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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, shutdown stalemate. President Trump offers temporary protection for some undocumented immigrants but sticks to his principal demand.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

The plan includes $5.7 billion for a strategic deployment of physical barriers, or a wall.

CHUCK TODD:

The president says the Senate will vote on his plan this week. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejects the offer, calling it a non-starter.

CHUCK TODD:

Plus, moving the goalposts on collusion with Russia.

RUDY GIULIANI:

I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.

CHUCK TODD:

How significant is Rudy Giuliani's new position on possible collusion? My guests this morning are the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, and Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Also, not accurate.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Now, it's this new bombshell report about the Mueller --

JOHN BERMAN:

Explosive new report on BuzzFeed.

JOHN DICKERSON:

The bombshell new report about the president.

CHUCK TODD:

The special counsel's office shoots down a story, claiming President Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country.

CHUCK TODD:

Were journalists too willing to report a story they could not confirm? Joining me for insight and analysis are Joshua Johnson, host of 1A on NPR; Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute; Peter Baker, Chief White House correspondent for the New York Times; and NBC News national political correspondent Heidi Przybyla. 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. Believe it or not, it was two years ago today that Donald Trump took the oath of office, solemnly swearing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Ultimately, the president's fate will be decided by the voters next year or, perhaps, by Congress, if House Democrats do move on impeachment. The government shutdown is now in its 30th day. And the spread between Mr. Trump's approval and disapproval ratings has grown noticeably since the start of this shutdown. He went from ten points underwater to 15, according to FiveThirtyEight.com's polling average. Perhaps, with that in mind, President Trump, yesterday, made a new offer. Extend some temporary protection from deportation for some undocumented immigrants in exchange for that $5.7 billion that he wants for a permanent border wall. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the offer, even before the president spoke. But Democrats are also getting a big nervous. And they're offering $1 billion more in border security. They just don't want any of that money for a wall. At the same time, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report remains a potentially mortal threat to the Trump presidency. Still, the more immediate crisis facing this president and the country is the shutdown. And the best we can say there is, at least the two sides aren't farther apart.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Walls are not immoral.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump, with a deal to end the government shutdown that top Democrats are calling a non-starter and hostage taking.

DONALD TRUMP:

$5.7 billion for a strategic deployment of physical barriers, or a wall, three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients.

CHUCK TODD:

The temporary protections for so-called Dreamers would not include a pathway to permanent legal status. And major Dreamer groups and Democratic leaders are panning it. With the shutdown dragging on and his poll numbers sagging, this week, Mr. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, "We are getting crushed," according to the New York Times.

FRANK RUOPOLI, FURLOUGHED NOAA EMPLOYEE:

I've never seen a situation that America is in now. And a lot of it has to do with trust. I don't trust a lot of our politicians anymore.

CHUCK TODD:

And hanging over the nation and Mr. Trump's presidency, the New York Times report that the F.B.I. opened an inquiry in 2017 into whether or not Mr. Trump was working as a Russian agent, as president. The Washington Post report that President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The acknowledgement by the president's lawyer that someone on his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

RUDY GIULIANI:

I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.

CHRIS CUOMO:

Yes, you have.

RUDY GIULIANI:

I have no idea.

CHUCK TODD:

And then there's the upcoming testimony of Mr. Trump's former long-time lawyer, Michael Cohen, to Congress.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Now, to this new bombshell report.

CHUCK TODD:

After a BuzzFeed story claimed the special counsel has evidence that Mr. Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress last summer about plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow, Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a rare statement, on Friday night, refuting the story. Quote, "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the special counsel's office and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office regarding Michael Cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate." The statement appeared to put the brakes on the growing number of Democrats in Congress who said that the allegations, if true, would be grounds for beginning impeachment proceedings immediately.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO:

If the president directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, then that's a clear case of participating in perjury and obstruction of justice.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

It's a total phony story. And I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Good morning, Chuck. How are you?

CHUCK TODD:

I'm okay. Let's start with the big kerfuffle over the last 48 hours with BuzzFeed.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Right

CHUCK TODD:

There were a lot of questions about what happened between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump. The special counsel's office obviously pushed back on the BuzzFeed story. So let's clear it up on the record once and for all --

RUDY GIULIANI:

Sure.

CHUCK TODD:

-- Are you 100% confident that the president never once asked Michael Cohen to do anything but tell the truth to Congress?

RUDY GIULIANI:

100% certain of that. And also I, you know, I should add the BuzzFeed story was a story that the president had counseled him or told him to lie and that there were tapes, and texts, and federal law enforcement sources, two of them, were cited for it. And I spent a great deal of the day on Saturday with that because I knew from the very beginning it wasn't true. But, I mean, to their credit, the Justice Department and the special counsel's office said that the story was inaccurate. And the inaccuracy is that there's no evidence that the president told him to lie. And then to answer your question, categorically I can tell you his counsel to Michael Cohen throughout that entire period was, "Tell the truth." We thought he was telling the truth. I still believe he may have been telling the truth when he testified before Congress. But in any event, his lawyers thought that, our lawyers thought that, and the president thought that at the time.

CHUCK TODD:

Can you share what --

RUDY GIULIANI:

Now, I don't know what to believe about him.

CHUCK TODD:

Can you share what communication the president had with Michael Cohen about Trump Tower Moscow? And can you share the last time they talked about Trump Tower Moscow?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Probably can't do that for two reasons. I wasn't his lawyer at the time. I just came into it in April, which now seems like two years ago, but it's less than a year.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough.

RUDY GIULIANI:

And second, a lot of that, a lot of that after the investigation would be privileged. I can tell you, however, before the investigation, during the period that they're looking at, they did have conversations about it. The conversations lasted throughout parts of 2016. The president is not sure exactly when they ended. I would say Michael Cohen would have a much better recollection of it than the president. It was much more important to him. That was his sole mission. The president was running for president of the United States. So you’ve got to expect there's not going to be a great deal of concentration on a project that never went anywhere. There was one letter of intent that was nonbinding. That's, that’s the whole thing. So I don't know if you'd call it a project even.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you just said there -- you said the president is not sure when talks ended. I'm guessing you had to answer this question in written form by, by Mr. Mueller.

RUDY GIULIANI:

That's where we answered it.

CHUCK TODD:

So, right, it's your understanding it ended when? In January as Michael Cohen --

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, listen -- no, no, no.

CHUCK TODD:

-- incorrectly testified to? Okay.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, it's our understanding that it -- that they went on throughout 2016. Weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can't be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations with him about it.

CHUCK TODD:

Throughout 2016 --

RUDY GIULIANI:

The president also remembers -- yeah, probably up -- could be up to as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election. So anytime during that period they could've talked about it. But the president's recollection of it is that the the thing had petered out quite a bit. They sent a letter of intent in. They didn't even know where to send it they knew so little about it. They'd finally got it straightened out. And then they abandoned the project. And that's about as much as he can remember of it. Because, remember, 2015, 2016, he's running against 16 people for president of the United States. And I know that. I was with him, like, for --

CHUCK TODD:

So --

RUDY GIULIANI:

-- five months. His concentration was 100% on running for president.

CHUCK TODD:

So is it fair that this was more of a project Michael Cohen -- did it also involve Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump?

RUDY GIULIANI:

I don't know that.

CHUCK TODD:

Is that --

RUDY GIULIANI:

I don’t -- except for knowledge of it, it was essentially -- I mean, if Michael is at all telling the truth now, he would have to acknowledge he was the key guy on this project. So he'd be the one. I mean, if things were normal and we weren't worried that he's lying, he'd be the guy you'd go to and say, you know, "Tell us what happened. You ran this thing."

CHUCK TODD:

Why do you think he decided then -- so you're saying he decided on his own to tell Congress that talks with Trump Tower Moscow stopped in January of '16?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, he did it in consultation with his lawyers. And, you know, the same way --

CHUCK TODD:

According to Bob Mueller he did it in --

RUDY GIULIANI:

-- I prepare with --

CHUCK TODD:

--he did it in consultation with some of the president's lawyers as well.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Now, that could be true also. John Dowd, Jay Sekulow, Ty Cobb were the lawyers then. And it would be not uncommon since there was a joint defense agreement that -- I don't know if they pretty much -- i don’t know if they participated in the preparation, but they'd certainly be told about it just like he would be told about what other people were doing. That's what a joint defense agreement's all about.

CHUCK TODD:

So just to clarify, talks of Trump Tower Moscow went as late as October or November of 2016, even in a --

RUDY GIULIANI:

Could be.

CHUCK TODD:

-- in some form?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Could be. The president's recollection is, "I talked about it with him in 2015, 2016. Can't tell you the exact sequence. Can't tell you the exact dates. We talked about the project. We talked about the fact he was going to send in a nonbinding letter of intent. And then at some point he came to me and informed me that it didn't go anywhere."

CHUCK TODD:

Do you know why it didn't go anywhere?

RUDY GIULIANI:

I don't actually. No, I don't know why it didn't go anywhere. Nor does the president really know exactly why. I mean, there are a lot of these things that happen in a business like his. You send in a letter of intent, and maybe one out of three, one out of four turns out to be a project. It's like a very early stage proposal.

CHUCK TODD:

But this -- as far as the president was concerned, an active project to at least October or November of 2016? An active potential --

RUDY GIULIANI:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

-- deal?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Yeah, I would say an active proposal. It's like my business. I make proposals to do security work. Probably got six of them out right now. If you were to ask me, "What countries am I doing business in?" I'd just tell you the two I'm doing business in. Not the other six because I may never do business there.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about what you said on CNN earlier this week about the issue of collusion. Let me play first your statement to Mr. Cuomo and go from there.

[BEGIN TAPE]

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, you just misstated my position. I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.

CHRIS CUOMO:

Yes, you have.

RUDY GIULIANI:

I have no idea if -- I have not. I said, "The president of the United States."

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

I'm going to play for you a collection of yourself and the president on this issue of collusion. Take a listen, and then I'll get you to respond.

[BEGIN TAPE]

DONALD TRUMP:

There is no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians. There was no collusion between us and Russia. There was no collusion on my side. I can tell you that. Everybody knew it. There has been no collusion between us and the Russians. But there has been no collusion. They won't find any collusion. It doesn't exist.

RUDY GIULIANI:

I know from having been on the campaign that there was no contact with Russians, no discussion with Russians.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Now, you have said you now are creating a specific that it's just the president there was no collusion for. It does seem like a change. You've said it is not. Why shouldn't we view this as a change?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, I'll tell you. Because each time I said that back then and each time the president said it -- I shouldn't say "each time." Most of the times I said it back then, I qualified it with "to my knowledge," which is, of course, all I would know. So if I'm saying there's no collusion on the campaign, of course I don't know everyone on the campaign. To my knowledge, there's no collusion on the campaign. I probably didn't qualify it every time I said it. Then in the case of Chris, he asked me to qualify it. He asked me a question before that about, "Well, would you know?" and I made it clear that I wouldn't know everything that happened. I represent the president. I know his knowledge directly, talking to him. I'm in a strange position of having been intimately involved in a large part of the campaign. I know what I know from that. No Russian collusion. But how do I know if somebody -- I mean, like, when Papadopoulos came along, there was a big furor about how he might have been colluding with the Russians. Turned out that he wasn't. At the time that that came up, I wouldn't have known if he was or he wasn't. Now, I know he wasn't.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, some people could watch you on this and say, "You know, you've had to, sort of, change the context of how you're describing that story, to your knowledge, that you keep-- as you get more knowledge, you tell us more of the story." Are you confident your client is being 100% truthful to you?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Yes, absolutely. I don't tell you more of the story. It is true in the first month or two I didn't know it. And I had to, I had to learn it. Probably since May I haven't learned any new facts except the few things that have come along. Actually, it's as you drill down further on the story. If you ask me a general question, I'll give you a general answer. If you ask me a specific question, I'll give you a specific answer. And then I have the problem of being a lawyer where I have to qualify. Like, I'll say, you know, the conversation between Mueller and the president where the president said, "Go easy on Flynn." Now, that conversation did not take place as far as the president is concerned. He doesn't remember any such conversation. But then I'll say, "Even if it took place, there's nothing illegal about it." That confuses people. Because when you say, "Even if it took place, it's not illegal," people think, "Well, you're admitting the conversation took place." It's a complexity that happens because of I guess the difficulty of this subject.

CHUCK TODD:

Final question. Mr. Barr, who is -- during his confirmation hearing to be attorney general explicitly stated that a sitting president could obstruct justice, that has been in dispute with analysis from your legal team. You have heard Mr. Barr's claim that, "Yes, a sitting president can obstruct justice." Do you accept his definition of that? Or do you still disagree with him?

RUDY GIULIANI:

No, no. I agree with him. But I don't phrase it in quite that way, that he can obstruct justice. A president firing somebody who works for him, if he does no other corrupt act other than just fire him, can't obstruct justice because that's what Article Two of the Constitution gives to him solely. Not Congress. Not anybody else. If, for example, a president said, "Leave office, or I'm going to, you know, have your kids kidnapped," or, "I'm going to break your legs." Obstruction -- I prosecuted a lot of obstruction cases. I'll give you an example. When the president said, "Please go easy on Flynn," I know of no obstruction case that begins with the word "please." It goes something like this. "If you don't go easy on Flynn, I'll break your kneecaps." An obstruction case has to involve some degree of corrupt act other than just making a request or just exercising a legal function. Now, you know, Barr is a unique lawyer. I mean he’s a superior lawyer. So I wouldn’t -- if I were one of these lawyers arguing about this on television, I wouldn't go up against Bill Barr.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. Rudy Giuliani, I'm going to end it there. I appreciate the time and appreciate you coming on, sharing your views.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. And joining me now is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Senator Warner, welcome back to Meet the Press.

MARK WARNER:

Good morning.

CHUCK TODD:

Obviously as a Virginia senator, the shutdown is first and foremost on your mind. I get it. It's part of the reason why we wanted you on this morning. But Mr. Giuliani seemed to make some news this morning that we had not heard before about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. He is now saying it was an active potential proposal, at least through October or November. Is that news to the Senate Intelligence Committee?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

That is news to me. And that is big news. Why, two years after the fact, are we just learning this fact now, when there's been this much inquiry? And I've got to tell you, Chuck, I would think most voters, Democrat, Republican, Independent, you name it, that knowing that the Republican nominee was actively trying to do business in Moscow, that the Republican nominee, at least at one point, had offered, if he built this building, Vladimir Putin, a three-penthouse apartment, and if those negotiations were ongoing while -- up 'til the election, I think that's a relevant fact for voters to know. And I think it's remarkable that we're two years after the fact and just discovering it today.

CHUCK TODD:

What does this mean to you? He, throughout the campaign, said, "I had no deals with Russia. I have no business with Russia." I think reasonable people would disagree that, "I have no business with Russia," and an active potential deal does sound like you want business with Russia. So maybe he's going to parse the sentence here. What does that say to you about his -- what does that -- does that question your -- whether he should be in office?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Well, it, it reinforces the fact that we have to finish our investigation, the Senate investigation, which is still the only bipartisan one left. We need to have Mueller finish. And what we’ve seen is, and I don't often feel bad for Rudy Giuliani, this morning, just seeing that interview, I almost feel bad for him. He keeps having to readjust his stories, as more facts come out. So we now know that Mr. Trump or his operation was still trying to do business with Moscow up until his election. We now know that his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, gave confidential information to a Russian agent, and we don't know what that Russian agent did with that. We now know, as well, and one of the questions I still am trying to get answered, is that, frankly, embarrassing meeting between Trump and Putin, where on the world stage, the President of the United States kowtowed to the Russian president. I still don't know -- they don't have to tell me, but I still don’t know whether anyone in the Trump administration, at the most-senior levels, ever got a readout. That raises a whole host of questions that the American public needs an answer to, and the Congress needs an answer to.

CHUCK TODD:

You said earlier this week that you expect to have Michael Cohen back in front of your committee in February, as well. We know about his public testimony that he's agreed to give, I think, to the House Oversight Committee, at this point. Have you gotten -- has he agreed to this yet?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

We're still in conversations. Chairman Burr and I have agreed, for some time, that we wanted to bring Cohen back. He also has agreed to testify, publically. I know the House Intel Committee is bringing him back, as well. And we particularly want him back, because it was his original lies to our committee that got him into trouble. Those lies were saying, "There was no activities on the Trump Tower after January of 2017."

CHUCK TODD:

Do you have evidence that, somehow, the president instructed Mr. Cohen to lie to Congress?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Listen, we want to get Mr. Cohen to come before our committee and give testimony.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you know -- do you have any evidence?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

I’m not going to go in, I'm not going to go into any of the materials that we have. I do know that it is one of the reasons, though -- where, I think, part of this information may reside is within the Mueller investigation. Again, one of the critical reasons why we need assurances that that investigation will be able to be finished.

CHUCK TODD:

It sounds like -- can -- it sounds like a lot of Democrats think that you guys need to start pushing your investigation faster, because Mr. Mueller is taking too long. Where are you on that?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

I want to get this done as fast as we can. I have as much frustration as anyone. But we have to do it in a thorough way. And there are a number of the key individuals, who we've either not seen or need to come back. And we are in those conversations right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Was it news to you, when the New York Times reported that a counterintelligence investigation was opened on the president?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

I'm not going to comment on that story from the New York Times.

CHUCK TODD:

Is that something, though, that if one had been, had been opened, that it would be information that would be shared with a select group of people?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

I'm not going to comment on what goes on in the Intelligence Committee.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let me move to the shutdown. I know the Democrats have rejected the deal. I know Democrats are working on their own counter proposal here. What are we to take away? What's the public to take away from the fact the president went out and offered something. You may not like it, but he offered something. Democrats are going to offer a little something. It's not going to be anything for a barrier. Is that progress?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Let me, first of all, step back and say, let's make sure we all know what's at stake here. We have 800,000 workers that are either working or furloughed, not getting paid. We have hundreds of thousands of contractors. We think about the Smithsonian here, all the folks who clean the toilets and serve the food aren't getting paid. We have businesses that support those all across America. Senator Murkowski, from Alaska, showed a brewery in Kodiak, Alaska, empty yesterday, because it was in a Coast Guard town. The starting point of this negotiation ought to be reopening the government. And if we're not, at least what we ought to be willing to do -- because you think people have hurt so far? Come this Thursday, there's going to be a second pay period without a check. And then there's the beginning of the month, with all the bills coming due. The fact that we're going to go back and pay our federal employees back pay, let's at least pay them on Thursday, so they don't have to go through more angst.

CHUCK TODD:

So you can keep the government shut down and give them pay? Can you do both?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

I would start with opening the government. That's my most important criteria.

CHUCK TODD:

But do you think you can get them paid, while you still have this fight?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

What I'm saying is we try to have some discussions. At least getting them paid would make some sense. Let me just also make clear that what the president proposed yesterday, increasing border security, looking at TPS, looking at, at the Dreamers, I'll use that as a starting point. But you've got to start by opening the government. What we cannot do, and I've actually had Republicans as well recognize this, is that we cannot reward the kind of behavior of hostage taking. Because if the president can arbitrarily shut down the government now, he will do it time and again.

CHUCK TODD:

You do know, though, that already, the hit to GDP is greater than the amount of money he's asked for. We've already had a $7 billion hit to our economy. He's asking for $5.7 billion. At what point is it not worth it?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

And that’s why, and that’s why -- listen, going into negotiations, I'm all for it. Increasing border security, I'm all for it.

CHUCK TODD:

Some fencing? You've voted for it before.

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Start, start, start with opening the government. And the one thing, I guess, I'd like to ask, Chuck, you and the folks here at the studio, you know, I don't think we give our federal employees enough benefit. Five weeks now without pay, they're still showing up to work. They're working overtime. How many of the folks in this studio would come to work this morning, if they'd gone five weeks without pay?

CHUCK TODD:

It's a very fair question. And I think you would have a very empty studio. Senator Mark Warner, Democrat from Virginia. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views.

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Much appreciated. When we come back, the shutdown, Russia, and calls among Democrats to start impeachment hearings. The panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Joshua Johnson, host of 1A on NPR; Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute; NBC News national political correspondent Heidi Przybyla; and Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times. All right. There's two ways to look at these shutdown proposals. One is, it's going nowhere, Peter Baker. The other is, Mark Warner said there, "OK, I'm willing to accept the president as a starting point." He made an inch towards the Democrats. Democrats made an inch towards -- you know, it's not half full, but there's condensation in the water, in the glass.

PETER BAKER:

Look, for 29 days, all we had was, "Give me the money, or don't give me the money." It was just one thing on the table. Neither side was budging. Now, we're starting to put some other things on the table. We're expanding the problem, so that there, in fact, can be multiple aspects to it, to give each side something that they can live with. You can see the makings of a deal here. Now, you're right. At the moment, it doesn't seem like it's likely to happen in the next 24, 48 hours. They're still stuck on, "I'm not going to negotiate on this. I'm not going to negotiate on that."

And if the president really wanted a deal, I'm not sure coming out on television to make the first proposal is the way to do it. I'm not sure that rejecting it before it was made is the way to do it. But you can see the beginnings of negotiations. We're now in a place where people are actually beginning to move.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA:

So here's what happened. Basically, Jared Kushner and Mike Pence were up on the Hill this week. They met with Mitch McConnell. They left. Mitch McConnell picked up the phone and called the president and said, "Mr. President, Nancy Pelosi is not going to budge. You've got to do something to shake this up. Just put something on the table." And so this is wholly a proposal from the White House. And that is the problem, however, is that, even though we saw some movement, in terms of the wall itself, the president conceding, for the first time, "This is not a contiguous wall," also giving a little bit on DACA, it is not anywhere close to what the Democrats would want, in terms of the money being directed towards the infrastructure that's needed at ports of entry, drones, more people on the border. There is some stuff on there, in terms of more increased border security that's not wall. But they're still far apart on the specifics. And here's the most important thing. And you heard Mark Warner say this, according to the Democrats who I talked to, is they really are going to stay united, when it comes to the principle of this negotiation taking place when the government is open and not closed.

CHUCK TODD:

Interesting. Well, close, no? You don't see progress?

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Don't look at me. I don't know. Nope. And let's be clear. No one in this room knows when the shutdown is going to end. Let's just, let’s just knock that right out. There's no clear path. And I think part of the reason is because this is no longer purely pragmatic or practical politics. This is a moral issue. I mean, I think the shutdown is kind of a symptom of something larger. The wall is a campaign promise the president made to play on something very deeply held that his political base feels. And if you want to look for an image that actually speaks to this, it's probably those protesters who were on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Native American man, who was beating the drum, Nathan Phillips, and those kids in the Make America Great Again hats, who were kind of smirking at him and kind of looking down their noses at him. To me, that is the real image. That is the real emblem of this. This is about xenophobia. For many Americans, this is about race. This is about rhetoric that has reached a point where it has ground the government to a halt. Nancy Pelosi said, "A wall is an immorality." So how do you make a political solution to a moral quandary? It seems like the entire political establishment has kind of painted itself into a place where the practical nature of politics could solve this. But for many Americans, for many people of color, and I'm not speaking for all people of color, for the Rashida Tlaibs in this country, for the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes in this country, they are tired of political solutions to moral problems.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Dany, it's interesting. He brought up the, perhaps, the box that Democrats have painted themselves and the morality. Then you have the A-word, when it comes to the right, which is amnesty, which is that any little protection for anybody that's not here legally is, somehow, amnesty. And the president tweeted this this morning. "No, amnesty is not part of my offer. It is a three-year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise, there will be no big push to remove the 11 million-plus people who are here illegally. But be careful, Nancy." The amnesty word, we know that that, suddenly, can splinter the right.

DANIELLE PLETKA:

So there's a lot of history behind these immigration problems. It's not just something that came up between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi. This goes back to 1986 and the original deal that was struck with the Reagan Administration, which most people don't even remember. And that was the amnesty question. You know, I think what we've seen is that, while Donald Trump had painted himself into a corner, the reality is, we may not like it, we may not agree with him. But he has moved. And it is a mistake, on the part of the speaker, to come out of the box and not accept the idea that we like the idea of a three-year extension. Sure, we want to do better. We could accept a 700-mile or so border, a fence. The Democrats, every sitting Democrat in this Senate, voted for just such a thing a mere five years ago. The problem that you have is, when you start suggesting that anyone who wants a wall, or no, not many, I don't want to be unfair to you, but that many who want this are actually racists, it causes a real hardening on the other side. There are plenty of people, including 35-plus Democratic senators, who wanted a wall, signed up to a wall, and who, I don't think, are racist.

CHUCK TODD:

Bottom line is, if you take the emotion out of this debate, it's solved tomorrow, right?

PETER BAKER:

Yeah, that's exactly right. And I think, Josh's point is exactly right, which is what used to be a relatively pragmatic discussion about a little of this, a little of that, right, in 2006, Republicans, along with many Democrats, voted for the Secure Fence Act. They put in 650 miles' worth of fencing. Today, it has become a moral issue on both sides, in different ways. Very hard to meet in the middle.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Let's all be clear, there are some experts who do believe that there are certain kinds of barriers, in certain parts of the border, that make perfect sense. We interviewed a border patrol expert on our program who said that, especially in urban areas, where there are plenty of places for smugglers to kind of duck and dodge behind buildings or down alleys, physical barriers can make a real difference, in terms of securing the border. So saying it's inherently an immorality may be true in some people's hearts. But there are pragmatic ways in which certain kinds of barriers, along certain parts of the border, have helped.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA:

There's a deal to be had. It's not going to be had, according to the Democrats, when the government is closed. Because just this week, you saw other groups, other conservative-based groups, pro-life groups, say, "Let's have a shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding." And so this really is, for Democrats, about the principle.

CHUCK TODD:

If this continues to go on, which party is more vulnerable to seeing more splintering off here, right? I mean, I feel like you've got those Trump House Democrats. You've got those Senate Republicans in blue states. It seems like they're both wobbly here.

DANIELLE PLETKA:

I think, right now, Nancy Pelosi is at more risk. Because she's facing exactly what two Republican speakers faced up to, which is her own version of the Freedom Caucus, her own version of the Tea Party, who are going to turn on her like vipers.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA:

I think Mitch McConnell's move here, with getting Trump to make this proposal, was also meant to move this to the Senate. So I would look to those Senate Democrats, those moderate Democrats, which is why I reached out to Joe Manchin last night. And he gave a very kind of nebulous statement but did say, "Let's open the government," which brings me back to the same point I keep making.

CHUCK TODD:

Right, and as you heard Mark Warner there, "Maybe we could pay them." You can tell, there's some movement. All right, let's pause it there. Coming up, as he enters his third year in office, President Trump is counting on continued support from congressional Republicans on a number of issues. Will he get it? A top House Republican, Liz Cheney, joins me next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. As the debate over immigration and the shutdown demonstrate President Trump is walled in between his Republican base and the Democratic opposition, neither of whom want to give anything to the other side. One group that may have a lot of impact on Mr. Trump's fate, on everything from the shutdown to Mueller to 2020, are House Republicans. And joining me this morning is the chair of the House Republican Conference, that's the number three position in leadership on the Republican side, it's Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Congresswoman Cheney, welcome to Meet the Press.

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

Thank you very much, Chuck. Great to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the shutdown. Wyoming, as folks are going to see, is one of the most impacted states by this shutdown, I think one of the five most impacted outside of the region here. The president's proposal seemed to inch. Democrats are talking about more money for border security, but no barrier. Are we closer? Or is this rhetoric?

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

Well, it's certainly more than rhetoric on, on our side. And I think that what you saw the president do yesterday was, one more time, put a proposal on the table. You know, it's very difficult to understand, when you've got the president's proposal that, obviously, includes money for the border wall, also includes an extension for the DACA folks, also includes an extension for TPS. You know, those are issues, DACA in particular, that Speaker Pelosi, she commandeered the floor of the House of Representative for eight hours, less than a year ago, on particularly this issue, of helping to ensure that the people who are here, the so-called Dreamers, are not deported. So for her, now, to just simply reject, out of hand, when the president, actually, has said, "Okay, let's look at ways we can come closer," you know, it shows you they're just not interested in negotiating.

CHUCK TODD:

Why should the Democrats, though, accept something temporary in exchange for something permanent?

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

Well, look what we’re --

CHUCK TODD:

In fairness to them.

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

What we're talking about is we have to secure the border and get the government open. And, you know, as your last panel talked about, the Democrats in the Senate, including Senator Warner have voted for 700 miles actually of a border barrier back in 2013. So we really want to come to an agreement here. The president really wants to come to an agreement here. He has put offers on the table. The responsible thing for the Democrats to do is put a counteroffer on the table if you don't like this one.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Warner seemed to suggest, maybe there's a way to pay people, pay some of these workers now, even if you don't open up the government, not miss another pay period. Would you support some sort of temporary solution like that, this week, just to keep things going?

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

You know, the House Republicans actually voted to do just that. And the Democrats voted against it. We had a handful of Democrats who joined us on one of our motions to recommit that would do exactly that.

CHUCK TODD:

Pay people, even if the government stays closed.

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

That's right. We think it's very important that people get paid. I don't think that it makes any sense. I think that it's very hard to defend the notion that we're asking people to come to work and not be paid. But at the end of the day, there is a solution here. And the Democrats, you know, the rhetoric here has really gotten above and beyond. When the president's offer is rejected even before he stands up to give his speech. That tells you something about what their, what their approach is here.

CHUCK TODD:

Did what the president offer -- is that how you would define amnesty? Is that a fair critique from -- some on the right are saying, "The president's offers are amnesty."

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

No. It's not amnesty. What he said basically is, "Look let's have an extension for three years of these two program. And let's do that so that we can come to the table to talk about what's necessary for broader immigration reform." It isn't amnesty. And frankly it is a really important step forward. But again, I come back to the fact that Speaker Pelosi has said that she will be a champion of the DREAMers. And so when she's willing to play games, when she's willing to pull political stunts, but she's not actually willing to come up with solutions, that makes it very difficult to come to an agreement here.

CHUCK TODD:

Finding a permanent solution for the DREAMers with a path to citizenship, any form of that, when does that become amnesty in your mind?

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

Well, you know, look we will have to see what happens. We've got to get the government open, we've got to focus on what comes next. But at this point the most important thing --

CHUCK TODD:

But what I described is not a -- you don't think that's a -- that’s amnesty, right? If you have to have -–

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

What the president --

CHUCK TODD:

-- a path to citizenship?

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

What the president has put forward is not amnesty. What the president has done is say, "Absolutely, our first and most important obligation is to secure the border." And the fact that the Democrats are talking, "Let's have open borders, let's abolish ICE." They're, they're -- they say they're for border security on some level yet they're not even willing to, as Speaker Pelosi said, provide one dollar for it. It is a purely partisan game she's playing and she ought to stop it for the good of the nation.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me move to some foreign policy issues. Here was the president, yesterday, on the White House South Lawn, talking about the potential withdrawal of troops in Syria. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

In two years, we've, I guess, reduced it to about 99% of the territorial caliphate. We're killing ISIS for Russia, for Iran, for Syria, for Iraq, for a lot of other places. At some point you want to bring our people back home.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

I know you have met -- you've been to the White House, to talk about your concerns about too quick of a pullout there. Does that make you feel better? Or does that sound like a president that still wants to move a little faster on this pullout than you do?

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

Look, I think what's very important to recognize is that we have to make sure that we finish the job. And if you look at the mistakes that --

CHUCK TODD:

So 99%, in your mind, is not finishing the job.

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

It's not. If you look at the mistakes that Barack Obama made, when he pulled out of Iraq precipitously, when he declared the war ended, and the war, certainly, wasn't ended, and we end up with chaos in the aftermath. In a place like Syria, what our special operations forces are doing there is crucially important, in order to be able to provide air support, some artillery support. We've got to ensure that ISIS is destroyed. Because if you walk away before they're destroyed, then they have the ability to create safe havens to launch attacks against us again.

CHUCK TODD:

But you know what some will say? There's always an ISIS. There's always an Al Qaeda. They're just going to change their name. So it means we're always going to be there. What do you say to folks that think that no matter -- that your definition means, we're always going to have troops in the Middle East?

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

We have to fight them there, so they don’t fight us here. And the definition of victory in the Middle East, the definition of victory in Afghanistan, in Syria, is that we don't have another 9/11. So we've got to recognize that the kind of enemy that we're facing can, with very little territory, very little resources, have bases from which they can plot and plan and launch attacks. And we have an obligation to make sure they don't do that.

CHUCK TODD:

Before I let you go, Congressman Steve King, basically, has decided you're the reason why he's being, maybe, shoved out of office, shoved out of the party. I have got to play you something he said about you earlier this week. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REP. STEVE KING :

You can't put her in the category of ever being a conservative again. She has called for my resignation. She has been here two years. And you know, what would give her the moral authority or the intellectual judgment to do something like that?

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

I'll just give you a chance to respond, if you want.

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

Well, look. I think I was pretty clear, and our entire House leadership was very clear last week. His comments were abhorrent. They were racist. We, under the guidance of Leader McCarthy, stripped him of his committee assignments. And I think there's simply no place for that language in any of our national discourse.

CHUCK TODD:

Censure next?

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

Look, as I said last week, I think he ought to go find another line of work.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Liz Cheney, number three in the House Republican leadership, thanks for coming on and sharing your views. Much appreciated.

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

Thank you, Chuck. Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, you know that 800,000 federal employees are out of work. But did you know it's a problem for many people far away from Washington, D.C.? Stick around.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data Download time. We are one month into this shutdown. And Americans across the country are feeling the impact, beyond just the Capital Beltway. Outside of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Delaware, the states with the highest proportion of federal workers impacted by the shutdown are South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Alaska. Federal employees in these states primarily work for Interior, Agricultural, and Health and Human Services. And it's folks like these, across the country, who've already gone more than a month without a paycheck, who could start to have a tough time making ends meet.

In fact, according to the real estate site, Zillow, this month alone, unpaid federal workers owe $438 million in mortgage and rent payments. And of the workers impacted, almost 111,000 make less than $50,000 per year, according to the Washington Post. Now, this shutdown has cast a spotlight on just how many Americans are one missed paycheck away from a personal financial crisis. In fact, according to a survey by Bankrate, less than half of Americans, just 40%, could cover an unexpected $1,000 expense, like a car repair or emergency room visit, from savings. Others said they would need to pay with a credit card, borrow from family or friends or simply take out a personal loan. And the broader impact on the economy is starting to become apparent as well. Bloomberg estimates that federal contractors could be losing as much as $200 million a day in lost or delayed revenue. And Delta airlines says it has already lost $25 million in revenue, due to lost government flights. A month in, this shutdown is having a real impact, both inside and outside the Washington, D.C., area. And we don't yet know the ripple effect on everything from lunch spots and coffee shops, to Uber drivers. But we do know it's causing real pain for real people. And the question for policymakers may be, when is it simply too much? When we come back, we're going to talk about that BuzzFeed story about Michael Cohen and whether journalists were too quick to report a story that they could not confirm.

ANNOUNCER:

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

ANNOUNCER:

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

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame and the BuzzFeed bombshell that, well, wasn't, and the unbelievable decision by the special prosecutor's office, to actually say, "No, the story is wrong." A lot of people now know the story, but let me put the special counsel's statement up one more time, from Peter Carr."BuzzFeed's description of specific statements from the special counsel's office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate." Saturday, BuzzFeed is still sticking by their story. Here's their statement. "As we've re-confirmed our reporting, we’ve seen no indication that any specific aspect of our story is inaccurate. We remain confident in what we've reported and will share more, as we are able to." Peter Baker and Heidi Przybyla, you both deal a lot with the special counsel's office in various ways. Just explain how unprecedented this was, Heidi.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA:

Absolutely unprecedented. There has been thousands of stories that have gone out on Russia, and the special counsel's office has said nothing. So the fact that it felt compelled to answer to this was really significant. And I think, on the Hill, there was also a pressure coming because you had some members, and I want to say that they were not leadership, and they were not the committee chairs, but you had some Democrats starting to use the I-word and starting to say, "Mueller, if you've got this evidence, you have to bring it forward now." So there was those two confluences of events happening that I think, compelled him to say something. We don't know, though. I don't think we should get ahead of our skis here on this story, because we don't know everything that was wrong in the story and it is notable that BuzzFeed continues to stand by it. So I think there's more iterations of this to come.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. Peter, though, I think the bigger thing is the entire media world, okay? And we can all say we did the if-trues and if-trues. And we said, "We could not confirm." And that's all true. But let’s, you know, it was something that the entire media world was telling the public, "This, this is probably true" by the way we covered this. Now look.

PETER BAKER:

Well, look. You know, BuzzFeed has gotten a lot of things right, you know? And so let's not forget that. They have had a number of important scoops on this. And I think there was some, you know, credibility, it seemed like, on the front end, to what they were saying, but our people weren't able to confirm it, the way it was reported. And I think that gave us, obviously, a lot of pause. And it should. The problem is, in the old days, you know, when one media organization's competitor got something wrong, you kind of would sit back and say, "Well, ha-ha. We didn't." Now, unfortunately, it blows back on all of us. We all own all of the media, in effect. And anybody gets anything wrong, it's used as a weapon and a cudgel against all of us, and against all of the thousands of other stories that Heidi just mentioned. I think the fact that the special counsel chose to correct this one says that they weren't troubled by the vast majority of those thousands of other stories, and that a lot of the reporting has been, in fact, pretty right.

CHUCK TODD:

That's, by the way, the danger of the special counsel's office deciding to speak out on one story. Because does it do that, confirm every other, Joshua?

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Can we just be clear on two things? One, the American public, by and large, do not trust the folks inside the Beltway or in the press. And two, the American people want this to be over. We're tired. This is, like, the slowest, longest, most-drawn-out drama. And whatever story is going to make this end, I think, a lot of people are kind of eager for. The BuzzFeed story kind of has that patina, right? It's the smoke from the smoking gun. And if, indeed, it leads to the gun from whence the smoke originated, boom, we can end this story, and time to start Game of Thrones in April. And we've only got one big drama to deal with. I think this whole narrative, first of all, it's a good thing that the larger media establishment was able to talk about this because if you go back in journalism history, we all read our own different papers from our own political silos. And there never would've been a correction. It would've ended up in the paper that spoke to your point of view. No one else would've seen it. And we never would have gotten the facts right. So this is where the era of the internet helps. But overall, I feel like this is just another part of this drama that the American people and folks inside the Beltway are saying, "Can we wrap this up, please?"

DANIELLE PLETKA:

The problem is, the problem is the fake news problem. Anytime, anytime that somebody gets something so spectacularly wrong, and everybody piles on, it furthers the narrative that this is yet another American institution that the people of our country can't trust. That's the problem with the BuzzFeed story.

CHUCK TODD:

No, it is. And as we've got to remind people, though there are people that want to exploit this, they want to see us be put this way. And they're just doing it for exploitation purposes. So let's not give them the ammunition. Anyway, thank you all for today. Thank you for watching and trusting us. Have a happy and safe Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Get your ice skates out here in Washington. We'll be back next week. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.