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Meet the Press - December 3, 2017

NBC News - Meet the Press

“12.03.17.”

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, Flynn flips. Now what? Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the F.B.I., becoming Robert Mueller's star witness and moving the Russia investigation inside the White House. President Trump insists he's not worried.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

What has been shown is no collusion. No collusion. There's been absolutely no collusion.

CHUCK TODD:

But he's already distancing himself from Flynn.

REPORTER:

And Michael Flynn? Do you stand by Michael Flynn, sir?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We'll see what happens.

CHUCK TODD:

Plus, Republican senators celebrate passing their tax plan.

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL:

Well, this is a, this is a great day for the country.

CHUCK TODD:

But what's in it?

SEN. JON TESTER:

Can you tell me what that word is?

CHUCK TODD:

The question now, will voters congratulate Republicans for a big win, or condemn them for favoring the wealthy? My guests this morning, Republican Senator Susan Collins, and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. And we'll talk about that Russia connection with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie. Finally, after another week of sexual harassment stories, we're going to look at the generation gap over what is considered unacceptable behavior. Joining me for insight and analysis are residential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Republican strategist and NBC News analyst Mike Murphy, Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, and Eddie Glaude of Princeton University. 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. We have two huge stories we're dealing with this morning. One is the tax plan passed by Senate Republicans overnight Friday into Saturday, a bill that Democrats point out favors the wealthy at the expense of parts of the middle class, while Republicans insist the bill will pay for itself with economic growth. The other big story is former national security advisor Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition. Now yesterday, President Trump tweeted that he had to fire Flynn in February because he lied to Vice President Pence and the F.B.I. That tweet of course suggests the president knew Flynn lied to the F.B.I. when he asked F.B.I. Director James Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. So, in an attempt to clean this up, Mr. Trump's personal lawyer John Dowd says -- is taking the fall and says he actually wrote the tweet. We have gone back to Mr. Dowd and asked him how many times he's tweeted for the president. And he has told us, "Just once." And he said it'll be the last time he does it. Nevertheless, what Flynn's guilty plea tells us definitively is that what the Trump campaign and administration have been saying about a Russia connection for the last year plus doesn't appear to be true.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:

Why would there be any contacts between the campaign?

DONALD TRUMP JR:

I can't think of bigger lies.

SEAN SPICER:

There is no connection.

ERIC TRUMP:

We have no dealings in Russia. We have no projects in Russia. We have nothing to do with Russia.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Right. Those conversations never happened.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

I have nothing to do with Russia, folks, okay?

CHUCK TODD:

Now, Flynn's cooperation deal, which makes him special counsel Robert Mueller's star witness at this point, suggests that Mr. Trump's transition team was running a rogue foreign policy operation and it brings Mueller's Russia investigation straight inside the White House.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

What has been shown is no collusion. No collusion.

CHUCK TODD:

Michael Flynn was a top surrogate for Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, introducing him at rallies nearly two dozen times, even floated briefly as a possible vice presidential running mate.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

He's a great general. Great guy. Great man. How good is General Flynn? Is he good?

CHUCK TODD:

As national security advisor, one of the president's key confidants.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

General Flynn is a wonderful man.

CHUCK TODD:

Flynn's guilty plea was part of a deal to avoid more severe charges for himself and his son. Signaling that he has valuable information about the president's inner circle, and even Mr. Trump's family members, that he is willing to share.

BARBARA McQUADE:

He is pleading to a really very minor charge, considering the scope of all of the exposure that has been reported.

CHUCK TODD:

Flynn admitted to lying about two separate contacts he had in December with then Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. The first on December 22nd, when prosecutors say Flynn was directed by a very senior member of the presidential transition team to urge foreign governments to oppose a U.N. Security Council resolution against Israel. Sources tell NBC News that the senior official was the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. A week later, after President Obama announced new sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election, Flynn discussed what, if anything, to communicate to the Russian ambassador about sanctions with another senior transition official at Mar-a-Lago. We have learned that official is K. T. McFarland. Flynn requested that Russia not escalate the situation. And Russian President Putin said he would not retaliate, prompting Mr. Trump to tweet, "Great move on delay by V. Putin. I always knew he was very smart." Top members of the White House, including the vice president, later said, "No sanctions conversation had ever taken place."

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:

They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or uh or impose a censure against Russia.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

So the subject matter of sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama administration did not come up in the conversation.

CHUCK TODD:

In February, the president said Flynn was fired for misleading the White House about those contacts. But the plea deal suggests that members of the president's inner circle did know about the conversations at the time. What's unclear is if Pence and Priebus were a part of that inner circle. Last week, after Mr. Flynn's legal team stopped cooperating with his own lawyers, the president made a not-so-subtle jab at his former confidant.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Even if they're allies, you never know about an ally. An ally can turn. You understand? You really going to find that out.

CHUCK TODD:

And on Saturday, we saw more evidence that the goodwill is over.

REPORTER:

Are you going to stand by Michael Flynn, sir?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We'll see what happens.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now is Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, she sits on the intelligence committee. Senator Collins, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Obviously I want to get to two stories, I’m going to start though with Russia. I want to put up, taken at face value there’s two sort of alarming quotes over the weekend. One comes from the president’s Twitter feed, we referenced it earlier in the lead-in that he said he lied. The reason he fired Flynn is that he lied to the Vice President and FBI, apparently invoking the idea that he knowingly obstructed justice perhaps, and then let me show you this K.T. McFarland quote. She was the deputy National Security advisor for a short period of time and there’s an email she sent around during the transition that apparently said this “If there is a tit-for-tat escalation Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown U.S.A election to him.” Now we have the White House trying to backtrack, clarify all those things. How alarming are those quotes to you?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Well there the reason why we have two investigations underway right now, the special counsel’s investigation clearly is bearing fruit as we’ve seen with the guilty plea with General Flynn, and we have the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation which is a different kind of investigation, a counterintelligence investigation and we’re also making progress.

CHUCK TODD:

It’s interesting, you said “bearing fruit.” Uhm, do you believe that there was collusion? Do you think that this is where this is heading? That Mueller is slowly but surely proving his case that there was collusion between the Trump campaign-

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

We-

CHUCK TODD:

and the Russians?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

We don’t know that yet, but what we do know is there were conversations during the transition period. During the transition period there’s still only one president and that was President Obama, so those conversations should not have confirmed, should not have been taking place, but that does not confirm collusion.

CHUCK TODD:

This deal for Flynn to work, uh, to work with Mueller now, how much does that slow down the Intelligence Committee investigation?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Well, that’s a great question because we had already asked General Flynn to come before us and also to produce his personal papers and his attorney asserted his Fifth Amendment right against the self incrimination. So now, really the special counsel is in the driver's seat as far as General Flynn is. I still want to hear from him because I believe that he could contribute a great deal to our investigation.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think at this point- you guys have some cooperation between the special prosecutors office and what you guys are doing, does that include your ability to get, read all the interview transcripts for instance of Michael Flynn?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Well, I’ve been reading the interview transcripts that our staff is doing of--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you get access to Mueller’s?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

-- Witnesses. We do not get access to Mueller's and I understand that cause only he can pursue criminal wrongdoing. Ours has a different mission, but also a very important one.

CHUCK TODD:

I’m curious the scope, does it include the transition? Cause I know the scope’s about the campaign, does that include the transition?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

You believe the scope of the intel committee does include the transition? Everything up to January 20th or even more?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

It not only includes the transition period, it includes the campaign period and that’s why we're looking at the conversations that occurred during that period as well.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you have a sense of where Mueller is in his probe? Do you feel as if this is the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? Where- do you guys have a sense of the length of this probe right now?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Although we’re in touch or the chairman is in touch with the special counsel it’s very difficult to say. But clearly, he is making progress. He’s had guilty pleas from two individuals, he’s had two other indictments, so he is making progress.

CHUCK TODD:

The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, fellow Republican Richard Burr, acknowledge in an interview in the New York Times that the president has talked to various Republican members of the Intel committee, uh encouraging them to move the probe along, end this probe. Senator Burr wrote it off to inexperience in government they didn’t, he said he didn’t view it as an attempt to obstruct justice. Two questions- one has the president called you?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

No he has not.

CHUCK TODD:

That doesn’t surprise me, frankly. But second do you think that Richard Burr, do you agree with his take that “oh this is just inexperience by the president? He doesn’t realize he’s violating some protocol here.”

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Well even if it’s inexperience, that doesn’t make it right. The president should have no comment whatsoever on either of these investigations. And the only thing that he should be doing is directing all of his staff and associates to fully cooperate.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright let me move to the tax bill. I want to move to the debt part first. Let me play a little mashup of what you’ve said about debt in the past. Take a listen.

(BEGIN TAPE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:

And Senator Collins, you supported President Obama on the stimulus package?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Yes.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:

Can you support his budget?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

No, because it brings our debt levels to an unprecedented level.

//

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Our current debt is unsustainable. It’s $14.3 trillion dollars and it is a threat to the future prosperity of this nation.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, if the debt is unsustainable at $14 trillion, how do you, how did you make yourself comfortable voting for something that’s going to increase the deficit? This tax bill we’re at 20.6 trillion now and the best estimates saying it’s going to even the best estimates of dynamic scoring that we could still find still add half a trillion dollars to the deficit.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Economic growth produces more revenue and that will help to offset this tax cut and actually lower the debt.

CHUCK TODD:

Where’s the evidence? Where, explain to me. Find a, find a study that actually says what you’re claiming.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Let me--

CHUCK TODD:

It doesn’t exist.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

Let me do that. First of all if you take the C.B.O.’s formula and apply it four to four tenths of one percent increase in the GDP generates revenues of a trillion dollars, a trillion dollars. Even the joint committee on taxation has projected that the tax bill would stimulate the economy to produce hundreds of billions of additional revenue. I’ve talked four economists, including the Dean of the Columbia School of Business and former chairs of the councils of economic advisors and they believe that it will have this impact. So I think if we can stimulate the economy, create more jobs that that does generate more revenue.

CHUCK TODD:

But why isn't there a single study? I'm going to show you three studies that we have, sort of a liberal one, a centrist one, and a conservative one right up there. The most conservative one, the most pro-economic growth argument, still adds $516 billion to the deficit over ten years.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:Well, talk to economists like Glenn Hubbard and Larry Lindsey and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who used to be head of the C.B.O. And they will tell you otherwise. So I think you will find that economists just don't agree on this.

CHUCK TODD:All right. You're comfortable with your vote on this tax bill? And is it there really no matter what comes out of conference?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:No. I mean, obviously I want to see what comes out. I believe that the amendments that I added on medical expense deductions, on property tax deductions, on helping retirement security for public employees improved the bill. I got a commitment that we're going to pass two bills, including the Alexander Murray bill.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

And one that I've authored that will help offset the individual mandate repeal by lowering premiums. And I also got an ironclad commitment that we're not going to see cuts in the Medicaid/Medicare program as a result of this bill.

CHUCK TODD:All right. We will be watching that commitment that was made to you. I'm curious to see if they can- uh if they keep their deal with you. Senator Collins, thanks for coming on. I'm out of time, unfortunately. I appreciate you coming on and sharing your views.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. President Trump has continually denied that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, an issue that the lead Democrat on the Senate Intel Committee Mark Warner, took issue with on Friday.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEN. MARK WARNER: We see senior intelligence officials, appointed by this president, acknowledging the massive Russian intervention. We've seen the social media companies that at first resisted, but now acknowledge massive Russian intervention. Frankly, virtually every one of my Republican colleagues-- acknowledges Russian intervention. The one individual that still seems to deny that this is not a major issue is Donald Trump.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Well, joining me now is Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who, like Senator Collins, also sits on the Intel Committee. And, of course, she herself was a longtime chair and vice-chair of the Intel Committee. Senator Feinstein, welcome back to the show.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Thank you very much, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Same question to you, as I started off with Senator Collins. As a member of the Intel Committee, I'll reference those quick graphics yesterday. But just at face value, and we know that the White House has tried to walk back both the K. T. McFarland email that seemed to imply that there -- as fact that the Russians did this.

And of course the president's apparently admitting to potentially obstructing justice. They’ve walked all those back. But do you look at that? What does that say to you, these two, even call them mistakes, is it sort of accidental admissions in your mind?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well, let me begin by saying this. As you know, I’m ranking on Judiciary, and the Judiciary Committee has an investigation going as well and it involves obstruction of justice. And, I think, what we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice. I think we see this in the indictments, the four indictments and pleas that have just taken place, and some of the comments that are being made. I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House: the comments every day, the continual tweets. And I see it, most importantly, in what happened with the firing of Director Comey and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice.

CHUCK TODD:

You know the president, a few times, has insisted he’s not under investigation. Is the president -- everything you’ve seen now: the deal with Flynn -- does that indicate to you that actually the president may now be -- you just laid out the obstruction of justice case -- that would mean, it would imply, the president is now under investigation? He’s a target?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well, I would assume that many in the White House are under investigation in this. I would assume, you know, I do not believe that General Flynn was a rogue agent. I don't believe that on his own conclusion, he would go out and try to tell the Russians in two instances, once to stop a national security resolution going through the United Nations regarding Israel, and on the sanctions that President Obama had just put in, urge that they not be tampered with by the transition committee.

And that he would go in on his own and attempt to tamper with them with Russia. I just don't believe that. I think he had to have been directed. Now whether the special counsel can find that evidence or not, whether we can, I don't know yet. But I see that that's where this is going.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. K. T. McFarland, who was for a short period of time deputy national security adviser, she's now been nominated, I believe, to be ambassador to Singapore. She has not been a person that has been publically connected with this investigation. But I'm curious, has the Intel Committee interviewed her?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

No. The Intel Committee, I can't tell you. The Intel Committee, the staff has done more than a hundred interviews.

CHUCK TODD:

But have you asked to have her to come before the committee?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

No. But the Democratic side, I can assure you, will. And I would hope that the Republican side would join in it.

CHUCK TODD:

How much does this Flynn cooperation deal, Senator Collins noted that you guys wanted Flynn to come before the Intel Committee. His lawyer asserted fifth amendment rights. Now obviously, you want to ask him to come back. But Mueller obviously has priority over him at this point.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

Obviously this slows down the Intel Committee's investigation. How much does it?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well, I don't really believe it does. I think the investigation that really has the clout is Bob Mueller's investigation. He's got all the tools he needs, investigative and legal, to do what he needs to do. I think what we're seeing is some of the fallout from that. And I think increasingly, hopefully, people are going to be more willing, without subpoena, to come and be interviewed and provide information.

For example, Jared Kushner. Both Senator Grassley, our chairman, and myself, we have sent a letter asking for information. He has agreed to give it. I think that's very important. And we will see what happened. I think there's no question, but that he is a principal in this. I don't make any allegations, because I don't know. But I think his testimony would be very important.

CHUCK TODD:

There's a campaign ad that's running a lot in California and some on cable, by somebody who may be an opponent of yours in a Senate race. A man by the name of Tom Steyer. Let me play an excerpt of the ad.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MALE VOICE:

People in Congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger, who's mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons. And they do nothing.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

There’s been some implication that he’s -- that the ad’s directed at you because you took a more cautionary note when asked about the idea of impeachment. Where are you on that? And is the obstruction of justice case that you laid out pretty succinctly earlier with me, is that an impeachable offense?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well, in the first place, I just told you I happen to be ranking on Judiciary, which means I’m the lead Democrat on this. I’m trying to be very careful as to what I say and what I do. Um, we have to put together facts that are solid, that are very close to evidence, if not evidence. And also draw some conclusions and possibly do some legislation. So this is a process that’s ongoing. Now, I’m not without the powers of observation, or seeing what’s going on around me.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Or watching the day by day episodes go by. The concern rises with the day. The concern about this White House --

CHUCK TODD:

-- Concern about the president? Your concern about this president’s ability to do the job rises by the day?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Oh yes, oh yes. Um, I’ve been here for 25 years now, um, there is a kind of instability, unpredictability. It’s one issue after the other. We’ve got major problems in the world with our allies now, in the Middle East, with North Korea. It goes on and on. And I think that this president is just precipitating more and more angst that’s going to lead to serious discord.

CHUCK TODD:

When do you hit your enough is enough moment?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well, it happened about a month ago, and I can’t give you any particular event. But it happens -- you know, those of us that are here --

CHUCK TODD:

So you need to get him out of office?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

-- understand how the White House functions. And, as you begin to see, one day it’s one story, the next day it’s another story, the third day it’s another story, it’s very concerning to get at the truth.

CHUCK TODD:

So, I mean, you just said you’ve hit your point? Do you believe it’s time to think about getting him out of office?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

I believe it’s time for us to finish our investigation and I don’t want to bias any part of the investigation with premature thinking. I think that’s very important.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, Senator Feinstein, I have to leave it there. As always, I never have enough time for everything I want to get to.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Thank you. It's good to see you.

CHUCK TODD:

Thanks for coming on. Appreciate it.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll be back in a moment with much more on where this Russia probe may go next. And later, I'm going to talk to two Trump campaign insiders about life with candidate Trump and about the current Russia situation as well. Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie are here. We'll be right back.

***COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, panel is here. Republican strategist and NBC News political analyst Mike Murphy, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, and Eddie Glaude, Chair of the Center for African-American Studies at Princeton University.I want to start where I just ended with Senator Feinstein. She is not somebody that is a bomb thrower, Doris Kearns Goodwin. She basically walked right up to the line of he's not fit for office right now. She was right there, pretty close.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Yeah, she said something happened a month ago. And obviously I think, "Oh my god, tell us what it is that happened." But clearly, the people inside the administration, inside the Congress, are feeling a sense of enormous concern right now. I don't understand how President Trump could say the other day, "No collusion. We're very happy." How can he be happy? The administration has been under a shadow from the beginning. Energy has been lost. Time and resources have been lost. And now it's going into an even deeper direction. And as long as it doesn't hit him, he says, "We're happy." Don't the people you choose around you who have now shown themselves to be untrustworthy reflect you? That's the major idea of a leader is an example. And yet he says, "We're very happy." There's such a disconnect between what's happening and what he's feeling.

MIKE MURPHY:

Well, she caught a primary a month ago too, and that helps you find your inner bomb thrower when you're up for reelection in the Democrat primary in California. But this Flynn thing is so big. It's not big out in the voter world yet. But think about this. Every day General Flynn wakes up with one thought now, "What can I do to please Bob Mueller, 'cause he controls the future of my son and my life." And he is an insider. No doubt about it, he was there in the middle of the Russia stuff.So now they smell blood. And I think the wheels are going to start turning, the Democrats are going to get tougher and tougher on this. There's a good chance they will run on impeachment I believe as their midterm election message.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Eddie, Don McGahn, the White House counsel, not the president's personal lawyer, the White House counsel's been called before Bob Mueller's special prosecutor. The point here is now you've got staffers in the White House being brought over. Frankly, I don't know how can he both be the lawyer for the office of the president right now and somebody who Bob Mueller is interview as a witness?

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

I don't either. I think we're going to run up against a whole bunch of contradictions over the next few months, all right, whether it's in the executive branch. Or we might be on the path to a constitutional crisis, depending upon how this thing works out. What I do know is this, is that General Flynn's flipping, as it were, makes everyone nervous. And I think there are two things, particular what Senator Feinstein just laid out, right? One is the obstruction case. And the other is collusion. And collusion tied to quid pro quo, right? That is to say what was it, what drove General Flynn to contact Kislyak? What drove him to say that we will deliver on these sanctions, we will ease them up? Did they receive something during the campaign which allowed them or forced them to deliver something once they were elected?

So all of this stuff is happening. And I think Senator Feinstein sees it. It's a cumulative effect. It's not only that she's getting primaried. I think she also sees a kind of collection of data that leads her to believe that something is really afoot here.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, look, Danielle, we've had a lot of off-the-record concern from senators for quite some time. Democrats are giving voice to it. Republicans haven't. Will they?

DANIELLE PLETKA:

I think Republicans are going to keep talking privately about the president. But I think it serves nobody to stand up and say, "I think the president's crazy." He's the president of the United States. And that kind of thing is just, there's no political upside for Republicans, because then the next question is, "Okay, you think he's crazy, you think he's on drugs, you think there's something wrong with him?" These are all the whispers we hear in Washington. Then the next question is, "So what are you going to do about it?" And the answer is, from them is, "We don't want to do anything about it."

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Do you know what makes me sad? Whatever happens, we've already lost. We are living during a time when our young people are seeing a government that's not functioning, when they're seeing people who worry about the president's health, when they're seeing an investigation and people lie. I mean, what are young people thinking about politics as an honorable profession?

DANIELLE PLETKA:

Hang on a second. I mean, I hate to shadow your beautiful allusions here, but there have been many, many previous investigations of previous governments that weren't Donald Trump's, in which presidents and others next to them lied.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

I'm not saying that.

DANIELLE PLETKA:

So let's not shadowing the allusion.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Wait a minute. I'm not saying that. I wouldn't have wanted to live through Watergate if I was here. I don't think it's fun to be through one of these cliffhanger things. I'm not saying it wasn't before. But wouldn't you rather be living through a time when something positive was going on, when you're working on problems?

DANIELLE PLETKA:

I've lived in Washington too long to ever think that.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Oh, don't become so cynical.

MIKE MURPHY:

It is bigger than that. We are living through the first screwball presidency in American history, where there's careening from one side to another, you don't really know who's in charge, the internal politics are crazy. The Republicans I've talked to privately, the professional polls, they're terrified because they're seeing the midterm election, they're wondering how to get the agenda back, and they think there is a chaos factor to quote Jeb Bush, who predicted all this.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

And underneath it all is the erosion of basic norms that in some ways provided the rudder, the stability, the basic Democratic norms that allow us to do what we do. I think those are being tossed in the trash.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Decency, honesty, integrity, credibility.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Horrible 48 hours for the president with this investigation, but he was handed one helpful P.R. moment here. Let me throw up these headlines. An F.B.I. agent was just removed from Bob Mueller's team for anti-Trump text. Now when you read the details of this, Danielle, I have to say, part of me thought, "Wait a minute, are we bordering into thought police territory?" Number one, but we can set that aside here. But it does give the president a P.R. tool here, and it's to at least throw to his supporters saying, "Aha, bias in the Mueller probe."

DANIELLE PLETKA:

Right. And he just tweeted about it this morning.

CHUCK TODD:

Shocking. I was shocked.

DANIELLE PLETKA:

I know, shocking to see maybe his lawyer tweeted that too. I'm not sure who tweeted it. But, you know. No, look, this is a problem because you want the perception, just as Dianne Feinstein was extraordinary careful to preserve that impartiality. I'm waiting for the evidence. When you have an investigator who obviously has an axe to grind against the president, you want to get rid of him. Mueller is being very careful and I applaud him for doing that.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, if he made one error here, Doris, it seems as if they just didn't let everybody know immediately that they had done this. That they had discovered it.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Right, it was after the fact.

CHUCK TODD:

It was after the fact that the public learned.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

But--

MIKE MURPHY:

The president is a genius at taking something like this and blowing it up to titanic size. We are going to hear so much about this now.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Yeah, Hillary--

MIKE MURPHY:

It'll eclipse the investigation for a while, at least on the conservative side of the media.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

And it's always designed to really undermine the value, the truth value of the press, the truth value of the investigation, to lead doubt once the conclusions are drawn.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, well, I'm going to pause it here. I promise we'll get more. When we come back, I'm going to ask two key players from the Trump campaign what they knew about contacts with Russia during the campaign and the transition. Keep it here.

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CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. This past week, we've seen a stream of outburst, extraordinary, even sometimes for President Trump. He retweeted anti-Muslim videos created by a far-right British political party. He got into a Twitter fight with the country's most important ally, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. He referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren again as "Pocahontas" at an event honoring Native Americans. He called North Korea's leader a "little rocket man" and a "sick puppy" in a speech in Missouri. And The Washington Post reported that the president suggested that a government shutdown might be good for him politically. You might say it was just the president being himself. And that's more or less the point of a new book, Let Trump Be Trump. It's the first campaign book from the president's perspective. It's written by Mr. Trump's one-time campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and his deputy campaign manager for the general election David Bossie. And both of them join me now. Gentlemen, welcome.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:Thank you.

DAVID BOSSIE:

Thanks for having us.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to start with an omission that we thought was interesting in the book. You might not be surprised, we looked for some Mike Flynn references in your book. There are exactly two. It seems to me, did you scrub them out? I mean, this is a man who made 22 introductions of the president. You probably traveled with him on Trump Force One dozens of times. How is it, if you're writing about the campaign, that you didn't have any Flynn anecdotes?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

This book, Chuck, and what we talked about in the book is about the Trump campaign and the Trump rise and what the president saw, what the candidate saw, what the reaction was in the American people. And what we don't talk about Chuck, look, this isn't a book about Corey Lewandowski or David Bossie. This is a book of what the president tapped into. So all the ancillary players aren't mentioned, of course. The person who was the most important factor in the presidential election is the man who's the president of the United States. And that's what we write about.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that. But he didn't even make acknowledgements. And you listed every other person in the campaign in the acknowledgement.

DAVID BOSSIE:

We mentioned Mike Flynn. And this book went to bed months ago. So you know the book industry, this book's been to bed. We didn't think about that even in the slightest.

CHUCK TODD:

You were on the transition. What can you say about K. T. McFarland's role at Mar-a-Lago? Were you there at Mar-a-Lago at the time? What insight can you give to how this, how this worked?

DAVID BOSSIE:

It's very simple. The national security team was really segregated away. People without national security clearances. Once the campaign ended, and it was a transition, it really became, you saw Mike Flynn and K. T. McFarland around the office, but you did -- they were in their own space, they had their own staff. And so the, the everyday staff, the political team, really had little interaction with them. And I never saw either of them at Mar-a-Lago. I was there early.

CHUCK TODD:

Can you definitively say that there were no Russian contacts between the campaign? I've talked to Corey Lewandowski about this a hundred times at this point. I've not interviewed you. Was there a single Russian interaction that you ever witnessed?

DAVID BOSSIE:

Not even one. And this investigation's been going on for a long time. And there's not, I just don't put out there that there's a scintilla of evidence that shows Russian collusion. This president, then the candidate, that was not part of the campaign. I never saw a Russian, I never saw a Russian at Trump Tower. I never interacted with one. I was never on an email about one.

CHUCK TODD:

And Corey, let me ask you this. Is it possible that Donald Trump Junior and Jared Kushner would do things and not tell you about it?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:Well, of course Chuck. Because, you know, that happens on every campaign. And you know what I learned when I went on the campaign trail and when I left the campaign? I would go to an event and they would say, "Donald Trump said you need to do this." I said, "Well, I know that didn't come from the candidate." Or, "Dave Bossie said the event has to be run this way." And I'd call Dave, I'd say, "What did you, did you say that?" He'd say, "Of course not." So people take liberties all the time and do things that aren't either told to the campaign manager or just think that it's in the best interest of either themselves or the campaign. That happens in every organization.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go to the book here. There are some more specifics in the book. You paint a pretty rough picture of the president, or at least of -- that it's tough to work for him. "Sooner or later, everybody," this is from an excerpt from you guys. "Sooner or later, everybody who works for Donald Trump will see a side of him that makes you wonder why you took a job with him in the first place. "His wrath is never intended as any personal offense, but sometimes it can be hard not to take it that way. The mode that he switches into when things aren't going his way can feel like an all-out assault. It'd break most hardened men and women into little pieces." Corey, how many times did you think about quitting?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

No Chuck, I never thought about quitting. But, you know, when you give up the sacrifice of time with your family and all the things that were important to you and he demands such perfection, and he deserves it.

DAVID BOSSIE:

That's right.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:We wanted that campaign to be perfect from the time the music was cued to the time he walked on the stage to he walked off. And the little things, he is so good at those little details, that that's what I, that’s what we were referring to. And he'll—

CHUCK TODD:

What's the—

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:He'll tear your face off. And believe me, it's happened many times.

DAVID BOSSIE:

Both of us.

CHUCK TODD:

The two of you were on the campaign. What's your advice to White House staffers that didn't get on the campaign, when they get, when they feel the wrath of the president?

DAVID BOSSIE:

Well, do your job to the best of your ability. He expects and demands perfection. It is not a knock -- that is not a knock on our president. It is not. It is just simply a reflection of what we tried to do for him and what he demanded. And I've got to be honest with you. When I failed, I owned up to it. I think that Corey would say the same thing. We worked – we tried very hard every day. And so the staff needs to really be on top of their game.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Earlier this week, there's been some reports that somehow the president now thinks the Access Hollywood tape was fabricated. You write about the Access Hollywood, well you both obviously write about it. You weren't there, but obviously you were there. And you had to play it for him.

DAVID BOSSIE:

Well, it was--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BOSSIE:

-- Hope who got it. I played it on the iPad.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, it's my understanding he does, he did acknowledge to you, did he not, that the voice was his?

DAVID BOSSIE:

Well, look, you know, I don't even know why that's of interest today. The president put out his apology video that weekend.

CHUCK TODD:

It's only of interest because he keeps, he’s now changing his story—

DAVID BOSSIE:

I understand. But I don't believe it's a change.

CHUCK TODD:

Is it his voice? Was that him in the Access Hollywood tape?

DAVID BOSSIE:

Oh, I think it's, it’s clear that it is.

CHUCK TODD:

So there's no disputing this?

DAVID BOSSIE:

No. And I don't think he, I don’t think he does either.

CHUCK TODD:

Well then, Corey, explain this. You've been with him frankly longer than David did. Why does he have this pension to try to change his story, a bad story? He’ll own up -- when he does own up to something, literally six months later he'll want to rewrite history?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

Chuck, you know, what's amazing is, what we haven't talked about once yet is the significant tax reform that the US Senate just talked about. We're talking about a story that's been litigated last year.

CHUCK TODD:

We're talking about your book.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

No, but look, let's talk about the Access Hollywood tape. The American people had a month before election day when the Access Hollywood tape came out. And you know what they said? We have a choice between a candidate who wants to change the direction of the country, and a candidate who wants to keep the status quo. And the American people, 60 million people, stepped forward and said, "We want Donald Trump as our president." So we can talk about Access Hollywood, or we can talk about the fact that the American people looked at this and said, "It's important that we move forward and bring the country in a different direction."

DAVID BOSSIE:

It's been litigated and the American people chose Donald Trump to be their president.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's a line I used to hear from the Clintons all the time, David."It's been litigated, and the American people chose." Is that wherewe're at in these issues now? It's basically, well, each side says, "Hey,it's been litigated."

DAVID BOSSIE:

You know, unfortunately, you know, there's been a host of problems, recent problemswith high-profile people, and I think that's why it's back up in the public eyetoday. I think if it, if that hadn't happened, this wouldn't even be talkedabout.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, guys. The book is Let Trump Be Trump. Let Corey and Bossie be Corey and Bossie. All right, guys. Good luck with the book.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:Thank you very much.

DAVID BOSSIE:

Thank you for having us.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, there is a generational divide in how we view the issue of sexual harassment.

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CHUCK TODD:

And we are back, data download time. Another week with more sexual harassment stories in the news, with new names and old names. Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, John Conyers, and Al Franken, among others. But according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, how you feel about sexual harassment may depend on who you are and how old you are.

71% of women say sexual harassments happens in all or most workplaces while 62% of men say the same thing. Large majorities for both, though still a nine point gender gap. But generational differences were greater. 78% of women ages 18 to 49 say sexual harassment happens in all or most workplaces, while 64% of women 50 or older agree with that statement, a 14 point difference.

There's also a generational divide when women are asked if they've personally experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. 51% of women 18-49 say they have, while 41% of women 50 or older say the same. Look, it's very possible that sexual harassment means different things to women of different generations, accounting for this difference.

So what does this all mean for how we respond to these issues going forward? Well, according to our poll, men, particularly younger men, are rethinking the way they interact with women in the workplace. In fact, 54% of men between the ages of 18 and 49, say recent stories have caused them to think about their own behavior and how they interact with women.

Among men 50 and older, the impact was smaller, 42%. Finally, younger women are more likely to share their own past experiences than older women. All of this suggests this, that we may be looking at a lasting impact on the workplace environment, because it's this younger generation that's reacting the most intensely to this, call it revolution, of sorts. When we come back, will Republicans be rewarded for passing a tax bill or punished by voters for favoring the wealthy?

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CHUCK TODD:

Back now with endgame. This revolution, I guess we should call it of sorts of women now speaking out against a slew of men behaving badly, whether here, frankly at home here at NBC News, or in politics and all this stuff. But I want some historical context here Doris, because I was thinking, is this movement going to be so strong that we start reevaluating the L.B.J.'s, the J.F.K.'s, the F.D.R.'s, Dwight Eisenhower. I mean, anybody who these powerful men who you'd hear stories, that we wouldn't see.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Well, look. I think it's a mistake when people say that standards have simply change. You can't rationalize behavior in the past that was wrong. If it was wrong now, it was wrong a hundred years ago. It was wrong 50 years ago. I mean, what's changed now is that the victims are speaking up in a way that they didn't 50 years ago. And they're speaking not just by themselves, but in a chorus. And it's become a movement. And that's why I think the thing you said at the very end, that young women now are making this a movement. This is a watershed moment. I keep thinking of Bobby Kennedy's talk. He said at South Africa, and this is exactly what's happening now, "It is from numberless diverse actions of courage and belief that human history is shaped. "Each time a man stands up, or a woman stands up, for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples eventually build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." That's what's happening now. This is going to change the way men feel about women, it's going to change their relationship, it's not a moment that's going to go away.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, politically though, Mike, we are watching every other industry move quickly except the world of politics. You live out in Hollywood. I mean, did you ever think Hollywood would reform itself this fast?

MIKE MURPHY:

No. And it's not over yet either. I wear a straight jacket around town just to be safe. It's going to get bigger. The difference is, hands off Doris, what are you doing here? Where's my lawyer? The difference is that politicians have indirect bosses who can fire them. The voters can. It intervals.And in Western European democracies, there's such a thing as shame. People resign when they screw up. Our politics, we've given up on the resigning thing. So you have to wait for the election and try to fight it out. In the real world, there's a boss who can say, and a team of lawyers, "You're out."

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting. Now you can tell Democrats really change. Eddie, Nancy Pelosi with me last week wasn't ready to call for John Conyers to resign in four days. Then suddenly a freshman member in Nevada, who many people hadn't even heard of until this first accusation of an unwanted advance comes out, and within hours, she and half the Democratic caucus are calling for resignation. I think the Democrats are seeing they can't be slow on this or even deliberate.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

Yeah, I mean, I think it's important that we understand this issue not as a partisan issue. I think the problem of sexual harassment, sexual assault cuts across party lines, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, but the reaction hasn't been cutting across party lines.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

Right. And the reaction is really interesting because there's a presumption that Democrats who are supposed to be these principled people should live up to their principles. And when they don't, it confirms the belief. They see these limousine liberals are actually hypocrites after all.But I think it would be really interesting to see how we get out of this individual litigation of each individual case. Because it's going to happen over and over and over again. And bump this up to a broader discussion of patriarchy and its benefits. So the cultural revolution is going to happen not just simply in Hollywood, with big producers or at NBC, it's going to have to happen with that woman who cleans a hotel room. It's going to have to happen with the restaurant worker who's experiencing assault. So we're going to have to figure out how do we get this discussion to talk about male privilege and the way it saturates our society.

CHUCK TODD:

But Danielle, there's an uncomfortable reality that David Bossie brought up when he was trying to defend the Access Hollywood tape. He used almost the exact same phrase I've heard that I remember in the '90s when Democrats would defend the Clintons, "Well, the voters have spoken." So the voters give permission slips on this?

DANIELLE PLETKA:

Well, I don't think the voters give permission slips to anybody to behave in a fashion that is immoral or illegal. And if that's going to be the defense, well, all I can tell you is that it's a bloody awful defense. But I will say, just as somebody who has often worried, in fact even here on air, has worried about the abuse of these kinds of accusations, that over the last few weeks, the kinds of revelations that there's been, not just in the Congress, but frankly in the news media, have truly shocked me. I really--

CHUCK TODD:

Changed your mind a little bit?

DANIELLE PLETKA:

It has shocked me enormously.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

And something about a pattern of behavior here that is unacceptable, but unbelievable.

DANIELLE PLETKA:

Yeah, it's unbelievable.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

A person you knew could do something like that to somebody. Unwanted, using power.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

Let's not forget, not to talk over you Doris, but let's not forget--

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

You can talk over me.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

No, no. Let's not forget what's going on in Alabama. They're running neck and neck. Roy Moore.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Right. And is the voter going to find the record of Roy Moore--

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

Exactly.

DANIELLE PLETKA:

Or is Congress going to do something about it?

CHUCK TODD:

Mike, the president is going to campaign for Roy Moore.

MIKE MURPHY:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

In the Mobile, Alabama media market, they're trying to do this ridiculous thing. Look, I spend a lot of time in Pensacola, I've got family in Pensacola. It's an Alabama media market.

MIKE MURPHY:

It's too (UNINTEL). He wants to claim victory if Roy Moore wins. This all came out a week ago when Roy Moore had moved up in the polling. Now it's tightening up again so the president might come down with, you know, laryngitis. Because I think it's totally again Trump himself looking at how he can engineer something.

The real drama will be there is more energy than I think Washington C.W. thinks for expulsion if more comes in on the Republican side. Because we know it's a litmus test. It's also a war of Trump, I understand the politics. A vote's a vote. But I actually think Jones is going to edge it out. It's very close. But if not, it's going to be a real test for the party.

CHUCK TODD:

Historical data tells me Jones wins. But boy, it just feels like, I mean, the president's now appearing in ads. Laura Trump is doing robo calls to get folks there. I mean, they're all in.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

This is the question. Does the president not have decency to go for this man, to get a vote to prove himself when what's been proven and shown about him? It's inexplicable.

DANIELLE PLETKA:

Doris, what? I'm sorry, are you actually asking that question in 2017?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Yes, I'm asking that question. And we have to answer that question. We have to keep asking it.

DANIELLE PLETKA:

The answer is no.

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

The answer is no, no, no.

CHUCK TODD:

That's the last word. That's all we have for today. What a show. We'll be back next week, I promise. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

You can see more endgame in postgame on the M.T.P. Facebook page.

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