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Meet the Press - March 27, 2016

Meet the Press - March 27, 2016

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, terror in Brussels, after another horrific ISIS attack on yet another European capital, are major intelligence failings putting more lives at risk?

RICHARD ENGEL:

This country seems overwhelmed by the scale of the threat.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll have the latest from a city on edge. Plus, the Trump effect. The Republican race devolves even further, if that was possible, with a Trump/Cruz feud over the candidates' wives.

TED CRUZ:

Donald, you're a sniveling coward, and leave Heidi the hell alone.

CHUCK TODD:

Is this now the new normal? Also, convention chaos.

CURLY HAUGLAND:

The delegates are not bound to vote according to the results of the primary.

CHUCK TODD:

How the Republican establishment can deny Donald Trump the nomination no matter how many states he wins. One of the candidates who hopes to benefit, John Kasich, joins me. And a big night for Bernie Sanders who won some big victories in three caucus states on Saturday.

BERNIE SANDERS:

State after state, huge voter turnout.

CHUCK TODD:

Bernie Sanders is with me live. And joining me for insight and analysis are members of the NBC campaign team, Andrea Mitchell, Katy Tur, Hallie Jackson, and Kristen Welker. Welcome to this special Easter Sunday edition of Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

CHUCK TODD:

Good Easter Sunday morning. It was a big Saturday night, by the way, for Bernie Sanders. He will join me later in the show. Sanders swept the three caucuses in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii, and he did so by huge margins. That said, he still faces an uphill path to the nomination because Hillary Clinton still has that commanding, overall delegate lead.

But we're going to start with what's been a strange week in the Republican campaign, even strange by this standard. You might have expected the conversation to have been dominated by the ISIS terror attacks in Brussels, which claimed the lives of 28 people, including two Americans, two we can identify, Justin and Stephanie Shults. They were married and had been living in Brussels since 2014.

But as Donald Trump has done countless times, he somehow, or had it moved for him, the focus of the conversation away from terror and his own foreign policy weaknesses, to an opponent. And this time, the focus got turned to Ted Cruz.

(BEGIN TAPE)

TED CRUZ:

His first and natural resort is to go to sleaze and to go to slime. And one question Americans are wondering all over this country is how low will Donald go?

CHUCK TODD:

A week that began with questions about Donald Trump's readiness to be commander-in-chief, and a rush of establishment endorsements of Ted Cruz is ending with a dispute over this photo, retweeted by Trump to his seven million Twitter followers.

TED CRUZ:

Donald, you're a sniveling coward, and leave Heidi the hell alone.

CHUCK TODD:

And a tabloid story, Cruz's campaign believes that Donald Trump had planted.

TED CRUZ:

This National Enquirer story is garbage. It is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.

CHUCK TODD:

Trump says he has nothing to do with it and blames Cruz for a digital ad placed by an anti-Trump super PAC, targeting his wife in hopes of turning off Utah voters. The charges and countercharges, insults and innuendo, are just another day in this campaign dominated by Donald Trump. Other candidates have struggled to keep up.

JEB BUSH:

Donald, you know, is great at the one-liners. But he's a chaos candidate.

CHUCK TODD:

Trump is a master of the chaos he creates, of insults that stick.

DONALD TRUMP:

Hostility works for some people, it doesn't work for everybody, okay?

CHUCK TODD:

And of creating a new story line when the old one is inconvenient or used up. Under scrutiny by religious conservatives in Iowa, Trump changed the subject to John McCain.

DONALD TRUMP:

He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, okay?

CHUCK TODD:

When Rubio and Cruz got the upper hand in a debate last month, Trump rolled out Chris Christie's endorsement within hours.

CHRIS CHRISTIE:

I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

And this week, when Trump's awkward appearance before The Washington Post editorial board raised even more questions about his readiness for the White House.

MALE VOICE:

This was about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?

DONALD TRUMP:

No, I'll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I'm talking to?

CHUCK TODD:

Trump again shifted the conversation. Where Trump leads on issues--

DONALD TRUMP:

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

--other candidates follow. Ted Cruz is still trying to walk back a plan to “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods.

TED CRUZ:

If you have a neighborhood that is plagued by gang activity, it is standard and good law enforcement to direct more resources.

CHUCK TODD:

It's an echo effect that has Trump, to his own success and detriment, setting the terms of the campaign debate.

(END TAPE)

Yesterday, I was joined by Ohio governor and current Republican presidential candidate John Kasich. And I started by asking him about the Brussels attacks and why he thinks so many Republicans who have voted in the primaries agree with calls from Trump and Cruz to not just ban Muslims from entering the United States, but even introduce extra surveillance in Muslim communities in America.

(BEGIN TAPE)

JOHN KASICH:I think when they see things, it makes them very concerned and very nervous. And so it's sort of a knee-jerk, I think, Chuck. But let's talk practically here. In order for us to have great human intelligence, I want the public to hear this.We are going to have to have intimate communication and coordination with our friends in the Muslim community. There is no question about it. I mean, in order to find out about the radicalized friends and neighbors, or people that you may not even know at all, who you observe doing things--

CHUCK TODD:Yeah.

JOHN KASICH:--this has to be a coordinated effort worldwide. One other thing I want to say, Chuck. That is that I think that we ought to be have a dramatically reformed N.A.T.O.

CHUCK TODD:Yeah.

JOHN KASICH:Right now, we think of N.A.T.O. as a military organization. I think it needs to involve itself in policing--

CHUCK TODD:Uh-huh--

JOHN KASICH:--and in intelligence gathering. Because when we look at Europe right now, we find there's so many holes, and an inability of their-- their ability to get their act together--

CHUCK TODD:

But you've got a Europe right now where every country feels as if it's every country for themselves. I mean, we talk about--

JOHN KASICH:

Well, I, you know--

CHUCK TODD:

--nativism and nationalism in this country. You have it in every Western European country right now, sort of a similar pattern here, where there's distrust of their own allies. They're concerned about sharing their economic wealth with other, less-economically-- with more economically-challenged countries. It seems Europe's about to break apart.

JOHN KASICH:

Well, look, either we hang together, or we hang separately, is really what the message from a good leader is. And Chuck, let me-- this is a little bit of a different illustration. But in our state, whenever we have a difficulty somewhere, almost our entire cabinet shows up. I have told them all that we work together to solve a problem. We can't have silos. We can't-- we--

CHUCK TODD:

Right--

JOHN KASICH:

--just have to work together. That is what the president of the United States needs to communicate to our allies around the world. And frankly, it's got to include our friends in the Arab Muslim community. We cannot beat this unless we do this, strengthen ourselves militarily, destroy ISIS. And begin to have a message out there, particularly by the Muslim--

CHUCK TODD:

Let me--

JOHN KASICH:

--Imams, about the fact that we-- this is not tolerable. This is murder, and it's not acceptable in our civilization.

CHUCK TODD:

You were pretty critical of the president for not cutting short his trip in Cuba, and immediately coming back to Washington. Should he do that after every single terrorist attack? Because he also shares your belief that you can't overreact to every incident, or you unnerve the public.

JOHN KASICH:

Well, look, I would say, Chuck, when you have an attack in the heart of Europe, and you have this kind of slaughter.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

JOHN KASICH:

If I were president, I'm just telling you what I would do. I wouldn't have gone to a baseball game in Cuba. I would have come home. I would have called all the world leaders. I would have gathered my intelligence and military experts. And I would have sent them to Europe--

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah--

JOHN KASICH:

--to sit down, to assess our vulnerabilities. I mean, I'm not overreacting here. But you also can't underreact. When somebody says we ought to ban all Muslims from coming in, that is a statement that-- it's not based in reality. I don't even know how you would do it. And secondly, we can't be out there aggravating the very people whose cooperation we need--

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

JOHN KASICH:

But in terms of the president in Cuba, don't go to a baseball game after this happened. You come home.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let me ask a politics question. Ted Cruz's campaign has repeatedly called for you to get out, saying a vote for you is a vote for Donald Trump. Now, we went through this last week. If you thought your position in this race strengthened Trump, would you get out?

JOHN KASICH:

Chuck, I'm beating Hillary by 11 points. I'm the (LAUGH) only one that can win in the fall. And as you noticed, the narrative over the last week has been, "What is wrong with the party? Kasich's the guy that can win the general." Some people have said Kasich would be the best president. I mean, get out for what? If I'd have gotten out, Trump would be the nominee. He would have won Ohio. And frankly, we'll win some districts in Wisconsin. We will move to Pennsylvania, where I'm basically in a statistical tie--

CHUCK TODD:

Okay--

JOHN KASICH:

--with Trump. And when we go to New York and everywhere else, we're going to pick up delegates. So, I mean, it's absurd. It's absurd. You know, if you really want, let them consolidate behind me, because frankly, I'm the one that can win in the fall. And I'm the one that can get the crossover votes. So--

CHUCK TODD:

All right. This campaign's--

JOHN KASICH:

--happy Easter. (LAUGH)

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, there you go. The campaign tone has been, every time you think we've hit a low, it goes lower. You've based your whole campaign on not participating in that. So I get that. I know that's going to be one part of your answer. But can Ted Cruz or Donald Trump do something about this? Or is this all a Trump effect? What do you make of this?

JOHN KASICH:

Well, first of all, Chuck, families have to be off-limits. I mean, you cannot get these attacks on families. And if this becomes the order of the day, what kind of people are we going to have in the future that are going to run for public office?

There's got to be some rules, and there's got to be something that gets set there. Some decency. And frankly, Chuck, at the end of the day, you know, it's-- what we need to do is we need to have programs to lift people, and not diminish people. And that's what we're seeing a lot of happening. But look, it's a long way to Tiporare. You're a long way to Cleveland.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah--

JOHN KASICH:

Let's see what happens.

CHUCK TODD:

And you still are committed to supporting Donald Trump, if he's the nominee?

JOHN KASICH:

We're going to look at it every single day, and we'll see what happens. We've got a long way to go. And I don't want to project that he's going to be the nominee. I don't think he will be. And if he is, we'll be-- I'll have to-- I review it every day. That's all I can tell you--

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say. It sounds like it's more hesitant every day.

JOHN KASICH:

I said what I said, Chuck. And I'm done talking (LAUGH) about this subject. (LAUGH)

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

How about that? Anyway, let's bring in the panel. And we've got four of our top campaign correspondents here in the studio, one of the few brief days, thanks to Easter, we can get you here to Washington. Chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell. She of course covering the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Hallie Jackson, who is covering the Cruz campaign for us. White House correspondent Kristen Welker also on the Hillary Clinton beat, and Katy Tur, who is on the Donald Trump beat. Welcome all. Sorry that I am sucking up holiday time by making you come here, but I appreciate it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That's quite all right.

CHUCK TODD:

Obviously, a bizarre week, Andrea, in so many ways. But I want to go, because what I think could have been the story of the week was this unbelievable editorial board interview that Donald Trump did with The Washington Post. Let me play a longer excerpt of it and get you to respond.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MALE VOICE:

If you could substantially reduce the risk of harm to ground troops, would you use a battlefield nuclear weapon to take out ISIS?

DONALD TRUMP:

I don't want to use, I don't want to start the process of nuclear. Remember the one thing that everybody has said, I'm a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he's a low-energy individual, he hit me first. I spent, by the way he spent 18 million dollars' worth of negative ads on me. That's putting his money--

MALE VOICE:

This is about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?

DONALD TRUMP:

By the way, could I do one thing? This is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I'm talking to?

MALE VOICE:

Sure.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, just so folks know, when we excerpted this, so then everybody around the room, introduced themselves, subject got changed.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Exactly. And he cannot stick to a subject. It is remarkable. And when he doesn't know something, he just changes the subject, and makes it all about himself.

CHUCK TODD:

On national security, it's very noticeable, especially to your ears and mine.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Absolutely. And this was a week where he could have gone after President Obama, arguably. There's a lot happening, and the president has some vulnerabilities, so does Hillary Clinton. But instead, he's all over the lot. And then, The New York Times, DavidSanger and Maggie Haberman do an interview with him, a 90-minute interview, and it's in today's paper and online.

And the transcript, if you read the transcript online, he would cancel defense treaties with Japan and South Korea against North Korea. He doesn't mind, he would be okay if Japan and South Korea go nuclear. American policy for decades since World War II has been trying to keep nukes out of that arena. He would stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia if they don't pay more for their defense.

We need oil. We are not energy independent. We rely on oil still for our daily needs. He is completely all over the lot. On Iran, he complains that Iran isn't buying our planes. It had to be pointed out to him that Iran is still under sanctions and cannot buy American planes. He thinks North Korea and Iran are the biggest trading partners, when North Korea's biggest trading partner is China. He is completely uneducated about any part of the world.

CHUCK TODD:

And Katy, it is clear, look, you cover this campaign every day, there isn't a big team around him, is there? There is no, you don't see--

KATY TUR:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

--these foreign policy advisors, and I know now he's telling The Times, "Well, some of them are under contracts on television," as he told me first, he learns a lot of things from the shows, and I guess he's going to hire a foreign policy team based on people that are appearing on various--

KATY TUR:

But you don't see them out with Donald Trump at all, and we're not seeing them very much on the TV circuit, as you mentioned. It's unclear how many conversations he's had with them. We've made phone calls to all of these people, very few of them have gotten back to us and given us a fleshed out idea of what is going on.

CHUCK TODD:

And how he learns.

KATY TUR:

And how he learns and whether he's taking it all in. I dare say that that Washington Post audio excerpt will come back to haunt him in the general election, especially if he's going up against somebody like Hillary Clinton, who is so well-versed when it comes to foreign policy.

The other thing that really stuck out at me was he didn't understand the function of U.S. bases around the world, this basic function of why they are there. And these are things that when they get fleshed out, could hurt him. The question is, will he be able to change the conversation, as he's been doing this entire time?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, go ahead Kristen.

KRISTEN WELKER:

And Chuck, a lot of top Republicans say this was a chance for Donald Trump to appear presidential, to give a big foreign policy speech like Hillary Clinton did. She instead took the ball, ran with it, went on offense when it comes to foreign policy, and really hit Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on a post.

CHUCK TODD:

Very traditionally. And she did it very traditionally, the way you would expect a presidential candidate to do. But then the tone got completely changed. I want to sort of move. And Hallie, I mean, this all came in Cruz world a little bit. You know, my, this escalated quickly. But I guess sort of what happened here? And how did this go from this, I guess, a super PAC’s digital ad get turned into what it got turned into?

HALLIE JACKSON:

Right, and to look at the progression, as you've noted, of what we've seen this week. Tuesday, we're talking, you know, about this terror attack and the candidates' responses to it. Saturday, we're talking about TheNational Inquirer and the tabloid cover story that's out there. I think that this shows that Donald Trump is able to shift the conversation, with a single tweet.

And the tweet that came out, retweeting this image of Heidi Cruz next to Melania Trump, was stunning to I think the Cruz campaign. You saw Ted Cruz visibly angry about this, very emotional about this, even before we started talking about the Enquirer story. And I think that one of the things that Ted Cruz has been hit on is that he seems a little bit rehearsed sometimes, a little bit inauthentic. That's a knock against him. Right now, he is emotional, he's mad, and he's showing it.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, speaking of showing it, let me show you. You ask him twice, two days in a row, about this idea, "Can you still support Trump if he's the nominee?" It was interesting to watch him from Thursday to Friday.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HALLIE JACKSON:

So will you support him as the nominee?

TED CRUZ:

I'm going to beat him for the nomination.

HALLIE JACKSON:

That's not an answer to the question, Senator.

TED CRUZ:

He is not-- I am answering the question. Donald Trump will not be the nominee.

HALLIE JACKSON:

He's leading right now.

TED CRUZ:

Donald Trump will not be the nominee.

HALLIE JACKSON:

You just looked in that camera and said he's a coward. Will you support him as the nominee?

TED CRUZ:

Donald Trump will not be the nominee.

TED CRUZ:

I don't make a habit out of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my family.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

So an evolving movement on Cruz. But by the way, for the record, you saw the ending of Kasich there, where it looks like he's having hesitance. I put together a montage of Kasich on this show. You can watch him hesitate. Take a listen to this. So on this, where John Kasich has moved and shifted that same way, do you think Cruz will ever go all the way?

HALLIE JACKSON:

That's a good question. I think you're seeing him lay the groundwork for that over the last 48 hours. You saw that moment on Thursday where he didn't say he wouldn't support Donald Trump as the nominee, but he also didn't say what he's been saying for months now, which is affirmatively, "Yes, I have made a commitment, I have made a pledge to support somebody, and I keep my promises."

Remember, that is fundamental to Ted Cruz's campaign on every issue. He's the guy who is consistent and he makes promises and keeps them. Yesterday, you saw him say, "I don't make a habit of supporting people who attack my family." That was Friday. And then yesterday, this tweet, "Donald Trump is not a Republican." Not "Donald Trump is not a conservative," "Donald Trump is not a Republican." Which maybe opens the door to going back on that pledge.

CHUCK TODD:

But it is. And Andrea, final thing. What was amazing, Trump is almost trying to borrow a page from the L.B.J. playbook. When he put out a statement on The National Enquirer, I want to put it up here. He basically said, "Boy, I hope that story's not true," but also trying to fan the flames. "Hey, look, The National Enquirer got it right on Edwards, got it right on O.J. Simpson, I hope they're wrong about," and then he throws in “lyin’ Ted Cruz”. This is sort of "make them deny it" type of L.B.J. tactics.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Exactly. And of course, as Hallie's been reporting and as Katy's been reporting, he's got a very close relationship with the people at The National Enquirer, they are really in-- and they've endorsed him.

CHUCK TODD:

There's more evidence that ties Trump to planting this story than there is to the story itself tying anything to Cruz.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And, like, going, "I hope this is not true," and then telling everything about it, it has been a remarkable, extraordinary period. And as I say, at a time when he should be vulnerable on foreign policy.

CHUCK TODD:

The audio to this Washington Post thing, we're going to have to move on here. But the audio to this Washington Post thing, you just wonder, if it ever got legs, could he even get the nomination? All right, thank you all. We'll take a pause. Coming up, we'll have the latest from Brussels after those horrific ISIS terror attacks. And a key question, do systemic intelligence failings in Europe make more attacks inevitable? Not just there, but maybe even here?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. It's been reported this morning that the Syrian Army has retaken the historic city of Palmyra from ISIS with Russian support. But the cities of Baghdad and Brussels are still reeling after ISIS suicide bombings this week. In the Iraqi capital, over two dozen people were killed in an attack on a soccer stadium.

And then, of course, there's Brussels. This morning, church services have been taking place on Easter Sunday to remember the 28 victims of the attacks on the city's subway system and airport. But Brussels is still on edge, a peace rally that was scheduled for today had to be canceled due to security concerns. Let's check in with Keir Simmons in Brussels, with the latest. And I understand a new arrest this morning in connection with the Brussels bombing. Tell us about it.

KEIR SIMMONS:

Hey Chuck, good morning, that's right. This is an international manhunt for suspects. And this morning, police saying that they have arrested an Algerian man in Italy. He is accused of producing documents for three of the terrorists involved in Paris and Brussels. Charges too against a number of suspects, including one they call "terrorist assassination," which Chuck, roughly translates as "terrorist murder."

And we are learning too about the international nature of the various victims of the dead. They say that they came from eight different countries, the injured from 19 nationalities, Chuck. And among the killed, the Belgian ambassador to the U.N., André Adam, who also spent some time as the Belgian ambassador to the U.S. And Justin and Stephanie Shults, two Americans whose family for days, simply didn't know where they were, were looking for them, finally they got that terrible news.

And they say that that couple were really enjoying their time here in Europe, going around, seeing the sites. Terrible news. As you mentioned, there is a real tension on the streets here. You can see here behind me, the army still on the streets, as we learn that by targeting this city, ISIS effectively targeted an international city and would have known that they would have killed people from many, many parts of the world.

CHUCK TODD:

Now made it a global reach.

KEIR SIMMONS

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, it seems as if there is obviously some connection between the Paris attacks late last year and what happened this week. But a week ago, a week ago Friday, there was a big arrest in the Paris attacks, having to do with Abdeslam, and it was an arrest made in Belgium.

CHUCK TODD:

Did it trigger an acceleration of the terrorist attack that took place in Brussels, basically within 72 hours of the arrest?

KEIR SIMMONS:

Right. That's a good question. And another point too. They put out an arrest warrant for a man called Najim Laachraoui, who turned out to be one of the suicide bombers at the airport. So those two things combined. And Chuck, you remember too, in the days before the attack, there was reports that Abdeslam was talking to the police, and that he was telling them that there might be another attack.

Now it has now emerged, officials saying here, that he was not saying that during interrogation. So I think there will be some questions, Chuck. There are already questions about what the intelligence services here knew, and whether they could prevent an attack. But also, they will be wondering as the days go by, whether some of the publicity that came out, some of the things that were said, may have led a terrorist cell to act, and whether or not that was completely wise. Chuck?

CHUCK TODD:

Keir, thanks very much. So for more on this, I'm joined by our chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, who's just returned from Brussels, and Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, under both Presidents Bush and Obama. He's now with the national security company Leidos. Welcome to you all. Michael, I'm going to go to you on this last point, the connection here, the arrest of Abdeslam on Friday, basically less than 96 hours later, this attack happens. There seems to be something here that connects these two incidents.

MICHAEL LEITER:

I think almost certainly, Chuck. And this likely shows a serious tactical failing by the Belgians. When we arrested someone in the U.S. or anywhere else, the first thing you always go for, the only thing you're focused on to start is what other attacks might be coming. And it looks at least from the outside, that that did not occur.

But there's a second, more strategy piece here, which is really striking. This is the first time since 9/11 that we have had a cell or a network in the West conducting an attack, and then it survives to fight another day and launch another attack. And this is after four months of intense investigation--

CHUCK TODD:

This has never happened in any other incident.

MICHAEL LEITER:

It never happened.

CHUCK TODD:

We're usually able to eliminate that cell?

MICHAEL LEITER:

That's right. We've never gotten back to the planners all the time in Pakistan or Somalia. But the cell in the West, to be able to do this, whether it was in London or Madrid--

CHUCK TODD:

We're always able to destroy--

MICHAEL LEITER:

We broke it up. We saw it and we destroyed it. And here, four months after intensive investigation across Western Europe, they had another attack.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Richard--

RICHARD ENGEL:

The cell was able to reconstitute itself, attract new members, and strike again.

CHUCK TODD:

What's interesting here, you talk about a tactical failure, strategic failure, intelligence failure. Michael Hayden, former director of both the C.I.A. and N.S.A. said something quite startling to me, Richard, and I'm guessing you've probably heard this before. He said, "You know, the quickest path to get information around Europeans is to tell the Americans." If France and Belgium couldn't coordinate on dealing with this, if those two countries that share some of their populace, shares a language, if they can't coordinate, how does the rest of Europe do it?

RICHARD ENGEL:

There were so many intelligence failures on this. And it makes one wonder, how many more intelligence failures are there going to be? Look what happened with one of the chief suspects. He was arrested in Turkey, while trying to sneak into Syria, presumably to fight with ISIS. The Turks say they deported him. Shared this information with European partners, and he still got out and was able to become one of the major attackers.

It seems like the dam has been broken for a problem that has been building up for a long time. 7,000, that's the number you're hearing as well, foreign fighters from European countries gone to fight with ISIS. And maybe 1,500 or so have come back. And it seems that Europe doesn't know where they are and isn't talking to other, isn't sharing that information--

CHUCK TODD:

I’m-- I'm going to say a question here that I can't believe I'm saying. Is Brussels a safe haven for terrorists, Michael?

MICHAEL LEITER:

Well, in Brussels is a worse safe haven than some other places, but regrettably, lots of western Europe is a safe haven. Because what the European Union’s created is wonderful for the free movement of people and goods and commerce. But it's terrible from a security perspective. So the borderless society still has very much bordered, isolated intelligence services. And those countries have to come up with multilateral sharing arrangements amongst law enforcement intelligence that don't exist today.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting, I want to play a quick clip, Richard, of your interview that you had with John Kerry, Secretary of State. You pressed him on this. It was an amazing non-answer from him. Let me play it.

(BEGIN TAPE)

RICHARD ENGEL:

Do you think Europe has a handle on the level of the ISIS infiltration, or ISIS problem here?

JOHN KERRY:

I think Europe can do-- Europe's done a lot. And particularly the government of Belgium has done a lot. I mean, before this event took place, they had already had our foreign fighter surge team here a month ago. They are the ones who apprehended Salah Abdeslam. That may or may not have initiated this effect.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Richard, he tried everything he could do to praise. He wouldn't-- and yet, behind the scenes, you can't find an American analyst that says, "This is on Belgium."

RICHARD ENGEL:

I spoke to people as this crisis was unfolding, who were pulling their hair out, that the Belgian authorities were not on top of this situation. He's coming there, it’s a diplomatic mission he wants to praise, but it seems like there were many, many failures.

And this country, for example, we were talking about this earlier, if you're in one state and you drive across the state line, and let's say the cops are chasing you from North Carolina to South Carolina, they're still going to be chasing you once you get to North Carolina. That is not the case in Europe. The intelligence stops.

CHUCK TODD:

Stops at the border?

RICHARD ENGEL:

At the border. It's like a 1950s system where if you get across the state lines--

CHUCK TODD:

You're safe.

RICHARD ENGEL:

--you're Scott free. They need to wake up to an international world.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting. They're trying to go borderless in Europe, they've been trying to do all these things, and yet what we're seeing in this country, the rise of nationalism, nativism, particularly in a certain part of the Republican party, Ted Cruz calling for surveillance of Muslim communities, the N.Y.P.D. Commissioner Bratton saying, "That's crazy," does a whole New York Daily News op-ed this morning in today's Daily News chastising Cruz for this. And yet, this morning in Brussels, anti-immigrant protests, this nationalism is on the rise in Europe too. And that will make your job in the intelligence community that much harder, doesn't it?

MICHAEL LEITER:

That's absolutely right. Because intelligence and law enforcement have to partner with these communities. If these communities feel alienated, whether it's in Brussels or Boston--

CHUCK TODD:

These are anti-immigration protests, right, and just--

MICHAEL LEITER:

That's my biggest fear. That means that they're not going to cooperate, that they're not going to report to people who might be getting radicalized, that they're not going to feel integrated parts of societies. And that integration is what has kept the U.S. more immune to this radicalization. It's what Europe--

CHUCK TODD:

We don't have these ghettos that Europe has. But the more chatter like this, it can create the ghetto.

MICHAEL LEITER:

Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

Anyway, Michael Leiter, Richard Engel, I have to leave it there. Up next, back to politics, back to the president race. The big wins for Bernie Sanders last night, Hillary Clinton still has a commanding lead in the delegate count. I will ask him what changed yesterday, and does it help his path to the nomination. And later, Donald Trump's trouble with women. Why it could change the electoral map in a big way.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, now to the Democratic race and my next guest, Bernie Sanders. He scored some impressive victories over Hillary Clinton in the three caucuses that were held yesterday. Let me run through the numbers here. In Alaska, he won by a whopping 64 points, 82 percent of the caucus vote to Clinton’s 18. In Washington State another big win for Sanders, 73 percent for him to Clinton’s 27. And in Hawaii, he won by a smaller margin, 42 points, 71 percent. So big wins in all three states.

Sanders picked up so far 46 of the delegates that have been allocated from last night. Clinton has 14. However, Clinton still has an overall commanding lead in the delegate count, 1,672 to Sanders 994, that does include superdelegates in our count, by the way. On the allocated pledged delegates, her lead is smaller, but still significant, over 200. Senator Sanders now joins me from Vermont. Senator, good morning sir. Welcome back to Meet the Press.

BERNIE SANDERS:

Thank you very much, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

So you got the size of victories you need last night. Going forward, you've got to continue to win by margins like this to catch up to Hillary Clinton. Can you win 60 percent of the vote or more in Wisconsin, in Pennsylvania, in New York, in Maryland? How does this success in caucuses translate to primaries?

BERNIE SANDERS:

Our calculations are that in fact we can win the pledged delegates. And at a time when we have the momentum, we have won five out of the six last contests in landslide fashion, in all of the national polling that I have seen, we are beating Donald Trump by much greater margins than is Secretary Clinton.

We started this campaign at 3 percent in the polls, 60 points behind Clinton. Now in the last poll that I've seen, we're one point up. So we have the momentum that I think a lot of the superdelegates are now beginning to look at which Democratic candidate is in the best place to defeat Donald Trump. I think some of them are beginning to understand that it's Bernie Sanders.

CHUCK TODD:

What is - so that's your case at this point, right? If you can't win, do you think you should be the nominee if you don't win a majority of the pledged delegates? Do you think the superdelegates should decide who the nominee is?

BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I'm not going to speculate. I think we can win the pledged delegates. And I think if we continue the momentum we have right now, we will. And the reason is, I'll tell you. The issues that we are talking about, a corrupt campaign finance system, the disappearance of the American middle class, the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, the need to deal boldly with climate change, kids graduating college $50,000 in debt. Chuck, those are the issues that the American people want to hear discussed and want to see acted upon.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to talk about the two of you bring this party together, once a nominee is decided. I noticed some change at your rallies over the last couple of weeks. I want to play some excerpts here. There's a lot of booing of Hillary Clinton going on. Take a listen.

(Begin tape)

BERNIE SANDERS:

She voted for the war. What she has done is established a number of super PACs, her largest one recently reported raising $25 million from-- Secretary Clinton has given speeches on Wall Street behind closed doors for $225,000 a speech.

(End tape)

CHUCK TODD:

What's interesting has been your reaction to the booing. You had no reaction there, but here's what you did over a month ago when booing started about Hillary Clinton at your rallies.

(Begin tape)

BERNIE SANDERS:

One of the areas where my opponent, Secretary Clinton and I have a strong disagreement. Nope, nope, nope, no. No, I respect Secretary Clinton, we can have differences.

(End tape)

CHUCK TODD:

Now, according to our folks, the last time you chastised your supporters for booing Hillary Clinton was on February 23rd. Now you don't do that. Any reason?

BERNIE SANDERS:

No, no reason at all. You know, every day we are in different position here. I respect Secretary Clinton, I don't want our supporters to be booing her. But there are real differences of opinion. And one of the differences is that she has raised $15 million from Wall Street. We have raised 6 million individual contributions, averaging $27 a piece. People respond the way they respond.

But what we are trying to do in this campaign is to differentiate our positions from Secretary Clinton on the war in Iraq, on fracking, on how we raise money. That is what the American people want to hear. And by the way, one other point, Chuck. I would hope very much that as we go into New York State, Secretary Clinton's home state, that we will have a debate, New York City, upstate, wherever, on the important issues facing New York and in fact the country.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you worried she won't debate you anymore?

BERNIE SANDERS:

Yeah, I do have a little bit of concern about that. But I certainly would like to see a debate in New York State.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly, in a web interview last week, you seemed to set some parameters of some things, of demands that you would have of Hillary Clinton if she was the nominee, that she support Medicare for all, a single-payer, $15 minimum wage, free public college, and that that's what it would take to earn your support and your supporters' support. Is that correct? If she doesn't sign onto Medicaid for all--

BERNIE SANDERS:

No it's not.

CHUCK TODD:

--for instance, you won't support her as the nominee?

BERNIE SANDERS:

No, no. I think that's a misinterpretation of what I said. Those are my views. And I think those are the positions that are imperative that we move forward toward for the betterment of the middle class and working families of this country. I think--

CHUCK TODD:

But you'll support her if she doesn't share your views on that?

BERNIE SANDERS:

I did not say that. No, I did not say that. I did say that it's absurd we remain the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people and paid family and medical leave. We have got to change that.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there conditions for you to support her?

BERNIE SANDERS:

Right now, I am running to become President of the United States and I hope very much, Chuck, that you will be asking her that question.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that and I will the next time I have her. But are there conditions for your support of her if she's the nominee.

BERNIE SANDERS:

Look, it's too early to talk about that. Right now, we have a lot of momentum. We're focusing on Wisconsin, New York State. We have a path to victory. We are going to win this nomination process.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Bernie Sanders. I will leave it there. Senator Sanders, thanks for coming on. Stay safe on the trail, sir.

BERNIE SANDERS:

Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD:

Up next, a look at how Donald Trump's comments on women could turn a gender gap into the gender grand canyon.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD

Welcome back. It’s Meet the Press Data Download time. We’re going to look in taking a deep dive into Donald Trump’s problem with women voters-- and how it could cost him big come November.

In our latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll among all women, Trump’s favorability rating was an astonishing 21 percent positive, 70 percent negative - 49 points under water. Really unprecedented for a major presidential candidate.

For comparison, Mitt Romney’s favorable rating among women was only five points underwater just before the 2012 election, five. Trump even has a 41 percent negative rating among republican women. So, let’s continue to put this issue in context.

In 2012, President Obama beat Romney among all women by 11 points, 55, 54.

Well, in a hypothetical 2016 match-up with Hillary Clinton, she beats Donald Trump by nearly three times that margin, 60 to 31 among all women.

What about among white women? A group republicans typically count on in winning contests. Well, Romney beat Obama among white women 56, 42. Pretty impressive. But Trump would lose white women to Clinton, 48, 38. A remarkable 24 point swing among that group, from a plus 14 to a minus 10.

Why is this important? Trump is going to have to drive up the vote among whites to win. How do you do that when you lose roughly half of the white vote by margins like this?

Finally, let’s look at where elections are won and lost these days, the suburbs.

Clinton beats Trump among suburban women by a whopping 30 points, 60 to 30. That makes Trump vulnerable in key swing states with large suburban populations. Think Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Orlando, and Denver - all in states President Obama won in 2012 largely because of a significant gender gap with Romney.

But now add in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia, and Phoenix, Arizona. These states were all lost by Obama. They could be won by Clinton if she wins by margins with women against Donald Trump.

Republicans are used to having a gender gap to deal with, but right now this looks more like a gender canyon. Maybe a gender grand canyon.

After the break, inside the GOP plot to take the nomination away from Donald Trump at the convention even if he wins the most states and most delegates. Get ready to learn about “zombie delegates.” We’ll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Donald Trump is in a race to 1,237. It's a number now we're all getting used to and familiar with. And he can't afford to miss hitting that magic number. And here's why. Because there's already an effort underway to stop him on a second ballot at the convention in Cleveland. Right now, Trump has 752 delegates and a 282 delegate lead over Ted Cruz.

In order to hit the magic 1,237 majority number and earn that glide path the nomination, Trump has to win 54 percent of the remaining delegates. And he has some favorable contests coming up, like his home state of New York, which has 95 delegates up for grabs, and a winner-take-all state of New Jersey, where maybe his buddy Chris Christie can help him win those 51 delegates.

But, the race is already on to create sort of delegate double agents. If Trump fails to win that majority on the first ballot these are people who will promise to dump Trump on the second ballot. And then there's an effort underway to mobilize zombie delegates. These are delegates who are pledged to candidates who have dropped out of the race.

They could switch their vote over to someone else in the race, maybe even on the first ballot. Maybe it's Cruz, maybe it's Trump. So to discuss all of this, I'm joined by our resident zombie expert, Ben Ginsberg, Republican delegate guru, who served, of course, as lead counsel to the Bush/Cheney campaign of 2000 and he was Mitt Romney's lawyer in 2012. So the zombie apocalypse will hit Cleveland.

So we have free-agent delegates, we have zombie delegates. I want to talk about the free-agent delegates first, because we have Donald Trump this morning already angry about this. Louisiana, he wins the primary big, he should get a lion's share of the delegates. The Cruz campaign claims they actually are going to have more delegates out of Louisiana, a state they lost, than Trump. How did they do it? Explain.

BEN GINSBERG:

The way they managed to do it is that 44 of the 56 states and territories give the candidates no role in choosing who the delegates will pick.

CHUCK TODD:

Who the individuals are.

BEN GINSBERG:

Who the individuals are. And so a well-organized campaign will go into all these state conventions and state executive committee meetings and manage to get supporters of theirs. They'll be bound on the first ballot to the winner of their state primary, but not for any of the procedural rules issues, and not for the second ballot.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. So they're the double agents. Now, let's talk about zombie delegates. These are the people, and I want to put up a graphic here. There are a group of unbound delegates. We know there were always going to be over about a hundred, we've done the math here, over about a hundred of them, 169 of them come from states that have chosen not to hold a contest, Colorado chief among them. And then there's another 175 of the zombie delegates. These are people, mostly Marco Rubio delegates out of Virginia and Minnesota, but there a handful of Carson, maybe one or two Jeb Bush’s. What is their role in all of this?

BEN GINSBERG:

Well, their role in all of this is almost the equivalent of the Democrat superdelegate. In other words, they can be for whatever candidate they want. So, for example, the campaigns will be very aggressive in going to the state convention where these unbound delegates are selected. You're going to have three tests coming right up in the first three weeks. You're going other have Fargo, North Dakota, you're going to have Colorado Springs, Colorado, and then you're going to have Casper, Wyoming.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go.

BEN GINSBERG:

So there are three great places to go to see how it all--

CHUCK TODD:

Absolutely. All right I'm going to specifically here go to Katy and Hallie, because it's the Cruz and Trump campaigns. The Cruz campaign seems to know everything about this process.

HALLIE JACKSON:

They are incredibly well-organized when it comes to sort of this on-the-ground, micro-targeting, data kind of thing when it comes to these delegates. This is something that the campaign did successfully in Iowa, right? Drilled down to know the voters. I would say--

CHUCK TODD:

So they're going to know the delegates likes and dislikes, right?

HALLIE JACKSON:

Exactly, exactly. And certainly those 344, and probably all of them that are going, the campaign has said that they are not just focusing on the races to come, but looking back, at the races that have already happened in order to make sure they lock down these delegate states. This is a real priority for them, watch North Dakota, watch Colorado.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you also have South Carolina. Meanwhile, Katy, I've got to ask, I know you've d-- they, the Trump campaign doesn't like this narrative that they don't know what they're doing.

KATY TUR:

Absolutely. And so they do have a team in place, about a dozen people, their delegate convention team. And they are going out and they're trying to convince delegates to get on their side. Their internal projections say that they're going to get to 1,400, 1,450.

BEN GINSBERG:

I saw that number.

KATY TUR:

Who knows where they're getting it from, but that's what they're saying. If they don't get that, they believe that they have a real opportunity, especially in that 40-day window between the last primary and the convention to go and woo these unbound delegates by negotiating for whatever they want.

CHUCK TODD:

And there are no rules.

KATY TUR:

And they said this.

CHUCK TODD:

As we know. And he is a negotiator, as we know, Donald Trump.

KATY TUR:

That's it. He’s a deal maker.

CHUCK TODD:

But these delegates have a mind of their own. I want to play a quick interview we did with Curly Haugland out of North Dakota, a G.O.P. delegate and sort of a long-time member of the R.N.C. Here's what he said, Ben, and I’d like to get you respond.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CURLY HAUGLAND:

Well, here's another thing that's not very well understood. The priority of rules and authority in the Republican party is the convention first. The convention is the highest authority. And so the convention rules govern everything.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Ah, the convention rules. And guess what? We don't have convention rules yet, do we?

BEN GINSBERG:

No, we do not.

CHUCK TODD:

That's the point of this that Donald Trump yet doesn't understand.

BEN GINSBERG:

They must be passed by each convention for that convention. There will be a lot of Curly Hauglands out there who have great ideas of their own on what can be done.

CHUCK TODD:

This is going to be madness. I'm going to stop there, sneak in one more break, endgame time in less than a minute. More on the battle for the women’s vote, if it is a Trump/Clinton contest.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Endgame time. Panel is here. We've been ping-ponging a lot. And I know that you guys had a lot of interest in our little Data Download. Andrea, what's been interesting is the Clinton campaign for months has been trying to galvanize her candidacy as a huge step for women in politics. Haven't had much success.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Not at all.

CHUCK TODD:

And yet, they've got Donald Trump.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving to the Clinton campaign. Because everything that he says and every insult and every perceived insult only adds to women's concern. I mean, what the Clinton campaign now is looking towards in a general election is Republican suburban women. Those are the target voters.

CHUCK TODD:

Kristen, I'm curious though, do they-- are they embracing the idea of running against Trump or just sort of dealing with it?

KRISTEN WELKER:

They're dealing with it and trying to determine what his Achilles' heel is going to be. And this women's issue is certainly going to be part of that.

CHUCK TODD:

They think that it?

KRISTEN WELKER:

A part of that-- They think it's a key part of that. Also his controversial comments about Muslims, for example. Their biggest challenge is to figure out what to do with all of this material. Remember back in 2012 when the Obama campaign had the 47 percent comments.

They didn't just roll it out all at once, they allowed the media to sort of take aim at it first. And then you saw this very measured rollout. I think that's going to be one of the big challenges. And someone said something very smart to me, which is they also have to be careful not to throw everything at him all at once. Because the messaging gets lost.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, this was, it's funny about that, Katy, because I think that's the lesson, if Hillary Clinton sat down with Marco Rubio, with Jeb Bush, with Ben Carson, and say, "Okay, what did you do wrong? What advice would you give me?" Which is, don't assume all of it's vulnerable.

KATY TUR:

She has the ability to be a Monday morning quarterback here. She can see everything that they've done wrong and learn from it. But the Trump campaign is excited to go against Hillary Clinton. They do believe that she has a lot of faults. They do believe that she's vulnerable. And they're not so worried about this gender gap right now.

They keep saying over and over again that Donald Trump has worked well with women in the past. They have Ivanka Trump on their side to help mitigate some of the damage there. But they also believe that white men are going to be the ones that are going to come out to vote for them. And they believe they're going to turn out new voters, and it'll mitigate some of the women losses.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

He just rolled out "incompetent Hillary" as the nickname of, you know, “lyin’ Ted”.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think that's going--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, she is vulnerable on-- surprisingly on foreign policy. And the more she hugs President Obama, which she is doing now, and not distinguishing herself from him, the more she is vulnerable on everything going wrong if things are going wrong like Brussels.

CHUCK TODD:

But the irony here--

KRISTEN WELKER:

--Donald Trump is a master at repackaging himself.

KATY TUR:

Absolutely.

KRISTEN WELKER:

He doesn't have to win--

CHUCK TODD:

But the irony here--

KRISTEN WELKER:

He just has to close the gap.

CHUCK TODD:

So Hallie, I guess what we're learning here is that the Trump campaign thinks, "You know what, all of our vulnerabilities, all I have to do is say Hillary Clinton, got to unite the Republican party."

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Highest unfavorables.

CHUCK TODD:

The Clinton campaign believes at the end of the day, how do I motivate young voters? Donald Trump.

HALLIE JACKSON:

Say the word Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

How do I motivate women? Donald Trump. They need each other.

HALLIE JACKSON:

In this strange way. And yet, we are still not through the primary yet, because you have people like Ted Cruz and John Kasich going, "Hey, I'm going to beat Hillary. Donald Trump can't do it and I can." So all of this, we can look ahead and talk about how the two would play off each other. But in reality, you are going to see Ted Cruz and John Kasich use these same vulnerabilities or perceived vulnerabilities when it comes to Donald Trump and women to try to take him down in July.

CHUCK TODD:

I wanted to press you all here for a minute, if you can. It’s Easter Sunday. Do you realize we are technically, there are more days ahead in the primary contest between now just June 7th than there have been in the contest that has been held so far?

KATY TUR:

Don't say that.

HALLIE JACKSON:

That is exciting.

KRISTEN WELKER:We have a rest this weekend.

CHUCK TODD:

We are not even yet at the calendar halftime. So unlike the NCAA tournament, our March madness goes on to April and May and June.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Yeah, but the Wildcats beat Kansas.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. We shall see. That's all for today.

CHUCK TODD:

Have a very happy Easter. We'll be back next week because no matter what the holiday is, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *