Meet the Press - February 10, 2018

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the Democratic divide.

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN:

When government works only for the wealthy and the well connected, that is corruption plain and simple.

CHUCK TODD:

Some progressives are pushing hard for goals like a Green New Deal.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ:

I don't think that we lose elections by addressing climate change.

CHUCK TODD:

But other Democrats worry they're being impractical.

SENATOR SHERROD BROWN:

I know Congress won't pass Medicare for All.

CHUCK TODD:

I'll ask Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who may soon join the race, about this divide. Plus, President Trump about to hit the road again to fight for his border wall.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

We need border security. We have to have it. It's not an option.

CHUCK TODD:

Will the president force another shutdown, declare a national emergency, or accept a compromise? I'll talk to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Also, investigating the president. Democrats announce probes of President Trump's business, his taxes and possible undue foreign influence.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

We will also be announcing the parameters of our investigation, which go beyond Russia.

CHUCK TODD:

My guest, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. And extortion, infidelity, exposure: Why the fight between Amazon's Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer's David Pecker is much more than just tabloid fodder. Joining me for insight and analysis are Katy Tur, NBC News correspondent and host of “MSNBC Live”; David Brody, chief political analyst for CBN News; Kimberly Atkins, senior Washington news correspondent for WBUR in Boston; and Markos Moulitsas, the founder of “Daily Kos.” 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. From the moment Donald Trump rode down that escalator in 2015, Republicans have been engaged in a debate. What does it mean to be a Republican? Well, now the 2020 field is taking shape. Elizabeth Warren announced yesterday, and Amy Klobuchar is expected to do so today. And Democrats are engaged in an equal and opposite debate. What does it mean to be a Democrat? Is it someone who supports raising taxes on the super wealthy, environmental activism or Medicare for All? Think of Democrats like Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris. Or is it a more pragmatic Democrat, a deal maker, acceptable to the left who could appeal to working class white voters as well as the suburban voters who handed Democrats the House? Think Klobuchar, Joe Biden, Sherrod Brown or Michael Bennett, my guest in just a few minutes. In short, it's a battle between the incremental and the audacious. The audacious part was greeted with cheers on the left this week with the unveiling of the environmental Green New Deal by the progressives' newest superstar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That same announcement was greeted with cheers on the right, as Republicans see an opportunity to accuse Democrats of threatening to turn the United States into some socialist dystopia. In the end, Democratic voters may have to answer this question: Are they looking for a candidate who's aligned perfectly with them ideologically? Or are they just looking for anyone who can beat President Trump?

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN:

I say it's time to fight back.

CHUCK TODD:

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren is the latest candidate to formally jump in to a widening Democratic field.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS:

I'm running.

JULIAN CASTRO:

I'm running.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

I'm running.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER:

I'm running.

JOHN DELANEY:

I'm running.

CHUCK TODD:

And already, Democratic voters are weighing whether electability can coexist with unwavering progressive positions on issues from universal health care to raising taxes on the wealthy to a Green New Deal.

SENATOR. KAMALA HARRIS:

Who of us have not had that situation where you have to wait for approval and the doctor says, "Well, I don't know if your insurance company is going to cover this?" Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on.

CHUCK TODD:

When California senator Kamala Harris sounded open to eliminating private health insurance in order to achieve Medicare for All, she raised the profile of an issue that is already drawing a dividing line between progressives--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

52% of Republicans support Medicare for All.

CHUCK TODD:

--and more centrist Democrats.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

You could never afford that. You're talking about trillions of dollars.

SENATOR SHERROD BROWN:

I want to improve people's lives today. And if I think -- I know Congress won't pass Medicare for All.

CHUCK TODD:

Then there's Warren's wealth tax on some millionaires.

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN:

An ultra-millionaire's tax to make sure that rich people start doing their part for the country that made them rich.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

I think the Constitution lets you impose income taxes only. So it probably is unconstitutional.

CHUCK TODD:

And this week--

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ:

We are outlining the Green New Deal.

CHUCK TODD:

--many 2020 Democrats rushed to embrace it.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS:

Green New Deal.

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN:

Green New Deal.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG:

The brilliance of the Green New Deal.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER:

"Oh, it's impractical. Oh, it's too expensive. Oh, it's all of this." If we used to govern our dreams that way, we would have never gone to the moon. God, that's impractical. See that ball in the sky?

CHUCK TODD:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, perhaps mindful of defending swing districts in 2020, called it the green dream, telling Politico, "Nobody knows what it is. But they're for it, right?" And conservatives led by President Trump have pounced, reviving an old trope from decades ago.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

America will never be a socialist country.

SEAN HANNITY:

On our Hannity Watch, the rise of socialism.

STEVE DOOCY:

Socialism.

REP. MATT GAETZ:

Socialism.

LARRY KUDLOW:

Creeping socialism.

CHUCK TODD:

Michael Bloomberg argues a centrist candidate will be more electable.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

I'm a little bit tired of listening to things that are pie in the sky that we never are going to pass, never are going to afford. I think it's just disingenuous to promote those things.

CHUCK TODD:

It's a case former Vice President Joe Biden is also likely to make if he runs.

JOE BIDEN:

I read in the New York Times today that I, that one of my problems is if I were to run for president, I like Republicans. Okay. Well, bless me, Father, for I have sinned.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. We're five or six days away from a potential shutdown. So we've got to start with that topic first. Good to see you, sir.

MICK MULVANEY:

Good morning. That was a lot of fun.

CHUCK TODD:

I have a feeling you're going to enjoy watching the Democratic primary play out. But let's start with the near term here. Seems to be cautious optimism that a deal is at hand. You had this Camp David meeting I believe on Friday with some Congressional leaders. How close are we to a deal, And is the president going to support something that is less than what he asked for?

MICK MULVANEY:

Two different questions, let's talk first about how close we are to a deal. I honestly don't know because it depends on who you listen to. In fact, I think what we're seeing now in these negotiations, and again, the White House, at the request of all the parties on the Hill, has sort of stepped back. We're still participating. We're still listening. We're still talking. But we're not leading the, the, the negotiations. We're sitting there and watching what's happening, and what we hear is just as varied as what you just played out. It sort of depends on who you talk to. I've heard that there may be a deal with as much as $2.1 or $2.5 billion for a, for a border fence. Then I hear that there may be zero or as little as $800 million for the border fence. There's one Democrat who apparently wants to not only reduce the spending this year but go back and take money away from previous years that hasn't been spent yet. So it's all over the map. And I think it's all over the map because of the Democrats and all over the map because of what you just played on the introduction to this segment.

CHUCK TODD:

$2 billion is the number we keep hearing for, though, this, this additional money. He wanted the $5.7, $2 [billion], seems to be the number that everybody's circling. Is that an acceptable number?

MICK MULVANEY:

This is how the president looks at it. And agree or disagree with him. You may agree. You may disagree. Folks watching this may have different opinions about it. The president really does believe that there is a national security crisis and a humanitarian crisis at the border, and he will do something about it. So whether or not he gets $1.6 billion from Congress, whether or not he gets $2.5 [billion] or $5.7 [billion] he's going to do whatever he legally can to secure that border. So you have to look at this I think, Chuck, in terms of the larger, the larger agreement regarding what we're going to do on the southern border.

CHUCK TODD:

So is it fair to say whatever Congress agree -- hands him he'll sign? He just may not be enthusiastic about it?

MICK MULVANEY:

No, I don't think so --

CHUCK TODD:

You're not ready to go there?

MICK MULVANEY:

No, I can't say that --

CHUCK TODD:

You can’t definitively -- we cannot definitively rule out a government shutdown at the end of this week?

MICK MULVANEY:

You absolutely cannot. And here's why.

CHUCK TODD:

Ok.

MICK MULVANEY:

Let's say for sake of this discussion, that the Democrats prevail and the hardcore, left wing Democrats prevail. It was a Democrat congresswoman who put out a tweet yesterday about zero dollars for DHS. So let's say the hardcore, left wing of the Democrat Party prevails in this negotiation and they put a bill on the president's desk with, say, zero money for the wall or $800 million, some absurdly low number. How does he sign that? He cannot in good faith sign that. It takes a presidential signature for --

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that.

MICK MULVANEY:

-- a spending bill to become law.

CHUCK TODD:

But can you imagine Senate Republicans would go along with a proposal like that?

MICK MULVANEY:

I don’t --

CHUCK TODD:

Are you that skeptical of Senate Republicans?

MICK MULVANEY:

I don't think so, but you asked me the question, "Is a shutdown entirely off the table?" The answer is no.

CHUCK TODD:

So, but $2 billion, you sit here with this loose compromise that we see. And supposedly you guys are coming to an agreement tomorrow because, in order to get it passed by the end of the week. Is that, is that still the loose deadline?

MICK MULVANEY:

I've been told it's today. I was --

CHUCK TODD:

Oh.

MICK MULVANEY:

-- at Camp David with a couple of conference members on Friday night, and they were told to be in town today to get ready to sign a conference report.

CHUCK TODD:

But is it likely that if the president signs it, he's going to say, "Yes, but"? Is that, is that the best way-- because you just said no matter what, whatever he's short of, is he going to find the money somewhere else? Is that, is that what we should expect?

MICK MULVANEY:

I think that's fair. That's probably the most likely outcome. Again, you cannot take a shutdown off the table and you cannot take $5.7 [billion] off the table. But if you end up someplace in the middle, yeah, then what you'll probably see is the president say, "Yeah, okay. And then I'll go find the money someplace else."

CHUCK TODD:

You've been looking for the money in the budget.

MICK MULVANEY:

I have been.

CHUCK TODD:

There's this national emergency. Are the two the same or different? Do you find money without declaring a national emergency? Or do you need to declare the national emergency to use this other money?

MICK MULVANEY:

The answer to the question is both. There are certain sums of money that are available to the president, to any president. And I think that bears sort of more detail, Chuck. What the pres -- what we're trying to do, what we're looking at doing with President Trump is stuff that is entirely legal, stuff that is laid out in law already. So the question is not, "Okay, the president didn't get what he wants. So he's just going to go do what he wants without Congress." The law doesn't allow him to do that. So you comb through the law at the president's request. You and I have talked before about his request to go find money in any place that we could. And we've done that. And there's pots of money where presidents, all presidents, have access to without a national emergency. And there's ones that he will not have access to without that declaration.

CHUCK TODD:

You're not sounding optimistic about this. It does sound, I'll just be honest. I'm taking away here like -- and.are you counseling him not to take this deal?

MICK MULVANEY:

How can you be optimistic about a compromise when the opposition party is as fractured as you just showed on your introduction? Who, who, who -- where is the center of gravity in the Democrat Party?

CHUCK TODD:

Does that matter if the compromise comes up and it's $2 billion? I mean, if that's the compromise, that's the compromise.

MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, I mean, we'll judge the deal by the deal itself. But you asked me about optimism versus pessimism. What do the Democrats stand for when it comes to southern border security? We've had a couple of folks say that walls are immoral. We've had other folks say that they know that walls work. So where are the Democrats on this? Republicans, for a, for a rare circumstance since I've been in Washington are sort of all on the same page, which is, "We do need more of that." So my lack of optimism comes from my, maybe my experience in this town.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair, fair enough. Let me shift to Saudi Arabia. On Friday there was a deadline for the administration to provide a report on the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi that took place inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. We have been reporting, we have reporting indicating that the administration did not meet this deadline. Why hasn't that happened? Or did you meet a deadline and we, we don't know it yet?

MICK MULVANEY:

I honestly don't know and have not been familiar and worked into those negotiations. I do know that there are some requirements placed upon us by Congress, but I'm not aware of the status of that report.

CHUCK TODD:

None at all? You're not prepared to answer whether the president believes the Saudi government was behind the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi?

MICK MULVANEY:

No, I think the better person -- I can't remember. I think it's the State Department --

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICK MULVANEY:

-- that's supposed to do that. You'd have to ask Secretary Pompeo.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Because I want to ask you about one thing that the Saudi foreign minister posted on Twitter. It was a rather threatening poster. Take a look at it. It was something else here. And this was from, from Adel. I know you're very familiar with him. "Our leadership has a red line." And if you take a look at what it says there on the bottom, "We warn against any attempt to link Khashoggi's crime to our leadership." The United States Congress has basically done that. The American intelligence community has basically done that. That is a threat to the United States?

MICK MULVANEY:

I don't know what that is. That is the first time I've seen that. So, look, I know that Congress is looking into it. I know the State Department is looking into it. And beyond that, Chuck, it has not come to my desk yet.

CHUCK TODD:

You know about this Jeff Bezos story. He has implicated the National Enquirer and its owner, Mr. David Pecker, in some form of a blackmail or extortion scheme. Can you say definitively that the president of the United States knows nothing about David Pecker's reporting on Jeff Bezos?

MICK MULVANEY:

You and I were talking about before the show about how I can function in my job and you struggle with your function because I can compartmentalize and you can't.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICK MULVANEY:

I have not had one second's worth of conversation with the president of the United States about the Jeff Bezos situation.

CHUCK TODD:

Not a single at all?

MICK MULVANEY:

We run the government, Chuck --

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that.

MICK MULVANEY:

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

We make sure that --

CHUCK TODD:

He spends, well -- I guess this leads me to my question. There's a report that the president spends a majority of his time in executive time. So could it be that this is why you're not aware of this? That he's off tweeting away, and gossiping, and not working?

MICK MULVANEY:

No, I read that. And I get those schedules. In fact, that's probably the closest thing to a public schedule that we put out. It's not very sensitive. I think 400 people get that schedule. So it wasn't that valuable of information.

CHUCK TODD:

Then why is there a leak hunt?

MICK MULVANEY:

But, it’s very -- well, come back to answer your question about executive time. Because, you and I have had this conversation I think before, which is this show lasts an hour. Does that mean you only work for an hour a week? No, there's a lot of stuff that goes on in order to make this happen. That executive time is on there to allow the president to prep for the next meeting, to debrief from the previous meeting. The phone calls start at 6:30 in the morning, and they go until 11:00 at night. So I can assure you that the gentleman is working more than what's on that calendar.

CHUCK TODD:

When we booked you, we asked, "How do we identify you: White House chief of staff or acting White House chief of staff?" We were still told acting.

MICK MULVANEY:

Yes. Mick would be fine.

CHUCK TODD:

Is that going to change?

MICK MULVANEY:

We're all just --

CHUCK TODD:

Will the acting ever be dropped?

MICK MULVANEY:

Honestly, I don't care. And I don't think anybody else pays attention to it outside of the, outside of the West Wing.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you plan to serve the rest of this calendar year?

MICK MULVANEY:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, there you go.

MICK MULVANEY:

I plan to serve as long as the president wants me to serve, which is what everybody in the Cabinet does, everybody in the West Wing does. These are all temporary jobs in the first place. They're all acting in some sense. I will stay as long as he feels like I am doing good value. And I will stay as long as I feel like I'm contributing. And that is happening right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Commerce secretary a real, a real thing?

MICK MULVANEY:

No, that was a discussion we had back in, I think, in the fall before this position. So, no, we’ve -- I've also heard that I turned down several millions of dollars to be the president of the University of South Carolina, which is also false. No, these are the things that, the parlor games that get played in Washington.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes, they do. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff. Good to see you, sir.

MICK MULVANEY:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Thanks for coming on. Appreciate it. And joining me now is someone who may soon jump into the Democratic race for president, it's Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. Senator Bennet, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

Thank you for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me start with this. Where do you fit in this field? You, you -- what kind of campaign do you want to run? We're hearing Elizabeth Warren yesterday very unapologetic, major change, transformational type of thing, saying, "I'm tired of waiting for Medicare for all." You have others that are talking about a more, "Hey, you've got to live in the real world," pragmatic approach. “This is a divided country, it's a divided Congress. You're not going to get that done, so don't over promise.” Where are you?

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

So I'd say first of all, the country, and I don't mean this just as a political statement, I think it's true, I don't think the country is anywhere nearly as divided as Washington D.C. is. I think the country is sick and tired of Washington yapping about stuff and not actually doing anything. My state's a third Democratic, a third Republican, and a third Independent. And people notice that we've gotten nothing done over the last ten years, except, except for the Affordable Care Act when the Democrats were in charge, and this terrible tax cut, when Donald Trump has been in charge. That's a pretty sorry record when you think about what the Chinese are doing. And I think we need to judge people, candidates and elected officials, based on the outcomes, based on the results that they actually get, and not on what they, you know, the press conferences that they have.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, if you're running -- I want to play a clip from her speech, Senator Warren's speech yesterday. Because this is where I think the base of the party is right now. Take a listen.

[TAPE BEGINS]

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN:

I am tired of hearing that we can't afford to make real investments in childcare, college, and Medicare for all. I'm tired of hearing that we can't afford to make investments in things that create economic opportunities for families. I'm tired of hearing what we can't afford because it's just not true.

[TAPE ENDS]

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Bennet, that’s -- the base of the party wants that. What are you going to tell a voter that wants that when you say, "It’s not -- you're not going to be able to get that."

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

Well, first of all, I'm tired of hearing all that stuff too, that Elizabeth said. I completely agree with her. Think about what we've done since 2001. We've cut taxes by $5 trillion. Almost all of that went to the wealthiest Americans. We've spent $5.6 trillion, the president says $7 trillion on wars in the Middle East. So that's $11 [trillion], $12 [trillion], $13 trillion that we did not spend to address the most important issue facing this country, which is our lack of economic mobility and the huge income inequality that we have. So I actually agree with all of that. And I think it is the guy that was in this chair right before me, who is now the president's chief of staff, who was one of the people in the Freedom Caucus who tortured President Obama over and over and over again, calling him a Bolshevik and a socialist and all this stuff, couldn't lift a finger to help when we were in the worst recession since the Great Depression. They now have given us the biggest deficit that we have ever had in a period of economic growth. A Republican president, a Republican Senate, a Republican House. The fiscal hypocrisy is unbelievable. And I think that's what Elizabeth Warren was responding to. And I totally agree with her on that. The question is, how are we going to make these investments in a way that the solutions will actually endure?

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask about healthcare, Medicare for all.

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious, is it time for the Democrats to push for that when Obamacare has never been implemented as it was intended to be?

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

Well, first of all, there are two big projects for America, I think, on healthcare. One is covering everybody. It is a disgrace that we are the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't cover everybody. And the other thing we need to figure out how to do is not spend twice as much on healthcare as we spend -- as any other industrialized country spends on healthcare to get worse results. That's what we're doing as a country. We've got to figure out how to do those two things. And I actually would give the Nobel Prize to whoever can figure out how to do those two things. But just speaking personally, I think the idea that we're going to go out and offer to take insurance away from 180 million people, you mentioned the Affordable Care Act.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

Remember when President Obama said, "If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance." And then, you know, a few people in America actually lost their insurance because of the way that the plan worked. Now what Democrats are saying is, "If you like your insurance, we're going to take it away from you," from 180 million people that get their insurance from their employer and like it, where 20 million Americans who are on Medicare advantage, and love it. That seems like a bad opening offer for me. I think we'd be much better off with a bill like the one I have with Tim Kaine called Medicare X, that creates a public option. It, it helps finish the work of Obamacare. And it says to America, "If you want to be in a public plan, you can choose to be in a public plan. If you want to keep your insurance, you can keep your insurance."

CHUCK TODD:

There's a lot of people thinking about running for president. Why you? What do you, what do you offer, do you think, that says, "You know what, this -- I want to present this answer for the public"?

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

I think that I've got a different set of experiences than the other folks in the race, many of whom are my friends and people that I like. But I spent time in business and time as a school superintendent before I was in the, in the job that I'm in now. As I sit, or when I sit on the Senate floor, I often think about what I'm hearing through the lens of the kids that I used to work for in the Denver public schools. And the agenda that I hear has very little to do with them, very little to do with their future, very little to do with the next generation's future in America. So I think we have an opportunity to have a presidential campaign, you know, we've got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great, we have to do it. And I think having one more voice in that conversation that's focused on America's future I don't think would hurt.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you about Virginia. You were one of the first people to call in Governor Northam to resign. Obviously the whole situation has turned into this -- a much larger problem for Democrats in the state of Virginia. A new poll out today shows Virginians are divided on this issue of should Governor Northam resign, 47, 47. It's the first time we've heard from voters on this. Does that at all mitigate where your head is at on whether he should go now?

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

It doesn't change it for me. I think that, I think that he should go. But I do think that we have to find a way as a country beyond these daily conflicts and begin this work together to try to get things done for the American people and for America's place in the world. We are --

CHUCK TODD:

Are we too quick to call for resignation sometimes?

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

I think it depends. It all depends on what the facts actually are. Sometimes, we cannot, we obviously need due process in this country. We need to know what the truth is. I think in the case of, the case of the governor of Virginia, his handling of this creates a situation where probably the best thing for him to do would be to resign.

CHUCK TODD:

Still more troubling to you, in some ways, the way he's handling?

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

I think that’s the, I think that’s the main -- that is a big issue.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator Michael Bennet, I'm going to leave it there. I hope you come back here if you make your final decision about running.

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

Thanks for having me. Good to see you.

CHUCK TODD:

Good to see you.

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Markos Moulitsas, the founder of “Daily Kos”; Kimberly Atkins, senior Washington news correspondent for WBUR in Boston; NBC News correspondent, host of “MSNBC Live” Katy Tur; and David Brody, the chief political analyst for CBN News. So I'm going to pick up the conversation. We've got Markos here, who's got a lot to say about where the -- the direction of the Democrat Party. This week, here's a -- bullet points of the Green New Deal. I want to put it up here. Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Upgrade all existing buildings. Overhaul transportation systems. Guaranteed job for every American. It's a resolution, not a bill. Here was President Trump's tweet in response. A bit of sarcasm. "I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called carbon footprint to permanently eliminate all planes, cars, cows, oil, gas, and the military even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant." Markos, the party, the Democratic Party, is this a healthy debate that's happening right now?

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

Yeah, I think this is aspirational. This is actually popular. And if Trump thinks that this is going to hurt us politically, he's absolutely not really paying attention to the pulse of the country. This is aspirational. Like, like you said, it's not a bill. The details would have to be worked out. And this is so ambitious that these details would have to be worked out over decades. This is a broad, aggressive, bold agenda. And it'll take time to implement. But at least it shows people where the Democratic Party is going on the issue of climate change.

CHUCK TODD:

David, obviously the president's team sees a reelection opening.

DAVID BRODY:

Oh yeah. I mean, it's wide and it's huge. And it's a real big pothole, I think, Chuck, for the Democrats. Look, we know the polls. We've seen them. 35 percent of this country is conservative. 35 percent or so is moderate. 26 percent or so liberal. But this is going in a far different direction. Even some of the polling shows that only I think it's 19 percent-- it's an NBC poll actually, 19 percent think socialism is okay. These are Americans in this country. So the point is that Donald Trump sees this. He's a master brander. And I believe this is a major, major pothole for Democrats coming, coming in 2020. Big time. Iceberg right ahead.

KATY TUR:

I'm not so sure about that. I mean, I think you have some, some real reporting out there from experts, not just analysts on television, but from actual experts, the U.N., from the, from Donald Trump's own administration saying how dire this is. The U.N. said we have 12 years before complete disaster. You talk to the representative of the Marshall Islands, and he's calling it what could amount to genocide if we allow things to go as they are. The reports aren't just, "Hey, it's going to get bad." The reports are, "People will die. Millions and million, and millions of people will die." And I think that there is an appetite among voters out there, especially Democratic voters and potentially swing voters, to say, "Hey, let's do something about this now because it's, it’s going to affect our future." And there's real economic damage that can happen as well. Billions of dollars in economic damage from crops to deaths, to losing oceanfront homes and businesses in, over the next century.

DAVID BRODY:

Real quick just to push back, because the 2020 election won't just be about this Green New Deal. It'll be about the whole kit and caboodle. Whether it be cutting ICE funding. I mean, look at abortion, what's going on with the third-trimester situation. I mean, President Trump’s going to put all of that into the blender if you will. And I think it paints the Democrats as way far to the left, and it's a major problem --

KATY TUR:

Kimberly and I were talking about this. And what the Democrats, I think, have learned about Trump more than anything else is that own that stuff. And own, and don't be afraid to back down from the positions that they're willing to take. Donald Trump never backed down. Maybe the, maybe the solution is to own it.

KIMBERLY ATKINS:

And I think on an issue like this, on the environment, it's sort of like health care. It's something that people understand and connect to. And they are seeing these dire warnings, and they're thinking about their children and their grand -- not even their grandchildren, their children. And what kind of world we are literally leaving for them. And I think that is an issue that moves. And I think the aspirational aspect of this, I actually think it was pretty brilliant to not put in a bunch of details that people can immediately start taking down. I think you say, "Hey, come to the table with the promotion -- with the proposals that will help us deal with this very important topic."

DAVID BRODY:

The devil’s in the details.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me -- look, and all of this is going to -- as the proposals are fought over, it's going to then delve into, "Okay, does that make, if the Democratic Party -- is that going to make them less electable?" So, Markos, this, today, I think is a great framing. You had Amy Klobuchar and yesterday, you had Elizabeth Warren. And we -- Elizabeth Warren -- very, I would call it a clarity of purpose. There was no ambiguity. Amy Klobuchar's going to talk about bragging about getting bills signed by President Trump. That’s two different -- I say this, that’s two different -- she's saying, "I'm a get-things-done person. You can dream all you want." How is that going to play out?

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

I think we're looking for dreamers at this point. I mean, Trump is going to accuse us of being socialist no matter what. It doesn't matter what the agenda is. He's going to use the same playbook. It didn't work in 2018. It's not going to work in 2020. And so, I think it's important to really think aspirationally, to give people a sense of where the candidate wants to be. "Yes, we can," is actually a very positive messages as opposed to maybe Klobuchar or Sherrod Brown saying, "No, we can't." And we all realize that the political process in the U.S. is slow. It's designed that way. So, not a lot's going to get done no matter who the president is. But who has that vision that can articulate what the Democratic Party is all about? And that's what's going to get people excited.

DAVID BRODY:

You know, it was, "Yes, we can." But I'm wondering if now it's, "Yes, we can become a socialist country." And I know that sounds alarmist --

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

You've been saying "socialism" for every election --

DAVID BRODY:

I know that sounds -- hang on for a second --

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

-- since the '60s.

DAVID BRODY:

But I know that sounds, I know that sounds alarmist. But, remember, you've got Donald Trump and the "Make America Great Again" slogan, right, against potentially the way he brands it, "Make America Socialist for the First Time --"

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

He'll brand that no matter what.

DAVID BRODY:

Yeah. But I'll tell you what. That is powerful, especially with those white, middle-class, blue-collar Democrats who are relatively culturally conservative. That's important. You've got to win some of those back. Or you have to go the other route and go with more --

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

We won them in 2016.

DAVID BRODY:

-- minorities and women.

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

Suburban white women.

KATY TUR:

Potentially though. I mean, I talked to five senior Democratic officials on 2020 campaigns about what that question is. Electability, what exactly does it mean for the Democratic Party? And almost all of them said, "Listen, I think electability is going to be easier with Donald Trump as the general election candidate than it would be with anybody else. The primary is the real battle." They feel like what they need to do is propose or lay out who they are, what their plans are, and show how Donald Trump has not been presidential and has not lived up to the promises he made to the voters in the upper Midwest, in Pennsylvania, to those middle-of-the-road voters. And I think that they might have an argument with that. When you look at who voted for Donald Trump and you look at what's happening in, like, Macomb County, you'll see that there is some economic worry there that he hasn't represented them as he promised.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly, Kimberly, you've covered Elizabeth Warren for a long time. The issue of her identity and this issue of Native American identity, it came up in another place It was found. It was interesting, her announcement coverage. I was curious to see how much would it be part of it. The New York Times didn't mention it until graf 14, but Politico, it was in the headline. It was in the first graf of the Washington Post, second graf of the Associated Press. Is she ever going to be able to put this behind her?

KIMBERLY ATKINS:

She's working at it. You saw her spend a good deal of time of her speech talking directly to and about the issues affecting people of color. And that's where the fault line is, is because people of color don't like it when people who are not a person of color try to claim to be. It's beyond a Native American problem. So in that sense, she's addressing it. But on the flip side, the more Donald Trump tweets out tweets like he did yesterday with "trail" in it, a reference to the Trail of Tears --

CHUCK TODD:

You think that helps her weirdly?

KIMBERLY ATKINS:

-- do things that -- yes, do things that really seem offensive and awful, that make people uncomfortable, it becomes a Trump issue. And at the very least, you hear Democrats saying, "You know it's a Trump issue. I don't want to talk about that. Let's not focus on that."

CHUCK TODD:

Interesting. All right, I'm going to pause the conversation here, when we come back, all the presidents' investigations. I'll talk to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. With Democrats now in control of the House and its committees, there's been no shortage of investigations into President Trump now or soon to be underway. They're looking into the president's tax returns, his inaugural committee, the Trump Organization, Russian influence in the campaign, and a lot more. At the center of many of these investigations is going to be the House Intelligence Committee. And at the head of that committee is its chairman, Adam Schiff of California. Congressman Schiff, welcome back to the show, sir.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

You seem to be the committee chairman that the president likes to talk about the most these days. And he had a two-part tweet that actually is a good way of unpacking everything you're working on right now. Here's what he tweeted. "So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces after having found zero Russian collusion that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so. Never happened before. Unlimited presidential harassment. The Dems and their committees are going nuts." He puts that in quotes. "The Republicans never did this to President Obama. There would be no time left to run government. I hear other committee heads will do the same thing, even stealing people who work at White -- at White House. A continuation of witch hunt." All right. A lot to unpack. But explain the parameters of your investigation, where you've expanded. How far back into his finances do you plan to look?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Our priority is to make sure the President of the United States is working in the national interest, that he is not motivated by some pecuniary interest or fear of compromise or actual compromise. That's the length and breadth of it. So in terms of the president's business, we're not interested in our committee in whether he's a tax cheat, or he's not worth what he says he is, or those issues. What we're interested in is: Does the president have business dealings with Russia such that it compromises the United States? And, and the perfect example is something we know about already. And that is as a presidential candidate while he was telling the country he had no business dealings with Russia he was pursuing the most lucrative deal I think of his life and seeking the Kremlin's help to make it happen. That's a different form of collusion, but it is equally compromising to the country. Because it means the President of the United States is looking out for his bank account and not for the United States of America.

CHUCK TODD:

You have said you're not convinced Robert Mueller is looking at this angle. Why?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well--

CHUCK TODD:

Why wouldn't he be?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

--there's been reporting. Well, I think he should be. But the president has tried to draw a red line and say, "You can't look at this." And I think the reason that we're looking at this--

CHUCK TODD:

Can I pause you there? How would you not know if he's-- would Mueller, wouldn't Mueller warn you, "Okay, I'm in the middle of investigating this. So be patient here and wait till my report," if he were--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Not necessarily.

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, what-- okay.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I mean, we're doing our best to de-conflict with him. But up until now, that's been a non-issue because in the minority in the last two years, the Republicans would not do any investigation, wouldn't do a credible investigation of the Russia links, certainly wouldn't look into the president's finances. So there was nothing to de-conflict as long as they were in charge. But the reason I am concerned about it, Chuck, is there has been reporting that when it was alleged that the special counsel had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, that the president moved to fire Mueller. And the way they talked him off the ledge was by promising that that reporting wasn't true, that the special counsel hadn't subpoenaed Deutsche Bank. Well, if the special counsel hasn't subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, he can't be doing much of a money laundering investigation. So that's what concerns me, that that red line has been enforced, whether by the deputy attorney general or by some other party at the Justice Department. But that leaves the country exposed. I find it, you know, just remarkable, Chuck, that the President of the United States as a candidate, as the presumptive nominee, could be pursuing business with the Kremlin and lying about it, and --

CHUCK TODD:

But isn't that what the Mueller probe ultimately is about? Why not wait for that before pursuing a money laundering investigation?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, if, if we had waited to do any of our investigative work for the Mueller investigation, we would have been waiting a year and a half. And we have a separate and independent and important responsibility. And that is to tell the country what happened. Mueller, ultimately, his job is to determine who broke the law and who should go to jail. But as we have seen from Bill Barr's testimony, there is no commitment by this Justice Department under Whitaker and there's no commitment apparently under Barr, should he be confirmed, to share that evidence with the Congress or the American people, so we need to find it ourselves.

CHUCK TODD:

The president keeps implying that the Senate Intelligence Committee has already found no collusion. He did it again this morning in a tweet. He did it yesterday, I think, in a tweet. And he's naming Richard Burr by name. What is your understanding of where and how closely are you working together with the Senate Intel Committee?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

You know, we are trying to work collaboratively with the Senate. But, look, I think when the president says there's no collusion, what he means is, "Bob Mueller has not yet proven beyond a reasonable doubt that I am guilty of the crime of conspiracy." Well, that's a pretty high bar. But when people say there's no collusion, they must have a different word for the kind of corrupt coordination of effort between the Trump campaign and the Russians because when Mike Flynn was secretly talking to the Russian ambassador, and trying to undermine bipartisan sanctions on Russia and lying about it, that was a form of collusion. When the Trump family and campaign manager were meeting in Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what was offered as the Russian government effort to help the campaign, that was a form of collusion. When the president himself and his business are trying to make money from the Russians and get Russian help during the campaign, and promising -- or -- a new relationship with Russia, and talking about doing away with sanctions, that's a form of collusion. It's certainly a form of corrupt combination. But ultimately, it'll be up to Mueller to determine if that's a crime.

CHUCK TODD:

You were among the, the most public in questioning Donald Trump Jr.'s honesty when it came to the response to that -- to the meeting at Trump Tower and even the response. And you talked about some blocked phone calls, blocked calls that implied that it might, that he might have actually been talking to his father. There's since been some reporting that the Senate Intel Committee has uncovered who those blocked calls were to and they were not to the president. Are you satisfied with that explanation?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, we haven't been able to get the records yet because Republicans on our committee wouldn't allow us to. But our job-- and this is very important, Chuck. It is not prove the president did money laundering or prove phone records will show this or that. It is to find the facts and make them public, whichever way they cut. Now, the people who were closest to watching father and son during the campaign, people like Steve Bannon, have said that there is zero chance that Don Jr. did not discuss that meeting with his father before it happened or after it happened--

CHUCK TODD:

But should you have waited until there was evidence before speculating about that?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

The point I made was not speculation. The point I made was, "We should find out. We should get those records." And you can't run a credible investigation if you don't look for documentary proof, if you assume everybody who comes into your committee is telling the truth. We have seen graphically the problems with that approach.

CHUCK TODD:

Adam Schiff, unfortunately I have to leave it there. Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. I know I'll be talking to you quite a bit throughout this year. Thanks very much.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, Americans are on the move and mostly to red states. That should be good news for Republicans, right? Well, maybe not. But as we go to break, a word about a giant of Congress whom we lost this week. 92-year-old John Dingell of Michigan was the longest-serving member of Congress in history, House or Senate. He helped pass the Civil Rights Act, the Clean Air Act and the Affordable Care Act. His tour in Congress was part of a Dingell family tradition. John's father, John Sr., held his seat before him beginning in 1933. And his wife Debbie succeeded him in 2015, meaning a Dingell has represented suburban Detroit for 86 years. John Dingell was not only immensely powerful. He was funny, as his Twitter followers got to know. And he, and he knew his place in history. He told me in 2013 that his father said, "It's not how long you do a job. It's how well."

[TAPE BEGINS]

REP. JOHN DINGELL:

I've done my best. There's a tombstone out in Kansas somewhere where it said, "He did his damndest." When they put a tombstone on me, I want them to say that.

[TAPE ENDS]

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“Meet the Press” Data Download, brought to you by Pfizer.

CHUCK TODD:

We are back. Data Download time. We spend a lot of time talking about immigration, but it's domestic migration that could have a big impact on the 2020 election as well. Every year, U-Haul releases data analyzing domestic migration trends. And who would know better than U-Haul, right? The company tracks the number of U-Haul trucks pulling into the states versus the number leaving. And at first, there appears to be some good news for Republicans. 2018, the states that saw the most growth in population from U-Haul were Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Utah, Idaho. Last presidential election, all of those states voted for Donald Trump. On the other end of the spectrum, the three states on the bottom of the list were California, Michigan, and Illinois. These states saw more U-Haul trucks leave than come in. Two blue states and an important swing state with population challenges. Not what Democrats want to hear. Going into 2020, this paints a fairly positive picture for Republicans. But when we take a closer look at the cities seeing the most U-Haul trucks drive in, things may start to look a little better for the Democrats. Here are the top ten cities for growth from U-Haul. The five cities in bold: Madison, Grand Rapids, Harrisburg, Fort Lauderdale, and Kissimmee are all in blue-leaning cities in states President Trump won in 2016. Now, the margins in each of those states was less than one and a half percentage points. So, if it's the blue areas that are growing, that could pose a problem for the president's reelection in 2020. Now, we don't know for sure exactly who is moving into and out of these places. But if it's the blue dots inside the red states that are the places that have been growing, which we have seen a lot of, that could mean some of these states start to look more and more blue or purple over time. When we come back, the tabloid scandal that's so much more than just about the National Enquirer.

ANNOUNCER:

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End Game, brought to you by Boeing. Continuing our mission to connect, protect, explore, and inspire.

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with End Game and the bizarre story of Jeff Bezos, the National Enquirer, Saudi Arabia, the Mueller probe, all into one potentially explosive story here. I'll start with the Jeff Bezos letter on “Medium” on Thursday where he writes, "Several days ago, an AMI," referring to American Media, the parent company of National Enquirer, "leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is apoplectic about our investigations for reasons still to be better understood. The Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve." Katy Tur, this Bezos story, on one hand, it's the story of a billionaire standing up to the National Enquirer. But, oh, so much more.

KATY TUR:

We're not on “SNL,” right?

CHUCK TODD:

We're not on “SNL.”

KATY TUR:

Okay, good.

CHUCK TODD:

I know.

KATY TUR:

Just making sure.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes. You're right. Are we even allowed to bring this up thanks to my friends over there at “SNL”? But anyway.

KATY TUR:

It does have, it could potentially have so many tentacles into so many different areas. Not just how the National Enquirer does business but the National Enquirer's non-prosecution agreement with the SDNY. What does that open up?

CHUCK TODD:

I forgot the Michael Cohen. Right. This all cuts into Michael Cohen--

KATY TUR:

The Michael Cohen angle. Exactly.

CHUCK TODD:

Stormy Daniels, yes.

KATY TUR:

David Pecker's relationship with Donald Trump. What did Donald Trump know about this? Could the President of the United States somehow have known that the National Enquirer was trying to, in Bezos' words, blackmail him? And then the Saudis are involved. I mean, this is one of those stories that seems tabloidy at first. But could, could end up being very large the farther you get into it. It has a lot of potential.

CHUCK TODD:

And, David Brody, the president has not been able to help himself. He was so excited that Bezos got targeted by the National Enquirer. And now, you look back on this tweet from January 13th, and you think, "Are you too excited about and did you know a lot about it?" "So sorry to--"

KATY TUR:

There's always a tweet.

CHUCK TODD:

"So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better and more responsible hands." Normally, you would think a president would want to be above all this. Obviously he does not.

DAVID BRODY:

He would be smart to just stay away -- good luck, right? Stay away from all of this. Look, any time you're on kind of the same side as the National Enquirer, that's probably not a good day. You know, I would say this. The media needs to be careful though because you mentioned Donald Trump. It seems like Donald Trump has kind of become the new Kevin Bacon, right? Six degrees of separation and it's all back to Donald Trump. I mean, if the media starts to make this now, you said, "Could be about potentially Donald Trump--"

KATY TUR:

Well, the evidence needs to be backed up obviously.

DAVID BRODY:

For sure. But the point is the cable television shows will start to go ahead and do this 24/7. If that's going to be the case, look, I think, again, it helps Trump. I mean, you know, once again, because why is it always about Trump? It just seems like that--

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

But he injects into everything --

KATY TUR:

But Trump inserts himself into it every time.

DAVID BRODY:

But the media has a responsibility to not make this a 24/7 --

KATY TUR:

To, to separate him when he himself has inserted himself into the conversation?

DAVID BRODY:

When it's 24/7, yeah.

KATY TUR:

I don’t know about that.

CHUCK TODD:

Kimberly, I think the Saudi angle though is really -- I mean, look, you have, they are obsessed with trying to separate the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, away from the Jamal Khashoggi. He owns, as Jeff Bezos used, his purchase of the Washington Post has been a complexifier.

KIMBERLY ATKINS:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you for that word, Mr. Bezos. This seems to be more than just, more than just speculation.

KIMBERLY ATKINS:

I think that's one of the most potentially explosive parts of this entire story. I mean, Jeff Bezos hinted at it, and we still don't know exactly what these connections are. But depending on what they are, particularly if they had a role in obtaining this information, I think that could be very explosive and be very difficult, even more difficult for the Trump administration to try to downplay the bad acts of Saudi Arabia.

CHUCK TODD:

I don't mean to be alarmist here, but at some point, is somebody going to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for how much they appear to be wanting to mess around? They might have been involved in the hack of the Qatar emails? I mean, this is a very aggressive regime under MBS right now.

KATY TUR:

You saw Mick Mulvaney a moment ago on this show, and he wanted nothing to do with that conversation, said he didn't really know about it.

CHUCK TODD:

They threatened the United States government, it seems--

KATY TUR:

This administration, well this White House, I should say, seems to not have any appetite to really push back on the Saudis. Congress does, but not this administration.

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

Congress and then in 2021, when he have a Democratic president, then we can finally hold some of these despotic regimes accountable for their actions against the United States --

CHUCK TODD:

You think it's time for Democrats to stop, stop being too accommodating to the Saudis?

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

Are they being accommodating at this --

CHUCK TODD:

Because they have been. I would just say --

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

Oh, historically?

CHUCK TODD:

Historically, historically.

MARKOS MOULITSAS:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s -- I think there's a new day in the Democratic Party. I think there's an appetite for more aggressive oversight.

CHUCK TODD:

David, the Saudis have aggressively courted I feel like the right in this country. Have they not?

DAVID BRODY:

Well, here's what I think about what's going on here. I think this administration clearly sees-- it's different when you're a congressman and when you're President of the United States. You have relationships, and the Saudi relationship is extremely important. It was the first country he visited back in the day. And beyond the fact there's economic issues here, there's a lot of geopolitical issues here. Israel, Iran. You can go on. It's much different when you're sitting in the Oval Office compared to Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, guys. I'm going to leave it there. That's all we have for today. Thank you for watching. We'll be back next week. Because if it's Sunday, or apparently if it's “Saturday Night Live,” it's “Meet the Press.”

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