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Meet the Press Transcript - June 29, 2014

MEET THE PRESS -- SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2014

DAVID GREGORY:

Next on Meet the Press, another summertime showdown between the White House and Congress. House Speaker John Boehner accusing the president of overstepping his authority and says he'll sue.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ON TAPE):

If you're going to sue me for doing my job.

DAVID GREGORY:

With me this morning the chair of the Republican party, Reince Priebus. Plus my news-making interview with former President Bill Clinton. His strong defense of Hillary Clinton, and harsh words for Dick Cheney about Iraq. And what does one of President Obama's closest advisers think about the prospect of Hillary Clinton running for president? You need to decide, as our Cynthia McFadden gets rare, behind-the-scenes action at the White House.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press with David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY:

And good Sunday morning. We want to begin now with this increasingly better divide here in Washington. Will Speaker Boehner's planned lawsuit over executive power end? Any hope of action during the remainder of President Obama's term? Our congressional correspondent Kelly O'Donnell brings us up to date.

(BEGIN TAPE)

KELLY O'DONNELL:

A fractured relationship that once displayed at least fleeting moments of public friendship, from their one-time-only-goals outing, to warm praise for family roots.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ON TAPE):

How the son of a barkeep is speaker of the House.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

And soon, chief litigant, a new fissure broke open over the constitutional boundaries of the president's job description.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ON TAPE):

Today in America.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

But in January, the president made clear he wasn't going to let Congress get in the way of what he called his year of action.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ON TAPE):

Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do.

JOHN BOEHNER (ON TAPE):

Morning everyone.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

Speaker John Boehner says some of the President's executive orders and regulatory moves cross the line.

JOHN BOEHNER (ON TAPE):

The Constitution makes it clear that a president's job is to faithfully execute the laws. And in my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

The House index expected to vote to authorize the lawsuit next month. Aids cite the president's change to various six deadlines written into the healthcare law as an example of overreach. But one branch of government suing another is rare.

MICHAEL SCHERER (TIME MAGAZINE):

So there's a high bar for Boehner to meet. But we don't know yet what he's going to be suing over and whether he's found some legal, technical point on which he can succeed.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

Attempting to dismiss the case himself, the president used a TV interview.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ON TAPE):

The suit is a stunt.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

And a road trip to push back.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ON TAPE):

They've decided they're going to sue me for doing my job.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

With Congress already headed home for the July 4th break, and with just 16 legislative days left until a five-week August recess, there is little time left in this election year to repair the damage of discord. For Meet the Press, Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News, Washington.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

With me now in her first television appearance and stepping down from her role as the President's lawyer, I'm joined now by former White House council, Kathy Ruemmler. Kathy, good to have you here.

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Thanks so much, Dave.

DAVID GREGORY:

So does the speaker have a point? Or is this just politics?

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Well, David, look. Obviously this is just for show. There is a concept in litigation called "standing," which I've heard some people talk about in connection with this proposed lawsuit. And what basically that means is that you have to show some kind of concrete injury. And, you know, Speaker Boehner I think knows that as well as anybody.

I don't think the Congress can show any injury here. Congress has a lot of tools available to it to challenge the president if they disagree to the things that he's doing. Most importantly, the power of the purse. But, you know, a lawsuit, to say it's frivolous I think is an understatement.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you think they'd sidestep this and actually pursue impeachment?

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Well, I think that would be extreme and obviously completely unwarranted. The president has said that he's going to act where he can. And the emphasis on where he can. And, you know, the first thing that the president would ask and would instruct his lawyers, including myself, and the lawyers the the Justice Department, is do I have the legal authority to take this action? And he takes that responsibility very serious.

DAVID GREGORY:

But if you look at some of the executive actions that are cited here, we'll put them up on the screen, Kelly O'Donnell mentioned the Affordable Care Act and extending the employer mandate, delaying that, there's also a lot of illegal immigrants who came here as children to stay in the U.S., increase the minimum wage for federal contractors, having the EPA set carbon limits for new power plants.

I mean, here the Supreme Court hands down a decision saying that the president oversteps his authority with regard to recess appointments, we can talk about that later in the program. Why doesn't the House speaker take some solace and say, "Look, the Supreme Court has spoken, the president has overstepped his authority here in other areas"?

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Well, David, first of all, the speaker hasn't actually said what he intends to sue the president over. And I think that's pretty telling. You know, to come out guns blazing and say, "I'm going to sue you," but then say, "Well, I haven't really figured out why yet," is a little bit odd, to say the least. And I think it's pretty suggestive that this is just for show. And it's opportunistic in an election year.

DAVID GREGORY:

There is so much going on legally. This weekend, Abu Khattala, Ahmed Abu Khattala who has been arrested with the Benghazi bombing, arraigned this weekend, an unusual move in Washington D.C. And you've heard the criticism already. Why not put him before a military commission? Why not put him in Guantanamo Bay rather than put him in a civilian proceeding?

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Well, David, the federal courts, you know, have many, many, many, many years of history, including in dealing with terrorist suspects. The federal courts do these cases well. The prosecutors know how to bring them. It's a tried and true system. It works. It's been shown to work over and over again in this administration and in prior administrations.

DAVID GREGORY:

But is he a real ringleader? Or is he a lower-level guy that we're spending a lot of attention on instead of getting somebody who's bigger in these attacks?

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Well, I think we'll have to wait and see, you know, what the Justice Department's case reveals, as it proceeds through the system. But I can tell you that if the Justice Department is indicting him and arraigned him, then they believe that they can prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and I expect that that's what they'll do.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, Kathy Ruemmler, more from your on our roundtable in just a couple of minutes. Thanks very much.

Hillary Clinton isn't even a presidential candidate yet, but she's already paying defense about her wealth. In a minute, you'll see my exclusive interview with her husband, the former President Bill Clinton. But first, here's our political director Chuck Todd with more on how this issue is playing with Americans.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Hillary Clinton, crisscrossing the country, testing out things for a White House run, but also trying to sell books. She reportedly drew a multimillion dollar advance, and has been commanding over $200,000 per appearance on the speaking circuit.

HILLARY CLINTON (ON TAPE):

Hard choices were made.

CHUCK TODD:

The Clintons have accumulated enormous wealth, estimated at over $100 million. It's hard to believe they were once technically in the poorhouse.

HILLARY CLINTON (ON TAPE):

We came out of the White House, not only dead broke, but in debt.

BILL CLINTON (ON TAPE):

It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt.

CHUCK TODD:

Criticized for how she described her own wealth, Mrs. Clinton has since tried to walk back the "dead broke" comment.

HILLARY CLINTON (ON TAPE):

My inartful use of those few words doesn't change who I am, what I've stood for my entire life, what I stand for today.

CHUCK TODD:

But her struggles to answer the money question exposed a potential vulnerability for her 2016 bid.

STEVE SCHMIDT (REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST):

Any time that you're able to define your opponent as out of touch, it's potentially lethal in American politics. And we certainly did that very effectively to John Kerry in the Bush campaign. It was done effectively to Al Gore. It was done effectively to Mitt Romney.

CHUCK TODD:

The near-term concern for some of Clinton's supporters is making sure she doesn't look out of touch with her own party, especially over the issue of income inequality.

ANITA DUNN (DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST):

Americans don't mind wealthy people. What they do mind are wealthy people who they think are gaming the system or are taking advantage of things that they don't have access for.

CHUCK TODD:

Back in 2007, candidate Barack Obama effectively portrayed Hillary Clinton as out of touch, making this point about the struggles he and Michelle had.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ON TAPE):

It wasn't that long ago that we were living in a small condo, and it was getting too small for our kids. That we were trying to figure out how to save money for our children's college education and paying off student loans.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And that was Barack Obama saying why he would never run for president in 2016, had he lost in 2008. David, we have a new NBC News/Wall StreetJournal/Annenberg poll. We asked whether sort of the way Hillary Clinton has been in a bubble with secret service protection, her wealth, whether that means she can connect with average Americans. 55% say that despite all of that, they believe she is in touch with average Americans. That's a pretty good number for her, despite all this.

DAVID GREGORY:

And there's some time for her to work through all of this before and if she does become a candidate. Chuck, thank you so much. Let's now go to my exclusive interview with President Clinton earlier this week in Denver at the annual meeting at the Clinton Global Initiative America. We first talked about income inequality and the challenges facing the American economy. And then I asked him about Secretary Clinton's handling of all these questions about their wealth.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you understand some people who have been critical of Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Clinton, who initially had to explain talking about being dead broke coming out of the White House, or said in an interview that you all--

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

David, I might understand it differently than you do now.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me just--

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Look, you're in politics. One of the things that's a challenge for us is that somebody's always trying to change the subject. And the subject is how can we get this economy going? How can it work? And one of the things that we forget is-- she was joking about it the other day. Half the time somebody asking a question couldn't even vote when I was president.

And so you have to live in the moment, not with memory. It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt. Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic; I'm shocked that it's happened. I'm shocked that people still want me to come give talks. And so--

DAVID GREGORY:

But--

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

--I'm grateful.

DAVID GREGORY:

But when you say you pay ordinary taxes, as Secretary Clinton did, unlike other people who are really well off who pay taxes maybe just off capital gains, can you understand as a political matter that that could strike people as being out of touch?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Yes, but she's not out of touch. And she advocated and worked as a senator for things that were good for ordinary people. And before that, all her life. And the people asking her questions should put this into some sort of context.

I remember when we were in law school, she was out trying to get legal assistance for poor people. I remember she was working on believing in paid leave for pregnant mothers in the 1970s. So I think if you don't give the most in-depth answer to a question because you immediately remember what you felt like the day we left as opposed to what it looks like to everybody else now who's having trouble, you can say, "Okay, I've got to clean that up," which she did.

DAVID GREGORY:

Right. The reaction you think, bottom line, before I move on, has been unfair?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

No. I don't want to-- you get to decide what's fair. You get to decide, because we've got the First Amendment. What I'm saying is the debate's the wrong debate. You need to be able to show, by their policies and their statements about current conditions, how candidates of both parties across the spectrum feel about the central challenge of our time, which is the demise of the American dream. And the loss of our leadership as the most successful middle-class country in the world.

And the idea that now, after-- I think I had the lowest net worth of any American president in the 20th century when I took office. But I still could have been tone deaf. And, you know, now I don't, and we've got a good life, and I'm grateful for it. But we go to our local grocery store on the weekend. We talk to people in our town. We know what's going on. The real issue is if you've been fortunate enough to be successful, are you now out of touch and insensitive to the agonizing struggles other people are facing? That's the real issue.

DAVID GREGORY:

And the real issue you talk about as well is some of this pain people are feeling in the middle class, the sense that the middle class, that the American dream is slipping away. I look at some of the numbers, 3.4 million Americans who have been out of work for six months plus. You have over 7 million who, by their own admission, are stuck in lower-paying jobs, part-time jobs. How can a Democratic candidate for president-- what challenges would a Democratic candidate for president face running on the Obama economy?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Well, first of all, that's not what anybody should do. You should run on making it better. But he didn't cause the meltdown. The actions that his administration took kept it from being worse. And there had been a concerted effort to stop implementing his economic plan in the second term so none of you have any idea whether they would have worked or not.

DAVID GREGORY:

But you don't lay this at Speaker Boehner and the Republicans uniquely, do you? I mean, do you really think it's their opposition to the president that has forced him to have such impediments to get the economy growing again?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

No. Keep in mind, the average crash takes ten years to get over; has always. We got the jobs back in about six years. We've now got to get the incomes up. Let me just put it this way: I believe if the two branches had been working smoothly together, and taking advantage of this time when interest rates were lower than inflation to cut long-term spending liabilities but invest now in modern infrastructure, we would be in a lot better shape. I think median wages would be going up. I think poverty would be going down.

That is not what the Republicans believe. The Republicans believe government would always mess up a two-car parade unless it's something they want to spend money on. In Washington, I'm talking about. And they just wanted to cut everything and not invest any money into things that, at least I believe, are important.

We need to try to get back to working together again. No, I'm not blaming them entirely.

DAVID GREGORY:

So what--

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

But, I mean, how can you-- you tell me. Mr. McCarthy, from California, I like him. The fellow who was just elected to--

DAVID GREGORY:

Kevin McCarthy, yes.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

I like him. I had a great visit with him at the inauguration. So what's the first thing he does after he becomes the number two guy in the House leadership? What is the very first thing he does? He changes his position on whether we're going to fund the export/import bank. Because the conservative politicians say, "Oh, that's just a Wall Street crony capitalism deal."

That's not a Wall Street crony capitalism deal. That's a financing device that allows us to compete with the 60 other countries of the world who are trying to save jobs in their countries, and they helped finance exports.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to ask you about global leadership in the world. Iraq is back, unfortunately. A terror threat from this group known as ISIS is back and perhaps poses the biggest threat we've seen to the West and to the United States since Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The former vice president, Dick Cheney, said of President Obama in an op-ed that claims that Al Qaeda is decimated is clearly not true. That, in fact, Al Qaeda is on the march, the argument that America is less safe under President Obama. Do you believe Dick Cheney is a credible critic on these matters?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Well, I believe, you know, if they hadn't gone to war in Iraq none of this would be happening. So I think they--

DAVID GREGORY:

It wouldn't be happening in Syria? There wouldn't be--

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Well, it might be happening--

DAVID GREGORY:

--terrorist actors?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

--in Syria, but what happened in Syria wouldn't have happened in Iraq. Iraq would not have been, in effect, drastically altered, as it has been. But Mr. Cheney has been incredibly adroit for the last six years or so attacking the administration for not doing an adequate job of cleaning up the mess that he made. And I think it's unseemly. And I give President Bush, by the way, a lot of credit for trying to stay out of this debate and letting other people work through it.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you this: One of the issues about America's role in the world is if we pursue a lighter footprint going into places, intervening, then that which we leave behind can become chaotic. And so it becomes a question of what responsibility does the United States have to be part of that future of a country?

This goes to Iraq. I've always believed that is the larger question about Benghazi. But you understand the political question about Benghazi, in many ways. Some have tried to make it about Secretary Clinton and her tenure. Rand Paul, on the program-- he may run for president in 2016-- called it disqualifying for Secretary Clinton. You have a response for that?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Well, let's go back to the first question because it's serious. That's not a serious comment; doesn't deserve a serious question. Rand Paul, when ten different instances occurred when President Bush was in office where American diplomatic personnel were killed around the world, how many outraged Republican members of Congress were there? Zero.

DAVID GREGORY:

Most formidable Republicans who could run for president, in your judgment?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

If I knew, I wouldn't say. Why would I encourage them? Unless--

DAVID GREGORY:

You’re so good at handicapping that side though.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Unless I thought it would cause that person to lose the nomination, then I'd announce it in a heartbeat.

DAVID GREGORY:

And you're just a bit player as to whether Secretary Clinton runs?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

That's exactly what I am. I'm a foot soldier in an army. I will do what I am instructed to do. And, no, look. You know, it's funny. You reach our age, you just look at it differently. We've had wonderful lives, we've been incredibly blessed. And we're looking forward to being grandparents.

And I'm for it. You know I said in 2008, I say it every chance anybody's given me, of all the people I've ever worked with I think she's the most gifted public servant I've ever worked with, even if we are married. That's what I believe. And I believed it when we were going out together. And I believed it when I asked her to marry me and she said no. Nothing's changed my opinion in more than 40 years.

But it has to be her decision. And I agree with what she said: The most important thing is not that you want the job, or can you win. The most important thing is why do you want the job, and what do you propose to do if you get it? And how are you going to communicate that to the American people? That's the only thing that really matters.

DAVID GREGORY:

We are in Denver; I've got to ask this last question. Back in the '60s, there was that saying, "Give peace a chance." I'm wondering if you think now it's time to give pot a chance. Would it actually help government raise revenue and deal with some of the things you're dealing with here at CGI?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Rocky Mountain high? Look, I think there's a lot of evidence to argue for the medical marijuana thing. I think there are a lot of unresolved questions.

But I think we should leave it to the states. This really is a time when there should be laboratories of democracy because nobody really knows where this is going. Are there adequate quality controls? There's pot and there's pot; what's in it? What's going to happen? There are all these questions. And I think that, unlike where it is now, if the state wants to try it, they can. And then they'll be able to see what happens.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

We'll actually show you more of President Clinton, my interview with him, and a special panel I moderated discussing the economic challenges facing the country later in the program. I'm joined now however by Reince Priebus, he's the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Mr. Chairman, welcome back to the program.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Good morning, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

A lot to get to on politics, for you to respond to the former president. Let's talk about this wealth issue. Is this an issue, and is this an impediment for Hillary Clinton's candidacy?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, I think it's an impediment because of number one, how they earn their money, how they talk about their money. Obviously, I don't think there's a problem with people being rich in this country. It's just sort of--

DAVID GREGORY:

Mitt Romney didn't lose because he was wealthy, did he?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, but I think that when you are perceived as being out of touch with people that are struggling, with people that are out there working hard, I don't think flying on private jets and collecting $250,000 for a speech is considered to be hard work. And so people respect folks that earn their money and work hard and they become rich.

But when you talk about being dead broke and when you try to make believe that you understand how average people live, but you made $105 million giving speeches, I think people are kind of tired of this show, quite frankly. I mean, I just heard the interview, I think there's Hillary--

DAVID GREGORY:

"The show" meaning what? The Clintons?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

There's Hillary fatigue already out there. It's setting in. People are tired of this story. And I just happen to believe that this early run for the White House is going to come back and bite them. And it already is. People are tired of it.

DAVID GREGORY:

You sound a little bit like Barbara Bush. Would you send that same message for Jeb Bush? That the Bushes and the Clintons are--

(OVERTALK)

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, because I don't think Jeb and the Bushes are being as obnoxious about all of this. I mean, you have Bill Clinton chastising Dick Cheney for speaking opinion, while Bill Clinton is out there speaking about his opinions on every subject there is under the sun. The guy's a hypocrite.

DAVID GREGORY:

I'm not going to ask you to re-litigate the Iraq debate. But I do question whether there is an emerging Republican foreign policy that you think is distinct from how Democrats pursue foreign policy?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, I mean, listen. As party chairman, you know I don't really get into foreign policy that much. And I'll be some night in those rooms--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

All the good first time.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

But I understand that. But I think maybe the difference has been that the Republicans have been far more willing to be proactive earlier in avoiding some of these conflicts from occurring, where it seems like the president has been hesitant, procrastinating, you know, putting red lines down--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Somehow though, that's more prudent than running into Congress without asking the hard questions.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Right, but you can't, in the case of the president, I mean, he projected a red line, the red line was crossed, but he didn't do anything about it. I mean, and now he's going back and starting to try to do things--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But all the chemical weapons were removed in Syria.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

--maybe two or three years earlier. And by the way--

DAVID GREGORY:

But all the chemical weapons were removed from Syria. Wasn't that--

(OVERTALK)

REINCE PRIEBUS:

We don't really know that. I mean, you don't know that, I don't know that, nobody really knows that. And my point is, is that this president, and I think here's where we would differ, you and I, but me and Democrats is that this president needs to lead on this subject, whether it be Russia, whether it be Syria, whether it be Benghazi.

I mean, all of these areas. I mean, something has to go right. Everything can't go wrong. You know, it's sort of like a multiple choice test. It's hard to get all the questions right, but it's also pretty hard to get them all wrong. But the president seems able to get all the answers wrong.

DAVID GREGORY:

Why should an American look at this threat of a House speaker lawsuit as, as the president said, a political stunt? There's no real legal standing, on behalf of an institution, the courts are loath to get involved in two branches fighting with one another. It would take several years to resolve. Isn't this just to gin up the base in the--

(OVERTALK)

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You know, I don't know about that. I'm a lawyer, but I mostly thing about standing. And what I see is a Supreme Court now that 12 times over the last three years have struck down the president's overreach in growth in government, nine to zero. The court just said this past week that the president overstepped his bounds, which includes the president's own appointments for the Supreme Court.

I actually think it's exactly where we need to be. The Constitution vests power in we, the people, article I gives that power to the Congress. The speaker is in charge of the House. I think he has standing. If he's helping pass laws and the president comes in and says, "This is the part of the law I'm going to follow, this is the part I'm not going to follow, this is where I'm going to expand government," he is overreaching and overtaking a part of the Constitution that he doesn't have an authority to take.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

He doesn't respect the Constitution, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you quickly. You have said recently that your party, the Republican party is not divided at all. I only can view that as sugarcoating given Eric Cantor's loss, given the narrow victory by Thad Cochran in Mississippi. You have a grassroots right now that is really at odds with the mainstream of the party. And you have here in Thad Cochran, somebody who had to rely on a Republican primary, on Democratic voters to prevail. How do you reconcile that?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, first of all, I think you're speaking of two races, and you're taking that and extrapolating it and placing it upon the entire Republican party across the country. I come from Wisconsin, totally unified. It doesn't matter who or what type of Republican voter you're talking about, there's a unity.

You have two races that are going to be Republican regardless of the outcome, that are going to remain Republican. You know, primaries are pretty common. I'm in favor of primaries. In the end though, David, what will happen this year is the Republicans are going to add seats to the House. And most people out there think that we're going to win the United States Senate. So we add seats to the House, we win the U.S. Senate, are we still going to be talking about the health of the Republican party?

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, we'll see because there's a primary vote to come in 2016.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I mean, come on.

DAVID GREGORY:

But more to come on that. Reince Priebus as always, Chairman, thank you.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

All right, thank you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

Appreciate it so much. Coming up next here, more on this conversation. Is Washington only getting worse, if that's possible? Republicans threatening to sue the president, anger over this ongoing IRS scandal on Capitol Hill, the president isn't holding back his contempt for the GOP. The roundtable will be here to debate it all, coming up next.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ON TAPE):

They're fabricated issues, they're phony scandals that are generated.

JOHN BOEHNER (ON TAPE):

This administration makes the wrong decisions. Then it won't give the American people the straight answers.

***Commercial Break***

DAVID GREGORY:

We are back and a lot to get to. Kathy Ruemmler from the White House counsel, back with us here. Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, a lot of cheese-heads on the program this morning. I didn't check this in advance. Nia-Malika Henderson of The Washington Post, and our Andrea Mitchell, NBC's Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent.

Welcome to all of you. I've got to start with Reince Priebus and this "Hillary fatigue" he's talking about, that they're being obnoxious. I mean, the political rhetoric being ratcheted up and the nastiness at a pretty high level when she's not even a candidate yet.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

She's not a candidate, but the book tour has looked like a political campaign. I think it's a little bit that she was rusty, and it's a little bit of lack of self-awareness when she talks about being dead broke and she then tried to fix it, but still not getting the language, you know, politically correct, if you will, to really understand that she is a little bit out of touch, despite all of her work and all of her connection to hard-working people in the middle class, she doesn't quite realize that as Ruth Marcus wrote in The Washington Post, she should stop giving paid speeches. She should stop asking colleges to pay them out of the foundation. She's got enough money. Just let it go at this state.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah, part of this is that, the politics has changed. I mean, for any establishment politician, you can be Thad Cochran, you can be Hillary Clinton. The view of how you connect to people is changing.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

That's right. And we've seen a real wave of populism, if you look at that Cantor race in Virginia, Brad was seen as a populist. He was seen as someone who's going to throw the bums out. And if you look at somebody like Elizabeth Warren, she talks about the system being rigged against the average person.

And that's a language that Hillary Clinton can't tap into. Hillary Clinton, in her book, talks about words constituting the look of diplomacy. And that's something I think she forgot in this instance. She keeps going out there and talking about this. I do think though, you know, this is a mini campaign, right? It's a sort of a trial balloon. She's going to be able to see what works, where her voter--

DAVID GREGORY:

Since she's got time, our polls--

(OVERTALK)

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

Exactly.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

She's got a lot of time.

DAVID GREGORY:

Congressman, let me ask about Kathy Ruemmler who is here. She worked for the president, tries not to get in all the partisan fights, but as the lawyer has said, "Look, this potential suit that the House speaker is pursuing has no standing, should be seen as beyond frivolous." What do you think?

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

Well, first of all, let's look at what the president's doing. He's taking historic action, never been done before, where he's waiving and suspending laws. And then implementing regulation that undermines the control of Congress. And so if we don't step in and push back with this historic action, I think it undermines the constitutional balance--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, but let's test that. How about immigration itself? Right? You may answer for that, right? Which is that you had that bill in the Senate, right, that had been passed, and the House didn't move forward on immigration reform, so the president's trying to move a piece of it.

KATHY RUEMMLER:

That's absolutely right. And what the president has a lot of discretion in, with a finite set of resources, to employ those resources in the way that he thinks makes the most sense. And, you know, I think that's what's in the immigration space, that's what he's going to continue to do.

DAVID GREGORY:

But what if a Republican were a president and were implementing healthcare and delaying certain parts of it. I mean, the human cry I think among supporters of health care law would be pretty big.

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Well, David, I'm not sure about that. But what I can say is that, you know, throughout history, there have been complaints on either side when either parties of a president overreaching here or there, I mean, this president has issued actually fewer executive orders than his predecessors.

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

Look, but David, I think it's important to note that when the president steps into a space that he hasn't gone in before, I mean, whether it is ObamaCare, whether it is immigration, he may not like that there has not been congressional action, but he doesn't have the constitutional authority to do it on his own.

He has even waived the work requirements from welfare reform from 1996. So if we don't again push back, we have a president who can waive laws, suspend them. If he can do this with regard to immigration, or with the Affordable Care Act, what says that he can't suspend laws or rules within--

DAVID GREGORY:

You don't have to incorporate the--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

So you could just stop the funding. That is the checks and balances.

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

I know, but can he waive certain portions of the tax code if he doesn't like it? What can't he suspend or waive within the tax code? Or with regard to any other law?

DAVID GREGORY:

But let's look at the politics. But Nia, the politics of this are such that this is not going to be resolved for several years. But it's, for a lot of conservatives out there who really dislike the president, government overreach is a great storyline in these midterm races.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

It is. And it's really a great storyline for both parties. I talked to Democrats about this, talked to some folks in the White House as well. They see this as something that can gin up their base as well. This idea that a Democratic president is embattled and his presidency is possibly in peril is something that I think you'll see gin up support among those, that Obama coalition, right, that hasn't routinely shown up in a lot of these midterm races. So I think it cuts both ways.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

In fact, you know, John Boehner and Barack Obama theoretically could've called each other and said, "Here's the deal. I'll sue you and you'll gin up your votes and I'll gin up my votes." Get everybody will gain--

(OVERTALK)

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

I don't know in politics, I think it is better for Obama, because he needed the ginned up base. Our base is already ginned up.

DAVID GREGORY:

Pretty fired up.

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

Yeah. But it is the institutional argument that the speaker's making. But the politics favor the president.

DAVID GREGORY:

Kathy Ruemmler, can I ask you about this ongoing anger on Capitol Hill about the IRS? Missing emails, lost servers, and targeting political groups, this, to a lot of people, is the arrogance of the IRS and the incompetence of government. You were in the center of this as White House counsel, as to whether there was any wrongdoing. You're very clear in saying that there was none.

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Well, David, look, this investigation has been going on now for 13 months. There have been, you know, innumerable congressional hearings, witnesses having interviewed, hundreds of thousands of documents have been produced. And I think, you know, the Republicans on the Hill have not been able to show anything to suggest that there was anything other than sort of political tone-deafness if you will, in terms of creating categories within the IRS.

And didn't sort of go beyond that. And so, you know, the idea I think that the strategy is if you just say it enough times it'll become true, that there was somehow this massive conspiracy of, you know, political targeting of groups. And that's just completely belied by the evidence.

DAVID GREGORY:

You're shaking your head.

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

Okay, so first of all, the IRS is targeting Americans because of their political beliefs. And we don't know who authorized it. So it might be--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But are we doing that or trying to prevent groups that shouldn't get tax exempt status on the left or the right from getting it?

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

But they targeted the right. And if you look at Lois Lerner, she's pled the fifth. I mean, she doesn't want to incriminate herself. And miraculously, in the age of the NSA, when they have all the phone records and our emails, nothing goes away on the internet, miraculously Lois Lerner emails are gone.

And so I think that America has a right to know what happened with these emails, what happened with the targeting, and who's responsible for it. Does it go to the administration or does it go somewhere else? But to prevent it for the future, we have to know what happened. And we don't know it now.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

You know, I think we've felt the VA and with the IRS, I wouldn't underestimate the incompetence and the lack of computer guidance and regulations in any of these departments.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

No, no, please, it's just incompetence.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But I would no--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But I would not rule out any kind of criminal issue as well. I mean, that it is truly outrageous. They should've been able to deal with it. And the fact that the White House in both cases has not is really--

(OVERTALK)

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

Yeah, I think we need a special prosecutor, David. I think we need to have the administrator--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Do you really want to go there?

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

No, but I think we do. I think that if we don't figure out what happened here with the targeting, how do we prevent it in the future? And this is a powerful agency.

DAVID GREGORY:

The president's not going to go for that.

REP. SEAN DUFFY:

Well, maybe.

KATHY RUEMMLER:

Well, I mean, David, again, they've been investigating this thing for 13 months. I've instigated a lot of manners. And I can tell you that if you haven't found one piece of evidence, not an email, every IRS person who's been interviewed, this is according to the inspector general, who is an independent inspector general at the IRS, every single person who was interviewed by the inspector general said it--

(OVERTALK)

KATHY RUEMMLER:

--was internal to the IRS.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me do this. I've got a minute left. I want to just get everybody on this other story from the Supreme Court, a lot of interesting rulings, including about our privacy, which says that police don't have the right to take your cell phone from you or your smart phone and look at the contents here. I'm just wondering whether part of this is the Edward Snowden effect, and all of this attention that made the Supreme Court say the country's moving on this?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Absolutely. Aside from the fact that Supreme Court justices have smartphones, which tells you something about that. But the next question is going to be if the court moves in this way, what is the impact on the NSA down the line?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

That's right.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And I think some very big issues.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

You know, what does it mean for the NSA? What does it mean for cloud computing? And one of the interesting things about that lead judgment here was how they essentially said cell phones are our lives. They sort of constitute who we are. And so, I mean, I think that was a really amazing reading there.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, we're going to leave it there for now. Thanks to all of you. Coming up, as President Obama watched the big U.S. World Cup game against Germany this week on Air Force One, who was that watching with him? Cynthia McFadden has rare access behind the scenes at the White House with one of the most powerful women in Washington, coming up.

***Commercial Break***

DAVID GREGORY:

And coming up here, a unique behind-the-scenes look at life in the White House, with the president's first friend and confident.

***Commercial Break***

DAVID GREGORY:

You may have noticed it felt like the country came to a standstill Thursday as we watched U.S. soccer team's World Cup game against Germany. President Obama's watching as well aboard Air Force One. On the left of your screen there, that's Valerie Jarrett, a long-time friend and one of Obama's closest White House advisors. Our Cynthia McFadden was granted unique access and spent a day behind the scenes with Valerie Jarrett at the White House.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

It's just after dawn at the White House and President Obama's senior advisor and long-time friend Valerie Jarrett is arriving for work.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

So the president came into office with an astounding approval rating and it's now down to 41%. What happened?

VALERIE JARRETT:

Look, we're going through some tough times now. But I'll tell you something that I learned very early in the first campaign, is that you just can't look at the daily polls. I mean, my goodness, if we listened to the polls, he would've abandoned the race in the middle of the primary session.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

But is he losing the people?

VALERIE JARRETT:

No, I don't think so.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

Today, we're accessed inside the West Wing, where Jarrett's office is prime real estate.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Before I was here, Karl Rove. And before Karl Rove, Hillary Clinton. Every morning, the President's Briefing Book is on my assistant's desk, so I put that up.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

She's known the first couple since 1991, when she offered Michelle Robinson a job in Chicago City Hall and met her then fiancé.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Start only read the front page.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

On this morning, she's eager to read coverage of the White House Summit on Working Families.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Thank you everybody.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

An event she spearheaded the day before. A rally for paid parental leave and hiking the minimum wage.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

These are common sense issues.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

And one of the questions that both The Washington Post and The New York Times raised this morning, why not back legislation then? if the administration believes it, put your money where your mouth is.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Well, I think we shouldn't shoot from the hip. I think what the president said is, "Look, let's start with the premise that every American should have paid leave. And then let's have a conversation about how to get there."

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

Difficult with an uncooperative Congress and the president's own pledge not to raise taxes.

VALERIE JARRETT:

And our meeting starts promptly at 7:45 so I’m going to snoop.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

Her first meeting is with the president's chief of staff, Denis McDonough.

VALERIE JARRETT:

We'll be back soon.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

She has outlasted four other chiefs of staff, Rahm Emanuel, Pete Rouse, Bill Daley, and Jack Lew.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

It has been said that Karl Rove was George Bush's brain, and that you're Barack Obama's spine.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Well, I think the president has a pretty sturdy spine all on his own.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

He doesn't need you for that?

VALERIE JARRETT:

He does not need me for that one bit.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

At 8:45, she sits down with her own senior team. Thirty-six White House staffers work for Jarrett. They discuss getting programs out, going around Congress, straight to the nation's mayors. Then it's off to the Roosevelt room.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Good morning, good morning.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

And a meeting with small business owners on how to make the workplace more family friendly.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Hi, how are you?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Hello everyone.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

2:45 P.M., the first of day's meetings with the president himself.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Good job yesterday.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Thank you.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

I want to read you some things that have been said about you, okay?

VALERIE JARRETT:

Sure.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

That you were the most powerful woman in Washington. And that you're like Nancy Reagan, but with more power. What do you think of that?

VALERIE JARRETT:

Well, you know what? I think people say all kinds of things about me. Those are some of the more flattering things. But I think it's all hyperbole--

(OVERTALK)

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

Really?

VALERIE JARRETT:

Yes, of course it's hyperbole. Of course it is. We have a process by which decisions are made as a team here and it wouldn't serve the president well if I went around that process.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

I want to talk to you about the future. Is Michelle Obama going to run for office?

VALERIE JARRETT:

No. On that--

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

You said that very definitively.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Well, I'm absolutely 100% positive that that will never happen.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN :

How about Valerie Jarrett? Will you ever run for office?

VALERIE JARRETT:

Unlikely.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

But maybe?

VALERIE JARRETT:

Not as definitive as the first lady, but highly unlikely.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

The first lady said yesterday that we should have a female president as soon as possible.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

There's no question that the person who is poised at this moment to break that ultimate glass ceiling is Hillary Clinton.

VALERIE JARRETT:

Well, since she hasn't even announced her candidacy, I think it's premature.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

For now, she's focused on building alliances with business leaders and others on a wide range of issues.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

Listen, even you and Rupert Murdoch are now breaking--

(OVERTALK)

VALERIE JARRETT:

Can you believe that? If anyone had told me five and a half years ago I would be having dinner with Rupert Murdoch, and quiet as it sounds, this is the second time we've had dinner. Everybody only knows about the last time. But you know what? He's committed to immigration reform.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

Despite the polls, the Congress and the ticking clock, she says there is still much that can be accomplished.

VALERIE JARRETT:

As long as the president will have me, I will be here and I hope it's turning off the lights.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

Cynthia McFadden is with me now. It's such an interesting relationship, Cynthia, that Valerie Jarrett has with the president, friend and confidant, and she's kind of a key voice in connecting him to the outside world beyond the White House.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN:

Absolutely right, David. Of course, part of her portfolio is to be a bridge, create broad alliances with the business community and the state and local governments. She says she takes that very seriously. She's working hard to bring diverse voices into the White House. One of the meetings that I attended with her was with local business leaders from around the world who are trying to become more family friendly. One of the business leaders said that they give every employee $3,000 every year and force them to take a family vacation with it. Interesting.

DAVID GREGORY:

Good idea. Cynthia, thanks so much. And coming up here, our special panel discussion with Bill Clinton that you won't see anywhere else. And a fast food faux pas, how President Clinton says he never gets caught in possible government overreach like President Obama did.

BILL CLINTON (ON TAPE):

Always successfully avoided being photographed, committing egre-- no, I used to go get the, I'd violate all the Health Department rules. I'd go get the fries right out of the--

***Commercial Break***

DAVID GREGORY:

You saw my one-on-one interview with former President Clinton from his Clinton Global Initiative America Conference in Denver, where 1,000 leaders from business, nonprofits, and government came together to discuss solutions for the country's economic challenges.

Well, the 42nd president also joined a special panel discussion I moderated on the future of America's economy. We tackled many of the top economic challenges facing the country, including income inequality, the minimum wage debate, and the role of government in it all. These are some of the highlights.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

We came across this picture which I think might be a startling example of government overreach. Now, Monty, this is at Chipotle. And--

MONTY MORAN:

It's an outrage.

DAVID GREGORY:

I mean, by all accounts, that's a foul, is it not?

MONTY MORAN:

It's outrageous. You know, we can't accept that.

DAVID GREGORY:

My boys would not do that. Mr. President, way back-- I mean, now you're like a model. But, I mean, way back in the day when you used to go to McDonald's, you were never guilty of an egregious act like that, were you?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

(LAUGHS) I always successfully avoided being photographed. No, I used to go get the-- I violate all the Health Department rules. I'd go get the fries right out of the--

MONTY MORAN:

You know, where the minimum wage is is important, but I don't think it's as important as what you do when someone comes into the business. The question is, is the goal of whoever hires them, the business, to keep them at that wage? Or is the idea that you're going to take that person and empower that person to take advantage of opportunity so that they can rise up and have positions of leadership

CARLY FIORINA:

I think there's no question that if you're making minimum wage you think you want to make more. On the other hand, the sad truth is that raising the minimum wage will hurt those who are looking for entry-level jobs.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

So I think it should be raised because I don't think that-- and I think all consumers should be prepared to pay for it because I think if somebody works full time and they have kids, they ought to be able to raise their kids without being in poverty.

SARAH HOROWITZ:

I think that we have to change the frame to say how can we be meaningfully independent? Because that's the only way that we're going to see an economy that's sustainable.

DARREN WALKER:

I think we're dancing the core issue in this country, and that is growing inequality. Because the very idea of inequality is so problematic for public discourse in this country. But at the core of the American dream, our narrative, is the idea of social mobility.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

I don't think government can do this alone because it's a private economy. And the one thing I think the conservatives are often right about halfway-- I'll tell you what I mean-- is that culture really matters.

CARLY FIORINA:

By the way, the culture matters in government too, and it's a big, unaccountable--

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Yes, we sure did.

CARLY FIORINA:

--democracy.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

And who had the smallest government workforce since Eisenhower? Me. I believe that.

CARLY FIORINA:

That's right. You declared the era of big--

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Yes, but we--

CARLY FIORINA:

--government over.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

Yes, but I didn't declare the era of weak government that had nobody at home at the S.E.C. before the finance crisis.

CARLY FIORINA:

I agree with that too. I agree with that too.

DAVID GREGORY:

Bottom line, one thing we need to do to take a positive step toward dealing with this kind of income inequality that's really affecting workers.

MONTY MORAN:

Understand how talented the group of people is in the United States who don't have education and who don't have much experience, and also the immigrant population. Understand how talented they are, and that they have characteristics that you can't train. But they have these fundamental characteristics that will allow them to be incredibly powerful future workers in our country if we only empower them.

SARAH HOROWITZ:

I think we have to realize that the era of big work is over, and that people are going to be working project to project, job to job. And that is inherently nimble. But we have to imagine this in the context of the future where the question that we ask ourselves is, is this enabling people to be meaningfully independent?

DARREN WALKER:

Ronald Reagan reminded us that the best investment we could make is in infrastructure. We desperately need a massive investment in infrastructure in this country. It creates good jobs, sustainable jobs, and it provides hope which is at the core of the American narrative. We need hope and optimism.

CARLY FIORINA:

Encourage Main Street entrepreneurialism. It has always been the hope of this country; it is still the hope of this country. And everything that goes on in Washington, complicated tax codes, complicated regulatory structures, they help big business but they crush little business.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:

We should help self-employed people and small businesses to develop creative options. There's almost no creative thinking going on here at the national level about how we instead of-- the government can't regulate all this. You can't make people do the right thing. But if somebody is doing something that's really empowering people, we should think about how it can be rewarded and incentivized.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

Now you can see the extended panel session from CGI America in Denver today at 3:00 P.M. That's on MSNBC. I want to continue this morning's conversation throughout the week. This week's big question is the wealth issue for Hillary Clinton.

Is it a sign of a bigger connection problem for Hillary Clinton as a potential candidate? Weigh in at Facebook.com/MeetThePress. That is all for today. We'll be back next week. Have a great 4th of July holiday. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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