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Meet The Press 02-12-17

NBC News - Meet The Press

"2.12.17"

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, immigration fight, President Trump's travel ban is struck down unanimously by a federal appeals court.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Courts seem to be so political.

CHUCK TODD:

But the president vows to fight on.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We'll win that battle. But we also have a lot of other options.

CHUCK TODD:

So what happens next? I'll ask President Trump's senior policy advisor, Stephen Miller. Plus Russian intrigue, after White House denials, national security advisor Mike Flynn concedes that, yes, he may have spoken to the Russians about Obama-era sanctions before Donald Trump became president.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

I don't know about it. I haven't seen it.

CHUCK TODD:

Is Flynn's job already in danger? And hostile takeovers, angry posters jam Republican town halls. Have Democratic voters found their voice after the election? I'll talk to a leading progressive, Senator Bernie Sanders and a former senator, Jim Webb of Virginia, a Democrat who says the Trump victory may have been necessary for the political system. Joining me for insight and analysis are Katty Kay, anchor of the BBC’s World News America, Washington Post columnist, Eugene Robinson, Greta Van Susteren, host of MSNBC’s For the Record, and former North Carolina governor, Pat McCrory. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. Sometimes it seems as though we're not in week three of the Trump presidency but year three. Consider what's happened in just the past few days. President Trump's travel ban was struck down unanimously by a federal appeals court. And the administration now says it may rewrite the order.

NBC News confirms that National Security Advisor Mike Flynn did, in fact, talk to Russia's ambassador about U.S. sanctions before President Trump took office, a possible violation of the law. The president attacked Nordstrom in a tweet for dropping part of his daughter, Ivanka's clothing line from its stores. Then his counselor, Kellyanne Conway, in trying to defend him ended up publicly rebuked for using the White House to promote Ivanka's products. Progressives took a page from the Tea Party confronting Republican lawmakers with angry crowds at town halls.

And then of course earlier this morning North Korea launched a ballistic missile, perhaps testing President Trump's resolve against Pyongyang early in his presidency. And as we've seen every Saturday of the Trump presidency so far thousands gathered across the country, this time in favor and in some cases against Planned Parenthood. All of this in just the last few days in this one week of the Trump presidency.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We'll win that battle. But we also have a lot of other options including just filing a brand new order on Monday.

CHUCK TODD:

For President Trump, it's been a week of setbacks and a series of self-inflicted wounds. In the courts, a ninth circuit court of appeals panel unanimously refused to reinstate his travel ban which even Mr. Trump's homeland security secretary says was rushed out. President Trump attacked the judiciary.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Courts seem to be so political.

CHUCK TODD:

Leading to a rebuke from his own Supreme Court nominee.

KELLY AYOTTE:

He feels strongly about the independence of judiciary. But he's also been very clear that he is not commenting on any specific case.

CHUCK TODD:

Now Mr. Trump says he is considering rewriting the travel ban altogether. And then there's Russia, after repeated denials, the White House acknowledged that national security advisor Michael Flynn could not be certain that he did not discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russia's ambassador the month before Mr. Trump took office. U.S. intelligence sources tell NBC News he did. This contradicts the earlier claims of a parade of administration officials including the vice president.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:

They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure against Russia.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

So the subject matter of sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama administration did not come up in the conversation.

CHUCK TODD:

On Air Force One Friday night, the president was asked about the reports on Flynn. And the president did not go out of his way to defend him or debunk the story.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that?

CHUCK TODD:

And then there's the family businesses. President Trump attacked Nordstrom for announcing it would no longer carry his daughter's shoe line, tweeting, "My daughter, Ivanka, has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person, always pushing me to do the right thing. Terrible." That tweet could haunt the president legally. And his advisor, Kellyanne Conway, doubled down.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would tell you. I'm going to give a free commercial here.

CHUCK TODD:

That got the attention of Republican oversight chair Jason Chaffetz who chastised Conway. The president reportedly took umbrage at his own press secretary's response.

SEAN SPICER:

Kellyanne has been counseled.

CHUCK TODD:

Meanwhile around the country from Utah--

PROTESTERS:

Do your job. Do your job.

CHUCK TODD:

--to California, Tennessee, Ohio, to Kentucky--

PROTESTERS:

Mitch is a chicken.

CHUCK TODD:

And Georgia.

PROTESTERS:

Shame. Shame. Shame.

CHUCK TODD:

Republican lawmakers are facing large, hostile audiences at town hall events. An early indication that Trump's opposition is energized. Even some Trump voters who support his policy are questioning the president's tactics.

JIM WIDMEYER:

We don't always agree with the way he presents things. But we definitely are on board with his agenda.

TOM WIDMEYER:

We have people in our family who are like that. You love them to death and you go, "Oh, did he just say that?"

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is Stephen Miller. He’s the senior policy adviser to President Trump and he played a key role in the drafting of the partial travel ban. And he joins me now. Mr. Miller, welcome to Meet the Press.

STEPHEN MILLER:

Hey good to be here, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the decision by the ninth circuit and the president himself saying to reporters that a new order may be drafted. Is that what you and others are doing right now, drafting a new order since essentially the ninth circuit seemed to give you a road map of how to draw up something slightly more narrow that would accomplish your goal.

STEPHEN MILLER:

Well we’re considering all of our options right now Chuck. That includes: you can continue the appeal in the ninth. You can seek an emergency stay at the Supreme Court. You can have a trial hearing on the merits at the district level. Or you can take in en banc for the emergency hearing also at the ninth circuit and yes, you could pursue additional executive actions. The bottom line is that we are pursuing every single possible action to keep our country safe from terrorism and I also want to be clear we’ve heard a lot of talk about how all the branches of government are equal. That’s the point. They are equal. There’s no such thing as judicial supremacy. What the judges did, both at the ninth and at the district level was to take power for themselves that belongs squarely in the hands of the president of the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

Well you say that very definitively, but obviously there isn’t an agreed upon that. Why are you so confident that, for instance, that you believe there is a 1952 law that gives the president the power to decide who can come in and out of this country on a temporary basis. Why do you believe that law supersedes 1965’s which says you cannot essentially decide on who comes in based on origin?

STEPHEN MILLER:

That’s a great question and I’ll answer it in full. First of all, we know that the 1952 law you’re referring to is 212(f) 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) because if it didn't have controlling supremacy between those two clauses that would mean, Chuck, that during a time of war that the president of the United States couldn't suspend admissions from the very country they were at war with. So obviously that's the controlling clause.

Secondly, this is not a decision based upon national origins. It's a decision based upon security conditions in those countries. Syria is a disaster zone. Libya is in ruins. Yemen has a massive resurgent terrorism movement. These are decisions based upon the ability of those countries to cooperate with our intelligence services.

As you know, Chuck, this was a decision made in 2015 and '16 in terms of designating these countries. We simply took that intelligence assessment and we took firm action to restrict entry. And the bottom line is is the president of the United States, both under his Article 2 foreign powers, under the 1952 statute has the power to control who enters our country. And you know and I know that no foreign national living in Yemen or any other country has a constitutional right to demand entry into our country.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, I understand that. But I guess I go back to if you do that, if this was about the security of the country, why wasn't Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, I can keep going down the list, where we have had foreign nationals from those countries that I've listed attempt terrorist acts in this country?

STEPHEN MILLER:

Well, that's a great question. First of all, 72 individuals according to the Center for Immigration Studies have been implicated in terroristic activity in the United States who hail from those seven nations. Point one. Point two, the security determination about those countries is based upon an assessment of the threat they present today and going into the future. The security situation in Libya, Yemen, Syria and other countries designated are squarely different today than they were in, say, 2001 or 2005 or 2010.

CHUCK TODD:

But San Bernardino--

STEPHEN MILLER:

So while it's absolutely true--

CHUCK TODD:

--but Mr. Miller, but San Bernardino happened, the whole point of the president's, as a candidate, the whole point of this idea at the time of a full Muslim ban and then he has since tapered it back was in response to San Bernardino where the spouse came from Saudi Arabia, of Pakistan origin.

STEPHEN MILLER:

Well, you're 100%--

CHUCK TODD:

Neither--

STEPHEN MILLER:

--well, first of all--

CHUCK TODD:

--neither country on your list.

STEPHEN MILLER:

--you're 100% correct. You're 100% correct that the San Bernardino incident demonstrated the profound degree to which our immigration system is vulnerable to terrorism. And the F.B.I. has information right now that would clearly indicate the extent to which massive numbers of court cases are happening and have happened all over our country relating to terrorist infiltration of our immigration system.

But if you look at the executive order, what it spells out is a 90-day period to put in place extreme vetting across the board. So the first seven countries are based upon our determination about the security conditions in those countries and their ability to cooperate with us.

But there's a 30-day period where new security measures are promulgated and a 60-day compliance period. And, Chuck, I will be glad to come back on your show when that's done and walk you through how we've kept our country safe across the board from individuals coming into our country who don't share our values and who don't love our people.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it's interesting you say about sharing values in this vetting process. I want to ask this, number one, are you going to make public the new vetting procedures?

STEPHEN MILLER:

Well, first of all, I'll suppose there will be aspects of those that will be public. And I'm sure that for reasons of national security there'll be aspects of those that won't be. I mean, obviously if you're engaged in a vetting procedure of a foreign national in a dangerous region, you don't want them to have a road map for everything they should say and do to get around those procedures. We don't want to forecast all of that.

But there are obviously elements of it that would be part of routine, online forms that everybody could see. So it just depends. But I think the important thing is this, 80 million people traveled into the United States last year through the airports, seaports or land ports. We, as a sovereign nation have the right to impose basic restrictions on entry to ensure our security, our quality of life, our economic and financial well-being.

And the bottom line, the bottom line is that a district judge, a district judge in Seattle cannot make immigration law for the United States, cannot give foreign nationals and foreign countries rights they do not have, and cannot prevent the president of the United States from suspending the admission of refugees from Syria.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me go to the issue of immigration as a whole. Do you believe there's too much legal immigration in this country?

STEPHEN MILLER:

I believe that we should have a program in which American workers are given jobs first. The president campaigned on this. It's an issue where the labor unions agree with us. It's an issue where many Democrat members of Congress agree with us. If you have an open job in this country, a U.S. citizen or existing legal permanent resident ought to have the ability to make the first application for that job.

The problem is and the way the media covers this issue, present company excluded, is they don't spend enough time talking about the well-being of the 300 million people here today. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, many of whom are living in poverty, many of whom haven't seen wage growth in 20, 30 years.

And it's time we talked about them, their needs, their families and their concerns. And yes, we'll have a lawful immigration system. And we'll enrich and benefit our country. But the president has made clear he believes that should be a merit-based system where individuals coming into the country bring the kinds of benefits economically that will grow our economy and help lift up wages for everybody.

CHUCK TODD:

But you didn't answer the question. Do you and the president believe there's too much legal immigration?

STEPHEN MILLER:

I think that I look forward to us rolling out immigration reforms. And I'll be able to announce very clearly when we do that what those do. I think that my views on this issue have been well-discussed and well-publicized. And I'd love to have a conversation with you to get into them in great detail.

Where we're focused right now is two things, protecting the security of our country through interior enforcement and through screening of entrance. And additionally, by ensuring that before a job is given to a foreign national, that job is offered first to an American worker, either a legal permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I'm going to ask about what appears to be an immigration enforcement surge that has taken place over the last week. And it goes to the other executive order that had to do with immigration that was signed. When, what is-- How do you define a criminal act by an undocumented immigrant in this country? Is the, just being undocumented here illegally, is that enough of a criminal act to get you deported under this order?

STEPHEN MILLER:

The order describes a criminal offense which would typically mean anything from a misdemeanor to a felony. In particular, the emphasis is on crimes that threaten or endanger public safety. But as you well know you cannot order a federal law enforcement officer in ICE any more than you can in the F.B.I. or the DEA or the marshal service to ignore the laws of the United States.

It would be highly unethical for me in the White House or anybody else to pick up the phone and call an ICE officer and say, "Well, when you encounter this particular felon we'd like you to pretend the law doesn't exist." But I can tell you right now there are enforcement actions happening all over this country in which gang members, drug dealers--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand.

STEPHEN MILLER:

--sex offenders--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand the h-- felons.

STEPHEN MILLER:

--are being swept up.

CHUCK TODD:

What about if the only crime they've committed was being here illegally? Is that enough to be deported?

STEPHEN MILLER:

Sean, an immigration-- I mean Chuck, an immigration judge makes those decisions. An ICE officer makes those decisions. I and the White House don't make those decisions.

CHUCK TODD:

So you've not--

STEPHEN MILLER:

If people don't like, if people don’t like--

CHUCK TODD:

--told them to prioritize or, in either direction?

STEPHEN MILLER:

--if people don't like the immigration laws of the United States they can reform them. Our emphasis is on deporting and removing criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety. And I just want to say this, there's been a lot of coverage in the news about the effects of these enforcement actions on people who are here illegally.

And that's an issue people are free to discuss. But what's more important and what should be discussed more is the lives that are being saved, Chuck. The American lives that are being saved because we're taking enforcement action. And when we didn't take those actions in the past, you have families like the Wilkerson family and the Root family and the Mendoza family who lost people they loved because we were more concerned about the effects of enforcement on people here illegally than on the well-being of lawful immigrants and U.S. citizens.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, so it sounds to me as if you're saying there is no-- you did not tell ICE workers who to prioritize. And there is--

STEPHEN MILLER:

No that's not correct. I'm saying that I, in the White House, it would be improper for me to tell them to disengage from an enforcement action. The president has been clear, equivocal-- unequivocal and explicit in saying that we are going to focus on removing individuals who pose a threat to public safety including people who are gang members who have been charged with--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that.

STEPHEN MILLER:

--criminal offenses, who have been multiple immigration violations, who have been deported and reentered. I have a question, what would you say, Chuck, what would you say to a family member who lost someone they loved because an illegal immigrant who'd been deported two times and had a misdemeanor conviction was allowed to come back into the country a third time because that wasn't deemed a priority and they lost someone they loved? Would you say, "Well, I'm sorry. It didn't meet our priority scale." We're going to focus on public safety and saving American lives and we will not apologize--

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Miller--

STEPHEN MILLER:

--for that.

CHUCK TODD:

--before I let you go, does the president still have confidence in his national security advisor?

STEPHEN MILLER:

That's the question that I think you should ask the president, the question you should ask Reince, the chief of staff. I'm here today as a policy advisor. And my focus was on answering the policy questions that you have. General Flynn has served his country admirably. He is a three-star general. He's head of the defense intelligence agency. And I look forward to having more discussions about this in the future.

CHUCK TODD:

So the White House did not give you anything to say other than--

STEPHEN MILLER:

They did not give me--

CHUCK TODD:

--that on General Flynn?

STEPHEN MILLER:

--anything to say.

CHUCK TODD:

So you cannot say--

STEPHEN MILLER:

Asked and answered, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

--whether or not the president still has confidence in his national security advisor?

STEPHEN MILLER:

It's not for me to tell you what's in the president's mind. That's a question for the president--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me--

STEPHEN MILLER:

--that’s a question for a chief of staff. Asked and answered, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this, if you were caught misleading the vice president of the United States, would that be considered a fireable offense in the Trump White House?

STEPHEN MILLER:

It's not for me to answer hypotheticals. It wouldn't be responsible. It's a sensitive matter. General Flynn has served his country admirably. He served his country with distinction. And I look forward to having a conversation with you once you've had a chance to talk with the appropriate people in the White House who are dealing with this matter.

CHUCK TODD:

Stephen.

STEPHEN MILLER:

It would not be appropriate for me to speculate.

CHUCK TODD:

Stephen Miller, senior policy advisor to the president, thanks for coming on, sir.

STEPHEN MILLER:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Appreciate you sharing your views.

STEPHEN MILLER:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is one of the leaders of the Democratic Party these days, though he's actually still not technically a member of the Democratic Party, it's Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Senator Sanders, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start on this, the travel ban and immigration in general. And let me ask the question to you this way, do you think the current procedures that we have to vet refugees, to vet folks that are coming into this country, do you think it needs to be improved? Do you think it is a safety risk right now?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I think that the vetting mechanisms we have now are very, very strong. If anybody has an idea as to how we can make them stronger, let's go forward. I don't think there's any debate whether you're progressive, conservative or anybody else that we want to keep the United States safe and we want to be 100% clear that anybody who comes into this country should not be coming into this country to do us harm.

But what you just heard Mr. Miller say is a shell game. While-- where there's a whole lot of discussion about the racist, in my view, immigration policies of the Trump administration which are based on anti-Muslim ideology, which are doing us enormous harm all over the world, something else is going on at the exact same moment.

And that President Trump is backtracking on every economic promise that he made to the American people when he told workers and senior citizens he was not going to cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid. So what's going on right now, we're talking a whole lot about immigration, he is appointing Wall Street bankers, the same people he told us he would oppose, to very high positions. Gary Cohn has gotten to $250 million severance package from Goldman Sachs. He is now the main financial advisor. So we're talking a whole lot about dividing the American people up. We're supposed to hate Muslims. We're supposed to hate Latinos. We're supposed to hate blacks.

CHUCK TODD:

So you think all of this is--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Meanwhile--

CHUCK TODD:

--a shiny, metal object? You think all of this is a shiny, metal object right now to distract the public, divide the public?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

You got it. You got it. Meanwhile, meanwhile he was going to clean the swamp. Remember that?

CHUCK TODD:

Uh-huh.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, guess who's running the swamp right now? The same exact Wall Street guys from Goldman Sachs who were there in the past. So we're all talking about who do we hate tomorrow? Is it the Muslims? Is it Latinos? Who are we supposed to hate?

And let's remember that when Mr. Trump some years ago helped lead the birther effort to undermine the legitimacy of the first African-American president in our history. It was trying to divide us up. And what I say to the American people, stay focused. Stay focused. Do you want billionaires and Wall Street executives to be running this economy? Or do we want economic policies that work for working families and the middle class?

CHUCK TODD:

I want--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Where is the discussion about raising the minimum wage to a living wage? Pay equity for women--

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this, Senator, we've seen a lot of anti-Trump activism over the last three weeks. Once again, every Saturday of his presidency so far we've seen some protests. There's a lot of energy in the progressive movement. But there's a lot of debate about what Democrats should do about it. First of all, do you believe this is a Tea Party for the left? And, if so, what lessons did you learn in '09 that you think can be learned by the Democrats now?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

No, it's not a Tea Party because the Tea Party was essentially funded by the billionaire Koch brothers family. This is a spontaneous and grassroots uprising of the American people. And let me just mention to you, Chuck, you may be the first to hear this, on February 25th, two weeks from yesterday there is, in fact, going to be rallies all over this country.

And I think you're going to see people in conservative areas, in progressive areas asking the Republicans, "What are you going to do when you throw 20 million people off of health insurance? How many of them are going to die? What's your plan? What are you going to do when you raise prescription drug costs on average $2,000 for senior citizens? Are you going to really repeal the protection against pre-existing conditions so that people who have cancer or heart disease will no longer be able to get insurance? You're going to throw kids off their parents' health insurance program?" Republicans are going to have to start answering those questions. And the American people are pretty clear, overwhelmingly they want to improve the Affordable Care Act. They do not want to simply repeal it.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let me ask you a question, some of your former staffers including Nick Brana has a Draft Bernie for a People's Party movement. Essentially they want to start a new political party. In this statement it said this, "Despite Bernie Sanders’ monumental endeavor to bring people into the Democratic Party, people are leaving it by the millions. The collective efforts to reform the party cannot stem the tide of people who are going independent, let alone expand the Democratic base." What do you say to those efforts?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I say two things, right now we are in a pivotal moment in American history. We have a president who is delusional in many respects, a pathological liar, somebody who is trying to--

CHUCK TODD:

Those are strong words.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

--divide us up.

CHUCK TODD:

Can you work with--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Those are strong words.

CHUCK TODD:

Can you work with a pathological liar?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, it makes life very difficult, not just for me. And I don't mean, you know, I know it sounds, it is very harsh. But I think that's the truth. When somebody goes before you and the American people, say, "Three to five million people voted illegally in the last election," nobody believes that. There is not the scintilla of evidence.

What would you call that remark? It's a lie. It's a delusion. But second of all, to answer your question, I think what we need to do right now is focusing on bringing the American people together around a progressive agenda. American people want to raise the minimum wage. They want to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. They want the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes. They want the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people as a right.

CHUCK TODD:

So if the Democratic Party isn't that vehicle then you would support something like that? But you still believe the Democratic--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

No right now--

CHUCK TODD:

--Party is that vehicle?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

--right now, Chuck, I am working to bring fundamental reform to the Democratic Party, to open the doors of the Democratic Party to working people, to lower income people, to young people who have not felt welcome in the embrace of the Democratic Party.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I got to leave it there. Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for coming on and sharing your views, sir. Appreciate it. Coming up--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

--many on the left say the Democrats should oppose President Trump at every turn but not everyone agrees including one former Democratic senator who says there are some areas where maybe the two sides can work together.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, panel is here. Former North Carolina governor, Pat McCrory debuts on the panel, Katty Kay, anchor of BBC's World News America, Greta Van Susteren, host of MSNBC's For the Record, her first ever appearance right here on Meet the Press and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson. So Greta, just don't make it your last.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

It what--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we'll find out at the end of the show whether this is your first or last appearance.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

I don't know. It took 70 years. It took a long time.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

No pressure.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly I want to go to North Korea and then I want to go to the interviews that I had. Very quickly, you've been to North Korea numerous times. Your best read of the intent of this missile test, a test of Trump?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

We're in trouble. North Korea's done five nuclear tests. Two were in the year 2016. And now we have the second test a ballistic missile. And we've got a situation where obviously this was done to rattle the president because the Prime Minister of Japan was here. No president's been able to handle this country. And this country is very paranoid and they don't like us. And it's terrifying where they're headed.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah and I think we don't know yet how he'll respond. And I think all presidents get tested early it seems like these days by that. I want to go to what we just heard here on the travel ban and on immigration. It's been a rough week, Eugene, for him. And it seems like some of this really is more process than policy.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Yeah, it's more process than politics. And it's the president's own reaction really to what he sees, apparently, as the illegitimacy of the federal judiciary or its ability to do what the judicial branch is supposed to do which is tell us, you know, interpret the law and tell us whether or not it's constitutional. And it was interesting to hear Stephen Miller say that, you know, one judge can't do this. One judge can't, you know, stop this huge thing the president do. In fact, he can. He did.

CHUCK TODD:

One judge does it a lot.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

It happens a lot.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor McCrory, you know about judges doing things. And one judge has a lot of power.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

But you look it here, you know, there's been a growing amount of conservative columnists who have been arguing that perhaps this is-- we've got a competency issue right now in the White House. Is that what you see?

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

No I think what we see is a typical behavior of a new administration. Let's go back in history, the Clinton administration, remember all the t-shirts in the White House. People didn't know what they were doing. They made a lot of rookie mistakes. The Hillarycare had no idea about the communication or process of that.

The Obamacare, they didn't have an IT system on how to implement it, major, major breakdown in a major institution during the first three or four months of the Obama administration. We're seeing some breakdowns in process, the homeland security director admitted we made some mistakes.

I want to bring you back to what governors were saying six months ago and that is this, the F.B.I. told them and told the nation that the venting process was not acceptable, especially in countries like Syria that have a total breakdown of government.

The second thing that governors were saying was this that once the refugees came to the United States there was almost no communication with the F.B.I. or with government, state government, homeland security officials on where these immigrants go to. And that's a long-term security issue that I'm glad the Trump administration is dealing with.

CHUCK TODD:

Katty, what did you hear on the other part, the other order we talked about with Stephen Miller? On it seemed that he was dancing around whether there is a priority now on essentially deporting anybody who's committed a crime no matter the level of crime?

KATTY KAY:

He was really choosing his language carefully I thought on the question of whether being in the United States, in and of itself, constitutes enough of a crime to get you deported. Now one of the confusing things at the moment that's going on in this administration is trying to sort out what is new and different and really changing America? And what is political theatrics and what is language? Because we have so much and we're sort of at day 23. It feels like 230. I feel I'm 230. It's so much coming in.

CHUCK TODD:

Year three.

KATTY KAY:

Trying to sort out what is this quantifiably different from President Obama or have there just been a lot of stories in the press because immigrants are understandably, illegal immigrants, are afraid.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

And--

KATTY KAY:

And so they're worried.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

--and President Obama did deport--

--he did deport people who were here illegally, undocumented but who had not committed crimes. And what he did is he prioritized it because we have limited amount of resources.

KATTY KAY:

So what's different and what's not different--

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

Probably nothing. Probably nothing.

KATTY KAY:

--Stephen didn't clarify that.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly, what did you hear on Mike Flynn?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Oh exactly. That's just what I was going to bring up. I heard a very sort of non-committal response on Flynn. The White House didn't give me anything to say on it. Ooh. Ooh.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

As a former governor, you depend upon your staff to give you direct, accurate, honest information, especially if as a governor or vice president you've got to defend it.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

But he survives. He definitely survives because Jeremy Bash who worked in the Obama administration at the C.I.A. under Panetta said that he didn't have a problem with him talking to the Russian ambassador during the transition. The problem of course is what was said to Vice President Pence--

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

--but in this town, he'll survive.

CHUCK TODD:

It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up. Isn’t that the famous --

KATTY KAY:

It makes it look like the president and the vice president don't know what's going on behind them. I think that's a very difficult position for Flynn to have put himself in.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

This White House is not given to understatement, right? And so now -- that was a very understated response.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Pence has experience in this area as a former governor, former congressman I think this--

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

But this is a city of no consequences.

CHUCK TODD:

You think that this is up to Pence whether Flynn stays or goes.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I think it's what we find out what he actually told Pence. And Pence depended upon accurate information and stuck his neck out for him.

CHUCK TODD:

He sure did. Very interesting. Alright, guys, I'm going to pause it here. You will be back, of course. But when I come back I'll be speaking with former senator Jim Webb who says the election of Donald Trump was a shock that maybe the political system needed. Remember, he's a Democrat.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, my next guest is part of a rare and dying breed, a centrist and a moderate. A moderate Democrat. Jim Webb was secretary of navy under Republican President Ronald Reagan. He voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore. But by 2006 he had switched parties to become a Democrat and he won a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. Jim Webb takes a somewhat more optimistic view of the potential for a Trump presidency. And he joins me now, Senator Webb, welcome back to the show.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, nice to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

So let's put some context to your words when you wrote an op-ed right before, literally the day before the inauguration in the Wall Street Journal. And it was mostly on foreign policy where you were saying, "There's something about his election is a jolt the system needed or a shock that it needed." What --explain.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, you know, in so many words here. I didn't say that the system needed a President Trump. But I've been saying for a long time that the system that we're operating under needs some sort of a, you would call it, jolt. You know, I think both parties have sort of gotten calcified.

And let's remember that if Hillary Clinton had won you would be seeing the same sort of activities that you're seeing now. They would just be focused on different things. There would be people out there saying she belonged in jail. There would be people talking about corruption. Turnstile government, et cetera, et cetera.

So what we're seeing playing out right now, first of all, as the governor mentioned this is a new administration, you know, getting its wheels under it. But at the same time, this is an attempt by President Trump to pull different types of people into the system from the old turnstile government. There's a lot of Republicans that are mad at him who are sitting out there in the think tanks thinking that they were going to come into a Republican administration.

And also he's got a payback I think that he feels strongly about in terms of the people who actually put him over, these voters that were alienated, were not voting. And these issues, controversial issues, that he's putting out in a wrong kind of forum I think are issues of credibility. On the Democrats, first of all, they're looking at 2018. And they don't have a message. They don't have a--

CHUCK TODD:

Speak to them as they, by the way.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

--well, you know.

CHUCK TODD:

You don't say we. Is there a reason?

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

I'm not in the system right now as, you know, I'm over here with you right now--

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. Okay.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

--bit of my life as a writer and a journalist. And it's a good place to be about making these observations.

CHUCK TODD:

Then welcome back. And finish the observation.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, you know, there is a campaign going on on the Hill, in the media, in the academia to personally discredit not only Donald Trump but the people who are around him. And, you know, the end result of this really is try and to slow down the process, by the way. You and I were talking a minute ago about the confirmation process, it's slow it down so that by 18 when the Democrats are very vulnerable particularly in the Senate they will not be a record of accomplishment that they can run against.

And at the same time the Democratic Party over the past five or six years has moved very far to the left. You know, when you can't have a Jefferson/Jackson dinner which was the primary, you know, celebratory event of the Democratic Party for years because Jefferson and Jackson were slaveholders, they were also great American in their day, something just different has happened to the Democratic Party.

CHUCK TODD:

You think that they're too focused on identity politics?

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, I think that the message that has been shaped by the Democratic Party has been shaped toward identity politics. And they've lost the key part of their base, the people in, you know, my family history goes back to the Roosevelt Democrats, the people who believed that regardless of any of these identity segments you need to have a voice in a quarters of power for those who have no voice. And we've lost that with the Democratic Party. I'm not saying the Republicans have it. But--

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say the center's been hollowed out. You can make an argument that the political center in both parties, because right now if you espouse that you were running for reelection, any Democrat were espousing what you just espoused which is, you know what, look, essentially you're saying, hey, start working with him a little bit, accept the fact that he's President, you'd get primaried. And you'd probably lose.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, true. Well, I don't know about--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand you, but I'm saying Democratic incumbent.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Generally, you know.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

That is a danger to people who would say those sorts of things. But the Democrats have not done the kind of self-reflection that they should have starting 2010. And I was talking about this in the '10 elections. You've lost white working people. You've lost flyover land.

And you saw in this election what happens when people get frustrated enough that they say, "I'm not going take this aristocracy." You know, Bernie, good friend of mine. Bernie can talk about aristocracies all he wants. You know, the fact that you've made money doesn't make you a member of that philosophy. Look at Franklin Roosevelt. But there is an aristocracy now that pervades American politics. It's got to be broken somehow in both parties. And I think that's what the Trump message was that echoed so strongly in these flyover communities.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you on the election, you stayed away from saying who you supported in the election. I know that Tim Kaine is somebody you have a lot of respect for. I can't imagine you didn't vote for him.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

I voted for Tim Kaine for Senator.

CHUCK TODD:

For Senator. At the end of the day, are you comfortable with your vote, with whoever you voted for?

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

I'm comfortable for my vote and my vote is private to me. But at the same time, you know, I will say that I did not endorse Hillary Clinton. I had a lot of the concerns that, you know, people in my group that I've grown up with have. And the Democratic Party's got to do some real, hard looks at whether or not they are going to expand and get back working people who used to be the core of their party.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you done with politics?

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

I'm over here with you right now.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I will leave it there. Senator Jim Webb apparently coming back to the journalism world. We’d welcome you back--

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

For sure. Anyway, thanks for coming on. Coming up, voting with your wallet. When President Trump praised L.L.Bean last month people in many red states started buying L.L.Bean while traffic from loyal blue states dropped. Turns out, not an isolated incident. Nordstrom was next. And this may be the start of a trend. That's after the break.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back, data download time. Are the choices we make with our credit cards becoming just as political as the ones we make at the ballot box? In the early days of the Trump era that may be the case. As we noted earlier, President Trump criticized Nordstrom for dropping his daughter, Ivanka's, line from its stores, claiming she was treated, quote, "Unfairly and it was terrible."

Nordstrom said it didn't drop parts of the line over politics but over simply poor performance. And to prove their decision correct the president's criticism isn't hurting Nordstrom's bottom line. If anything it has helped proving it was a good business decision. Traffic to the Nordstrom website went up 28 percent the day of the President's tweet. And Nordstrom's stock closed up 4.1 percent the same day. It may not be surprising given Nordstrom's customer base. According to Simmons Research both Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack are in the top ten list of stores where people who describe themselves as liberal shop.

In fact, folks living in the top 100 counties that voted for Hillary Clinton are more than twice as likely to shop at Nordstrom than the average American. And folks living in Trump's top 100 counties, they didn't shop at Nordstrom at all.

And then there's the L.L.Bean episode. When Mr. Trump praised the company, the seven states that typically produce the most traffic to L.L.Bean's website saw drops in traffic almost across the board. A lot of blue states there. While the seven states with the least traffic to the site almost all went up by a lot. Quite a few red states there. Many of those trends did reverse themselves, by the way, the following week.

Still, big picture. Americans cast their ballots in November. But guess what? They're still voting. Only this time they're doing so with their wallets. When we come back those town hall protests against Republicans. Are we seeing the beginning of a tea movement on the left?

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

(BEGIN TAPE)

PROTESTERS:Do your job. Do your job. Do your job.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, these are scenes from town halls, that was suburban Salt Lake City, Utah, Greensboro, Georgia, the chants of “do your job” in Salt Lake City came from, came after Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the house oversight committee told the gathering that President Trump is exempt from conflict of interest laws, which is true.

Chaffetz was one of a number of Republicans this week who got a taste of what Tea Party supporters did to Democrats in 2009. And guys, we just saw, Katty, sort of the two visions of where the Democratic Party should go in Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb.

KATTY KAY:

Yeah, this is Georgia and Utah we’re looking at pictures from, right?

CHUCK TODD:

That's right. Yeah.

KATTY KAY:

And the Democrats, the base there even is furious. They are trying to drag the leadership to the left. But that puts Democrats who are in red states who are up for reelection in an incredibly difficult position. Take someone like Claire McCaskill who openly says, "I'm in a bind. I don't know what to do. And that doesn't happen to me very often." Because if she goes with her base and then she loses the election and she's at 47%--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Right.

KATTY KAY:

--approval--

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Follow the money.

KATTY KAY:

--then they have a problem in the Senate more broadly.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, look, but the party is going to the left. I mean, that's, you know, you see what's happening out there. You see these protests every week. It has really sort of energized the Democratic sort of coalition in the way that, frankly--

KATTY KAY:

--half a dozen--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

--in the way that the Tea Party did on the right.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Follow the money. Follow the money. You know, Senator Sanders mentioned the money going to the Tea Party. The money is going to the Bernie Sanders wing. Do you think all these protests are not being paid?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

But the thing is--

CHUCK TODD:

Can I just say-- By the way, everybody always thinks--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

But paid protests--

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

It takes money to coordinate these protests.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

No it doesn't. It takes the internet. It takes the internet to coordinate. But, you know what, this is political--

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

No, it takes money.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

--but I think Senator Webb was right in when he spoke to you. I think he's saying that the Democratic Party is committing political suicide.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I agree.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

He talked about how the Jefferson/Jackson dinners, about the Democratic Party moving too far to the left, that they've lost the white working people which Vice President Biden also said. That, and he didn't even endorse Hillary Clinton, the senator, he told you. And he said that the Democratic Party is ignoring the flyover states, which, by the way, I'm from a flyover state, I might say. But I think that they should listen to Kaine because I don't--

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I do too.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

--I mean, to Webb.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

But there’s an evisceration--

KATTY KAY:

But the counterargument is they have to keep the protests. They don't feel, from the left, that they are going to get anything from this administration. There is going to be no area in which they're going to compromise. And therefore they want to keep the protests up on the street and they want to keep the pressure on the government that way.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

But there's an evisceration, but the left wants to eviscerate Donald Trump. And anyone purged around--

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

But, do you know what, but the thing is I think the American people are just--

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

--even Tom Brady, the New England Patriots’ owner--

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, this is very familiar to me. It is what the Tea Party message was about President Obama--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

As if the Tea Party didn't want to eviscerate--

CHUCK TODD:

And by the way--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

--Barack Obama?

CHUCK TODD:

--politically, it was successful.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Yes, that's the thing.

CHUCK TODD:

But for governing, this is not.

KATTY KAY:

What did Republicans lose over the last eight years by being obstructionist? Not very much.

CHUCK TODD:

The 2012 presidential election, I would argue.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

But that’s all.

KATTY KAY:

But they--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

And they've won every other level. And that's the next step for this, you know, Democratic kind of like the Tea Party movement. For the protest movement, this is start winning at the local level, the grassroots level.

CHUCK TODD:

But let me ask you this--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

State legislative--

CHUCK TODD:

And governor, I want you to have last word on this, it's something we discussed in break which is your party pulled you to the right. All right? There's plenty of evidence that says that in some of these things that hit you and cost you your reelection were not things that were priorities for you. But it was priorities for your base. You couldn’t-- you felt like you couldn't fight your base. What's your advice to the Democrats?

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I think Elizabeth Warren's doing the same thing to the Democratic Party. I think some of the left-wing protesters, the coordination of a lot of left-wing groups are pulling the entire party to the left. And I agree with the senator that there is a purging.

I mean, look at even the Nordstrom's issue with Trump's daughter where those sales are going down because there was pressure on them not to buy that product. The pressure right now on people even attaching themselves to the president and impacting their business is so strong that it's a heck of a campaign. Whether that's a long-term strategy, I don't think it is. It's not a good one.

CHUCK TODD:

We’ll be-- We're going to come back. We're going to take a quick break. End Game and a debate over what defines freedom in America. Very provocative piece by Andrew Sullivan.

ANNOUNCER:

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CHUCK TODD:

Back now with end game. And we have such a good conversation the panel is still talking. But I'm going to throw another little thing to you guys and let you have at it. Andrew Sullivan, very provocative in New York Magazine, this excerpt here. "Free society means being free of those who rule over you, to do the things you care about, your passions, your pastimes, your love. To exult in the blessed space where politics doesn't intervene. In that sense it seems to me we are already living in a country with markedly less freedom than we did a month ago." His larger argument being, Greta, that if we're thinking about politics all the time it must mean we're fearing our freedoms are being taken away. What do you say to that?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

Well, look, there are some freedoms that are taken away. When I went to college we fought for the first amendment. Now you go to college you've got these safe spaces. I mean, I think there are, I mean, there's something, there are sort of curbs on our rights. But I think we'll get through it. We've had rousing battles before in history. We'll get through it. And, you know, I like a robust debate.

CHUCK TODD:

National emergency is also another phrase that Andrew Sullivan.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Eugene?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Yeah, and there's a feeling among I think a lot of people that there's a national emergency. President Trump basically says it, you know, "I alone can fix it. Everything's going to hell." And people who oppose President Trump feel his presidency is an emergency. As these executive orders come out in this flurry of, you know, ten things every day.

KATTY KAY:

I wonder whether the question isn't whether this is going to normalize. We all feel overwhelmed, the country I think feels overwhelmed and exhausted by the amount that's been going on. And some of this is a learning process. You get elected as a populist precisely because you don't know much about government. That's what appeals to people.

CHUCK TODD:

That's right.

KATTY KAY:

Then you have an incredible learning curve when you come in, not just populist movements here. But this is a lesson for France and Holland and the U.K. as well. And the question I think is can you have that insurgency in the populism and normal functioning government for people?

CHUCK TODD:

Sustainable.

KATTY KAY:

And I think we don't know yet.

CHUCK TODD:

Sustainable way--

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Well, that's going to be in the details. Like Bernie Sanders talked about Obamacare. What are the changes? By the way, I'm probably the first panelist to ever be on Cobra Insurance because I recently lost--

KATTY KAY:

I'm on Cobra--

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Are you on Cobra? I've got 16 months. But now I'm looking at how much does insurance cost under Obamacare. It is extremely expensive. This is going to be an extremely complex issue that moves beyond populism.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

But, you know, what the secret--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Did you set up on Exchange?

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I'm staying on Cobra as long as I can. That's $1,100 a month. And for a middle class family that's a lot per year, of net-income coming out of your pocket.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN:

The interesting thing about Obamacare is that the Republicans fought it when it was passed because it gave so much power to the secretary of HHS, Sebelius. And enormous, there's, like, 2,200 to 2,500 references within this statute. Well, now the shoe's on the other foot. Now a Republican HHS secretary can do so much.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor, before I let you go, NBA All-Star weekend is not going to be in North Carolina next weekend, okay? It does have to do with the bill you signed, HB2 hadn't been repealed yet. And I want to get, you and I have had a back and forth on this, do you now look back on it and wish you hadn't signed it?

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

No. But I'm very concerned about this Orwellian purging of cities and states. The Super Bowl was just played in Houston, Texas where they have the exact same law as North Carolina. And yet there was no boycott of the Super Bowl.

CHUCK TODD:

The NFL has said they may take the Super Bowl. It's hinted they could take the Super Bowl away from Houston.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Well, they played it this week and had absolutely no problems in Houston, Texas. The NCAA played in Houston, Texas last year. No problems whatsoever. So there's a little selective hypocrisy right now in our country on which issues we're going to boycott and which issues are we not going to boycott.

CHUCK TODD:

I am out of--

KATTY KAY:

Market forces.

CHUCK TODD:

--time.

FMR. GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Market forces. No doubt about it.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you all. That's all we have for today. We'll be back next week. I hope you took my advice on the Wizards. I told you. See? They're paying off. It's a good bandwagon to jump on. If it's Sunday it's Meet the Press.

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