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MTP Daily, Transcript 8/7/2017

Guests: Gordon Chang, Deirdre Bosa, Zerlina Maxwell, Beth Fouhy, Susan del Percio

Show: MTP DAILY Date: August 7, 2017 Guest: Gordon Chang, Deirdre Bosa, Zerlina Maxwell, Beth Fouhy, Susan del Percio

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: If it is Monday, surrender to the flow.

(voice-over): Tonight, divided sky, the wind blows high in GOP country. How can the party in power get back to track after its 200-day agenda goes down?

Plus, Kim Jong-Un`s end game as Pyongyang promises retaliation for U.N. sanctions. What further action is the U.S. ready to take?


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Stop these missile launches.


TUR: And seeking sanctuary. Will California take the feds to court over immigration enforcement?


GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: Resolve is in a judicial forum rather than the rhetoric of politicians talking past one another.


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

(on camera): Good evening and welcome to MTP DAILY. I`m Katy Tur in New York in for Chuck Todd and welcome to day 200 of the Trump presidency. That`s right, 200 not 2,000. Day 200.

President Trump is at his summer home in Bedminster, New Jersey. Congress is on recess;

And despite the dog days of summer, the same problems persist for this White House and its party. After 200 days, President Trump still hasn`t been able to unite Republicans. Here is what Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake told Chuck yesterday on "MEET THE PRESS."


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Referring to our colleagues across the aisle as losers or clowns is just not the direction to go, if we are going to solve the problems in a conservative way that we need to.

Populism is a sugar high and once you come off it, it`s particularly troublesome for the party.


TUR: To make matters more awkward, "The New York Times" is reporting that a number of Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, may be running shadow campaigns for 2020.

Mr. Pence outside pack has actually raised more in donations than the president`s pack has. But the White House is pushing back forcefully against that article, denying that the V.P. is running in 2020.

And the president, himself, went off on Twitter, posting nine times this morning, blaming the media and again attacking the Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal.

And here`s Vice President Pence`s spokesperson with my colleague, Hallie Jackson, this morning.


HALLIE JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: There are some who might see that and say, huh, we thinks the V.P. doth protest too much.

MARC LOTTER, PRESS SECRETARY FOR MIKE PENCE: Well, he does find it very offensive. I mean, the vice president is entirely focused on advancing the president`s agenda and doing everything possible to make sure that in 2020 the vice president is re-elected as vice president alongside President Donald Trump.

JACKSON: What is so offensive about is it?

LOTTER: Any suggestion that he might be -- that he might be planning a run in 2020. His entire focus is on advancing the president`s agenda and taking the steps that are necessary to make sure that we`re delivering on the promises to the American people.


TUR: Guys, a lot of attention gets paid to the 100-day mark. It`s all a honeymoon until then, even if that wasn`t necessarily the case for this administration.

But in the days since April 29th when President Trump marked that milestone, the issues that lingered under the surface in the first 100 days have some screaming to top in the second 100.

His party celebrated when health care passed the House, just to fail in the Senate. Thanks to three Republican senators.

Chaos and infighting continue in the west wing, leading to high-profile hires and even more high-profile firings just in the last weeks.

And then, there`s Russia. In the last 100 days, Comey is out. Mueller is in.

And it`s getting harder to see how this White House will ever get out of this maze. So, what does all of that mean for the next 1,262 days of his presidency?

Let`s bring in two reporters for "The New York Times" who`ve been reporting on these stories over the weekend. Peter Baker is the chief White House Correspondent for "The Times" and NBC news political analyst. He joins us from New Jersey near the president`s home. And Michael Schmidt is a Washington correspondent for "The New York Times" and an MSNBC national security contributor.

So, Peter, you wrote to the -- you were writing up the vice president`s response to this story over the weekend. "The Times" reporting that he`s positioning himself for 2020. They`re vehemently pushing back on this.

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, they are. Look, the vice president isn`t doing anything that doesn`t make sense, politically. He`s not going to run against President Trump. That`s not what he`s talking about.

He`s talking about, what if the president doesn`t run for re-election, who would come in next? I would like to be that person. That`s, in effect, the message that they`re sending.

But that obviously looks bad. And it looks bad particularly to an audience of one. That would be the guy at the top who thinks he is going to run again in 2020. And any sign anybody else might think otherwise is seen as something of a betrayal.

That`s why you see the vice president pushing back so hard. Not because he cares too much about what "The New York Times" thinks or any of the rest of us think, but because he wants the president to think he`s on board.

[17:05:06] TUR: But, Peter, he`s tweeting again. He was tweeting this morning. His advisers want him to be silent in the morning. He`s not doing that. And he`s still tweeting this afternoon. He`s going after "The New York Times." What`s going on over there?

BAKER: Yes, he`s obviously -- well, it`s raining. There`s no golf. You know, he`s obviously -- he`s been pretty active today on Twitter. Two favorite targets "The New York Times" and Senator Richard Blumenthal.

He went after Senator Blumenthal again this afternoon, saying he should go on a long vacation to Vietnam so at least he can say he was actually there. Chiding him for his misleading statements he`s made in the past about his service during Vietnam.

So, you know, he`s doing the same thing he does on vacation that he does in work which is to watch television, to get mad about something and to express it in a very visceral way.

TUR: So, he`s mad and he`s tweeting. But the reality is this Mueller investigation, the stories surrounding this White House are just not going away.

And, Michael, you had a story over the weekend about how Bob Mueller is asking the White House for documents pertaining to Michael Flynn.

So, how far out are we from formal subpoenas?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, this is, sort of, the first stage of the Mueller investigation`s interactions with the White House. This is, sort of, saying, look, I`d be interested in these documents. You know -- you know, let`s talk about how I can get them.

Both sides would probably want to avoid a subpoena, especially the White House. The White House wouldn`t like the idea of being subpoenaed by Mueller. My guess is that, at some point, they probably will have to be.

But it`s something that lawyers on both sides try and work out. Mueller says, look, I`m interested in this thing and the White House says, oh, we can accommodate that or we can`t accommodate that.

And it`s the beginning process here. You know, we`re in like the second inning of Mueller`s investigation, so this is a thing. The next phase would be interviews and stuff like that where they really start to talk to people and gather as many facts as they can about these different avenues that they are looking at.

TUR: Are people in the White House getting nervous? Just maybe the rank and file, not necessarily any of those at the top?

SCHMIDT: You know, I`m not sure. My guess is that they are pretty used to -- and, you know, I sense, from talking to them, is that they`re pretty used to this. This is -- the drum beat of Russia has basically started before they even came to the White House, so this is not new to them.

Obviously, Mueller is more serious than not having Mueller before Comey was fired. But this is something they`ve been looking at for a long time. And I guess that`s what makes some of it interesting is they haven`t been able to figure out a way to deal with it, because it`s been going on now for 200 days while they`ve been there and they can`t seem to put the issue to rest.

TUR: And has Mueller asked for documents relating no anybody else in the White House that you know of so far, Michael? Anything maybe further on Jared Kushner?

SCHMIDT: No. All we know is stuff focused on Flynn. And, you know, the - - remember, Flynn is not just Flynn`s interactions with the Russia ambassador and what that meant to his time as national security advisor and whether he lied to the FBI. Those are all one issue.

But the other issue is whether Flynn was working for the Turkish government illegally and whether he had registered properly to do work for them and was doing that work during the campaign and when he was national security advisor.

So, as Mueller, sort of, moves forward here, we start to realize how complex and how many different things he is looking at. And that`s stuff that includes financial stuff, stuff that includes obstruction of justice and, you know, stuff that includes the Russia meddling.

So, there`s a lot on his plate.

TUR: And so, there`s this. There`s also staff positions in the White House that haven`t been filled. There`s no communications director after Scaramucci was ousted.

There`s a lot of talk, Peter, about Stephen Miller potentially filling that role. He was the president`s speech writer during the campaign. We saw him take the podium in the briefing the other day to talk about immigration and this new proposal that the White House is backing in Congress.

Is he somebody who is actually in the running or is this just a name that`s getting floated out there, Peter?

BAKER: Well, it does seem to be a real possibility, but I -- there is a part of me that wonders whether it`s just not a way of punking the media, given the, sort of, very vigorous way he defended the immigration proposal the other day in a very heated exchange with reporters. The idea the very next day or two that he would be floated as a communications director sort of seems like a, ha, you know, jab by the president at some point.

And no question, he would like to have somebody out there who is a robust and aggressive proponent of his policies who`s willing to give the media what he believes they serve. That`s how you get on President Trump`s good side is a communicator.

And this is -- you know, Stephen Miller`s background on the Hill was as a communications advisor. So, you know, it wouldn`t be entirely surprising.

But he`d be a very big contrast to, say, Anthony ScaramuccI`s first briefing when he got up there very smooth and saying I want a reset, before his, sort of, scatological interview with "The New Yorker."

[17:10:00] And, you know, I think Steve Miller would not be a reset if he were to be briefing very often, because he would be taking a pugnacious point of view that the president likes.

TUR: Scatological, that`s a nice way of putting it, Peter. Yes, and Stephen Miller would certainly be a reversal back to the anti-press times in the White House and during the campaign.

Peter Baker and Michael Schmidt, guys, thank you very much.

And let`s go to tonight`s panel. All of us ladies, Susan Del Percio, a Republican Strategist; Beth Fouhy is the senior politics editor for NBC News and MSNBC. And Zerlina Maxwell is the director of Progressive Programming for SiriusXM. She was the director for Progressive Media for the Clinton campaign.

Beth, I want to start with you.


TUR: The first 100 days, not so great. The second 100 days seemed to be a lot worse than the first 100 days. How is that possible?

FOUHY: Wow, what a -- what a question. Well, I mean, the Russia investigation is looming over everything.

TUR: Yes.

FOUHY: And that`s coloring everything. Even the things that he`s managed to do and accomplish, we had the vote on the U.N. Security Council about North Korea the other day, 15 to nothing in favor of imposing greater sanctions. You could give him that. You can give him Neal Gorsuch. You can give him stripping down some regulations. You can give him, you know, exciting portion of this country around his policies.

But that Russia investigation is looming over everything and you can tell. You can tell by his -- from his tweets. You can tell by all -- by his tangents when he goes off on talking about Russia and collusion and phony news and fake news.

TUR: You can tell he`s obsessed with it.

FOUHY: He`s obsessed with it and he`s not selling his agenda because he gets distracted by this. That`s the thing that has messed up his -- for his second hundred days.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right. And it`s also what`s not gotten done in those 200 days. Health care did not get done. I mean, we can point to some of the things that he --

TUR: Republicans come out and they will say on the air that they`re so happy with what Donald Trump has been able to accomplish. And they`re so happy with the status of things in this country and the status of this presidency and they think he`s doing a wonderful job.

Why will they come on T.V. and say that, when the reality is they haven`t gotten anything done or mostly?

DEL PERCIO: Mostly what`s concerning for elected officials, especially House Republicans, is that they can`t go back to their constituents in six -- about 18 months and say, this is what I have achieved for you.

More importantly, those same Republicans are looking at the first round of polling since President Trump was inaugurated, and they are trying to figure out their plan of how to get re-elected because this is going to be a very difficult time.

And if they don`t get the accomplishments done, especially by the end of this year, it`s going to be very hard for them to make their argument for re-election. In certain -- I mean, in certain swing states.

Let`s put it this way, there are certain state seats that Republicans are going to come on this air and they are going to say, you know, from the reddest of red states saying how great everything is and they can get away with it.

TUR: Why is the president going after Richard Blumenthal again?

ZERLINA MAXWELL, DIRECTOR OF PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING, SIRIUSXM: I mean, I think it`s an easy target. He likes to go back to punching bags that he`s used in the past effectively. And he thinks that Richard Blumenthal is one of those because Richard Blumenthal is often on television talking about the Russia investigation which I think is a point of contention for this president. Every time it`s on T.V., he gets very upset.

But I think the bottom line is that one of the things that President Trump has not done since he`s been in office is actually read up on any policies. And that`s part of the reason why he hasn`t been able to get anything threw Congress is because he hasn`t been on the stump, going out into the states and selling policy.

He, essentially, goes out to these rallies and sells himself. And says, look how great I`m doing. I won the election. And goes back to the campaign instead of talking about policy.

If he went to West Virginia and talked about the specifics of why people in Congress should support tax reform or a specific piece of legislation, I think he would be more effective. But he doesn`t know anything about policy, so he can`t do that.

TUR: So, West Virginia rallies around him. They`re big supporters of Donald Trump. Does he --

MAXWELL: He won by 40 votes. (INAUDIBLE.)

TUR: Does he need to go to a state, though, that`s not necessarily --

DEL PERCIO: But that would`ve been great --

TUR: -- so pro-Trump.

DEL PERCIO: -- if he would`ve talked about his immigration reform policy.

TUR: Right.

DEL PERCIO: And now it`s two days before and announced two days before and he could have had all those people rallying around him.

TUR: I really want to talk about Mike Pence and these 2020 rumors. And, you know, Mike Pence, he looks into his finance box and he checks the status. And, lo and behold, his pack has raised more money than Donald Trump`s pack.

FOUHY: Well, I mean, it stands to reason that he would like to succeed Donald Trump, either in four years or in eight years. So, he can start building up a political organization.

What`s different here is that he`s doing it much earlier, much more aggressive than other vice presidents have in this -- in this similar situation. But also, in that "New York Times" article, it`s not just Pence who is moving around trying to make some moves politically.

You`ve seen John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, you see a couple of Republican senators, Ben Sasse, Thom Tillis. They are going to Iowa and, sort of, checking out the weeds there. Maybe they`re talking about 2024. Maybe. But it`s unlikely you would be going this soon if you`re not looking at 2020.

TUR: Do you think that the president is somebody who is just going to be so weighted down by this Russia investigation that he`s not going to be able to run or do they think that potentially he`s going to decide, hey, I want to go back to my old life?

[17:15:04] MAXWELL: I think it`s because they don`t know how this ends.

TUR: Yes.

MAXWELL: You don`t know what the president potentially could be hiding in this investigation. It could be something really serious and you don`t want to wait until 2019 to start fund-raising and organizing in these early on Republican primary states.

But the other piece of it is is that Mike Pence is planning to run, I think, in 2020. Because there`s no reason why you`re going to, essentially, turn the naval observatory into a meeting place for high-level donors in the Republican Party unless you are making plans for 2020. I think he`s -- I think he`s trying to lay the infrastructure --

TUR: Well, what does that look -- what does that look like, though, the vice president potentially running against the president?


DEL PERCIO: He`s not going to -- he`s not going to run against President Trump. He will be on the ballot as vice president or the presidential candidate. There`s very little doubt about that.

But what he`s doing it two-fold. I mean, yes, he`s raising his visibility. But he`s also -- this also allows him to serve as a very good surrogate and conduit for Donald Trump to traditional establishment Republicans. This gives him the vehicle to go out there, to be with Joni Ernst, to be with other high-profile Republicans and raise money and say like it was quoted in the article. Look, if you knew that Donald Trump I know, you`d be OK with him.

The other thing is, as far as mentioning the other people out there, let`s not forget in 1978, Jimmy Carter was a 28 in the Gallup poll.

TUR: Yes.

DEL PERCIO: And it was just two years, and granted this was 200 days and not two years. But that`s when Ted Kennedy jumped in for a primary race against an incumbent in his own party.

MAXWELL: You`re saying the potential primary.

DEL PERCIO: Absolutely.

MAXWELL: So, they have a war.

DEL PERCIO: Why wouldn`t you at least prepare, give it everything. At least start on your branding. I mean, it`s an aggressive move. But, at the same time, Donald Trump is so aggressive against everybody else, why not?

TUR: How does that work in the Republican Party, though? The Republican Party, I mean, it`s fractured. Donald Trump`s base probably isn`t going anywhere. They might. I mean, who knows. But they are so completely on his side. How do you go against that? How do you rally in the voters?

FOUHY: They`re preparing for a -- yes, and you`re entirely right. The polling shows repeatedly, 80 percent, something like 85 percent of Republicans still with Trump.

But if the Mueller investigation finally comes clean what he -- becomes clear what he`s looking for, what he`s looking into, if that gets as bad as people are surmising that it could, it makes sense for these Republicans to be ready to step into the breach. They don`t have to look like they`re going against Trump. It looks like they`re saving the party because the party is in crisis.

TUR: Maybe so, maybe not.

Ladies, we`re going to talk about Democrats coming up so stick with us. We`ll see you a little bit later on.

Coming up, new threats from North Korea as the U.S. backs new sanctions against the rogue nation. But are there opportunities for the U.S. to pursue talks with the Kim Jong-Un regime? Details ahead.


TUR: Welcome back.

Another battle for the soul of the conservative movement in the age of Trump on the horizon. This time in Utah.

Last week, a federal judge ordered Jim Bennett to be added to the ballot as an independent in the November special House election to replace Jason Chaffetz.

[17:20:07] Bennett is the son of late Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett who died last May. You may remember that shortly before his passing, while in the hospital, the elder Bennett apologized to Muslim individuals on behalf of the Republican Party for the rhetoric of then candidate Donald Trump.

Independent House candidate, Jim Bennett, was on with Andrea Mitchell this afternoon and didn`t pull punches in his dissatisfaction with President Trump and the Republican Party at large.


JIM BENNETT, UTAH CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The entire party has failed me, I think, by uniting behind a president who is unfit to hold the office. You look at the fact that you have both Houses of Congress united with one party, and yet they`re on track to be the most unproductive Congress in 164 years.

So, the Republican Party has demonstrated that it`s incapable of overcoming the divisions within its own party.


TUR: Republicans will pick their candidate in a primary next week. Democrats chose position Kathy Allan as their nominee at a June convention. Chaffetz won the seat by 47 percent in November, but a third party always makes things more interesting.

More MTP DAILY in just 60 seconds.


TUR: Welcome back.

North Korea`s saber rattling got even louder today. The country is ratcheting up their threats even as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was laying out terms for what must happen for the U.S. to open up talks with the country.


TILLERSON: The best signal that North Korea could give us that they`re prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches. Obviously, we have other means of communication open to them, to do certainly hear from them if they have a desire to want to talk.


TUR: The isolated nation vowed to continue building up its nuclear program and warned America could face, quote, "harsh retaliation" for new sanctions pad by the United Nations.

This weekend the U.S. Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea as punishment for escalating its nuclear weapons and missile programs. And, notably, that vote did include China and Russia.

Last night, President Trump spoke by phone with the president of South Korea. And this morning, the president had an hour-long conversation with Secretary Tillerson and White House chief of staff, John Kelly, about North Korea and Tillerson`s trip.

For more on the rising tensions with North Korea, NBC`s chief global Correspondent, Bill Neely, reports from the Philippines.

BILL NEELY, CHIEF GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Yes. Hi, Katy, good evening. For anyone interested in international politics and diplomacy, this has been a pretty extraordinary three days.

The international summit here is not over. It was dominated by the North Korean issue. But that issue, nuclear weapons, long-range missiles certainly has not gone away.

The three days started, really, with that pretty extraordinary vote at the U.S. Security Council, unanimous to impose tough new sanctions on North Korea.

And, today, North Korea`s foreign minister had an international stage to condemn those sanctions. And condemn them he did. He said that North Korea would retaliate against them.

And, of course, he blamed the United States. Most of his rhetoric was against Washington. He said North Korea was ready to give the U.S. a severe lesson with its nuclear capability if the United States took military action. Although, of course, there`s always that if in that saber-rattling.

He also said, though, that the North Koreans would never put their nuclear weapons or their long-range weapons on the negotiating table. And directly to America, he said, there`s no bigger mistake than the U.S. believing its land is safe across the ocean. A lot of that was restating old threats.

[17:25:00] But, of course, as this crisis grows and the north`s capability grows, those threats become ever more menacing.

Rex Tillerson has been working in by laterals very hard to pile the pressure on North Korea, to get all these countries, and they are pretty much united, 26 against one, to pile the pressure and to try to stop North Korea doing these what everyone calls are provocative tests.

Even China gave North Korea a very public dressing down by saying, stop the tests. They are provocative. The North Korean issue, Katy, is far from finished. It`s just growing in intensity. Back to you.

TUR: Bill Neely from the Philippines. Bill, thank you very much.

And joining me now is Gordon Chang, the author of "Nuclear Show Down, North Korea Takes on the World." He`s also a columnist for "The Daily Beast."

Gordon, it`s great to have you here. Lifting off where Bill just ended. They`re getting threatened. The Chinese are saying, stop what you`re doing. The U.N. is saying, stop what you`re doing. They`ve imposed sanctions. How do sanctions work in this scenario and can they stop North Korea from expanding its nuclear arsenal?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, COLUMNIST, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, I think sanctions can stop the North Koreans but not these sanctions. I mean, these sanctions, for instance, lopped a third off of North Korea`s export income and that`s good.

But as Nikki Haley has said, you know, the North Koreans use their income for their weapons programs not for their people. So, the question is, why don`t they also lop off the other two-thirds?

TUR: So, why don`t they?

CHANG: I think it`s because China is not willing to do anything that can did he stabilize the North Korean regime.

And also, we`ve got to remember that when foreign minister Wang Yi as we just heard, said stop these provocative actions, the Chinese military is supplying the North Koreans with the means to actually become a real threat. So, those launchers that North Korea used on July 4th and July 28th for their intercontinental ballistic missiles, those are Chinese.

TUR: What`s in it for the Chinese?

CHANG: Excuse me?

TUR: What`s in it for the Chinese?

CHANG: In the short term, they get a lot. Because every time North Korea does something provocative or belligerent, we ask for help. We stop talking about the things that are important to us, like trade --

TUR: So, they`re using it as a -- as a point of manipulation for the YU.S.

CHANG: Absolutely. And you`ve got to remember, we gave up a lot for those sanctions because President Trump did not announce the section 301 trade investigation on Friday against their intellectual property Federation (ph).

And so, you know, this is very good for China because now, you know, this whole trade issue has been sluffed off to the side for perhaps a very long time.

TUR: So, China and Russia signed on to these. What is the expectation for how long they even abide by these sanctions?

CHANG: A couple months. And this is what Beijing always does. You know, when we`re looking, paying attention, the Chinese will enforce (INAUDIBLE) sanctions.

TUR: So, what does the U.S. do? What does the U.N. do?

CHANG: Well, I think what happens is, according to the -- you know, the past crypt, three or four months from now, we`ll start with a new sanctions resolution. It`ll take three or four months to get passed.

You know, the one that was passed on Saturday was the seventh sanction. These are incremental. And the North Koreans have learned to adjust. Because every time that we increase the pressure a little bit with these sanctions, the North Koreans find a way around them, then the Chinese don`t enforce them. And so, then, we go back and get more sanctions. So, we don`t have enough time to do this.

TUR: So, we`re all bark, no bite?

CHANG: Up to now. President Trump, at the end of June, signaled some cost that he was willing to impose on China, including going off the Chinese banks for money laundering. I think what happened at the G20 in Hamburg when Trump met Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler, was I think he said to him, look, if you don`t really come to the party, we`re going to amp up the pressure by going after bigger Chinese banks and doing a lot of horror things that would hurt Beijing.

TUR: So, if we start a trade war in China, that, in effect, could help the Chinese get in line when it comes to North Korea. Maybe?

CHANG: Well, yes, I mean, we`re already in a trade war, Katy. It`s only they`re fighting it. We`re not. But, you know, amping up the pressure on trade is something that I think the Trump administration used to get those sanctions on Saturday.

TUR: So, how long before North Korea has a -- has the capability to put a nuclear warhead on a missile?

CHANG: To reach the United States?

TUR: Yes.

CHANG: Defense intelligence agency said about a year. You know, give or take several months. The question is how much help the Chinese give them, because the Chinese can accelerate that time frame if they want to. Or they can slow the North Koreans down if that`s what they want to do.

TUR: Is Kim Jong-Un unstable enough to fire one of those weapons if he feels like he`s being choked off by sanctions?

CHANG: That`s possible. But, you know, with sanctions, what the United States should be doing is maximum pressure, maximum engagement, which is the phrase. So, what you do is you show Kim Jong-Un a way out, but only when he realizes that he`s got to deal with the international community in good faith.

The thing that Kim Jong-Un I`m really worried about, a year from now when he`s confident in his arsenal, he`s going to use it to blackmail the United States to break the military alliance with South Korea, -

TUR: Yes.

CHANG: -- get our troops off the peninsula, and then try to destroy the South Korea state.

TUR: It sounds like there`s no good outcomes here.

CHANG: Yes. We have, through decades of misguided policy, have put ourselves in peril. There are no good options. Everything, going forward, is going to hurt us.

[17:30:06] But we`ve got to do something, because inaction really is not going to do it for us.

TUR: Gordon Chang, I love having you on but you scare me every single time.

CHANG: Sorry, Katy.

TUR: Thank you for coming. We do appreciate it, though. It`s always better to be informed than misinformed or not informed. Still ahead, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions tries to crack down on sanctuary cities, local and state officials are fighting back.

California Governor Jerry Brown talks about the steps his state may have to take to challenge the Trump administration. Stay tuned.


TUR: Next on "MTP Daily," Californian Governor Jerry Brown talks about taking on the Trump administration. But first, Deirdre Bosa has the "CNBC Market Wrap." Hi, there.

DEIRDRE BOSA, TECHNOLOGY REPORTER, CNBC: Hey, thanks, Katy. Stocks finishing slightly higher on Wall Street today with the Dow notching its ninth straight record close. The Dow adding 25 points, the S&P gaining four, and the Nasdaq finishing up 32 points.

Tyson foods reporting stronger than expected quarterly results sending its shares of 5.7 percent. Apple rose 1.4 percent following a report that claims the tech giant plans to release a watch that can make calls directly from cellular network. Right now, the Apple watch has to be connected to an iPhone to make calls.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.



MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate. Chicago will not let our residents have their fundamental rights isolated and violated. And Chicago will never relinquish our status as a welcoming city.


TUR: Welcome back. That was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel holding firm that his city will remain a sanctuary city. Today, he announced Chicago is suing the Justice Department in response to recent moves by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Justice Department sent letters last week to Baltimore, Albuquerque, Stockton, and San Bernardino, warning they would lose some anti-crime funding if they did not allow federal authorities to have access to jails.

This is, of course, a big issue in California where two of those cities are located, and where San Francisco is also challenging the Justice Department in court. Chuck Todd recently sat down with California Governor Jerry Brown on how the state is reacting to the shift in federal policy.


CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS DAILY SHOW HOST: There is a bill that`s moving through the state legislature that would declare California a sanctuary state. You`ve not -- you`ve not indicated whether you`re going to be fully supportive of this just yet.

Are you? Could you be? And where are you on this idea of suing the federal government over funds that they may withhold if they declare a city a sanctuary city?

GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes. First of all, that bill does not declare California a sanctuary state, number one. Number two, it`s still going through the process. We`re looking at very carefully, we`re having discussions with the author. There are some changes that I think would be very important --

TODD: Why do you believe it isn`t fair to call that -- that it declares California -- explain why --

BROWN: Because --

TODD: -- that you don`t like that phrase.

BROWN: Because -- well, as a former seminarian, I have a very clear image of the sanctuary. It`s in the church. It conjures up medieval sanctuary places. And it says more than a specific set of legislative requirements. Which the goal here is to block and not to collaborate with abuse of federal power. That`s the goal.

And we want to be very understanding of people who have come to our state, have worked in our economy, often for decades, serving the needs, picking our food, working in our restaurants, working in high tech industries. The whole range of what constitutes the life of California, has been contributed to by many of these immigrants that are not documented.

And we want to make sure we help them to the extent that the law of California can coexist with the law of the United States. So, it is a balancing act. It does require some sensitivity. And that`s why I take a more nuanced and careful approach to dealing with what is a difficult problem, because you do have people who are not here legally.

They`ve committed crimes. They have no business in the United States in the manner which they have come and conducted themselves subsequently. Secondly, as far as the lawsuit, that`s something that our independent attorney general can decide, but it might just be very helpful to get it into court and resolve this in a judicial forum rather than in the rhetoric of politicians talking past one another.

TODD: I guess, you know, some would respond and just say, look, if you don`t like the way the law is, why don`t we change the law rather than have a debate about how to enforce the law if there`s ambiguity in there?

BROWN: Well, wait a minute. If the law is ambiguous, we can often clarify it by litigation. This is perhaps a rather small test, because the money at stake is very -- is not very much. And if there is this different view, and there`s plenty of different views, by the way, on the environment, not just immigration, on health care, on a whole variety of topics.

The current administration under Mr. Trump is going way, way over the deep end. So I think appropriate court challenges -- by the way, the Republicans were bringing court challenges by the carload against Obama on the environment, on health care and all the rest.

So I think a few judicious forums to resolve the dispute between the federal government and California I think can be very helpful for the whole country and in a dispassionate way because this back and forth by politicians, it doesn`t really clarify some of the difficulties of the paramount law, the federal government colliding with the sovereign law of the 50 states.

TODD: And finally, I know you were just recently in China in June meeting with President Xi there talking about -- you and Michael Bloomberg were putting together sort of a state city climate compact.

Can you make this compact big enough that somehow it makes it -- it almost null -- it doesn`t matter whether or not the president goes back into the Paris agreement or not? Can you do enough in the state and local level that it would be the equivalent as if the United States had stayed in the Paris climate accord?

BROWN: I don`t believe so. We need the president. We need the federal government. We can do a lot, and many, many states are joining together and our climate alliance I think will have a powerful impact. I would like to say something about this China business.

I met with President Xi for almost an hour. This is a very determined man. He`s building roads and high-speed rail and not just in China, but all over the world. And we look at Washington. Washington can`t even build roads and bridges in our own country, much less spreading the American dream all around the world.

If we`re going to be the great power we all want to be, we`re going to have to start rolling up our sleeves, raising some revenue, and getting the job done. In terms of climate change, it is an existential threat. It is is not a hoax. It was not created in China.

It is something that the majority, 95 percent of scientists believe in the science of climate change. We`ve got to do something. It is life- threatening over a relatively foreseeable amount of time. And secondly, you didn`t ask, but I`ve got to inject it.

TODD: Yes, sir.

BROWN: The congress right now is going for a military authorization bill that purports to tear up treaties and we retreat on climate change and we exacerbate the nuclear arms race by tearing up our only basic arms treaties, America and the world will be in deep, deep trouble.


TUR: Still ahead, the story of the ghosts of 2016 who are still haunting the Democrats.


TUR: Welcome back. As we said earlier, President Trump hasn`t been able to unify the Republican Party in a meaningful way during his first six months in the White House. But are the Democrats in any better shape? The latch is left unhooked for left-leaning voters and the ideological battle between the Sanders and Clinton factions that defined the 2016 race is being renewed.

But with Kamala Harris as the Clinton proxy. As the support builds for the California senator, Kamala Harris, her members -- excuse me, members of the Sanders faction of the party are already trying to trash her progressive bonafides and smear her long before candidates start addressing crowds in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Harris is being slammed by some in Bernie land for ties to Wall Street. Specifically, how as California attorney general she handled a lawsuit dealing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Harris was the only democratic candidate in the senate to receive donations from Mnuchin, but she ended up voting against his nomination. The Bernie base attacking a candidate for ties to big banking? I think we`ve seen this movie before, haven`t we? We`ll be right back.



TODD: Who is the leader of the Democratic Party?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is the leader? I think probably there are many leaders.

TODD: Who should be the leader right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever the leader who concedes the ring of leadership. Right now, there`s total vacuum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no one person who is leading the Democratic Party right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there are many leaders of the Democratic Party.

TUR: Not a single person can give me a name. Can you give me a name today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look, I think what`s important right now is that as Democrats, we work together to show the American people we`re on their side.


TUR: It is time for "The Lid." Susan del Percio, Beth Fouhy, Zerlina Maxwell. Ladies, thank you. Who is the leader of the Democratic Party? I`ve asked Democrats over and over again, and nobody can give me a name.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, DIRECTOR, PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING FOR SIRIUS XM: Because right now, there isn`t one person who has emerged to be that person that everybody`s looking to run in 2020. There are just a handful of folks who have different factions of Democrats who like them.

TUR: Kamala Harris is rising. And because she is rising, Beth, she is starting to face a lot of friendly fire I guess you could say from the Democratic Party especially the Bernie Sanders supporters.

BETH FOUHY, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, NBC NEWS: Which is fascinating because most voters have absolutely no idea who she is. For her to attract that kind of incoming at this stage is a little bit strange. But it does portend a potential real rapid rise if she decides to go that route.

As somebody who`s followed California politics for a long time, she`s actually considered a fairly cautious politician. She doesn`t stick her neck out much. She really follows the rules. The idea that she`s going to sort of parachute in and make this big splash on the national base I think is very premature right now.

If I am going to answer your question, I would say Bernie Sanders is the leader of the Democratic Party.

TUR: Bernie Sanders. He`s not a Democrat.

FOUHY: He`s not a Democrat. He is the leader of the progressive movement. Whether you like him or you hate him. TUR: The Democratic Party, in the same way that Trumpism is the Republican Party?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, that`s exactly the right question is when we start saying who`s the leader, what is the message that the Democratic Party`s behind? Well, there isn`t just one.

TUR: Are we losing our party system? Are we starting to morph? Are we seeing a sea change?

DEL PERCIO: It`s not as much as I think we are seeing a sea change in that as much as we see different sects coming out and being able to really vie for a very loud population of support.

TUR: Right. The Democrats, we talk about the Republicans all the time and how there are these competing factions. I asked if the Republicans are going to split open and meld, I wonder if the Democrats are going to split open and meld, given what`s going on with this Bernie section and what`s going on with I guess you could call it the Clinton wing of the party. Is there any room for compromise among those?

MAXWELL: I definitely think so. If you look at the numbers in 2016, 90 percent of people who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary ended up voting for Hillary Clinton. There`s not such a big divide in that we can`t come to, I think, meet in common ground. What I do think though is that the Democratic Party is changing. The demographics that make up the Democratic Party are changing. It`s black, it`s brown, it`s women, it`s millennials.

I think that the older generation, the more progressive wing of the party and some of the millennials that supported Bernie Sanders, many millennials who are not of color, white millennials largely, who supported Bernie Sanders, I think they`re going to have to also recognize that the party is more diverse and is moving into a more inclusive area.

DEL PERCIO: With the party being more -- the Democratic Party being more urban and more coastal, east coast and west coast, and more educated, the problem is that the Democrats lost this time in middle America.

TUR: Are we looking at a situation where we could actually have a viable independent or third party candidate? Somewhere soon down the line?

DEL PERCIO: Only one who has a lot of money.

TUR: Right.

FOUHY: Only one who hijacks the party. That`s what you saw Donald Trump do with the Republican Party and what you saw Bernie Sanders almost do with the Democratic Party.

They were not the chosen candidates of the establishment of their parties and yet they made this big splash because the establishment of each party is not where their voters are.

And the voters finally stood up and said, hey, our issue agenda is not what your issue agenda is in Washington. And that`s why those candidates have the traction that they did.

TUR: So you advocated it was a lot of money, say it`s a Mark Cuban, say it`s a Mike Bloomberg, are they going to be able to find though that moderate middle ground, are they going to be able to identify with a working class voter in the same way that Donald Trump was able to do?

DEL PERCIO: The problem with that that you just mentioned is they are both billionaires and coming in after a billionaire candidate Donald Trump which to date hasn`t been able to show he knows how to run the government, it may be hard for that celebrity billionaire to come in following Donald Trump.

That doesn`t mean it can`t happen, but it will be very hard because it will be just have Trump label kind of put around them.

TUR: I feel like at this moment no one`s yet decided, and no one can quite figure out what in the world is going to happen, because we are in a moment of complete chaos.

MAXWELL: 2018, let alone 2020. We`re really in a moment of American history where it`s very chaotic in the White House and so who knows what`s going to happen next, because who predicted Trump?

TUR: The only safe prediction is no prediction at all. Susan, Beth, Zerlina. Guys, thank you very much.

After the break, NBC Washington cracks a mystery that just took another turn.


TUR: In case you missed it, set the gear shift for the high gear of your soul. Our NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. has cracked a mystery. This unmarked van has been seen driving around town, apparently without a driver.

The front seat looks empty, and it`s been freaking some people out. When NBC Washington reporter, Adam Tuss, spotted the van today, he followed it. And then this happened.


ADAM TUSS, REPORTER, NBC: Oh! There is somebody in the vehicle. There is somebody behind the seat.


TUR: It turns out this car isn`t so driverless, there is a person, you can see it right there, inside the bottom half, you can see, dressed like a car seat. It`s a person in a car seat costume. You could say when he makes decisions, the car doesn`t have to wait. But our reporter tried to find out what in the world was going on.


TUSS: Brother, who are you? What are you doing? I`m with the news, dude. Dude? Can you pull over and we can talk for a second?


TUR: I`m with the news, dude. But wait, there`s more. Reporter Adam Tuss just found out this driver is part of a study being done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. It`s one of their research vehicles.

They say they cover the driver so that the real world reactions can be recorded. Well, mission accomplished. But as fish (ph) would say, this isn`t who it would be if it wasn`t who it is. That`s all.