showed the clip from the debate. He repeated --
WILLIAMS: -- this in his interview with "Time" magazine where he said much the same. He said it could be Russia. It could be China. It could be a guy in New Jersey, he said. And he`s also said that the intelligence community doesn`t know.
So, his view is 180 degrees opposite of theirs. So, at a -- at the very least, the president believes that if Russia isn`t called out on this, the Trump administration is unlikely to do anything.
But it sort of begs the question of if the president asked for and gets, sort of, smoking gun or definitive proof that Russia was behind this, it begs the question, what`s the U.S. going to do about it?
And that raises the question of whether the president, President Obama, would try to do something to retaliate before leaving office in mid- January.
TODD: This feels to me as if the president wants to gather a bunch of documentation, essentially to say, here you go, Congress. Begin.
WILLIAM: Well, certainly that. I mean, it`ll be -- whatever this, it`ll be great fuel for the hearings that congress intends to do. The investigation that Congress intends to do. Congress would`ve asked for this sort of information anyway. But by -- he, basically, jump starts the process for them, without question.
And there are going to be hearings in both the House and the Senate. And, as you know, these are hearings that will chaired by Republicans in the administration of Republican president who has great skepticism about this.
TODD: All right. It`s -- this is going to be one of the interesting -- who knows if it`s a total side bar story of 2017 or the main story or one of the main stories.
Anyway, Pete Williams in our news room. Pete, thanks very much. Let me turn quickly to Malcolm Nance. He`s, of course, an MSNBC Terrorism Analyst. He`s also executive director of the terror asymmetric project.
Malcolm, very quickly, I want to focus on what`s going on in Europe right now. Germany believes there`s Russian interference. Italy, there`s been some allegations in the referendum there that just led to the resignation of, essentially, a pro-E.U. style of a leader in premise hornsey (ph) there. That led to his resignation.
Obviously, we`ve heard about Brexit, our election here in the United States. What does -- what`s actually out there? How confident are you that this truly is a big Russian plot to disrupt a lot of western democracies?
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, as you know, Chuck, despite the fact that I deal in counterterrorism, I wrote a book called "The Plot to Hack America" which outlined in great detail how Russia carried out these cyber operations as part of their global hybrid military warfare. They call them disinformation operations or compromot (ph) where they actually compromise a nation`s political system in their interest.
And so, the Russians have not only done this just to the United States in this last year, they`ve done it against the Ukraine, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia. We know that they hacked the German parliament a year ago with the exact same hacker, you know, malware and systems of Russian intelligence that they, you know, hacked the DNC with.
So, this is a largescale operation on Russia`s side. They view it as a way to balancing out their weak economic policies by gaining -- you know, gaining information against people and putting in allies that they want.
TODD: And, ultimately, is their motivation simply to just keep Europe and NATO off their back, at the end of the day? That`s what this is about?
NANCE: I think it`s bigger than that. I mean, if you speak to, you know, other experts, like Mike McFall, former U.S. ambassador to Russia or -- you know, they believe that Putin is trying to exercise strength.
[17:10:09] And most of this exercise is against his own population. It`s a propaganda war which is why you see mass bombings in Syria, you know, with Russian -- you know, relatively antiquated Russian systems.
But they also were pushing NATO back. And with Donald Trump, now as their ally who has met all of their strategic goals he promised them in the campaign, they now can push NATO back or even dissolve it to the point where they can, you know, exercise even greater influence and hopefully bring a broader growth to Russian economy.
TODD: Right. At the end of the day, he doesn`t -- he fears these multi- country organizations, however you want to call it, in various ways.
Anyway, Malcolm Nance, appreciate your expertise and perspective on this.
Let me bring in my panel. MSNBC Political Analyst, former RNC chairman, Michael Steele. Anita Dunn, former White House Communications Director, and managing director of SKB Knickerbocker. And Michael Beschloss, NBC News, presidential historian.
Michael, I`m going to start with you because during the cold war, how much did either side try to use propaganda to up end their political systems? And it -- do you see -- is there a historic parallel for what we are seeing (INAUDIBLE)?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, NBC NEWS: We did and more at the edges. And, you know, as you were talking, it just made me think. We`ve gone back 70 years to the start of the cold war in 1946 and 1947 because the reason why Truman reacted so sharply against the Soviets was that they were trying to do exactly this, avert the governments of western Europe and do the same with elections.
TODD: Anita, obviously, this is a -- for many Democrats, it`s like, I really want to, like, prove that, you know, they didn`t -- that this was an unfair or this was a rigged part of this. I almost wonder, if it looks too partisan, does it make -- will it actually make it harder for them to punish Putin?
ANITA DUNN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You know, Chuck, I think it was frustrating for Democrats, starting in July when it became clear what had happened. When everyone who looked at the issue said, yes, the Democratic National Committee was not only infiltrated but it was infiltrated by Russian associated groups. And that it was, basically, a nonstory. And then, of course, the Clinton campaign with John Podesta.
I think we all felt like, you know, if somebody had caught these people breaking into their offices and stealing these documents.
TODD: It`s a big story, right.
ANITA: It`s a huge story, right. And would NBC News had been reporting --
BESCHLOSS: Russian spies.
DUNN: Russian spies breaking into the DNC, breaking into John Podesta`s home to steal his personal files, right?
TODD: That`s a big story.
DUNN: It`s a huge story. And instead, it was like a, wow, did Doug Band really write that about Chelsea Clinton kind of story.
TODD: Which I didn`t -- nobody was sure. There was a vagueness.
DUNN: What did you need? What did you need. You had a lot of people in the intelligence community saying, yes, this is what happened.
TODD: Sure, and that was all reported on. But I think the fact that it didn`t gain critical mass with the public. There was just enough vagary.
DUNN: Well, and -- because the public was really getting the salacious daily e-mail from the very selective WikiLeaks that the groups that had stolen these papers made to begin with.
And of course Democrats are frustrated. Now, does it mean it materially affected the election? You can never say it did, but clearly it was not helpful. If you talk to people from the Clinton campaign, they`ll tell you it was very debilitating.
TODD: How`s this not an act of war if we prove it? I mean, I`m sorry, it`s, like, when another country is trying to dictate --
STEELE: Well, --
TODD: -- the American presidential election, that`s a version of -- right? That`s so subversive. That`s a next level stuff.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIR, RNC: I think what makes this not reach that level --
STEELE: -- is the fact that it`s cyber. And at the end of the day, we still don`t have our hands and our eyes and our ears fully around what this new, brave world is all about.
We focus on what happens with social media and we just laugh and we explain and we cry. But there`s a whole back story, that you`ve talked about and certainly Anita has just referenced, that`s beneath the surface that, quite frankly, we haven`t equated with the level of seriousness that you`re talking about.
So, an act of war? People will look at you and hear it and, well, how is that an act of war?
STEELE: Because they see an act of war is, you know, somebody physically doing something or attacking American soldiers somewhere. That`s very different from hacking somebody`s e-mail.
TODD: Go ahead, Michael.
BESCHLOSS: And, you know, the thing that the new president is probably the most kindly towards Russia of any of the Republican candidates who ran this year for reasons that we don`t, I think, still fully understand.
BESCHLOSS: Which is one reason why people are so nervous.
TODD: It adds this level of intrigue to this whole story.
DUNN: And I think that -- certainly what the White House has asked for today and it will be produced before President Obama leaves office will up the ante for everybody who`s still in government to have to deal with this in a straight-forward way because the proof will be there.
STEELE: But that begs the question.
DUNN: It won`t be -- it won`t be a question at a debate any longer. It`ll be an official report now.
STEELE: But it still begs the question, what are you going to do about it?
[17:15:01] DUNN: Right.
TODD: Well, I think -- and a lot of it depends on the findings. I think a lot of it`s going to depend on the public`s reaction to the findings. How definitive does it get? That`s the thing (INAUDIBLE.)
BESCHLOSS: And two brave Republicans, McCain and Graham, who, at the very beginning, are willing to test their -- this relationship with the new president.
TODD: But it`s not just those two. It`s Marco Rubio --
TODD: This is going to -- this is not a -- this won`t be as partisan as people think.
BESCHLOSS: But will we see this as the beginning of a cleavage between Trump and Republicans in Congress?
TODD: And I think you`re right. You know, by the way, this is cost Bob Corker secretary of state or does this help him?
You guys are sticking around for the hour.
Coming up, the growing conflict of interest questions that many people are bringing up with President-elect Trump. I`m going to talk to Trump senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway.
Plus, take news. NBC News reporter, Alexander Smith, went the source, one of the sources anyway, in Macedonia. And I`ll talk to him about what he learned later in this broadcast.
TODD: Breaking news at this hour. We are expecting Democratic Senator Joe Mansion on the Senate floor, any moment now, to announce that there will be no government shutdown.
As some, a few, had feared, Mansion and some other red state senators have been holding up a vote on the continuing resolution to push for extended benefits for retired coal miners. We don`t know for sure yet whether they fully struck the deal, if it`s totally done.
But we know that senators don`t like being here late at night on a Friday, and certainly don`t want to have to work on a Saturday.
So, it looks like a deal is near. No government shutdown. The temporary budget bill will pass which expires in April. We`ll be right back.
TODD: A major shake-up in -- I don`t know if you want to call it a race for secretary of state. But just moments ago, Donald Trump said in a statement that former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, considered a top contender for secretary of state, removed his name for consideration for any position in the new administration.
[17:20:08] The transition (ph) says it was not related to anything they found while vetting his candidacy. Instead, Trump`s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, says Giuliani passed with flying colors.
So, what happened? This is a job that Giuliani aggressively lobbied for publicly. The transition says Giuliani withdrew his name during a meeting with Trump Tuesday. But the transition did keep mentioning his name through today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: You know, the mayor was a constant presence pretty much in the last -- in the waning months of the campaign, had endorsed the president- elect earlier on in, I guess, the summer or spring.
But Mayor Giuliani is still in the mix.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether it be a Rudy Giuliani or a Mitt Romney, or a General Petraeus, or Senator Corker, or John Bolton and others, bring extraordinary background and qualities to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: While Giuliani is out, sources tell my colleague, Stephanie Ruhle, and a transition official confirmed at "The Washington Post," that Goldman Sachs president and COO, Gary Cohn, is in. He`s been offered a job as Trump`s top White House economic adviser.
Cohn is the third Goldman Sachs alum to be offered a job in the Trump White House. Trump picked a 17-year Goldman vet, in Steve Mnuchin, for treasury. And a one-time Goldman banker, Steve Bannon, is Trump`s top White House adviser.
During the campaign, Trump attacked Goldman`s political influence. In fact, here`s Trump during the campaign, going after Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton`s Goldman ties.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton. They have total. But they have no control -- they have no control over Donald Trump. I don`t want their money. I don`t need their money. They have no control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: I`m joined now by Kellyanne Conway, top transition adviser and, of course, Donald Trump`s campaign manager during the campaign. Kellyanne, welcome to the set.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRANSITION ADVISER, DONALD TRUMP: Yes, thank you.
TODD: It`s been a while. Let me go right there to Goldman Sachs. He railed against Goldman Sachs. Three Goldman Sachs alum, fairly prominent positions. How is this not hypocritical?
CONWAY: He rallied against their political influence. And he doesn`t like that and he said that they don`t have influence over him, politically. And they will not have influence over him politically in this White House. They need to work with him to implement the president-elect`s vision for our economy.
TODD: What would Kellyanne Conway say if a president Hillary Clinton appointed three Goldman Sachs guys? Would you -- would you be saying, oh, they don`t have any influence over her?
CONWAY: You know, I don`t remember myself being incredibly critical of President-elect Obama`s cabinet positions because -- or cabinet selections. Because every president has the right, in this peaceful transfer of power in our great democracy, Chuck, to make his own decisions.
In the case here, though, the first criterion is that the person be qualified and capable to do the job on day one. And to do the job within the structure that the president-elect has set forward, he`s been very straight forward about what his vision is for each of the cabinet positions.
TODD: You know, let me take another look. Because this is not the first Goldman alum to serve in this very post, OK, the chief economic adviser in the White House. It is basically a -- it is almost a Goldman seat. I don`t to be that cliche, but I think almost every president has had a Goldman alum serve there at one point.
Is there -- was there -- was the trashing of Goldman just simply campaign rhetoric and, sort of, B.S.?
CONWAY: Now, remember, he`s talking about political influence. These are cabinet positions. These are people that who going to serve --
TODD: They`re political appointments.
CONWAY: They`re making policy. They`re helping to make policy. They`re helping to roll back really bad policy that we`ve had.
This president wants to create 25 million jobs over 10 years. This president wants to unleash energy in a way -- really have an energy revolution like we`ve never seen. Invest in coal and shale as well not just a silly, I`m for all about energy, as they all say, right, left and center.
He needs people around him who believe in that and can help execute on that. And you`re not going to find better people than those who have been at the top of finance, the top of our markets, frankly, and understand how the markets work.
In the case of Rover Ross, somebody who has taken distressed companies and turned them around. Each of these men, also, Chuck, are proven job creators. And that`s a centerpiece of Donald Trump`s administration. It`s actually a centerpiece of President-elect Donald Trump`s tenure in that look what he did with Carrier in Indianapolis.
TODD: Let me ask you about this, Rudy Giuliani. The withdrawal today, it does seem as if it -- he was, sort of, out of the mix. Were you -- was everybody just being polite by keeping his name in the mix until Rudy Giuliani had -- was able to withdraw on his own timetable?
CONWAY: Well, it`s a mutual decision by President-elect Trump and Mayor Giuliani. It should be respected by everyone. They will be close friends. Mayor Giuliani will continue to be an informal advisor to the president- elect. And Mayor Giuliani was incredibly loyal to Donald Trump, especially in his waning months of the campaign.
And, actually, he gave great advice. I grew very close to him in the course of the campaign. But in addition to that, he is a very lucrative, very successful, very in demand private sector business. And it`s difficult for people to walk away from that often enough.
So, I think until the two of them had agreed to this mutually, it really was up to them to (INAUDIBLE.)
[17:25:03] TODD: I find that an interesting phrase you used, mutual decision.
TODD: Right. That Donald Trump wasn`t -- he wasn`t sold on the idea of Rudy Giuliani as secretary of state.
CONWAY: Oh, no, I mean that the president -- no, I meant that, as the President-elect Trump accepted Mayor Giuliani`s decision to withdraw his name.
CONWAY: And, obviously, the president-elect is considering a number of people for that post that the actual scope has widened of late. You just mentioned Rex Tillerson, the head of Exxon. A very intriguing pick to many people. He`s already active in Russian, China, Yemen, and the developing world across our globe. He has the kind of business experience that Donald Trump values.
CONWAY: That`s your golden question.
TODD: What is the -- what is the -- what are among the criterias for state because let me just take -- let`s take Rex Tillerson and Mitt Romney. When it comes to Putin, they totally have different takes on Putin. So, obviously, you`re sending two different messages, depending on who you pick. Is the Putin -- is the candidate`s position on Putin part of the criteria?
CONWAY: Well, the candidates being Tillerson and Romney?
CONWAY: Well, I believe, Chuck, that everybody should recognize it is President-elect Trump`s position on Putin that will dominate the secretary of state role at foggy bottom and across the globe.
TODD: So, this is an implementer. Everyone needs to remember that this is an implementer.
CONWAY: Well, of course, he`ll take the counsel of those around him and he always does. We always feel welcome. He`s a master listener and learner, Donald Trump. But he`s also a master communicator in connecting with people.
And he is sending a message in tone and content to the world through the secretary of state pick as to how or whom he believes will help implement his vision, really what will become the Trump doctrine.
And he has been very clear about how he views Vladimir Putin, the possibilities of coming together, say, to, perhaps, double down and try to defeat, once and for all, radicals on the terrorism and try to get -- to get the ISIS to actually be the J.V. team that is no longer announcing it was once said to be by President Obama.
And yet, we know that Vladimir Putin is -- also does things that Donald Trump doesn`t always agree with. I mean, that is going to come with the territory. He talked to over 50 heads of states since he became the president-elect. He and Vice President-elect Pence have.
And -- but he`s receiving calls. He`s discussing issues with world leaders, knowing that we still have another president and commander in chief for the next six weeks or so.
But, at the same time, it doesn`t mean that he agrees with everything or most things that these leaders are doing or saying.
TODD: You may know bones about Mitt Romney and his position. Is Mitt Romney still a candidate?
CONWAY: He is. And I also may know bones about the fact that I will support, completely and whole heartedly, whoever President-elect Trump picks to serve in his cabinet, including secretary of state. He has my complete loyalty.
All I was trying to do was give some voice, first privately and then, with permission, publicly, to what I saw as just a breathtaking onslaught of resistance to the idea.
And that came in a week when President-elect Trump told "The New York Times" on the record, Chuck, that he was rethinking water boarding. That he had conferred with his now defense department nominee, General Mattis, that he would take a look at the Paris accords on climate change.
And that he wasn`t much interested in having it as a priority right now, prosecuting Hillary Clinton. He`s focused on immigration. Health care is what he said in that on-the-record briefing.
It doesn`t mean that it won`t happen. It doesn`t mean that some other people are in charge of it. But in the week when he said those things, the biggest news story for the grass roots was the prospect of secretary of state, Mitt Romney.
TODD: You were trying to make sure he didn`t -- he didn`t miss that.
CONWAY: Well, no, he didn`t miss it because it was said to him privately. But also, what I think ultimately doesn`t matter. What Donald Trump, as the president-elect and president of the United States, does is all that matters.
But I appreciate the fact that he takes the counsel and the advice of many different senior advisers. And, ultimately, we already -- we always know who`s in command and control of the decision. He is a master decision maker. He is a brilliant -- he`s a brilliant accomplished businessman whose instincts and who`s role intelligence are really incredible.
TODD: I want to ask you about General Flynn and what`s happened in the countries that surrounds his son. McCaffrey, the former general, NBC News Military Analyst. He had some tough words for General Flynn to us earlier this week. I want to play them for you and get you to react.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET): You know, I was very strong in my endorsement of him when he was first announced in the NSC position. I said he was correctly probably the best intelligence officer of his generation.
But I must admit, I`m now am extremely uneasy about some of these tweets which don`t sound so much as if they are political skullduggery, but instead border on being demented. I think it needs closer scrutiny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Those are tough words from somebody who`s not known as a partisan.
CONWAY: Very tough words.
And the first part which General McCaffrey said hasn`t changed. And that`s that General Michael Flynn has served his country for 30 years including five years in combat, many tours of duty, missed his older son`s wedding and made it just in the nick of time for his second son`s wedding.
These are his sacrifices that people like General Flynn make. And he said very clear what his top priorities are. He talked about security and peace. He talked about government reform. And he will -- of course he is another one who will implement what President Donald Trump`s vision for the national security post is.
But I think what General McCaffrey said about this man`s decades of service should not be undercut by recent events. I think that would be very unfortunate.
TODD: Why shouldn`t people have some questions about.
CONWAY: I didn`t say they shouldn`t.
TODD: . General Flynn`s judgment that he didn`t, you know, maybe it`s love for his son that made him not have sort of overlooked or have not used correct judgment here. Whatever it is, there`s clearly a question he used wrong judgment here.
CONWAY: They apologized. His son has been removed from the transition team. The fact is that I think everybody can relate to love for one`s son. But at the same time we really need to look at his full record. What qualifies him to be national security adviser and you find a very long list of items in response to that question.
TODD: If he doesn`t have the respect of the military community though, can he effectively do that?
CONWAY: You are presuming he doesn`t. He does.
TODD: There is a lot of questions. It is bubbling. It is not, you`re right, not a lot of people going on the record. General McCaffrey is one of the few. Would that be a concern to president-elect Trump?
CONWAY: I believe it is not a fact. And I think that people will come on TV if they have something to say that is negative in that regard, but the question is does he have the trust of the president-elect Donald Trump? The question is does he have the trust and the backing of the military community who are looking at it through a non-jaundiced eye? And so far, the answer is yes.
TODD: Alright. There`s a lot more to get to, but I don`t have that time.
TODD: We will have you here again.
CONWAY: Thank you.
TODD: Kellyanne Conway, thank you so much, nice to see you. Still ahead, fake news equals big business in one small European town. NBC News went on the ground in Macedonia to find out where supposed fake news starts. We got some interesting details on that up ahead.
TODD: Well, if it`s Sunday, we are tracking the Trump transition. We will have chief of staff Reince Priebus to talk about the latest on the cabinet picks. Plus, we will have more MTP Daily just ahead. But first, here`s Aditi Roy with the CNBC Market Wrap.
ADITI ROY, GENERAL ASSIGNMENT REPORTER FOR CNBC: Thanks so much, Chuck. Stocks close at fresh all time highs. The Dow surging 142 points. It`s now less than 250 points from the 20,000 level. S&P adds 13 and the Nasdaq climbs 27.
Consumers are pretty confident heading into the holidays. University of Michigan sent in the index rising to the highest level since January of 2015. The gain was bigger than economists expected. And investors are already looking ahead to next week`s FED meeting. The Central Bank expected to announce a rate hike. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: Welcome back. Now to an NBC News exclusive. We tracked fake news to its source or rather to one of its many sources. We know where fake news ends up. On a lot of people`s Facebook feeds and even shared by people close to the president-elect. But where do these lies posing as news come from?
Well, that`s what we wanted to find out. It turns out the answer at least in part is a group of teenagers in a small town in Macedonia of course. NBC news met with one of the these teens and got a close up look at his life and this business. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He asked that we keep his identity hidden. So, let`s call him Demetrie (ph), just a guy making a living in the small town of Veles, Macedonia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wrote that a celebrity wants to kill Trump. The queen of England wants to meet Trump. Trump and Putin had a secret meeting in Mexico.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Demetrie (ph) is 18 years old. And he said that in the past six months, he has made more than $60,000 writing, posting, and sharing fake news articles about the American election. Some 150 fake U.S. politics sites have been traced here. To Demetrie`s (ph) Macedonian hometown.
He was willing to lift the veil on his boot strap operation which he claimed garnered 40 million page views in the past six months. To draw readers, his fake stories copied the style of more mainstream organizations, including NBC News.
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TODD: More clicks mean more cash. Demetrie`s (ph) only goal is to make his stories go viral. And he said his main source of cash comes from supporters of Donald Trump.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump is not a politician just like any other. I think that nothing can beat Trump supporters when it comes to, you know, social media engagement. And that`s why we stick to Trump. TODD: Let me bring in Alexander Smith. He was the one who sat down with the Macedonian team that was cranking out those fake news articles. Alexander, I guess the first thing that comes to mind is did he really come up with this idea all by himself and had no help and no tool kit? Like here you go and here`s how to do this?
ALEXANDER SMITH, REPORTER, NBC NEWS: Well, Chuck. It seems these teams are incredibly self sufficient. This is a phenomena is by no means constricted to Veles, Macedonia. We have seen examples of websites in the U.S. and elsewhere, but it does seem to be incredibly concentrated for such a small town.
These kids really are just start up operations, if you will, doing it from their own bedrooms. They started out very much trial and error. Just posting dozens and dozens of articles every day. Just seeing what stuck and that turned out to be a content supporting Donald Trump and attacking Hillary Clinton.
TODD: So there is no -- it just seems like quite the coincidence that it`s all coming from here and is it really that organic? Or is it in their best interest to make it look organic?
SMITH: It seems that there are various different types of fake news that these teenagers and very young adults are working with. One type is pure copy and paste. There are certain fake news websites in the United States which they will just copy the article from and paste it on to their websites verbatim. That is a pure copy and paste operation.
But they do also take articles from the mainstream media and just inflate their own frankly untruths based on what they think will go viral. Not is there any concern really. They certainly got inspiration from elsewhere. It seems that they saw a certain fake news website in the U.S. and thought that they could make a quick buck by doing so.
These kids have really got to where they are or certainly the particular teenager that said that I and colleagues spent last weekend with. He really got to where he is now by process of trial and error and really just, you know, seeing what works quite frankly and it does. It earned him thousands of dollars.
TODD: Is he a ring leader? Is he training others to do this? Is this just a word of mouth they all talked to each other, hey, look what I`m doing. You want to get in on this? Let me show you how.
SMITH: Certainly the size of Veles, Macedonia is a town of around 50,000 people appears to have contributed hugely to the fact that it`s such an unlikely hot spot. It`s a case of a few teenagers dabbling in the first once word got around that they were making a lot of money would spread and everyone wanted a piece of the action.
The teenager that we spoke with last weekend said that he was one of the first people to switch to U.S. politics, even involved in some other websites before, but he said he was one of the first people to switch to U.S. politics, and that certainly spread. And he said he is now hiring three 15-year-olds and paying them around $10 a day, which is a good money for that town especially if you`re a 15-year-old kid.
You know, you are not going to get that sort of money behind a bar in Veles, Macedonia. He is employing three of these kids. He is reinvesting his money into Facebook all the time. He says he is not the top earner in Veles, but he is close to the top. He told us he is probably at least in the top 10, if not higher than that.
TODD: And all of his money is earned just based on how much traffic a story gets, right? With click advertising.
TODD: Yeah, go ahead.
SMITH: It`s just brute numbers and they post dozens of articles every day just in a pure bid. They also cross post to each other`s Facebook pages. They cross post to each other`s articles all in a bid to try and get the Facebook algorithm, not to discriminate against the stories to try gain the algorithm, to get the maximum number of arrivals.
And yeah, it`s just brute numbers. It`s just to try to get as many thousands of people on to your website. Because there is only a small percentage of those people who would then click through.
TODD: There it is. Macedonia. The fake news country of record these days. Alexander Smith, fascinating stuff. I have to admit you`ve only created more questions now than I thought were imaginable. Alexander, good work, thanks very much. You can see more of Alexander`s reporting on this story in nbcnews.com.
And breaking news from the hill, Senator Joe Manchin did just take the floor headline no deal to move the temporary budget deal forward just yet. Guess what? Six hours until a shut down. More details right after the break.
TODD: Welcome back. I`m obsessed and so is my family with another family tonight. That`s something great that happened to someone great and someone close to me. My good friend Savannah Guthrie and her husband Mike welcomed baby Charlie into the world yesterday morning. Charles Max Feldman is 21.5 inches long and weighing what his dad calls a formidable nine pounds eight ounces. Mom is calling it a bruiser. Big ole boy.
By the way, he is named after Savannah`s dad, Charles, and Mike`s grandfather, Max. He does have an older sister some of you know, Vail, is reportedly very excited to be a big sister. The whole family is doing great, and I just want to publicly wish them a big congrats from the Meet the Press family and the Todd family. Savannah, we love you. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Time for The Lid. Let me bring back the panel. Michael Steele, Anita Dunn, and Michael Beschloss. Anita, very quickly, I know you`re close to some of the congressional democratic leadership. This Joe Manchin decision to potentially hold up and threaten a government shutdown. Good politics for the democrats?
ANITA DUNN, POLITICAL STRATEGIST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I think Joe Manchin is showing the people of his state who he stands with and I think that`s always good politics.
TODD: Good politics for Joe Manchin or good politics for the democratic party?
DUNN: No, I think he`s sending a message to people around the country, who he stands with, who the democratic party stands with. That`s not bad politics.
TODD: All right. Rudy Giuliani, a mutual decision, as Kellyanne Conway told me.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You couldn`t wait for this. TODD: I have to say, I thought that was interesting. She was very careful, twice, to say it was mutual. MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Needs to spend more time with his family.
TODD: Yes. This was not Rudy`s decision.
STEELE: I get the sense it wasn`t either. And I think that it goes back to Rudy campaigning so hard for the position they didn`t want to give him. And I think that just kind of start rubbing a whole lot of folks internally the wrong way. And Donald Trump has shown, he can have you dangling out there for as long as he wants you on the hook. TODD: You know, there is something that others have pointed out to me and I`ve noticed too, with Trump, which is the more press you get involving Trump that isn`t about him, that doesn`t play well with the boss.
BESCHLOSS: That`s exactly right.
TODD: That hurt Paul Manafort. The more -- he became a story, good-bye.
BESCHLOSS: It`s like Theodore Roosevelt, you know, had to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.
(LAUGHTER) TODD: But how would you -- is Trump thinking the right way on that front, that when staff gets too much press, it`s a problem?
DUNN: You know, Chuck, there was a time in American politics where if staff showed up in photographs, they got in trouble in campaigns.
DUNN: And you know what? We can make America great again here, okay?
BESCHLOSS: When was their last appearance?
STEELE: But it does speak to the people around him and the roles that they understand they have to play with Trump. So you look at that inner circle of Bannon and Priebus, those are two guys who are not gonna be looking for a camera, they`re not gonna be looking for that public conversation.
That suits Trump just fine. And I think, you know, whether you believe what happened with Kellyanne and her comments about Mitt Romney, whether it was part of the narrative, the quickness with which that pulled back to get her back behind the curtain I think speaks volumes to your point.
TODD: I have to say, politically, Romney would be the smartest pick for uniting the republican party, I think, but maybe.
BESCHLOSS: I don`t think.
TODD: . would explode. I don`t know. What if.
STEELE: I don`t think -- I don`t think a Romney pick unites the republican.
TODD: You don`t? You think it would divide?
STEELE: I think it would divide, yeah.
BESCHLOSS: The other question is, you know, let`s say it ends up being Rex Tillerson, and again on the Russian theme, this is someone who has a pretty close relationship with Putin. And you begin to ask the question on getting ahead here. Was this whole reality show about choosing a secretary of state over the last month really to disguise the appointment of someone who may have been a front-runner all along. TODD: That`s an interesting thought.
DUNN: Because the reality is that if you go back and looked at the 2012 foreign policy debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Romney clearly lays out that he sees Russia as the single greatest threat.
TODD: I think he`s on an "I told you so" tour right now.
DUNN: I think he`s on a bit of "I told you so" tour. There are some people might disagree with a lot of the things he still says, but the reality of this is, I think this is going to be an incredibly important signal to the rest of the world. And how Trump decides -- how the president-elect decides to go on this one is going to tell us a lot about this.
STEELE: Historian has his finger on the pulse.
TODD: A fascinating little, yeah, well.
BESCHLOSS: So conspiratorial.
TODD: That was it, very conspiratorial. From a historian, no less. Usually you`re the last one. Very interesting. All right. Michael Beschloss leaving us with a nice cliff-hanger for the weekend. Michael Steele, well done, thank you very much. After the break, congress battles the Bots, stay tuned.
TODD: In case you missed it, no matter what you thought about the year in politics, 2016 rocked. ACDC had a killer summer tour this year. Come on and listen to the money talk. Sting and Peter Gabriel played to sold out audiences across the country. The Bots hit the road with the E Street Band and Slash played with Axle Rose for the first time in 22 years.
But you might have missed them or had to pay through the roof to sit in the nosebleeds, even though you kept hitting the refresh button the exact moment the tickets went on sale. So who`s to blame? Robots, of course. Seriously. Ticket master estimates that Bots gobble up towards 60 percent of the most desirable seats for shows, so scalpers can mark them up and sell them for a profit.
But in case you missed it, congress is on the case, believe it or not. The house passed the Bots act this week, to make it illegal to circumvent the security measures of ticketing websites. If it becomes law, there are doubts that the legislation will actually work.
Bots are pretty smart. Congress is, well, congress. But it`s the ultimately battle of man versus machine. And ultimately, I hope, I do not have to say that I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords as I`m speaking to a robot-driven camera right now. That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back Monday with more MTP Daily.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END