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MTP Daily, Transcript 1/5/2017

Guests: Tom Cotton, Nathan Gonzales, Sara Fagen, Bernie Sanders

Show: MTP DAILY Date: January 5, 2017 Guest: Tom Cotton, Nathan Gonzales, Sara Fagen, Bernie Sanders

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

The Senate begins the search for answers over Russian hacking.

Tonight, showdown, the U.S. intelligence community fights back against Donald Trump over Russia.


GEN. JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I think there is a difference between skepticism and disparagement.


TODD: We`ll talk to a Republican senator who questioned those intelligence chiefs today. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

Plus, feeling the burn, again. Does Bernie Sanders have the answer for Democrats in the fight against President-elect Trump?


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: Mr. Trump right now has got to do one of two things.


TODD: I sit down with Bernie Sanders coming up.

This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

Well, good evening. I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington, feeling a tad bit better, I promise. Welcome to MTP DAILY.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who`s become the spiritual leader, of sorts, of the progressive opposition to Trump, will be joining me later in the program to discuss the Democratic Party`s counter-attack against Trump`s attempts to repeal Obamacare.

We`ll also dive into some tough questions about the future of the Democratic Party in the age of Trump.

But we begin tonight with an unprecedented rift involving President-elect Trump, the U.S. intelligence community he`s about to command and the Republican Congress over a matter of national security.

Today, the full extent of those divisions were exposed, right on national television. The top U.S. intelligence chiefs from the State Department, our top spy agency and the NSA, all testified on Capitol Hill, defending themselves against President-elect Trump`s charges that they`re wrong about Russia`s interference in our election. And that their intelligence has somehow been politicized.

Their testimony also came as Republicans on the Hill are increasingly divided, calling Russia`s actions everywhere from an act of war on one end of the spectrum, to a public service on the other.

So, today, just one day before he briefs Trump personally on this issue, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, made it clear he`s more certain than ever about who is responsible for the hacks and why they did it.

Clapper specifically referenced October`s intelligence assessment that said this. The Russian government directed the hacks and they were explicitly intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. Here`s more from Clapper.


CLAPPER: We stand actually more resolutely on the strength of that statement that we made on the seventh of October.


TODD: Clapper also went a step further saying Russia`s interference in our election involved more than just hacking.


CLAPPER: This was a multi-facetted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it. And it also entailed of, you know, classical propaganda, dysfunction, fake news.


TODD: He also fired back at accusations that the intel community was politicizing its work saying, quote, "I am apolitical."

And when Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill asked him about Trump`s, quote, "trashing of the intel community," which, by the way, Vice President-elect Pence downplayed it as healthy American skepticism, here`s what Clapper said.


CLAPPER: There is an important distinction here between healthy skepticism, which policymakers, to include policy-maker number one, should always have for intelligence. But I think there is a difference between skepticism and disparagement.


TODD: And, with an assist from the committee`s chairman, John McCain, Clapper also took an apparent swipe at Trump for citing WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who has also rejected U.S. intelligence on Russian hacking.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Director, how would you describe Mr. Assange?

CLAPPER: I don`t think those of us in the intelligence community have a whole lot of respect for him.


TODD: All of this comes as Clapper, along with other top intelligence officials, meet with Trump tomorrow in a highly publicized, but supposedly secret briefing, which will lay out the Intelligence Committee`s full report on Russia`s interference with our election.

I`m now by Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He was part of that hearing, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

And, by the way, he`s also a member of the Senate`s Select Committee on Intelligence. So, he`s as well briefed as anybody on this issue.

Senator Cotton, welcome back to Washington. Happy New Year. And great beard.

[17:05:04] SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Thank you, Chuck. Happy New Year to all of your viewers. I decided to grow a beard in honor of Tony Kornheiser. And now, I`m just going to make it orange and maybe he`ll have me on the radio show.

TODD: There we go, a little La Cheeserie (ph) to you.

Let`s start with this. There seems to be a bit of a gulp (ph) inside the Republican Party. You`ve got John McCain referring to what Russia did as an act of war. Donald Trump says nobody knows. What do you say?

COTTON: Well, I believe the October seventh intelligence assessment that Russian intelligence services or their affiliates were behind the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta`s e-mail.

We still need to wait for the report that will be released imminently to see about what they have to say about the motive for those decisions.

But I would also say that this is just one small example of a pattern of aggression that Russia has committed against the United States in our interests for many years, going back at least 15 years since Vladimir Putin took office.

And what we need to do is to focus on drawing new boundaries on Russia, not just about this small instance of Russian aggression in U.S. interests, but so many others, running illegal spy rings in our country, beating our diplomats on the steps of our embassy in Moscow, giving weapons to rebels that could shoot civilian aircraft out of sky, intervening in Syria and bombing our supportive forces there.

So, this is just one long -- one part of a long pattern of Russian aggression against U.S. interests.

TODD: Everything you just ticked down there, are you concerned that President-elect Trump would dis -- would basically be dismissive of what you just said?

COTTON: I`m not concerned about it. I hope that he appreciates the kind of aggression that Russian has -- Russia has undertaken, especially in the last eight years.

And I`ll make a point to you and your viewers that I met the Armed Services Committee today. Donald Trump campaigned on increasing our defense budget, on accelerating our nuclear modernization, on expanding ballistic missile defense against adversarial nations, and accelerating oil and gas production which is harmful to Russia`s petro economy.

All of these things fundamentally change the strategic calculation for Russia as against the United States. So, it`s not clear to me why someone would think that Donald Trump would be the favorite candidate of Russia. Hillary Clinton was opposed to all those things.

So, I`ll be looking forward to seeing the declassified version of the report that comes out in the -- in the next few days.

But, also, on the Intelligence Committee going forward with our very careful review of this entire matter.

TODD: But should motivation matter here? You know, in some ways, I mean, I feel like it -- should that -- I think that, perhaps, this is the problem that even the president-elect gets caught up in this idea of, oh, it`s an attempt to delegitimize the election.

COTTON: Well, unfortunately, --

TODD: If Russia was getting involved, it should -- that shouldn`t matter. What should matter is what are we going to do about it, correct?

COTTON: Chuck, the -- so you got the motives of Vladimir Putin and his intelligence services. Those are always hard to know. As I asked director Clapper today, and he confirmed, trying to learn the motives and intentions and plans of fortune leaders about any topic is the hardest thing we ask of our intelligence services.

But then, you`ve got the motives of some Democrats and some in the media who are using a phrase like hacked the election or hacked into our electoral process. That is creating the confusion, amongst some, that somehow Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence services manipulated vote totals. And was said repeatedly today, there`s no evidence to support that at all.

We need to focus on the actual facts at hand which is that Russian intelligence services, or their affiliates, hacked into the DNC and John Podesta`s e-mail. Whatever the motive was for that, they ought not to have done it. They ought to pay a price for it.

I think the price should be stiffer than what President Obama imposed last week. But that`s a policy that I`ve had going back four years in the Congress of trying to draw a firmer line against Vladimir Putin`s aggression against the United States and the United States allies and our interests abroad.

TODD: Well, it`s interesting you bring up retaliation. Let me play for you what your colleague, Lindsey Graham -- an exchange Lindsey Graham had with Clapper today. Take a listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When it comes to interfering in our election, we better be ready to throw rocks. Do you agree with that?

CLAPPER: That`s a good metaphor.

GRAHAM: I think what Obama did was throw a pebble. I`m ready to throw a rock. Is this going to stop until we make the cost higher?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have got to change the dynamic here because we`re on the wrong end of the cost equation.

GRAHAM: Yes, you got that right.


TODD: All right. What`s the rock, as far as you`re concerned, Senator Cotton?

COTTON: Well, Lindsey may be willing to settle with rocks. I`d move on to boulders, though. I`ve long -- I`ve long advocated an across-the-board approach to Russia that puts more pressure on them.

The Obama administration has frequently said they compartmentalize issues with Russia. Ukraine, on the one hand. Syria, on the other hand. They may compartmentalize it. Vladimir Putin does not. And simply because we face, for instance, a cyberattack here doesn`t mean that we have to respond in kind with that.

We might, for instance, provide the defensive weapons that the Ukrainian military has been asking for so forcefully for so long. We might crack down on the travel of Russian spies here in the United States that aren`t supposed to be leaving their embassy under existing rules. But the Obama administration has let them do so, presumably, so they can conduct further espionage.

[17:10:10] There`s a whole host of options that we have for drawing a firmer line on Russia. Some of those are bilateral, like I just outlined. But some of them are moving forward with Donald Trump`s proposals, like building up our military or expanding missile defense in our nuclear arsenal or accelerating the export of oil and gas now that we`re one of the world`s largest producers.

TODD: Let me go -- let me go to Ukraine. You brought up Ukraine. Let me go to that a minute. What happens -- there`s been some chatter that President-elect Trump is, perhaps, willing to dial down the sanctions that were imposed to the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Obviously, it -- Europe has never been -- it`s been hard to keep Europe -- those European end of those sanctions in place. If there`s any wavering by the U.S. president, those things are going to fall apart. How concerned are you about that?

COTTON: Well, I`ve been concerned about the sanctions that were imposed after the invasion of Crimea for almost three years now. Because, as you say, the greatest source of wavering has been the European governments.

And some of those governments have recently have changed and expressed more skepticism towards them. I think it would be inadvisable not to renew those sanctions when they`re next up in a few months. At least, in return, not getting any -- or not getting anything substantial in return.

So, I think that would be inadvisable and that`s not the path I would take.

TODD: One final question, domestic. Very -- just a -- and I say very quickly and health care is not a quick subject. How -- are you comfortable with the idea of repealing Obamacare before a replacement is ready to go?

COTTON: Well, Chuck, I think you have to distinguish, when you take about a replacement, when it`s enacted and when it takes effect. Obamacare, itself, was enacted in March of 2010 but some measures didn`t take effect for another few years.

I think that we, as Republicans, need to coalesce and pass a solution that solves the problems that Obamacare actually made worse. Now, that may not take effect until, say, the open season of 2018 because you need to provide for an orderly transition.

But I think it would not be the right path for us to repeal Obamacare without laying out a path forward, even if the path, say, transitions gradually over the next year to two years.

TODD: But you`re saying you`re not going to vote -- you`re not comfortable voting on a repeal without at least some concrete -- something concrete in place that people can see.

COTTON: I think that when we repeal Obamacare, we need to have the solution in place moving forward. Again, that solution may be implemented in a delivered fashion. But I don`t think we can just repeal Obamacare and say we`re going to get the answer two years from now.

Look, this is a very complicated problem. Health care is a very complex issue. We haven`t coalesced around the solution for six years, in part because it is so complicated. Kicking the can down the road for a year or two years is not going to make it any easier to solve.

TODD: Senator Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas, appreciate you coming on. Nice talking with you, sir.

COTTON: Thanks, Chuck.

All right, let me bring in tonight`s panel. Nathan Gonzales is the Editor of "The Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report." Sara Fagen was Bush 43`s political director, now a CNBC Contributor. And Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC Political Analyst. Welcome all.

Nathan, what did you make of today`s hearing, and is it -- does it all sort of -- we all have to wait to see how Donald Trump digests it?

NATHAN GONZALES, EDITOR, "THE ROTHENBERG AND GONZALES POLITICAL REPORT": Well, I think this is a good example. Democrats want to paint Republicans with a broad brush that everybody agrees with Donald Trump, I think is a good example where Republicans aren`t on the same page.

Where does this end up, I think, will depend a lot on the hearings that are -- or whenever the reports come out over the next couple of days.

But I think we have to remember coming out of the campaign that Donald Trump is being given more of the benefit of the doubt than what politicians or what people that are viewed as government insiders.

So, when information comes out, even though it might seem logical, some people are still going to side with president Trump because he`s still perceived as this outsider.

TODD: How -- I mean -- go ahead, Sara. I mean, I --

SARA FAGEN, CONTRIBUTOR, CNBC: I think that`s right. I think he gets more of a pass on misinformation or maybe strong statements, you know, to the contrary of what these Republican senators who were farther to the right than President Obama on what the reaction to Russia should be.

TODD: Right.

FAGEN: And so, --

TODD: They have been for years. Basically, everybody in the Republican Party, other than --

FAGEN: Right.

TODD: -- Dana Rohrabacher --

FAGEN: Right.

TODD: -- and Donald Trump.


FAGEN: So, Obama is the centrist on this. And you -- on one side you have, you know, Senate Republicans and on the other side you have Trump. And so, that`s an odd place for the Republican Party to be.

But I agree with Nathan. I think, you know, Trump very effectively, you know, uses the bully pulpit to say, you know, this is media. This is about delegitimizing the election which, you know, some Democrats have taken this too far. You know, it`s -- I don`t think it`s credible to say that Hillary Clinton lost because of that.

TODD: Most people have -- you know, that does seem as if it`s a bit of a - - let me deny something that isn`t happening so much (ph). That isn`t being said that much. That`s all I`m saying.

ROBINSON: Partly -- right. People aren`t saying that.


TODD: More people are saying, you didn`t go to Michigan.

ROBINSON: Exactly.

FAGEN: The perception on (INAUDIBLE) and by voters.

TODD: The right is fuming it though. Trump is fueling it to create this perception.

ROBINSON: Exactly. I think the perception is being made by Trump. I don`t hear people saying that, independent of what -- or despite what Trump claims. I just don`t hear that.

[17:15:06] What I hear is, yes, Donald Trump won the election but the Russians meddled in the election and, you know, in a variety of ways.

FAGEN: (INAUDIBLE) a problem for Trump.


FAGEN: Go ahead.

ROBINSON: No. And I -- and I`m not sure how this is playing out.

FAGEN: The bigger problem for Trump, I think, on this issue, you know, isn`t necessarily the back and forth on Julian Assange or this particular hacking issue. It`s when you demoralize an agency which they`re claiming out of leaks that that`s what`s happening, at least I don`t know if that really true or not. But the intelligence community is saying they`re demoralized over this.

But is attacking publicly the intelligence community, and then when we need to use the intelligence community because there`s another issue in the world, we need to use it with a foreign leader. That, to me, is the challenge.

It`s one thing to get into the politics of the Democrats and Republicans in the last election. People aren`t going to remember that, likely, in a month or two. But, boy, six months down the road, when you need your intelligence community and you can`t use it.

TODD: Well, let me -- on that very point, President Obama, today, did an interview today with our affiliate in Chicago, part of this, sort of, farewell tour. And he was asked about this issue of President-elect Trump in the -- in the -- not believing the intel community. Here`s what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have full faith in the conclusions of the intelligence briefing that you got today?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. My hope is that when the president-elect receives his own briefings and is able to examine the intelligence, as his team has put together and they see how professional and effective these agencies are, that some of those current tensions will be reduced.


TODD: I hear that from various Republican senators. I`ve heard that from president that they -- that they are all expressing optimism that once he`s in office, his tune will change.

ROBINSON: Well, look, one of the few things that Donald Trump has been absolutely consistent on is this softer view of Russia. And I think that`s really the big picture issue here, this sort of whiplash on Russia policy.

TODD: Well, and that`s what Tom Cotton is bringing up. It`s, like -- it`s more than just this. It`s Ukraine. It`s, you know, --

ROBINSON: Exactly. And so, the view of a U.S. government, for the last many years, has been that Russia is a problematic actor in -- on the international stage. And more than that is violating international law, by invading Ukraine, and annexing Crimea, and invading Georgia, and destabilizing democracies.

And now, we have a president-elect who says, gee, Vladimir Putin is really smart. We can have a new relationship with Russia. We can cooperate with Russia on all these various fronts. So, where does that lead?

TODD: Well -- and I think when the -- when -- it`s when the Crimea sanctions, that -- when that sort of comes up again, right. When Europe -- when it comes up later this year, that`s going to be the next, I think, big moment in this issue for him, is it not?

GONZALES: I mean, I keep coming back to that. Oval Office -- that initial Oval Office meeting with President Obama and Donald Trump, when Donald Trump looked like the color had drained out of his face. You know, and Obama probably just gave him a taste of what was to come.

And, you know, is a 69-year-old man going to change, you know, the character of who he is? Probably not. But is he going to -- are things slightly going to change on January 20th, January 21st because of new information? But if you can`t trust the people that are hired to do the work --

TODD: Well, I think it`s also the people who interpret the intelligence. And Mike Flynn, the national security advisor, clearly -- some people think he has an ax to grind with the intelligence community, in general, because he didn`t think he got the respect he deserved at DNI. That`s a problem. Is it not, Sara?

FAGEN: I mean, if that`s true, that`s a problem. You`ve got to have an independent analysis coming in and multiple voices coming in --

TODD: Right.

FAGEN: -- on these topics all the time. And that`s what, I think -- you know, the thing about Donald Trump, though, is, you know, he has, historically, been somebody who has many people coming to him. And so, --

TODD: But on intel, right now, it feels like just one.

FAGEN: Yes, but he`s going to learn that as he gets there. And I think to your earlier point, you know, right now, Barack Obama, to some degree, is the -- you know, he`s the principal figure in government and in politics. And that is about to change. And that dynamic will change for Donald Trump and their administration.

TODD: I`m going to pause things here. Thank you very much.

Coming up, I got -- later this weekend, I have Senators McCain and Graham together on "MEET THE PRESS" this Sunday. We`ll be talking about Russia.

And tomorrow Senator Amy Klobuchar will join me here on MEET THE PRESS DAILY. All three of the senators, by the way, travelled to Eastern Europe over the holiday break to look at what Russia was doing there.

Still ahead tonight, we are talking to Senator Bernie Sanders about the Democrats` strategy to try to hold the line on Obamacare and more so keep it here.



TODD: Coming up, I`ll talk to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who`s been extremely critical of Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare and alter Medicare. We`ll have that coming up, right after this.


TODD: Welcome back.

The new year is just five days old and president-elect Donald Trump has used his Twitter account to talk about three different car companies. In the cross-hairs today, Toyota. Trump tweeted Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico to build Corolla cars for U.S. No way! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax. We should note that Toyota`s new Corolla plant is actually in Wapato (ph) not in Baja, Mexico. Whether the threat was valid or not, Toyota stock was down today.

Trump had favorable things to say about Ford earlier this week and then had harsh words for General Motors. Let`s see, if your KIA, Nissan, BMW, watch out. We`ll be right back.

Still ahead. What`s next for Democrats in the Trump era? Senator Bernie Sanders will be with me after the break. But here is Susan Li with CNBC "MARKET WRAP".

SUSAN LI, CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: Thanks, Chuck. Stocks ending mixed, Dow sinking 42 points, the S&P slipping one and the Nasdaq is today`s winner, climbing 10 to a new record.

Employers added 153,000 jobs in the month of December, according to payroll processer ADP. That was below, though, the 170,000 jobs that economists were expecting.

Meantime, the number of Americans filing for first-time jobless claims came in at 235,000, that`s fewer than the 260,000 expected. Both reports precede the government`s closely-watched labor report due on Friday morning.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.



TODD: Welcome back to MTP DAILY.

Joining me now, it`s the independent senator from Vermont and former Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders, happy new year. Welcome back, sir.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

TODD: Let me start with what`s happening here with health care. One of your colleagues, Senator Tom Cotton, we were -- was on the show earlier. And he was -- he put out a warning.

It was very similar to what John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, said earlier today which seemed to be, before repeal, that there has to be a plan -- some plan in place or at least a plan that is digestible for the public before repealing. That there seems to be a growing movement among some Republicans that say, you can`t just repeal before you have your replacement. Do you see that as progress?

SANDERS: I do. I mean, I think it is basically insane that they come up with a plan that throws 20 million Americans off of health insurance, moves towards the privatization of Medicare, raises prescription drug costs for seniors, and does away with patient protection acts like preexisting conditions that are enormously important without any alternative.

What a rational approach would be is to see how we can work together to improve the Affordable Care Act, not simply junk it with no alternative in place.

TODD: What is -- what is the plan of the Democrats to deal with this? Obviously, Republicans have control of the Senate and there is going to be a Republican in the White House. They have made this promise that they`re going to scrap some form of Obamacare, in some form. Whatever they`re going to do here.

For six years, when Republicans talked about repeal, Democrats would say, hey, come up with a plan and then we`ll talk. Do you think that you, and other Democrats, need to come up with an alternative fix to counter whatever the Republicans are going to do here or do you just say -- step back and say, you`re on your own?

SANDERS: Chuck, the United States of America is the only industrialized country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right. We pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs because of the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. Everybody recognizes that the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. What a rational approach is, is you sit people down together and you say, what are the problems? Let`s go forward and rectify it. Let`s make sure that all of our people have healthcare as a right, that we don`t pay the highest prices in the world. Let`s go forward together. But I think Senator Cotton is right. You can`t simply throw something out without having any alternative at all in place.

TODD: I understand that. But do you believe the Democratic Party should come up with an alternative or work with the Republicans on an alternative?

SANDERS: Chuck, they are the ones who are repealing the existing legislation. Their job is to come up with an alternative and our job is to work with them to make sure that it is a good alternative. And by the way, when you talk about a real alternative, you cannot include in that giving tens and tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest 1 percent.

TODD: This week I have seen more Democrats defend Obamacare in ways that I did not see in the last three years politically. Does that -- do you think if Democrats in general had been more supportive of this and campaigned for it as hard as President Obama did throughout the past three or four years that the law would be more popular with the public today?

SANDERS: Well, you know, despite all of the attacks on the Affordable Care Act, and a lot of these attacks are just not honest attacks. You know, every time that the cost of health care goes up, it is not necessarily the fault of the Affordable Care Act. Despite all of that, the plan remains reasonably popular. I think about 50 percent of the American people still support it.

TODD: It`s about a one to one.

SANDERS: Yes, all right, that`s with all of these attacks, and some of them dishonest attacks. But our job right now is to do what every other major country on earth does. Number one, should we guarantee healthcare to all people as a right? I believe so. Should we continue to be paying such high prices compared to the rest of the world? No, we should not. Now, I think we have to have the guts to take on the private insurance companies and the drug companies who are ripping us off every single day. And I think there are some Republicans who may understand that.

TODD: You know, it`s interesting, when you went on the floor earlier this week, you brought out a Trump tweet where he talked about not wanting to touch Medicare and social security. Are you -- do you believe him? Are you skeptical? It sounded in your speech that you`re both -- you want to believe him but you`re skeptical.

SANDERS: Right. Here`s the story. I think that one of the reasons that Mr. Trump won the election is he appealed to a lot of working-class people, a lot of elderly people. And he said, listen, I am not Paul Ryan. I am not one of your run of the mill Republicans. I`m different, and I`m going to protect working people. And I, Donald Trump, hey, I am not going to cut social security. I`m not going to cut Medicare. I`m not going to cut Medicaid. Well, one of two things, Chuck, is true, either he was basically lying and just telling people something that he knew would get him votes, or he was sincere. If he is sincere, now is the time for him to tell his Republican colleagues, hey, stop the effort to cut Medicare and Medicaid and social security. I will veto any legislation that comes to my desk which has those cuts. I hope he has the integrity to do that.

TODD: What do you make of his shaming of some companies on jobs the way he does on twitter? He`s done it twice this week, Toyota today. General motors earlier this week. What do you make of all that?

SANDERS: I don`t use the word shaming. I think, as president or president-elect, he has the right, and I have done this for years to say to large corporations, many of whom have benefited from their being in the United States of America, you know what, we are tired of your throwing out American workers out on the street. We`re tired of you moving to China and Mexico and hiring people for a fraction of the wages you`re paying the United States. So I think -- I applaud the president-elect for trying to keep jobs in the United States, and I have voted against every one of these disastrous trade policies and I`ll do my best to see the corporations reinvest in America, not in Mexico or China.

TODD: You think it`s a good thing that he`s got some corporate boards a little nervous every morning to see who he is going to tweet against today?

SANDERS: This is what I think, Chuck. You can`t have policy by tweet, company by company. We need new trade policies that says to correspondent America, sorry, you`re going to start investing in this country, and not just in low-wage countries around the world. You need a policy. You can`t do it tweet by tweet. And I hope that Mr. Trump is prepared to work with some of us in developing sensible trade policies.

TODD: Tell me about what you want to see happen on January 15th, the day of resistance. Explain that.

SANDERS: I think it is important that the Democratic Party begins to get itself outside of Capitol Hill and gets back into the communities and the street corners of America. And I think it is terribly important that we begin to work with communities all over this country, working people, the unions, senior citizen groups, physicians groups, and make it clear that the American people will not accept horrific cuts to Medicare, to Medicaid, will not allow seniors to pay more for prescription drugs. So the goal on January 15th is in many communities around this country to bring people together, to say to the Republican leadership, hey, we are going to fight you, you`re not going to simply throw millions of people out of their healthcare insurance.

TODD: I was intrigued when you referred to Democrats and fellow Democrats, any change of heart on you personally registering as a Democrat?

SANDERS: Well, in Vermont you cannot register as anything. You take a ballot on a primary day, and I`ve always taken the Democratic ballot. But I am right now -- I won this seat as an independent. I will continue to stay on as an independent.

TODD: And if you run again, you would run as an independent, not as a Democrat?

SANDERS: Well, we`ll cross that bridge when it comes.

TODD: Oh, that`s not a -- what part of that has not been decided, whether to run again?

SANDERS: It`s not really one of the most important issues facing the American people.

TODD: Fair enough.

SANDERS: Right now we`re trying to make sure that the American people continue to have the health insurance that they need.

TODD: Let me go to the DNC race, another new candidate today, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. I know you`ve endorsed Keith Ellison, a member of congress. Tom Perez, the outgoing labor secretary also thrown his hat in the ring. Did you endorse too early? What do you think of these other two candidates?

SANDERS: I don`t know the mayor of South Bend. I know Tom Perez and he`s a very decent guy. But what you need right now is a total transformation of the Democratic Party, and I`m trying to do that as part of the Democratic leadership, and I know that`s what Keith Ellison believes. Look, we have lost the White House. We`ve lost the senate. We`ve lost the house. Two-thirds of governor`s chairs are controlled by Republicans. We`ve lost 900 legislative seats in the last 8 years. The status quo is not working. We`ve got to open the doors of the Democratic Party to working people, to young people. We`ve got to get our financial resources from ordinary people, not just from the wealthy and the powerful. So I -- Keith Ellison is the candidate of real change in the Democratic Party, and I strongly support him.

TODD: Are you concerned at all about some of the criticism he`s received from ADL and some Jewish members of the party?

SANDERS: Absolutely not, no.

TODD: Concerned about his previous stance on Israel?

SANDERS: What I am concerned about is the kind of negativity that is being thrown at Keith, unfair and unjust negativity. You know what, you can be critical of Mr. Netanyahu and not be an anti-Semite. And people who try to conflate those are doing something that I think is unacceptable.

TODD: Do you imagine working with a President Trump on anything outside of infrastructure?

SANDERS: I think there are issues. I just mentioned one issue. Trump campaigned very hard, very important part of his campaign was the understanding that millions of people in this country have lost decent paying jobs because of disastrous trade agreements. We need new trade policies. We need to tell corporate America, invest in the United States, not just China, not just Mexico. I would be delighted to work with Mr. Trump on sensible trade policies which create good paying jobs in this country. You raised the issue of infrastructure, huge issue. Our infrastructure is collapsing. We can create millions of decent paying jobs rebuilding our roads, and our bridges, and our water systems. And if Trump comes up with an idea which does not include massive levels of privatization and huge tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, yes, we can work with him on that as well.

TODD: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, I`m going to leave it there. Always interesting, sir, to hear from you, appreciate it and appreciate your time.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

TODD: You got it. Coming up, we`ll bring back the round-table, and you`re going to want to stick around to find out how Donald Trump quietly made history today. Keep it here.


TODD: Welcome back. John Kerry gave his last press briefing as secretary of state today. He highlighted accomplishments of the state department. But every department, including state, should think about how the voters in 2016 publicly expressed their disappointment in government. And when NBC`s Andrea Mitchell asked about Trump`s criticism of the Intel community, Secretary Kerry stood behind the work of U.S. intelligence officers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: They do not draw political conclusions. I don`t think the president or this building could do the quality of job that we do without the input of the intelligence community. Not all of which we accept every day on face value, believe me, so the combined expertise of all of that community, probed, and re-probed, and re-probed, probed, has come to a common assessment that the government of Russia engaged in a concerted effort to influence and interfere with the integrity of our electoral process.


TODD: Kerry adds that the Intel community is not infallible, but that they deserve respect in the way leaders question their conclusions. Coming up, what`s old is new again. Why I`m obsessed with a revival of an old rule in congress that is nearly 150 years old.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I am obsessed with something you just may have missed this week. Something one Democrat has called the Armageddon rule. While Republicans were busying themselves on Tuesday night, trying to defang the office of congressional ethics, something they backed away from the next day. Washington Post reports that they reinstate -- they did end up reinstating an old rule called the Holman rule. How old is this rule? It dates back to 1876. That`s right, 1876, during the administration of one Ulysses S. Grant. It allows lawmakers to cut the salary of a federal worker, any federal worker to $1. Even some Republicans are a bit queasy over this one, but house majority leader Kevin McCarthy says it helps hold all federal agencies accountable. OK, will it? Of course, there`s another possibility, you could have, say, a president, let`s call him Donald Trump, who wants to make a point about cutting federal spending. Maybe the president, this one that we`re calling Donald Trump, could, if he chose, make a high-profile announcement that he just got congress to vote to cut the pay of a handful of federal workers to $1, that would, quote, send that message that he`s serious about cutting the deficit even if he doesn`t do anything about cutting the deficit. Meanwhile, a bunch of people might be effectively out of a job. Look, will it happen, we`ll see. A full house and senate still have to pass this, but it`s another example of how we`re in a brand new era, or a very old one. We`ll be right back.


TODD: Back in the lid, panel is back, Sara Fagen, Eugene Robinson, and Nathan Gonzales. All right, Sara Fagen, you heard Tom Cotton say, look, you can`t repeal unless there is something concrete there. And he said it can phase in, but you have to know what the plan is going to look like before you repeal. John Kasich is essentially saying the same thing. Not with what Mitch McConnell seemed to say. So where is this headed?

SARA FAGEN, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, I think the smart politics on this would be to have a plan in place.

TODD: Duh. I know, but?

FAGEN: But people who elected Donald Trump are clamoring for this to be repealed. It`s a big part of the reason in mid-terms that Republicans also did well. I mean, there was so doubt, Bernie Sanders is right. There is a large chunk of the country that supports this, but there`s a large chunk of the country that think that this has been disastrous policy and hurt a lot of people`s pocketbooks based on the way this has been implemented. So, you know, the smart thing to do is to repeal it and have a plan in place, but repealing it and then ultimately doing a good plan down the road, I don`t think necessarily we should assume that`s terrible politician, Republicans either.

TODD: Really? Nathan? I think it`s risky.

NATHAN GONZALES, THE ROTHENBERG & GONZALES POLITICAL REPORT EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: The expectation from the Republican grassroots is to get this repeal. I mean -- two years ago, Republicans who thought, even with a Democratic president he was going to be get repeal. So now they have to do something. The question is what? I mean, you have Rand Paul and a group of Republicans who are -- who were saying, OK, repeal it, replace it, but not at the expense of the budget and increasing the deficit, so the Republican Party -- just because there all in power, doesn`t mean there`s a clear way forward.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: This proposing idea can`t necessarily be reconciled within the Republican caucus, right, how to replace it. And basically, if you`re going to replace it and you`re not going to kick a bunch of people, like millions of people, off of their insurance, you`re going to have to spend money. And if you`re not going to have an individual mandate, which you can`t because that`s the most unpopular part of Obamacare, then you have to spend a bunch of money to do anything. And I`m not convinced that the Republican caucus in the house and in the senate can agree to do that now, or a year from now, or three years from now. I`m not convinced.

FAGEN: Here is the -- you know, Mitch McConnell is a good chess player. And he knows that -- you know, what Eugene said is right. You`re right. Like, this is complicating. There`s not a one pager on how you will replace this. And so -- but Republicans who have been elected have a credibility problem if they don`t repeal this with their base, if they don`t do it soon. And so.

TODD: If they do it in a rush, and they do it sloppily, and that`s a problem.

FAGEN: But that`s the argument for repealing it. And then, you know, giving you very long lead way, so you have time to put something in place. You know -- then you get into the politics of kicking it down the road constantly and that long.

(CROSSTALK) TODD: I smell dock --


ROBINSON: Exactly, Exactly.

TODD: Repeal Obamacare and then two years extended, another two years.

ROBINSON: Exactly.

GONZALES: I think -- I believe the Trump team has said it`s giving congress a February deadline to say we want something on the president`s desk, I think mid-February. That might seem crazy, but I think one of the mistakes that President Obama made in 2009, was just handing it off to congress, letting them play with NCA for a year and a half, then he didn`t even tried to sell it before the 22 midterms and all these Democrats who just hung out to dry.

TODD: There have been more Democrats supporting Obamacare this week than the entire last four years. I mean, it`s a joke. I mean -- look, at the time, yes. The implementation was a mess, the roll-out was a mess, and Democrats -- good grief.

FAGEN: The smart middle ground maybe to repeal it and past principles about how we`re going to fix it, and then go -- take the time to do it right. Which -- you`re right, it was not done, you know, the first go around in the proper way, which is why we`re in the mess that we`re in today.

ROBINSON: Well, they took a lot of time the first time, you know.

TODD: Too much time.

ROBINSON: Exactly. So, the other way to do it, I think is for President Trump, when he becomes president to write it, to say we`re going to do it this way. Do it this way. That`s what President Obama didn`t do. He said you couldn`t get it done that way. You`ve got to let congress work it out. This what congress worked out. And so the other way it seems to me is -- say, this is the way it`s going to be.

GONZALES: And then he has to sell it on the campaign trail to avoid a midterm collapse for the Republican Party.

TODD: The thing that was intriguing to me was something Senator Sanders said when I asked about this which is they`re not -- he doesn`t think Democrats should come up with an alternative, but once the Republicans have a plan, Democrats -- they seemed to open the door for, OK, you know, if you listen to some of my ideas, I`ll work with you. Will McConnell and that crowd take him up on it?

FAGEN: Well, I think it depends on where the debate ends up, in terms of where the debate is, and what people are proposing. But, you know, certainly, if Democrats are playing long ball here, this is going to be an issue in the midterm. And they`re going to have something that they`re for. They can`t just be for Obamacare, which is -- assuming it`s been repealed, it will be perceived that has been failed.

GONZALES: Jessie Fergusson -- campaign aide, veteran of the Clinton campaign, had an op-ed just a couple of days ago about Democrats finding a balance between opposing the president and obstructing the president. Now exactly where is that line in which side, but I think this heath -- ACA is a good example of that.

TODD: What I can`t figure out, Sanders rhetoric is seems to lean more -- OK, we`ve got to work with him while we can. Schumer`s rhetoric lately has been, no, which you would expect the other way around.

ROBINSON: Well -- yes, I mean, I think a lot of us is the other at this point.


ROBINSON: I thought that was theatrical

TODD: But I don`t get Trump attacking him today on twitter, calling him a clown. That`s not a way to get bipartisan support.

FAGEN: I don`t get that either. He needs Schumer on issues, and you`ve got to figure out a balancing end. I mean, the question is -- the press maybe doesn`t take all of these tweets that seriously. But, boy, when you`re on the other end and you`re an individual, that`s very personal.

TODD: That`s true, excellent point. All right, guys, thank you, very much. We`ve got a pack show and we have more coming up, something Donald Trump has been keeping uncharacteristically quiet about. Stay with us.


TODD: In case you missed it, it appears Donald Trump made history today becoming the very first president-elect to be deposed. The president-elect says (INAUDIBLE) sworn video tape deposition of Trump Tower today, stemming from a lawsuit Trump filed after Chef Jose Andreas back out of plans to open a restaurant at Trump`s new hotel here in Washington. A few presidents, actually, have been deposed once in office. The first president to be deposed was President Grant, two Grant mentioned today, by the way, back in 1870, over a bribery scandal known as the whiskey ring. A hundred years later, President Ford gave a video tape deposition in the trial of Lynette, Squeaky, Fromme, who of course was accused of trying to assassinate Ford. President Jimmy Carter was deposed multiple times during his presidency on several cases including over his family`s peanut warehouse. The most recent president to be deposed, of course, was President Bill Clinton, he gave sworn testimony as president multiple times, most memorably, of course, on the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit, when he denied having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. It`s fair to expect that Trump -- has other multiple other pending legal issues will also be deposed once he`s in the White House as well, so he would join that exclusive club. But he is now the first president-elect to be deposed. That`s all for tonight, we`ll be back tomorrow for more MTP Daily.