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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, national emergency. President Trump makes that declaration to build a border wall after Congress refuses him the money.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

We're talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.

CHUCK TODD:

The move unites Democrats.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS:

This declaration of an emergency is completely unnecessary.

BETO O’ROURKE:

There's no rational reason to do this.

CHUCK TODD:

And splits Republicans, some for…

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY:

Trump's only sin is that he's enforcing the law.

CHUCK TODD:

…and some against.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI:

The real concern that I have is the precedent that this then sets.

CHUCK TODD:

But what will Republicans who say they're opposed do when it comes time to vote? I'll talk to Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Plus, Amazon ditches its New York City plans after protests by progressives.

PROTESTORS:

Amazon has got to go.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ:

Everyday Americans still have the power to organize and fight for their communities.

CHUCK TODD:

But Amazon's decision exposes a split among progressive Democrats.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

I'll take on any progressive anywhere that thinks it's a good idea to lose jobs and revenue because I think that's out of touch with what working people want.

CHUCK TODD:

That progressive-versus-centrist rift could play a big role in 2020. My guests this morning, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and the head of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez. Joining me for insight and analysis are Amy Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report; Eddie Glaude, Jr., of Princeton University; Eliana Johnson, national political reporter for Politico; and Jonah Goldberg, senior editor at National Review. 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. When President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, it revealed another emergency for the president much closer to home, his own. It's a political emergency and one of his own making. Mr. Trump has united Democrats against him, divided Republicans and set up a court battle even he suggests he could lose. Mr. Trump even seemed to admit that the emergency is more about protecting his base than stopping illegal immigration, when he said he didn't need to declare an emergency. He just wants it to build his wall faster. At the same time, our two political parties are facing national emergencies of their own. You have a Democratic Party that outpolled republicans in six of the last seven presidential elections by winning back centrist voters. It now finds itself, though, challenged by an emerging progressive wing that is eager to push the party sharply to the left. And a Republican Party, once defined by free trade, strict constitutional principles, and at least the appearance of caring about the national debt, has now tethered itself to a president who mocks all of those traditional conservative norms. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has tethered himself to his base, which he sees as critical to any reelection chances. But what is emerging is a picture of a president who refuses to even lead his base and, instead, is admitting he's being led by it.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

We will have a national emergency. And we will then be sued.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump, after the biggest legislative defeat of his presidency, announcing he will bypass Congress and divert billions of dollars for military construction projects and counter-narcotics for his border wall.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

They will sue us in the ninth circuit, even though it shouldn't be there. And we will possibly get a bad ruling. And then we'll get another bad ruling. And then we'll end up in the Supreme Court. And hopefully, we'll get a fair shake, and we'll win in the Supreme Court.

CHUCK TODD:

With illegal border apprehensions down 76% from a high in 2000, the president appeared to undercut the urgency of his own argument.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this. But I'd rather do it much faster.

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Trump himself railed against President Obama for using his executive authority to, quote, "subvert the Constitution of the U.S. for his own benefit and because he is unable to negotiate with Congress."

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

The whole concept of executive order, it's not the way the country's supposed to be run. You're supposed to go through Congress and make a deal.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, some Senate Republicans are calling the move "extra-constitutional," "unwise," "a bad idea," "a rabbit hole" and "a mistake."

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

This is not what the National Emergencies Act was intended to be used for.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS:

What about if somebody else thinks that climate change is the national emergency? And then what will they do, and how far will they go?

CHUCK TODD:

But it's not clear how many Republicans will actually vote to disapprove of his emergency declaration. Just two weeks ago…

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL:

National emergencies that have been issued in the past have not been contentious. I'm pretty sure that this one would be.

CHUCK TODD:

But now…

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL:

I'm going to support the national emergency declaration.

MIKE ROGERS:

You're watching Mitch McConnell eat a manure sandwich in this whole process.

CHUCK TODD:

Democrats have their own challenges, as the center of gravity in the party shifts leftward, and Republicans dust off an old line of attack.

KARL ROVE:

That's called socialism.

LARRY KUDLOW:

Socialism is on trial.

CHUCK TODD:

On Thursday, Amazon announced it was abandoning plans to build a new corporate campus in New York City, after protests from progressives.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ:

I think it's incredible. I mean, it shows that everyday Americans still have the power to organize and fight for their communities. And they can have more say in this country than the richest man in the world.

CHUCK TODD:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling Amazon's decision disappointing and disrespectful. But he's also taking on fellow progressives.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

I'll take on any progressive anywhere that thinks it's a good idea to lose jobs and revenue because I think that's out of touch with what working people want.

CHUCK TODD:

Earlier, I caught up with Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He's attending the annual gathering of world leaders at the Munich Security Conference.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the president's declaration of a national emergency. I'm aware there have been dozens of them since the law was passed in 1976. But by our research and reading and our understanding, this is the first national emergency that has attempted to spend money that Congress specifically said no to. How is that not presidential overreach?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Well, I think your research is probably correct. I think many of us are concerned about this. I think Congress, past Congresses have given any executive, any administration way too much power. And this would be another expansion of that power. That's why you see an awful lot of us concerned about this. Now, the better way to have solved this problem would be for Democrats to support what they supported in the past and give this president funding for better barriers, which we need. We need to secure our border. We need to fix our horribly broken legal and illegal immigration system. And so, you know, hopefully, after this impasse now is over in terms of funding the government, we can sit down on a bipartisan basis and start solving these problems and fix our systems.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, isn't this an issue then for the president? I say this because, Senator, Congress, you know, this is the way it works, right? It's divided government. You came to a compromise. They gave some money. The president himself admitted he could go back and ask for more, which is the normal way of how things work between the executive and the legislative. But he decided he didn't want to wait. Is that an emergency?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Well, again, my question is how much can we actually spend in the remaining eight months of this fiscal year? My preference would've been let's not shut down the government. Let's do this through the legislative process. And let's sit down on a bipartisan basis and let's start fixing all of these problems. And I know my staff probably gave you a chart —

CHUCK TODD:

Yup.

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

— of unaccompanied children and family units in this country. You know, this is not a manufactured crisis, Chuck. 120,000 unaccompanied children, family units came into this country in 2014. And President Obama called that a humanitarian crisis. Last year, 145,000 unaccompanied children and people coming in as families. In the first four months of this fiscal year, it's already 120,000 people. We're at 2014 levels just in the first four months of this, this year. So it's a problem. It has to be solved. But it's going to have to be solved on a bipartisan basis. You know, divided government is when you sometimes can do big things. Hopefully, we do big things and fix this.

CHUCK TODD:

Is the president's move unconstitutional in your view?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

No, I don't think so. Again, it’s certainly the expansion of authority Congress has given past presidents, this president has the same authority. I wish he wouldn't use it in this case. But again, I understand his frustration--

CHUCK TODD:

Where does he have the authority?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Democrats have supported--

CHUCK TODD:

Where does he have the authority on this?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

--what he wants to do.

CHUCK TODD:

Where do you believe he has the authority in the Constitution on this?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

You know, from what I can see, it probably comes from a number of different pieces of legislation. The National Emergency Act. There are other pockets of money that give him the authority. For example, the Department of Defense to fight drugs. I mean, obviously, putting up better barriers is probably the effort to combat that flow of heroin, for example, that is poisoning our cities. So no, listen, this is a real problem. And it's way more than just a policy crisis. It is a humanitarian crisis. President Obama called that a humanitarian crisis, 2014. We're at that level, just a third, you know, into the year.

CHUCK TODD:

So you believe his use of the National Emergency Act, I want to clarify this, is Constitutional? You believe it will be upheld in the Court? Do you want the Courts to uphold this power?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Listen, I regret that past Congresses have given the president, any president, a lot of its, Congress's constitutional authority. It's done it on tariffs, it's done in this case. It's done in many cases. We should have three co-equal branches. Right now, the presidency is probably the most powerful, and then the Court. And Congress is really diminished. And we should start taking back that Congressional authority. It'd be, it’d return that balance. But that's the way it is. And again, particularly when Congress has given —

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

— the president authority, it's really when that president's authority is even stronger than just what's written in the Constitution.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you going to vote to disapprove of the president's use of this, of the National Emergency Act when it comes to the Senate? The House is likely to vote on a resolution of disapproval. It'll come to the Senate. Where would you vote on that?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

I'm going to take a look at the case the president makes. And I'm also going to take a look at how quickly this money is actually going to be spent, versus what he's going to use. If he's not going to be spending it this fiscal year or very early in the next fiscal year, I would have my doubts. So again, I'm going to take a look at it and I’ll, you know, I'll decide when I actually have to vote on it.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you share the concern that other conservatives have that, if this is allowed to become precedent, where a president, thwarted by a Congress that he disagreed with, can end-run Congress this way and declare a national emergency to take appropriated money and spend it anywhere, climate change, guns, you name it?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Absolutely, I share those concerns, which is why we're going to take a very careful look at what he's doing here in this instance. But again, I have to stress, this president has been thwarted for keep — you know, in his attempt to keep this nation safe and secure, to secure, to secure our borders. Let's face it. If this president can claim a mandate on anything he ran on, it's exactly this issue, better barriers and securing our border. And Congress, and Democrats in Congress have supported this in the past. They just won't support it now because it's President Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

But Senator--

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

I think it's very regrettable. An easy solution--

CHUCK TODD:

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Senator —

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Just have them stop being hypocrites.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand you want to blame Democrats for all of this. But let me ask you this. Republicans controlled the House and the Senate for the first two years of this presidency. Your fellow home state Republican Paul Ryan was speaker of the House. Is this not on, is this not on Congressional Republicans and the president that we’re in this situation in the first place?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

You said we controlled both chambers. We didn't. We had a majority in the Senate. So you don't control it. We need Democrats to support us. And they've been unified in trying to thwart this president's number one issue in the campaign, which was to secure the border. So no, we didn't have control. We needed Democrats. We never had any cooperation from Democrats, which is regrettable.

CHUCK TODD:

You're in Munich. It's an important security conference. And I also know there was a big moment that honored John McCain during this conference. I want to play something that the late Senator McCain said to me the last time he was in Munich two years ago. Here it is.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN:

They are puzzled and they are concerned. They realize that the lynchpin of the western alliance is the United States of America. And they worry, particularly when they see increased testings of this union that's being conducted by Vladimir Putin as we speak.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

It’s my understanding, there are still concerns from European leaders that they're nervous the United States isn't as solid with NATO, isn't as solid with Europe when it comes to Putin as it once was. This is an important, I know you chair an important subcommittee on this issue. Are those concerns still being expressed by our European allies?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Well, let me first say John McCain is missed. His presence is missed. But there's a record number of House members and senators here, over 50. And we're making that point, that we value NATO. We realize NATO has been crucial keeping Europe whole, free and at peace for over 70 years. And it's crucial now in its support in Afghanistan and Iraq, for our forward presence in, you know, really trying to thwart President Putin's aggression into Eastern Ukraine. And so no, we are here supporting NATO. And I think that our European partners and NATO allies are hearing that loud and clear.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Ron Johnson, I appreciate you. I know it's an outdoor street there in Munich. Really appreciate you giving me a few minutes of your time, sir.

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Have a good day.

CHUCK TODD:

So while Republicans try to deal with a president who is redefining what it means to be a conservative these days, Democrats have their own new issues. Progressives, this week, celebrated their scuttling of Amazon's plans for a major expansion in New York City and the 25,000 to 40,000 jobs and a larger tax base it would've brought with them. Senator Elizabeth Warren, among others, cheered the news. She tweeted that Amazon walked away, "all because some elected officials in New York aren't sucking up to them enough." But a majority of New Yorkers and a majority of Democrats supported the Amazon deal in New York state. The episode exposed a growing rift, nationally, between the Democratic progressives and its traditional Centrists. And joining me now is the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, who I guess would argue he's caught in the middle there. Welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Well, Chuck, it's great to be here. But I'm a progressive. And I'm proud to be. Progressives are about jobs for working people. That's an essential progressive value.

CHUCK TODD:

So, I read your op-ed in the New York Times. And you seemed to, you seemed to blame Amazon for walking away. But let me ask this. You also argued that it was a fair deal. Why did fellow progressives not trust you, that you had come up with a good, fair deal. You called it, "on solid foundation."

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Chuck, it's a democracy. I have no problem with my fellow progressives critiquing a deal or wanting more from Amazon. I wanted more from Amazon, too. But the bottom line is, this is an example of an abuse of corporate power. They had an agreement with the people of New York City. As you said, a majority of New Yorkers believed in it. They wanted the jobs. They wanted the revenue that would help us to create more affordable housing, better mass transit. There was a consensus in New York City. There were some people who stood apart. That's fine. That's democracy. I respect them. But Amazon just took their ball and went home. And what they did was confirm people's worst fears about corporate America. Here's the 1% dictating to everyone else, even though we gave them a fair deal. And I think it's going to frustrate people all over this country to see a company treat a neighborhood and a city like that.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, if you're in Amazon's shoes, the deal that was offered to them, they take it. And then they’re -- and now, you want to change the deal. Is that -- if you're in their shoes, that's what it might've looked like to them, did it not? How did it not look like, "Oh, it looks like they want to change the deal. How long do you plan on doing that? And at some point, I've got 20 other cities in America offering me a similar deal."

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

No, you have to be a good corporate neighbor. And again, I think things are changing in this country. I think working people, rightfully, are demanding their fair share. They look at a situation where wealth and power is concentrated in the hands of the 1%. They don't like what they see. And they're demanding more back. So we said to Amazon, "Here's a fair deal. Bring us 25,000 to 40,000 jobs." --

CHUCK TODD:

And they took it.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

-- "You will get, ultimately, when you give us a lot of revenue in the bargain, you'll get some incentives. But we need to work together on behalf of this community." And they said they wanted a partnership. But the minute there were criticisms, they walked away. What does that say to working people, that a company would leave them high and dry, simply because some people raised criticisms? But they had a clear majority on their side. That's what bothers me. They were more concerned about their corporate image --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think they were afraid of New York City politics and the PR that comes with it?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Well, it sure looks that way. It sure looks like they --

CHUCK TODD:

The back pages of the tabloids? Is that what you think?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

They couldn't handle the heat in the kitchen, is what it looks like. And -- but they let a lot of working people down in the bargain.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to play you something from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. Because I'm curious to see if, maybe, if there’s some -- a factual divide, if you will, on how this deal worked. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ:

If we were willing to give Amazon three -- If we were willing to give away $3 billion for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves, if we wanted to. We could hire out more teachers. We can fix our subways. We can put a lot of people to work for that money, if we wanted to.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

It seems a lot of people think that, when you give a tax incentive, that somehow that’s , oh, that's money you had over here. And it was going over there. These were -- this is money that didn't exist, this $3 billion.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Correct.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. Do you feel as if this is a problem in trying to explain how this deal worked?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Yeah. Look, this was a deal that was going to bring $27 billion in revenue to the state and city for things like public education, mass transit, affordable housing. And that $3 billion that would go back in tax incentives was only after we were getting the jobs and getting the revenue.

CHUCK TODD:

There's not $3 billion in money --

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

There's no money -- right.

CHUCK TODD:

-- that exists anywhere, correct?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Exactly. So here's the bottom line. I think people were looking for fairness here. They were looking for a positive outcome for everyday people. That meant jobs. That meant revenue to improve their lives. We saw Amazon make that deal then walk away. Now, in terms of the point you're raising about the progressive movement, I'm a proud progressive. We have a city that is working. We have the most jobs we've ever had. We're the safest big city in America. Progressives can govern and also give back to working people. That's why we have paid sick leave. That's why I've announced a plan for paid vacation, two weeks’ paid vacation, for everyone who works in New York City, because working people deserve more. We can do that in the context of a thriving economy. That's where progressives need to go.

CHUCK TODD:

What would you have done differently about this deal, if you could? Now that you know they walked away, is there anything you would've done differently? Or would you have not endorsed it now, in hindsight?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Look. I think you can't do hindsight in a case like this. Because it's so particular. Obviously, a group of very powerful people, the ultimate members of the 1%, got together in a boardroom in Seattle and made a very arbitrary decision. We couldn't have seen that coming. But here's the thing: I am a proud progressive. And what progressives need to do is show working people that we will get more for them, that we're going to stop this horrible reality of concentration of power in the hands of the 1%. We had a chance here to do something very positive for our city and for working people, by the way, not minimum-wage jobs, which we all believe in $15 minimum wage, in the progressive movement. These were going to be even higher-paying jobs that folks who lived in public housing could get, folks who went to our public schools could get. It would've been transcendent for so many families. The progressive movement needs to be about equality but also about opportunity for working people.

CHUCK TODD:

Who are you speaking to here, Amazon or the progressive movement? It sounded like, just now, you were trying to explain, to the progressive movement, how economics works.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Look --

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, it does seem as if that's the disconnect.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

I am representing 8.6 million people. And a clear majority of those people believe we need more fairness in our economy. But of course, we need jobs. We need growth. We need revenue. Progressives can do both. We're doing it in New York City every day. It can be done. And I think this is where we will resonate with the American people, if we make clear we're on their side, and we're going to produce for them.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, there was -- Barack Obama once quoted Ronald Reagan as saying, "Progressives sometimes argue too much over how to divide the pie and not how to expand it." Do you think that is still a case now with the progressive movement?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

I think the challenge is to show we can do both. And in New York City, we are doing both. We have 4.5 million jobs. We're raising wages, raising benefits, giving people universal health care. We're proving that progressives can achieve those things.

CHUCK TODD:

Amazon is not one of these companies that has been thought of as a total, you know, they just race through laws. You know, they raised the minimum wage. They raised it, voluntarily, to $15. If you chased away an Amazon, are you worried it's going to chase away other companies?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Oh, no, no. Let's be clear: No one chased away. This was Amazon's arbitrary decision. We had an agreement. If I made an agreement with you, and there were issues that came up, but we had an agreement, you wouldn't call me in the dead of night and say, "Hey, we're taking our marbles, and we're going home." Let's be clear about who made this decision. And this is the problem. When you have so much wealth and power in the hands of very few, it does not work for working people. I say, there is plenty of money in this world, plenty of money in this country. But it's in the wrong hands. And Amazon is making my point for me. What they did was arbitrary and unfair to working people.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you plan to take this message nationally and run for president?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

I have not ruled it out. But I'm doing to take this message nationally any way you slice it. Because this is a moment, Chuck. It's an urgent moment. There's an inequality in this country right now that is threatening to tear us apart. I feel a real urgency about this. Look what's happening. People in this country do not feel it's a fair country anymore. Working people don't feel they're getting rewarded for their labor. So when I say something to you like, "We're going to mandate, in New York City, two weeks' paid time off for every working person," we have to do that locally, because our country doesn't do it. We're the only industrialized country on Earth that does not grant paid time off for working people. What does that say to working people? The 1% get all the wealth, despite the fact that working people actually produce it. That's what I want to talk about.

CHUCK TODD:

Does the Amazon decision make it harder for you to run for president?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

I don't think anything about the Amazon decision affects the bigger debate in this country about the fact, if we don't address this income inequality, our country's security and stability is threatened. I'm going to be talking about that all over this nation.

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Mayor, I've run out of time. I appreciate you coming down.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

And sharing your views. Good to see you. When we come back, President Trump's national emergency declaration, why he may feel like a winner, even if he loses in court. Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Eddie Glaude, Jr., he's chair of the Center for African-American Studies at Princeton University. Amy Walter is the national editor of the Cook Political Report. Eliana Johnson, national political reporter for Politico. And Jonah Goldberg, senior editor at National Review. Welcome to you all. Happy Sunday. Let me start with President Trump's national emergency declaration. I want to give you sort of a financial breakdown here. According to the White House, here's where the money for Mr. Trump's proposed wall would come from. He gets $1.375 billion from the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill that Congress did hand him. Then there's $3.6 billion from the Defense Department's military construction account. That's from the national emergency. $2.5 billion from the Defense Department's drug interdiction program. And another $600 million from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund. Those last two buckets, not technically part of the National Emergencies Act. Jonah Goldberg, I'm going to start with you. As a representative of a small government, conservative view, this seems to be anything but. I found Ron Johnson twisting himself into a pretzel in trying to figure out how to both show concern and support the president.

JONAH GOLDBERG:

Yeah, he is passionately concerned about something that he doesn't actually want to be committal on. And, look, I think it's an atrocity. I don't like these enabling acts, which is what they really are, that these national emergency laws are. I didn't like it when Barack Obama acted unilaterally, but this is a next-level thing, right? There's never been a national emergency invoked as an excuse to deliberately do an end-run around Congress, Congress's intent. Congress has spoken here. And if you listen to the sort of pro-Trump, you know, caucus, what Congress passed is outrageous because it's going to make illegal immigration worse in some ways, but he signed it. And then he just said, "But I'm going to do all this other stuff." That is monarchical. It is exactly against the spirit of the Constitution. And I don't care if the courts ultimately approve this. It is still terrible because it is just simply a violation of how the system is supposed to work.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, if he's hoping for court approval, Eddie, he may have really harmed himself at his Rose Garden press conference. And it's with this sound bite in particular. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this. But I'd rather do it much faster. And I don't have to do it for the election. I've already done a lot of wall for the election. 2020. And the only reason we're up here talking about this is because of the election.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

It was lead of the ACLU press release.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

Absolutely. He obviously doesn't understand the meaning of the word "emergency" because he didn't have to do it, right? An emergency seems to have urgency to it, right? That's the first thing. And this takes me to a basic point, that all of this is predicated on a lie. And what I'm interested in is how the machinery of government is being moved to act on a lie. Everything that he's saying, Senator Johnson actually became complicit in it. This is a manufactured crisis. If there is a crisis at the border, it has something to do with the way in which the Trump administration has in some ways enforced immigration law, the way the Trump administration has separated families, the way the Trump administration has lost babies, right? So the fact that we're moving and responding to what is at root a lie is unconscionable to me. The second real quick point is that this is an absolute break of constitutional norms. We've been talking about the constitutional crisis on the horizon with the Trump administration. It's here. It's just small. But it's here.

CHUCK TODD:

Politically, Eliana and Amy, it seems as if the president decided it's better to lose in the courts, and rail against -- and have a foil, than work with Congress.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

That's absolutely true. You know, I think that in the courts what this is going to come down to is whether they defer to the president on what the definition of an emergency is. We all know what it is colloquially speaking. And the president has been talking about this since early on in his administration, whether to do this with the wall. I think it comes down to whether the courts grant deference to Trump on this because we have had dozens of national emergencies declared, but they all have to do with two things, either international crises, Jimmy Carter declared one ten days into the Iran hostage crisis, or natural disasters. This one is neither. And so the courts can say, "You know what? The president has the power to do this. We're not going to interfere with what an emergency is or isn’t." Or they could get involved in this, which they really haven't done up to this point. Again, I think breaking of a precedent for Trump but counting on the fact that neither Congress will override this with a two-thirds vote, which they could do, or the courts are going to get themselves involved in this.

CHUCK TODD:

This is the best of bad options, right?

AMY WALTER:

Well, yeah. But it's also the central reality of the Trump administration and Trump's focus, which is it's all about the base, right? The wall unilaterally is unpopular. The emergency declaration is more unpopular than the wall. The moving funds around from doing projects that people like will be very unpopular. That's not a concern to the president. This has been at no point a concern about growing his base. It's about keeping that base that he already has happy. And so he worries much more about subtraction than he does about addition. And to win in 2020, you know, he said, "This isn't about 2020." It is absolutely about 2020 because this isn't an issue that's going to get any other voters who aren’t currently in his coalition to vote for him.

CHUCK TODD:

I have to tell you the logic thing. I've got to put this up for you. And, Jonah, I know you'll appreciate it more. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, this is his actual quote from Friday talking about the emergency. "It actually creates zero precedent. This is authority given to the president in law already. It's not as if he didn't get what he wanted so he's waving a magic wand and taking a bunch of money." Actually, I thought it was exactly what this is --

JONAH GOLDBERG:

That's precisely what is happening, right? And it gets to the point -- one of the things that I find very frustrating is if you look at the people who are most jubilant about Donald Trump doing this, it is obvious that their jubilation derives almost entirely from a perceived political victory for the president rather than dealing with this emergency somewhere, right? There is no one saying, "Oh my gosh. Finally we're going to deal with this emergency. And that's why it's great that he's doing this." They're saying, "Ha, Trump got another one over on them." And that is a real, real problem.

CHUCK TODD:

That's what defines the new right, Eddie. It's just sort of like, "You're unhappy." Eddie's unhappy, right?

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Therefore congratulations. This is a victory for America.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

Right. And --

CHUCK TODD:

Because you're unhappy.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

And, you know, we're in Bizarro World for D.C. Comic fans, right? We're in Bizarro World. Everything has been turned upside down. This is the imperial presidency gone amok. We have been debating this since Nixon. We debated it all the way back with Lincoln and how he executed the Civil War.

CHUCK TODD:

FDR as well, right --

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

FDR, right. So this is the imperial presidency gone amok. And we now have a person who has no regard for constitutional norms, no ethical backbone, who is now in some ways occupying an executive branch that has no limit or constraint in it’s power.

JONAH GOLDBERG:

And for the record, Lincoln was the only one who had a good excuse.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, okay. We will leave it there. Up next, the Democratic Party is becoming increasingly progressive. But how far left can a party seeking the White House afford to go? I'll ask the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, when we come back.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. If it seems that the 2020 Democratic field has become very crowded very early, that's because it has. Nine major candidates have either filed paperwork or announced bids outright, far more, at this point, Democrat or Republican, than in any other year ever. This week, we announced that the first Democratic debates will be on the family of NBC networks, NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo, on two consecutive nights in June, in English and in Spanish. The man in charge of the Democratic Party is Tom Perez. He's the DNC chairman. And he joins me now. Mr. Chairman, welcome back to Meet the Press.

TOM PEREZ:

Always great to be with you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD

Let me start with this. You're obviously organizing the debates. Explain what you view your role is. Are you a referee? What is your role for the 2020 presidential primary? What do you see it as?

TOM PEREZ:

Sure. Our role is to make sure that every candidate who runs gets a fair shake. I welcome a large field. Because I've had the privilege of working with almost all of them. And they are great candidates. And so our job, at the DNC, is to make sure that we give them that opportunity, and the debates are going to do this, to show who they are and that we also build an infrastructure that enables whoever wins to hit the ground running. That's why we have spent so much time focusing on rebuilding our data infrastructure, rebuilding our organizing infrastructure. And this debate process, I'm excited about it. Because, again, we're not going to be talking about hand size. We're going to be talking about healthcare. The debates are going to focus on issues.

CHUCK TODD:

What -- I am curious, though. When you are trying to figure out when to step in, Reince Priebus, when he was chair of the RNC, every once in a while, when Donald Trump, if he insulted John McCain, he put out a release, and he would say -- where do you feel as if the role you have to play in policing the candidates' statements? If they -- at what point do you feel like you have to step in in the name of the Democratic Party, to say X?

TOM PEREZ:

I'm, frankly, not concerned about that for the following reason. All of our candidates understand that we have to defeat Donald Trump. It's not about them. It's about something bigger than them. It's about making sure we come together as a nation. If we have 15 candidates in the race, 14 aren't going to make it to the mountaintop. Our job, at the DNC, is to ensure that all of the candidates and their followers feel like they got a fair shake. And I am confident that every single candidate understands that we have to focus on the task at hand: building a positive vision of inclusion, talking about how we're going to tackle healthcare, talking about how we're going to build jobs that actually pay a good, middle-class wage. That's what we're going to talk about. And that's why I have a lot of confidence that we're going to come out of this primary process, really, with the wind at our back.

CHUCK TODD:

Former Vice President Biden, this weekend, is essentially still holding off on announcing and then remind -- and then said, he was speaking to a European audience, he was going, "You know, we, we start our election process too early." He sounds like a guy that wishes this process didn't start so early. Do you have any regrets about starting early?

TOM PEREZ:

Well, actually, it started earlier in the past. When we were figuring out how many debates and when to start, we looked back 30, 40 years. And there have been debates that have started in February of the year before the election. So we're kind of in the middle of the pack. But what we learned from the last cycle is people have a real thirst for learning what our candidates are thinking about, what their vision for America is. And so I think we have found a sweet spot. And the fact that these debates, in June, will be on consecutive nights, that we will be drawing the names through random selection, I think what the American people are going to see, and I think we're going to, I think we’re going to have a robust audience, probably, the largest ever. And what they're going to see are candidates who are focused on their issues. And that's what it's about.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to put some headlines, recent headlines, that sort of get at this new divide inside the Democratic Party or at least a more-exposed divide. U.S.A. Today, "Will an increasingly progressive Democratic Party become steadily more anti-Semitic," a reference to Congresswoman Omar's comment. The New Yorker, not exactly a conservative bastion, "With the Green New Deal, democrats present a radical proposition for combating climate change." Wall Street Journal, "Progressive democrats claim victory, as Amazon scraps New York plans." Are you concerned the perception of the Democratic Party is going to move too far to the left in order to scare away those swing voters that you won over to win control of the House?

TOM PEREZ:

Listen, I think we must never confuse unity and unanimity. We have unity on the fact that healthcare is a right for all and not a privilege for a few. Thanks to Democrats, we now have 90% coverage. We're having a conversation about how to get from 90% to 100%. They're talking about, on the Republican side, how to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions. We believe that climate change is real. It's not a hoax. And we're having a discussion about how we build this clean energy economy. The other side denies that climate change exists. So we're having a discussion about the means. But our values are the values that I believe command the respect of the vast majority of the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

And you've expressed your values. You've expressed your values as someone to say, "Hey," to the governor of Virginia and the lieutenant governor, that, you know, that these folks have to go. What happens when they don't respect the values? Congresswoman Omar seemed to accept criticism and apologize. But if she does it again, what happens when these Democrats sort of don't accept punishment, don’t accept the fact that they're not representative of the Democratic values you espouse, and they don't leave, and they still want to represent the Democratic Party? What do you do?

TOM PEREZ:

Well, again, I'm heartened that Congresswoman Omar apologized. Because what she said was wrong, and it was divisive. And Speaker Pelosi --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe she's anti-Semitic?

TOM PEREZ:

No, no.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you worried that she is?

TOM PEREZ:

What she said was wrong. And what she said was divisive. And I think Speaker Pelosi and others, including us, I think, appropriately called her out. And what we have to do, the difference between Democrats and Republicans is, when we see people within our own ranks do things or say things that are antithetical to our values, we are not reluctant to call them out. On the other side, unfortunately, they are enablers. Look at Senator Johnson, with this national emergency calisthenics that he just did. He understands that it's unconstitutional. But God forbid that he would say something against Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you at all worried -- I'm going to go back to the Amazon deal. Are you worried that there's a perception of, "Boy, progressive Democrats just. just are not pro-business. And they're not going to be -- they're going to be antithetical to business to the point that it actually scares business away from working with the Democratic Party"?

TOM PEREZ:

You're going to hear from so many Democrats, in this campaign, who have an unbelievable record of job creation. Barack Obama inherited the worst mess of our lifetime. We left with the longest uninterrupted streak of private-sector job growth in our nation's history. What Democrats are fighting for is prosperity that is shared. What Democrats are fighting for is a moral capitalism, a capitalism that understands that, when we all succeed, we all succeed. When the middle class is succeeding, when people striving to get into the middle class succeed, then everybody succeeds.

CHUCK TODD:

Can you be a Democratic Socialist and for moral capitalism? Or is that --

TOM PEREZ:

Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

-- at some point, does that get in contrast?

TOM PEREZ:

Don't forget, when Ronald Reagan was railing against Medicare in 1963, he said, "Medicare," this is a quote, "will lead to socialized medicine and will lead to socialism in America." This socialism thing, Medicare has led to security for our seniors. And so some people want to try to use labels and misuse labels. Here's what Democrats are about. We're about results. We're about making sure, if you have -- you have a right to healthcare. We're about making sure, if you work a full-time job, you ought to be able to feed your family. You ought to be able to reduce gun violence. We have people across this country who are going to be marching tomorrow, because they're going to be talking about this fake emergency and making us focus on the real emergency, which is people who are diabetic, who don't have access to healthcare.

CHUCK TODD:

Tom Perez, I've got to leave it there. Chairman of the DNC. We will see you on forward. And we'll see how much you have other play referee in your presidential primary.

TOM PEREZ:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you for coming on. When we come back, a few things succeed in a presidential reelection bid more than a strong economy. It's strong this year. That's been good news for President Trump. But what about next year? That's coming up.

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back, data download time. Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has relied on one key ally to get him through some of the tougher times, a strong economy. But what will the economic landscape look like, come November 2020? There are some clouds on the horizon. So how worried should we all be? But first, here's one good sign. As of January, the unemployment rate was at 4%. It's been hovering between 4.1% and 3.7% for the last year. And that is the lowest it's been since December of 2000. By the way, that is near full employment. And just as important, people are feeling good about the economy, as well. 69% of Americans think, this time next year, they're gonna be better off, financially. That is the highest rate of optimism that we've seen since 2002. And that's a number the president himself tweeted out this week. Low unemployment, people feeling good. Those things matter to voters on election day. But what about those gray clouds I mentioned? Well, this week, the Fed announced that 7 million Americans are at least 90 days late on their car payments. How important is that number? That's a record amount of people. Skipping car payments is not something consumers typically do casually. This could also mean trouble ahead for the automobile industry, if consumers are less able to afford new cars. So the amount of revolving debt, usually credit card debt, held by Americans is also at a new record, over $1 trillion. It's been over $1 trillion since September of 2017. Before that, the last time the number was roughly this high, January 2009, with people relying heavily on credit cards during the Great Recession. And finally this week, the census released data showing retail sales declining 1.2% from November to December, the largest drop in more than nine years, during the holiday season, no less. Look, does all this mean the economy is headed south? That's a big leap. Some analysts are skeptical of the sales-figure drop. And there's still a lot of good economic news out there. But after 116 straight months of growth, there are some warning signs emerging that could play a role in the 2020 presidential election. When we come back, End Game. Are we about to see a couple of big-name Democrats finally enter this race?

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 basically as I said at the top of the show, it feels like both parties have their own divides that are, that are -- and the Republican divide we've seen for two straight years. Amazon has exposed the Democratic divide onto the front pages. Here's the newspaper of Long Island, Newsday, on the decision."Reflexive, anti-corporate, anti-business rhetoric which denies the realities of economics to indulge in histrionics has real ramifications. The Democratic Party and its leaders in New York and nationally are going to have to address that issue before they tip so far to the left that our economy topples over. Income inequality must be addressed, but rejecting capitalism is not the answer." Eddie, how do you slice this line between this rising progressive movement and basically the center left of the Democratic Party?

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

Well, I think part of what's happening is that the traditional spectrum of our politics has changed. And oftentimes the categories progressive, conservative, centrist might not actually map on to what's happening on the ground. It's much more complicated and much more fluid. I think, you know, the idea of expanding the pie and dividing the pie that you used in an earlier segment, most of the time most "progressives," quote, unquote, are thinking that the expansion of the pie involves the top 1%, the top 1/10th percent taking all of the expansion. So we have to address fundamentally that the economy is not working for everyday, ordinary folk in a way that it should. And so markets don't determine what we value. The markets reflect what we value. And so it's not about rejecting capitalism as such. It's about building a society that reflects the value of everyday, ordinary people in our society. And I think that argument has to be had, right? So quickly, the age of Reagan is collapsing. What will take its place? That's the question that we're grappling with now.

CHUCK TODD:

That does seem to be the fight. That's a fair way of putting it.

ELAINA JOHNSON:

I think, and look, the divide on the right preceded Trump. It began with the Tea Party, you know, in 2010 during the Obama era. And I think the Democrats are getting their own Tea Party. That has been the question. Is this going to happen to the Democrats? And now we're seeing an all-out battle between, you know, leftists, left-wing centrists or centrist Democrats, and socialists.

CHUCK TODD:

We've got to come up with a different lanes here --

ELAINA JOHNSON:

I know.

CHUCK TODD:

Everybody is trying to figure it out. There's more diversity on the left than I think many on the right have appreciated.

ELAINA JOHNSON:

And this Amazon battle certainly puts it into relief. What I found so interesting was that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her primary fight largely by saying that the incumbent in that district, Joe Crowley, was neglecting his constituents. And she called this Amazon victory a victory for ordinary people when ordinary constituents in her district supported the Amazon headquarters by an extraordinary margin. 56% of New York City voters, 60% of those in Queens, where this would have been located. And meanwhile, the New York Times piece about her this week was she has yet to set up a district office. So I do wonder if other people, other, you know, socialists follow in her footsteps and place more emphasis on building a national profile rather than on constituent services how that will play in the long run.

AMY WALTER:

Well, right. And her ability to move the discussion for presidential candidates has been remarkable. The Christian Science Monitor had a breakfast with Senator Sherrod Brown this week. Of all the questions he got, the one that was the most contentious was his answer on the Green New Deal, right? "What are you going to do about it? Are you going to sign on to this?" And after being asked this question about 73 times, 73 different ways, it was, "Well, I don't need to respond to every bill that somebody drops on the floor," right? "I'm going to have --"

ELIANA JOHNSON:

What Republicans say about the Trump tweets --

AMY WALTER:

That's exactly right. It's helped exactly like that, which is, "Wait, I'm a senator, I'm running for president of the United States, and I have to react to something that a freshman member of Congress is talking about." But you're seeing that already. We're having this discussion about Medicare for all, Green New Deal not based on necessarily what the grassroots are saying. It's really about what the elites are saying. And that's what's fascinating about that poll in New York City, or about Amazon in New York. The only group that really didn't like it were liberals. They were evenly divided. African Americans overwhelmingly supported it. Latinos overwhelmingly support it. Moderates overwhelmingly support it.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

And those are the people that minorities -- African Americans and Hispanics, are the majority of that district that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR.:

I think we need to drill down in terms of the questions that were asked --

JONAH GOLDBERG:

Look, it's also not just reflective of political reality. It's not reflective of facts. I mean, AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, doesn't do her homework. She does not understand what a tax cut or a subsidy is versus -- she thinks we now have this $3 billion to spend on something else, which is just wrong. It's just fake math. And what I find fascinating about this I don't like these crony capitalist, race-to-the-bottom, sweetheart deals for stadiums or any of this kind of stuff. But they're a fact of political life. And, you know, you had Tim Ryan on your cable show the other day. And he was like, "Look, these are the problems here. But I would love them to come to Ohio." And if you think that the Green New Deal wouldn't look like the Amazon deal on steroids with the government leaning in and giving away taxes and subsidies to steer the country to support socialism, you're kidding yourself.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm the getting the yank rule. So I've got to go. Anyway, guys, thank you. This is a debate that is obviously going to continue. That's all we have for today. Thank you for watching. We'll be back next week, I promise. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.