MTP Daily, Transcript 12/21/2016

Guests: Charlie Cook, Eliana Johnson, Amy Walter, Daniella Gibbs Leger

Show: MTP DAILY Date: December 21, 2016 Guest: Charlie Cook, Eliana Johnson, Amy Walter, Daniella Gibbs Leger

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

Skepticism Trumps all. Tonight, blind trust. Americans have lost confidence in pretty much everything these days. And that may have swung this presidential election.

Plus, with a manhunt underway in Berlin, President-elect Trump continues to react.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE) attack on humanity is what it is. It`s an attack on humanity. And it`s got to be stopped.


TODD: And a fish tale. We`ll show you why President Obama could take a lesson from this guy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the state fish of Hawaii.



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

All right, you`re all trying to figure out what movie is that from. Most of you have figured that out by now but we`ll let you know in a few minutes.

Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington. And welcome to MTP DAILY and welcome to the age of the American skeptic.

The big political stories in the news today are a fitting way to close out a year where American institutions of all stripes took a beating. Leading an electorate scarred, skeptical and suspicious about nearly everything, including the results of the presidential election.

Today our friends at the Cook Political Report unveiled the final popular vote total. After all 50 states and the District of Columbia certified their results, Clinton won by nearly three million votes.

And what appeared to be a direct reaction, Donald Trump unloaded via Twitter defensively dismissing the popular vote. Campaigning to win the electoral college is much more different and sophisticated than the popular vote. Hillary focused on the wrong states.

I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular votes, but would campaign differently. I have not heard any of the pundits or commentators discussing the fact that I spent far less money on the win than Hillary on the loss.

OK, we get it. You don`t want us mentioning the popular vote anymore, apparently. But, folks, it`s not just an American political institutions, of sorts, that are taking a beating.

Trust in the FBI is taking a big hit. Just 32 percent of Americans now say they have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in the FBI. That`s according to our latest NBC News-"Wallstreet Journal" poll. They can thank politics for that and that really mattered in this election.

Some Democrats, including Clinton`s lawyer and former campaign spokesman, are blasting Director Comey after learning he publicly revived the agency`s investigation in the Clinton`s use of private e-mails before the FBI had a search warrant to read the e-mails in question. Those e-mails, by the way, only reconfirm their previous judgement not to prosecute her.

Then, there`s the lack of confidence in Congress. Just 16 percent have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in the folks they`ve elected.

It`s just as bad, if not worse, for the national news media. 16 percent expressed high levels of confidence in the media, slightly more than friends and family. 65 percent did not.

And then, here`s a big one. The national news media is made up of folks who, by definition, are supposed to be skeptical about institutions and those in power.

But now, the country is skeptical about the people whose job it is to be skeptical. And some seem to be skeptical of the media because they don`t like that we`re skeptical.

A lot of tongue tying there, huh? Let`s get to tonight`s panel. Eliana Johnson is a national political reporter for Politico. A new home for her. Amy Walter is the national editor for The Cook Political Report. And Daniella Gibbs Leger is the senior vice president at the Center for American Progress.

All right, Amy, this issue of institutions. And we put them all up. I have more of them up here to show how everybody doesn`t like anything, really, except the military.

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Yes. The military has been up there, even among millennials. This came out earlier in the year that millennials are the only group that they had more than 50 percent support in where it was the military.

And what`s remarkable about your list is this includes schools. We`re not just -- it`s one thing to say people don`t like the media, people don`t like Congress.

It`s everything -- and I think this election crystallized the frustration people are having about the fact that the world has been changing drastically for the last 20 years.

And not only did they not trust that institutions are there to help them navigate these changes, but they don`t think they can do it.

TODD: Yes.

WALTER: So, it`s both. They`ve let them down and they don`t trust that they`re going to do any better.

TODD: I feel like it`s the C word, guys. Control or lack thereof. And the more lack of control people think they have, the more skeptical they are.

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, I think Trump, in many ways, is both a symptom of and a product of these things. If you go back to -- there were institutions you didn`t mention, but the financial crisis (INAUDIBLE) --

TODD: They`re in there, too, by the way.

JOHNSON: -- in 2008.

TODD: They do really well.

JOHNSON: People lost trust in banks and big financial institutions and conservatives have lost trust, I think, in the Supreme Court. With John Roberts not voting to overturn Obamacare and the gay marriage issue. And the police. I think a lot of people have lost trust in law enforcement and the police.

And Trump, essentially, got up and said, all you people -- all these people in charge are idiots and morons. Who can you possibly trust?

[17:05:00] And I think that really hit home with a lot of people who have seen, since 2008, all of these events play out. And people who were supposed to be authority figures, they were really shown to be hollow.

TODD: And let`s not forget Bernie Sanders beat up these institutions, himself, in different ways during the primary.

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes. No, absolutely. It was very popular to beat up on all institutions during 2016. And I -- you know, and I think you`re right. This is something that has been going on for a very long time.

And, you know, we did some polling after the election looking at how people felt about institutions. And if there was any glimmer of hope, it is that they`re -- in our poll, at least, we found a majority of people, they want to believe that government can be a tool for good. They don`t have the faith in it yet but it`s not completely snuffed out.

TODD: Well, that`s interesting. Let me put this up. This won`t surprise you. High levels of confidence in order in government. Local government 34 percent. That`s not great but that was the top. State government 30 percent. And federal government 22 percent. And then, of course, Congress sitting at 16. Amy?

WALTER: Congress, of course, everyone was reelected overwhelmingly.

LEGER: By the Congressman.


TODD: Forget the bottom three. I mean, you know, to me, the news isn`t that local government`s the most popular. The news is that local government is actually lost a lot of trust with -- because that used to the comfort.

WALTER: At least they can fix my pot holes.

TODD: Yes.

WALTER: At least they can run the schools. Right?

TODD: I think there`s (INAUDIBLE) --

WALTER: Everything has got --

TODD: -- everything`s political.

WALTER: Well, you know, but everything has gotten nationalized. In our county, right across the river in Arlington County, for the county board race, the issues were abortion, gay rights. And you`re, like, well, I don`t think that`s what the county board does.

And so, people were using those as queues about whether they could support a candidate.

TODD: That`s Arlington County.

WALTER: Right.

TODD: OK, where I have some relatives in the pan handle Florida, they used Obamacare in the city council race. You know?

WALTER: I now.

JOHNSON: Well, and what is so fascinating --

WALTER: (INAUDIBLE) in state legislative races, too.

TODD: Yes.

JOHNSON: -- what I think is so fascinating about this, too, is that institute -- the power of institutions actually has been degraded and Trump, himself, is a product of this. Because if the RNC had any say --

TODD: Right.

JOHNSON: -- of who the candidate was and any ability to control the candidate, he would not have been the Republican candidate. So, he is a product of and then, you know, a symptom of the problem of, you know, the degradation of institutions.

TODD: But it`s his government now, right?


TODD: I mean, it`s his government now and it`s, sort of, like, at what point -- you know, it was interesting. It took, I think, four years before the public decided to hold President Obama responsible for the (INAUDIBLE.) They gave him a long leash on that.

What kind of leash does Trump have in restoring trust in the federal government?

LEGER: I don`t think he has a very long leash. You know, he got into office making a whole lot of promises that he`s going to make a lot of change very soon. And that everybody else who was in power were idiots and that he can come and make these changes quickly.

So, I really don`t think people are going to give him a very --

TODD: You think they`re going to -- they have high expectations.

LEGER: I think so. He set them for himself.

WALTER: Well, and I think you all or one of the NBC folks sat in on the focus group the other day in Cleveland with voters who supported Donald Trump. Their number one issue is he has to bring the economy and jobs back. Now whatever that means for them.

But everything else, he has a very long leash. They don`t think he`s going to build the wall. They don`t really care. They don`t really care about what the immigration plan is. They don`t really care about some of the promises that he made on the campaign trail. They do hold him accountable for jobs.

TODD: Let me throw in something. Newt Gingrich said something this week that -- about -- and I think this will get at the trust issue about what Donald Trump could do and conflicts of interest. And I thought this was absolutely -- if Trump follows this advice, it would be politically insane.

But take a listen.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And he also has, frankly, the power of the pardon. I mean, he was a totally open power and he could simply say, look, I want them to be my advisers and I pardon them if anyone finds them to have behaved against the rules, period. And then, technically, under the Constitution, he has that level of authority.


TODD: So, this is about whether he wants his kids involved or others that have potential conflicts. That`s his power. But that would -- that, to me, would be politically a stupid thing to do.

JOHNSON: I think the question we get into now is, does -- you know, on the campaign trail, we kept seeing Trump do things and everybody would say, this spells doom for him. Now, does that continue?

TODD: I don`t know.

JOHNSON: (INAUDIBLE.) Because I actually think it`s, perhaps, possible that he could do that and nobody would care. I don`t know. You know, I was wrong about a lot of things during the campaign.

TODD: Using the power of the pardon?

JOHNSON: Yes, I just don`t know. And I think if Trump actually does follow through on some of his promises and even if he doesn`t, I`m just not sure of the extent to which people are willing to forgive him in the first, you know, hundred, 200 days in this administration.

TODD: That, I`m with you. I think, certainly, early leash.

LEGER: I think that`s a good point. And I`m curious what you think about -- so, yes, the economy, they`re not going to give him a very wide leash on. But the draining of the swamp. You know, that was a really, really big thing. And really important to his folks. And this, to me, is extra swampy.

[17:10:02] WALTER: Except, you know what? And I hear this -- and I hear this from other people.

TODD: I know. Do you know what the swamp was?

WALTER: It was other people. Number one is corruption. You know what they say? And I`ve had -- there`s people in my own family say this. Well, of course he can`t be corrupted because he already has his own money.

TODD: Yes.

WALTER: So, what they are upset about are people who come to Washington without money, leave with a lot of money. He is already coming in so why would he want to make more money?

TODD: I think, though, he gets caught looking like they`re in this to make -- to get richer.

WALTER: If that is the key, that`s right. But, --

TODD: That`s a problem.

WALTER: -- right now, he has a lot more cushion --

TODD: I agree with you.

WALTER: -- than you would think that he does.

TODD: And, by the way, drain the swamp, for some, it was just simply keeping the Clintons away from Washington. Wasn`t it, Eliana?

JOHNSON: I totally agree with that. And I don`t think that, you know, to us, the swamp is Republicans and Democrats alike.

TODD: We think lobbyists, right.

JOHNSON: I don`t think the public perception is --

TODD: Everybody has a different -- yes.

JOHNSON: -- that these people coming in are part of the swamp.


JOHNSON: -- even though, you know, these Goldman Sachs bankers he`s bringing in, I don`t think the public perceive them to be part of the swamp. They`re not known quantities whereas I think a lot of the people the Clintons would have brought in are (INAUDIBLE) who have been on the public stage for a long time.

Trump, the people he`s bringing in, they are relative outsiders compared -- you can work at Goldman Sachs and still be an outsider to the political process.

TODD: And it depends on how they conduct themselves, right? And over time, right, it`s one of those things, you have a political -- you`re back when there`s a problem if it somehow becomes foreground. You know, who comes into the (INAUDIBLE.)

LEGER: Right. Well, looking at the people he`s appointed so far, I`m assuming that this is going to be a problem for a lot of them. And, I mean, I understand your point and I hear your point. But when you rail against Wallstreet, and then that`s exactly who you bring in, like, immediately, I just think that`s hypocritical. Will he be held accountable for it? I don`t know.

TODD: Well, we`ll see. His voters have shown a lot of patience for him.


TODD: In ways that I think have totally thrown many people in Washington for a loop.

All right, you guys are here for the hour which I appreciate. Thank you.

Coming up, from Berlin to Syria. In this time of this international turmoil and tragedy, how will America first play out on the world stage?

Stay with us.


TODD: We can`t go a day without a North Carolina update, right? Well, here`s a quick update on the roller coaster that is the tar heel`s politics these days. Here is where we are right now. And, folks, things are a bit tough to follow so stick with me.

The state senator is working to pass a bill that would take HB2, that controversial so-called bathroom bill off the books. And, interesting enough, Republicans are leading the effort to pass this bill with minimal Democratic support.

But sources tell NBC the push may not even get a vote. You will remember that state law was passed in response to a local ordinance in Charlotte that let transgender people use the public bathroom with the gender with which they identify.

Up until a few hours ago, it seemed that state lawmakers and the city of Charlotte had reached a deal. The state would repeal the law after the Charlotte city council repealed their local ordinance. they fully repealed the ordinance.

Charlotte fulfilled their end of the bargain this morning. The general assembly`s proposed repeal comes with a six-month cooling off period which bars local governments from passing any laws similar to the one in Charlotte in that time.

[17:15:05] Well, that has Democrats up in arms, complaining that the moratorium could be made permanent and that was not part of the deal.

So, here we are, currently waiting on movement from the general assembly. We`re still a long way from March, but we`ve definitely had our fair share of madness in the tar heel state. Keeping a close eye on developments. If they happen before the end of the house, we`ll keep you updated.

Meanwhile, we`ll talk some global politic in the age of Trump with "The Atlantic`s" Jeffrey Goldberg.


TODD: Welcome back.

There is a manhunt going on in Europe right now for the suspect behind Monday`s apparent terror attack in Berlin. German police are looking for 24-year-old Anis Amri. They believe he was driving the stolen truck that plowed into a Christmas market killing 12 people and wounding 48 others.

He`s a Tunisian citizen. And officials tell NBC News he applied for and been denied asylum. The media arm for ISIS issued a statement claiming that the attack was launched in its name but has still provided no evidence to support that claim.

President-elect Donald Trump spoke to reporters briefly about the attack today.


TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE.) (INAUDIBLE) attack on humanity is what it is. It`s an attack on humanity. And it`s got to be stopped.


TODD: Meanwhile, fallout continues in Turkey after Russia`s ambassador was assassinated by a man who shouted, god is great and don`t forget Aleppo.

And to add another layer to the global turmoil (ph). Russia, Iran and Turkish officials met in Moscow yesterday to strike a peace deal in Syria. The United States of America was not invited.

Folks, as we discussed last night, so much of the global instability can arguably be traced back to one country, Syria. The micro-crisis created by that country`s years long civil wars have wreaking havoc around the western world.

Take a listen at what Donald Trump told me last year on "MEET THE PRESS" about getting involved in Syria.


TRUMP: We are going to get bogged down in Syria. If you look at what happened with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, that`s when they went bankrupt. They went bankrupt. They were there so long, worked so hard.

TODD: So, you think Putin is going to get (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: He`s going to get bogged down. Everybody that`s touched the Middle East, they`ve got bogged down.


TODD: Joining me now is Jeffrey Goldberg. He is, of course, editor in chief of "The Atlantic." By the way, congratulations on the new gig.


TODD: When you get the chief title, that`s something, you know?

GOLDBERG: Chief, I don`t know what that means.

TODD: It means -- it just means you have more headaches.


TODD: It`s interesting. I was reminded of that clip when I saw this -- it just --


TODD: -- it boggles the mind today to know that there are multiple countries participating in a major peace initiative involving the Middle East and it`s Russia, Iran and Turkey. And the United States is not involved.

GOLDBERG: They weren`t invited.


GOLDBERG: They weren`t invited.


GOLDBERG: You know, it`s interesting listening to Donald Trump there talk about the Quagmire issue, right?

TODD: Yes.

GOLDBERG: President Obama, earlier this year, in a set of interviews with me, talked about, you know, Russia and going there. It`s going to get bogged down.

The fact of the matter is they haven`t really gotten bogged down. They`re kind of driving this train, at the moment. They are not in a Quagmire yet. It could always turn to a Quagmire. But they`re driving this, Turkey, for its own reasons. Wants Russia to be involved in this process. Iran wants it.

TODD: Why -- explain why Turkey wants Russia involved.

GOLDBERG: Well, everybody --

TODD: I understand a lot, but Turkey -- that --

GOLDBERG: Everyone has their own interests right now.

TODD: Yes.

GOLDBERG: The Russians have an interest in combatting Islamist terror, ISIS really. Turkey is worried about the Kurds.

TODD: Right.

GOLDBERG: The Kurds in Syria are -- have a sort of mini state right now. They`re -- they are at the cusp of independence. Turkey has a large Kurdish population. They`re worried about those Kurds seeking independence.

So, Russia says to Turkey, you do what you need to do over here. We`ll do what we need to do over here. And --

[17:20:00] TODD: (INAUDIBLE) Russia will turn a blind eye on what Turkey does for the Kurds and the United States will not.

GOLDBERG: Right. Well, look, we function no matter -- no matter who the president is. And we`ll see what happens with the next president. No matter who the president is, we function at a -- at a practical disadvantage in these situations because we demand adherence to certain international norms of behavior, human rights behavior, rules at war behavior. That is not what the Russian government is known for. They don`t care. And so, as long as everybody is pursuing their own interests and they don`t conflict, they`re fine.

TODD: I think what`s interesting here is -- OK, this is happening and this is certainly the Obama administration. And John Kerry desperately would like to be in that meeting.


TODD: I don`t get a sense that we were at president Trump, that what he sees today is a big deal.

GOLDBERG: Oh, I think if Trump were sitting here, it`s, like, have a meeting.

TODD: Fine. Go for it. Good luck to you.

GOLDBERG: Yes, he doesn`t care. And what`s interesting is -- you know, this is interesting because these two are -- Obama is on one end of a continuum and Trump is on the other. But there is -- there is a -- there is a certain link in that both of them look at the Middle East as just a nightmare for America. And they`ve both decided, in their own way, that it`s not important to be engaged. And both of them are, to a certain extent, run -- President Obama manages this issue in a much more, let`s call it, organized way or coherent way or there`s a system in place to think about it.

But the fact is we`re on our back foot in a lot of these situations because we haven`t been involved. What he argues, of course, is getting involved will set you, you know, in a worse position.

TODD: All right, let me -- you know how everything is sort of -- every -- anything can be revised for history`s sake. And I want to -- I want to take a look --


TODD: -- I want to look at Libya and Syria. So, right now, the conventional wisdom in this town and in the foreign policy concircles (ph) is, boy, we messed up getting involved in Libya.


TODD: Libya was a mistake.


TODD: All this stuff.


TODD: If you look at lives saved, was Libya a mistake? Benghazi, we were all worried about a slaughter and then Benghazi. When I say, we all, the western world was worried about a slaughter in Benghazi. So, that was the rational of going in.


TODD: President Obama was reluctant to go in. It`s fragile. Libya is a mess. But, you know, it`s not -- it`s not Syria. And I know Libya is a little -- is not as complicated as Syria.

GOLDBERG: It is not a complicated place and not densely populated.

TODD: Is there any way of looking back and saying, well, go to (INAUDIBLE) and say, say what you want on Libya, but it`s in -- when you take -- if Syria looked like Libya today, that would be a success.

GOLDBERG: Well, what it is is a great sport in Washington. Where you would just say, well, if I had done X then Y. And if I didn`t do -- I mean, we`ll never know for sure, right? Libya is a semi-failed state. It is, obviously, the arms that have been in Libya, have been moved across North Africa into West Africa. It is not, by any means, a good situation.

TODD: Lives were saved.

GOLDBERG: President Obama says that lives were saved. The intelligence suggest that Gadhafi would have killed a certain number of people, maybe a lot of people. And so, yes, I mean, I don`t want to get into the hot take business right now, saying that that was a good thing.

What our problem was -- our problem was we went in but we didn`t want to go in so we didn`t go all the way.

TODD: But didn`t we over-calibrate? I mean, it just feels like we over- calibrate based on the last decision that`s made rather than thinking about, you know, what are the unintended consequences?

GOLDBERG: Well, look, the operating theory in the foreign policy community was that the sin of the Bush administration was overreaction. The sin of the Obama administration was underreaction to the same kinds of events in the Middle East.

We were assuming, most of us, that Hillary Clinton was going to find some calibration between that kind of muscularity and that kind of hesitation. Now, we have something entirely different. And I don`t know how to interpret what he`s going to do because he`s been kind of all over the map on these questions (ph).

TODD: I was just going to say, he`s going to take from both. The question is, which both? Right? Because, like, you can picture him being very aggressive and overreacting to a singular situation.

GOLDBERG: Right. A Berlin-style situation.

TODD: Right. And at the same time, being hesitant to a macro-strategy just like President Obama with, I`m not putting 100 percent into this.

GOLDBERG: Yes, but President Obama had a governing strategy. I don`t know yet if the Trump people have developed a strategy. I -- this is the problem, of course, when something happens. When there`s a crisis. When there`s a Berlin style attack, God forbid.

TODD: Yes.

GOLDBERG: We don`t know how he`s going to react. There might be an overreaction. There might be an underreaction. There might be a rhetorical overreaction that is not helpful with no actual action to deal with the underlying problem.

So, you know, it`s all -- you know, we`re watching just like everyone else to try to figure it out.

TODD: All right. You`ve spent a lot of time working on the Israel- Palestine story, the peace process --

GOLDBERG: Yes, too much.

TODD: -- (INAUDIBLE) right.


TODD: David Friedman who is the -- Donald Trump`s pick to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

GOLDBERG: Yes. Not a left winger.

TODD: What is that -- no. What is that -- we have not seen this before. What is that going to mean? What does that mean to the process? And, politically, is this helpful to Benjamin Netanyahu or oddly actually hurtful to him, politically?

[17:25:06] GOLDBERG: Well, this guy is more Netanyahu than Nahu (ph).

TODD: Than Nahu, that`s -- yes, that`s my point.

GOLDBERG: So, you know, -- so, David Friedman is actually ideologically more closely aligned with people who are on Netanyahu`s right in his coalition.

TODD: And Lieberman.

GOLDBERG: And Naftali Bennett and these guys.

TODD: Yes.

GOLDBERG: And so, he might be -- I mean, we`re -- talk about, you know, vertigo, right? We have an Obama administration that says, don`t build settlements (ph). Don`t build settlements.

TODD: Ever.

GOLDBERG: Now, Donald Trump is sending an ambassador to Israel who`s going to say, build settlements.

TODD: Yes.

GOLDBERG: You know, and don`t worry about it and he`s going to be aligned with -- you know, look, let`s be -- let`s be fair. And it`s with all due respect to everyone, we`ve never (INAUDIBLE) ambassador. It`s not the most important job in the world. The policies are --

TODD: (INAUDIBLE) is because it`s so run out of the White House.

GOLDBERG: It`s been run out of the White House. It`s going to be run out of the State Department, to a certain extent, just like it was now. These are hot button issues.

But it does send a signal that the era of Obama is over. Actually, the -- a 40-year period in which American presidents have said, stop building the settlements. That might be coming to an end.

TODD: And the idea that America always wanted to try and be a neutral arbitral (ph). But, yes, we`re pro -- but, yes, we lean Israel (INAUDIBLE.)

GOLDBERG: We want to negotiate in two states.

TODD: I think, basically, Trump is saying, no, we`re taking sides.

GOLDBERG: But he`s saying two things. One is --

TODD: But he speaks on it differently sometimes.

GOLDBERG: Yes, yes. He`s sending a guy to Israel who doesn`t believe in a two-state solution. But Donald Trump, he said himself that he wants to make Jared Kuschner, his son in the law, the Middle East peace negotiator.

And I think Trump -- this is very interesting. Trump, as a negotiator, as a deal maker, looks at the Middle East as the biggest deal you can possibly make.

TODD: He said this.


TODD: He said this on the air.

GOLDBERG: Yes. This is the big enchilada.

TODD: Yes.

GOLDBERG: This is the big -- this is, by the way -- I mean, since we`re in the realm now of anything can happen. Trump can envision himself getting a Nobel peace prize for bringing a peace deal to the Palestinians Israeli that alluded every other president. I`m not saying that`s what`s going to happen. I`m saying that he could. It could be very, very tempting for him.

TODD: Knowing him. He wants -- he is a go big guy or do nothing.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I mean, it`s boring.

TODD: Yes, but this smells of go big. The question is, when does he time that?

GOLDBERG: Now is not a good time. But, of course, he -- well, look, since he doesn`t play by the rules, maybe it is by the rules. First, you know, you ease into this thing. And then there`s a pattern but he doesn`t care about the pattern so who knows? Everyone else has failed so, you know, God knows.

TODD: You know what? I can`t wait until you write a piece after spending three weeks in the Middle East hearing from how all your Middle Eastern experts that you deal with try to -- that don`t live in the United States try to interpret what`s going on.

GOLDBERG: That`s all they are doing. (INAUDIBLE.)

TODD: I can`t wait for that piece.

GOLDBERG: I was in -- yes, I was (INAUDIBLE) a couple weeks ago. That`s all they want to know. What is he going to do? And everybody is, like, who knows?

TODD: I can`t wait for more stuff out of there.

GOLDBERG: Well, all right.

TODD: Jeffrey Goldberg, congrats. "The Atlantic." Look at this. You, Mark Twain, who knew?

GOLDBERG: A straight --

TODD: A straight line.

GOLDBERG: Another continuum.

TODD: Another straight line.

GOLDBERG: Another continuum.

TODD: Thank you, sir.

GOLDBERG: All right.

TODD: Happy Hanukkah.

Still ahead, some new advice on the Democrats` way forward.

And later, President Obama`s working vacation and the last-ditch efforts to protect his legacy.


TODD: Coming up, why democrats seem to still be stuck in a blame game cycle. But first, here`s Hampton Pearson with another "CNBC Market Wrap."

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC REPORTER: Thanks, Chuck. Stocks flipped for record levels. The Dow sheds 32 points, the S&P off five, the Nasdaq sinks by 12 points. Existing home sales unexpectedly rose in November. Sales climbed by 7/10 percent to the highest level in nearly 10 years.

Economists expected a 1 percent decline. And shares of Bed Bath and Beyond are sinking after hours. Revenue and earnings fell short of estimates. The stock is down more than 2 percent in late day trading. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.


TODD: Democrats are still playing some blame games six weeks after Donald Trump`s electoral college victory pointing fingers in almost every direction. Hillary Clinton and her top lieutenant focus on the FBI and James Comey plus Russian interference led by Vladimir Putin and believing that that`s what pushed Trump to victory.

Others say Trump`s brush style and scorch torch campaigning coupled with the fog of fake news kept Clinton`s message from resonating nationwide and feel some are saying Clinton lost because frankly she was just a bad candidate. And then don`t forget about democratic problems in rural America. All these factors may have played a role, but they don`t really provide a way forward for the democrats.

Charlie Cook, one of our favorite political observers around here. Since democrats seem to forget everything that happened last month and focus on the heartland. Franklin Roosevelt`s New Deal coalition embracing middle class white voters that may have voted for Donald Trump.

Cook writes in his new piece, simply put, democrats need to expand their sensitivity-training courses to include people who live in small town and rural America - middle class white voters, people who live paycheck to paycheck, and whites who attend church at least once a week.

Democrats need to get over Donald Trump and the specifics of what happened in 2016 and begin to think about how in their rush into America`s future they left behind a large number of voters who are still very much here right now.

So joining me is the columnist, Charlie Cook, who of course writes for National Journal and is the publisher of the Cook Political Report. It seems pretty simple and by the way, Charlie, you know who seems to agree with you? Barack Obama.

CHARLIE COOK, COLUMNIST FOR THE NATIONAL JOURNAL, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER OF THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Yeah, I mean, the thing is yeah, you can cry in your beer, you can say if, if, if, but the thing is this race shouldn`t have been that close and even had they done the mechanics right, allocating resources, all these things could go wrong and they still would have won.

But the fact is that Hillary Clinton won only 16 percent of the counties in this country. President Obama won 22 percent. The thing is yes, I know the population is concentrated in other counties, but given the way our political process is constructed, the house, the senate, electoral college, you can`t have -- you have to have a footprint broader than the footprint of the democratic party has right now. TODD: What would have happened had this worked for the democrats? Had Hillary Clinton eked out a narrow win and won this way. Democrats would not be having a debate about whether ever to go back to rural America, would they?

COOK: No, they probably wouldn`t. And, you know, we were just talking off camera that you could replay this thing a lot of ways, a lot of times, and might not necessarily come up with this outcome. But it did. And I do think the democrats should have just gotten ahead of it.

Yes, our country has changed. It has changed. It is changing. But it hadn`t changed quite as much as they think it has. They need to kind of pull back a little bit. I think part of it is.

TODD: How do you do it without looking like you are stereotyping again? I mean, the democrats are really struggling in this because they feel as if real gains were made in marriage equality, real gains, you know, in the way -- in the Black Lives Matter movement. And I think some say what does that mean and how do you do it without looking like you are suddenly scapegoating minorities again?

COOK: Well, I think democrats don`t know how to talk to a lot of these people that go to church and people of value. I mean, the Democratic Party has become a secular party. I mean, it has become a party that.

TODD: Outside the African-Americans.

COOK: Yes.


COOK: It almost other than a couple of prayers at the convention every four years, that`s it. The thing is a lot of Americans and a lot of these voters out in real America where I grew up and okay, sort of where you grew up.

TODD: Right.

COOK: These are people with a different value structure. And they don`t recognize where the Democratic Party has become.

TODD: You know, what`s funny about this is that before this election, rural America said this is not my country. Now after the election, it`s coastal America that said this is not my country. So yes, the democrats are, but the republicans have a problem too. I would say democracy has a problem. We cannot -- there is no example of a western democracy that survives with divides like this. This is a little scary.

COOK: It is and it`s a problem that is going on worldwide. But the fact that this billionaire son of a millionaire who lives in a penthouse on the 50th floor could peer down into small town rural America, blue collar working class people and sense the seething that was going on, this explosion.

TODD: Better than a Scott Walker.

COOK: Right.

TODD: . who grew up in middle America.

COOK: Think about all the focus groups we have gone to. What is the smallest city that you have ever been to a focus group?

TODD: Probably Dayton.

COOK: Yeah.

TODD: You know?

COOK: Yeah.

TODD: You know.

COOK: There is a lot of America that is outside of urban areas. We tend to ignore them. And these people -- they feel ignored by the two coasts, by the leadership. And frankly, I think they didn`t talk to pollsters. I think they just simply didn`t pick up the phone or they hung up. TODD: So I have this concern that data, big data has been a destructive force in American politics for this simple reason. And that it got rid of persuasion. So if you just believe in data you believe it`s about finding 50 percent plus one no matter how you get it that we don`t -- October isn`t a persuasion month anymore. Is that part of the problem?

COOK: Maybe that`s the world series.

TODD: Yeah, right.

COOK: No, no, the thing is we know that polling doesn`t work as well as it used to. But it`s sort of like we thrown or at least the campaigns have moved post polling.

TODD: Yeah.

COOK: When the analytic is not ready yet. TODD: They are all like demographers now. They all just sit there and demography rather than persuade a single soul.

COOK: Right and President Obama is a very different person than Hillary Clinton is.

TODD: Right.

COOK: And to expect the same kind of turnout dynamics is just fundamentally a mistake.

TODD: What should the Democratic Party view the role of the DNC chair next year? How should they view that? Do you think that makes it the most effective way to go?

COOK: I have a lot of democratic operatives that roll their eyes when I say this, but I think when Howard Dean tried to do the 50 states strategy and, you know, it was goofy. But the thing about it is the party needs to actually be working physically in lots of places.

TODD: Work in 50 states even if you fail.

COOK: Well, the thing is the Obama campaign in 2008, it reached into a lot of places. The idea was to have a national campaign and a National Party. Right now, the Democratic Party does not look like a National Party.

TODD: It`s funny you said that. Howard Dean is still not respected by some of the same folks, and yet say what you will, 06, 08, bad political years.

(CROSSTALK) COOK: . I get trashed by people in the party infrastructure.

TODD: Well, they didn`t get a contract is my guess, anyway. Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report.

COOK: Have a great holiday.

TODD: You too, brother. Good to see you. Coming up, we got some fishiness in Hawaii. My obsession today comes out of the aloha state. No, it is not from the movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." We will tell you what it is in 90 seconds.


TODD: Tonight, I`m obsessed with something I`ve never seen from a place I cannot pronounce. Tonight, I`m obsessed with a little matter of presidential legacy. Yes, tonight, I`m obsessed with a fish. A marine biologist discovered a new species living in a remote marine preserve off the Hawaiian coast.

The fish caught the scientist`s eye because of its coloring because it reminded the scientist of President Obama`s 2008 campaign logo. Look closely. The resemblance might just be a bit hard to see at first glance, but then again I`m not a marine biologist, I`m not even (inaudible).

So, they named it of course after the president. Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at what is apparently the first thing the State of Hawaii is named after President Obama. Not a school, a fish. And it now belongs to the species Obama. So tonight, I`m also obsessed with how the heck you pronounce the place where this fish lives. I can`t pronounce it. Can you? Let`s see a native Hawaiian try.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Quadrupling the size of our monument, that`s Papahanaumokuakea.


TODD: Not super convincing. All right. Anyone else at the White House want to give it a shot?

(START VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m happy to take your questions on the Papahanaumokuakea, national marine monument or anything else maybe on your mind today.


TODD: Look at the Kansas City native do it. There you go, folks. Hawaiians have been known to embrace the elongated nature of their native tongue especially when it comes to marine life. In 2006, the state`s legislature voted on a bill to permanently establish this as their state fish. If you see one snorkeling, give it some room, by the way.

But here`s one thing I can say in Hawaiian. To President Obama and Hawaiians everywhere. (inaudible).


TODD: Welcome back. Time for "The Lid." Panel is back. Eliana Johnson, Amy Walter, Daniella Gibbs Leger. I believe we have some breaking news that the State of North Carolina legislature is adjourning. They`re not gonna be able to pull off this -- looks like it was a double deal here. We learned it was first, Charlotte had to go, then the assembly, but then democrats in the assembly didn`t like this idea.

But temporarily moratorium that they thought could get permanent ties and obviously trust in that legislature between the two parties really, really low. I guess this is good news for Roy Cooper because he gets to try to do this as governor rather than watch the person he defeated. I don`t know. I can`t say. I can`t figure that one.

JOHNSON: I was -- you have to come to me.



JOHNSON: I had been following the bathroom bill drama super closely but I was sympathetic to the republicans on the power grab issue since it went through the legislature and I thought it was mischaracterized as a power grab. And, you know, when McCrory was blamed.

The bathroom bill I don`t entirely understand. I think it`s a little odd for somebody who looks like a woman to be told they have to walk into a men`s restroom and vice versa. So I haven`t been following the legislative scenery.

WALTER: the whole thing -- so that Cooper could -- the goal here would be that Roy Cooper gets to come in, sworn in with this off of his back. TODD: It is the house that is adjourned, not the state senate, but that still feels.

WALTER: Still gonna be hard. So he can come then with all HB2 stuff gone, say, come back.

TODD: Yes.

WALTER: . business. Come back to North Carolina. And then he gets the credit for bringing the business back.

TODD: There are real deadlines here. As Jim Morrill who is a reporter at the Charlotte Observer pointed out, Daniella, look, the republican legislatures that represent the Greensboro area have been getting heat locally because the ACC tournament won`t be there.


TODD: Legislatures representing some of the Charlotte -- some republicans are getting heat, no ACC tournament, no bidding for some of this stuff. So, this applications are due in the first couple weeks of January 2020. So there was a -- they actually had a sense of urgency here.

GIBBS LEGER: Yeah, it`s really -- everything that has happened in North Carolina since the end of the election has been crazy. I mean, I disagree a little bit. It is a total complete power grab what they did, what the republicans did. So I don`t know what is going to happen. I was trying to follow along. I am so confused. Hopefully when they come back, they can get their act together.

TODD: You`re not alone in the confusion.


TODD: . on this. I just -- I wonder, does -- I mean, do -- are voters paying that much attention? Are they gambling that maybe a bunch of voters in North Carolina aren`t? Because hey, it`s holiday week, I got to go shopping, I have family coming to town. I don`t know. They think it is not a problem.

WALTER: Nobody is paying attention to this in the way that we certainly.

TODD: Sure.

WALTER: . folks that do this are. But I think if you`re looking to -- if you`re in the business community and you`re number one concern for 2017 is, as you said, whether it is the ACC tournament or whether it`s a business coming in, that you have this HB2 thing just done. I just want it cleared off so that we can go back to just doing our regular day to day business.

TODD: The state of North Carolina, it always stood out in the south. You know, they`ve just stayed above all the fights that take place in the south. And now they`re getting dragged into everyone of them and it is really I think putting a stain on the state in a different way.

JOHNSON: I think it stood out also in that, you know, it went for Donald Trump and was widely expected to go for Hillary Clinton. But on the state level, you know, Pat McCrory lost and I do think that was a testament to the unpopularity of.

TODD: No doubt. Two republicans above him on the ticket and that tells you everything.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

WALTER: And it overall -- I mean, I think, you know, Virginia was like this for a while, too. The state that was changing. And the demographics were moving.

I think that the surge in population to northern Virginia is what ultimately has tipped Virginia in a way that`s not for North Carolina because there is, yes, you have Charlotte, but that`s it. The rest of the state is still pretty spread out. It`s a big state. Lots of rural and suburban areas. And it`s.

TODD: By the way, we can actually merge the conversation I just had with our buddy, Charlie Cook. And this story. Because it is an urban-rural split in the State of North Carolina, Daniella, and the social issues in general have been basically a coastal urban-rural split. And that is more of a challenge for the Democratic Party sometimes than the Republican Party. GIBBS LEGER: I think it is. You know, I think there are many lessons that can be learned from this election. I think that is one of them. I don`t want to, you know, overstate but that`s the only reason why democrats lost, because of that splint.

But I do think that North Carolina, while the demographic changes are definitely happening slower than they did in Virginia, they are happening. So I am very curious to see what happens in the next two, next four years.

TODD: Should the answer to the democrats` problem always be, wait for the demographic changes?



TODD: No. I mean, right, it does seem as if like, you know, in the same way, republicans need to realize Latinos came out in full force against Trump and oh my, we`re lucky that other parts of that coalition didn`t come out or it could have been a swamping out west. Right?

JOHNSON: In many ways, in a lot of the states, we saw people retreated to Trump or reached for Trump as a response to a lot of, you know, democratic cultural issues. But I think in North Carolina, it was a counter example where there was a little bit of republican overreach on McCrory`s part on this bathroom issue which was unpopular.

So I think, you know, that`s in part why it stood out as, you know, a counter example to what we saw on the rest of the country.

WALTER: This is also why it is helpful if you`re in either a purple state, changing state or if you are a red governor in a blue state or blue governor in red state to have split legislature. Because I think if this were up McCrory, this bill would not have been here.

TODD: He clearly didn`t want it and he -- but he had no power.

WALTER: But this is what happens when you have a governor.

TODD: Super majority.

WALTER: . you have a super majority and your governor is on the same party. This is why somebody like Larry Hogan in Maryland being a republican in a blue state, he now has a popularity that is up in the 70s.

TODD: Charlie Baker.

WALTER: Charlie Baker in Massachusetts. Very high popularity. In part because you don`t have a legislature overreaching, doing the kinds of stuff that turns off the people in the middle.

GIBBS LEGER: I think that`s right. But also I think McCrory, he went to that extra step, too.

TODD: Unnecessarily so. I know the argument they make which is all the base would have killed us. Okay. But.

WALTER: But the base turned out for Donald Trump.

TODD: That`s right.


TODD: . official. Eliana, Amy, Daniella, I won`t see you guys for a while. Happy new year. Up next, one thing you may have missed about the staying power of the 2016 election. Keep it here.


TODD: Finally tonight, in case you missed it, the 2016 election year isn`t over. I demanded to find out, is there one more election before the calendar turns on 2017? And we found out especially in Iowa, the election continues. The Hawkeye State opened the book on the 2016 election year with its first nomination presidential caucus.

And as far as we can tell, Iowa is going to close the book on 2016, the election year as well. On December 27th, that`s right, two days after Christmas, during Hanukkah, and before the new year, there will be a special election in the 45th district of the Iowa State Senate to fill a vacancy following the September death of the current seat holder.

Why December 27th? What happened? Iowa governor, Terry Branstad, said he wanted to have it happen on November 8 when everyone else in the country was heading to the polls. But the county auditor objected, citing logistical reasons and due to a six-week blackout in Iowa surrounding a general election.

The 45th district in Iowa will be full of holiday cheer and vote (inaudible) apparently everywhere. Let`s see how many people turn out between Christmas and new year. Good luck to you, Iowa. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily."