Feedback
Meet the Press

Meet The Press 01-29-17

Meet the Press

01-29-2017

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday President Trump's partial ban on Muslim immigration.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We want to ensure that we are not admitting to our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.

CHUCK TODD:

Leads to chaos, confusion and protests at airports around the country as people with permanent resident status are detained. Until a federal judge moves to block those deportations. We have all the latest. Plus President Trump's whirlwind first week in office. On Mexico.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Look, the wall is necessary. That's not just politics.

CHUCK TODD:

On crowd size.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

That was all the way down to the Washington monument.

CHUCK TODD:

And on his unsupported claim of voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We're going to launch an investigation to find out of those votes cast none of them come to me.

CHUCK TODD:

I'll talk about all of this with President Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, live this morning. Also how should the Democrats respond to the President? Get along when they can? Or all opposition all the time? I'll ask the man who was Hillary Clinton's running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. And the presidency and the press. President Trump calls the media the opposition party.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

The dishonesty, the total deceit and deception.

CHUCK TODD:

And his chief strategist says, "The media should just keep its mouth shut and listen." Are we looking at the White House press relationship since Nixon? Joining me for insight and analysis are Pulitzer Prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tom Friedman, columnist for the New York Times, NBC News political analyst Michael Steele, and Kimberley Strassel, columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington the longest running show in televising history, celebrating its 70th year, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. You heard that right. We are beginning our 70th year on the air. A year-long celebration. We'll have more on that later in the show. Let's get down to business. For the second straight Saturday the new Trump presidency was met with frustration, anger and protests.

But unlike last week's massive planned demonstration yesterday's were spontaneous and had to do with a specific action by President Trump. The President steps to, in effect, prevent some Muslims from entering the country led to dozens of people with permanent resident status being detained at American airports.

And that led to protests at those airports all around the country. Many others at airports across the globe in route to the United States were simply told to go home. The wild scenes at U.S. airports included Seattle Sea-Tac where authorities had to use pepper spray on some protesters. Then last night a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of the President's actions simply preventing authorities from deporting those that were detained at U.S. airports during the early hours of this order.

The scenes at American airports was the culmination of a whirlwind first week of the Trump presidency that's saw a string of executive orders and proposals on everything from a proposed tax on foreign-made goods, to the Mexican wall, to the ditching of the Trans-Pacific partnership trade deal. But it was this travel ban that had the most immediate repercussions.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

At airports around the country celebration after Judge Ann Donnelly of the federal district court in Brooklyn citing imminent danger of irreparable injury blocked the deportation of people stranded in U.S. airports who had arrived in the United States with valid visas or refugee status.

PROTESTERS:

No hate. No fear. Refugees are welcome here.

CHUCK TODD:

The emergency stay followed a day of protests around the country. After at least 375 travelers were either prevented from flying or barred entry to the United States.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

It is unconstitutional. And it will be overturned.

CHUCK TODD:

Hameed Darweesh who worked for the U.S. military for nearly a decade as an interpreter, an engineer was held at JFK airport until granted a waiver.

HAMEED DARWEESH:

I support the U.S. government of the world. But when I came here they said, "No." And they treat me as I break the rules, I do something wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

On Friday President Trump suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, closed the borders on passport holders from seven Muslim majority countries for three months and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely. And Mr. Trump established a religious test for refugees from those Muslim countries allowing an exception for Christians and others from minority religions.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

It's not a Muslim ban but we are totally prepared to work it out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over.

CHUCK TODD:

The ACLU disagrees.

ACLU REPRESENTATIVE:

This executive order is not just un-American. It's unconstitutional. It flies in the face of protections of due process and equal protection. It violates domestic statutes and acts of Congress, Immigration Nationality Act. We also believe it may violate the convention against torture. It may also, we believe, violate the first amendment.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Very successful.

CHUCK TODD:

In his first week in office President Trump unleashed a flood of executive action on immigration, the environment, abortion and trade.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

This administration has hit the ground running.

CHUCK TODD:

Also this week via executive order, Mr. Trump attempted to start the process to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, signed another order to cut off funds for sanctuary cities and ordered a weekly comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens. To pay for the wall the administration floated a plan to put a 20% tax on Mexican imports.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

It's certainly an option.

CHUCK TODD:

But Americans would likely end up paying more for all kinds of imports and some conservatives in Congress are pushing back. Senator Lindsey Graham tweeting, "Simply put any policy proposal which drives up costs of Corona, tequila or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. Mucho sad."

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM:

Tariffs no, border security yes. And to those who like Corona, I'm going to protect the price of Corona.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Busy first nine days. So joining me now is President Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus. Mr. Priebus, welcome back to the show, sir.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Hey, thanks for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to start with timing on the executive order and this sense of urgency in trying to implement it immediately. Was there any thought given of creating a 72-hour grace period, a one-week grace period in order to allow border patrol agents to understand what the rules are, allow agencies in the federal government to understand what the rules are? It seems that a lot of the chaos yesterday could have been avoided had you at least included some sort of timed grace period. Why was that not included?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, I don't think you want to have a grace period, Chuck, because then people that want to do bad things to Americans just move up their travel date two days in order to get into the country before the grace period's over. So I think it's one of these things that, and if you ask a lot of people at the customs and border patrol will just tell you, "You got to rip off the band aid and you have to move forward."

And so it wasn't chaos. I mean, the fact of the matter is 325,000 people from foreign countries came into the United States yesterday. And 109 people were detained for further questioning. Most of those people were moved out. We've got a couple dozen more that remain. And I would suspect as long as they're not awful people that they will move through before another half a day today. And perhaps some of these people should be detained further. And if they're folks that shouldn't be in this country they're going to be detained. And so apologize for nothing here.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. You don’t think that anything-- There was no decision-- You didn't put out any of the rules in advance to some of these agencies. Why not?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, Chuck, of course we're working with the agencies. We're working with the agencies for a long time. And so I'm not going to get into every little conversation that was had. But this was not an executive order that was simply signed from the White House and suddenly transferred to the Department of Homeland Security. They know full well what was going on. And they conducted themselves yesterday perfectly pursuant to the order.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, one of the things in the order apparently is to include green card holders. And that is something that there has been a report that the Department of Homeland Security recommended that it not include green card holders. Why did the White House choose to overrule the Department of Homeland Security on that one?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

We didn't overrule the Department of Homeland Security. As far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn't affect them. But here's the deal, if you're coming in and out of one of those seven countries, by the way, identified by the Obama administration as the seven most dangerous countries in the world in regard to harboring terrorists. And affirmed by Congress multiple times. Then you're going to be subjected temporarily with more questioning until a better program is put in place over the next several months.

This is something that 75, 80% of Americans out there agree with. We don't want people that are traveling back and forth to one of these seven countries that harbor terrorists to be traveling freely back and forth between the United States and those countries.

CHUCK TODD:

You just said something at the beginning of your answer and it seemed like an aside. This order does not impact any green card holders from these seven countries?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, of course it does. If you're traveling back and forth you're going to be subjected to further screening. I mean, we are going to--

CHUCK TODD:

Are you going to do that--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--of course.

CHUCK TODD:

Wait, let me ask you this. Are you going to do that to American citizens as well that travel in and out of these seven countries?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I would suspect that if you're an American citizen traveling back and forth to Libya you're likely to be subjected to further questioning when you come into an airport. And I, in fact--

CHUCK TODD:

Now why do you believe-- Let me ask you this, why are you confident that's constitutional? And I ask it this way because green card holders, they go through extreme vetting to get the green card, number one. But number two, when they get that green card they're entitled to all the protections that--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I'm not suggesting--

CHUCK TODD:

--citizens do. So are--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Listen, wait a minute-- Chuck, I'm not suggesting that.

CHUCK TODD:

--I know. I understand that. But are you, by having to put in an extra hurdle for a green card holder in order to get back into the country, how are you confident that doesn't violate their rights and that it doesn't end up making this order unconstitutional?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

First of all, the order is not affecting green card holders moving forward. Okay? That's number one. But, so, but I want to get--

CHUCK TODD:

I’m confused by that. You keep saying going forward. You just said it did. I'm confused. You said it does. Green card holders from those seven countries--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

If you would just slow down for a second and listen--

CHUCK TODD:

And then you said it doesn't impact.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--I could answer your question.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that. But you've twice confused me. So I'm trying to understand the clarity.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

That's because you don't stop talking, Chuck. I love you but, I mean, let me answer the question. If you are a person-- This is in regard to the executive order. The executive order doesn't affect green card holders moving forward. I said that. But what I'm suggesting to you is that customs and border patrol, I would suspect, if they have a person that's traveling back and forth to Libya or Somalia or Yemen, I would suspect within their discretion, they might ask a few more questions at JFK or some other airport when someone's coming back and forth within their discretionary authority as a customs and border patrol agent.

And what I'm saying is I would suspect that most Americans would agree that that might be a good thing to do. What I'm not suggesting to you is that that is in the order moving forward. I'm suggesting that within the discretion of the CBP that those questions would likely be asked.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. You say it doesn't affect green card holders moving forward. But you just said it does impact green card holders from those seven countries. Those two things don't compute.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No it computes, Chuck, because there's discretionary authority that a customs and border patrol agent has when they suspect that someone is up to no good that's traveling back and forth to Libya or Yemen. And I'm not suggesting it's in the order.

I'm suggesting that at every level in an airport a customs and border patrol agent has the authority to use their discretion to ask questions. That's all we're talking about. We're off on a tangent that has nothing to do with the executive order.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask about the executive order because the countries chosen, and I know you say this is countries that were codified by Congress, chosen by the Obama administration. But here's what I'm confused about, when you look at those folks that have committed terrorist acts in this country, killed Americans, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, you've had more terrorists come from those three countries than any of the seven that you have.

In fact, in the case of Saudi Arabia, more have come from Saudi Arabia to kill Americans than the seven countries combined. Why was Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Egypt not included on this list if you are so concerned about this issue?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

We are concerned about the issue, Chuck. And that's why we put these seven countries initially into the executive order that were identified previously by Congress, by both the House and the Senate and the Obama administration as being the seven most watched countries in regard to harboring terrorists.

But you bring up a good point. Perhaps other countries needed to be added to an executive order going forward. But in order to do this in a way that was expeditious and a way that would pass muster quickly, we used the seven countries that have already been codified and identified by both the Obama administration and the Congress.

But you bring up a good point and perhaps other countries need to be added. But this is all done for the protection of Americans. And waiting another three days and waiting another three weeks is something that we don't want to get wrong. President Trump is not willing to get this wrong which is why he wants to move forward quickly and protect Americans.

CHUCK TODD:

And just to clear things up, the Trump organization has business ties in a couple of the countries that were not included, including Saudi Arabia. Was-- Did that have any impact on why Saudi Arabia was not included on the list?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Of course not, Chuck. Just like I said very clearly, the countries that were chosen in the executive order to protect Americans from terrorists were the countries that have already been identified by Congress and the Obama administration.

That does not mean that other countries wouldn't be added later to a subsequent executive order. But again this-- what we're talking about, out of 325,000 people, trying to find a proverbial needle in a haystack was accomplished yesterday with a little over 100 people detained for further questioning from these countries. People are moving out of the system and moving forward. This obviously is going to be, I believe, a very smooth and effective operation for the safety of Americans across the country.

CHUCK TODD:

Want to move onto a couple of other things. There was an issue with on Friday the White House put out a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day. And there wasn't a mention of Jews in the statement of any, of the victims of the Holocaust that a majority of them were Jewish.

Many of us thought it was an error. You guys were there early. And then it turns out it was not. John Podhoretz, a conservative columnist from Commentary magazine wrote this, "The Final Solution was aimed solely at the Jews. The Holocaust was about the Jews. There is no ‘proud’ way to offer a remembrance of the Holocaust that does not reflect that simple, awful world historical fact. To universalize it to, quote, 'All those who suffered,' is to scrub the Holocaust of its meaning." Mr. Priebus, do you understand why many Jews were offended by the White House's decision not to note that the Holocaust was about eradicating the Jews?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, I recognize, in fact, obviously that that was what the Holocaust was about. And it's a horrible event. And obviously a miserable time in history that we remember here at the White House and certainly will never forget the Jewish people that suffered in World War II.

And obviously still incredible wounds that remain in a time in history that was of great, incredible, horrific magnitude. And everyone's heart here is impacted by the memory of that terrible time. And so for the record, that's the case. And--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you regret--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--certainly we don't mean--

CHUCK TODD:

--does the president regret not--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--any ill-will to anybody.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you regret--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I don't about regret. It’s just-- No.

CHUCK TODD:

--the statement?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

There’s no--

CHUCK TODD:

There's no regret not acknowledging the pain that--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

We acknowledge it. We acknowledge the--

CHUCK TODD:

But you didn't--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--horrible time of the Holocaust.

CHUCK TODD:

--but why white-wash--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--and what it meant for history, and so.

CHUCK TODD:

--but why white-wash Jews from that statement?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I'm not white-washing anything, Chuck. I just told--

CHUCK TODD:

The statement did.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--you that it was horrible. And, well, I'm telling you now that that's the way we feel about it. And it's a terrible time in history. And obviously I think you know that President Trump has dear family members that are Jewish. And there was no harm or ill-will or offense intended by any of that.

CHUCK TODD:

But you-- So you don’t-- But you don't regret the statement. You don't regret the words that were chosen in the statement and the words--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I don't regret the words, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

--that were not included?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I'm trying to clear it up for you. I mean, everyone's suffering in the Holocaust including obviously all of the Jewish people affected and the miserable genocide that occurred is something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad and something that can never be forgotten and something that if we could wipe it off of the history books we could. But we can't. And it's terrible. I mean, I don't know what more to tell you.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. One last question, in an executive order the president reorganized the National Security Council. And look, he can put anybody on it that he wants. What I'm curious about is why is the top intelligence official in this country and the top military official in this country not a full-time member of the National Security Council in the Trump administration?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

They are. If you read the order, Chuck, they're invited to be attendees of the Security Council at any time that they want to. And--

CHUCK TODD:

No, that is not what it said.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--if you read the paragraph, they are.

CHUCK TODD:

It said when it's necessary. Essentially it looked like it was invite only. So you're saying every National Security Council meeting should include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the director of National Intelligence?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

They're included as attendees anytime that they want to be included, Chuck, if you read the order.

CHUCK TODD:

So it is not correct then, because in the order it said it was sort of as needed.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

That’s not-- If you read the order they're invited as attendees to the Security Council at any time.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Reince Priebus, chief of staff for the president. We have a lot of other stuff to get to. But it's been a busy morning. Hopefully we'll see you again soon, sir.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you. When we come back, how should the Democrats respond to President Trump, go along when they can or scorched-earth opposition? I'll ask the man who had reason to believe he'd be the vice president of the United States today, Senator Tim Kaine.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here, NBC News political analyst Michael Steele, Kimberley Strassel, columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Pulitzer Prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tom Friedman, columnist for the New York Times. I'm supposed to be plugging your book still. “Thank You For Being Late.” I think I'm plugging it quite a few times. But that is good.

TOM FRIEDMAN:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

I thought Dan Balz summed up this week pretty well in the Washington Post when he said, "This week was everything Trump supporters could have hoped for and everything Trump's opponents could have feared." Kimberley Strassel, what say you?

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

Well, I mean, this is a president who is determined to show that he is going to fulfill all of those campaign promises and take action. This is also a president who I think sometimes allows his own missteps to get in the way of his successes. He did a lot of stuff this week that was important and good for the economy. But some of it was overshadowed by back and forth over attendance and crowds and voter fraud and a diplomatic tiff with Mexico. And we'll see if there is any greater discipline going forward.

CHUCK TODD:

Discipline, Tom Friedman, I don't know. But then again, Donald Trump doesn't mind the chaos.

TOM FRIEDMAN:

You know, Chuck, one of the points I actually make in my book is from a system's analyst named Lynn Wells who said, "You shouldn't think in the box. You shouldn't think out of the box. You should always think without a box." And what he meant by that is the world is actually seamlessly integrated where telecommunications and markets and climate and environment, they're all interwoven.

So think about some of these policies that we heard this week. One is we want to keep immigrants out. Where are the greatest immigration flows happening in the world today? They're actually coming from the Sahel, Central Africa toward Europe. And not actually from Mexico for us. From Central America, the northern triangle. Both are hammered by the same problem, population and climate change. Okay? The collapse of small-scale agriculture.

What has this administration come out full-scale against? A family planning technology being extended by the U.S. government and climate change is a complete myth. Now let's talk about the wall. We're going to protect ourselves from Mexico by building a wall. How many Americans know, I dare ask, Chuck, does President Trump know, that if you fly into Mexico from Baghdad or from Damascus, do you know your name pops up on Homeland Security? Same as if you fly into Toronto.

We actually have created a seamless North American security envelope. Now how are the Mexicans going to feel about keeping that going when we're building a high wall? Same thing with the economics. You know, Trump says we're going to have a 20% tariff on Mexican goods. Okay, what's going to happen then? Prices will go up to American companies.

Remember what happened on 9/11. On 9/11 the supply chain which goes from Canada to Mexico completely collapsed. It completely disrupted our auto industry. So what's going to happen if prices go up? American companies will build those factories here. And you know what they'll do? They'll completely roboticize them. There'll be no jobs.

CHUCK TODD:

That's been the fear.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Well, you know, I think in some ways that Mr. Trump is a magician. You know, that the important things that happened this week were the executive orders, the very things he's talking about. And yet we were all caught up and understandably in the things he said about the press and his tweets about how many people were in the inauguration.

He's deflecting. It's like sleight of hand. The thing that concerned me most about this week I think was the whole relationship with the press. It's one thing for a president to get up over the people and use, like FDR did, the radio, and he used tweets instead. It's one thing to get upset with criticism. And LBJ once said, "If I walked on the Potomac River one morning, in the afternoon the press would say, "The president can't swim. That's what's wrong with him." But when you deny objective reality as he did in terms of how many people were at the inauguration and what he said at the C.I.A. you're leaning into that territory of Eisenhower who said that the worst thing he ever did was to deny the objective reality of the U-2 incident. And he felt bad about it the rest of his presidency and the rest of his life.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go back to this ban itself because what was interesting here, Michael, is, look, obviously they were trying to draw up a ban. So President Trump said, "It's not a Muslim ban."

MICHAEL STEELE:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

But there is, you have to get Rudy Giuliani saying, "Yeah, he was just trying to figure out how to enact the Muslim ban without it looking like a Muslim ban.” That obviously does it now. But what was amazing here is that there's a lot of Republican discomfort. But they're expressing it by being quiet, not saying anything, not praising it and not denouncing it. How much patience do mainstream Republicans have?

MICHAEL STEELE:

Well, that's going to be the real test. I mean, the reality of it is I think they've been patient on a number of things. I mean, you've got the president who's floating $1 trillion in new spending on infrastructure. You've got certainly the controversy with Mexico.

Even though folks are all about the wall, they also recognize exactly what you laid out, Tom, in terms of the effects of it. So here you get into this space which has its own levels of complication. Republicans, in large measure, really would like the administration to slow down, to be honest.

They'd like things to just take another day or two to think it through so you don't then have the pile on afterwards as we've seen with this current decision. If you think it through, if you deal with the effects. I saw, you know, the exchange between you and Reince about the green cards. Well, the order says what the order says. And so you can say what you want about what you thought the green cards were in or not in. But the reality of it is Republicans and others are looking what's on the paper. And that's what people are going to be responding to. So there is this hesitancy right now.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

Well, I mean, the green card thing is actually pretty straight-forward. The point I think he was trying to make is that if you have a green card you're not going to be kept out of the country. But you will be subjected to further questioning when you come.

CHUCK TODD:

And that's the issue of whether that's constitutional.

MICHAEL STEELE:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

And that may not be constitutional and that could be where this order gets stayed.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

Well, look--

TOM FRIEDMAN:

You know.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

--this is also not unprecedented, by the way. I mean, Barack Obama put a pause for six months on refugees coming from Iraq back in 2011. I don't remember protestors and I don't remember lawsuits. So I think the bigger question if this is a temporary pause, which is designed for us to improve and look at our vetting processes, and indeed temporary, I don't necessarily think that's an outrageous idea. But the bigger question should be implementation. Did you get it right from the start?

MICHAEL STEELE:

But that, but that's what people are nervous about.

TOM FRIEDMAN:

Yeah, Chuck, some things are true even if Donald Trump believes them. I think we always have to remember that. And one thing is true is we live in an age now where there are 65 million migrants traveling around the world. That is more than any time in recorded history according to UNHCR, modern records. Okay?

So there is a need I think to sit back and say, "What-- How do we respond to that? What is the commercial interests we have? What's the ethical interests we have? Our historical commitment." It really needs to be thought out I think. You do that carefully. And it seems to me one of the terrible signals we may be sending is to a lot of people that just don't go there. I mean, let's remember, this is an iPhone. The guy who conceived this iPhone was conceived by an immigrant to the University of Wisconsin. His name was Abdulfattah Jandali. He was Steve Jobs' biological father. He was from Homs, Syria.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. With that I'm going to pause there. We're going to have more conversation after an interview with my next guest. We'll be back in a moment with the former future vice president of the United States, Virginia senator Tim Kaine.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Democrats are still trying to figure out how to deal with President Trump. And joining me for his first Sunday morning interview since losing the election to Donald Trump and Mike Pence is Hillary Clinton's former running-mate, Virginia senator, Tim Kaine. Senator Kaine, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

Chuck, good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with getting your reaction to this executive order and to Reince Priebus' defense of it. Is there any part of the idea of pausing the refugee program that you support, even if you don't support how President Trump worded it in this order?

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

Well, Chuck, I'll just go right to what Reince said. He demonstrated complete confusion about what the order did because he went back and forth in the interview with you over whether it did or did not affect green card holders. It does affect green card holders and they're being caught up in it.

It affects people on special immigrant visas like interpreters who've helped the U.S. military in foreign countries. And now their lives are at risk and so we've given them a special status to come to this country. Who would help the United States if they knew we would abandon them when they're trying to come here? It's a religious test, as you pointed out. It imposes a different burden on Muslims than others. And the irony is not lost on me that it was issued the same day as the White House issued their Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation that unlike any previous administration removed all reference to Jews. So you put a religious test on Muslims and you try to scrub reference to Jews in the Holocaust Remembrance. This was horribly, horribly mishandled. So it's not a pause in--

CHUCK TODD:

That's a tough charge--

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

--a traditional sense.

CHUCK TODD:

--Senator, that's a tough charge. You think it's more than a coincidence that it all happened on Friday?

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

I think all of these things are happening together. When you have the chief political advisor in the White House, Steve Bannon, who is connected with a news organization that traffics in white supremacy and anti-Semitism and they put out a Holocaust statement that omits any mention of Jews.

Remember, earlier administrations have done these statements. And so the first thing you do is you pull up to see what earlier statements have said. And the earlier statements, President Obama, President Bush always talk about the Holocaust in connection with the slaughter of Jews.

The final solution was about the slaughter of Jews. We have to remember this. This is what Holocaust denial is. It's either to deny that it happened or many Holocaust deniers acknowledge, "Oh yeah people were killed. But it was a lot of innocent people. Jews weren't targeted." The fact that they did that and imposed this religious test against Muslims in the executive orders on the same day, this is not a coincidence.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you something that you tweeted about something you tweeted yesterday, you said this, "If we turn our backs on widows and orphans fleeing the very evil we despite we do not defeat our enemies, we surrender to them." Interestingly former DNC chair, Howard Dean, retweeted you but then said this, "Tim, this is great. But the Dems in the Senate actually have to do something about this stuff. You are being left behind by your base." How do you respond to Governor Dean on that, the implication being Democrats aren't doing enough?

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

Hey, we're doing plenty. Two weekends ago on Martin Luther King day Democrat Senators led Save our Health Care rallies all over the United States. Tens of thousands of people participated. My colleagues and I were thrilled at this massive peaceful protest last weekend to hold the Trump administration accountable.

Many of us participated in that. We are holding Trump nominees' feet to the fire, demonstrating to the world that many of them are either unqualified or extreme or ethically challenged. And I'll tell you, Chuck, I have never seen calls to my office from folks the way I've seen them over these cabinet nominees.

And that's because a lot of us on the Democratic side are cast in a spotlight on what they're doing. The notion that, you know, there's a base and there's elected officials, we're all in this together. Here's what we think. Here's what we think, the Trump administration is posed to do horrible danger to our country, our values, our people and our reputation. And we're going to do everything we can in Congress, in the courts, in state houses, in ballot boxes, online and in peaceful protests to make sure that this administration doesn't hurt the country that we love.

CHUCK TODD:

Does this mean that you're not going to work with him where you can?

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

Well, let me tell you something, I'll give you an example. I voted for Generals Kelly and General Mattis to be part of the National Security team, Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense. So I voted for them. Why? Because the National Security Council is critically important to our thinking about challenges.

And the National Security Council sadly has some really questionable people on it. The National Security Advisor General Flynn is a pro-Russian conspiracy theorist. The administration just added Steve Bannon with his ties to a news organization that traffics in anti-Semitism and white supremacy to the National Security Council.

So we put General Kelly and General Mattis in place, many Democrats supported them, because we want to save this country. Will there be other areas-- here's another example, eight years ago Democrats and President Obama made a major investment in the infrastructure in this country. No Republicans supported it. But Democrats did it and it helped the country. And if President Trump wants to do that, we'll work with him on it. Hopefully maybe a Republican will vote for it this time. So we're not closing the door on doing what's right for the good of the country. But right now we think this administration poses a real threat to our reputation, our values and our people. And we're going to battle.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you just this one final question here which is on DNC chair, you're a former DNC chair. Who would you like to see run the party? I know a lot of Obama and Clinton veterans are behind Tom Perez, the former labor secretary. Are you?

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

I have not done an endorsement yet, Chuck, and I'll tell you why, the Senate Democrats are the emergency brake on this administration. They don't give House Democrats many tools in minority. But we do have tools. I've decided that my highest and best use is to be a hard-working senator and focus on using the tools we have in the best way we can to check this administration. Doing other things like getting involved in the DNC, it's just not the big priority for me right now. I don't want to take my eye off the ball in doing what I need to do to protect this country.

CHUCK TODD:

That could send a message to some Democrats that you don't see the DNC as as important of a vehicle right now as other organizations.

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

I will tell you, Chuck, if I wasn't in the Senate right now I would be very engaged in this DNC matter because it's important. But I should be spending every minute I have working with my Democratic colleagues whether it's the Russia investigation, saving the Affordable Care Act, making sure we don't put somebody out of the mainstream on the Supreme Court, that's what I need to be focused on right now.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. There was a lot more I wanted to get to but time is always an enemy on this show--

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

Look forward to talking--

CHUCK TODD:

--these days.

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

--again.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Kaine, thanks for coming on. I appreciate you sharing your views. When we come back the presidency and the press. We gave you a little preview. We may be looking at the worst relationship between the White House and the press corps since Watergate.

And speaking of Watergate, later in the broadcast, a man who covered Watergate for us, Tom Brokaw who is celebrating his first 50 years at NBC News. He joins us as we here at Meet the Press kick off our own celebration, 70 years on the air.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with the panel, we just spoke with a Democrat, Doris. What's interesting there though is as far as the White House is concerned they have another idea of who the opposition party is. Here's Donald Trump from earlier this week, an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

I think the media is the opposition party. The dishonesty, the total deceit and deception makes them certainly, partially the opposition party, absolutely. I think they're much more capable than the opposition party. The opposition party is losing badly.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

What do you think the president's doing here, Doris? By highlighting the media as the opposition party, is it a way of delegitimizing the Democrats even more?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Yeah, it makes us think they're even worse than-- they have nothing. I don't have to worry about them. I just worry about the media. I mean, the concern I have about the Democrats right now is that they have to analyze honestly why they lost. And they didn't lose just in Washington.

And they can't just be an opposition party in Washington. I don't see how they can because they like government too much. So they're not going to be able to undo everything. They have to become a reverse Tea Party. They have to go out to middle America and figure out. Lincoln once said, "You've got to know where you came from to know what to do next." So they've got to figure out, "Why did we lose the state houses? Did we not reach middle America?" And it can't just be anti-Trump. They have to reach out to the values of the Democratic Party.

It's going to be hard. But they've got to have a positive. It didn't work in the campaign to just be anti-Trump. It's not going to work in the opposition either.

MICHAEL STEELE:

Doris put her finger on it. I remember in 2009 two weeks after Barack Obama had been inaugurated I'm sitting at the RNC going, "Okay, so what do I do with this, right?" I've got a party out of power, I've got a popular president. I've got a base that's dysfunctional. The message is all over the place.

You've got to figure out where you came from. And where we came from was the land, the desert. '06, '08, so the messaging is critical. Right now those who are running for the chairmanship of the party don't have a galvanizing message. They don't have a way to animate the base. The base is going in one direction. The party leadership is standing still. And then those other Democrats are kind of watching this whole episode are going, "Well, okay, we'll just wait and see." That is not the good space for the Democrats right now."

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

Single most important moment this week politically which was largely overlooked was the meeting that Donald Trump had with union leaders on Monday. Okay, looking--

CHUCK TODD:

Not just any union leaders. The trades. Not the--

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

The pipe fitters, the sheet metal workers. And you didn't see a single AFL-CIO member there, an SEIU member there.

TOM FRIEDMAN:

That's right.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

He is trying to steal that base. And by the way, those union members came out hugely enthusiastic from that meeting. And if Democrats don't remember that those are the people that they need to keep on board. Because part of the problem here, let's not forget, is the policies. Okay? Why are they thrilled with Donald Trump? Because he signed executive orders on the Keystone Pipeline and on the Dakota Pipeline. Okay, well, this is heretical to guys like Howard Dean.

CHUCK TODD:

The Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkins, the old labor guys, they would've loved that stuff -- You know?

TOM FRIEDMAN:

I'm a big believer people don't listen through their ears, they listen through their stomach. You connect with them at a gut level, they're not interested in the details. You don't connect with them at a gut level, you can't show them enough details.

And to Doris' point I think that Democrats have to find a way to connect to the gut concerns of a lot of these middle Americans and then take them into a more progressive direction. That's going to take some real rethinking I think of the whole platform in general.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

And the Republicans did that, you know, in 1964 after Goldwater's huge walloping, they had think tanks. They reorganized, they rethought. You know, that's one of those moments. And it could be a challenging moment. But unless they honestly understand what happened it won't--

MICHAEL STEELE:

But in 2009 we went from think tanks to grassroots. And that was the difference.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask all of you there, does anybody know who the leader of the Democrat Party is right now?

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

No but this--

CHUCK TODD:

No.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

--is always the problem.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Maybe it’s a young person out there. Somebody--

CHUCK TODD:

It's a vacuum.

MICHAEL STEELE:

It's a vacuum. Yeah.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

The torch has been passed to a new generation. It's got to be out there.

CHUCK TODD:

But nobody grabs-- knows who grabs the torch. All right. All right.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

We're waiting.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm going to take a quick pause. We are literally coming right back. Before we go, by the way, remember to check out podcast, 1947. This week I talked with former Bush press secretary, Ari Fleischer, about whether the media is the opposition party. It's a fascinating conversation. You won't want to miss it. You can find it on iTunes and of course in the Apple podcast app. When we come back the Republican Party's struggle with the repeal part of repeal and replace when it comes to Obamacare.

*** COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back with the panel once again. Let's see voter fraud, no, nevermind - didn’t get to that. Mexico, this border adjustment tax, no, didn't get to that. Then there was this leak, audio leak, from the Republican Congressional retreat when they were clearly having a session about, all right, how the heck are we going to replace Obamacare? And Kimberley Strassel, everything that was leaked out - nothing said was surprising. They realize, they're worried about the politics. They're worried about making it affordable. They're worried about everything that they should be worried about. But it also served as a reminder to me, they better not rush.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

Look, if I'm a Republican leader I'm probably thrilled that this came out and leaked because, by the way, first of all, it shows that they are focused on the right questions. I mean, they do, they may not have all the answers yet. Who can? This is a very complicated market. But they're talking about, you know, what do we do to make sure that most number of people have this. They've got very good ideas that they're debating back and forth. They look like people who are deliberating over the issues you would like Congress to be deliberating over. Also, as you said, it puts out the fact that still some more debating needs to be done. And potentially maybe gives a little bit of grace period in Congress to work on this.

MICHAEL STEELE:

Here's the rub, you've had six, now seven years to figure this out. So the fact that you're sitting in a room in Philadelphia, at this stage, having a discussion about how you're going to replace the very thing that you've been fighting against for the last six years is a problem. So in one sense, yes, the leak is a good thing.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

I don't think that's true.

MICHAEL STEELE:

Oh come on.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

They knew they were going to repeal it-- they tried --

MICHAEL STEELE:

You've been telling your base, you've been telling the country we're going to repeal and replace. And the one question everybody asked is, "What are you replacing it with?" And now you're having the discussion? So that's the problem --

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

You are so straight-forward. Thank God for you.

MICHAEL STEELE:

That is the problem with the leak. And let's be honest about it and call it what it is.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

I think the real problem--

TOM FRIEDMAN:

To me, Chuck-- for a guy who won the presidency with one paragraph on all these things. And now they're struggling to get the second paragraph. Again, think about ISIS. "I'm going to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth." To do that we have to take Mosul. We need deep Iraqi cooperation. Deep Sunni-Arab cooperation. And what did they do yesterday? Tell Iraqis, "You're not welcome in this country for the next 120 days. But be our allies. Go take the field. Die for, you know, what we believe in." Good luck with that. Good luck getting Sunni allies. That's the second graph--

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

I'd like to go back to what Michael said. I mean, I think the real problem for President Trump is his support, his base are the ones most likely to be hurt unless this thing is done right. When social security was passed, the Republicans thought they could go against it. And they started putting suits against it in 1936. Roosevelt won by this huge majority because people already had it. And they didn't want to lose it.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

I don't, I mean--

CHUCK TODD:

Kimberley, I was just going to say--

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

It was difficult for many people out there for it to be worse than it is right now for them.

CHUCK TODD:But Kimberley--

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

Oh it is.

CHUCK TODD:

--it does appear that Republicans, whatever they replace, it is going to be a permanent infrastructure for health care in this country which is something that you could argue they were fighting against for a while.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

Look, I think what people also underestimate or miss is that when you look at the broad planks of what is going to happen, of course they know what they're going to do. Okay? You’re going to have insurance that you can buy across state lines, you’re going to have tax credits for certain people out there. They're going to get rid of some of the mandates and the requirements to bring cost down. So a lot of this is about details around the edge and the timeline and how you actually deal with the mess that exists now--

MICHAEL STEELE:

And the cost.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

And the cost.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

And the cost.

CHUCK TODD:

And there’s a cost.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL:

And how you pay for it.

CHUCK TODD:

And how you, cost. And how you pay for it. Exactly.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

There’s a cost for everything, for infrastructure, for this, for everybody. Big government.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I can take another quick break. We'll be back in 45 seconds with our End Game segment. And this is a special one. We're marking Meet the Press' 70th year on the air. And we're going to do it with Tom Brokaw, who's celebrating his own anniversary, his first 50 years at NBC News.

ANNOUNCER:

Coming up, Meet the Press End Game and postgame brought to you by Boeing, always working to build something better.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

(BEGIN TAPE)

ANNOUNCER:

Meet the Press end game is brought to you by Boeing. Always working to build something better.

This is NBC. Bringing you the latest news. In the north, south, east and west. It's America's press conference in the air. From Washington. The world's longest running television program. Meet the Press. Celebrating its 70th year.

If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I could watch that open over and over again. This morning we're beginning our 70th anniversary celebration. Yes it's been seven-zero. Seventy years since Meet the Press first went on the air in 1947. And yes we are the longest running show on television. Take that Bart Simpson. And who better to kick things off than the man who's celebrating his own anniversary, Tom Brokaw is marking 50 years with NBC News with a fantastic special tonight you won't want to miss. Tom of course has been a regular on Meet the Press and was the moderator for a time as well. So he's the bridge that connects these two celebrations. Tom, you've been thinking about all of this a lot, your career, the span of it all. What's it all mean to you?

TOM BROKAW:

Well, one of the things I'm thinking this morning is that the first time I appeared on Meet the Press was the Sunday morning after the Saturday night massacre, Chuck. And Meet the Press, as I was growing up, was always the high church of Washington talk shows. And I'm very happy to report--and I can do this in a completely non-partisan fashion--you have maintained that standard all along. I think what we're seeing, once again, is the importance of a dynamic dialogue in this country about what's going on. I've seen a lot of transitions. I've never seen one quite as seismic as this one. So many plates are in motion internationally, domestically, and otherwise. And it's going to require, I think, on the part of the press, those of us who do this, a kind of patience, if you will, and taking the long view.

CHUCK TODD:

You know it's interesting, when we talk about the press, and we talked about it earlier in the show, about the comparisons, maybe, between a White House and a press that was very similar to Nixon and the press corps. In fact, I'm going to throw a brief highlight from your special tonight that is very Meet the Press-centric that is from those Nixon years. Here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

TOM BROKAW:

At his last meeting with the White House press I quoted legal experts who said executive privilege does not apply in impeachment proceedings.

My question is this, aren't your statements to that matter historically inaccurate or at least misleading?

PRESIDENT NIXON:

Mr. Brokaw, so far as the principle of confidentiality is concerned, that principle still stands.

TOM BROKAW:

The Supreme Court ruled against Nixon.

This appears to be the final day of his administration.

In August, 1974, he became the first president to resign his office. But we met several times again including in 1988 on Meet the Press.

Do you see anything that you might have done differently?

PRESIDENT NIXON:

Well, I suppose I could've treated the press better.

TOM BROKAW:

Well, I wasn't looking--

PRESIDENT NIXON:

But then--

TOM BROKAW:

--for that necessarily.

PRESIDENT NIXON:

But then they might have treated me better.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

There you go, Tom, that was a fascinating, I wonder if a, one day a former President Trump might say the same thing.

TOM BROKAW:

You know me, Chuck, the unforeseen will occur. I'm not sure that that's going to be part of it. But I do remember after I asked that question, and I'd worked hard on getting all the legal experts to reinforce what I thought would be the case, the next morning Ron Ziegler came to me and took me apart because I had been disrespectful, in his words, to the president. Now it was the president's last appearance before the White House press corps. We're in a very different set of circumstances now in part because there is nothing that is not known. The screen is so crowded in so many ways. And it plays out. And everyone has a kind of philosophical investment in what is going on. So I'm going to be interested in how this particular phase of the Trump presidency plays out, what the consequences may be. I think there's something worth remembering here, the members of the Senate who are Republicans are going to have go back and run on the Trump policies in their various states. And they've got to be thinking about that as well.

CHUCK TODD:

No. That's for sure. And as you know, the campaign of 2018 is probably going to be upon us sooner than we think. Tom, thank you, sir. Remember, the special broadcast, Tom Brokaw at NBC News: the First 50 Years airs tonight at 9/8 central. Who needs football? You've got Brokaw. No football, Brokaw. That's what you're doing Sunday night. That's all we have for today. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:You can see more End Game in Post Game, sponsored by Boeing, on the Meet the Press Facebook page.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *