MTP Daily, Transcript 12/29/2016

Guests: Charlie Cook, Karine Jean-Pierre; Rick Tyler; Donald Trump, Ron Allen, Hans Nichols, John Harwood, Adam Kinzinger, Michael O`Hanlon

Show: MTP DAILY Date: December 29, 2016 Guest: Charlie Cook, Karine Jean-Pierre; Rick Tyler; Donald Trump, Ron Allen, Hans Nichols, John Harwood, Adam Kinzinger, Michael O`Hanlon


We`re waiting reaction from President-elect Donald Trump on today`s retaliation against Russia.

(voice-over): Tonight, naming and shaming, President Obama makes good on the promise to retaliate against Russia for election interference despite the president-elect skepticism.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we need to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated the lives (INAUDIBLE.)


ALEXANDER: Later, what the last 362 days tell us about Donald Trump`s first 100 days in office.

And the battle in the west as the president works to secure his environmental legacy.

This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Peter Alexander in Washington in tonight for Chuck Todd.

We begin this evening with retaliation from the White House. A major announcement by the Obama administration against Russia setting up a potentially dramatic collision of priorities between the outgoing administration and incoming one.

On the matter of national security, President Obama has just unveiled sweeping retaliatory actions against Vladimir Putin`s Russia for its interference in the U.S. election, sanctioning nine Russian officials and entities. Pointing a finger directly at Putin`s intelligence service for its role in hackings.

The U.S. is expelling 35 Russian diplomats who do intelligence work. They now have 72 hours to leave the country. And closing two Russian compounds, setting harassment against American diplomats.

Additionally, U.S. intelligence agencies have just declassified information about their investigation into Russian hacking as part of an effort to protect vital U.S. infrastructure. In his announcement, President Obama characterized these actions as a response to a, quote, "national emergency."

Additionally, NBC News has learned that two of the Russians sanctioned by the White House are also wanted by the FBI for an array of hacking allegations.

Meanwhile, here`s President-elect Trump just last night after speaking with President Obama.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think generally about the sanctions against Russia?

TRUMP: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole, you know, age of computer has made it to where nobody knows exactly what`s going on.

We have speed. We have a lot of other things. But I`m not sure you have the kind of security that you need.


ALEXANDER: As you saw him say, I think need to get on with our lives. But with today`s White House actions, has Trump now been boxed in? We`re expecting a statement from the transition team at some point this evening.

The President`s chief counterterrorism advisor spoke to my colleague, Steve Kornacki, just moments ago, about the White House`s contact with Donald Trump ahead of today`s announcement.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What there was was notification earlier today to a senior member of the president-elect`s team. But, no, no consultation in advance.

And we`ve been clear all along. There will be consequences. We will respond at a time and place of our choosing. And that`s what you`re seeing done today.


ALEXANDER: Democrats are certainly hoping the White House has forced Trump`s hand.

This afternoon, the new top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said the following. He said, quote, "I hope the incoming Trump administration, which has been far too close to Russia throughout the campaign in transition, won`t think for one second about weakening these new sanctions or our existing regime."

But Republican speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, appeared to give Trump some cover by pointing the finger at the outgoing president saying, in part, quote, "While today`s interaction by the administration is overdue, it`s an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia."

Now the Russian response. The foreign ministry there is slamming the White House`s actions as both futile and counterproductive.

Putin`s spokesman says they are considering retaliation measures of their own. That`s according to "The Associated Press."

We`ve got every angle of this story covered. NBC`s Ron Allen is at the White House. NBC`s Hans Nichols is at the Pentagon for us. And my colleague at CNBC, John Harwood, is covering the economic component of the White House`s retaliation strategy.

Ron, let`s get you out of the gates if we can. The White House wrapping up a call. Senior advisors speaking to reporters about this response to Russian hacking. What`s the latest about what they`re hoping to accomplish with this effort?

RON ALLEN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, they`re saying that this may not be the end of it, either. They`re going to continue to see how Russia responds and they reserve the right to carry out more actions, probably covert actions that we may never hear about. In response to what the administration has really described as a wide-spread escalating pattern of behavior on several fronts, that the Russians have been engaged in for a long period of time.

This was not just the election hacking that they were targeting. They talked about how American diplomats have been harassed overseas for years.


ALLEN: And how that was escalating. How there was spying going on in the United States. That`s why there were 35 Russian diplomats who were expelled.

[17:05:07] And there were those two so-called notorious cyber criminals who were named. And this was more than just naming and shaming.

There were individuals whose -- who are targeted with sanctions which means that -- and the assets in the United States or that the United States can get ahold of will be frozen. And that these individuals cannot do or be -- or do business with anyone in the United States.

So, it`s targeted. It`s precise. It`s meant to be. The question, of course, is whether Donald Trump could overturn this. The thinking is that he may be able to.

But, politically, it would be difficult because there`s so much bipartisan -- so many bipartisan calls by Republicans and Democrats for a deep investigation and for sanctions against the Russians.

ALEXANDER: And that`s certainly part of the calculous by the president and his team right now.

Hans, to you on the Pentagon side. What kind of escalation with Russia are they preparing for after today? Effectively, we`re publicly ejecting 35 diplomats and shutting down Russian intelligence compounds. Obviously, they have to suspect that Vladimir Putin is not just going to look the other way.

HANS NICHOLS, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: In general, when diplomats that are working as spies are ejected or spies working as diplomats, there`s a tit for tat.

So, you can expect American CIA contractors or officials working out of the embassy, you`d expect some expulsions from the Russian side as well.

You know, I would get back to this idea of a two of a one-two punch. What we heard today and what we learned today was this first punch. And that is what they`re going to do on the official side, the economic side. And I`ll let Harwood sort of enumerate that.

We still don`t know what the cyber response is going to be or whether or not they`ll ever acknowledge that. For those that are saying that this -- their retaliation today didn`t go far enough, we still don`t know if there`s going to be additional cyber response.

Now, remember, the president himself, as well as Joe Biden, has been very clear. They don`t, necessarily, want to acknowledge that but they have said that whoever is targeted on that cyber response, they`ll know.

So, I suspect, in some ways today, we may only have half the story. Whether or not we ever have the full end of the story remands to be seen -- Peter.

ALEXANDER: John, let me ask you if you can walk us inside, walk us through these sanctions, economically the impact of them designed explicitly degrade these Russian targets by, basically, choking them economically.

Is that, effectively, what they did by extending what they had already done in 2015 with the executive orders in the way that they`re doing so today?

JOHN HARWOOD, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESONDENT, CNBC: Well, in truth, Peter, the economic ramifications of the sanctions on the individuals and the firms associated with that election cyber hack are not great. It`s not likely that the individuals in question have a lot of interaction with the U.S. financial system now. It`s meant to be a deterrent effect.

And, of course, the expulsion of the 35 diplomats, the closing of those two compounds, is supposed to have an effect.

I think the forensic data that was put out is likely to have a greater impact on Russia`s ability to hack, say, U.S. businesses. Because by putting out I.P. addresses and other specifics about how Russia goes about this, they aim to disrupt their ability to do the same things anytime --


HARWOOD: -- in the near future. And, you know, we`ll see whether they come up with new methods. You can bet that they will. But that`s the short-term impact.

ALEXANDER: Ron, let me ask you. Among those compelling parts of this is the effort to try to expose tactics, techniques and procedures that the Russians used as it was described by a top administration official just within this last hour.

Basically, there are -- they are coming away with -- there are lessons to be learned by this to protect not just the government but other private companies in this country going forward.

ALLEN: I think that also falls under the category of the proof that people have been demanding, exactly what evidence the United States has that the Russians were behind this hacking.

So, by revealing their methods, here`s the proof. Here`s what we found. Is, I think, one way to interpret that.

And also, Peter, remember, there is a much more broad and far reaching administration review of what happened that`s still going on that`s still to be produced by the administration before President Obama leaves office.

This was not that. And so, that`s still coming. And while that may not be accusatory, that may have more information that you can use that, essentially, helps you protect your computer against the Russians, the administration would say.

But it also may reveal more of what the United States knows about how the Russians have been going about all this.

ALEXANDER: Ron Allen, Hans Nichols and John Harwood. Gentlemen, thank you very much. We appreciate your time.

And also, joining us now is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He is a deputy Republican whip, an Air Force veteran and a former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman Kinzinger, thanks for your time. Just out of the gates, I just want to get your initial reaction to the president`s retaliatory steps today.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Well, I think it`s a -- it`s a proper step. And as was mentioned prior, we don`t necessarily know if there`s a wave to what it`s going to be. We may never find out.

But I think it`s important to send the message that we`re the United States of America. You know, we`re the greatest country in the world. And we`re not dealing with, you know, the former Soviet Union, the other polar in a bi-polar world.

[17:10:05] We`re dealing with a country that has an economy roughly the size of Italy. And so, this idea that there can be an equal match between the United States and Russia on this is not the case. We far exceed them in our ability to do what we do.

And the other thing I`ll say is this. We need to get back to where politics ends at the water`s edge. And both sides have plenty of blame on this.

You know, we all swear to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies for and domestic. And that doesn`t mean that you put your party or anything else above it. It means you have to defend the integrity of our country and that`s what the president did today.

ALEXANDER: So, on that question. How do you explain Donald Trump`s reluctance to acknowledge U.S. intelligence that`s dating back to at least October? It was indicated that Russia was responsible for this hacking. What`s their motive? What`s his motive?

KINZINGER: I don`t know. And I can`t defend it and I won`t. What I`ll say is we need to be careful. There are some that say because this hacking occurred, Donald Trump was not legitimately elected president. That is wrong and that is dangerous.

And so, I think understanding that now, moving forward, we have legitimately elected the president, Donald Trump. But we need to figure out how to defend the integrity of our system going forward and it`s extremely important.

ALEXANDER: So, what would you counsel -- what would you counsel the president-elect then?

KINZINGER: I would counsel him to say, look, you know, any attempt by any outside nation to interfere with our election, we are going to defend against. And he needs to say, look, I was legitimately elected but I understand that in the future, any attempt to do this needs to be met harshly.

And so, that`s what I would recommend to him. And, hopefully, after he`s sworn in, he does that. But I`m not going to defend the comments up to this point.

ALEXANDER: Will Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell do the same if Donald Trump wants to roll these actions back? Will the leaders, Republican leaders in Congress, let that happen?

KINZINGER: Yes, they`re both very honorable people. I think they will. You know, I`ve heard people question, you know, is Donald Trump going to reduce -- reverse what happened just now?

And I don`t think you`re going to see a President-elect Trump invite 30 some more spies back into the United States. It`s going to be hard to reverse this.

I think we have an opportunity, again, for both sides to come together. The election`s behind us. And say, what do we have to do in the future to ensure that the integrity of, frankly, the greatest democracy in the world is maintained?

This is a bipartisan opportunity. And I`m committed to not play politics with this. But to do the right thing for the Constitution that I`ve sworn to protect and defend twice, both in this job and as a military pilot.

ALEXANDER: I just want to be clear because maybe I misunderstood. You`re saying that he -- they would allow him to roll it back or they would not because they`re honorable men?

KINZINGER: No, I think they would not. I think, from a congressional perspective, there is very strong bipartisan support to defend this, to stand against the Russians and what they`ve done.

And I think you will see both of these men and, frankly, the vast majority of Congress stand strong behind sending a message and having ramifications against the Russians for what they`ve done.

ALEXANDER: I guess the bottom line is, how do we prevent this from happening again, though, if the Republican -- the new president, the president-elect, basically, disputes the intelligence to this point?

Even just yesterday when he spoke at his own Mar-a-Largo property, he basically said, I think we need to move on.

KINZINGER: Yes. Well, I agree, we do need to move on with our lives. But we need to figure out how to let something like this never happen again. And that`s the role of Congress. That`s the role of the media to talk about. And hopefully the incoming president will want to do the same thing.

So, I think, again, coming together as Republicans and Democrats, saying, how do we defend the system? What do we need to do? This is a bipartisan issue. Politics ends at the water`s edge.

But both -- you know, someone on both sides of the aisle have got -- some people say that this never happened. Some people say that this made Donald Trump president or they`ve even gone so far as to say the Russians hacked the vote totals which isn`t true.

So, I think let`s put the kind of anger just from the presidential election aside and let`s figure out how to defend the integrity of our system going forward.

ALEXANDER: Speaking of that, you told the "Washington Examiner" back in September that the Russians have the capability and it`s reasonable to think they hacked into Hillary Clinton`s private server. By that logic, it would seem reasonable to think that they tried to dig up dirt on the president-elect as well, no?

KINZINGER: That`s possible true. You know, I don`t know. I know what we know, from the intelligence community, which is the DNC and Podesta`s e- mail and things along that line. But I think the broader thing is be careful what you send, obviously.

But we need to be -- to defend our election integrity system. And I think we need to make it clear to whether it`s the Russians, the Iranians, or anybody else that any attack on our cyber capability will be met with equal or greater response.

ALEXANDER: So, would you support hearings on this?

KINZINGER: I would. I would support getting to the bottom of what this looks like. And the American people deserve to know, Congress deserves to know.

ALEXANDER: Adam Kinzinger, joining us on this holiday time. We appreciate your time. Thank you.

KINZINGER: You bet, take care.

ALEXANDER: We want to bring in Michael O`Hanlon, Author and Senior Fellow at Brookings, specializing in foreign policy and national security. He is the co-director of the Center for the 21st Century Security and Intelligence.

Michael, nice to have you with us. Was this appropriate action to take without the explicit buy-in from the incoming president?

[17:15:01] MICHAEL O`HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Yes, I think it was because I think what it does is actually do Donald Trump a favor.

I know you`ve been talking about one interpretation, and it may very well be Mr. Trump`s, which is that he might have gotten outmaneuvered or boxed in or, you know, the incumbent president who`s about to leave somehow left him with a legacy he doesn`t really want. But the other way to look at it is we did have to respond.

As the Congressman just said, there`s strong bipartisan sentiment along those lines. This way, Mr. Trump doesn`t have to be the guy who does it. It`s already achieved.

And also, you sent Russia a message. These are the kinds of things we could do and intensify and extrapolate further next time.

Now, we all know Trump doesn`t want to have a bad relationship with Putin. Let`s hope somehow they can get -- have a good one.

But in the event that that relationship sours or Russia keeps up this kind of nonsense, there`s a natural path forward.

So, I think it`s the right step and it actually does Trump a favor.

ALEXANDER: So, it gives -- does him a favor and sort of sets the groundwork for what he may have to do going forward. But what is he about to walk into? What kind of escalation could we be looking at by the time January 20th rolls around?

O`HANLON: Well, it`s a great question. And I think -- you know, you`ve been discussing how the administration wanted to be proportionate because they didn`t want to invite escalation or make Russian response seem inevitable.

As you`re aware, the Russians think that we were messing with their elections. They still blame Hillary Clinton for trying to get Vladimir Putin defeated in 2012.

They also think that we brought about the change of regime in Ukraine in 2014. Putin is an old KGB guy we know. And he is of the view that we tried to orchestrate a lot of things in places like Georgia and Ukraine.

So, he doesn`t think that he started it. He thinks that we started it. And, therefore, I think -- you know, he`s wrong. But you have to worry, when is this process going to end if both sides think they`re just responding to an infraction or offense by the other?

So, in that situation, you have to be very careful to be firm but not to overdo it. So, I want to commend the Obama administration. I think they got this about right.

ALEXANDER: What concerns should it raise for Americans right now that Donald Trump, even through the conversation, the comments he made last night, has really been disputing the U.S. intelligence, saying, until I see the evidence, I just don`t believe this stuff.

O`HANLON: Well, you know, I`m a Trump critic and I said a lot of things crucial of him during the campaign. But I`m little bit more lenient on him right now on some of this stuff. Not on every single point and not on denying the evidence.


O`HANLON: Well, take, for example, the whole daily intelligence briefing brouhaha. You know, when, basically, when much of the media, much of Washington, we were all telling Trump, you got to take these daily briefings. It`s what presidents do. It`s not what presidents do.

Presidents -- at least president-elects, historically, have often worked their way into their own way of taking intelligence and that`s taken them a while.

And Trump -- you know, Trump needs deep dives on issues more than he needs daily briefing.


ALEXANDER: But, Michael, even if he only got a limited -- sorry to interrupt you. Even if he only got a limited number intelligence briefings, that would have been enough to know that the intelligence community widely believed, with high confidence, that Russia was behind this.

O`HANLON: That`s right. But, also, these things started getting leaked in a way that did not have the tone of the congressman you just had on. And it made it steal -- and we all know what Donald Trump is like as a person. He`s got a little bit of a thin skin.

And it sounded as if the intelligence community was saying, you didn`t win this election legitimately. Because of the way the information dribbled out.

So, I think it would`ve been much clearer if people had said, we know Russia was behind a lot of infractions. We have no evidence that they changed the outcome of the election.

People, like John McCain, have been clear on that point in recent days. But the initial way in which that information got to the public was not so clear. And so, it was predictable that Trump was going to bristle with that.

Again, I`m not defending his view. I`m just saying that, you know, --


O`HANLON: -- say is predictable.

ALEXANDER: What should his statement -- and we`re anticipating -- we`re being told by reporters on the ground in Mar-a-Largo in Palm Beach. What should he say in a statement tonight?

O`HANLON: Well, what he should say is, President Obama did the right thing. That President Obama, in fact, got this done so I don`t have to do it. I want to have a clean slate with the Russians. I want to see if we can get along. I know it may not be easy. It may not work to try that.

I think Obama has made some mistakes in that realm. But some kind of a response was needed. Obama about got it about right. I`m grateful for that. But I still want to start over with Mr. Putin. I think that would be the right response. I`m not saying I`m predicting that we`ll hear it.

ALEXANDER: Michael O`Hanlon, thanks for being our guest.

O`HANLON: Thank you.

ALEXANDER: Coming up, the political fallout in today`s actions against Russia by the White House. And with barely three weeks until Donald Trump`s inauguration, we`re going to look at his team`s plans for that big event and beyond.

You`re watching MTP DAILY.



ALEXANDER: Welcome back.

We will have much more reaction on what the new U.S. action on Russia hacking means for the incoming Trump administration just a moment from now.

First though, a ceasefire is now in effect in Syria, and it was brokered without the United States` involvement. That deal that began at midnight Syria time, 5:00 p.m. Eastern here in the U.S., was negotiated by Russia and Turkey who have backed opposing sides in that bloody years-long conflict.

Russia is a key ally of the Assad government while Turkey is a main backer of the opposition forces. A spokesman for the Syrian rebel said the main opposition groups would abide by the ceasefire and that peace talks will follow.

The truce, of course, excluded ISIS and other terror groups. The ceasefire comes days after Syrian government forces retook control of Aleppo that had been the main stronghold of the rebels, putting the Assad government in their strongest position against the rebels in years.

The State Department`s deputy spokesman called the news a positive development but noted the U.S. was not involved in these negotiations. This is not the first time there`s been a ceasefire like this during the six-year Syrian war. Several previous ceasefires, as we`ve witnessed, have collapsed.

We`re going to keep an eye on this. And we`ll be right back with more on the political implications of today`s sanctions on Russia on MTP DAILY.


ALEXANDER: Welcome back to MTP DAILY.

And back to the breaking news. The Obama administration striking back at Russia for attempting to influence the 2016 election. More reaction pouring in from Capitol Hill.

The Senate`s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, calling those actions a good, initial step but also slamming the president saying, in part, the Russians are not our friends and clearly the Obama administration has not yet dissuaded them from attempting to breach our cyber security systems or harass our diplomats in Moscow.

Which just three weeks left, empowered the White House announcement this afternoon of sanctions against Russia is creating new political fault lines. Trump versus Obama, Democrats versus Obama, Democrats versus Trump, and, potentially, Trump versus some senior members of his own party on Capitol Hill.

So, let`s break it down now with tonight`s panel. Charlie Cook, founder of the Cook Political Report and an NBC Political Analyst. Karine Jean- Pierre, a Senior Adviser to I want to get the proper French pronunciation there. And Rick Tyler, an NBC News political analyst and former spokesperson for Ted Cruz.

[17:25:03] Charlie, to you right out of the gates. So, this is pretty stunning. You have the complete breakdown between the current president and the incoming president on Israel, yesterday. Today, in effect, on Russia.

I guess the question is, what are the real political ramifications of this going forward for our country, for this new administration?

CHARLIE COOK, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: Well, I can understand better what President-elect Trump is doing on the Israel issue. I can see that.

On the Russia, I`m not sure I would go quite -- I think I would probably be giving President Obama a little bit more benefit of the doubt and, you know, let him play the bad cop.

And then, I`d probably play that one a little differently if I were the president-elect. But on Israel, I understand where he`s coming from and that`s, you know, if I were him, I would have done the same thing.

ALEXANDER: What`s sort of striking, just moments ago, we heard from the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, OK? And I`ll read this to you and read along with me. We`ve talked about it a number of years already, that people who resided in the White House for the last eight years, they are not the administration, Rick. She writes, they are a group of foreign policy losers, angry and narrow minded.

So, clearly, their issue is with the Obama administration, but does this stuff just wash away in 22 days?

RICK TYLER, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: It depends. Look, you can`t escape the fact that Obama was going to be the president that was going to get along with everybody, that was going to talk to everybody. That`s initially how he began his administration.

In one week, Russia relations and Israel relations have sunk to historic lows. That`s a pretty remarkable achievement for one week.

Look, I think the -- I think we need to get to the bottom of what the Russia hacking was. But this isn`t really new. The hacking part is new but the spying is new.

But what concerns me is we have 35 expelled diplomats now. Well, they`re calling them diplomats. They don`t appear to be diplomats. They appear to be intelligence operatives or spies.


TYLER: And there were two houses that they operated out of, where they collect intelligence, and yet he`s giving them until Friday noon to clear out of those houses.

Why wouldn`t we seize those houses immediately, if that was -- if we have spies in this country, who knows, interfering with elections and beyond? It`s difficult for me to understand why we don`t secure those immediately.

ALEXANDER: We`ve got to anticipate there`s going to be retaliation coming back from the Russians any time now. And that`s probably going to drag right into the next administration.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR, MOVEON.ORG: Right. That`s exactly right. But I think the thing to remember here, especially what we`ve been seeing from president-elect in the days, you know, leading up to his inauguration is it should be one president at a time. He needs to follow that tradition.

And President Obama is going to be president until January 20th when that noon clock hour hits.

And so, I think that`s why we`re seeing a lot of this ridiculous up and down with the foreign policy, and we are in a dangerous place with that type of --

ALEXANDER: Is that -- is this as unprecedented as some suggest?

COOK: Yes, it is. And there`s -- I mean, the president on David Axelrod`s podcast say, well, I would have beaten it. I mean, that`s -- you know, it`s, like, really? Did you really want to do that?

I don`t know, I kind of rolled my eyes a little and said, you know, I`m not sure I would have done that, if I were him. But, you know, this is getting kind of pretty petty in both directions.

ALEXANDER: So, what is Donald Trump`s end game? What is the -- what is the Trump end game moving forward?

TYLER: Well, in terms of Israel, I think that it --

ALEXANDER: Well, let`s focus on Russia for the sake of this conversation.

TYLER: OK. For Israel, it didn`t work out very well. For Russia, I think -- I think the president has put president Trump in a box because he only has two choices. He can lift the sanctions because they were put in essentially by executive order. He can go to the Congress and ask them to make it permanent. I don`t think this Congress is going to do that. Or he can, essentially, ignore it or he can somehow negotiate his way back to what we were --

ALEXANDER: But if the intelligence shows that the Russians were hacking, this stuff -- I mean, aren`t these -- as Michael O`Hanlon of Brookings said a moment ago, Karine, doesn`t this somehow -- does this maybe lay the road map for Donald Trump in a way that he let, as you say, President Obama gets to be the bad guy but he does the work that needs to be done?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I think we have to go back to the fundamentals of all of this is that Russia is not an ally, right? Putin is a brutal dictator. Look what he`s doing in Syria and Aleppo.

ALEXANDER: Will he be an ally in this new administration?

JEAN-PIERRE: And that`s the fear, right? That is the fear that we -- you have with a Donald Trump, not understanding that, yes, you know what? There was a hacking. Our democracy was put into kind of a frizzy because of what Russia did. And Putin led that effort.

And so, I think this is why President Obama had to do what he needed to do now before he left.

ALEXANDER: Charlie, let me put up -- let me put up the tweet from the Russian embassy in Britain a short time ago, OK? Here`s the picture of it. You can see, it is a picture of a lame duck that, basically, mocks President Obama for the actions of this day.

Where does this relationship stand at this moment? Is this an easy cleanup under a new administration or has this been -- for Donald Trump, has this been a lot of lip service that he may not follow through on?

COOK: I think it`s a lot of lip service. I think that Trump -- I think President-elect Trump, as he gets more national security briefings, as he gets the president`s daily brief, I mean, he`s -- you know, he`s going to be -- he`s going to be a lot -- he`s going to become a lot smarter. He`s going to more about this stuff.

ALEXANDER: Some would say you`re being optimistic.

COOK: Well, the thing is, I --

ALEXANDER: He`s already getting a lot of these briefings, right? I mean, he simply has been communicating.


COOK: Some. Some but like take -- take the Mattis waterboarding, the General Mattis. I mean, that, you know, this was something that Donald Trump was all in for waterboarding and then he asked General Mattis about it. Mattis, said, "It doesn`t work. I`d rather have a pack of cigarettes and a beer, too, and I could get more out of them and torture."

And -- and Donald Trump said, "Oh, OK." And you know, so I think -- I think of somebody he respects, tells him something a couple times. I think it`s going to seep through. I -- you know, call me the eternal optimist, but I - - I -- I think things -- I don`t think -- I, you know, I .


. I don`t know if things are going to as bad as a lot of my dear, dear, dear friends and family members believe it`s going to be.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE; SENIOR ADVISOR, MOVEON.ORG: Oh, Charlie, you`re such the optimist.


ALEXANDER: You better have dinner this holiday. So, you`re hearing from loved ones on all sides.

COOK: Yes.

ALEXANDER: Charlie, Karine, Rick, thank you guys very much. We`ll bring you back in secs.

Still ahead, we`re going to look at Trump`s first 100 days. How the next president will handle some of most divisive issues facing this country. You`re watching "MTP Daily."


ALEXANDER: More "MTP daily" just ahead. We`re going to hear from Trump in his words about some of the most hot button issues in politics today but first Josh Lipton with today`s the NBC Market Wrap.

JOSH LIPTON, TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: Thanks, Peter. Stocks ended lower today. The Dow fell 13 points. The S&P slipped a fraction of a point. NASDAQ closed down six points. The Labor Department says fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. Jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 265,000, continuing a nearly two-year trend to a healthier job market.

And this week, long term mortgage rates spiked, again. Freddie Mac says 30- year of fixed rate loans ticked up to an average of 4.32 percent from 4.30 percent last week. And that`s it from CNBC First in Business Worldwide.


ALEXANDER: Welcome back. In his first 100 days as president, Donald Trump will likely have to confront plenty of hot button domestic issues such as immigration, health care, entitlements, too. Here`s some of what Trump told Chuck on Meet the Press over the course of the campaign about the issues that divide Americans beginning with abortion. Take a listen.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR, "MEET THE PRESS DAILY" SHOW HOST: Should -- in some form of abortion always be legal?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, to me I have exceptions. Rape, incest, if the mother is going to die, and Ronald Reagan had those same exceptions and many Republicans have those same exceptions, but I say, rape, incest .

TODD: You said life of the mother. What about health of the mother?

TRUMP: Well, I said actually, if the mother is close to death, and I`m talking about death if, you know, because then you sort of say like, "Well, maybe she`s not doing so well.


TODD: Well, that`s line here. What is the constitutional right between .

TRUMP: Well .

TODD: . the -- between the mother and the unborn child? Whose constitutional rights matter more?

TRUMP: Right. My statement on that happens to be the, you know, if the mother will die and you`re going to know that. And the problem with the life, if you say life, what does life mean? You have a cold and you`re going to end up having an abortion?

TODD: One big thing is on the jumps out on a lot of his time (ph) to be upset about it. Do you want to get rid of birthright citizenship?

TRUMP: You have to get rid of, yes. You have to. What they`re doing to having a baby and all of a sudden nobody knows.

TODD: You believe that .


TRUMP: You have no choice.


TODD: . you believe that they`re trying to do .

TRUMP You have no choice.

TODD: . they`re coming here.

TRUMP: You mean today (ph)? When we have some good people, we have some very good people. We have a lot of really good people. They`re illegal. They either have a country or not. They go out .


TODD: You think of repatriate of this (ph).

TRUMP: . and we`re going to try and bring them back rapidly to good ones, rapidly.

TODD: I understand that. What do you do then at that DACA .


TRUMP: In other words -- in other word expedite this.

TODD: I do -- yes.

TRUMP: OK, expedite it.

TRUMP: What do you do about the DACA order now? Where you have this grant for the DREAM Act, how do you want to refer to it? The Executive Order that -- that the president -- that is -- that is .


TRUMP: The Executive Order gets rescinded. One good thing about .


TODD: You will rescind -- you will rescind that one, too?

TRUMP: One good thing about .

TODD: . you will rescind the DREAM Act Executive Order with .

TRUMP: We will have to.


TRUMP: We have to make a whole new set of standards, and when people come in, they have to come in .


TODD: You`re going to split up families.


TRUMP: .. Chuck .

TODD: You`re going to deport children.

TRUMP: . no, no. We`re going to keep the families together. We have to keep the families together .

TODD: But you`re going to keep and the other out.

TRUMP: .. but they have to go -- but they have to go.

TODD: What if they have no place to go?

TRUMP: We`ll work with them. They have to go. Chuck, we either have a country or we don`t have a country.

TODD: Let`s move to your tax planning.


TODD: You said it`s going to be revenue neutral? You said it was going to raise taxes on the wealthy. Why people done on the numbers? Overall it cuts taxes on the wealthy, dramatically when your throw on the state tax and things like that and it`s a big hole in the deficit until we find out what you`re cutting.


TODD: So, what are you cutting?

TRUMP: Are you ready? We`re cutting a lot. We`re cutting taxes really for the middle income more than anybody else.

TODD: Everybody`s taxes are going down now?

TRUMP: Everybody`s taxes are going down and some people won`t pay tax and the reason they`re not going to pay and I love the idea of having a little sort of fat in the game if we can. But the fact is these are people that are doing very poorly. I mean, they are making not a lot of money, and we`re saving a tremendous amount of administrative costs than a lot of other things by not making them pay.

My -- under my plan, I really think it`s a very dynamic plan. We`re going to grow the economy. If we do 6 or 7 percent under my plan, everybody can benefits and jobs.


TODD: We`ve never done -- we`ve never had 6 or 7 percent.


TRUMP: But we can -- we can do that.

TODD: I`m just coming back to the math here because nobody can seem -- especially since you had said, you`re taking Social Security and Medicare off the table. You`re not doing any cuts there at all.

TRUMP: Right.

TODD: If you take them off the table .

TRUMP: It`s unfair to put it on the table. People have been paying .

TODD: . I think .

TRUMP: . for years, now all of a sudden, they`re not getting what they`ve bought (ph) then.

TODD: . you would -- you would even raise the right age (ph) of retirement?

TRUMP: No. I`m not going to do. I`m not going to do that at all. I`m going to take in so much money from China and other places. Look, we have a trade deficit with China of almost $400 billion a year, 400 billion. I had it looked up the other day, I said, "I can`t believe it."

TODD: In that first speech to Congress, you`re going to lay out your first 100 days` agenda. What are those four issues that you`re going down (ph) there.


TRUMP: I want to build our military bigger and better and stronger than ever before.

TODD: I`ll be in number -- that`s number one.

TRUMP: I want to take care of our veterans. I want to take care of them but being taken care of horribly, I want to fix our health care system. I want to create borders. So, do we have a country because right now we don`t have a country, we have borders where people just walk across and do whatever they want to do and then they have babies and the babies become citizens, and we have to take care of them. We`re going to do many, many things and we`re going to make America great, again. That`s what I want to do.

TODD: You want some sort of government system on health care.


TODD: You don`t like the system that`s in there now, that I understand.

TRUMP: Right.

TODD: But describe .

TRUMP: Not single payer.

TODD: . describe the system that you want.

TRUMP: Let me .


TRUMP: First of all, what I do, I have a massive company. I have thousands and thousands of employees, and I have them in many different states. You have artificial lines around each state. You know what? Because the insurance companies take care of the politicians, so they don`t want to get rid of the lines. If you got rid of those lines, you would have great private insurance and it would take care of most people. It would be an unbelievable thing.

TODD: But you`re going to have to structure a government program to deal with this.

TRUMP: No, no, no, no. Here`s -- here`s -- no. Here`s what you do. So, you`re to have a great system. But there will be people left that don`t have any money, and what I said last night is I don`t want people dying in the middle of the street.

TODD: Yes.

TRUMP: It`s not going to happen ..

TODD: Right.

TRUMP: . if i`m president, OK? This isn`t single payer. This is using our hospitals to take care of people, you work on that. You reimburse the hospital because we will get -- we will get .

TODD: You`ll expand Medicaid?

TRUMP: . we will -- you can do it through Medicaid.

TODD: Yes.

TRUMP: You can do it through some other way, but I`m just saying very simple - and this has nothing to do with single - this has to do with .


TRUMP: . humanity. This has to do with having a heart.

TODD: You said there would be consequences for any company that tries to move a factory out. What -- what .

TRUMP: Absolutely.


TODD: . is the consequence? Let`s start with care -- you bring up Carrier a lot.

TRUMP: So simple.


TODD: If you were president .


TRUMP: The carrier .


TODD: . what would -- explain, right -- I understand that .


TODD: . but explain the consequence.

TRUMP: OK. Here`s the consequence.

TODD: What would it be?

TRUMP: So Carrier comes in, they announce they`re moving to Mexico, they fire all their people in Indiana, and they say, "Hi. We`re here. We are Mexico, you know, enjoy your plant, enjoy the rest of your life, and you hire people from Mexico, OK?"

Now, they make their product and put it into the United States where we would have a very strong border, by the way, but they put it into the United States and we don`t charge them tax. There will be a tax to be paid. If they`re going to fire all their people, move their plant to Mexico, build air conditioners, and think they`re going to sell those air conditioners to the United States, there`s going to be a tax.

TODD: What kind of tax you`re thinking?

TRUMP: It could be 25 percent. It could be 35 percent. It could be 15 percent. I haven`t determined and it could be different for different companies.

TODD: Some of these things aren`t going to get through the World Trade Organization. There`s a lot of these .

TRUMP: It doesn`t matter. Then -- then we`re going to renegotiate or we`re going to pull out. These trade deals are a disaster, Chuck.


ALEXANDER: On Chuck`s conversations with Donald Trump over the course of this campaign season and ahead on the Lid, the panel weighs in on what we can expect from Trump`s first 100 days, even as we await his statement and response to the retaliatory steps by the White House against Russia. Stay tuned.


ALEXANDER: At this hour, we`re still following today`s big breaking news of the U.S. sanctions against Russia over election hacking. We are expecting a statement from the Trump Transition Team very soon. We were told we will bring that too, of course, as soon as it happens. More "MTP Daily" after a short break.


ALEXANDER: Welcome back. Time now for our Lid. Donald Trump spent the day in meetings with his Transition Staff aides who are prepping for everything from his inauguration speech to the big fights ahead. Here`s just a few of them. For Cabinet nominees are still yet to be named and Democrats are ready to put all of the picks under the microscope. There is still that vacant seat on the Supreme Court, and Trump is reportedly looking at partial V.A. privatization, plus, what about Trump`s pledge to repeal ObamaCare, you`ve got immigration, we`ve got a full plate.

Well, Trump`s first 100 days contained a blueprint for the wall that he pledge to build at Mexico`s border. They are all good questions. The panel is back Charlie, Karine and Rick are with us. So, let`s around the horn if we can very here very quickly. What a sense of -- starting with your Charlie, the first big fights. Where do you think he puts his capital in right away?

COOK: Well, they`ve got a Supreme Court fight coming up soon, OK, and what do you -- what does he do there? And -- and I don`t know which way he`s going to go, I really don`t. Because as he really want to get into a repeal, you know, abort, you know, abort -- abortion, does he really want to go there like immediately? Does he -- I think I`d want to stay on some of the other things first. So he`d go -- just walk to the cabinet stuff .

ALEXANDER: Rick where should he go?

RICK TYLER, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: I think it`s -- it`s going to be like drinking out of a fire hydrant. They feel like the Democrats are disorganized. In my opinion, the .


ALEXANDER: But overwhelm over this when .


TYLER: . they can overwhelm. They have to because this is their one opportunity to do it. They`re going to have a short window to do it and they have to show a lot of progress in a short amount of time. And I think the war on women, war on seniors all run its course, didn`t work, it`s not going to work this time. Chuck Schumer should be quiet about it

He`s going to figure out how to work with some of the Republicans and some -- on some of the things. But they`re going to get reconciliation and repeal of ObamaCare right away. They`re going to go at the Supreme Court, they`re going to go do tax reform, and they`re going to start with immigration and this is going to all come out at once.

ALEXANDER: So, Karine, what are the Democrats obviously as they are admittedly disorganized after a bad campaign season? So, where do they pick their battles? Where do they sort of stake -- of their fights?

JEAN-PIERRE: It seems -- it seems to me like the first battle because just looking at what Paul Ryan wants to do, in particular, is Medicare, privatization of Medicare. And I think with Tom Price as -- also as the, you know, the leading clearly leading candidate for HHS. That`s going to be I think something that`s really big in play that the Democrats already to fight against and making sure that doesn`t happen. You`re pretty much using the map they used back in 2005.



COOK: I just -- if I were Democrats, I would just give him a lot of rope to hang himself.


COOK: I mean, I would just get, you know, just sit back and let them -- I mean -- that clip you run them and you go.

ALEXANDER: And he goes, we`ll go ahead.

COOK: Well, we talk about 6, 7 percent growth. You know, you know, yes, it takes 3-1/2 and run like a thief. You know .


ALEXANDER: And he know it`s risk to hang himself, do you think in this period of time.

COOK: I think it`s probably just going to be -- it`s going to be overreaching. I don`t think there`s any -- but just -- just on thing after thing after thing and raising expectations. I mean, you`ve got consumer confidence at, you know, 12, 13-year highs.


COOK: There`s unrealistic expectations among in supporters what you can deliver.

JEAN-PIERRE: I think -- I actually think that what supporters are going to want to see are jobs. How is he going to create jobs? That`s going to be the thing that he really has to take on. And he`s going to have a hard time explaining why he has billionaires and extremists in his Cabinet, people who are from Goldman Sachs. We don`t know .


ALEXANDER: So, Rick what .

TYLER (?): And then I would .

ALEXANDER: . so, what`s the biggest risk? So, what`s the biggest risk for this?

TYLER: They would lose the -- the messaging (ph) campaign because I actually think the Cabinet is good. You actually have people who worked in industries who are not academia.


TYLER: This is in old theory. ObamaCare was a theory. That was a -- to me, it was a failed theory. Now, you have people, they should pick a farmer, for agriculture secretary that kind of .

ALEXANDER: Diversity -- lacking diversity, is that an issue? He`s met with some Latino potential candidates for agriculture at D.A.

TYLER: Yes. I mean, look a little bit. But I -- look I don`t think that that`s going to be the driving force. I think Karine is right is that, it`s going to be about jobs. Now, he does exaggerate like for instance, the Sprint, you know, 5000 jobs. Do have any -- do you have any Sprint in place that are overseas today at this day? Zero. There are none.


TYLER: But because .

ALEXANDER: Well, it was double dipping because this was .

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, great.

ALEXANDER: . something we already heard and it`s not .

JEAN-PIERRE: Right. But he had nothing to do if that was -- as of this period.

COOK: But -- but the thing is it`s - Democrats don`t want to get in the way. They should -- somebody is going to have to take a fall for us not getting the 6, 7 percent growth -- job growth. Our GDP growth that president -- that candidate Trump was talking about. Basically, don`t get in the way, get - don`t -- don`t interfere, let him dig his own hole.


TYLER: Yes. The old age (ph) American .


ALEXANDER: They always .

TYLER: . doesn`t know what 6 percent feels like. They`ll -- they`re going to have to be .


ALEXANDER: Save that 6 percent .

TYLER: . satisfied, 6 are growing. OK. Right.

COOK: You don`t going to see that in some TV ads coming up.

ALEXANDER: Which have been Cabinet fix if I can, is there anybody who`s vulnerable on this Cabinet choices right now? Do you think .

TYLER: They`re going to -- that`s -- they`re going to go after Rex Tillerson (ph) with that. I think that the people are not considering is that -- is that Trump and Tillerson look at the world through a completely different lens. They don`t look at it through the State Department lens, the academia lens. They look at it from a business perspective. They see the world in a different way. And so it`s just going to be different and we`re going to have to get -- kind of get used to it.

ALEXANDER: Right now, even at a working dinner tonight, we`re told that Donald Trump is going to be focusing on the inaugural address to take place barely three weeks from now. Transition folks tell us it will be uplift -- an uplifting speech focused on unity. Donald Trump has had few opportunities to deliver a speech like this, right? How big of a challenge is this? Is it -- is it a hurdle he can succeed and coming over?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we haven`t -- we haven`t seen him jump that hurdle yet. I think it`s going to be a massive challenge for him to -- to try to make that happen. But look, it`s an opportunity, if he can take it on, it`s an opportunity to finally try to stop dividing the country and bring it together. I just don`t think he`s going to be able to do it. Because, also, he says that he wants to write the majority of the speech.

Gosh, that`s going to be a doozy if he decides to do that and he doesn`t stay on his own message.


COOK: But you know, the last week or two before the election, we thought, he can`t control himself. He can`t.

JEAN-PIERRE: That`s exactly, right. Like a temper (ph) .

COOK: And you know what, he did. You know, he did and that was part -- I mean, because he started behaving himself, he stayed on message, stayed on the prompter, guess what? He won election that none of us thought he`s going to win.

JEAN-PIERRE: The thing about it is he`s -- he`s shown that he has a -- he`s like thin-skinned narcissist these last couple of weeks. He can`t get away from Twitter.

ALEXANDER: Well, what will be .

JEAN-PIERRE: He`s going at -- on Twitter.

ALEXANDER: . what would be compelling is since he would ravel in the spotlight of this rallies and turnaround and see the crowd behind and this time the crowd behind him will be the establishments. So, it might be a little bit interesting as he dance on the stage .

TYLER (?): And travel (ph) along .

ALEXANDER: . on this occasion. We appreciate you all being with us on this day. Karine Jean-Pierre, Rick Tyler and Charlie Cook, of course. Stay with us, we`ll be right back.


ALEXANDER: So, in case you missed it, there`s a war of words out west over something President Obama did yesterday. Senator Orrin Hatch called it an attack on an entire way of life while Senator Mike Lee described (ph) this arrogant act by a lame-duck president will not stand. So what is all the anger over? The president`s last-minute environmental measures, including his designation of two new national monuments Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada, protecting more than 1.6 million acres, the backlash centers on restrictions to animal grazing and gas and oil drilling.

In Hatch and Lee`s home state, Utah, 64 percent of the state is already under federal management. President Obama has designated more federal land than any other president and there`s a push to dial it back, but undoing a national monument is unchartered territory. This battle between conservatives and conservationists and arguments of executive overreach versus environmentalism will be in the hands of a new president and a new Congress in just 22 days.

That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." Ayman Mohyeldin picks up our coverage right now.