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Transcript 1/17/18 MTP Daily

Guests: Chris Van Hollen, Phil Murphy, Caitlin Huey-Burns, Rich Lowry

Show: MTP DAILY Date: January 17, 2018 Guest: Chris Van Hollen, Phil Murphy, Caitlin Huey-Burns, Rich Lowry

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: -- interview with George Papadopoulos` fiancee tonight on "THE BEAT" at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.

My thanks to my feisty panel, Jonathan Lemire, Jonathan Capehart, John Podhoretz, and Elise Jordan. That does it for our hour. I`m Nicolle Wallace.

MTP DAILY starts right now. Hi, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. They are --

WALLACE: Hi. Ah! There you are.

TODD: We got to give them the magic, you know.

WALLACE: I`m going to come --

TODD: We`re not allowed to do this.

WALLACE: I`m going to come --

TODD: Look into the camera to talk to her. I`m going to lean in.

WALLACE: I`m going to come angle bomb you. I`m on my way.

TODD: Horrible control room etiquette here.


TODD: Anyway, thank you, Nicolle.

If it is Wednesday, a top Republican just made a shutdown a lot more likely.


TODD: Tonight, more Republicans are sounding the alarm on the chaos surrounding the Trump White House.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE: As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels.

TODD: Plus, is the pressure now on the Democrats to keep the government, which is two days until a shutdown?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I`ll stay here as long as they want to stay here. But to shut it down, that is not what I was sent here to do.

TODD: And why is President Trump headed to a place that can`t do him any good?

This is MTP DAILY and it tarts right now.


TODD: Good evening. I`m Chuck Todd here in New York City and welcome to MTP DAILY.

Call it a wake-up call, call it an s-show, call it whatever you want. The last 24 hours have been a stunning reminder of the President`s dwindling political capital. And to top it all off, we have just moved closer to a government shutdown.

Folks, from the heartland to the halls of Congress to the Oval Office, look at what`s happening.

This Republican senator just bucked the White House`s demands to keep the government open.

This Republican senator is comparing the President`s rhetoric to Joseph Stalin`s.

This White House chief of staff just reportedly called some of the President`s promises on immigration, like building a wall, uninformed.

This Republican senator is scorching the President`s assault on journalism.

And this Republican senator was laughed at by her constituents for defending the President.

This Republican senator says the fallout from the President`s vulgar comments feels like an episode of Jerry Springer.

And this Republican governor is sounding the alarm after a stunning special election defeat in a rural Trump county in Wisconsin.

Folks, it`s not just members of Congress growing restless. It`s the voters too.

The upset last night in a Wisconsin special election is the 34th pick up for Democrats in this cycle post 2016. Republicans have flipped just four.

Governor Scott Walker didn`t mince words. He called yesterday`s Democratic win a, quote, wake-up call for Republicans. And he`s far from the only one sounding that alarm.

In the House, at least 30 Republicans have decided not to run for re- election. In the Senate, as POLITICO notes, Republican leaders have failed to secure their top choice candidate in eight of the 10 Senate races in those states that Trump won in 2016 that are represented by Democrats.

The President has been briefed on the blue wave advancing on his party, but he`s reportedly telling advisers that the public will rally around their president like they did after 9/11.

But, folks, the President`s recent vulgar comments have made it significantly harder for anyone to rally around him. Even his biggest defenders.

Senator Lindsey Graham seems like he has now had enough. The day after calling the breakdown of immigration talks an s-show, he announced today that he is opposing his party`s bill to prevent a government shutdown from happening on Friday night.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I just believe we`ve blown an opportunity here to close a deal without a lot of uproar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a no on the C.R. and why?

GRAHAM: Yes. I`m tired of it. This is the fourth one we`ve done, and you`re killing the military.


TODD: Joining me now is the Republican senator who compared the current climate to that notorious talk show of Jerry Springer. It`s Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana.

And, Senator Kennedy, no pressure, but people love your colloquialisms so you better have some good ones ready for me.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I`ll do my best, Chuck.

TODD: Let me start with that news from Senator Graham. I`m sure you share his frustration. Do you share his frustration to the point that you`re also a no? That, you know what, it`s time to force everybody to sit at this table on DACA, get this done before kicking the can another month.

KENNEDY: Well, that`s not going to happen, Chuck. Here is my objective -- and what happened last week happened. I mean, there is nothing we can do about that.

It was not Capitol Hill`s finest hour. I meant it when I said that it seemed that "The Jerry Springer Show" was brought to Capitol Hill. It wasn`t any of our finest hours.

TODD: Right.

KENNEDY: But what`s done is done. Now, we`ve got to keep the government open.

We don`t have a budget. That`s an embarrassing fact but it`s a fact. As I have said before, I think, on this show, everybody else in America has a budget except the United States government.

I would like to do a budget by Friday. I don`t know if that`s possible. They`re going to send over a C.R. from the House.

TODD: Yes.

KENNEDY: There are things I like about it, there are things I don`t like about it. I don`t know why, for example, in the C.R., we`re cutting taxes for -- by $14 billion for the health insurance companies. We just cut their taxes! There`s a little thing called the deficit that we have to be mindful about.

TODD: Let me interrupt you here. Why does the C.R. -- in all honesty, since you guys can`t agree on half of this stuff, I never understand why you do a little thing in the -- it`s like just make -- that`s not the definition of a continuing resolution. It would be to me just --


TODD: Look, if you`re not going to solve this problem by Friday, just everything the same for another four weeks. Why isn`t that the plan?

KENNEDY: Well, I don`t know, but I can give you my best guess. They are trying to make the C.R. inviting to some members of the House. And, obviously, by extending the CHIP program, they`re trying to invite some Democrats in the Senate to come aboard.

Now, I happen to be one of the biggest proponents of reauthorizing CHIP. I think we should have done it a month ago.

TODD: Right.

KENNEDY: We know we`re going to do it. We need to stop scaring people.

The biggest mistake that, I think, could be made -- I don`t think it will be made -- I think they`re too smart for that, and they care too much about the country -- would be is if our Democratic colleagues in the Senate said, if we don`t get DACA, we`re going to shut the entire government down.

I think that would be a huge mistake. And I don`t -- I really don`t believe they`re going to do that.

TODD: Well, the Democrats aren`t alone, though. You heard Senator Graham. He sort of had it here. I`m guessing he`s not the only Republican that feels this way.

So this sort of complicates the math here. I don`t think you can really pin this on one -- pin this all on the Democrats, can you?

KENNEDY: No, I`m not saying that the C.R. is a done deal. But I think when it -- when the dust settles, you`ll see most Republicans -- I won`t say all, but most Republicans -- reluctantly vote for the C.R.

I don`t know about the Democrats. If the Democrats don`t, government will shut down. I am -- let me say it again. I`m not crazy about doing this by C.R., by resolution. We need a budget.

And I`m not crazy about the resolution coming over, but let me say it again.

TODD: Right.

KENNEDY: We got a $20 trillion debt. We just cut taxes. Why are we cutting taxes, $14 billion more, for the health insurance industry? I mean, somebody has some explaining to do before I`m sold.

TODD: Let me ask you, what do you want on DACA? What can you support?

KENNEDY: To support --

TODD: Forget everything else, what can you support?

KENNEDY: This is what I want, Chuck. I want us to fix our laws and agree to enforce them in a compassionate, humane, but effective way so that we don`t have another DACA 10 years from now.

I`m willing to talk about amnesty. But at the same time, I want to talk about chain migration. I want to talk about E-Verify. I want to talk about sanctuary cities. I want to talk about border --

TODD: And you want all this -- let me pause you there.

KENNEDY: Absolutely. Absolutely.

TODD: You want all of this in any deal to codify the Dreamers?


TODD: Any deal, that you want all that --

KENNEDY: There is --

TODD: Senator Durbin --

KENNEDY: There`s a 15-year bipartisan refusal by both Democrats and Republicans to deal with this issue. We keep piecemealing it. We need to deal with it.

TODD: Just yesterday, Senator, I had people from both sides of the aisle that said the more comprehensive you make this, the less chance it has of passing. The simplest way, I heard, is DACA for straight up, the 700 miles of extra fence, and leave everything else out of it. Isn`t that the only compromise that`s realistic?

KENNEDY: Think about what -- I don`t agree with that, number one. And if it is true, I think it`s a sad testament. I mean, think about what that proposition holds. It says we don`t have the guts to sit down and talk about the whole problem of our immigration laws.

I mean, yes, we`re a nation of immigrants. I`m proud of that. A lot of people want to come to America. When is last time anybody tried to sneak into China? I mean, they all want to come to America.

TODD: Right.

KENNEDY: But we`ve got to agree on our laws and then we`ve got enforce them. We`re the only country in the world that doesn`t. And that`s not inhumane and that`s not being mean-spirited.

Right now, we`re not enforcing our laws. If we need to change the laws, let`s change them. But if you do DACA now, let`s suppose the Republicans gave in -- I`m not going to.


KENNEDY: But suppose the majority gave in. We did DACA, we added that to budget, we pass it. You think that`s going to be the end of the amnesty issue? No, of course not.

We need to deal with this problem. And we`re not going to do it by Friday, I don`t think.

TODD: Well, in all --

KENNEDY: And what happened last week --

TODD: The problem, Senator --

KENNEDY: -- was an embarrassment.

TODD: The problem, Senator -- well, I grant you now, given today`s Wednesday, how hard it is to do this by Friday. The President cancelled this program -- what are we at -- four months ago.


TODD: You know, there have been talks, and it seems as if it doesn`t seem as if anybody really wants to negotiate, particularly on the Republican side. That there seems to be a hesitance there to -- every time that the President moves the goal post a little bit. You don`t know where he stands on this, do you?

KENNEDY: No, but he -- and he`s changed his mind, but that`s his prerogative. People change --

TODD: All right. But how is that negotiating?

KENNEDY: Well, but people change their minds all the time. I change my mind all the time. You do too, Chuck. Thinking people who test their assumptions against other points of view often change their mind. That doesn`t bother me.

Now, I do agree that we have to know where the President stands and what he is finally willing to live with. Otherwise, we`re all going to pass something and he could veto it. And then what`s the point?

TODD: Right.

KENNEDY: And I know this is naive and this isn`t the way things are done around here. But the way we`ve done things around here for the past 10 years pretty much sucks.

What I`d like to do is just say, OK, we`re going to convene in the Senate, and let everybody put their ideas up on how to fix the immigration laws and let`s start voting. And some will pass and some won`t. But at least we`re getting the issue head on.

TODD: Well --

KENNEDY: But you mark my words, you do DACA --

TODD: Yes.

KENNEDY: -- piecemeal. It`s not going to solve anything long-term from preventing a future DACA-like situation.

TODD: Right.

KENNEDY: And let me say it again, what happened last week --

TODD: Yes.

KENNEDY: -- you know, and stuff like that, that`s the reason aliens won`t talk to us.


KENNEDY: It was just like -- it was like a bunch of 13-year-olds up there.

TODD: There you go. You took up my challenge there with a colloquialism. I have to say, Senator, I`m going to correct. It hasn`t been just 10 years that this place hasn`t functioned. But I think you`re being kind to the institution by saying it`s only been 10 years that Washington hasn`t worked.

KENNEDY: I think you`re probably right. I stand corrected.

TODD: Anyway, Senator, thank you very much.

Let me bring in tonight`s panel: Rich Lowry, editor at the "National Review"; Caitlin Huey-Burns, national political reporter for RealClearPolitics; and Jon Alter, columnist at "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC contributor.

All right, Caitlin, you`re the beat reporter here. I heard nothing to indicate to me that we`re not headed for a shutdown now. And I really didn`t think we were headed there, but, boy, there is no roadmap.

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: And Lindsey Graham coming out and saying that he is not ready to vote for a C.R.

Republicans were trying to -- the President was trying to put the pressure on Democrats, and Democrats are saying -- you know, there is a little bit of division, but there are those, you know, red state Democrats who are saying, well, we don`t want to shut down the government over this.

Republicans are also facing this issue of, they will certainly get the blame from the public. We`ve seen that before. It`s just --

TODD: When you control all the --

HUEY-BURNS: When you control all the leverage.

TODD: Whoever controls the leverage is going to get that, yes.

HUEY-BURNS: They`re also risking, too, getting some blame from the President here too, right? Which would be kind of an interesting dynamic.

So the fact that this is -- they have no roadmap -- we`re only two days away -- I think is a big issue for them because they have to show that they can govern, right? And this is the easiest test of that.

TODD: I got to shoot you with a quick Q&A that our reporter had with Dick Durbin as he walked out of the meeting of the number twos. We`ll let Mike Myers make his jokes on that.

The question was, what`s the agenda for tomorrow? I don`t know.

Who is setting the agenda? I don`t know that either.

It gets to what Senator Kennedy said. It would be nice to know what the President will sign. And until we know that, everybody is in limbo.

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Yes. I`m still a skeptic of a shutdown. I mean, this would just be such a potential black eye for Republicans when they`re already dealing with a potential wave building. I think on their side, probably, cooler heads will prevail.

And I`m also skeptical, at the end of day, you`re going to get enough red state Democrats in the Senate to go along with a shutdown over DACA. I don`t think that`s going to happen.

TODD: I just don`t know how the House numbers work. I`m with you on the Senate.


TODD: I could picture that scenario.


TODD: Not sure in the House.

LOWRY: I think Trump has to work the Freedom Caucus hard.


JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: I mean, I don`t think that`s going to do very much. The Freedom Caucus, like Trump, they`re disruptors. They don`t like governing. They don`t have a history of legislating.

To me, this is about Ryan and McConnell showing leadership, doing their jobs, and essentially asserting the prerogatives of the congressional branch to say -- we passed the laws. If you`re going to veto it, fine. We`ll deal with that at the point that you veto. We hope you don`t, but this is the bill that we`re going to send you to sign or not sign.

TODD: But I think they all -- here is what I was told, though. Paul Ryan will put a bill on the House floor that doesn`t have to have majority of Republican support in the House, if the President will sign it. But nobody knows what the President will sign!

HUEY-BURNS: And this is why when Lindsey Graham was talking about the timeline on the DACA bill, this why that`s significant and why he`s honing in on that, right? This whole thing kind of exploded after that because he said, look, you know, if you support things, they will come. Right?

Republicans have been very clear that whatever the President supports, they are likely to get behind. And when he`s wishy-washy on a lot of different issues, they don`t really have any kind of roadmap because they`re depending on him for a lot of political cover on a lot of things.

TODD: The John Kelly comments where he`s quoted clearly by -- in his meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus where he said the campaign - - the wall is uninformed, Rich, it struck me as one of those things that, if President Trump reads that headline the wrong way, he could explode at John Kelly.

LOWRY: Right. Right. And that would not --

TODD: And it set the whole thing back, that here is John Kelly admitting, you`re never -- in Trump world, you`re never supposed to admit when you`re doing -- using, quote, truthful hyperbole.

LOWRY: If I were a Democrat, my cynical play on this would have been to try to buy Trump off on the wall. Because you can give him $5 billion or whatever it is for the wall, that money is not actually going to be spent on building anything for a very long time. You can take Congress, you can take the White House --

TODD: I`m with you.

LOWRY: -- before anything happens.

TODD: I`m with you.

ALTER: They did that.

TODD: No, I think --

ALTER: They did that.

TODD: No, I think --

LOWRY: And the DACA amnesty, once it`s in law, is not going away.

TODD: I`m with you. I think, call the President`s bluff. You want more money? Go. Here you go. They`re not going to be able to start this wall for five years. Let them go.

ALTER: In the Durbin/Graham compromise, there`s a lot more money for border security.

TODD: But not as much as the other guys want.

ALTER: Well --

TODD: Give them more.

ALTER: But that -- then you`re just in a bidding war. I mean, they made a good faith effort to try to help the President begin to fulfill his campaign promise.

They thought they were making progress on it until he had a little temper tantrum the other day which was much more important substantively than the obscenity which everybody has been talking about, is that, A, he acted in a very un-American way and conceivably racist way, but, B, it completely derailed something that was headed down the tracks as a reasonable compromise.

They`re dealing with an unreasonable man, so just putting a little extra money in it isn`t going to make him reasonable all of a sudden.

TODD: Caitlin, I want to go to your point about how this could be a set up where it`s almost as if Senate congressional Republicans are pointing the finger at the President and vice versa.

Here is Mitch McConnell today on this very issue of not knowing what the President wants.


MCCONNELL: And he has not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels, going to this issue on the floor, but actually dealing with a bill that has a chance to become law and therefore solve the problem.


TODD: For those of us that know Mitch McConnell, that`s angry Mitch McConnell.


TODD: That is animated Mitch McConnell.

HUEY-BURNS: Exactly.

LOWRY: You don`t want to mess with animated Mitch McConnell.

TODD: Nope.


TODD: My point is, he actually uttered something. Normally, he would just say, we`ll wait for the White House.

HUEY-BURNS: Exactly.

TODD: Instead, he said, we got -- it`s almost like he was talking to the President.

HUEY-BURNS: Exactly. It was very deliberative for all of us who have covered Congress.

What`s interesting here -- I mean, why the immigration meeting last week, the one in public, was so revealing was because it showed how Trump goes kind of goes back and forth on different issues and doesn`t really know the substance of the issues. Remember when McCarthy had to intervene and say, no, no, no, that`s not what you want.

And we saw the same thing in the closed-door session from what we understand about the meeting. Cotton and Perdue and the immigration hardliners came in and said, look, we control all of government right now. This is what we want on immigration. And so he kind of bent to that.

And I think, you know, Democrats now are in this point where their constituents and their constituency is energized by this, by what they have seen from the President. And now, you know, they feel like they have a lot of leverage to exert.

TODD: In which the more the President doesn`t tell us what he wants, the more you hear Mitch McConnell, how do the Democrats get the blame now?


TODD: Right?

LOWRY: Right, right.


TODD: Like, I mean, and you hate to say, rhetorically, right? I mean, they`re blaming each other already.

LOWRY: It`s amazing. This is a signature issue. And you saw it during the campaign, where his written policy is we`re going to curtail and reform H-1Bs. Then they got on the debate stage -- this was at least twice -- we need more H-1Bs. They`re wonderful.

And then they had to put out a statement, no, actually, that`s not what he meant to say.


LOWRY: That`s not what he meant to say. That`s not his position. And he still -- we talked about this last week, the big contradiction --

TODD: Right, that it was Jared Kushner`s position at the Kushner Companies.

LOWRY: Right. Yes, exactly.


TODD: That`s right.

ALTER: See, I don`t think they`re thinking it through a little bit, which is that he wants to sign bills. So why not test it? Send him a bill. All these hammering about, oh, he`s going to veto it. Why doesn`t he tell us whether he`s going to veto or not?

TODD: Right.

LOWRY: This Durbin/Graham deal was not -- it had nothing, from a restrictionist perspective, that made it worth signing for the President. And, you know, the interesting things here, Lindsey Graham, in a week, all this work he did --

TODD: I know.


TODD: -- months and months of work gone, wooing the President, blown up.

TODD: Yes. All right, guys, you`re sticking around.

Up ahead, with the Lindsey Graham vote there, Republicans are going to have a hard time getting the votes they need to avoid a shutdown. How many Democrats are going to help them out in the Senate?


TODD: Welcome back. Former senator, majority leader, vice presidential nominee, and presidential nominee Bob Dole can add yet another title to his extensive resume. He is now the recipient of Congress` highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.

President Trump joined the ceremony in the Capitol rotunda to honor the man who represented Kansas in Congress for more than 35 years. The 94-year-old World War II veteran was praised by former colleagues and current lawmakers for his leadership, his work for fellow veterans, and his service to the nation.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bob earned his place in the chronicle of American legends by the time he was 21. And in the decades since, he has never stopped earning his place in the pages of American history.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Bob Dole has never stopped fighting for those who fight for us. He is as honorable as they come.

MCCONNELL: Bob showed us that a leader needs a backbone and a funny bone. And in his case, neither was in short supply.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS, R, KANSAS: Effective lawmaking, a methodical and painstaking process. You have to be a quarterback or a shepherd to explain, or a Father Confessor. And, Bob, you are every one of those.



TODD: Up ahead, the view from the Democratic side of things, and the man whose job it is to get more Democrats elected to the Senate, Maryland`s Chris Van Hollen.

He`ll join me next but, first, Hampton Pearson with the CNBC bullish "MARKET WRAP."

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right, Chuck. Earnings season off to a strong start. Stocks closing higher with all of the main indexes finishing at all-time highs.

The Dow jumped 322 points, closing above 26,000 for the first time. The S&P gained 26 points. The NASDAQ spiking 74 points higher.

Apple erased losses after announcing plans to repatriate billions in overseas cash. It closed up 1.7 percent. The iPhone maker says it will grant $2,500 in restricted stock units over the coming months to some employees.

Shares of IBM rose 2.9 percent after Barclays upgraded the stock to overweight from underweight.

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



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE: The overwhelming number in our caucus have said they don`t like this deal, and they believe if we kick the can down the road this time, we`ll be back where we started from -- next time. So there is very, very strong support not to go along with their deal.


TODD: Welcome back. That was the top Democrat in the Senate who says his caucus is not enthusiastic about playing ball on another continuing resolution to fund the government for another month. But let`s be realistic, the clock is now ticking.

Let me bring in the Maryland Democratic senator, Chris Van Hollen. He is, of course, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That`s the group dedicated to electing or re-electing Democrats to the U.S. Senate.

Senator Van Hollen, welcome back, sir.


TODD: All right. I heard from Senator Schumer there, he made it clear, a majority of your caucus has no interest in supporting this deal without a DACA deal done.

But, obviously, there is a group of senators running for re-election this cycle that aren`t comfortable shutting the government down. I think we had Joe Manchin, for instance, as one of those.

How many Democrats will reluctantly help the Republicans out here, in your estimation?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Chuck, every senator is always going to look at the situation and vote based on what they believe is best for the people in their own state. Their interests are protecting the people of their states first.

And I don`t know the answer to your question, but I can say that this goes way beyond the DACA issue, which is a very important issue. We`re talking about lack of funding for community health centers, and people in all of our states are on edge now, thinking they`re not going to get that funding.

This has to do with making sure we deal with the opioid epidemic, not just in words but with deeds. It involves commitments to pension funds, so people who put in money into their pension funds have that security. And DACA.

So this is not just one issue as we head down to the wire here. And if President Trump had any interest in keeping the government open, he would not have blown up the bipartisan agreement on DACA.

I have to think he is somehow interested in shutting down the government. He has tweeted about doing just that in the past.

TODD: Senator Kennedy, your colleague, Republican, was on earlier and he essentially said -- he sort of apologized to the United States Senate, sort of became "The Jerry Springer Show" in some words. How bad is it and is the lack of trust now between certain senators, say Durbin and Graham and Cotton and Perdue, mean a shutdown is more likely? VAN HOLLEN: So I think it`s pretty bad overall. I think that senators are not going to allow their sort of personal feelings towards one another to dictate whether or not we have a government shutdown. I think there are many other issues involved but obviously the president`s repulsive and racist comments at the White House with respect to DACA did not help things.

More importantly on that, the fact that he refused a bipartisan agreement, even after he invited all the senators to the White House just a little bit before that asking them to come up with a bipartisan agreement, and then he blew it up.

So, we`ll have to see how all this shakes out but the reality as you know is Republicans are in the majority in the House, they`re in the majority in the Senate, you have President Trump in the White House, they have an obligation to take into account the interests of all of the American people in coming up with this plan. TODD: You just called his remarks repulsive and racist. How do you then cut a deal with him? How do you tell the base of your party who is echoing and in some ways saying even harsher things and stronger things about this president, and then you have to turn around and work with him? What do you tell them? VAN HOLLEN: Well, this is about looking out for the interest of the American people. As I said, unfortunately we have to put some of that aside, not in terms of judging the character of the president, who I believe is unfit for office, but at the end of the deal, we want something that works for the American people.

So I would like to see the government stay open. I would like to maybe sure that we fund community health centers so they`re not in danger of closing down. And I believe that if people of good faith want to come together and get it done, we can. But what we`ve seen so far is this effort to blow up the process.

This is a moment that requires leadership and what you are seeing on the -- on the Republican side are the House Republicans simply trying to jam something through the House without input from Democrats.

TODD: The Washington Post is reporting that in a meeting with the congressional Hispanic caucus, the president`s chief of staff, John Kelly, number one referred to a concrete wall as sort of a campaign promise that was uninformed, and he never said the word wall. They are looking for a physical barrier.

And it sounded like simply this. Give me the funding for an additional 700 miles of physical barrier. There is about 700 miles now. I think you guys have offered another 100 miles. They want another 700. Why not just call their bluff and say, fine, DACA, here is -- here is another 700 miles of funding for fencing and see how the president reacts?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Chuck, if you look at the proposal that was put forward on a bipartisan basis by Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham and other Democrats and Republicans, it had additional funding for border security. TODD: Just additional 100 miles. They want 700. VAN LOOK: So, look, the main issue is all of us are in favor of border security. What we`ve been against is wasting taxpayer money on an infective wall, one which by the way the president said Mexico, not American taxpayers are going to have to pay for, but if it comes to trying to make sure we have the most effective border security, I am willing to look at those proposals.

We need good border security. We should not be wasting taxpayer dollars. That bipartisan proposal that was put forward by Durbin and Graham and others also addressed some of the other issues that the president had raised earlier at the White House.

So, they put forward a bipartisan proposal which by the way would pass the Senate, and I believe would pass the House, so let`s have a little leadership on the Republican side. Let`s address all these issues. Let`s stop kicking them all down the road. And again, it goes beyond DACA. It`s all the other issues I talked about as well.

TODD: Look, I was intrigued by the joint op-ed you had with Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, on your -- I believe you call it the deter act to try to deter sort of outside interference in our elections. Why are we a year removed and how many co-sponsors do you have and how is this not law yet?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that`s a very good question, because we spent the last year focusing on what happened in the 2016 election, Russian interference. And that is important to do.

TODD: Right.

VAN HOLLEN: We have to hold people accountable. We have to learn lessons. But my goodness, we are now in the year of the election and so Senator Rubio and I teamed up to say let`s deter these foreign actors, especially the Russians from doing in 2018 what happened in 2016. So very clearly, you require a report within 30 days of the election from the director --

TODD: Every election? Every election, not just primaries and not just the general? VAN HOLLEN: That is right. And within 30 days. And if the director of National Intelligence says that the intelligence community says there has been interference in our elections, then there are automatic sanctions that take place, very tough economic sanctions. So if you are Vladimir Putin --


VAN HOLLEN: -- and you are thinking about interfering in the elections, you got to realize that a guillotine is going to come down if you are caught and punish your banks, your oil, economy and other major sectors of the Russian economy. TODD: Will this pass before April first?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, there has been a very positive response --


VAN HOLLEN: -- because as you said, I think it is hard to say why we should not defend ourselves and our democracy from Russian attack or other attack. TODD: All right, Senator, I wanted to go more but of course time is always my enemy. Senator Van Hollen, I appreciate your time, sir. Thank you for coming on and sharing your views.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

TODD: Up ahead, a garden state shake-up. Chris Christie out. A new governor vows to fight President Trump at every turn. We`re going to talk to Governor Phil Murphy in his first national interview since his inauguration.


TODD: Welcome back. For the last eight years, residents of New Jersey had a Republican governor who was (INAUDIBLE) and a national celebrity. Chris Christie left the governor`s office yesterday for good with the lowest approval ratings of any governor in that state`s history.

The new governor has pledged to both undo much of what Christie built and resist President Trump every chance he can. New Jersey is now the eighth state where Democrats control all leverage of state government. And it could serve as a testing ground for what could happen in other states if Democrats take control of both governorships and state legislature elsewhere this midterm year.

So joining me now, for his first national interview as the governor of New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy. Governor Murphy, first of all, congratulations and welcome.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you, Chuck. Honor to be here. TODD: Let`s start with -- look, you`ve made a pledge, Governor Christie wasn`t popular, you want to undo much of his agenda. What don`t you want to undo? What was his biggest, do you think? That is one thing worth building of it. MURPHY: Well, we`ve actually taken a number of folks in his cabinet with us in our cabinet. TODD: Is that right? MURPHY: Yes. So, we have a secretary of agriculture, commissioner of corrections, head of homeland security.

TODD: The same people he appointed?

MURPHY: The same people he appointed. He appointed a prosecutor in Bergen County and we have -- he was sworn in yesterday as a nation`s first Sikh American attorney general. So while I disagree with a lot of what Governor Christie did and stood for, if there is talent on the team and we could find common ground, I think his work against the opioid addiction --

TODD: Yes.

MURPHY: -- I`m not sure that is exactly the way we should go at it, but I give him a lot of credit for going at it. TODD: Ironically, it sounds like he is pretty good at picking personnel so maybe President Trump should have kept him. Transition is what you say, because you are actually giving him kudos on at least the ability to pick personnel.

MURPHY: The folks we are taking with us were very honored to have. I can`t comment on the relationship between him and personnel and President Trump.

TODD: I heard you pledge, you said, hey, I`m not just going to be somebody who just told you one thing in the primary and then campaign as another. You know, campaign as a progressive in the primary and somehow governor something else. What does that mean? What is your -- what will be the proof to those in the progressive movement that says, OK, this guy just didn`t pay (INAUDIBLE) service. MURPHY: My first executive order yesterday was for all -- something directed at equal pay for equal work for women. So you are no longer allowed in any state agency or authority to ask anyone`s prior compensation history. That is the first -- it is an important step, it is the first of many.


MURPHY: The big issue in New Jersey is the economy. It hasn`t been growing and it hasn`t been fair. So we stood for a stronger and fairer economy that work for everybody. And so I think we`ll be judged on whether or not we could grow our economy and we could get back to standing for the things that our state used to stand for. TODD: Tell me about the office of Immigrant Defensive Protection, which is another phrase you -- you don`t want to use the word sanctuary state. But it sounds like you want to develop an entire agency to defend immigrants who are here illegally.

MURPHY: At least the single point of contact. This is a good example. Before Donald Trump got elected, we spoke about driver`s licenses for everybody regardless of status, statewide identification cards, instate tuition or financial aid for "dreamers," then Donald Trump gets elected.

And we still stand for all those. Now we got a lot of scared people in our state. We are one of the most states in the nation. There is a lot of rumors that circulate around. We want one point of contact where folks can call up and get the right answer. TODD: Who shouldn`t be allowed to stay in the country? MURPHY: Who shouldn`t be? TODD: Yes. Among this population, what should be enough to get you deported? If you were brought here, what should be enough to get you deported? MURPHY: I think what we`ve done and the president has done this, it was done in our campaign, we`ve crossed the wires between criminal justice and law enforcement on the one hand and immigrant status on the other hand. There is nothing inconsistent.

In fact, I think they add to each other with being really tough on law enforcement but being a welcoming state and community that people could come out of the shadows and feel free to engage with police and other community leaders. If you commit a crime, you ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. TODD: I want to get back to the revenue issue. I take you`re going to raise taxes. Who are you going to raise taxes on?

MURPHY: We`re going to stand for tax fairness. TODD: What does that mean? Somebody is paying more?

MURPHY: Yes. So if you are a hedge fund and you are getting away with carried interest that we should close as a loophole with the federal level, we`re going to find a way to do that at the state level. I hope with other ally states.

If you are a big corporation that is living off of loopholes, by the way we`re not George Washington here, many other states have already closed these loopholes, we`re going to close these loopholes.

If you are really, really wealthy and you`re doing just fine and the middle class has been paying a big price over the past eight years, we`re going to try to undo that. TODD: What is the definition of middle class in New Jersey? I say this because it is different than what it is in Des Moines. So, if you are a family of four and your income is $500,000, are you going to get a tax increase?

MURPHY: No, you`re going to be -- when we talk about millionaire`s tax, that`s a millionaire. TODD: You are protecting nobody that makes less than half a million dollars a year is going to get a new tax?

MURPHY: You`re not going to get taxed. In fact, I would say the opposite. You`ve had to live with not only your property taxes going up, your fares to ride NJ Transit which is a disaster to cross the Hudson River, to get your health care, whatever it might be. So the middle class has been ravaged. Our job is to rebuild the middle class. TODD: If a candidate running for governor in Florida or Colorado or Illinois calls you up and said, what one thing you didn`t know going in that you could give them advice on running as a Democrat in this cycle, what would you tell them?

MURPHY: I would say don`t get wrapped up in the witch camp or witch coalition. Our party stands for a stronger and fairer economy that works for everybody and not just for some of us. Let`s not get complicated.

TODD: Easy for you to because you were able to sort of blow out your primary challenger. It may be tougher for some Democrats.

MURPHY: It may be, but I think if you stick to your guns and you stand for a better economy or stronger and fairer economy, and stick to your values - -

TODD: All right.

MURPHY: I think a pro-growth progressive is the way I would put it. That is a space I think our party can occupy very nicely. TODD: All right, Governor Murphy, there is nothing to hold you accountable for yet, but we will.


TODD: Good to see you here, sir. Thank you coming here.

MURPHY: Good to be here, Chuck. Thanks for having me.

TODD: Up ahead, President Trump`s big gamble in Pennsylvania. Why is he risking so much political capital on a race where there is really a lose- lose situation? We`ll be right back.


TODD: Welcome back. Tonight I`m obsessed with why President Trump is taking a crazy risk where there is nothing to gain, everything to lose, and which could expose a fatal weakness. I`m not talking about North Korea.

I`m talking about the president`s decision to campaign in Pennsylvania tomorrow. For Republican Congressman, a congressional candidate, Rick Saccone. This seat came open when the incumbent, Republican Tim Murphy, resigned after it was reported he urged his mistress to have an abortion.

The 18th congressional district near Pittsburgh is older, blue collar, 93 percent white with only about a third of its residents holding a college degree. In other words, this is Trump country. He won big here and that`s the problem. If Mr. Trump`s man, in this case, Rick Saccone wins, so what? He was supposed to.

But if he loses the Democrat Conor Lamb, then what? By the way, Republicans are nervous about. So who is going to get the blame? Who is going to get exposed? Who is the national media going to say is radioactive even in a district he won in 2016 by 20 points? Not Rick Saccone.

That I could tell you, as President Trump would say. No, in the words of Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, aka Tom Cruise in "A Few Good Men." It seems to be a galactically stupid move.

It does nothing for the president if the Republicans win a district they held since 2003. And it reveals him as a dead weighing on his party if they lose even in the base. And that`s the truth. The question is, can President Trump handle it? We`ll be right back.


TODD: Time for "The Lid." Stormy Daniels. What do we make of this? Headlines are splashed with the adult film star`s name. The allegations that President Trump had a sexual encounter with Daniels more than a decade ago. But in the midst of the unpredictable and unprecedented daily twists and turns we have seen in the administration, this salacious story hasn`t made a huge splash. Why?

The panel is back. Rich Lowry, Caitlin Huey-Burns, Jonathan Alter. It`s interesting here for what it`s worth, the White House, Jonathan, is denying the affair, but not the payment to her. Do you think the public, that this changes the opinion that the public has of President Trump? JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST FOR THE DAILY BEAST, MSNBC ANALYST: No, although I do think in barbershops and beauty parlors, they might say, well, if he didn`t do it, why are they paying her off? Which is a fairly logical question to ask.

But the larger surround reminds of what Daniel Patrick Moynihan called defining (INAUDIBLE) down. In other words, when you get used to bad behavior, it doesn`t shock you anymore. Imagine if this were were almost any other president. This would be dominating the headlines. We will be going 24/7 on this story. TODD: Imagine if Barack Obama were president and there was a story of $130,000 pay off to a mistress.

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: I was thinking about, say, after watching the briefing how, you know, it`s not even coming up in the briefings anymore. I think, you know, we talk about all the time how this is a president who admitted on audio, on camera, of doing some of these things, a president who dragged out Clinton`s accusers at a debate.

But I am interested in the context of like before the "Me Too" Movement and afterwards, how much people care about it. We saw people try to put pressure on the president after those revelations came about about other people and it didn`t really stick in what we have seen so far.

TODD: It seems to me the story is actually running wild in media, that the president actually -- the president`s base normally does, you know, there`s some of the president`s base is seeing.

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Yes. It can happen. TODD: I should say former senate candidate. I should remind people. LOWRY: This hasn`t broken through almost at all, in a sex scandal involving a porn star. I think political though it`s -- TODD: The sex is alleged. LOWRY: Right. It`s kind of already baked in about the president and the way really this kind of thing becomes a live issue again, is one if the conduct somehow is continued --

TODD: Right.

LOWRY: -- after being president, or two, like Bill Clinton, he gets himself in a situation where he lies under oath about an alleged encounter. TODD: What`s interesting here, there is an Al Capone aspect to this, which is if The National Enquirer was somehow in cahoots with the campaign on thee payoff, that breaks the law. It`s an in kind contribution from a corporate entity. That law has broken. The question (INAUDIBLE) yet there is somebody actually investigate this and prosecute this.

ALTER: I think there`s a lot more that we need to know Trump`s relationship with David Pecker and the other people at the Enquirer. Investigative reporters were looking --

TODD: David Pecker is the guy that runs -- what do you call it? American Media, Inc., I guess --

ALTER: There is a lot of reporting to be done. But I just find it kind of really striking that we`re in this sort of zone where there`s no reprimand, no recourse. If this were another president, censure would be the big issue right now. TODD: That was the hot thing.

ALTER: Right. And they only need two Republicans to go with the Democrats to censure him. Hardly anybody is talking about. Jim Clyburn is bringing it up. But for conduct unbecoming, if you`re in the military, you`re an officer, you have not just Stormy Daniels but all these other stories, you would be court-martialed for conduct unbecoming an officer. Overall, this is clear conduct unbecoming.

TODD: It`s sort of depressing that the public doesn`t care about behavior like this.

HUEY-BURNS: There`s really no appetite among the Republican conference for dealing with it either. Remember when there was that pressure applied after all these allegations came out, Republicans, Mitch McConnell said, you know, this isn`t really our territory. LOWRY: They want to pretend that they`re working with a normal president. And that will continue so long as there`s some things they can get done and he hasn`t cratered in the polls.



ALTER: Why not? What`s wrong with it?

TODD: I got to -- you guys got to keep this debate going.


TODD: I am going to go to break. So, thank you. But as you can see, the debate will go. Follow both on Twitter. Caitlin, too. Up ahead, we`ll be right back with a very strange political coincidence.


TODD: In case you missed it, New Jersey`s newest governor barely has his foot in the door, but Phil Murphy already has a leg up, and he can thank his predecessor. Turns out Governor Chris Christie is the first elected New Jersey governor since the early `90s not to break his leg while in office. Yes, the curse of the crutch.

It started with Christy Whitman. She hurt herself skiing in Switzerland in 1999. But not to be outdone, Jim McGreevey broke his leg while walking on the beach in Cape May, New Jersey in 2002. Governor John Corzine suffered a broken leg as well after a a car accident in 2007.

But do you know who just walked away from the state house without a broken leg after two full terms? This guy. So, Governor Murphy, make no bones about it. The curse appears to have been lifted.

One success story for Governor Christie, but be sure to tread cautiously in Trenton so you too can avoid the agony of defeat. And obviously, don`t take the advice of people who may say, hey governor, break a leg.

That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "The Beat" with Ari Melber starts right now.



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