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Meet the Press - November 12, 2017

NBC News - Meet the Press

“11.12.17.”

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a new political landscape. Republicans suffer a one, two punch. First, Democrats sweep elections across the country, including two governor's races.

KASIE HUNT :

Was it a referendum of Donald Trump?

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR :

I do believe so.

CHUCK TODD:

And fueling Democratic hopes for winning back control of Congress next year.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Our Republican friends better look out.

CHUCK TODD:

Then those bombshell claims about Alabama's Republican Senate candidate, Roy Moore.

FEMALE VOICE:

Shocking allegations of sexual misconduct against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

CHUCK TODD:

Unnerving Republicans in Washington.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY:

If that's true, then I don't believe there'd be any place for him in U.S. Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

And threatening their Senate majority. Elections, Roy Moore, and the growing awareness of sexual harassment in politics. My guests this morning: Republican Senator Pat Toomey, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, and White House Legislative Affairs Director Mark Short. Plus, President Trump sides with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies on charges of Russian hacking, then says he's with our agencies.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I believe that President Putin really feels, and he feels strongly, that he did not meddle in our election. What he believes is what he believes.

CHUCK TODD:

But what does the president believe? Joining me for insight and analysis are: Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, NBC News White House correspondent, Kristen Welker, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, and MSNBC political analyst Elise Jordan. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

(INTRODUCTION OMITTED)

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. One week ago today, the momentum seemed to be with the Republicans in Virginia, and Democrats were getting worried that they were facing yet another post-Trump election day disappointment. By Friday, Democrats were not only declared slight favorites to take the House next year, but they saw a plausible path in the Senate, as well.

Let's start with Tuesday. Democratic candidates won the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia and swept races across the country in a clear, at least suburban, repudiation of President Trump. These victories gave Democrats real hope that 2018 could see a wave election that gives them control of the House.

And then came the Roy Moore story. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Alabama's Republican Senate candidate molested a 14-year-old girl and made sexual advances on three other teenagers when he was in his 30s. Staggered Republicans were left wondering: Could the Democrat actually win in Alabama and threaten the Republican Senate majority? Would Republicans be better off without Moore in the Senate? Should they support a write-in candidate? Can they force Moore from the race? Yet, amid all that Republican hand-wringing, Moore has shown no sign that he'd be willing to get out.

ROY MOORE:

These attacks involve a minor, and they are completely false and untrue.

CHUCK TODD:

Republicans are scrambling to distance themselves from Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who denies ever meeting then-14-year-old Leigh Corfman and says her allegations are completely false.

ROY MOORE:

We do not intend to let the Democrats or the established Republicans or anybody else behind this story stop this campaign.

CHUCK TODD:

But in a radio interview with Sean Hannity, Moore did not rule out the possibility that he dated other teenagers when he was in his 30s.

ROY MOORE:

I don't remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother.

SEAN HANNITY:

Do you remember dating girls that young at that time?

ROY MOORE:

Not generally, no.

CHUCK TODD:

Senate Republicans have rushed to denounce Moore.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY:

If that's true, I don't believe there'd be any place for him in the U.S. Senate.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL:

If these allegations are true, Roy Moore should step aside.

CHUCK TODD:

A growing list of Republicans have pulled their endorsements or called on Moore to drop out of the race all together. And on Friday, the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm withdrew from a joint fundraising agreement with Roy's campaign. But the President's former campaign co-chair in the state is calling the allegations "gutter politics."

PERRY HOOPER JR.:

If these ladies feel like they're telling the truth, then they need to go ahead and take a lie detector test.

CHUCK TODD:

And though, while overseas, President Trump was noncommittal to reporters, saying, "I'd have to look at it and I'd have to see," other Trump allies like former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, are defending Moore.

STEVE BANNON:

Until I see additional evidence on Judge Moore, I'm standing with him.

CHUCK TODD:

The bombshell report comes after a difficult week for the Republican Party. Democrats won governors races in New Jersey and Virginia, and, more importantly, flipped at least 15 seats in Virginia's House of Delegates, where big gains the last couple of times served as bellwethers for the following years' Congressional elections.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

In 2005, I was head of the DSCC. And you could smell a wave coming. The results last night smell exactly the same way. Our Republican friends better look out.

CHUCK TODD:

This week, three more House Republicans announced they will retire, joining a series of House moderates already leaving. After suburban voters around the country rejected Republicans, rattling other party members who fear they could be next.

KASIE HUNT:

Was the referendum with Donald Trump?

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR:

I do believe so.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is a Republican Senator, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Senator Toomey, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Good morning, Chuck. Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Happy to have you here. Let me start with the Roy Moore situation. Is it worse if Roy Moore loses or wins for Senate Republicans?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Oh, I don't know, Chuck. I don't know how this is going to turn out. You know, this is a terrible situation: a nearly 40-year-old allegation. We’ll probably never know for sure exactly what happened. But, from my point of view, you know, I have to say I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.

CHUCK TODD:

It doesn't appear right now he's going to step aside. So I guess the question is what does the party do? Do you run a write-in? Or do you try to ensure that he doesn't win?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

You know, I think a write-in is something we should certainly explore. I think Luther Strange would be a strong candidate for a write-in. But a write-in is very difficult, let's face it. So there's no easy solution to this. I think we should consider a write-in.

CHUCK TODD:

If he does win, should the United States Senate seat Roy Moore?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Yeah, we'll have to wrestle with that if and when the time comes. There's a lot that has to happen before that, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

So you're not ruling out the idea that you wouldn't want to have him seated as a Senator?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Look, I suspect we'll learn more between now and then, Chuck. And I'm not going to, you know, project what we should be doing under that hypothetical.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this, just bigger picture here. Why do you think that there seems to be people are picking a political ideology or a political preference over what is clearly morally repugnant?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

I'm not sure who you're referring to. I think Republicans have addressed this in a thoughtful and responsible way, right? We've got a 40-year-old allegation that is unprovable, probably. And despite that, many of us are suggesting that the preponderance of the evidence seems to support the accuser and, therefore, many of us, I'll speak for myself, would prefer for Roy to step aside. I think that's a responsible way to approach this.

CHUCK TODD:

You've said 40-year-old accusation twice. Why does that matter?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

It matters because it just raises the question about the credibility. Look, I've said, and I don't find the denial terribly credible.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

But when someone waits 40 years before they make an accusation, you know, that raises a question itself. So it's probably not knowable. But there seems to be enough there that it's very disturbing.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me move on quickly to something that the president said overseas, having to do with Vladimir Putin. He seemed to take the word of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, over the intelligence agencies. And he said this, he said, "He said he didn't meddle, he said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask him so many times. But I just asked him again, and he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election." Why do you think the president wants to take Vladimir Putin's words over the words of former C.I.A. directors, just because they happen to work for a Democrat?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Chuck, I don't spend a lot of time trying to evaluate and analyze why the president comes to the conclusions he comes to. In my view, I think it's clear that President Putin orchestrated an effort to meddle and disrupt our elections. I think he does that routinely in Western democracies. I think he has a variety of reasons for doing it. I don't think there's anything at all that we can trust that comes out of Putin's mouth. I think he's a dangerous man and a thug. And-- look, I think that's the view of many of my colleagues.

CHUCK TODD:

Has he been punished enough? Because the president has implied that, essentially, we've got to stop sort of confronting Putin on this. Do you think he's been punished enough, or the Russian government's been punished enough by the United States?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

So my answer is no. And I think you've seen that the Senate has responded. For instance, our insistence on tougher sanctions against Russia, and a Congressional review mechanism attached to those sanctions, to make it a little more difficult for this president or any president to unilaterally lift those sanctions. No, I think we have to raise the cost to Putin for the outrageous behavior he's committed.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me turn to the tax bill. And I want to address the issue of the debt first, because this has been an issue of concern of yours throughout your tenure in the United States Senate. Let me play some of the things you've said about the national debt before. Here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

So we've got $16 trillion in debt. This is totally unsustainable. We've got to begin to get this under control.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

We're on an unsustainable fiscal path. We have deficits that are too large.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

I just don't think we can kick this can down the road any further.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Quite a few analyses of this tax plan indicate that it's going to be a budget buster. You have already voted to expand-- you're willing to expand the debt by $1.5 trillion over ten years. I know you believe in some form of dynamic scoring. I get that. But why do you have some tolerance here of expanding the debt now, versus over the last seven years?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Yeah. So let me be very clear, Chuck. If we pass this tax reform package in something like its current form, we will reduce the size of the deficits, and we will have smaller debt than we otherwise would. This bill contemplates, really, compared to the current policy, the current path that we're on, $1 trillion in foregone revenue, without taking into account the greater economic growth, a larger economy, and therefore, more revenue to the federal government.

The Tax Foundation has done its analysis. And they have come to this conclusion that it will generate more revenue than the path we're on now, therefore, a smaller deficit. And here's another way to think about it. We've got a box that we have created. There's a limit to how much foregone revenue on this very restrictive static scoring we can produce. It'll take only four tenths of one percent of extra economic growth to entirely fill in that hole and reduce the size of the deficit. I think if we pass this bill we'll get more than that in extra economic growth.

CHUCK TODD:

So if you believe that cutting taxes somehow will increase revenue to the Treasury, then why not cut them more?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Okay.

CHUCK TODD:

What is the line?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Because Chuck, first of all, that's--

CHUCK TODD:

I mean what is the line there?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

--that's a complete mischaracterization. It is the most profound tax reform in over 30 years. We're going to take the U.S. business tax code, from one of the worst in the world from the point of view of a potential investor, to one of the best in the world. We do not get our share, based on the size of our economy, we don't get our share of foreign direct investment. I think that's partly because we uniquely punish investors in ways that no one else does.

We're going to clean that up. We're going to create tremendous investment incentives to invest in the U.S., both domestically and from overseas. That is going to generate more economic growth. If all we were doing was changing rates, that would be a different matter. This is a profound change that is going to really be very pro-growth.

CHUCK TODD:

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted that he misspoke when he said that not everybody was going to get a tax cut. What do you tell, and it's particularly in, I'll say, the suburbs of Philadelphia, a lot of upper middle class folks may not actually see a tax cut because of the way some of the deductions go away. What do you tell those folks who think, "Wait a minute, I'm not going to get a tax cut, even though I've been voting Republican and been promised that I was going to get this tax cut?"

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

The vast majority of people are going to get a tax cut. And any time you really reform the tax code there will be some outliers that may not get a tax cut. In this reform, any such outliers are likely to be pretty high income folks who also tend to have significant investment portfolios.

Take a look at where the stock market is, in part, because of the anticipation of this tax reform. So those folks are benefiting in many ways. Most will get a tax cut, but there might be a few outliers. They will benefit in a lot of ways from a stronger economy.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator Toomey from Pennsylvania, I've got to leave it there. Sir, thanks for coming on and sharing your views. I appreciate it.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY:

Thanks for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it.

CHUCK TODD: Well joining me now is the White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short. Mr. Short, welcome back to Meet The Press.

MARC SHORT:

Chuck, thanks for having me back again and congrats on your Hurricanes last night.

CHUCK TODD:

Thanks, I’ll admit, I’m still on a bit of a high on that. Let me quickly start with the Roy Moore situation here. You had said that you were waiting to see what Mr. Moore had to say when you were asked about this. You have heard Roy Moore’s denials. Has he comforted you or has he made you more skeptical of the situation?

MARC SHORT:

Now Chuck, let me first that say I have a nine-year-old daughter as you know, and I think that the notion of innocent, defenseless children being molested is one of the most painful thoughts a parent can have. And I think that there’s a special place in hell for those who actually perpetrate these crimes, and I think Roy Moore has to do more explaining than he has done so far. But I think we here in Washington have to be careful as well in this. Roy Moore is somebody who graduated from West Point, he served our country in Vietnam, he’s been elected multiple times statewide in Alabama. The people in Alabama know Roy Moore better than we do here in DC, and I think we have to be very cautious, as Senator Toomey said of allegations that are 40 years old that arise a month before election day.

CHUCK TODD:

Scott Jannings, who is a former Bush official, you know him well, he said the following. He said look, “it strikes me that the people of Alabama would listen to the president,” basically he says it’s going to take presidential intervention to possible get Mr. Moore to step aside or to get this write-in candidacy on board. Is the president prepared to insert himself to try to fix this situation?

MARC SHORT:

Chuck, he did insert himself. He supported Luther Strange in the primary against Roy Moore. People are forgetting that. This president has been engaged there.

CHUCK TODD:

Would he get re-engaged there?

MARC SHORT:

I think the president’s obviously on a very important trip and when he returns I think we’ll have that conversation, Chuck. But I think that people here in this town have an inflated view of what our views are. And it’s important for the people of Alabama to be allowed the chance to discern the truth here and make the right decision.

CHUCK TODD:

So if Alabama certifies that they’re okay with Roy Moore, but this allegation in your mind, he hasn’t answered enough questions and they still send him, isn’t it fair if Senate Republicans, you heard Senator Toomey there was not ready to say whether he would be comfortable having him seated in the US Senate, do you understand where he comes from?

MARC SHORT:

Absolutely if more evidence comes out that can prove that he did this, then sure, by all means he should be disqualified. But that’s a huge if, and I think we have to allow that more facts come out.

CHUCK TODD:

What are the more facts?

MARC SHORT:

Roy Moore has said that this week he plans to come forward with more evidence to support his innocence.

CHUCK TODD:

And if that evidence doesn’t work, what does that mean? You guys are going to step in, is this senate seat that important?

MARC SHORT:

There’s no senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia Chuck, I mean that’s reality. But having said that, he has not been proven guilty. We have to afford him the chance to defend himself.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there any way the president then just, you’re saying the president’s not going to get involved, that the Luther Strange situation

MARC SHORT:

The president did get involved in the primary as you know and he supported somebody other than Roy Moore. I think the president’s been on an incredibly important foreign trip, when he returns I’m sure we’ll have the chance to discuss this.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, let me move on, speaking of the foreign trip and on the issue of Russia. On one hand the president seemed to indicate in the back and forth with reporters on Air Force One that he kind of believed Vladimir Putin’s denial. In front of TV cameras, he said no, no, no, no, he’s with the agencies, he wasn’t questioning the agencies. What does the president believe? Does he believe in the intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?

MARC SHORT:

The president concurred with the January 2017 assessment he was provided by the intelligence community. But let’s be careful and be straight about what it is the president believes right now. He believes that after a year of investigations of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, there is zero evidence of any ballot being impacted by Russian interference. What the president is trying to do right now is recognize the gravest threat that America faces is North Korea developing nuclear weapons. And nuclear weapons in North Korea is a greater threat than Russia buying Facebook ads in America.

CHUCK TODD:

You think Russia’s interference in our democracy, using American freedom, using the freedom that we have in America, freedom of expression, essentially weaponizing that freedom against the United States, that that wasn’t a grave threat?

MARC SHORT:

I said that the president has in fact signed those sanctions against Russia, he has supported them and they’re going to be impacted right now. The president does not overlook that. He signed the proclamation that said that there was meddling. We’re not denying that or saying that’s not important, Chuck. We are saying that if we can get Russia to partner with us to help stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and if we can partner with Russia to provide peace in the God-forsaken area of Syria right now, that those are positive developments. And this investigation has gone on without one bit of evidence showing that one ballot was impacted. And it’s time for us to actually partner with people to help protect our international interests.

CHUCK TODD:

So the president thinks Russia’s been punished enough.

MARC SHORT:

I think the president is more interested in figuring out how can we partner with them to help prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear weapon.

CHUCK TODD:

Mitch McConnell to Hugh Hewitt a week ago said it might be a good idea if social media companies worked with the United States to retaliate against Russia. Would the president support something like that?

MARC SHORT:

I think that’s probably more of a question for the CIA Director, but I’m sure we’d be entertaining that notion.

CHUCK TODD:

So the idea of punishing Russia further is still on the table as far as the president’s concerned?

MARC SHORT:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, let’s talk about the tax plan and the impact of Tuesday’s elections. Are you at all concerned that you’re going to start having a lot of Republican lawmakers basically, you’ve been in politics a long time, worried about their own hides in 2018, making it harder for you getting stuff done?

MARC SHORT:

I don’t think we’re worried about politicians all of the sudden worrying about their own hides. They’re constantly worried about their own hides, Chuck. That’s the reality of this town. So I think as we look back at Tuesday’s elections, yes, two Democrat states elected Democrat governors. Let’s look back as well over the last year and recognize that five Republican House seats in special elections, in some cases Democrats were very enthused about their prospects in Georgia. Republicans held all five of those seats, so the reality is we view that basically the playing field is similar to what it was a year ago. And the president and we believe that what we need to do is deliver on the tax relief that we promised. What we’ve seen over the last year is the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, Chuck. We’ve seen one and a half million jobs created. We’ve seen five trillion dollars in asset values added to the markets. The economy is beginning to turn and we need to help deliver some tax relief.

CHUCK TODD:

I’m curious, why do you think the president doesn’t get political benefit from voters for this economy right now?

MARC SHORT:

I think that’s a question honestly directed back at you, Chuck. I think that in many cases, the media’s not looking to cover what the economic benefits have been in the economy. And too often we’re covering stories such as Russia buying Facebook ads.

CHUCK TODD:

You keep saying Russia buying Facebook ads. You dismiss this. You think it was that minuscule of an interference, the Facebook situation, going through the social media that this was, oh, it’s just a small little ant.

MARC SHORT:

I’m saying where has the coverage been, has the media been covering the fact that the economy does have the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years.

CHUCK TODD:

We have an entire channel that does that, it’s called CNBC, Marc.

MARC SHORT:

I watch CNBC, Chuck. And sometimes even have us on. But I think that, generally, you look at the predominance of the media coverage, and it has not been on looking at what the economy's accomplished in the last year.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about the tax bill, bigger picture. You had a meeting with Senate Democrats.

MARC SHORT:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

And the president apparently said, "Well, look, the Senate bill is where it's at." Well, he didn't call it mean, as what happened with health care. But some House Republicans heard the president all of a sudden say, "Oh, the Senate bill matters more here. Don't worry, guys, don't worry about what you're seeing in the House." That suddenly that's a signal that maybe they shouldn't assume that the House bill is going to be anywhere near what the final bill looks like.

MARC SHORT:

Yeah. I was in that meeting. I listened to the call. I didn't hear it the same way. I think the president is acknowledging some of the provisions that Democrat senators were asking about are addressed better for them in the Senate bill. That's not him saying, "I choose the Senate bill over the House bill." We're very excited with the House bill. We're very excited the path it's been on.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

MARC SHORT:

Chairman Brady's done a great job. And we look to have a floor vote in the House this week, and hope to deliver tax reform to the American people before the end of the year.

CHUCK TODD:

So there is no preferences here of House versus Senate for the White House?

MARC SHORT:

I think that what we have are two different bills. We have a lot of things we like. And they'll be reconciled in conference. We're very excited that we'll be delivering tax relief for the vast majority of Americans.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Marc Short, I'm gonna have to leave it there. Thanks for coming on, sharing your views.

MARC SHORT:

Chuck, thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Good to have you. When we come back, wave elections swept Democrats into power in 2006 and 2008. Republican waves in 2010 and 2014 gave the GOP more control. Could we be looking at yet more whiplash and another wave next year? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL NOT TRANSCRIBED)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here: Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, NBC News White House Correspondent, Kristen Welker, MSNBC political analyst and a former aide to President George W. Bush, Elise Jordan, Washington Post columnist and NBC News contributor, David Ignatius, author of the new novel The Quantum Spy. You don't need to write novels David, the reality is a great story that we're living, man.

DAVID IGNATIUS:

No novel is as crazy, could possibly be as crazy as what we're living through.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Roy Moore, Elise, I've got to ask you here, what's the party-- I mean Pat Toomey wouldn't answer the question. What's worse, if Roy Moore wins or loses, for the GOP?

ELISE JORDAN:

I think absolutely it is worse if Roy Moore wins, for the GOP. And you look at that interview, that's case in point. It was so uncomfortable for Senator Toomey to try to defend these charges of pedophilia against Roy Moore. And he was forced to say the allegations were 40 years old.

CHUCK TODD:

In fairness, the molestation doesn't-- it isn't pedophilia. We looked up this legal definition to be careful there. But it's molestation.

ELISE JORDAN:

Molestation.

CHUCK TODD:

When it's teen.

ELISE JORDAN:

When you're debate--

CHUCK TODD:

When it's pre-teen it is pedophilia.

ELISE JORDAN:

But when you are having to say--

CHUCK TODD:

When we're having to debate this.

ELISE JORDAN:

--molestation--

CHUCK TODD:

Versus pedophilia.

ELISE JORDAN:

--when you are having to defend someone who is accused of it and who there are corroborated eyewitnesses backing up the case, it's a tough position to be in.

CHUCK TODD:

Charlie Cook, is Mitch McConnell, the way he's been-- this clearly felt almost orchestrated. The minute, within an hour, this came out, many of the McConnell allies came out and said, "He's got to go." Sounds like Mitch McConnell has decided it's worse if Roy Moore wins.

CHARLIE COOK:

I think Mitch McConnell thinks that this is just so horrible that it's not under his control, so he's got to live with whatever happens. I think if the voters of Alabama, if they choose to vote for Roy Moore, I think the Senate's obliged to seat him.

CHUCK TODD:

Pat Toomey didn't look like he was ready to say that.

CHARLIE COOK:

Well, but Pat Toomey, but you know the thing is, you and I have devoted our entire adult lives to studying elections and politics and candidate, voter behavior. And you get to the point where you're pretty good at doing it. But I would argue that the rules have changed in the last 25 years.

That 1992, Bill Clinton, before the New Hampshire primary, hit with Gennifer Flowers' telephone recordings, the Vietnam draft story. The old days, he would have dropped out. If he didn't, he would have lost. But he toughed it out, he survived. All the way up through last year and Billy Bush tapes Access Hollywood. Normally, a candidate would have dropped out. Donald Trump stayed in and won. So I don't know what's going to happen here, I really don't. You can't predict anymore.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we talked to some voters. Here's an array of folks that are inclined to support Republicans in Alabama. Here's what they said to us.

MOORE SUPPORTER #1:

When I look at the other side, it's like I felt Trump. One was going over the cliff and the other, I look down there, is a rocky road.

MOORE SUPPORTER #2:

I can't believe them because I feel like they are timed so suspiciously, right before this major election.

MOORE SUPPORTER #3:

I really am upset at my own party for condemning him so quickly.

CHUCK TODD:

It's going to divide the party, Kristen. You've been talking to Bannon's allies.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

And he's still sticking by Roy Moore, until more-- I thought it was interesting, he did say until he learned-- unless more information comes out. Even he's qualifying it, though.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Absolutely. I think this is a real test of Bannon's war against the establishment. A lot of Republicans are privately saying, "Hey look, this is Steve Bannon not adequately vetting candidates who he's putting on the front lines." But look, they are digging in. You heard Marc Short say that, "Well, there might be some more coming out."

I am told that they're likely going to try to pin this, in some way, shape or form on the Republican establishment as a hit job. Is that going to work, though? That's the big question. I spoke to a lot of Republicans, Chuck, over the weekend who said the interview that Moore did with Sean Hannity was game over because he didn't deny dating underage women.

CHUCK TODD:

And when he said, "Not without their mother's permission," I think it made folks squeamish there.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

David, yet more tumult for the Republicans at a time they're trying to govern.

DAVID IGNATIUS:

You know, as a governing party, they just keep whiffing the ball. There's distraction after distraction. I was just so struck, looking at the brief interviews you had of voters in Alabama. There is this thing that psychologists tell us about called "confirmation bias," where you take in the information that confirms what you already believe, and you just reject anything that doesn't.

And I felt we were watching that, people saying, "Well, you know, look, the charges are the Democrats do this and that." And what you heard from Marc Short and from Pat Toomey is the seriousness of the charge seen from a different vantage outside that confirmation bias world.

I thought when Short said there is a special place in hell reserved for people who do things like what's generally described, wow. You know, that's heavy language. And if he gets elected by Alabama voters, how do you live with that kind of definition?

CHUCK TODD:

I'm going to stay with you here, David. Because it seems to me, when you say this confirmation bias, I was also thinking of the other story I was about to change to, which is the president and Putin and the Russia investigation, and how he keeps essentially dishing up confirmation bias for his supporters.

DAVID IGNATIUS:

He does. Also, I'll use another term of ours, intelligence professionals talk about "deniable covert action." What deniable covert action means is that, if you're asked about it, you say it didn't happen. So Russia conducted a covert action against the United States. The evidence is clear. Our intelligence agencies have said so.

And the former KGB officer who is president of Russia is asked about it and he denies it. Well, of course he does, that's what you do. Putin is the last person you'd ask, "Did you do it or not?" under the rules of this game. It is sort of astonishing that the president doesn't see that that, in this world, denials mean absolutely nothing.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. Well anyway, I'm going to pause it here. I want to pick up this conversation and do a little elections, too, that are outside the state of Alabama, Charlie, I promise. So when we come back, are we experiencing a defining moment about sexual harassment? Up next, Senator Amy Klobuchar on harassment in Congress and what she's doing to stop it.

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CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The stories about Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, the former Supreme Court Justice, and comedian Louis C.K. are just the latest in a parade of allegations of sexual harassment and worse. And while much attention has been focused on charges against journalists and Hollywood, we're learning each day of claims against politicians at the state and local level, as well. Look at these examples. These are just a few. California, more than 150 women launched a campaign called We Said Enough, detailing, quote, "Dehumanizing behavior by men with power." In Florida, that state's budget chairman was accused by six women of inappropriate touching. In Illinois, hundreds of women charged that there is a pervasive, predatory culture in the state capital. Minnesota, a state representative said a toxic work environment protects lawmakers not victims. In Massachusetts, there's been claims of a climate of harassment. And those are just a few of the 14 different state and local governments where this issue of harassment is alleged to have occurred, and it's coming out now. The U.S. Senate, by the way, on Thursday unanimously passed a bill instituting mandatory sexual harassment training for Senators and their aides. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was the lead sponsor of that bill, and she joins me now. Senator Klobuchar, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

Well, thanks, Chuck, it's great to be on.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with your bill. It obviously addressed the issue of sexual harassment training. And I know this is, quote, "Step one" here. It did not cover on how victims should report potential abuse. What is next on that front, Senator?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

Well, this is just the first step. And I would point out it was bipartisan. Senator Chuck Grassley led it with me. And we thought it was really important that the Senate be a model for the rest of the country. And this is not just about Senators, this is about everyone to have a safe workplace, from the ship worker to the nurse at the hospital, to the teacher at the school. So what is next in the Senate, is looking at those reporting requirements and if we should make some changes there. We have a working group with Senator Shelley Capito and Roy Blunt, and also Senator Catherine Cortez Masto working with Rules Committee members. And we're going to look at that and see if that needs to be changed. And I think it does.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you about some specifics. Right now, when victims report harassment in Congress, they have to report the incident within 180 days. The victim has to go through counseling, the victim, not the accuser. The victim has to go through counseling, 30 days. Then there's 30 days of mediation after, if the victim wants to continue. Dispute resolution only is made public if the case is ruled in the victim's favor. And then, when settlements occur, it's done in secret out of a private account of the U.S. Treasury. Are any of these ideas that you think end up staying in place once you review these measures?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

I can't predict that right and, but we clearly need a new process. This thing was set up years ago. And the times have changed. And you wonder why we don't have more women in power? Well, you look at processes like that, and what's been going on all over the country.

You know, there's 21 women in the Senate, Chuck, and we should have a lot more. You know, I have a dream that, one day, maybe we'll have more women in the Senate than there are victims of Harvey Weinstein's harassment. That could happen. But when you look at how few women we have running big businesses or movie studios, you name it, a lot of this has to do with the fact that they've been pushed back. And I don't think this is all about toppling men, or about lewd stories, which we need out there so people understand what's going on. But we need work environments where women are judged on their merits, so they can rise up and be in charge. And that just hasn't been happening in a lot of these workplaces.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think the U.S. Congress is a safe workplace for women?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

I think that there are always people that are misbehaving. Have I seen a lot of that myself? No. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't go on. And having rules in place, having harassment training, having a process that works where people feel free to come forward and report things, we know the statistics, that a very small percentage of women and victims of harassment, which sometimes can be men, actually come forward and report. We have to change that.

CHUCK TODD:

You said, I want to go to the Roy Moore story, you said you had faith in the people of Alabama, that they would end up voting against Roy Moore and that he wouldn't be a United States Senator. If the state of Alabama does vote for Roy Moore into the United States Senate, do you believe the Senate has a duty to seat him?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

We may not have much choice on that. But we do have choice on something else. And that is that you can expel a Senator once they're in with two thirds of the vote after the Ethics Committee … it’s happened in the past, does an investigation. But there's a step between here, Chuck. And that is that there is an alternative candidate in Doug Jones, former U.S. attorney, great prosecutor, someone who's running on trust with the voters and also health care in Alabama, and the real issues that are going to affect the people of that state. So the polls are tightening there. And while it is incredibly important to go after these past allegations, I want people to remember that, in fact, there's another alternative here to Roy Moore, who was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court because he wasn't following the law.

CHUCK TODD:

But you're in favor of starting the expulsion process, potentially, if he is elected?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

That's one way we could do it.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

But the other way is for the people of Alabama to look at these two candidates. And yes, I have faith that they're going to look at what happened in these allegations and the fact that there's 30 witnesses, and make a decision on someone else.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Roy Moore's been attacking his accusers and the media for reporting this story. It sounds a lot like what happened in the '90s with Bill Clinton and his accusers. So let me ask you this, considering the political moment we're in, what responsibility do Democrats have in this culture of victim shaming that became pretty prevalent in the '90s and, frankly, now all the way to today?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

I think we have a major responsibility. We've seen that this happens on both sides when you look at these reports across the country of people who are in power. So we have a responsibility to make sure there's a process in place in workplaces where people can come forward, where fairness rules, and where you don't have people that are making decisions about if people are promoted not based on merit but whether they put out or not. I mean basically, that's what's happened to some women in our society.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

And it's time to talk about it and stop blaming them and start looking at who's doing this.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you say to voters who say, "Boy, all these people that were upset about Donald Trump, they weren't upset about Bill Clinton?" Do you think that one of the reasons why Donald Trump got a pass from voters is because of what happened in the '90s to Bill Clinton?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

You know, I think there were a lot of things that went into that election. But what's most important to me right now, Donald Trump is our president. And what's important to me is that we change policies that are in place that help the people of this country, everything from this tax reform bill that has serious problems for the middle class, that we change the way the rhetoric is going in our country so that we treat each other more civilly and we handle things in a more professional manner, and that we also do things for people. And what worries me about what's going on right now, we can go back and talk about the election all we want, but it's the policies that are being proposed right now. And the people of Virginia, on Monday, as you've pointed out earlier in this show, they said, "No, we don't want this rhetoric. We want to have health care for the people of our state."

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

And we want to elect people that have a positive message moving forward.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator Klobuchar, that's all the time I have there. Appreciate you coming on, sharing your views.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

And we'll see you again next time… soon.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):

Great to be on.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, Democrats won, sweeping victories in Virginia on Tuesday. So why do some Republicans say, "Hey, we're not worried?" we'll be right back.

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CHUCK TODD:

We are back. Data Download time. Tuesday's election in Virginia was either a really big deal or it didn't matter at all. Well, it depends on who you talk to. Let's start with the developing Republican talking points, coming mostly from Trump supporters, White House folks, about why Virginia may simply be unique. Number one, they argue, it's a blue state, and getting more blue. Their evidence? Hillary Clinton won there last November and it's gone blue in the last three presidential elections, plus, four of the last five governors in Virginia, Democrats. Second, these Republicans say, a Gillespie win would have actually broken with history. In fact, whichever party wins the White House one year, the opposite party wins Virginia governor the following year. That was true in nine straight elections from '76-'77 until 2012-2013 and it broke. Finally, Republicans argue that Gillespie was an imperfect messenger in the Trump era. He took on some of the President's populist rhetoric, but perhaps that wasn't enough for loyal Trump voters. At least that's how Steve Bannon sees it. So why are Democrats celebrating? First, it's the margin, they argue, yes, Northam won in a state trending blue. But he won by nine points, nearly double Hillary Clinton's margin. In fact, it's the largest margin for a Democrat in a governor's race since 1985 in Virginia. Second, they argue, it wasn't just limited to the top of the ballot. Down the ballot, they flipped at least 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, with some races still undecided. 2009 was the last time we saw a statewide wave like this in Virginia. And that seemed to foreshadow the 2010 GOP wave in the House. But perhaps most important, it's the demographics splits in Tuesday's results which could hold some big warning signs for Republicans. Northam held huge margins in key segments of the electorate, what could be considered the voters of the future. What do I mean? He won by 40 points among 18 to 29-year-olds, 21 points among college-educated voters, and 39 points in the crucial suburbs around Washington D.C.. And it's that suburban tsunami that should concern Republicans in Congress. In fact, a demographic analysis of House Republicans finds that 54 members represent what could be considered suburban districts, places that look an awful lot like the Washington D.C. suburbs. Guess what? 16 of those 54 seats are districts that actually voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. And it only takes a net loss of 24 seats to hand the House majority to the Democrats. Look, the 2018 midterms are still a year away. But the results from Virginia show Republicans do have a few very real reasons to be concerned. When we come back, Endgame and why that Democratic argument for a big 2018 looks a whole lot stronger than the GOP one. We'll be right back.

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CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame. The Democratic wave from last week ushered in an historic level of diversity in elected offices coast to coast. Danica Roem is Virginia's first transgender lawmaker. Andrea Jenkins is the first openly transgender woman of color elected in the nation. Wilmot Collins is a Liberian refugee who was elected mayor of Helena, Montana. Jenny Durkin is the first openly lesbian mayor elected in Seattle. These are just a handful of the historic victories on Tuesday. Charlie Cook, we are throwing around the word "wave" a lot. This is an off-year wave. When you get waves, you get a different portrait of elected officials.

CHARLIE COOK:

Yeah, I mean we're a year out. But this is what waves look like at the front end. And to me, the amazing thing is that, the last six midterm elections, we've had four where the House or the Senate or both have flipped. And the other two were after 1998 was impeachment, and 2002, after 9-11. So these things have gotten more explosive. The people are voting in a more parliamentary way. So there's a volatility that didn't exist in the old days.

CHUCK TODD:

Kristen, what's the White House reaction to this?

KRISTEN WELKER:

Well, their spin is, "Look, Virginia, New Jersey, these are states that were trending blue." New Jersey is typically blue. Bottom line, though, if you talk to Republicans about what really makes them nervous, it's that the Obama coalition seemed to be energized. You had, particularly in Virginia, young people turning out. Women outpacing what Hillary Clinton got in her election, as well as college-educated voters. So I think that's where the real concern sets in. That's why Democrats are celebrating.

CHUCK TODD:

Enthusiasm, enthusiasm, enthusiasm, Elise. That seemed to be the big difference.

ELISE JORDAN:

Well, and look at the divide within Republican voters right now. You have Republican voters who really love Donald Trump, and then you have Republican voters who hate Hillary Clinton. And she's no longer in the equation, and a ghost that Republicans can still talk about Hillary Clinton, but it matters increasingly less, especially when Donald Trump is really inspiring voters to turn out and vote.

CHUCK TODD:

David, could we be experiencing an issue? You know, debate about Ed Gillespie, was he Trump enough? Trump-ism, threading the needle. Could it be that the same thing that everybody tried to do with Obama in the midterm years when it only works when Obama was on the ballot. Does it only work when Trump's on the ballot?

DAVID IGNATIUS:

Well, I think that's one of the questions that Virginia raises. Is the GOP going to become the party of Donald Trump? And if you're not embracing that, and Gillespie wasn't, are you just losing the energy? You know, looking at these numbers, the turnout among women, among younger voters, I wonder if Donald Trump is not a leading indicator telling us what the future is, but a lagging indicator, telling us what the past is.

CHARLIE COOK:

But, you know, you think about the last 25 years, the unifying forces for Republicans has been hatred towards A) Clinton, or Obama. And so now that you don't have a Clinton, that you have a Obama, what- what is the glue that's holding them together? Because one part's Trump and one part's non-Trump. So I think that's a real challenge for Republicans.

KRISTEN WELKER:

I think Republicans are still trying to figure out what to do in 2018. I asked a number of them this week, "Do you run with Trump or do you run away from them?" And they all answered in the same way: "We just haven't figured that out yet." Bottom line, though, we have to have strong messages for the voters in our district.

CHUCK TODD:

Does it just matter where you live?

ELISE JORDAN:

I think that you have to be concerned if you're the GOP about white, educated voters. And you look at how they contributed to Ed Gillespie's loss in Virginia, and then looking at the Alabama race, and the Senate race, you look at Birmingham, and the educated voters in Birmingham. And if it's this close, and Roy Moore has never been a strong general election candidate in Alabama, I'd be really concerned.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, I have David Ignatius here. And when you have David (LAUGHTER) Ignatius here, you want to know about some things having to do with national security, particularly the Middle East. What is happening here? And is the United States not taken sides here in a proxy war to the point where we're-- are we helping with this purge that's taking place in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon? What's happening?

DAVID IGNATIUS:

So we have a young, 32-year-old crown price in Saudi Arabia, a country that we all associate with conservative, slow-moving government, consensual House of Saad gradually reaches a decision. He just has blown that up. He has arrested hundreds of people and brought them in on corruption charges. He has helped pressure the prime minister of Lebanon to resign as part of his campaign against Iran.

DAVID IGNATIUS:

I wrote a year and a half ago about him, that this young man could either jumpstart Saudi Arabia or drive it off a cliff. And that's still the right question. The biggest thing he's got behind him is this president loves him. This president sees him as a kindred spirit, a Donald Trump in the Middle East.

CHUCK TODD:

Wow. And there's a proxy war going on now in Yemen between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

DAVID IGNATIUS:

Yep.

CHUCK TODD:

What's the likelihood, in your estimation, how concerned are you that that proxy war becomes, forget Yemen, they just do it themselves?

DAVID IGNATIUS:

Well, a direct war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is unlikely. I think the fear that analysts I talk to have had over the last few days is that Saudi Arabia's actions, especially in Lebanon, will push the Israelis into a new conflict with Hezbollah, which would be very bloody.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, guys, I've got to leave it there. Nothing like trying to cut off that debate. It would take thousands of years to figure that one out. Anyway, before we go, an important note. Tomorrow night, we're holding our First Annual Meet the Press Film Festival in collaboration with The American Film Institute, right here in Washington D.C.. 16 films on seven topics from the heroin epidemic to second chances after prison. Tickets are still on sale, but they're almost sold out, so hurry up. There's a digital showcase online and on demand that will begin tomorrow on NBCNews.com/MTPFilm. So that's all we have for today. Thank you for watching, if it's Monday, it's our film festival. If it's Saturday, it's now Hurricanes Football. I had to do that once. And we'll be back next week because, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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