Show: MTP Daily Date: March 21, 2017 Guest: Deirdre Bosa, Thom Tillis, Ron Klain, Kai Wright, Azi Paybarah, Dave Brat, Kai Wright, Ken Dilanian
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: -- continue to keep an eye on that. Bur, right now, we are also going to go down to Washington for our regularly scheduled 5:00 show, "MTP DAILY" with Katy Tur in for Chuck Todd. It starts right now.
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Tuesday.
Under the cloud of an FBI investigation. President Trump wants a win. (voice-over): Tonight, closing the deal. The president warns weary Republicans to get behind the Obamacare repeal or lose their jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we`re going to get a winner vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: We`ll talk to one of the Republicans who`s not buying the president`s sales pitch.
Plus, the Russia ripple effect. How the dark cloud of an FBI investigation could cast a shadow over everything on the president`s agenda.
And filibuster or bust. If you think Congress is broken now, just wait until they tackle the Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL GORSUCH, AMERICAN FEDERAL APPELLATE JUDGE, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS: But there`s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge. We just have judges in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now. (on camera): Good evening, from New York. I`m Katy Tur in for Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY. More than ever, Trump`s White House needs a W on the board. And more than ever, that W seems to be in serious peril. The White House`s credibility took another major hit yesterday when FBI Director Comey rejected the president`s wiretapping claims. Their opposition got a shot in the arm after Comey said he was investigating the Trump campaign for possible criminal activity. A Democratic-led filibuster of the president`s Supreme Court pick is now a very real possibility. You`re looking at live pictures of Judge Gorsuch`s confirmation hearing right now. They`re going on about hour nine. And we`re going to be keeping an eye on that throughout this hour. The White House`s agenda is also in peril. They`re plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is on the brink as the House readies for a vote on Thursday. Here is the biggest question right now for Trump`s White House. With less than 48 hours until that vote. Can an embattled president who`s on the fog of an FBI probe close the deal with an anxious Republican Party? And what if he can`t? According to our NBC News count, 26 House Republicans now say they cannot support the president`s health care plan and that is enough to kill the bill. The White House can only afford 21 defections. It`s a remarkable break for the president who told his caucus today in a close-door meeting on Capitol Hill that they will lose their jobs and Republicans could lose the House if this plan fails. At his meeting on Capitol Hill, Mr. Trump called out the leader of the conservative opposition to the bill, House Freedom Caucus chairman, Mark Meadows, who later told my colleague, Kasie Hunt, that he was prepared to go down with the ship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASIE HUNT, AMERICAN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Are you worried, Mr. Meadows, that you`ll lose your seat like the president said if you vote no?
MARK MEADOWS, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS: You know, I serve at the pleasure of the people of western North Carolina. And when you serve at their pleasure, it`s only those 750,000 people that can send you home. And it`s a temporary job and I`ve known that from day one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: A leading voice of opposition in the Senate, Tom Cotton, put out a statement reiterating his opposition, saying, in part, I still cannot support the House health care bill nor would it pass in the Senate. President Trump told reporters on Capitol Hill today that Thursday`s vote will not fail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a great meeting and I think we`re going to get a winner vote. We`re going to be -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you -- DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- we`re going to have a real winner. It was a great meeting. Terrific people. They want a tremendous health care plan. That`s what we have. And they`re going to be adjustments made but I think we`ll get the vote on Thursday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: I`m joined now by Republican Congressman Dave Brat of Virginia. He`s a member of the House Freedom Caucus. He`s also opposed to the White House-backed plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. So, Congressman Brat, are you willing to be the man that stops this bill from passing?
REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS: I don`t want to be that man. I want to be the man that gets us to yes. And, for me, it`s -- I taught economics for 20 years. Paul Ryan -- the whole premise of health care reform is to get the costs curve to go down. And then, President Trump is known for his business acumen. He`s needs a product where the price is going down.
TUR: So, are you negotiating right now with Paul Ryan? BRATT: And that`s -- yes. So, that`s it. So, and the key to the price going down is you`ve got to get rid of the federal healthcare mandates, right? All the minimum basics that the federal government makes every young person buy. They can`t go out and buy an affordable insurance product right now. We`ve got to solve that problem for them and for the rest of the country. Go back and look at your health insurance premiums 10 years ago, and then compare them to right now. And you might need health care after you see that price hike over the past 10 years, right? It`s shocking, and we have to return some of the money back down to the American people.
TUR: The speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, wants a vote on this on Thursday.
[17:05:01] BRAT: Yes. TUR: So, are you in active negotiations with him right now? And if you`re not getting any of the changes that you want, will you be a no on Thursday?
BRAT: Yes, I`ll be a no on Thursday unless we make the price come down. It`s not that hard. We`re all in agreement. The leadership has bucket two it`s called. That`s where you do the insurance regs. And they say the secretary can do that. He can but then it`s not permanent and it`s not in law.
And so, we have a once in a century opportunity with the House Senate and White House to get this right. And so, all we need to do is put bucket two into the bill and then I think you`ve got a yes vote. Prices will come down. The American people are happy. The stock market roars. We do tax reform and everybody`s happy again.
TUR: Are you concerned about potentially getting the scorn of President Donald Trump?
BRAT: No, he`s a friendly guy. And he gave Meadows a hard time today. But he was laughing. Everybody was laughing. Meadows stood and was laughing. So, he`s putting the hard sell on him.
And he`s serious. He wants to move on and do tax reform. But we don`t want him to fail. We want a successful presidency. And right now, we`re getting rid of the taxes, right? So, the revenues are going away. The costs are going up. It doesn`t take a PhD in economics to know that that`s a failure, right? Right now, Obamacare is in the ditch. We`re in the death spiral that the health care folks have talked about at Aetna and Humana. And we`ve got to get out of the death spiral. There`s only one way to do that and that`s to get the insurance regulations out of the way. Let the free market takeover. And then, the folks with the serious preexisting conditions, they can`t get insurance. That`s a separable problem. And as Milton Friedman taught us 50 years ago, in economics, when you`re doing public policy, aim for the target and hit it. We can provide good health care for those folks. The problem right now is Obamacare focused on coverage. So, you have people with health care coverage, but they don`t have health care because they can`t pay the deductible. TUR: Well, -- BRAT: And so, that`s the problem we have to solve. Yes?
TUR: So, Congressman, you said the president made the hard sell today in that closed-door meeting. Apparently, that wasn`t a very good sell.
BRAT: No. He showed us he means business and he wants this done in a timely way. So, now, we`re all forced to move. We want to have success by Thursday. And if we don`t get the price to go down by Thursday, then maybe it`s next Thursday.
But we all know, right, we have to make this agenda move through. We all want the Trump presidency to be a success. And so, yes, he lit a fire today. There`s no doubt about that. And we`re all -- we all feel the same urgency to get this thing done. He`s managing the world on his shoulders. He`s got a lot to do. But our job is to make sure we get this right because we don`t to have him to have a death spiral in two years in the middle of his presidency and then that`s a major issue. TUR: Do you believe this vote is going to happen on Thursday?
BRAT: Right now, we`re aiming for it.
TUR: Aiming for it sounds like you`re not very confident that you`re going to have it. BRAT: I`m not sure. I don`t think there are the votes. I think there`s 20 or 30 conservatives. I was just talking to some colleagues. There`s 10 or 20 moderates and folks in tough races up in the northeast corridor -- TUR: So, no. BRAT: -- that have coverage issues. Right. So, it`s a problem right now. TUR: Let`s talk about White House credibility. The president has a lot going on right now, especially with what happened yesterday on the Hill with FBI Director Comey. In lieu of that hearing, do you think the American public should trust President Trump?
BRAT: Yes, I mean, I`m an economist. I`m not a lawyer. And it looks like the evidence on both sides is a little slim right now. So, the accusations on all sides should slow down until you have the evidence. And then, once you put the chips on the table, once the evidence is there, there`s no new story, right?
TUR: FBI Director Comey was pretty definitive when he said there was no wiretapping of Trump Tower. He said that just did not happen, that there`s no evidence to support that. It didn`t happen.
BRAT: Yes, and by who, right? So, it is interesting --
TUR: By who? By President Obama which is what Donald Trump said.
BRAT: And I think -- I agree with you on that. And I think they`ve walked that back. They don`t think President Obama`s following the president around. I think they`re saying --
TUR: I don`t think they`ve walked it back. They haven`t apologized for it. They haven`t said, no, --
BRAT: Yes. TUR: -- we don`t believe that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, as president Trump -- BRAT: Right. TUR: -- claimed in a tweet on a Saturday morning.
BRAT: Yes. I think -- Comey also said there`s an investigation ongoing on the Trump issue. And if there`s an investigation going on, usually there`s surveillance.
And there`s talk about the hay stack out there, right, if the Russians are talking to whoever, they`re not supposed to listen in or name American names. So, there`s been some intelligence leaks, and that`s -- we shouldn`t have this, right? We should be run by professionals.
TUR: So, are you more focused on the leaks or are you focused on the president saying something that would -- that just, frankly, was not true about the former president?
BRAT: Yes, all of the above. All of the above, right?
TUR: And what about -- what about all the White -- what about all the conspiracy theories that this White House has put out? Just since they`ve been elected, there`s the voter fraud, the press is covering up terror attacks. We`ve got this wiretapping claim.
BRAT: Yes. TUR: What do you make of a White House that is so easily seduced by theories that are -- that are so hard to prove?
[17:10:02] BRAT: Right. Well, it`s hard on my side of the aisle. The press tend to be kind of like the faculty lounge where I taught for 20 years. I think 90 percent or so tend to be fairly Democratic. So, we always feel, hey, you guys are kind of coming after us --
TUR: Well, that`s an easy -- that`s an easy allegation to make. It`s not an easy allegation to prove.
BRAT: No, I think it is. You could look at the donation tracks. I`ve done that, right? I`m an economist, I don`t make up facts.
TUR: Really, donation tracks?
BRAT: Yes. No, the donations from the media overwhelmingly went to Hillary and the Hillary Foundation. And that -- I mean, just follow the trail. It`s all right there. That`s just an aside, though, right? But both sides need to clean up their act. Just wait until we get the evidence, then make the accusations.
But it is hard on our side of the aisle. For example, I had some fake news launched at me by "Huffington Post," et cetera. I had 500 meetings with my constituents over two years. And now, the new narrative coming out of "The Washington Post," et cetera, is where is Dave? Right? They just make up these hit pieces. It`s fake news. And it makes our job --
TUR: Is it fake news because you don`t like it or is it fake news because it`s actually fake?
BRAT: Yes, because it`s fake, right? I just -- I had 500 meetings with my constituents for two years and they say where`s Dave, right? Meaning, he`s disappeared. In two weeks since Trump won the presidency. So, news needs to get back to news.
TUR: Well, let me -- hold on, hold on. I want to ask you a more important question and this is going to have to be the last one, unfortunately.
BRAT: Yes. TUR: But during the campaign, the GOP repeatedly said, and the Trump campaign said, and Kellyanne Conway -- BRAT: Yes. TUR: -- said, and everybody in Trump`s orbit said, how could you elect Hillary Clinton when she could be under an FBI investigation? She might be indicted if she were elected president. We can`t have that. And Donald Trump is under an FBI investigation. The FBI just confirmed it. And his campaign is. Does that make you uncomfortable given the past statements?
BRAT: Well, yes, you don`t want to see anybody under investigation. But I mean, that is the trip, right? Hillary Clinton had a $2 billion Hillary Foundation where they flew around the world and there was no press coverage --
TUR: The FBI was not investigating the Clinton Foundation. The FBI is --
BRAT: No, I know. TUR: -- investigating the Donald Trump campaign.
BRAT: I know. And that -- that`s an interesting as well, right? So, you`ve got a $2 billion slush fund from international money flowing to the U.S. into a foundation and everyone`s flying first class.
TUR: So, are you saying that that`s -- it`s OK because you think two wrongs make a right?
BRAT: No, no. TUR: I mean, there`s a false equivalence here, I think.
BRAT: No, right. What we got to have is 100 percent credibility across the board. So, if investigative want to Trump -- want to give Trump a hard time on these issues, you look back and you say, did they give the last president and the last secretary an equally hard time --
TUR: I think you`re arguing a -- you`re making a false equivalence argument right now. And the fact remains, Donald Trump is the president of the United States. BRAT: Yes. TUR: And he is under investigation. BRAT: Yes. TUR: And his campaign is under investigation by the FBI.
BRAT: Right. No. That`s true.
TUR: Hillary Clinton is not the president. BRAT: That`s true. Right. No, I know she was running -- President Obama was the president. He wasn`t vetted until about eight years in by the press, right? He was given quite a honeymoon. Trump came in. He didn`t get three weeks, right? And it`s kind of like the where`s Dave Brat piece. The press has been all over him. Let`s give him a month or two and see what he can achieve.
TUR: Congressman Brat, thank you for joining us tonight.
BRAT: You bet. TUR: We very much appreciate it.
BRAT: You bet. Thanks, Katy.
TUR: Let`s bring in tonight`s panel which is with us for the hour. We`ve got Kai Wright, who`s the host of WNYC`s "Indivisible" and a columnist for "The Nation." Elise Jordan is an MSNBC Political Analyst and former advisor to Senator Rand Paul. And Azi Paybarah is a senior political -- a senior writer with Politico. Guys, let`s react to Congressman Brat. What do you make -- Elise, what do you make of that? ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s a disturbing trend I`ve seen over the last few years within the Republican Party and conservative circles of pointing the finger. Oh, they did this so it`s OK if we`re doing that. Kist this false equivalency constantly. And also, just -- there`s a lot of victimhood going on that I feel like Donald Trump, really, especially ushered in because he has just a sense of victimhood. And it`s really taken over the Republican Party way too much in the form of leaders who don`t want to address facts as they are in the world as it exists and dove into this conspiratorial territory. TUR: Since you are our resident Republican on this panel, officially, because you worked for Rand Paul.
JORDAN: And President Bush.
TUR: And President Bush. Do you believe that the press is overwhelmingly liberal and out to get Republicans?
JORDAN: I think that there have been so many years of consistent bias that it is overwhelmed, it ushered in this opportunity for right wing media to divide and conquer.
TUR: Or was it created by right wing media?
JORDAN: Implicit -- I think that the implicit bias created the conducive environment for these outlets to come in and to really exploit the right sense of alienation from main stream media.
KAI WRIGHT, HOST, "INDIVISIBLE," WNYC: But let`s not race past the news in that interview. I -- going into that conversation has been my understanding and belief that they`re going to pass this bill on Thursday.
[17:15:01] TUR: Yes. No vote on Thursday. WRIGHT: Because no -- because no one can afford for this bill not to pass. All of them lose if there`s no bill on Thursday. TUR: Yes. WRIGHT: And -- because they`ve all hitched their horses to this cart. And -- but it sounds to me like there are significant problems still in convincing the House Freedom Caucus.
TUR: So, what happens if they`re not able to bring it to a vote on Thursday?
AZI PAYBARAH, SENIOR REPORTER, POLITICO: It sounds like the congressman is just waiting for the right day, whether it`s Thursday, whether it`s next Monday. It sounds, to me, that he`s ready to negotiate and actually get the ball across the end -- get it into the end zone at some point.
He wasn`t making a hard stand, saying, like, I`m going down with the ship. You know, I`m out of here. A temporary job.
TUR: Not like what Meadows was saying. PAYBARAH: Right, exactly. But it did very much sound like something out of the twilight zone. When you were raising, you know, Hillary Clinton. You guys made all these accusations about, you know, she might get indicted, therefore you can`t vote for her. Then, you say, Donald Trump actually is under investigation. And he goes, eh, so what. No big deal. Just, you know, business as usual. It`s OK.
WRIGHT: Again, they`ve hitched their horse to that. PAYBARAH: Right.
WRIGHT: There is no other answer to give. PAYBARAH: Right. JORDAN: Well, but the Freedom -- I think the Freedom Caucus certainly hasn`t hitched their horse to this.
WRIGHT: Right. TUR: So, -- JORDAN: I think that they really are going to -- the concessions that they`re going to warrant aren`t going to be palatable to moderates in the House. I just -- I wonder if they`re going to be able to have -- WRIGHT: Lots of other huge constituencies to get rid of. I mean, this insurance deregulation thing would collapse the insurance industry. I mean, you would have to really -- you have to -- there will be significant pushback from the insurance industry.
TUR: If they do not hold a vote on Thursday, will they be able to bring a bill to the floor at any point in the future? Or is this -- is this just collapsing in on itself and does Donald Trump move on to tax reform?
JORDAN: I think they`ll still have an opportunity in the future. But I wonder how many animosity is going to come up during this process and people just, you know, really hunkering down and, you know, putting their stake in the ground and these are what we will not concede of. And I wonder how much of that damage is going to be done throughout this process?
TUR: Honestly, Donald Trump went to the Hill today. He had a meeting --
PAYBARAH: Right. TUR: -- with Republicans. He went there. They didn`t come to him. That is a big deal. PAYBARAH: Right. TUR: He made the hard sell, the hard pitch -- PAYBARAH: Right. TUR: -- which you just heard Congressman Brat talk about. But the hard sell, -- PAYBARAH: The great negotiator. TUR: The great negotiator. Yes, exactly. Didn`t find a way to convince those who were on the fence to say yes. PAYBARAH: Right. He was using the charm offensive. You know, like, I`ll come after you. Wink, wink, nod, nod. And it seems like they`re still in a dialogue. They`re still in negotiations. Donald Trump, if he knows anything, he knows theater. He knows how to hold an audience`s attention. He knows how to get people to look at him, to pay attention. It seems like he`s not finished negotiating with them. You know, at any minute, all that can change. He could send a tweet. He could wake up and hear something, you know, from a microwave and decide that he had enough of this negotiation. But it still seems like he`s having a good enough working relationship where if this doesn`t get passed on Thursday, the question is how sour the relationship is going to be. It didn`t sound, to me, that Congressman Brat was ready to, sort of, you know, take his marbles and go home. JORDAN: Well, let`s keep in mind, Donald Trump is not invested in the actual content of this bill. He wants -- he cares about the win. TUR: About the win. WRIGHT: Yes. JORDAN: It doesn`t matter. It`s the atmosphere. It`s how it looks. So, he doesn`t to want look like he couldn`t get something done.
TUR: I would point out, last night, when he was in Louisville, Kentucky doing a campaign event, the banners behind him said, promises made, promises kept. Which is exactly what they want to be able to say that we made some promises and we kept them, at least on Donald Trump`s end.
Kai, Elise, Azi, stay with us. You`re going to come back later in the hour. Coming up, though, from wiretaps to wearing a wire. Why the investigation into Trump`s campaigns potential ties to Russia could get even messier. Stay tuned.
TUR: Welcome back. We`ve got a live look at a Capitol Hill, as the second day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, continues. Gorsuch has faced tough questions from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. Right now, Democratic Senator Chris Coons is grilling Judge Gorsuch about his hobby lobby ruling. Later this hour, I`ll talk with Republican Congressman Thom Tillis about the hearing and whether his party is ready for a filibuster from the Democrats. We`ll be right back with more MTP DAILY in just a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN SPICER, U.S. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But at some point, there is a distinction between an investigation that it goes into Russia`s involvement in 2016 and this continued narrative that falsely tries to link the Trump -- the president or the White House into any of it. They continue to see that there is nothing there. (END VIDEO CLIP) TUR: Welcome back to MTP DAILY. That was White House press secretary Sean Spicer today, pushing back against any insinuation that the Trump campaign was linked to Russia while Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 election.
This comes, of course, after FBI director James Comey publicly confirms yesterday that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaigns ties to Russia. Comey also dismissed President Trump`s claims that former President Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower. The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee admitted that a, quote, "gray cloud of suspicion is now hanging over the Trump White House and the cloud is only getting thicker." To talk about where these investigations go from here, we`re going to bring in NBC News intelligence and national security reporter, Ken Dilanian. So, Ken, when we`re talking about an investigation, what does it that exactly mean? Who is the FBI talking to? How many agents do they have on this? And how long could it potentially take them?
KEN DILANIAN, INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, NBC NEWS: All good questions, Katy, and I`ve been talking to former FBI officials and other sources close to this matter today.
And the answer seems to be, look, first of all, this is a counterintelligence investigation. That`s a fancy term for spy hunters, right? Normally, these kinds of investigations are looking for Russian and Chinese spies in the United States and Americans who helped them.
In this case, this investigation is looking at the scope of the Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. And also, of particular interest to us, whether anybody from Trump world colluded with or coordinated with that investigation. Now, there`s so many complicating factors here. Normally, these kinds of investigations often don`t result in criminal charges because the FBI does not generally want to go into court and expose the sources and methods it uses to get information in these kinds of things. In this case, there`s a great interest. If anybody from Trump world is implicated in colluding with the Russians, there would be great interest in pursuing criminal charges and getting answers. So, there`s that factor. The other factor here is that this thing is taking place in public view. Normally, these investigations occur in the shadows, right? So, that creates its own set of complications. In terms of your question about the scope of it, I was told today that maybe as many as a hundred FBI agents are working on this in different field offices across the country. It`s a complex matter and it could take a year or more to come to fruition -- Katy.
TUR: Well, we keep hearing FBI Director Comey talk about how he doesn`t want to confirm investigations because going public with them makes it harder to do the investigation. So, this has been, obviously, extraordinarily public.
[17:25:09] Why is it so much harder for them to do the investigation?
DILANIAN: Well, be -- for a number of reasons. There are tools that the FBI normally uses in its secret investigations that are not available to it in this public matter. For example, often, the FBI will try to flip a smaller figure in a conspiracy. Have that person, for example, wear a wiretap and incriminate a larger figure in a conspiracy.
Well, in this case, we know who all the alleged conspirators are. And I should say, all the people involved in this, you`ve got Paul Manafort, Carter Page, absolutely deny any wrongdoing and any collusion with Russia. But, for example, if Carter Page is on the phone with a Trump official, that Trump official, presumably, is not going to incriminate himself. You know, is going to assume that Carter Page could be cooperating with the FBI. There`s a whole host of issues here. Now, there`s a positive side to the fact that it`s in the public, from the FBI`s perspective. The fact that it`s public could lead to a greater level of tips and corporation and information coming in that can fuel the investigation -- Katy.
TUR: So, talk to me about why the Trump campaign would be trying to distance itself from people like General Flynn, from Carter Page, Paul Manafort who they said had a, quote, "limited role" during the election?
DILANIAN: Well, Katy, you -- as -- you know better than anybody that Paul Manafort did not have a limited role with the Trump campaign. And I just found that extraordinary. And it signals, again, there have been no evidence of, you know, implicating these people. And they have denied wrong doing.
But it signals that people in Trump world are concerned that they -- that these folks may have some liability and that -- and that they want to distance themselves before -- you know, before this thing moves forward. And that just was a really telling development -- Katy.
TUR: Drip, drip, drip of news. New revelations seem to be coming out by the day. Pay attention to my friend Ken Dilanian. Usually, he`s the one revealing the things.
Thank you, sir.
DILANIAN: Glad to be with you, Katy. Thanks.
TUR: Still ahead, Neil Gorsuch faces tough questions, as his confirmation hearing continues. We`ll look at whether Democrats can and should keep up their fight against President Trump`s Supreme Court nominee. Stay tuned.
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Day two of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch continues on Capitol Hill. Just ahead here on "MTP Daily," Senator Thom Tillis joins me to talk about what he wants to ask Judge Gorsuch and how far his party is prepared to go if democrats filibuster the Supreme Court pick. But first, Deirdre Bosa has the "CNBC Market Wrap." Hey, Deirdre.
DEIRDRE BOSA, TECHNOLOGY REPORTER FOR CNBC: Hey thanks, Katy. The post- Trump presidency honeymoon looks to be over. Stocks have their worst day of the year. The Dow finished lower by 238 points, the S&P off by 29, and the Nasdaq down by 107. Meanwhile, many workers are still worried about their retirement savings.
About 60 percent of those surveyed seem confident that`s lower than pre- recession levels. The app Pinterest expects to make over $500 million this year. That is more than double last year`s revenue. The site makes money off of ads and is valued at $11 billion. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TUR: Welcome back. You`re looking at day two once again of Judge Gorsuch`s Supreme Court confirmation hearing in front of a judiciary committee. Looks like they`re taking a break right now. They`ve been going since 9:00 a.m. this morning. Despite democrats best attempts to pin down his views, Gorsuch largely sidestepped questions that revealed his positions on past Supreme Court rulings.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK GRASSLEY, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM IOWA: Let me ask you about Citizens United.
NEIL GORSUCH, JUDGE OF THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT: I`m sworn as a sitting judge to give the full weight and respect to due precedent.
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA: Do you view Roe as having super-precedent?
GORSUCH: Senator, I -- super-precedent.
FEINSTEIN: In numbers.
(CROSSTALK) GORSUCH: It has been reaffirmed many times.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TUR: But if Gorsuch is confirmed, he could potentially join the court in time to rule on the president`s controversial travel ban on Muslim majority countries. Senator Leahy grilled him on the topic.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK LEAHY, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM VERMONT: And the republican congressman recently said the best thing the president can do for his Muslim ban is to make sure he has Gorsuch on the Supreme Court before the appeals. GORSUCH: Senator, a lot of people say a lot of silly things. He has no idea how I`d rule in that case. And senator, I`m not going to say anything here that would give anybody any idea how I`d rule in any case like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TUR: Joining me now from Capitol Hill is North Carolina republican, Senator Thom Tillis. He`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be questioning the judge a little bit later today. Senator, thank you for joining us. I want to get your opinions on what you want to hear in just a moment, but first, let`s talk about what could ultimately become a filibuster by democrats. If democrats choose not to support this nominee and not to support republicans with this nominee, do you believe that Mitch McConnell should go nuclear? THOM TILLIS, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM NORTH CAROLINA: Yeah, I don`t think we`re anywhere near that point yet. I hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will follow the treatment that we gave Sotomayor and Kagan when they were up and did require a vote. We didn`t filibuster. In fact, more than 60 members voted for their confirmations.
So, I`m hopeful that we`re gonna get to that point. I think Judge Gorsuch has done a great job today. He`s done a real soldier out there working since early this morning. He`s gonna go on until 9:00 tonight. But we`re gonna be able to get him confirmed and not necessarily go to that step.
TUR: What if your colleagues don`t invoke Sotomayor and instead invoke Merrick Garland as they have been doing and say that we don`t believe that how you treated us is fair, and we don`t believe that this is a nominee that we can get behind. What happens then?
TILLIS: Well, I think that`s a slippery slope because keep in mind that they voted the nuclear option for all of the other appointments. So that could be an easy rationalization for people who would want to jump to that option for confirming a Supreme Court justice. The fact of the matter is Judge Gorsuch had nothing to do with that decision.
And he`s here to prove that he has the capabilities and the qualities that we need in a Supreme Court justice put forth by this president. And that`s really what the subject matter should be about, not the paths that he had nothing to do with.
TUR: Do you feel any regret over the treatment of Merrick Garland?
TILLIS: No, I don`t. I think that we are at a point in time in the election cycle where we already pass primaries on the republican side. And that is a principle that I embraced as a new member of the senate that I will consistently uphold regardless of whether the tables are turned.
I think we were in a situation where it would have been hyper-politicized, it would have become a circus here, and I think that that was a good reason to wait to hear the vote of the people. We hear the vote, now we want to move forward.
TUR: So we weren`t passed the primaries when Merrick Garland was nominated?
TILLIS: We were into the primary season. We already had three primaries on the republican side. TUR: You guys didn`t have a nominee yet. TILLIS: Well, the fact of the matter is, we were in the political season. And like Joe Biden said, like Schumer said, and a number of other members on the other side of the aisle that wax philosophical, what they would do if they were in this condition back in the 90s. That was really lay the foundation for the decision that the leader made and one that I support. And one that I support as a member of the judiciary committee. TUR: Do you hold it against Harry Reid for invoking a nuclear option for other senate confirmation?
TILLIS: I actually think that it was a disrespect to the institution. I was on a group of people that tried to come together and see if there was a way that we could reverse it last year or the year before last. It would have taken 67 votes to change the rules. He broke the rules to change the rules.
We were trying to come up with a process where we could reinstate them and just simply didn`t have 67 votes or consensus to do it. But I think it was a great disrespect to this institution and I fault Senator Reid for his failure of leadership on that.
TUR: So do you believe that -- does that mean that you do not believe in the nuclear option in this case?
TILLIS: I don`t think -- I don`t think we`re at a point where we even have to talk about it.
TUR: . if you`re saying -- if you`re saying that you think it was a great disrespect.
TILLIS: By why jump to a hypothetical when it doesn`t look like it`s gonna be materialized?
TUR: Because hypothetical materialize all the time and this is one that is a real possibility. And if you say it was a great disrespect to the senate to do that when Harry Reid did it, wouldn`t you just agree that it is the same sort of disrespect if Mitch McConnell does it? TILLIS: Well, Senator Reid took the step down a slippery slope. I don`t think right now we`re at the point where we have to talk about it. Right now, I think that Neil Gorsuch is building a compelling case for confirmation or at least not filibustering this nomination. This is probably not the last one that President Trump is going to have.
And I think that`s going to weighing on the minds of the members on the other side of the aisle, and I feel very optimistic we`ll get the Supreme Court seat filled. And I`m very hopeful that we don`t even have to get passed the hypothetical that that will even materialize.
TUR: Just to confirm though, you do not and will not say definitively that it would be a great disrespect for Mitch McConnell to do it in this case. I want to ask you at least not yet.
TILLIS: . disrespect to this nominee. TUR: I want to ask you a little bit just one more question about the president and his credibility. Yesterday, I`m sure you at least watched a portion of or at least got filled in on what happened with FBI Director Comey saying that there definitively was no wiretap ordered by President Obama on Trump Tower. Do you believe that that hurts the credibility of the president of the United States?
TILLIS: Well, I think we are continuing to look at the facts and they are what they are. I believe that.
TUR: The fact that there was no wiretap.
TILLIS: . wedged if those are the facts and that`s where we end up, and I accept those at face value. TUR: Well, that`s not what I asked. Does it hurt the credibility of the president?
TILLIS: Well, you know, I think that`s a question to ask the president and his advisers. I am a U.S. senator from North Carolina. I`m worried about doing the business on the Capitol Hill. I`m not going to get into the parlor games and the political discussions about a separate and co-equal branch. TUR: You`re a member of the Republican Party, you`re also representing the American people, and it`s your president. Do you believe that his credibility was hurt?
TILLIS: I think that that`s something after all the facts are in, after all the committee work is done, ask me that question then, and I`ll give you an answer.
TUR: Senator Thom.
TILLIS: Right now it`s in the preliminary stages, but I appreciate the question. I think we`ve got a lot of questions still yet to be answered. TUR: It`s not the preliminary stages on whether or not President Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower. That has been a shot down by the FBI director and the head of the NSA. So, that`s not in the preliminary stage. No answer?
TILLIS: Well, the point is you`ve heard from one person. I`m assuming that the committee is going to go through and exhaust all other sources. That`s what I was referring to. Look, I have great respect for Director Comey. Where people here have waxed and wane. I have a lot of confidence in him (ph). And I appreciate his perspective. If that`s the only perspective that gets offered as we go through this process, then that`s one thing, but I want to give the committees that I`m not apart of the opportunity to go through that process.
And quite honestly, I spent most of my time in the judiciary committee yesterday where we all spent about four or five hours in an opening statements and Judge Gorsuch`s opening statements. So I haven`t had a lot of time to really study and to know where they go from here in terms of the committee work.
TUR: Well on wiretapping, it was FBI Director Comey. It was Admiral Mike Rogers, the head of the NSA. It was Devin Nunes, the chairman of the intelligence committee in the house. And it was Adam Schiff, the.
TILLIS: Yeah, and a very compelling case.
TUR: And also the DNI, former DNI James Clapper. But anyway, I am going to leave it there. Senator. TILLIS: I think they developed a very compelling case and if they`re the only sources, then those facts speak for themselves. That`s the question I have. Are there other sources? Where does this investigation go? TUR: Thank you, Senator Thom Tillis. We appreciate it. And good luck with your question to Judge Gorsuch in this hearing. I know it has been a long, long day for you, sir. Thank you.
TILLIS: He`s been amazing. And thank you.
TUR: I`m joined now by Ron Klain, former senior White House aide to President Obama and President Clinton. Ron, thanks for joining us. I know that you`ve been through this process before. You were one of the sherpas for then judge and now Justice Sotomayor. So in your opinion, how do you believe Neil Gorsuch is doing? Is it all but assured that he`s going to get confirmed?
RON KLAIN, FORMER SENIOR WHITE HOUSE AIDE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don`t think it`s all but assured, Katy. I mean, look, I think he has done nothing to upset his supporters like Senator Tillis. But he has done nothing really to reassure or mollify his opponents. I think he has done very little to reassure those people who had doubts. I think that he has had probably the most non-answer answers of any nominee in recent time.
And very play at safe strategy perhaps from the White House`s perspective. But I think like a team going into the prevent defense in the third quarter, I think that taken for granted the possibility of persuading some democrats with more complete answers.
TUR: Do you think democrats need to go all in on this and filibuster Neil Gorsuch if need be? Isn`t that a wise move for the Democratic Party?
KLAIN: Look, I think some democrats will filibuster Judge Gorsuch and understandably so given what happened to Judge Garland before this and given how far to the right his views are. This is not a mainstream nominee, it`s a very, very conservative nominee. And then I think the question is really how will that vote go?
I agree with Senator Tillis on one thing. We don`t know yet how it will come out. And that`s why I think that Judge Gorsuch`s real refusal to engage with the democratic senators, kind of give them more insights into how he thinks, more perspectives on his point of view, may come back to hurt him in the end.
TUR: Should democrats play chicken with Mitch McConnell, forcing him to go nuclear? KLAIN: Well, look, I think, you know, democrats can`t control what Mitch McConnell will do. They only can control what they will do. And they should stand up for their principles here. They should stand up against this nominee. They should take their stand. And then we`ll let the chips fall where they may.
I mean, you know, Mitch McConnell could go nuclear tomorrow or next year or wherever. That`s something the democrats can`t spend a lot of time worrying about. They just can stand up for the principles and the issues they believe in. TUR: Ron Klain, appreciate your time, sir. KLAIN: Thank you very much.
TUR: Ahead in "The Lid," we`ll have more on the two big battles today on Capitol Hill. Stay tuned.
TUR: Welcome back. Ivanka Trump is making a move to the White House. The president`s daughter will have an office on the second floor of the west wing, but will not have an official title or receive a salary. Ivanka`s attorney tells Politico that Ivanka will be the president`s eyes and ears in the White House, and provide broad ranging advice.
Ivanka`s team says even though she will not be a government employee, she has agreed to follow the ethics rules that apply to government employees. We`ll be right back with "The Lid" right after this.
TUR: Time now for "The Lid." Let`s bring back our panel. Kai Wright, Elise Jordan, Azi Paybarah. Guys, let`s talk a little bit about SCOTUS since they are in our nine of it now. Chuck Grassley just told the hearing that he wants to be in bed by 9:00 p.m., so he could get up tomorrow morning and take a run at 4:00 a.m. He hasn`t passed over the gavel yet to Thom Tillis, we just to him a moment ago, but he will be doing that at some point. So how is he doing? KAI WRIGHT, NATION CONTRIBUTOR AND INVESTIGATIVE FUND FELLOW AT THE NATION INSTITUTE: Well, we got a couple days left and I think the fireworks are still yet to come, you know.
TUR: What are the fireworks going to be?
WRIGHT: Who knows. But I think -- I don`t know. Maybe others know, but I don`t know. But I mean we still have a day where we have to hear sort of the combative questioning that is going to happen. I suspect that will happen tomorrow. TUR: We did hear some combative questioning when it came to a couple of the senators up there that at least try to get to combative questioning, right?
ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It will specifically and I think.
JORDAN: . issues they were trying to, you know, needle him into saying something that would be offensive and he said my sole responsibility is equality, everyone is equal under the law. And I felt really satisfied the nuances of establishing that he is looking to be an arbiter of quality for all. So I think that his performance today has been really actually flawless. TUR: Ultimately is this just a pressure game? I mean, is this just the democrats wearing him out you because if he says the wrong thing, that could sink his nomination? AZI PAYBARAH, SENIOR REPORTER FOR POLITICO: The democrats see this an extension of Trump itself. If they can rattle his nominee, they could score another victory. And Gorsuch is demonstrating that his demeanor is much calmer than Donald Trump`s, his base of knowledge about the law far exceeds anything that we`ve heard out of the president.
PAYBARAH: And in essence this is almost like the anti-Trump performance and democrats who are still upset that they didn`t get President Obama`s nominee to even get this far, they are sort of making it as best they can with the situation and Gorsuch is not letting them. TUR: Democrats did try to nail him on a few things when it came to Donald Trump, specifically trying to find out if he would be able to act independently and Gorsuch kept coming back and saying I`m a fair judge and also kept saying that no man is above the law even the president of the United States. He did also say that religious tests are illegal. Given all that, will that be enough to get the eight senators they need in order to make sure that this is not something that gets filibustered? That his nomination goes through.
WRIGHT: His answers are correct, but this is not about Neil Gorsuch. This is -- and it`s really not even about Donald Trump. It is, but it is about the fact that the republican senators refused unprecedentedly to confirm or even give hearings to Barack Obama`s nominee and the question is whether or not there are eight democrats who are still upset enough about that to stand on principle. And you know, I think there is a good case to be made for doing so. TUR: But if they stand on principle, what happens next? I mean, is this just a nothing but a political fight?
WRIGHT: If they don`t, what happens next? TUR: But is this just nothing but a political fight? Is the Senate Judiciary Committee just politics period, going forward? WRIGHT: That is where we`re already at. Again, there was an unprecedented.
TUR: Shouldn`t we hope for a better time? Shouldn`t we hope people rise above that?
(CROSSTALK) JORDAN: I think that`s the risk that democrats run if they want to play this game. And if they want to play politics like this.
WRIGHT: But the game has already begun. JORDAN: But it is a game that voters in this country overwhelmingly opted against by voting for Trump.
JORDAN: No, but this is Trump`s whole message was I`m taking on the machine, I`m taking on the corruption, I`m taking on the system, all of this Washington business as usual and this is just more business as usual. WRIGHT: But those voters were not disturbed by unprecedented obstruction of Barack Obama`s nominee. I think this is a core base fight when you`re talking about the Supreme Court.
WRIGHT: And the republican base was not disturbed by it because they had an ideological belief about.
TUR: Azi, you have 30 seconds.
PAYBARAH: Are democrats going to allow senators on that committee to let this nominee get through considering what happened before? That`s the question that is going to influence the senators. TUR: We will find out. It is not over yet. Guys, thank you. Elise, Azi, and Kai. Appreciate it. After the break, is space the final frontier for congress? Stay tuned.
TUR: In case you missed it, a funny thing happened today as the president signed a funding bill for NASA. (inaudible) former rivals, senators Cruz and Rubio, the president remarked on the difficulties of being an astronaut. Take a listen.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It`s a pretty tough job. I don`t know, Ted, would you like do it? I don`t think I would. Marco, do you want to do it? I`m not sure we want to do it. TED CRUZ, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM TEXAS: You can send congress to space.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: There were a handful of Cruz`s congressional colleagues standing right there as he suggested shooting them into the stratosphere including the only sitting senator who has actually been to space, astronaut and senator, Bill Nelson.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Anybody have anything to say? Ted, you want to say something? CRUZ: Well, this is terrific, the first time in seven years we`ve had a NASA authorization bill. Thank you, Mr. President, for signing it. TRUMP: Marco? MARCO RUBIO, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM FLORIDA: I just think I`m happy to see that Florida will continue do more than Texas is. Thank you.
(LAUGHTER) TRUMP: Mr. Vice president?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Nelson perhaps, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Senator? Well, he`s a democrat. I wasn`t going to let him speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Senator Bill Nelson who has actually been to space, so much for having the right stuff. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "For the Record with Greta" starts right now. Hi there, Greta. It`s a busy day.
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