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Transcript 12/29/17 MTP Daily

Guests: Jennifer Palmieri, David Wasserman

Show: MTP DAILY Date: December 29, 2017 Guest: Jennifer Palmieri, David Wasserman

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: If we`re saying goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, it must mean it`s a special year-end edition of "MTP Daily" and it starts right now.

Good evening and welcome to MTP DAILY. I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington. And, oh, what a difference a year makes. 2017 began with the Democratic Party in tatters. Now, they`re talking about taking back the House and the Senate in 2018.

Folks, if 2017 was all about Donald Trump in office, 2018 could very well be a referendum on getting him out of it. This was a wave year for Democrats, and against President Trump. And that mini wave has been steadily building.

Look at the big special elections we`ve had this year all in red states or red congressional districts. Kansas` 4th district. Republican Party won by 31 points last year. But in April, that margin dropped to 7.

In Montana`s at-large district, the margin was 16 in 2016; it dropped to 6 in May`s special.

In the Georgia 6 race, which got a lot of national billing, the margin went from 24 to 4. South Carolina`s 5th, 20 to 3. And then, of course, the big one in December. Alabama`s special Senate election. Republicans won their 2016 Senate contest by 28 points, but they lost to Democrats this month by 2.

And don`t forget, Democrats ran up the score in Virginia and New Jersey, both not just in the gubernatorial contest, but up and down that ballot as well. Voters simply weren`t happy with the president and they went to the polls to show it.

All of these contests pretty much sum up the increasingly toxic political environment right now for the GOP under President Trump. The tweets, the petty fights, the controversial legislation, the Russia probe, the foreign policy chaos, the response to Charlottesville, the endorsement of an accused child molester, plus the attacks on the FBI, the press, the judiciary, fellow Republicans, the list goes on and on.

The sheer chaos of it all has led to some top Republicans saying, enough.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president`s subordinates. We are his equal.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: You would think he would aspire to be the president of the United States and the act like a president of the United States, but that`s just not going to be the case apparently.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough.


TODD: But the biggest challenge for the GOP in 2018 is figuring ways to manage the leader of their party, the president; the biggest challenge for Democrats is going to be figuring out how to manage their own base, which wants the president out now. And going into 2018, elected Democrats are very divided on that issue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impeaching Donald John Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should be moving on impeachment.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The left of our party is still annoyed with me for not impeaching President Bush for going into Iraq. What could be worse than that?

TODD: You don`t think the impeachment should be the primary message of the Democratic Party in 2018?



TODD: Fifty-Eight Democrats in the House backed a measure to advance the articles of impeachment, which Nancy Pelosi opposed.

A handful of Senate Democrats are calling on the president to resign over sexual assault allegation. But Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Senate Democrats, is not one of them.

And a few Democrats are even talking about invoking the 25th Amendment because they view the president as somehow unstable.

No matter how you slice it, the 2017 Democratic wave looks like it`s going to turn into a 2018 referendum on the president. So, if you thought 2017 was a crazy year, you ain`t seen nothing yet.

So, here with us for the hour, our expert panel. All friends of the show. Jennifer Palmieri was the communications director for the Clinton campaign and the Obama White House; David Wasserman, house editor at "The Cook Political Report"; Yamiche Alcindor, national political reporter for "The New York Times" and an MSNBC contributor, soon to be with our friends over at "NewsHour"; and Michael Steele, MSNBC political analyst and a former RNC chairman. Welcome all.

All right. Mr. Steele, you used to run this party.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST AND FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I used to have hair, too. The outcome is a little dubious.

TODD: Look, here we are. It`s the beginning of 2009. When you took over the Republican Party, it looked like they were in tatters. By the end of 2009, you guys were on the way to winning a Massachusetts special Senate election. It feels like deja vu all over again except this time it`s the Democrats in that driver`s seat. Is that what you see?

STEELE: It is. And I think that the parallels are very stark in some respects in terms how both parties react to the environment.

Democrats were incredulous to what we were trying to do simply because Barack Obama had been elected president. They had all of this energy around this idea of doing healthcare and a whole bunch of other things.

On our side, we were a little bit more cautious and a little bit more forward-thinking about how does this resonate with the American people.

But the key thing, and I think this is where the Democrats are falling down and where the similarity ends, is that we had to focus on what`s going to be that thread? That common thread that`s going to draw these disparate parts of our party together?

Those who were angry at the leadership, those who were tired as base Republicans, et cetera, the donor class was upset. How do you begin to bring all of those back together?

Of course, we rallied around the idea of firing Nancy Pelosi in 2010 and making healthcare, among other things, one of the core issues.

The question for the Democrats now, so what`s your parallel universe in terms of that thread that you then bring all of these disparate parts of the Democratic Party together to rally around the idea that, yes, impeaching the president sounds good in a sound bite and a clip.

But the reality versus trying to fire Pelosi at the ballot box versus impeaching the president, very different.

TODD: Yamiche, this was from our last poll of 2017. Should Congress hold impeachment hearings? Majority said no, but 41 percent said yes. That`s a large number before there`s even been a case really made. That just shows you. That`s your base energy of anger at the president. That`s where the Democrats begin. The 41.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR AND NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. The thread the Democrats are going to have is President Trump.

They might not be able to agree on whether or not they want to impeach him, but whether or not they want to put a very big check on him, whether or not they want to push back on all his policies, push back on just, obviously, the general decorum that a lot of people feel has been lost in this country - I think when you have a president that even his own party is saying isn`t acting presidential, that`s going to be what Democrats are going to rally around.

Now, I don`t think it`s really going to be that big of a deal whether or not Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer say we want him impeached. If you start saying Donald Trump`s name and putting him in commercials and reminding people that this is the person that we have and this is the person that is unstable, if that`s the argument that you`re going to make, I think that`s going to rally people, even if they want to impeach him or they just want to have different policies.

TODD: Jennifer, it`s interesting. If you look at the Bill Clinton mid- terms, the 1994 was about a check. Republicans in 1998 made it about whether he should stay in office. That backfired. Right?

JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: But he was not a threat to the republic and Donald Trump is. I mean, I think that you have to look at the - that it`s helpful to look at history and how politics has played out. And there`s definitely a pendulum that swings in midterms, but this is something very different.

This is something that we have never seen where people really believe - I think Democrats that turned out in Alabama and then in Virginia really believe that the health, the state of our democracy is what`s at threat here and that is going to, I think - Democrats have to be a check on Trump.

I don`t think they have to say that they were going to impeach him and they need to have each individual candidate, they have to have a platform that they are running on and do it locally the way that Doug Jones did. You can`t just rely on Trump.

But I think the combination of the two is going to be enough, but it is - this is a very - he is not abiding by the rule of law, and arguably not abiding by the constitution. It`s a very different situation than we faced in 1998.

So, I don`t worry as much about that kind of backlash.

TODD: Dave Wasserman, it does seem like some Senate Democrats are trying to find a middle ground? So, they go with resignation. Here`s a sort of a mashup of senators and the resign idea, avoiding the I word. Take a listen.


SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Al Franken felt it proper for him to resign. Here you have a president who has been accused by many women of assault, who says on a tape that he assaulted women. He might want to think about doing the same.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: President Trump should resign.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: He`s a misogynist and admitted sexual predator and a liar. The only thing that will stop him from attacking us because nobody is safe is his resignation.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: I believe the president is unfit for office and I would love to see the president resign.


TODD: And if you recall, immediately after that, I don`t want impeachment to be the lead.

DAVID WASSERMAN, HOUSE EDITOR, "THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Right? Look, all of this conversation is meaningless until Democrats actually have real power.

If the midterms are a referendum on President Trump, you have a president in the mid-30s in his approval - he`s 20 points under water - Democrats win that mid-term. Democrats win that referendum.

Suddenly, if you make it a referendum on impeachment, that`s a much closer argument.

TODD: Clearly, even our polling shows it, right? That`s another step, right? If you make this a check - now, that`s why I ask this. Won`t Donald Trump realize this? Doesn`t he want it to be, oddly enough? Does he come to a moment where he says let`s make it a referendum on impeachment? Let`s go.

STEELE: I don`t think so. I think Donald Trump is all about avoiding as much taint on Donald Trump as possible. He doesn`t want that stigma. He doesn`t want to have that conversation.

TODD: He doesn`t have fire up his base to save the president?

STEELE: Yes. But I think that`s an argument to be made, if they lose the House. It`s kind of weird. I mean, making that argument beforehand seems a little bit - why are you worried about impeachment? Why are you talking about impeachment, Mr. President? Is there something we should be concerned about?

So, I don`t see him going and leading with that particular argument because while it may rile the base a little, it doesn`t really advance his ultimate agenda.

PALMIERI: I can see him lumping the Democrats in with Mueller and saying this is all a part of a conspiracy.

TODD: The deep state.

PALMIERI: To bring him down and that we`re all in cahoots together and making that - I think it`s very likely -

STEELE: But not to the extent that he`s advancing an impeachment argument. I can see him lumping together to say, this is a great cabal against me, Democrats and Mueller and Comey and all of these guys combined.

PALMIERI: Yes. And I don`t think Democrats have to talk about impeachment, but I think that they do need to be more vocal about calling him out on the discrediting of Mueller because that`s just setting in.

And it`s - I know - like I talked to - well, that makes it seem political, well, you`re a politician. And, B, it`s your job. This is - you`re supposed to be a - the constitution says so. You`re supposed to be a check and balance on the president.

And this is - what is happening right now is really corrosive and I think they`re going to have to be more - even though they don`t want to be, the burden is going to fall on them. And then, they can try to squeeze the Republicans a little more on whether or not they find Mueller credible.

ALCINDOR: I think what`s interesting, though, is when you talk to Democrats, they are talking almost 99 percent about Trump. And at the beginning of this year, they were saying the last thing we`re going to do is only talk about Trump. We`re going to have a whole message.

There were 18 different hashtags rolled out. No one could actually figure out what the slogan was. Kid Rock stole one of them. There is all this stuff going on. And it`s like what are the Democrats about?

And then, you see Doug Jones, who black people looked at in Alabama and said, that`s the prosecutor who prosecuted the person who killed those four girls in the church, we know him, we trust him, we`re going to leave our house for him.

Democrats should take that message and say, we`re going to find candidates who actually are diversity. Not just talk about diversity.

TODD: Well, wait a minute, though, Dave Wasserman. Let me tell you about three candidates. It`s funny you bring it up that way.

I look at Doug Jones, at Ralph Northam, and I`m going to put Jon Ossoff and say, they were not the most charismatic nominees. And I`ll just leave it at that. I don`t think they would take that - I hope they don`t take it personally. That worked because they were just not them.


WASSERMAN: There were two days in October when I sat down with 16 Democratic congressional candidates. The number of times Trump came up out of those 16 conversations, probably twice. The number of times Russia came up, zero.

And so, Democratic consultants and Democrats in D.C. may be talking about Trump, I don`t hear that so much from candidates. In fact, I hear them talking more about the tax bill, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell because that`s the wedge that Democrats can drive between Republicans and the Trump base.

PALMIERI: They do. But I think what people, voters hear is Trump. Even at the national level, they don`t talk about Trump that much except in the context of the tax bill. But that is what -

TODD: That`s the background music. That`s the orchestral. Trump is the orchestra behind the scenes, while everyone -

PALMIERI: That`s making them pay attention.

TODD: All right. We`ll pause here. You guys have a lot of talk time. Trust me. I promise. (INAUDIBLE) you guys are sticking around for the hour.

So, coming up, as we`ve said, in this new political environment, everyone with an R next to their name has some reason to worry. So, does that mean the Democrats can actually take back the House? And how about the Senate? We`re going to be diving into the maps next.

And throughout this hour, we`re going to be showing some of the most important and impactful moments of 2017, starting at the beginning, with inauguration day.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities. Rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation. And the crime and the gangs and the drugs. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.



TODD: Welcome back. Looking ahead to 2018, Democrats are now seriously thinking about something that seemed unthinkable at the start of 2017. Taking back both the House and the Senate.

Our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll to end the year found that Democrats had their biggest advantage in the congressional preference question in nine years. 50 percent say they want Democrats to control Congress versus 39 percent who want Republican control. And if you know our history of our poll, you know when you hit 50 in our poll in that number, that`s a big, big deal.

Poll also shows that Democrats have an intensity advantage with 59 percent of Democrats having a high level of interest in the elections next year versus 49 percent of Republican voters saying the same.

But it`s not that simple. Democrats currently have 193 seats in Congress and Republicans have 239. So, Democrats need at least 24 seats to retake the House.

And then, there`s the Senate where Democrats have an even tougher climb. They`re defending 25 seats including two held by independents, including ten in states that went for Donald Trump in 2016 and Republicans are defending just 8 overall.

Let me bring back the panel. Jennifer, Dave, Yamiche and Michael. All right, Wasserman, this is what you get paid to do here. So, here we are.

The proverbial if the election were held today, Democrats would probably have both the House and Senate. We`re in that kind of dip right now in the GOP, aren`t we?

WASSERMAN: I think 2018 is on track to be the year of the angry white college graduate and specifically the angry female college graduate.

Look, we`re on track for 2018 to be the highest most educated electorate in the history of the country. And that`s half the equation.

The other half is that the Trump base is not turning out. And they tend to be whites without college degrees.

And so, look, the House, I think favors Democrats at the moment. Not by much. But if the election were held in a week from now, I think Democrats would win it by a narrow margin. The Senate is leaning Republican still, but it`s got - it`s got a tight, tight margin.

TODD: Jennifer, the most amazing thing to me on the Senate map for the Democrats, not a single retirement. I think if you think of that, that is the remarkable thing. They might lose one or two, but they`re going to have all incumbents.


TODD: That says a lot.

PALMIERI: Yes. People are -

TODD: They`re not afraid. And as we saw in the map, really difficult states. But I think after the -

PALMIERI: And some of these incumbents aren`t the profiles to encourage a political campaign if you think about it.

PALMIERI: Right. We could name the states, and not the senators, but they`re tough states in the middle of the country.

But I think after -- I felt after Northam won with such a big margin and it wasn`t the greatest candidate that we`ve ever put forward, I think you just felt like this year was just going to be different.

And if I were a Republican senator, an incumbent, I would be concerned. Everything has to be considered in play. You have Arizona and Texas. Both of those seem very possible to me.

ALCINDOR: What I thought was interesting is when we were looking at the highlights, we were playing things of people that were criticizing President Trump and there was Bob Corker and Jeff Flake.

I was just running down the hallway with them this month and chasing them as per usual. And while they are the most vocal people, they are also the people that are choosing to bow out and leave.

And then, you`re having only a few women - usually, I`m thinking of Susan Collins, who said, you know what, I`m going to stay here, this is where I need to be. So, you also have Republicans who are in some ways leaving in disgust at their president and I think that that`s another reason why Republicans are in this weird place.

TODD: And, Michael, I think the key to 2018 being manageable versus disastrous is going to be this fight with Steve Bannon. Let me - this Bannon versus the establishment. Here`s our best of montage here.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We are declaring war on the Republican establishment that does not back the agenda that Donald Trump ran on.

Mitch McConnell and this permanent political class is the most corrupt and incompetent group of individuals in this country.

There`s a time and season for everything. And right now, it`s a season of war against a GOP establishment.

There`s a special place in hell for Republicans whose should know better.


TODD: What`s interesting here, Michael, is there`s two ways to look at what Bannon is doing. On one hand, it`s the same fight that`s been taking place with the establishment, before there was a Steve Bannon. OK?

STEELE: Exactly.

TODD: This is not new. Right, yes. Exactly.

But then there`s a part of this that says Bannon has to keep doing this because if somehow the Mitch McConnell view of the Republican Party wins, then Donald Trump`s in bigger trouble than we think.

STEELE: Yes. And I think that`s why Steve is out here dropping these little turd bombs wherever he can, and that`s what it is. From my perspective, that`s what it is.

TODD: Proverbial punch bowl.

STEELE: Because they leave a trail. And the fact of the matter is -

TODD: You don`t have to visualize.

STEELE: But the reality for the Republican Party is, what has been set up as a very vocal, in-your-face civil war. Notice what happened at the end of the race in Alabama. What was the first thing Mitch McConnell did? He threw down against Bannon.

He made it very clear. OK, you want to come play? You want to go do this? Let`s do it. But I don`t know if McConnell really has the kind of stuff behind him when to your point, Yamiche, you`ve got members who are willing to stand on the line and confront the president are leaving.

So, he`s got to look at the folks behind him to see how much they`re really ready to engage in this battle beyond just protecting their own seat, but protecting the party, and Bannon is ready to play.

TODD: Dave Wasserman, the reason the Senate`s in play is not just because of Roy Moore. There`s also five other races in the last six years that basically Republicans have thrown away based on bad primary decisions.


TODD: And I`m looking at a map here. I know he`s put Deb Fischer, incumbent in Nebraska. You`re like how do you make that race competitive? Get rid of Deb Fischer. Mississippi, Roger Wicker. How do you make that race competitive? Nominate Chris McDaniel, who might be a younger version of Roy Moore if they`re not careful.

I mean, does Bannon care?

WASSERMAN: Look, Republicans should be on offense. Right? The irony is that they ought to be spending all of their money going after the ten Democrats in seats that Donald Trump carried.

In fact, Donald Trump carried 60 Senate seats out of the 100 in the Senate in 2016. And yet, if Republicans spend all their money fighting each other in these primaries in 2018, that`s the second ingredient on top of Alabama for Democrats to have a plausible path to a majority.

TODD: So is there - did the Alabama race cost Bannon money, though? You`ve got to think, you know - do the big donors, like even the -- Mercer backed away. Right? The big daddy Mercer backed away because of the hedge fund.

Is that something that McConnell thinks he can pull off, is drying up Bannon`s funds?

ALCINDOR: I don`t know if it`s drying up his funds as much as it`s drying up kind of his brand of Republican. There`s this idea that everyone was like, well, Donald Trump got elected when he was accused of sexually inappropriate behavior.

Donald Trump was someone who throw bombs. He was someone who could say a lot of different things and still get elected. But then they realized not everyone is Donald Trump. Donald Trump had a reality TV show and was in people`s living rooms for years and years and years. Roy Moore could not follow the Trump brand and continue that into the Senate.

I think what donors are probably going to figure out is that other people can`t just be mini Donald Trumps all around the country. It`s not going to fly.

TODD: Well, I think the most interesting primaries, I think, we`re going to see, one for sure is going to be in Arizona.

STEELE: Arizona.


TODD: Right. The fight for sort of - to me, Arizona`s been emblematic of this fight between the two wings of this party, whether it`s McCain and Flake, or the Governor Doug Ducey, or you`ve had a Joe Arpaio. Like, both wings of the party seem to live and reside in the State of Arizona.

PALMIERI: And it`s an emerging state for Democrats too. You have not just the drama playing out on the Republican side. But I think there was a thought in the Clinton campaign, if we`d gone there earlier to play, you could have won that and we`ll have a good candidate on the Democrat side.

TODD: So, Ohio and Florida during presidential years, we alternate. Which states matters the most? Is it fair to say - would you say Arizona? I would argue this year - Dave, Arizona or Florida? If you were to only be in one state to cover the midterms, it would be one of those two states? What say you?

WASSERMAN: See, I`m not so sure. I think Democrats may actually have a better chance of taking over Arizona and Nevada in the midterms.

TODD: A total western -

WASSERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) Missouri. Because, keep in mind, they`ve got to hold all ten of their Trump state seats and Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly are sitting in territory that`s much less favorable to Democrats than Arizona or Nevada.

TODD: You put Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly as the two most vulnerable? More vulnerable than a Heidi Heitkamp, more vulnerable than a Jon Tester.

WASSERMAN: Well, yes, because those are small states. Keep in mind, those senators know their voters personally.

TODD: Yes.

WASSERMAN: That`s harder for Claire McCaskill or Joe Donnelly to say.

TODD: There you go. All right, guys. We`ll pause it here. Panelists sticking with us.

Up next, the Russia investigation. It`s the shadow that`s been hanging over the Trump White House from - actually negative day one, if you will, before the first day in office. We`ll be right back with that.

You`re watching a special edition of MTP DAILY, the best of 2017.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: You`re saying it`s a falsehood and they`re giving - Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains -

TODD: Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts are not facts. They`re falsehoods.



TODD: Welcome back. All year, the Russia investigation has hung over the Trump White House. Here`s a look back at some of the major moments in the investigation this year.

Even before they entered the White House, the Trump team was denying anybody in the campaign had any contact with Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I`m just telling you, it`s all phony baloney garbage. JOHN DICKERSON, HOST, CBS NEWS: Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overnight, an abrupt and stunning resignation from National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he`s been treated very, very unfairly.

I have nothing to do with Russia. JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have now decided to recuse myself.

TODD: Breaking news! Jim Comey is out at the FBI.

TRUMP: I was going to fire -- my decision. It was not -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have made the decision before they came -- TRUMP: I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Justice Department has just announced a special counsel to lead a new investigation into Russian influence in the election and whether there was coordination with members of the Trump campaign.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It`s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. SESSIONS: I did not have any private meetings nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials. DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. For me, this is opposition research. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Indicted. Donald Trump`s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Manafort`s right-hand man, both charged by Robert Mueller. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time, someone who is a member of the Trump administration`s inner circle takes a stunning fall.


TODD: As much as the Trump administration wishes it weren`t true, that Russia investigation is going to be a big part of 2018 as well. We have a lot more on this special year-end edition of "MTP Daily" coming up, including what our panelists say was the most important moment of 2017.


RICHARD LUI, ANCHOR, MSNBC: I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC Newsroom. The 2017 stock market is on the books wrapping up their best year since 2013 with a light sell off in the closing hour.

The Dow falling at 118 points today but finishing the year with a staggering 25 percent gain. S&P shedding 14 points today but climbing 19 percent on the year. The Nasdaq down 46 points but up 28 percent all said in 2017.

Boeing stocks are the biggest gains this year, climbing almost 90 percent. GE saw the largest decline, falling 45 percent in 2017.

For now, back to "Meet the Press Daily."




TRUMP: I think there`s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it. You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I`ll say it right now.


TODD: Welcome back. That was President Trump in August saying that the counter-protesters demonstrating against white nationalism were also to blame for the violence in Charlottesville.

Our panel is still here with us. Jennifer Palmieri, Dave Wasserman, Yamiche Alcindor, and Michael Steele. We asked each of them to pick their most impactful moment of 2017. And, yes, we made sure that, you know, some of you wanted to pick the same ones, so we made sure every pick is a different one.


TODD: Yamiche, you got in --


TODD: You went with Charlottesville. Why? ALCINDOR: I went with -- first of all, this is my actual choice. This is what I got, so I wasn`t forced to do this. And I think it`s because it encompassed what a lot of people found really problematic with President Trump, which is that he couldn`t actually just say that white nationalists were a bad thing.

It made -- the night elected he was elected, there were so many people of color terrified who were terrified for their communities because they felt as though even if he was not a white nationalist, that he had emboldened this part of our country that we thought we put away with the election of President Trump.

And his inability to say, you know what, this young woman died and that this was a terrible thing that happened in Charlottesville, I think encompassed and embodied what was wrong with this presidency for the people who really didn`t like him, which is that he could not be decisive saying there are things in the country that are bad.

He couldn`t slap down the people that support him who are also white nationalists. He couldn`t do it for a whole week. He continued to go back to that.

TODD: Ironically, for anybody that is working hard because they care about preserving confederate memorial, may have done more damage to their cause than anything else on that moment. Michael Steele, I know everybody wants to debate everything, but I`m going to Michael Steele. You picked the NFL. Let me play that infamous NFL night.


TRUMP: Wouldn`t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He`s fired.


TRUMP: He`s fired!



TODD: Why did you pick it?

STEELE: Because I thought it encapsulated a number of things at the same time. One, it was the president`s way of saying, remember when I wanted to get a football team, you all wouldn`t let me? Here`s one for you. So, he sort of dropped a little something there for that.

But then was also sort of pivoting off of all of the angst and frustration that was growing out of Charlottesville and taking something that, by the way, a lot of people don`t remember. The NFL incident with Colin Kaepernick happened 260 plus days before that soundbite. So, the president`s outrage and concern was clearly fake, phony. It was fake news.

But it was fake news to generate for him a particular purpose, which was to shift the conversation away from him, away from Russia, and away from some other things that were going on with the administration at the time, and it sort of encapsulated for me how the president knowing so well how to move those perceptions inside the public mind, drew something out there, everyone went running for it and there we were. TODD: The amazing thing is, he drops that little bomb and somehow he walks away while the NFL is a mess.

STEELE: And NFL is a mess.

TODD: A mess. STEELE: They lost viewership. Everything. TODD: It`s a real problem. It`s a real thing. PALMIERI: Yes, it`s a real thing. It`s a real deal.

TODD: Mr. Wasserman, you picked Doug Jones. I think it`s obvious, but explain.

WASSERMAN: Democrats had come close in four special elections and lost all four of them. They finally got a win in Alabama. And it would have been one thing if Doug Jones had simply made big strides in the suburbs with Republicans who were disgusted with Roy Moore.

But what we saw was that the Trump base, Trump country did not turn out in Alabama. That has been a problem across the board for Republicans. That is really ominous for their 2018 prospects.

TODD: And Ms. Palmieri, you picked the other, probably the largest story of the year --


TODD: -- in connection, or not -- whether with President Trump or not, and that is of course the "Me Too" movement. A quick mash.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fox News confirming that longtime host Bill O`Reilly is out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein fired from his own company.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making unwanted sexual advance at him when he was 14.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: NBC News political analyst Mark Halperin off the air accused of lewd conduct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Louis C.K. breaks his silence, admitting he acted inappropriately with several different women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eye-opening list of powerful men outed for sexual misconduct now includes a sitting U.S. senator, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Charlie Rose now fired from all of his broadcast jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC News.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conyers again saying I`m told that he will resign.


PALMIERI: Stunning. TODD: Astonishing.

PALMIERI: Yes, it`s astonishing to see it all laid out like that. And I think it is the biggest development not just in politics but in society. And I think that there is -- I mean, it has not just made I think men re- evaluate the workplace, but I think that it`s really a game changer. It upended for women the way they think about the power dynamic in the workplace. TODD: I think I know where you`re going here (INAUDIBLE) idea instead of competing with each other anymore?

PALMIERI: Competing with each other anymore. You understand that there`s not a limit to how many women can be at the table.

TODD: Don`t fight for one -- don`t fight each other for the one seat, fight for more seats. PALMIERI: Fight for more seats and also that there are things that you don`t have to accept. I feel that with the election of Trump, I think for a lot of women, you feel like, we have plateaued. We only gone so far abiding by a certain set of rules and we have to re-imagine what it means for a woman to be in a leadership position.

And I think that women now believe -- it is really interesting. One thing - - I didn`t appreciate that women felt scared a lot, and I was like, you didn`t? That is a -- that`s a big -- and I think for women understanding, you shouldn`t feel that way, is a game changer.

TODD: Would we have had this moment if Hillary Clinton had been elected, Yamiche? I think a lot of us have been wondering. Does Harvey -- do all these women come forward on Harvey Weinstein, which was for some reason that`s considered the impetus and not Bill O`Reilly or Roger Ailes, we can have a conversation about that, but does it happen if Hillary Clinton is president?

ALCINDOR: I think, yes, it does happen. I think mainly because there are women who were digging for these stories before the election. I think there were women, journalists at my paper, who were digging and knowing that they wanted to uncover this. And there were women who were ready to tell their stories.

They are being primed even through the whole election, even through the "Access Hollywood" tape. All those things could have still been true. So I think that we would have had this moment. I think as a woman who thought more about this, this is idea that culturally Harvey Weinstein made books. He made books, he created movies.

He did all these things that impacted our society in the way we view women, the way that we think of women as crazy and emotional, that they couldn`t be CEOs of companies. All the cultural things that we learned about women, we learned through movies, and that to me is a problem. And I think that so many times, we as women, don`t talk to men about how you have to be so -- make men comfortable all the time.

TODD: Michael, that has made my stomach churn the most, when I`ve had that conversation. With, at home, and we -- it`s that point there. Look how men were in charge of narratives about women`s lives. That`s where it`s hit home. Like, everybody has their own sort of, like, uh-huh moment. That one hit me hard.

STEELE: No, I understand it. I know it in my own home. Of course I learned this lesson a long time ago after 33 years. But, no, it`s a powerful one because I think for the first time, many women through the story, the story of all of these other women, found a voice and found a way.

So, whether Hillary Clinton is in the White House or Donald Trump, this story was going to happen and it was going to happen on their terms. And I think that`s significant for this moment. It`s happening on the terms that women want it to happen on. They don`t have to go out and explain it. They don`t have to go out and apologize for it. This is what happened to me. Now, let`s deal with it. And that`s a powerful spot. TODD: You know, it`s interesting, David Wasserman. Look, is it -- are you seeing already the impact? You talk about how many candidates you interview. How many more women candidates are you interviewing this cycle? WASSERMAN: Exactly. Remember 1992? TODD: Yes. First year of the woman.

WASSERMAN: We call that year of the woman, while 2018 could be an even bigger year of the woman. Congress, let`s face it, still a grossly unrepresentative institution when it comes to gender. And if Democrats retake the House, I think they will do so by the margin of the female candidates that they`ve run.

TODD: And that`s the -- that to me -- Jen, you and I were in this town when there was a house bank scandal. And it`s sort of a `92 -- really, it was like a wild -- it was like a forest fire. It just cleared the brush out of the blatantly corrupts, OK?


TODD: I feel like we`re about to head to another one. They just clean house. By the way, more in state capitols as much as Congress.

PALMIERI: Right, like a whole other drum roll to come now. And, yes, imagine that, you know, (INAUDIBLE) -- TODD: No. And that`s the thing. It is even worse than we`ve ever imagined here.

PALMIERI: Yes. It`s going to have less -- it`s going to have had (INAUDIBLE) more --

STEELE: That`s the quintessential --

TODD: Keep an eye on it. I think the surviving Republicans in 2018 will be women. Keep an eye on that. Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee may bail Republican down on a race like that. That may be important.

ALCINDOR: Yes. I also would say that I think other sectors of our society are going to see women becoming influential. Who is going to take over Charlie Rose`s seat? Who is going to take over Matt Lauer`s seat? Who is going to take over the restaurants?

I thin that women are going to come into this moment where you`re going to be able to have that due -- able to get your due in a way that you couldn`t before because there were so many men blocking you for so many reasons, not one of which that you didn`t want to sleep with them.

There`s a new thing, especially for younger women. You are looking and saying, you know what, I am going to open my mouth this time. I am going to listen to what my mother is telling me. I am going to act and say, you know what, I do deserve this job. I am qualified.

TODD: It`s that generational difference, too, that has been fascinating to watch. Guys, I`m going to pause it here. When we come back, it`s never too early to talk 2020. Our vision is way focused there, right?

We`ll tell you who may be booking their trips to Iowa and New Hampshire. Actually, the list of people not running is much smaller. Stick around. The best of "MTP Daily," the best of 2017.


TRUMP: The only thing that hurts us is the fake news and there`s plenty of that. Look at all the fake news.

Fake news. Fake news.

Fake news.



Fake, fake, fake.

Such a fake.

All I can say is it`s totally fake news.

Just fake. It`s fake. It`s made up stuff.



TODD: Welcome back. The dizzying 2017 news cycle gave me plenty to be obsessed with. Take a look.

(START VIDEO CLIP) TODD: I`m obsessed.

I`m obsessed, I`m obsessed, has been obsessed, and I`m obsessed with the circus. Andrew Jackson, everyone, and I mean everyone. Ty Cobb. No, not that Ty Cobb. That Ty Cobb. I`m obsessed with James Bond. Bake in a moment. Until then, I remain Todd, Chuck Todd.

I`m obsessed with the history of "Meet the Press." I hear it`s the longest running show on television.

I`m obsessed with ground hog day. Rise and shine. Don`t forget to wear your booties because it`s cold out there today.

The idea of reliving something over and over and over again. Same time tomorrow.

I`m obsessed with the campaign that will not end. But the two former candidates can`t seem to let it go. Both parties can`t figure out how to move forward. Just keep your calendar on November 2016, because it`s going to feel like that`s where we are over and over and over again.



TODD: Welcome back. Time for "The Lid." We talked a lot about 2017. We talked a lot about 2018. I know you want some Kentucky gov 2019 news. But you know what? I`m going to skip that over. Wasserman and I will do that on a podcast later.

Let`s bring back the panel. All right. Jennifer, Mike, David, Yamiche, we asked you all to pick sort of -- an obvious potential front running candidate and somebody behind -- you know, somebody that people aren`t talking about that you think we will be talking about. Yamiche, let`s start with you.

ALCINDOR: So, the person that I think is very obvious is Bernie Sanders. I`ve already been covering -- TODD: You tabbed him as a front-runner?

ALCINDOR: I tabbed him as a front-runner mainly because there is already a line that people close to him are saying which is that he`s going to be almost like Nelson Mandela. He`s going to run in his 80s. He`s going to be someone who is very respectable. His wife told me this when I interviewed her.

TODD: You put Bernie Sanders and Nelson Mandela in the same sentence. ALCINDOR: That`s what his supporters are doing.


ALCINDOR: That`s what they`re doing. I think that it`s pretty clear that he`s very excited about it and he thinks that he can beat Donald Trump so he wants to do that. The person that we are not talking about that could run, I put Oprah Winfrey maybe because I was trying to think of someone who had the brand neck (ph) recognition that could go up against Trump and obviously --

TODD: In a few minutes, I`ll reveal another idea from my daughter, but same idea --


TODD: -- actually with one candidate she is obsessed with. All right, Mr. Steele, the front-runner and then your sort of the --

STEELE: The front-runner and who I think will be the Democratic nominee is the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe.

TODD: Wow!

STEELE: I think that he has got --

TODD: You really think the Democrats, no offense Ms. Palmieri, will go with a Clinton Democrat?

STEELE: It is not so much about the Clinton brand so much as it is, what he`s done as governor in --

TODD: Good story. Do you think it`s a good story? STEELE: A good story in Virginia. He`s got a national network that we all know. Jennifer is looking at me like I have four horns growing out of my head.

PALMIERI: No, I`m looking at you like, did Terry put you up to this?

STEELE: No, Terry did not.


STEELE: No, he`s not. He`s not. And he`s probably surprised I`m saying this. But I think he`s someone for the Democrats to really -- to all of us to really watch.

TODD: Who aren`t we talking about that we should? STEELE: Governor Martin O`Malley and --

TODD: Oh, you Mallender (ph) --

STEELE: I know. But, no. He is out and about right now. And he`s making some interesting noise. I don`t know whether the seeds are really germinating and rooting for him, but the fact that he`s back in the game and he`s going to be in play is going to be interesting to watch. So, I give him dark horse status right now.

TODD: Underrated, what I would call a hand-to-hand campaigner.

STEELE: Exactly.

TODD: Mr. Wasserman?

WASSERMAN: All right. I`m going to throw some cold water on Michael`s pick.

TODD: All right.

WASSERMAN: I think the era of generalist is over. If you`re going to win the presidency, you need to be a specialist and have an issue, champion an issue, that`s your party`s base (INAUDIBLE). I think even before the "Me Too" moment, Kirsten Gillibrand had made sexual misconduct a signature issue. And I think that`s what has propelled her to front-runner status at this moment.

Now, Bernie obviously has a huge following. However, as a dark horse, I`m looking at someone else for the signature issue, the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, who has tackled confederate monuments.

TODD: Mayors in general, interesting mayor. All right. Jennifer Palmieri? Everybody is going to listen closely to this one.

PALMIERI: I picked Gillibrand too as a front-runner. I think that -- I mean, I`m not so sure she`s ready for prime time, like, that doesn`t matter. And also, she is in prime time. So Kirsten Gillibrand in prime time --

TODD: She`s in New York. That`s a prime time state.

PALMIERI: Yes. And she did -- I mean, I think she`s pretty fearless and she stakes out a pretty bold claim and doesn`t let go, even when it gets uncomfortable. I think that that -- I think that it could be her moment.

And then my dark horse is the governor of Montana, Steve Bullock. I don`t think that people are going to want a celebrity candidate. I think you get the mirror opposite of Donald Trump, right? You could look at that and say that`s Kirsten Gillibrand. You could look at that and say that`s Cory Booker.

But I think that people look at somebody who runs in a red state but isn`t a moderate. He campaigns on Medicaid. He got it done. By walking around the state, convincing them this is the right thing to do. And I think he`s a unifier by nature in a western state. I think he`s very talented.

TODD: It was an interesting thing that my daughter reminded me of. I had no idea that Dwayne Johnson had went on "Ellen" and said he was seriously considering it. How likely do we get a celebrity-like candidate in the Dem field that is semi-serious? Do you think highly? ALCINDOR: I think it`s pretty likely. If you`re a celebrity, you`re someone who has a lot of money. You can fund your own campaign. You`re looking at Donald Trump and saying, I can do this. TODD: And that`s the Trump --

PALMIERI: Yes. At least we can try (INAUDIBLE).

STEELE: The country may have a different -- TODD: (INAUDIBLE) they will reject Trump like you go at the exact opposite. Any way, all right, guys, thank you all. What an hour. Hopefully we got people now having their own conversations about this. That`s what makes it fun.

That`s all we have for this special year-end edition of "MTP Daily." You can of course watch us every weeknight at 5:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC. Happy holidays. Happy new year from all of us at "MTP Daily." It has been quite a ride.



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