Show: MTP DAILY Date: January 16, 2018 Guest: Contessa Brewer, Robert Weissman, Matthew Continetti, Maria Teresa Kumar, David Ignatius
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: -- Tom Cotton being confirmed as CIA Director. He should be rendered unconfirmable after his lies had been exposed on this.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Those are going to have to be the last words today. I`m inviting everybody back for tomorrow because I didn`t get enough of any of my great friends here.
Ashley Parker, Steve Schmidt, Zerlina Maxwell, and A.B. Stoddard. Thank you so much. That does it for our hour.
I`m Nicolle Wallace. MTP DAILY starts right now. Hi, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. You know, Steve Schmidt is always on the fence on things.
TODD: You know, he just never seems to take --
WALLACE: And he is so --
TODD: He is so --
WALLACE: He is so wishy-washy, right?
TODD: -- wishy-washy. On the one hand, on the other hand.
WALLACE: Yes. Yes.
TODD: Anyway --
WALLACE: And if I had more time, maybe I could pin him down, right?
WALLACE: Have a good show.
TODD: If it`s Tuesday, there is no trust and we verify that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Tonight, a matter of trust.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This has turned into an s-show.
TODD: How broken trust in the President risks a breakdown of our government.
Plus, three days until a potential government shut down. How far will Democrats go to protect the Dreamers?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: I think it is more likely than not, but no one should want a shutdown.
TODD: And a new report shows who may be trying to buy influence through Trump properties.
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Good evening. I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and welcome to MTP DAILY.
As Lindsey Graham said today, this has turned into an s-show. You are watching a destructive breakdown of trust snowballing here in Washington, and it all seems to be emanating from the President`s behavior. Whether it`s his recent vulgar remarks on immigration or his eroding credibility as a negotiator.
First off, the President doesn`t trust Democrats. He said so today. Quote, they want to shut down the government over amnesty for all and border security.
I don`t quite think that`s their position.
Second, Democrats don`t trust this President either. That`s why Senator Durbin went public with the President`s profanity. That`s why a number of them are calling him a racist and/or warning of a government shutdown.
But third and most -- perhaps most importantly, some top Republicans and White House staff don`t seem to trust him either. How about that?
In a hearing and with reporters, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, today, suggested that the President was being used like some kind of pawn by immigration hardliners at the White House. Here is some of what he told reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: What we need to do better is a reliable partner at the White House. We cannot do this with people in charge at the White House who have an irrational view of how to fix immigration. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Folks, Senator Graham, today, painted a highly unflattering and fickle portrait of a president seemingly bouncing around on the issue of immigration depending on whoever was in the room with him last.
Graham seemed livid that the President praised bipartisan efforts to make a deal on Tuesday then blew up those same efforts and made those vulgar remarks when a deal was presented to him on Thursday. And that all came after the hardliners on his White House staff reportedly intervened in an effort to make sure they did kill the Graham-Durbin deal.
Here is more from Graham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: Let`s talk about two Trumps, the Tuesday Trump and the Thursday Trump.
So, Tuesday, we had a president that I was proud to golf with, call my friend, who understood immigration had to be bipartisan. You had to have border security. It`s essential. You have border security with the wall. But he also understood the idea that we had to do it with compassion.
Now, I don`t know where that guy went. I want him back. This has turned into an s-show. And we need to get back to being a great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Moments ago, the White House pushed back against Senator Graham`s suggestions that the President`s staff is running the show, not the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was simply a complete failure in terms of a good deal based on what the President has laid out. The President`s viewpoint on this has been consistent. It hasn`t changed. But what was reflected in that deal isn`t what the President laid out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And as I mentioned, the spiraling lack of trust seems to be emanating from that Oval Office meeting where President Trump made those vulgar remarks.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was in the room, but she won`t confirm what the President said when she was asked about it during her congressional testimony today. And that infuriated some Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I don`t remember a specific word. What I was struck with, frankly, as I`m sure you were as well, was just the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Your silence and your amnesia is complicity. You don`t remember. You can`t remember the words of your Commander-in-Chief? I find that unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So where does this s-show of mistrust go from here?
Joining me now is Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas.
Congressman Hurd, welcome. Thank you, sir.
REP. WILLIAM HURD (R), TEXAS: Hey, Chuck. Thanks for having me on.
TODD: All right. I know you`ve got your own bipartisan deal on DACA, a much more narrow version.
TODD: I want to get into in a minute, but where are we and how far away are we from an actual deal as far as you understand it in the House?
HURD: Well, as you know from covering Washington, three days or two days, however much we have, there`s still a lot of time to try to get something done.
And I would agree with some of your points that this lack of trust up here in Washington, D.C. is real. And that`s what we`re trying to do with our bill where we have, you know, a total of 40 Republicans and Democrats equally united on trying to solve a very narrow part of this problem.
And if we can build trust that way and prove that Republicans and Democrats can actually work together, that bill`s momentum to focus on other elements.
TODD: So what would your narrow bill do? Is this simply protecting the Dreamers in exchange for small border security? Explain.
HURD: Yes, this is a border security fix and a DACA fix. It`s 2018. We haven`t secured our borders. We haven`t gotten operational control of it.
Part of the reason is because we`re not looking at all 2,000 miles of border at the same time. I have more border than any other member of Congress. And to make sure that we provide a permanent legislative fix for those 1.2 million kids that did not come here under no fault of their own but are providing and contributing to our history and our culture and our economy.
TODD: Is there a -- as you know, you got Senator Cotton and others who believe -- who are further to the right than you on this issue who believe they don`t want a DACA fix if you don`t end the family-related migration, so-called chain migration, and if you don`t get rid of the diversity lottery.
Your bill doesn`t touch either of those. Why not?
HURD: No, it doesn`t because, Chuck, I think one thing that Washington is pretty terrible at is doing something that`s comprehensive and bipartisan. So let`s try something else. Let`s try something narrow and bipartisan.
And if folks have some ideas on how to address some -- those other things, then great. Let`s have an amendment. Let`s have those conversations. Let`s have a robust conversation on the -- on whether we want to change our immigration.
But I don`t believe that comprehensive immigration reform is what we should be doing right now between now and January 19th. Let`s be narrow, let`s secure the border, let`s solve the problem for the DACA kids, and then work on some of these other issues.
TODD: Now, look, you haven`t been in some of these White House talks. You haven`t been in some of these bicameral talks.
HURD: I have not.
TODD: You just said yourself, no member of Congress has more border in their district than you. Why is Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy not including you in all this?
HURD: Well, I can`t say that that`s not the case just because I didn`t go to, you know, a meeting here or a meeting there. That doesn`t mean, you know -- our leadership on both sides of the aisle is aware of what Pete Aguilar and I have been working on.
And so, you know, I`m confident -- and people do recognize the background experience and the uniqueness of the border. So I wouldn`t take, you know, whether I was in a meeting or not to be an indication of that.
TODD: OK. Do you have anybody publicly in the Senate working with you yet?
HURD: Many of our colleagues in the Senate are aware of what we`re doing, but let`s focus on getting something that we can get done through the House. And then, hopefully, we`ll see what Senate can do.
But let`s start narrow, let`s make sure we have a smart solution, and let`s build trust. And the fact that we have, you know, this number of Republicans and Democrats that are willing to solve this problem, I think, is a really good sign for future conversations.
TODD: All right. Let me ask you how much money in border security. What are you asking the President to support here in exchange for the DACA universe?
And I want to ask you about, what do you believe that universe is, the maximum universe is, on that?
HURD: Right. So, first of all, this is not an appropriation bill. This is an authorization bill.
This is saying that DHS should have a section-by-section assessment of the border and then come up with a plan and implement that plan by the end of 2020. But this is something that can be done in tandem with other agreements and other conversations when it comes to funding the government.
And so we -- again, we weren`t mixing appropriations and authorization, and that`s --
TODD: I understand that, but you know what the criticism of your bill is going to be. You`re giving DACA relief today for the promise of border security tomorrow.
HURD: Well, I don`t see it that way. You got to have a plan in order to secure the border. There is a reason that we`ve seen a decline in the number of folks coming across the border illegally in the last year, is because we`re actually also enforcing the law as well.
And so, yes, that`s a point that people are always going to bring up, but I think folks that bring that up are probably not going to, ultimately, be on board with a final solution anyways. So for me, this is about a step-by- step approach.
HURD: And let`s solve the real problems. And having to chase bad guys all over the world for almost a decade when I was an undercover officer in the CIA, we can secure our border. We must, but we have to be -- it has to be done in a smart way and that`s what this bill does.
TODD: All right. What`s the likelihood that we do a three-month -- three- year temporary extension for these DACA recipients and punt this until after 2020?
HURD: I don`t know. That`s not a conversation that I`ve heard.
HURD: But I think all of these negotiations are going to be on the table to try to solve this.
TODD: I do too.
HURD: And the good thing is, the reasonable people, the people that are going to ultimately solve this, nobody is talking about kicking 1.2 million, you know, kids out of the country. So I think that`s a good thing so we that we can ultimately solve this.
TODD: All right. We shall see. Congressman Will Hurd. Again, as he said, the member of Congress who has more border in his district than anybody else.
Congressman, thank you for coming on, sir. I appreciate it.
HURD: Always a pleasure, Chuck.
TODD: All right. Joining me with a little perspective from the other the side and the other chamber, Democratic Senator Chris Coons.
Senator Coons, welcome back to the show, sir.
COONS: Thank you, Chuck. Great to be on.
TODD: So I assume a more narrow bill like you heard from Congressman Hurd, if that somehow got through the House, that would get through the Senate rather easily. But what is the sticking point as far as you`re concerned?
COONS: I would hope it would. It`s very encouraging to hear Congressman Hurd, who I know well, working so hard across the aisle with Congressman Aguilar to come up with a narrow and focused solution.
But, frankly, what is the sticking point? The sticking point is we have a President whose engagement, whose role here, shifted back and forth.
From welcoming and supportive and constructive last Tuesday when he hosted a bipartisan meeting in the White House, kept it open to reporters, and said whatever you guys come back with, that`s a deal I`ll embrace, I`ll take the heat.
And then two days later, when Senators Graham and Durbin, a bipartisan group of six senators come back to report they`ve got a deal, the President blows it up.
So if we knew that President Trump would take leadership here and would get us over the finish line with some deal -- and we`ve got a good one here in the Senate -- that tees up border security and a DACA fix, we could get this done.
We`ve got several days. There is already a bipartisan deal on the table here in the Senate. I don`t understand, in this tale of two Trumps from last week, why the President keeps going back and forth instead of showing leadership on this issue.
TODD: Well, at what point do you no longer -- do you trust the President?
COONS: Well, the President was elected by the American people in part because he had some success in business. And while he and I differ on lots of issues, I have to be hopeful that he could still be successful as president.
Getting this deal over the line, avoiding a government shutdown this Friday, keeping us moving forward, that show real leadership. I believe he is interested in being a successful president. I`m puzzled at the number of times he has done what he did last Thursday and end up defeating something that, just two days before, he so openly encouraged and supported.
TODD: If you don`t get -- if there`s no movement on DACA this week, will you vote to keep the government open on Friday?
COONS: Well, we shouldn`t get to that point. None of us should be flirting with shutting the government down. But we are months overdue, Chuck, in addressing the Children`s Health Insurance Program; disaster funding for Puerto Rico, for Florida, for Texas; dealing with the wildfires out West; the community health centers; and with a resolution to DACA.
All of us, I think, are struggling to believe that there is going to be a deal here, but we`ve got several days. It is possible for leadership in the House and Senate and the White House to come to an agreement on an overarching deal.
We should be getting that done. We should demonstrate to the world and our country that we can still get these deals done in the best interest of our nation.
TODD: You just sounded like a senator who did not want to have -- who wasn`t willing to say, no, not going to support any government funding bill if DACA hasn`t been solved. That is not -- for this Friday, that is not a deal breaker for you? It`s what it sounded like to me, but correct me if I`m wrong.
COONS: Chuck, we still got enough time to get this done, and I don`t want to give up hope yet that we will get this done.
I`ve been here seven years. I have lived through far too many cliffhangers, and one of the things that makes it harder to get this done is when folks start drawing sharper and sharper lines in the sand.
TODD: But you`re not there? You`re not drawing --
COONS: The President had a good bipartisan deal presented to him last Thursday --
TODD: You`re not ready to draw that line in the sand: no DACA deal, no budget vote from me, Chris Coons?
COONS: Chuck, we should get a resolution to the DACA problem this week. We deserve -- the American people send us here to make responsible compromises. There is a DACA deal on the table. It should be part of a bigger package that keeps the government open.
And I hope the President will seize this moment to lead a Republican Congress and a Republican White House in getting over the finish line with resolving all of these important issues, DACA central among them.
TODD: I got two questions involving this meeting between Senators Durbin, Graham, and Perdue and Cotton. Number one, do you think we should have ever heard that language? Do you think that was something that shouldn`t have been leaked in the first place?
COONS: You know, it is, of course, regrettable that the President swears, but it`s not surprising that our President swears. Lots of people swear. I even swear on occasion. What`s deeply regrettable is what he was swearing about and what it implied.
Suggesting in the rough and vulgar language used that there are certain nations from which we don`t want people and there`s other nations, Nordic nations, from which we do want people led to an inevitable conclusion that what he was saying was racist. And the timing and the context was particularly unfortunate. And it`s now the goal that we are to fight --
TODD: Right. Do you think it was important that we learned --
COONS: I think --
TODD: -- it`s important that this went public?
COONS: I think when a president is hosting a meeting that important where a bipartisan deal has been presented and where the motives spoken by the President for breaking the deal are that base, I can understand why certain participants felt it important to be clear about why that deal wasn`t embraced.
TODD: Has your view of Senators Cotton and Perdue changed?
COONS: I think it`s really unfortunate that we`ve gotten into a mud pit of he said/he said and senators accusing each other of being untruthful. It was really unconstructive for them to then go on Sunday shows and go out publicly and accuse one senator of not being truthful.
And then it turns into parsing about s-house or s-hole or -- I mean, this has been a really unconstructive couple of days. Who is being let down here? Eight hundred thousand Dreamers, hundreds of millions of Americans, our reputation in the world.
If I were betting on whether the United States is able to overcome the challenges we face in the world, I`d be betting less in favor of America if I were one of our friends or adversaries around the world after this messy, disappointing incident.
My hope is that in the next couple of days, Chuck, we can save this and do a bipartisan deal that gets us moving forward again.
TODD: All right. Senator Chris Coons, I`m going to leave it there. Democrat from Delaware.
Thanks for coming on and sharing your views. I appreciate it.
COONS: Thank you, Chuck.
Up ahead, this break down in trust has consequences far beyond this moment and this deal. We`ll talk about that next.
Plus, the results are in. We crunch the numbers from President Trump`s White House physical.
TODD: Welcome back. The "New York Times" was the first to report that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has now been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before grand jury as part of the Russia investigation. He didn`t voluntarily go. He apparently waited to be subpoenaed.
This will be the first time Mueller has subpoenaed any member of the President`s inner circle. It`s not clear if Bannon was subpoenaed because he refused to come in voluntarily.
Many other administration officials have been interviewed without being subpoenaed, sort of to get it over with.
Also today, Bannon faced questions as part of an entirely separate investigation into Russian election meddling. This one before the very polarized House Intelligence Committee where he sat for hours of questioning with members of the committee behind closed doors.
Sources tell NBC News that current White House communications director Hope Hicks and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski are also set to appear before that polarized panel as soon as this week.
We`re back with more MTP DAILY in 60 seconds.
TODD: Welcome back. Busy day here in Washington. Let`s get right to tonight`s panel: Matthew Continetti, editor in chief for the "Washington Free Beacon; Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor; and Dave Ignatius, "Washington Post" columnist and also an MSNBC contributor.
David, I`m going to start with you. We`ve had trust issues in this town for a long time, but this is -- now, you`ve got senators not trusting each other. You`ve got staff not trusting the President.
You`ve got -- I mean, this is -- it is -- we always say it`s unprecedented and yet it`s just another day in the Trump White House. But this is stunning.
DAVID IGNATIUS, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, this White House, this administration keeps changing our sense of what is possible or impossible. The breakdown of trust is something that we have known for more than a decade.
I was just thinking about John Boehner when he was speaker who was desperate to do an immigration deal. He set that as his goal. He determined to do it. And he got absolutely blown out by the Republican caucus, and trust had totally broken down within his own caucus and then with the Democrats.
This is unusual in that we, as was said in the earlier segment, we went -- from Tuesday to Thursday, we went from bipartisanship and a deal to a complete fractious mess. And as one of your interviewees said, this is the tale of two Trumps.
The President has a chance to put it back together. He is crazy if he doesn`t. I mean, it will only get worse for him. But, look, here it is. His government, his effort to get this deal is blown up.
TODD: But actually, Maria, I don`t see what upside is there for him to do a deal now? Actually, I`m trying to actually see. Just cold pure politically, what is the upside for him? Because nobody --
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, CEO AND PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO: Right.
TODD: Anybody in the Latino community going to give this President credit if he does do a deal?
KUMAR: I don`t think anybody within the progressive movement or folks that are -- even independent Republicans are going to give him credit. I think that what is so under reported is that this was a bipartisan deal that was crafted by Republicans and Democrats in the room that literally gave him the laundry list of what he wanted.
They gave funding towards the wall. Not full, but gave funding towards the wall. It ended the lottery system, and it actually looked at ending chain migration. Everything that he claims that he needed in order for it to work.
And it`s not only been under reported, but the fact that you have now the Republicans, within themselves, saying -- Graham is saying, yes, he said it, and then the Republicans are saying, no, he didn`t.
That is not only troublesome, but it also says like, look, at the end of the day, what Republicans want from the President is to ensure that he is rallying their base the way he needs it. And unfortunately, I think that the Republicans, right now, are -- Reince Priebus, in particular, still has to deal with the Freedom Caucus. Those are 40 members of Congress that don`t want to deal.
TODD: Matthew, what I don`t understand about Graham/Durbin and what the President could have done there is, why didn`t he go and say, well, that`s not enough. I want more. I want more, X, Y, and Z. It was like he just said, eh, forget it, blow it up.
MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WASHINGTON FREE BEACON: Well, I don`t know.
TODD: Yes! I mean, that`s like --
CONTINETTI: I don`t know the mind of Donald J. Trump.
CONTINETTI: Right. I mean, I think --
TODD: Do you the Stephen Miller/John Kelly aspect, that they decided they needed to stiffen his spine?
CONTINETTI: It seems to me a lot depends -- like your question to Representative Hurd on what the DACA population is in any given bill, and does it -- you know, we go from the 800,000 figure to, I heard, 1.2. Does that population then have the right to sponsor their parents who came across illegally?
That might have had some effect on disagreement, but let me say this. I think it`s important -- when Trump said at that meeting, I`ll sign whatever you bring, I think he was addressing Congress. He wasn`t addressing the gang of six, which includes Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, who, while fine men, are not exactly representative of the Republican position on immigration issues.
TODD: This just in. Mitch McConnell has said, the deadline for DACA is March, at a minimum. Possibly even longer. This is Mitch McConnell saying pay no attention to the Friday deadline. We don`t want them to be connected.
KUMAR: Well, I think the Republicans and the Democrats want wiggle room. They want January 19th to pass and not have a government shutdown because they both lose in that scenario.
IGNATIUS. That`s true.
KUMAR: So he has to say that.
TODD: Yes, I know. And it does feel nobody -- look, Chris Coons wouldn`t say it.
TODD: He wouldn`t draw the line in the sand yet. I think we`re one more of these away but we`re not there yet, David.
IGNATIUS: I saw it in the interviews with Chris Coons and Will Hurd. You heard exactly what functioning government would look like. They`re --
TODD: Neither one of them were in the room.
IGNATIUS: No. They`re not --
TODD: Everybody that`s in the room wouldn`t come on T.V., David, trust me.
IGNATIUS: He`s a moderate Republican, a moderate Democrat.
IGNATIUS: The two takeaways were, you know, no hard lines, go narrow, and then you got a deal.
Now, you may be right that a deal is not really in the President`s interest, but I think I disagree in a sense that a complete breakdown of the government for a president whose approval ratings are, let`s say, 39 percent, you -- I don`t think you can continue that way.
I think -- I just -- I don`t -- that --
KUMAR: But Republicans --
IGNATIUS: That 2018 isn`t going to work.
KUMAR: But the Republicans, technically, they can go and, today, put a bill before for a vote. Ryan has -- he controls that legislative calendar. He is the one that realizes that they don`t have the votes.
And so while the -- if anything, I think this idea that the President no longer is in control of immigration policy, it goes back to Congress, that`s good in some ways because you can kind deal. But I don`t think Ryan has any intention.
TODD: My understanding -- I want to let you dip it there --
TODD: -- that Paul Ryan will put a bill on the floor of the House, even if it doesn`t have a majority of Republican support but only if the President publicly says he`ll sign it. That`s the only way he would do that scenario that you`re describing.
CONTINETTI: There`s one element that`s been missing from this conversation so far and that`s the 2020 Democrats, right? And you see with Kamala Harris, you see with Cory Booker --
TODD: They`re one element? They`re not even a part of this because I don`t think anybody are going to support --
KUMAR: I don`t think they don`t quite --
CONTINETTI: They are the ones who are drawing the hard line and saying --
CONTINETTI: -- and any -- and threatening government shutdown.
CONTINETTI: But I do think we`re seeing the politics of 2018 where you have these Democratic senators from Trump states, people like Claire McCaskill --
TODD: John Tester who`s more than willing to book for more money for the wall.
CONTINETTI: -- John Tester, Heidi --
CONTINETTI: -- Heitkamp.
CONTINETTI: Whose interests do not align with the figures who are planning to run for the presidency. So it`s just the Republican Party that`s divided on this issue. It`s also the Democratic Party.
TODD: I want to go back to this issue of the White House, this sort of this idea of -- basically, Lindsey Graham is blaming White House staff. Someone said it`s Stephen Miller. Someone said it`s John Kelly. But, boy, that was something else.
IGNATIUS: I`ve rarely seen Lindsey Graham -- he was shaking.
TODD: He was! He was so angry, yes.
IGNATIUS: He was angry. He was furious. This is a man who has gone from being very negative on Trump, calling him out, to trying to be the President`s pal. I said to him once, you`re the Trump whisperer. You`re the guy he goes out on the golf course and comes back, understanding how he looks at the world.
Lindsey Graham is furious, I think, because he believed that Trump was going to in the direction of making this deal. He put a lot on the line for it, and, you know, I -- he does have a relationship with him. If he can play golf with Lindsey Graham before the deadline, maybe there`s a deal here.
TODD: By the way, how -- Cotton and Perdue. It`s some -- that senatorial credibility is hard to earn back. How bad is it going to be for them in there? What do you think, Matthew?
CONTINETTI: I think with the Republican Caucus, I don`t know how far it`s fallen. I`m not sure how well they were getting along with some of the more liberal senators on immigration, for example.
CONTINETTI: But, you know, each of this senatorial relationship, they come and go, so we`ll see how it affects others.
KUMAR: But I think more importantly is they`re setting a standard that it`s OK to fib. And that, I think, is what you`re sharing -- you were talking about earlier, about, you know, where is politics going? The fact that you keep moving the goalposts and there seems to be no repercussions. And that is a problem.
TODD: Has the President conditioned people to say, it`s OK to do this? Because this is what Donald Trump has done his whole life.
KUMAR: And does it well. He does it well, yes.
TODD: And now, other politicians start to do the same thing. Are we --
KUMAR: Because there`s no repercussions.
TODD: What are we doing?
IGNATIUS: If he is the disrupter, well, why not disrupt him? I think what maybe he will begin to see is that the disruption is disrupting his own administration`s ability to govern.
TODD: He`s getting what he wants though.
KUMAR: This is -- that`s exactly right.
TODD: This is how he`ll get like --
KUMAR: That`s exactly right.
TODD: He is going to get more border security money. He is going to see the end of some form of family migration. And he is going to --
KUMAR: Well, to talk about the DACA bill --
TODD: And that`s going to be what?
CONTINETTI: They are clearly for something --
KUMAR: Yes, but --
CONTINETTI: -- that he felt was not included in the deal. We just don`t what it was.
KUMAR: No, but to talk of the DACA --
TODD: No, no, no. I understand that, but he`s going to do get more than any other Republican would have got.
KUMAR: That`s exactly right. And to talk about the DACA deal, when people will say, well, were the parents grandfathered in? My understanding is that they were not grandfathered in. They were going to get work visas, but they were never going to have a pathway to citizenship.
KUMAR: That is a big deal. You are basically condoning and saying, it`s OK to have two classes of Americans.
TODD: By the way, which I don`t know, if legally or constitutionally --
TODD: -- that would actually hold up, by the way.
TODD: I`m not sure you can prevent people from never having a path to citizenship anyway.
All right, guys, stick around.
Up ahead, the cost of doing business. Just how much money is President Trump making off his time in the White House.
TODD: Welcome back. At least three Republican lawmakers in Missouri are now calling on Republican Governor Eric Greitens to resign after allegations that he blackmailed the woman for her silence about an extramarital affair.
Greitens admitted to the affair after a local news report had it last week but has denied allegations that he took a nude photograph of the woman and threatened to release it if she ever went public with the relationship. He is denying the blackmail part of this.
In a Missouri Times op-ed, one of the Republican women calling for Greitens to step down wrote this. If Missouri Republicans want to say we honestly support family values, we must be prepared to take a stand and now allow these acts to be supported by our party.
Bottom line, call your office, you may have an intra-party problem now. Up ahead, is the Trump presidency for sale? A new report finds Trump properties are cashing in, thanks to the commander in chief. First, my friend Contessa Brewer with the "CNBC Market Wrap." Contessa?
CONTESSA BREWER, GENERAL ASSIGNMENT REPORTER, CNBC: Hi, Chuck. Nice to see you today. Stocks close lower erasing record high as worries over a government shutdown looms. The Dow lost 10 points at its session high. The index was at 283 points and traded above 26,000 for the first time. The S&P shed 10 points after trading above 2800 for the first time earlier in the session. The Nasdaq also erased gain closing 37 points lower.
UnitedHealth raised its full year forecast because of the tax reform law. It posted better than expected earnings and sales sending the stock up 1.9 percent.
And Citigroup announced an $18.3 billion loss in the fourth quarter and accounting right down related as well the new tax law that basically negates the company`s profit for the whole of 2017. Still, the company reported earnings that surpassed estimates. Shares ended the day slightly positive at 7711.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: One of the unique aspects of this presidency, and there are many, and one that is often overshadowed by all the other unprecedented aspects of this presidency is President Trump`s personal businesses.
In 2017, more than 60 private groups campaigned in foreign governments, all of which have something to gain from U.S. policy, spent thousands of dollars at Trump-owned properties. That`s according to a new report entitled "Presidency for Sale" from the government watchdog group Public Citizen.
Among them, four foreign governments, 16 special interest groups, and 35 Republican contributing campaigns and committees. The biggest spender, the country of Saudi Arabia.
Joining me now is the president of Public Citizen, Robert Weissman. Mr. Weissman, welcome to the show, sir.
ROBERT WEISSMAN, PRESIDENT, PUBLIC CITIZEN: It`s great to be with you.
TODD: All right. So, you lay this all out, all of the different ways that we have seen, people with business for the government spend money at Trump properties. Is there any evidence that they would not spend this money at Trump properties had he had been a private citizen in 2017?
WEISSMAN: We don`t know for sure. They are mostly holding events that they otherwise would have held. But it`s common sense that the reason they`re holding these events at the Trump properties is because they want get favor with the president, it`s not because they like the towels in the hotel rooms.
TODD: This has been an issue with other, you know, during the whole when the right went after Hillary Clinton over the Clinton Foundation, and frankly during her confirmation hearing over the Clinton Foundation. Is this comparable?
There was all this concern on Capitol Hill that the Clinton Foundation is suddenly you`re open to lobbying of the secretary of state by using the Clinton Foundation, something that a lot of members of Congress at that time are outraged about. Is this a similar situation?
WEISSMAN: I think that was troubling situation, but this one is way worse. It`s way worse because you`re putting the money directly into the president`s pocket. You`re holding event --
TODD: And for charity, a time for charity, yes.
WEISSMAN: You`re taking events at the hotel. He`s the one who gets the profits. It`s also worse because we know he`s uniquely susceptible to flattery. So, you have the event there, you tell him how wonderful his hotel is, you expect he`s going to appreciate that.
TODD: No laws on the books has been clear govern this and yet we`ve never had a situation like this. Is there a law that could have been put on the books or the the separation of power actually make it so this is sort of a unique challenge we have in our system of government where -- because Congress can`t make a law that impacts the sitting president of the United States. We`re sort of stuck by having a -- hoping the president just does this on their own.
WEISSMAN: No, the ethics law does not cover the president. That was a decision made because the way the law works is either you sell or you recuse. And policy maker say we don`t want the president recusing him or herself from decisions, we`ll just trust the president will do the right thing.
It seemed like a reasonable decision. Turned out no one imagined Donald Trump. There is also of course a constitutional prohibition on taking bribes and influence and gifts.
TODD: The case has been thrown out. Why do you believe that case was thrown out?
WEISSMAN: It was thrown out on the ground that`s standing. The group that brought the case was found not to have standing, they`re appealing their other cases. Standing is a big problem to enforce this constitutional prohibition but it doesn`t mean the prohibition doesn`t exist.
TODD: So, in this case, standing is what, Marriott? Is it other hotels that are losing business, so the local Hilton, the local Marriott? If you want to actually hit the president on the (INAUDIBLE) that`s who has to do it?
WEISSMAN: If they wanted to step forward, they would have the best case.
TODD: What other remedies are there if you want to get a future president to comply? A Mark Zuckerberg, you know, who knows, an Oprah Winfrey? We may have another multi-billionaire.
WEISSMAN: (INAUDIBLE) billionaire --
TODD: Yes, do we need to now look at passing laws here?
WEISSMAN: Yes, I think we do. Elizabeth Warren and others have bills that would extend the ethics rules to the president that would basically require you to -- if you choose to become president, no one is forcing you to the job, you choose, you got to sell off your business interests.
TODD: And that can pass constitutional muster?
WEISSMAN: Yes, I think so.
TODD: Why is that?
WEISSMAN: They have all kinds of laws about how the president may conduct him or herself.
TODD: This wouldn`t fall under separation of powers in your opinion?
WEISSMAN: I don`t think so.
TODD: Is there anything that the president could do proactively now that would make you -- make other watchdog groups like yourself feel better about this?
WEISSMAN: He can still divest himself off his businesses. He is playing that he is not going to do that, but he could. That`s the only solution --
TODD: He divested completely but his sons were still owning the business, would you be still coming out with this similar ethics?
WEISSMAN: I mean, a family business that you give to the children, in this context, that is not divestment.
TODD: So for you, divestment would be outside of the family completely.
TODD: All right. This is one of those issues that I`m always surprised more people are not paying attention to. How much money do you think he profited this year off of this alone?
WEISSMAN: Who knows? It`s certainly millions of dollars, but even more than the personal self enrichment. It`s the policy payback. The payday lenders, for example, have an event scheduled at Trump properties coming up.
It just got a ruling today that the CFPB is not -- now run by Mick Mulvaney, not going to enforce the payday lending rule against their institution.
TODD: You`re implying these two things are connected?
WEISSMAN: I am implying that they are, yes.
TODD: All right. Robert Weissman, I will leave it there. Thanks for coming on and sharing your report. It`s a fascinating report, take a look.
Up ahead, is President Trump`s height really a tall tale?
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight I`m obsessed with President Trump`s honesty. Mr. Trump admits to having engaged in what he calls truthful hyperbole. What others might call something else. But it`s not just the things he says, it`s about the things others say for and about him.
Today, the President Trump`s doctor, Ronny Jackson, told us the president is 6`3", 239 pounds. I`m in no position to question Dr. Jackson, but we took a look at the Rosters of the remaining four NFL playoff teams. Here are some other men on each of these teams who come closer to 6`3", 239.
Meet Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray. He is listed 6`3", 230. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton, 6`3", 235. How about New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, 6`3", 243? And Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Carroll Phillips, 6`3", 242.
You got that? A running back, a tight end, a linebacker, a defensive end. (INAUDIBLE) Dr. Jackson is not saying that President Trump is as fit as an active NFL player in the playoffs. And, yes, the president does not wear shoulder pads.
But was this a bit of truthful hyperbole? Or if you doubt Dr. Jackson`s height weight numbers, MSNBC`s Chris Hayes suggests that perhaps, (INAUDIBLE). We`ll be right back.
TODD: Time for "The Lid." Matthew Continetti, Maria Teresa Kumar, David Ignatius. Jeff Flake is going to begin a series of speeches this week and one of them is on the free press. He gave a little preview to my colleague Kasie Hunt about his speech. It included defending a comparison he plans on making with Joseph Stalin. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASIE HUNT, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NBC AND MSNBC: You compare in the speech President Trump to Joseph Stalin by calling the free press, quote, the enemy of the people.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I am saying he borrowed that phrase. It was popularized by Joseph Stalin. Used by (INAUDIBLE) as well. Enemy of the people. It should be noted that Nikita Khrushchev, who followed Stalin, forbid it`s use. I don`t think that we should be using the phrase that has been rejected as too loaded by a Soviet dictator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Matthew, that should make Senator Flake more popular with the base there on that front. You know, obviously the president has this campaign against the press, that he is trying to destroy the credibility of the press in any way like this ridiculous he is doing tomorrow. Does it backfiring on him at some point? Is it backfiring now?
(CROSSTALK) MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WASHINGTON FREE BEACON: Now he`s taking a different tack as well and he`s telling people that he`s going to win in 2020 because the press will want him to win because he`s been so good for profits, right? So, how much is his war on the press really -- how serious is he about it?
I will say that Flake is right to condemn that comparison. And it`s funny. I think sometimes we spend so much time on the things that President Trump says, more time than he does, right? He`ll just say these things, and again, I was also disturbed by the recent Wall Street Journal interview where he called the text messages between FBI agents treason. That`s also not the case.
TODD: Look, in your right, you know, the president doesn`t care about his words the way we do, and he doesn`t I guess appreciate the impact of them.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF VOTO LATINO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think he does. He goes after institutions that challenge authority. He goes after individuals that challenge his authority.
He has not just been going after the media, he`s been going after institutions. He`s been going after judges because he doesn`t like their ruling. He`s going after courts because he doesn`t like their ruling.
He`s going after right now factions of the Republican Party because they are challenging who he is. He is dismantling the checks and balances that most democratic countries need in order to do their business.
And he`s following the playbook of authoritarian governance and he`s doing it well. And people are saying, that is not what he means, and yes, that is what he means.
TODD: New media (INAUDIBLE) today and planning to (INAUDIBLE) more into it later in the week. It was basically confirming what we all feel anyway, right? Which is, you know, some 80 percent said we need a strong free press. And literally half of that 80 percent says they don`t know what to believe, you know.
And, look, you can pick apart certain mainstream media areas, but let`s remember this is a concerted effort by a fringe part of the right wing to discredit mainstream news organizations.
DAVID IGNATIUS, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: We`re getting to a place where people argue over the facts, they truly don`t know who to believe, trump is playing on that, as with every other vulnerability in our society, he sees it and he goes after it. TODD: And he exploits it for his own gain even if it`s destroying of the greater good. He doesn`t care and that`s what i think gets people fired up. IGNATIUS: You can`t have a democracy where there`s this fundamental dispute about information. And I think it`s a reckless policy, but let`s face it, we`re the best issue that he has going. There are a lot of people who love it when he bashes the media. We`re a symbol of the elite, we`re present every day, every hour on television. TODD: He also puts every journalist in sort of this box, do you fight back to protect your own integrity from these lies, from this ridiculousness that comes from him or -- you know about our integrity, or do yo keep the (INAUDIBLE) dry and don`t personalize it? It is not an easy thing, Matthew.
CONTINETTI: I`ll also say though that Trump is kind of part of a larger phenomenon which is changes in our technology that it make it much easier for people to say whatever they want.
TODD: Get away (INAUDIBLE)
CONTINETTI: Provide narratives that may not be alternative narratives, right? And so you see Mark Zuckerberg trying to grapple with this problem and some of the changes he is making to Facebook stream. This is much larger.
No matter what he`s trying to do or what he`s inadvertently doing, I think the system is holding up pretty well actually. We`re not an authoritarian state and in fact there are plenty of checks still on his authority. No checks on what he says --
TODD: That`s an interesting --
CONTINETTI: It`s a question of what he does as opposed to what he says. TODD: A 35 percent job with the Republican Party looking like they`re on their ropes, isn`t that like, well, this is the guardrails working?
KUMAR: I think the good thing is, yes, our democracy is still strong, but what you`re starting to do is creating chaos with misinformation.
And when there`s chaos with misinformation, what I mean by that, when you feel that all of a sudden people can`t trust the FBI because they`re not actually following the law of the land or you cannot actually feel that you`re going to have your fair day in court because the judge is corrupt.
That always created space for other bad actors to come in and dismantle our institution. That is a danger.
TODD: Waiting for somebody saying, oh, this is the FBI. The president says it can`t be trusted. Why are you, you know --
IGNATIUS: It comes down to whether people are going to be good, active, involved citizens, whether they`re going to take the time to figure out what`s true and what isn`t true, whether they`re going to be manipulated.
President Trump is running a daily circus of anti-elitism. That`s what really he`s accomplished in his first year. That`s the biggest thing he`s done. He does it every day and the country I hope is getting sick of it.
People will say, oh, we don`t want this circus anymore, we want government, we want decisions, we want a president who is a leader, but the people have to decide that and make it clear. TODD: All right. I got to leave it there. All right, guys, thank you. Fascinating conversation from all of you, I appreciate that.
All right, how do you get over an epic fail? Or you just wear it on your sleeve?
TODD: Well, in case you missed it, when it comes to turning sheer panic into cold hard cash, one size definitely doesn`t fit all. Hawaii plunged into chaos this weekend over the missile false alarm. Thankfully it was only a mistake, albeit a very big one.
But soon afterwards, America`s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, turned it into a shock and awe opportunity. A Twitter user spotted this in a Honolulu shop. I survived the Hawaii ballistic missile t-shirts.
How about this one? Emergency alert, ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii, seek immediate shelter, just kidding. Online stores trying to scare a business too. How about a t-shirt that re-imagines the event as the worst drop down menu misfire ever.
It feels good to laugh, doesn`t it? So good on Hawaii. The state made it through a teeth clenching scare of a lifetime and all it got was a lousy t- shirt. Can do a little better than that. Although you could make the argument, new pants would have been more useful.
That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "The Beat" with Ari Melber starts right now. Ari, it`s all yours, buddy.
ARI MELBER, THE BEAT SHOW HOST: We have a lot on Russia, which has been a change from the last couple weeks of news, Chuck.
TODD: I guess that`s true.
MELBER: Thank you, Chuck Todd.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.