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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, all the president's investigations. Michael Cohen, sentenced to prison and implicating President Trump in illegal tabloid hush-money payoffs.

MICHAEL COHEN:

He directed me to make the payments. He directed me to become involved in these matters.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I don't think, and I have to go check, I don't think they even paid any money to that tabloid.

CHUCK TODD:

This, as new investigations emerge involving donations to Mr. Trump's inaugural committee and to the Trump Organization. We have a brand-new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll on the Russia investigation and on the president's honesty. Plus, Obamacare struck down. A Texas judge rules for Republicans, that the individual mandate, without a tax, is unconstitutional, and the law must go.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

It was a big ruling. It was a great ruling for our country. We'll be able to get great health care.

CHUCK TODD:

Democrats vow to appeal. And the case appears headed to the Supreme Court. My guests this morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Also, that White House showdown over a government shutdown. It's Trump versus Pelosi and Schumer.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I will shut down the government.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:Ok, fair enough.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Absolutely. And I am proud --

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

We disagree.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:And I'll tell you what.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:We disagree.

DONALD TRUMP:

I am proud to shut down the government for border security.

CHUCK TODD:

Is this a preview of the battles to come? Joining me for insight and analysis are Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, Katy Tur host of MSNBC Live, David Brody, chief political analyst for CBN News and Eliana Johnson national political reporter for Politico. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. As if we needed another reminder, this week illustrated, again, just now not normal the Trump presidency has become. President Trump's lawyer sentenced to prison. His chief of staff, his second one, mind you, is out. A routine photo op with leading Democrats turned into a taunting schoolyard smack-down. We're less than two years into Mr. Trump's first term. And just take a look at all the president's investigations, among the targets, the Trump campaign, the Trump Transition Team, the Trump inauguration committee, the Trump family, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Charitable Foundation, Trump associates and finally, President Trump himself. Essentially, everything he's touched his adult life is under investigation. All of this may be taking a toll on the president. We have a brand-new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll out this morning. On the Russia investigation, 62 percent say President Trump has not been honest and truthful.That's a growing number in our poll. And it's across the board, Democrats, independents, and Republicans. Just 34 percent say he has been honest and truthful. Forty-five percent want to see the investigation continue. Thirty-four percent, familiar number there, would like to see it end. And as if all this wasn't enough, on Friday night, word came that a federal judge in Texas had struck down the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, and said it was unconstitutional. The judge ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, now that there is no tax associated with it. It got zeroed out during the tax bill package, and that therefore, the entire law now has to go. Now, Republicans have sought to kill the Affordable Care Act since its passage. And the suit was brought by Republican governors and attorneys general. But the ruling comes as Obamacare, as it's colloquially known, is now more popular than ever. And it helped Democrats flip 40 House seats in November. So looking ahead, multiple investigations, a new fight over health care, a trade war with China, a possible recession, and we haven't even mentioned the chances of a government shutdown at the end of this week. Happy holidays, everyone. Joining me now is the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York. Senator Schumer, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Morning. Good to be back, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let's start with the health care ruling. The assumption is there's going to be appeals. How does -- how do you appeal this law? Do you appeal the specific argument about the mandate or the entire ruling? Or is it on severability? Where do you, where do you attack this decision?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Okay, well, first, Chuck, it's an awful ruling. It goes -- of course, it undoes pre-existing conditions. It jeopardizes the tens of millions who are getting good health care in the exchange. But it goes way beyond that. It would knock out funding for treatment of opioids. It would raise drug prices and close the donut hole, so seniors would pay more for drug prices. It would eliminate a lot of maternal care, all kinds of women's health. It's an awful, awful ruling. We're going to fight this, tooth and nail. And the first thing we're going to do, when we get back there in the Senate, is urge -- put a vote on the floor urging an intervention in the case. The judge -- a lot of this depends on congressional intent. And if a majority of the House and a majority of the Senate say that this case should be overturned, it'll have a tremendous effect on the appeal. So our first stop is the courts. We believe this should be overturned. It's an awful, awful decision. And it puts a lot of our Republicans in a box. Because they sort of were, once -- you know, two-faced. On the one hand, they said they want to preserve pre-existing conditions and preserve health care. On the other hand, Donald Trump and a large number of Republicans brought this court suit. So there are going to be a good number of Republicans who are going to really have to make a decision whether to join us in this intervention or face very severe consequences.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you open to finding a compromise with Republicans? Let’s say this -- let's say your prospects don't look as good in the courts as you might think that they do. Do you try to work with them to bring the, bring a penalty back on the mandate, if that's what it takes? Do you work with them to figure out a plan that eliminates the mandate? Where are you on this?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Well legislation, when it comes to health care, as we have seen, is very difficult. And the president and a large number of Republicans are actually for cutting back on health care. That's what they've done for two years. We have a divided House and Senate. I think the courts have to be the first and best way to go.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this about the courts, by the way. Brian Fallon, somebody who used to work for you, by the way, he tweeted the following. He said, "The judge who ruled in favor of gutting Obamacare was confirmed by voice vote. Remember that the next time Democrats cut a deal with McConnell on judges and defend it by saying, quote, 'They were all noncontroversial nominees.'" This judge, by the way, confirmed in 2007, when Democrats were in control of the United States Senate. Do you regret the way you guys voice voted this judge?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Look, you never know how a judge is going to vote, ten years later. But this was an awful, awful decision. And it has to be overturned. There's also, you know, an element, I don't know how you deal with this, but forum shopping. The Republicans chose this court and this bench, because they thought they might get this way-out-of-the-mainstream ruling from this judge, who's done it before.

CHUCK TODD:

You brushed off that -- you brushed off this judge issue very quickly. Look, that was part of a deal you were a part of cutting back in '07. Was that a bad deal?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

No, there was no deal, I don't think, on this judge. He was a nominee to the district court. No one brought up anything. No one knew how he'd rule in the future. And you know, it's an awful ruling. Let's make no mistake about it.

CHUCK TODD:

Some progressives, as you know, and maybe even some senators in your own caucus, are going to say, "Okay, here we go again with the Affordable Care Act. And it was a flawed enterprise, anyway." Here's what Adam Green, founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee writes. He says, "Democrats need to put a bright north star in the sky for 2020 voters, showing what Democrats would do with more power and making clear that we're moving toward Medicare for all, as a big part of a 2020 electoral strategy. It seems pretty clear that the presidential nominee, whoever it is, will support Medicare for all." Do you think it's time for Democrats to push this?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Look, Democrats are for universal access to health care, from one end of the party to the other. We want more people covered, everyone covered. We want better health care at a lower cost. People have different views as to how to get there. Many are for Medicare for all. Some are for Medicare buy-in. Some are Medicare over 55. Some are Medicaid buy-in. Some are public option. We're going to have to do a lot more on health care. It will be a major issue in 2020. And I believe Democrats will coalesce around the best way to get the best health care for the most people.

CHUCK TODD:

Where are you? Do you think you should spend more time fixing the Affordable Care Act or launching a new health care proposal?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Well, we first have to undo this awful decision. Because look, we have a Republican president. We have a Republican Senate. They've spent a lot of time sabotaging health care. So that's the first job. But after that, Democrats, as we did in 2018 rather successfully, are going to make health care a major, probably the major, issue in the upcoming campaigns and as we act in Congress. And we're going to force our Republican colleagues, now that this decision has sort of lifted up their hypocrisy, to choose a side. Are you for the American people, working people, for more and better health care? Or are you going to continue to cut it?

CHUCK TODD:

I know you --

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Same with Trump, same with President Trump, by the way.

CHUCK TODD:

I know you're very, I know you’re very careful about putting your view here, now that you're the leader of your, of the Senate conference there. Are you going to support Medicare for all, Senator Schumer?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Look, as I said, there are lots of different routes. I'm going to support a plan that can pass and that can provide the best, cheapest health care for all Americans.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to move on to the issue that may lead to a government shutdown. It is immigration. I want to play something you said in 2009 on the Senate floor. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

People who enter the United States without our permission are illegal aliens. And illegal aliens should not be treated the same as people who enter the U.S. legally.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Apologies, you said that at Georgetown Law School, not on the floor of the Senate there.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

That's okay.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you know.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Some people at Georgetown would think it's even better to say it there.

CHUCK TODD:

That is so true. Senator Schumer, do you still believe in that principle?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Of course. No Democrat believes that there's no difference between legal and illegal immigration. We Democrats -- we’re for a path to citizenship, however, not amnesty, a very difficult path to citizenship. In 2013, every single Democrat voted for it. A whole bunch of Republicans, led by John McCain, voted for it. And it was thwarted in the House. So we want, we want to create a path to citizenship for those illegally. But we don't think they're the same.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there any way you budge at all in your number on border security, on the $1.6? We know you don't want to give him the $5. Is there anywhere in the middle here? Is there any middle ground that you would be willing to inch over to, that you think could get 60 votes in the Senate?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

President Trump should understand, there are not the votes for the wall in the House or the Senate. He is not going to get the wall in any form. Even the House, which is a majority Republican, they don't have the votes for his 5 billion dollar wall plan. In fact, Ryan, afraid of what's going to happen, sent all the House home, until Wednesday night, a day and half before the -- two days before the shutdown. And they certainly don't have the votes in the Senate. Now, we Democrats, Leader Pelosi and I, offered the president two options as to how to avoid the shutdown. And we should not let a temper tantrum, threats, push us in the direction of doing something that everybody, even our Republican colleagues, know is wrong. Leader McConnell has said we shouldn't shut down the government. Chairman Shelby has said we shouldn’t shut down the government.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that --

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

And they should join us in one of these two proposals, which would get more than enough votes passed and avoid a shutdown. Then, if the president wants to debate the wall next year, he can. I don't think he'll get it. But he shouldn't use innocent workers as hostage for his temper tantrum to sort of throw a bone to his base.

CHUCK TODD:

What you're saying is there's no wiggle room here. It's those two options, or that's it.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Oh -- no -- well, those two options are the kinds of things that Republicans have supported in the past. And when you talk to them privately, even publicly, a lot of them have said, a CR is much preferable to a shutdown. They just have to have the guts to tell President Trump he's off on the deep end here. And all he's going to get, with his temper tantrum, is a shutdown. He will not get a wall.

CHUCK TODD:

Before I go, I want to ask you about the prospects of impeachment. In the last two weeks, we've learned that the president directed Michael Cohen to commit felonies. At what point do you believe that House Democrats -- you were on the House Judiciary Committee in 1998, so you're very familiar with this. At what point are House Democrats obligated to open an impeachment inquiry? Nobody says that you vote for impeachment. But are they obligated to start one?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Well, I'll give you my view. We should make sure that Mr. Mueller is unimpeded, that he finishes his investigation. And we should make sure that that report is public. And then we should make a decision on the totality. As you know, impeachment has a lot of different ramifications. We certainly think no president is above the law. But I think it's wise to wait for the report. More and more people are believing in Mueller. Fewer and fewer people, as your survey showed, believe the president. Let's get the report. And let's read it, let it go public. And then let us decide.

CHUCK TODD:

Is it an asset or a liability if you have the first name of “Senator”, if you run for president in 2020?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Well, we have a lot of good senators running. And there are a lot of good non-senators running. To my view, let a thousand flowers bloom. Let everyone run. And let's see who is the best candidate. I do believe this, that Democrats are going to be guided by who can best beat Trump, because he's such a danger to the nation, to the middle-class, to the working-class people of America. So I think, at the end of the day, there's going to be more unity than people think.

CHUCK TODD:

Sounds like you think electability should be first and foremost.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Well I think that will -- what I'm saying is I think the voters will believe that.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. Senator Schumer, Democratic leader in the Senate, thanks for your time and for sharing your views on Meet the Press.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Chuck, good to see you. And can I make one little plug? Go Giants! Go Giants!

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, as you fight for your non-playoff spot. Fair enough. Thank you, sir.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

You never know. You never know.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. I'll have to check that math. Fair enough. All right, joining me now from the other side of the aisle, is Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Republican leadership, who sits on the Intelligence Committee. Welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Hey, Chuck. Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me start with something that Senator Schumer said he was going to ask the United States Senate to do, basically -- to ask for a, a sense of the Senate and the House on this lawsuit that says, it needs to be -- Congress needs to intervene with this lawsuit and stop it. Would you support that?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well, I think what he was saying was, what the Congress should do is tell the circuit court what to do. I can't recall a similar time when anything like that happened. And Senator Schumer followed that by saying, "You know, on health care, it's really hard to get anything done," when you asked him what kind of legislative things we want to do on health care. That's clearly not going to happen. That's not what we ought to be doing this week. And Senator Schumer knows it.

CHUCK TODD:

But didn't this federal judge act like a legislator? And he decided, on his own, what the law is going to be? Isn't this a form of judicial activism? He said, "Well, I've decided that Congress said this is a zero tax. I've decided it's no longer a tax." That's the definition of a judge writing legislation, is it not?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

That doesn’t mean, that doesn't mean that legislators can act like judges, just because, just because judges sometimes act like legislators.

CHUCK TODD:

So you acknowledge, in this case --

SEN. ROY BLUNT:No --

CHUCK TODD:

-- the judge has probably overstepped his bounds here?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

You know, I think the, the thing to remember about the judge's ruling is it has no immediate impact. There -- nothing changes yesterday. Nothing changes tomorrow. This'll have to go through a circuit court process. Who knows if the circuit court would uphold it or not. That will either be quickly dismissed, which is one option, or a long period of time, in my view, before the circuit court deals with it. This will be another area where -- this -- healthcare will be used as a political issue way beyond the ramifications of one district judge making a ruling that has no immediate impact.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me tell you what the president said. The president said, this was, “Great news for America." That was his point. Do you agree with him?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

I think it's basically just, for America, it means we're going to continue to debate this. Health care clearly matters to people. Some of, you know, what we had with Obamacare, as you’ve already called it today, was a, a poorly thought-out plan, really poorly, poorly implemented to start with, that's had lots of negative impact on lots of families, who have insurance they don't need with deductibles they can't afford. We need to be --

CHUCK TODD:

Let me pause you there. If all of that is true, why have you guys failed to be able to come up with an alternative? You've had eight years, as a party, to come up with some alternative --

SEN. ROY BLUNT:Well --

CHUCK TODD:

-- that can pass.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

We've had lots of alternatives. We had lots of alternatives when Obamacare passed. You know, the adding, letting children, people up until age 26 stay on their parents' insurance was a bill I filed. As far as I know, it's the only, only Republican proposal that was filed during that process as an independent bill. It was four pages. And it probably insured more people than any other single part of the Affordable Care Act did. There were lots of ideas out there. It's just the other side didn't want to listen to those ideas.

CHUCK TODD:

But in fairness, your party can't unite on any idea, though. I mean isn’t that, if you had one --

SEN. ROY BLUNT:Well --

CHUCK TODD:

-- wouldn't you have a -- more leverage at the table?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

I, I wouldn't say we couldn't unite on any idea. But this is a very difficult issue and a closely divided Senate. You know, 49 senators, including me, voted to do something last year that a, that a couple of Republican senators couldn't agree with. Trying to get -- this is why the committee process matters. You know, the one thing I think we would be able to unite on is Medicare for all would wind up meaning Medicare for none. If Democrats want to take that view to the American people, and seniors, particularly, people who are now covered by Medicare, understand the ramifications of that. There is no way that will happen. And there's no way voters will let it happen

CHUCK TODD:

Was this lawsuit necessary?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

You know, I'm, I’m not in the job of questioning what state attorney generals decide they want to do.

CHUCK TODD:

You have now -- you have a future colleague in the Senate, Josh Hawley --

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

I do.

CHUCK TODD:

-- who filed this lawsuit. It was probably the biggest political negative he faced, the healthcare issue. He had to do a lot of answering of charges on that. In hindsight, politically, was this a mistake?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well, he won his election pretty handily. So whether that was anything that had impact on voters, I don't know. I, I do know that, you know, the court case --

CHUCK TODD:

You don't seem enthusiastic about the lawsuit. You do seem, you know, take it or leave it.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well you have to, when you, when you challenge something like the Affordable Care Act, an attorney general in Texas doesn't have the, the obligation to come up with what the alternatives are. Now, Josh Hawley and I now have a different obligation than all those attorneys general had. And you know, we’re continue, we continue to look for more options, more choices, more access to insurance that really meets people's needs, things like the associated health plans, that allow people in small businesses to band together. That's going to have a real impact on people that can get out of the individual market, which is always more expensive and more difficult to navigate than insurance at work. A lot more people are going to have insurance at work, because of the associated health plans that the administration has put out there. And they're already beginning to work.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you at a point, though, that the expectation now is the Affordable Care Act is the new baseline, and whatever you do, you can't eliminate any benefit that that already has?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

I think you can create more options. I do think, for the individual marketplace, for any foreseeable future, the, the Affordable Care Act is going to be there. It's going to have the boundaries of the Affordable Care Act. But that's not really served individuals or families as well as other things might. We have a real opportunity here with bi -- to look at this. Democrat Congress, Republican Senate, Republican president, trying to find solutions to some of these problems that have now been around for at least six years.

CHUCK TODD:

If it, if it temporarily halted this lawsuit, would you support putting a one-cent tax, if you will, on the mandate, in order to pass this judge's muster?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Chuck, I think the tax was always a stretch. Remember, the Obama administration said, "It's not a tax. It's not a tax. It's not a tax," until the only way, it appeared, that the court was going to uphold this, was by them saying, "Okay, maybe it is a tax." And the court upheld it on that basis. Coming up with a one-cent gimmick would not have much appeal to me.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I want to ask you a couple other questions. You were the head of the inaugural committee, as far as Congress is concerned. It has, it has, not to say your part of the, of the actual campaign aspect of raising money for inaugural. But there's now this investigation into the inaugural committee. And the amount of money that was raised, let me put what the head of Bush's inaugural committee, in 2005, said about Trump's inaugural committee. "They had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events. And they raise at least twice as much as we did. So there's the obvious question, where did it go? I don't know." Look, what you saw, in your role as head of the inauguration, were you just -- sort of said, "Boy, how come they don't have that many events, with all the money they raised?"

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well, you know, my role in the inauguration was pretty time consuming. I was the chair of the committee. It was a great opportunity. That part of the inauguration, what happens at the Capitol, is, is under the control of the Congress. The funding is --

CHUCK TODD:

That's taxpayer.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

-- congressional funding. It's taxpayer money. Probably, our government is never more vulnerable, at any time, than when you've got everybody outside in the middle of the winter, on tons of plywood and lumber. And there's a lot to think about. I would say, the two or three times that I interacted with that committee, normally, with Tom Barrack, to just be sure they understood that what happened at the Capitol was up to us, not up to them. But he was always very good to deal with. I have no idea what they did. I will tell you, during that particular period, my, my time was very consumed by being sure, if we ever had to get everybody off that platform for some emergency, we could get them off there quickly.

CHUCK TODD:

You voted for all four articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton. Two of them that passed were, basically, lying to, lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice. Do you regret those votes?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Not as much as I'm sure he regrets lying to the grand jury.

CHUCK TODD:Was that the --

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

It was a big mistake.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you regret the impeachment process?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

You know, I, I read Ken’s, I looked at Ken Starr's book. I think all of us, looking back at that, would not want to rush to anything that has all of the ramifications that impeachment has. If I was giving advice to a friend, my friends in the House, most of the chairmen I would've served with when I was in the House, my advice would be: legislate, don't investigate, if you want to be rewarded with the continued opportunity to be in control of the House of Representatives.

CHUCK TODD:

Roy Blunt, Republican from Missouri, thanks for coming on the show and sharing your views.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Good to see you, sir. When we come back, the two big stories of the day: the Trump investigations, and the future in politics of healthcare. Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, Eliana Johnson, national political reporter for Politico, NBC News correspondent Katy Tur and David Brody chief political analyst for CBN News. Eliana Johnson, here's what Donald Trump, President Trump, tweeted out after the ruling. "As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an unconstitutional disaster. Now, Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done." It's the visual of McConnell and Pelosi, somehow, rewriting the health care law with Donald Trump as president. What does that look like?

ELIANA JOHNSON:

I think that's a vision that nobody in this town can conjure right now. And Donald Trump may be the only Republican cheering this decision, which is somewhat fascinating. Looking at conservative legal scholars and conservatives at large, there's nobody who seems to be happy about this ruling and to think it's reasoning makes much sense, which is really that you can't have a tax of $0, which yeah, Republicans in the House, they did away with the individual mandate by just saying, "The tax on it is $0." But you know, before Obamacare went into law, you heard conservatives say, "Once you pass an entitlement, you can't take it away." And I think the feeling, several years in, is that it's too hard to take away. Because it's increased in popularity.

CHUCK TODD:

It sounded to me like Republicans are hoping this thing gets tossed.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Oh, yeah. They’re, they are, like, rooting for the circuit court to throw it out, like, next week, right? I mean, they just want this out of the way. Because as long as this is sort of pending, and it does seem to be a weird, and I'm not a lawyer, I can't call it ridiculous, I guess, reasoning, the decision. But it seems ridiculous to me. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. I've read, you know, commentary by a lot of legal scholars who were scratching their heads. But this is -- this is awful, politically, for Republicans. Because they've got to step up, right? And they're going to have to say, if push comes to shove, "Well, yeah, we've got to do something about pre-existing conditions. Well, yeah, we've got to preserve all these protections." Because if they don't, they're just going to get blown out.

KATY TUR:

In looking -- in looking at the timeline of how this would get appealed, if it doesn't get overturned, it would have to go to the fifth circuit and then, potentially, to the Supreme Court, which would mean that there would be a decision, according to experts who talk about the timeline of these things, would be in 2020, which would make it a perfect political issue for Democrats. So the idea that, maybe, this is not going to be a topic, come 2020, and the next election is, I think, a bit of wishful thinking for Republicans. And Democrats will certainly use that.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm old enough to remember when the 2012 Supreme Court decision was going to just be the be all, end all of that presidential election.

DAVID BRODY:

Well, here comes John Roberts again, potentially, on Obamacare, part two, to potentially save the Democrats again. So I think that'll be interesting to watch. Look, I also think it's an opportunity for a potential reset here. I mean, look, Obamacare was passed in terms of just a full-partisan vote here. I mean, so we know this. So here we are. Let's just say, for example, they do need to start from scratch, if you will. It does give Republicans and Democrats a chance to do it, quote, "the right way," or at least the way that both parties have always said all along, that it needs to be bipartisan. Well, maybe this is a chance. Yeah, pie in the sky, but at least it gives Republicans a reset point.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me remind people here. I'm going to put up top issues. Most important issue in the 2018 elections from the exit poll, it was health care. And it wasn't that close, okay? It was health care, and immigration and economy almost had to be combined to get over health care.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

And that's the context here. We have to step back and look at the context. Our health care system is crazy. I mean, it is crazy.

CHUCK TODD:

Convoluted, yeah.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, it is still the case -- we have, you know, some of the best medicine in the world, right? And you know, space-age medicine and laser surgery and everything else. But it is still the case, even after the Affordable Care Act, that a catastrophic illness can bring financial ruin to a family, that we just don't have the protections and the access that the rest of the industrialized world has.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me shift here this comes -- it was sort of like, what else are you going to put on Washington dysfunction? We had new investigation this week, Katy Tur. We had Michael Cohen's now, basically, charged that the president directed him to commit crimes and the federal government backing him up on this. Now, you throw health care into this atmosphere. But this atmosphere, as crazy as it always is in the Trump era, it's like we stepped it up a notch.

KATY TUR:

Lawmakers will tell you that they can walk and chew gum at the same time. In the past two years, though --

CHUCK TODD: I think they have to do the soft shoe --

KATY TUR: -- not a lot has gotten done, even though the Congress has been controlled by Republicans from top to bottom. They got a tax law. But they certainly didn't get health care. They didn't try, even, to broach infrastructure. So when you throw in the House being led by Democrats now and all the investigations that are going to pop up with them, it's going to be difficult to get a lot done in these next two years. Politically speaking, that might be a benefit, in a backwards way, to Donald Trump. Because he can go out and tell his voters, "Hey, listen. Nothing is getting done, because the Democrats are trying to obstruct at every corner." And he'll actually have Democrats who maybe will not be working with him. But then again, he did run on being a deal maker. He ran on getting things done and changing things.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, I want to put up maybe we now know why, Eliana, he had a hard time finding a chief of staff. It is amazing to me that four people went out of their way to publicly pull themselves out of contention, to make it clear, "No, no, no, no. I did not want to be the full-time chief of staff," Nick Ayers, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Mark Meadows, all -- which is something we know the president hates, the perception that nobody wants to work for him. He sort of settles on Mick Mulvaney. And then what happens that we find out immediately? Hey, Mick Mulvaney once trashed President Trump. Let me show you this clip.

[BEGIN TAPE]

MICK MULVANEY:

Yes, I've supported Donald Trump. I'm doing so as enthusiastically as I can, given the fact I think he's a terrible human being. But the choice on the other side is just as bad.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

That's his chief of staff.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

You know, I think Mike Pence may be the only person in Washington who would say Donald Trump is a good person. So Mulvaney certainly isn't the odd man out on that. But you know, I really can't think of a time in Washington where there's been so much uncertainty. There's uncertainty about whether there's going to be a government shutdown six days from now, uncertainty about what our trade policy is and whether there's going to be a trade war with China, uncertainty about what the Mueller investigation is going to bring. And the president now has an acting chief of staff. And you know, this is a president who probably needs a chief of staff more than any president in recent history but who simply won't let somebody do the job. And so we're really at a sort of fascinating juncture, I think, in American politics. And we have no idea what the next six months to a year will bring.

CHUCK TODD:

That's why I said -- that’s why I probably -- we all want to have the "acting" title these days, when it comes to Washington. Anyway, the acting panel will be coming back in a little bit. But when we come back, the man who soon will be heading up the Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation in the newly Democratic-controlled House, Congressman Adam Schiff. He joins me next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Turning now to the investigations of the Trump administration. In our NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, we asked people whether they support Democrats providing more oversight by opening up new investigations of President Trump and his administration.

Overall, 55% said, "Yes," while 42% said, "No." Take a look at the party breakdown. It won't surprise you. It was by a margin of 88 to ten that Democrats said, "Yes." They support more investigations. Among Republicans, the result was, essentially, flipped. Only 18% said, "Yes," while 81% are opposed. For what it's worth, independents looked like the mix of the two, with a majority wanting more investigations. Joining me now is the man who will lead the House Intelligence Committee in the next Congress. It's Democrat Adam Schiff of California. Welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with an interview you gave to the New Yorker. The headline over it was, "Adam Schiff's Plans to Obliterate Trump's Red Line." Now, the reference was to -- the president had famously said, "If they go into my businesses," if Mueller, at the time, "goes into my personal businesses before the campaign, that would be a red line. That's too much," the implication being, maybe, he'd fire him or something else. What does that headline mean, in practice, that you're going to obliterate the red line?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, obliterate was not my choice of words.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

But what it means is this. What ought to concern us the most, from an oversight point of view, is, is there any entanglement with a foreign power that might influence U.S. policy against our national interest? And what we saw, in the Michael Cohen revelations, some of the Michael Cohen revelations, that the president, while he was denying any dealings with Russia, his business, actually, was pursuing a multi-multi-million-dollar deal in Moscow, hiding it from the country, seeking the Kremlin's help with it.That's deeply compromising. Now, the president has wanted to draw and red line and say, "You can't look at my business." But if the president's business is trying to curry favor with the Kremlin, we can't ignore that. And the president should not be in a position to say, "You can't investigate certain things, only other things, that I don't care as much about." So that's what I mean. If Mueller is not looking into this, and I don't know whether he is, someone needs to. Because otherwise, we are being derelict with our security.

CHUCK TODD:

What U.S. policies do you believe have already been influenced by -- that you fear, might've been influenced by financial dealings with the president?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, unquestionably, the U.S. response to the Russian hacking of our election has been influenced by something. Whether it's been influenced by the president being concerned that his effort to build the Trump Tower deal would come out, because of course, the Russians knew about it. They were on the other end of that transaction. Dmitry Peskov was involved in the cover-up of that. Whether that was the motivation, or whether there's other motivation, or whether it's simply Donald Trump reacting to the question that's been raised about his legitimacy, because of the taint over the election, I don't know. But we, we need to find out.

CHUCK TODD:

Does Saudi Arabia fit into that, in your mind? And is that something you plan on investigating, as well?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, Saudi Arabia certainly could fit into it. If the Saudis were funneling money into the inauguration committee, or the Saudi investment in the Trump businesses, buying hotel rooms, the deals that Trump talked about during the campaign that made him love the Saudis so much, if that's warping U.S. policy, if it's affecting the president's unwillingness to criticize the crown prince over the murder of Khashoggi, then we need to know about it. Now, some of this may be the purview of our committee. Some of it will be the purview of other committees. We will be working amongst ourselves to make sure that we don't step on each other's toes, and that we work in a coordinated way.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you believe the Deutsche Bank financial records are going to show you? Because that's one of the things -- this is a bank that the Trump Organization did some work with. Why them? What will their records show?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, the concern about Deutsche Bank is that they have a history of laundering Russian money. They paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the state of New York, because they were laundering Russian money. And this, apparently, was the one bank that was willing to do business with the Trump Organization. Now, is that a coincidence? What do we make of what the president's sons are reported to have said about not needing to deal with U.S. banks, because they've got all the cash they needed from Russia, or a disproportionate share of their assets coming from Russia? If this is a form of compromise, it needs to be exposed.

CHUCK TODD:

You have -- Gina Haspel, the director of the C.I.A., gave -- has now given a briefing to, I believe, the House leaders, I believe, the Intelligence Committee. I assume you now have been briefed on this. What you have now learned, we've heard, you know, Bob Corker essentially said, "If a jury heard what I heard, he'd," MBS, the crown prince there, "would be convicted in 30 minutes." Is that a fair read of what you learned in your briefing?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I don't think there's any question that the crown prince was aware and knowing and would have had to approve and operation like this. And so what concerns me is, when I hear people, like the secretary of state, say things that may be literally true but are deeply misleading. These are important issues, as they affect the policy of the United States. Policymakers, like the House and Senate, need to make decisions on the best intelligence. And I think you saw, by that overwhelming, unanimous vote in the Senate, that senators are convinced, and rightly so, of the crown prince's role in this.

CHUCK TODD:

But should we intervene in Saudi politics and, basically, push the king to dump the crown prince?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

What we ought to do, and here's where we really need to rely on our intelligence agencies, is we need to go through a menu of, what are the responses here, everything from using Magnitsky-Act sanctions against the crown prince, to suspending arms sales, to suspending any support of the war in Yemen. We need to get our intelligence agencies' best estimate. What will the Saudi reaction be? If the crown prince were to fall, who comes next? What does that mean, in terms of our interest in the region?

CHUCK TODD:

You're in a little bit of a go-slow approach.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, my, you know, my feeling is, you use the best intelligence. You don't ignore it. You don't discount it. You don't publically disavow it. You use it to guide your decision making. And there is still a need to have a relationship with the kingdom. It ought to be governed, though, by the facts.

CHUCK TODD:

A couple things, the last time you were here, you talked about -- you were looking at other transcripts of people that gave interviews to the House Intelligence Committee and, basically, see if you were lied to. Have you found some instances that you think are questionable? And have you referred it to Mr. Mueller?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

We have found testimony that we find deeply concerning. And it certainly would include Mr. Stone, among that group. It is my hope --

CHUCK TODD:

Roger Stone --

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

-- is among -- you believe lied to Congress?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I believe that there's ample reason to be concerned about his truthfulness. And I do think that, with respect to Mr. Stone and, perhaps, others, the special counsel is in a better position to determine the truth or falsity of that testimony, and that we ought to provide it to the special counsel.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you have a theory as to why Mike Flynn -- Michael Flynn's lawyers are attacking the F.B.I.?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I do. Well, there are several witnesses now who are trying to have it both ways, in some degree. You've got Manafort, who was clearly double dealing, trying to get a deal -- a cooperation agreement with the government and a minimal sentence, at the same time, trying to get a pardon. Papadopoulos, the same way, pleads guilty, admits guilt, gets sentenced, but now, seems to be making a public case for a pardon. And I think, to a lesser degree, the same situation with Flynn.

CHUCK TODD:

You don't have a theory? You don't know what it is?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, the theory is they want to cooperate and get the best deal from the government. At the same time, they want to leave themselves open to getting a pardon from Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Adam Schiff, Democrat from California, incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, thanks for coming on and sharing your views, sir.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Much appreciated. When we come back, is it time to start wrapping our holiday gifts in Republican red and Democratic blue?

CHUCK TODD:

Those colors only mean one thing, it's time for a very special Data Download. What's going to be under your tree for your kids this holiday season? Well, that may depend on the politics of your gift-giver more than you may think. According to our friends at Simmons Research, if the gift-giver is a Trump voter, there's a decent chance that present is something from Nerf, maybe one of those Nerf guns. 36% of Trump voters say they're buying Nerf, compared to 28% of Clinton voters. So what's the big gift among Independents? It's Hot Wheels. Sorry, Matchbox. 42% of indys are buying the toy cars this year, way more than Republicans or Democrats. And what would the holiday season be without Barbie? Well, about a quarter of both Democrats and Republicans are buying the iconic Mattel doll this year. We just don't know what job or what outfit they pick. And when it comes to toys, there is one gift that nearly every group agrees on. It's because they have red and blue bricks, right? Its Legos. Majorities of men and women, liberals and conservatives, Hillary and Trump voters, they all plan to buy Legos this time of year. But if your house is anything like mine these days, we all know our older kids are hoping, well, for some video games stuffed in their stockings this year or video game downloads. The most popular games, for both Democrats and Republicans, are Call of Duty and Fortnite. Democrats, though, favor Super Mario Kart, while Republicans lean towards MLB's game, The Show. And of course, the holidays are always a special time of year for children. And here's one more area where red and blue America agree. Majorities of Republicans and Democrats say they want to provide their children with things they didn't get to have as a child. Yeah, I'm one of those. And majorities of both parties admit that they plan to indulge their children with those little extras, probably ones that they really don't need to be giving. So there you have it, a note of happy political agreement, just in time for the holidays. But hey, don't get too excited. If this week's news is any indication, the new year and the new Congress will bring plenty to disagree about. When we come back, guess which Democrat just moved into the top three in the latest poll in Iowa?

ANNOUNCER:

Coming up, Endgame and Postgame, brought to you by Boeing, continuing our mission to connect, protect, explore, and inspire.

ANNOUNCER:

Endgame, brought to you by Boeing, continuing our mission to connect, protect, explore and inspire.

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame. We got the first-filed presidential candidate this week from our big list of 34, Julian Castro, the former San Antonio mayor. But what did we get overnight, the diverse Des Moines Register poll of Iowa caucus-goers. And it basically has told us who the top two tiers of Democrats are in 2020.Tier one, here are the top four in the Iowa Des Moines Register poll: Biden at 32, Bernie Sanders at 19, Beto O'Rourke in double digits at 11, Elizabeth Warren at eight. Then there is a bit of a noticeable second tier, if you will, Kamala Harris at five, Cory Booker at four, Michael Bloomberg at three, Amy Klobuchar at three. They tested a dozen other candidates that didn't get up to three. Eugene Robinson, what do you make of, obviously, I'm sorry, the headline is Beto O'Rourke in double digits in Iowa, right?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Yeah, right. I mean, who knew? You know, a year ago, who knew anything about Beto O'Rourke? And that tells you the extent to which he broke through into the national consciousness, with an incredible run in Texas. And it shows he's going to be a factor. He's going to be a factor in this. And he's someone that, potentially, Democrats could fall in love with. You know, Democrats fall in love. Republicans fall in line.

CHUCK TODD:

Right, that's the old line.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

They could fall in love with Beto.

CHUCK TODD:

Beto O'Rourke had a town hall on Friday. Sure sounded like a presidential candidate to me. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REP. BETO O'ROURKE:

I want us to be big and to be bold and not to succumb to this smallness and this pettiness and this divisiveness that defines so much of the national conversation today. So that's what we're up against right now. And it's more than just one person. It's all of us making this decision that we're going to live to our potential and to our promise.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Everybody from Ted Cruz's campaign has said to me, "Donald Trump better take this guy seriously."

DAVID BRODY:

Because he's a really good messenger. And that's exactly what the Democrats need. You know, there's a lot of folks, and I saw that first tier. I mean, look, Joe Biden, I guess, on paper, on paper, and that's the key, he'd be pretty good, in terms of getting back some of those blue-collar Democrats that Trump had won. I think that is really interesting to watch. But he's getting up there in age, obviously. But beyond that, he's been known to be somewhat of a gaffe machine. And I think that's a problem. It hasn't gone too well for him. Look, I think Beto O'Rourke, I think the smart money is on him because of the messaging and because he can put it all together. Look, they need some energy, that energy, that progressive energy but at the same time, kind of morphing into an optimistic message. I think, if it's Beto O'Rourke and Trump, it's anger versus optimism. And I've got to tell you, anger comes with fear. And a lot of folks vote when they're fearful. Look at health care. The Democrats are going to play up the fearful angle on health care. And Trump will play up on immigration, the fear issue, as well.

KATY TUR:

Well, is it going to look like 2008, where Democrats wanted to be inspired? They wanted someone to give them hope again, after eight years of President Bush. I mean, they've got three choices here. They have, be inspired. They have, play it safe. Or they have, get angry.

CHUCK TODD:

Chuck Schumer wants to play it safe. I thought that was interesting, in his answer to this question, right?

KATY TUR:

Electability.

CHUCK TODD:

He wants somebody that can win. That's right.

KATY TUR:

He wants electability. And he also wants somebody, someone that can stand up to Donald Trump. And so far, Joe Biden has proven to be somebody who can stand up to Donald Trump and who can get down in the gutter with him, when need be, but not get dirty in the same way that Donald Trump has.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

You know, when I look at those top-four candidates, I see two who could potentially eat into the Trump base. And I can tell you that the folks on the Trump campaign are worried about the candidates who could, potentially, eat into the Trump base. And those are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. The other two, Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke, they would have to really juice minority turnout. And I can tell you, you know, I think Beto O'Rourke, one surprising thing about his candidacy, while he did over-perform Democrats in Texas, he did not over-perform on minority, black turnout. And so I think there are going to be questions raised about that, if he moves forward.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Gene, to build of Eliana's point here, looking deep into our dive on our poll, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders' favorable ratings are much better, when you look at it, than the other Democrats. There is this number -- there's a bunch of independent men that really like Bernie and Biden and nobody else.

EUGENE ROBINSON:Yeah. That’s right.

CHUCK TODD:

It's an interesting challenge for the Democrats.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

It’s an interesting sort of, I don’t know if you want to call it, call it a gender gap. But it’s, it may be approaching that. And so no, look, they're formidable figures and candidates. I just wonder if this will be the year, another Bernie year, if this is a Biden year. I'm just not sure. I think they're looking for somebody younger.

KATY TUR:

I also wonder if it's going to be another year for a white man. I mean, there are progressives, liberal voters out there, who will say, and minority voters, woman voters, who will say, "If not now, then when is it ever going to be?” We need to or they need to, elect a, a woman, or they need to nominate an African American or some sort of minority, in order to push the party forward.

CHUCK TODD:

How nervous would team Trump be based on an Amy Klobuchar, a Midwesterner?

DAVID BRODY:

Potentially. But look, I think, I think personally, what Donald Trump does best, as we all know, is branding, right? Ask Lying Ted and Little Marco, right? He does it. My point is, is that Beto O'Rourke is a clean slate for Donald Trump. John, or excuse me, Joe Biden is not, Bernie Sanders is not. Watch out for Beto O'Rourke.

CHUCK TODD:

Very interesting. Thank you, guys. Quite a panel, appreciate everybody on TV there, watching. We'll be back next week. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.