Show: MTP DAILY Date: April 21, 2017 Guest: Deirdre Bosa, Rush Holt, Dan Balz, Yamiche Alcindor, Glenn Thrush CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: If it`s Friday, the final countdown to the 100-day mark. Tonight, Promises, Promises.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump Administration.
TODD: The president today both ridiculing the 100-day marker and rushing to meet it. Plus questions about that other White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mar-a-Lago.
TRUMP: I like Mar-a-Lago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Mar-a-Lago meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mar-a-Lago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Mar-a-Lago.
TRUMP: Sit down, everybody, please. I mean this is Mar-a-Lago. We give you seats.
TODD: Has the president`s Florida resort become an ethics loophole? And taking aim at a developing trend in political ads. This is MTP Daily, and it starts right now. Good evening. I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington. Welcome to MTP Daily. Right now the president is racing to find a legislative accomplishment ahead of a 100-day deadline that he today has called ridiculous. There are rumblings of a possible government shut down as the president looks for a win on health care, tax reform or the border wall.
Both the struggles and setbacks, confrontations, investigations and general chaos of the president`s 100 days have consumed a ton of oxygen. But there`s an issue that perhaps just as important if not more that has now been thrust back into the spotlight. The president`s possible conflicts of interest. First of all, remember this.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton, did government favors for those giving her family and her foundation massive amounts of cash. Hillary Clinton`s pay-for-play corruption during her tenure as Secretary of State. If she were to win, it would create unprecedented constitutional crisis. When we win on November 8th, we are going to Washington, D.C., and we are going to drain the swamp.
TODD: How could you forget that phrase? But here`s the strange thing. President Trump might be hoping that we`ve become numb to the issue of conflicts of interest, and there are some signs that we have. But the controversies shouldn`t and cannot be ignored. Right now the White House is pushing back on reports that the president secretly met at Mar-a-Lago with two former Colombian presidents, who are both staunch critics of a controversial peace deal between Colombian rebels and their current elected government, a deal that the U.S. backed under President Obama and has some congressional strings attached to it -- that backing -- which would mean money to Colombia.
Now, citing Colombia media reports, the Miami Herald, says this meeting, which took place last weekend was arranged by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has been critical of that deal in Colombia. The White House says former Colombian presidents, Pastrana and Uribe merely shared a handshake with Mr. Trump. But Pastrana publicly tweeted that it was more than that. He thanked the president for a, quote, very frank conversation, unquote, about Colombia`s problems.
Folks, you can`t just walk into Mar-a-Lago, which Trump owns, to speak with the president. You`ve got to pay serious cash or know someone who did pay if you want to get in the door. By the -- by the way, the price tag is now $200,000 just to become a member. It used to be a hundred thousand before the election. In this case, it`s a mystery who paid that fee and how exactly they got two foreign leaders access to the president.
Now, you might call this the Mar-a-Lago loophole, and it`s just the tip of the iceberg in a recent flood of questions surrounding the president`s possible conflicts of interest. For example, you probably know that the president had a controversial phone call with Turkish president this week to congratulate him for essentially grabbing more power and making his country a bit less democratic but what you might not now is there`s a Trump Tower in Turkey.
You might know that the president last week ditched his attacks on China as a currency manipulator, but you may not know that the president`s comments came just after Ivanka Trump`s business was granted preliminary approval for Chinese trademarks involving her Ivanka brand of clothing, jewelry, and handbags. You might also not know that there are reports that Jared Kushner is eyeing a $400 million deal with a Chinese firm.
You might also have missed that the president`s campaign operation which is still fundraising, in fact they`ve opened their 2020 presidential campaign continues to funnel money back to Trump`s businesses. And the president`s trust allows the president to pull money from his various business ventures whenever he wants. And no one is saying any of this is proof of any quid pro quo, but it does end up raising serious questions, and it does end up raising questions about whether anybody in congress or in Washington is going to care about these conflicts of interest. I`m joined now by Andrew Sullivan, he`s author and political commentator and contributor to New York Magazine and I`ve got a lot that I want to discuss with him but first, Mr. Sullivan, welcome.
ANDREW SULLIVAN, AUTHOR, POLITACAL COMMENTATOR, AND CONTRIBUTOR TO NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Thank you, Todd -- Chuck.
TODD: That`s OK. I`ve been called my father and grandfather beforehand we`ve been Todd our -- for practically our whole lives. That happens when you have two first names, Sullivan. So Sully, this issue of conflicts of interest, there`s a ton of them here. We`ve all talked about them. There doesn`t seem to be concern in Washington about them. Why do you think that is?
SULLIVAN: Because we`re overwhelmed, right? I mean it`s like there used to be a moment in a presidency, say, where it`d be one moment where you could say this looks fishy, or does this person have a conflict of interest here? Is there some conflict with money coming in and so on and so forth? And we could focus on it. It happens every day.
TODD: And he`s not the only president where there have been questions of this, and we focus very hard, whether it was Dick Cheney`s secret Energy Task Force, whether there was a lack of accountability and whether it was Bill Clinton in those coffee klatsches in the White House or selling of the Lincoln Bedroom. But there seemed to be accountability for those issues.
SULLIVAN: I think -- I think Washington has become numb. I think we`re all numb on what is essentially an unprecedented attempt to use the presidency of the United States for his personal enrichment. I mean, that`s what`s happening. His brand is growing. He didn`t actually properly separate himself from these interests, and we`re all kind of just bewildered by it or maybe waiting for the moment when all this stuff comes out and something traumatic happens.
TODD: Well, there is a point where -- and, you know, we got to remind people nobody care -- nobody cares about these things until they care.
TODD: And all of a sudden, it becomes a flood of it. I wanted to have you on originally because you said -- you said -- you wrote this last week, and you wrote about how trying to decipher essentially -- trying -- Trump still shows -- trying to decipher Trump. People that try to do it -- I don`t have it in here. I`ll admit it. Trying to decipher him is a useless enterprise, that trying to figure out what is his foreign policy or what is this, don`t stop trying to do it. Explain.
SULLIVAN: Well, we thought we did. I mean, he had a campaign. He had a message. He had a particular theme. He had a key adviser, and we thought we knew what this was about. It turns out that every other day, there`s some completely incoherent or completely contradictory policy that he`s pursuing, and every promise he`s made has been reversed. I don`t think there`s any consistency here at all. After a while, I just gave up trying to understand.
TODD: Well, let me ask you an important policy because I say this because I could make an argument. There is one consistency I`ve seen is that he has flipped from his campaign rhetoric to Washington conventional wisdom.
SULLIVAN: Yes, but he can flip back. I don`t think that there`s an actual overwhelming sense that he`s suddenly become a neoconservative again or an internationalist again. I just think it`s random. It seems to be entirely on what you just saw on television. I mean, he seems to watch cable news more than he does anything else. It doesn`t seem to actually come from some new strategy of any sort. And it has this impulse, I think, when things get rough to just drop a bomb on somewhere or other.
TODD: All right. And do you see --
SULLIVAN: And that --
TODD: But look at him this week. He could have taken the bait. Kim Jong- un, is he mentally stable? He showed -- he pulled back. He is now acknowledging, there`s a lot -- he`s learning about the Chinese-Korean relationship. It`s complicated. There`s a long history there, and he`s giving the Chinese space. Is he learning on the job?
SULLIVAN Yes, he`s learning on the job but he may know--
TODD: Isn`t that a good thing?
SULLIVAN: Yes, except in a few weeks` time, we may find he`s doing exactly the opposite. We have no reliable reason to think this man is thinking about anything except a synapse reacting to all the synapses. I don`t -- I don`t really see this happening and I don`t think he is being conventionalized. I think he is a random series of impulsive decisions.
TODD: What does this mean? Look, you have been -- at times you have been accused of being a conservative hiding at a liberal publication or a liberal hiding at a conservative publication in different times. People trying to figure your -- figure who you`re out. It been -- It`s been kind of fun, you know. You`re, kind of, class. That`s OK. But what does a conservative supposed to make of this?
SULLIVAN: I think a conservative properly speaking should be terrified that someone is this impulsive, that someone is this inconsistent, that someone is this incoherent, that someone runs on a strategy of keeping America out of the world and then governs immediately rather impulsively in embedding us in places like Yemen, in extending these, and as someone as unstable as he is, the thought that he`s actually going up in some serious way against Kim Jong-un is terrifying.
I mean, I don`t think conservatives properly speaking want to blow up the government of the United States, and I don`t think they properly speaking want to blow up the Korean Peninsula. And I don`t think we have any guarantee that this crazy, reckless, inconsistent and impulsive man can either be call a conservative or a liberal or anything. I think he is sui generis. I think it`s a huge mistake that he`s sitting in the White House, and I think we just hope that the last person he spoke to is smarter than the person before that.
TODD: So -- all right. Now, if you`re -- if you`re on the liberal wing.
TODD: If you`re in the Democratic Party, shouldn`t you -- is there -- is there two ways to look at President Trump? One is the way you just described him. The other is, well, he`s flexible, and maybe I can convince him on my issue to work with me, and maybe that`s a step in the right direction. What do you say to that?
SULLIVAN: He would be, but he`s not very flexible in the way he demonizes democrats and has demonized them from the get-go. Look, he could have done an entirely different thing in his -- in his first hundred days. He could have started out by saying to the march that greeted him the next day, "I want to prove you wrong." He could have said, "I want to reach out to democrats on infrastructure," and started to reposition himself in the center. He could have been this benign father figure if he wanted to be. He didn`t. From day to day --
TODD: But he didn`t run as that.
TODD: Wouldn`t that have been a -- wouldn`t that have been an -- if he had done that, wouldn`t that have been essentially selling a bill of goods from the candidate that he was?
SULLIVAN: Yes, but he is now trying to do that every other day, where every other day he`s actually trying to fire up his base. It`s just -- it`s just hard to make sense of anything that`s going on in this town. I don`t -- and I`m glad, you know, I don`t have to really study every day because I think it would just make you completely crazy.
TODD: All right. If you do look at this, though, from 30,000 feet and you do that, this is part of a larger trend that is more acute in Europe, and I think for a long time -- I remember right after Brexit, a lot of us, "Whoa, we`re not Europe. This isn`t going to happen here. We don`t have this harsh divide and this harsh sort of split view of globalization that you guys do in Europe. Yes, we`re uncomfortable with it, but -- well, it turns out we`re no different."
SULLIVAN: Not at all. I mean, the truth is that we`re living through a period of enormous demographic change, of enormous mass immigration in lots of different places.
TODD: It`s not just here in America. We`re talking all over Europe too.
SULLIVAN: All over Europe.
SULLIVAN: Britain, in a year today, admits more people than it admitted from 1066 to 1950. It`s adding 10,000 people a year to this civil island, many of them don`t speak English come from all over the planet. You keep doing that to a country, it will eventually say, "We`re losing our sense of who we are." That`s what`s happening in France. "On est chez nous!" is the campaign slogan for Le Pen. "This is our home!" and this is what I think you saw happening in America. These forces are so big that unless we understand them better, unless we restrain them more successfully, we`re going to look back on Trump and be grateful.
TODD: You know, it looks like the right in all of these western democracies knows how to exploit this and win. The left seems to be clueless on how to handle it.
SULLIVAN: The left doesn`t know anymore how to talk about things like our country, the nation, identity, culture, meaning. What it means to be an American. They`re so busy splitting everybody`s identities into these small racial, ethnic gender, whatever.
SULLIVAN: They don`t see what`s lacking in this bewildering time is who am I as an American? What does this country stand for? What does it mean? What does it -- what does it say to me? This gives people a sense of meaning in community. You trash that you make it completely bewildering, you have mass immigration over many years, which is also illegal, and you will get this response, especially when all over the Western world, the economy is not doing so well.
TODD: All right. In France, what happens? If Le Pen becomes president -- obviously we have the run-off. It would be a shock if she didn`t make the run-off. What happens if France does elect Le Pen?
SULLIVAN: I think the European Union is on extremely thin ice. I think it is overreached. I think what it wants to happen is Utopia, which anybody can go anywhere and that Europe is one kind of massive country. Without actually an accountable central government in Europe is crazy. It always was crazy. And, look, I like the European Union. I would have voted, if I -- if I was still a British citizen, in favor of -- in favor of remaining in the EU. But I think ordinary people, they don`t recognize the country they`re living in, in all of these places. And they`re trying to tell people, "Please stop."
TODD: "Give me some identity back."
SULLIVAN: "Give me some meaning back. Tell me what it means to be French again. Tell me what it means to be an American." That was the core of Trump. Make America great again. It`s defining this country. It`s finding a new culture, a new unifying culture in an incredibly mixed, multi-racial, multi-cultural society that`s never been -- and it`s important to remember this, never been in the history of the world a country this large with this many cultures and ethnicities in it. Never. It`s a challenge, and we`re not -- we`re not living up to it right now.
TODD: Andrew Sullivan, as always, this is why I like having you on. You make -- you`ll probably make a lot of people mad on Twitter, but on both sides of the aisle.
TODD: Always fine.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
TODD: But don`t see your social media.
SULLIVAN: OK, because I don`t look at it all.
TODD: All right. Coming up, expectations versus reality with day 100 of the Trump presidency on the horizon. We`ll compare the president`s campaign claims to the White House record and the big push he`s making for a legislative win maybe even on health care. And this Sunday on Meet the Press, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus joins me on the first 100 days. Plus House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Democratic Opposition to the Trump agenda. And Florida Senator Marco Rubio will join me to discuss this week`s foreign policy headlines including one he was involved in regarding that Colombia story. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. French voters head to the polls on Sunday devoting the first round of their presidential election and here at home it appears we`ve got dueling near endorsements in that race from Presidents Trump and Obama. In an interview today with the associated press, President Trump said he believes the apparent terrorist attack in Paris last night will, quote, probably help far right candidate Marine Le Pen.
He said he`s not explicitly endorsing her but said this, "Le Pen is the candidate who is strongest on borders, and she`s the strongest on what`s been going on in France." Then there`s former President Obama`s office, who yesterday put out word that the president spoke by phone with the centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron. They said President Obama isn`t endorsing any candidate either, but said President Obama remains deeply committed to France as a close U.S. Ally and, quote, a leader on behalf of liberal values in Europe and around the world.
You can infer from that what you will, but it looks like we could have a proxy fight between Trump and Obama. Folks, after Brexit and President Trump`s surprise victory, this vote is being closely watched for signs of another populist uprising. Whoever the next leader in France is, they`re going to have deep implications about the future of Europe and its relationship with the United States. We`ll be back with more MTP Daily in 60 seconds.
TRUMP: Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump Administration. Going to have the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan. We will save and protect your Social Security and Medicare. Eliminate every unnecessary job-killing regulation. Cancel every illegal Obama Executive Order. Save the Second Amendment, which is under siege. And appoint justices to the United States Supreme Court who will uphold and defend the constitution of the United States.
TODD: Welcome back to MTP Daily. That was President Trump in the last few weeks of his campaign with a long string of promises for his first 100 days in office. But this morning on his 92nd day in office, the president tweeted that the 100-day mark is a, quote, ridiculous standard. Well, folks, while he`s dismissing it, he also seems to be racing to meet it. Here`s what he said this afternoon at the Treasury Department.
TRUMP: We`ll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform. The process has begun long ago, but it formally begins on Wednesday.
TODD: But then just after that, he did say this.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) How are you going to accomplish all that?
TRUMP: It`s going to be great. It will happen.
REPORTER: You`re going to do health care and tax reform?
TRUMP: It will happen. We`ll see what happens. No particular rush, but we`ll see what happens. But health care is coming along well. Government is coming along really well. A lot of good things are happening. Thank you, folks.
REPORTER: Do you think you`re going to get a health care vote next week?
TRUMP: No. It doesn`t matter if it`s next week. Next week doesn`t matter.
TODD: Look, it`s possible the White House wants a win on funding for the border wall in the first 100 days so much that they could risk a government shutdown to get it. That`s in the president`s defense, a lot of candidates make 100 days promises and then make it really bitter at FDR about day 92. Anyway, Let me bring in tonight (INAUDIBLE) Dan Balz, he is Chief Correspondent for the Washington post, Yamiche Alcindor, national reporter for the New York Times and a MSNBC contributor, and Glenn thrush, he`s the White House correspondent for the New York Times and a brand-new MSNBC contributor.
Welcome to all. All right, Dan Balz. Look, I have some empathy here. Every new president about this time hates FDR. They get really mad about that. "What do you mean this hundred-day thing? Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah." But as candidates they certainly -- their campaign advisers certainly love it, and they certainly love to make campaign promises. Does this matter next week?
DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT FOR THE WASHINTON POST: Sure, it matters in part because it`s going to dominate the conversation, you know. It has been already. I mean I don`t think I can recall a time in which the hundred-day marker has gotten this much attention well before the hundred days. So it means there`s going to be a lot of conversation. It`s going to look like he hasn`t done much. You know, he`s right in another way. A hundred days is an artificial marker.
In all presidencies now when people begin to plan, they certainly look for things they can do by the first 100 days, but they also plan out really to a second hundred days. The August recess is a time when they really hope to get some things done. But his first 100 days has been brief of legislative accomplishments.
TODD: That`s the biggest one, Yamiche is health care and there`s some hints that they want to try to bring it back. There`s, like, some chatter they might file a bill tonight even and yet that seemed like President Trump who learned a lesson the first time on health care not to overpromise on a delivery day.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES AND A MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think that`s completely true this idea that he doesn`t want to say, "This is what`s going to happen next week. I`m going to have definitely have a vote next week."
They learned their lesson that when they said there was a vote and then there wasn`t and then there was postponement and there was the cancellation but that was really an epic failure and embarrassment and I think even while we talk about his supporters, kind of, continuing to be holding on to him and him being Teflon, healthcare is something that`s so personal, that`s so deep that these -- that the republicans have really won on so many levels with governorships and the House and the Senate that they have really made this promise to the American people, and it`s something people understand very easily. Either you have health care or you don`t. Either if you had cancer, you can get health care or you can`t. So I think that`s something that is really sticking in his mind.
TODD: Throwing tax reform into this, it`s going to -- I think what they`re hoping is that Wednesday we all do stories. Look at all these major tax cuts but, boy, reality check here on how hard it is to get a tax proposal from a White House introduction to even a committee hearing on Capitol Hill.
GLENN THRUSH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES AND BRAND- NEW MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I feel like I`m under siege here.
THRUSH: No. The big mistake that the president made was not telling everybody that he was learning on the job. It`s interesting what you were talking to Andrew Sullivan about, which is the notion that this guy is actually learning on the job. He has empowered someone in Steve Bannon, his chief strategist for the first couple of months, who thought executive orders were a way to get things done. As we know, executive orders are things that you do when legislative attempts fail. It`s an end --
TODD: It`s called -- it`s things that you do in, like, year six or seven and you can`t get anything done.
THRUSH: And he had no idea how to work with the legislative branch, and here`s the other thing that`s going on internally. Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, is the one who is pushing, who you`re going to be talking to, is the guy I am told who has been pushing a lot of stuff, particularly health care, because he is besieged himself internally and wants to show some record of accomplishment too.
TODD: Well, there is that but there`s a math reason why that health care and tax reform are connected. They can`t do the tax cuts, the -- those massive tax cuts that he`s promising without repealing those Obamacare taxes.
BALZ: No, and he`s as much as said that the last few weeks ever since health care went down the first time. I mean he`s made it clear that you need -- there is a -- there is a process by which you have to get the health care bill done first. You know, it seems as though we`ll find out next week whether they can actually get it through the house. We`ll find out next week or the week after. If it doesn`t in that amount of time, I don`t know what they do. I don`t know whether they throw it to the senate --
TODD: Honestly I have no idea why they`re still trying to negotiate the house alone. That`s the part of this. I`ve never understood. You know the harder slog is the senate. Let them at least be involved from the beginning.
BALZ: I think part of it is they simply did kind of toss it to the freedom caucus to try to see what they could work out.
BALZ: We know the history of presidents letting congress go ahead with things.
TODD: Good luck with that.
BALZ: They don`t work very well.
TODD: Let me go to the border wall. Yamiche, Mick Mulvaney, the budget director I think has this idea. Well, let`s do a little old-fashioned horse trading. You give us a little border wall. Come on, democrats. What do you want? That -- democrats in a negotiating mood?
ALCINDOR: Democrats are not in a negotiating mood. Every conversation that I`ve had with democrats are really kind of them going even further to the left. This idea that they`re seeing that they can have leverage with this president mainly because he hasn`t really accomplished much. I mean, because of that, they`re saying, "Well, let`s just work on getting our party a new fresh face." You see Bernie Sanders back on the campaign trail, kind of barnstorming the country, trying to say --
TODD: Has he become a democrat yet?
ALCINDOR: I have asked, and apparently he is still not. He`s not really a democrat, he is -- and he is -- in his office, he`s an independent. And he was elected as an independent. But there`s this idea that democrats are feeling this new energy, I think, after the fail of health care they are saying, "You know what, let our part. let`s stick to our guns." And also they`re facing a base, of course, that doesn`t want any parts of any deal- making at all.
TODD: I know, but, Glenn, there`s a weird dichotomy here for the democrats. Jon Ossoff, who is going to be the, sort of the canary in the coal mine for the Democratic Party in the next two weeks, the democrat in the run-off in Georgia, he is trying to say, "Hey, I`m going to be the guy that works with all sides and I`m going to be -- " You know, he knows he has to run kind of as a centrist to win that district. The messaging coming out of the Democratic Party is resistance at all cost.
THRUSH: Well, the other thing we`re looking at here is the difference between the electorate and the donor base. The donor base has no patience whatsoever for democrats to be weak on this. And the other thing about it is you have a supine presidency. You have a guy who is at the -- has a lowest approval rating of any president in our lifetime at this --
TODD: This early.
THRUSH: This early.
THRUSH: Why wouldn`t they go for the jugular?
TODD: Wow. At some point, though, do democrats get it all? Is there any risk for them not to even -- would they own any part of the shutdown or would the Republican Party own it all on their own?
BALZ: It depends on how the negotiations go. I mean, I think realistically they would probably own very little of it.
BALZ: You know, it`s Trump and the Republican Congress. Why shouldn`t they be able to get that through? So we`ll see. But I think the democrats feel that they`re in a no-lose situation on these kinds of negotiations at this point. But as you point out, I mean the democrats are fine in opposition, but that`s not all they need to be. And they`re far from kind of addressing and coming to terms with that.
TODD: Quickly, Speaker Ryan. It seems like he`s got a complicated task next week because he gets so many different demands and by the way, he`s getting kicked around almost more so. I don`t want to get a bit -- there`s some polling to suggest that he is now more popular than Trump is.
ALCINDOR: Well, I thought it`s because President Trump in some ways almost made him own health care. They didn`t want to call it Trumpcare. It started getting called Ryancare. He was the one that was giving the PowerPoint speeches on this, so there`s this -- there`s this idea, I think, that his -- that the failure is his. Also there`s this idea that he hasn`t really been able to pull his party together, and that`s mainly because the Republican Party, even though we call it the Republican Party, could really be almost two to three parties within itself. And Ryan is trying to lead that, and people are thinking that he`s not doing a very good job.
TODD: And Glenn, it seems to me it means Speaker Ryan doesn`t want any extra hurdles for a funding bill. He is not stupid.
TODD: He knows that a shutdown is a republican problem.
THRUSH: And look, you know, there`s a natural tension between Ryan and this White House. Again, the Priebus-Ryan relationship is something I think Trump is pretty skeptical of. And I was told in the wake of the -- in the wake of a health care debacle, a lot of people in the White House blamed Steve Scalise, who is supposed to be handling the whip count for Paul Ryan. There was some accusations back and forth in the White House to the House that Scalise got it wrong and gave them an overly optimistic count.
TODD: Very interesting there. The one guy in house leadership that doesn`t get stained by this White House is a guy named Kevin McCarthy and I`m just going to leave it there. Anyway, Dan, Yamiche, and Glenn, stick with us. Coming up, lay out your lab coats and bring on the beakers. There`s another major march on Washington that is set for tomorrow, and this one is a bit different than we`ve seen before. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. After weeks of controversy, the House Intelligence Committee announced today it`s trying to move ahead with its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. They`ve now scheduled two more hearings that will take place in the coming weeks. FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers have been invited to testify at a closed-door hearing on May 2nd.
The committee also reached out to former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, former CIA director, John Brennan, and former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, inviting them to testify in an open hearing sometime after May 2nd. Both hearings were originally scheduled for March, but were canceled by committee chairman, Devin Nunes. Nunes has since stepped down from the Russian investigation amid criticism for his conduct and close ties to the Trump administration.
Up next, we`ve got a real rocket scientist here who used to be a member of congress to talk about the idea of scientists marching on Washington this weekend. But first, Deirdre Bosa for "CNBC Market Wrap."
DEIRDRE BOSA, TECHNOLOGY REPORTER FOR CNBC: Thank you, Chuck. Stocks closing lower today as Wall Street looks to the elections in France. The Dow finished lower by 30 points, the S&P off 7, and the Nasdaq fell 6 points in today`s session. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz will not become chairman as planned following that ugly incident in which a passenger was dragged off of a flight. And Exxon cannot resume oil and gas drilling in Russia. The Treasury Department today rejecting two-way sanctions on a project with Russia`s state-owned Rosneft. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: Welcome back. First, the women`s march, then the tax day march. Now, the next large-scale seemingly anti-Trump administration march will be tomorrow`s march for science. Tens of thousands are expected to participate in over 500 events across the nation. Activists and scientists are packing up their poster boards and beakers and coming right here to D.C. with the largest march as expected. Tomorrow is also earth day. Planners have speakers and a teach-in on tap for the gathering on the national mall.
The march for science organizers say the gathering is not a partisan event, but there will certainly be politics in the air. You can absolutely expect to find a lot of anti-Trump signs among the crowd. The scientific community slammed President Trump`s 2018 fiscal year budget proposal for taking an ax to scientific research grants, the EPA and the National Institutes for Health among other things.
Rush Holt is a former New Jersey congressman and is now chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He said of the White House plan, quote, the administration`s proposed cuts would threaten our nation`s ability to advance cures for disease, maintain our technological leadership, ensure a more prosperous energy future and train the next generations of scientists and innovators to address the complex challenges we face today and in the future. The person behind that quote joins me now, Rush Holt, former member of congress. He is now on set. How are you, sir?
RUSH HOLT, FORMER MEMBER OF CONGRESS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE: Chuck, good to be with you.
TODD: All right.
HOLT: Fine, thanks.
TODD: I think you were -- correct me if I`m wrong, your background is a physicist.
HOLT: I`m a physicist, and then I did something 20 years ago that most of my science colleagues thought was crazy. I ran for congress, spent eight terms, 16 years.
TODD: My guess is they still think you`re crazy on that front.
TODD: Let me start with sort of this idea, where did it come from and why do you think it`s necessary?
HOLT: The march for science?
TODD: Yes, sir.
HOLT: Well, there were three young scientists, a graduate student, a post- doc, a newly minted M.D., who hadn`t met. They met on social media, and they noticed that at the women`s march on the 21st of January, science was breaking out spontaneously. People were carrying signs at what was supposed to be a political march about science. Things like got polio? Me neither. Thanks, science. Or science is real, whether you believe it or not.
And they realized there was a lot of energy and a lot of concern. And so they said, well, let`s give people a place to direct that energy. They called for a march. Within hours, it turned international. You said 400 or 500 sites in the country. No, it`s worldwide. Every continent except Antarctica tomorrow is having marches, open houses at museums, children science festivals, and demonstrations expressing concern about the place of science in our societies and in our government.
TODD: Look, a lot of this, you could say basically boils down to one big debate inside Washington, and that is over climate change. Is it man-made or not, that ultimately science essentially overwhelming says man-made, guys. This has become a partisan issue, particularly inside parts of the Republican Party. So I guess my question, is that -- is that the nut of this? And what do you say to folks that say, you know what? All of this scientific research pushing us on climate change is only taking away my livelihood?
HOLT: No, it`s not that simple. What the march is about is more than that. This is an example of something that has been troubling scientists for years, that we`ve seen and you`ve seen it too, where in public policy, in public debates, the evidence is being pushed aside by ideology and opinion and wishful thinking. And scientists, who build their careers -- we build our careers on a reverence for science, hate to see that. We hate to see anybody use phrases like alternate facts without blushing. And climate change is one example, but there are many examples in economics, in evolution and biology, in vaccination.
TODD: You bring up evolution. This isn`t the first time we`ve had a partisan fight over science. I mean, you know, go read -- we can go read then stop trial.
HOLT: But in GMOs, you know, the sides are flipped there generally.
TODD: Right, where the left is the ones not being the science on food versus those on the right.
HOLT: In all of those cases, scientists are saying you`re not making policy on the basis of evidence.
TODD: Where is the disconnect? Where do you think the disconnect is? I say it this way because, look, there is a war on facts, and there`s a war on trust in sort of that overall, okay, and so we`re skeptical of everything. People skeptical of me, whatever I say, because I work for a news organization. People skeptical of you, you`re a member of congress, you`re a member of a political party. How can you be trusted? You know, we are skeptical of everything and science now has been thrown into that. How should scientists fight back? One thing is a march, but how should they fight back to say, hey, we`re totally evidence-based. We swear.
HOLT: Well, for generations, scientists have stayed in the lab.
HOLT: It`s a big deal for thousands and thousands of scientists to come out into the public square now. They never do that. In fact, when this was suggested, lots of the professional science societies said, oh, that`s not something scientists do.
TODD: They`re probably afraid to be politicized.
TODD: I get it.
HOLT: They`ve got it backwards. You don`t want science to be politicized, but the converse of that is not necessarily true. In fact, the converse, that you want to take your science public, is really an obligation that scientists have avoided for generations.
TODD: All right. What`s the end game? What do you want President Trump to take away from this? He watches these things. What do you hope he takes away?
HOLT: That science actually is his friend. Science is society`s friend. If you base your policies on the best understanding of how things actually are rather than how you wish they were or how your ideology tells you they are, you`ll have more successful policies.
TODD: All right.
HOLT: And, you know, if you want to deal with a crisis, you`d better have some people who appreciate science around you.
TODD: All right. Well, former congressman, Rush Holt, you`ll be out there marching tomorrow?
HOLT: At my organization, yes, we have a number of activities at the same type.
TODD: All right.
HOLT: Thanks, Chuck.
TODD: We`ll be following it. Thanks for coming in and sharing your views. Appreciate it. Up next, the history behind everyone`s obsession with the president`s first 100 days in office. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, many of my colleagues are going to be obsessed with something that has obsessed presidents for decades, the first 100 days. What`s so special about the first 100 days? Yes, it`s the honeymoon period, but trust me, there`s plenty of stuff that happens after the first 100 days. Geez, think Lewinsky, Watergate, 9/11, the A-bomb. All right. You get the picture.
Still, this is when presidents get their first report card, and for that, they can thank this man, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who in a fire side chat referred to, quote, the crowding events of the 100 days which had been devoted to the starting of the wheels of the new deal. FDR had done a lot in those first 100 days, 15 major pieces of legislation including the Tennessee Valley Authority, the FDIC, relief for the poor, and bank regulation just for starters.
The story of Michael Beschloss tells us JFK was so unnerved by possible comparisons to FDR that he said in his inaugural, quote, all this will not be finished in the first 100 days, unquote. President-elect Obama said, we may not get there in one year or even one term. But like it or not, the 100-day report card is here to stay, even as President Trump both embraces it and runs away from it.
This might be a good time to note that on "Meet the Press" this Sunday, we`ll have a brand-new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll numbers, just what the public thinks of the new president roughly a 100 days in. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Welcome back to "MTP Daily." There`s a unity tour under way right now that appears to be creating sometimes a bit disunity. I`m talking about the Democratic National Committee`s come together and fight back tour which kicked off Monday, headlined by new chairman, Tom Perez, and the ever popular senator, Bernie Sanders. Perez is getting dinged by Sanders folks for not supporting universal health care and other positions allotted by Berniecrats.
And Sanders is under fire for saying Georgia democratic house candidate, Jon Ossoff, is not a progressive. Something he had to clean up today in a statement this afternoon. Let me bring in "The Lid." Panel is back. Dan, Yamiche, Glenn. We sort of touched on this before, but, Dan, it`s been weird to watch this unity tour between the chairman of the Democratic Party and a guy who is not a member of the Democratic Party.
DAN BALZ, JOURNALIST AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AT THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, it`s curious as to why Tom Perez decided this was the way to start his tenure as DNC chair. I mean, he`s got a lot of work that he has to do internally at the DNC to get it ready. Capitol Hill can deal with kind of the message and looking forward.
BALZ: The progressive base is revved up already. To bring Senator Sanders along, who as we have seen for the last two years, marches to his own drummer is not part of any establishment, doesn`t feel any relationship with the DNC. I mean, I understand symbolically why they did it, but what we are seeing in practice is the very reason why it doesn`t seem like a good idea.
TODD: I guess that you could make an argument, Yamiche, that the reason to do it is Bernie can draw a crowd. So, you can go -- if you`re trying to build a 50-state party, you go to Kansas, whole bunch of people show up to see Bernie, and maybe if you`re Tom Perez of the DNC chair, you can sign up some volunteers to work for Democratic Party. I mean, that is a rational.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that is the irrational. When I covered Bernie Sanders, I would call back some editors and say there are women crying in the crowd. This is like a rock and roll concert. And I think even then, I would try to capture in my writing, but really to be at a Bernie Sanders rally is to really witness somebody kind of riding high on this progressive message.
He`s not dumbing it down to these millennials. He is really talking at length about policy. That`s what the Democratic Party wants. They want a base that is really interested in policy. And I think that`s why Tom Perez feels like he wants to go on this unity tour. The fact there needs to be a unity tour when Donald Trump is in the White House also tells you the state of the Democratic Party.
TODD: I go back to it is -- if democrats win the house, they`re going to win it through the south.
GLENN THRUSH, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
TODD: And these suburban southern districts, and again, you know, you`re going to have this tension between Berniecrats and the Jon Ossoffs in the world.
THRUSH: Look, I think the other thing that Perez needs to do is clean things up after the bitter chairmanship fight with Keith Ellison and obviously...
TODD: He`s co-chair. That`s one way to do it.
THRUSH: I mean, look, I think you`re absolutely right about that. But they`re following -- I think they`re going to wind up following the same playbook that the republicans did after the 2006, which is be party of no for a while. It worked for the republicans. Look at what Mitch McConnell said.
THRUSH: He didn`t pay any political price for it. His entire goal was to make sure that Barack Obama wasn`t elected.
TODD: The most popular elected politician in this country is Bernie Sanders.
TODD: Hard stop.
TODD: I mean, did you ever think that would ever be the case?
TODD: Yeah. I mean, no.
TODD: He`s a member of no party. I mean, I...
BALZ: That`s the point.
TODD: And I think that adds to his popularity. That`s the irony there. I mean, I know there are some democrats that wish Bernie would act more like a Democrat. Give your list to the Democrat. Part of his popularity is the fact that he`s not.
BALZ: He`s had, you know, in a sense spectacular success being Bernie Sanders over the last two years. He didn`t win the democratic nomination, but who gave him any chance of even making it a competition?
TODD: He lost the election, he won the campaign.
BALZ: Yes, that`s exactly right. And he`s continuing to try to push that brand forward. But what that does for the Democratic Party at large, I don`t know.
TODD: Let me ask the question in reverse. What does Bernie Sanders want?
ALCINDOR: It`s really -- I mean, it`s very interesting, but I think it`s what he`s been saying for years and years and years. I mean, he`s laid out pretty clear policies. He wants the Democratic Party to really turn into what he`s been wanting which is universal health care, which is a single payer system which is this idea of free college for all. I think that his policies are really what he wants.
As someone who went to hundreds of rallies with him, has interviewed him several times, I think he literally lays out what he`s wanted for almost 30 years. And I think the fact that he`s now getting people to listen to his speech that he`s given since the `80s is flabbergasting him. But I think that`s what he wants. He wants the Democratic Party to change completely and to not be at all a centrist party.
TODD: All right. As we know, what do the donors want? You brought up the donors earlier. What the donors want is antagonism towards Trump. Do they want Bernie progressivism or they want something else?
THRUSH: I think the donors want -- the thing about democratic donors is you can get republican donors, the Koch brothers in Jane Mayer`s book sort of contributed a lot of money for party building and sort of power accumulation. Democratic donors go issue by issue. You know, the biggest thing is probably motivating them right now is Pruitt at the EPA. That is a huge draw. Back to Bernie for a second. You know, Trump is essentially someone who invaded the host organism of the Republican Party and Bernie Sanders` whole goal is to purge the Democratic Party of Clintonism.
TODD: I think he`s on his way to doing that. Thank you all, Dan, Yamiche, Glenn. Appreciate it. After the break, the campaign ad prop candidates hope is a sure shot for success. Stay tuned.
TODD: Well, in case you missed it, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been sticking to their guns in campaign ads for some time now. It`s sort of a six to eight year old trend like this one with West Virginia democratic senator, Joe Manchin, shooting a cap and trade bill. Or this one featuring Iowa republican senator, Joni Ernst, taking aim at democratic policies. Or this one with Missouri republican governor, Eric Greitens, making something blow up in the distance.
But this trend hit an apex this week when both candidates in the Montana special house election are locked and loaded in their TV ads. Democrat Rob Quist shoots a negative Super PAC ad in this one. And Republican Greg Gianforte blows away a computer screen displaying a gun registry in his ad. Folks, both sides run these ads for different reasons. Republicans want to show off their second amendment bona fides and democrats want to convince voters that they are not like the other democrats.
Bottom line, it`s all performance art like many things are in politics these days. It`s Republican politician that tweets he`s going to Chick-fil- A for lunch, while the Democratic lawmaker posts a gift from Hamilton. As long as it works with your base, it`s going to keep happening, but do we really need to see all these candidates showing off their shooting skills at this point? It`s starting to get a bit absurd, you know.
That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back Monday with more "MTP Daily." And if it`s Sunday, catch "Meet the Press" on your local NBC station. "For the Record" with Greta though starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END