IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

MTP Daily, Transcript 1/4/2017

Guests: Jim Jordan, Ben Ginsberg, Karine Jean-Pierre, Michael Beschloss, Debbie Stabenow, Deirdre Bosa, Al From

Show: MTP DAILY Date: January 4, 2017 Guest: Jim Jordan, Ben Ginsberg, Karine Jean-Pierre, Michael Beschloss, Debbie Stabenow, Deirdre Bosa, Al From

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Thank you for joining us. That`s going to do it for this hour. I`m Steve Kornacki and "MTP DAILY" starts right now.

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

The new chapter of the Obamacare fight begins.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The first order of business is to repeal and replace Obamacare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER (voice-over): Tonight, who do Americans trust with the future of health care? We`ll hear from both sides of the fight on what`s ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We don`t to want pull the rug out from people while we`re replacing this law.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK, MINORITY LEADER: Our Republican colleagues don`t quite know what to do. They`re like the dog who caught the bus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: Plus, the president-elect hits the intelligence community again. Is this a fight Donald Trump really wants?

And altered states. The North and South Carolina state lines have moved and it`s really hitting home for some, literally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This side of the master bed, South Carolina. This side of the master bed, North Carolina. No joke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: This is MTP DAILY, and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening. I`m Peter Alexander in Washington tonight, in for my friend, Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY and welcome to the jungle inside this new Congress, beginning the year with a block buster brawl over President Obama`s signature legislative achievement.

Today, the ongoing president and the incoming vice president descended on Capitol Hill to rally their troops in a showdown over the future of your health care.

On one side, Obama and Democrats fighting to protect the president`s health care law. On the other, Trump, Pence and Republicans vowing to kill it and replace it.

But House Republicans are far from unified over how to do that. Leadership is floating a two-step plan, repeal it now, figure out the replacement later.

Of course, that poses serious complications and it has some Republicans threatening to abandon ship on the whole thing.

The lack of unity inside the Republican caucus was apparent at their news conference today with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. There were virtually no specifics given to reporters on the critically important issue of replacing the law if it gets repealed.

Instead the news conference was, at least at times, a bit of a therapy session about how much Republicans don`t like Obamacare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything President Obama promised about health care has failed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came here and said, if you like what you have, you can keep it. I hope he comes here to apologize for those broken promises. But I don`t think that`s what`s going to be the case.

RYAN: This law has failed. Things are only getting worse under Obamacare. The health care system has been ruined, dismantled under Obamacare.

PENCE: Obamacare has failed. And it has been rejected by the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: Meanwhile, Democrats who have been swept out of power since Obamacare was signed into law aren`t exactly signaling an entirely constructive approach either.

At their news conference on Capitol Hill today, the Senate`s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, seemed to wash his hands of the whole mess, telling Republican that they won`t have Democrats to blame anymore if the whole thing goes sour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHUMER: So, our biggest problem was that once ACA passed, people attributed every problem they had with the health care system, whether they were part of ACA or not to ACA. And our Republican colleagues and their message machine did it.

Now, they`re going to own it. And all the problems in the health care system. And there have been many throughout the years. No one has solved all of them, are going to be on their back. And they want to repeal it and then try to hang it on us. Not going to happen. It`s their responsibility, plain and simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: President-elect Trump fired a preemptive shot at Schumer`s strategy, warning Republicans not to let Democrats turn the tables on them.

In a series of tweets this morning, Trump told them, quote, "Don`t let the Schumer clowns out of this web. Dems are to blame for the mess." To which Schumer replied.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHUMER: I think Republicans should stop clowning around with the people`s Medicare, Medicaid and health care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: OK. So, it appears that a seriously consequential debate about the future of American health care has already turned into a name-calling blame game over a plan that doesn`t yet exist. Because Republicans aren`t sure what to do and Democrats aren`t about to help them figure it out.

Before Republican leadership puts together a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, they`re probably going to need to get this guy on board. Congressman Jim Jordan from Ohio. He`s a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

He has expressed serious concerns about Ryan`s two-step strategy and his caucus has the numbers, certainly, to make some noise.

Congressman Jordan, appreciate your being with us.

REP. JIM JORDAN (D), HOUSE FREEDOM CAUSUS: Good to be with you today, Peter.

[17:05:00] ALEXANDER: So, let`s talk about what the House Freedom Caucus wants. Will it kill the current two-step plan being proposed by leadership, that basically says repeal Obamacare now, then figure out a replacement later?

JORDAN: No, we`re not saying that. We`re just saying we need to get rid of Obamacare.

Look, I think health care will be better and less expensive when Obamacare is completely repealed. That`s what the voters expect us to do. That`s what they sent us here to do. That`s what we plan to do.

And then, let`s put in place a model that is market-oriented, that is patient-focused, consumer-focused, family-focused, doctor-focused, not Washington-focused as is Obamacare.

That`s what our plan is. That`s what we think needs to happen. And it should happen as quickly as possible.

ALEXANDER: So, the bottom line is, over the course of six years, the Republican Party held 60-plus votes to repeal Obamacare. Was there was no plan to replace it at any point during that time? Does that still not exist?

JORDAN: There have been a number of plans put forward. The one by Dr. Price whose likely to be the next health and Human services secretary. A good man. A guy that I -- a colleague and a good conservative member of Congress.

There`s the plan put out by the Doctors Caucus that Phil Row put out earlier today that is a good plan, that focuses on just what I talked about. Focusing a model on patient-centered, doctor-centered, family- centered. Not what this -- not what Obamacare is.

And never forget, this was a plan that every promise we were told turned out to be false. Everything they said, like your plan, keep your plan. Like your doctor, keep your doctor. Premiums go down (INAUDIBLE.)

ALEXANDER: Congressman, let`s break down some of the -- we`ll break down some of the -- certainly. Let`s break down some of these (INAUDIBLE) popularity. But to be very clear, you would vote in support of repeal, even if there isn`t a replacement yet said?

JORDAN: Yes, we need to repeal it because that`s what we told the voters we were going to do. I always said, we make this job way too complicated.

Our job is to do what we told the voters we were going to do when they elected us to come here and serve them and their families.

So, we told them we were going to repeal it. Let`s repeal every single bit of it. And then, let`s put in place a model that`s going to actually make health care better and less expensive.

ALEXANDER: So, what`s --

JORDAN: That`s what we are going to focus on.

ALEXANDER: -- so the -- so is that -- the problem is there could be a period of time right there where as many as 12 -- 20, excuse me, million Americans are without health care then?

JORDAN: I mean, you heard the speaker today. He says, we don`t -- we don`t want to quote, in Speaker Ryan`s terms, "pull the rug out." And we understand that.

ALEXANDER: And so, basically, repeal and delay is what you`re saying?

JORDAN: You repeal but there`s going to be a phase in time. What we`re saying is make that as short as possible. It shouldn`t be, some, two, three, four-year phase in time. It should happen quickly. It should happen this Congress, this year. That`s what makes sense to us.

The American people understand that. I think anyone understands it. You have to have some time for the market to adjust. So, you can put in, kind of, the plans and the policies that make sense that -- sense that actually help families. That`s what we`re focused on doing.

But it shouldn`t stretch out for years and years and years. It should be done relatively quickly.

ALEXANDER: Understood.

Mark Meadows, a head of the caucus, saying it has to happen during this Congress. You talked about some of the broken promises. They`re also parts of Obamacare that are very popular.

These are all from the most recent Keiser Family Foundation poll. 85 percent of Americans favor the provision, the law allowing young adults to stay on their parents` plan. 80 percent favor the laws, financial subsidies. 80 percent like the laws` option for states to expand Medicaid.

Nearly 70 percent like what it does on preexisting conditions. And 60 percent like the mandate for businesses with more than 50 workers.

So, are you going to get rid of all of that?

JORDAN: I think you repeal the whole thing.

But, look, let`s take a couple of those -- take the 26-year-old, for example. Don`t you think that that -- if there`s that kind of support for and amongst the American people, don`t you think the marketplace will say, well, let`s make sure we have policies that allow that to happen?

If that`s what families want, and if there are young people who want to remain on their parent`s plan.

ALEXANDER: But that stuff didn`t preexist. That didn`t exist. Those preexisting conditions, those folks weren`t covered before Obamacare.

JORDAN: I was talking about the 26-year-old issue, the preexisting.

ALEXANDER: They weren`t covered before.

JORDAN: And don`t you think there`ll be something in the marketplace -- and that is something -- when you think about health care, the one thing that concerns families is something like that where there is a major illness, maybe to one of their children.

And they may have to change jobs. They want to make sure that they`re going to have coverage for that serious illness in their family. Of course, we can work through that. So, there will be some time to do that.

What we`re saying is repeal it because that`s what we told the voters we were going to do.

And then, let`s put in place a model that deals with some of the things you just raised, 26-year-old, the preexisting condition.

But let`s do it in a market-centered, family-centered, patient-centered way. Not what Obamacare is.

Remember, this law passed with not one single Republican vote. They rammed it through. Everyone knows it`s been a disaster for our health care market. And, I think, an impediment to economic growth as well.

Everyone knows it`s a disaster so let`s get rid of it. But we can do the - -

(CROSSTALK)

ALEXANDER: But just a final point on this. To be clear, over the course of six years or 60 plus votes to repeal this, there is still no plan that everyone`s agreed on.

So, you`re saying within two years, your confident you can come together and have that plan implemented?

JORDAN: We have to because that`s what we told the voters we`ll do.

What I also know is there are good plans out there. Some I`ve supported in the past. I`ve been co-sponsored of in the past. Good plans out there that do what I said.

[17:10:00] But the -- you have to start from the premise. Health care will be better and less expensive when Obamacare is gone. Let`s make sure it`s patient-focused and family-focused.

ALEXANDER: Understood.

JORDAN: Not focused on Washington.

ALEXANDER: Congressman Jim Jordan joining us from Capitol Hill. Congressman, thank you for your time.

JORDAN: Thank you.

ALEXANDER: Let`s turn to a member of the Democratic leadership. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan who is the chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center.

Senator Stabenow, nice to see you. Just want to first get your response to congressman Jim Jordan.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Sure.

ALEXANDER: This is basically what Democrats are up against right now.

STABENOW: Well, Peter, first of all, it`s great to be with you. And, secondly, I would say, I`m not surprised that Republicans didn`t support health reforms that took power away from insurance companies and gave it to people that have health insurance coverage across the country or added insurance.

They didn`t support Medicare either. They`ve been trying since 1965 to rip apart Medicare. And part of their plan -- in fact, part of Dr. Price`s plan that was just touted would cut a trillion dollars out of Medicare and turn it into a voucher.

So, I`m not surprised that there`s not a commitment to make sure there`s affordable health care for everyone.

Let me say a couple of things just on the process. First of all, right now today, Peter, if folks wanted -- and I sat out on the floor today. We would be happy to sit down and talk about ways to make the system better, right now.

You don`t have to repeal what everyone has, all the protections, the ability for women not to be discriminated against in rates, maternity care now covered, --

ALEXANDER: So, Senator, let --

STABENOW: -- mental health now covered. You don`t have to do any of that. We just sit down and we work together.

But what they`re doing is, like, burning down the house because they want a new house.

ALEXANDER: So, what`s the difference --

STABENOW: Making their family, you know, homeless and then saying, well, now, we`ve got to figure out where we`re going live.

ALEXANDER: What significant changes to the law are you willing to make?

STABENOW: Well, first of all, we`re not going to support repealing this. It`s outrageous. To put the entire economy, one sixth of the economy, which is health care, into chaos and instability. Rip Medicare and Medicaid apart. Take away health insurance for people. And every protection and put it all back in the control of the insurance companies. We`re not going to support that.

But if they wanted to talk about, how do we support small business? How do we do things that would make the system more affordable for folks, absolutely. Count us in. But this is not the way to do it.

ALEXANDER: Let`s -- let me play for you a little bit. We spoke earlier to one of your colleagues, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut today. And it appears that Democrats may be rooting, in effect, for a failure. Take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Republicans, right now, a lot of them, think that they can repeal it and then work with Democrats later to fix it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that not a possibility?

MURPHY: No, they own this. If they want to break this, they own it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: So, didn`t Democrats criticize the Republicans for taking that same kind of approach before? How is that constructive?

STABENOW: Peter, first of all, you`re suggesting that we agreed to repeal something that has brought solvency to Medicare, brought down prescription drug costs, --

ALEXANDER: But we agree --

STABENOW: -- helped everybody --

ALEXANDER: The Republicans, alone, can repeal it, I guess I`m saying.

STABENOW: But what you`re saying is what we should --

ALEXANDER: So, how are you going to fix them in do help rebuilding it?

STABENOW: OK. But what you`re saying is that we should accept their premise that expanding health care and strengthening Medicare and Medicaid is a bad thing so we should vote to repeal it in order to fix provisions. That`s ridiculous.

And so, of course, we`re willing to sit down and do that. But not to create a situation where all the power goes back to the insurance companies. They can drop you if you get sick. If you have (INAUDIBLE), diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer`s, they don`t have to give you insurance.

ALEXANDER: Understood.

STABENOW: If you`re a woman, you know, they can discriminate. Mental health and on and on and on.

ALEXANDER: Senator, --

STABENOW: We`re not going to take that away.

ALEXANDER: -- let me ask you one last question. Why should voters trust Democrats on this issue? They`ve had six years to convince them that this law is great, as you indicate. But still, a plurality don`t like it. 45 percent view it unfavorable. Just 43 percent view it favorably, according to the latest Keiser Family Foundation poll.

STABENOW: What people want is to make things better. Not to take away health care for their family or their 22-year-old or their mother with Alzheimer`s or cut back on their medicine.

And so, if you ask folks, do they think it`s a good idea to repeal the whole system and to pull the thread and unravel Medicare, Medicaid and the private insurance system, people will look at you and say, are you crazy? You know, of course not.

But we would like you to work on the parts that need to be fixed. That`s not what they`re suggesting.

So, they own this process. They own the process of doing it this way which is going to hurt millions of people.

ALEXANDER: Senator Stabenow of Michigan. we appreciate your time and your comments. Thank you.

STABENOW: My pleasure.

ALEXANDER: Let`s bring in our panel right now. Ben Ginsberg is a Republican elections lawyer and an NBC News Political Analyst. Michael Beschloss is an NBC News Presidential Historian. And Karine Jean-Pierre is a Senior Advisor with MoveOn.org. Thank you, all, for being with us right now.

[17:15:07] Ben, to you off the -- off the bat. Let`s talk about the divides within the Republican Party right now. Can Donald Trump secure a victory on this one right now? It`s clear they can get the repeal, but do they have the replace on the back end to make this successful?

BEN GINSBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: Well, I think there is a path to do this. It will be repealed. In short order and Republicans have the vote to do that. It probably will stay in effect for a period of time.

And then, as you heard from the interviews, there are a series of things in which the Democrats and Republicans agree should be part of the health care system. And it will be built back up. And that will be the victory.

ALEXANDER: That seems like an optimistic approach right now that it could be built back up. It only takes 51 votes to knock this thing down. It takes 60 votes to succeed in the Senate to rebuild thing.

Isn`t there a pretty good possibility that we repeal it and then we sit in this, sort of, limbo for a period of time and we`re kind of back where we started?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR, MOVEON.ORG: I think that`s exactly right. I think the repeal is just that. A repeal with nothing in place. We haven`t really heard anything from the Republicans as to what will -- what are they going to put in place?

I think the Obamacare ACA, if you will, needs tweaks not a wrecking ball, right? Last month, we saw a surge in Obamacare. Sign-ups, and --

ALEXANDER: Because people saw the writing on the wall that it was going away.

JEAN-PIERRE: Exactly. And 10s of millions of people are counting on Obamacare. And so, what do you do? You can`t be a limbo stage. That`s not what the American people want. They do want it to be fixed but they don`t want their Obamacare or health care to be gone.

ALEXANDER: Michael, I was trying to pin Senator Stabenow down on this. But what is the role of Democrats in this process then going forward as the minority party? In effect, some would criticize and say they`re doing to the Republicans what the Republicans did to them that Americans were furious about.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENT HISTORIAN, NBC NEWS: Might well do. And I think the fascinating thing is going to be see what a difference there is between this and 2009, when you had a president with both houses of Congress but of a different party.

But, this is so dangerous. And this is so interesting because, for instance, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower had run on a promise to repeal Social Security. He didn`t do it, A, because Social Security was a lot more popular in many quarters than Obamacare is.

But the other thing is that people were worried that if that was done and if there was a replacement that did not work, that Republicans would suffer in the next election. The parallel is pretty close right here.

ALEXANDER: Ben, what strikes me is there`s a lot of people who actually benefit by Obamacare that have no idea that they`re benefitting by Obamacare right now. They may benefit by Medicaid expansion, perhaps, or in states like Kentucky that has its own exchange. They don`t call it Obamacare, but that`s how they got it.

There are a lot of people in a state like that who widely voted for Donald Trump, but actually benefit by some of the things that Obamacare provides them.

GINSBERG: Yes, and that`s the healthy part of this debate. In that people will actually focus more on the parts that they do like and don`t like. And that`s part of the process.

What the Democrats are saying they do like. The law gets repealed. You`re going to have to vote for it to come back so you can build a better, stronger health care system in this country.

And there are noticeable failures in the current way the Obamacare is being implemented. Just the premiums, the way they`ve gone up, the exchanges that have failed. It`s a problem.

ALEXANDER: Karine, they say, the Democrats, we heard Chris Murphy, Senator Stabenow said, effectively, the same thing which is, you know, you guys own it now. So, if you break, it`s on your -- it`s in your hands.

JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, you bought it. You own it, right? You break it, you own it.

ALEXANDER: But does that work? Does that actually solve the problem? Are we in this perpetual state of campaigning which basically means we`re waiting until the next elections.

JEAN-PIERRE: But here`s the thing, Peter. For six years, the Democrats have tried to work with the Republicans on tweaking the Obamacare, trying to make it better. And when did they get? Continuous roadblocks.

ALEXANDER: Republicans will say it was stuffed down their throats in the first few months of Obama`s term.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, but this is not about them. This is about the country, right? At the end of the day, they didn`t vote for it originally back in 2009, but 10s of millions of people are on health care. Do they not care about the 10s of millions of people who -- a lot of them are, actually, their constituents?

BESCHLOSS: Our system does a lot of things well. This is not one of them. This is a very delicate process. This is going to have huge impacts on millions of Americans.

And to have this happen in this very politicized, angry atmosphere and to have it done quickly at the beginning of an administration, it doesn`t look great.

ALEXANDER: One of the real challenges right now. A lot of people may not be as familiar with how they got their health care. But they know who took it away from them.

BESCHLOSS: Right.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. That`s exactly right.

ALEXANDER: Ben, Michael and Karine, thank you very much. We`re going to take a pause really quickly.

Up next, Donald Trump`s war with what in a few weeks will be his own intelligence agencies.

You`re watching MTP DAILY. Stay tuned.

[17:19:50]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back.

The biggest jobs still open in the incoming Trump cabinet is the director of National Intelligence. And we can now tell you that former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana is the leading candidate for that job, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussion.

Senator Coats, who did not run for reelection, was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He served in the House, and then Senate in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the Senate and then was elected again in 2010. He served on the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 1990s as well.

Coates met with President-elect Donald Trump at end of November, but he dodged reporters` questions about what position in a Trump administration he might be considered for.

As we wait to find out who will be the next director of National Intelligence, Trump is picking a fight with the current one. And we`ll be back in one minute with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back.

On Friday, President-elect Donald Trump will meet with the outgoing heads of the NSA, CIA, FBI and the director of National Intelligence for briefing on Russia`s interference in the U.S. election. But the meeting could be a little bit awkward.

Trump began the morning tweeting, the intelligence briefing on so-called Russian hacking was delayed until Friday. Perhaps, more time needed to build a case. Very strange.

Intelligence officials tell NBC News, they`re becoming increasingly disturbed by Trump`s rejections of their agencys` findings. Many say they assumed he would come around or find a way to at least walk the line.

And, tomorrow, one day before he briefs Trump, the outgoing director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, will be testifying on Capitol Hill before the Armed Services Committee at a hearing called by Chairman John McCain. The topic, foreign cyber threats and Russia`s hacking interference in the election.

Joining me now is Andrea Mitchell. She NBC News` Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, of course, the host of "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS" right here on MSNBC.

Andrea, Trump tweeted the briefing was delayed but there seems to be at least a little bit of confusion over that. So, set us straight. What can you tell us?

ANDREA MITCHELL, CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, NBC NEWS: Well, I can tell you that the intelligence community says that there was no confusion at all. That he was told, his people were at least told in the transition, that it was going to be on Friday. That it was set last Thursday or Friday and it involves not just Clapper, but also the heads of all the other intelligence agencies, including the CIA and NSA and Jim Comey from the FBI.

[17:25:14] So, they were all on the same page. They say that it was Donald Trump`s transition or maybe Trump, himself, weren`t. Although I knew there was at least one official telling one of my colleagues that there may have been some confusion on the intelligence end.

But they say that it was set. That they knew that they all had to appear tomorrow before John McCain. That if they had to brief the president on this Russian hacking report which is just now being turned over to the White House. If it hasn`t already been, it`ll be turned over tomorrow.

Then briefed the so-called gang of eight. The eight leaders in both houses, both parties on the intelligence community, committees rather. And then, brief the president-elect on Friday. That was the schedule.

ALEXANDER: One senior -- one senior intelligence official describing some of the recent Donald Trump tweets as, quote, "adversarial." What about Trump`s national security advisors, Michael Flynn his pick for Defense secretary. James Mattis the CIA director pick. Mike Pompeo. What do we understand that they believe, right now, as they head into these new positions likely?

MITCHELL: That`s very difficult to ascertain because prior to a confirmation hearing, they`re not talking. Mike Flynn is believed to be the source of a lot of the hostility to the intelligence communities which, of course, fired him.

Basically, Clapper first appointed him, lifted him up to be the head of the defense intelligence, and then was involved in firing him. So, there can`t be a lot of good feeling there.

But the fact is that the intelligence agency chiefs are universally upset, I`ve been told by very good sources. That they just feel that the community itself, the men and women who work every day, men of them putting their lives on the line here and abroad, are really being dissed by the president-elect in a way that is unprecedented.

There was tension between Richard Nixon and the CIA. He didn`t like the CIA. He didn`t read his PDBs (ph). He returned them with the seals unbroken when he was actually sworn into office.

But, since then, we`ve had much different relationship. And even at points of tension, never anything this public by Twitter, taking policy positions that are so different. `

And, today, siding with Julian Assange --

ALEXANDER: Right, right, right.

MITCHELL: -- who is the founder of WikiLeaks who was considered public enemy by most of the people in the intelligence community and many Republicans on the Hill.

So, I think what you`ve heard already today from leading Republicans, not, of course, the vice president who spoke out, trying to explain what Donald Trump`s saying. But other Republicans led by, you know, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others are deeply upset about this. And they`re prepared to be somewhat public about it.

ALEXANDER: Andrea Mitchell, thank you very much for that. And you leave us right where I want to pick up with our panel again right now, Ben Ginsberg, Michael Beschloss, Karine Jean-Pierre.

The idea of Julian Assange and how he`s sort of reared his head, once again, into this conversation. Trump praised the WikiLeaks founder on Twitter.

Here is part of what he said, promoting Assange`s appearance on "HANNITY" last night and tweeting, quote, "Julian Assange said a 14-year-old could have hacked John Podesta," referring to the chairman of Hillary Clinton`s campaign.

Why was the DNC so careless? Also said, Russians did not give him the info.

Ben, I`m going to put you on the spot here. How do you feel about Donald Trump siding with Julian Assange over his own intelligence community?

GINSBERG: Well, what it`s done is create great rifts within Republicans, as Andrea reported. And this is now going to come down to very much a contest on the Hill to get legislation passed. And this is going to be a distraction among core Republicans from being able to achieve.

ALEXANDER: We`ve been hearing Republicans not afraid to speak out on this. Michael, Lindsey Graham among them spoke to CNN today about Donald Trump`s tweet about Assange. Here is part what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Mr. Assange is a fugitive from the law, hiding in an embassy who has a history of undermining American interest. I hope no American will be duped by him. You shouldn`t give him any credibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: Is Donald Trump getting duped by Julian Assange?

BESCHLOSS: I`d prefer not to get into motives but it is sort of mind blowing because --

ALEXANDER: We`re talking about the unprecedented nature of this moment.

BESCHLOSS: Some of the things that were released have been said to lead to the deaths of many Americans who`ve been -- or at least some Americans who are working for intelligence services.

And, you know, this can`t go on forever. You can`t have a president saying, I just don`t believe what my intelligence services tell me. What if you were John Kennedy 1962? CIA comes in with pictures of something on the ground in Cuba and says, we think that these are Soviet offensive missiles. And the president says, I don`t believe you. I`m not going to do anything.

You know, soon, we will have Donald Trump in charge of these people, making his own appointments. We can`t be in a position where he goes for four years and says, I`m just not going to believe much of what they tell me.

ALEXANDER: So, Karine, let me put up some of the numbers from one our recent NBC News-"Wall Street Journal" polls. The -- asked about the favorability of the CIA right now. We`ve been asking about it every year since 2002. And this year, it`s the first time that Democrats view it more positively than Republicans. You can see the numbers there for yourself, Democrats, plus 32 percent, Republicans, plus 4 percent. That`s just a chasm all the sudden that exist in the way Americans view these institutions. What position does that put Republicans in right now?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I have to say, Peter, it is stunning that the person whose about to get the nuclear codes is siding with Assange, and has more faith in the Russian government than the intelligence community. And it should send a chill down the spines of Americans that we are in such unprecedented times. I mean, we`re basically in a place right now where Donald Trump`s twitter feed is a national security risk. And that`s what the Republicans are going to have to deal with. How they deal with their leader of their party tweeting constantly, you know, and going against the 

intelligence community.

ALEXANDER: So, Ben, what is the risk here and how do they smoothed this thing over? You`ve still got 15, 16 days to play with, then all the sudden, he`s president.

GINSBERG: Yes, you kind of hope this is the preseason and once the regular season starts, then there`s more.

ALEXANDER: Some people thought the election was the pre-season, this would be the regular season.

GINSBERG: But you get the blue passes on January 20th.

ALEXANDER: That`s correct, that`s correct.

GINSBERG: That`s when it starts. So, the smoothing over of it, I think comes by the reality of the situation which is, these are serious matters, you do have to have intelligence, you do have to trust your own people. And I suspect that`s how it gets smoothed over.

ALEXANDER: What impact does the weight of the office, the oval office when he steps in there barely two weeks from now have on someone like a Donald Trump in terms of tone and rhetoric based on our past experiences.

BESCHLOSS: Oh, I think that we will see at least something of a change. And that`s why I`ve been sort of mystified, why he wanted to get started basically three hours after he was elected with these tweets and, you know, seemingly making policy on Taiwan and all sorts of other, you know, departures from tradition. Why not wait until the inauguration, do that in the White House with your staff there, with the platform or the presidency. I still can`t understand why he did not wait.

ALEXANDER: And there could be fallout here, Rex Tillerson, Lindsey Graham says if he doesn`t agree that the Russians were behind the interference in the election, then Lindsey Graham says he`ll lose his vote.

JEAN-PIERRE: It`s exactly right. It`s going to be a tough confirmation hearing for Tillerson because of his relationship with Putin, and what, you know, Donald Trump has been doing by not agreeing with the unanimous decision of the intelligence community. And he can`t continue to tweet. He has to -- he has to stop tweeting. And because when he`s doing it he`s moving the markets, right, whether it`s the economy, and also he`s putting us.

ALEXANDER: It`s in the markets right now.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, well, we`ll see about that. But also it`s a national security risk to us.

ALEXANDER: Michael, (INAUDIBLE)

BESCHLOSS: No. Once he`s president, he will talk about why is doing this -- why he is doing this at length. He could be pretty persuasive, and when you do it in a 30 minute speech rather than one tweet, you`re not forcing people to guess about.

JEAN-PIERRE: He needs to have a press conference.

ALEXANDER: He`s going to have one next week.

JEAN-PIERRE: We`ll see.

(LAUGHTER) ALEXANDER: Ben, Michael, Karine, thank you. This Sunday on Meet The Press, Chuck Todd will have an exclusive interview, picking up where we left off, with senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. They`re going to discuss the push for hearings on Russia hacking, and the recent trip to the Baltic States. Still ahead right here, MTP daily, how did Democrats win back what was once their base, the middle class? You`re watching MTP daily.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: More MTP daily just ahead. But first, Deirdre Bosa, has your CNBC market wrap.

DEIRDRE BOSA, CNBC: Thanks, Peter. Stocks extended their New Year`s rally, the Dow climbing 60 points, the S&P adding about 13, and the NASDAQ up 48 points. Minutes from the feds most recent meeting, showed some policy makers worrying they may need to speed up future rate increases if unemployment falls faster than expected. U.S. auto sales were strong last month. Sales totaled 18.4 million, well above the 17.7 Million analysts were looking for. And Macy`s shares are sinking after hours after posting disappointing holiday sales. That`s it for CNBC first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK SCHUMER, UNITED STATES SENATOR: What`s needed from we, Democrats, is a bigger, bolder, sharper edged economic program that addresses how those struggling to stay in the middle class can stay there. And those struggling to make it into the middle class can get there more easily.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALEXANDER: Welcome back. That was Senator Chuck Schumer and his first floor speech as the senate minority leader. He laid out a path forward for his party saying Democrats need to do better about reaching out to middle class Americans. But top Democrats are divided on how to frame that economic message. Some like Bernie Sanders think Dems need to adapt to populist message like the one he used during his presidential bid. Here`s what he told MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR: And what Democrats increasingly understand, you can`t just go to fundraisers with wealthy people. You`ve got to get out in the real world. You have to mobilize people. You`ve got to educate people. You`ve got to listen to people. And that is the transformation they need.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALEXANDER: Others like Democratic Leadership Council founder, Al From, saying Democrats need to stick to the core principles that worked during the Bill Clinton era. He writes as reactionary populism continues to tap into the frustration of many voters, anger won`t improve our nation. A constructive way forward for the Democratic Party and the country is achievable if we can remember our first principles of opportunity, responsibility, and community, and further them with bold ideas and modern means. Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council and a proud graduate of the Medill school of journalism in Northwestern like me, is joining me now. Al, nice to see you in person, I appreciate it. The Democrats haven`t won an Electoral College victory without Barack Obama involved at the top of the ticket, dating back, what, for two decades now. So the bottom line is why isn`t it time to try something different?

AL FROM, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL FOUNDER: Well, first of all, President Clinton won two Electoral College victories.

ALEXANDER: It`s been a while since President Clinton.

FROM: It has been a while. But the real problem -- the real issue for Democrats is the modernized. There are two keys for Democrats. One, we`ve got to have an agenda that produces results and grows the economy, and then we can deal with inequality. But, Paul -- many years ago told me one of the problems with Democrats is we get so interested in passing out the golden eggs we forget to worry about the health of the goose. A growing economy gives us the opportunity to do a lot of things to help people and to become a party of upward mobility again. The second thing we need do is make sure government works. We`re the party that believes in government. But if government doesn`t work, people blame us.

ALEXANDER: What`s the bottom line? The bottom line is what`s the harm in trying to incorporate populism? It seemed to work pretty well for Bernie Sanders this past campaign season, 43 percent of Democrats voted for Sanders in the primary. He beat Clinton in states like Michigan and Washington. Hillary Clinton couldn`t win the state of Michigan. Why is that the wrong strategy?

FROM: Because, we have -- first of all, we have to reach voters that we haven`t done a very good job of reaching. President Clinton called them the forgotten middle class. And we have to talk to them. But we have to be honest with them. We can`t just promise that we`re going to deliver all these goodies to them. We have to have a sensible program for growing the economy and for making sure that everybody has a chance to take advantage of those opportunities. And so -- the reason that -- I mean, the truth is we`ve never elected a populist president until Donald Trump. And it wasn`t exactly the kind of populism I like.

ALEXANDER: Let me ask you about Donald Trump if I can quickly, what should the Democrat strategy be vis-...-vis Trump? Should they work with Trump or should they pick up Mitch McConnell`s strategy versus Barack Obama eight years ago, which is basically to defy him at every corner?

FROM: I thought Chuck Schumer sort of laid it out the best way. They should not -- they should oppose things that Trump does that they think are wrong, but if he comes along with some programs that they think could help the country, they ought to help him.

ALEXANDER: But he may have the White House, and Republicans control both houses right now, so aren`t there places they maybe should work together and try to.

FROM: This isn`t just about politics. The next election for presidents is four years away. A lot of people can be hurt in the next four years. We have to make sure that we do what`s best for the country. Not just what we think -- today, will help us four years from now.

ALEXANDER: What should Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton`s role be over the course of these next four years?

FROM: Well, I think -- look, I think Barack Obama has an important role in trying to keep his coalition alive for the Democrats, even though -- proved very hard to replicate without him on the top of the ticket. Hillary Clinton`s one of the smartest people in America. She has a lot to say and she can give the Democratic Party some good advice.

ALEXANDER: Al From, from the Democratic Leadership Council, it`s nice to see you in person.

FROM: Good seeing you.

ALEXANDER: Thank you, I appreciate it. Still ahead, Democrats will get an early task of the challenges facing them next week, when some of Donald Trump`s appointees come up for confirmation. Stay with us. This is MTP daily.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: Welcome back. Donald Trump still has a few cabinet picks to make. But some of his nominees already have hearing dates now on the calendar. Jeff Sessions is up first with a hearing that starts on January 10th. And then the 11th -- man, that day is loaded. That`s the second day that senators will meet with the attorney general nominee. It`s also when hearings for at least five other cabinet picks begin, at the very same time as all of those hearings, we could have the much promised and long delayed news conference from President-elect Trump. His team, said to be eyeing the 11th or the 12th. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: Time for the lid, Senator Chuck Schumer says Democrats are prepared to totally block a Trump`s Supreme Court nominee that was Republican stance for nearly a year. But now, Senator Mitch McConnell has changed his own tune. Here`s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITCH MCCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Apparently, there`s yet a new standard now, which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that`s something the American people simply will not tolerate, and we`ll be looking forward to receiving a Supreme Court nomination and moving forward on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALEXANDER: Back right now, Ben Ginsburg, Michael Beschloss, Karine Jean- Pierre, joining us now. Michael, to you quickly, with some historical perspective on this, do Democrats even have a serious chance of blocking a Trump Supreme Court nominee?

BENSCHLOSS: Hard to see how that threat is going to actually become a promise, but shows how politicized things have become for most of American history, would have been unheard of to see a situation such as this past year where, you know, that vacancy was kept that way, or even the suggestion that this would go on for four years.

ALEXANDER: Karine, one of the challenges for Democrats right now, right? When it was Merrick Garland who was up they said, hey, you`ve got to fill this ninth seat. Now Chuck Schumer comes out today and basically says we can`t support any Donald Trump`s Supreme Court nominee in effect. So all of a sudden that ninth seat, well, if it`s not in our hands, we`re not playing ball.

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, I`m in the camp of Democrats need to resist at every turn, especially when it comes to these far right-wing kind of policy that`s on the table now, that both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have been trying to push for many, many years. Now they have the opportunity. And so, yes, we should be blocking the way as much as possible.

ALEXANDER: Donald Trump`s strategy on the other hand is going to be, well, going forward.

GINSBERG: Sure. The real politics of this is that there are any numbers of Democratic senators up in 2018, from red states that supported Donald Trump. So this is not really a 52-48 count. This is much more the real politics of the situation.

ALEXANDER: Let me ask you a little bit, if I can quickly, about this news conference, for the first time in months, Donald Trump is set to hold a news conference. It`s supposed to take place either the 11th or 12th, the middle of the ends of next week, which just so happens to be overlapping with the confirmation hearings with Rex Tillerson, and among others, Jeff Sessions. These are going to be contentious hearings I think. Is there something to this? Some people are reading into this and saying this is a good way for Donald Trump to Trump the controversial coverage, as it may be, of them, and just focus the attention on himself.

JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think when Donald Trump`s -- if he has this -- if he actually has this press conference, because we know he canceled the last one, if he does this, all eyes will be on Donald Trump. That`s what we`re going to be focused on because we -- the last press conference he had.

ALEXANDER: Does that really give a free pass to Rex Tillerson or these -- I mean, Ben, to you, to Rex Tillerson or Jeff Sessions here? I mean, they`re still going to face tough questioning, whether or not it`s a split screen.

GINSBERG: Sure, but this is Donald Trump rallying the troops to support them as the spotlight is focused on those cabinet appointees. And they`re all articulate people who will do actually much better than the picture the Democrats are trying to paint at them.

ALEXANDER: Let me ask you right now, there`s a liberal group right now trying to sink the treasury secretary nominee, Steve Mnuchin, right now. They`ve just put an ad out on this, and here`s what it looks like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Former Goldman Sachs banker, Steven Mnuchin, raised millions to elect Trump. Now Trump picked him to be America`s top economic official. Even though Mnuchin made millions after his bank foreclosed on homeowners and discriminated against Latinos. Tell Senator Flake to vote no on Mnuchin.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALEXANDER: Feels like a few months ago, and we`re right back in the middle of the campaign season right now. Is that an effective strategy, go after a vulnerable Republican senator?

BENSCHLOSS: Oh, I think you`ll see a lot of that. You know, just as you were saying, Democrats are going to try to resist. Fascinating thing about that commercial, you remember the last major commercial that the Trump people put out before the election, which went on about Goldman Sachs bankers and so on, little bit of similarity here. I mean, this is just getting mind-boggling.

ALEXANDER: Last word, how do you see this playing out that I guess?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, I think we need to stop focusing on D.C. I think the resistance is actually going to happen outside of D.C. NAACP did an amazing job yesterday in Alabama, when -- you know, with their fight against Jeff Sessions, speaking of a hearing, and we`re going to see a lot more of that.

ALEXANDER: By the way, let me ask you, John McCain -- the Houston Chronicle asked John McCain today, if he could support Rex Tillerson`s nomination, he said, quote, sure. There`s also a realistic scenario that pigs fly.

(LAUGHTER)

ALEXANDER: Your take on McCain?

GINSBERG: Well, I think he`s letting the Trump administration know he`s out there. And Rex Tillerson is going to get confirmed, and so will I think all the other nominees unless there`s.

ALEXANDER: There`s only so much room for error on Russia and things like that, right? Only a couple votes to play with there.

GINSBERG: Yeah, true. But Rex Tillerson will go in and show a command of the world, and a command of affairs that will, I think, be very effective.

ALEXANDER: We`ll see middle of next week. Ben Ginsburg, Michael Beschloss, Karine Jean-Pierre, thanks you all for being with us today. After this break, drawing the line in Carolinas, you`ll like this. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEXANDER: All right. In case you missed it, the map of the United States has just changed. All right, we`ll walk you through this. The line between North Carolina and South Carolina literally moved. The border battle goes back so long that to this day, both states claim to be the birthplace of President Andrew Jackson because the land surveys of that day were literally a mess. More than 20 years ago, the states decided to try to clarify the 334-mile area that`s in question here. Finally, this week at the stroke of midnight on January 1st, the border officially shifted, a little bit, and moved up about 100 feet, mainly in North Carolina`s, Gaston County, and South Carolina`s, York County. So 19 homes started the New Year in a new Carolina, some people woke up with one foot in both as it turns out. The border literally cuts right through some properties, even through the middle of some homes. At least one resident has already received tax bills from both states. And the biggest legal fireworks were over actual fireworks, which are against the law in the north, and allowed to be sold in the south, so a minimart that has a new North Carolina address had to get special permission to sell fireworks. All of it confusing, don`t worry, the iconic south of the border stop on 995 remains south of the border.

That`s all for tonight, we`ll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

END

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