Show: MTP Daily Date: April 24, 2017 Guest: Gillian Tett, Mark Landler, Susan Del Percio, Nick Confessore, Zerlina Maxwell, Kelly O`Donnell, Kasie Hunt, Joe Crowley
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: If it`s Monday, we`ve got brand new numbers on what the voters think of President Trump and President Obama.
(voice-over): Tonight, the day 100 collision course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, U.S. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is very proud of what he`s been able to accomplish in the first hundred days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: How will this week`s shut-down deadline prey against the backdrop of President Trump`s quest for a 100-day win?
Plus, out of office reply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What`s been going on while I`ve been gone?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: Can Democrats seize on Republican missteps as they work to unify their own party?
And the French revolution. How France`s presidential election runoff could be a referendum on the current state of politics here in the U.S.
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chris Jansing in New York for Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY.
Buckle up because it`s going to be a wild sprint to President Trump`s 100th day in office. That, of course, at the end of this week.
Now, at this point, it`s very possible that the art of deal president hits that symbolic marker without a major legislative achievement, despite campaign promises to the contrary.
How badly does this White House want or need a win before that Saturday deadline? Are they willing, for example, to shut down the government over it? Are they willing to blow up Obamacare over it?
Government funding runs out on the eve of his 100th day in office and today the White House said it could not guarantee that a shutdown would be averted. President Trump, the Republican Party and its leadership in Congress are scrambling right now for a path forward on any number of stalled or delayed legislative goals, including health care, tax reform and funding for the border wall.
And there are signs all the chaos is taking its toll on the party. Mr. Trump`s job approval is at 40 percent, the lowest point on record for a new president at this 100-day stage, according to our new NBC News-"Wall Street Journal" poll.
We`ve got brand new numbers hot of the presses right now that paint an even bleaker picture for the party in power. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the Republican Party and President Trump are the three least popular things in American politics right now. The net popularity for Paul Ryan has plummeted. Look at that negative 18th points. It`s negative 16 points for the GOP, negative 11 points for Mr. Trump.
On the flip side, the FBI, which is investigating Trump`s campaign operation, Planned Parenthood and former President Obama are singularly the most popular things in American politics. Again, based on their net popularity.
Stay put because we`re going to have more news from our poll throughout the hour, including new numbers on the Russia investigation.
So, with that as the back drop for this critical week, the White House appears to be looking at a last-ditch effort to possibly leverage a must- pass government funding bill in order to force movement on the president`s signature campaign promise, build that wall. It`s an issue on the president`s mind right now and we know that because he`s tweeting about it.
The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, was pressed today on this administration`s willingness to risk a shutdown over it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, he won`t -- he won`t insist his priorities get funded on the border -- the wall increases security?
SPICER: That`s not what I said. I said that I think that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you willing to shut down the government.
SPICER: No, it`s not -- look, they are currently negotiating. We feel very confident they understand the president`s priorities and it will come to an agreement by the end of Friday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the wall, why is there even a discussion about shutting down the government over paying for the wall? Isn`t Mexico supposed to pay for the wall?
SPICER: Well, I think the president has made it very clear that, initially, we needed to get the funding going. And there would be several mechanisms to make sure that that happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: And tangled up within questions about the Republican support for the president`s agenda are bigger questions about the president`s ever- changing political ideology which has zig-zagged all over the map since he`s been in office.
Joining me now, NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell from the White House, Kasie Hunt is on Capitol Hill.
Kelly, so, we started with these questions so I`ll take them to you. How important is this to the president? Is he willing, for example, to see a government shutdown if he doesn`t get funding for his wall? Is he willing to blow up Obamacare? What do you sense, at least in this moment, the mindset at the White House is?
KELLY O`DONNELL, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: I think, Chris, the mindset is there are still days to go, negotiating happening and no one is getting anywhere near close to suggesting that a shutdown would be permitted.
Now, between now and then, what do you do? You take the things that are most important to each side big and broadly for the president. That is more defense spending. That is more of focus on the border, yes, the wall, but perhaps a little bit more broader than that to include security.
And for the Democrats, protection of the Obamacare funding is key. So, both sides are attacking each of those items as the line in the sand they will not cross. We should see things get closer together as the week progresses.
Remember, the president`s budget director is Mick Mulvaney who had come from the House of Representatives in the thick of these battles before so he`s a bit more familiar with this than, perhaps, some in the White House. Certainly the president has never been to this brinksmanship moment before.
But they do recognize how damaging it would be. So, this many days out, they are saying that they believe there will be a way to resolve it that will reflect the president`s direction of his priorities.
I take that to mean that something that beefs up border security, not necessarily specific to a wall. And they`ll deal with trying to address some of the concerns about how to continue funding things that relate to the health care law.
So, there`s a bit of time. When Sean Spicer said he can`t guarantee it but he is confident the government will remain open, in part, that`s because you`ve got to get Congress involved. And they can only answer for what the president would sign or not sign.
So, it`s a time to see which direction things are going. It`s certainly difficult and messy but I don`t think we`re anywhere close to a government shutdown yet.
JANSING: All right, not yet. Kasie Hunt over on the Hill now. Is there any sense there that this could happen? Is this all going to blow up in our faces? Should everybody cancel their weekend plans? What are you hearing on the Hill as Congress is starting to come back?
KASIE HUNT, CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, Chris, first of all, I don`t think that President Trump necessarily wants to see a government shutdown on the 100th day of his presidency when has, you know, a rally planned in Harrisburg. That`s a little bit of a, kind of, difficult story line for him there.
As far as Capitol Hill is concerned, I think there is a real sense that the negotiations were proceeding in a productive way. And you had members on both sides of the aisle, from both the House and the Senate, all saying, look, we`re track. We`re writing appropriations bills for some of these departments. For other things, we`re going to come to an agreement on how we want to spend this money. And we can get it done. And we can avert a government shutdown.
There are plenty of people here who remember how painful of an experience that was for everybody, probably more so for Republicans. But I don`t think any member of Congress who went through that really seems to have much of a desire to go through it again. So, I think that`s an animating force.
I do think the Democrats see some opportunity here because they think that this wall funding question actually divides Republicans as much as it unifies Democrats against the president. I mean, the Democratic base obviously very intensely opposed to this. It`s not something that`s popular.
But you also have heard Republican members of Congress, you know, kind of saying, well, maybe a wall is not always the best way to protect the border. And both sides, both Democrats and Republicans, have not really shown an unwillingness to put additional money towards border security.
So, I do think it`s noteworthy that you heard Sean Spicer today describe it in those terms. It wasn`t just fund the wall. It was fund border security and the wall. I think that`s, kind of, the way around this a little bit.
But I do think that the belief up here is that if left to their own devices, Congress could get this done. The x-factor, President Trump. And as you know, that`s a big x-factor.
JANSING: Chris, Kasie, thank you. Kelly, thank you.
We should also say that Sean Spicer said that Mexico will pay for the wall in due time.
But, Nick, let me go to you. When you talk about making strategy as a party, it`s hard to think of more high stakes, a more consequential decision that whether or not you`re going to do something that could potentially shut down the government. And you`re looking at Paul Ryan with a 22 percent approval rating. The president with record low approval ratings.
Is the ball in their court? Are the Democrats really holding the cards here? Or is this a potential disaster for everybody involved?
NICK CONFESSORE, REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": The latter. But I do think that the problem here is it`s hard to pin the shutdown on Democrats when they haven`t got the votes to stop anything from happening in Congress in the House or the senate.
If the president`s party controls Congress, it`s a hard thing to explain why he needs Democrats to pass this big item.
I do think there`s room, however, for a deal on the wall. Throw some money at border protection which is very popular for all Americans. You know, call the deal and call it a day and move onto the bigger stuff.
JANSING: So, where`s the bigger stuff. Where do you see this going and is it going to be that simple that simple that they`ll come to some sort of compromise, Susan, on what it means to fund wall?
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think that Nick`s exactly right. This is going to turn into funding for border security. And maybe we see something for more drone -- uses of drones, more ICE agents. We`ll see things like that coming to the budget.
That`s what it`s going to be because there`s no way they can get Democrats to support funding for the wall. And they`ll have a problem getting some Republicans which is why they keep saying they need Democratic votes. I mean, that`s very important to keep in mind as well.
And let`s not forget there`s another problem within the Republican Party, not just Donald Trump`s poll numbers which he is able to keep his base but also the Freedom Caucus for Paul Ryan. That`s another fundamental problem. I mean, you talk about increased spending without pay force which is what they`re trying to negotiate with the Democrats when it comes to funding more on Obamacare.
JANSING: These numbers have been fascinating over the last day. You know, we saw three polls in ours. And one number that I want to ask you about, Zerlina, as a representative for all Democrats.
ZERLINA MAXWELL, FORMER ADVISOR, CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Yes.
JANSING: When you see that the president given everything that you`ve heard from the president, all of the things that Democrats have said are virtually Armageddon-like what this president has done. When he`s only lost two percent of his base, what does that tell you as a Democrat?
MAXWELL: It tells me that there is a very loyal segment of his base that goes up to about 38 percent. It`s probably a little lower than that. I`m sure that there`s a lot of Republican voters, regular Republican voters, that are still supporting him and waiting to see after 100 days, if he`s able to accomplish anything.
I would say that his approval ratings are lower than United Airlines. That was one of the past things I read in the past week that was really alarming to me. Because I think everybody, you know, with the controversy with United, certainly they`re not everyone`s favorite.
But when you`re talking about President Trump, one of the things that stands out to me is that a lot of the things he`s tweeting about. So, he`s tweeting about the wall. He`s tweeting about wiretapping of Trump Tower. But those -- the tweets that he sends out, early morning on Saturdays, do not necessarily align with the legislative agenda that he`s trying to accomplish.
And many of the -- many times, he`s tweeting about that they are -- they have no intention of actually doing. So, I think the wall might actually fall under that.
And I agree with the two of them that this -- we`re talking about border which, again, is not going to be a wall.
DEL PERCIO: And one thing that`s also baked into those numbers of that 96 percent that would still vote for Donald Trump today, is that if the option was Hillary Clinton, yes, Donald Trump, to most Republicans, is going to always be a better choice. So, that factor is baked in.
But what`s more important to those numbers is the amount of independents that have left him. I mean, in huge numbers.
JANSING: Yes. And he`s --
DEL PERCIO: And you see a deficit by, I think, 23 percent in the turnover which is a lot to give up in -- when you`re trying to lead the country because it`s also what gives confidence to the House and to the Senate to lead is when they see independents going a certain direction because a lot of them know that`s key to keeping their seats.
JANSING: The 100 days, as a lot of people are pointing to, all the things that the president said that he was going to do that he didn`t. When you look at the 10 things in the contract he was going to get done, he`s done exactly zero.
And then, you listen to Sean Spicer today. Here`s some things he said about the 100 days. It`s got to be kept in context. But what the president has done is unbelievably significant in those 100 days. But it`s an artificial benchmark. How much does this matter to this president and how much sway does he have to push to see if he can get some of these things done?
CONFESSORE: So, first of all, it is a fake benchmark but he did brace it on the campaign trail and that`s their problem. You know, just pick a lane and say it`s a nothing burger or don`t.
I think the hard part is he can`t get his own party together on his own agenda. And if you can`t do that when you control both ends of the avenue, there`s a real problem. And I think it goes to a divide in his own political personality. I`m not sure what kind of president the -- that President Trump wants to be ultimately. A populist or a guy who governs from the center right or who wins people over?
And you can see flashes in his career of being the latter, being a guy who wants to make people happy. And to bring in more into the tent. But, as president, he is governing for the 40 percent who voted for him.
JANSING: Yes, and I wonder if maybe one of the most critical numbers for the President truly in this is that of the positives. Nobody was more positive. Nobody got a higher positive rating than the FBI. And people want to see, not Congress who they have completely thrown off the boat. They want to see the FBI do this investigation into meddling in Russia. Is that maybe the most troubling number in here for Trump?
DEL PERCIO: It`s certainly a point of concern, considering he tried to pick a fight. I mean, look at the two most -- two most popular numbers that the FBI and President Obama, both who in the last month, or the last couple of months, he`s gone after. Not really a smart political move. It is designed, as Nick said, to keep his base happy.
But if he is going to govern, he is going to have to reach across the aisle and get Democrats to do things. And he can`t just keep -- he keeps, you know, dropping things on people`s heads and going after them in nasty tweets and expecting them to let it go. And it -- people don`t let it go.
And just because he`s willing to let something go. I mean, he says, oh, I love this one even though he calls them a crook the day before, most politicians aren`t going on let that stand, especially from the president of the United States.
JANSING: I can tell you, from somebody who interviews a lot of Democrats, they are constantly, whether it`s the topic or not, sort of, slipping in Russia somehow into the conversation. Is this for Democrats the number that they`re --
MAXWELL: I think --
JANSING: -- looking at?
MAXWELL: Yes, but I also think, as an American, what happened in the election is very important. I think that no matter who won the election, the fact that Russia meddled in the election, according to the intelligence agencies, we need to get to the bottom of that so that it never happens again, regardless of your partisan affiliation.
JANSING: Yes. And the point I`m trying to make also is not how this is going to turn out, we don`t know how this will turn out, but to keep it in the --
JANSING: -- news cycle and to have that distraction from whatever it is that the president wants to be getting done is usually never a good thing.
Thank you all so much, Susan Del Percio, Zerlina Maxwell, Nick Confessore.
Stay with us, coming up, President Obama steps back into the spotlight as Democrats do some soul searching. The leaders of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Joe Crowley, joins me to discuss the path forward.
JANSING: Welcome back.
With Congress returning to Washington, the committee investigating Russia`s meddling in the 2016 election will be getting back to work. Even though American people would prefer someone else handle the job. According to our latest NBC News-"Wall Street Journal" poll, 73 percent want an independent nonpartisan commission to investigate Russia`s involvement. Not Congress. Just 16 percent of people polled say Congress should do the investigating.
Russia, just one of the topics that may come up tonight when the President Trump has dinner with Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Both senators have said that the current Congressional probes are not enough.
We`re back with more MTP DAILY in 60 seconds.
JANSING: Welcome back.
This afternoon, former President Obama held his first public event since leaving the White House. In front of an audience at the University of Chicago, Mr. Obama didn`t mention President Trump by name, but he did have a lot to say about our current political climate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of things like political gerrymandering, our parties have moved further and further apart and it`s harder and harder to find common ground. Because of money and politics, special interests dominate the debates in Washington in ways that don`t match up with what the broad majority of Americans feel.
Because of changes in the media, we now have a situation in which everybody is listening to people who already agree with them and are further and further reinforcing their own realities to the neglect of a common reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: New numbers from our NBC News-"Wall Street Journal" poll released just this hour show President Obama remains popular. Of the 11 institutions and political figures we gauged in pour poll, President Obama had the highest positive rating, 52 percent. 33 percent view him negatively.
But the former president`s party isn`t faring so well. While it is still more popular than the GOP, more Americans view the Democratic Party negatively, 39 percent rather than positively, 34 percent.
Democrats do have an advantage right now when it comes to who should control Congress. 47 percent of people want to see Democrats in power after the 2018 midterms, versus 43 percent who want Republicans in charge. These numbers and President Obama`s appearance today come as the Democratic Party is still soul searching about what it means to be a Democrat.
Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley of New York, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Good to see you.
REP. JOE CROWLEY (D), NEW YORK, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS: (INAUDIBLE.)
JANSING: People seem to be, in the Democratic Party, just waiting to hear again from President Obama. I`m not sure a lot of them heard necessarily what they wanted to hear which was a critique of President Trump. But is he the leader of the Democratic Party now? Does the Democratic Party have a leader?
CROWLEY: Well, I think a lot of people still look to the former presidents, whether it`s Clinton or Jimmy Carter and, in this case, Barack Obama. And I think Republicans look back as well at the two Bushes for inspiration and for guidance still. I think many of us want to hear more from former President Obama.
JANSING: So do you. You want him -- would you like a full-throated response to some of the things that President Trump says?
CROWLEY: Normally speaking, I would say no. But, I think, given the fact that President Trump has been so vociferous in his opposition to everything that Barack Obama stood for and attacking all the things that he put in place, in particular the health care bill, that I don`t think the president -- I don`t think President Obama`s going to do that, by the way. It would be just wishful thinking on my part.
JANSING: Was there something, though, that you saw as incredulous? One of the things that he said, toward the end of his presidency, when our core values are under attack, I the won`t be silent. Is there something that has really gotten to you where you thought to yourself, I wish we could hear from him now?
CROWLEY: Maybe it`s a good sign that he hasn`t -- he doesn`t feel as though we`ve gotten to that point yet. I think many of us are very, very concerned about the state of the democracy that we live in, the Republican that we live in. Concerned about the lack of balance in Washington.
You know, in many respects, it is a great opportunity for Republicans to actually move their agenda if they do it in cooperation with Democrats in the minority. But I suspect it won`t be the case.
We -- I feel that it`s very much out of balance that the American people, I think ultimately in 2018, will look to bring some balance back to Washington. And I think the house representative is going to be the place where that`s going to be brought.
JANSING: If they`re going to move back to the Democratic Party, there is still this question about who is, I guess, the active leader of the Democratic Party. And we saw, you know, the DNC chair, Perez, going out on the road --
JANSING: -- with Bernie Sanders. That didn`t go so well, in terms of party unity necessarily.
And one of the places that we`re hearing a split is on some of these so- called wedge issues. I want to play for you what Nancy Pelosi was asked --
JANSING: -- about abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Let me ask you this, but can you be a Democrat and the support of the Democratic Party if you`re prolife?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Of course. Of course. I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive, my family would say, aggressive positions on promoting a woman`s right to choose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: There are a lot of women, a lot of men in the party who have fought for this issue, who believe that`s not the party that they know. What`s the party you know?
CROWLEY: Well, as someone who supports women`s rights and reproductive rights, I think that -- I can also say that our party is a big tent party. There`s no doubt there are members of our caucus who don`t see eye to eye with me on all those issues. Now, with Nancy Pelosi, that`s nothing new. That`s been -- Chris, it`s been around for quite some time.
JANSING: Is it also a political reality, if you`re going to start winning back? and you guys have had a lot of losses. Not just in Congress but you look at how many governorships you`ve lost. You look at the number of legislative seats that you`ve lost all around the country. Can you afford not to be a big tent party, in the sense of abortion or other (INAUDIBLE)?
CROWLEY: We`ve always been a big tent party. I think that what we need to do is start speaking and communicating with those folks we`ve lost.
This is not about white voters or white men. It`s about a message, a universal message, to America about what Democrats stand for.
And, really, I think in terms of looking for who that next leader is, there are many of us. There are more people now engaged, more people being vetted, in a lot of respect, by the (INAUDIBLE.)
JANSING: I`ve got to stop you. You said, many of us in the same sentence as leaders. Is there something else that we should know about, besides obviously your current title?
CROWLEY: Well, I`m the chair of the Democratic Caucus.
CROWLEY: And I`m very happy to be have been elected by my colleagues to that position. But I`m suggesting that, you know, to try to say there`s one person who speaks on behalf of our party, that`s a misnomer. That`s never went the case.
Certainly, when the president was in place, he is the leader, you know, of the free world. He`s also a member of the Democratic Party. He also was the (INAUDIBLE) head of our party.
At this point, you know, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, myself, Stenny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, you know, there are -- Dick Durbin. There are a number of folks in both the Senate and the House, as well as governors around the state -- around the country as well, that are leaders of our party.
JANSING: In terms of the ones that you just mentioned who are members of Congress. You`re going to have a very busy week. I hope you get a good night`s sleep tonight. What do you think the chances are that there will be a government shutdown? And if it comes to, you can avoid a shutdown but you have to vote for a budget that includes money for a wall, where are you? Where is the Democratic Party?
CROWLEY: Well, as the president has said that he`s really speaking to his base. He got elected president promising that the Mexican government or the Mexican people would pay for the wall. That`s obviously not the case.
You know, and he has said that he`s going to have a wall in this extender. What my base says, what my constituency says, you`ll build that wall over Joe Crowley`s dead body.
So, we all got our constituencies.
JANSING: So, even if it means a government shutdown.
CROWLEY: (INAUDIBLE.) And the responsibility is on the Republicans. They control the House, the Senate, with clear majorities in both -- in both Houses.
JANSING: But you`ll have a vote.
CROWLEY: I`ll have a vote. But, quite frankly, whether or not the government shuts down is entirely upon them. We`re the minority.
JANSING: But I`m not -- I`m not talking about blame. If it`s over Joe Crowley`s dead body, does that mean that if it includes major funding for the wall, --
CROWLEY: I will not --
JANSING: -- you will vote -- you will not support it?
CROWLEY: -- support it.
JANSING: Even if it means a government shutdown?
CROWLEY: I will not support a wall. I will not support a wall.
JANSING: Congressman, so good to see you. Thank you.
CROWLEY: Thank you.
JANSING: And good luck this week. That`s just one of the many things you`ve got on your plate this week. Thank you.
And still ahead, an international test for President Trump`s brand of nationalism? Stay tuned for that.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF TREASURY: The United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any actor and we intend to hold the Assad regime accountable for its unacceptable behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced new sanctions against Syria today. It is the Trump administration`s latest move against the Assad regime following the April 4th chemical attack that killed dozens of his own people. The sanctions hit 271 employees of Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, a government agency that develops and produces non-conventional weapons.
President Trump`s handling of Syria was a bright spot for him. In our latest NBC News Wall Street Journal poll, half of those poll said they approve of the president`s handling of the situation in Syria and 62 percent support the air strikes carried out in the days following the chemical attack. Up next, how the presidential election in France could have an impact here at home. But first, Hampton Pearson has the "CNBC Market Wrap."
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Chris. Stocks starts the week strong. The Dow gained 216 points, the S&P rising by 25, the Nasdaq is up 73. Gasoline price has edged higher over the past two weeks. The average for a gallon of regular is up 3 cents to 2.46 a gallon. According to the Lundberg survey, the national average is up 28 cents from this time last year.
Tesla plans to double the number of their supercharger stations. The company will add 5,000 stations around the world by the end of 2017 to expand the reach of its network and shorten wait times at existing stations. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
JANSING: Welcome back. Will the forces that propelled Brexit and President Trump flounder in France? The upcoming runoff election there is shaping up to be a referendum on white right-wing nationalism. Outsider centrist Emmanuel Macron and right-wing populist Marine Le Pen came out on topping yesterday`s first round election. They will head to head for the presidency on May 7th.
Now, Macron has been endorsed by the losing conservative and social candidates as the establishment tries to prevent the far-right from getting control. Like President Trump and other populist politicians in Europe, Le Pen ran a hard line on immigration and national security and also backs the French exit from the European Union. President Trump didn`t explicitly endorse Le Pen in the election but he did praise her just hours before the poll is over in France.
He told the Associate Press that Le Pen is strongest on borders quote, strongest on what`s been going on in France. And Le Pen was spotted at Trump Tower back in January, you might remember, during the presidential transition. Joining me now, U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, Gillian Tett, and Mark Landler, who is the White House correspondent at "The New York Times." So, Gillian, what is your big takeaway as you look at the results of this election in France? GILLIAN TETT, U.S. MANAGING EDITOR OF THE FINANCIAL TIMES: Well, the big takeaway is that the French voters are fed up with the status quo because right now, the markets are celebrating the fact that Macron won the first round. There was concern he could end up in a runoff between Melenchon who is far-left candidate and Le Pen who is a far-right that hasn`t happened.
But no one should lose sight of the fact that Macron himself is actually is not anti-establishment. He is someone who is not inside of political mainstream. He hasn`t come through the normal political route at all. And three quarters of the voters went for candidates who are outside the parties and 49 percent went for candidates who are backing essentially positions against the E.U. That is not a happy voter base. JANSING: So in the meantime we have I guess you would call it the final vote coming up. So, Mark, how do you see this going? Where does it stand now? What it is going to look like between now and when they go to the polls? MARK LANDLER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, what is happening in the immediate aftermath of the vote is that virtually, every other candidate has told their voters to vote for Macron, and so Le Pen finds herself very isolated. And this is a familiar pattern in France. When the national front has gotten through to the final round of voting, typically voters have thrown in very decisively against the national front and that would imply that Macron should win.
I think the only reason people aren`t considering that foreordained possibility is that we`ve all been surprised before by elections that have not gone the way everybody predicted they would. Nonetheless, Marine Le Pen would look to have a very, very uphill struggle because so many of the voters have voted for Francois Fillon (ph) or some of the other candidates who are now throw in behind Macron. It is kind of difficult to see how she puts together enough new votes, broadens her base enough to prevail in the next round.
JANSING: And since he`s tweeted about it and even though, Mark, President Trump says he is not making an endorsement, does he seem to want Le Pen to win?
LANDLER: Well, he clearly came as close as you can get to an endorsement without officially doing so. Look, she would represent a validation of his populist appeal and the message that he triumphed on. And it would be in keeping with the Brexit vote and his victory last fall. But it is worth noting that populist candidates have not done particularly well in Europe in the months since the U.S. election.
In the Netherlands, the populist party did less well than expected in the parliamentary race. The Austrian voters elected a green party candidate over the far-right populist for the post of president. So the populist wave really didn`t gather force after Trump was elected. And although Marine Le Pen got into the final round, if she loses by decisive margin, it will not look as though Trump was (inaudible) a populist wave across Europe.
In fact, it might almost look like there is a bit of a Trump backlash at work here. So I think the White House is probably watching this with a realistic eye. I mean, they can read the polls and see the trend as well as anyone else can.
JANSING: Meantime, the former president made a phone call to Macron. Let`s take a listen to that.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The main message I want to say is to wish you all the best in the coming days and make sure that as you said, you work hard all the way through. Because you never know, it might be that last day of campaigning that.
EMMANUEL MACRON, CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: Yeah, I do agree.
OBAMA: . makes all the difference.
MACRON: I will do my best. Believe me. And so I will fight to the last minute. And we will keep in touch.
(END VIDEO CLIP) JANSING: So, Gillian, all the analysts I read say that he is going to win, that really Le Pen has no chance. But you have to think in the back of her mind and maybe in the mind of voters, that was also said about President Trump. A call like that, what do you make of it? And does Barack Obama have any influence over there? Are the people of France listening to that phone call?
TETT: Coming from the U.K. election, having watched that, (inaudible) when Barack Obama got involved in that by essentially telling people to back (inaudible), that back fired very, very badly indeed. Anyone who is an internationalist or an Anglo-Saxon (inaudible) will look at that call and say, oh, Macron speaks English beautifully, that`s wonderful. For French people, that fact that you got somebody who is so internationalist does not necessarily play that well.
And what you need to realize is in this Macron versus Le Pen runoff right now, they are essentially at a crossroads. Macron is not just internationalist who speaks English, he has a lot more European integration. Le Pen is anti-Europe. And whatever you want to say about the French mood right now, there are signs that they`re pretty anti-European.
JANSING: So, Mark, between Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, and now you`re seeing in France, it has been decades since you`ve seen two candidates go into the runoff who do not have the affiliation of the sort of traditional standard centrist parties. I mean, is the whole world ticked off? Is everybody just sick of what`s going on in their country? Is there some big global thing that we should be looking at, at least in terms of the west? LANDLER: Well, look, there is no question that there is a sort of a whole sale cross border rejection of established politics, established parties, the status quo approach to governance. You know, the independence party tapped into it in Britain. Donald Trump tapped into it in the U.S. And Marine Le Pen clearly tapped into it to finish second in this, you know, in the first round. And frankly, Emmanuel Macron did as well.
And one of the things that White House officials will note is regardless of whether Macron or Le Pen wins in two weeks, they would argue that the two party system in France is in deep trouble if not irreparably harmed by this result. I mean, there is rejection of the two major parties is profound. And regardless of whether Macron or Le Pen wins, I think the White House would argue that it is a vindication for insurgent candidates.
And Donald Trump is at heart an insurgent candidate. Indeed, you might argue that if you look at his cabinet and some of the people he has surrounded himself with, they look a lot like Emmanuel Macron. So there are elements of Trump on both sides of the equation in France with the caveat of course that Macron is fundamentally an internationalist and that`s very much what Trump ran against last fall.
JANSING: Mark Landler, Gillian Tett, thank you both. Appreciate it. Ahead in "The Lid," a big change when it comes to big government. Stay tuned.
JANSING: As former president, Obama, reemerges into the spotlight to push community activism, progressive leaders are working to build on the grass roots energy rising on the left. I sat down with five democratic Los Angeles power players to talk about their vision for the way forward for their party and the country.
(START VIDEO CLIP) ANGELA JAMES, ACTIVIST AND PROFESSOR: People have begun to realize that we cannot count on our representatives to do this job. That we have to represent our interests. That we cannot just allow a party or person to do this work for us. DEENA KATZ, L.A. WOMEN`S MARCH ORGANIZER, PRODUCER: And all the representatives. I think a lot of representatives, they get elected. And I think they`re listening to their constituents until they get elected.
ALEX PADILLA, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: And the power of organizing and marching at town halls has been apparent like it has been in a long, long time. JANSING: What purpose does it serve to get out into the streets? RICHARD SCHIFF, ACTOR: You have to start at the state level, the city level, build the Democratic Party from the bottom (ph).
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM, ACTOR: And also it creates a sense of community. And there is strength in numbers. I was on the ground campaigning for John Ossoff. In that district, in those neighborhoods, it is filled with democrats and moderate GOP members who just don`t feel like they have community support. KATZ: I think what we are starting to need now is more the hope, the fight. You know, we need (inaudible) and I think that is what we are all looking for right now.
JAMES: We need a new us. We need a new democracy within which people operate without a grand leader. JANSING: Are you hopeful? Are you hopeful for the future? PADILLA: I am. I am.
JANSING: You seem not so sure, Deena. KATZ: You know, I need to be hopeful. I need to be hopeful for my daughter. I need to be hopeful for all of us. I am hopeful in what I`ve seen that we can do. GORHAM: As long as we still live in a country where our voices are counted and where we can make change. And at least so far, we are still in that country.
JAMES: I am not hopeful about this presidency. And I am not hopeful about our leadership. JANSING: Including democratic leadership. JAMES: Democratic, Republican across the board. I am hopeful however about the power of democracy and democratic spirit. And the power of resistance.
SCHIFF: Who was it that said I`m not optimistic but I`m a prisoner of hope? The heart should not be hopeful. But I also think that we all have this very heartfelt in our blood relationship to what we think this country is. And what we think democracy is. That makes me hopeful, that people will respond because they love what America was trying to do (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: Welcome back. The era of big government is back or at least that seems to be what the majority of Americans want, that`s according to our new NBC News "Wall Street Journal" poll. 57 percent of Americans say the government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people. That is the highest share of people who want a more active government, since we started asking the question in 1995.
Okay. Let`s bring back the panel. Susan Del Percio, Zerlina Maxwell, Nick Confessore. Help me to understand your party because both sides seem to want a lot more involvement. This is not, I thought, what President Trump ran on or what big factions like the Tea Party of the Republican Party stand for. SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND FOUNDER OF SUSAN DEL PERCIO STRATEGIES: Well, no one likes their benefits taken away and people always want more of them. So that`s the health care battle actually that Donald Trump faced. You have folks like Paul Ryan who has a whole group base on wanting to reform entitle issues, Medicare, et cetera. But Donald Trump said he`s not touching entitlements which makes it almost impossible for our party, the Republican Party, to function.
JANSING: But he also says.
DEL PERCIO: It`s a very difficult time. How do you not.
JANSING: He`s promising budget cuts. So, where do you go from there? NICK CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: Cutting entitlements is popular at conservative think tanks on Wall Street and and a few other places but it is not popular in any other place in America. Social security and the middle class insurance programs are actually very popular. And Trump actually won in part because he emphasized that and said I`ll protect social security and Medicare and Medicaid, I`ll stop cuts from those.
So now he`s coming in the office with his own party and he`s trying to kind of thread the needle and says he is going to cut big things. And the problem is the things people -- the expensive programs are the popular programs. The inexpensive ones are the unpopular and politically small power programs. And so it`s impossible to do it if you`re gonna be serious about it.
JANSING: You know, I wonder if it is a little bit of Trump effect that maybe republicans like government better when they`re in control? ZERLINA MAXWELL, DIRECTOR OF PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING FOR SIRIUS XM: Yes, that`s true, I would say, I think also too. We`re talking about health insurance which was one of the largest contributors in the deficit and debt and so there was a reason why democrats when Obama got into office pushed health reform because that was tackling an additional issue.
With republicans though, I think that they have not yet articulated why we need to privatize Medicare, why we need to privatize social security and how that actually gonna gonna benefit real Americans when they`re actually receiving tangible benefits from Obamacare and other insurance programs.
JANSING: It`s interesting to me because you look at the numbers in these polls an you look at what we just heard from some of these panelists, you know, we talk about getting more involved because, you know, we need to have that activist core sort of to get things done because the government isn`t getting anything done. It`s like the government meaning actual members of congress, not what government does, which they seem to be separating from what congress is. CONFESSORE: Well, there is also an issue here that people and programs that benefit for them but don`t like spending programs in the abstract because they always imagine it going to somebody undeserving or unlike them. And so when it comes to the actual cutting and if your ox is being gored, you oppose that.
You know, it`s the famous line about keep your hands off my government health care, right? So I just think that Susan was saying like there has to be an articulation of the goal here that has to sync with what voters actually want and that circle has not been squared I think in GOP politics yet.
DEL PERCIO: Which is a big problem for republicans, that they are really facing right now. Let`s face it, 75 percent of republicans in congress came in not knowing a republican president, which means they`ve never been in a governing position. They`ve always been that party of no, which frankly I oppose, I think that we should work to get things done in government.
So all they know is how to oppose something and they say well, I`m 100 percent on this, that`s the freedom caucus folks who will never vote for any increase without a paid for. So you have this impossible situation for Donald Trump and for the senate to have to deal with a lot of base members of congress. Also, that being said, while most people hate congress where their popularity is at 20 percent, most people re-elect their member of congress because it becomes local.
JANSING: Gerrymandering and President Obama talk about today.
DEL PERCIO: But they still vote for them like even though they hold the body in disdain, they still like their member of congress.
MAXWELL: I think Trump`s approval rate has been so low, might up in some of that dynamic, because I think that republicans, particularly the ones in swing districts, are going to start to buck the president because he`s hurting them in their.
DEL PERCIO: Which is Chris` point. I mean.
CONFESSORE: Or he can`t hurt.
DEL PERCIO: Right.
CONFESSORE: He can`t threaten them because he`s unpopular enough to threaten them. That`s the other problem here. You can`t do a complicated thing like tax reform without some pushing and you can`t do the pushing if you`re not popular which is why it make sense to move to the center if he wants to do big things.
JANSING: Nick, Zerlina, Susan, thank you so much. After the break, a cringe worthy presidential moment. Ooh. Stay with us.
JANSING: In case you missed it, an out of this world accomplishment and some interesting science led to a little bit of an awkward presidential moment today. President Trump placed a long distance call to the International Space Station this morning to congratulate astronaut Peggy Whitson for breaking the record for the most time spent in space by an American.
So the president asked her what we`re learning from being in space and Whitson said among other things, the space station was helping test the kind of life support system to travel to Mars including figuring out how to create drinkable water.
(START VIDEO CLIP) PEGGY WHITSON, ASTRONAUT: Water is such a precious resource up here that we also are cleaning up our urine and making it drinkable. And it`s really not as bad as it sounds.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That`s good. I`m glad to hear that. Better you than me.
(END VIDEO CLIP) JANSING: Were you watching, Ivanka, who kind of went like that? I have to say also, is there any other response to that? Better you than me? I do not think there is. That`s gonna do it for us tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "For the Record" with Greta starts right now. Greta.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.