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UP, Transcript 1/16/2016

Guests: Shira Center, Suhail Khan, Karthick Ramakrishnan, Monica Alba, Luis Gutierrez, Jose Antonio Vargas

Show: UP  Date: January 16, 2016 Guest: Shira Center, Suhail Khan, Karthick Ramakrishnan, Monica Alba, Luis Gutierrez, Jose Antonio Vargas

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) RICHARD LUI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Is it too late for Republicans to stop Donald Trump?

And good morning, I`m Richard Lui, thanks for getting UP with us on this Saturday morning. As conservative candidates prepare a routine party voters today in South Carolina, here`s a new report warning that time may be running out for the Republican Party to find a candidate able to beat Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders trade blows over health reform and guns, among other things.

Is this race now closer than Hillary ever thought it would be? And Wall Street, wild ride last week, the Dow plunging another 400 points. What`s driving that and how worried might we be?

Plus, the breaking news overnight of a terror attack in West Africa, militants with ties to al Qaeda storm a hotel popular with westerners.

And a new lawsuit that`s gaining attention blaming twitter for an attack by ISIS militants. All that and much, much more ahead is straight ahead.

But we begin in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where conservatives are gathering for the state`s third angle, Tea Party convention Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee will address the crowd there today as Trump`s continues almost as we speak to Cruz over questions about his citizenship and loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank.

Joining us now from Myrtle Beach is MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt and a busy day ahead there, hey, Casey?

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Richard, good morning. That`s right, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are still at each other`s throat this is morning. Ted Cruz has been going after Trump for what he calls New York values that Cruz says won`t line up with Iowa conservatives. Trump`s hitting back, but you know, he`s changing up his style a little bit, trading in some of those trademarks big rallies for traditional retail politicking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT (voice-over): Donald Trump is still topping the polls. But now he`s bending to Iowa tradition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to get out. We got to win.

HUNT: Making his first ever stop at a classic Iowa pizza chain, and showing his human side, comforting a family who lost a child to a heroin overdose.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s a tough thing, and I know what you`re going through, and he`s a great father, I can see it. And your son is proud of you.

HUNT: But the national frontrunner showing no sympathy for his chief rival Ted Cruz.

TRUMP: How is he going to be president if you don`t know about million dollar loan from Goldman Sachs? And you said, something you don`t know about, now he doesn`t know that he was a Canadian citizen.

HUNT: Cruz didn`t tell federal election officials about the loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank that helps fund his Senate campaign. And on Friday, he refused to answer questions about it. Polls show Cruz and Trump far ahead of the establishment candidate battling for third. In New Hampshire, Marco Rubio appealing to gun owners.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I scored a rifle, so that`s awesome. Thank you, guys.

HUNT: Hitting Chris Christie as a Liberal.

RUBIO: And there are people running, Republicans running that are not supporters of the Second Amendment.

HUNT: And South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham taking sides, endorsing Jeb Bush and calling Rubio inexperienced.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can`t just say at 44 hours, I`m ready to be president.

HUNT: These a candidates are trying to keep hope alive even as many in the GOP establishment are finally beginning to accept that Trump could win the nomination. The next question, whether Trump could forgive an establishment that`s trying to the find someone, anyone who could beat him.

TRUMP: I love people to treat me fairly.

HUNT (voice-over): And so far so good?

TRUMP: So far so good. I think --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Some Republicans are starting to wonder if Trump could basically waltz to the nomination if he wins in Iowa. And Trump himself seems to be trying harder than ever, he flew overnight after that debate to Iowa held a rally, then he`s in New Hampshire this morning and back to South Carolina on this Saturday afternoon for that Tea Party convention -- Richard.

LUI: MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt. Thank you so much Kasie for that. Thursday`s Republican debate demonstrated if nothing else how Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are now gunning for each other. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Back in September, my friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way and there was no issue there, there was nothing to this birther issue. Now -- since September, the constitution hasn`t changed.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

But the poll numbers have.

TRUMP: This isn`t me saying it, I don`t care. I think I`m going to win fair and square and I have to win this way. Thank you. Lawrence tried and numerous from Harvard said that there is a serious question as to whether or not Ted can do this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why now? Why are you raising this issue now?

TRUMP: Because now he`s doing a little bit better. No, I didn`t care before. It`s true. No, it`s true. Hey, look, he never had a chance, now he`s doing better, he`s got probably a four or five percent chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: And there are new concerns this morning that the time for an establishment candidate to emerge and challenge Trump or Cruz, well, that`s just running out. Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa of "The Washington Post" reporting that among party leaders, there is a growing acceptance that Trump and Cruz are the two candidates most likely to become the party`s nominee. Meanwhile, on the more conservative right wing of the party, there is anger with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for calling out the divisive frontrunners during Tuesday`s State of the Union response. While at the RNC winner meetings, there are amounting fears of a contested convention. At some -- as some members rather are calling for the party to rally against Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You always hear the argument, well this is what people are thinking, so if this is what people are thinking in this party, as far as I`m concerned, we`re going in the wrong direction. As a party, we owe it to ourselves to speak out and not have the tail wag the dog and not have somebody say, if you don`t play my game, then I`m running as an independent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: Let`s bring in our panel this morning, Boston Globe political editor Shira Center, former George W. Bush administration official, and now a senior fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement Suhail Khan. And MSNBC political analyst and Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones David Corn. I got a great panel this morning. Thanks for being in here this morning.

SUHAIL KHAN, FORMER BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for having us.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you.

LUI: I appreciate it. Shira, so where do you want to start with this? We were just finishing with, they had a meeting on Thursday, together the rules and they`re looking at the convention going -- we`re worried and some of the rules they put in for the last cycle, they were worried about Ron Paul at the time --

SHIRA CENTER, BOSTON GLOBE POLITICAL EDITOR: Right.

LUI: -- are now going to be applicable perhaps for Donald Trump with what they`re debating.

CENTER: You know, I said for months this is going to come down to a delegate fight for not just the reason of Donald Trump but also just because of the large Republican field in general. This is going to drag on much like it did in 2012, you`re going to have a lot more characters on the stage. I think the key point in time for to the Republican Party, if they do want to defeat Donald Trump or if they don`t want Ted Cruz as their nominee it`s the last two weeks in February. Donald Trump could win Iowa, he could win New Hampshire, is this two weeks before you go into Super Tuesday and that other big set of primaries on March 8 before they can accumulate large delegate totals. That is the type for Republicans, if they want to turn this around, that is when they need to do it.

LUI: So, you heard David about the report of they`re saying, oh, no establishment candidate is really going to bubble up, we`re really going to look at Trump and Cruz right now.

CORN: Yes. Well, there`s been some great reporting too in the last couple of days that some of the donors, that means the billionaires --

LUI: Yes. Yes.

CORN: -- that want to have influence are saying, well, how do we get to Trump now? Maybe there are people who have been supporting Jeb Bush or others are now looking for some place to use their dark money or open money --

LUI: Right.

CORN: -- to buy influence in the next -- they hope from to the Republican administration. So there is some sort of desperation there, showing that ultimately for these guys, it`s not about ideology, it`s about having someone that they can, you know, talk to or work with in the White House. But, you know, the interesting thing about waiting for the last two weeks, you know, elections move very quickly now, and you know, we have these, you know, what, eight, nine, ten, elections on March 1st and then a bunch in middle of March. A lot of these campaigns are nowhere near ready to deal with that on the ground.

CENTER: Right.

CORN: And so the guys who lead, if Cruz gets a bump, if Trump wins, you know, people are going to follow them. And so any Republican alternative to that, if they`re not already set up, I mean, even if Rubio comes in third, look how great Rubio is, does he have a gain in any of those states?

CENTER: Florida.

CORN: Yes.

LUI: And do the governors, who are they syncing up with when we`re talking about the non-establishment candidates because that`s going to be key to what you`re talking about there, David. What are you saying?

KHAN: You know, having worked on these campaigns, I can tell you that it`s up in the air right now, there hasn`t been a single vote cast. And as been said, look, the money interests, the party elders, they can wring their hands, they can try to affect the outcome, but in the end, the voters as Shira pointed out, first in Iowa, then in New Hampshire then in South Carolina are going to make these determinations state by state. And that it`s going to be a dogfight, there are going to be several candidates that are going to come and go. And we`re going to see what happens, but in the end, the beautiful thing about it is that the voters decide and it`s not anybody in Washington, DC, at the RNC or any big donors. They might be able to try and push things here a little bit on the edges.

CENTER: Or caucus goers.

KHAN: Or caucus goers. That`s right. That`s right.

LUI: And the voters are really enjoying this snow down on the outside looking in at what`s happening, if you`re going to see Ted Cruz and Donald Trump really at each other and that question is still permeating, how long can they stay a single party?

CORN: I mean, if you look at this, and if you would help talk about the divide between the outside candidates or the establishment candidates, you know, you see this liberal, I mean, democratic side will -- talk about liberal.

LUI: Yes.

CORN: Politics, particularly presidential politics is about how people feel and the bond they feel particularly in the early states with the candidates and none of the establishment candidates have tapped into the emotional experiences of the voters, and on the Republican side, that experience primarily is one of anger and resentment. I mean, Donald Trump said, I wear the mantle of anger proudly in response to what Nikki Haley said about him and the Republican Party which I think has exploited and encouraged a lot of anger and resentment aimed at Obama and Democrats in Washington to get where they are in Washington, has now, you know, institutionally lost control of The forces it helped create.

LUI: And establishment Republicans will say, no, that`s just one part of our party that is lost.

CORN: But well, it`s a big part --

LUI: And Peggy Noonan saying, no, I don`t like that.

(CROSSTALK)

Yes. That`s what she is saying.

KHAN: Look, I mean, it`s very tumultuous right now. There are folks that are cranky about what`s happening in Washington, D.C. But running against Washington, D.C. to get to Washington, DC is one of the oldest plays in the book. That`s how Ronald Reagan got there, and so, yes, it might be little bit hyped at right now but on steroids. But in the end you`ll see the party will come together around a nominee.

CORN: They`re now running against Muslims. I mean, it`s not just Washington. The hatred that Trump is --

LUI: The tactics, is what you`re saying?

CORN: It`s not just the tactics, calling for a ban on all Muslims into this country is a historic event and I think it`s totally, put the Republican Party in this dilemma. Because even Bush`s best moment in the debate was addressing that when he said it was bad. But by and large, a lot of people in the Republican Party say, we can`t hear this thing, they are not paying attention to what this really means.

KHAN: But it has to be said, people like Speaker Ryan came out right away to condemn that.

CORN: But he still said he would support Trump if he gets the nomination. So, that`s not really --

CENTER: I think the Republican Party is going to have to make a decision if Donald Trump is the nominee, sometime in early December about how much they`re going to stand behind this guy, he`s not going to stop, he`s going to continue to say things like this. I think that was a historic moment, I think if Donald Trump is the nominee, we`re going to have two more --

LUI: It was another historic moment though, Nikki Haley in her response to State of the Union --

CORN: Sure. Exactly.

LUI: She came out and she said, you know, no, this is not what we want for the party, but that just re-enforces the line that we`re talking about here, doesn`t it?

KHAN: It`s going to be fractious, it`s going to be messy. But yes, again both candidates being cast, we don`t have a nominee yet. And so, I think again, we should be a little bit careful to preclude who`s going to be our nominee ultimately come convention time.

LUI: What did you take away from the week, Shira?

CENTER: Oh, from the entire week --

LUI: Well, when we talk about the Republican Party, so much has happened. As we were just describing as we land to this segment.

CENTER: So, I actually think this Thursday night`s debate was one of the more interesting debates, I think we saw some substance that we haven`t seen in a while on the debate stage, I thought it was really interesting to see Donald Trump talk about economic issues, talk about things like the corporate tax, we haven`t seen him do that in a while. I think that was a good takeaway. He wasn`t sort of the character that is Donald Trump playing Donald Trump on stage as much as he was in the other debate. So, it was interesting to see that side of him. And also as Kasie pointed out in her segment, her starts to politic more like a politician in this early states. So, I think we`re seeing a transitional moment for Trump.

LUI: For Trump and for Cruz, the rumble in the jungle certainly has started and it`s only the beginning, is it not?

CORN: Well, Cruz is trying to drop Trump, you know, hoping that Trump will collapse or fade and that the voters that got angry, angry would turn to Cruz. You know, what we see in all politics, we see this again in the democrat side too, as you get closer to Election Day or caucus day and if things are tight, people get desperate, they get freaked out and they start attacking --

LUI: That`s right.

CORN: -- they become like crabs in a big crab pot, clawing over each other to try to get to the top and it was --

KHAN: Bromance is over.

LUI: All right. That`s right.

CORN: -- particularly pathetic when it came to the establishment.

LUI: All right. David Corn with the twitter moment right there for us. All right. Thank you, panel, we`ll again be talking later on other issues in the next hour or two until then.

Up next, we`ll turn to the race for the democratic nomination as Hillary Clinton goes from almost ignoring Bernie Sanders to attacking his position, that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: As Hillary Clinton heads to South Carolina to prepare for tomorrow night`s debate, her husband former President Bill Clinton will be on the stump in Iowa.

NBC`s John Yang is live in Council Bluffs, Iowa where the former president will campaign later today. Hey, John.

JOHN YANG, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Richard, how are you this morning? This is actually the second day in Iowa for former President Clinton, he had three events yesterday, today three more events. He`s starting here in Council Bluffs on the west side of the state. Moving his way east. But its family day for the Clinton campaign in Iowa, Chelsea Clinton has three events of her own starting on the east side of the state, moving toward Des Moines and then tonight, they meet in Des Moines and they`ll have a joint appearance this evening. Now the campaign is facing a surging Bernie Sanders here in Iowa, a lot of Democrats I spoke to, have been speaking to across the state did not expect this race to be as tight as it`s turned out.

They tell me that his strengths, Sanders` strength appears to be in the urban areas and in college towns, he`s gaining traction, they say, because of his talk about income inequality, and also about the idea of moving toward a universal health care system, a single payer system, the campaign, the Clinton campaign is complaining that Sanders would do away with ObamaCare, in order to do that. And they also say that, he hasn`t provided any details of that plan or talked about where he would find the money or even how much it would cost. But that seems to be, I think what I hear from Democrats in the state is that that is gaining traction, even without those details. As one official told me, he said in Iowa, it always pays to be the most liberal candidate in the race and right now that`s Bernie Sanders -- Richard.

LUI: John, the crowds, what they expect to be for the former president, how have they been? What`s the reaction? That`s always a question when you get the former president out there along with Hillary Clinton, at least for her campaign.

YANG: The crowds have been pretty good, Richard. He had -- we were in Sioux City yesterday, the room had about 200 seats, I would say there were about 300 in all, a lot of standees and people sort of flowing out into the lobby, and people although eager to see, to rally for Hillary Clinton, also eager to see the former president. There were a lot of t-shirts I got to tell you from people wearing t-shirts that said, I miss Bill -- Richard.

LUI: I miss Bill, that`s not what Hillary Clinton wants to hear about. Thank you so much, John Yang there in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I appreciate it.

As the polls continue to tighten, Hillary Clinton`s attacks on Bernie Sanders as was intimated by John Yang there and his health plan have intensified, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For months his campaign has been saying before the Iowa caucus, we will tell you what we are proposing in taxes and the bulk of what he is advocating for is a single payer health care system, which would probably cost about $15 trillion. But he`s not telling us what it will look like and what it will cost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: Friday, Sanders` spokesperson vowed that the campaign would release details of the healthcare plan by the Iowa caucuses. He also fired back at Clinton accusing her of abandoning support for universal health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF WEAVER, SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The question is, are we as a country going to guarantee health care to all people. This has been a goal of Democrats and the Democratic Party since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Harry Truman, Lyndon Baines Johnson, this has been a traditional democratic issue and it`s just unfortunate that the secretary now apparently has abandoned her support for universal health care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: Healthcare reform has been a key issue for Hillary Clinton since she tried and failed the past reform. As First Lady, more than 20 years ago.

All right. Let`s bring in our panel right now, so this issue that Bernie Sanders is pushing, is this a winning issue? I think David wants to jump in on this one.

CORN: Hillary is on the wrong side of this issue, at least for a democratic primary contest. Universal health care, you mentioned that Ted Kennedy and others have long fought for this. And to sort of try to use that sort of goal of progressives against Bernie Sanders, when you`re running for the democratic primary is wrong. And I think Chelsea earlier in this week said things that demonstrably untrue, if not untrue demagogue, saying that Bernie Sanders wants to throw millions of people off health care. No, it`s about transitioning to a new system. You can argue about this policy wise, but when they`re attacking Bernie for his motives and saying that he doesn`t know what he`s talking about on health care in front of this audience, it shows I think unfortunately a certain level of desperation on the Clintonian side. And I just don`t see how this is a winning play for them, it`s only going to fire up the Bernie people.

LUI: It`s been said it`s not a winning issue for either side that you`re talking about the primary side.

CORN: Both --

(CROSSTALK)

CENTER: Yes, so I think in Hillary`s case, she`s a realist, I mean, she`s tried to do this many times, and I think this is really where Hillary is as a candidate, she is not this super Liberal candidate in the race, news flash since where she is, and I think she veered to far to the left, every time she has already, she`s been declared inauthentic and those, she came out against TPP (ph), against the Keystone Pipeline, all of those things. And she is worried to come out supporting single payer health care, it would look like a total play to the party`s -- she is not where she is.

CORN: But she doesn`t have to support it. But attacking Bernie for saying, he wants to throw millions of people of people off health care because he`s in favor of single payer, that`s what disingenuous, and that`s wrong.

LUI: And he attacking her for questioning how to pay for it at least at this moment, I mean, from the Republican perspective, you must be licking your chops, Khan. This is just --

CORN: Well, it`s no secret that the affordable, you know, health care act has had its challenges, and there`s no doubt of course Republicans want to repeal it and replace it with more free market base system. But for liberal voters, in the Iowa caucus, there`s no doubt that single payer has been the dream. And for Bernie to embrace that, that`s no doubt a winning strategy. And as been said, in Iowa, the democratic voters are much more liberal, much more populist in nature and that`s why Bernie is catching up to Hillary about --

LUI: Just details about the Bernie Sanders plan, just for our viewers here. A hundred and seventeen billion dollars contributed by the top five percent of earners, $126 billion contributed by the rest of taxpayers, $599 billion there, almost $600 billion short of what the U.S. spent on health care in 2013. All sorts of ideas about how to pay for this. But --

CORN: I mean, the basic idea is that you pay more in taxes but you don`t pay or your employer doesn`t pay insurance premiums, so, and you cut out the insurance companies. And it took a Medicare system for all. And you can debate whether this is right or wrong or whether it`s politically realistic or not. But for Hillary to use it as, you know, as a baseball bat against Bernie and say that he wants to throw millions of people off health care because of this, that`s what`s wrong, and I`m not -- I don`t want to take sides in this campaign --

LUI: Yes, don`t do that.

CORN: -- but when Chelsea was doing that, I just said, this is the old Clinton strategy. You know, being thuggish and it just doesn`t work in these small primaries.

LUI: Shira, does this work in the primary, last word? This very issue, is this going to resonate?

CENTER: I think it will work better in Iowa than it will in New Hampshire. Iowa does have more urban, well, Des Moines, OK, is an urban center, that`s where the party`s base is in the Hawkeye State. I think New Hampshire, the voters, the smaller state, I think the party tends to be just a little bit more to the center, I don`t think it plays as well there.

LUI: Well, so be it those numbers right before the Iowa caucuses -- what our producer was saying.

All right. Our panel is going to stay with us of course, a program reminder, the democratic candidates will be debating tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern on NBC.

Turning next to last night`s big breaking story of another terror attack, this time in the West African nation of Burkina Faso where militants with ties to Al Qaeda have attacked the hotel popular with westerners there. We`ll have the latest on the other side of this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: We`re following the breaking news overnight out of the West African nation of Burkina Faso which is just south of Mali and North of Ghana. Al Qaeda linked militants stormed a hotel and cafe popular with westerners overnight killing 23 people according to the nation`s president. That attack lasting for hours with 150 people rescued just a short time ago.

NBC`s Kelly Cobiella has found the very latest for us from London. Kelly, what is the latest on the standoff?

KELLY COBIELLA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, the standoff is over but there are reports this morning that government forces with the help of the French are still looking for attackers, at least they were well after the siege ended. With a hundred people from 18 different countries were rescued this morning after a terrifying night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COBIELLA (voice-over): Outside the splendid hotel in Ouagadougou, cars in flames. And the sound of gun fire. For hours overnight, militants held hostages while government forces tried to break the siege. The assault began Friday evening with at least four attackers opening fire at a cafe, then storming the four-star hotel. This woman was in the cafe meeting friends from the U.S. We dropped to the ground she says, and as soon as anyone raised their head, the gunmen fired at them. We had to play dead, they shook people by the foot to see if they were alive or not and if they were alive, they shot them.

This man says, the first police and government forces on the scene turned around and laughed. Overnight French Special Forces were sent in to help from neighboring Mali and by morning, the siege at the splendid hotel was over. A hundred twenty six hostages freed, dozens injured. And at least four militants dead. This morning government forces are still searching for attackers in the area and the death toll is rising.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COBIELLA: And the government says that fourth militant was actually killed at a nearby hotel this morning. According to Burkina Faso`s president, two of the attackers were women. Al Qaeda in the Maghreb had claimed responsibility, that`s the same terror group that attacks the Radisson Blu in Mali a week after the Paris attacks in November, 20 killed in that attack. And Richard, we spoke with the State Department this morning, we were told the embassy in Ouagadougou is making every effort to account for U.S. citizens in this city, but Richard, it`s still unclear if any Americans were injured or killed.

LUI: Thank you, Kelly. NBC`s Kelly Cobiella live in London with the latest on that story for us. I appreciate it.

Now to what`s been another tumultuous week on Wall Street. You probably saw the breaking news banners. The Dow closing down early, 400 points, nearly 400 points yesterday, the Dow and S&P, down about eight percentage points for the year, the NASDAQ down more than 10 percentage points which striving the plunge, and is there concern for panic here?

Here to answer those questions, hopefully, CNBC contributor Ron Insana. I say that Ron because you know, you and I have talked about just throughout the years, and the point that you made and I must remind folks here, on what you were saying, very early in 2015, watch China. Is this what this is all about this past week again?

RON INSANA, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s largely about China. China had a very rough end to the week, Richard, the stock market there fell almost three percent, it`s back into a so-called bear market, it`s declined 20 percent from its most recent peak. China`s economy is slowing and that`s putting a lot of pressure on emerging market countries that depend on China for growth, it`s putting a lot of pressure on commodity prices like oil where we have a supplied --

LUI: Right.

INSANA: -- already and we have China weakening so that drove oil below $30 a barrel which in turn weaken the stock market there.

LUI: And Iran coming online as well. Maybe that in terms to the market right now, as we look forward to the next week or so. OK. Are you worried?

INSANA: Well, you know, it`s our business, you know, not to worry. It really, you know --

LUI: Go ahead, Ron, I`ll allow you to. Go ahead.

INSANA: Well, I think this is going to be a tough year, I think the stock market, you know, does have further vulnerability here at home and around the world. I think the global economy is weaker than people realize. And I think the Federal Reserve which already started raising rates may ultimately have to unlined this process because not only --

LUI: Right.

INSANA: -- can the global economy suffer if the fed raises rates further, but I think it would slow the U.S. economy too.

LUI: OK. I want to talk to you more, and I have to go. Just yes or no and I hate to do this to you but, the worst recession, the 2008 or not?

INSANA: No, no.

LUI: OK.

INSANA: Not here, maybe in China.

LUI: All right. CNBC contributor Ron Insana, always a pleasure, I think we`re talking to you next hour, so thank you again for stopping by.

Up next, how will the country`s fastest growing demographic vote in this year`s election and will it be the swing vote candidates are looking for?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every day how blessed we were to live in this country. Growing up in the rural south, my family didn`t look like our neighbors and we didn`t have much. There were times that were tough. But we had each other. And we had the opportunity to do anything, to be anything, as long as we were willing to work for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley there speaking of her South Asian heritage while delivering the Republican response to the President`s State of the Union Address. That happened on Tuesday as you remember. Asian- Americans, the fast growing electorate in the nation as has been said, with the number of registered voters expected to be more than double by the year 2040. But candidates are not waiting until then to tap into this voting bloc. Wednesday, Hillary Clinton unveiled an Asian American Pacific Islander Leadership Council. More than 150 elected officials and community leaders supporting her campaign. Part of the efforts she wants last week to court the AAPI voting group.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I want to thank all of the Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders, activists, volunteers and organizers who are here today supporting my campaign who will be by my side as we go through the primary process, and then we bring home a big win in November of 2016.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Reversing trends, Asian Americans as you look at this line chart here have been voting increasingly democratic in presidential elections recently. Only 31 percent of Asian American Pacific Islanders voted for Bill Clinton in `92. And figure as you see more than double to 73 percent for Obama in 2012. But in last year`s midterms, the Asian American Pacific Islander vote was split between evenly just about between Democrats and Republicans. So what can we expect this year from the nation`s fastest growing demographic?

Joining us right now, Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of California Riverside. So Karthick, you`ve just put out a new report and you`re looking into 2012 and the data specific to candidates swaying certain swing states.

KARTHICK RAMAKRISHNAN, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, RIVERSIDE: Actually thank you for having me, Richard. So, looking ahead at 2016, we probably can expect like in 2012, states like Nevada and Virginia, now there are states that people might not typically think of states where there are a lot of Asian-Americans, but in fact, there`s a significant group of Asian- Americans there and they are growing pretty fast and we know in the last couple of election cycles, that elections tend to be very close in these states, so these tends to be very hard fought. And there`s a lot of -- that we saw in 2012, in these two states. At Florida, North Carolina, Colorado --

LUI: Right.

RAMAKRISHNAN: I think Asian Americans will have potentially more impact now than we did in 2012.

LUI: All right. So, I was looking at the numbers you have there. The question might be then, OK, where are they trending? 2014, recent midterms are showing they went more to the right during the 2012 and 2008 elections, they went more to the left. What do we seeing for 2016? Are they following Latino-American and African-American trends?

RAMAKRISHNAN: It`s probably one of the biggest questions heading in the cycle. So, if you look at the trend over the last 20 years, it seems pretty clear that they`re shifting and shifting pretty solidly toward the Democratic Party. 2014 is a bit of a -- it`s a bit of a tossup because midterm elections tend to be low turnout affairs, and certainly was true last time, so less than a third of Asian-Americans voted in the 2014 elections. And we knew going into it that Republicans were much more enthusiastic than Democrats on it. So, what will it be this time around?

I think the key what you saw with Hillary Clinton is to try to drive up enthusiasm among Asian-American voters to try to get out the democratic or democratic leaning voters.

LUI: Yes, so --

RAMAKRISHNAN: At the same time --

LUI: Yes, go ahead.

RAMAKRISHNAN: Yes. But you have people like Jason Chong and others at the Republican National Committee who have been doing outreach efforts after 2012. You have the growth and opportunity report --

LUI: Right.

RAMAKRISHNAN: -- and after that, you have had a lot of efforts to try to run local candidates and to grow the party in places like Southern California, in places like Northern Virginia.

LUI: Right. You`ve got Jason Chong from RNC -- from the DNC as well and our panel is here as well. Jeb Bush, you know, made this comment after 2012, look at this group, because it was one of the first to say it, the canary in the coal mine.

CORN: The panel is here --

LUI: The panel is here.

CORN: My question would be, are there any sort of sets of issues that appeal more to this group or somewhat more to this group than others? So, if you`re trying, if you`re in the RNC or the DNC or Hillary Clinton to attract them, is there a way to do that?

RAMAKRISHNAN: Well -- (audio gap)

LUI: It looks like we lost the -- OK, there we go. Go ahead. Go ahead Karthick, we lost your audio for a second.

RAMAKRISHNAN: OK, no problem. So one of the issues that we know typically is consistent among Asian-American voters and it is just things like the economy and the jobs is education. So that is an issue that both parties could try to drum up support among Asian-Americans in terms of their outreach. But the key is to try to figure out what is it about education. We know that Asian-American voters, they saw it on the surveys that we have done and others have done care about things like colleges debt, affordable higher education and good quality public education when it comes to K-12. So what can both sides offer in terms of improving educational opportunities will be important to see. Another issue is health care, and this is where it might be a bit of a challenge for Republicans in 2016.

LUI: Right.

RAMAKRISHNAN: Asian-Americans supported the Affordable Care Act. When we asked about it back in 2008, they supported universal health care across the board among Asian-American groups, so if someone is going to run on a platform of repealing ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act, I`m not sure how well that`s going to play with the Asian-American population.

LUI: And so, on the other side of the ledger, there is also -- the Republican stance is that it related to the economy and smaller government which also this group cares about. Yet they don`t come out to vote, and there`s a new fund that came out, the AQI (ph) victory fund, that`s hoping to get them to come out to vote. They hope to invest millions of dollars to try to get this to happen.

To our panel here, is it just about money along with these issues?

KHAN: It`s a combination of the two. Just as been said by the Professor, you have, they may not be large nationally, but Asian-Americans make up key demographic and key states like Virginia, like California. And what I would love to know more if the Professor can comment, was there also any study on the donor habits of the Asian-American community. Because there`s no secret that Asian-Americans are very successful, have very high per capita income in United States and so, has there been a reflection in the giving of Asian-American donors to both parties.

LUI: Karthick, go quickly because I want to get to Shira.

RAMAKRISHNAN: Sure. So, what we have seen from our survey datas, giving rates are about the same as they are for non-Hispanic whites. But the key questions is where they giving the money to. And there`s ongoing research including research that my team is doing at, you see Riverside, to see where those giving patterns are headed. But there`s going to be a lot of interests as we saw with the creation of this victory fund.

LUI: I got it. Shira?

CENTER: So my question would be, what is the socioeconomic bracket for this population? And is there a different in between Virginia, Nevada and Arizona, are they well off or not? Yes.

RAMAKRISHNAN: Well, the thing is, what we have seen is that even among the well-off Asian-American groups, they tend to support bigger government, more taxes, more spending. And so in many ways, if you look at that slice of the population, people might be surprise to think why would a high income group support higher taxes. Well, there are other groups like this. So if you look at Jewish-American voters, among higher income Jewish American voters, they support higher taxes, more government spending to social safety net. So even though class matters when it comes to voting patterns, there`s actually a pretty good consistency in terms of even among higher income brackets people supporting the Democratic Party.

LUI: We`ll have to live it there. Karthick Ramakrishnan from UC Riverside. Thank you for joining us this morning on MSNBC. And you can find out more on this story at NBCNews.com and NBC Asian America.

Thank you so much, sir. And our panel as always. Reminder, the democratic candidates debate tomorrow night on some of the issues. That was brought up in this last segment, 9:00 Eastern on NBC.

This is a potentially historic day around the world with an Iran nuclear deal set to take effect sometime this weekend. What will happen after this takes effect? We`ll take a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: Developing this morning, with the official countdown with the Iran nuclear deal now underway set to be implemented today, once the United Nations certifies Iran`s compliance in scaling back its nuclear program.

Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Vienna last hour and he`s getting ready to make the official announcement that the deal has indeed began. Now Iran`s foreign minister is ready for it, tweeting this morning, quote, "#implementationday. It`s now time for all especially Muslim nations to join hands and rid the world of violent extremism. Iran is ready." End quote.

Joining us now from Vienna is NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Richard, Secretary Kerry is just arrived. You`re there. What do we expect to happen today? We have already laid out some of what we think.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Secretary Kerry is here, he has met his Iranian counterpart, the State Department tweeted a photograph of their meeting. What we`re expecting next is the International Atomic Energy Association Agency is going to come out and we think quite soon, make an announcement saying that Iran has in fact met its obligations, scaled back its nuclear program in line with the agreement that was signed this summer. Paving the way for sanctions immediately to be lifted. So the choreography is, the podiums by the way here are already set up. We`re supposed to hear from the IAEA first, then Kerry, an EU representative and the Iranian official will come out, make statements unclear, probably not take questions, although they might.

And then at that stage, they will sign a series of documents and the money should begin to flow. This will allow Iran access to tens of billions of dollars that have been frozen internationally because of sanctions that have been put in place. It will allow Iran to engage in international commerce, to get back on the swift code system, which allows banks to move money in and out of Iran, it allows Iran to trade on the international commodities exchange, particularly the oil and gas exchange. So for Iran, this is a significant moment, a changing of its economy potentially. And for the U.S. State Department, this is an incredibly significant, perhaps even the most important day diplomatically of the Obama administration. It`s key diplomatic achievement so far has been this Iran deal and today could be we expect implementation day.

LUI: After many months of work on it. Thank you so much to NBC`s Richard Engel in Vienna, I appreciate that.

Up next for you, the lawsuit in which a widow is blaming twitter for her husband`s death in a terrorist attack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: Now to a new front in the fight against ISIS. A Florida woman is suing twitter after her husband was killed in a terrorist attack claiming the company knowingly allowed the extremist group to use its social network to spread their terrorist message.

Our NBC affiliate in the San Francisco Bay area KNTV has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): In November of last year, Lloyd Carl Fields of Florida was killed while training police officers in Amman, Jordan. Shot by one of the officers he was training. ISIS has claimed credit for the killing. The lawsuit filed on behalf of Fields` widow in federal court in San Francisco alleges, "For years, twitter has knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda raising funds and attracting new recruits." The lawsuit alleges ISIS operates 70,000 twitter accounts.

TERRY CONNELLY, GOLDEN GATE UNIVERSITY: Can this case go to the jury on the issue of culpability?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Terry Connelly, attorney and dean emeritus at the school of business at Golden Gate University points to the anti-terrorism act of 1992 and says, proving twitter was merely negligent will not be enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some form of recklessness akin to giving a loaded gun to a child which is the exact framing that one federal judge did here. In a similar case is going to have to be shown.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A twitter spokesperson says the lawsuit is without merit and we have teams around to the world actively investigating reports of rule violations, identifying violating conduct, partnering with organizations countering extremist content online and working with law enforcement entities when appropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You haven`t got a preexisting legal finding that twitter was complicit. And so I think it`s going to be a tough case.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LUI: Again our NBC affiliate KNTV with that report. Let`s bring in Cal Perry, MSNBC senior editor of video and digital content. I was talking with the former CEO Dick Costolo about this very issues. These formations of campaigns, but they didn`t know necessarily what the exact answer is, is this going to take -- does this have some legs, this case?

CAL PERRY, MSNBC SENIOR EDITOR OF VIDEO AND DIGITAL CONTENT: Probably not, the Communications Decency Act passed 1996 will probably cover twitter and the thing that people sort of have talked about the act when it came into fruition in `96 wasn`t like holding the post office akin for what`s in the mail.

LUI: Right.

PERRY: It`s covered because it`s an open platform. Because it`s put out there, twitter is covered by what`s in there as far as the lawsuit is concerned. But there`s a bigger question here, right? Which is how is the U.S. government going to counter ISIS and what they`re able to do online, their ability to recruit and their ability to put this stuff out there.

LUI: Yes. In that light, there is what the government might do, should underneath the Patriot Act or other laws. And then there is what should businesses be doing, you brought up the example of a quasi-governmental group, the U.S. postal service, but we have all sorts of distribution channels or these potential messages are going out.

PERRY: Right. And keep in mind, we`re living in the post Snowden hangover era still. Right? So, these companies don`t really want to come across like they`re being too active with the U.S. government. But we have to remember they`re meeting with the U.S. government on a regular basis, they met last week with the group of individual assent from the President to talk to Silicon Valley and they`re talking about two things, how do they monitor this online, do it better and how do they help the U.S. government with the tech part of it.

LUI: This is the White House task force we`re talking about?

PERRY: Yes. And it needs to cross on any levels, there needs to be a concerted effort and there is within the U.S. international broadcasting system for example, to counter this stuff over the airwaves, that the U.S. government is putting out, and there needs to be a tech push as well. And we`re seeing to the tech push now big-time.

LUI: Yes. And a lot of reaction to this one case that we`re reporting on.

OK. Thank you so much. MSNBC`s Cal Perry, we appreciate this always. Cal Perry will again will be back next hour.

PERRY: If you need me, I`m here. As always, sir.

LUI: All right. Coming up, we`ll take you live to South Carolina where the democratic candidates are getting ready for tomorrow`s debate on NBC. Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: Bernie Sanders is gaining ground.

(MUSIC)

LUI: And thanks for staying with us this Saturday morning. I`m Richard Lui.

With all eyes focused on Iowa and New Hampshire, what happens after the first two contests? We`ll take a look at how Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are preparing for a very long fight.

Plus, what impact might the new movie about Benghazi have on the Democratic race.

Also this hour, Ted Cruz in the spotlight. But with the added attention, comes a new scrutiny of the Texas Republican.

There are new details on the breaking news overnight, as al Qaeda gunmen storm a West African hotel popular with westerners.

And the growing outrage in the Latino community about the Obama administration`s raids targeting undocumented immigrants. Those details coming up.

But we begin this second hour in Charleston, South Carolina, where the three Democratic candidates for president will face off in tomorrow`s NBC News debate, the final debate before voting begins in just two weeks.

Bernie Sanders has managed to climb within digits of Clinton in Iowa. The latest poll showing Sanders and Clinton in a statistical dead heat. And in New Hampshire, our most recent NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll shows Sanders with a 4-point lead, also a statistical dead heat.

On Thursday, NBC`s Rachel Maddow asked Clinton about the tightening race in Iowa. This is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a much better organization than I did back in `08. We have a very significant core of committed supporters. And that`s the caucus really officially ends up counting. Who will come out on February 1st? I feel very good. Now, that doesn`t mean I`m not going to work like crazy to reach as many people as I possibly can, because that`s what I`m doing, that`s what I will be doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: This week, Clinton and her campaign have attacked Sanders` record on gun control, and his single payer health care proposal. They`ve also questioned whether the senator broke his pledge never to run a negative ad.

Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign has reportedly received donations at four times the normal daily rate since the end of 2015 after months of strong fundraising.

Joining me now for more on the Democratic race, from the site of tomorrow`s debate, is NBC campaign embed Monica Alba.

Monica, you`ve been following the Clinton campaign now for a better part of six, seven months. What`s the mood going into the debate this weekend that you`ve seen there being with the campaign?

MONICA ALBA, NBC NEWS: Well, Richard, these latest polls as you mentioned certainly give them reason to be anxious and nervous. The candidate herself has said all week long that she`s actually not nervous at all and feels good. She also said even on Jimmy Fallon this week that the once formidable lead she had over Senator Sanders was really artificial.

But you can definitely tell from a shift in strategy, something has changed and they are appearing to grow more nervous. There`s a couple of things you have to look at here.

First, Clinton as you showed, she was on Rachel Maddow, she was on "MORNING JOE", she was on Fallon this week. She`s ramped up her media appearances, which is something she wasn`t doing as much at the beginning of her campaign.

And they`ve also really ramped the surrogate game. Bill and Chelsea Clinton both hitting the trail in Iowa and in New Hampshire for her. And as you mentioned they have dialed up the attacks against Bernie Sanders, which campaign officials tell me is the way they can most make a contrast between the two, but which is also the clear about the anxiety about the state of the race.

LUI: I want to get to the panel in just a second here, Monica. But one of the things that were brought up by David Corn is that they`re putting former President Bill Clinton perhaps a little bit earlier than they had plan to.

What`s your sense of the timing of things and how they may be accelerating what they originally had planned? And just because I can, another part of the question is, the youth vote, and in our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll, it showed that she`s struggling with that, even she`s saying she`s got a strong core.

ALBA: Absolutely. She is struggling with that younger vote, the millennial vote. They`re trying to do things like bring Lena Dunham out on the campaign trail. And just next week, Demi Lovato, the pop singer, is going to be joining her in Iowa as well. So, this is something that they are truly working on.

It is true that they brought out Bill and Chelsea a little bit earlier than anticipated. And as we saw this week, Chelsea got into it criticizing senator Sanders. So, we have seen this ramped up, we have seen this going in with a little over two weeks to Iowa, they are fully game on and they know they kind of have to give it their all with so little time until the first votes are cast.

LUI: Monica, thank you so much for your reporting there, an embed with the Clinton campaign, really appreciate your perspective. It gives us a lot to talk about with our panel.

"Boston Globe" political editor, Shira Center, former George W. Bush administration official and now a senior fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement, Suhail Khan, and MSNBC political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones", David Corn. I`d tried to get that (INAUDIBLE)

CORN: You did a good job.

LUI: Yes, running through it, guys.

So, David, since, you know, I was quoting you there, she`s saying, yes, they are moving faster than they wanted to.

CORN: I have to believe that they would have loved to sail through the primaries without calling on Bill Clinton. I think he -- he`s certainly an asset to Democratic voters, I think he`s an asset to most voters but there`s certainly controversy about his past and if you don`t have to deal without, you know, why.

So, doing that, bringing Chelsea out as sort of an attack agent against Bernie also was kind of surprising, because she -- that wasn`t her image before hand. I got a lot of Twitter hate for saying that they were thuggish.

I do think her attacks on Bernie Sanders saying that he wants to throw millions of people off health care are disingenuous, you can have a real serious argument about whether you can implement single-payer, whether it`s the best way to go or not. But they`ve really been attacking Bernie Sanders motives and make it sound like he wants to break the health care system rather than move to a Democratic ideal, and that I think is a sign of desperation.

LUI: All right. So, I want to pull up one chart for "The Washington Post". Clinton losing her national lead faster than she did in 2008. You look at these two line charts together.

CENTER: Wow.

CORN: Wow.

LUI: The question is it too early to be looking at these sorts of these numbers, right? We have two candidates. One is Barack Obama, he`s different than Bernie Sanders. This is a different year, too, certainly as many have said.

CENTER: Yes, I think we are getting to the stage of the campaign where expectations are going to matter more than those poll numbers. So, there`s a situation I can envision here where she goes in as the underdog in both Iowa and New Hampshire and if she gets within a point or two of Bernie Sanders, she floats on to South Carolina.

CORN: The comeback kid.

CENTER: She`s the comeback kid. It`s ridiculous for someone who a year ago was the presumptive frontrunner, was going to win the White House. But this could very well happen.

LUI: Suhail, that`s good for her being the underdog, right?

KHAN: She would never be the underdog. She`s got the machine behind her. She`s feeling the Bern --

LUI: What about the scenario that Shira is laying out for us?

KHAN: If anybody, it`s the Larry David of politics and that`s Bernie. He`s bringing on the heat there. He`s kind of the anti-politician, even though he`s been in Washington, D.C. for so long, he`s been an outsider. And let`s face it, on both sides of the aisle, voters want an outside candidate who`s raging against the machine, and that`s Bernie.

CORN: The interesting question, though, is the Democratic electorate changes a lot after Iowa and New Hampshire. The other states of large African-American, you know, in bigger states where you do the retail politics, and so if she should happen to lose Iowa and New Hampshire by whatever amounts, you know, does the sort of the game -- the game on the ground change to her advantage?

CENTER: But that`s her to win South Carolina?

LUI: But bringing in the Bill Clinton machine earlier, what does it say about her ability and the criticism has been her ability to identify, and we mentioned the youth vote. But the voters outside of that base she was - -

CORN: It`s not just millennials as Monica mentioned. It`s under 45, one poll showed under 45, she was down two to one votes. But above, she`s ahead two to one votes. So, she`s going to have to find a way eventually.

LUI: Is Bill Clinton the answer?

CORN: I don`t know --

KHAN: I don`t think, you know, Bill Clinton, again, would be somebody that might help in a general election, but right now, folks are looking for a little more authentic voice, and Bernie is addressing that issue, and that really is going to hurt Hillary with the debate being tomorrow, up against two NFL playoff games and "Downton Abbey" --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: DVR.

LUI: DVR is what I would say.

CENTER: I would say Bill Clinton does help, certainly more than he hurts, but he does help in states like New Hampshire, but he has this history of being the come back kid, especially in South Carolina. Bill Clinton has made two trips to New Hampshire this month. We sent reporters to both events, the last one was on Wednesday night, it was in Hanover, New Hampshire, where Dartmouth College is.

And the reporter was asking many young people in the crowd what they thought of Bill Clinton. They`re like, well, I think he`s intriguing because he`s a former president. None of that thinking nostalgic, they totally are oblivious to all of that.

LUI: So, one of the things we should look back to is 2008, though, it may not be too late in terms of that dynamic that you all three were talking about, and her ability to connect with voters.

CORN: I had an interesting conversation with a Bernie Sanders strategist and I said, you know, basically what`s going on? Because in November and December the conventional wisdom was that she was ahead and she was there to say. He said, what I think is that there is an exponential emotional bond between Bernie and his voters, and they may say that about Trump and his voters, that Hillary has not been able to capture.

She does it with some groups, obviously older women over 45. She has that bond. They have that experience together, a generational experience.

But she hasn`t been able to do that with anybody else. But Bernie people, whether they`re young or old, they feel a connection.

LUI: And you gasped when I brought up the fundraising with Bernie Sanders and he`s quadrupled those numbers, because that`s certainly an indication of that energy.

KHAN: Popular support, absolutely.

And the other thing to realize that since 2008, Hillary has a new record that Americans are remembering, first you have Benghazi, which is now a movie in major theaters, which is going to detail what happened there. And whether you follow all the detail of what happened there and what decisions are made, in the end, you know, she was in charge and four Americans were dead.

And then, of course, you have the e-mail challenge, and the details keep trickling out day after day and week after week.

CENTER: But Democratic voters don`t care about the e-mail.

KHAN: It still goes to her credibility.

CORN: Benghazi, too. She`s not mentioned in the film, it`s a bum rap that she`s responsible for that. The movie says there`s nothing she could have done different, you know, that would have --

KHAN: If you`re explaining, you`re losing.

LUI: That segment is coming up, David.

CORN: OK.

LUI: Hang tight, my friends.

CORN: I put --

LUI: Don`t do that fully though.

Program reminder, Democratic candidates will debate tomorrow night 9:00 Eastern, right here on NBC. We`ll be watching along with you.

Up next, is Ted Cruz about to find himself under even more intense scrutiny and how he will handle the new onslaught of attacks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: As we have been talking about this morning, "The Washington Post" reporting this morning, Republican Party leaders beginning to believe and accept the race for the party`s presidential nomination down to just Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, time running out for an establishment candidate to emerge. That`s what the reporting.

Ted Cruz has been rising in the polls in order to challenge Donald Trump. But with the added visibility has come some new scrutiny, beginning with questions about natural born citizenship and whether Cruz who was born in Canada is eligible to run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democrats are going to be bringing a suit, you have a big lawsuit over your head while you`re running and if you become the nominee, who the hell knows if you can even serve in office.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Back in September, my friend Donald said he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there, there was nothing to this birther issue. Now, since September, the Constitution hasn`t changed. But the poll numbers have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: That was definitely a laugh line. Thursday`s debate also reflecting questions about Ted Cruz and his ties to Wall Street. He was grilled over not disclosing a loan from Goldman Sachs where his wife worked during his 2012 Senate bid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: The entire "New York Times" attack is that I disclosed that loan on one filing with the United States Senate, that was a public filing, but it was not on a second filing with the FEC. Both of those filings were public, and yes, I made a paper work error disclosing it on one piece of paper instead of the other. But if that`s the best hit that "The New York Times" has got, they better go back to the well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: Let`s talk about Marco Rubio, also hitting Cruz over his record on immigrant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ted Cruz, you used to sigh you supported doubling the number of green cards, now you say you`re against its. You used to support legalizing people that were here illegally, now you say you`re against it. You used to say you were in favor of birth right citizenship, now you say you are against it. By the way, it`s not just on immigration.

CRUZ: I appreciate you dumping your oppo research told folder on the debate stage.

RUBIO: No, it`s your record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: Joining us now to discuss the added scrutiny of Ted Cruz, "Washington Post" political reporter, MSNBC political analyst, Robert Costa, who wrote this morning`s article about Republican Party leaders.

What you mentioned at the top here, Robert, fearing that the time is running out. Now, you were earlier reporting, a couple of weeks back, that they were certainly looking at a contested convention, and now you`re saying, OK, let`s look past the establishment and they`re focusing nearly on Cruz and Trump at the moment.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s a phase of acceptance, my colleague Phillip Rucker and I, reported on the GOP donors, the major players in the financial community starting to think that this is becoming perhaps a two-person race between Senator Cruz and Donald Trump. And as that becomes a reality in American politics, they`re trying to see how they can fit in.

LUI: Why are they saying that?

COSTA: They look at the polls. They look at the past debate. The past debates especially in South Carolina. They`re watching to see, could a mainstream establishment favorite, a Chris Christie or Marco Rubio, have a breakout moment. And the consensus among many donors is that none of those candidates had one of those breakout moments and they`re still packed together and trying to get political oxygen.

LUI: You`ve first asked Trump about Cruz`s birthplace and it`s taken a life of its own, certainly. Is Cruz in trouble on this issue with the base?

COSTA: So far, Cruz has endured Donald Trump`s attacks, and we see Trump as being relentless as far as going after Cruz. He woke earlier this morning if you go on Trump`s Twitter, and he`s going after Senator Cruz on the Goldman-Sachs loans, on the Canadian birth.

And so, Trump is non-stop with these. In the past, this has hurt candidates, like Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator or Ben Carson, when they have these kind of nonstop attacks. But Cruz has a lot of political capital with conservatives, he`s popular and they trust him. So, he may be able to endure this.

LUI: I want to get to the panel on this question, but first play Trump on Cruz`s attack on New York values and then we`ll get the response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: I think most people know exactly what New York values are.

MODERATOR: I am from New York.

CRUZ: You`re from New York, so you might not. But I promise you in the state of the South Carolina they do.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. And the people in New York fought and fought and fought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: "The New York Daily News" got in on this debate with the headline. The next day, Cruz responded last night to New Yorkers demanding an apology. Take a listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio have all demanded an apology. And I`m happy to apologize.

I apologize to the millions of New Yorkers who have been let down by liberal politicians in that state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: All right. Joining Robert Costa is our panel here.

So, he kind of step in it there when he went there during the debate. Donald Trump just walked in and walked through the door.

CORN: The question is, he`s playing to a particular slice of the Republican electorate. Evangelical voters, people who feel they have been culturally ostracized, they don`t like gay marriage, they hate abortion, and they look at New York as part of the cultural elite that looks down upon these people.

LUI: Yes.

CORN: So, I`m not sure it hurts him with his people. I think it makes him look like a horrendous human being, but that`s just my view. It might help him in Iowa and certainly South Carolina.

But that was one of the few times in the campaign when Trump seemed to be genuine, showed some emotion, talked about something bigger than himself. Granted there isn`t much that`s bigger than Donald Trump, I know that. So it gave Trump a way to almost look human, so I think they both kind of won in terms of their own audiences on that.

LUI: Yes.

KHAN: There`s no doubt that Cruz is getting under Trump`s skin, he`s catching up to him and that, you know, Trump may have responded genuinely as a New Yorker. But just as David said, this is going to help Cruz in Iowa, it`s going to help Cruz in New Hampshire, it`s going to help in South Carolina.

He`s not running an election right now. He`s running state by state and this is going to help him among voters who are not particularly fond of Trump of what they see as elites on either coast of our country.

LUI: A long term hurt, Shira, or do you agree with the other two?

CENTER: I think that phrase right there might be why Ted Cruz could not win the White House. That kind of phrase plays very well on a Republican base. People in Iowa nodding along when they say him say New York values like that.

But in the general election, I`m not saying a Republican doesn`t stand a chance in the Electoral College in New York, OK, that`s not what I`m saying. But those kinds of phrases, that`s why he`s such a partisan and divisive figure, because he says things like that that really divide the party.

CORN: And the way he apologized makes him looking really mean. The smug, again, to his people, yes, you stuck it to them again. They`re going to like that.

But he has very little appeal, I think personally or politically, ideologically beyond that base. They will take him in the Republican primary, but I`m not sure America wants that.

LUI: If we look at Trump and Cruz -- back to you, Robert -- the final word is, you know, the rules meeting or the meeting about rules I should say in the Republican Party, looking forward towards the convention and it`s consistent with your reporting about it boiling down to these two non- establishment if you will, candidates, and that`s the debate right now, isn`t it? What came from that meeting that might show that the party, the Republican Party is concerned?

COSTA: There is a lot of concern among Republican National Committee members, because the idea that this convention if it`s contested would be brokered in some kind of back room is just not how it will probably unfold, because these delegates on a second ballot, should they become unbound, if no gets the majority in the first ballot, there`s really no direction from the party at this point. They would be just unbound delegates on the convention floor and it could be chaos in Cleveland.

LUI: All right. So, the panel saying earlier, Paul Ryan. So, we`ll see what happens.

Robert Costa, thank you so much, from "The Washington Post". Appreciate it.

COSTA: Thank you.

LUI: Up next, Wall Street`s brutal start to 2016. Is it a sign that we might be on the brink of another recession?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: We`re following breaking news this morning out of the West African nation of Burkina Faso, where 150 hostages have been freed after al Qaeda militants attacked a hotel popular with westerners. At least 23 people were killed in the deadly siege, dozens more injured.

The country`s president also saying four extremists were also killed including two women. The victims were reportedly from 18 different nationalities, though it is still unclear if any Americans are among the dead or injured.

We now turn to what has been a very volatile start of the year for Wall Street and your 401(k). CNBC.com warning a recession worse than 2008 is possibly coming. The Dow and S&P are down 8 percentage points for the year. The NASDAQ is even worse.

We`re joined by CNBC contributor Ron Insana.

But one reason to look up right here, Ron, is that the debt to income, the household debt to income ratio is not nearly as bad as it was in 2008. Meaning, the average household doesn`t have as much debt as it did before.

INSANA: Yes, nor does the U.S. government and in some instances, Richard, neither do U.S. corporations, although they have borrowed heavily to buy back stocks and increase their dividends over the last several years.

The balance sheet generally of the United States is considerably better than it was. The economy is less levered. The banks have more capital, less leverage.

And so, we`re not quite as vulnerable to a 2008 style experience as maybe some other parts of the world where the credit cycle has decidedly turned downward particularly in places like China and emerging markets. So, if there`s going to be a 2008 style event, it`s more likely to emanate from outside our shores than within. But that doesn`t mean we won`t be affected.

LUI: Oil down below $30 a barrel. That was the big headline on CNBC, wasn`t it? Breaking news, breaking news, all morning and all afternoon on Friday. When do you think the window opens up where every day American families say, oh, we have made it through the woods on this latest downturn?

INSANA: Well, you know, it`s hard to say. I mean, I anticipate that the markets may have more downside to go, I think oil means that more people will have more disposable income with gasoline prices now falling towards $1.50 a gallon. At least for unleaded regular. And we`ve seen restaurant sales respond accordingly, but not so the rest of the economy.

So I think it`s going to be a little bit more volatility for a while and then we`re going to have to settle in and see what the real economy looks like before we can make a judgment about to the stock market.

LUI: OK, thank you so much, Ron Insana. Appreciate that.

All right. The letter more than 100 Democrats sent to President Obama just hours before his State of the Union Address. We`ll talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: Protesters outside the White House yesterday called for an end to the recent wave of deportation rates targeting undocumented women and children from Central America. So far, 121 people have been taken into custody recently. These protests reflect similar outrage seen this week from House Democrats.

Now, just hours before the State of the Union, 148 lawmakers sent this letter to President Obama calling for an end to those raids.

Joining me to discuss is one of the lawmakers who signed that letter, Luis Gutierrez, Democratic congressman from Illinois.

Representative, thank you as always for being here.

This continues, this continues with criticism, this comes are the letter that was signed by 148 as I`d just mentioned. Many of you who sign this, not all are saying why is this continuing?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Well, look, the rates, the separation of families, as a tool for immigration control is discredited policy. On Christmas Eve, they decided that they would come into people`s homes. It caused widespread panic and fear throughout immigrant communities of the United States of America.

And it doesn`t -- it doesn`t revolve the problem, because, look, if you live in Guatemala or El Salvador or Honduras, and there is no safety for you, if you are threatened with death, if you are threatened with decapitation, if you are threatened with murder and rape and putting your children into slavery, through human smugglers, you`re going to escape. You need to deal with the issues.

So, they looked at it as a traditional immigration problem. These are undocumented workers who are coming.

No. As a woman said to me in one of the detention centers outside of San Antonio just before Father`s Day of this year, she said, "Luis, I can live in poverty. I can survive poverty, what I cannot do is live in peace."

This is really an issue of human rights for these people to come here. I know the American public looks at them, remember, they didn`t come here illegally. We have laws on our books to allow people to come and seek refuge and asylum in the United States of America and so, they are using the laws of the United States of America.

LUI: Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. Luis Gutierrez on this very topic.

I want to now turn the issue of immigration playing in the early contest states. Numbers from our most recent NBC poll of Iowa voters showing just 7 percent of Republican caucus-goers and 5 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers, say immigration is the most important issue in this election.

I would like to bring in someone who would like to look at that very topic, journalist, filmmaker, immigration activist, Jose Antonio Vargas.

This is the interesting part about the topic as you know so well here, Jose, is that it`s not resonating at least in these early states and despite what Representative Luis Gutierrez is saying that this is not about the prevention of future issues related to those who immigrate to the United States illegally. This is families and faces.

JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, IMMIGRATION ACTIVIST: It`s about stories. I mean, this is precisely why Define American which is in this nonprofit media and culture campaign that I founded in 2011, we`re hosting our first ever film festival, the Define American film festival in Des Moines, Iowa, starting Thursday, for three days for free. It`s open to residents of Des Moines and Iowans, caucus-goers who actually want to watch stories and listen to stories of immigrants, Nigerian immigrants, Mexican immigrants, Chinese immigrants.

We`re also showing a film, by the way, a documentary called "The Muslims Are Coming". And for all the Republican presidential candidates who have called for the ban of Muslims in this country, I welcome them to check out. We`re actually even having a closing night reception on Saturday night, next Saturday for all the candidates, Democratic and Republican to really get to know what this issue is and to celebrate, by the way, all the immigrants in Iowa, documented and undocumented.

LUI: Jose, I apologize, we have to cut our discussion a little bit short, we have some breaking news this hour. But I appreciate your time for being here today.

Immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas, as always, thank you for joining us.

I want to get this breaking news just coming in to us here at MSNBC. "The Washington Post" reporting, as well as "The Associated Press," Iran has released a reporter Jason Rezaian, as part of the prisoner swap deal. Rezaian`s release comes along with the release of three other prisoners. The Iran nuclear deal set to go into effect later today.

Now, Rezaian has been held since July of 2014, convicted in November on charges that included espionage.

With this breaking news and more, MSNBC`s Cal Perry.

So, we`re just getting this in right now.

PERRY: Yes, and this could be potentially huge news, coming in just a few minutes ago. The Fars News Agency, that`s the official agency in Iran flashing that Jason Rezaian, as you said, along with three other individuals, four dual nationals is how they stated it has been released in Iran. All of this happening as the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits down in Vienna with the Iranian foreign minister to start this nuclear deal. It probably would have been a quieter day, except this is now potentially a pivotal and seminal moment between the U.S. and Iran and future relations.

The sanctions are due to be lifted today. We`re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. This was always a top, top thing for the State Department to get Jason Rezaian out. He had helped CNN`s Anthony Bourdain. I`m sure people are familiar with that show on CNN, and he was detained shortly after that in the summer of 2014.

We don`t know who the other individuals are that have been released. Amir Hekmati is a possibility. He`s a former U.S. marine. He`s been in the same jail that Jason Rezaian was in.

There`s also a pastor, Saeed Abedin, which our viewers may be familiar with his history. He`s been serving in the same prison, this is Evin Prison.

And the other person that will be interesting to find out about is Levinson, who the FBI has never said whether or not he is alive or dead, he was taken off of an Iranian island in 2007, we`ll have to wait and see.

But, again, we do understand from the Iranian news agency, Fars, that Jason Rezaian has walked out of prison today, which is -- especially for the journalistic community also great, great news.

LUI: And the breaking news, just this hour that we`re learning here at MSNBC, four released from the Iranian government. This just on -- today as you just mentioned, the Iran deal coming into effect. A lot of moving parts. Folks are going to be asking is this directly related to the negotiations, and there`s also those ten American sailors detained and then quickly released, all of this happening around this Saturday.

PERRY: Yes, this is potentially shaping up to be a historic week between the U.S. and Iran. The sailors is the perfect example. If that had happened a year ago, it would have been a completely different situation. They undoubtedly still would have been in Iranian detention. And instead, we see videos of them eating food and hanging out sort of with the Revolutionary Guard. The way that was handled was incredible. It was almost like a ballet dance between the U.S. Fifth Fleet and the Iranian National Guard. We`ve never seen coordination like that until now.

And this is a huge, huge deal, especially from the Iranian perspective, they have held on to Jason Rezaian because it has caused so much public attention through the negotiations. This was a major bargaining chip that they are now releasing from the jail.

It will be interesting to see what the U.S. has given up if anything. It`s being framed on the official Iranian news agency as a swap.

LUI: Right.

PERRY: We don`t know what the other side of the swap was yet.

LUI: So, that is what we`ll be watching, this on to the breaking news that you`re reporting on here, Cal Perry, MSNBC. Thank you so much.

Again, that breaking news, four released by the Iranian government. Of course, we`re going to stay on top of that, but we`re first going to take a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: And back to breaking news here on MSNBC. Just learning here, according to the Fars News Agency, the official Iranian news agency, that they have freed four prisoners from the United States. The Iran semi- official Fars News Agency saying that just within the last couple of hours quoting Tehran`s prosecutor, one of those individuals, Jason Rezaian, "The Washington Post" reporter, freed in this one. Four individuals, according to what we`re hearing.

I want to go to straight to our panel on this breaking news.

And as we look at what -- because there he`s a lot of moving parts here as all three of you know so well. We have what`s happening there in Vienna.

CORN: Yes.

LUI: We`ve got the secretary of state. We`ve got the leader of Iran, excuse me, one of the leaders in Iran, coming out in front of the cameras very shortly. This is how the deals are done.

CORN: This is great news, my heart goes out to the family to Jason and his colleagues at "The Post", I know how it`s been for them and the other hostages and their families. So, it`s great news to begin with.

But we can be sort of politically and policy-minded with this. The theory of the case for the proponents of the Iran deal was, you know, the Iran was good on its own merits -- as most arms control experts would say, but also it would ease up some of the acrimony between the United States and Iran, and maybe lead to other advances.

And so, just as the deal is coming into fruition, as sanctions are being lifted, this too being releases. And, you know, as Donald Trump and other said, they should have been out sooner, this is a lousy, lousy deal -- this is how diplomacy works, this must have been under way, we saw it happen with the navy sailors, there is a difference in how we`re dealing with Iran, how they`re dealing with us and the West and before this deal.

So, I think it`s a big day for John Kerry, and a big day for people, as Barack Obama who said diplomacy is our way out, rather than bellicosity.

LUI: Soft power.

CORN: Soft power.

LUI: -- as we look at what`s happening here.

Sheri Center, Suhail Khan, as well, I mean, the topic here is what will America get out of this? We don`t know what that swap ask, as Cal Perry was saying?

CENTER: Absolutely. Well, first of all, I have to agree with David that this is a huge win for John Kerry. I think it`s going to be very interesting, looking at his tenure as secretary of state and comparing it to Hillary Clinton`s tenure as a secretary of state because he has had some major successes, including if these reports are true, this one.

This really I think speaks to a job that he`s probably meant to do and he`s been wanting to do for decades and decades.

KHAN: This is a great day for America, a great day for the families, of course, those that were released.

I have to say, we need to continue to monitor Iran. Let`s not become too sanguine on what goes forward in Iran. Iran is still a major sponsor of terrorism, still a very major player against U.S. interests in the region, around the globe. But this is a positive move and it says a lot about diplomacy and American engagement around the world.

CORN: It`s interesting that it`s coming at a time when tensions are increased, we had the Saudi Arabia action a week or so ago when they killed the Shiite imam, which really set things aflame, and it got Iran very upset. And, you know, Saudi Arabia is our ally and this certainly doesn`t help U.S. interest on the effort to make the area more stable there.

And now, Iran is playing, you know, marginally more responsibly that it has in the past. They`re still --

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: The issues that you raised are there. But I mean this is a good sign.

KHAN: A good first step, but there`s a long road to go.

LUI: So what I`m also hearing from the Fars News Agency, they also freed six Iranian Americans who were held for sanctions related charges.

So, we`re getting more information. Again, NBC has not confirmed this. We`re getting more from Fars itself.

But does this -- is this a major step, though, and you brought up Saudi Arabia because there was also a major headline for us in recent weeks?

CORN: Well, you know, we don`t know if this is the extent of it, or if this will lead the way to more responsible action and better, you know, relations between the United States and Iran just in the rest of the world. I mean, how they handled the incident with the Navy boats, Ted Cruz tried to make a campaign issue out of that. But the way these things have gone in the past, not just with Iran but with other nations, it`s usually it creates more conflict and more of a kerfuffle, that took, what, a day or less and it turned out, we probably made the mistake.

We still don`t know to the details, it`s somewhat mysterious. So, listen, we see what`s happening in the Middle East these days. I take any sliver of hope, any sign that Iran, that Tehran wants to play more responsibly with the rest of the others. I mean, that -- you know, we need to move in a positive direction.

LUI: On a political note, does this balance out that as you were calling it, a kerfuffle when we were looking at the 10 U.S. sailors?

CENTER: I mean, certainly a more positive sign, we assume that the United States was probably the one that made the mistake there.

KHAN: Yes, I think what illustrate is going we can go back to the Cold War, and that was, you need to even at the host heightened times of tension, you need to have channels of communications, that was very key. And that through these nuclear negotiations, Senator Kerry was able to have an interlocutor in Iran to negotiate, not only the Iranian nuclear situation, but also when these issues arise, to be able to pick up the phone, have a relationship and say, our sailors have drifted off into your waters, this was an inadvertent mistake, we need them back.

LUI: OK.

KHAN: That communication is key.

LUI: Again, the breaking news, according to the Fars News Agency, a semiofficial news agency, according to Tehran`s prosecutor, they were quoting the prosecutor saying that Iran has freed four prisoners from the United States, including "Washington Post" journalist Jason Rezaian, according to the swap deal as they are calling it in the Fars News Agency. The U.S. has also freed six Iranian prisoners who were held for sanctions- related charges.

So, this is just coming this to us. We will look to confirm all of this reporting coming out of the Fars News Agency, right here on MSNBC.

For now, I want to take a break. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: Still following the breaking news here at MSNBC. Iranian state TV reporting that Iran has released reporter Jason Rezaian, as part of a prisoner swap deal. No confirmation from the United States as of yet. Iranian television saying Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and a fourth American, an Iranian national, were also released. They say the U.S. has freed six Iranian Americans who were held for sanctions related charges.

The Iran nuclear deal set to go into effect later today. That`s also happening as we get breaking news this past hour. Secretary of State Kerry meeting with Iranian foreign minister in Vienna today as well.

Rezaian, as you might remember, has been held since July 2014, convicted in November on charges that include espionage.

Back now with more details in MSNBC`s Cal Perry.

Cal, the news coming in about this news being released. America, United States, releasing six. We don`t have all the details. Have some understanding of some of the names here. Fars, and also the "A.P." for us.

PERRY: Yes, we think the four are now. We think the fourth is Siamak Namazi. He`s a businessman, he was based in Dubai, was taking into custody in October of 2015.

We also don`t know how this is going to play out logistically. I know that may be a bit silly at this point. But we don`t know if they`re going to be getting on a plane, when we`re going to see them. That of is key importance.

As this goes on in Vienna, too, these nuclear negotiations, that`s going to get a lot more attention today, right? This is now a historic day.

When you sign these big diplomatic agreements, there`s hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, but it`s boring. It doesn`t make for good news coverage. It makes for great print pieces. Piece doesn`t play well on TV.

Four Americans walking out of an Iranian prison, Evin prison, one of the most notoriously brutal places on earth.

LUI: It`s the headline they want. Secretary of State Kerry gets out there, as well as the foreign minister from Iran, Zarif gets out there. This is the sort of thing they want.

OK. Stand by. I want to go to Ron Allen at the White House with more on this developing news.

Ron, we`re just getting word on this in the last hour. These four being released, as well as six from the United States in the swap according to the Fars News Agency -- Ron.

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS: Exactly, Richard, we`ve not been able to confirm that here at the White House, but we`re trying to do that.

Obviously, that is something that has been a high priority for the administration for a very long time. And it will be very welcome news once we get confirmation. And we would expect that to happen perhaps once the prisoners are cleared of Iranian airspace and well on their way out of the country -- if, in fact, that is certainly the case. But, again, not confirmation coming from here as of yet.

The administration, I should also say, is not including the American prisoners in the Iranian nuclear deal. And all along, they`ve been working on a separate track and didn`t want to complicate those two issues, those many issues. But clearly, something seems to be happening and clearly, a lot of past moving developments here. And as others have said, a crucial, historic, perhaps seminal day in Iranian-American relations and perhaps implementation day for the nuclear deal happening.

And you remember, of course, a couple of days ago, the situation involving those ten sailors who were held by the Iranians was quickly resolved in matter of 14 hours, which is quick in that context, and peacefully resolved.

So, clearly, things are happening and happening positively between these two longtime adversaries.

The Iranians have claimed, for their part, that the Americans are holding as many as 19 prisoners here. Most of them, officials caught up and accused of being involved in issues that have to do with the sanctions that were imposed on Iran. The reporting suggests that as many as six Iranians may have been released from custody or from some sort of confinement here in the United States in exchange for the four Americans.

But, again, just trying to confirm that here, 100 percent, waiting for details from the White House -- Richard.

LUI: NBC`s Ron Allen at the White House, Ron, thank you for jumping in front of the camera.

As we get to this breaking news to our panel very quickly, we`ve got about a minute here. This, of course, the hopes for a future, a better, and Zarif tweeted this earlier, that they will be working together with the West to end extremism.

CORN: This deal obviously was in the works for weeks, if not months. John Kerry, Barack Obama, they kept quiet about this when they were attacked for not including this in the Iran deal. They knew they were working on it.

So, it`s a big success and shows sometimes you got to wait and see.

LUI: New era?

KHAN: New era. We have to continue with eyes wide open, to be very careful with Iran, but it`s good that we`re engaging, continue to negotiate and continue to address challenges together with other partners in the region.

LUI: The question you have?

CENTER: Yes, I`ll be waiting to see how a lot the Republican candidates for president are going to respond in the next couple of days to this kind of news, especially Donald Trump who`s definitely -- who`s had a very -- let`s say heavy-handed approach to diplomacy.

LUI: And, Cal, as you`ve been reporting for us, thank you, on this breaking news. The question is, yes, what is this swap going to look like? What will be happening when the U.N. comes down and if Kerry and Zarif come to the microphone and say, hey, look at this.

PERRY: And I think it`s a great moment for the Obama legacy. Certainly, that`s how he`s going to present it, Cuba and now Iran.

LUI: Cal, Shira, Suhail, David, thank you so much on have a very busy Saturday morning right here on MSNBC. Thank you, all, for helping us with this story.

Join us tomorrow, by the way, just Sunday morning, at 9:00 a.m., when we`ll have a preview of tomorrow night`s Democratic debate moderated by NBC`s Lester Holt and Andrea Mitchell.

Melissa Harris-Perry is up next with more of our breaking coverage on the release of "Washington Post" reporter Jason Rezaian and three others.

You have a great Saturday. We`ll see you tomorrow.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END