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NBC News - Meet the Press

“04.08.18”

CHUCK TODD: This Sunday, President Trump, chasing the base. On immigration.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We’re gonna be guarding our border with the military.

CHUCK TODD:

On trade.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We don't have a trade war, we've lost the trade war.

CHUCK TODD:

And in protecting his embattled E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt. It may all be good base politics, but is it good policy? I'll ask the President's top trade advisor, Peter Navarro and Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota. Plus, what should happen to Scott Pruitt? He's a hero to conservatives, a target for liberals, and a favorite of President Trump's

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Scott has done a fantastic job. I think he's a fantastic person.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, with growing scandals, how long can the E.P.A. administrator hang onto his job? Also, saving face, Mark Zuckerberg heads to Capitol Hill for tough questioning over the misuse of Facebook's data. This morning, my interview with a key player in the Facebook drama who says even more than 87 million people could have been impacted.

CHRISTOPHER WYLIE:

I think that it could be higher, absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

My sit-down with Christopher Wylie. Joining me for Insight and Analysis are presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Rick Lowry, editor of The National Review, New York Times Pentagon correspondent Helene Cooper, and Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. President Trump's latest motto could be, "If at first you succeed, do it and do it again." When he ran for president, Mr. Trump sensed that the country's mood was changing. And he adopted more nationalistic themes. Immigrants were flooding the country, so it was time to secure the border. China was ripping us off, so it was time to hit them with a trade war. The world was taking advantage of us, so it was time to get tough again. Only he could fix it, so it was time to make America great again.

Mr. Trump did it his way, with a loyal base of supporters. Now, facing some challenging poll numbers with the midterms and the Mueller investigation, rather than trying to broaden his appeal, he's hunkering down, hugging his base once again. From immigration, to trade, to protecting an embattled E.P.A. administrator revered by his core supporters, President Trump is delivering what his base wants. And once again, he's doing things his way.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

If you have a baby on our land, congratulations, that baby is a United States citizen.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump is refocusing his attention on the nationalist policies which he campaigned on, attempting to shore up good will among base supporters and the conservative media that influences them. On immigration, frustrated that only about 33 miles of new fencing is funded under the 2018 Congressional spending bill, angering some supporters--

LAURA INGRAHAM:

But as I see it, right now tonight, the wall's never going to happen.

CHUCK TODD:

--the president announced a surprise plan to work with governors to send up to 4,000 National Guard troops to the border.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Until we can have a wall and proper security, we're going to be guarding our border with the military.

SEN. BOB CORKER:

I look at it as kind of a show.

CHUCK TODD:

And he returned to the unsubstantiated campaign claims that he frequently used on immigration.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Women are raped at levels that nobody's ever seen before.

CHUCK TODD:

On trade, the president is threatening another $100 billion in tariffs on goods from China.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We can't continue to allow this to happen where hundreds of billions of dollars is taken out of our country.

CHUCK TODD:

Echoing populist rhetoric he used on the campaign trail.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Didn't they say we're going to lose the trade war? We're already losing the trade war, folks.

CHUCK TODD:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, touted by Mr. Trump as a symbol of his success in office, has fallen more than 4% since he announced new tariffs on March First.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

I'm not saying there won't be a little pain.

CHUCK TODD:

And the political backlash among Republicans on Capitol Hill has been intense. Senator Ben Sasse called the President's plan "the dumbest possible way to do this." And some White House aides have even suggested that Mr. Trump's proposed tariffs are simply a negotiating tactic.

LARRY KUDLOW:

You know, there are carrots and sticks in life. But he is ultimately a free trader.

CHUCK TODD:

Even on his embattled E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, the president is taking his cues from the base instead of his own advisors. Pruitt is facing questions about his ties to a lobbyist from whom he rented a Capitol Hill condo, requests for special perks, and raises for his aides against the advice of the White House.

ED HENRY:

You didn't know that they got these pay raises?

SCOTT PRUITT:

I did not know that they got the pay raises until yesterday.

CHUCK TODD:

While many of the White House professional staff, led by Chief of Staff John Kelly, have advised the president to fire Pruitt, Pruitt is a conservative star. And allies have launched a coordinated campaign to save his job.

RUSH LIMBAUGH:

He has become, outside of Trump, the single bigger target, the American left.

CHUCK TODD:

And so far, the president has listened, and Pruitt has his public confidence.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Scott has done a fantastic job. I think he's a fantastic person.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now from West Palm Beach, Florida is President Trump's Chief Trade Advisor, Dr. Peter Navarro. Dr. Navarro, welcome to Meet the Press, sir.

PETER NAVARRO:

Mr. Todd, how are you this morning?

CHUCK TODD:

I'm pretty good. Let me start with this. It seems as if the administration wants to have it both ways, telling the Chinese, "Were serious about tariffs. These are coming. Here's the list." But then, telling the public, "No, no, no, no, it's a negotiating ploy, it's a negotiating tactic." Which is it?

PETER NAVARRO:

It's -- it’s both, Mr. Todd. Basically what we have here is a situation where every American understands that China is stealing our intellectual property, they're forcing the transfer of our technology when companies go to China, and by doing that, they steal jobs from America, they steal factories from America, and we run an unprecedented $370 billion a year trade deficit in goods. This is an unsustainable situation. What we've done in a very measured way over the course of many months is develop a plan to make the situation significantly better. That plan is being implemented, includes both tariffs to recover the damages that China inflicts, as well as investment restrictions. We are proceeding in a measured way. And those tariffs will be imposed, and those investment restrictions will be imposed. At the same time, there are discussions that are going on with the Chinese, with Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and with Secretary Mnuchin. But we -- we need to understand that we can go back to 2003 --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah

PETER NAVARRO:

--when we began to talk about these issues, and talk has not been cheap, it's been, very, very--

CHUCK TODD:

But let me ask you this.

PETER NAVARRO:

--expensive to the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

How do you expect the Chinese to take the tariff threat seriously if you're publicly saying it's a negotiating tactic, and that, "You know what? We're not serious about it, per se. We want to talk." But you haven't also really made it clear, what specific action do you want from the Chinese to prevent these tariffs from being implemented?

PETER NAVARRO:

I -- I don't believe, if you played back what I said just a minute ago, that I said was a negotiating tactic, it's not. We're listening to the Chinese. We're willing to work with them. This government, through Bush, Obama and now the courage and vision of Donald Trump, we're willing to listen to the Chinese. But we're clear-eyed about this. We're moving forward on a measured way with tariffs, with investment restrictions. What we want from China, and what we want from China is very clear. We want fair and reciprocal trade. We want them to stop stealing our stuff. We want them to guard intellectual property, not take it from us. And look, in your monologue at the beginning of this, you played a clip from the president. He said we'd already lost the trade war. Well, Bush and Obama, over the course of 16 years, basically stood by while we lost over 70,000 factories, millions of manufacturing jobs, and much of our traditional manufacturing base. What is at stake here, Mr. Todd, is the industries of the future.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

PETER NAVARRO:

Artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand--

PETER NAVARRO:

And what's at stake is not just our economic prosperity.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

PETER NAVARRO:

If I may, it's also our national security. Because many of these industries of the future have profound military implications.

CHUCK TODD:

I -- I -- I understand all that, and have, have heard these complaints for years from many of these industries. What is the metric--

PETER NAVARRO:

But, but you never saw action.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask this, though.

PETER NAVARRO:

And that’s--

CHUCK TODD:

Let me--

PETER NAVARRO:

-- the difference here.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand-- well, that's what I'm--

(OVERTALK)

PETER NAVARRO:

--what's different about this president.

CHUCK TODD:

What is the specific action? What--how will we know that China is changing its behavior? What is it that China-- give me the specific action that, that maybe the president and Xi announce together that will tell the American public the Chinese aren't, aren’t stealing intellectual property anymore?

PETER NAVARRO:

Well, let's -- let’s be, again, clear-eyed about this. It's one thing for the Chinese to admit publicly to a policy. It's another thing for the Chinese to actually implement that policy. We had, a number of years ago with President Obama, agreements about not stealing our intellectual property through cyber theft. How's that working out? Not very well. I mean for the American people, and I don't think, Mr. Todd, there's any disagreement between you and I about the fact that China is engaged in these egregious practices. The only debate is over how we go about solving them. But every American understands that, every day of the week--

CHUCK TODD:

Right

PETER NAVARRO:

--China comes in to our homes, the businesses, our government agencies, and the damage is on the order of about $1 billion a day. And then, when you add to that damage the billion dollars a day in the trade deficit in goods we face, this country is losing its strength and wealth even as China has grown its economy from $1 trillion since 2002--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you're not--

PETER NAVARRO:

--to over $12 trillion today.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Navarro--

PETER NAVARRO:

And-- yes, sure.

CHUCK TODD:

Not many people in the Midwest, many Republican lawmakers, including one I'm going to have on in a minute, don't like this tariff policy. Let me put up what Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska said, "Hopefully the president is just blowing off steam again. But if he's even half serious, this is nuts. The president has no actual plan to win right now. He's threatening to light American agriculture on fire. This is the dumbest possible way to do this." What do you say to the criticism you're getting from the Midwestern Senators and governors of both sides of the aisle, who are panicked about the agricultural industry?

PETER NAVARRO:

Let me be very, very clear about this. When the president announced the addition $100 billion in tariffs, he also announced that he was directing Sonny Perdue, a great American and the Secretary of Agriculture, to immediately implement a plan to defend American farmers.

CHUCK TODD:

Does that mean buying--

PETER NAVARRO:

And what's going on here--

CHUCK TODD:

--soybean crops? Does that mean buying soybean crops--

PETER NAVARRO:

This will be of-- it’s up--

CHUCK TODD:

--that the Chinese won't buy?

PETER NAVARRO:

It's up to Sonny Perdue and the president to implement the plan. The details of that plan will be rolled out. But let me say this, Mr. Todd. How cynical it is for the Chinese basically, rather than respond graciously and stop doing all this bad stuff they're doing to attack American farmers, I think that's going to be a wake-up call for Americans about just-- we've changed now our designation in the national security strategy of China to a strategic competitor. What does that mean? It means that they are in competition with us--

CHUCK TODD:

Right

PETER NAVARRO:

-- over economic prosperity and national defense. And-- and this is a competition the president takes very, very seriously.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you about what's going on in the West Wing. And simply, does the-- John Kelly still have the President's confidence? The Washington Post story of the weekend says this: "Kelly has threatened to resign on multiple occasions. It's sort of a weekly event. One senior White House quipped: 'Though officials explained his declarations as expressions of momentary frustration." Have you heard of John Kelly threatening to resign, Mr. Navarro? And do you-- can you say whether the president still has confidence in him?

PETER NAVARRO:

Look, every day of his adult life, John Kelly's gotten up in the morning to serve America. He's a, he’s a great man, a courageous man. He serves the president. He has the President's ear. He runs the West Wing well. That's all I know. That's all I see. What you don't see about him sometimes is the light and humorous side of him. He actually is a pretty funny Irish guy sometimes. But he has the confidence of the president. And he's getting the job done.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

PETER NAVARRO:

And when you read stuff in The Washington Post, frankly, that's fake news most of the time.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I--I think that expression is a pretty unfair thing to say about a major news organization.

PETER NAVARRO:

Well, not to The Washington Post.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Navarro--

PETER NAVARRO:

I mean look--

CHUCK TODD:

--that's a cheap shot. And it's--

PETER NAVARRO:

Well, no, that's not a chea-- Mr. Todd, that is not a cheap shot. Because if you look at the newspapers that I read every day across the spectrum, The Washington Post --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah

PETER NAVARRO:

--in my judgment, tends to attack the president more than any other newspaper in its news stories. You can do anything you want in your editorials, sir. But you cannot do that in your news stories.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand.

PETER NAVARRO:

And I--

CHUCK TODD:

But the term "fake news" is a way to-- is not exactly a -- a -- a way to hold up the First Amendment, especially when the Russian government--

PETER NAVARRO:

As a personal matter--

CHUCK TODD:

--just this morning is calling fake--

PETER NAVARRO:

--I used to deliver--

CHUCK TODD:

--using that phrase.

PETER NAVARRO:

I used to deliver The Washington Post in high school--

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah

PETER NAVARRO:

-- in Bethesda, Chevy Chase. And guess what? That was a good paper back then.

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

PETER NAVARRO:

It's not right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Peter Navarro, I will leave it there. Dr. Navarro, thanks for coming on and sharing your views. I appreciate it.

PETER NAVARRO:

My pleasure.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, joining me now is the Republican Senator from South Dakota, Mike Rounds. Senator Rounds, welcome to the show.

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity.

CHUCK TODD:

Before I start, I know you wanted to respond to some of the trade comments. But I want to ask you about Syria. The State Department indicates that, yes, there appears to have been a chemical weapons attack by the Assad folks. And they say the blame is on the Russians for essentially acquiescing to this. Already the Russian government, using the phrase "fake news," the Russian Foreign Ministry is saying, "This is fake news," this idea that there even was a chemical weapons attack. That's why I brought up that phrase just now, because our adversaries are using the exact phrase. You supported an air strike the last time the president-- the last time Syria did this. Would you support another one? And do you think the president needs to respond in the same way he did a year ago?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

He, he was a, a, a new sheriff in town. He needed to set the agenda, making it very clear that, if we draw a red line in the sand, that, that we're going to honor that red line. So what you've got right now today is he's in office for more than a year. And he's got to send a message once again that what he said he meant. I think we wait until the Secretary of Defense puts together his proposals, he lays them in front of the president. The president needs to have the good advice. He needs to know what his options are. And then I think he should act decisively. And I think he will hold not just Syria, but I think he will make it very clear that he believes that Russia is also responsible.

CHUCK TODD:

What are the consequences of not acting with the same toughness that he did a year ago?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Yeah, we--

CHUCK TODD:

If he lets this go, what message does that send to Putin and to Assad?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

That's, that’s exactly the problem that we've got right now is is we have to be consistent. And I don't know care whether you're talking about trade policy or if you're talking about our policy in the, in the, in the Middle East. You have to be consistent. So, he started out with the right policy. He was telling people, "Look, you're, you’re going to be held accountable for what you do." That's appropriate. It was appropriate a year ago. It would be appropriate today. But let's get all of our facts together. Let's be prepared. Let's do our strategic planning. Let's allow the military to be in a position to where we can be effective in the way that we respond. Don't get pushed into doing it based on Putin's terms--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

--terms, but on our terms. So, let's get everything put together first, and then act decisively.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me move to the trade issue. There's no doubt about it that the, the tariffs will be economically very tough on South Dakota agriculture. That I'm aware of. And I understand that that's the position you're coming from here. Were you reassured at all from what you heard from Peter Navarro just now?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

To a certain extent. Because look, look Sonny Perdue, former Governor Perdue, I've known him for, for 15 years now. He's going to do everything he can. He understands how critical it is to have a good foreign policy, but also, one that allows for us to continue to expand our exports, particularly in ag. It's one of the bright spots when it comes to, to, to the export challenges that we've got in this country. He has limited tools available to him to respond in, in a case like this. We're talking about a lot of money that goes down, just on the speculation of having a tariff put in place. Let me give you an example. In South Dakota, small state, it's our second largest crop. We produce enough soybeans to where, if, if you just drop the price by ten cents based on the speculation of having China put a tariff on, a ten cent reduction per bushel is about two hundred-- is about $24 million a year for a ten cent reduction in the price of soybeans. That's happening right now.

CHUCK TODD:

What would you, look, there's a lot of people that want to hold China accountable for the intellectual property issue. There's, there’s no doubt about it. This has been a constant -- and the technology theft and all of these issues. How would you propose going about it? What are the tools that could be used if negotiation hasn't worked?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Look, yeah, and, and, and I think you hit it on the head. Because in this particular case, we've got options available to us. Number one, let's quit fighting with Mexico and Canada. They are our allies. We've actually got a, a, a pretty good relationship right now with NAFTA. So rather than going after NAFTA and starting over there, TPP, which is the Trans Pacific Partnership, where we had 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim area or right around China, who'd rather do business with us than with China. We stopped that negotiation a year ago. We should have been--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think that was the biggest mistake, and that we wouldn't be in the same place we are today because of that?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

I recognize that the president thinks we can get a better deal if we do them individually. But it's been a year. We don't have any of them done. So number one, let's get those done. Because if we've got 500 million people that would like to trade with us, these are folks that are around China, you think China doesn't fear the possibility of having the United States having relations with all of those countries right around the area that they're trying to expand, once again, into? You know, their, their one, one, one road, or one, one, one road, one belt approach, which is trying to take care of and control all of the sea lanes, the shipping lanes in the, in the South Pacific, they're putting in military bases down there to do that. If we step in right now and have relationships, trade relationships and military relationships, with those other countries, that stops China in their efforts.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you, though, about a similar sort of framing of a question I asked you about Syria. What are the consequences if the president threatens tariffs and then doesn't?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, does the world just see the president as a bluffer?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Well, hopefully it doesn't come to that. And, and most certainly, we don't want to see the president put in a position to where he has to execute a, a, a tariff if he doesn't absolutely have to. He is correct in the policy in that China clearly has been cheating when it comes to, to how they're doing business with the rest of the world. We're not the only ones. I have no objections with the, with the president long term trying to fix the relationships with China and holding them accountable. Intellectual property in particular, they're, they’re, they’re stealing from us. So, but, but let's just be clear, strategically, number one, we need other trading partners to help pick up the slack. And second of all, and this is, to me, absolutely important, I think he needs to be able to explain to the American what his endgame is. Where does he want to go? What's his final goal?

CHUCK TODD:

And what’s, what’s-- what does, what does winning this tariff fight look like?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Final question. Scott Pruitt a lot in the news. I can put up some of the allegations that have come out against him as far as how he's conducted himself in office with a lavish security detail, first class flights, things like that. Do you think he should still be E.P.A. administrator?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

I do.

CHUCK TODD:

Why?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

I do, because he's following through with the, with the policies that the president said he wanted to implement. In terms of--

CHUCK TODD:

When does, when does ethics matter, though?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

It--

CHUCK TODD:

Because Tom Price did less and was fired.

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Look, the reason why, the reason why all of the emphasis right now is on Mr. Pruitt is because he is executing these policies. And they're not real popular policies with a lot of people. But he is executing the policies that this president said he would put in place.

CHUCK TODD:

But does that justify this--

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

It’s, it's part of a--

CHUCK TODD:

Does that justify this behavior?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Look, any time you start taking a look at all of the different activities, and I don't know how much of it is overblown and how much of it is accurate, to be honest. I'm not going to call it fake news. I'm going to say that, in some cases, we'll over-blow something. But in this particular case, Mr. Pruitt has been doing a good job as the secretary of the E.P.A.. He's moving forward exactly as this president said he would. And I'm going to give you a couple of examples.

CHUCK TODD:

I know, but what's the message that's sent that, "Well, you know, ethics matter only when I like the job that they're, they’re doing."

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Which--

CHUCK TODD:

That they don't matter if they don't? I mean that's the problem.

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Which--

CHUCK TODD:

What's the mixed message?

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Which one of the, of the challenges would you like to start-- would you like to say, "Oh, he has too big of a security detail?" Is that suddenly the reason why you fire someone?

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, at what point, though, does that accumulate and you're wondering, "He's not--

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

How about one where--

CHUCK TODD:

--a steward of the taxpayer dollar?"

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Well, look. Let's take a look at how many dollars the E.P.A. can actually save. The big picture. You know, we'll nitpick little things. He has too many people on his security detail. It may add up to, to more than what the previous guy did. But what about the big picture of, of, of how he's taking care of the stewar-- of the taxpayers' dollars with the department, the E.P.A.? And what about the regulations that he said he's going to clean up on that he is? And what about the response directly back out to allow businesses to actually grow and expand? Remember, this president said, number one, we had to have tax policy. We've got it. We said we had to have regulatory reform. We've got it. Scott Pruitt is a big part of that. He's executing what the president wants him to execute.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor Rounds, I have to leave it there. Governor Rounds, you were a former governor. Senator Rounds--

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Always a compliment.

CHUCK TODD:

I, I was just going to say. I've never met a former governor who didn't prefer that title.

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

That's right.

CHUCK TODD:

Thanks for coming in and sharing your views.

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Thank you. Appreciate it.

CHUCK TODD:

And welcome back to, welcome back to DC.

SENATOR MIKE ROUNDS:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, sending the National Guard to the border and threatening a trade war may be good base politics for President Trump. But is it good policy? The panel will discuss that next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, New York Times Pentagon correspondent Helene Cooper, and Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report. Before I get to trade, I want to get to Syria. Helene, this is-- Pentagon is your beat. Let me start with you. The president saying responsibility, already in a morning tweet, "Responsibility lies Iran and Russia," is supporting of Assad, that they're responsible for this. The Russian Foreign Ministry using the phrase "Fake news."

HELENE COOPER:

Fake news, yes.

CHUCK TODD:

To say that there wasn't even a chemical weapons attack. You heard Governor Rounds-- Senator Rounds there. He'd be supportive of the president continuing to draw that same line. What do you know here? What do we know about this attack?

HELENE COOPER:

Well, and before I get to that, I just-- The Washington Post is our competitor, but I do appreciate you pushing back on Mr. Navarro's fake news on The Washington Post, because we don't want to see these attacks on the—on our First Amendment.

On Syria, you know, a year ago when this happened, when something similar happened, President Trump and the Pentagon reacted very swiftly. And it was very much a targeted strike at the air field from which these-- the Pentagon believed that these chemical weapons had been launched.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

HELENE COOPER:

And I think you're looking, military planners are now again looking at how they can launch, in a contained way, some sort of retaliation if President Trump decides to go with that. Whether he does are not, I don't know. I think there's going to be a lot of impetus on him to repeat what he did a year ago. But I'm not sure yet which way he's going to go.

CHUCK TODD:

In some way, Rich Lowry, the president is almost boxed in to having to respond militarily, is he not?

RICH LOWRY:

Yeah. This is why I was skeptical of the initial strike. Because once you do that, you're taking implied responsibility for Syria and never doing that again.

CHUCK TODD:

Another version of a red line, isn't it?

RICH LOWRY:

Right. And that's more responsibility than the president wants. Clearly, the Syrian government knows that he's eager to pull our forces out of Syria entirely. But now there's going to be a lot of pressure for him to hit again.

CHUCK TODD:

Charlie, look, these- these issues, all of a sudden, that gets in the way of what he's trying to do with his agenda. It gets in the way. And we all know there- there's no just quick strike in the Middle East.

CHARLIE COOK:

Yeah, I mean Republicans wants the conversation to be about, "The economy is good, the tax cuts are goosing the economy." That's what the conversation they want to have. And, you know, the president is learning that, you know, Syria, the Middle East, it's a lot more complicated than it looked like watching television back home, you know, two years ago, three years ago. This stuff's hard.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

CHARLIE COOK:

And there are consequences when you say things. And he's paying the price.

CHUCK TODD:

And, you know, and Doris, you have a president who, just last week, said, "I want to get out of Syria."

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

And he wants to be-- basically, his more inward-looking instincts, nationalistic, isolation, however you want to look at it, whether it's with the border, with trade, this is where he wants to go. And this complicates it all. I think he is nervous about his own political base right now, which is why he's been so focused on the border.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Well, I think your- your metaphor of "hugging the base" is exactly right. It's not just politically that he cares about the base. Seems to me it’s his security blanket. When he went to speak, as you wrote about, about the tax reform, and just what you were saying, he should have been touting it, he throws it away. And he says, "I don't really care about this. I want to talk about the wall. I want to talk about trade. I want to talk about tariffs." It's as if going back to that base is what gives him the sense of himself. I think he was happier during the campaign than he's ever been as president.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, well, that's--

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Because he got the adulation of the people, right? He made tons of promises during the campaign. But these three are the only ones he keeps coming back to. He promised that he'd be so presidential we'd be bored. He promised that he'd never eat an Oreo cookie again. He promised all sorts of things. He'd drain the swamp. But the wall, the tariffs, and anti-immigration are what got him there.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

And he somehow keeps going back to that to remember those days. It’s like-- it's like being president is much harder.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way--

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

The job is difficult.

CHUCK TODD:

--he's not the first president to miss the campaign trail. (LAUGHTER) Right? They miss the adulation.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Probably true. But never as much as him, I think.

CHUCK TODD:

Rich, is he right?

RICH LOWRY:

I'd forgotten about the Oreo cookie promise. (LAUGHTER)

CHUCK TODD:

Rich, is he right to be worried about the base, that he should be tending to it almost more so than any other issue?

RICH LOWRY:

Well, they need the base to turn out, clearly. That's not all you need in the mid- midterms. But it might be the difference between a total debacle and just a very bad year. I would say, Chuck, he obviously made a lot of promises, over promised in a lot of ways. But I've been surprised at how faithful he's been to his coalition. He really wants—

CHUCK TODD:

He tends it.

RICH LOWRY:

to deliver-

CHUCK TODD:

He tends to it.

RICH LOWRY:

--on his agenda. And it's very frustrating something like the wall, really, a signature promise, that he can't get that. And he hasn't been able to get anything from Congress substantial. So he's going to kind of these showy acts like sending National Guard troops there, because he wants to have some deliverable for his voters.

HELENE COOPER:

It's so interesting, though, the National Guard deployment is so similar to what both President Obama and President Bush did before him. And President Trump's whole thing has been about how little has been done in the past. And in sending 2,000 National Guard troops to the border, he's barely sending more than President Obama did in 2010, and not as many as President Bush did in 2006.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Charlie, this whole base issue here with the president, you could throw-- we put Scott Pruitt in that bucket, because you could make an argument, it's pretty clear, if Pruitt weren't popular with the base, he'd probably be gone.

CHARLIE COOK:

Oh, I think that's true. And I think the president, number one, he identifies with Pruitt. "The press hates-- is going after Pruitt. The press is going after me." So I think he identifies with him on the one side.

But I think the other side is that put behavior and judgment that Pruitt has used-- this guy has arguably accomplished more of what President Trump is trying to do than any other person in the entire administration. So this is behavior worth firing.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

CHARLIE COOK:

But he's advancing the President's agenda, whether you like that agenda or not.

CHUCK TODD:

Here's Ted Lieu, Congressman, Democratic Congressman. He said, "Dear, Donald Trump. Dem wave continues to get stronger. So now I'm thinking, 'Please don't fire E.P.A. Scott Pruitt.' He's such a great symbol of the corruption and fraud, waste and abuse (CHUCKLE) in your administration."

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Well, you know, the thing that worries me is that the story of Pruitt is a story that we can all understand. So it becomes a big thing we can talk about. What the E.P.A. is doing really deserves the discussion. We need to understand what's happening in all these agencies. What is the impact of this deregulation, this dismantling?

That's a harder story to tell. And I think that's the story the journalists have to go after. At the turn of the 20th century, when there were big policy issues, you know, like Standard Oil monopolizing things, the railroads being corrupt, food and drug, there was patent medicines all over the place, they wrote stories that mobilized people to get those laws passed.

Now we need to understand what's happening in the E.P.A., what's happening in the Interior Department? Instead, we're caught up in his tweets and breaking news day after day.

CHUCK TODD:

How--

HELENE COOPER:

That right there is sort of the-- you've (CHUCKLE) just captured just everything about what's going on right now with the press and how to cover the shiny object of President Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Rich, can Scott Pruitt get himself-- what would it take ethically for him to lost the confidence of the president?

RICH LOWRY:

Well, I think president seems fairly dug in. You always have to put a little asterisk on that.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

RICH LOWRY:

I think the support from Capitol Hill is going to be very strong. I like him. I think he's very smart and very effective. But to Doris's point, it goes kind of human nature. You know, he was going to what was most convenient for him at any given time. "I'll fly first class rather than coach."

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

RICH LOWRY:

"I'll have a cheap apartment." And I think it would help him, even though the president doesn't like apologies, do a mea culpa. Say, "Look, I understand how all this looks. I'm going to tighten up and pull back on all of it and then hope the Eye of Sauron here in the beltway is distracted by something else.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, guys, I'm going to pause it here. Coming up, it's two days before Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress. Up next, my interview with the man who told the world how the data of millions was collected for political purposes in 2016. It's Christopher Wylie next.

CHRISTOPHER WYLIE:

I think that there is a genuine risk that this data has been accessed by quite a few people, and that it could be stored in various parts of the world.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. All eyes will be on Capitol Hill this week when Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before House and Senate committees about how the company plans to protect its users' data in the future. Christopher Wylie was the man who first revealed that millions of Facebook accounts were harvested for the use in the 2016 presidential campaign.

He was a founding member of Cambridge Analytica, which eventually became the data firm for the Trump campaign. Wylie has colorfully describes himself as the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating Steve Bannon's psychological warfare mind expletive tool.

I spoke to Wylie yesterday, and how he explained how he first came into contact with Bannon and the Republican billionaire donor behind Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer. Both of them, he says, were interested in weaponizing social data.

CHRIS WYLIE:

I will say it was quite clearly early on that Steve Bannon absolutely wanted to use it for, you know, Republican candidates. And the early projects that, you know, we started to apply the research to were indeed alt-right candidates in the United States. And it was after, you know, starting to meet some of the candidates and meet some of the clients that Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon, you know, wanted to support, that a lot of people, including myself, started to feel quite uncomfortable with what we were doing.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me be clear. You left--Did you leave the company over politics? And is that the re-- Is that what you would say, or did you leave it over their business practices?

CHRIS WYLIE:

There was lots of reasons. You know, Alexander Nix was extremely difficult to work for. Steve

Bannon is also extremely difficult to work for. I think that, you know, the company's internal culture became quite toxic. So in terms of an actual workplace environment, it was difficult to work in. And I think, you know, ultimately, a lot of people, including myself, had to make a call which is that, you know, as the early founding team of a company, do we want to spend the next ten years doing this? And for a lot of us, the answer was no.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I want to go to something with Facebook announced this week when they announced some new protocols with advertising. But they also fessed up to even more data brea-- I guess you wouldn't call it a data breach. But more data was released than even what you had indicated. You had indicated 50 million. Facebook says 87 million profiles were actually accessed. And then you tweeted this, Mr. Wylie. "Yup, it was actually 87 million Facebook profiles. Could be more, to be honest. Media couldn't publish full number before because of legal threats." So when you originally gave your first interview on this, you knew it was 87 million, but you legally could only say 50 million?

CHRIS WYLIE:

So The New York Times and The Guardian chose 50 million because it was the most conservative estimate. And it was the thing that they had the most amount of evidence to show. When I met with the British authorities earlier in the year, one of the things that I said is that actually, you know, the number is substantially more than that, you know, from my recollection. And that also, data was harvested in many more countries than the United States. But when you're working with The New York Times and The Guardian, they will make sure that anything that they publish is the most conservative estimate to play it safe. And that's what happened.

CHUCK TODD:

Is it possible the number -- Do you believe the number 87 million is the high end or do you think that's still possible that number is much higher?

CHRIS WYLIE:

I think that it could be higher. Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to play something that Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, told my colleague Savannah Guthrie late last week. Here it is. And I want to get you to respond to it.

CHRIS WYLIE:

Sure.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SHERYL SANDBERG:

We thought the data had been deleted. That's why.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But that doesn't mean you don't tell the users, "Hey, this was stolen from you."

SHERYL SANDBERG:

Yes, you're right. And we should've done that. We should've done that as well.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Because it feels like Facebook was trying to get away with it.

SHERYL SANDBERG:

I don't think that's true. But, of course, you're right. And we should've done it. So let's fast forward to now.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

All right. So that's Sheryl Sandberg saying, yeah, they probably should've told users that their data had been taken. Could these files be all over the world by now?

CHRIS WYLIE:

I think that there is, you know, a genuine—a genuine risk that this data has been accessed by quite a few people. And that it could be stored in various parts of the world, including Russia, given the fact that, you know, the professor who was managing the data harvesting process was going back and forward between the U.K. and to Russia.

CHUCK TODD:

Is it your understanding that Facebook could not even verify right now if they wanted to how many people had all this data, or could they?

CHRIS WYLIE:

Well, once data leaves your system and once data leaves, you know, your database, you know, data is a fungible thing, right?

CHUCK TODD:

Sure

CHRIS WYLIE:

You can make as many copies as-- as possible. So, you know, it isn't actually materially possible to verify if that data has been eliminated from the existence of the universe because another copy could've been made. So it is unfortunately, you know, very difficult to verify.

CHUCK TODD:

Couple questions that people have questioned your credibility. First, the acting CEO of

Cambridge Analytica put-- said this. "The source of allegations against the company is not a whistleblower or a founder of the company. Christopher Wylie was a part-time contractor who left in July, 2014 and has no direct knowledge of our work or practices since that date." He was at the company for less than a year, after which he was made the subject of restraining undertakings to prevent his misuse of the company's intellectual property, while attempting to set up his own rival firm." Let me ask this question.

CHRIS WYLIE:

Right

CHUCK TODD:

Can you say definitively that this Facebook data was used by the Trump campaign?

CHRIS WYLIE:

I started working at SCL Group before Cambridge Analytica exists. So he's sort of using a bit of weasely language here because it was the work that I was doing at SCL Group, as research director, that formed the basis of the intellectual property for Cambridge Analytica. If I was not, If I was not the research director, if I didn't introduce the firm to data and to targeting, Cambridge Analytica would not exist, full stop. In terms of did Donald Trump use this data? I think that's a good question to ask Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign. What I do know is that Alexander Nix was meeting with Corey Lewandowski in the spring of 2015, which his lawyers have confirmed to me, you know, before Trump had even announced that he was a candidate.

CHUCK TODD:

But in fairness—

CHRIS WYLIE:

So – my my

CHUCK TODD:

-- you can't say definitively that the Trump campaign used this Facebook data?

CHRIS WYLIE:

No. I can't. But I haven’t --I think that there is a substantial risk that this data was misused.

And given what we know about the company, you know, and what the lengths that they're willing to do for their clients, I think it is worth a serious investigation and to take this seriously. So no, I didn't work on the Trump campaign. So, of course, I can't say one way or the other whether Trump used it or not. But we do know a lot of things about this company that I think a reasonable person knowing these things would want to ask some pretty tough questions about what happened to that data.

CHUCK TODD:

I know you've been contacted by British authorities. Have you been contacted by American authorities, like Bob Mueller, the special counsel here that's investigating the Russian interference?

CHRIS WYLIE:

I have been contacted by American authorities, yes.

CHUCK TODD:

And are you cooperating?

CHRIS WYLIE:

Yeah, I plan to be. We're just setting out dates that I can actually go and sit down--

CHUCK TODD:

And this is--

CHRIS WYLIE:

--and meet with--

CHUCK TODD:

--is this both with--

CHRIS WYLIE:

--with authorities--

CHUCK TODD:

--Congress and Mr. Mueller? Or just one part --Is it both entities that are doing investigations?

CHRIS WYLIE:

It’s--As I understand it, and my lawyer is the one interfacing with them, but it is both Congressional investigations and also law enforcement and the Department of Justice.

CHUCK TODD:

You can see my complete interview with Christopher Wylie on our website MeetThePress.com. Up next, the success of Roseanne got us thinking about the differences between the shows Democrats and Republicans watch. What we found out, when we come back.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data Download time. The huge success of the Roseanne reboot on T.V. has captured a lot of attention in political circles in the past few weeks, particularly its enormous viewership in so-called "Red America." But how deep are the partisan divides in America's entertainment T.V. viewing?

Well, it depends on how you look at the question. Now, there are shows that Democrats are more likely to watch than the average American, like Empire and Blackish, both centered around African-American families. Political shows like HBO's Last Week Tonight With John Oliver and Veep also do especially well with Democrats. And there's Saturday Night NBA Basketball, where viewers likely come from larger urban areas with NBA teams.

There are also shows Republicans are more likely to watch, like ABC's Last Man Standing, whose main character is politically conservative. The show was actually cancelled last year, but fans are now petitioning to bring it back with the success of the Roseanne reboot.

Then there's Antiques Roadshow, popular among older viewers. College football and NASCAR do especially well for Republicans because both sports are popular in the Republican south. Now, there's also long standing reality competition series that do well with Republicans, including Survivor and no, I'm not talking about the President Trump cabinet shuffle.

But in terms of overall popularity, our T.V. viewing habits actually have more in common than you may think. These are the top ten overall most popular shows for Democrats. And what do you know? The list looks awfully similar to the list from Republicans. In fact, seven of the ten shows are the same, including Big Bang Theory, Fixer Upper, 60 Minutes and Property Brothers.

Probably didn't have any idea how much HGTV really brought the country together. Infrastructure, see? Bipartisan love for that. Look, there's no doubt that there's a lot that divides us in this country. But let's not get carried away and always try to find the differences. Because even with those differences, the data here actually shows you you can still find a lot of commonalities in the American experience, even in the age of Trump and Roseanne. When we come back, Endgame and what millions of Facebook users want to hear this week from Mark Zuckerberg.

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame. Charlie Cook, is there any way Tuesday goes well for Mark Zuckerberg? (CHUCKLE)

CHARLIE COOK:

I think it if he had gone immediately up to Congress, it would have been bad. Now I think it's going to be horrific. (LAUGHTER) I mean-- poor guy's going to be walking into an ambush.

CHUCK TODD:

That's what I think.

CHARLIE COOK:

I mean it's going to-- Senator Rounds, I mean this is going to be like Custer's Last Stand. I mean this is going to be-- Little Big Horn. I mean this is going to be ugly.

CHUCK TODD:

What should they get from them? What should the lawmaker-- what do they need to get out of Zuckerberg? And what does he need to be reassuring Congress about?

RICH LOWRY:

Well first of all, I think there is an element of partisan hypocrisy here, because the Obama team did a version, not exactly, but a version of the same thing in 2012. And they were all heralded as geniuses, and it wasn't a national scandal.

But if the Savannah Guthrie interview with Sheryl Sandberg was any preview of how this Congressional hearing is going to go, I agree with Charlie, Zuckerberg will get roasted. And the issue here is Facebook has a tremendous amount of data, and there's one man who makes the decision about how it's used, and that's Mark Zuckerberg. And I think that regime, one way or the other, is ending.

CHUCK TODD:

Doris, how would TR handle Mark Zuckerberg?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

(LAUGHTER) Well, you know, I think the real question is, first of all, he should have apologized right away. They should have made clear, as soon as they knew the data had been spread, that it had happened. It took them years to really admit that. You can't go back and go over bad conduct.

But I think now he's got to figure out, "What am I-- to do but this?" It's a big question for all these tech companies right now. They have to probably be regulated the way the automobile, the radio, television, all the earlier inventions, were regulated.

But the real question underneath it all is privacy. I think we have to figure out as a community now how much does our privacy matter to us? I mean I would tell my kids or grandchildren now, "Never write anything in an e-mail that you don't want to explode everywhere else." There was this old boss named Martin Lomasney. And he used to say, "Never write when you can speak. Never speak when you can nod." (LAUGHTER) So we have to figure out--

CHUCK TODD:

I thought Russell Lone (PH) said that.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

(LAUGHTER) He probably appropriated it.

CHUCK TODD:

Helene, I feel like the damage is done to Facebook. And I don't know how they get it back, a little bit. I'm not saying the world's deactivated from it. But the skepticism. I interviewed Kara Swisher. She goes, "Wait, I'm not on Facebook," and I did the same thing, "Well, I'm not on Facebook, either." And it was almost like you didn't want to admit you were on Facebook anymore. That's a bad place to be.

HELENE COOPER:

It is. But at the same time, there are millions and millions and millions of people all over the world who are still on Facebook, and who have sort of made almost the decision that their privacy doesn't matter. Who cares about privacy? They assumed all along that if you're putting something on Facebook or if you're-- once you engage there, you're sort of letting go of so many of these assumptions to begin with.

I think Doris is right, though, about where we're moving as a society. Because we're at the point now where I don't even feel comfortable making cell phone calls to sources. Forget about texting. I mean What's App.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Wow.

HELENE COOPER:

And I'm at this point now where there are some sources who will only talk to me face to face in person. We're going back to back now. Can't e-mail, can't--

RICH LOWRY:

In a parking garage?

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. (LAUGHTER)

(OVERTALK)

HELENE COOPER:

We're almost at the parking garages. We're almost at the parking garage point.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Wow.

CHUCK TODD:

Very true.

CHARLIE COOK:

Facebook is going to survive this. But they've lost their innocence. They can't wear a white dress anymore.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

RICH LOWRY:

That was the annoying thing. (LAUGHTER) And it had its ideology, "We're just all about openness and connectivity." They're a profit making company, and have this massive capitalization in the market for a reason.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. They're counting on us to share all this information. A gesture of good will, get rid of the political affiliation thing on your profile. And maybe, as we said earlier, maybe it wouldn't be Thanksgiving dinner every night on your Facebook page. I want to move to the teacher protests. Charlie, do you see an impact yet on the midterms?

CHARLIE COOK:

We don't see an impact there. But when you look at what's going on in Oklahoma and Arizona, some pretty red places, you look, and other than the Senate map, which states are up, I can't see anything good for Republicans this year, nothing. And whether it's the--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

It almost only adds to it, doesn't it?

CHARLIE COOK:

Right. And whether it's the kids and the gun issue or whether it's the teachers and parents that are uprising, there's a lot of bad, bad-- I mean if I were Republican, I'd be nauseous right now with what's coming up.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, and one of the things that I think that put teachers and what they're going to complain about the most is I want to show you the average of sort of our biggest public servant groups are firefighters and police officers and teachers. And the national average salary increase teachers and police officers have been-- police officers have gotten a higher salary increase since 2000 than teachers.

But nationally, you could see teachers are a little bit behind here. But look at the state of Oklahoma. In this case, average salary increase since 2000, basically double for police than for teachers. Doris, this is not about whether police officers are getting too much. That's not the issue. It's should teachers, as public servants, be treated basically the same as police officers?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Without a question. I mean teachers are now standing up and saying, "Enough is enough," just like the Me Too Movement. And they're not just fighting for raises, they're fighting for funding for their school districts. I mean in Oklahoma, some of those districts are only open four days a week because they can't afford the heating or the lighting for the fifth day.

And they've really got the parents and the kids behind them. So it's a community thing. I have a son who's a high school teacher. And it's the proudest thing that I am, that I walk around town and people will say, "Your kid is changing my life." They should be given the cultural respect, they should be given the salaries they need. Our country needs education as a cornerstone of democratic.

CHUCK TODD:

Rich, this is got caught up in teacher union fights for a long time, are Republicans regretting that they so focused on the unions, they forgot about the teachers a little bit?

RICH LOWRY:

Well, I'm very skeptical of, across the board, pay increases for teachers that aren't coupled with other reforms. But, in these particular states, you make a very good case there, underpaid. In Oklahoma, they train teachers, they'd go to Texas.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, guys, I've got to leave it there. We got through a lot more than I expected on an extraordinarily busy week, which of course we say every week. Before we go, starting this week, Meet the Press will have a new audio briefing for you every afternoon. Meet the Press, The Lid will have midterm news, polling data and analysis. So add Meet the Press to your flash briefing on Amazon Alexa or download The Lid as a free podcast beginning tomorrow. That's all we have for today, though. Thanks for watching. We'll be back next week. Because, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.