MTP Daily, Transcript 12/28/2016

Guests: Caitlin Huey-Burns, Ron Dermer, Chris Coons, Eliana Johnson

Show: MTP DAILY Date: December 28, 2016 Guest: Caitlin Huey-Burns, Ron Dermer, Chris Coons, Eliana Johnson

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: I`m Steve Kornacki. That does it for this hour. "MTP DAILY" starts with Peter Alexander in for Chuck Todd now.

PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Wednesday.

The Obama administration sends a shot to the incoming White House team.

(voice-over): Tonight, transition trouble? The president and the president-elect clashing on several fronts, including the Mideast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: Plus, cyber sanctions. Obama and Trump at odds over Russia, too, as the U.S. readies retaliation against Moscow for its election interference.

And the new year`s purge. Bidding a not so fond farewell to 2016.

This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Peter Alexander in Washington in tonight for Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY and welcome to a clash of titans. Obama, Trump, Netanyahu, frankly, even Putin. This was a wild day of confrontations between the outgoing administration and the incoming administration, including allies.

The one thing that`s for certain is with just three weeks to go until inauguration, the Obama administration has made it very clear they will not go quietly on matters of national security and foreign policy whether it`s (INAUDIBLE) policy, confronting Israel or Russian hacking.

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry had a clear message for Donald Trump and for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after both criticized U.S. policy.

Kerry delivered an emotional, forceful and a lengthy address. At 72 minutes, he was at the State Department. It came after Netanyahu and Trump attacked the U.S. for refusing to veto a U.N. Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements in the west bank.

Longstanding bipartisan U.S. policy says those settlements are undermining peace efforts by sabotaging a two-state solution and Netanyahu disagrees. And Trump is standing by him.

Now, here`s Secretary of State John Kerry today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: No American administration has done more for Israel`s security than Barack Obama`s. Here is a fundamental reality. If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or Democratic. It cannot be both. And it won`t ever really be at peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: Kerry blasted Netanyahu as being, quote, "driven by extreme elements." He ridiculed claims that the U.S. had orchestrated that U.N. vote as conspiracy talk. And he had a clear message for Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path. This is a time to stand up for what is right. We have long known what two states living side by side in peace and security looks like. We should not be afraid to say so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: And when Secretary Kerry sat down with my colleague, Andrea Mitchell, in an NBC exclusive, he had more tough talk on Trump`s handling of foreign allies and adversaries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: They`re not going to be swayed and intimidated by a tweet. They`re going to pursue their interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: The White House also appears ready to deliver a parting shot at Trump`s rejection of U.S. intelligence, specifically on Russian hacking.

NBC News confirms, according to two senior U.S. officials, that the White House is preparing to announce, as early as tomorrow, retaliatory steps against Russia for its hacking of Democratic targets and attempting to interfere in the election.

Secretary of State John Kerry did not mince words on the impact of Russian hacking in that interview with Andrea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: I think that all of the cyber-attacks that are taking place, but particularly this -- the Russian one, had a profound impact on our system, on our -- on our political process. On our -- it invaded the space of our election. The releasing, on a regular basis, of one party`s stolen e-mails had an impact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: I`m joined now by the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. Ambassador Dermer, nice to see you. Happy Hanukkah. Appreciate your being here.

RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Thank you. Merry Christmas.

ALEXANDER: John Kerry, appreciate that. John Kerry said the new administration has done more for Israel security than Obama`s. But Trump says the Obama administration is treating Israel with, quote, "total disdain." It obviously can`t be both so which is it?

DERMER: Well, first of all, it`s not true that no administration has done more for Israel`s security. It depends on how you define that.

I would say that no action has undermined Israel`s security as much as the Iranian nuclear deal. What it is true is that this president, President Obama, has done important things to strengthen Israel`s security.

ALEXANDER: One of the most recent being $38 billion.

DERMER: That`s right. Military assistance, intelligence cooperation, security cooperation. That is all true.

But, strategically, the Iran nuclear deal undermine Israel`s security in a dramatic way. And now, we have a U.N. Security Council resolution that essentially helps those who are waging a legal and diplomatic and economic war against Israel. It gives them ammunition.

And that`s why we were so disappointed in that. We appreciate everything that this president has done for Israel`s security, but there are many things that are done that undermine that security.

ALEXANDER: Obviously, there`s going to be a new president in this country, barely three weeks from now. So, the question, I guess, is do you take Donald Trump at his word?

Because earlier at a town hall, here`s what he said on this network. He said that he`d be, quote, "neutral on the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians." Saying, specifically, "Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I don`t want to say whose fault it is. I don`t think that helps."

So, what is your reaction? Can you trust Donald Trump?

DERMER: Yes. I think he`s going to be a very strong supporter of Israel. And, today you heard the secretary of state essentially give the peace -- give a speech, excuse me, where he blamed Israel. That was a blame Israel speech.

ALEXANDER: What about Donald Trump gives you faith?

DERMER: Well, I just want to say now, that speech went on for 72 minutes. And it was, basically, to excoriate Israel for being the problem with why we have not had peace with the Palestinians.

What I didn`t hear in those 72 minutes was the fact that a peace offer was given by an Israeli prime minister in 2000, a sweeping offer. That was rejected. It followed a wave of terrorism against Israel. I did not hear, in 2008, that another sweeping peace offer was given and rejected by the Palestinians.

ALEXANDER: You know, to be clear, he also said there was no justification for terrorism. There never will be. He was critical of terror in that region. He said there had to be two parties that were involved for peace to ever exist.

DERMER: That`s true. But the amount of that speech devoted to terrorism was infinite decimal (ph) compared to the amount of the speech that was devoted to the settlements and to blame Israel.

This administration, for eight years, has cast the blame for the failure to reach peace between Israelis and Palestinians on to Israel.

And that`s happened, by the way, from day one. From day one of this administration, they have said that the settlements are the reason why we don`t have peace.

We had just come out of a war in Gaza where we had thousands of rockets fired at us, after we had withdrawn from all of that territory, uprooted the settlements --

ALEXANDER: To be clear, --

DERMER: -- which was not even mentioned today.

ALEXANDER: -- to be clear, there have been past -- Ambassador, there have been past resolutions in 2003, a U.N. resolution where George W. Bush administration voted in support of a settlement for you. So, it`s not the first administration to do something similar.

But my question is specific to Donald Trump. What is it that gives you faith that he will do for Israel what President Obama has not done?

DERMER: Well, first of all, it is the first administration to do that because that same Bush administration, people forget the facts, also had an agreement with Israel over where we would build and not build.

Now, we have no doubt that the incoming administration will be a supporter of Israel. And we hope that we can work with them and with bipartisan majorities in Congress at advancing peace and security in the region.

That actual effort was made harder by the U.N. Security Council resolution which essentially shifted the goal post towards the Palestinians before we even get down to the negotiation table by saying, this is all your land. But why should they make peace with us if this is already their land?

ALEXANDER: So, I recognize the frustration with the Obama administration. Clearly, that`s been litigated heavily today, we heard from the prime minister of Israel on this day as well.

I want to ask you about Donald Trump`s pick then to be the ambassador to Israel. A man by the name of David Friedman. He is a fierce critic of the two-state solution. He has said, earlier this year, specifically said, there has never been a two-state solution, only a two-state narrative. Do you agree with that?

DERMER: I will say two things. First of all, having an ambassador who`s very close to a president or a prime minister I think is a huge advantage for our bilateral relations.

I think that this ambassador will be an excellent choice. And we look forward to working with him and working with the Trump administration.

ALEXANDER: (INAUDIBLE) with a two-state --

DERMER: Ambassadors do not set the policy. As much as I -- respect as I have for ambassadors, the ones who set the policy are the prime ministers and the president.

Our prime minister set out his policy very clearly in a speech seven years ago at Barilon (ph) University where he is for a solution of two states for two peoples. And (INAUDIBLE) Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. That is a policy --

ALEXANDER: The U.S. says ambassadors can`t have the power. It says there can`t -- there has to be separation or settlements. There cannot be both.

DERMER: Well, unfortunately, this is not a new problem. In the waning days of Obama`s presidency, they cast (INAUDIBLE) from the peace process on Israel and they made this the story about the settlements.

If people remember what happened in 2009, you will see, before all of the construction that happened in the eight years of the Obama administration, Netanyahu was blamed and the settlements were seen as the issue. This is not a new story. It`s just the same tale.

ALEXANDER: So, help me -- so help me look forward to the story that will be written in the months that go forward. Bottom line here, how does the U.S.-Israel alliance change after January 20th? In specific terms, what do you anticipate we will see differently going forward in this relationship?

DERMER: Well, I think that you`re going to have a policy of no daylight between the new administration and us which will be very different than the policy you`ve had over the last eight years.

And I think, judging from expressions of support on both sides of the aisle in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, which we deeply appreciate, I believe that there will be a very strong push to mitigate the dangers and the damage of this U.N. Security Council resolution. Perhaps to repeal it and hopefully to work closely with Israel, side by side to advance peace and security in the region.

The ones who want peace more than anyone are the people of Israel. It is our children. It is our future. It is not a secretary of state who wants peace more than the people of Israel.

ALEXANDER: (INAUDIBLE) with 5,600 new settlements, new developments I should say, specifically in the west bank.

DERMER: Some of the -- some people may feel that these areas, these settlements, are like Kevin Costner in "Dances with Wolves" in the middle of Montana. That`s not what you`re talking about.

You have to ask yourself a question. Will future a Palestinian state accept of presence of Jews in their state? Or is the policy of the United States that any future Palestinian state should have no Jews there? That is what it means when you say that the settlements undermine a two-state solution. They don`t.

We should work together to try to advance a peace where Israelis and Palestinians can live together side by side in peace and security. And we hope will do it with a new administration.

And we support in the region because there are a lot of changes that are happening in the region that draws us closer to Arab states. And we look forward to working with them to advance some peace.

ALEXANDER: Ambassador Dermer, I appreciate your being here.

DERMER: Thank you.

ALEXANDER: Nice to see you. Thanks so much for your time.

We are joined now by Senator Chris Coons. He`s a Democrat from Delaware, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Coons, thanks for your time.

Bottom line, I just want to get your reaction to what you just heard from the Israeli ambassador.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Ambassador Dermer certainly is a strong and capable advocate for the people of Israel and for the views of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

And I agree, broadly speaking, that a two-state solution, two states for two peoples. One where a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the right of the Jewish homeland of Israel to exist is the best path forward.

I have strongly worked against efforts to seek recognition at the United Nations and instead supported the Oslo structure where direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are recognized as the best pathway towards peace.

ALEXANDER: So, --

COONS: And, certainly, there`s been some real tension between Obama and Netanyahu and some of that boiled over today in the speech that you heard delivered earlier by Secretary of State John Kerry.

ALEXANDER: -- Senator, did John Kerry`s speech make things worse? It seems to have inflamed things as this administration is just weeks from being out the door.

COONS: Well, although I deeply respect Secretary Kerry`s very hard work in pursuit of peace, I do question the timing and the purpose of today`s speech. He gave an eloquent defense of the importance of a two-state solution.

But he spent the majority of his time criticizing settlement policy of Israel and very little time talking about Palestinian recounts entrance (ph).

There`s been real difficulties here in pursuing peace on both sides. Palestinians have not embraced Israeli offers to negotiate Israeli offers to move towards a peaceful resolution.

And some of the recent decisions by the Netanyahu government, in terms of increasing the pace of settlement activity, could also be seen as moving away from a two-state solution.

But the way for us to make progress is not by speeches given in the last three weeks of one administration. But by pushing both parties respectfully, privately to negotiate with each other. Not in a public scolding such as, I think, Secretary Kerry delivered today.

ALEXANDER: So, Senator, what do you see as the future of the U.S.-Israel alliance under Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu?

COONS: Well, it`s tough to know exactly what President-elect Trump will do on any issue. In the course of his campaign, he changed positions so many times on many key core issues.

But who he`s choosing as his ambassador really does send a fairly strong signal. This is someone who has criticized the prospects for a two-state solution and has strongly supported the settlement activity deep in the west bank.

And so, I`m somewhat concerned about what that suggests about President- elect Trump`s intentions, in terms of the kinds of Israeli policies he would support.

Here`s what I`m most concerned about, Peter. For decades, there has been strong bipartisan support in Congress for Israel security. And I think some of the actions in the last two years by Prime Minister Netanyahu and by President Obama have frayed that bipartisanship.

And I don`t think President-elect Trump is going to contribute to a restoration of strengthening that bipartisanship if he doesn`t meet with us, consult with us, and spend more time preparing for this very difficult part of his presidential leadership, rather than tweeting about it in advance of elect -- of inauguration day.

ALEXANDER: Senator, I want to switch gears, if I can, quickly to another foreign policy issue, that is the Russian hacking. This White House on its way out.

So, what good is a retaliation against Russia by the outgoing administration if it`s not supported by the incoming administration? We expect we could hear more about what it will lock like in the next 24 hours.

COONS: Well, Russian hacking directly sought to affect the outcome of our 2016 presidential election. That`s nothing less than a direct attack on our democracy. While long overdue, I think it is appropriate for the Obama administration to take strong action. And I think there will be bipartisan support for that.

The most concerning thing about President-elect Trump`s position is his lack of clarity. That Vladimir Putin is no friend of the United States and that we shouldn`t be trying to wipe away the very real differences between the United States and Russia in our values, in our strategic interests.

And we must stand up to Russian hacking that sought to influence our election or we`re simply going to face more aggressive cyber-attacks on our Democratic infrastructure by opponents from the world over.

ALEXANDER: Will the Senator Foreign Relations Committee hold hearings on ways to retaliate against Russia?

COONS: I expect they will. Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee has said he intends to hold hearings and I would strongly support that. We should have had hearings months ago.

I called for hearings back in August when there was first clear evidence of Russian attempts to influence the election. And when President-elect Trump inappropriately invited Russia to try and hack into Secretary Clinton`s e- mails.

So, I, frankly, think this is months overdue. But I am optimistic that we`ll see hearings by armed services, intelligence and foreign relations committees early in the new year.

ALEXANDER: Senator Chris Coons, happy holidays. Thanks for your time. We appreciate it.

COONS: Thank you, Peter.

ALEXANDER: Coming up, a tense transition. We`re going to dig further into the rocky relationship between President Obama and President-elect Trump. And what it means for the transition of power.

Plus, we`ve got brand-new comments from Donald Trump on American jobs.

You`re watching MTP DAILY. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: Moments ago, President-elect Donald Trump stepping out in front of the cameras outside his Mar-a-Largo property, talking about the economy and the transition. Here`s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, we just had some very good news because of what`s happening and the spirit and the hope. I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they are going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States. They`re taking them from other countries. They`re bringing them back to the United States. And Masa and some other people were very much involved in that so I want to thank them.

And also, OneWeb (ph), a new company, is going to be hiring 3,000 people. So, that`s very exciting.

So, we have a combination of Sprint for 5,000 jobs and that`s coming from all over the world. And they`re coming back into the United States which is a nice change.

And also, OneWeb 3,000 jobs. That`s a new company. And that was done through Masa and a terrific guy. And we appreciate it.

OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President-elect, did you speak with President Obama today?

TRUMP: I did. I did. He phoned me. We have a very nice conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you bring up any of your concerns about these roadblocks?

TRUMP: We had a general conversation. I think the secretary`s speech really spoke for itself. But we had a very general conversation. Very, very nice. Appreciated the call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE.)

TRUMP: The U.N. had such tremendous potential. Not living up to its potential. There is such tremendous potential but it is not living up to it. When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don`t. They cause problems. So, if it lives up to the potential, it`s a great thing. And if it doesn`t, it`s a waste of time and money.

OK, thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: Welcome back.

As we just mentioned, President-elect Trump said he had a very nice conversation with President Obama today. But after the two both promised an easy transition, those warm feelings really appear to have been cooling off in recent days.

Tension between the two men has been growing on more than just foreign policy after President Obama said he could have beaten Trump if he`d been running in 2016. Trump tweeted, quote, "President Obama campaigned hard and personally in the important swing states and lost. The voters wanted to make America great again."

And then, earlier today, Trump tweeted, doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition. Not.

Let me bring in my panel. Eliana Johnson, she`s a national political reporter for Politico. Perry Bacon, he is an NBC News senior political reporter. And joining us from New York, Ben Jealous, the former president of NAACP and MSNBC Contributor.

Ben, nice to see you long distance. Sorry you`re not here with us but I will give the first one to you, if I can. On these two enormous issues, Mideast policy with Israel and Russian hacking.

The outgoing administration is clearly trying to send a message to the incoming administration. Today, we just saw Trump`s tweet. But then he says he had a nice conversation with the president.

So, I guess the simple question is what does this mean for the next three weeks and beyond, this crumbling detente between the two?

BEN JEALOUS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, what really concerns me is president Trump`s tweet plomacy (ph). I mean, it really makes him look unhinged.

I think it makes a lot of people in this country nervous. He seems to have no problem provoking major corporations, provoking major nations, provoking their leaders, provoking the current president.

And I think we, as a people, frankly, want a president with an even hand and who is -- has more discipline in their communication. And so, that, really, to me, is the X factor here.

ALEXANDER: Perry Bacon, turning to you. What was the straw that broke the camel`s back here for Donald Trump as it were? Only a couple days ago, Shawn Spicer, is soon to be the press secretary and communications adviser, said, hey, you know, they`ve been very generous. Everything`s been going smoothly.

Then, the U.N. resolution. Then, perhaps, Barack Obama`s comments saying he would have beaten him if he were running. What was it, do you think, that sort of set this off?

PERRY BACON JR., SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, NBC NEWS: I think on the Israel issue, they really have a fundamental (ph) difference in policy. The Obama administration, for a long time, has been feuding with Netanyahu about settlements, about the Iran deal.

So, I do think we saw, today, an example where I would argue a lot of Democrats and a lot of Republicans have to agree with Donald Trump not President Obama. But President Obama and John Kerry`s view is they want to use today to really criticize these Israelis. They used Friday to do that as well.

So, I think a lot of people are with Donald Trump against President Obama. On the Russia issue, it`s different. I would argue that Donald Trump is in land by himself, in some ways, where the administration wants to punish the Russians and so do the Republicans in Congress. And Donald Trump is the only person not joining that argument.

The issue of who had won the election. I`m not totally sure what Obama was -- what the point of that was. I`m not sure it`s true. I`m not sure we`ll ever be able to prove that.

ALEXANDER: I think we clearly won`t be able to prove it. A lot of people like talking about that.

Now, Eliana, to you. I just finished a conversation with the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, a second ago who picked up, basically, where Benjamin Netanyahu and all the Israeli government leaders have left off in recent days and hours. Tearing into this administration and most recently into John Kerry.

I guess my question is about Donald Trump as he comes in right now. What does the American public want right now? Do they want this, sort of, aggressive posture on a two-state solution or for a guy who said he wasn`t going to be in the business of nation building, do they want more of a less affair (ph) approach as it relates to countries like Israel and that region?

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICO REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, you know, to tie the two together, the case that Secretary Kerry has been making, I do think it`s significant that it was Secretary Kerry and not Barack Obama who made the speech today.

This has been Secretary Kerry`s initiative. And I think the president remains ambivalent about what -- about, you know, stating the parameters of a two-state solution and what a peace agreement should look like.

ALEXANDER: Let`s go to this administration`s opposed settlement.

JOHNSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, Dave insisted that this has been U.S. policy going back decades. I think, that was blatantly not the case. You know, the Carter administration called settlements illegal. The Reagan administration did not. The George W. Bush administration did not.

And the Obama administration came very clearly with a view, appointed George Mitchell (INAUDIBLE) to the Middle East on day two. And they had a view that Israel was the cause of the problems in the Middle East and that settlements were the heart of the problem.

And Barack -- or Donald Trump is coming in with a very different view. The think the U.S. public has been supportive of America playing an active role in the peace process. But not supportive of the U.N. dictating terms to Israel. And that`s where I think this resolution breaks with the past.

Secretary Kerry called it balanced. I think what it does is that it harms Israel by subjecting it to boycotts but it doesn`t actually harm the Palestinians in any way.

ALEXANDER: Ben, the U.S.-Israel relationship, how does that change January 20th? What does it look like going forward and how high a priority is this for Donald Trump, even though it`s been a flash point in these final days of the Obama administration?

JEALOUS: Look, I think the most important thing probably is that the people of this country, as a whole, want to see that country be secure, also want to see peace come and know that fairness is part of peace. And that is more complicated than just saying rah, rah for one side or the other.

Donald Trump tries to make these things very simplistic. He, frankly, in his Trump`s -- in his tweets, they come across as a bit messianic. I`m not sure that that helps.

ALEXANDER: Perry, the next three weeks. Are we looking at a slugfest here? This thing is not going pretty right now.

BACON: I think these issues are things they disagree on. So, I think as long as things can be disagreed on, then these two people --

ALEXANDER: But this isn`t just about disagreeing about issues at some point. This is just tough talk for the sake of it, right?

BACON: I don`t think so. I think that Obama and Kerry feel very strong about how Israelis policy works.

ALEXANDER: I mean to say, President Obama saying, hey, I would have beaten you and things of this --

BACON: That seems silly and maybe he should have avoided it, saying that I would --

JOHNSON: I also think that`s directed more at Hillary Clinton than at Trump.

BACON: That`s true and I agree with that as well.

JOHNSON: Yes. And I think Obama has been pretty strategic in maintaining a relationship with Trump because he realizes Trump is a relationship guy. And he wants to preserve that relationship to maintain some degree of control.

ALEXANDER: On Russia, is Trump going to go it alone after this? Is he going to basically just try to turn back everything President Obama does in these final waning days, in terms of retaliation?

JOHNSON: I really don`t think we know what Trump`s going to do. I think it remains to be seen what his relationship is going to be like and to what extent he listens to people, like Secretary -- you know, incoming secretary Mattis and secretary of state Tillerson.

ALEXANDER: But on Russia, it seems pretty clear, right? Hasn`t he telegraphed it as best he can and every way possible, right? Even Rex Tillerson, his pick for secretary of state, has a close relationship with - - (INAUDIBLE) close relationship with Vladimir Putin.

JOHNSON: Yes. The thing -- the thing I would push back on that about is that Donald Trump is not somebody who likes to be bullied. So, I question whether that warm relationship with Putin will persist if he feels that he`s getting pushed around by Putin on the world stage.

ALEXANDER: Ben?

JEALOUS: You know, look, his thing with Putin is very disconcerting to a lot of people. Those of us who grew up in the cold war to see someone cow tow (ph) to the Russian leader the way that he did during the campaign, when he called on Russia for help with hacking.

You know, and, frankly, the way that it really does feel that Putin has his number is just very disconcerting. All these stories we see that they may have some dossier that could be very embarrassing to him.

ALEXANDER: Right.

JEALOUS: I mean, he really has to change his relationship relative Putin or I think a lot of his base, over time, will become disconcerted as well.

ALEXANDER: Eliana, Perry and Ben, I hope you guys will stay with us. We`re going to get back to you in a little bit.

Still ahead right here, where does the president-elect stand on some critical national security and foreign policy issues? We`re going to lay out Trump`s positions in his own words.

You`re watching MTP DAILY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: More MTP DAILY is ahead, but first Hampton Pearson with your CNBC Market Wrap.

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC REPORTER: Thanks Peter. Stocks closed lower and raising (ph) gains at record highs from the day before. The Dow falling 111 points. The S&P dropping just under 19 points. The Nasdaq finishing down by 48.

Fewer Americans signed contracts to purchase homes in November. The National Association of Realtors says it`s seasonally adjusted pending home sales index dropped 2.5 percent from October. U.D. crude oil surge for a fourth consecutive session, settling at $54.06 a barrel. In New York, oil prices have risen 25 percent since mid-November. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: Welcome back. We`ve been talking today about the urge in national security issues President Trump will have to confront and as we look ahead of the Trump presidency, we wanted to look back at the 18 times that Donald Trump appeared on "Meet The Press" during this campaign and what do you have to say about some of those critical foreign policy and national security issues beginning with ISIS. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR, "MEET THE PRESS DAILY" SHOW HOST: You want to knock the hell out of ISIS, how?

DONALD TUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Well, I want to take away their wealth and you know for years I`ve been saying don`t go into Iraq. But they went into Iraq, they destabilize the Middle East. It was a big mistake. OK, now we`re there and you have ISIS. And I said this was going to happen.

I said Iran will take over Iraq, which is happening as sure as you`re sitting there. And ISIS is taking over a lot of the oil and certain areas of Iraq, and I said you take away their wealth. You go in and knock the hell out of the oil, take back the oil, we take over the oil which we should have done in the first place.

TODD: It`s going to take ground troops.

TRUMP: If you --

TODD: What you`re talking about is ground troops --

TRUMP: It`s OK.

TODD: -- maybe 25,000.

TRUMP: We`re going to circle it -- we`re going to circle it. We`re going to have so much money. What I would do with the money that we make, which would be tremendous, I would take care of the soldiers that were killed, the families of the soldiers that were killed.

TODD: Who do you talk to for military advice right now?

TRUMP: Well, I watch your shows. I mean I really see a lot of great, you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals --

TODD: So you do the --

TRUMP: -- and you have certain people that you like.

TODD: Is there somebody -- is there a go to for you, you know?

TRUMP: Probably there are two or three.

TODD: Every presidential candidate has a go to --

TRUMP: Probably there are two or three. I mean I like Bolton. I think he is a tough cookie. He knows what he`s talking about. Jacobs is a good guy.

TODD: You mean Ambassador John Bolton?

TRUMP: Yes. I think he`s terrific.

TODD: You know Colonel Jack Jacobs?

TRUMP: Colonel Jack Jacobs is a good guy and I see him on occasion.

-- this horrible deal with Iran. This deal, if you had the right, you`d have the prisoners back years ago.

TODD: Iran would still get money. I understand --

TRUMP: Can you believe that deal?

TODD: But let me ask you this --

TRUMP: No, no, why is Iran getting the money?

TODD: I understand there`s s a lot of people -- I understand a lot of people critical of the deal, but could you -- what deal can you come up with that wouldn`t give Iran money?

TRUMP: OK, I would never --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I would have told them upfront -- by the way --

TODD: No sanctions relief?

TRUMP: We will never give you back your money. We will never give you back your $150 billion. You`re never getting that money back, that`s number one. Number two, before we start negotiations, you have to give us our three prisoners. Now it`s four, OK. You know, when it started, there was three, now it`s four.

You have to give us back, without question, you have to give them back. And you know what, you don`t want them, but we do. It`s psychologically good and it will help us make a better deal together that`s good for you, OK. But I would have told them up front, you will never get your $150 billion back.

They are going to be such a wealthy, such a powerful nation, they`re going to have nuclear weapons. They are going to take over parts of the world that you wouldn`t believe and I think it`s going to lead to nuclear holocaust. I will say this. The people that negotiated that deal namely Kerry and his friends, are incompetent.

TODD: What do you do on day one though? This is a deal Secretary Gates basically says he didn`t like the deal. He thought the U.S. wanted the deal too much.

TRUMP: No, they begged for it.

TODD: So that negotiating --

TRUMP: Oh, by the way, they should have doubled up the sanctions.

TODD: And then he said -- and then he said can`t pull out of the deal because of the international ramifications. What do you say to that?

TRUMP: I would --

TODD: He`s a pretty wise guy.

TRUMP: OK. I`ve heard a lot of people say we`re going to rip up the deal. It`s very tough to do when you say rip up a deal because I`m a deal person and what I make --

TODD: You get that even if you made --

TRUMP: Let me tell you. But I will police that deal. You know I`ve taken over some bad contracts. I`d buy contracts with people who screwed up and they have bad contracts.

TODD: But you have to abide by it.

TRUMP: But I`m really good at looking at a contract and finding things within a contract even though they`re bad. I would police that contract so tough that they don`t have a chance. As bad as the contract is, I will be so tough on that contract.

TODD: So the deal lives in a Trump administration --

TRUMP: Well, if the deal is --

TODD: -- you`re just going to -- you`re just going to be --

TRUMP: It`s very hard to say we`re ripping up, and the problem is, by the time I got in there they will have already received the $150 billion. Do you know if the deal gets rejected, they still get the money?

TODD: You mean the Middle East would be better today if Gaddafi, Saddam, and Assad were -- if Saddam and Gaddafi were still there and Assad were stronger?

TRUMP: Not even --

TODD: Do you think the Middle East would be safer?

TRUMP: Not even a contest, Chuck. It`s not even a contest. Iraq is a disaster and ISIS --

TODD: They would be better if Saddam was there?

TRUMP: Don`t forget, Isis came out of Iraq.

TODD: Do you welcome Putin`s involvement?

TRUMP: I like that Putin is bombing the hell out of ISIS and it`s going to be ISIS. I tell you what, Putin has to get rid of ISIS because Putin doesn`t want ISIS coming into Russia.

TODD: Why do you trust him and nobody else does?

TRUMP: I don`t trust him. I don`t trust him at all other than we both got very good ratings the other night in "60 Minutes" because it was with me and Putin. Can you believe this, right?

TODD: There you go.

TRUMP: So I don`t know. Did I get the ratings or did he? But the truth is -- it`s not a question of trust. I don`t want to see the United States -- we`ve spent now -- we`ve spent $2 trillion in Iraq, probably a trillion in Afghanistan. We`re destroying our country.

Here`s the problem to what you`re saying in Syria. We are fighting Assad and we`re fighting for people and helping people that we don`t even know who they are. And they may be worse than Assad. They may be worse, OK. They may be worse.

And if Assad -- if Assad never happened, if you don`t have a problem in Syria, you wouldn`t have the migration, you wouldn`t be talking about all of these countries with what`s going on in Europe and now they are talking about taking 200,000 people that we don`t even know who they are and bring them in to the United States? The whole thing is ridiculous.

So, I`m not justifying Putin, but you watch. He`ll get bogged down there. He`ll be there. He`ll spend a fortune. He`ll be begging to get out. Everybody that`s gone to the Middle East has had nothing but problems.

TODD: Let me give you one more issue where you sort of went counter to what is perceived as Republican orthodoxy and that is on --

TRUMP: OK, fine.

TODD: -- the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. You said Wednesday you wanted to be neutral in that dispute. Explain what neutral means because some heard that in the pro-Israeli community and thinks, oh, he`s going to be anti-Israel. Explain what you mean by neutral.

TRUMP: They want me -- look, no, I`m very pro-Israel. In fact I was the head of the Israeli Day parade a number of years ago. I did a commercial for Netanyahu when he was getting elected. He asked me to do a commercial for him. I did a commercial for him. I am. But I don`t want to be -- look, the hardest thing to do is that in terms of deals, if you`re a deal person, right?

The ultimate deal is that deal. Israel, Palestine, if you`re going to make it? That probably is the hardest deal there is to make. People are born with hatred. They are taught hatred. And I have to say it`s mostly on the one side not on the other side.

But they`re taught hatred. I say this, if I`m going to be president, I would rather be in a position because I will try the best I can, and I`m a very good deal maker, believe me, to try and solve that puzzle.

You`re not going to solve it if you`re going to be on one side or another. Everyone understands it. If I`m going to solve the problem, I want to go in with a clean slate otherwise you`re never going to get the cooperation of the other side.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDER: Can the Trump right there in his own words. Still ahead, Senator Chuck Schumer wants Trump`s cabinet picks do something that Trump never did on the campaign trail, and the word (ph) tonight, gearing up for the first big fight of the Trump administration. Stay tuned, you`re watching "MTP Daily."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: Welcome back. We still haven`t seen president-elect Trump`s tax returns, but Democrats say that doesn`t mean his cabinet (ph) nominees should be off the hook. President-elect Trump`s nominees for (INAUDIBLE) and treasury secretaries both turned over three years of their tax returns to the Senate Finance Committee, something that committee asked for as part of their review process.

But incoming minority leader, the Senator Chuck Schumer said the rest of the cabinet needs to do the same to submit their documents before hearings start up. The Democrats big target really is Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson who spent his entire professional life working at ExxonMobil. In a questionnaire, Tillerson said he was willing to provide tax-related information.

Senate Foreign Relations chairman, Bob Corker, says the committee won`t make the request sighting a long standing precedent. Schumer for his part is not backing down. Question now would Democrats be able to give Trump`s picks the financial frisking that Trump himself escaped. More "MTP Daily" ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: Build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. Sounds familiar? That became Donald Trump`s rallying cry from the day he announced his candidacy. Now, Senator Tom Cotton says that`s given Trump a mandate to cut immigration flow. In a "New York Times" op-ed, Cotton writes, "Closing all borders to inexpensive foreign labor will force employers to add benefits and improve workplace conditions to attract and keep workers already here."

Immigration could be the first big fight of the Trump presidency and Tom Cotton just told Congress to get ready to start its engines. Our panel is back right now for the lid, Eliana Johnson, Perry Bacon, Jr, Ben Jealous are all with us right now.

To you Eliana first, so Senator Cotton frames this call for reform under the premise of Donald Trump basically was the candidate of less to immigration, right. So, he says he has this mandate. He`s got the Republican Congress right now. Is this all wishful thinking or is there the viable chance that we may see some reform going forward?

JOHNSON: Well, I think this is completely plausible and he`s really shifting or putting to meat (ph) behind Trump`s, you know, broad ideas and shifting the focus from building a wall and you know, militant border security to immigration flow and restricting the flow in particular of low skilled workers into the country.

So, he`s -- and he`s drawing the -- I think he`s drawing a connection between the high flow of low skilled workers to wages, which Trump talks a whole lot about and saying that low skilled workers have an adverse impact on wages of the working class.

ALEXANDER: Ben, you were a fierce critic of Donald Trump, the candidate -- Donald Trump over the course of the campaign. You repeatedly called him and we looked it up to confirm, a racist, a xenophobic --

JEALOUS: His policies, yes.

ALEXANDER: Are you better satisfied by what you`ve seen from him in the course of the last month that he may govern in a way that disproves that suggestion?

JEALOUS: You know, what I`ve actually been hearing across this last month is about people who are fearful whose children are fearful, dreamers who are changing addresses. And the concern, right, when you read Tom Cotton`s piece is all these euphemisms. If you`re talking about closing borders, are you talking about building a wall?

If you`re talking about reducing the flow in, are you talking about maximizing flow out and actually rounding up families in the middle of the night and people who grew up here as children and went to college in a place as dreamers to make great contributions to our economy? Are you going to force them out too?

And so that`s the concern here, is that president-elect Trump`s policies are terrifying and they`re frankly go right against the grain of our country`s character. We are not a country that builds walls. We are a country that tears down walls. We did not do everything we did to tear down wall through Berlin just to build one across Texas. So that`s the concern.

JOHNSON: The piece is noteworthy though because it says absolutely nothing about a wall or dreamers or you know, a force that`s going to round up anybody --

ALEXANDER: This is Tom Cotton`s piece.

JOHNSON: Yes.

ALEXANDER: Let me keep this conversation to Donald Trump if I can. So, specifically Tom Cotton in talking about this, talks about the idea of a low wage work force. It dumps directly with Donald Trump`s pick for labor secretary, Andy Puzder, the former "Carl`s Jr." boss, right.

He says, "If we were able to hire people who are currently here illegally, if there were a way to change their status so they are here legally, that would be a big benefit I think to us and to everybody else that has to hire workers in that category. I think it would be a real boost to the economy." Were these direct sort of contrast I guess in effect present a long-term problem in Trump`s administration even with a Republican Congress?

BACON: Yes, I mean Tom Cotton is saying we want to have more high skilled labor and fewer people that the secretary is describing there who would be sort of low skilled labor jobs. I think ultimately Eliana`s right. The key thing is that op-ed did not mention -- Trump and immigration -- we have to talk about the border wall. We have to talk about the duration of this because those things he actually ran on. He not only ran on as much this sort of shift we`re talking about here.

But Cotton`s idea is not a crazy one but in fact, President Obama is talking about it and some Democrats to support the idea of having more high skilled shifting our immigration force to have more immigrants, to have more high skilled immigrants who can create jobs that sort of (INAUDIBLE) at Google and so on. The idea of having entrepreneurial immigrants is a pretty good one and something by supporting them.

ALEXANDER: Eliana, I cut you off and I shouldn`t so finish that thought if you will, about the point you`re making about Tom Cotton more broadly in this argument.

JOHNSON: Cotton I think is championing an argument that a lot of Conservatives and Republicans have championed, which is that we need to break the bipartisan consensus that has the CEO`s of companies benefit from having low skilled immigrants in the country who they can pay less that they would American citizens and those are, you know, maids in houses and fast food workers that Andy Puzdner benefits from.

And that it`s the elites who benefit from illegal immigration and low skilled immigration and that we need to change it and give better benefits and higher wages to the working class which many CEO`s oppose. And Cotton draws out I think that hypocrisy in his op-ed and says we need to shift our immigration in such a way that yes, CEO`s will have to pay their employees more but the white working class or all the working class, white, black, whatever color you are, will benefit.

ALEXANDER: And then obviously Donald Trump is a genius marketer, a brander I guess you could say, right. He just came out a short time ago and said Sprint is going to bring 5,000 jobs back to the United States. Let`s note by the way, under President Obama last month, there were 178,000 new jobs added. President Obama didn`t come out every time that happened, but this does sort of benefit Donald Trump, right, because it leads people to believe he`s having a real impact on this issue.

JEALOUS: Well, if he`s a real brander -- the problem is that he has branded a bunch of irrational policies an so, well, you could say that Cotton is trying to have a rational conversation. You cannot have a rational conversation on irrational terms. And until the Republican Party takes the wall off the table, until Republican Party makes it clear that the dreamers can stay, it`s going to be very hard for us to have a rational conversation on this issue.

ALEXANDER: Eliana, Perry, Ben, thank you guys very much. We appreciate you`re being here during the holiday time. After the break, how the Big Apple is bidding a not so fond farewell to 2016. You heard about how they do it? We`ll show you coming up next.

(COMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: We`re back now on "MTP Daily." So in case you missed it, it is what they call Good Riddance Day. Did you miss the calendar alert? I`m sure you got that this morning when you woke up. That might be because it`s something that was sort of made up as a holiday.

In Times Square today where the holiday was created and where they celebrated, folks had fun shredding and smashing stuff as the 10th annual Good Riddnance Day, like any hallmark type holiday, there is a slogan, "Shred it and forget it." There is also a sponsor and stuff to be sold -- storage services, cleaning services, shredding services.

You may have seen all the New Year specials advertised across social media. But in any case, it certainly been a heck a year so, here is to hoping that 2017 is a year worth remembering. We wish you a great happy and healthy year ahead. That`s all for us tonight. We`re going to be back tomorrow with more "MTP DAILY." Ayman Moyheldin picks up our coverage right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END