Show: MTP DAILY Date: February 7, 2017 Guest: Glenn Thrush, Ben Sasse, Brendan Steinhauser, Azi Paybarah
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the president`s travel ban faces its biggest test yet, a potentially decisive court hearing scheduled for less than an hour from now.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a very dangerous period of time. Because while everybody`s talking and dealing, a lot of bad people are thinking about, hey, let`s go in right now.
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TUR: Plus, credibility questions. Can the White House continue to play the blame game and dismiss all criticism as fake news?
And organized chaos. Can the left learn from the Tea Party`s tactics and turn protests into political power?
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CROWD: Get him out. Get him out. Get him out. Get him out.
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TUR: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
Good evening, I`m Katy Tur in New York in for Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY.
There were some awful terror attacks in the United States last year, Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge, New York City. Right now, the White House appears to be signaling that it knows who to blame if there`s another attack. The courts and the press.
Today at the White House while meeting with law enforcement officials, President Trump doubled down on claims that the judicial branch is threatening national security by holding up his travel ban.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need this court case. It would be very helpful to keeping the wrong people out of our country.
You know, this is a very dangerous period of time. Because while everybody`s talking and dealing, a lot of bad people are thinking about, hey, let`s go in right now.
I actually can`t believe that we`re having to fight to protect the security -- in a court system to protect the security of our nation. I can`t even believe it. And a lot of people agree with us, believe me.
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TUR: The president has tweeted that if something bad happens, the public should blame a quote, "so-called federal judge" that the White House claims went, quote, "rogue" for temporarily halting the travel ban.
A federal appeals court refused the government`s emergency request to overturn the judge`s ruling. And in less than an hour, the appeal`s court will hear arguments about whether to lift or maintain the freeze on that order. We`re going to be keeping a close eye on that hearing here at MSNBC. Stay with us.
Meanwhile, though, folks, President Trump`s own Homeland Security chief, General John Kelly, said that today the ban should have been delayed by him before it was ever signed into law.
And it seems that, in an effort to neutralize or distract from the news, the administration is blaming the news. Here`s more from President Trump today.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I happen to know how dishonest the media is. There`s tremendous dishonesty, pure out righteous (ph) honesty.
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TUR: The White House is also doubling down on claims that the media is covering up terror attacks which, if you watch or read the news, you know is demonstrably false.
Here`s the bigger issue. The national security implications of the White House`s current battle with the courts, and also with the press, is arguably the most alarming example of this administration`s apparent unwillingness to accept or acknowledge responsibility for its shortcomings, while it simultaneously attempts to steam roll critics and bad headlines with disinformation, conspiracy theories, innuendo blame and fear mongering.
In defending the ban, the White House cited a nonexistent bowling green massacre, involving Iraqi refugees at least three times before acknowledging the error. The press secretary`s attack on the press for referring to it as a ban, despite both him and the president calling it a ban, was an argument bordering on comical, so much so that it was mocked on "Saturday Night Live."
The White House has dismissed a state of nationwide anti-Trump protests opposing the ban and other White House policies as an invention of paid demonstrators and thugs.
And this is all just the most recent stuff. We`ve seen President Trump claim 3 to 5 million fraudulent votes from, quote, "illegals" cost him the popular vote. And then, claimed that every single instance of fraud benefitted Hillary Clinton with no hard evidence to prove that.
He`s told the public dismiss any negative poll as a lie and he`s also suggested that the U.S. government acts with the same alleged murderous hostility as Vladimir Putin.
And that does not include how the White House has arguably weaponized terms, like fake news to deflect from their mistakes or poorly handled situations. The White House`s credibility has been damaged by all of this. And you could argue that the press, American democracy, U.S. intelligence and the U.S. court system are just some of the institutions that have been dragged, at times, forcibly into the chaos.
So, what happens next? I`m joined by "New York Times" White House correspondent Glenn Thrush. Glenn, it is very nice to see you. Not in the flesh but at least over a T.V. camera.
GLENN THRUSH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Good to see you.
TUR: My first question to you is how do you continue to cover the game when you`ve been dragged down the field and put into a uniform?
[17:05:02] THRUSH: Well, I could ask you the same -- I could ask you the same question.
TUR: It is -- we could have a bit of a debate over it.
THRUSH: Look, I think -- I think the issue that you raised early on in your opening about them coming up with all these attacks on the media, on the judge, coming up with these counterarguments during these pool sprays when reporters come in and photographers come in during these events in the morning, giving the president unmediated access, his tweets. All of these things are meant to distract from concrete questions about fact.
When he says, for instance, and I was struck by his statement this morning, that a lot of bad people are going to be coming in as a result of the judge holding this -- holding this order, we are talking about a system that was -- that has been fundamentally in place for years. And we know from statistics that from these seven countries, we have not seen terror attacks emanating.
So, he is not referring to anything with historical grounding. He is referring to a circular argument that he, himself, has made. So, I think our way to respond to this is to ask them concrete questions. To demand facts and not interpretation. And to hold them accountable, as you just did with that litany that you had, when they`re not telling the truth.
I think getting into a back and forth about the various honesty and dishonesty of institutions is not especially helpful for us. I think the American people just need to be shown what is true, what is factual, relentlessly by us. And we can`t -- and we can`t aggregate that responsibility.
TUR: What do you make of the president releasing a list of 47 different terror attacks that they believe were under-covered by the press. But among that list, terror attacks that happened that -- here in this country and also in Canada that they did not list. They didn`t list the terror attack in Canada from last week in Quebec, where a white man went into a mosque and killed Muslims there.
They didn`t put Charleston, the Charleston church shooting, on that list. What do you make of them really only defining a terror attack, it seems at least, to be based -- or to be coming from one religion?
THRUSH: The omission of those two attacks, Katy, is really befuddling to me. And I tweeted, in the aftermath of the Quebec attack, as a relative silence of the White House. He -- the president tweeted almost instantaneously a couple days ago, when a potential terror attack was thwarted at the louvre in Paris. No one was injured -- no one was seriously injured. No one was killed.
Yet, he didn`t use the force of his Twitter feed and his millions and millions of followers to accentuate this massacre that took place in the country just to our north. I think that raises very significant questions about his priorities on this.
And the other thing, and you know, and I just don`t to want repeat this, that the coverage of so many of these events has been wall to wall. In fact, one can argue, you know, in the Orlando and in the California shooting, sometimes they were very intrusive coverage.
And, you know, out in California, I remember people breaking into apartments -- not breaking in, but being led into the -- into the perpetrators, alleged perpetrators apartment before police had even got there. So, there was a lot of coverage.
Now, on the margins. His argument, do terror attack overseas, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq, not get enough coverage? Yes. But also, I think you can make the same argument about what`s going on with Russian aided Syrian forces in Aleppo and the refugee crisis in Syria.
I would put as a counterargument to what he made is let`s look at the various coverage by the -- by the evening news and by cable on the refugee crisis in Syria compared to terrorist attacks. I think you would find, probably, that the Syrian coverage is more deficient than the coverage of terrorist attacks.
TUR: You had a great article in "The New York Times" with Maggie Haberman a couple days ago, where you just took us behind the scenes in the White House and gave us an idea about what`s going on. There`s one detail about how they were holding meetings in cabinet rooms and they didn`t know how to turn the lights on. That one was obviously that -- something that struck out to me.
But there was a number of interesting details, including Donald Trump watching television. Talk to me about the leaks. Why are you hearing so much from people inside the White House eager to tell you what`s going on?
THRUSH: Well, I think, to some extent -- it`s funny, you know, Sean Spicer, the Press Secretary, who I`ve known for years and is a nice guy, pushed back very hard against some of the details that were included in this.
The truth of the matter is the piece was meant to illustrate the human side of a -- of a long-time businessman and a New York resident adjusting to life in a completely unfamiliar environment. That`s what we wanted to portray.
[17:10:00] We`re not saying he`s lazy. We`re not saying he sits around all the time. We`re just documenting how difficult it is for him and his very, very small team to make this adjustment.
And our larger point, to use a metaphor here, is they have started off with such a relentless barrage of executive orders. You know, I liken it to carpet bombing while you`re still constructing the plane.
So, the point is, they have a very small staff of really empowered aids. And we know them because if you look at the pictures of the executive order sightings, there they are in the frame. Six to eight, maybe 10 people tops, who are running a lot of things.
And the fact of the matter is what we`ve seen in the last two weeks is you need a much more professionalized, much more interconnected, much more experienced staff to run a confident White House operation.
So, our -- you know, our goal in writing this was not necessarily to criticize him but to illuminate for our readers and, perhaps, some people in the work -- who work in the White House. Some of these deficiencies that they`re clearly going to need to address.
TUR: Show what it`s really like.
Thank you, Glenn Thrush. I will leave out the boo because I really like you.
THRUSH: Thank you.
TUR: At least for now.
I`m joined now by Republican Senator Ben Sasse in Nebraska who has been one of the -- one of the party`s more vocal critics of President Trump`s rhetoric.
Senator, I know you want to talk about Neil Gorsuch and we`re definitely going to get to that. But I want to first ask you about this administration and whether or not you believe that this administration has a credibility problem.
SEN. BEN SASSE (R) NEBRASKA: Listen, I think, in America right now, we haven`t doing civics for a really long time. And so, Washington has a credibility problem. And the people voted for disruption, and now they`re getting a lot of disruption. And some of that I applaud. Some of it unnerves people for understandable reasons.
But there are a whole bunch of things that need to be rethought. The Constitution and the first amendment and freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, those things don`t need to be rethought.
And so, we need to teach and reaffirming those things. But there`s a credibility problem that`s spread all across Washington, D.C. right now.
TUR: I could not agree with you more with the idea of making sure that civics is taught more forcefully inside of our schools. Also, maybe the fourth estate and the importance of a free press. That`s just my personal opinion.
SASSE: I`m with you.
TUR: But to go a little bit further on that. Do you think that you can trust this administration with matters on national security? Especially when they`ve come out and they preemptively blamed what -- another terror attack if it does happen, on the courts and the press?
SASSE: Well, first of all, it is the American tradition that we should always be skeptical of our government. So, regardless of who occupies the White House and regardless of who represents you in the legislature, it is an American fundamental core belief to be skeptical of power, and especially to be skeptical of the consolidation of power.
I also believe it is really important for us to reaffirm the three branches of government that all have -- that all take an oath to the Constitution, all try to uphold and defend individual rights that are supposed to check and balance one another.
So, no branches of the government should be attacking other branches of the government. We should all be holding each other to more account and we have not been doing enough of that for a long time.
TUR: And, Senator, do you believe the president, right now, is trying to consolidate power?
SASSE: I think that we are going back 80, 90 years where every new executive branch that comes to power tries to consolidate more power.
So, my main concern isn`t something in the last 15 to 16 days. It`s something that goes back to Teddy Roosevelt to Republican and Woodrow Wilson a Democrat, who thought that democracy was pretty clunky and people probably couldn`t be trusted and legislatures were always going to be bought off. And so, you needed more power in the branch of the experts which was the executive branch.
I think that the article one branch, the legislature, is a huge part of we have all these article two executive problems. We have executive overreach. Again, not just this administration, but administration over administration because we`ve had decades of legislative under-reach, where the number one priority of most people who serve in the Congress is their own incumbency and their own reelection.
And so, they don`t to want tackle the limited number of really hard generational problems we face. They love to shuffle power off to the executive branch. That`s why Obamacare, as an example, was a statute that wasn`t finished in 550 places. It said the secretary shall, dot, dot, dot, finish the law.
And then, I`ve been critical, as a Republican, of the Democratic administration that wrote the rest of that law and went on -- beyond the parameters of that law and wrote new law. And I`m going to be critical of anybody of either party in the executive branch that tries to consolidate more power.
But a huge part of why we have that problem is because the legislature doesn`t do its job.
TUR: Talking about the legislature not doing its job and talking about this idea that people are just out to get reelected. The Republican leadership doesn`t seem to be overly concerned with Donald Trump, sort of, bending reality or telling things that are demonstrably false, talking about voter fraud in this country, three to five million, quote, unquote, "illegals," voting in a place like California.
[17:15:06] And all of them voting for Hillary Clinton and that`s why Donald Trump didn`t win the popular vote. Refusing to acknowledge that Russians could have hacked into -- or were behind hacks into our political system, regardless of whether or not that affected this election.
My question to you is, does the Republican Party have more of a responsibility to push back and say, hey, listen, we`re not going to tolerate this. You`ve got to play by the rules of the game and the rules of the game are that you tell the truth.
SASSE: Yes. So, I don`t think that Republican and Democratic labels are the labels we should start with in this conversation. Because the founders view was that the way that you check the inclination for people that consolidate power is with other branches that are jealous of their own prerogatives.
And so, the legislative executive distinction should be providing the check, not just Republican versus Democrat or, in this case, we need Republican on Republican questioning as well.
But, I`m the third most conservative guy in the Senate by voting record, but I`m not a particularly partisan guy. I sit in Daniel Patrick Moynihan`s desk on the floor of the U.S. Senate on purpose because he`s the author of the famous quote, that while everyone is entitled to their opinion, you`re not entitled to your own facts.
We need a whole lot more shared facts out there. And that is why the free press you were talking about before and the freedom of speech and freedom of religion and assembly are so critical to an American experiment where we know that most of life isn`t about politics.
Most of life is about the rotary club and your family and church or synagogue or small business and your neighborhood. And we need Washington to do a small number of the most important things, so that people can live their lives at home which is where they actually raise their kids and find happiness.
So, we need more skepticism, one branch of another, but we don`t need so much hope and trust in these two political parties. Because, frankly, neither of these two political parties is very impressive right now.
TUR: I think it`s interesting that you say that. Because when I was on the campaign trail, Donald Trump voters did just that. They put all of their hope and trust into a man that didn`t have specific policy proposals. When you`d ask them, what if he doesn`t build the wall or what if he isn`t able to ban Muslims from coming into this country? They said, don`t -- I`m not worried about that. I just believe in him. I believe in his ability to change.
But I want to put that aside because I really to want talk to you a little bit about Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump`s Supreme Court nominee. Because I know that you`re eager to talk to him. Given Donald Trump`s attack on the judiciary, saying that a federal judge in Seattle is a so-called judge because it put a temporary restraining order on his travel ban. Are you confident that Neil Gorsuch would be able to remain independent even though he`s being nominated by Donald Trump?
SASSE: Unquestionably. And, frankly, I think that everybody across the political spectrum, everybody who believes in America, everybody who believes in a constitutional system of checks and balances, should be excited about Neil Gorsuch. This is a really strong pick by the president.
And, frankly, people who were skeptical of executive overreach should be excited about this guy, because he believes in constraining the overreaching tendencies of any branch to overstep its constitutional bounds.
As it was clear that Judge Gorsuch was one of the likely finalists. I started reading some of his opinions about three weeks ago and they`re really impressive. When the guy puts on his robe, he`s no longer a private citizen with private views.
I assume at night when he takes off his robe and watches ESPN, he might have personal political views. But reading his opinions, I can`t figure out what they are. Because his job, as a judge, is not to be a super legislator. It`s to defend the law. It`s to uphold and defend the Constitution. It`s to uphold and defend individual rights. It`s to check the legislature and executive when it would overstep.
And so, I believe that Judge Gorsuch is the kind of guy that people, who might be skeptical of this or any future administration, should take a lot of hope in the way that he views a judge`s job. He`s a rock star and, frankly, he`s the kind of guy the founders envisioned on the court.
TUR: Senator, if the Democrats try to filibuster this pick, do you think you support the nuclear option?
SASSE: I think it`s so premature to be talking process at a stage when this guy should be getting everybody`s vote.
And, by the way, he was confirmed --
TUR: I know -- I`m --
SASSE: -- 10 years ago. But just remember --
TUR: -- sorry to interrupt. I know it`s -- I know it`s premature. But that seems to be the way things are going with the Democrats right now. So, I think it`s definitely a possibility and something that`s quite relevant. Do you support the nuclear option, yes or no?
SASSE: I`m not going to start there. I`ll tell you what I do want to us to talk about and that`s that Nancy Pelosi said, before she`d read any of the guy`s opinions. If you breathe air or drink water, you should run for the hills and be scared to death of this guy.
That`s laughable nonsense. And that`s the kind of thing we need to call out as civic discord that is just ranked partisanship that doesn`t have any seriousness about looking at his opinions.
If you look at his opinions, and I trust that a lot of Democrats are going to seriously meet with Judge Gorsuch, take him seriously, read his opinions. They`re going to have a guy who`s a judge, not a guy trying to be a super-legislator. And I don`t really think these process arguments should come into play.
[17:20:01] TUR: Rank partnership, maybe. But maybe rank partnership, if it is that, that is certainly indicating that we could be heading down a path where this does end up being either the nuclear option or no Neil Gorsuch.
But I`m going to have to leave it there.
TUR: I respect -- I respect your decision not to answer that question with a yes or no answer. Senator Sasse, I appreciate it.
Coming up, the future of the president`s controversial travel ban is on the line tonight. The showdown before a federal appeals court is less than an hour away.
Plus, how progressive protesters are turning to Tea Party tactics to get their message heard.
TUR: Welcome back to MTP DAILY.
In the next hour, oral arguments will begin on the west coast in an emergency appeal by the Trump administration. The government is urging the appeal`s court to overturn a judge`s order, temporarily blocking the administration`s immigration travel ban. We`ll have much more on that coming up later in the show.
But first, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly appeared on Capitol Hill today to answer questions from members of Congress about the president`s immigration order. He began by falling on his sword, taking the blame for the order`s shaky rollout.
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GEN. JOHN KELLY, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: In retrospect, I should have -- this is all on me, by the way. I should have delayed it just a bit so that I could talk to members of Congress, particularly to leadership of committees like this, to prepare them for what was coming.
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TUR: Secretary Kelly repeatedly defended the order, calling it lawful and constitutional rather than a ban. The three-judge panel that will convene next hour, in San Francisco tonight, won`t determine the merits of the law, just whether or not to keep the temporary hold in place.
We`ll be back with more MTP DAILY in 60 seconds.
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TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIFORNIA: Folks, wait a second. I thought we were going to have an adult discussion here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we thought we were going to have congressman represent us and that didn`t happen.
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[17:25:08] TUR: And that was a scene on Saturday in Roseville, California. Republican Congressman Tom McClintock tried to defend President Trump`s immigration ban but was met with a wall of protesters outside of his town hall event. And inside, the congressman`s constituents were ready to talking points and resist posters.
In some parts of the country, it`s beginning to look a lot like 2009 all over again, when Tea Party activists swarmed town halls and meet and greets were consumed by confrontation.
And it`s not just happening to Republicans. Senator Shelby Whitehouse faced the music at an overflowing town hall after backlash for voting CIA director -- voting in CIA director, Mike Pompeo.
Across the country, progressives are borrowing these Tea Party tactics, or maybe just borrowing them back. This Alinsky playbook is back in vogue with a technological twist, as groups find news -- new ways to connect in - - connect in the resistance against President Trump.
Democrats want the same defiance in their politicians but could it polarize and weaken the party? Brendan Steinhauser was a key operative and training activist in the Tea Party movement. He`s a founding partner at the political consulting firm, Steinhauser Strategies, and he joins us now.
Brendan, thank you so much for being here. Talk to me, do you think that there is a big difference between the Tea Party movement and the activists then and what you`re seeing starting to form now on the left?
BRENDAN STEINHAUSER, PARTNER, STEINHAUSER STRATEGIES: Well, certainly there`s a huge ideological difference between the left and the right and what they`re fighting for and what they`re fighting against. But there are some tactical similarities, in terms of mass protests and rallies, to galvanize opposition. And then, to direct that opposition toward legislative contact to try and get legislators in Congress to vote no or to not confirm someone. You know, to take some kind of action.
And so, certainly, the Tea Party movement, back in 2009 and 2010, did crib a little bit from the left, when it came to learning how to do street protests, how to hold massive rallies, how to train people and teach people how to be effective and then deploy them on the issues that we cared about.
TUR: So, what can each side learn from the other? So, what can the left right now learn from how the Tea Party deployed their tactics pretty successfully in the 2010 midterms?
STEINHAUSER: Sure. Well, one of the things that I`ve been thinking about is how the left is going to have a challenge and it needs to make sure that it expels any radicals from its midst. You know, whether they are socialist or anarchist or communist. People that are destroying public property, that are destroying Starbucks, or, you know, destroying an ATM machine at Bank of America, they really need to self-police to make sure that they don`t say that that`s OK.
Because, you know, we`ve dealt with crazy folks, too, that try to infiltrate our movement or the Lyndon LaRouche crowd who would come into our protests, and we would self-police and say, you`re not a part of this. You`re not allowed to be here. So, that`s important for a mass movement to maintain public support.
I also think they need to go ahead and ask Lena Dunham to exit stage left. She`s been a disaster as a messenger for them. She offends middle America, talking about not having had the opportunity to have an abortion. Things like that alienate people.
For the Democrats to be successful, for the left to be successful in this movement, they really do have to go back to winning back the voters that actually voted for Barack Obama, in places like Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania, and then decided to vote for Donald Trump. They need to appeal to middle America, to white working class voters, in particular. The folks that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. And that`s really the challenge that they face.
TUR: You know, you might have a point with that. When Hillary Clinton was having those rallies with celebrities, in order to get the crowds to turn out more in force, Donald Trump was just standing on a stage alone and he pointed that out. So, you could have a point, when it comes to celebrities and moving them to the side.
But on a different point, Cory Gardner and Marco Rubio, and for that matter the Trump campaign, the transition, now the White House, basically is calling these protesters paid protesters. Are they paid protesters or are these just average Americans who are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs and this current administration even before it begins?
STEINHAUSER: Sure. Well, I think it`s probably a bit of both. Like in any movement and any political effort, you do have people that are paid to go out, like unions and environmentalists who have been doing this for decades. Who are probably acting as -- you know, as trainers and as teachers to teach people how to do these tactics.
But, yes, you have a lot of people who are probably relatively new to politics or people that have voted in the past that are now coming out and protesting. And they have every right to do that whether they`re paid or they`re not.
Now, I wouldn`t make the mistake that the Democrats made when they labeled the Tea Party Astroturf. And they said that we were fake grass roots and that we were all paid to be there. That really backfired against the liberals and the Democrats when they did that.
In fact, Nancy Pelosi famously referred to us as Astroturf. And when we showed up with 500,000 Tea Party protesters on September 12, 2009, I said into the crowd, you know, we`ve replaced the grass on the west lawn of the capitol with Astroturf. And that got a big cheer because people understood that we were being denigrated, we were being insulted, and I really think that, you know, that you have to -- you have to encourage participation, even if you disagree with those that are going out and protesting.
They had every right to do that. Democrats and liberals are out of power, so that`s what we should expect them to do, and it`s up to conservatives to make the case why we`re right and they`re wrong.
TUR: Thank you, Brendan Steinhauser.
STEINHAUSER: Thank you for having me.
TUR: Now, let`s bring in tonight`s panel. Elise Jordan is an MSNBC political analyst and former Ryan Paul adviser. Joan Walsh is an MSNBC political analyst as well, and national-affairs correspondent at The Nation. And Azi Paybarah is a senior reporter with Politico. Unfortunately for us, not an MSNBC contributor. At least not at the moment. Maybe we`ll change that.
AZI PAYBARAH, SENIOR REPORTER FOR POLITICO: You know something I don`t.
TUR: Let`s talk about -- let`s lift off from what Brendan was just talking about. The Tea Party movement was super effective in the 2010 midterm elections. They were forced to be reckoned with. Do you foresee, Joan, the same thing happening with the movements we`re seeing on left? Can they sustain themselves to make a difference in 2010? 2018.
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL-AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT AT THE NATION: And 18 and 20 and 22. You know, I don`t think anyone can predict that yet, Katy. The thing that I would say about them that makes me hopeful as a liberal is that despite people trying to call them AstroTurf and George Soros is paying everyone, what I`ve heard from people all around the country not just at that Washington March is that they saw people they`ve never seen marching before.
In smaller communities, the liberals saw people not necessarily conservatives, but they saw people who hadn`t been political. So this is touching. I think the shock of Donald Trump`s election. A lot of people were apathetic. Maybe they weren`t all in on Hillary Clinton. They didn`t think he could win and he won. And then out the gate, he is pushing such a radical agenda.
I think people feel really disenfranchised. They feel like they weren`t listened to. They know he got almost three million fewer votes from the public. And they`re asking how could this happen. I think there`s a wellspring of really very new activism that is frankly scaring some Democratic Party leaders because, you know, as you`ve said, Sheldon Whitehouse had confronted crowd.
Chuck Schumer has people protesting outside his Brooklyn home. And, you know, he likes to think of himself as a liberal and the people`s friend. So, you know, I think this is something nobody totally understands, but I really appreciated Brendan saying that it`s dangerous to call it AstroTurf because it probably isn`t.
TUR: To Joan`s point, Elise, who`s at risk then in 2018? Is it republicans whose constituents, at least, a lot of them voted for Donald Trump or is it the democrats who are seen working with the Trump administration and any way, is it someone like Sheldon Whitehouse who voted yes to pick CIA Director Mike Pompeo?
ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST AND FORMER PAUL RYAN ADVISER: I think democrats are certainly disincentivized to work with Donald Trump especially as he`s seen as increasingly incompetent. I think that`s what it`s going to come down to with a lot of Trump voters who wavered perhaps and went with Trump, how the competency of this west wing looking at this executive order on immigration and what an utter disaster it was.
Donald Trump, the White House just doesn`t seem to have it`s act together. And appointing nominees like Betsy DeVos that just couldn`t come up and couldn`t perform when they were in prime time.
TUR: She still got confirmed.
JORDAN: That`s exactly -- look at how much uprising that caused though. And you look at the numbers of democrats and Americans, republicans even who are calling in and flooding these congressional offices.
JORDAN: You look at the women`s march being the largest march ever happen in this country. It is a real force. There is a real opportunity for genuine protest movement here, and I think it is getting into President Trump`s head.
TUR: Azi, let`s talk a little bit about what we had in the last block, we were talking to Senator Ben Sasse and he was making the argument that pushing back against the administration and pushing back against all the powers in government is really not an ideological thing. Everybody should be doing it. The reality is though, the republicans are taking a bit of a back seat to pushing it back against Donald Trump trying to overreach on his executive power.
Do they have a responsibility or are they going to see any negative effects if they don`t stand up and say hold on, wait a minute, we need you to -- we need to reign you in a little bit?
PAYBARAH: No, I think voters have such a disgust for Washington that anyone that goes in there on the promise to change it, shake it up, break it even, is going to have a level of support among the electorate that we could not imagine 10, 15, 20 years ago. So republicans who under the Obama administration had said government is overreaching, I can`t believe you`re doing this executive orders, oh my God, are now saying, oh well that`s effective.
Because there is this notion that you can support your own team almost, you know, irrespective of facts. And the other side is the enemy. So anything that you do is justified and you just have to look one administration back and everyone`s roles were reversed.
I think Donald Trump is able with his charisma, his support, you know, his inability to feel, you know, shame about what he does or says, garners a level of support from his, from people and his allies that makes establishment republicans very worried that they cannot be consistent on policy.
TUR: Completely dedicated, completely loyal, the question is once his support starts to crack, what do we see the senate leadership do? That is something we`re going to have to hold because I have to go to break. Elise, Joan, Azi, stay with us, please. Still ahead, the Trump administration wants the court to reinstate their controversial travel ban. Where the case stands ahead of tonight`s showdown?
TUR: More "MTP Daily" just ahead, but here is first -- first -- let me try that again. But first, here`s my friend, Hampton Pearson, with today`s "CNBC Market Wrap."
HAMPTON PEARSON, JOURNALIST, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Katy. We have stocks ending higher on the day. The Dow gaining 37 points, the S&P up a fraction, the Nasdaq adding 10 points. The U.S. trade deficit hit it`s highest level in four years in 2016, despite new numbers from the Commerce Department released today showing they have narrowed in December, falling by more than 3 percent.
And the U.S. news and world report ranks Austin, Texas as the country`s best place to live. Rankings are based on quality of life, affordability, and job prospects. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TUR: Welcome back to "MTP Daily." As we mentioned earlier in the show, at 6:00 p.m. eastern time tonight, there`s a hearing in California on the future of President Trump`s travel ban. Let`s go to MSNBC chief legal correspondent, Ari Melber, to help us understand exactly what is going on, so I will ask you that. What exactly is going on tonight at 6:00 p.m. eastern?
ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: What is going on at 6:00 p.m. eastern is a fairly typical thing which is an appeal`s court passing some judgment on the temporary restraining order that was so dramatically put down by Judge Robart, a federal judge in Seattle. So all they`re really going to do is meet on the phone, telephone conference call like people have at their normal work except these are judges, and they are going to decide whether to leave that temporary restraining order in place or reinstate the travel ban.
TUR: So earlier today, in the White House press briefing room, Sean Spicer said that this is not necessarily a big deal. They believe that this case will be decided on it`s merits. They believe that they will win the case talking about whether or not this travel ban is constitutional. And they cited the Boston case, explain that for us.
MELBER: Yeah, Sean Spicer is correct, we are still in early procedure land. And all that`s being decided is whether during the coming trials this will be a ban that is enforced or not. So he`s saying hey, give us a minute, when we get to the trial, we are going to win. You mention that case, this is by Judge Gordon in Boston, this was a case that dealt with some of the merits, arguments in order to decide whether or not to block the ban. So it is not in itself a final decision either.
TUR: And upheld the band.
MELBER: But what it did would say it`s not going -- what it said was we`re not going to block the ban because we don`t think it is likely to be struck down later. So a similar posture. But the bottom line being and the reason the White House likes this case is they went through several of the arguments, due process arguments, equal protection, and the religious arguments that we`ve heard so much about.
And in each instance, the judge basically said, it is unlikely the challenges will prevail. Here`s why. On due process, he said look, there may be people in the airports. We saw those dramatic pictures. There may be people caught up, but most of the ban affects people who aren`t here yet, and this judge was pointing to precedent that shows that those people don`t have a lot of rights.
There`s certainly no right to enter the country if you don`t have lawful status yet. On equal protection, similar type of analysis, but went deeper in the idea that this doesn`t favor one religion or the other. That`s one of the debates in this. And then on religion and establishment clause claim, the idea of wait a minute, does this actually set up a preference for Christianity?
Something that Donald Trump himself eluded to in a Christian broadcasting network interview. The judge says well, put what Donald Trump said to the side, you know, politicians will be politicians, boys will be boys, this text under the courts analysis does not actually say yes, Christianity (inaudible).
TUR: They`re just focusing strictly on the executive order. This could go to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump says he will take it there if he needs to, doesn`t want it to get there. If it does go to the Supreme Court and say they decided they`re not going to take the case up, who`s ruling stands? The Seattle ruling or the Boston ruling?
MELBER: Neither. Because this is a triple layer cake. We just hit Super Bowl Sunday, everybody knows you got, you know, the bean and then you got the cheese, and then you got the sour cream, right? We are on the first layer right now. We are just in the bean. And so no matter what happens, you have to get to the second set, the cheese layer, before the Supreme Court would decide.
Translation, after the Seattle ruling has the trial and goes on, then an appeal`s court with it`s full cheese layer ruling on that, and only that would the Supreme Court decide to leave in place or not.
TUR: You know, I`m not going to offend our audience with what I was thinking about when you said bean, cheese, layer dip. I`m leaving it there.
MELBER: All I know is Tom Brady said that it has been a hard time for him and I think that`s because he got caught cheating.
TUR: Oh. Thank you, Ari Melber.
MELBER: Have I left you with anything to think about? And look, keep watching MSNBC`s covering this all through the 6:00 p.m. We`re going to be busy.
TUR: We are, and I promise Ari will not bring out the three bean cheese whatever dip. So, again, we`re going to be covering this all night at 10:00 p.m. eastern. You`re going hear it on the last word, you`re also going to hear it throughout the next hour as we`re following arguments the entire evening. We will also have much more here on "MTP Daily" right after this.
TUR: Welcome back. This was one for the history books today. For the first time ever a vice president came to the senate to cast a tie-breaking vote on a president`s cabinet nominee. Vice President Mike Pence had to break a razor thin 50/50 tie to confirm Betsy DeVos, President Trump`s pick for education secretary.
Devos`s confirmation has been the most contentious of the president`s cabinet nominees so far. Senators offices were inundated with calls and messages to oppose her. We`re expecting Devos to be officially sworn in a little later. And you`re looking live right now at the senate floor where senate democrats are holding their second talk-a-thon in as many days.
This time, it`s an opposition to Senator Jeff Sessions nomination for attorney general. It`s unclear whether they`ll pull another all night as they did unsuccessfully last night, but if democrats use all 30 hours of debate time, Sessions confirmation vote would take place tomorrow evening. We`ll be right back.
TUR: It is time for "The Lid," so let`s bring back our panel, Elise Jordan, Joan Walsh, and Azi Paybarah. I got it right again.
TUR: Really good. Let`s talk about the travel ban. Joan, Donald Trump administration obviously believe it`s going to be won on its merits. What are we expecting to hear from them tonight?
WALSH: I think we`re expecting to hear from them that they have -- the president has great latitude in deciding who gets let into the country. But we`re not really looking at the constitutionality of the law tonight. We really just looking at what are the grounds for the removing the stay, removing the TRO.
And so I actually -- I`m gonna be really honest with you. I don`t know how they will rule. But I do think, you know, we made one point earlier that I want to go back to which is he is trying to bully both the judiciary branch as well as journalists to, you know, in our case, cover terror even more.
We just heard an amazing thing. Kellyanne Conway is on another network on CNN. And she just complained about the amount of time. Did I hear that correctly? How much time the media gave to Donald Trump that they should have have been spending on covering terror.
JORDAN: Media coverage that propelled him to victory over 15 other republican primaries.
TUR: The media has spent a lot of time on Donald Trump because a lot of the time Donald Trump is saying things that are factually incorrect.
TUR: It`s just a fact. The travel ban though, this is something that they are going to argue is constitutional because the president has the authority to protect the American citizens but they are not pointing out specific threat.
JORDAN: Well, it`s amazing the sloppiness of how they`ve gone about this executive order that its even in question because the president does have enormous latitude when it comes to national security. And then media disaster. The fact that this has been such a nightmare rolling it out and it has been branded as a Muslim ban certainly isn`t helpful in the courtroom.
TUR: What do you make of the White House not going back and not think, you know, we could have done a little better. Instead, having, you know, we had Secretary Kelly today testifying that he should have been the one to put a pause on it and said.
PAYBARAH: Everyone is protecting Trump. Everyone is making excuses for him. And the argument that they`re making that they`re protecting Americans and they`re relying on a list of countries that Obama had singled out as being problematic.
When you look at data, the number of people that are killed by pen guns and assault weapons and things like that, you know, if they are going to make an argument about protecting Americans and safety, they really could look at national gun control laws rather than people coming into the country.
Because if you look at the fact which is something that the administration has a hard time doing, the numbers would probably lead you in a different direction.
TUR: Are they open to the argument that they are fear mongering?
WALSH: No, of course not.
TUR: No, are they open to.
TUR: . that they are fear mongering?
JORDAN: I think the Trump administration specializes in fear mongering to date and they`re gonna continue doing this. And this is the only ground that they had to stand. The facts do not support their argument. One in 3.6 billion is the number of refugees coming into the country. There`s a 1 in 3.6 billion chance that a refugee would attack our nation. That just doesn`t play into this national security.
TUR: Should we call up Don Jr`s Skittles tweet? What if one Skittle would kill you?
PAYBARAH: Well, the funny this is you probably have like a poisoned, you know, bag of Skittles. You could talk about, you know, access to guns, which is something ironically that the president doesn`t want to take on, you know, the republican lawmakers don`t want to take on. But they want to point a finger at the other, at people that are not here, and say they are the problem, they are the enemy. That`s what dangerous and scary.
TUR: Guys, lots to talk about. Spirited conversation. Appreciate the time with you. Azi, nice to meet you for the first time. You girls are forever, Joan and Elise. That`s it for tonight. MSNBC`s coverage continues now with "For The Record with Greta Van Susteren" right after this break.
She`s gonna speak with Senator John McCain whose mother, guess what, is turning 105 today. Happy birthday to her. Stay with MSNBC for full coverage on analysis of the legal proceedings of President Trump`s travel ban. I`m Katy Tur. Thanks for watching.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END