Show: MTP Daily Date: March 30, 2017 Guest: Haley Barbour, Dan Blue, Mike Needham, Stephanie Cutter, Jay Newton-Small, Diane Feinstein, Jay Newton-Small, Michael Needham, Stephanie Cutter, Haley Barbour
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: That means there are two Democrats in the Senate, Heitkamp and Manchin, now saying yes. Pretty big news there. "MTP DAILY" starts right now.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Thursday.
An explosive new report pushes the House Intel chair`s sources out of the shadows.
(voice-over): Tonight, following the evidence trail, a new bombshell report on the White House and the Devin Nunes connection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It raised the profound question of why they were not directly provided to the White House by the National Security staff. And, instead, were provided through a circuitous route involving the chairman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Plus, hot water for the party in power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), KENTUCKY: This place is a swamp, not a hot tub. (END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Has the Republican infighting with the Freedom Caucus hit the boiling point? (END VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: We can`t allow 30, 35 people to hold the whole Republican conference hostage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And Russia`s northern exposure. Seller`s remorse 150 years after the sale of Alaska. This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and welcome to an extraordinarily busy day. And welcome to MTP DAILY.
We begin the night with the breaking news from this afternoon, bombshell reporting from "The New York Times." That doesn`t just further unravel the Republican-led House probe into the Russian interference in the election but it now raises more questions about whether the White House is actively interfering in this investigation. The "Times" is reporting that two White House officials were involved in feeding House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes, a former Trump transition advisor, information in what appeared to be an attempt to use Nunes` investigation and platform and title to then brief the president to back up the president`s now baseless claims that President Obama had him wiretapped during the transition. Nunes is denying that the source of his information came from inside the White House. Perhaps he was just talking about the building and not the White House grounds. Anyway, the White House recently told the press they would look into the matter. And the White House press secretary suggested today that they did. They just did not want to tell the public about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You told us that you`re willing to look into it and ask (INAUDIBLE) about the process and provide us answers.
SEAN SPICER, U.S. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, no, no. I -- here`s -- please don`t put words in my mouth. I never said I would provide you answers. I said we would look into it. Our obligation is to make sure the review is done, both in the House and the Senate as we asked for a few weeks ago. Not to make sure that we illegally leak out information to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Just to sum up, that`s what he said, by the way. He just said he`d look into it. He never promised a response publicly. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer then pushed back by referring to a letter sent just today from the White House Council to Nunes and his Democratic counterpart, Adam Schiff. It was also -- the Senate Intel guys were cc`d on this letter. Now, the letter states that National Security Council staff discovered the documents and, quote, "in the ordinary course of business" and invites the committee leaders to review what they found. Senators Burr and Warner, as I told you, the chair and vice chair, the Senate Intel Committee, were copied on this letter, but it was not addressed to them. But it`s still unclear if the information in the letter refers to what Nunes saw last week or not or why that letter was coincidentally sent after "The New York Times" story broke, or if that story even vindicates the president`s claims at all. Now, the top Democrat on the House Committee, Adam Schiff, held a press conference this afternoon, right after Sean Spicer`s briefing, to respond to the revelations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If, in fact, the National Security Council staff that discovered these materials reportedly in the ordinary course of business are the same national security staff that provided them to the chairman to be provided to the president, it raises the profound question why they were not directly provided to the White House by the National Security staff. And, instead, were provided through a circuitous route involving the chairman. If that was designed to hide the origin of the materials, that raises profound questions about just what the White House is doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Nunes released a statement this afternoon, saying he would not confirm or deny speculation about his source`s identity and would not respond to speculation from anonymous sources. Despite the fact that the House investigation has seemingly ground to a halt, Schiff promised it would continue. But while the House committee is paralyzed by turmoil, the Senate Intelligence Committee held its first public hearing on Russia today. They`re looking like the only truly bipartisan group left to do this within Congress. And the Republican chair and Democratic vice chair had made it clear they`re trying to keep that it way. Joining me now is a member of that Intelligence Committee, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. She, at one time, was the vice chair and, I believe, Intelligence chair, herself, for this committee. SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA, RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: That`s correct. TODD: She`s ranking on Judiciary. [17:05:02] Senator Feinstein, I don`t know where to begin but let me start with this. If what "The New York Times" is reporting is true, does that rise to obstruction of justice?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I can`t comment on that but it certainly rises to a violation of protocol in the handling of classified information. This is not the way it should be done. It could have been transferred from the White House through appropriate channels to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. And then, the member who it was to and would probably alert other members and it would be available to them in a skiff to read with somebody watching you as you read it.
Classified information, there`s a whole protocol that goes along with the handling of it. This violates all of it. And to have people from the NSC calling a member to come up solo and receive some information that doesn`t go directly to the committee, that goes, I gather, to the president, why didn`t NSC just give it to the president? I don`t quite understand what`s happening here. I don`t know whether it`s --
TODD: Can you give an example? Yes, go ahead. Political or some --
FEINSTEIN: Can I --
TODD: -- yes, go ahead. FEINSTEIN: -- that`s caught your attention. No, I don`t know whether it is political or whether this was, as I understand it, perhaps a former staffer of Devin Nunes who made a mistake in doing it this way. But the chairman, Devin Nunes, ought to clear this up. Because it, sort of, casts a pall over all of us, House and Senate. And it`s not the way this would happen over in the Senate. This would not have happened.
TODD: It`s interesting that you said that you believe this now casts a pall over the Senate investigation. Look, the two members --
FEINSTEIN: No, I didn`t say -- TODD: Senator, -- FEINSTEIN: -- the Senate investigation. What I said was --
TODD: Yes, go ahead.
FEINSTEIN: -- it casts a pall over all of us on the committees if this is the way business is done because this is not the way business or information is transferred.
TODD: Explain to me how you have ever been briefed on classified information on White House grounds. Have you ever? And if you have, how is -- can you at least take us through process of how that happened?
FEINSTEIN: I don`t believe I ever have. If there`s classified information, we, Senator Grassley, because we`re the Oversight body -- Judiciary for the Justice Department. Senator Grassley and I were briefed on some information. We went down to a skiff in the visitor`s center. There`s plenty of skiffs around. And were able to sit and read that information. Actually, with somebody from the Justice Department watching us.
So, it is handled very carefully. And so, for those of us that are used to this handling, -- TODD: Right. FEINSTEIN: -- it`s amazing to see this, sort of, Inspector Clouseau, as Lindsey Graham called it, operation.
TODD: Let me talk about the hearing you were involved with today. It was mostly -- it was, I guess, designed to be more informational. But there were a few surprises in there. What was the most important part of the hearing today in your estimation?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I thought something that the former cyber commander, General Keith Alexander, said. And that is that the remedy for this has to be to bring the public sector and the private sector together. That we are facing a whole new world out there.
And who would have ever thought that another country to come in and hack into presidential campaigns and have a mission. And that mission was either to defeat or diminish one of the candidates. That`s a very serious thing.
So, this, in my view, goes to the top of the temperature chart. And we have to address it. And I would be hopeful that, in the final recommendations of our committee, that we would.
TODD: Why do you believe the White House isn`t acting as if they`re as concerned about what Russia is doing, period. Regardless of the separate allegation about collusion and that. But this I -- the larger story here, that you and others have pointed out that Russia has an agenda at upending western democracies.
FEINSTEIN: Well, Russia does have an agenda and we are not the only country. And this is what I think makes it also such a big problem. We know the Ukraine. We know the French election, the German election. I`m told Brexit. So, there are a number of areas in which this influence campaign by Russia is being directed. And it`s very serious.
[17:10:01] And I think that the powers that be, I think the NATO nations as well as ourselves and the United Kingdom, have to be able to sit down with Russia and put this to an end because it`s going to a no-good place.
TODD: Do you think it`s possible -- do you think it`s possible to simultaneously secure our defenses on cyber and deal with this in one way and, at the same time, investigate Russia? Or do you think there`s going to be this feeling that you`ve got to get through investigation before we start trying figure out how to prevent this happening in the future?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I`ve been on the Intelligence Committee for 16 years now. It is very rare that all of the agencies come together with an intelligence assessment that is united.
And, in this case, they did. And that assessment is made with high confidence, that Russia has done these things. So, we now know that this isn`t speculation. This is the real world. And the two intelligence services participated. TODD: Right. FEINSTEIN: And that the only way that could happen was either at the request of or the approval of President Putin. So, it makes it very important for the administration to sit down with President Putin, at some point, and affect an agreement where this stops. And it should stop on behalf of all other nations. Nations should not be doing this to each other. Because it`s a -- it`s a highway that you go down. And that highway gets broader and broader and more and more gets taken into it. We don`t want to wake up some morning and see that our whole airline computer system is down. Or that, as it happened once before, the whole stock exchange is down.
TODD: Right. Before I let you go, I know you`re not prepared to say what you`re going to do on the Neil Gorsuch confirmation. But let me ask this way. What is the bar for a filibuster?
FEINSTEIN: I don`t understand that what you mean by the bar.
TODD: The bar for you for why somebody should not even have their vote brought to the floor. What is your bar on that?
FEINSTEIN: Well, the vote will be there on the floor. Filibuster, in this sense, is a cloture vote.
TODD: Right FEINSTEIN: And he would -- if there is a cloture vote, he would have to have 60 votes. The fact of the matter is that virtually every other nominee, since I`ve been through -- this is now my seventh confirmation, has had more than 60 votes. So, it has never been a problem before. So, we are in new territory and there is broad concern about this candidate. And I think that`s going to be the discussion on the floor of the United States Senate next week and we`ll see where this goes.
TODD: Well, it sounds like you`re leaning in a certain direction.
FEINSTEIN: That`s your interpretation. Thank you.
TODD: Fair enough. Senator Feinstein, I`ll leave it there. Thanks very much.
Let me bring in my panel.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Chuck. TODD: Mike Needham, he is chief executive officer at action for America. Stephanie Cutter, former deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama`s 2012 campaign. And Jay Newton-Small, Contributor, over at "Time" magazine. Wow. OK. Jay, it seems as if the White House and Devin Nunes are -- have a problem here and they don`t know how to get out of it.
JAY NEWTONS FALL, CONTRIBUTOR, "TIME": It does. And the biggest -- I mean, a lot of this is just trust, at this point, right? I mean, does anybody trust that Devin Nunes can continue this investigation and actually -- without -- and get it done? I mean, Democrats of his own committee are saying, we`re not going to do this anymore. It`s just not going to happen.
And does anyone think that he`s not influenced by the White House, at this point? And so, how do you move on from here? There are people calling for him to step down as committee chair. Ryan has said that he`s not going to do that, House Speaker Paul Ryan. But at what point do you completely lose confidence in the process and say, it`s time to throw in the towel and move on to a special joint committee or some other investigation?
TODD: Mike Needham, imagine the following scenario. Adam Schiff goes over to President Hillary Clinton and gets a special briefing on Benghazi. And then says, I`ll wait until we have it there. What do you think the outcry would be on the right?
MICHAEL NEEDHAM, CEO, HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: Yes. And there`s no doubt that there would be outcry. There`s no doubt that this entire situation keeps escalating in more and more ways and that that`s bad for our country. That we need a fair, impartial, strong intelligence community. That they need to act within those confines and we need policy makers to act within the right confines.
It`s concerning what`s going on. And the best way to get out is for everybody to wait for the facts to come out, to find out what went on, with regards to the election, what went on with regards to intel being leaked that was caught, and what impact that have on the national security adviser. But certainly, the situation is not good.
TODD: Stephanie, I found it interesting that Senator Feinstein admitted that the House situation casts a pall on everybody. She`s not wrong. I mean, I do think the average American watching this isn`t separating the House Intel Committee from the Senate Intel Committee. That`s Congress.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, FORMER OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Yes. Well, I think that the way the White House and the House have handled this investigation have cast the entire thing as a sham. Yes. [17:15:09] But I do think the Senate investigation is just getting started. And what we`ve seen so far is that there are actually two adults in the room who are managing a process, keeping out of politics and trying on get to the bottom of the facts. We need to complete play out. That`s just at the beginning. Even just today we found pout Rubio was also targeted by the Russians. So, little by --
NEWTON-SMALL: His face was really striking. He was, like, whoa, wait, I was targeted?
CUTTER: It shows the depth in which the Russians went to try to influence every piece of this election. So, we need to understand exactly what they were able to influence and what they tried influence. And to figure out -- and then see exactly who was involved or complicit in it.
TODD: By the way, this is -- all this entire problem for Nunes and the White House is all due to one tweet. OK, one tweet that the president sent out of -- who and why he sent it, out of frustration or whatever, where he accused President Obama of wiretapping him.
It has done the following. Gotten James Comey come out and not only say it`s not true but confirm an investigation. Suddenly, mess up the entire House investigation. And, obviously, somebody in the White House said, go try on prove the president true.
CUTTER: Yes. I do think -- I agree with you. It was a really stupid move on his part. It basically invited an independent commission into this.
TODD: Well, that`s where this is headed. Don`t you think, Mike?
NEEDHAM: But it was not just one tweet. It was also -- if, in fact, it is true -- and this is why we should wait and find all the facts, especially from the Senate. If it`s true that there are people in the intel community who are so horrified at the idea of Mike Flynn being in that position or they didn`t like President Trump, that they leaked information to the press to try to undermine the political leadership of this country, that is also a scandal.
And so, I think what would be best for the country is if everyone calms down. If we wait, find out what the Senate Intelligence Committee finds out. Look at all the facts once it`s out there and then pick up the pieces and find out what was true and what is not true.
TODD: What if the president doesn`t take your advice?
CUTTER: Yes. Also, let`s take a step back. What I was going to say is it`s not just about that tweet. There was actual Russian interference in this election. That`s where this started. And if the White House hadn`t tried on impede the investigation at every step of the way, way before that tweet, we wouldn`t be in this position.
NEWTON-SMALL: Because that`s about wag the dog, right? I mean, it`s, sort of, like, oh no, don`t look at the potential Russian, you know, involvement into the election. Let`s talk about the last administration. President Obama wiretapping me. That`s what`s going on here.
CUTTER: Right. Or just casting the investigation as Democrats trying redo the election which is not the case. This is an adversary trying to impact our democracy.
NEWTON-SMALL: It`s been going into intelligence which is -- and you`re creating this whole question of what is truth at this moment of fake news and everything else. And it`s, really, as we boil down to it and we`re looking at what is news, what is truth, so much of this is tone, so much is innuendo. And that`s what`s so crazy about this.
TODD: Do you think it`s --
CUTTER: It`s also they`re just afraid of what people are going to find. TODD: Well, no, let me go in another direction very quickly. Mike, do you think this is just somebody that doesn`t want to believe his election was illegitimate? And it bothers -- and that, at the end of the day, bothers him? Because he gets so defensive about the specific to the point of he put himself in this position.
NEEDHAM: I`m not going on try to psycho analyze President Trump.
TODD: No. I don`t either, why do (INAUDIBLE.)
NEEDHAM: Everybody agrees we should try to defend our nation, its critical infrastructure, including its elections. I think if you ask Bibi Netanyahu whether he appreciates foreign countries interfering in elections, he would have a different answer. And so, look, the Russians were try -- obviously, have an interest in this. Obviously, they`ve had an interest in past elections. But let`s not pretend that the Obama administration hasn`t played this time of game with regards to the Israeli election.
TODD: That was -- for what it`s worth, that was pretty public. That there were Obama supporters working for the other side.
NEEDHAM: I tried to --
TODD: I hear what you`re saying.
NEEDHAM: And nobody is defending what the Russians did here. Everybody wants to defend our critical infrastructure. But let`s all calm down and wait for the facts on come out.
TODD: All right, let`s pause this conversation here. We`ll pick up some parts of it in a minute, I promise. You guys are sticking around, by the way.
Tonight on "HARDBALL," my colleague, Chris Matthews, will talk with Senate Intel Committee Vice Chair Mark Warner and Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who testified at today`s hearing. All of that at 7:00 Eastern. Coming up here on MTP DAILY, the president takes shots at members of his own party on the health care bill failure. Normally, this would have been the lead today. Today, something else broke through but we`re not going to ignore it. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Welcome back.
You just heard my interview with Senator Dianne Feinstein, whose Intelligence Committee held its first public hearing on Russian interference in the election. And one of the bigger headlines out of it -- out of hearing was that the Russian interference with American politics went beyond the general election and the presidential and didn`t stop after the presidential race. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINT WATTS, FELLOW, FOREIGN POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Russia`s overt media outlets and covert (INAUDIBLE) sought to sideline opponents on both sides of the political spectrum with adversarial views toward the kremlin. They were in full swing during both the Republican and Democratic primary season. It may have helped sink the hopes of candidates more hostile to Russian interests long before the field narrowed. Senator Rubio, in my opinion, you anecdotally suffered from these efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Well, that cyber security expert later said that all of Trump`s Republican primary opponents were targeted by Russians, not the just Rubio. And then, Rubio told the committee, it may still be happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: I would also inform the committee that within the last 24 hours, at 10:45 a.m. yesterday, a second attempt was made again against former members of my presidential campaign team who had access to our internal information, again targeted from an I.P. address from an unknown location in Russia. And that effort was also unsuccessful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And one of former Ted Cruz`s important spokespeople and aides, Ron Nehring, tweeted this earlier this afternoon. My Web site was hit from 37 different Russian I.P. addresses in the last 30 days. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) TODD: Welcome back. For all the smoke on Russia today, there is fire inside the Republican Party right now. In addition to the Russian cloud bogging down everything, the White House agenda is a mess and party alliances are dramatically breaking down. Today, the president seemingly declared war on his right flank for killing his health care plan, threatening to fight hard liners in his own party in the 2018 mid-term. And he actually just singled out three Freedom Caucus members in a tweet literally moments ago. The hardliners responded today with open defiance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this an actual negotiating tactic by the president though or do you think that this is a constructive way to do it?
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: I mean, it`s constructive in the fifth grade.
REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: I don`t work for the president. I don`t work for the leadership. I work for the people that sent me here.
REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: I don`t know who is giving him that counsel. But if it`s the same counsel that said, let`s put a bill that`s polling at 17 percent on the House floor, when the American people are 17 percent approval, right, that`s not a winner.
[17:25:13] The fact is you`ve got to look at the legislation and it doesn`t do what we told the voters we were going to do and the American people understand that. That`s why only 17 percent of the population supports this legislation.
REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), KENTUCKY: This place is a swamp, not a hot tub. The people sent us here, conservatives, the Republicans that believe in what they campaigned on and Donald Trump. They sent us here to drain the swamp.
TODD: And that`s just the beginning. House Speaker Paul Ryan, today, had a warning for some of those Freedom Caucus conservatives. The president told you he might strike a deal with Democrats. Don`t let him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: They`re not going to help us repeal Obamacare. That`s my point. And so, if we`re going to do what we said we would do which is repeal and replace Obamacare and save the American health care system, something tells me the Democrats aren`t going to help us repeal Obamacare. They`re the ones who created it in the first place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Well, Republican Senator Bob Corker, I guess you`d put him in the moderate wing these days, slammed speaker Ryan for that approach saying, quote, "We have come a long way in our country when the speaker of one party urges a president not to work with the other party to solve a problem." So, some moderate Republicans in the House have now decided to freeze out conservatives. A source tells NBC News that a block of moderate House Republicans met last night and decided not to negotiate with the Freedom Caucus anymore. And then, to top it all off, in a move that hardly inspires confidence in the White House`s view of its chief of staff, Reince Priebus, he now lost his top deputy. She is moving over to the super PAC. Well, I`m joined now by somebody who has put the Republican Party back together in a previous era, Haley Barbour, former governor of Missouri, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Governor Barbour, I`ve got to ask you -- I have to say, in the first 70 days of one party rule in a -- in this town, I didn`t expect the wedge to be divide inside the Republican Party. I expected an attempt by Republicans to try to find a wedge inside the Democratic Party. What`s your assessment of what`s going on?
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R), FORMER CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, my assessment is I`ve never seen the liberal media leak more giddy and happy. But the fact of the matter is I remember when Obamacare passed the first time. It took 14 months for the Democrats to pass Obamacare and they had super majorities.
So, I look at the Republicans today, we do have a majority of the House. It`s a small majority. We have a majority in the Senate where normally it takes 60 votes. We have 52. I don`t think of that as control but we do have majorities. And it`s very disappointing for Republicans who know that Obamacare has been terrible policy. Principally, it`s put people on Medicaid which is not a great system, since so many doctors don`t take Medicaid patients because reimbursement rates are so low. But 90 percent of the Republicans in the House recognize that while this bill wasn`t perfect, it was a big, big, big first step -- TODD: Yes. BARBOUR: -- of three steps to get rid of Obamacare and to replace it with something responsible that kept people having access to health insurance. 10 percent didn`t want to go along. That 10 percent where the tail is wagging the dog, you can understand about frustration. I am not the of same mind as some people. But I do think our people ought to remember that these guys, themselves, they`re the ones that have kept Obamacare from being repealed by the House.
TODD: Let me ask you this, though. Is going about this, you had the president tweeting this morning that implied, you`ve got to go after the Freedom Caucus and Democrats in 2018. You had Mark Sanford, a Congressman from South Carolina, say that Mick Mulvaney directly said, pass the message from the president, hey, you don`t want him campaigning for some primary opponent.
Is this the best way to cajole? As you said, basically, over 17 legislative days? Or do you wait six months and make more of an effort before you give up on the Freedom Caucus?
BARBOUR: Well, look, my style is different from other people`s style. That doesn`t mean it`s right. But that`s not the way I would have approached it.
But I would say this. Paul Ryan is right. The Democrats are not going to try to help us repeal Obamacare and replace with it with some reasonable health care policy. And I don`t think what you said about Senator Corker, I don`t think he meant that as critically of -- as Speaker Ryan as some people might have taken it. So, the fact is the Democrats are not going to. I mean, they consider themselves as the resistance. Did you hear today, Governor Dean of Vermont, former chairman of the Republican -- of the Democratic Action Committee, on your network, said if 60 Democrats -- if they get 60 -- if the Republicans get 60 votes, and there is no filibuster of Judge Gorsuch, then we`re dead in the next election because our base won`t give us any money unless we filibuster.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR, "MEET THE PRESS DAILY": Let me go back to health care.
BARBOUR: That`s a real reason -- that`s a real reason to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.
TODD: Well, let me -- look, the base wagon, the dog of both parties these days to be truthful here, Governor Harbour, but let me ask you this on health care. You have -- you said that there is not consensus in the Republican Party that repeal is the way to go. You got a Lamar Alexander who has been desperately trying to say you know what, skip that language, call it repair, and do get Democrats to come in and work with you. Why not go about that strategy especially when you`re sitting at 52 Democrats in the senate -- 52 Republicans in the senate?
BARBOUR: I wish we could. I hope we can. I have a great deal of respect for Lamar and he`s been working on this, he`s the chairman of the health committee. He`s been working on this very, very brightly. One thing we should remember, President Trump isn`t the one that said let`s do health care first.
BARBOUR: He would have rather gone to infrastructure and tax reform, but he was trying to be a good teammate. TODD: Is that the air -- is that the ultimate error here? I look at this 70 days in and here we are. Do you think we`re in a different place if he starts with infrastructure and tax reform and says you know what, we need a task force on health care. Get Lamar Alexander, get Diane Black, get some folks in a room and work on it for the next six to nine months while we focus on jobs. BARBOUR: Well, the main thing is Trump would have gone to infrastructure and tax reform first, to be a good team player, he did what the house wanted to do. One thing that I think we need to all remember, you can repeal Obamacare very fast. But you can`t replace it successfully fast. It took the Democrats 14 months to pass it with super -- and they had super majorities.
They had 60 in the senate most of the time. And we`re trying to do it by reconciliation rules. This is complicated, complicated stuff. And so will tax reform be. But the idea that the media has given the American people, if you didn`t get this passed in the first two months, what a catastrophe. TODD: It was not the media, it`s the president. It`s the president that says he`s glad it is in the rear view mirror. I don`t know why you`re putting this on the media. The president said he`s glad this is in the rear view mirror. BARBOUR: Well, look, I will let your viewers decide how the media has treated this. But the fact of the matter is, for something that took 14 months to get enacted, and much of it has still not been implemented. A lot of Obamacare has never been put into practice yet because it was so messed up.
And 80 percent of the people who got health care, who didn`t have it before, got it by being put on Medicaid, not by getting health insurance. So to replace this is not something you can do real fast. Maybe Republicans should be blamed. We let expectations that we could do it so fast. Maybe that was something we shouldn`t have done.
TODD: Fair enough. Haley Barbour, always fun and interesting to get your take on things. Good to see you, sir. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views.
BARBOUR: Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: Appreciate it. This Sunday by the way on "Meet the Press," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will join me to discuss the state of party. The Russia cloud and of course Neil Gorsuch and the big Supreme Court confirmation vote that will be next week. By the way, still ahead, North Carolina`s bathroom bill repeal deal didn`t go as well as some might have hoped. But guess what, if everybody gone happy, does that mean they found the right compromise? We`ll talk about it. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. We`re still a year and a half away from the 2018 mid terms. It looks like one of the of senate most well known fire brands already has a challenge according to Houston Chronicle report. Tomorrow, Texas Democratic Congressman Beto O`Rourke will formally declare his candidacy to take on Senator Ted Cruz.
O`Rourke is a third-term congressman and former punk rocker from El Paso, Texas. Swing district out there. This is Texas so of course it`s gonna be an uphill fight for any Democrat. Cruz won his senate seat in 2012 by 16 points. There was a time folks thought maybe Cruz would get a primary challenge that may not happen these days.
By the way, another high profile democratic congressman, Joaquin Castro, from San Antonio also has said he is still taking a look at mounding a campaign for the senate as well. Still ahead, breaking news on North Carolina`s bathroom bill repeal. We`ll get the details of what it all means for North Carolina, coming up. We`ll be right back.
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ROY COOPER, GOVERNOR OF NORTH CAROLINA: Transgender people had to go to the restroom of their birth certificate. That is gone. I would have supported and would have wanted a clean repeal of House Bill 2. It was clear that couldn`t happen. This is best deal that we could get.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Welcome back. This afternoon, North Carolina`s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, signed a compromise measure to roll back the state`s so-called bathroom bill. The new law is being criticized by supporters and opponents of the old law. But it sailed through the state senate and the general assembly there with bipartisan votes.
The old law known as HB2 restricted bathroom use to facilities that match the gender on your birth certificate rather than your gender identity. The new law called House Bill 142 repeals HB2. It puts bathroom regulations in the hands of the state government rather than local government.
And it prohibits anti-discrimination ordinances through 2020. The compromise was struck as pressure mounted, particularly from the NCAA which threatened to take away sporting events and all the money that comes with them through 2022. And don`t think that the ACC, which of course North Carolina is the heart of, also wouldn`t have followed suit with the NCAA on that.
State Senator Dan Blue is the Democratic minority leader who supported this compromise that repeals HB2. He joins me now. Senator Blue, thanks for coming on the show.
DAN BLUE, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Thank you. Happy to be with you, Chuck.
TODD: All right. Do you believe this is truly behind you or is this just an awkward pause in this larger debate? BLUE: I think it is clearly behind us from a standpoint of this ridiculous bathroom bill. One of the things that the repeal did, it basically took us back and status ante and people will use bathrooms as venues in bathrooms. We don`t have all of these absurd restrictions and limitations on how to use bathroom.
But I think it set the stage to have a serious debate on how we place value on people in the state. And it is a debate that`s long overdue. And I think that given our experience with House Bill 2 over the last year, a lot more people are willing to engage seriously in how we expand rights. And we give value to all the citizens of our state.
TODD: I want to understand some of the restrictions now that are on local municipalities. I understand there -- I guess this means the city of Charlotte can`t decide, can`t do a bathroom ordinance like they did there, an ordinance that protects transgender. Does this also apply to let`s say, Durham wanted to do a minimum wage. And do their own minimum wage, as some municipalities want to do. Does this bill also tie hands of a North Carolina municipality from doing an ordinance like that? BLUE: No, but House Bill 2 did all of those things. It took away the rights of local governments to put conditions in contracts. It took away the rights to decide what the minimum standards would be. And a repeal of House Bill 2 reversed all of that and again returned it to the status where we were prior to the enactment of House Bill 2.
But I should add that what does repeal did, it said that local governments cannot enact new ordinances. There are 16 or 17 local governments in the state that had enacted ordinance that`s extended protections more broadly than the federal definitions of protection, or even the state definitions.
Those 16 of 17 municipalities or county governments can now enforce their ordinances. They can continue to give the protection to the LGBT community that they have historically given. And that`s one of the real good benefits of repealing House Bill 2.
TODD: Okay. But explain to me the legal argument, why is it that you can legally prevent a municipality? Is it because there`s an end date to it? That it is in 2020 that it automatically expires or in 2020 you have to revisit this law? BLUE: If you`re going to extend this law, you would have to revisit it. And it would be a different climate, a different environment when you revisit it. We have a governor who said that he would veto any measure. You might recall our former governor signed it into law quicker than any bill that has ever been signed into law in this state. TODD: But in defense to that governor, the reason he signed it is because there is a veto proof majority in your legislature which still exists. The governor could veto anything. As you know, that super majority is still sitting out there, is it not?
BLUE: That super majority is still out there, but the attitudes of certain members of that super majority have changed as a result of their experience with House Bill 2. And I think at this point, at least in the senate, it would take 21 people to sustain the governor`s veto.
I`m confident that there are more than 21 people in the North Carolina senate now. Democrats and Republicans who would sustain a veto by the governor of any measure similar to House Bill 2.
TODD: Do you expect a local municipality.
BLUE: The other thing that it does too.
TODD: Go ahead, sir. I`m sorry.
BLUE: I was going to say the other thing. There was some dispute as to whether local governments had the authority to enact these ordinances that extended protections. One of the things that this repeal does House Bill 142 is it makes clear that municipalities and local governments now have the ability to legislate in that area. Since we say that they can do it after December 1, 2020. It removes any serious debate as to what the authorities might be. TODD: All right. We`ll find out in December 2, 2020 whether that does happen.
BLUE: I hope we find out before then.
BLUE: Yes, I hope we find out before then. It is our challenge to really start looking at how we add protections for all the citizens. TODD: I was just gonna say, do you expect to revisit this issue before December 1st, 2020? BLUE: Oh, sure.
BLUE: In fact, in my caucus, there are several members who have already prepared a bill that would in fact broaden some of the categories where these protections are extended.
TODD: All right. Senator Dan Blue, I got to leave it there. Thank you for coming on and I guess congratulations to North Carolina for getting this story off the front page. Up next. Why I`m obsessed with one of America`s all time, big time deals. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with something Donald Trump kept telling us during the campaign. We don`t make big deals anymore. Well, he may have a point. Today is the 150th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska. At the time, many called secretary of State William Seward`s deal, Seward`s folly. Since then, Alaska has given us the Klondike Gold Rush, lots of oil, Sarah Palin, and northern exposure. And a lot of other stuff.
Plus, back to President Trump`s point again, Alaska was a very big deal. 663,000 square miles worth of big deal. That`s even a bigger deal than we made when we grabbed 520,000 square miles from Mexico after the Mexican- American war. You can think another big deal maker on that one, President James Polk. Alaska is bigger than any deal the United States has ever made other than the Louisiana purchase.
That 828,000 square mile deal by Thomas Jefferson who won so much he got tired of winning, pretty much doubled the size of the United States. So today let`s acknowledge that we don`t make big deals like that anymore. And let`s celebrate one of the biggest deals in American history. Remember, you can see Russia from Alaska. Enjoy.
TODD: Time for "The Lid." Panel is back. Mike Needham, Stephanie Cutter, and Jay Newton-Small. We`re talking about this Republican infighting. And, Mike, you`re here because your group, Heritage Action, got singled out by Donald Trump in the health care post game. First of all, what did you make of it? Did you think it was going to take you that long to get the ire of President Trump? MIKE NEEDHAM, CEO FOR HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: Well, we`re going to call balls and strikes on policy, but the president`s clearly frustrated. He should be frustrated because the policy`s bad. I thought your interview with Haley Barbour was fantastic. He said that we shouldn`t make the perfect, the enemy of a first step in a three-step process. Can you find a single politician who will say this bill is good? And it is not good.
I mean, when you look at that three-step process, the second step for Secretary Price is allegedly going to roll back these regulations. It is complicated. It is temporary. It is very prone to litigation. And phase three, there is no chance that you are ever going to get a Democrat to go along with tearing down the fundamental architecture of Obamacare.
For seven years, Republicans promised that if we gave them the house, the senate, the White House, they would get rid of Obamacare which was driving up premiums. Their own bill would continue to drive up premiums. So this is a great opportunity to take a pause to get the policy right.
That`s what the house freedom caucus is doing. Talk about grown-ups, they`re the ones who are saying we want to get policy right, we`re willing to negotiate, and it`s the moderates who say we literally won`t pick up the phone if they call.
TODD: Stephanie, I assume you want to give your time back to Mike. STEPHANIE CUTTER, FOUNDING PARTNER AT PRECISION STRATEGIES: Yes. TODD: One of those rare occasions where an Obama White House person.
CUTTER: I know.
TODD: Look,let me go to the Democrat part. It`s interesting here. What is the line -- where -- should the Democrats instead of gloating a little bit here be saying okay, here`s our fix bill.
TODD: And see what kind of a response they get.
CUTTER: Well, I think you need some willing actors on the other side that say well, let`s see. That hasn`t born any truth in the last seven years. And when you say we want to kill Obamacare, we want to bleed it to death, we`re going to let it spiral out of control, we`re going to stop, you know, cut off -- sue because of the subsidy, it doesn`t build a lot of trust of when you start opening that door that they actually want to fix the law rather than repeal it.
Now, I do think that there are a lot of easy bipartisan things that we could do to make that law better. But I think the position on the other side is so strong that they just want to get -- to do away with it. They don`t want anything to do with Obamacare. It`s hard to build a relationship on which you can get actual reforms done. NEEDHAM: The challenge here is that the law is fundamentally unfixable. There`s all these regulations which are driving up costs from Washington, D.C. to the entire country. And that`s what needs to be gotten at. TODD: The president isn`t that interested I think in keep fighting this.
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No, and I think - - look, at this point on the Republican side I think honestly it`s not about compromise, it`s about disruption. That`s what the freedom caucus is looking at and they`re saying, you know, we win when we disrupt. We win when we challenge President Trump and we challenge the Republican comforts in the house. And President Trump wins. I mean, honestly look at the polls.
NEEDHAM: It`s the number one mischaracterization of the freedom caucus` position. They are being in this bill. They are willing to tolerate all sorts of things, state and patient slush funds. They are willing to accept an Obamacare baseline. They are the ones who are trying to compromise. They have one ask and that`s to get rid of the regulatory architecture of Obamacare. TODD: All right. I have to pause it there. The debate doesn`t end, but the show does. Thank you, Stephanie, Mike, and Jay. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Wow. We could have used another hour, but that`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." But guess who got another hour? And she will be on all of these stories. It`s "For the Record with Greta." Greta, I know you need another hour too, but, you know, 60 minutes is all we have.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD SHOW HOST: Chuck, we can`t make this stuff up, Chuck. We have another bombshell. And it`s about the White House.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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