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Meet the Press - July 3, 2016

Meet the Press - July 3, 2016

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, Hillary Clinton, emails, and the F.B.I. The F.B.I. interviews Clinton for three and a half hours about her email server. This morning, her first interview since that meeting.

SEC.. HILLARY CLINTON:

I've been eager to do it and I was pleased to have the opportunity to assist the department in bringing its review to a conclusion.

CHUCK TODD:

The email story plus Bill Clinton's tarmac meeting with the attorney general--

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

Both the attorney general and my husband have said they would not do it again.

CHUCK TODD:

--are just the latest example to why voters have trust issues with Clinton. Also, terror 2016, as attacks around the world become the new normal, ISIS becomes the bigger part of the presidential campaign.

DONALD TRUMP:

They have dreams at night and their dreams are that Hillary Clinton becomes president of our country. Believe me.

CHUCK TODD:

How will terror impact the election? My interview with Senator Tom Cotton, one of President Obama's sharpest critics. Plus, our new NBC News 2016 battleground map, the big states that have shifted, and what it means for November. And finally, is it time to bring back the smoke-filled room? Yes, says the author of The Atlantic Magazine cover story, how American politics went insane.

Joining me for insight and analysis this Sunday morning are some of the campaign reporters from NBC News, Andrea Mitchell, Katie Tur, Kasie Hunt, and Kelly O'Donnell. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning and a happy Independence Day weekend to everyone. We may be nearing the final chapter of the Hillary Clinton email saga. Yesterday, the F.B.I. interviewed Hillary Clinton for about three and a half hours at its headquarters right here in Washington D.C. about the use of her private email server while she was secretary of State. I spoke with the former secretary late yesterday on MSNBC, her only interview since meeting with the F.B.I., and asked her whether the description of the interview as "civil and businesslike" was accurate.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

Well, it was both. It was something I had offered to do since last August. I've been eager to do it and I was pleased to have the opportunity to assist the department in bringing its review to a conclusion.

CHUCK TODD:

How did your private server, where you kept this classified information, some of which was retroactive, I understand, after your term as Secretary of State, how is that not a violation of this code?

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified. And there is a process for the review of material before it is released to the public. And there were decisions made that material should be classified, I do call that retroactively classifying. So therefore it would not be publicly released. But that doesn't change the fact as I have explained many times.

CHUCK TODD:

Who advised you that it was perfectly legal for you to have a private server and have this information on there as Secretary of State. Who gave you that advice?

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

I'm not going to go into any more detail than I already have in public, many times, as you certainly know, out of respect for the process that the department is conducting. So I'm not going to comment any further on the review. But I've been answering questions now for over a year. I've released more than 55,000 pages of my emails for the public to read for themselves. I will continue to be as forthcoming as I can and my answer that I first gave more than a year ago, I stand by.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

At the same time, there was another story Clinton would love to try to leave behind, that tarmac meeting at the Phoenix airport between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Given Hillary Clinton's email troubles, the impromptu exchange was seen by her opponents as evidence of a conspiracy. Even by supporters though, as just bad optics. On MSNBC yesterday, I asked for her reaction to the meeting.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

Well, I learned about it in the news. And it was a short, chance meeting at an airport tarmac. Both of their planes, as I understand it, were landing on the same tarmac at about the same time, and the attorney general's husband was there, they said hello, they talked about grandkids, which is very much on our minds these days, golf, their mutual friend, former Attorney General Janet Reno, it was purely social. They did not veer off of speaking about those kinds of very common exchanges.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you understand why many in the public, many, some of them are political opponents of yours, some are supporters that thought that was a bad decision by your husband, that that was a mistake and he should have known better?

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

Well, I think hindsight's 20-20. Both the attorney general and my husband have said that they wouldn't do it again even though it was, from all accounts that I have heard and seen, an exchange of pleasantries. But obviously, no one wants to see any untoward conclusions drawn, and they said they would not do it again.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Those two stories, the emails, the tarmac meeting, appearing in rapid succession are a reminder that while Donald Trump has had a terrible few weeks, Hillary Clinton has her own issues. And they all revolve around trust.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

The interview that's been anticipated for months happened behind closed doors at F.B.I. headquarters for three and a half hours, according to Clinton aides. It's a sign the email investigation that has dogged Clinton's campaign may finally be drawing to a close. And that tarmac meeting--

DONALD TRUMP:

Bill Clinton goes in the other day into an airplane, just happened to be, oh, just a coincidence.

CHUCK TODD:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the meeting on her private plane in Phoenix was a social call, but announced Friday she will accept whatever recommendation federal prosecutors make in the investigation.

LORETTA LYNCH:

I certainly wouldn't do it again. Because I think it has cast this shadow.

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

I think the key right now is there cannot be any unforced errors. And that meeting on the tarmac was an unforced error.

CHUCK TODD:

The trust issue continues to be a drag on Clinton's campaign.

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

A lot of people tell pollsters they don't trust me. Now, I don't like hearing that. You hear 25 years' worth of wild accusations, anyone would start to wonder.

CHUCK TODD:

In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton leads Trump overall by five points, but she trails by 16 points when voters are asked, "Which candidate is more honest and straightforward?" And 69 percent of voters say, "The fact that Clinton is dishonest is serious enough to be a concern."

PETER HART:

I think the integrity problem goes all the way back to her being a first lady, from Whitewater forward, all the way to the investigation now on the emails, there's always something in the press. While none of them have been prosecuted in any way, voters just see too much smoke.

CHUCK TODD:

And this week in the drip, drip, drip of the ongoing email scandal, more emails. Though Clinton claims she turned over all work-related emails to the State Department, at least 160 new ones have come to light, thanks to a public records lawsuit. Clinton is trying to deal with all of her problems, explaining her secrecy.

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

The reason I sometimes sound careful with my words is not that I'm hiding something, it's just that I'm careful with my words.

CHUCK TODD:

Borrowing campaign energy from others.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

I'm with her. Yes! Her!

CHUCK TODD:

And trying to turn the trust issue back on Trump.

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

He's in it for himself. And he is temperamentally unfit to be president.

CHUCK TODD:

But her reputation may be faked in.

PETER HART:

But you can't just do a speech and suddenly address it and then it's gone. It's always going to be part of the equation, and that's what makes it difficult for her.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let's bring in our panel of NBC News political correspondents that are here this weekend, Kelly O'Donnell, Kasie Hunt, Andrea Mitchell, and Katy Tur. Welcome to all of you. Donald Trump has his own reaction to the F.B.I. interview. And he's already come to a conclusion. This is what he twote, "It was just announced--by sources--that no charges will be brought against Crooked Hillary Clinton. Like I said, the system is totally rigged!" Andrea Mitchell, even if she's exonerated, Donald Trump already has his talking point thanks to the tarmac meeting.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Thanks to the tarmac. Well, first of all, he's been calling her "crooked Hillary" for quite a while. So that is branding her in advance. But the tarmac meeting, such an unforced error, inexplicably. Bill Clinton, the schmoozer, is, and she, oh, there's a motorcade. Let me go over.

But something should have told this former constitutional law professor from Arkansas not to do it. Something should have told Loretta Lynch to say, "Mr. President, let's go down." I know it was 108°, we checked, on the tarmac, they could have walked into the terminal, any place in public. To be on that plane for 30 minutes, now, no matter what happens, if she is exonerated, there will still be suspicions not only among the Donald Trump people but among a lot of other people. There'll be suspicions that it was politically influenced. This is absolutely a disastrous decision on their part.

KATY TUR:

And it plays directly into the narrative that the Donald Trump campaign is trying to put forth, that Hillary Clinton is not to be trusted, that there are one set of rules for her, for the Clintons, for politicians in general, and another set of rules for everybody else. The Lynch meetings did that, this meeting with the F.B.I. could potentially so it if it results in no charges being brought, and the Trump campaign is seeing this as an opportunity no matter what happens, to use it against her as saying that she's just not trustworthy.

KASIE HUNT:

And it's something of a pattern, right, with the Clintons. You heard Hillary Clinton herself talking about that there. "Oh, I do something, the right thinks that it's a grand conspiracy." But reality is, they have done things, many things, in public life that looking back, they say they shouldn't have done, but they look strange. The email use, in and of itself, she says, "I did it for convenience. It turns out I would have done it differently if I had another chance." It's a long line of things that fits into a pattern that Trump very eagerly plays into--

KATY TUR:

Death by a thousand cuts.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Kelly, I want to play you a clip here. I had Loretta Lynch on her two weeks ago, and I asked her about the issue of recusal. And what's interesting is that it, actually now in hindsight, it looks like she was perhaps setting up what she ended up announcing. Here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

So this is not up to you? This decision?

LORETTA LYNCH:

We don't talk about how we're going to deal with the internal workings of the Justice Department, but this will be handled like any other matter.

CHUCK TODD:

You don't think there's any-- It's not necessary in your mind that you have to excuse yourself from this?

LORETTA LYNCH:

I say let the career prosecutors and agents do their job and continue in this matter.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

But she was also careful in the Aspen interview--

KELLY O'DONNELL:

She left a little room.

CHUCK TODD:

She said, "No, I am going to be briefed on this." She's not doing a full recusal. Republicans are picking up on this.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

Right. And they want a special prosecutor. They don't trust the--

CHUCK TODD:

They're not going to get a special counsel. That they're not going to get.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

But a recusal is something that--

KELLY O'DONNELL:

But talking about it suggests that--

CHUCK TODD:

Right, recusal is something that might still be out there.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

I think that is still within the possibility. I also think that James Comey has a lot of credibility with people in both parties, because he has been someone who on principle has pulled himself out of the game before. And I think if he were to say that there is evidence here that should be considered, it's the career prosecutors, and I think many people watching us from the outside may not have a sense of the type of long careers, regardless of who is president, of people who are involved in this. She's trying to shine a light on that credibility, politically, this is very difficult.

CHUCK TODD:

So if you can't fix trust, then what do you fix if you're Hillary Clinton? Here's Peter Hart, one of our pollsters with the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. He wants to zero in on another issue of Hillary Clinton's.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PETER HART:

Hillary Clinton's never going to be able to solve the integrity question. What she has to deal with is likeability. And that is, voters need to relate to her, they need to find a comfort in terms of her values and in terms of what she would do.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

He's been writing this, and other Democrats believe she is not, the campaign's not doing enough on her own likeability issues.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, they've got campaign ads now showing what she's done with children, which is authentic. It's her entire life, her entire career, they're playing in North Carolina and other big states. But that is showing Hillary Clinton as not just experienced, they've checked that box, but showing her warm, engaging, the grandmother.

But, I mean, there's one other thing that this whole mess as created. It has made it difficult. I was told that there was a possible plan for her to fly in on Tuesday with this first Obama meeting to North Carolina on Air Force One, the full embrace, the picture.

CHUCK TODD:

So Hillary Clinton would have been on Air Force One with Obama, walking down.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

No, coming out of the--

CHUCK TODD:

Off the--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--the door of the plane opens, there are the two of them, arm in arm.

CHUCK TODD:

Not now.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, maybe they'll still do it, but it really makes it hard for the president while this is pending, from his Justice Department.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, guys. I want to pivot here a little bit. We'll do some more politics here, but I want to pivot a little bit to the other big issue that is hitting this campaign. It's the spate of terror attacks around the world. And whether this is really becoming the new normal for all of us.

Consider what we've seen just in the past few months, all tied to Islamic extremism: Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando, the airport in Istanbul, and just this weekend, the restaurant siege in Bangladesh. Events like these can alter the trajectory of a campaign. And while Hillary Clinton limited her response to a written statement, Donald Trump again is trying to position himself as the tough-on-terror candidate.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

Hillary is a weak person. She's a weak person. They will not understand Hillary. They want her to get in so badly. The last person they want to see become president of the United States, believe me, is Donald Trump. I can tell you that.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And there are warning signs for Clinton on this issue. Our recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Trump leading Clinton by five points, 44-39, on the issue of dealing with terrorism and homeland security. And Trump has an eight-point edge, 45-37, on who would do a better job for, quote, "standing up for America." Well, yesterday I spoke with Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He sits on the Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, and he's been amongst the sharpest critics of President Obama's foreign policy.

CHUCK TODD:And joining me now is the Republican senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton. Senator Cotton, welcome back to Meet the Press.SENATOR TOM COTTON:Good morning Chuck, it's good to be on with you. Happy Independence Day to you and all your viewers.CHUCK TODD:Absolutely. And let me start with this war against ISIS, terrorism, et cetera. You're very critical of this administration. That we know. But let me put you in charge now. Be the person in charge. Starting now, what do you do? Let's start with Syria. What do you do in Syria now?SENATOR TOM COTTON:Well, Chuck, I think the first thing we have to do is talk less and act more. The President often presents our problems with the Islamic State as a P.R. problem or a communications problem. When a politician says that, it's almost always a reality problem. We need to do more and we need to do it faster.I'll give you some examples from the past. It seems like every time the Islamic State commits a terrorist atrocity, the president or his senior officials announce a new policy change. We weren't striking at oil trucks, then we were. We didn't have special operations forces in Syria, now we do.We didn't have troops below the brigade level. We now have them down to the battalion level. At a minimum, we should take stock of all the policies that we might pursue after a terrorist attack and we should pursue all of them right now before there's another attack.CHUCK TODD:I want to play a clip from a speech you gave in 2013 and ask you about it on the other side. Here it is.SENATOR TOM COTTON:"Are we fighting too many wars? And I would say no. We're fighting one war. And it's a war against radical Islamic Jihad. Our national interests are can be at stake in the smallest valleys in Afghanistan, where radical Islamic Jihadist are plotting just a small cabal, a few dozen, a few hundred, a few hundred thousand dollars."CHUCK TODD:Does that mean when ISIS strikes in Bangladesh, that it is in America's interest to deal with that ISIS threat there, the ISIS threat in Afghanistan, the ISIS threat in Iraq? You see my point here. Where does it stop? Where does it end?SENATOR TOM COTTON:Well, we have to defeat the Islamic State, Chuck. We can't simply contain it within a small part of Syria. They will continue to launch terror attacks around the world, not just in places like Bangladesh and Turkey, but Western Europe and then in the United States as well.Or they will inspire those kind of attacks. If the Islamic State is losing, if they are defeated in Iraq and Syria, or in Libya which is maybe their most dangerous and most well-developed cell today, then they won't inspire nearly so many attacks. We're not responsible for the domestic security of every one of our allies.But ultimately, the way to stop attacks around the world is to deny terrorists the safe haven they need and to eliminate their leadership from the battle just like we did with Al Qaeda through much of the last decade.CHUCK TODD:In many ways what you outline as a foreign policy is the exact opposite of Donald Trump and seems really closer to Hillary Clinton. Or Hillary Clinton seems closer to you. How do you explain this?SENATOR TOM COTTON:Well, I can assure you that I'm not very close to Hillary Clinton. I think she's disqualified herself from Commander-in-Chief by her cavalier attitude towards our nation's secrecy laws. And she has been responsible for many of the worst decisions of the Obama administration.She was literally present when we pressed the reset button with Russia just a few months after Russia had invaded Georgia. In 2011, when our commanders said they needed more troops in Iraq and when every Iraqi leader wanted a new agreement to keep those troops there, she couldn't achieve that even though she was Secretary of State.And she was the strongest advocate inside the Obama administration for the Libyan misadventure which has now led to the strongest ISIS cell around the world. So I am far from a supporter of Hillary Clinton. Nor do our worldviews match up very well.CHUCK TODD:Okay, fine, but you just gave the case against Clinton. What's the case for Trump? You just did a whole speech by the way earlier this weekend. You didn't even mention his name. You laid out a strong case against her. But you did not make a case for him. Make the case for him.SENATOR TOM COTTON:Well, Chuck, the case against Hillary Clinton's judgment in foreign policy is very strong to say nothing of her support for Obamacare or immigration or the fact that she would--CHUCK TODD:Okay, but what's the case for Donald Trump?I understand the case against Hillary Clinton. What's the case for Donald Trump?SENATOR TOM COTTON:Donald Trump can ultimately make the case for himself. But Donald Trump, like most Americans, like most Republicans, believe in protecting America's core national interests. He believes as do I, as do most Americans, that we aren't yet doing enough to take the fight to the Islamic State.That the intervention in Libya was ill-considered and slapdash at the time. And we're living with the consequences of it now. That we have to get tougher when it comes to our intelligence and law enforcement practices to stop Islamic terrorism. On those matters, our party is largely united. And I say that we have the vast majority of Americans with us.CHUCK TODD:You don't come across as an enthusiastic Trump supporter. Is that fair?SENATOR TOM COTTON:Maybe I don't just demonstrate enthusiasm much in life, Chuck, especially in such dangerous times as these.CHUCK TODD:No, I understand that. But it does seem as if you-- I mean, this is somebody who-- he is not running on a foreign policy that is anywhere close to what you would like to see. How do you square that into your support for him?SENATOR TOM COTTON:Well, Chuck, I'm a Senator. And as a Senator, I play an important role in crafting foreign policy. And it's important to remember that whatever the presidential candidates of either party say, they will have to interact with the United States Congress, particularly the Senate, when it comes to crafting policy.There's been some talk in this campaign for instance about our troop presence in Japan and South Korea. That's not unprecedented. Jimmy Carter proposed when he was president withdrawing all of our troops from South Korea. He was stopped by the United States Congress. We play an important role. And I'm going to continue to play that role whoever is president.CHUCK TODD:And finally, Hillary Clinton testified for about three and a half hours, or was subject to an interview by the F.B.I. for about three and a half hours today. Given what happened with the Tarmac incident with former President Clinton, the attorney general, her deciding not to fully recuse herself but saying she'll accept whatever recommendation the prosecutors and the F.B.I. makes. Do you have confidence now in the outcome whatever it is regarding this investigation? SENATOR TOM COTTON:Chuck, I have always had confidence in our front line F.B.I. personnel as well as the F.B.I. leadership. I think the events of the last week though do call into question Attorney General Lynch's judgment in taking a private meeting with Bill Clinton who is not only the spouse of a target of an F.B.I. investigation, but may himself be at the target of an F.B.I. investigation into the activities of the Clinton Foundation.I think it was very unwise of her to take the meeting, very unwise of him to seek the meeting. And since she has not fully recused herself from this decision, I think it raises questions about political interference in this investigation.CHUCK TODD:All right, Senator Tom Cotton, I'm going to leave it there. Senator Cotton, thanks for coming on.SENATOR TOM COTTON:Thanks, Chuck. You got it.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, the shifting battleground now for 2016. Guess which very big and famous swing state has moved into the Democratic column? And as we go to break on this Independence Day weekend, we're going to show you some of what we heard when we asked people this simple question, "What does independence mean to you?"

(BEGIN TAPE)

FEMALE VOICE:

I may not have everything that I need, but just knowing that I can think and that I can use my own power to make a difference in my family, in my community, in my daughters lives, then yes: I am independent and I am free.

(END TAPE)

* * * COMMERCIAL BREAK * * *

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data Download time. We unveiled a brand new NBC News battleground maps this week. And there are some important changes. So let's dive right in. We're going to start with our Democratic-leaning states. So what changed? First, the good news for Hillary Clinton, Florida and its 29 electoral votes has gone from toss-up to lean Democrat.

Two of the last three polls out have shown Clinton with a double-digit lead in Florida, Florida, Florida. Also, New Jersey we have moved from a lean to a likely. So light blue to dark blue. The bad news though, Pennsylvania and Nevada, when we had it lean Democrats, they're now toss-ups. We'll have more on that in a minute.

This map, by the way, put Hillary Clinton at 255 electoral votes, 15 short of the 270 she would need. So let's move to the Republican side. What does Trump's map look like right now? Well, we've moved Mississippi and Montana, they're now more solidly Republican in our column. But maybe the most important thing is Utah. We have moved it from likely to lean.

It's perhaps the most important Republican state and reliable Republican state in the country, but Mormons have a big problem with Trump and it's no guarantee he will win there. With this map, Trump would have 190 electoral votes. He would need 80 to go find where he needs to go.

So what does that mean for the toss-ups? We've got eight toss-up states in here, plus one electoral vote in both Maine and Nebraska. Those two states both award them by congressional district. New additions to this toss-up map, besides Maine's one vote is Pennsylvania and Nevada. Right now, Trump is showing strength in Reno.

That's why we have moved Nevada from lean to toss-up. The polls are much closer there than many thought they would be. In total, this is 93 electoral votes that are up for grabs in our toss-up category. But as we told you, all Hillary Clinton needs is 15 electoral votes. What does that mean? One North Carolina would do it, one Pennsylvania would do it, one Ohio would do it.

It's a little bit scary if you're Donald Trump right now. Because if she's only one state away and you essentially need to run the table on everything on this map. We'll see. When we come back, as the potential VP fields come into focus, my interview with one possible Clinton pick, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The chatter around my next guest's chances of being Hillary Clinton's running mate has steadily grown in the last month or so. But we wouldn't hold it against you if you haven't heard much about Tom Perez yet. He's the current Secretary of Labor, and he grew up in Buffalo, New York.

He helped run the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice before being tapped to serve in President Obama's cabinet in 20-13. Out on the campaign trail for Secretary Clinton, he has aggressively pushed back against Donald Trump, even as he's been coy about whether he's being vetted or not.

But we're told that Secretary Clinton has really taken a liking to him on the campaign trail. Well, he joined me on Friday in his personal capacity as a Clinton supporter, where he's been working to convince skeptical progressives of Clinton on issues like trade.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with trade and specifically T.P.P. Donald Trump earlier this week railing against it, and then added this: "We have to withdraw, okay? We have to. And we should seek a guarantee from Hillary Clinton that she won't sign it." Now by the way, he's got the same position on T.P.P. as Bernie Sanders, who wants it in the platform. Opposition to T.P.P. Should Secretary Clinton oppose this and guarantee she will oppose it throughout her four years?

TOM PEREZ:

Secretary Clinton has been very clear that she opposes T.P.P. And Secretary Clinton has been very clear that she has a real plan to bring jobs back to America. She has a real plan on trade, which starts with making sure that we're tough on trade. So if China is-- dumping steel or dumping aluminum, she's called for a trade prosecutor reporting directly to her.

She also has a plan to bring manufacturing jobs and expand them here in America by investing in workers. Donald Trump is a fraud. He is an out-- he's the Outsourcer-in-Chief, Chuck. And listening to him talk about how he's going to put America first again, he's spent his entire career putting his own profits first.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, he's not the only one against this. Mr. Secretary, Bernie Sanders--

TOM PEREZ:

I understand that.

CHUCK TODD:

Bernie Sanders is just as vehement against this. And in fact, his people are fighting to get opposition in the Democratic platform. So what do you say to Bernie Sanders?

TOM PEREZ:

Well, again, this election is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And Donald Trump is telling the American people that he's going to put America first on trade. Donald Trump has said that wages are too high in America. Donald Trump has said that a low minimum wage is a good thing for America. Donald Trump makes his suits in Mexico when I've been to a plant in Ohio that uses union labor to make their suits.

Donald Trump has said repeatedly that, "Oh, I'm going to make America first." But when you look at the reality of what he has done, he has fought collective bargaining in Las Vegas. The people on the Strip who organize the Trump Hotel, they did it over his dead body. He doesn't believe in the prevailing wage. This notion that he's somehow going to be a champion for workers flies in the face of his record. Because he hasn't put America first, he's put his own profits first. It's all about him.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you though specifically about T.P.P. Labor Secretary Perez said this about T.P.P. In your capacity as Labor Secretary, you campaign-- you championed it and one op-ed that we found in the Boulder Daily Camera, you called it "critical to our 21st-century competitiveness."

TOM PEREZ:

Uh-huh.

CHUCK TODD:

That was over a year ago. Do you still believe in that version of the T.P.P.?

TOM PEREZ:

Sure. This is what the president tasked me with doing, Chuck, and I was proud to do it. Which is we want to go to school on the mistakes and the lessons of past trade agreements. We want to build a trade regime that again, the North Star is the American worker, protecting the American worker.

And so we want to make sure that when we negotiate with Mexico and Vietnam and others that we have the strongest protections for workers that we've ever had. And that's what we've set out to do, and that's what I believe we have done. The President and Secretary Clinton have a disagreement on whether T.P.P. has gone that far. You know, this is not the first time in the history of the Democratic Party that there have been differences of opinion.

Where they are totally in lockstep is their belief that we have to put the American worker first. And we have to go to school on the lessons of history. And that's exactly what we're doing in the work that we've been doing on trade.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, I know you've been very hesitant about answering any V.P. questions and the vetting questions. But let me ask this, since it's clear your name is somewhere in the mix. Tell me how you would describe your foreign policy philosophy.

TOM PEREZ:

Well, I haven't run a Ms. Universe pageant, and I don't own any golf courses in Scotland, Chuck, so I don't have what Donald Trump has, and I'm very sorry about that. But, you know, it's all about judgment. And Donald Trump is such a volatile individual. And what I have seen working with Secretary Clinton is that she is a steady hand.

We are in the midst of a very challenging set of circumstances around the world. And you need someone with a steady hand. And Secretary Clinton, with her experience, with her steady hand, and with her sound judgment. Judgment is what it's all about. And I think she has exercised sound judgment throughout.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this. What do you believe is the biggest threat that faces the next administration internationally?

TOM PEREZ:

Well, again, we're continuing to confront the threat of foreign terrorism, ISIL and others, we continue to see nations that are having, you know, dramatic challenges. And a lot of the same questions are being asked around the world. Whether it's in Europe, where you have so many people in the far right who are gaining traction, whether it's Le Pen in France or otherwise elsewhere, Austria most recently as well.

And so I think it's a critically important moment for American leadership. And when I think about Donald Trump, the Trump train wreck is not simply a train wreck on trade or on the minimum wage or on immigration, it's a train wreck for American values. And the one of the many reasons, Chuck, that I am so excited to support Secretary Clinton is because she understands that when you attack Muslims, when you attack immigrants, you're attacking the core of American values.

And I think around the world, the rest of the world is looking to America for leadership. Looking for us to summon those values of inclusion and opportunity and optimism. I don't understand for the life of me why Donald Trump is always saying, "America's in decline." When Ronald Reagan was President, he was taking out full-page ads saying "America is a laughing stock."

I look around the world and when I travel internationally in my job, everybody's looking to America for guidance. Everybody says to me, "We admire you as the face of the earth in terms of the values that we should be upholding." I think America is a remarkable leader. And with Secretary Clinton moving forward, the challenges of terrorism, the challenges of global inequality; we've got to make sure that our economy at home and our economy around the world works for everybody and not just for a few.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

There's a fuller interview that I did with Tom Perez. You can find that on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com, including his Buffalo roots. Coming up, many of you believe our politics are broken. So is it time to actually bring back the smoke-filled room? We'll get into that as well as the veep stakes. But first, here's more of what independence means to some of you.

MOS INTERVIEW:

To be able to exercise your rights of being able to vote, to be able to speak, to be able to exercise if you have a religion, but without imposing that religious view on anyone else.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. We want to take a moment to remember the life of the man President Obama called the "conscience of the world." Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. He died yesterday at the age of 87. Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were sent to Auschwitz in 1944. He survived the horror of Hitler's concentration camps, and he chronicled in his most famous book, Night.

But his life's work was just beginning. Wiesel would spend the next seven decades ensuring that the words "never again" would be "more than a slogan", as he once wrote. He spoke out against hate and injustice wherever he saw it, from Yugoslavia to Darfur. In 1986, Wiesel accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with a call to action to never stay silent in the face of oppression.

(BEGOM TAPE)

ELIE WIESEL:

We must take sides. For neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The past four decades, I've seen some remarkable changes in our politics, strong political parties, pork-barrel spending, party insiders, and smoke-filled rooms have largely been replaced by direct primaries, restrictions in party fundraising. The death of the seniority system and maverick candidates accountable to no one.

Well, the changes all sound good, but my next guest says the effort to create a more transparent democracy has in fact created chaos and given us the politics we see today. Jonathan Rauch is the author of the cover story in this month's Atlantic. It's a provocative piece called How American Politics Went Insane. And he joins us now. Mr. Rausch, good to see you, sir.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

It's great to be here, Chuck, thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

It's probably the best summation of trying to explain how did we get here, right? It's the number-one question all of us get, which is how did we end up with Trump and Clinton, and how did we end up with this politics? And I want to start with one excerpt here and have you explain it. You write this, "Trump, Sanders, and Ted Cruz have in common that they are political sociopaths -- meaning not that they are crazy, but that they don't care what other politicians think about their behavior and they don't need to care." Explain what you meant by this.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

Chuck, politics is inherently a team sport. You've got to have leaders who can get followers to follow, and coordinate thousands of interest groups and activists and other politicians and that takes people who can build personal networks, who can have private conversations, who can have strong party structures.

That requires seniority systems on Capitol Hill so that loyalists are paid off. It requires money. You've got to be able to say, "You know, Chuck, you've been a loyal supporter. I'm going to route money to your campaign." By stripping away those tools from leaders, we've created a crisis of followership."

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting, in your piece, as you also write this, "Our most pressing political problem today is that the country abandoned the establishment, not the other way around." Obviously we've been hearing that word, whatever it meant, the "establishment." "I'm running against the establishment." "We don't like the establishment." And you're contending, no, the problem is the establishment's not working.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

Yeah, it's been effectively shattered. Obviously there are still people who look like more mainstream than other people. But the tools that an establishment needs to use in order to be able to organize politics include things like being able, for example, suppose I need you to vote with me on a debt limit bill or to keep the government open? That's a tough vote for you. I need to give you some protection in your primary race. If I can't do that, you won't help me. That's a leader without followers. That's John Boehner, and that's the mess we're in.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And hasn't it also meant that you now have the potential of vice presidential candidates, who are not vetted in the traditional way, where you've seen that before. In a smoke-filled room, people would have known what was going on in John Edwards' life and would have communicated that.

It just seems that there have been choices going all the way back, you could argue to Dan Quayle, where people really were hurried up and, Sarah Palin, and put on a ticket. And we're at an important inflection point now where candidates are going to be chosen for vice president by these front runners, and you have to know a lot more about them.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

Andrea, we have, without meaning to, with best of intentions, we've moved down a road where we now reward renegade political behavior and punish loyalists who play by the rules. And that is a dangerous place to be.

KASIE HUNT:

You talk in this story about the kind of machines of old, Tammany Hall and how they actually ended up representing the little guy, they were not necessarily elitist. Do you think the establishment has made any mistakes, the Republican party, for example, did they forget about those masses of people who they actually need to send them here?

JONATHAN RAUCH:

You know, of course the establishment's made huge mistakes. Everyone's made huge mistakes. But a lot of what happened is that the establishment lost the party, specifically, lost a lot of the power that they used to have to be able to aggregate those people, bring them together, and say, "Okay, now who's going to talk to the working class? Who's on that beat? Who's dealing with that?"

Find candidates who will mobilize those votes. When you turn it over to a primary process, you're turning it over effectively to special interests and the activists who have time to organize. And you're taking it away from these people who are kind of the unspoken for.

KATY TUR:

And how did the establishment lose the perception game? How did they lose with voters who said that they don't feel like they were represented by them, how do they get that message taken away from them and co-opted? Was it part of the whole political system that the media is lying to you? Part of the system that those in power are trying to benefit themselves? Was it something that they created and then lost control of?

JONATHAN RAUCH:

It's a bunch of things. Part of it, of course, is the so-called establishment made mistakes. I prefer to think about insiders and parties over establishment. Because a lot of what happened there is we spent the last 40 or 50 years passing laws and policies that have systematically stripped away all of the tools and devices that those people used in order to do their jobs.

And then we look up and discover they can't do their jobs. All they are are talking heads. Everyone says, "Why didn't they intervene to stop Trump?" There's nothing they could do. They had no tools. They used to be able to channel money. They were able to work quietly behind closed doors to get things done. In Congress, and especially in the primary process, we've taken away a lot of what they needed.

CHUCK TODD:

535 elected pundits, as I like to call it.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

Yeah, exactly.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

These tools have been demonized in many ways, things like earmarks and so forth. And when I talk to voters, they think the elements that you talked about, of how you build coalitions, and how you build loyalty over time, they don't trust that. They don't accept that those sorts of inner workings, that they might happen in their own workplace, apply to government. How do you change their minds?

JONATHAN RAUCH:

Well, you can try to start by writing an article. But Kelly, it is such an uphill battle. The article talks about the mechanical things that you can do to begin fixing this problem. And they're not all that difficult. A lot of them are simple changes in law or just congressional rules, like earmarks. The hard part is persuading the public that we have gone too far down the road of demonizing our political parties and machines and professionals. And that until we start rebuilding them, we're just going to have more and more chaos.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

And rewarding compromise.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

Yeah, and rewarding compromise, rewarding team play.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, here's what I hope. I hope at least every elected official reads this. I think many Americans need to read it, but it's an important piece, it may become a seminal piece for all we know. Jonathan Rauch, congratulations. Thanks for coming on.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. When we come back in 45 seconds, we'll have some endgame time, and could we learn this week the name of Donald Trump's running mate?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let's delve into veep stakes. We're two weeks from the convention. At some point in the next two weeks, we're going to learn Donald Trump's vice presidential running mate. We think the frontrunners are Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Pence, the Indiana governor. Kelly O'Donnell, where do we stand here with Trump--

KELLY O'DONNELL:

Well, I think one of the important things to know is that in order to pick that running mate, they have to complete the vetting process. And that is not done. The questionnaires that have been going out in a rolling fashion, in both parties frankly, there are those on the list who have not completed that work yet.

And until it's in, they can't do it. Why is that so important for Donald Trump? Because the person he chose to do his vetting is A.B. Culvahouse, a well-known D.C. lawyer who also vetted Sarah Palin. And the question is, he wants to be certain that there is a thorough vetting. And so the questionnaires, which are more than a hundred questions, all kinds of things about finances--

CHUCK TODD:Very basic

KELLY O'DONNELL--medical, everything you've done, your social-media habits, all of that, asking these potential picks to go through that, that's not done yet. So the pick will need a little more time.

CHUCK TODD:

Katy, what are you hearing here?

KATY TUR:

So we all were saying Pence, Christie, and Gingrich could be the frontrunners for Trump. But I have sources close to the candidate and the campaign who say that be careful for a head-fake. I mean, these are three people who think on their own, they have their own opinions, they would be a real partner as a number two. And my sources say Donald Trump wants his own Ed McMahon. He wants someone who's going to you "yes man" him, "yes, Donald Trump" him, as opposed to somebody like Newt who's going to go out and potential criticize him on certain issues.

CHUCK TODD:

So what you're saying it's Christie?

KATY TUR:

No, Christie--while he's been the consummate "yes man," no one believes that he's going to be able to stay that way. They believe he's playing a role right now. They keep pointing, and I know we say this, and we don't necessarily believe it, to Scott Brown.

CHUCK TODD:

Interesting. I just don't know. Pro-choice running mate in that convention, I want to move to--

KATY TUR:

They're looking at personality-wise more than anything else.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, I want to go to the Democrats here a little bit. Tom Perez has been working his way up the list. Does he have enough foreign-policy experience? Does Clinton care about that?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Clinton doesn't need to care about the foreign-policy experience. But she needs to follow through on her commitment, someone ready to step in. And so that would be a big test. I still think Tim Kaine checks all those boxes. He's going to have to explain the gift practices that he followed that were perfectly legal. He even was excessive in the way he computed the values of things. But given the Bob McDonald thing, it is true, it was an eight to nothing invalidation of that prosecution. But given all of the other issues, I still think that somebody could come out of the inside of that is Tom Vilsack--

CHUCK TODD:

Tom Vilsack, yeah, we've added him to our list here. He's somebody that's been vetted before, John Kerry vetted him in '04.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And he was--

CHUCK TODD:

He could speak to rural America, which is something she can't these days.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And in '08, he and his wife were major players in Iowa for Hillary Clinton--

CHUCK TODD:

Their connection is with her, not Bill. It is a Hillary Clinton long-term--

KELLY O'DONNELL:

And that's powerful.

CHUCK TODD:

What are you hearing on the Democratic side here?

KASIE HUNT:

I think that that really matters a lot. And I do think one thing the Clinton campaign is grappling with, in addition to this, is Elizabeth Warren, and what is the best--

CHUCK TODD:

What do you do with it?

KASIE HUNT:

--way to deal with her on the campaign trail? I don't get the sense that they feel like she needs to be the vice presidential pick, and clearly Hillary Clinton and Warren are working towards more of a personal relationship. But my sense is that the idea that Hillary Clinton would have somebody in the neighboring office who was potentially so interested in taking the Oval Office job might be a little bit uncomfortable.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

And with Hillary Clinton, she is also looking past the election to governing. And one thing that you really have to calculate with her is she was a senator, she is married to a president. She understands the relationship of Congress to a president. And I am told by so many Senate Democrats that she has options other than those that would remove a Democratic senator.

CHUCK TODD:

And that matters.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

It matters.

CHUCK TODD:

She wants a Democratic Senate. That hurts Sherrod Brown.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

And in the first 100 days. It hurts Sherrod Brown, Warren, Booker.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I think that takes Sherrod Brown out of it, frankly, because she's getting a lot of pressure. She needs a Democratic Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

If there were a Democratic governor, I think Sherrod Brown would be the pick.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

She needs compatibility. She has seen the sibling rivalry in the White House several times and she does not want to have that.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I'm going to pause it there. We're going to have a little, we have something a little bit interesting that we're allowing folks to do. If this election has you feeling that you need to get something off your chest, well, we've got a way to do that. We're trying to provide you a way to do it and we want you to do it secretly.

It's called ElectionConfessions.com. People have been submitting notes like this one: "After months of being vocal for Bernie, I forgot to vote in my primary." Well, we at NBC News gathered video confessions in Los Angeles last weekend at an event called Politicon. Think Comicon for political nerds. Take a look.

(BEGIN TAPE)

FEMALE VOICE:

My election confession is I lied to my family about who I vote for. I lie to my husband, I lie to my kids.

MALE VOICE:

My election confession is that I've only ever voted for myself. I enter my name on every single line of the ballot. I feel that if everyone just promises to be real chill, we don't really need a president.

FEMALE VOICE:

I'm ashamed of myself for having lived in this country for 24 years and I've never voted once, because I'm too lazy to get my citizenship.

MALE VOICE:

I'm a lifelong Democrat, but sometimes I get the appeal of Donald Trump. Please God, help me.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

You too can do this. Find out how to confess.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

It's cathartic.

CHUCK TODD:

Exactly. And ElectionConfessions.com--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That's the way we could go around and cover these rallies.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, that's right.

KATY TUR:

We can all do it after November.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, that's right, that's right. You can see the full video on the Meet the Press Facebook page. Oh, and the confessions booth will be up and running at both conventions. My whole confession is I never told my daughter anything about what I think about politics, because she'll tell everybody at school.

That's all for today. We want to wish you a very happy Fourth of July, be safe out there. And as we go, here's the United States Marine Band performing John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever on the steps of the Capitol. We're back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *