Show: MTP DAILY Date: January 8, 2018 Guest: Beth Fouhy, Eddie Glaude, Rich Lowry
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Donny Deutsch came to say --
DONNY DEUTSCH, CHAIRMAN EMERITUS, DEUTSCH INC.: I can --
WALLACE: -- executive time.
WALLACE: All right. This President is in a low. My thanks to Peter, Jason, Donny, and David.
That does it for our hour. I`m Nicolle Wallace. MTP DAILY starts right now with Katy Tur in for Chuck. Hi, Katy.
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: So that is the reason why Donny Deutsch never comes on my show.
WALLACE: No, that`s why you must get into his suit.
TUR: He keeps having executive time.
WALLACE: It`s his executive time.
TUR: I`m going to leave it there. Nicolle Wallace, brilliant as always.
I`m sorry, Donny. I can`t see you but we`re going to apologize from afar.
If it`s Monday -- you better come on tomorrow. He can here -- wait, he`s on the other side of the studio. We shouldn`t even admit that.
Anyway, if it`s Monday, Washington is playing head games.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Tonight, the growing debate about the President`s mental state.
MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "FIRE AND FURY, INSIDE THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE": A hundred percent of the senior staffs there are alarmed, concerned, confused.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I consider it a work of fiction.
TUR: Plus, the interview. Will President Trump sit down with Special Counsel on the Russia investigation? Talks are underway, and we have exclusive new reporting.
And, Oprah for president? What would an Oprah Winfrey candidacy really look like?
OPRAH WINFREY, CEO, OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK: A new day is on the horizon!
TUR: This is MTP DAILY, and it starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Good evening. I`m Katy Tur in New York, in for Chuck Todd, and welcome to MTP DAILY.
We begin tonight with an insane political discussion. An unprecedented debate about the President`s mental health is now in motion.
The President jumped head-first into that debate by tweeting things like -- my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart -- while also calling himself a very stable genius. And that`s not all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning, you were tweeting about your mental state. Why did you feel the need to tweet about that this morning?
TRUMP: Well, only because I went to the best colleges -- or college. I went to a -- I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out, made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people. Went to television. And for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard. Ran for president one time and won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: The White House today called the President, quote, sharp as a tack. Vice President Pence is defending him, too.
But as the President talks about his, quote, genius, author Michael Wolff says the people around him are talking about the 25th Amendment, which could be used to declare him incapacitated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFF: It`s not unreasonable to say this is 25th Amendment kind of stuff. This is -- I mean, the problem --
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Did anybody say that in the West Wing to you?
WOLFF: All the time. Twenty-fifth Amendment is a concept that is alive every day in the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: And in response to all of this, members of the President`s inner circle are firing back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Fitness to be President?
MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: I -- completely fit. I mean, I pause only because it`s such a -- just a ludicrous question.
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The President`s tweets absolutely reaffirmed the plain, spoken truth. A self-made billionaire revolutionized reality T.V. and tapped into something magical that`s happening in the hearts of this country.
NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Was he unstable when we finally hit back at Syria and said no more chemical weapons? Was he unstable when we finally put North Korea on notice?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don`t think he`s crazy. I think he`s had a very successful 2017.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump has the energy, has the focus. He has the vision to really revive this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Folks, you can debate all you want about whether or not this is a legitimate debate to have, but you cannot debate the political reality. This debate is happening, and it divides both parties.
Some Democrats are jumping headfirst into it. We`re going to talk with one congressman who wants to set up a congressional body to consider declaring the President mentally unfit for office.
But Democratic leadership including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, well, they don`t even want to talk about impeachment. Do you think they want the party to declare the President as some kind of nut?
And Republicans are divided as well. In public, they praise President Trump. But in private, and with reporters, some doubt his capacity for the job.
At the same time, there are some Republicans who insist that a debate over whether President Trump is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs will only embolden him. And in just a minute, we`re going to talk to a Republican strategist making that argument in those words.
But, guys, what both parties have in common is that they are both bracing for a midterm season that is shaping up to be a referendum on President Trump. What happens if it ends up being a referendum on his fitness for office?
We`ll get to that debate in a moment, but we begin tonight with a test of presidential fitness on steroids: Trump testifying.
Talks are underway between the President`s legal team and federal investigators about an interview in the Russia probe. That`s according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke to NBC News.
Joining me now is NBC News national political correspondent Peter Alexander.
Peter, is anybody in the White House concerned about the President`s ability to potentially be interviewed by Robert Mueller, to maintain focus?
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it`s a good question, Katy. Just to add to some of the reporting you just indicated there, we have new information this afternoon from an individual familiar with this conversation process that this interview or written response from the President could come within the next several weeks. So that gives you a sense of the potential timing we`re talking about here.
In terms of the White House or the legal counsel, the President`s sense of whether he would be in any position or if they`re comfortable with him sitting down with Robert Mueller, you`ll remember back in June, President Trump himself in the Rose Garden -- I was there -- was asked specifically if he would be willing to speak to Robert Mueller under oath. He said 100 percent.
The folks are not going to talk about that on the record. Ty Cobb, the White House counsel, has said basically that while they are cooperating, this is not something they`re going to speak about more publicly.
But for a person that they praised for his sort of off the cuff nature, that he had that unique populism, or he really connects with individuals, with his audience, with his supporters, there`s also a lack of discipline that anybody you speak would acknowledge is potentially problematic for the President, were he or were he not to be under oath but to be interviewed by a seasoned prosecutor like Robert Mueller or one of his investigators.
In terms of putting him head to head with someone like that, I think that`s not the type of chance that they would like to take.
TUR: This comes on the heels of new reporting over the weekend from Axios saying that the President`s schedule has been significantly shortened, and it now includes what Axios calls and what that schedule that Axios saw calls, quote, executive time, Peter? This idea that the President is in his residence, watching T.V. and tweeting for a number of hours a day?
ALEXANDER: Yes. The bottom line, this executive time, we can get a sense of it. The White House confirms there is something called executive time. They pushed back on the idea that the President is kicking up his feet, just tweeting, and that he is not hard at work on behalf of the American people every day.
But we can see the Marine Guard out in front of the West Wing, and it, anecdotally, is the case that that guard doesn`t stand guard until 11:00 a.m., perhaps noon some days. That`s the indication that the President is working in the Oval Office.
The Axios reporting suggests that the President is making phone calls, that he`s tweeting, that he`s watching his span of cable T.V. shows. As you witness all morning long when we`re often chasing some of the President`s tweets, that would seem to be the case.
For a little bit of comparison here, George W. Bush would generally get to the Oval Office at about 6:45 in the morning. President Obama, between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. Katy?
TUR: Peter Alexander. Peter, thank you so much.
Let`s turn now to Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union.
Matt, good to see you. Hope you`re doing well.
MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: You too, Katy. Thanks for having me on.
TUR: Whether or not you like this debate, whether or not you think this debate should be happening, the reality is the debate about Donald Trump`s fitness, his mental stability, is happening right now. What do you think of that?
SCHLAPP: It doesn`t bother me at all. I`m happy to have this conversation. I have a significant amount of and have had a significant amount of interaction with President Trump back before he was president, during the campaign.
Now that he`s president, he`s the same guy he`s always been. People who know him know that he`s a very unique American, I`ll give you that. And he is unorthodox, but there`s no -- this is not a different Donald Trump.
And he -- I also know him to be a workaholic. He works constantly. Now, he might not work in the way that your reporters are saying you must work as president. He works the phone a lot. He works wherever he is.
I was at a dinner with him recently. He took phone calls throughout the dinner. It`s just how he is.
He is constantly working. He is constantly in motion. And I think the American people see that he is a different kind of president, and he`s the President they elected.
TUR: A different kind of President, yes. What about all the tweeting that he is doing? He`s very clearly, from what he is tweeting, watching a lot of cable T.V.
SCHLAPP: You should take it as a huge compliment, Katy. He`s watching you. What`s wrong with that?
Is cable news worth watching? I think it is. It`s worth appearing on. That`s why I do. I think it helps people get educated. And I think if the President of the United States wants to watch your show and other colleagues` show, I think it`s a great thing.
TUR: What do you make about of all of the alarm bells that are sounding around the President? You have Michael Wolff quoting Steve Bannon saying that he has lost it. There`s also talk, according to Wolff, within the West Wing about the 25th Amendment.
And it`s not just Wolff. I have got sources who have worked inside the White House, who have known Donald Trump for many years as well, telling me that -- and asking me if I think that he has lost a step because they think he has lost a step. This is not just confined to Wolff`s reporting.
SCHLAPP: Look, there is no question that Donald Trump is a controversial political figure to a lot of people. I will give you that. I don`t know who your sources are, but I know you`re a good --
TUR: They`re fans of Donald Trump. They`re supporters of Donald Trump. These are not --
SCHLAPP: Yes, Katy, I don`t question --
TUR: These are not people who don`t like him.
SCHLAPP: Yes. I`m not questioning your sources. All I`m saying is all I can know is what I know.
And I`ve read a large part of this book. I think Michael Wolff is simply just not a credible source.
I have seen journalist after journalist go on news shows and simply talk about all the inaccuracies in the book and the fact that he has made a career of spinning what he sees as his version of the truth, which he starts the book out. Michael Wolff does talk about it, that this is his version of are things.
He did a whole chapter on the group that I chair, the ACU which puts on CPAC every year. A whole chapter on CPAC, Katy.
He never called me. He never called anyone on our organization. He never called anyone on an allied capacity that works with my organization to verify any facts in that chapter. He gets a lot of facts wrong.
So the problem when you have an author that has this kind of sullied reputation about, does he really check facts, how do I respond to what could be true and what isn`t true when there`s so much that`s not true?
He says John Kelly had a different job than what he had. He said Wilbur Ross was the Secretary of Labor. You go on and on and on. It`s mistake after mistake -- easy mistakes. He`s almost like a high school kid who crammed for a paper and had to get it in in time because, maybe, this was a good time to release his book.
TUR: And we`re going to talk about --
SCHLAPP: It would`ve been smarter --
TUR: Hold on.
SCHLAPP: -- to go through some editing.
TUR: We`re going to talk about --
SCHLAPP: You have to agree, Katy. You agree with me.
TUR: I have Michael Wolff --
SCHLAPP: He should have gone through some editing on this.
TUR: I had Michael Wolff on my show at 2:00, and we`re going to play a little about his editing process --
SCHLAPP: But you agree with me --
TUR: -- and his journalism standards --
SCHLAPP: But do you agree with me --
TUR: -- in just a moment, but --
SCHLAPP: -- he should --
TUR: Hold on.
SCHLAPP: But --
TUR: Matt, hold on.
SCHLAPP: But he shouldn`t have those errors in a book.
TUR: Matt, hold on.
SCHLAPP: No, but just answer that question. Should he have those errors in a book? He shouldn`t.
TUR: I think all books should be thoroughly fact checked, OK.
SCHLAPP: Thank you.
TUR: But it`s not just Michael Wolff. And we should note that Steve Bannon is not denying saying any of these to Wolff. He`s not denying his quotes. He`s not denying that he said he lost it. He`s not denying that he was talking about the 25th Amendment in the White House.
And also, if you can just put Michael Wolff to the side, whatever you want to say --
SCHLAPP: I don`t know that we know that.
TUR: Steve Bannon has not come out and denied any of this. He has not said, I did not say any of these things. He`s had this statement --
SCHLAPP: I don`t know --
TUR: -- but he hasn`t said it. I mean, he`s had every opportunity to dismiss them.
SCHLAPP: You know, all I say is, he`s --
TUR: Hold on.
SCHLAPP: He`s made --
TUR: Hold on, Matt.
SCHLAPP: OK, but I`ll --
TUR: Look, put Michael Wolff aside. Let`s put --
SCHLAPP: I will want to have the chance to respond to that. OK.
TUR: Let`s put Michael Wolff aside for a second and let`s talk about my sources.
TUR: And it`s not just my sources, it`s other reporters` as well. These are not people who have Donald Trump`s ill will in mind. They`re not people who don`t want to see Donald Trump succeed.
They`re people who definitely want him to succeed, who are concerned about his ability to do so and about his focus and about these tweets. This is not a new big piece of reporting.
SCHLAPP: I understand your premise.
TUR: It`s been around for quite a while.
SCHLAPP: I understand your premise.
TUR: Does that not concern you at all?
SCHLAPP: So what I would say is just this, I can`t know who your sources are. All I can know is what I know.
And I talked to the President, I talked to the people around the President, I talked to allies of the President. I think they believe that this coverage on the President`s mental capacity to do the job is absurd.
Now, Michael Wolff says that a hundred percent of the people around the President bring up the 25th Amendment and his ability to do the job on a regular basis. That is factually inaccurate because -- let me tell you.
If you walk through the people he didn`t talk to -- and I think he told a colleague of yours on NBC -- he didn`t talk to any of the cabinet who are the people who would have to make this decision on the 25th Amendment. He didn`t talk to the Vice President.
He did a whole chapter on my organization and never called any of us for any --
TUR: Wait. Hold on. You mentioned that. Let`s --
SCHLAPP: -- factual verification.
TUR: I want to get one more question in before we have to go, Matt, and this is just --
SCHLAPP: These are fair --
TUR: This is -- hold on.
SCHLAPP: But these are fair concerns, right?
TUR: Let me just ask you this. You, over the weekend, said that the discussion that Donald Trump is -- and this is -- these are your words -- cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs actually --
SCHLAPP: Yes, so you borrowed --
TUR: -- actually --
SCHLAPP: You borrowed that.
TUR: We did, from you.
TUR: -- actually emboldened him. What does it embolden him to do?
SCHLAPP: Because when we`re -- when the people who support Donald Trump like myself are called deplorable or when he is called crazy or not able to do the job, all you`re simply doing is telling that wide swath of Americans who support his policies and support him that, somehow, there`s something wrong about that. And somehow, there was something irresponsible and reckless about putting him in this job.
And all you are doing when you do that, Katy, or others do that or Michael Wolff does that, what you do simply is tell a big group of the American people that, somehow, they`ve done something wrong in supporting Donald Trump.
Let me tell you, we have roughly two sides in this country on politics. We have the left and we have the right. We would do a lot better in this country if we quit making these kind of charges and simply try to acknowledge that we have differences and work together where we can.
Donald Trump is the duly elected President of United States. Everybody I talk to who works with him says that he is doing an energetic and good job and is engaged, and there has been no fallback in his abilities at all. Matter of fact, I have seen no change in how he does the job.
So what is this? This is a political tactic to stop the agenda, and that`s really disingenuous. Anything to stop Donald Trump. It seems silly.
They first said that he colluded with Russians. Now, they say in this book he didn`t even really want to win. Even the arguments start to cross themselves. And I just think, as a country, let`s just acknowledge he won the election. Let`s disagree on policy --
TUR: I think people in the country have acknowledged he`s won the election. Do you think --
SCHLAPP: And let`s disagree on policy. But why make --
SCHLAPP: Why this charge, Katy? Why make it?
TUR: Well, the President has waded in. Do you think somebody who is a very stable genius would be tweeting that they are a very stable genius?
SCHLAPP: You don`t like his tweets, I get it. You don`t like his tweets, fine. There`s a lot of people in this country who like his tweets.
By the way, there`s a lot of people who appreciate the fact that he does go around when he wants to, around the media and just talks to his followers. It is an innovation in politics like we`ve had other innovations.
Sometimes the media is threatened by the fact that he goes around them, but it`s how he wants to do the job. And he`s got the constitutional right to do the job in this way.
And just let me make this clear, a lot of us are rooting him on and think that his agenda is actually saving this country.
TUR: Matt Schlapp, thanks so much for being here. We appreciate it.
SCHLAPP: Thank you, Katy.
TUR: And joining me is Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He is leading an effort to establish a congressional body under the 25th Amendment to determine whether or not the President is mentally fit for office.
Congressman, thank you very much for being here. I imagine you`re not going to agree with much of what Matt Schlapp was saying?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, I agree with some of it but certainly not all of it. One thing I should say is that the legislation we`re talking about, H.R. 1987, doesn`t mention Donald Trump`s name. It`s not a body set up devoted to looking at Donald Trump`s fitness for office, but it`s --
TUR: So why introduce it now?
RASKIN: It`s the -- well, I just got elected to Congress in January. But it`s the body that`s called for in the 25th Amendment to examine the capacity of the President to successfully execute the powers and duties of office, and --
TUR: Here`s the thing, Congressman. You want to impeach this President. You`ve said so.
RASKIN: And I`m -- when did I say that?
TUR: You have said you want to impeach the President: I want to say this about Donald Trump, who I may well be voting to impeach over the next year or two. Applause.
TUR: This is the January 2017 rally.
TUR: And you opposed Congress` vote to certify the election results. So you definitely don`t want him as president.
RASKIN: Well, let`s start with this because I think the media has been conflating impeachment and the 25th Amendment.
Impeachment is a process that`s built into the constitution to address high crimes and misdemeanors by the President of the United States. The 25th Amendment was adopted 50 years ago in 1967 in order to deal with the problem of a president who lacks the mental or physical capacity to execute the powers and duties of office. So these are two different things.
And it`s very possible that somebody has committed no high crimes and misdemeanors and is perfectly capable. It`s possible that they are impeachable but they have capacity. It`s possible they have capacity but are not impeachable. And it`s possibly that they have committed high crimes and misdemeanors and also are incapable of successfully executing the powers and duties of office.
So they`re two separate things, but a person could come under both provisions of the constitution.
TUR: Yes, I`m aware that they`re two separate things. My question was more on, do you have credibility, if you want to impeach the President, to say that you`re just introducing this legislation because you think this legislation should be here -- should be on the docket?
RASKIN: No, I don`t follow the question. I`m sorry.
TUR: Let`s move on. Do you believe Donald Trump is incapacitated?
RASKIN: First of all, it`s not my judgment to make. I mean, the media is consumed with different people offering their own private diagnoses on the President. My point is that we have an institutional responsibility under the 25th Amendment to set up the body that is called for to determine questions of presidential capacity or incapacity.
I would say enough questions have been raised by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, including in the Senate, as well as journalists, as well as the recent book that was just released a few days ago. Enough questions have been raised that we need to be prepared in the event of a crisis.
And I think that`s what the framers of the 25th Amendment wanted us to do, to set up a bipartisan, bicameral independent body that would be prepared in the event of a problem.
You know, we have 535 members of Congress. We only have one President in the United States. And we have to make sure that person has the mental and physical capacity to execute all the powers and duties of office.
TUR: If you say it`s not your call to make whether or not the President is incapacitated, why, a few days ago, did you say that he`s in a downward mental spiral? And why did you cite psychiatrists who think Trump is delusional and fragmented?
RASKIN: Well, I`ve cited everybody from the President who has called himself a very stable genius to Steve Bannon who has said that the President has lost it, to those who think he`s the picture of mental health, to those like the psychiatrists who are saying he is suffering from delusions and paranoia, and so on. So I`m citing people across the board.
The point is we have an institutional responsibility to set up the process that`s called for by the constitution. Otherwise, we`re just dragged into this tedious spectacle of people going back and forth and calling names.
TUR: Congressman Jamie Raskin. Congressman, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
RASKIN: My pleasure to be with you.
TUR: Ahead, is "Fire and Fury" full of misinformation? Author Michael Wolff responds to claims he misquoted Trump -- the Trump White House and sources within his new bombshell book.
TUR: Welcome back. "Fire and Fury" indeed. The new book, "Inside the Trump White House" from Michael Wolff continues to take Washington by storm with several current and former Trump associates saying that they were misquoted.
I talked to the author earlier on MSNBC and asked him to respond to those allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: So there are folks out there who are disputing what --
WOLFF: I -- you know, I hadn`t heard that before. And I just, well, you know, want to say it`s -- that`s completely ridiculous.
TUR: Well, I mean, Tom Barrack is saying that he is misquoted. Katie Walsh is saying she is misquoted. Are they all lying?
WOLFF: Yes, they are all lying.
TUR: You have tapes. Are you going to release the tapes?
WOLFF: No, I`m going to do -- you know, I have what every journalist have. I work like every journalist. I have tapes, I have notes.
TUR: But if people are questioning it, why not produce the evidence?
WOLFF: Because --
TUR: Are you saying those don`t exist (ph)?
WOLFF: Because that`s not what -- I`m not in your business. I -- my evidence is the book. Read the book. If it makes sense to you, if it strikes a chord, if it rings true, it is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: You can catch my entire interview with Michael Wolff on MSNBC.com or on my Twitter feed. You can also watch my show every day at 2:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC. You don`t even have to change the channel. More MTP DAILY in 60 seconds.
TUR: Welcome Barrack -- back, not Barrack. Welcome back. Let`s bring in tonight`s panel. NBC News and MSNBC senior editor for politics, Beth Fouhy; Princeton University professor, Eddie Glaude, Jr.; and the "National Review: editor, Rich Lowry. Guys, welcome.
Rich, you`ve never been on a panel of mine, so I want to start with you. The Democrats use this argument that Donald Trump was unstable in 2016. Hillary Clinton used it quite a bit.
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Right.
TUR: It didn`t work then. Is it going to work now?
LOWRY: I don`t think so. I just think there`s a segment on the left that can`t accept the fact that this guy was duly elected President of the United States.
So they have these continual fantasies that, somehow, he`s going to disappear in a cloud of smoke. They`ll be an Electoral College coup before he becomes president. He`ll be impeached because of the Russia collusion, or the 25th Amendment will be invoked.
And I think they`d be better served to give all that up and just oppose him the way you oppose any president of an opposing party. You try to stymie his agenda to -- in Congress to the extent you can, and then you try to beat him in the midterms and beat him for re-election.
TUR: Is it fantasy, though, to question his mental stability?
LOWRY: I think so. I think it`s contemptible to suggest he is somehow suffering from dementia without any actual evidence. And I`m not an expert on these things, but if you really have dementia and you`re the President of the United States, that is not something you can hide.
And it also suggested H.R. McMaster and General Kelly and General Mattis, these great patriots, are involved in this monstrous cover up of a President who has a debilitating illness.
TUR: Yes, but it`s not the reporters who are going out and saying this willy-nilly. It`s people within the White House who are talking to reporters. It`s those who know Donald Trump well. And I`m not just pinning this on Michael Wolff`s book. They`re not my sources, so it would be irresponsible.
But my sources have asked if whether Donald Trump has lost a step, and these are people who`ve known him for a really long time. They are people who have worked with him, people who have worked inside the White House.
So this question of his fitness is not -- it`s not a media construct. I don`t think that`s fair to say.
BETH FOUHY, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR: Right. And the significance of it, as you say, is that people within the White House told this to Michael Wolff, this book author, and he put it in the book. So it`s really not coming from outside, although perhaps you could say the media is echoing the point.
But the point really, even if he`s not mentally ill or has dementia or something that is -- can be disclosed that way, what the real argument, I would argue, from having read the book, is that he is ill-suited to the job.
That`s really more what the folks in the White House are saying, that he`s incurious, he doesn`t read, he doesn`t listen, he doesn`t work very hard. He pushes away any information that he believes -- doesn`t ring true to him, whether it`s expertise or anything that`s more legitimate than simply his own gut reaction.
Those are not usually good qualities for somebody who is the leader of the free world.
TUR: Well, what do you think of that? Is he ill-suited for the job?
LOWRY: He has qualities that do not make him well-suited for this job. And, look, there are all sorts of things I wish I could change about him, and I wish he behaved differently. And his main sources of information are T.V. and talking to people. I wish he`d read more.
But these were things that were brought up during the campaign. They were litigated, and he was elected. And they`re not things to you can evoke the 25th Amendment over. You know, that`s if you really -- if you suffer, God forbid, a stroke or in some way are really incapacitated.
But he is capable of being President of the United States. He is carrying out his duties whether you like what he`s doing or not.
TUR: But which isn`t wrong about that because when I would hear --
LOWRY: You`re just being nice to me.
LOWRY: Because it`s the first time on the panel.
TUR: No, no, no, no.
TUR: You`re not wrong about that. And I would bring this up while I was on the campaign trail, this idea that Donald Trump was a crazy wacko that the Democrats kept trying to put forth. It really did embolden Donald Trump`s supporters because they felt they were under attack too.
I can`t tell you if that`s going to hold for 2018 for the Republicans or for 2020. I just don`t know. But I do know, in 2016, that path did not work. Do you think Democrats should find an economic message, should find anything else to talk about other than Donald Trump?
EDDIE GLAUDE, JR., PROFESSOR OF RELIGION AND AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I think it should be a combination, right? It is clear to me that there are some issues with Donald Trump, and I think the Wolff book lets us know. As Beth has laid out, I think, fairly clearly that there`s -- this is a question of temperament and how we account for.
What it`s interesting is, at the very issue, did you -- remember how folks talked about Obama? Remember, he was a Muslim, right? And then that kind of motivated folks to question the legitimacy of his presidency.
So I think what the Democrats have to do is to find a balance between talking about Donald Trump and talking about the substantive issues that affect their constituencies, that will excite folks on the ground. We saw that in Virginia and we saw that in Alabama.
And if they don`t do it, if they think only the anti-Trump message will motivate their base, then they`re going to have an interesting surprise.
LOWRY: But neither Ralph Northam or Doug Jones ran on Donald Trump being crazy. They actually -- they were fairly subdued Democrats who got carried over the top by what was, in part, an anti-Trump wave.
But I think if Democrats are going to have success without Trump, it`s going to running against him as a more orthodox Republican rather than the idea that he`s some half-mad fascist.
TUR: Also finding ways to appeal and motivate women to vote, which is what we saw in Virginia specifically.
Russia. Our NBC News team has broken another story about the Russia investigation. The President`s lawyers in talks with the Mueller team to figure out if he should or will be interviewed by Bob Mueller. That`s unclear.
What do you think? Do you think that Donald Trump is going to have a hard time under that sort of scrutiny?
FOUHY: It`s a big step. I mean, he and others around him are insisting to this day that this is a hoax, that it`s all going to be wrapped up very quickly, that the whole thing is going to be over with, and he can move ahead. Well, clearly, that`s not the case, if he`s getting ready to sit down and do an interview.
In no way says that he`s guilty of anything, but it does say that Mueller needs to speak to him to clarify other -- at minimum, information that he`s getting from his investigation. It`s going to be a very tough thing for Trump to sit down with this. KATY TUR, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: But for those who think he`s going to crack under pressure, I will just offer this word of warning, he has been in a lot of lawsuits in his life. He has been under oath a lot and there are ways to get around not answering or vaguely answering something. EDDIE GLAUDE, PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: It is the presidency of the United States.
TUR: It`s the presidency and it`s Robert Mueller and likely he hasn`t faced off against anyone quite like that, but I will just say, be wary. Eddie Glaude, Beth Fouhy, Rich Lowry, guys, stick with us.
Ahead, the serious business of being funny. Comedy Central host Jordan Klepper on politics and comedy in the age of Trump.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you consider a woman for your running mate, and if so, who?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, I would consider, and as Chris can tell you, I threw out the name of a friend of mine, who I think the world of. She`s great. And some people thought it was an incredible idea, some people didn`t, but Oprah. I said Oprah Winfrey, who is really great. And I think we would be a very formidable team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Or maybe formidable opponents instead. The whispers of Oprah 2020 turning to full-on shouts, straight ahead.
TUR: The wait is almost over. President Trump will announce the fake news awards, quote, going to the most corrupt and biased of the mainstream media.
The big day -- big day -- was supposed to be today, but the president said he has postponed doling out the accolades until Wednesday. Comedy Central`s "The Opposition with Jordan Klepper" takes off from the president`s mistrust to the mainstream with a comedic take on friendliness with the fringe.
(START VIDEO CLIP) JORDAN KLEPPER, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: This gossip laundering book is nothing but trouble.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quote, Trump didn`t read. Some believe that for all practical purposes, he was no more than semi-literate.
KLEPPER: Semi-literate? Sorry, haters, but that`s still literate.
KLEPPER: Semi-trucks are still trucks. Checkmate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Klepper was a former daily show correspondent who developed the idea for the opposition after taking a closer look at the conspiracy outlets where many voters were getting theirs news. Klepper sat down with Chuck Todd for a one-on-one about comedy on the fringe.
KLEPPER: I go to a lot of Trump rallies at the "Daily Show" and I followed that. What I started noticing is like -- these old folks are like waiting the news, it will have you. It was Fox, some CNN, but it was InfoWars and Breitbart. It was on the blaze and it was interesting.
At that point, I was pretty unaware. Our show is definitely a fringe character at that point, but I started, you know, poking around there, seeing some of those things echoing that a little bit more mainstream, echoing with Trump and Bannon, what have you.
And so I think that`s what we felt like oh, this feels wild and conspiratorial. When I`m talking to people like, this is where they`re getting their news. This is like -- this is the -- this is the pure dope right here of the B.S. that we`re seeing followed online.
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS DAILY SHOW HOST: What`s interesting to me is when Donald Trump got sued, one of his defenses was, no, no, no, I am not a journalist, I am an entertainer.
TODD: And so do you think there`s a difference between you and Alex Jones?
TODD: OK, you see what I mean --
KLEPPER: Yes, 100 percent --
TODD: You`re in the entertainment business --
KLEPPER: You might be --
TODD: -- or you in the information business.
KLEPPER: I think that`s an incredibly honest thing for him to say. TODD: Totally honest thing?
KLEPPER: Yes. And so 2017, people don`t care, like, he`s laid it on the line partially because he`s on the line right there. He doesn`t want to lose his kids, so he has called himself an entertainer, but he is.
He`s a good entertainer. He knows what he`s doing. He is a performer. He is able to carry audience. He knows how to shift stories, shift narratives, get people engaged and involved. That is what he does and what he does best.
TODD: Go back to the -- the political comedy versus non-political comedy. David Letterman did an interview, one of his first interviews after the, you know, after his -- the beard, you know, the whole, you know, hid in Indiana I guess or whatever, the long beard.
And he almost said he thought, you know what? In hindsight, Jon Stewart had it right, meaning in focus that -- he now regrets -- he almost implied that you have to have an edge now politically if you`re going to be a successful sort of nighttime comedian.
KLEPPER: I think it`s true. I definitely think --
TODD: It`s not Jerry Seinfeld-type of humor anymore at night. No offense to Jerry, but, you know, I mean, the sort of observational non-political type of humor.
KLEPPER: Well, I think like what the late-night slot, you know, in itself is a way to like comment on what`s happening during the day. Probably used to be something like this is what I want to go to bed to. And now I think it`s now something you want to go to bed to and wake up to and see how comedians digested the things that just happened.
I mean, it feels like we have Twitter now. People want instantaneous feedback, and so show that is going to talk about what happened today. It has to be more substantial about what actually is happening today.
TODD: Talk about the activism -- your decision again in -- your gun special.
TODD: Is it -- does it feel as if this is a step for your personal activism or all within the realm of my satire world?
KLEPPER: I think it`s within the realm of my satire world. I think I was on "The Daily Show." I did a lot of pieces on the gun debate in America. And growing up in Michigan, family members with guns, guns means different than -- it`s a different thing here, in Michigan than in D.C. or New York.
TODD: Absolutely. I have family in Iowa. My wife grew up in the panhandle of Florida.
TODD: Gun culture, I have an uncle in Arkansas. Gun culture is different there than it is here, I mean, New York.
KLEPPER: And I think that`s where I got a chance to do a special, like, what do you want to do? I want to do something I care about. I think that I become -- decent ad is doing, you know, comedy and point of view through satire. I care about the gun debate. I want to show some sides of the gun debate that I get to see when I go on these field pieces and I talk to people.
I go down to Texas. I talk to far-right guys, who, FBI guys, guys who have been in the military for years and years. I talk to some guys who were teaching people about active shooter situations. Hard and tough as you could get. Off the record, we talk about gun things. And they are so pro- gun control, so pro -- the middle. And you`re not going to get that. You`re not going to hear that. Doing a special, doesn`t feel like activism, but just feels like I had an opportunity.
TODD: And your state of the union special.
TODD: That is going to be coming up. That -- who knows?
TODD: I can`t say, how would you prepare for that? Because we don`t even know how we would prepare for that, other than we`ll see what he says. What is he the golf (ph) teleprompter or doesn`t he?
KLEPPER: What is going to be the state of the union in three weeks? I have no idea. I just know we`re going live, just like him. TODD: What say another project, you`re told, you got another special. Don`t do guns. Do something else. What would you want it to be?
KLEPPER: I think I like to go even deeper into this media culture that we`re in right now. I think I got to do it every day, but I would love to, like, already we`re starting to talk more and more to the citizen, journalists out there, give them more time.
TODD: I will say this. I think the one thing that Alex Jones tells the truth about is the name of his show. They take this as a war on information.
TODD: They don`t see it as about true or false. It`s about what information we can weaponize. KLEPPER: Right. Gear up. TODD: It`s crazy. Jordan Klepper, it has been good to meet you.
KLEPPER: Chuck, good to meet you.
TODD: All right.
TUR: Ahead, could a Winfrey ticket be a winning ticket? With 2020 on the horizon, Oprah starts sounding like someone with politics in her future.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN MEDIA PROPRIETOR: I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, nobody ever has to say "Me Too" again!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Know that sentence didn`t end with a "and that`s why I`m running for president," but it didn`t have to. Accepting a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes last night, Oprah Winfrey launched herself into the 2020 conversation.
So we wondered, what are her politics anyway. Totally obvious. She famously endorsed then Senator Obama in 2007, the first time she had ever thrown her name and brand behind a candidate. And, of course, she cried her eyes out in Grant Park in Chicago on election night.
But then Oprah stayed out of the 2012 race. Still a supporter of the president, but didn`t hit the trail for him. She became more political around 2013, endorsing down ballot candidates and in a commencement address at Harvard, laid out her position on a number of hot button political issues.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: The vast majority of people in this country believe in stronger background checks. Most Americans believe in a clear path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants who reside in this country.
That people from both parties and no party believe that indigent mothers and families should have access to healthy food and a roof over their heads, and a strong public education! Because here in the richest nation on earth, we can afford a basic level of security and opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: And today, she got another nudge from a member of the United States Senate. We`ll break it down with the panel when "MTP Daily" comes right back.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
SETH MEYERS, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: In 2011, I told some jokes about our current president at the White House Correspondents` dinner and some have said that night convinced him to run. So if that`s true, I just want to say, Oprah, you will never be president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Time for "The Lid." The panel is back. Eddie Glaude, Beth Fouhy, and Rich Lowry.
Eddie, let`s start with you. Oprah 2020, likely or unlikely?
GLAUDE: I hope that`s -- I hope no, to be honest with you.
GLAUDE: You know, it`s an indication of the state of our democracy when celebrity becomes the basis for ascending to the highest office in the land. I`m not trying to say that there is no necessary -- because you`re a celebrity, you are by definition not qualified to be president of the United States.
But it seems to me that we`ve taken this televisual moment, the idea of celebrity, brand, entertainment as the stuff, the source of our politics, and we are in serious trouble. TUR: But Oprah is somebody who is empathetic. She is somebody who is inspiring to lot of people. She would presumably get folks who didn`t vote for Donald Trump and speak to people who feel like they`re underrepresented right now.
I mean, is there a scenario where we can look at it and say, if we`re going to pick a celebrity, we`re going to pick somebody with 100 percent name recognition because, let`s be honest, Donald Trump has 1,000 percent name recognition. I mean, Oprah might be the next best choice.
FOUHY: Yes. And we found all sorts of video today of Donald Trump on various talk shows talking about how great Oprah was and how she has got the it factor. So, he is definitely impressed by her celebrity too.
I think the reason people were moved by her last night was because she was uplifting and inspiring, and she told a good story, which is very important in the rhetoric of politics. People want to hear a story. They want to hear an arc, beginning to end, from the time she was a child watching Sidney Poitier until now.
She is the most famous woman in the world, person perhaps in the world. She is a black woman. She is speaking about underrepresented people and people feel very inspired. Trump always has -- his celebrity is built on division, us versus them, good versus bad, winners versus losers. She did not do that. It felt like a relief to a lot of people.
TUR: Some people, a lot of people, but not everyone. I mean, Donald Trump appealed to folks who were angry, who didn`t want to be inspired by his stories, who wanted somebody to express their anger. Would it be a gift to Republicans to have somebody like Oprah run or would it be scary?
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, THE NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, take the general point, how this isn`t a great trend in our politics, but I mock and dismiss nothing anymore.
LOWRY: And if Hillary Clinton could give a speech like that, even half as good as that speech last night, she probably be president.
TUR: Why do you have to compare the two? Hillary Clinton was a woman who ran and did not win. And Oprah is a woman who might run. Why do you need to make the comparison?
LOWRY: The ability as an order and as someone who can inspiringly deliver a message, that`s really important. Now, does Oprah actually do this? She has a lot to lose. You know, if you believe Michael Wolff, one reason Donald Trump ran was to enhance his brand.
Oprah does not need to enhance her brand. This would be enormous risk for her, for the first time really in her life wouldn`t be in control of her image and potentially would negative press.
TUR: Mazie Hirono is all on board. She says that she wants to join, wonderful, I`m sure there`s a lot of women or people in the Democratic Party who look at that and think to themselves, no, no, no. Want to run themselves. I mean, I`m looking at -- I am presuming and let me presume here. Kirsten Gillibrand --
TUR: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden, Corey Booker, the list could go on.
GLAUDE: Right. At the end of the day, we are going to have to speak to the fact that every day ordinary people are catching hell. Feel good stories are good. They`re good. You can watch, you know, the hallmark channel. But at end of the day, people are trying to keep roofs over their head, even though we can talk about economic indicators.
Everybody that I know is still struggling. And, you know, to have Oprah come on and make you feel good is one thing. But it`s another thing to speak to the actual circumstances that every day ordinary people and the fundamentals of this country. Contrary to the field good story that folks are telling. The fundamentals of the country are not that.
TUR: Do you think the Democrats need to find somebody who is not a white male? I mean, just obligated to find somebody who is not a white male.
FOUHY: Yes. Somebody on the ticket should be a person not white.
TUR: On the ticket or at the top of the ticket?
FOUHY: I don`t know because we don`t know how this field is really kind of (INAUDIBLE) at this point. But one of the problems with the ticket as we now know in 2016 was it was very white. And the most diehard, committed members of the Democratic Party are people of color. So for them to not be represented on the ticket is going to cause Democrats a problem.
TUR: Do you think that is going to come to haunt Donald Trump in this next election? That people of color and women are going to say, oh, we maybe let you go this first time, gave you a pass, but not this time.
LOWRY: Right. That`s one of the reasons he won in 2016. The conventional wisdom that largely shared was that no matter who is on the ticket on the other side, even Obama was no longer running, that he would negatively inspire minorities to turn out. And they didn`t.
But now in the off-year elections, we have seen they are turning out in a big way, and you would expect to see that in 2020. Oprah potentially could put together this Obama coalition again of really turning out minorities at the same time she has appeal to a segment of white voters.
TUR: We will see. It`s a wild ride and so far away from 2020. GLAUDE: That`s the way Wolff ends the book. Whatever it is, it is going to be some wild -- LOWRY: Just trying to prove you read the whole thing. TUR: You read -- last page, read it. Kidding. Eddie Glaude, Beth Fouhy, Rich Lowry. Rich, welcome. I`m happy to have you.
LOWRY: Thank you.
TUR: Come back soon. And we will be right back.
TUR: In case you missed it, we`re in the heat of retirement season on Capitol Hill. Today, we saw another high-profile exit. California Republican Congressman Ed Royce announced he won`t seek re-election this year. His term limited atop his role -- at his role atop the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Already this cycle we have seen a number of retirements from Republican committee chairmen, but that might not be the only motivation prompting Royce to leave D.C. Hillary Clinton won his suburban district in Orange County by almost double digits.
Forty years earlier, Romney was able to carry it by a slimmer margin. And just since the announcement, our friend, David Wasserman at The Cook Political Report, moved the district from lean Republican to lean Democrat.
That`s all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." I will be on at 2:00 p.m. And "The Beat with Ari Melber" starts right now. Ari, I missed you.
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