MTP Daily, Transcript 7/14/2017

Guests: Stephen Hadley, Bill Walker, Eugene Robinson, Amy Walter

Show: MTP DAILY Date: July 14, 2017 Guest: Stephen Hadley, Bill Walker, Eugene Robinson, Amy Walter, Stephen Hadley

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: "MTP DAILY" with my friend Chuck Todd starts right now. Chuck, it is so nice to see you.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Well, it`s nice to see you. I could report it`s raining and it`s going to be raining a lot here later, in case you`re wondering, Miss Tur. But hope you have a good weekend.

TUR: I`m not jealous.

TODD: All right. If it`s Friday, who else was in the room where it happened?

(voice-over): Tonight, yet another after shock of the Trump junior meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, this has got another disturbing turn of events.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Why are we just now learning that an ex-Soviet counterintelligence officer was also there?

Plus, courting governors on Trumpcare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a former governor myself, I know just how important health care is to each and every one of you as you lead your states.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Are Republican governs the key of flipping Senate hold outs?

And, we`ll always have Paris. Exactly how long does it take for two presidents to shake hands? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful teeth-gritted friendship.

This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington. Yes, it`s a little rainy. Welcome to MTP DAILY.

If it`s Friday, it means there are shocking new details about that bombshell meeting with Russia that the White House did not tell us about. Folks, this week has been a giant P.R. political and possibly legal disaster for this administration.

Today, we learn that there was yet another person in that meeting or maybe two people or maybe three. We know one of them was a former Soviet intelligence officer who says he brought documents mentioning Clinton to the meeting.

Here`s what else we know. The Trump campaign was told the meeting was about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a government-backed effort to incriminate her. The issue of U.S. sanctions against Russia was brought up during the meeting so was the subject of dirt on Hillary Clinton.

You got all that? That, in itself, is the classified hurricane this administration is now grappling with. And to make matters worse, their responses this week have proven to be incomplete at best and untrue at worst.

When word of the meetings existence first broke last weekend, Donald Trump Jr., in consultation with the president and the White House on Air Force One, said it was primarily about adoption policy but that`s it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, U.S. CHIEF OF STAFF: It was a very short meeting. It was a meeting apparently about Russian adoption. And after about 20 minutes, the meeting ended and that was the end of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: There was certainly no mention of Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a conversation about easing Russian sanctions which was holding up U.S. adoptions.

Then, we learned that the Trump campaign took the meeting after being promised Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton. We also learned that they talked about some Russian sanctions, too.

But, really, that was it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR COUNSELOR, DONALD TRUMP: The comments people are making about any type of information on Hillary Clinton were vague. They were meaningless. Others exited the meeting very quickly. The meeting itself was very brief.

There was no information given. There was no action taken. There was no follow-up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: There was certainly no mention of the Russian lawyer being part of a government-backed effort to support Trump and incriminate Clinton.

On Tuesday, we learned they were explicitly told the Russian lawyer was part of a government-backed effort to support Trump and incriminate Clinton. But really, really, that`s it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, as far as you know, as far as this incident is concerned, this is all of it?

DONALD TRUMP JR.: This is everything. This is everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: There was certainly no mention of a former Soviet counterintelligence officer also in the meeting.

Today, we learned that a former Soviet counterintelligence officer was also in the meeting. But really, really, really, that`s it.

The White House again dismissed the story this morning, insisting, quote, "We`ve been forthcoming since the very beginning." Unquote.

There was certainly no mention of other people accompanying the Russian lawyer and the former counterintelligence officer.

Then, Trump Jr.`s attorney told us here at NBC News that there was another person in the meeting or maybe two. But really, really, really, really, that`s it.

Oh, and to top it all off, the president`s outside lawyer responded to a critic by sending an obscene and threatening message in writing.

And what do we see today? Shake-ups in both Mr. Trump`s and Jared Kushner`s legal teams.

Folks, along the way, we were also given various justifications and distractions by the president, himself, about this meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing happened from the meeting. But it`s very standard where they have information and you take the information.

So, I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch. Now, maybe that`s wrong. I just heard that a little while ago, but I was a little surprised to hear that. So, she was here because of Lynch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And as we told you yesterday, here`s what Trump seems to be saying with that answer. Nothing happened but it`s OK if something did happen in a totally appropriate meeting with someone I`m surprised was ever allowed into the country. Oh, by the way, by Democrats. But that`s it, really.

[17:05:12] I`m joined now by Ken Dilanian, NBC News Intelligence and National Security Reporter. All right, Ken, I -- even though we were trying to lay this out very step by step here for folks to keep up where we started on Sunday afternoon and where we are today, do we know everybody that was in that meeting? And do we know at least the number of people who were in this meeting, at this point?

KEN DILANIAN, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, NBC NEWS: Chuck, we don`t know either fact. We -- there`s been reports just in the last hour of a name of a translator who may or may not have been at that meeting. NBC News has not been able to confirm those reports. We`re reaching out to this person.

And there`s also some evidence that there was yet another unnamed person in the meeting who was not -- who was not the translator nor the Russian lobbyist nor the Russian lawyer. So, there`s still things to be learned about this meeting, Chuck.

But the larger question, really, in my mind, and it has been all day, is what explains the disconnect between the very specific promise of Russian help from the Aguilar (ph) family which, don`t forget, is business with -- was in business with the Trump family. The very specific problems has made via e-mail and this, kind of, nothing burger of a meeting, as described by both the Russian side and the Trump side. They both tell it the same way.

TODD: Right. Now, you broke -- you helped break this story this morning about the addition of that counter -- former counterintelligence officer, Ranot (ph). We -- at the time, we weren`t ready to name him. Now we have. Ranot Akmakshin (ph). I hope I have pronounced his name correctly. Tell me more about him.

KILANIAN: He is a classic Washington operative, Chuck. You and I know people like this around town. He was a lobbyist. He was born in Russia. He served -- he did serve some time in the Soviet military where he did a counterintelligence job. I wouldn`t make too much of that.

He came to the United States. He became a citizen. He`s kind of known as a fixer. He`s been called the hired gun. He works in the shadows. He does political work. He does corporate intelligence work. And he has -- he has definitely lobbied on some -- on some causes that have been favorable to Vladimir Putin.

And most specifically this Magnitsky Act sanctions case where he and his -- and this Russian lawyer who attended the meeting have been arguing against the law ungirding the sanctions and against the story that led Congress to pass that law. And that`s what they say they were presenting to the Trump administration.

And also, as part of that, they were talking about some what they viewed as shady contributions to the DNC that they thought Trump folks might be interested in. The Trump people say they weren`t interested. That it was, as I said, a nothing burger.

TODD: Now, there has now been reports that they left some documents with Donald Trump Jr. and the campaign, but there`s been some confusion about what exactly they left. Was it treasure trove? Was it a two-page deal? What was it? What do we know?

DILANIAN: Well, the lawyer told NBC News, in that exclusive interview earlier this week, that she brought with her a two-page document that kind of summarized all this criticism of the Magnitsky Act, sanctions issue. And as one small part of that she said it referred to some shady money going to the DNC, and she wasn`t clear whether she left the document with them or showed them the document.

Now, in subsequent accounts that were not the Russian American lobbyist has given to other news organizations. That story has gotten amped up a little bit and he`s portrayed it as a more substantive thing.

But either way, it doesn`t seem to have been the kind of derogatory information that the Ago Lara (ph) seemed to be promising in that e-mail exchange.

TODD: All right, Ken Dilanian. I`m sure in the next 30 minutes or so we might get yet another update on what we know about this meeting.

DILANIAN: It was a good day, Chuck.

TODD: All right.

DILANIAN: A good day.

TODD: Ken, thanks very much.

Let me bring in tonight`s panel. "Cook Political Report" Amy Walter, "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC Political Analyst Eugene Robinson, and Hugh Hewitt, of course Host of MSNBC`s "Hugh Hewitt" which you will see on this channel tomorrow. Welcome all.

Amy Walter, there`s, sort of, a rule in town about crisis management.

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, "THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Yes.

TODD: When you have bad news, get it out.

WALTER: Get it all out.

TODD: Get it all out.

WALTER: Yes.

TODD: Oh, by the way, get it all out quickly.

WALTER: Yes, that`s not the case. In fact, they seem to be doing everything -- it`s like opposite day. Let`s do it the exact wrong way and then try to figure it out as we go along.

The fact that we`re on day six of this story is pretty remarkable. And it`s clear that we could be on day seven, eight, nine and 10. And it`s also clear that whether we`re talking about Don Jr. and this e-mail and this meeting, we know that there are going to be more stories coming out in the next few weeks that may have nothing to do with this actual meeting. But may have other meetings maybe that Jared Kushner took or that other members of the Trump administration when they were on the campaign took.

The idea that -- and Trey Gowdy, the Congressman from South Carolina, made this clear the other day. Just put everything out there today. This idea that you would still, at this time, be battling the question of transparency is remarkable to me.

[17:10:04] EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yet they don`t. They don`t put everything out, and that`s the -- I mean, that`s the big question, right?

And, you know, look, I know a lot of people, including a lot of conservatives, Charles Krauthammer who wrote this morning, Ross Doffit (ph) from "The New York Times" who wrote yesterday. People who said, well, you know, this whole collusion thing, this is kind of far-fetched.

TODD: And no there there yet.

ROBINSON: Right. You know, I mean, there are all sorts of problems with Trump and the Trump White House. But it was hard for people to imagine that they would actually take a meeting after getting an e-mail saying, hey, look, I`ve got some dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government which wants to help you beat her in the election.

TODD: Right.

ROBINSON: And the response would be, I love it. Come on over. That`s -- that was really unthinkable for a lot of people. Yet it happened.

HUGH HEWITT, MSNBC HOST: And the good news about this nightmare, and it is a nightmare for Republicans and the Trump administration, it`s driving home an old rule. If you remember Guy Richie`s movie "Snatch," Avi -- cousin Avi is played by Dennis Farina.

And he comes through customs. He`s asked if is he has anything to declare. And he says, yes, don`t go to England. Don`t take meetings with foreign nationals, especially don`t take meetings with Russians. And the whole generation of new appointees is learning this.

TODD: But is it possible -- and I -- is it possible that the reason of the piece meeting of it is they haven`t done the basics yet. I don`t think the basics have been done like --

HEWITT: That`s scary.

TODD: Tell us everything -- it`s possible everybody else knows.

ROBINSON: Right. I absolutely think that`s right.

WALTER: Right. But the fact that we`re still -- that Jared Kushner is amending, once again, his -- and how many more things did he amend to this? Multiple.

TODD: A hundred -- supposedly a hundred different foreign contacts.

WALTER: Right. So, look, we all know during the campaign and right in the immediate aftermath of the campaign, nobody expected that Donald Trump was going to win in the first -- win the nomination. They weren`t prepared to be the general election candidate. And when they did, when they weren`t prepared to make the transition into the White House. That was very clear.

But at some point, with all of this swirling around, you should say, you know what I should probably do? I should probably get somebody around me who knows how to do this and who can help us in a world we don`t know anything about.

TODD: Do we think that the legal shake ups today -- and, by the way, I have a statement from Jamie Gorelick now. We just got a statement -- who is Jared Kushner`s attorney. And this is what -- we know that there`s a -- seems to be a change in who`s the lead attorney now for Jared Kushner.

She`s says, of course I`m still part of Jared Kushner`s legal team. As we have stated, once Bob Mueller and three of our partners left the firm to form the special counsel`s office, we advised Jared to get independent legal advice on whether to continue with us as counsel, referring to herself and some other lawyers.

As a result of this process, Jared decided that Abbe would represent him in the Russia-related inquiries. We are currently helping Abbe`s team. We will continue to work on the matters for which we were originally retained.

HEWITT: Abbe`s team is Abbe Lowell. Abbe Lowell -- I interviewed with the Lowell Brand (ph) back when it was a known firm. It`s a different firm now. He`s well-known as the best lawyer for this situation.

TODD: If you`re dealing with the government, if you`re fighting the government, you get Abbe Lowell.

HEWITT: (INAUDIBLE), you get Abbe Lowell. All right, those two are the dream team. And so, yes, they`re upping their game.

What is scary, from the perspective of a conservative like me, is that they haven`t done the vet and that there are more meetings. Because the cumulative effect of more meetings would be devastating upon anyone attempting to excuse this as inexperience.

TODD: This -- I tell you, though -- and we`re going to get into this a lot on Sunday. But this feels like this is a significant meeting now. And whether it was or wasn`t, and they keep trying to say it wasn`t, obviously the way this meeting has been -- but you line it up with the timeline and suddenly it looks -- if you`re Bob Mueller, it gives you circumstantial evidence to prove they wanted to collude.

ROBINSON: Absolutely it does. It gives you that just off the bat. And then, it gives you that whole e-mail chain that has little arrows pointing in various directions.

So, there`s a reference, at one point, that makes it sound as if there were a phone call, for example, perhaps between Goldstone and Donald Trump Jr. So, you find out about the phone call. You find out about all these people in the meeting. We`re up to eight now, I guess.

You know, it`s -- Bob Mueller, I guess, is saying, thanks.

HEWITT: But one thing that Ken said -- one thing that Ken said is don`t make too much of the fact that he was a former Soviet counterintelligence.

ROBINSON: Right.

HEWITT: That`s all that I`ve heard all day long.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: By the way, let`s put that aside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s an American.

TODD: By the way, we`ve been wanting to understand motive a little bit better on Putin`s part. And I am -- in some ways, the best thing to happen in this part of the scandal is people are learning about this act and what this was about. And this was a punishment.

ROBINSON: Yes.

TODD: And Putin -- basically, the entire relationship with the U.S. changed with the passage of this law.

ROBINSON: Yes.

TODD: And he has been obsessed with it because it basically exposed him as an Oligarch (ph) and he`s been trying to basically punish the United States ever since. It`s a big deal.

WALTER: Right, that is a big deal. But I still think, for most Americans, it still comes back to we know why Putin would want to have this influence. The question has always been, yes, but would the Trump campaign actually collude with them to do something?

[17:15:02] And, look, we still don`t have the answer to this. I don`t think the four-page e-mail is going to give us -- legally, it`s not -- it`s still not clear.

But to Eugene`s point, we are only seeing four pages of e-mails. What Bob Mueller has, what the Congressional committees have who are investigating this, they`ve got a whole lot more that we don`t know anything about.

Now, maybe it may be exculpatory and this is going to lead to no legal election.

HEWITT: It`s a long road to espionage.

WALTER: But it`s a long, long, long (INAUDIBLE.)

TODD: I want to -- you know, you picked up the papers this morning and last night. You don`t pick up the papers but you go through. Before I fell asleep and I saw "Politico," Jared Kushner complaining about the White House not helping. And somewhere else, Trump`s legal team complaining about not getting paid. And people in the Trump -- my -- I mean, it seems like the White House itself is toxic.

HEWITT: Well, it`s in chaos because you have a story today, a crisis today, and the president is trying to do macron. But I point out -- I want to go back. It`s a long way to espionage. There`s a lot of time to recover.

And, more importantly, they have to get ready for 18 USC 1001. Because when Mr. Mueller sits down or any of his deputies with any member of the Trump family or any member of the administration, ask specific questions, they`re all under penalty of perjury if they answer even one thing wrong. And so, this is going to go on for years.

TODD: And this is -- comes back to the issue of where it sounds like the legal teams were fighting over Jared Kushner and Donald Trump have to figure out how to create a firewall between them on this.

ROBINSON: Exactly. They can`t just -- you know, Kushner can`t just drop into the Oval Office and have a chat with the boss about this.

TODD: Here, to me, seems to be the problem. It`s probably in the best interest of the president to get Kushner out of the west wing. But then, that in it -- that action, in itself, would look -- becomes --

WALTER: Right, it becomes a big story. Right.

TODD: Yes, it feels like he`s trapped here.

HEWITT: I would love to hear Abbe Lowell talking to him, obviously we`ll never hear that, about the advice. Because a criminal defense lawyer, and I know a lot of them, white collar defense lawyers, would probably be advising the client to leave. Jared Kushner probably doesn`t want to leave because he wants to bring peace to the Middle East. And so, there`s a division here.

But your lawyer is probably saying, leave.

TODD: It`s just -- it would be much easier. But they`ve never taken the easy way out in handling this.

ROBINSON: And somehow, I don`t think they will.

TODD: Yes, that`s history. All right, guys, stick with us. I am curious how much blame does Russia get if health care goes down? Ponder that question the next time we see you.

Coming up, you heard Donald Trump Jr. say his meeting was about adoptions. Well, when the Russians say adoptions, they really mean something else. We`re going to explain.

And we`re going to have much more on the unfolding of the Russia scandal this Sunday on "MEET THE PRESS." I`ll talk with Jay Sekulow of the Trump legal team and the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner.

And we`re still going to talk some health care as well. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn joins me exclusively, as the man who has got to count the votes to see if they can get that bill through.

That`s this Sunday on your local NBC station. Please don`t miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back.

You are looking live at the second best fireworks display on earth. It`s at the Eiffel Tower in celebration of Bastille Day. I will always maintain the National Mall on July fourth has a better one. But, hey, a little fun rivalry there.

[17:20:06] Earlier day, of course, President Trump was the guest of honor as France`s Bastille Day parade. French President Emmanuel Macron stood with Mr. Trump at the massive military march along the Shance Zel Eza (ph). In addition to marking the storming of the Bastille prison, which helped spark the French revolution, this year`s parade also commemorated the 100th anniversary the United States entering into World War I alongside France.

In their initial meetings, Mr. Trump and Mr. Macron had stiff exchanges that seemed to amplify their often opposing political views. But both emphasized their personal friendship during this trip.

And, today, the two world leaders engaged in a possibly record-setting hand shake down, if you will. Hands clasped, fingers locked, Macron, Trump. They held on for longer than we have time to show you, 29 seconds in all if you really want to watch it. But the passionate fist grip had to eventually come to an end. President Trump did have a plane to catch. We`ll have more MTP DAILY right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back.

As we now know from the e-mails released by Donald Trump Jr., what he wanted from the meeting what someone described as a Russian government attorney was evidence that would incriminate Hillary Clinton. What he got from that meeting apparently is less clear. But the Trump team insists the meeting was all about one thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR.: It just was, sort of, nonsensical and then garbled (ph) and then quickly went onto, you know, a story about Russian adoption and how we could possibly help.

JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY, DONALD TRUMP: The meeting was about the adoption issue, so that was a correct statement he made. That`s all it was about.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I see it, they talked about adoption and some things. Adoption wasn`t even a part of the campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: If the crux of this meeting was really all about adoption, so what, right? That seems like an innocuous issue. But it`s a lot more complicated that.

In 2012, President Obama signed what was called the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law that targeted specific Russian officials for human rights` abuses. In retaliation, Russian President Vladimir Putin halted all U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans which is how we get back to the issue of adoptions.

Here`s how "The New York Times" puts it. From the Russian perspective, whether the younger Mr. Trump and his associates knew it at the time or not, the issues of adoptions and sanctions are so inextricably linked as to practically be synonymous.

Joining me now, Stephen Hadley, who served as national security advisor to President George W. Bush and always somebody that can help me out with some of these national security things. Hello, sir.

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Nice to be with you.

TODD: Let me start with this issue of the Magnitsky Act and when it was passed and why it is so infuriated of Vladimir Putin.

HADLEY: Well, it is clearly was a watershed because it identified, really, a vulnerability of his regime. How he is treating dissidents. And provided a mechanism to hold people to account within his administration who participated in any way in this, you know, really murder of Magnitsky who was denied medical assistance for a year and died in jail.

And this, I`m sure if you`re Vladimir Putin, is the most extreme form of intrusion into the internal affairs of another country. Actually, providing a vehicle to designate those officials who were involved in Magnitsky`s arrest and captivity and treatment during the time he was in prison.

TODD: Now, you identified it as a vulnerability. And, in fact, some have said that his inability to stop this suddenly made some Oligarchs that he had been friendly with, think, wait a minute. You don`t have the pull that you said you`d have? You couldn`t do this. And so, suddenly, he feared that some of these guys could turn on him?

[17:25:04] HADLEY: I`m not sure how serious that is. It`s just a vehicle that would continually keep that issue alive, continually point that out in a way that he particularly found unfair. And, of course, being Vladimir Putin, he then had his own list of officials that he sanctioned --

TODD: Right.

HADLEY: -- for various sorts of activities. The rationale is not clear. And, of course, he pulled adoption using in addition --

TODD: Right.

HADLEY: -- an incident where a Russian adopted child was probably abused by his American parents.

TODD: Is this fair to say that this -- the ultimate motivation here, then, right, this Russian interference campaign in our election, that it be -- that it -- that it truly was this incident that, sort of, triggered it. And then, the subsequent, sort of, pile on is that it got worse and worse and worse?

HADLEY: Look, I think Vladimir Putin is -- we`re back in an ideological struggle. It`s not the cold war. The cold war is not back. But we are in an ideological struggle.

And President Putin is trying to discredit western ideals of democracy and freedom. And, of course, the best way to do it is if he can discredit our system. And that`s really what is -- what is going on here.

And you see it in his interference. If he can -- you know, for his objectives, if he can show -- sow chaos and show disarray in the political system and put himself at the center of the news every day in this country, as he has been, this is an enormous success for Russia and for Putin.

For Putin, it says -- it sends a message to Russians that Russia is back. It`s at the center stage. And, secondly, it`s part of a campaign of discrediting us. He basically wants to show that our system is no better than his.

TODD: Right. It`s always been what aboutism. Every time (INAUDIBLE.) Right.

HADLEY: So, we targeted a group of individuals that are close to him. He`s going to target a group of individuals close to the U.S. administration.

He really wants to show a moral equivalence at least. And if he can discredit American freedom and democracy, so much the better. We`re back in an ideological struggle.

TODD: Let me ask you just something that you can help -- and I`m not asking you to know the details on the security clearance process involving Jared Kushner. But you`ve got to get a security clearance to be national security advisor.

HADLEY: Sure.

TODD: Explain the form a little bit and explain this issue of why you have to identify any foreign contacts you may have had over a certain period of time? Why is that so important?

HADLEY: Well, the concern is that you might be an agent of a foreign power. And that there might be a relationship that either you`ve been paid to serve the foreign power or there may be something that is done that the foreign power could use to blackmail you to cause you to betray your confidence to -- your commitment and your loyalty to the United States.

And so, what they try to do is they get a list of all the foreign travel, all the foreign trips you`ve ever taken. Where were you? How long were you there? What business you were doing. And any contacts you had with foreigners. Which if you`re in the business of foreign --

TODD: I was just going to say, how do you fill that -- how do you fill that form out?

HADLEY: It`s pretty a tough -- and if you travel to conferences and the like, as a lot of us do, you know, your form gets to be pretty long.

TODD: Who polices this? Who decides -- you know, ultimately, is it -- is it the FBI? I know in this case -- look, the president can decide who sees classified information at the end of the day. That I understand that that`s in the power of the presidency. But setting that aside, who`s the - - who is, sort of, the intermediaries here?

HADLEY: Well, they`re -- you know, when you submit your form, someone will then come and interview you. And they will ask you any -- about anything that seems problematic with respect to your form.

And one of the problems is, really, whether the people that are reviewing that form know enough about the kinds of lives people lead who are, you know, seeing foreigners and going to conferences and all the rest, so that they`re really able to identify, within all the long list of trips and contacts, what might be problematic.

TODD: It`s usually an FBI agent, right? Because I`ve gotten calls as --

HADLEY: FBI or a contract person.

TODD: Right. I`ve been -- I`ve gotten calls as, sort of, saying, hey, so- and-so says they know you. Do you know this person, type of a thing.

HADLEY: Look, I think, you know -- and this is a risky thing to say. But I think, at some point, we need to ask ourselves and someone needs to step back and say, is this really the most effective tool for doing what the purpose of this process is?

TODD: (INAUDIBLE) you have probabilities. Yes.

HADLEY: Identify people who have vulnerabilities that makes them liable to be used as a foreign agent. That`s the goal.

And I think, in some measure, it`s become a very bureaucratic exercise. Someone really needs to step back and say, is this the best way, really, to defend the country and ensure that the people acting on its behalf are not vulnerable?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: . become a very bureaucratic exercise. Someone really needs to step back and say is this the best way really to defend the country and ensure that the people acting on its behalf are not vulnerable.

CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS DAILY SHOW HOST: All right. I`ve run out of time. I`d like 16 other topics. When you hear, I love to get to you, but fortunately, we didn`t get to that. We had an interesting, rare Rex Tillerson interview expressing a little frustration. We`ll get to that a little bit later. Good to see you, sir.

HADLEY: Nice to be here.

TODD: Stay with MSNBC tonight for the second installment of the special series "On Assignment" with Richard Engel. It`s been great so far, don`t miss this one. Richard joins U.S. troops in Northern Iraq and reports from the front lines of the battle for Mosul. That`s tonight at a special time, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. And still ahead, are U.S. governors the lifeline Trumpcare needs?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Still ahead on "MTP Daily," the fate of the senate health care bill may rest on what governors think. I`ll talk to one of them in a moment. But first, Josh Lipton with Friday "CNBC Market Wrap."

JOSH LIPTON, CNBC TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Chuck. The Dow and S&P notched new record highs. The Dow gains 84 points. The S&P adds 11. The Nasdaq is up 38. U.S. industrial production rose for a fifth straight month, up .4 percent in June. The number was bolstered by a more than 1-1/2 percent increase in mining output last month.

Meanwhile, retail sales fell for a second straight month. Commerce Department reports decline of 0.2 percent in June, noting few receipts at clothing stores, supermarkets, and service stations. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back. Stop me if you`ve heard this one before. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the senate will be voting on a Republican health care bill next week. (inaudible) all over again. But to get the bill passed, McConnell needs to persuade Republican senators from state that expanded Medicaid to get on board. There are at least six Republicans from those states that are not solid yes on this bill including Alaska`s Lisa Murkowski.

About 35,000 Alaskans gained Medicaid coverage from the expansion laid out Obamacare. In total, around 187,000 Alaskans are on Medicaid, about a quarter of the state`s population. The new senate health care bill would cut federal funding for the Medicaid expansion eventually putting the cost for non-states.

Republicans know Senator Murkowski is in a pretty tough spot so they`ve included a so called carve out in the latest version of the legislation that could net Alaska and only Alaska hundreds of millions of extra dollars in health care fund. Murkowski says she wants to talk to folks back home in Alaska before she makes a final decision on how to vote. But before this carve out was created, she had said she wasn`t going to get bought off very easily. One of the folks she`s sure to talk to is the governor of Alaska, Bill Walker.

Governor Walker joins me now from the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. Governor Walker, I should let the audience know you are America`s only current independent governor, not an R, not a D, and appropriately, you`re not wearing red or blue. You`re wearing purple. So welcome to the show, sir.

GOV. BILL WALKER (I), ALASKA: Thank you very much.

TODD: Let me ask you your initial reaction to the new version of this health dare bill and specifically your reaction to this carve out that will benefit Alaska specifically.

WALKER: Well, it`s a bit of the process that concerns me. Yes, part of the insurance will benefit Alaska, but it`s really the Medicaid part that concerns me, the long-term, as you appropriately stated, one in four Alaskans are receiving some method of Medicaid benefits.

So, it`s really the whole package I`m concerned about and it`s coming awfully quick at us and so if it is not a way to pause it, I guess I would like to see it split apart in some way so that the Medicaid is taken out of the insurance side of it. So there`s really two bundled together and I think that`s a concern for me.

TODD: I saw that Senator Lisa Murkowski said something similar this week, that she wishes they would put the Medicaid aspect out. Let me ask you this. I know that Tom Price, the Health and Human Services secretary is there, Vice President Pence is there, have you spent any time with them yet, either one of them, and if so, what`s the case they make to you to be more optimistic about this bill?

WALKER: Well, I have spent time with both of them, but not necessarily on this particular issue. I did speak with Secretary Price about this and, again, conveyed my concern that I`ve just stated that, you know, we`re concerned about the -- on the Medicaid -- a fairly significant rewrite of Medicaid and a process that really doesn`t go through the normal process for a bill to be written for input and analysis to be done. You know, I haven`t -- in fairness, I`ve not seen the scoring yet, which we`ll see that next week--

TODD: Right.

WALKER: -- but just a general concern is I`m a process person and I`m concerned about the process that we`re using.

TODD: Great Obamacare in Alaska. Has this been a good thing for Alaska? A bad thing? Does it work? Just give me the basics here. What`s your take?

WALKER: Well, I think it was an improvement, but I think it certainly can be improved upon. And we certainly saw certain areas, the increase in premiums. You know, we do have the highest cost of health care in the nation by a significant margin. You know, we do have when you call an ambulance in some states, they go a couple miles. In Alaska you call an ambulance, it might be a Med-Vac (ph) to get out. Could be a cost of 50,000 to 150,000. So, Alaska is very unique in many regards, so we try to take that into consideration.

TODD: What is something you say it could be improved upon? So if Obamacare ends up staying in place, what changes do you need to make it work better?

WALKER: Well, we need to make sure we have something that will bring down our costs and so we`re looking at certainly doing things internally as a state because we feel that`s certainly our obligation, but also areas that the federal government can help as well. You know, we don`t have a lot of choices in Alaska on insurance coverage. We only have one carrier. So that`s a concern as well. So there certainly could be some improvements that could allow more competition in that area.

TODD: I was just going to say, though, I`ve got actually close relative in Anchorage and one of the obvious things that he always tells me is like, look, it`s not just the insurance choice issue, it`s access to basic health care, specialists. There may only be one or two, and they can charge whatever they want.

WALKER: You know, we do have -- unfortunately, we do have that situation. We have a lot of people that it`s been actually cheaper to go to Seattle for certain procedures than to have them done in Alaska. We hate to see that kind of outsourcing of medical services, but it`s not a real competitive market in some of our specialty services that`s for sure.

TODD: Bottom line, are you going to ask Senator Murkowsi -- and by the way, Dan Sullivan has not said he`s a definite yes on this. I know most people think he`s more likely to vote for it than Senator Murkowski. What are you going to ask them to do? Do you want them to vote on this or not? Do you want them to vote yes on this bill or not?

WALKER: Well, what I`m going to say to them and they`re a lot closer to it than I am obviously because they have access to information, I don`t have access. My whole thing is to make sure that whatever is done, it doesn`t hurt Alaskans.

TODD: And what does that mean in this case? Does that mean more guaranteed on the Medicaid side or from what you`ve seen, is this not good enough for what you need?

WALKER: Well, I don`t want to see Alaskans lose coverage. When I expanded Medicaid, about 40,000 Alaskans -- 35,000 received benefits. So I want to make sure we don`t lose that.

TODD: And do you think right now that that would be the case or not, or you don`t know yet?

WALKER: I don`t know yet. I don`t know the specifics of whether that`s the case or not. But that`s just the litmus test that I have, let`s make sure whatever happens, it doesn`t hurt Alaskans.

TODD: All right. Governor Walker. Like I said, America`s only independent governor. In this polarized times, it`s worth highlighting that. Sir, thanks for coming on, appreciate it.

WALKER: Thank you so much.

TODD: All right. Up next, can you go four for four in our Ty Cobb quiz?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with Ty Cobb. No, not that Ty Cobb. That Ty Cobb. And maybe both Ty Cobbs. Quiz time. Which Ty Cobb was just hired to join President Trump`s legal team? If you said the Ty Cobb on the right, give yourself a point. OK, which Ty Cobb had a lifetime batting average of 366? The Ty Cobb on the left.

Which Ty Cobb was a great pitcher and a home run hitter as way too many reporters noted today? Trick question, neither. That`s fake news. Ty Cobb the player was a center fielder (ph) who averaged about five home runs a year. Big stolen base guy and hitter, guys. Finally, which Ty Conn has been compared on Twitter to Wilford Brimley? Come on. That`s a gimme.

That was fun like (inaudible) points in your SAT. Turns out though the two Ty Cobbs are related, but there is no evidence at all that Ty Cobb the lawyer is the violent racist that Ty Cobb the player of course was. And unlike Ty Cobb the player, our guess is Ty Cobb the lawyer probably at least in this case isn`t a lefty. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Time for "The Lid." Panel is back. Amy Walter, Eugene Robinson, Hugh Hewitt. Hugh, you have made no secret that you will publicly chastise the Republicans that vote no on health care if they do that in the United States senate. You`ve made that crystal clear. If this goes down, though, how much responsibility is on the White House?

HUGH HEWITT, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANAYLST: I don`t think much. I think this is on the Republican senators. You cannot campaign to repeal and replace for eight years and win three out of four elections and then not open debate. It will be a titanic amount of hypocrisy.

TODD: It`s easier -- you`d think -- you`d rather them open the debate and vote no and not open a debate at all.

HEWITT: Yes. You cannot not debate this. You might in the end say I can`t swallow the focus of this on provision. But the hypocrisy would be monumental.

TODD: Eugene, it`s interesting to me how many people believe that the decision about bringing the bill to the floor is to vote to watch.

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.

TODD: That why would say -- let`s say if Capito, Portman, Heller, Murkowski, they all decide to put out a joint statement, none of them want to own it, this bill isn`t ready.

ROBINSON: Right.

TODD: Right. This bill isn`t ready. What is the impact of that?

ROBINSON: Well, it kills the bill, number one. And number two, look, I think that not voting to repeal and replace Obamacare is bad for Republican incumbents because they might get primary but good for the Republican Party because I think if they pass this bill, I think that in a larger sense, bad for the Republican Party in 2018.

TODD: Amy, what I`m struck with and granted -- look, Governor Walker from Alaska, he doesn`t want to see any of it go away, but nobody is excited about this bill. You don`t find anybody that says it is all, look, it`s not what I`m looking for, but I`m going to support it.

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: There has been not one positive message.

TODD: Pat Toomey might be the only one that`s happy because he got that one provision he wanted on Medicaid.

WALTER: But even then, we learned this in 2009, 2010. Democrats spent so much political capital getting that across the finish line. And then they said, we don`t really need to sell it because it is going to come to sell itself, right? People are going to be so excited they`re going to have access to health care. And by the way, it doesn`t get implemented in any way for another few years.

So people aren`t going to feel the immediate impacts. Guess what? Republicans spent like billions of dollars over the course of two different campaigns -- it wasn`t billions, but millions of dollars, saying that Obamacare is terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. Democrats never made the case for why it was good. And this is what should worry Republicans right now.

I write about it this week, but just in the last couple of months, in those states that you have been mentioning where they`re the swing senators, almost $6 million has been spent on ads saying this bill is terrible, vote against it, senator. There has not been one piece of advertising saying why it`s good, not one.

TODD: Strategically whoever is in charge of this, whether it is NRSC, the Trump super pack, this has been a big bungle it seems.

HEWITT: The politics of the messaging has been poor. Put the politics aside. I thin the Republican Party is terribly branded with their base if they don`t deliver. But on the policy, the people who are excited are people like me who believe in the devolution of authority to local governments to improve and improvise in the delivery of health care system which this bill does.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: (inaudible) is not senator X. (inaudible) is not vice president Y.

WALTER: Will the members of congress (inaudible) because they have to be able to sell this back home once they make that vote, can they make that case? Because I think you`re right. I think you can have an actual debate between do you want to stick with Obamacare, which people didn`t really love, try something new which people don`t really love and according to polls love even less, make a real argument or say we don`t even want to talk about it at all, let`s go talk about tax reform instead. And the other side is going to spend all that time labeling it terrible.

HEWITT: I defer. I agree. Governor Walker noted that premiums in Alaska have gone through the roof. People know the argument because it hits them in the pocketbook. If premiums go down, they win. If they stay the same, they win. But if they don`t do anything, the Republicans lose so badly.

TODD: Eugene, I read a great stat today. Somebody said we`ve been having this knock down drag out political ideological fight about health care for the last decade for 1.5 percent of the population.

ROBINSON: Yes.

TODD: I mean, who are affected by this. You don`t get health care (inaudible). I mean, it does sometimes you look at it that way, my gosh.

ROBINSON: The reason it has this huge impact is that if you are the party in power and you own the health care issue and you do something with it, you are responsible for everything that goes wrong with everybody`s health care.

HEWITT: Aren`t you responsible --

ROBINSON: It`s --

HEWITT: Don`t the Republicans own it already?

ROBINSON: No, they absolutely do own it already.

TODD: Do you think they own it if it`s Obamacare in place no matter what?

HEWITT: Yes, 100 percent.

ROBINSON: They`re in power. They own the issue and so if -- whether or not you were directly affected by Obamacare changes or Medicaid changes, your premiums go up, your coverage goes down, you`re going to be mad and you`re going to be mad at the Republicans because they`re the ones who have the power.

WALTER: And I also think so much of when we`d be on the campaign trail and listen to voters who are upset about health care prices, it`s not that they were on the exchanges. This goes to the bigger economic question which is their wages haven`t kept up with --

TODD: Health care costs.

WALTER: -- health care costs. Right. Which isn`t about Obamacare, which Obamacare was supposed to help with, but they may be on employer --

TODD: Do you know how many big employers have they say we`ve given races except all the money goes to health care.

WALTER: That`s right. So that they are directly impacted by the Obamacare exchanges, but they know that their health care is not getting better.

TODD: There you go. Health care and Russia. Just two very tiny stories we have to cover this week. Thank you, guys. Have a good weekend. You can of course -- this guy works weekends just like me. Catch Hugh Hewitt`s show tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. Eastern. Don`t miss that right here on MSNBC. After the break, President Clinton finds himself in a familiar position. Between the Bushes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: In case you missed it, former presidents 42 and 43 have developed a bit of a friendship over the years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why do I have a friendship with him? Because he is called a brother with a different mother. He hangs out more than I do.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And in case you missed it, when they spoke together in an event yesterday at the Bush Library, there were some lighthearted moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The best thing can happen to you when you are in politics is to be consistently underestimated.

BUSH: I was pretty good at that.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: But perhaps the best moment from the event part came off stage. This picture, President Clinton peeking out in between statues of 41 and 43. His press secretary tweeted the photo with the caption, everything is bigger in Texas. Maybe the president was trying to hide in the bushes or maybe he is trying to give Zach Galifianakis show between two ferns a run for his money with a new show between two Bushes.

Be honest, you watch that, right? That`s all for tonight. We`ll be be back Monday with more "MTP Daily." Maybe by then, I will pronounce Zach Galifianakis` name correctly. By the way, if it`s Sunday, catch "Meet the Press" in your local NBC station. Have a great weekend.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END