MTP Daily, Transcript 6/12/2017

Guests: Hallie Jackson, Pete Williams, Susan Del Percio, Harold Ford, Karl Racine

Show: MTP DAILY Date: June 12, 2017 Guest: Hallie Jackson, Pete Williams, Susan Del Percio, Harold Ford, Karl Racine

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- their pledge allegiance and loyalty to the person who brought them there. They`ve got other things to do.

NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: All right, you better come next time with your -- with your heaping praise for me.

I`m going to thank my panel. (INAUDIBLE), Juan Zarate, Jonathan Capehart (INAUDIBLE.)

That does it for this hour. I`m Nicole Wallace. "MTP DAILY" starts right now with Katy Tur in for Chuck Todd. Hi, Katy.


And if it`s Monday, Washington is stirring the pot of a big legal stew.

(voice-over): Tonight, recording Sessions. The president`s attorney general agrees to go on the record in an open hearing of the Senate Intel investigation on Russia.

So, did the president sign off on the public testimony?


SEAN SPICER, U.S. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he`s going to testify. We`re aware of it, and we`ll go from there.


TUR: Plus, why two attorneys general are suing the president over his business ties.


KARL RACINE, ATTORNEY GENERAL, WASHINGTON, D.C.: We know that foreign governments are spending money there in order to curry favor with the president of the United States.


TUR: We`ll talk to one of the men behind the lawsuit, Washington, D.C. A.G. Karl Racine. And later, --


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (R), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Michelle, how`d my hair look coming out of the gym this morning?


TUR: Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoofs today`s roundtable of flattery at the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have great hair. Nobody has better hair than you.


TUR: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Katy Tur in New York in for Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY.

It`s been another manic Monday for this White House. The secret service pours cold water on those Trump tapes. The president is sued by two attorneys general and an appeals court strikes another blow to the president`s travel ban.

But we begin tonight with the chain reaction from James Comey`s bombshell testimony. In a surprise move, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify tomorrow under oath publicly in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Sessions says he personally wants to respond to the former FBI director`s allegations.

It will be the attorney general`s first public testimony since his confirmation hearing back in January which means he`s likely going to be grilled in a number of controversies embroiling him, the president and the Department of Justice.

Last week, for instance, Comey testified that he had serious questions about the attorney general`s role in his ouster.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: If, as the president said, I was fired because of the Russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain? I don`t know. And so, I don`t have an answer for the question.


TUR: Sessions recused himself from any matter connected to Trump`s campaign which does include the FBI`s Russia probe. But did his role in Comey`s firing violate that recusal?

Comey also testified that the FBI knew that Sessions would recuse himself weeks before Sessions actually announced it.


COMEY: We`re aware of facts that I can`t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic.


TUR: Comey did not elaborate on those facts but will Sessions?

There have also been reports that Sessions offered to resign as tensions with Mr. Trump flared over his recusal.

And Comey testified that he spoke to Sessions after the president urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, saying, I took the opportunity to implore the attorney general to prevent any future direct communication between the president and me.

I told the A.G. that he had -- what had just happened, him being asked to leave the -- leave while the FBI director, who reports to the A.G., remain behind was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply.

Sessions also faces major questions about undisclosed contacts with Russians during the campaign which contradicted his testimony during his confirmation process.


SESSIONS: I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn`t have -- did not have communications with the Russians.


TUR: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer today would not say if President Trump will try to restrict or block Sessions` testimony by invoking executive privilege.

But a spokesman for Sessions said the attorney general was the one that requested that tomorrow`s hearing be public in the first place.

I`m joined by NBC News justice correspondent, Pete Williams, and NBC chief White House correspondent, Hallie Jackson.

Hallie, let`s start with you. What is the White House thinking right now? What`s their state of mind before Sessions goes to the Senate tomorrow?

HALLIE JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Yes, before, sort of, round two of a big day on the Hill, a round three I guess you can call it.

Publicly, it`s what you heard from Sean Spicer obviously at the podium today, talking about how he believed it would be a little premature to start the discussion on executive privilege. That that is typically something one might see prior to the actual testimony happening.

Part two, though, let`s talk about how the response might come or the prebuttal hearing. I was speaking, just a couple of minutes ago, with a source inside the Republican Party, talking about what the strategy is going to be.

[17:05:02] I am told that DOJ will likely end up setting the tone for a lot of the messaging that you will see, talking about what Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, did or did not do, when it comes to the transition, when it comes to the last 144 days of this administration. And what surrounded the firing of James Comey.

Also, though, watch for a lot of the messaging that we have seen over the last 72 hours. When it comes to the idea that there was no evidence of collusion or obstruction, the administration says you`re going to see that echoed from surrogates. You`re going to see this full-court press again tomorrow, as allies of the president mobilize to work to defend him in this instance.

It really is similar to what we saw towards the end of last week. Although, of course, a different person in the hot seat.

TUR: And, Hallie, Sessions has been pretty clear that he wants to testify in front of the Senate.

JACKSON: Absolutely.

TUR: He wants to tell his story.

Listen to what he said in his letter to Congress. In light of reports regarding Mr. Comey`s recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum.

So, based on this, Hallie, how can the White House try to restrict his testimony?

JACKSON: I`m not sure, Katy. And that`s why, I think, there are still some questions about that. And if that is, in fact, going to happen at this point, based on our reporting and based on what we have heard publicly from the press secretary, it doesn`t seem particularly likely, although we will see what happens tomorrow.

I will say that the idea that Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, wants to get out and, sort of, speak the truth, as the DOJ is talking about and as you quote from Sessions` team himself there.

You`re hearing that echoed from Republicans on the Hill as well. They are taking that and that is one of the things that, at least I`ve heard today and throughout the day in talking with some of these folks, is the idea that, hey, if Jeff Sessions wants to get up there and tell it like it is, then, hey, power to him.

TUR: And, Pete, this executive -- this idea of executive privilege. What would that look like if the president decides to invoke it? After all, it`s not Jeff Sessions` decision, it`s the president`s decision.

PETE WILLIAMS, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Right, it`s his privilege because the idea here is that the president has the right to get unfiltered advice from his aides and he doesn`t want them worrying about what would happen if it became public.

If, if, if the White House were to assert executive privilege on some specific thing, that I assume that the attorney general would simply say when asked a question, I`m sorry, I can`t answer that because of executive privilege. That`s just a guess.

TUR: And what about this idea of recusal? Jeff Sessions, there is a lot of talk about whether or not he violated his recusal when he got involved in the firing of James Comey. Just walk us through that. What does it mean to violate your recusal? Who would make the judgment that he did violate the recusal and what would the -- what would the consequences be?

WILLIAMS: OK. So, in order, I think the first point is the Justice Department has pushed back on this idea that somehow he violated his recusal by getting involved in the firing of Comey.

And the explanation the Justice Department has given is, look at the Rod Rosenstein memo which talked about Mr. Comey`s performance in handling the Hillary Clinton e-mail issue, some of the controversial decisions he made there. That`s the thing that Sessions joined in concurrence on.

And they say when -- that Mr. Sessions, in saying that Comey ought to be fired, was talking about his overall performance as the FBI director.

Now, set aside the fact that the president has given, at least in his interviews, a different explanation. Mr. Sessions is saying, from his part, that`s why he was involved in the Comey firing, because it was not just about Russia. It was about the whole thing.

TUR: So, what are the consequences, though, if he did violate his recusal? And who would ultimately decide that?

WILLIAMS: I suppose that somebody could bring it before the Justice Department inspector general. I haven`t -- I haven`t been, myself, involved in the last 25 years I`ve covered the Justice Department with this question coming up.

So, I have to say I don`t know what the answer is. And I`m not sure who the right person is to bring it. How that would be worked out. Perhaps, the deputy attorney general or somebody else could make the call. That`s normally how it works.

Recusals, remember, are not all that uncommon.

TUR: Yes.

WILLIAMS: They -- almost every attorney general at once -- for some reason or another recuses either because of a past association with someone or a built-in political conflict. And usually their deputy makes these important decisions.

So, perhaps the deputy would make the call. This is a long-winded way of saying I don`t know.

TUR: Stumping Pete Williams on something like this is an amazing thing. This is not usual.

WILLIAMS: It happens every day.

TUR: No, it does not. In 25 years and you don`t know how to answer that question, that is a certainly a sign of the times that we live in.

Pete Williams, thank you very much. Hallie Jackson, thank you as well.

And let`s go to tonight`s panel. Harold Ford served five terms in Congress, representing Tennessee as a Democrat. Susan Del Percio is a Republican Strategist. And Nick Confessore is a Reporter with "The New York Times" and an MSNBC Contributor.

[17:10:11] Gosh, stumping Pete Williams on something. I mean, that`s --


TUR: -- tough stuff.

FORD: "New York Times" Sunday. Stumped Pete Williams Monday. I can`t wait for Tuesday. You`ve got a good thing going.

CONFESSORE: Well, you know, if it`s possible to stump him, then I`ll suspect that there isn`t anyone in the president`s inner circle or the president knows the answer either. They are probably hitting the books trying to figure it out right now.

TUR: That`s a good -- that`s a good point.

So, tomorrow, we`re going to see Sessions go up and we`re going to get him -- he`s going to get peppered with a lot of questions.

How likely is it that he is going to answer much or is he just going to do what Coats did the other day and Rogers, saying, you know, I`m not going to talk about my conversations with the president?

SUSAN DEL PERSIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think, it`ll be a combination of both. I think we`ll see him do that.

What`s particularly interesting is he decided to do this in an open session which I think was two-fold. One was because we know if he wants to set up a political fight, him going in as a former colleague, he`ll have the Democrats coming after him. He`ll be able to set this up as a fight going -- you know, Republican-Democrat fight.

And he can also do the fallback to a closed session, if he doesn`t want to answer questions, at that point. But at least he, kind of, gets it over with.

TUR: On the subject of loyalty. The president is big on loyalty. We know that. Harold, do you think the president asked Jeff Sessions, at any point, for his loyalty?

FORD: I don`t know. You can only go with what`s been reported. I guess two weeks ago we learned that or maybe a little less. This stuff seems like it`s rolling over each other. But, apparently, Mr. Sessions offered to resign, according to some sources.

TUR: Yes.

FORD: He now had Mr. Comey go before him and it raised a couple of questions. One, about whether -- when they were in the office together and the president asked everyone to leave, the quote you put up, but asked Comey to stay. And Comey expressed reservations. He said, don`t ever let this happen again.

If I were Sessions, I`d want to correct that. We all know there have been numerous questions about Russia contacts. Blumenthal -- Senator Blumenthal and others have wanted to bring him back before the committee to re-answer these questions after he apparently did not tell the truth under oath or maybe he didn`t understand the question under oath.

I think Pete -- I think Pete Williams is spot on. When there are questions that are too sensitive, he`s going to invoke privilege as Coats and others did. But I think there are two or three questions he wants to answer. And one of them is probably --

TUR: But he can try to invoke privileges. Coats and Rogers, there`s questions about whether or not they had legal basis to stand. In fact, neither one could say that they had a legal basis for refusing to talk about it.


FORD: But once they invoke their privilege --

TUR: But, no, it might not matter, at that moment. But they`re going to get called back before the House and the Senate, according to lawmakers, and they`re going to have to answer their questions.


FORD: (INAUDIBLE) he`ll get a chance to see.

This is also, I think, a testament for President Trump. If Sessions does well here, Trump who`s promised that he`s willing to go before the committee under oath. If he goes under oath, put aside the house of cards, on the precedent nature of this --

TUR: There`s no -- there`s no lawyer that says that`ll happen.

FORD: But he`s indicated he would. So, let`s say -- in the -- in the -- in the event that he does, this gives him a sense to see how this will go. Will Republicans stand with Sessions? I think this hearing is almost more interesting than Comey. Because if Republicans turn on Sessions, they`re turning on an actual Republican.

Whereas Comey has served in two administrations. So, if you see Rubio, I think probably the likeliest, and maybe Burr, ask a very tough, pointed question, I think you can get the sense that maybe this thing could make a -- take a little bit of a turn.

TUR: What sort of questions do you think we`re going to get from Republicans, Nick?

CONFESSORE: That`s a good question. I think we will see questions about this third meeting or fourth meeting, I`m losing track.

TUR: Potentially the Mayflower Hotel meeting.

CONFESSORE: Exactly. The Russian ambassador who was the man of mystery who was impossible to recall, apparently.

TUR: Yes.

CONFESSORE: I think we`ll see questions about that. I think we`ll see questions about his role in the Comey firing.

I do believe that it`s actually a smart move of him to do this in a public session. It`s not just being able to claim privilege. If he has a tough question, he can fall back and say it`s not appropriate for open session in the same way Comey did.

TUR: And there`s no closed session right now. He has not agreed to a closed session.

CONFESSORE: So, he can give the appearance of not avoiding questions in a way by saying, well, it`s too sensitive to discuss. And if Comey said it couldn`t be discussed in an open session, it`s hard for senators to demand that Sessions answer a question about it in an open session.

TUR: So, maybe he`ll do that with the conversations he had with the president or the conversations that he had with the FBI director. But how can he not testify and not be forthcoming about a potential third meeting that he might have had with the Russians?

FORD: But he`s not -- he`s not -- he must -- he must have a pretty good answer to this question if he`s willing to. Because I think that will be the headline tomorrow.

DEL PERCIO: Yes, he can`t win on that question unless he tells the truth. I mean, there is no of --

TUR: So, what is the truth?

FORD: We`ll find out.

DEL PERCIO: But what I want to know is those -- you know, we know that Director Comey wrote those memos on an FBI computer. I want to know if the FBI collected those memos and if Mr. Sessions has seen those memos, if he shared those memos with the president.

And, more importantly, did he go to senior staff who was mentioned in those memos to get their account of what happened? That`s what I`d ask about.

TUR: That`s a good question.

The other thing, Newt Gingrich. And this is -- this calls the question how much longer the Mueller investigation is going to go on and whether or not the White House might try to fire him. That conversation is starting to bubble up right now.

[17:15:08] Take a look at what Newt Gingrich said on Facebook live today.


SEN. NEWT GINGRICH (R), GEORGIA: I think that what Republicans ought to focus on is closing down the independent counsel because he`s not independent. He apparently is very close to Comey. We know Comey hates Trump. You have to assume that has to leak over to Mueller.

And you have to assume that the people that Mueller is going to bring in are, essentially, Justice Department people who were 33 to one in favor of Clinton over Trump. This clearly cannot be an honest, independent investigation.


TUR: He also -- he also sent a tweet out to that effect. But that is, you know, in direct conflict with the tweet he sent out about three weeks ago, where he said Robert Mueller is a superb choice to be counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. The media should now calm down.

Does he not know we can see his tweets?

DEL PERCIO: I don`t think it was about Mueller. I think it`s -- he realized, all of a sudden, that the president is going to get into a really tricky jam and that that`s why he`s pushing this conversation, having actually nothing to do with Mueller`s credibility.

TUR: So, Newt Gingrich is just, you`re saying, a patsy for the president this way?

DEL PERCIO: Well, I think he likes to be a strong supporter. Let`s put it that way.

FORD: (INAUDIBLE) Graham came out over the weekend and said this president could find himself escaping all the legal challenges associated with some of these big issues. But his constant tweeting and talking could find -- could land him in a very (INAUDIBLE.)

TUR: You know, we have that sound bite.

FORD: I think that`s what the speaker, Speaker Gingrich, might have been speaking to.

TUR: And we have that sound bit. Take a listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: But here`s what`s so frustrating for Republicans like me. You may be the first president in history to go down because you can`t stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that if you just were quiet, would clear you.

It`s frustrating for me to want to help a man who I think will do big things no other Republican would do, like immigration. This is not helping.


It`s like that parody (ph) video. We have that burial (ph).

Harold, Susan, Nick, stay with us.

Coming up, the secret service weighs in on the tale of the tapes.

And a new lawsuit puts the spotlight back on President Trump`s complicated ties to his business empire. I`ll talk with one of the attorneys general who filed the suit, ahead.



COMEY: Look, I`ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do tapes exist of your conversations?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I`ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.


TUR: President Trump continues to play coy about his suggestion that tapes exist in his Oval Office conversation with former FBI Director James Comey. President Secretary Sean Spicer said today that any announcement regarding tapes would come, quote, "when the president is ready to make it."

But this afternoon, "The Wall Street Journal" provided some new insight as to whether or not any tapes do, in fact, exist. The U.S. secret service told the paper that they do not have audio or transcripts of any tapes from the White House since President Trump took office on January 20th.

[17:20:08] That information was released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed last month. But the article points out that the secret service information does not exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another entity. NBC News has since confirmed this story.

More MTP DAILY in just 60 seconds.


TUR: Welcome back to MTP DAILY.

Today, President Trump is facing yet another legal challenge. The state attorneys general from Maryland and Washington, D.C. are suing the president, in part over foreign government payments at Trump hotels.

They argue that because President Trump did not divest from his business interests, he`s rolling over the emoluments clause. On Friday, the Justice Department responded to a different lawsuit filed by government -- the government watchdog group, Crew, which is also providing legal support for this case, arguing for its dismissal.

The DOJ`s 72-page brief points to a lack of previous emoluments clause cases, reaching all the way back to George Washington and his farm produce sales, as an example.

Joining me now for his first solo national interview since the suit was filed, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine.

Attorney General, thank you very much for joining us, first off.

RACINE: Good evening, Katy.

TUR: Your case argues that residents of the district and of Maryland are being affected by these violations of the emoluments clause. How can you prove that?

RACINE: Sure. Both Attorney General Frosh of Maryland and I assert two different bases for the argument that D.C. and Maryland residents are negatively impacted by Donald Trump`s Constitutional violations.

The first is, as attorney general, our jobs are to protect our residents. Our residents, of course, are protected by the same protections everyone has in this country related to the Constitution.

As you outlined at the beginning, President Trump is flagrantly violating the foreign emoluments clause by allowing foreign governments to do business with his businesses in Washington, D.C. Those violations, in and of themselves, we argue give us standing.

A second ground of standing is the negative impact that the Trump Hotel was having on both D.C. businesses as well as certain businesses in Maryland. Put simply, the businesses in D.C. and Maryland that compete with the Trump business are not competing on a level playing field.

TUR: Do you have any concrete --

RACINE: It`s clear --

TUR: -- examples of that?

RACINE: There are concrete examples and, indeed, we`re relying a lot on the fantastic press reports.

We know, for example, that a foreign nation had long scheduled a major event at a D.C. hotel only to cancel that event and move it over to the Trump Hotel.

TUR: Are you talking about the Embassy of Kuwait cancelling on the Four Seasons?

RACINE: That is correct. And as the reports indicate, the Kuwaiti government had long done business with the Four Seasons. And, of course, as you can see, living in D.C., the Trump Hotel is a bastion for foreign governments now. Diplomats populate that hotel every single day and we know exactly why they`re there. They`re there --

TUR: Well, if he -- go ahead.

RACINE: -- they`re there in order to conduct business with the president of the United States in order to have some level of influence with policies that impact their foreign governments.

TUR: How do you prove that, though? Would there not be a paper trail that there is some influence being had over the president`s decision making, in terms of overseas policy?

RACINE: Well, let me be clear. We don`t have to establish a quid pro quo in order to prevail. It`s enough that the Constitution, through its emoluments clause, a clause that we view as the country`s first anti- corruption law, had a blanket rule.

[17:25:11] It said that no federal officer, including the president, shall have a business where foreign governments are providing it with money or other benefits, unless Congress grants an exemption. And we know that the Republican Congress has not yet granted such an exemption.

TUR: Do you need to see the president`s tax returns, in order to understand the full scope of this?

RACINE: I think it`s important for us to see all kinds of information about the president`s businesses throughout the world.

TUR: If you`re allowed to proceed, --

RACINE: Right now, we`re --

TUR: -- will you try to get those tax returns?

RACINE: There is no doubt that we`ll proceed and try to get all the records that relate to the president`s businesses, and we do believe that the president`s tax returns could be relevant.

TUR: What about his family members?

RACINE: Right now, we`re focused on President Trump. He`s a federal office holder. He`s the person who`s the president of the United States. And he`s the individual who has sought fit to allow his business to receive moneys from foreign governments.

TUR: What would the tax returns show and would you not need to see 2017 tax returns over any past returns?

RACINE: Well, I think the fact of prior foreign entanglements would be relevant to the question as to whether those entanglements continue. For example, loans to certain foreign banks or foreign entities would be relevant. Business partnerships with certain foreign banks and foreign entities would be relevant. A whole swath of documentation that would reveal the full nature of Trump`s businesses.

TUR: Did -- the White House is saying that this is a purely political move. Did you guys attempt to get any Republican A.G.s on board with this?

RACINE: No, we did not. Brian Frosh and I focused on our own backyard, and that`s the Trump Hotel. We welcome Republican attorney generals to take a look at the lawsuit and join if they feel that it`s appropriate. My guess is that we won`t get that level of support.

TUR: Why not?

RACINE: Well, as you know, unfortunately, we`re living in a highly- partisan environment where the traditional checks and balances are not being applied. The first check and balance, frankly, would have been the president of the United States, himself, divesting himself from his businesses.

The second check and balance would be, of course, Congress asserting its rights and prerogatives in the emolument matter to require the president to divest his businesses.

What we`re doing is we`re invoking the check and balance. We have the case right where it should be, in a federal court. And the federal court will decide as to whether the Constitution has been violated.

TUR: Attorney General Karl Racine, thank you very much for your time, sir.

RACINE: Thank you, Katy.

TUR: Still ahead, a very unusual roundtable of flattery today at the White House. I hope you saw this.

Plus, is the path of most resistance the best strategy for Democrats to take back control of Congress?

Keep it right here.


KATY TUR, MEET THE PRESS SHOW HOST: It has been just over a week since the president injected covfefe into the vernacular. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president`s tweets are official statements and yes, that message too. President Trump deleted the covfefe tweet but he invited us to "figure out the true meaning of the word."

Now, one Democratic congressman offered and interpretation that could become legal. Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois introduced the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement Act, that is covfefe of course for short. Should it become law? Tweets officially become presidential records and therefore illegal to delete.

Still ahead, Connecticut congressman Rosa DeLauro discusses the strategy for progressive Democrats. But first, Hampton Pearson has the CNBC Market Wrap. Hi Hampton.

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTIN BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Hey Katy, we had stocks falling on Wall Street with another slump in tech stocks dragging the markets down. The Dow losing 36 points. The S&P down by two. The Nasdaq falling 32 points. Apple fell 2.5 percent following news the company will use slower modems in upcoming iPhones compared with the competition.

General Electric rose 3.8 percent. The company announced CEO Jeff Immelt will be replaced by John Flannery, current president and CEO of GE Healthcare. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.


TUR: Welcome back. The big challenge for Democrats on the Hill these days is what approach they want to take with the Republican majority in both chambers, and Donald Trump in the White House. How much should their strategy be built on resistance? Recently Chuck Todd sat down with Connecticut congressman Rosa DeLauro, one of the longest serving Democrats in the House and a major progressive voice in the party. She`s also the author of the news book "The Least Among Us: Waging the Battle for the Vulnerable." Chuck started by asking her to take read of the current atmosphere on Capitol Hill.


REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, I think it`s never been worse. I think that -- I have been there for 26 years. I`ve been through Newt Gingrich and the Tea Party. I think what`s worse about it at the moment is the inability to, you know, move forward and to get things done. And I think the country is counting on us to addressing the real problems, which are economic problems.

CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS SHOW HOST: What was -- what the message did you take away from the election? And look, I know for some it`s hard to separate the Russia investigation from the election, but let`s take the election results at face value. You`re a progressive, in some ways economically, while very supportive of Hillary Clinton, you do part ways on some things. What lessons do you take on where the Democratic Party should head?

DELAURO: Well, I think overall and I think that this is the -- it`s where we should go as a congress, and obviously I speak as a Democrat. The single biggest issue we face today is that people who are in jobs that don`t pay them enough. They`re struggling. It is very, very tough out there. And so what they are looking for, and they haven`t found in looking toward Washington, that they see any hope in sight for their future and the vision for their future.

I think that`s the direction that we need to go. You have to understand what people`s lives are about these days, and they`re trying to put food on the table, they`re trying to get their kids to school. They don`t think about retiring anymore, you know. And the whole economic -- their whole economic structure has collapsed for so many in this country.

TODD: You know, going through your book "The Least Among Us," in many ways sort of progressive populous manifesto and in some ways, the way I look at it. I mean you go in here in defense of the hungry, in defense of fair trade. And it sounds like what you just said about you believe and that one issue is people are in jobs that don`t pay enough.

It seems like your prescription is, OK, if this is the future of work, and you wish people paid more, but if it is, then our job in government is to provide an extra safety net so they don`t have to pay extra money on whether it`s child care, whether it`s health care, you name it. Is that your prescription here? Is that fair?

DELAURO: Well, my prescription is what has been the prescription historically in the United States. The social safety net began, you know, after the civil war with pensions for veterans. You fast-forward and then we look at social security, Medicare, Medicaid. You`ve got Lyndon Johnson with unemployment insurance and welfare. You move them to today where you`re looking at unemployment benefits, food stamps, income support for child tax credits, and hopefully someday we`ll look at the health care. But that is the social safety net which in the past has been supported by Democrats and Republicans.

TODD: I hear you making that point, yes, but we`ve had an ideological divide on this question for multiple generations, which is role of government. How much? How less? And so a conservative -- small government libertarian conservative would say you`re for expanding government all over the place, and they would say, once you give somebody these benefits, they`ll never get off of it. What do you say to that?

DELAURO: Well, I just say that they truly have no idea of what the reality is. And in terms of the ideological spectrum, George McGovern, Bob Dole, they are in hunger. They crossed this country and said we have a problem and hunger in the United States. And I talk about this in the book, and they came to a conclusion.

You have had Democrats and Republicans on income supports and child tax credits coming together. Every Democrat and Republican president except for recently has said when people are out of a job, let`s allow them to be able to get unemployment benefits.

TOPDD: I have a question for you because I`m always curious of this question for any member of Congress, because I think this has changed. Let`s say this piece of legislation that you`re just totally opposed to. You know it`s going to pass and you`re concerned that it`s going to pass and you think you might be able to have an opportunity to fix one part of it. And it`s going to pass, but in order to fix that one part, they`re going to want, you know, what`s your line of helping legislation you think is bad improve a little bit versus saying, you know what, Republicans, you own it. I`d rather run against you. What`s your line?

DELAURO: Well look, my philosophy is I try to, and again, described in the book, I worked to the very end to make the change that I believed ought to be made. I don`t throw in the towel. If I ultimately can`t get there --

TODD: What if it`s only -- what if it`s not perfect yet?

DELAURO: -- if I ultimately can`t get there, I`ll try to improve it. I will try to make it better, and if I can`t do that ultimately, then sometimes you`re faced with bad options and you have to vote for something. There are times quite frankly I did this with the Farm Bill. When you cut $20 billion in food stamps for the people of this country, you know, there are good things in there for the environment, good things for other parts of the country --

TODD: You voted against it for that one part.

DELAURO: I voted against that for that reason because it was wrong to deny food to people in this country. The story is in the book.


TUR: Still ahead, a Democratic battle in Virginia`s rice for governor. We`ll preview tomorrow`s primary, next.

And later, best compliment you could give the president.


TUR: Welcome back, like we love to stay around here, MTP Daily. If it`s Tuesday, it`s election day somewhere, and that somewhere tomorrow, Tuesday, will be Virginia where voters will head to the polls in the state`s primary for governor.

On the Democratic side, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and former diplomat and Congressman Tom Perriello have been racing around the state in these final hours making their last pitch in a primary that has largely turned into a contest to criticize President Trump. Polls have indicated they`re neck and neck.

It`s also created a juxtaposition of national progressive stars versus state Democrats where Perriello boasts support from the likes of Senators Barry sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, while Northam has been campaigning with Virginia`s three Democratic statewide office holders, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Senators Tim Kane and Mark Warner.

On the Republican side, former George W. Bush aide and RNC chair Ed Gillespie is the frontrunner facing Prince William County board of supervisors chair Corey Stewart and state senator Frank Wagner. Whoever wins the Republican primary tomorrow will have to overcome the face the dynamics in a state that is slowly turning increasingly blue. Hillary Clinton defeated Trump there by more than five points in November.

Next, we`ll dig into all of the special elections coming up and their possible national implications.


TUR: It`s time for the "Lid." Our panel is back, Harold Ford Jr., Susan Del Percio and Nick Confessore. Guys, I`d like to start by going around the table and if you can give me a compliment, I would appreciate it. No, I`m kidding, I`m kidding, I`m kidding. We`re going to get to that --


TUR: We`re jumping a segment. We`re going to get to that in a moment. Please don`t do that, it`s so awkward. Let`s start with the travel ban. Breaking news a little bit earlier today. The Ninth Circuit Supreme -- not Supreme Court -- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the stay on the ban and now it will go to the Supreme Court. Another blow to the president. They use the president`s own tweets against him, and Sean Spicer is saying that president`s tweets are official statements.

HAROLD FORD JR., FORMER CONGRESSMAN, TENNESSEE: George Conway Was right. The president should listen more closely to those around him about the tweets and now it could endanger his very first act and the thing that he said from the outset was urgent to get done. He said it had to be done because 90 days was going to pass. We are now 140 plus days. And thank god we`ve not had an attack on the nation. And it should go to the Supreme Court and John Roberts and his team will have a chance to weigh in.

TUR: It`s also reporting that the extreme vetting is the same as the vetting was during the Obama administration.

NICK CONFESORRE, POLITICAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: It`s all the same vetting, and the problem is that the previous administration was in fact vetting people who were coming in as refugees. In fact, if you were coming in on that program --

TUR: Two years?

CONFESSORE: Yes, it was among the tightest vetting anyone gets when they want to come into the country. So once again they are sort of captive to the exaggeration they indulged in the first place, and then now can justify that it was in policy because there isn`t really one on some levels.

I do think with Twitter it has a medium. It is the president`s most powerful weapon, but you can also shoot yourself in the foot with a shotgun any time when you`re done.

TUR: It`s a double-edged sword.

CONFESSORE: It`s just like, yes, double-edge sword. There`s a lot, you know, kind of pick your metaphor, but he is able to turn this incredible mouthpiece against himself.

TUR: Repeatedly and multiple subjects that he could benefit on --

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And not learn from it. You would think given the ruling today that he would learn not to comment on twitter about the ongoing investigation. His words --

TUR: And here are brought up in lawsuits left and right. His words were brought up in the Trump University lawsuit back in November of 2015. He told me he had the world`s greatest memory regarding the Muslims cheering in Jersey City after 9/11. And that was brought up in a lawsuit for Trump University and they said, you know, you said are the world`s greatest memory and he said I don`t remember saying that.

And those statements that come back to haunt him. Let`s talk about state races. The primary battle in Virginia, both of them are trying to see who can top the other to out-criticize the president. What does that say to you, Nick?

CONFESSORE: You know, it says that one of the few paths for Democrats right now is to attack the president. And look, I think there`s actually some downside or danger for that. I think the Democratic Party has a lot to figure out and I think that they are indulging themselves in the belief that they can ride the president`s unpopularity and problems back to power.

TUR: Which is what Hillary Clinton did during the election that didn`t necessarily work.

DEL PERCIO: But it`s also interesting on the Republican side that they`re going with a traditional Republican operator like Ed Gillespie. So, it does show we really are kind living 2016 all over again.

TUR: What do Democrats stand for, Harold?

FORD: Frank Bruni I thought wrote a great piece over the weekend about the challenges we`re facing. I think we`ve got to figure out to re-assert what our values are and then when it comes to issues, your position on issues will be defined that way. We got to be big tent party and we have to be about addition. I think a lot of times when you lose as we have you get real narrow and you begin to think you got to have a strict test for A, B, and C issues.

The country is going to re-elect us or put us back in power if we have the strong economic message. The fighting over some of the social issue, relevant, it`s important, but we`ve got to be big (INAUDIBLE) if we want to win this. You only win if you add more people to the ledger.

TUR: What about in Virginia with Perriello and Northaam. You have the progressives and national leaders versus the local leaders. Are you seeing that play out across the country? Is there a risk of fracturing much like we see with the Republican Party and Congress right now with the Freedom Caucus being very extreme and riding the Tea Party wave versus the more moderate Republicans?

FORD: There is but as Nick said well, the real uniter for Democrats is people dislike Trump. So if we want to have an intramural fight about whether it`s a progressive economic message, whether it`s a more or whether it`s Warren (ph) or a Warren message to be, Elizabeth Warren or Mark Warner to use a good Virginia politician.

At the end of the day, people got to come together and vote if they are against Trump. And that`s what these march is in protest shortly after the election. All those people didn`t vote or they were such Sanders supporters they couldn`t vote for Secretary Clinton. The question becomes what is the decision you make once all of this set.

DEL PERCIO: And to that point, I think you also if that momentum is carrying through. We saw in some early special elections in February and March. Now, this will hold through until June. Are they harnessing that energy?

TUR: We have the GA6, the Georgia election coming up pretty soon and we have Ossoff versus Handel there. Health care seems to be an issue that is popping up. You have 1 in 4 of Americans, only 1 in 4 approve of the GOP plan. And then you have the Atlanta Journal Constitution saying that 81 percent of voters out there in Georgia say that health care is extremely important or a very important priority. So, should Osoff just be running on healthcare alone instead of bringing up Trump? He`s not bringing him up that much.

DEL PERCIO: True. And he is running on health care and it is a message that is working. This is a seat of Republican swing by 20 points. Maybe in a tough situation 12, but it is definitely a referendum not maybe on Trump himself but certainly the policies coming up.

And let`s not forget this is also a little more upscale higher educated district in Georgia so, I think that you`re dealing with people who really see the implications of policy.

TUR: Handel pulls it off, bad, disastrous, not so bad for the Democrats? Quickly.

COFESSORE: Look, it`s bad for them, not disastrous. It`s hard to read anything into the one races. I do think that if she pulls it out, it shows you can`t again depend on a wave of Trump revulsion to give seats back to you. You have to fight for them and win them on the merits.

TUR: Guys, that will do it for us.

FORD: Just one prediction (ph). Ossof has got one.

TUR: I`ve got to get to our round table aside from here so I`m going to say good-bye to Harold, Susan, and Nick. I appreciate it. After the break we`ve been teasing it all hour, some not so secret admirers at the White House. You`ve got to see this.


TUR: And finally in case you missed it, we teased this earlier. Flattery will get you everywhere. Did you see this moment from the White House cabinet meeting this morning? President Trump started off with remarkable remarks about his administration`s milestones. Senior officials took the cue and what ensued was a full on flattery fest. Check this out.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- then your position of them -- we`ll ask these folks to go back and have a good day and we`re discuss our various reports.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATS: Greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to a president who`s keeping his word to the American people.

JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I can`t thank you enough for the privileges you`ve given me and leadership that you`ve shown.

ELAINE CHAO, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: I want to thank you for getting this country moving up again.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and blessing that you`ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.


TUR: The fawning caught Senator Schumer`s attention. The minority leader had a little bit of fun during his own meeting with staff members.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I want to thank everybody for coming. I just thought we`d go around the room. Lucy, how did we do on the Sunday show yesterday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your tone was perfect. You were right on message.

SCHUMER: Michelle, how did my hair look coming out of the gym this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have great hair. Nobody has better hair than you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, before we go any further I just want to say thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda.



TUR: Hopefully the president isn`t rubbed the wrong way by the light trolling from the senator. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In fact, that`s how I`m going to be starting off all of my show meetings from now on, word to the wise, back in the control room. If you want to catch me, you can always find me on twitter, that is @KatyTurNBC and you can find me on Facebook as well. That will do it for tonight. Chuck will be back in the chair tomorrow with more MTP Daily. "For The Record with Greta" starts right now.