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Transcript 1/31/18 MTP Daily

Guests: Benjamin Wittes, Anne Gearan, Michael Steele, Ruth Marcus, Joe Crowley

Show: MTP DAILY Date: January 31, 2018 Guest: Benjamin Wittes, Anne Gearan, Michael Steele, Ruth Marcus, Joe Crowley

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: -- whether we`d be attacked, it was when. What do you think, just watching the President bash them?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: This damage to these institutions is going to be long lasting potentially, you know, that they have done so much to delegitimize them. And we keep talking about the strength of our institutions and those institutions, the institutions that are designed to keep us safe, those are the ones that are under attack from this president.

WALLACE: And those are our guardrails.

SYKES: Yes, they are.

WALLACE: Those are our guardrails.

All right, my thanks to Charlie Sykes, Zerlina Maxwell, Jason Johnson, John Heilemann. That does it for our hour. I`m Nicolle Wallace. MTP DAILY starts right now.

Hi, Chuck,

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Right near my house --

WALLACE: I feel like I just saw you last night at 11:30.

TODD: You did. Right near my house, there`s a guardrail that goes out all the time. And we always put it back. That --


TODD: I say that to myself every morning when I drive in. We could put the guardrail back, damn it. Anyway, if it`s --

WALLACE: I think we have a President that doesn`t want to, to keep your guardrail thing going. He wants to burn it.

TODD: But guess what? I can put it back if I want to.

WALLACE: All right, I`ll meet you there.

TODD: I will build that guardrail.


TODD: All right, thanks, Nicolle. If it is Wednesday, the fight between the White House, the FBI, and the Department of Justice is escalating.


TODD: Tonight, breaking all of the norms. The FBI makes its concerns public to keep the Nunes memo from going public, but the White House seems ready to release it and Nunes is firing back too.

Plus, the Democrats dilemma.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So let`s come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.

TODD: Could they pay a hefty political price for working with President Trump on immigration?

REP. JOE KENNEDY III (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Our country will be judged by the promises we keep.

TODD: And the Amtrak accident. A train with top Republican lawmakers on board collides with a dump truck.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: We`re going at a good clip and it was a hard impact.

TODD: We`ll have a report from the scene. This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.


TODD: Good evening and welcome to MTP DAILY. I`m Chuck Todd right here in Washington.

Republican members of Congress have just arrived by bus to their retreat in West Virginia after the bit of a harrowing day for them. The train they -- many of them were riding crashed into a garbage truck earlier today.

The driver of that truck was unfortunately killed. No one on the train was seriously injured, although some people were treated for minor injuries.

We`re going to bring you the latest on the crash later this hour, but, first, there is an escalating and increasingly public feud happening right now between the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the White House over that memo. That supposed secret memo spearheaded by the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

The President said he wants the memo released. And, today, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said it will be released, quote, quickly. But the FBI apparently is so concerned about the consequences of this memo going public that they took their concern public.

In a rare statement, the FBI is calling the memo not just inaccurate and misleading. They`re also saying this -- they have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo`s accuracy. It`s another way of saying they think the memo is a bunch of you know what.

Nunes mocked the FBI`s complaint outright, though, in his own statement saying this, quote, having stonewalled Congress` demands for information for nearly a year, it`s no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies.

By the way, Devin Nunes is claiming that he`s been investigating the FBI and DOJ for months now on this issue.

So, folks, we know the day-to-day developments in the Russia probe can be overwhelming to follow and keep track of. And this memo, which most of us still haven`t even seen, we think we know what is in it or at least the subject of it, but we`re not 100 percent sure in all of it.

It has its own complicated side story, but all of that said, legal experts tell my colleague, Ken Dilanian, that all of these actions by this President, this Justice Department, and this Congress are not normal.

For instance, it`s not normal for the FBI and the Department of Justice to publicly object to the White House`s release of a document. It`s not normal for the FBI and DOJ to give Congress these kinds of sensitive classified documents in the first place.

It`s not normal for the House Intel Chair to refuse to share the information with his counterpart on the Senate Intel Committee. Forget the partisan aspect of this. This is a fellow Republican.

And it`s not normal for the House Intel Committee to vote to make classified information public. It`s also not normal for the FBI and DOJ to then be excluded from the declassification process. And it`s really not normal for the public to see the kind of material we believe is in the memo.

When Edward Snowden leaked similar documents, many people in government called him a traitor. And he, of course, has been on the run from the U.S. government ever since. That`s how highly sensitive many people believe these -- the sources and methods are to this memo -- that was used to make this memo.

Joining me now is Ben Wittes. He`s a senior fellow at Brookings, editor- in-chief of "Lawfare," and an MSNBC legal analyst.

Ben, I know you have been following this as closely as anybody. And, frankly, in the last half hour, we`ve been reading excerpts of what`s a just-released transcript of the House Intel Committee essentially debating amongst themselves this memo, questioning Devin Nunes.

And one of the revelations in this is that Devin Nunes claims that he has been investigating the DOJ and FBI for months. How newsy is that?

BENJAMIN WITTES, SENIOR FELLOW IN GOVERNANCE STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, so we knew that Nunes was, you know, concerned about the so-called unmasking issue months and months ago, and that`s what led to his bizarre escapade with the White House. So I`m not sure there is something terribly new about that in and of itself.

What is, I think, dramatic about today`s events is that the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the active support and involvement of the President of the United States, is committed to releasing to the public a document that the FBI says has grave concerns, contains sufficient omissions of fact as to be effectively a lie, and that the Justice Department describes the release of as an extraordinarily reckless act.

And so I cannot think of a prior incident in which a president, over the committed positions of both the FBI and the Justice Department more generally, has released a document to the public that doesn`t appear to be true.

TODD: Now, look, I think it`s pretty clear this document is going public, and it`s probably going public in the next 24 hours. Why do I say that?

You had people warn the President not to fire Comey. He fired Comey.

You had people who warned the President not to -- what was most recent? He wanted to fire Mueller. People had to threaten to quit in order to get him to do that.

You`ve had plenty -- you`ve had people trying to get him not to get Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself.

So we know he`s more than willing to flout warnings from DOJ and the FBI. So what`s the fallout now when the President essentially agrees to make this public?

WITTES: So I agree with you that the question is when, not if. And there is an additional reason which you didn`t mention, which is that the President thinks it will be good for him by discrediting somehow the supposed origins of the Russia investigation and the Mueller investigation.

And, you know, he wants to get out information that will cast the investigation somehow in a negative light. So I agree with you, he will release it.

Look, it has serious consequences across a number of axes. First, the concern is about what the specific information is in this document that may have national security consequences. Information about the FISA process is classified for an extremely good reason, both civil liberties reasons and national security reasons.

But secondly, there is another issue here, which is that the entire intelligence oversight system with respect to Congress is built on trust between the intelligence community and the overseers.

And what Devin Nunes is doing here is shattering that trust, and it`s going to do amazing long-term damage to the willingness of the intelligence community to cooperate with what we have all come to expect in the way of congressional oversight.

TODD: I want to show you another excerpt that we`re getting, this transcript, of this closed-door meeting that the House Intel Committee had about whether to release this Nunes memo.

Democratic Congress Mike Quigley addressed Nunes and he asked him, was any of this done -- referring to the memo -- after or during conversations or consultations with anyone in the White House?

Did they have any idea you were doing this? Did they talk about doing this with you? Did they suggest it? Did you suggest it to them? Did you consult in deciding how to go forward with this before, during, and after this point right now?

Now, Devin Nunes` answer is, I would just answer, as far as I know, no.

I sort of wish Mike Quigley would have separated out those questions, and you asked them one at a time because it isn`t clear here. But the implication here is that the White House may have been working with Nunes. He got caught once working with the White House on the unmasking issue.

Is there anything the House can do that would sort of block Nunes from doing this by questioning whether, essentially, he was working with another branch of government on this?

WITTES: Look, if the President and the Chairman want this document to be released, it`s going to be released. And, you know, I do think the question of to what extent Devin Nunes is an independent actor here and to what extent he`s working with the White House is a legitimate one and an interesting one. But I don`t know the answer to it.

TODD: Right.

WITTES: And I don`t want to speculate about it, other than to say that I do think the question is interesting. But I don`t think that that question is going to determine whether the document becomes public.

It`s going to become public because Nunes has set this process in motion, and the President wants it to. And, frankly, the remedy for that is a political remedy. It`s to talk about the damage that they`re doing by doing this and to hold their feet to the fire about it.

TODD: One last quick question. Is this something that you would advise the FBI Director to threaten resignation over? The reason I ask that is the only thing that apparently does get the President`s attention is threatened resignations.

WITTES: So I do not know what is in the document and so how -- so without knowing that, it`s hard to know whether the FBI`s position should be, you know, over our dead, which in this case means resigned bodies, or whether it`s something that you, you know, raise a strong objection to and then the President does and you go on with your job.

The thing that I feel very strongly about is that the other three members of the intelligence committee leadership -- that is Chairman Richard Burr on the Senate side, Mark Warner, the ranking member on the Senate side, and Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House side -- should jointly issue a statement saying what they think, to the extent that they do not approve of or agree with or believe in the factual integrity of this memo.

TODD: All right. Ben Wittes, I`m going to leave it there. Of "Lawfare" blog and, of course, an NBC News and MSNBC political analyst. Thank you, sir, for coming on and sharing your analysis.

WITTES: Thank you.

TODD: Let me bring in tonight`s panel. Ruth Marcus, columnist and deputy editorial page editor at "The Washington Post." Michael Steele, former chairman of the RNC and MSNBC political analyst. And Anne Gearan is White House correspondent for "The Washington Post."

All right. Ann, I`ll start with you, your beat today. The White House -- John Kelly is saying this thing is coming out quickly, and then all of a sudden, the White House claims, oh, no, no, no, no. Was John Kelly ahead of the White House here?

ANNE GEARAN, NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: No. I think John Kelly is saying exactly what the President wants. He is projecting what the President wants to have happen.

I mean, we saw the President as he was leaving the chamber last night get door stopped by a Republican senator who asked him about the memo, and the President`s answer is, 100 percent, it`s going to be released.

Sarah Sanders tried to walk that back -- the White House Press Secretary tried to walk that back a little bit, suggesting that there is still a number of steps in the process to go, and they wouldn`t do anything rashly and so forth. And then a few hours after that, John Kelly says, yes, good to go.


TODD: Michael Steele, I just don`t understand. Before the last year, Devin Nunes` reputation was not one of just somebody that just went off the deep end like this.


TODD: And would just sort of flout all these -- that was not his rep. If you tell me Dana Rohrabacher is doing this, OK.

STEELE: Yes. Yes.

TODD: Right? And why, do you think, he is willing to essentially destroy the integrity of this congressional committee process here in the intel world? Look, he could blame the other side.


TODD: But this?

STEELE: No, this is his act.

TODD: This will destroy trust --

STEELE: Right, yes.

TODD: -- probably for decades. Why is he willing to do it?

STEELE: And what`s ironic about it is these very same individuals will need this FBI and this Department of Justice someday.

TODD: Someday, yes.

STEELE: And they`re going to get a lot of crickets coming their way.

But to your point, there seems to be this mindset, maybe in a mind meld with some of the members, that are so protective or want to be so protective and defensive of this president to give him a chance. You know, everybody has been coming at him, they underestimated him, et cetera. That is part of it.

There is also this conservative pulse with the base, tied into what they hear back in their districts, that drives a lot of that. And when you put that together, it makes for, I think, a very toxic mix for Republicans in the House especially.

TODD: Ruth, we`re going to wake up -- maybe it`s tomorrow, maybe it`s Friday -- and he`ll have done this. So it`s sort of like, you know, the -- he`ll have flouted all of the guardrails that were in place to do this. Then what?

RUTH MARCUS, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Then we -- well, first of all, we have to deal with whatever is in the memo. And then we deal with the fallout. I`m almost without words to try to describe the amazing moment that we`re in.

I covered the Justice Department once upon a time when top aides to Attorney General Meese -- when Attorney General Meese was under investigation by an independent counsel and top aides to him resigned in protest of some of his actions. And yet attacks on the legitimacy of that investigation, you know, dealing with classified information, this absolute just overt war with the FBI, there was nothing like that.

In Watergate, President Nixon tried -- used the FBI and its acting director to try to help himself, but the system sort of rebelled against that.

STEELE: Right.

MARCUS: I`ve been on a kick of trying to argue that the system has kind of self-repairing guardrails. You know, good citizens --

TODD: Yes. I still sort of think it is, yes.

MARCUS: Good citizens come by and fix what is broken.

TODD: Yes.

MARCUS: And I believe that`s going to happen, but I sort of see a lot of cars veering off the road in the interim as that`s happening. This is a dangerous moment.

TODD: You know, I have to say, I wonder how much the public is numb when you have the Chelsea Manning leaks, the Edward Snowden leaks.


TODD: That they sit here and they hear all of this, oh, you can`t have this stuff released. And, look, you`re -- the State Department, oh, my God, it`s classified, you can`t -- and a lot of the public goes, you know, we hear these warnings all of the time, heh.

GEARAN: Yes. Well, I mean, in the case of the Manning and Snowden leaks, a lot of what was leaked would -- were State Department cables.

TODD: Yes.

GEARAN: Which were, you know, fascinating reading, many of them, and -- TODD: Look, some of them --

GEARAN: -- and made life just a lot easier.

TODD: Yes.

GEARAN: But were not --

TODD: But were private conversations, yes.

GEARAN: Exactly.

TODD: They --

GEARAN: They were private conversations. They were -- there was -- there were indiscretions. People would say things about another country or ambassador from other countries.

TODD: Sort of the way I might make fun of Michael Steele`s hair.

GEARAN: Hmm, yes, and --

TODD: I mean, you know --


TODD: You know, like Kazakhstan over there, have you seen their receding hairline, you know?

GEARAN: But, I mean, they -- nobody was passing around the nuclear codes, right? I mean, there wasn`t anything in any of that -- in that material that was truly a, you know, stop now, national security.

MARCUS: We know there`s a lot of overcrossing --

TODD: And that`s what -- (CROSSTALK)

STEELE: That`s right.

MARCUS: Sure, but --

TODD: And I think that is the point, right?

MARCUS: But there`s two things that are different going on here. One is, as my former colleague, Ben Wittes, said, FISA warrants are a different animal. And when the intelligence community is worked up about disclosing information there, we should probably pause.

And the second is whether or not this stuff is properly classified and whether or not it`s going to end the republic`s ability to continue if it`s exposed to public view.

The mere fact of this war between a president and his intelligence community, a president and his FBI, a president and, effectively, his Justice Department is an extraordinary moment and bad in itself.

TODD: By the way, there was one -- everybody is saying, hey, there was no reference to Mueller last night.

MARCUS: Oh, no.

TODD: We argue there might have been one reference to Mueller. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Tonight, I call on Congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.



TODD: Translation, Michael Steele, I want to hire and fire whoever the heck I want.

STEELE: The hell I want, that`s right.

TODD: Yes.

STEELE: That`s what -- and that`s the bottom line of this whole thing, is the President`s inability to get rid of the people who he thinks are not loyal to him or supportive of him. And I --

MARCUS: Well --

STEELE: Just one other point out on that. The thing that I think we need to stop and ask ourselves, on this FISA piece, you mean to tell me that a FISA judge is going to jeopardize their judicial integrity and just willy- nilly hand out warrants without doing the -- having the requisite documents and proof available?

What Congressman Nunes is doing is not just dangerous, it`s stupid. Because when it gets exposed -- when it gets exposed --

TODD: I thought he had learned his --

STEELE: -- this is going to blow up in a way that`s not going to be helpful to the Congress.

TODD: I thought he learned his lesson in this unmasking scandal he claimed was there and it turned to be him.

MARCUS: He just --

TODD: I mean, like --


MARCUS: He just jumped back on the stove.

TODD: Yes.

MARCUS: And to me, it`s just illustrative of everybody who comes within the orbit of President Trump just ends up being diminished by it.

TODD: They somehow lose their bearings. They lose their common sense bearings.

GEARAN: There are two things, too, that are happening at the same time. One is, what`s in the memo and what do we do about that? And there is concern at the Justice Department, FBI specifically, that are going to be in a double bind in responding once this thing becomes public.

TODD: No matter what they do, right.


TODD: It`s a no-win.

GEARAN: I mean, because it involves some classified literature.

STEELE: Right.

TODD: Right.

GEARAN: The other thing is, to your point, why is Nunes doing this?


GEARAN: And, you know, whether or not he was doing so under some sort of particular order or orchestration with the White House. He is doing it in support of what he thinks the White House wants to have done.

STEELE: Right.


TODD: And like I said, his track -- he got caught once working with the White House national security staff.

All right, guys, stick around. Up ahead, Democrats` dilemma. Why working with President Trump on immigration could mean political peril.


TODD: Welcome back. We have some big political retirement news today. It is still January.

Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina surprised colleagues this year. He`s going to leave Congress after this term.

This makes him the 32nd House Republican to announce their retirement or are seeking a new office this cycle. And he is the second chairman of the House Oversight Committee within the last year to announce he`s leaving after Jason Chaffetz resigned last summer.

Nobody likes to be -- when your own party is in power, likes to be in charge of that committee.

Anyway, Gowdy, of course, made a name for himself when he chaired the House`s Select Committee on Benghazi and when he pressed for the prosecution of Hillary Clinton.

In his statement today, Gowdy said it was time for him to, quote, leave politics and return to the justice system.

Justice system, you ask. Well, if Gowdy was angling for any kind of judicial appointment that requires confirmation, let`s just say there will be a lot of hyperbole from his years in political office that he`s likely going to confront again from Democrats if he does get nominated for a judgeship.

And Gowdy wasn`t the only member of Congress to call it quits today. Long- time Pennsylvania machine, Democrat Bob Brady, one of the last of the big party bosses that actually served in Congress, said he will not run for a 12th term.

He is facing a federal investigation, and he`s been facing it over a year now, due to payments made to a political opponent with another campaign.

We`ll be right back with more.


TODD: Welcome back. There is a giant dilemma facing the Democratic Party. And if they don`t figure it out, could it end up leading to actual civil war in their ranks?

Democrats booed, hissed, groaned -- one even walked out of last night`s State of the Union address. And if last night proved anything, it`s that the Democratic Party is pretty fed up with this president. Their facial compressions, frankly, spoke volumes last night.

And one Democratic congressman, Luis Gutierrez, who appeared to walk out of last night`s address, said, quote, I was hoping to get through my life without having to witness an outwardly, explicitly racist American president, but my luck ran out.

And he needs to cut a deal with the President on DACA? Ouch.

So needless to say, Democrats didn`t like what they heard last night, and, today, they weren`t shy about it.


REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MINORITY WHIP OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I think the floor reflected the deep disappointment, not only that we had last night at the President`s speech, but what we`ve had for the last year with the President`s performance.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: He stooped to a new low in terms of how he dealt with issues.

REP. JOE CROWLEY (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: From his racist, demonizing comments on immigrants to the complete lack of any mention -- any mention -- in relation to securing our democracy from the Russian government. The speech wasn`t new, it wasn`t good, and it won`t change any fundamental dynamics of our nation moving forward.


TODD: And those comments are the nice ones compared to what some elected Democrats have said about the President. They`ve called him everything, a liar, a sexist, a racist, mentally unfit, and illegitimate leader.

They want him censured or impeached, but the reality remains. He is the President. Democrats do have to deal with him. They`ve made promises to their base that he is going to have to sign. Big promises, like saving DACA recipients.

But are they willing to make a deal with him, particularly with the man they heard last night? Are Democrats really willing to make this president the president who saved the Dreamers?

That is the dilemma for Democrats. If they compromise with the President, some in the base won`t like it. If they don`t compromise, some in the base won`t like it either.

In many ways, this is the similar dilemma the Republicans faced under President Obama. And guess what that led to? Pretty bad GOP civil war.

I`m joined now by the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, a man who has got to keep all of these warring factions together. It`s New York Congressman Joe Crowley.

Congressman Crowley, welcome back to the show, sir.

CROWLEY: Thank you, Chuck. Great to be with you again.

TODD: So let me ask this simple question. You`ve got a caucus. In many ways, they can`t stand this president. They don`t like him. You guys made it very clear --

CROWLEY: You think?

TODD: -- I know -- last night. But there`s only one guy that can save DACA. So what do you do?

CROWLEY: Well, I`m not so sure there`s only one guy who can save DACA. I actually think if the President stays out of the negotiations and lets the House and the Senate work -- if the Senate could first find a way forward, I think that could help put some pressure on the House to move forward as well.

And then maybe the President could step in and encourage those members of the Freedom Caucus or the more conservative wings of the Republican caucus to support the DACA bill. But it`s not just one person. It`s going to take all of us to make that happen.

TODD: But, Congressman, you`ve heard this. I`ve heard from some activists who say they don`t want this. They don`t trust this president, and they don`t want him to be the one that they have to go to beg to save the Dreamers. What do you tell that heated activist that I`m sure you see at a town hall that says, don`t work with him at all?

CROWLEY: Well, I think the President continues to take additional hostages. Initially, it was the roughly 800,000 Dreamers or DACA recipients. He`s now expanded it to 1.8 million people who may be eligible for DACA. He`s also included into that the --

TODD: Wait a minute. Are you calling the fact that he -- you`re calling the fact that he increased the number of people he would make eligible for citizenship "more hostages"?

CROWLEY: Oh, I think so. He`s actually increasing the number of --

TODD: That is rough.

CROWLEY: He`s also increasing the number by including those who are in TPS, temporary protected status. He didn`t have to do any of this. He is actually adding these folks to the equation, and all in an attempt to end certain aspects of legal immigration into the United States.

So the President is taking willful and knowing actions to increase the number of people that he will either allow to stay in the United States through legislation or forcibly deport through legislation or lack thereof.

TODD: What do you believe is a reasonable family reunification policy?

CROWLEY: Well, I believe that the nuclear family itself is pretty defined. We know that there`s mothers -- and fathers, obviously -- sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and grandparents. You know, it`s already primarily under the law itself, so this is -- the President was inaccurate.

He was wrong. He was not being totally honest yesterday or being diplomatic when he said just about anybody can get into the country this way. It simply isn`t true.

And it`s really demagoguing on this issue as to the point -- to allude to maybe all immigrants are members of gangs, MS-13, or are criminals committing crimes in this country, which is not the case either as you know.

TODD: Do you believe his remarks last night made it harder for you to make a deal with him?

CROWLEY: I think it`s made it harder for himself, quite frankly, with his own base. I think that I will know the deal when I see. I haven`t seen it as of yet.

I think there are people of goodwill, both in the House and the Senate, on both parties who want to see legislation pass.

I know there were 27 Republicans who has signed on to a very bipartisan bill here in the House. If Speaker Ryan would give that bill the light of day, that bill would pass immediately.

TODD: Yes.

CROWLEY: So I do think there is a path forward. It`s really a question of whether people of goodwill will step forward --

TODD: Yes.

CROWLEY: -- and take this bull by the horns. TODD: Look, there is a republican majority in the Senate. It is a republican in the White House and a Republican majority in the House. I thought Marco Rubio made a fair analysis the other day when he said hey, the gang of eight, that gang of eight bill, that was when there was a Democrat in the White House and was done from a democratic point of view.

His argument is hey, the elections have consequences so this compromise is going to come from the republican point of view on this issue. If you`re getting 70 percent of what you want on this, 60 percent, whatever percentage you want to say it is, you`re going to have activists who say you didn`t fight hard enough, that you had to compromise in order to get it, and they are going to hold some Democrats accountable. What do you tell those activists?

CROWLEY: Well, I think it`s a civic -- I will know the deal when I see it, I haven`t seen this yet, but I do think that if it comes down to it, if I believe that the deal is a fair deal, that it will accomplish what I`m most of all I`m trying to accomplish, I will give that the light of the day.

I will give it a good look and possibly support that. I will tell those people that we`ve done the best we can under these circumstances. But I will also say to you this, Chuck, you know, Speaker Ryan keeps referring to the Hastert Rule.

You know, the Hastert Rule, former Speaker Dennis Hastert`s rule that said you have to have the majority of the majority in order to bring a bill to the floor. We`ll answer that. Nancy Pelosi had said, we also have that rule. You need the majority of the minority to support something as well.

So it needs to be reflective of the values of the democratic caucus. I think that is what we`re looking for in terms of supporting legislation moving forward. TODD: Well, Speaker Ryan has said actually that he`ll put any bill that the president will sign on the floor. So he hasn`t amended that, but he did say the president has to be willing to sign it before he brings it to the floor. That is not an -- is that an unfair demand?

CROWLEY: The president said that he would actually sign a clean dream act.

TODD: Well.

CROWLEY: He said that in that one-hour meeting. TODD: Yes, he did, but he says things. He says a lot of things. I was going to say -- what do you take at his word and what don`t you?

CROWLEY: And that is the problem. I think I don`t trust the president`s word. He`s demonstrated over and over again, he lies just about every day. He says falsehoods all the time. It is this new thing that is going on, a Washington speak that goes on in a daily basis now.

So it does make it very difficult to negotiate with someone who keeps moving the gold post, who keeps changing what the bottom line is. The issue of family reunification and the issue of diversity visas were never on the table until the president placed them on the table.

Those were issues that dealt in a much broader, comprehensive immigration bill that actually dealt with over 11 million people in this country, not the 800,000, now the 1.8 million that the president is talking about and growing.

TODD: Very quickly, would you trade wall for DACA?

CROWLEY: I have said that I do not support a wall. What I could -- we could talk about our enhancements at the border itself. We could talk about virtual walls. We could talk about --

TODD: I understand you don`t want to be for it. But if that is the White House demand, Chuck Schumer is not for the wall either -- CROWLEY: I think it is an incredible --

TODD: Chuck Schumer is not for the wall either, but he offered it.

CROWLEY: I think it`s an incredible waste of our resources if it`s any way between $25 and $40 billion. As I said before, Chuck, you can`t live in it and you can`t drive on it. It`s a useless piece of infrastructure that does nothing but divide our country from southern neighbors.

TODD: I think he did talk about solar panels. Maybe he will put solar panels.


TODD: I don`t know. Joe Crowley, I will leave it there. I was trying to leave, you know, got to leave laughing a little bit. Joe Crowley, Democrat from New York, thanks for coming on, sir. I appreciate your sharing of views.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

TODD: Up ahead, the latest on the train wreck in Virginia. Several top Republicans were on board, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. We`re going to get a complete update from our own Tom Costello, next.


TODD: Welcome back. There was some good news for the New Jersey senior senator, democratic Senator Bob Menendez. He will not have to battle for his freedom a second time and for a Senate seat at the same time. The Justice Department will not retry Menendez on corruption charges that end in a hung jury last fall.

Prosecutors filed a motion today to throw out the case after a judge threw out some of the counts last week. There was a time DOJ was going to retry him. Menendez was originally charged with trading political influence for gifts and campaign donations from a Florida eye doctor.

Menendez tweeted this afternoon after decision, I never wavered in my innocence and my belief justice would prevail. The move may keep perspective primary challengers from jumping into this race because that is really what Menendez probably had to fear the most. We`ll be back in a moment.


TODD: Welcome back. House and Senate Republicans were on their way to a retreat in West Virginia today when the chartered train they were on collided with a garbage truck just outside of Charlottesville.

One person who is in the truck died. No major injuries were sustained by lawmakers aboard the train. Many of whom assisted with the injured at the crash site. Minnesota Congressman Jason Lewis was briefly hospitalized with a concussion, but his official Twitter account posted this hour that he has been released and has joined the retreat.

Joining me now is our own Tom Costello, of course, covers transportation for us. All right, Tom, give us the basics here. Human error, technical error, what do we think happened? What have we been able to recreate here?

TOM COSTELLO, CORRESPONDENT, NBC: Well, listen, first of all, federal investigators are on the scene from the federal railroad administration and the NTSB and Amtrak has their own investigators on the scene.

Witnesses said that the crossing guards, those arms that come down, and the lights were functioning. And so you`ve got to now wonder why was it that this trash truck was on the tracks. Because the train always has the right- of-way. There is some initial reporting from the scene from witnesses who were suggesting that this trash truck may have been trying to beat the train.

And as we know, boy, that is a deadly mistake. We`ve seen it time and time and time again. I mean, we have 260 people dying every year in motor vehicle crashes with trains, and we have about 840 people injured every year just in motor vehicle train accidents.

The trouble is, according to federal investigators, almost always it is somebody in a hurry trying to get across the tracks and they misjudge how fast that train is going. It is probably going at about 55 miles per hour and at that speed, it takes about half a mile to a mile to stop in the emergency mode. TODD: What kind of -- you know, obviously the technology and how we gather information at crash sites only gets better all the time. Are there cameras on the front of the train? Are there cameras at the crossing guard -- at the cross lights? Are we going to be able to have video evidence to put this together? Is it going to have to be sort of an old style recreation?

COSTELLO: Well, you`re absolutely right. We saw just most recently with the Amtrak crash up there outside of Seattle. Yes, Amtrak does have cameras on the cab, outward facing as well as inward facing so if there were ever any question about whether an engineer was distracted or what have you, that does not appear to be the case here, right?

The train had the right-of-way and it appears this garbage truck was on the tracks, so we should or they should have a pretty good sense of what happened pretty quickly. I will say that there has been this push nationwide to put in quad gates.


COSTELLO: In other words, instead of just one crossing arm that comes down, you want four. So they cover both lanes on both sides. TODD: So you can`t navigate it. You can`t sort of drive --

COSTELLO: Exactly.

TODD: -- maybe or maybe not people watching this program have thought about doing that before. And obviously doing it that way would stop them. Well, this should be good reminder. Don`t mess around. You`ll always loose a race with a train.

COSTELLO: It is almost always fatal and is always stupid, yes.

TODD: All right. Tom Costello, thank you very much. Up ahead, we all heard of the state of the union last night, but how about the state of our states? That is what I`m obsessed with, next.


TODD: Welcome back. Tonight I`m obsessed not with the state of the union address but with the state of the state addresses by the country`s governors. Actually enjoyed doing this every year. It is always fascinating to note the themes that emerge from the speeches. One theme this year from Democrats at least was opposition to President Trump.


GOV. DAVID IGE (D), HAWAII: Hawaii will not stand for the hateful and hurtful policies of the Trump White House. GOV. GINA RAIMONDO (D), RHODE ISLAND: When President Trump announced a plan to open our coastline to drill for oil, we, the people of Rhode Island, stood up and said not on our watch.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Another theme from these governors, the need for civility in politics.

(START VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PHIL SCOTT (R), VERMONT: I don`t know when this period of hyper partisanship and anger will end, but i do know we can`t fight hate with hate or anger with anger. GOV. BILL WALKER, (I), ALASKA: Compromise is not capitulation. Rather it is a necessary process in representative government.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: But as always, one idea came through loud and strong.


IGE: The state of our state is strong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our state is strong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our commonwealth is strong. RAIMONDO: Stronger than we`ve been in decades. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Strong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strong and growing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strong. GOV. KAY IVEY (R), ALABAMA: The state of the state is strong. And that our future is as bright as the sun over the gulf.


TODD: Well, bless your heart. We`ll be right back.


TODD: Welcome back. Time for "The Lid." Panel is back. Ruth Marcus, Michael Steele, Anne Gearan. Before I get to something that Ruth Marcus has been writing a lot about with Hillary Clinton and Burns Strider, quickly on the Democrats dilemma on working with Trump. Republicans made the decision not really to work with Obama. John Boehner still got punished.


TODD: John Boehner did not work with Obama.


TODD: But conservatives thought he did, too much.


TODD: That`s what I`m wondering here, what`s your warning to Democrats about how easily you can go from thinking, oh, we`ll never be like that to oh, yes --

STEELE: Yes, you`ll be just like that. Well, you know, it really boils down to one thing, Chuck, and that is -- and I have heard some Democrats say this, that the DACA issue is such a principled issue for them, that they are willing to go up, charge up that hill to try to take that particular hill in that battle.

And I say go ahead and do it. You know, there are some times I wish Republicans have done during the Obama years on health care, for example, where there were things that could have been done if they had just put a bill out there to sort of compete with.

And I think that`s what the Democrats are trying to do here now. They are trying to get a bill in such a way that they can go back to their base and say we made the case, we did the fight.

And even the president slid off the wall a little bit, so that is giving them a little bit of wiggle room and redefinition of that. But if they principally believe in it, charge up that hill.

TODD: Ruth, what do you think here? Do you think democratic activists will be OK with the compromise that leans in the president`s direction if he signs?

RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: No, they won`t. And I think you have an illustration of that on the show today when Congressman Crowley was talking about how expanding the number of "dreamers" who would be protected with evidence of hostage taking. Now, maybe he is right and it is a cynical move, but that shows you where we are in this debate and how intractable it is. TODD: I saw that and it was like, wow, if he hadn`t been increasing the number, you view as a negative, we`re getting nowhere. ANNE GEARAN, DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, yes, I mean, I think Crowley wouldn`t take your point that there`s only one person here whose opinion matters on DACA.

TODD: Want to believe that that`s not true but --

GEARAN: Yes, yes.

TODD: Wish it away, he`s still the guy that has to sign these bills. GEARAN: Right. And, I mean, but to your point, the democratic base that is now seized with the DACA issue is not going to accept some sort of half measure.

And if it`s the Hill the Democrats die on, then they`re going to have to be able to then turn around and say that the fight was worth it, what we wanted to get was something that the president simply is never going to give us. And so that`s it, we`re going --

STEELE: Right, DACA can become their Obamacare.

TODD: All right.

GEARAN: Right.

TODD: I want to move to last night -- about seven minutes before Donald Trump, before (INAUDIBLE).

MARCUS: Coincidentally.

TODD: Yes, coincidentally. Hillary Clinton issued a very long Facebook post, essentially doing something that Ruth Marcus, you begged her to do on Sunday when she didn`t do it. And it was this. And she goes, this is on her former faith advisor who was accused of sexual harassment and she wouldn`t fire him even after people said to fire him.

And she writes. The short answer is this. If I had to do it again, I wouldn`t. I didn`t think firing him was the best solution to the problem. He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I though both could happen without him losing his job.

Obviously that wasn`t true, and he turned out to be a serial predator. Ruth, what do you think?

MARCUS: Well, having a little bit groundhog day phenomenon here, it takes a while for Hillary Clinton all the time to get to not a great place, but a better place and an adequate place. So I was having kind of post-traumatic stress syndrome last night thinking about what we went through with e- mails, right? It took a while to get to if I had it to do over again, I wouldn`t do it.

TODD: Oh, my God. Wait a minute. I hadn`t thought about that. Oh, my God.

(LAUGHTER) MARCUS: Pull it together. TODD: And you`re absolutely right. It`s the same thing, you have to drag (INAUDIBLE). I wish I did it another way. MARCUS: And it shouldn`t have taken that hard. It shouldn`t have taken that long. And you kind of wish she could just say, I got that call wrong in retro -- why didn`t she say that?

TODD: It`s over.

STEELE: It was in 2008.

TODD: It`s obvious she made the wrong decision because he did it again.

MARCUS: So good for her.

TODD: Yes.

MARCUS: Kind to say for saying it eventually, but also bad on her that she doesn`t then explain why she kept this person in her orbit, why she allowed him to be hired by a super PAC that were, you know, group that was associated with her. And why she felt the need to take this job at The New York Times over a sexual harassment issues.

You know what? If you`re going to day I should have done it better, just say it, don`t try to point fingers elsewhere. Come on.

TODD: If you`re try to be recapture some high ground --

MARCUS: Go high.

TODD: -- try to stay on the high ground.


TODD: All right. Ruth, you got the last word, thank you. Up ahead, please clap. We`ll be right back.


TODD: Well, in case you missed it, there was a lot of this last night.




TODD: There was so much that our friends at the Daily Caller today had this ridiculous headline. Trump breaks nearly all applause records on state of the union addresses. We had no idea there was a record of all this, by the way.

Well, here at "MTP Daily" though, we applaud the president`s applause.


TODD: We believe there shouldn`t be less applause at the state of the union, there should be more.


TODD: And we don`t want to import applause, we want American applause.


TODD: USA. And in case you missed it, we just broke a record for the most applause ever on "MTP Daily," because in this great country, when we put our hands together, there is nothing we can`t accomplish. Come on.


TODD: Now, it`s time for "The Beat" with Ari Melber. Ari --


ARI MELBER, THE BEAT SHOW HOST, NBC: It is not coordinated, I swear.

TODD: Coordinated at all. Please, please, please clap.


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